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Reasonable Doubts Podcast: Rd113 The Myth Of Martyrdom Part 1 With Guest Candida Moss


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Jesus famously told his disciples "take up your cross and follow me" and the church has proudly circulated stories of Christian martyrs ever since. Stories of believers who refused to renounce their faith in the face of persecution inspire some to great acts of heroism but can also promote a spirit of victimization. In her new book "The Myth of Christian Persecution" Candida Moss argues that the Martyrdom stories from the first centuries of the Christian church have been exaggerated, and in some cases even fabricated. Contrary to popular accounts of Church history there never was any widespread systematic persecution of Christians in the first centuries of the common era. Join us as we discuss her fascinating book.q2MVwQEDVVE


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  • 3 weeks later...

A great and informative podcast. 


It is very interesting to me that an active christian, who is also a scholar at Notre Dame University, is willing to be a whistleblower on the fabrication beneath the notions of christian persecution and the ongoing christian predilection toward developing a persecution complex.  It will be interesting to see what happens with her employment over the next few years. 


In my own experience, christians perpetuate the myth that the world and certain nefarious deities are always after them and their souls. They create the artificial notion that they are in some kind of ongoing "spiritual battle" and must be wary of people around them and, of course, the unseen evils that are vying for their very soul.   Depending on the christian faction that they are a part of, the presence of this suspicion and victim-outlook may be more or less apparent.  Unfortunately, many christians go as far as attempting to artificially stir up trouble so that they can point to their mistreatment as proof-positive that their message of being a victim or martyr for jesus is true.  Onlookers name that accurately as "leading with the chin."


Over the past decade I've learned much about the psychology of martyrdom and related complexes like perpetuated victimhood.  It is not good news for any christian that once they get hold of the idea that they are (artificially created) victims of evil forces, that they must hang onto that victimhood, because it means something important to their standing with their all-seeing god of judgment.  Easy to see examples include Pat Robertson, Dead Falwell, Tim LaHaye, Baptist, Presbyterian, Restorationist and Pentecostal pronouncements of ongoing "great spiritual warfare" where souls are lost, nations are punished and christian faith is tested by their "just" god.


A rule of thumb about victimhood and martyr complexes is that a person who is actually a victim can recover to a non-victim stance in life.  They can return to healthy functioning in the world with a high degree of success and a return to sanity.  However, when a victim holds onto their victimhood --real or imagined-- they enter a martyr frame-of-reference.  When that happens, when they begin to hold onto their victimhood, the possibility of recovering to a sane, functional stance in life reduces to near zero.  At that point, their martyr belief becomes the hermeneutic through which all experience is interpreted.  The martyr point of reference becomes the sole controlling factor and they lose the ability to return to sane functioning.  This is one of the unlovely facts of religious indoctrination. It creates a form of insanity that is harmful for the person and possibly those around him or her.  it is also almost impossible to recover from.  Those who believe themselves to be victims and martyrs in "spiritual warfare" are also those who treat family, friends and others in the most harmful ways using emotional abuse, shame, fear, toxic guilt and self-fulfilling prophecy.  It's one clear example of the true adage, "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities."



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