These excerpts, from men who have left the faith, should get every sincere truth-seeking Christian thinking about what he or she believes. Those of us who are parents know that we correct and punish our children, but we do so to change their behaviour. Is God any different? Does He show love to just His good children? What about the bad and the lost? Will not the Good Shepherd leave the ninety and nine and seek the lost sheep until He finds them?
Think about what you would answer these men if they presented their arguments to you. At the very least, I hope these articles get you thinking about the doctrine of eternal damnation that we present to the world as "truth."Hell
What is this place that unbelievers like myself are destined for, that Christians are trying (or supposed to be trying) so desperately to save me from? Whatever it is, a god died so I wouldn’t have to go there. At least, that’s the story. I once read another story about some Christian monks who baptized infants and immediately dashed their brains out upon the rocks. The reason? So they would not go to hell. So horrendous was this place, that any cost–even their lives–was not too high a price to ensure that they did not go there. Hell, God's eternal torture chamber, where the greater part of all humanity will spend eternity. What is the purpose of this place? Well, punishment, Christians tell us. But punishment for what purpose? Since there is no remedial value to hell, no chance of learning your lesson and getting let out, what good does the punishment do? Even the most cruel human torturers usually have a reason for their torture. Make the appropriate confessions, tell them what they want to know, and the torture will usually stop. Or at the very least, you can eventually die. But Christians make God out to be the very worst kind of torturer–one that tortures for no other reason than to torture, and one that lets you stay alive forever, with no possible release from the pain.
As a Christian, I was always uncomfortable with this. In an attempt to explain hell while leaving God's reputation for fairness intact, I deferred to a more C.S. Lewis-type explanation. Rather than having God create a place like Hell and sending people there, I saw Hell more as a result of rejecting God. It was the ultimate "you got what you asked for." God was saying, "You really don't want me around? Fine. I'll leave." And the result was hell, the absence of everything good, which vanished when God did. Once you chose to leave God's presence, you chose to live in a Godless universe where the only thing left was pain and suffering, and everything else that was bad about life, or in a word, hell. But aside from making God out to be very petty, like a kid who throws down his marbles and folds his arms because you don’t let him win, this whole idea puts some very strange limitations on God. We'll examine it more later.
The lure of Christianity is that it offers such an easy way out of hell. All you have to do is believe. There are generally no rituals (except baptism in some denominations), and there are no good deeds to perform. A popular Christian bumper sticker sums it up well: "Christians aren't perfect, just forgiven." And the utter horrific nature of hell provides a very compelling reason to convert. Who would not do anything to escape this fate, or to make sure that others avoid it as well? One can begin to understand the rationale of the baby killing monks. Hell provides the ultimate motive to become a Christian.
Hell is also the strongest case against the Christian faith, for it is nothing less than the most sadistic torture ever devised. In America we pride ourselves in prohibiting something called "cruel and unusual punishment." We look aghast at dictatorial regimes that torture its prisoners and dissidents. Yet even the worst atrocities committed under the cruelest tyrants of this world are nothing when compared to what Christians say God has in store for us. A poignant way to illustrate this is to look at what Christians believe about Jews, especially Jews that were imprisoned in Nazi concentration camps. Although Christians generally do not discuss this, it is what they must believe, for it is built into their system of "divine justice."
Christians define as hell bound anyone who does not accept Jesus as Lord and Savior. This includes just about all practicing Jews. So imagine this scenario: as the millions of Jews slaughtered in Hitler's death camps passed into the afterlife, they awoke to find themselves burning in hell. Not only was there a lack of food there, there was no food. Not only was there poor drinking water, there was no water. Not only was there pain, there was the most intense pain imaginable, and it was unrelenting. Sort of like being tossed into the ovens of Auschwitz alive. And not only did this suffering just seem like it would never end, it really never would.
It's been over half a century since Hitler's death camps were dismantled. So for more than 50 years, millions of Jews, who were former prisoners of the Nazis, have been suffering to an extent not even imagined by the SS, and for a much longer time. In fact, we can imagine that many Jews are longing to return to the vermin infested barracks, the moldy bread, the thin gruel, the backbreaking work and brutal treatment–if only to escape the agony of hell for a moment.
This is sick. Yet this is what I had to believe when I was a Christian. This is what the largest Protestant denomination in the world still teaches its followers (although usually indirectly), confident that God condones, and even created, a universe in which this occurs. And to what end? There is no point to Hell, so it becomes merely a cruel instrument of sadism. Sadistic torture of any person by another person is unacceptable. Why do Christians think it's okay when God does this?
And now back to the idea that hell might be a place of our own making, the consequence of rejecting God. If hell occurs when people don't want God around, and He leaves, what does that say about God? If all good things really come from God, isn't God big enough to fill the whole universe? Isn't He already doing it now? Why, in the future, must He parcel His presence to only those who appreciate it? Is the sun not big enough to give light to all the flowers, whether or not they are smart enough to realize from where those life-giving rays emanate?
And even if people really thought they didn't want God around, should God be such a poor sport as to leave just because of that? Christians describe God as a heavenly parent. What sort of parents would abandon a child just because it threw a tantrum and said that it didn't want them anymore? As parents, we are wise enough to realize that kids don't always mean what they say, or even if they do, that they are often merely acting as kids. And besides, we would never abandon them. Now the gulf of understanding that lies between adults and kids is not nearly as big as that which separates God from humans. So why can’t God be at least as decent and understanding to His own kids as we are to ours? Jesus said in Matthew 7: 9-11, "What man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?" I would like to add to that: "or what parent is there of you, whom if their child disobeys, will douse him in kerosene and set him alight? And what manner of parent who did this would call himself good?"<>It is a sad day when people condone the abuse of one human being by another. It is also a sad day when people believe their god does the same.
Aside from the incongruity of an all-powerful, loving God possessing the ability to intervene but declining to do so in the suffering and human misery we see around us, it is the Christian’s concept of heaven and hell that reveals Christianity, in my opinion, as a primitive and barbaric belief system unworthy of the many kind and compassionate people who subscribe to it.
In my talks with Christians offering a wide variety of perspectives, I have found virtually none who could deny a belief in some sort of hell. Biblically, the concept of hell is impossible to avoid.
Misguided fundamentalist Christians, wishing to convince nonbelievers that they will be tortured forever and ever if they do not convert, often point to verses like Revelations 20:10, “And the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented, day and night forever and ever.” (NASB) and Matthew 25:46: “And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (Matthew 25:46, NASB) in an attempt to drive home their point and to jolt the “sinner” into seeing the error of his ways.
Christians clinging to a literal interpretation of the bible will tell you quite happily about hell, referring to it with what I perceive to be an odd sense of relish using words such as “an unfathomable darkness” or a “burning solitary confinement.” In their zeal to persuade you to think as they do and to give them the respect they believe is due them, before it is too late, these Christians create morbid word pictures of hell and of you in hell begging for mercy.
Fundamentalist theologian, Charles Spurgeon, said this about hell: “In hell there is no hope. They have not even the hope of dying; the hope of being annihilated. They are forever, forever, forever lost! On every chain in hell, there is written ‘forever’. In the fires there, blaze out the words, ‘forever’. Above their heads, they read, ‘forever’. Their eyes are galled and their hearts are pained with the thought that it is ‘forever’. Oh, if I could tell you tonight that hell would one day be burned out, and that those who were lost might be saved, there would be a jubilee in hell at the very thought of it. But it cannot beit is ‘forever’ they are cast into the outer darkness.”
The first thing that came to mind after reading Mr. Spurgeon’s feverish tirade about hell is that this man needs his meds, and how. Another thing I find interesting about Mr. Spurgeon’s theatrics is that he states that there would be a jubilee in hell at the thought that all the “lost” might one day be saved, and not that there would be a jubilee in heaven. Oddly enough, many fundamentalist Christians seem to be quite attached to their belief in hell. When I once asked a group of Christians how they would feel if their God changed his mind about hell and decided to welcome all into heaven, they became quite angry and said that such a thing was impossible. I then quoted from the Greek New Testament where Jesus, when speaking about heaven, is credited with saying that “with God, all things are possible” but the fundamentalists were adament: they would not be refused the vindication of hell for those who did not agree with their supernatural imaginings.
As we as a society evolve, Christians evolve as well. For example, at one time, many if not most believers used the proverb “spare the rod, spoil the child” as proof that whipping their children with belts or “spanking” them with paddles was pleasing in the sight of God. Most modern Christians, however, take the advice of their pediatrician who warns them against using physical punishment as a form of discipline, and these Christians insist that the phrase “the rod” is only used by in this proverb in the metaphorical sense, meaning that one should not use appropriate discipline such as time-outs.
As Christians slowly but surely evolve, they change the way they approach scripture and how they interpret it. This is also true regarding their views about hell. Many if not most Christians have become sensitized to the brutal and evil implications of a God who would eternally torment people in hell and do not believe that their God would do such a thing. These modern-day Christians would find the words of dated theologians such as Spurgeon laughable, at best. Yet, sadly, just as there were once many Christians who hotly defended their “God-given right” to own slaves, there are still those in “Christendom” who cling to their belief in eternal torment and who are quite brazen in their use of scare tactics to manipulate the unsuspecting, the ignorant, the weak, and the vulnerable.
I asked many of these bible-believing, hell-preaching fundamentalist Christians whether or not they thought children could be sent to hell, and many asserted that yes, they could but that it depended on the age of accountability. Although this phrase, “age of accountability” appears nowhere in the bible, fundamentalist Christians often repeat such phrases because they heard the phrase used in a sermon and simply assumed it was in the bible. Christians believing in the fundie-created “age of accountability” doctrine will not cite a specific age at which they believe a child reaches the “age of accountability” and is therefore subject to being eternally tormented in hell, but they believe generally believe that this age differs for each child. Some fundamentalists will tell you that a five-year-old could be at the age of accountability, while others will say that ten is the absolute youngest age at which a child could be damned. How sad it is to think that there are actually people in this world who believe that there is a “loving God” who will someday drop five-year-old children into an eternal fiery pit.
I asked Christians who claimed to hold such a belief whether or not the knowledge that five-year-old children were burning in hell would have any impact on their ability to enjoy paradise, and their answers were stunning. Many Christians informed me that no, this fact would not take away from their happiness. Guess why? Because they would have no knowledge of it. Have no knowledge of it? I asked. You mean that your God is going to somehow inoculate you against any previous memories or knowledge? Do you mean to say that your God will wipe away memories of a beloved child? Will you remember ever even having given birth to that child? Many said no, the only thing they would be aware of is that they were saved by their God. I asked them if they thought that would be kind of a robotic existence. The replies?
Robot for God here!!!
I would be happy to be a robot for Jesus!
I would be whatever my Lord wanted me to be.
Would you be a killer for your Lord? I wanted to ask, but I restrained myself.
Christians tell me the bible says that the people in hell will be able to see the people in heaven, but not the other way around. How odd. This “paradise” described by Christians does not sound like much of a paradise to me. It sounds more like being confined to a padded cell in a mental institution, only being allowed out for regular praise sessions of the institute’s director. How much happiness could one be capable of after being subjected to a supreme form of shock therapy in which all memories of a past life and current knowledge of reality is suppressed? One fellow skeptic said to me: “The Christian’s view of heaven is sitting around strumming banjos all day. How fun could that be? Another said, “It sounds like heaven will be filled with robotic beings, completely subservient, with no possibility of resistance.” One Christian argued with this view saying, “No, that is not how it will be. Heaven will be a very busy place.” Why? What will there be to do? I can only imagine hundreds of zombie-like Christians lying passively on their pallets, managing a sort of half smile as they hear the day’s agenda being announced over the intercom: Attention Robots. Praise sessions for our Lord will take place at 9, 12, 2, and 5 today. How ghastly!
When Christians speak of the “hope that is within,” is it honestly a hope for this type of existence they are referring to? They can’t be serious. Even removing the possibility that children will be burning in hell and assuming there will only be unbelieving adults there, a belief in the sort of heaven and hell described by Christians is morally reprehensible. No true Christian could believe such a thing. It would be a contradiction in terms. The Christian’s heaven is not a place any sane or loving person would want to spend one minute, much less an eternity.
When I have explained these thoughts to liberal Christians, they shake their heads and say, “That is the viewpoint of the fundamentalists. It is not ours. We believe that Jesus desires that none should perish and that hell is not a burning pit, but merely a separation of man from God.”
Surely, this is a much nicer viewpoint than the first one. Granted, it is a little easier to accept. But one has to ask: What is this viewpoint based on? To believe the view presented by liberal Christians, one would have to believe that the writers of the bible got it completely wrong when they reported Jesus’s words on the subject of hell. While I can certainly understand the need on the part of the truly loving Christian to attempt to paint a kinder and more generous picture of God than the one the bible provides, one does have to ask the question: If the writers of the bible could have been so wrong in getting Jesus’s words down correctly regarding his view of hell (this view of hell from Jesus was referred to in all four gospels), how can we know that the writers got anything right?
Let us say, for the sake of argument, that the writers did get Jesus’s description of hell wrong and that hell is “merely’ a separation of man from God. Is this viewpoint really much of an improvement on or more compassionate than the first view?! I talked with a liberal Christian parent named Terry about this view. I asked Terry to answer the following “what if” questions:
What if one of his children chose not to believe in or “accept” the Christian God? Would that child then be doomed to spend an eternity in a place separate from his eternity? And if so, would he still want to or be able to worship the God that would make such a judgment?
Surprisingly, or perhaps not so surprisingly, the only answer Terry would give to this question is the following: “I don’t believe my children will reject my God.”
Again, I asked him, “But if they did reject God, what then?”
But still, Terry refused to answer the question, insisting only that, “My children will not reject God.”
I pointed out the New Testament claims that Jesus said that he had not come to bring peace, but a sword. He supposedly said that he had come to set husband against wife, father against son and that whoever would not choose him over even his own child would not be worthy to be his follower. I asked Terry what made him so sure that he would be the exception, but still he refused to acknowledge it as a possibility.
Is Terry’s stance an honorable one? I believe Terry when he says that he loves his children, but if his children know that their father believes they will spend an eternity separate from his eternity if they do not worship his God, is this really allowing them the freedom to make their own choice? Is this really love?
I can understand Terry’s refusal to answer the question because there are really only two answers to it, the first of which could not be acknowledged by a truly loving parent and the second of which could not be acknowledged by a truly sincere Christian.
If Terry had said, “Yes, if my child rejected God, he would be doomed to spending an eternity separate from me, and though I would be sad, I would still continue to worship my God,” Terry would not be a truly loving parent.
If Terry had said, “No. I don’t believe God would let that happen, and if God did let that happen, then I would not worship him,” Terry would not be a sincere Christian.
This is how hell places Christians in a Catch-22, in an impossibly unnatural position that I truly do not believe a loving God would impose on one of his creations. Yet, if Christians don’t really believe in hell, then why would they believe in a need for salvation? And if they don’t believe in a need for salvation, they don’t really believe in the message of Jesus. And if they don’t really believe in the message of Jesus, then they are not really Christians.
Many modern day Christians do not like to admit that they believe in hell, and yet without it, all other doctrinal tenets become irrelevant. A belief in hell, regardless of how conscious or unconscious that belief is, would be a terribly hard burden to carry around. I cannot imagine having to look at the world through a hell-stained lens. Every bright and joy-filled moment would become marred, every beautiful picture dimmed. No one should have to live their life fearing an evil dictator in the sky. No one should have to look forward to becoming a Robot for Jesus.
Robots do not have minds. Robots are incapable of bringing about
change in the lives of others. Robots are not morally responsible. And
most importantly, robots do not have hearts and are therefore incapable
of giving or receiving genuine love. There must be something better. If
there’s any hope at all of changing the world we live in, we must do
The title of this monograph speaks clearly for itself. I intend to demonstrate to the reader the absurdity at the very heart of the Christian faith. Why do I do so? It is such an action that a man might take towards his friend who still believes, at an advanced age, in the existence of "Santa Claus". Such a belief in an adult would hardly be considered healthy. So why does the belief in the foundation of Christianity, The Fall of Man, persist? I maintain that it is because no person sets aside their fear of final death and need for a watchful loving father figure long enough to seriously and soberly think it through. I have done so, and can honestly say that nothing could be more false than the idea of Original Sin and Salvation.
Even if you are a believer, a person of faith, I will ask you to look at the story as if you are not. Look upon the Genesis account not as you have always done, through the filter of faith, but with the detachment of one who seeks to gain nothing from the story; like an unbeliever. Read it as you would any other book, and judge it on its own merits.
Why did God put the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden of Eden? What purpose did it serve? Did God Himself need the knowledge of good and evil? Did He have to take a piece of the magical fruit now and again to refresh His memory? We can assume that He did not. Did any of the animals of the Garden need the Tree? We can assume not. What kind of tree was this? An apple tree, an orange tree, a banana tree? The bible does not tell us. How could a tree, an organism of wood and sap, contain the knowledge of good and evil? What capacity did it have for storing such knowledge, and how was that knowledge passed on by eating and digesting it? Allow yourself to think about that... Why, therefore, among all the useful and decorative trees in the Garden of Eden, did God deliberately include this tree, the tree that carries the warning: "in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die"?
Did He put it in the Garden as a temptation to tempt Adam and Eve? The bible says very clearly that cannot be the case. God does not tempt: "Let no man say . . . I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth He any man." (James 1:13) Therefore, we have a tree of a nature that we cannot comprehend, whose fruit is so sinful to consume that it would result in the immediate and eternal damnation of humankind, placed in a location so precarious as to make that outcome an inevitability, all apparently for no purpose whatever. Imagine a caring, loving parent leaving a loaded pistol in the playroom of a five year old child, knowing full well what the result will be, and watching from a crack in the door as the child blows his brains out.
Did God know Eve would eat the fruit? Of course He did! We are told by the bible that God knows all things from the Beginning unto the End. Did He not know Eve would give it to Adam? Of course He did. Did He not know that the serpent would tempt Eve? He did, if we are to accept the bible. Therefore, did Eve have any free will in the matter? Could she have acted in a manner other than God had foreseen for her? Of course not! How could she? How was the serpent able to speak? Did it give itself this remarkable ability? How does the mouth of a snake, with no lips or proper teeth, and no articulate tongue, form human words? How did the tiny brain of a snake become wise and subtle? Who made it so? Who was responsible for putting the principle actors-- Adam, Eve, the serpent and the Tree-- all together in the Garden of Eden? God, of course. The inescapable conclusion? That He put all the pieces on the game board, and enacted His own little drama, resulting in the deliberate, eternal damnation of Humankind. In the words of Ingersoll: could a devil have done worse?
We are told that at their creation, Adam and Eve, like small children, did not posses the knowledge of good and evil, of right from wrong. I wonder why God wanted to withhold this from them... Should Adam and Eve therefore be held responsible for committing an action prior to them having the Knowledge of Good and Evil? I would not think so. They disobeyed an instruction before they knew it was wrong to disobey. Was this the Ultimate Sin, for which every human being ever born was to pay with their eternal soul? Was that the worse thing that Adam and Eve could have done? They could have beaten and slaughtered each other, and destroyed their paradise. But they did not do anything so cruel or barbaric. They ate a piece of fruit, contrary to the will of an arbitrary god. People disobey God's commands millions of times every day all over the earth-- from lying and stealing to murder and worshipping other gods... why then was Adam and Eve's simple disobedience to carry such a heavy price? It would have been fair of God to give Eve this same warning...but He did not. He uttered it before He pulled out Adam's rib and made a whole woman. (Why did He not use the dirt again, I wonder?) We have no record of God or Adam telling Eve of this dreadful warning, so why should she be held accountable?
Would you treat your own children that way? Would you condemn them to eternal torture, infinite revenge, never ending intense pain with no chance of pardon, for taking a cookie out of the cookie jar before dinner, after you had told them not to? And would you condemn your children's children, and all generations that will come after? What sort of justice is this? No natural person can condone this. All that the Christians can say is that we cannot understand God's method of justice. That is all they can say.
Why should I be held responsible for Eve's decision to eat the fruit? Why should you? If your distant ancestor, four hundred years ago, killed a man in an act of cruel and pointless savagery, should you be handed a life sentence in prison for it? God Himself states in the bible that He does not punish the children for the sins of their fathers. Are we to conclude by this that we have no sin upon us as the result of our births? No stain of eternal depravity upon us? Might not the notion of Original Sin be the fabrication of the Church, in order that they might further their careers and ensure their survival? For if one does not need to be saved, one does not need priests and preachers. Christians tells us that without their religion, all of us are doomed without hope. They try to convince us of the dilemma they have created for us, then try to convince us that they alone have the remedy. Christianity cuts you and then tries to sell you a Band-Aid.
Because of the Fall of Man, we are told that it is not enough that we are good and caring people, not enough that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us, not enough that we forgive those who trespass against us. We must be baptized-- have our heads wet by a priest-- a meaningless gesture, and proclaim that we accept Jesus Christ as our personal savior. We must believe the unbelievable. A Hindu, who happens to be more charitable and humane than the best Christian, is nonetheless consigned to eternal damnation, just as the kind and gentle native of some tropical island who never heard of Jesus and his cross.
If, as the Christian doctrine teaches, the only way to salvation is through Christ, what became of all the souls of the people who died before Jesus' appearance on earth? All those Old Testament figures, all those who died in battle? Millions of people, to be sure. They had no chance of salvation before Jesus, had they? If we are to believe the dogma of salvation through faith, then we must believe that by their mere birth, they were consigned to hell without a chance, no matter how virtuously they lived.
Why do you suppose God waited so long to send Himself down in the form of Jesus? Did He care nothing for the souls of all those men, women and children born between the four thousand years of time between Adam and Jesus? What of all those instances when God commanded His servants to kill men, women and children, sparing no one, knowing full well that they had no chance to be saved? Why didn't Jesus appear in the generation immediately following Cain and Abel, when the number of persons on earth could be counted on one hand? The task of convincing people that Jesus was in fact God would have been effortless. In such a scenario, every human ever born would have a much fairer chance of attaining salvation. Because of God's failure to do this, however, the vast majority of people who ever lived were doomed without hope.
Christians tell us that Christ died to absolve Original Sin, so that all who believe in him might be saved. It is written that he came for the sole purpose of dying. Would it not then have been just as well if he had died of a fever, or of smallpox, or of old age, or from any other reason? We all suffer in some sense, and we all come into the world for the ultimately sole purpose of dying.
If Jesus Christ was in fact God, and if he came into this world to suffer for us as Christians tell us he did, then the only real suffering he could have endured would have been to live. His existence on earth was a mortal state of exile or banishment from Heaven, the most perfect place, and the only way back to the paradise that was his home was to die. Everything in this strange system is the reverse of what it pretends to be.
The sacrifice of Jesus was no sacrifice at all, for a number of reasons. First, according to the New Testament, Jesus Christ was God Himself. What possible inconvenience could death represent for an immortal god? None whatsoever. Would not God have an infinite capacity for enduring physical pain? Was crucifixion the worst possible way to be put to death? I submit that it was not. It is my opinion that burning to death by a slow roast would have been far more painful. The Church should know all about burning people to death, by the way, they did it enough. Their devices of torture were state of the art. Christ's suffering was negligible compared to those who disagreed with His Church. Additionally, Christ supposedly came back three days later. So just what was sacrificed? It's not a sacrifice if you take it back. And yet, the Christians claim Jesus made the most ultimate and perfect sacrifice. Is there anything more absurd than this?
The claim is made that the price for sin was so high that Man could not pay it. Only God could pay the debt. Like a father who assumes the debt that his son cannot pay, we are told that God allowed Himself to be sacrificed on the cross so that he can forgive us. So, your child has just taken a cookie out of the cookie jar when he wasn't supposed to. Now, to forgive him, you tell him: "Take this hammer and these nails, and nail me up onto a piece of wood until I die. Murder me, perform a human sacrifice, and then I'll forgive you for taking a cookie." Sacrifice the guiltless in order to forgive those who did no wrong, for a crime that was no crime in the first place.
Suppose that a man had been convicted of murder, and was about to be hanged The governor watches over the execution. Now suppose that at the moment the convicted man was about to be hanged, someone in the crowd steps forward and announces, "I am willing to die in the place of that murderer. He has a family, and I have none." And suppose further, that the governor should reply, "Come forward, young man, your offer is accepted. A murder has been committed and somebody must be hanged, and your death will satisfy the law just as well as the death of the murderer." Is this situation acceptable to any civilized person? Yet this is the Christian doctrine of sacrifice. I say, let the guilty pay for their own crimes. If I commit I crime, I will take responsibility for my own actions.
When is enough punishment enough? How much will the God of Love inflict upon His children? First there was the Fall from Grace. That was supposed to be the ultimate punishment, when mankind became separated from the presence of God and cast out of the Garden of Eden. When that did not succeed, God sent the Great Flood, and killed virtually every human on earth. When that did not cleanse the world of wickedness, Jesus came to earth and taught mankind about the fires and torments of Hell. This tactic is obviously failing, and we are told that even Hell is not enough punishment and suffering; for it is written that Armageddon and Judgment Day are yet to come. If God's justice was totally satisfied with the sacrifice of Jesus, as Christian Doctrine teaches, then why all the horror, torture and killing that is yet to come at Armageddon, where nearly everyone on earth, Christian and infidel, will be subject to pain, suffering and death? The reason is that I suppose that once you have a taste for a certain habit, it is difficult to stop. And Jehovah has certainly demonstrated that He has acquired that taste.
It is clear that Christianity is a gilded mansion built upon a foundation of sand. It's basis is not only unexplainable, but illogical and immoral as well. But, as people so often say when they are faced with such illogical, immoral conundrums that they can't talk their way out of, "God works in mysterious ways."
We are told that we must swallow this story, hook, line and sinker. We are told that God gave us the freewill to believe it or not believe it-- but this gift comes with a deadly threat. Believe it-- or be eternally damned. What kind of choice is that? Some people may be convinced that the threat is a very real one, and so they will believe any story that their preachers tell them. Under these conditions, some people can be made to believe anything at all.
Salvation is not awarded by doing good deeds, we are told by the church, but through belief alone. God can forgive all things, it is said, except disbelief. He will pardon the murderer of children, if he but falls down and begs for forgiveness, and accepts Jesus Christ as his savior. But He will not pardon the person who uses reason and honesty, and who finally decides: "I just can't believe it." I am told that it doesn't matter how good of a person I am during my life, because at the end of it, I will be asked: "Did you believe the one about the Garden of Eden?" I'll have to be honest and say, "No, I didn't. It was just too far-fetched. Sorry."
For me, I cannot swallow it, no matter how much I am threatened. I can't help it. It has to make sense to me... that's the way my brain works. If there is a god floating somewhere up in the vacuum of space, then he's sure to understand that.
If you do believe that tale, I'd have to ask you: WHY?
The devil has not a single paid helper. The Opposition employs millions. Mark Twain
Catch-22 is a book by Joseph Heller in which a man was faced with a situation that you could describe as being between a rock and a hard place–damned if you do, and damned if you don't. In other words, an impossible situation. That is what Christians are faced with when they are charged to carry out the Great Commission and evangelize the world.
Some Christians believe that those who die without hearing the Gospel are not automatically damned. Somehow, in the afterlife, they will be presented with the Truth, and have a chance to repent at that time. This may seem like a pretty fair scenario, except when you consider that Christians have been commanded to spread the Gospel message to as many as possible here on earth, often at great risk to themselves, and the people receiving the message. And the irony of this is, because of one thing or another in their lives, or maybe the imperfect manner in which the Gospel was presented to them, most unbelievers who hear the Message will not choose to believe it. Thus, they are damned to hell, with no further opportunity to repent. So the question arises: when will the Gospel message be more compelling and most accurately delivered–by us in this life, or by Jesus himself in the next? Obviously the next. For then you will already have one foot in the door, so to speak. No need to convince you of the afterlife, because you are already there. No need to make you believe in Jesus (and risk misrepresenting Him), for you can meet Him yourself. And what better way to convince people of the horrors of hell than to give them an actual glimpse into it? So if this is the case, telling someone the Gospel message in this life could well be the worst thing you could do for them. It’s sort of like surgery. Isn’t it better to wait for a qualified surgeon, in a sterile operating room, to perform the procedure?
Then there are Christians who believe that once you die, that’s it. There is no chance at salvation in the afterlife. What–you lived in South America in 31 A.D.? Too bad. Unbelievers who die go to hell, period, regardless of whether or not they have heard the Gospel. But then how can we believe that God is fair when He gives some a chance to repent, but not others? Usually those who believe this also add that there is something called "natural law," where even if you have never heard the Christian message, your God-given conscience will tell you what is right, and what is wrong. And the extent to which you follow that conscience will either damn you or save you. But again, that makes the whole evangelism thing meaningless. Why risk the crocodiles and the malaria in the jungles to bring the Word to the savages when they don't really need to hear it anyway? It makes any attempts to spread the Gospel an utter waste of time.
And then there are those Christians who believe in predestination. God knows who will be saved anyway. If you are predestined, nothing can stop you from becoming a Christian. And if you are not, nothing can compel you. Again I wonder, what’s the point of evangelism?
My pastor once gave an interesting sermon about evangelism, or "witnessing," as we liked to call it. In it he stressed the importance of our roles in saving the souls of the lost. He said that we must not miss an opportunity to witness, or the blood of those unbelievers we neglected to tell would be on our hands. I do believe that was the Sunday we plastered the nearby McDonalds with little green tracts, much to the annoyance of the custodial crew. But I find this sermon interesting because it conspicuously left out any mention of liability. If we shirked our responsibility, what then? We still went to heaven, and the lost soul still went to Hell. Where was the justice in that?
Recently I brought up the same question to the singles minister at a large Baptist church, who gave a sermon that morning on the importance of presenting a good witness to the world. He said that people often rejected Christianity because of the example set by Christians who were living unChristian lives. I asked him what happened to those wayward Christians who did not set a good example, and what was the restitution to those nonbelievers who were damaged by this? He said there was none, and that in the end, the behavior of Christians did not really influence whether or not an unbeliever became saved, nor did it affect their chances of getting into heaven. In fact, how Christians behaved really didn’t matter one way or the other. People either chose to believe, or they didn't.
Okay. Let's see if we have this straight.
Possible outcomes of the Great Commission, depending on what you believe
1) I can make a difference–my witness is essential.
This is the stand most Christians take, though fortunately, most are not very serious about it, or they’d be anxiety-ridden basket cases all the time. Unless they happen to be born salespeople (in which case they should also be getting rich on Amway), most people do not like approaching strangers at bus stops and sharing the plan of salvation, every chance they get. And since Christians do not fulfill this responsibility perfectly, thankfully for people waiting at bus stops, souls that are not reached go to hell, because God’s marketing team fell apart.
2) I can’t really make a difference–my witness is not essential.
Although most Christians will not admit to this, this is how most of them live. When thrust into an impossible situation, this is the easiest way to cope. Of course this makes the Great Commission a rather empty edict, about as useful as bailing water off the Titanic.
3) People who never hear the Gospel go to hell.
If you believe this, then there is no reason to believe that God is fair.
4) People who never hear the Gospel go to heaven.
Then sharing the Gospel message would be the worst thing you could do to them (see the parable about the sower and the seeds, Matthew 13:1-9), for you have just guaranteed that a large percentage of these heretofore innocents are going to hell.
5) I don’t know what happens to people who never hear the Gospel. God will take care of them.
Then should you really meddle?
6) Why are we even discussing this?
Amen. Please write your local televangelist or evangelical pastor, and tell him or her that the money you send them could be much better used feeding the poor, housing the homeless, or filling potholes.
Still, the Great Commission is of great importance to Christians, their raison d’être. But the fact remains that far more people will reject the Gospel message than will accept it. So despite their best efforts, and the fervent wish of the Lord, the devil still manages to steal far more souls than God, in all His power, can save. If we use the analogy that God is the Shepherd and humanity His sheep, then how good a shepherd is He? Let's say you hire a shepherd to take your flock out for the day. The job of the shepherd is to ensure the safety of the sheep, and to see that wolves don't eat any of them. But in the evening, when this shepherd returns with your flock, you find that most of your sheep have been eaten, and only a few make it back. How good a job would you say the shepherd did? Wouldn't you fire such a shepherd on the spot for incompetence?
Yet Christians tell us that God is a shepherd like this. Despite His Great Commission to save souls, most will be lost. Christians say that God will triumph and defeat the devil. What sort of triumph is this? And who defeated who? If God's will is that none should perish, and if He even gave His own son’s life to accomplish this, then He will have failed most miserably. For if God's aim is to save, and Satan's to corrupt, then despite the Great Commission and all His good intentions, God will have lost the game.
Okay. Let's say we ignore all this, and still believe that Christians should spread the Gospel message so people will get saved. Then what should be the most important thing for a Christian? Well, to save souls. This should outweigh politics, world hunger, sex, drugs, rock and roll, and even morality, for what temporary earthly situation is more important than the eternal destiny of a soul? If a little starvation can cause a community to get on its knees and pray to God for salvation, then why not? If a corrupt dictator oppresses his people enough that they turn to Christianity for release, all the better.
But again, Christians themselves don't quite believe this. Most of the noise you hear from Christian camps these days are cries for a return to traditional family values, stopping homosexualism, and getting rid of the Democrats. Not so much is said about getting saved. Things like anti-gay rallies bring Christians out in droves. Yet only occasionally do you see the lonely person handing out tracts on the street corner. But if salvation really mattered, then why is all this attention, or any, for that matter, given to these other issues? Who cares if someone leads a gay lifestyle? If he does not believe in Jesus, he will go to Hell no matter if he sleeps with men or women. Who cares if teens have sex? If they all became celibate, they'd still burn in hell without a saving knowledge of Christ. It's a classic case of fiddling while Rome burns. The only thing that should matter to Christians, is that thousands die every day and go to hell. Why try to feed the hungry? Better an empty belly on its way to heaven, than a full one headed for hell. Better the believing prostitute than the unbelieving, faithful wife. And besides, if people aren't going to become Christians anyway, why deny them some fun before they die?
Few things bring out Christians more than antiabortion rallies.
if you ask any of these angry, shouting, banner-toting people, they
tell you that the souls of all those millions of poor aborted babies
now with God in heaven. In that case, Christians should thank abortion
doctors, not condemn them, for they are the only truly successful
Where else will you get a 100% salvation rate? If these babies had not
been aborted, most of them would have grown up and not become
thus ending up in Hell. Getting aborted was the only thing that ensured
the salvation of their souls. So what if they missed out on life–what's
80 or 90 years lost now, compared to billions gained later? Who would
trade a brief life here on earth to avoid an eternity of agony in the
I realize this is getting absurd, but that’s the point. The Great
and its implications are absurd.