(How did I get to be the Jesus Boy of Everything? All I want is to node about punk rock and Mexican wrestling. Oh well...)
The moJoe/Quizro cage match continues, with our departure point being Christians don't believe that "being good" gets anyone into heaven. Bear in mind that these questions have been debated for the past 2,000 years and Quizro is providing only one point of view on them. As always, moJoe will be in italics:
Obviously there is the entire "No proof" thing, we will skip that.
Well, that's not entirely true. I have some proof:
A man whom has grown up deep in the jungles of the Phillippine islands and has never once in his life laid eyes on a white man. He has no idea Jesus even exists and yet still lives a decent life by anyones standards. I once asked a Christian fellow his take on it. He said, "Ignorance is no excuse, of course he will go to Hell". Uhh...
- The Bible, a description of these events by men who by most accounts were pretty decent guys and who suffered poverty, homelessness, persecution and death for talking such craziness - yet insisted right to the end that their story was true. Or if it's the case that these accounts weren't written by them, scholars say that they were at least written by their students in order to preserve their master's teachings. Not enough, you say, but the only details we have about the ancient world come from documents just like it, vulnerable to the same charges of doubtful origin and questionable veracity. (Nobody tortured Julius Caesar in an attempt to get him to recant The Conquest of Gaul, we know that he could be a right bastard at times, and he had plenty of reasons to exaggerate his own role in those events, but we take it for granted that his version was on the up-and-up.)
- The testimony of Christians over the last 2,000 years, a group that has at times included some of the most brilliant minds on the planet.
- My own experience. While I'm willing to allow for the possibility that I was delusional, my mental state at the time I accepted Christ was happier and more well-adjusted than ever - I wasn't in the depths of despair and desperately looking for a lifeline. But on the other hand I realize that the plural of anecdote is not data.
I would suggest that you don't become whatever kind of Christian that guy is. God hasn't told us what his plan is for people who haven't heard the gospel and have no chance of hearing it in their lifetimes. We just don't know. But I have to ask - what does this hypothetical tribesman's relationship with God have to do with you? He may never hear about Jesus, but you have. It seems the greater responsibility falls on you.
A person who lives a pious life but decides that Jesus isn't for them. Perhaps they were raised as a Hindu. They have faith. They have faith in what their loved ones taught them. They want to be good. Or Perhaps they just can't believe in something and have no faith at all.
I refer you back to Christians don't believe that "being good" gets anyone into heaven.
(Note 7/16/2000: Hmm...that's pretty flippant, isn't it? Let's just say that I personally am loath to tell people that they are going to Hell, since those decisions aren't mine to make. I do believe that those who have genuinely given their lives to Christ have an assurance of Heaven, and those who have not do not have an assurance of Heaven. You may say that this pointedly leaves out Jews, but since we preach that Christ and YHVH are one, I for one do not feel that this is true. Uber-orthodox Anglican C.S. Lewis hints that there's evidence that God looks kindly on those who follow the Natural Law as best they can, but I'm still in the dark about such things.)
Now how about a Christian. Donates to the plate, goes to study group, loves Jesus with all his heart. Problem is, he finds himself sexually attracted to other men. He not only commits this mortal sin, but feels no remorse for it. It says right in the bible that this is wrong. He is at peace with himself and just cannot see it as wrong. Does he go to H-E-double-hocky-sticks?
I don't have a particular position on homosexuality, but I do know this: through Christ, all our sins are forgiven. Theologians have had a hard time dealing with that ever since the beginning, because there are just so many things that they as human beings hate, they figure God must make all kinds of exceptions. But I believe the Bible points toward a radical grace - once saved, always and completely saved. Paul says "For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." And I do, too.
Everything is conditional and relative...
One of the few statements here I'd have to say that I totally, flat-out disagree with. Even when I was an agnostic I believed in good and evil as a reality. Me am no moral relativist. I'm not sure if you're presenting that as your own opinion, but looking at your other arguments I don't think so.
If you could feel see and hear the vibration of an atom 43 trillion light years away. If your existance dwarfed the very universe by way of trancending the mere physical, would you be THAT petty?
Petty? I don't believe in a god who's petty, but I do believe in a God who has rather strong opinions about right vs. wrong, one who "loves love and hates hatred", and who embodies both justice and mercy. His cosmically divine viewpoint doesn't erase those distinctions but instead makes them clearer than we can ever perceive. If he were mercilessly just and punished all wrongdoing, we'd all be in hell because we've all done wrong at some point. On the other hand if he failed to judge and just automatically forgave everyone indiscriminately with no repentance or sacrifice involved, good and evil would be meaningless and therefore you couldn't even call God good.
So this God we're imagining here, who embodies both justice and mercy, subjected himself to one of the cruelest, most painful, most humiliating and agonizing deaths our race has ever devised in order that we may be forgiven. And that forgiveness comes our way simply by believing that it's ours and asking for it. That seems fairly generous to me.
I have no idea what the state of Fred Phelps' immortal soul is - that's between him and his creator. But if a Christian's mission is both to see Christ in others and show others the light of Christ in him, I'd say he's doing an astonishingly bad job.