Don’t use the Bible for threatening

When you work as a faith teacher, you can be tempted to get attention of your listeners by threatening. The same can happen to engaged non-professional followers of a religion who believe that “their” religion is the only and universally true teaching about God.

This temptation exists not only in Christianity but in every religion. The Bible, like any Holy Scripture, can be misused for threatening. I call this attitude comminorism.


The practice of using the Bible for threatening instead of using it to spread the Good News.

It is me who invented the word comminorism. It comes from Latin comminor (to menace) and is inspired by the German word “Drohbotschaft” (“threatful message”), which is used since 1995, together with its opposite “Frohbotschaft” (German for Good News) by KirchenvolksBegehren, an Austrian grass-root movement within the catholic church who works against comminorism. See also a sermon by Franz Alt in Die Zeit 2019-01-02 : Frohbotschaft statt Drohbotschaft.

Comminorism is opposite to spreading the Good News because Jesus saved the world from the idea of a God who punishes us for our sins. More about this in About the cross.

My mother used to say “Kleine Sünden bestraft der Liebe Gott sofort” in situations that might foster this belief. But she said it with a twinkle in her eyes, like a joke, as if to remind us that we should not take this too serious.

Seems that my mother is not the only one to know that sentence: Nane Jürgensen wrote Gilt „Kleine Sünden bestraft der Liebe Gott sofort“ für Sie?.

Yet another example: When the Gospel isn’t Good News.

Comminorism can cause allergic reactions on people who otherwise would gladly follow the Good News, but who turn away in disgust. Mehta describes a situation that happened in a comminoristic school: A Christian School Apologized After a Guest Speaker Wasn’t Anti-LGBTQ Enough

Christianity is currently learning to get rid of comminorism. This should not lead us to deny the scaring passages of the Bible: The scaring parts of the Bible.

Comminorism is a side-effect of scriptural faith. “One of the great liberating moments of my life was when I was given the opportunity (…) to read, analyze, critique, and appreciate the Bible as literature. I had spent the first eighteen years of my life with this book looming over me, forced to read it in its entirety every year and to memorize significant portions of it, not as perhaps the most influential book ever assembled, but rather as the inspired and literal Word of God. Studying it as literature in college turned what had been a lifelong burden into a voyage of discovery.” – Vance Morgan, When Christianity becomes an Angry and Fearful Faith

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