The directive script of salvationism is the New Testament, including Acts and the letters of Paul. In its baffling combination of fairy-tale narrative and high theological rhetoric, the New Testament formulates and confirms the complicity of victim and perpetrator exemplified by the tribulations of the Jews in the Old Testament. The complicity implies a kind of contact of sin, with both parties falling short of God’s command. Perpetrators who harm others are obviously sinners, but so are the people they harm, who may well believe they are being justly punished by a higher power. The wrong done to victims is due to the wrong they have done in the eyes of God. To make matters worse, the twisted syntax of the victim-perpetrator bond condones domination, violence, aggression, and murder as expressions of divine retribution. Those who enact the will of God in violent ways are as righteous as those who suffer violence, because the bond prescribes and legitimates both roles. A deal that sanctifies violence and guarantees the righteous vindication of its victims is hard to beat. The temptation to victims to become perpetrators is ever present, although not all victims succumb to it. Those who do become top dogs in the dominator game.
The sin doctrine does not give its adherents a chance to fail: it convinces them that they have already failed, even before they try. “All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” Moreover, the sense of having failed God plays directly into the victim syndrome, disposing believers to imagine the abuse and harm that befall them is due to their moral flaws. If they are hurt they must deserve it. It is their fault, for through God’s will they are made to suffer, punished for their own good. Punishment for failing to follow God’s plan is inflicted on some people (the victims) by other people (the perpetrators) who righteously uphold the plan. As long as the idealogy of redemption goes unchallanged, the victim-perpetrator pathology can thrive and remain concealed, using salvationist beliefs as cover.
The lethal insanity of the victim-perpetrator bind is staggering. The complicity of victims and perpetrators is a gruesome pact, but there is still a deeper dimension to the horror. Discussing the question of what “makes God accessory to the manifest sinfulness of the human world,” Alan Watts observed: “Beyond this theological nightmare there is the fascination of supernal masochism.” The factor of “supernal masochism” comes to expression in what can be called victim-perpetrator collusion. The two parties are not merely complicit in their beliefs, they are intricately and intimately codependent in their actions. Victims and perpetrators needs each other desperately and use each other both viciously and vicariously to keep their bond intact.
According to the Gnostic critique of Judeo-Christian religion, the triumph of salvation history is not due to the undeniable truth it carries, but rather to its covert delusional power. It operates likes an obssessive fixation that seizes the collective mind, comparable to what Wilhelm Reich called Massenpsychosen, mass psychosis. In the Mass Psychology of Fascism, Reich shows how mystical and militaristic (or fascist) behaviors “rooted in the male authoritarian character structure” meld together in the religious obsessions common to National Socialism, Zionism, and Catholicism. In his analysis of “the passive idealogy of suffering in all genuine religions”, he revealved how irrational insistence on the redemptive value of suffering (“the emotional plague”) leads society head-on into conflict and madness.