Saturday, March 20, 2010

Maybe I just need to stop thinking.

This is somewhat tied into my "See Who I Am" post and how a nonbeliever is viewed by evangelicals.

For a long time, Hell was presented -- or came across -- as a place where people would be tormented for all eternity. And it was a place where God sent you.

In recent years, that view appears to have been softened somewhat. It's no longer a place of torture, it's a place where there's simply no love, mercy, compassion, light, peace, all those good things. It's the absence of God, so it would be a place of darkness, despair, hatred, envy, rage, lust ... and God no longer sends you there. Rather, you send yourself there through your choice to not accept Him, and God loves you enough to respect your choice.

Okay. But when I start making the connections in this viewpoint, what it's saying, then, is everyone who goes there is someone who prefers hatred over love. Lust/greed over charity. Despair over hope. Envy over gratitude. The people in Hell prefer these negative things 100%.

My question to the evangelical would be thus: if your nonbelieving friend were to die tomorrow, s/he is only going to one place. Hell. And if you believe your friend is going to hell, then you believe your friend choose to go there because your friend wanted to go there. Thus, you believe that your friend 100% prefered hatred over love, lust/greed over charity, despair over hope, and envy over gratitude. Your friend wasn't attracted to anything good at all. In fact, your friend was a pretty ugly person.

A) Is this truly what you believe about your friend? After all, they choose to go to this ugly place, and since this was the place that attracted them the most, then obviously, there wasn't a lot of good in their life and B) why would you want to be friends with someone this ugly?

10 comments:

Lorena said...

Personally, I have met in church the most greedy, heartless, rude people I've ever come across of.

So to me, the Christian theory makes no sense. The kind-hearted secular folks I know will go to hell, and the nasty hypocrite Christians I know will go to heaven. It makes absolutely no sense.

Another huge point that made de-convert. I knew too many miserable, hurtful Christians--too many to balance out the good ones.

Grace said...

One,

I don't know how other orthodox, evangelical Christians would respond to this, and I"m sure there is going to be a difference in views.

But, my conviction is that if people are honestly seeking truth, and goodness, they are seeking God, and will ultimately come to find Christ, whether in this life or the next.

It's one thing to believe that God reveals Himself most completely through Jesus Christ, and that all "salvation" is in, and through the cross..

It's another to make the judgment that we can know with this certainly that everyone without conscious faith will end in Hell, or that there is no truth, or beauty to be found at all in any other belief system than the Christian faith. "All truth is God's truth."

To give an example, I've certainly been impacted by the pagan earth religions in their appreciation for the natural world. I'm especially drawn to a Celtic expression of orthodox Christianity.

Also, I'm thinking we need to hold our convictions with humility. God could show us all in some measure of error. Even the Scripture says, "We see through a glass darkly.."

I think there is also a danger in simply judging based on outward appearances. If someone is in the church, and is totally mean-spirited, judgmental, and unloving, there is obviously some spiritual problem going on in their life. They need our prayers, and compassion to address this.

On the other hand, if someone outside the church, is loving, kind, and merciful, in some measure there are also showing the grace, and kindness of God.

We are all at differing places, IMO, in our spiritual, life journey. It's not as simple, I think, as knowing with absolute certainty, that we are in, while other are out.

To my mind, we should leave who in the end will be saved, or lost, to the mercy, and justice of God.

OneSmallStep said...

Lorena,

I don't have a lot of direct contact with fundamentalists, but in reading enough online and seeing enough in the news, my thought it always ... "Why would anyone *want* to spend an eternity with that type of behavior/personality?"

For the ones I know directly, they're not like that. But even in watching their lives, I see little difference between them and me. We both have our negative aspects and positive. I just don't see how Jesus has made such an impact in their life, when there's so little to distinguish it from how I react to situations.

OneSmallStep said...

Grace,

I believe your response would differ from most evangelicals I've seen, because how they approach it, it doesn't matter how much goodness you've pursued. You die without Jesus, it's hell for you.

I like your viewpoint a lot better, and think it allows you to see the complexities of people, compared to other evangelicals.

The catch, though, would be that if there is someone outside the church who is loving and compassionate -- perhaps much more so than those inside the church -- would relevance would Jesus have to them? Why would they need Jesus?

Boz said...

When you point out a contradiction like this, your 'friend' will use this tactic:

http://lolgod.blogspot.com/2010/03/protect-your-cst-beliefs-in-style-with.html

the chaplain said...

Grace:
Your belief is pretty much what I believed for a long time.

Boz:
LOL!

Xander said...

Most evangelicals can't even defend their own faith let alone explain it, so I don't put much stock in what they think.

societyvs said...

"why would you want to be friends with someone this ugly?" (OSS)

Soooo true. People befriend people like themselves...they find the 'commonalities'. Someone that has a close friend that is that ugly - also has some of that ugly aspect in themselves...such is life though.

I have also noticed this change in the meaning of 'hell' to be more 'hell friendly' in the modern age. Replace fire with lonilness. Replace torture with crying/anguish. Fact is, no one knew what hell looked like then and they sure don't now.

Evangelicals history is colored with a strong tint of racism...maybe this makes sense of the harsh language they use about 'hell'. I wonder where they thought black people were going during slavery or segregation? I wonder what that Edwards dude that preached that firebrand message about hell thought?

Xander said...

I don't think all "unsaved" people go to hell after they die. I tend to think they get a second chance.

I am not God however, so I could be wrong.

Anonymous said...

The reason Christians need to be "saved" is because they were such horrible people to begin with.