My question might suggest that I have some uncertainty about the matter, perhaps some self-doubt and that I am setting out to reassure myself and persuade you that my the mystical teachings of jesus madness is really a most harmless, innocent sort.
So, while I am using the word ‘madness’ to cover social invective, rather than a reference to a delusional insanity requiring immediate therapeutic intervention, I also need to address the issue of whether biblical Christian beliefs are direct contributors to ill-health, such as heightened states of anxiety, obsessive fears, compulsive moral scruples, or poor interpersonal relationships.
So, are Christians generally detached, morose, introspective, or withdrawn and unhealthy in their outlook and wider social relationships? I suggest there is little doubt that some people with predisposing or underlying conditions have become compulsively or excessively religious, in ways that may have prompted their family to believe they had ‘religious mania’ caused by religious pressure. I incline to the view that if their main driver in life had been racing cars (pun unintended); they would likely have developed a fanatical, obsession with that class of vehicles.
I suggest the diagnosis of ‘religious mania’ meant well, but was flawed because it didn’t get to the underlying illness, even if some vulnerable and delicate minds have been harmed by over-zealous approaches that failed to show them compassionate sensitivity.
Certainly history shows instances of people claiming to be ‘prophets’ and such like, showing wild behaviour, who gathered followings of deluded fanatics, but invariably these movements remained on the periphery of social life, where they became self-destructive or petered out into resigned oblivion.
However, it is clear that Christianity does not confer immunity to serious personality disorders, some of which may be inherited. As for the word ‘madness’, it is a rather archaic, blunt instrument, but I suggest the common jibe of non-Christians to believers that they must be mad, or nuts, or off their heads, or crazy, to use a few common expressions, are intended to show that Christianity is an insult to modern intelligence, rather than advise on our fitness for the local psychiatric hospital.
Christianity is built on the person of Jesus Christ, his life, claims, his death and resurrection and their significance. In other words, the central claims of Christ are God-centred. We are not dealing with social reform or philosophy, but with the living God coming into our humanity, living a perfect life, yielding himself up to death to endure the judicial condemnation due to sinners, who have all broken the divine law. That is, all of us, except Christ himself. Then in triumphant vindication of Jesus’ innocence and flawless moral integrity, God raised him from the dead, into which state he will never again enter.
These are large claims, and the issue is, do they lend themselves to calm enquiry that might vindicate their basis in real events and their reasonable explanations given by eyewitnesses appointed by Christ himself, or do such explanations merely point to Christian beliefs being intellectually absurd?