Greatest Love Story of All Time??

My very good Christian friend that I was debating all kinds of things with had the following to say to me at one point in our conversations… She said:

I think that H(God) totally understands the warped church that you were raised in (good intentions on the part of your Mom I’m sure, but still …), why you think what you think, and no matter what you think about him right now, or where you are with him right now, he loves you. Period. He knows what you’re going to do tomorrow, and even 10 years from now. He’s not frowning down on you because you aren’t reading your Bible every day. Does he miss you? Yes. But is he some unforgiving, mean, judgmental God who only loves you if you do everything “right” (by who’s standards?). No, he loves us “as is”. And forgiveness is what he is all about. How else do you explain Jesus. That is the greatest love story of all time if you ask me.

I know she means well… and she is trying to make me feel the “love” of God… but, is it just me… or does this really have some contradicting messages in it?

First of all, something that annoys me is that people think I am the way I am because I just wasn’t going to the right church.  While, I DO think the churches (plural, because there were in fact several, not one!) WERE warped – I don’t think they are the only ones like that.  And, I’m sure many others went to the same churches with different outcomes, or totally different churches with similar outcomes.

I know that wasn’t her point.  What I think she was trying to hammer home – was  the idea that God loves me… and is not judgmental… etc.   I get what she was trying to say… but it still doesn’t cut it for me.  I mean, don’t you have to take that part of the message of the bible (the warm fuzzy part), along with the overall message (the warm fuzzy unless you go to hell part)?   I’m sorry, it just…. doesn’t….  make…. sense to me.

I mean, IF He loves us “as is”…  no matter what… even if we are not “doing everything right”  – then,  why are there so many rules and guidelines on what we can or can not do?  Or on how we should change, or basically live our lives?  Why do we need so much forgiveness?  And ultimately, if he’s so understanding, accepting, and forgiving, and non-judgmental – then why is there so much condemnation and threats of hell?  And, how, can He actually send so many of “his children”, that he loves so and misses so much, to such a place?

Now, I know the old “love the sinner, not the sin” argument… and the parent/child and unconditional love arguments.  But, I also know that I would never send my child to Hell.  Regardless of whether I WAS right or not… or if they smartened up and listened to me or not?

Is there such a thing as “tough love” – yes.  Do we need to let our kids learn the hard way sometimes, or even lay in the bed they made to learn a lesson? Yeah.. I guess…  but, that is different than hitting a point where you completely abandon and give up on them – FOREVER.  I suppose some parents do that.  Does that make it right?  Maybe it’s just my warped, agnostic, maternal instincts, but I know that I personally would never completely give up on my kids… let alone condemn them to Hell.

Apparently, however, that IS what she believes.  That this all-knowing, all-seeing, all-powerful, loving and forgiving heavenly father of ours will eventually do just that, right?  He will send  any “non-believers” to Hell, right?

Or, if you want to get into the whole – “He doesn’t SEND us there, we CHOSE it” debate… then, still…  no matter how you look at it, he will at the very best basically LET any non-believers go to hell, right? (Because, I also have a hard time believing that IF He’s all that he’s cracked up to be, He couldn’t stop it if He wanted to.)  Which will bring up the old “free will” argument, and how he wants us to chose, he can’t make us, etc.  Another circular message!

Just because I don’t believe in something that makes no sense to me, does NOT mean I want to burn in hell eternally.  It’s ridiculous.  And, if he’s so all seeing, all knowing… etc…. you would think he’d know of a way to have handled this whole dilemma better.  There’s a good post on Heather’s I wonder as I wander Blog called, “they shall be without excuse” that gets into that whole aspect of this.  This is like saying that by not believing in Santa Cluas, you are CHOSING to be banished to the Isle of the Misfit Toys.   ?!?  I mean, come on…  where is the logic in this?  I told my Christian friend, “look… for the record… if someday it turns out that you are right… and I am wrong… and you are up in heaven… and you look down and I’m burning in hell.. .I just want it on record that I DO NOT CHOOSE TO BE THERE!”.  😉

But, that is what many good Christians seem to believe.  That when we die,  if we failed to “see the light”, for whatever reasons, we are just plain screwed, right?    So what does that mean exactly?  What do people think?  That we will face Him at the pearly gates, and what will he say? Something like –

“whelp?  you blew it.  I gave you lots and lots of chances – and now… I give up and you can rot in eternal hell..  forever and EVER.  Maybe next time you’ll listen to me.  Wait.  Scratch that.  There IS no next time.  (as if I didn’t know that! alomst gotcha, didn’t I? 😉 )   Yup.  You sure blew it.  I hate to say it… I really do… but… ummm… I TOLD YOU SO!  *sigh*… Ahhhhh… I just never get sick of saying that.  But, no seriously, it breaks my heart to know you’re doomed to eternal torment and all…  it really does…   but, you know you had your chances and those are the rules.  Must sure suck to be you. Whelp, I better get back to the GOOD Christians in Heaven who also no longer care about you, and go live happily ever after with them.  Buh-bye now.”

?????

Yeah.  Ok.  Greatest Love Story.  ??  Sheesh…  I think NOT.

Reminds me of the Carlin Vid I posted before on the “threats of hell” post I made.  Check it out for a laugh… (Carlin vid at bottom, not the hell vid at the top).

~smj

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26 Responses to “Greatest Love Story of All Time??”

  1. tobeme Says:

    What your freind was saying and much of what you have said is steeped in releigious dogma. There is not much in any logic in how some in Christian churches view God and the afterlife.
    I don’t think it as simple as our human life is over and we spend eternity in heaven or hell. I do believe that when this life is over that we transcend to another form, another leg of our journey, that our energy is eternal, however the forms that we take are temporay.
    Good post.

  2. Heather Says:

    **or does this really have some contradicting messages in it?**

    Yes. If God accepted “as is,” then nothing on your part would be required. You wouldn’t have to have a right belief, or the correct repentence and such.

    That, and if God knows you that intimately, how can God “miss” you? Or anyone, for that matter? I’ve never bought the idea that God is only a part of one’s life through an invitation. We’re part of our children’s lives, even though they don’t “invite” us. We never stop being a part, no matter what happens, because how we raise our children shapes who they become.

    **Which will bring up the old “free will” argument, and how he wants us to chose, he can’t make us, etc. **

    To go back to the children — how well would this work if we let a five year old run around with a knife? “Well, I wanted my daughter to *choose* to put the knife down. I wouldn’t love my daughter if I made her.”

  3. cipher Says:

    I agree. The concept of Original Sin is a projection of our own self-loathing. It never seems to occur to conservative Christians that if we “fell from grace” right out of the starting gate, something had to be wrong with the blueprint. The Free Will argument, absolving God of responsibility, is equivalent to giving a child dynamite, then, after he’s blown himself up, saying, “It isn’t MY fault. I didn’t light the match!”

    RE: eschatological scenarios – Christians often say that God will hold them accountable for not warning the lost. I once heard Jimmy Swaggart say, “On the Day of Judgment, the blood of the unsaved will be on our hands.” I’ve never understood this – I mean, they’re going to heaven anyway! What do they think God is going to say, as the damned are being dragged off to hell? “This is all your fault! If you’d done as I asked, none of this would have been necessary. Oh, well, now that that unpleasantness is over, let’s get the hell out of here!”

  4. Cafedog Says:

    I have a question SMJ,
    I virtually never talk about religion with other friends today, until i started blogging. And i notice there are a lot of blogs on Atheism, religion, and in your case the struggles with the questions all together. Do you, or do others talk freely about this with friends in the real world? I no know no others who call them selves agnostic, Are they all keeping it to themselves, like i do(until they get online?)

  5. samanthamj Says:

    tobeme –
    Thank you for the feed-back… and expressing a little bit of your own beliefs. So, do you basically believe in reincarnation? Or were you thinking more in abstract ways of “continuing” on? Just curious. I tend to think that we do (or our “energy”, or “spirit” does) continue on in some manner – like in our actions, things we affected, other people lives we’ve touched, things we’ve put in motion, etc. Those things continue on without us – but, remain connected to us always as well…
    ~smj

    ======

    Heather & Cipher –
    Very good points you both made. Thanks for the feedback. It IS contradicting and non-sensical, isn’t it? The whole parent/child relationship comparison to real life parents puts things in perspective. The scenarios you brought up are exactly what I was thinking about.

    Cipher said, …“something had to be wrong with the blueprint”.
    Right!
    ~smj’

    ===============

    CafeDog –
    You asked “Do you, or do others talk freely about this with friends in the real world?”.

    Well, this post here talks about the debate I was having was with a “real world friend”of mine. We’ve been friends since we were 14. And, I do have a couple other friends that I somewhat frequantly get into deep discussions about religion and such. However, even with my closest friends, who KNOW most of my history, my childhood, my relationship with my parents – it is still usually a somewhat strained conversation. Even with this one friend of mine, (who I probably talk to about such things more than any of my other friends – because we usually CAN agree to disagree) – I still tread lightly, chose my words carefully, and don’t often say exactly how I feel or think. Because, I don’t want to offend her.. or worry her… or upset her.

    A couple times, it esculated to arguments and I thought it was better to drop it, or not get into it in the first place. It’s just not worth it to me. It is usually my friends that will start to loose their cool – because they just feel so deeply and want to “save” me. I understand the power – but, sorta resent it at the same time. One friend even told me that she feels like it might be her “mission in life to save me”. ?!? She also said that I shouldn’t get mad at her or my other friends when they start bible-thumping me, because it’s just that they love me…like me… and because they DO respect my opinion so much about most matters, that it really bothers them that I am not on “their side” when it comes to religion.

    *sigh* Sometimes, I think I should just agree with them – say I belieive when I don’t… just to ease their minds… But, I don’t think I should have to lie to them.

    And, I don’t ever get into my history or thoughts with casual aquaintances or most relaitves, or co-workers, etc. – no. So, I do wonder how many more might be “lurking” out there like me…

    ~smj

  6. Andy Christensen Says:

    Hello. I am a believer and I found myself reading your post. I can’t resist trying to respond to it; I mean no offense and if I give any tell me and I’ll buzz off.

    I think just because there was a Fall does not mean God’s design was flawed. Without the freedom to choose to not be in a relationship there could be no real relationship. What was the chance of the first humans choosing God, and their descendants choosing God, and their descendants, etc., so there would be no Fall? Its hard to say. Yes, the stakes were very high. In my opinion God did what he did because he wanted to have spiritual children with whom he could have a real relationship. He knew that many would reject him and have to die. And He knew He would send his son to die so all would have the chance to live, and that only some would take the offer. A being without His love and creativity would have never bothered with it all.

    Good point about how a child doesn’t get to decide everything for themselves. I do think if a child decided to have nothing to do with their parents, then what kind of relationship really exists? Of course that rarely if ever happens, and a good parent will still take responsibility for the child. But at some point, the parent-child analogy becomes inadequate when talking about God and us. He is the creator of the universe; we are, relatively speaking, ants. He cannot impose himself on us the way a parent can impose their care on a child without making a relationship impossible. He takes a very soft approach to us and allows us to respond to His approach…or not.

  7. cipher Says:

    Andy,

    I can’t agree with the Christian concept of “choice”. Christians always equate making poor choices with a “rejection” of God. And, of course, if one “rejects” God, then one “chooses” hell. Reality is complicated, and we’re basically spiritual imbeciles; we stumble around blindly. We don’t know what we’re doing. You say, “He knew that many would reject him and have to die.” That’s bad enough, but, within the Christian context, we aren’t really talking about “death”; we’re talking about eternal damnation – eternal, conscious torment. It’s absolutely monstrous! Is this what you’re arguing for? A deity who created us knowing that billions of us would suffer unimaginably for all of eternity, so that he could enjoy communion with a few hundred thousand? And, this is about a half-step away from predestination – the belief that he preordained the damnation of all of those souls.

    I was arguing online recently with some conservative Christians about this. One of them tried to defend the concept by saying (and, of course, this wasn’t the first time I’d heard it), “It may seem cruel to us, but we don’t see as God does. After we die, we’ll understand why it’s all perfect and just and necessary. As St. Paul said, ‘We see as through a glass, darkly.'” That was precisely my point! We DO see as through a glass darkly – so how can we be held responsible for our “choices”? What good does having free will (if we indeed have it) really do us? Is it reasonable to put us in a situation in which our eternal destiny hangs on ONE decision – whether or not we accept Jesus as our savior? I can’t decide whether I want paper or plastic at the checkout line!

    Christians often counter by saying something like, “But all you have to do is to accept Jesus – how much easier do you want it?” I’m sorry, but, as much as they want it to be – it ain’t that simple.

  8. Heather Says:

    smj,

    ** Sometimes, I think I should just agree with them – say I belieive when I don’t… just to ease their minds… But, I don’t think I should have to lie to them. **

    I can very much understand this, because I sometimes feel it would be “easier” if I just told them I believe what they believe. Of course, I’d then have to go to a church and listen to sermons I don’t agree with, hold to doctrines I don’t believe with, and have discussions on topics I don’t agree with, such as the age of the universe.

    Plus, I’d only be doing it to make them feel better — and sometimes I want to point that out to them, because I wonder if they realize it? What’s driving much of their actions is their fear of seeing me in hell. But isn’t that a self-focused fear, and doesn’t that in turn mean it’s a selfish desire? It’s to relieve their own fear.

    **I think just because there was a Fall does not mean God’s design was flawed**

    But you can’t say that Adam/Eve were perfectly created. Had they been perfectly created, they wouldn’t have been tempted. They would not have had the capability to be tempted. Howevever, they were created with the ability to be tempted, they responded, and then were punished for it.

    **I do think if a child decided to have nothing to do with their parents, then what kind of relationship really exists?**

    The parents still wouldn’t punish the child for an eternity.

    ** He is the creator of the universe; we are, relatively speaking, ants.**

    Man is a little lower than the angels. Man is supposed to be the end all and be all of God’s creation. God specifically created people, he knows every hair on their head. He is the Father of all mankind. That is what I think most of us are responding to, in terms of the punishment aspect, or the concept of hell. And if we are ants in relation to God’s power … then you cannot hold man accountable for rejecting you if there’s that much of a gap between the two.

  9. Andy Christensen Says:

    Cipher,

    I don’t believe we were predestined to be saved or not. I don’t intend to argue for anything other than what the bible says. It does say that He has foreknowledge of everything.

    I don’t even try to guess what proportion of people will be saved. Jesus said that many travel on the road to destruction but few find the gate to life (Mat 7:13-14); I believe that.

    You seem to be asking how we can fairly be held responsible for a decision where the consequences are so great and we can only see through a glass darkly. I think the following scriptures bear on this:

    “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said [Paul was speaking in Athens], ‘We are his offspring.’” (Acts 17:24-28)

    Can we be responsible for whether we believe there is a God and whether we desire to seek him out?

    “’Has not my hand made all these things, and so they came into being?’ declares the Lord.’This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word.’ (Isaiah 66:2)

    Can we be responsible for whether we seek to be esteemed in God’s eyes or in our own eyes?

    “To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: ‘Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: “God, I thank you that I am not like other men – robbers, evildoers, adulterers – or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.”

    ‘But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”

    ‘I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.’” (Luke 18:9-14)

    Can we be responsible for whether our attitude about the wrong things we’ve done is one of remorse or one of defiance?

    If we can be responsible for deciding those things, I think its reasonable that we can be responsible for accepting or rejecting God’s offer of salvation through Jesus.

  10. cipher Says:

    Andy,

    I’m sorry, but we can’t even discuss this. I could not disagree with you more. Firstly, I don’t really think the scriptures you quote are addressing my argument. Leaving that aside, you’re beginning from the position that the Bible is the literal, unadulterated word of God. I don’t believe that. It may reflect the experiences of people who encountered God, but I see it as being reported from the human side. It was written by people whose world view is very different from my own.

    This is a variation on the very old Christian argument – “God has placed the truth within your heart, so you are without excuse.” In other words – “You don’t believe, because you don’t WANT to believe.” This is a way for Christians to rationalize the non-belief of those who disagree with them.

    There can be no dialogue between us. I’m sure you see me as arrogant, and I see you as someone who can’t think outside of the box. We’re coming at this from entirely different conceptual spaces. We may as well be speaking different languages; in a sense, we are.

  11. cipher Says:

    Heather,

    “What’s driving much of their actions is their fear of seeing me in hell. But isn’t that a self-focused fear, and doesn’t that in turn mean it’s a selfish desire? It’s to relieve their own fear.”

    I agree, and I would add this – the proselytizer isn’t really trying to convince you; he is attempting to convince himself. If he can convince you that he is right, then he really MUST be right, and he doesn’t have to confront his own lingering doubts.

    One of the early 20th century British authors – I think it was Shaw, but I can’t remember for certain – said something along these lines: “Missionary zeal is an outward manifestation of an insecure faith.” I couldn’t agree more.

  12. Cafedog Says:

    I ask you andy, why then has the majority humanity been left to be damned? Most of the world today or in history have not even accept christ. The Christian God is at least puzzling if not flawed. And if he has not only this few minority, why is a choice given, to be saved, not taken by the majority of Humanity?

  13. angel&devil Says:

    Hi Samantha – great sharing.

    The Greatest Love Story is also the Good News according to Christianity. Yet there’s also a big big contradiction to the Love Story – that is you MUST believe and accept the Love given and return the Love, otherwise you’re damned eternally. And the reason is – your ‘sinful nature’ makes you abhorrent to God’s holy nature. Does that sound like love?

    I don’t know about you guys/gals, but it is my very human understanding that Love given as The Ultimatum is not love, but manipulation in the name of love. Is Free-Will truly “FREE” when the only other option leads to hell?

    If the Bible is true – then none of us has any TRUE free-choice. There’s no choice but to accept Jesus or literally go to hell forever.

  14. Andy Christensen Says:

    Cafedog,

    I don’t know why most will not choose to repent and believe in the Son of God (apparently, assuming that’s a valid inference from Mt 7:13-14). That is a good question.

    angel&devil,

    Freedom to choose eternal life or eternal death is at least more freedom than being created without the ability to choose evil. In that case we would be unable to be in real relationships with God or each other, because a real relationship requires at least some degree of consent from both sides. We would be unable to give, receive or experience real love, to ponder the desirability of following or not following God, or to even have this discussion.

    In my view God has always avoided imposing one outcome on us because He loves us. He did not impose goodness, and He does not impose salvation. We are corporately responsible for choosing our sinful condition, and we are individually responsible for choosing to be saved from it. I resist efforts to reassign the responsibility for our spiritual destiny from ourselves to God.

    “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” (John 3:16-17)

  15. samanthamj Says:

    Andy –

    Thanks for your time and feedback. I do appreciate your making an effort to explain your take on things and doing it in a thoughtful and civil manner. I understand you probably also felt compelled to do so. However, I am sorry to say that I don’t feel like you’re telling me anything I haven’t heard before… several times.

    No matter how hard I try to grasp what you are saying – it still just doesn’t make sense to me. It didn’t even make sense to me when I was a “believer”. Which is why I stopped believing. It’s not like I didn’t try… or want to believe. I think you’ll find that many of us “back-sliders” really did believe once… (belive it or not!? 😉 ), and we really wanted to keep the faith… but, just couldn’t. It’s not like we turned our back on God and his word. You can’t turn your back on something you don’t believe is real.. but rather you realize there’s nothing there to turn away from.

    And, really.. why would I want to believe in any God who knowingly… for whatever reasons… takes NO responsibility in something He created… and results in million… billions and billions.. or lives/souls that will be not only “lost”… but, tortured forever in hell? And we’re not just talking ax murderers here… but, people from all walks and faiths. What kind of God would do this? I’m sorry… but, I wouldn’t even want an ant… or a spider (and I HATE spiders!) to be “eternally” burning and in anguish…. let alone “my child” or someone that I love… or even that I once loved. ?!? But, there is NO responsibility on God? It’s all our own fault. Our own responsibility. We just CHOOSE to rot in hell. ?? And, it’s okay that a place like Hell should even exist?

    Telling me I should believe.. or COULD believe if I wanted to is like me telling you that you should… or could… believe in Santa Clause… or any other ancient fable or god, that you have just plain written off as being UNbelievable for whatever reasons that are logical to you.

    Could you CHOOSE to believe in something that no matter how hard you tried… did not make any sense to you? Lets just say there really IS a Santa Clause. Surprise! Your parents were wrong… and all those TV movies were actually telling you the truth! Who knew!?! Could Santa really completely blame you for not believing in him? I mean, there WERE movies. Come on! But still… could he really blame you? When he never made himself real to you? Even when you really really tried to believe in him? Even when you begged him to be real and wished with all your heart? Or maybe your parents were Jewish and never celebrated Christmas and you believed them? When all the proof you saw… and sense that you could make… pointed to his non-existence (just like it really DOES in real life – since he’s NOT real)? But it is still all your own fault? Your own responsibility? And, even if it WAS your own fault… I could see him not giving you any presents or something… but, sending you to eternal damnation? Wow. That’s rough. Not a very nice Santa after all… is he?

    Obviously if we really could muster up even a bit of faith in God… and fear of hell… we would still believe. But, I just can’t… and so, I don’t. And, as much as you can’t understand how I can not believe in God… I find it hard to believe that you do. I try to respect your beliefs… but, I don’t understand them. At least, I am not judging you (or a Buddhist, or Jew, etc.) for your beliefs and thinking you are doomed… or need to be “saved” (however you want to look at it).

    I get the impression frequently that Christians think that non-believers are arrogant.. foolish… prideful… and think they are too good for Hell. I want to go on the record for saying I know I’m a “sinner”… I believe no-body is perfect (least of all me) regardless of their faith, or lack of it. I know I need to improve… and, I do try to do that. I just don’t try to do it by reading the bible (anymore). But, I do try. I seek help where I can… and I try to learn from my mistakes… and to move forward. I want what is best for my family and children… and for all of mankind for that matter. Just like any other person, and Miss USA. It’s not that I think I’m too good for hell.. it’s that I don’t think there IS a Hell.. OR a Heaven. Of course I am not CHOOSING to go to Hell… any more than you are choosing to go to the “Island of the Misfit Toys” by not believing in Santa.

    Lastly, and I mean this as nicely as possible, please don’t quote anymore bible verses at me. Firstly, because I have read the bible. And, secondly, as I tried to explain to my Christian friend – I don’t believe it is the end all answer to everything. At one point, I did… but, that was long ago.. and that was because that was what I was taught. These days I have a really hard time believing the bible is all true – AND it doesn’t make sense to me or therefore prove anything to me. It was written by men… for men… and has been changed and interpreted however men wanted of the years. Are there some good messages in there? Certainly. Are there some pretty far fetched and not so good messages too? I know you don’t think so – but, I sure do.

    Still… I’m always getting bible verses thrown at me by my Christian friends. I get it. It’s what they (and you) base everything on. Plus, then it’s not YOU telling me how it is.. it’s “God’s word” telling me. I guess, ultimately, it probably makes my friend feel better (and you) to know you “spread the word”… that “you tried”… that you did your “duty”. And, now, if I wind up in Hell… I get it.. it’s my own fault… so you don’t have to sweat it. But really, isn’t there any way to make a point without talking in bible verses?

    Ok… I’ve rambled enough… Sorry about that. I suppose we should probably agree to disagree at this point, eh? 🙂

    ~smj

  16. angel&devil Says:

    Samantha, cool it lol 🙂 Andy meant well. They all do. Accept a person by their intention, not methods.

    Andy,

    “Freedom to choose eternal life or eternal death is at least more freedom than being created without the ability to choose evil.”
    I’m confused with the ‘evil’ part. Your version of evil constitutes not accepting Jesus, no matter how ‘holy’ the person is on earth. A child molester could have chosen Jesus at the last moment of his life, thus he has chosen eternal life and evil.

    The Dalai Lama chose the way of the Buddha. The Christian God gave him a choice (is it really a choice?) choose Jesus (eternal life) or choose eternal death without Jesus. You’re saying that The Dalai Lama chose eternal death? but at the same time he chose doing good.

    Quote “In my view God has always avoided imposing one outcome on us because He loves us. He did not impose goodness, and He does not impose salvation. We are corporately responsible for choosing our sinful condition, and we are individually responsible for choosing to be saved from it. I resist efforts to reassign the responsibility for our spiritual destiny from ourselves to God.”

    (Big laugh) Dear Andy – According to the Bible – the outcome has already been imposed even before you and I were born since God foresaw everything. According to the Bible and according to you – I am going to hell no matter how I live my life on earth because I don’t believe in Jesus. You’re going to heaven because you believed in Jesus. The Dalai Lama is going to hell because he doesn’t believe in Jesus. The child molester who found Jesus at the last breath of his life is going to heaven because all his sins have been washed away by accepting Jesus. Please don’t tell me this is not the outcome as of now.. this moment? I know there’s a possiblity that me or the Dalai Lama decide to accept Christ some time in the future… but right now if we’re to drop dead – isn’t that the outcome? I know I know – I could have chosen Jesus, but I didn’t and God knew this would happen. Pardon me if I can’t understand your concept of “not imposing outcome”.

    You seem to believe that we are tyring to reassign responsibility of our spiritual destiny to God. That’s absolutely untrue. We’re just pointing out the obvious flaw in the Christian version of God.

    IMHO the God I believe in is ‘bigger’ than the God painted by the Bible. He will not punish people who have gunuinely lived a good life on earth by sending them to hell. He won’t show Himself only in one way (aka Jesus) and give us the Ultimatum to believe or rot in hell. He’s not jealous when I don’t accept his love, that he’ll resort in giving me no other choice but to accept his love or to sever all ties with me eternally. He’s not an egomaniac who created me in the first place, expect me to choose His love so that He and I can enjoy a real relationship out of choice, but at the same time He knew that I will not choose Him, so then He knew all along that I’m doomed to the Hell He created.

    The truth is as a non-believer, I’m more concerned with my spiritual life on earth now. Unlike believers, since my spiritual destiny is not in the hands of Jesus, in general most ordinary average non-believers I’ve met are good decent people, they search their souls and grow spiritually (in their own faiths), love others, live an honest life, renew their passion, take care of their families, help the weak, respect others’ choices in their lives, in short – we do our damn best in our lives on earth NOW and we don’t go around telling people how they should live their lives because there’s something inherently wrong with them (sinful nature) and they are all going to burn in hell forever. Wow – that was a mouthful and it sounds angry – I’m not angry just tired of being treated like ‘lost soul in need of saving’.

    I believe that you meant good Andy – and I applaud your courage to write and explain. I believe you’re a good Christian. Allow me to ask you some questions.
    Andy – can you see beauty in life without Jesus? I can. I’m sure Samantha can. Can you see unconditional love and extraordinary kindness in life without Jesus? I can and I have personally experienced it. Can you find purpose in life without Jesus? I can – and I’m sure many other non-believers can. Can you see selflessness and compassion in human without Jesus? I have seen countless situations.

    Can you see spiritual growth without Jesus? I can.. The Dalai Lama is a real life example of spiritual growth and extraordinary compassion. Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma is a real and living person exemplary of love, compassion, sacrifice, persistance, determination and great faith.

    If the Bible is true then all these things are null and void – since Jesus is the only way to eternal life. In fact all these people did all the good stuff (it’s not genuinely of God because they believe in pagan Gods) so they are all headed to eternal damnation. Wow! Am I passing the responbility to God here? Nope since I believe that God will never do such a thing.

    Andy, what we’re trying to say is this – the non-believers are perfectly capable of living good, ethical, passionate, fulfilled, purposeful, loving, honest life without Jesus. We respect all Christians and wish them well and we hope Christians will return the respect to us by not treating us like ‘lost sheep’, ‘sinful’, ‘cohorts of the devil’, ‘in need of saving’, or worse ‘incapble of living a life with morality & integriy.’

    We’re not perfect – we admit that we’re human and we do our best to learn, to love, to live, to grow. We may fail at times, but we pick ourselves up because there’s much in life to look forward to.

    Oh well – probably I’m just wasting time here since believers are supposed to obey the Great Commission. No matter what we say, they’ll keep trying to ‘save’ us out of good intention. Just suck it up and take it lol 🙂

  17. samanthamj Says:

    angel-devil –

    “cool it” ? Was I being rude or something? I didn’t think I was… and was not trying to be. I was trying to explain to Andy my side of things. In an effort to make my point – I was attempting to use a little humor… but, sometimes, I think I come off as sarcastic and testy in the process. My bad. 😉 LOL That’s all. If I was offensive – my apologies. I do understand Andy meant well. As do my Christian friends…

    That’s the trouble with these debates. They really do not go anywhere… and, it’s too easy to offend in the process. How can one possibly say what they really think/believe and not offend someone who is on the opposite end of the spectrum in the process… ??? And, why do I always feel like it is me that is more on the defensive, and trying real hard to not be offensive in the process? Somehow, I don’t think my Christian friend worries half as much about offending me, as I worry about offending her. Because, in her mind, she is doing what is “right”. Period. Not really fair, is it?

    I guess I’ll leave the deep debating up to “deconversion.com”, and other such sites that are better at it than me. 😉 LOL

    Thanks for your own feedback and thoughts on the matter too, angdev. I like your over-all outlook and appreciate your own good intentions as well.

    🙂
    ~smj

    ps – notice all the smiley faces I’m using this time in an effort to make sure you know I’m not mad or anything. LOL 🙂 😉 🙂 🙂

  18. angel&devil Says:

    Smj, was just kidding…. of course you weren’t rude at all, just felt your frustrations from your writings 🙂

    Yup – they have God on their side and we don’t. But we have our own mind and spirit 🙂

  19. Andy Christensen Says:

    I appreciate the willingness to discuss this. I tend to think debate is a good thing as long as somebody is learning something.

    There are a lot of questions I’d like to try to answer, but I’m not sure how much I can do that. I realize I’m a guest here. The reason I quote scripture is because I believe it has real spiritual power behind it to change lives.

    I am not trying to have the last word, I just want you to know where I’m coming from. I’m not just trying to carry out a duty; if that was my only motivation I probably wouldn’t be here. I believe the gospel of Jesus really is good news.

    angel@devil,

    In answer to your questions, I believe that everything good is from God. I don’t think someone is a morally inferior person because they don’t have a relationship with Jesus. I know there are a lot of wonderful people who don’t. Maybe that is where part of my motivation comes from… I believe that God took it upon himself to provide a Way for us to be saved. In my opinion, for God to condemn anyone to Hell is not something He does willingly, but because He has no alternative.

    Assuming the bible is true, there will be people from every nation, tribe and tongue in heaven. In my opinion this will include people who have never heard of Jesus. I never look at the Dalai Lama or anyone and try to play judge of that person’s spiritual condition. But I do believe that Jesus is the Way. This is a subject about which God has not given us many details, but I think He gives us a glimpse of it in Romans 2. (I won’t quote it 🙂 )

  20. cipher Says:

    In my opinion, for God to condemn anyone to Hell is not something He does willingly, but because He has no alternative.

    Oh, Andy, I’m sorry, but this is ludicrous. He supposedly set up the system. He decided that sin is so horrible that no penalty short of eternal damnation will suffice. Of course he has an alternative! This is the logic of the abused child – “Daddy doesn’t really want to hurt me. I’m so bad that he has no choice. I make him do it.”

    Even within your own camp, there are conservative Christian universalists who claim that if even one soul is left out, it will mean that God won’t have the victory – when the Bible clearly states that he will. If you want to be a Calvinist and argue that God doesn’t desire the salvation of all, that’s one thing (and I acknowledge that you already said that’s not what you’re arguing for). But don’t claim that he desires salvation for everyone – but, because of the nebulous concept of “free will”, he just can’t manage it.

    Those same universalists also ask, “How can we say that our power to damn ourselves is greater than His power to save us?” The idea is that, even after death, no matter how long it takes, he will draw all beings ineluctably to Himself.

  21. samanthamj Says:

    Andy –
    You and your comments are certainly welcome here. I appreciate your input, and desire to share what your believe is true, and good. And, I especially appreciate that you refrained from more bible verse quoting. I know that was difficult for you. lol So, thanks. 😉

    You mentioned you

    “think debate is a good thing as long as somebody is learning something”.

    I agree. I am not sure if either of us is really learning anything… or feeling like we are banging our heads into a brick wall… but, okay. As long as you’re head is still holding up, so is mine.

    My Christian friend also told me something similiar to what you said regarding wanting to share “good news”. She explained that she wasn’t “preaching at me out of obligation, or to judge me…. but, because she was so happy with her own (newly founded) religious experiences she wanted to share. She said, “It’s like when you see a really good movie, and you just want to tell your best friend, so they can watch it too… and you can both laugh together and enjoy it”. And, I said, “yes, but, what if you’ve already SEEN the movie the other person is telling you about, and you didn’t like it… and you don’t WANT to watch it again??”.

    Yeah… I think we hit that wall about then. LOL

    Anyway – I have to agree with Cipher’s feedback also regarding your comment about there being no real alternative for God (then to have a Hell, and send (or let) people go to it). No matter how you slice it… this still doesn’t sit well with me. As Cipher pointed out – that is an abusive type of logic when applied to real life relationships.

    I admit, I am going to be an extra hard sell on what you are trying to say here. Because, if I were to believe you, I would also have to believe that my own father *IS* in hell. My father was without a doubt, an atheist. I simply can not believe for a mili-second that he SHOULD be in hell… or that he is. No way.

    You might think this is just wishful thinking on my part. Well… maybe this is where my “faith” comes in. ?? I have faith that no god would do this. My next conclusion is that if no god would do this, than the bible and God I learned about can’t be true. My faith/belief on this is as strong as any belief or faith that you, or my Christian friends, may have in the bible, and in God as you percieve Him.

    ~smj

  22. Cafedog Says:

    If i dont understand gods actions, if i cant understand his actions it very hard for me to label him as perfect or pure. I cant say i “know” God or or any adjective… it really is just wishful thinking. Thats not neccarily bad, but nothing to test my value system in.

    SMJ sorry your comment ended up in my spam folder.. and i had some connection problems on line. will reply soon.

  23. Nikunj Says:

    One reason I don’t get into religious arguments is that people usually get sentimental about it. So I’d like to say just one line which I have felt myself and I base it on reading the basics of many religions: If you analyze any religious scripture about God and his thinking properly, in depth, in its general setting, without restricting it to just yourself, you always end up with this: A truly benevolent god doesn’t interfere with the universe. Infinite love equates to letting the universe unfold as it is.

    And if this is so, how does it matter if he is there or not. What matters is not in the sky, but under our feet. We, humans, and our good. I don’t know whats wrong with our minds that we can’t see this simple thing and get stuck in our heads.

  24. Cafedog Says:

    Thats a brilliant point, and i believe that if their is a creator God, that my own higher Values placed in humans and nature: That they are part of that the universe that flowered from Him, not in constant check with Him.
    we the the humans, nature, the universe, or Creator are no more flawed or perfect then any of the other. we just are being.

  25. samanthamj Says:

    Nikunj & Dawg –

    Right! and, thank you for putting that so well… both of you.

    “What matters is not in the sky, but under our feet.”

    and, we are inded, “just being”.

    I like that..

  26. V Says:

    smj,
    good post…and I also really like what Nikunj said…very well put…I think I will be sharing that line: “What matters is not in the sky, but under our feet.” SO true!


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