The Bible narrative of man's relationship with God begins with the story of his first disobedience and all of Christian theology is summed up in verse 19 of the fifth chapter of Romans:
For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
Obedience is the theme of most Bible stories—Noah, Job, Abraham and Isaac—but few believers understand the degree of obedience demanded by Christianity. Oswald Chambers, who wrote the devotional, My Utmost for His Highest, put it this way:
Are you prepared to let God take you into total oneness with Himself, paying no more attention to what you call the great things of life? Are you prepared to surrender totally and let go? The true test of abandonment or surrender is in refusing to say, “Well, what about this?” Beware of your own ideas and speculations. The moment you allow yourself to think, “What about this?” you show that you have not surrendered and that you do not really trust God. But once you do surrender, you will no longer think about what God is going to do. Abandonment means to refuse yourself the luxury of asking any questions.
I don't believe I have met many Christians who go that far, but I did know one. When I was a teenager working the soda fountain in a drug store, the owner of the photography shop next door became intoxicated with Roman Catholicism. He began to display religious pictures and statues along with cameras and photographic equipment. Gradually the religious items displaced the merchandise and customers became fewer, but he persisted in his delusion despite the pleas of his friends and family until his business was utterly ruined.
Does anyone else know of examples of this type of total devotion?
Of course not. We have everything to live for, but nothing to die for.
I used to have a friend who did exactly what Oswald Chambers' said in your quote from his book. We were only online friends and we corresponded by email and chat. We were friends for about five years, and we would have, at first, friendly debates. As time went on I learned more and more just how deluded she was. During our debates her main objective was always to talk me into converting to Christianity.
I tried and tried to reason with her. I gave her example after example of the evil that her non-existent God both commanded and committed according to the Bible. I also quoted to her what Martin Luther had to say regarding reason and his utter antipathy toward it (e.g., "Reason is the Devil's greatest whore; by nature and manner of being she is a noxious whore; she is a prostitute, the Devil's appointed whore; whore eaten by scab and leprosy who ought to be trodden under foot and destroyed, she and her wisdom ... Throw dung in her face to make her ugly. She is and she ought to be drowned in baptism... She would deserve, the wretch, to be banished to the filthiest place in the house, to the closets."). I quoted to her Proverbs 3:5; "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding", which basically teaches one not to think for themselves, but rather to let God do all one's thinking for them through his prophets.
She would have none of it. She continued to proclaim that God knows best, that he sees the bigger picture, whereas we only see a piece or two of the puzzle, which she also used to excuse God's evil commands and actions. I put forth every argument against her positions that I could come up with, but nothing could breach her delusional barrier.
I have asked other Christians in the past the question, "If you had the power or authority to do so, could you send anyone to hell" ? Most Christians I've asked have almost unanimously said that they couldn't find it in their heart to do that, to which my reply to them all was, "Congratulations, you are more merciful and righteous than the God you worship". But when I asked my friend the same question, she did not give a direct reply, but instead went back to her argument that God sees the bigger picture. She also added that God sends no one to hell, but that they send themselves, to which I quoted Luke 12:4-5 in reply ("And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him......."). Of course, she didn't get my point that it is, indeed, God who sends people to hell.
On one occasion, not long before she ended our friendship, I asked her that if she really and truly believed that God had commanded her to kill me, would she obey ? Her answer was that, under the circumstances named (i.e., really believing it came from God), she would do so without question, with the caveat that God would never command something like that. (Refer to Genesis 22:1-10).
It was then that I saw how potentially dangerous she truly was. So I began to present more aggressive arguments, hoping to finally break the spell she was under to Christianity. That was the point at which she ended our friendship, which was really no loss to me, except that I regret that I couldn't get through to her.
I apologize that this reply is so drawn out, but I had to write all this to answer fully your question, "Does anyone else know of examples of this type of total devotion?" Does anyone ? Uh..yeah.
One other thing, by the way. My former friend had her own copy of Mr. Oswald Chambers' damnable book. She said it was her favorite next to the Bible.
A very good illustration of how far people can be carried away from rationality in religious fervor. It points up the danger to society of such fanaticism. Those in its grip rely on a few mantras such as "God sees the bigger picture" and are incapable of questioning their beliefs. Surrounded by others who think similarly, they become insulated from reality. Anyone who disagrees is considered an agent of the devil. I particularly like your question about sending people to hell—that ought to open eyes.
I've always been told that "we send our own selves to hell" and that god doesn't do it. As for "god seeing the bigger picture," all of this goes together to show how delusional they are.
So christianity, like islam, and judaism, is submission. I think even buddhism calls for submission, of a different sort. Possibly more submission to fate, and to loss, and release of attachment.
Are these themes common to all religion? Do they speak to an underlying desire for acceptance? A flawed search for peace, understanding ultimately none of us is in control of our universe?
Still obedience to the Abrahamic god seems pretty psychotic.
Abraham's obedience to his Yahweh, his god, on demand to sacrifice his son Isaac.
(Image source) Gerhard Wilhelm von Reutern 1849
Mormonism teaches Obedience also.
I was taught to end my prayers with "but thy will be done.".
They also teach that "When the prophet speaks, the debate is over."
However, I was also taught to ask god if what the prophet said was correct. It's maddening trying to pin down mormon doctrine. There are hundreds of contradictions.
Hm-mm, there are some thinking Mormons.
In 12 years in Catholic schools, a very few Catholic nuns said faith is a gift. They said some receive this gift and others don't receive it.
Those nuns made my departure easier but I still had to adapt to a freedom I hadn't known.
I remember it now after reading of the efforts of people here who are struggling intellectually to free themselves from the religions they had been taught.
I hope they succeed.
SB, an interesting thought.
Religious (and political) themes speak to a desire in the young for acceptance by tribal elders.
Currently, America's tribal elders award veterans benefits to survivors.
We've come a long way since our origins as pond scum.
Our young have a long way to go.
There are probably sci-fi writers somewhere who wrote of young people who increased the costs of war so much that their elders refused to pay the necessary taxes.
Some scholars believe that the story of Abraham and Isaac prefigures the crucifixion—that God sacrifices his own son. The painting is beautiful, but the story it tells is not. If there is one Bible story that Christians have difficulty with it is the willingness of Abraham to kill his own son because he believes God wills it, but this indicates the degree of obedience that God demands and to which religion says he is entitled.
When I was in high school, there were two college kids at my church who got married simply because a pastor told them it was God's will. They barely knew each other. The girl told me that God had provided this for her, and that her feelings didn't matter! The couple also vowed to never buy any kind of insurance, because God would protect and provide. The marriage lasted less than 6 months. But before it ended, I think they enjoyed their own view of themselves as more devoted and submissive than any other Christian around them!
Lasted 6 months. I hope they know, by both Jesus' word, and old testament law, if they marry someone else they commit adultery every time they have sex with their new spouse, and should be stoned to death. Fortunately for them, Jesus also said "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone". Whew! That was close!