5/31/2006                                                                                       View Comments

A letter to Jesus

by Ian

Earlier this year, I was getting a bit fed up with religions and Christianity in general. It was a period where I was in the last stages of breaking off from organized religion, and as one can expect, it’s a difficult process.

At one point, I finally just got so fed up that I decided to do a little rant to try and get the frustration out of my system. This is the result:

To Jesus:

Okay Jesus, if you don't mind, I'd like to rant a little to get this out of my system.

For one thing, why on earth did you come to earth? Did you have even the slightest idea how your teachings would be taken and used for centuries afterwards? Did you foresee the rise of fundamentalists and evangelicals? If you did...aw geez, I don't even want to go there. Those guys used to creep me out. Now, they just annoy me.

Anyway, just why did you come here in the first place? I've heard so many answers and so many versions of those answers that my mind gets boggled down in thinking about it. Oh yes, i've heard the long toted "He died for our sins." one. After the first 2,947,281 times, it does get a bit irritating. Here are a few other answers on why you came to earth.

1. To restore our hearts to love...that seems to have half-succeeded.
2. To give us an example of individual Christhood.
3. To give humanity a new, better way to live.
4. To die for our sins.
5. To show humanity what it can do.

That's just five of them. There are probably thousands of them out there. Tell me Jesus, what is it? Which one is it? Which one of these answers is the one we're supposed to know?

And I want to tell you one thing Jesus: I have no interest in worshipping you. None. Nada. Zilch. Why? Because I am so tired of people turning you into some kind of golden calf to dance around, praise, and worship. When I see people holding up hands, swaying around and singing songs...to me, it looks like some sort of brainwashed cult ritual. Everyone is so focused on one guy that it frustrates me. People turn and worship you, apparently not getting up and trying to get going on their own feet and working out their own spiritual mission.

Oh yes, they are in a way, but it's by turning to an assembly line religion, a consumer based one. If you do this, you'll be saved. If you accept Jesus, you'll go to heaven! Nothing else required!

Please. From what I see, that's laziness. Turning to a guy and letting him do all the work for you. Anybody can turn to you and get off the hook. No need to pay back for any damage you've done, no need to take responsibility, nothing. Just turn to Jeeeezzzzuusss and you're saved!

Damn, I'm angry. Sorry Jesus, but i'm angry. Spirituality is about finding yourself, understanding yourself, and knowing how you fit in with God and the entire universe, with all of existence. It's about answering the question "I am? What am I?" Spirituality is not about depending upon other beings or other people to do the work for you, or to make your life suddenly easier. It takes effort, discipline, focus, and a desire to know, to experience, to overcome.

And yet...when I look around I see a cult of Jesus worship.

Of course, i've probably got it all wrong. But then again, I don't even really know why i'm angry at Christianity. Maybe it's the feeling of self-righteousness (We're saved and you're not! I'm saved and you're not! We're the chosen ones! Etc.) that it can give some people. Maybe it's the use of power and fear to control. Do this. Do that. Don't question heathens or the unsaved. Read your bible. It is true, blah, blah, blah.

Oh, and don't forget the kicker. If you don't follow this religion, you're damned to hell for all eternity (while we get to be with THE LORD in heaven!). Why? Because you've sinned, and the wages of sin are death. And in death you'll have to pay off those sins, and the only thing that will warrant is eternal punishment.

Bullcrap.

Horseshit. Pure and utter horseshit. No God is so enormously cruel and unmerciful, especially if he is perfect, that he condemns people to hell for all eternity, especially for finite human mistakes. He certainly wouldn't send people to hell just because they weren't christians.

Oh yes, i've heard the phrase "God doesn't send us to hell...we choose to go there." Wait a minute! We "choose" to go to hell?! Okay...how does that work? How does one "choose" hell? Who in their right mind would choose hell?! Just because we chose not to believe in christianity does not mean we've chosen to go to hell. We just don't believe in that faith. We didn’t "choose".

Now, I am of the belief that some may go to hell because they fit in. Because in the spiritual world, you go where you fit in, right? You go where you fit in. If you don't like where you are, you can choose to leave.

I find it sick and disgusting that some believe that God will not allow any soul to be released from hell, no matter how much begging, pleading, or tearful apologies are given. What kind of asshole God would be so cruel as to keep genuinely sorry people in hell forever? A true asshole, that's what. A psycho God who's not even worthy of being worshipped.

Yeah, I made a cuss word. But it's an insult to a false god, a crazy human made god who has human traits and human emotions like anger, regret, and all other crazy traits. If God is as great as I have come to believe from NDE readings and research, then God really is without limit, without end, and infinite. A being of infinite love and acceptance, of forgiveness and understanding. A God who is not crazy, who is not psycho, and definitely NOT an asshole.

Yet why are people not following this kind of God? Why have they instead focused on you, rather then the being who they should be turning to? I just can't understand it. We should worship God, not the messenger. We should give thanks to God for helping us, not his supposed son. The focus should be on GOD, not, and I mean not, a man.

People sure do have an interesting way of turning people they admire into idols. It seems to have happened with you. You've been turned into an idol that automatically saves everyone who pledges allegiance to you. That seems to encourage spiritual laziness, of staying with the same thing year after year when one should keep evolving, keep searching, and keep moving upwards, not staying with the same rituals, the same books year after year. If there's one thing i've learned in this short time on earth, it's that everything is changing and evolving. Those who do not adapt and evolve die. It is inevitable.

Yet people turn you into an idol and keep you like that. They've written an entire book surrounding you. Why can't people just see that the book is the works of people, giving you their own opinions and their own interpretations on things? They are telling you what THEY think about things. The authors are telling you what THEY believe to be true. And yet people take this book to be the infallible word of God. Please. I just can't accept that. No ifs, ands, or buts.

In fact Jesus, I find it funny how there are ARMIES of people out there to explain every little thing about the bible that's hard and clearly the work of humans. Apologenists really amuse me. It makes me shake my head that there are entire dictionaries and encyclopedias based completely on bible difficulties, showing that it is not a perfect, timeless work.

And please people, for the love of God, please stop saying that the bible is "true" or that it is "the authority" or whatever you can come up with. I hear "the bible is God's word" or "the truths of the bible" so often that I oftentimes want to take whatever is saying it and chuck it out the window or smash it with a hammer.

And you know Jesus...the thing is...I don't know why i'm so angry at religions, at Christianity, or you.

I don't know why i'm so upset and angry at. Is it the self-righteousness? The threats? The fear? The saying that if you don't accept Jesus you go to hell? What is it? What do I detest, what do I dislike so much that I feel compelled to lash out, to rant and rave at what I...what I...

...hate.

Hate...

It's a nasty word. It's an extremely negative one. In all our languages, in all our customs, there are few things as negative as hate. "I hate you." "I hate this." All such negative things. Where love is not, fear, anger, and hate take it's place.

I know hate is bad for me. After all, it's the opposite of love. It's the opposite of who we really are, what we really should be. Humans are once both the most beautiful, and the most ugly creations on earth.

We are the only creatures that hate. We are the only ones that kill each other over petty issues such as fossil fuels, disagreements, and what we believe in. We go to war, we dress up in uniforms and get loud sticks and kill each other. Slaughter each other. Butcher each other. We soak our soils and our dirt with human blood. And for what? For thinking that one of us is right and the other is wrong? That we need more fuel for our cars?

We pollute our planet. We dump waste into our water. We suck our resources dry like there's no tomorrow. We are, as Agent Smith so correctly pointed out, a virus. We suck up all the resources and move on when there's nothing left.

We are, in a way, so ugly.

And yet...

...we also are the most beautiful things too. We can love each other. We may be the only species on this planet that has the best grasp of what love is. We may be the ones that treasure it and value it the most. We have the ability and the capacity to love each other.

When we love each other, then we undo the damage. We can work together. We can agree to do things to make life better for everyone else. We can put our combined talents, our own efforts and skills to make everyone's life better and more happy.

When we are at our best, we shine like stars in the dark night. When we are united, we are beautiful and wonderful. We have so much potential within us. We all have the spark within us. We all have the power of God. To create, to marvel, and most importantly...to love. To love what we create, to love ourselves, and most important...to love each other.

Why can't we get that?

Why can't we just see that this is all we have? Why can't we see that we shouldn't spend our time debating endlessly about who is right, who is wrong, and what faith will save us?

Maybe that's what I don't like about Christianity, or any religion for that matter. It separates us, places us into different camps. Saved and unsaved. Believer and non-believer. We are good and you are wicked. You are damned and we are saved. We have the truth, the way, and we're the only place you can find it.

Maybe I don't like that some religions call some saved and others wicked. Maybe I don't like how people use the Jesus idol as an excuse to do all sorts of atrocious things, to do unspeakable acts of cruelty.

There's the obvious stuff of course. The inquisition, the witch hunts and the burnings at the stakes.

But...sometimes the damage is not seen. The cruelty is not witnessed, yet it is there nonetheless. This type of cruelty may be more awful then that which can be seen.

It is the cruelty against the soul. Of spreading the cancers of fear, uncertainty, and of separation. It's the cruelty of telling someone that they are damned. It is telling someone that you know everything and they don't.

My younger sister was once told by one of her closest friends that because she wasn't a christian, she was doomed to hell. My sister cried for hours. That act of supreme cruelty bit just as deep as any inquisitor’s blade. Yet the friend thought it was true.

And this is what I don't like. Her beliefs placed people into separate camps. My sister was damned and she was saved. Such an attitude is toxic and corrupts. It can drive people apart, which happened with my sister and her friend. They no longer talk to each other. The beliefs of separation, of grouping and classes drive people apart.

I don't like that. We are all one, whether we believe it or not. What we do affects each other. Why can't we just get rid of the excess garbage of endless debates about why this guy is right and why this guy is wrong, or how this person had an axe to grind against christianity.

Why can't we just get rid of all this? Why, Jesus, can't we just get rid of it? These kinds of arguments waste our time. Precious time that we can put to good use helping others, of helping make everything all right for each other. We refer each other endlessly to writers like C.S. Lewis. I don't care about C.S. Lewis. I could care less about the guy. I don't care what he said or why he said it. Christians point him out endlessly and tell people to read his books.

So what? Really, so what? Why should I care? I have much better things to do with my time. In the time it would take to read one of his books that promotes christianity, I could make a person laugh with a joke of mine. In the time it would take to read his views on why Jesus is savior, I could help brighten a child's day by finding a book he's looking for.

Aren't these things more important? Helping other people over reading the books of C.S. Lewis? Is reading a man's "lord, liar, lunatic" theory more important then comforting someone who is sad about something? For that's one thing i've realized Jesus. When one can spend endless debates about what faith is right, what is right and wrong, what is good and evil, one can do other things like helping a person out, by helping them discover their true selves, by awakening that little light within them, by helping them to love others.

The one thing I have learned is that these debates about the damned and the saved, of the christians and everyone else, is that they leave a negative energy. These debates try to place people in groups. They try to separate, when we should be coming together. When we should be uniting and helping each other, we simply talk about who is saved and who is not. And I see now that it's a waste of time. We are all one. Why can't we act like it?

When I read books about faith, or even glance at them, I see that they are trying to prove that they are right and others are wrong. It's a frantic scramble to get high up, to be an authority, to get to the top of the hierarchy. It's about power, and showing that you are right while others are wrong.

We insult each other, put each other down, try to make each other look like idiots and proclaim from our pews and our buildings that we are saved and they are not, while the others are doing exactly the same thing.

And for what? All we're doing is separating each other. We're pushing ourselves apart from each other, rather then tearing down the barriers and coming together. We proclaim that when the final judgment comes, God's chosen people will be saved while others will burn forever. Don't people know how much that separates us? How much that drives people into fear and terror?

If the God you know Jesus is perfect and benevolent, loving and caring towards his creations, then I can see no reason why there would ever be a last judgment. I cannot see why you would come down here and solve everyone’s problems for us. We made the mess here on earth, and we need to learn to clean it up. I need to learn to be more environmentally focused. I'm not perfect. Nobody is. Yet our species needs to learn about responsibility and taking care of our possessions. Religions paint the hope that a guy on clouds or chariots is going to come down and magically solve all our problems (including chucking all the non-believers into hell).

When I see end times, I see threats. When I see the last judgment, I see the inquisitors blade, cutting deep at the mind, and I see cruelty with that blade.

When I see Billy Graham at his mega speeches, I see a man who is turning others to christianity by fear. Turn or burn. If you are not a christian, you go to hell. I see people like him turning humanity against itself. I see people like him spreading the cancers of humanity. And it's in your name, no less.

Aren't you sad about that? Aren't you sad at all?

If we're not careful, one day humanity will be made up of groups, each convinced that we are right and everyone else is wrong. If such a day comes, then perhaps it's best for our species to go extinct, to fade into nothingness.

What would our final legacy be? Billions of years of history, thousands of years of human thought, philosophy and ideas would all serve one thing...we would be a warning. If aliens came to our ruined cities and our empty tombs, and if they would find what we left behind in books, films and thoughts, they would see a species at war with itself. Primitive, angry, torn against each other. Instead of uniting, these people had separated, convinced that only one group, one way, was right. Instead of learning lessons on how to be good and responsible to our beautiful planet, it spent all it's time focused on this system that said not to bother with today, think only of tomorrow.

And perhaps those aliens would wonder why we spent so much time on that instead of helping each other, of loving each other, and helping to make our lives better.

They would probably wonder why we spent so much seeking to put each other down and convince each other that everyone else was wrong. They would probably wonder why we just didn’t get together and help each other.

Our only legacy, our only memory would be a warning to others. A warning not to separate each other, to apply labels to each other. To say we're saved and you're not.

That's what I don't like about christianity Jesus. I don't like how it separates, how it places humanity into different classes. Saved and wicked.

It's like cancer.

That's why I found NDE's to be so refreshing. They emphasized love, oneness, and how we will all come home in the end. No idol worship. No rituals. Just a simple message of love: Love God and love others.

Isn't that what you said? Isn't that what you said was the most important commandment, that was more important then all the others? And yet...whenever I point that out to christians, they usually just say "well yes, but..." Why? Why can they not see that it's all about love? About loving each other, helping each other, and accepting each other?

Why is it that when I try to promote universalism, some try to put it down? Why is it that some say only a group of people will be saved, while others will not? The cancer of separation shows it's head in the ugliest of ways.

I admit that i'm not perfect Jesus. I am not perfect now, and I will most likely not be perfect during this lifetime. But i'm going to try. I am damn well going to try to do the best I can. I am going to try and help the others around me, even if it is only with a joke, a smile, or a shared laugh. Couldn't the world use more of those things instead of more idols to worship?

I am not going to worship you. Why? Because I want to focus on God, not on someone who is apparently God's only son, a claim that I find ridiculous. We are all one. We are all God's children. We are all God's sons and daughters. And looking over some of your teachings, there are some I don't agree with. I don't want to hate my family. I find your saying that if someone does not hate his family, he cannot be your disciple. I don't agree with that.

If you could directly intervene here on earth Jesus and change one thing, I think I would ask you to please show people to stop placing you into such a high, unreachable position. I would ask you to please show that you are there to help them if they want it, and that they can go to God in their own way if they don't want to do it your way. I would ask you to please just stop all the idols and the separation between people.

We are all one. Why can't we act that way? Stop the threats, stop the hellfire and brimstone. Stop dividing people into groups of saved and unsaved. And just stop all the fear and the superiority.

Stop trying to prove each other right or wrong. Stop trying to put others down. Stop saying that Christianity is superior to other faiths. Stop with the books that say Jesus is the only way to heaven. Stop with the smug superiority of essays putting others down.

Stop doing those things for God's sake, and for our sake. It's killing us.

Why can't we all just get along? We're all children of God, no one is unloved or loved less then the others. We all have to play together nicely and share our toys. We don't have to spend hours debating which toy is the best, or which way pleases our daddy the most.

We're all children, and our mother/father loves us all. Why can't we just get that? We're on the playground, endlessly threatening each other and dividing each other into camps when our daddy is just outside the playground, where we can all come to him in any way we want. He is there, arms open, just waiting for us to come. All we have to do is walk to him.

Why would we need you to get to our daddy Jesus? Can't I just come to him as I am? Can't I just go to God's safe arms and be with him as I am, in the way that works for best of us? Can't I just be with my God?

Can't I just love others without being threatened with hell?

Can't I just help others without worrying about damnation or separation from others?

Why can't I just be as I am? Can't I go through life as I am, as I have been forged and created to be? Can't I just be myself?

Why can't we just be kind to each other?

Why can't we all just get along?

5/20/2006                                                                                       View Comments

10 Things I Hate About Commandments

God…the parent with an enormous ego?

By Ian

If you died this minute, went to heaven and met God, what do you think God would ask you?

Would God ask you if you are a Christian?

Would God ask if you if you accepted Jesus?

Would God ask you if you went to church on Sundays?

Or…what if God asked you none of these things? What if God asked you something else?

What if God, instead of asking you if you were a Christian or not, asked you what you did with your life?

Instead of asking you if you were a Christian or not, what if God asked you how many people you loved during your life?

Instead of asking you if you accepted Jesus, what if God asked you how many people you helped during your life?

Instead of asking you if you went to church on Sundays, what if God asked you how often you volunteered to help others who were less fortunate then you?

If God asked you these things, what would your answer be?

***

Most religions teach that one day we will be judged for all our earthly deeds, after which we will go to heaven and hell (sometimes for a period, sometimes for all eternity). As an ex-christian, I still believe in this model, except now I see it in a much different fashion and manner.

Along with the idea of a day of judgment and/or reckoning, most religions that believe in God also teach that God will be the one that judges us. But what if these religions have gotten it wrong?

The purpose of this article is to explore the idea “Does a perfect God have an enormous ego? And if God does or does not have said ego, what does God want us to do?”

***

As an ex-christian, I once believed that one day I was going to be judged, then sent to either heaven or hell based on whether I had accepted Jesus or not. Now I look on that system as very unfair, for it is based on personal belief, rather then creed. This is one aspect of Christianity that I personally do not approve of. More often then not, Christianity seems to value creed over deed, valuing words over actual deeds. You cannot get to heaven based on what you do in life, we are told by Christianity. You can only go to heaven by accepting Jesus's gift of salvation.

Why?

Why can't we get into heaven based on our deeds? Isn't that system more fair, more just? It gives everyone, no matter who they are, or what they believe, an equal chance of getting into heaven. If you are good, decent person who helps others, then you'd have no problem getting in. If you are simply a person who sits around praising God all day and never lifting a finger to help your fellow man, then you'd have a much, much harder time getting into paradise.

When I see this argument of deeds being more important then creeds being debated, Christians often say that not one imperfection can be allowed into God's kingdom, nor can any mistakes or flaws be in God's presence.

Why not?

Why does God have an enormous ego?

Does God have an enormous ego that demands perfection? If so, then why does a perfect God have an ego in the first place?

If this idea of no imperfection being allowed into heaven is correct, and if the idea of no mistake being allowed near God, then God is truly a God with an enormous ego unparalled by anyone, including Lucifer (that is, if you believe in Lucifer. I personally do not).

If you ask one hundred people to list out all the traits of God that they can think of, more likely then not one of the most common will be "perfect." A general trait of God that is agreed upon by most followers of religions is that God is perfect, that God is perfection in every way. God is without error, imperfection, or flaw. God does not make mistakes. God is incapable of making mistakes, and God is not capable of making flaws in anything God creates.

If God is perfect, then perfection should bring certain qualities and personality traits (for the sake of this discussion, we will assume that God does have a personality). Granted, as no one is perfect, we really don't know what a perfect individual is like, but I think they would have these traits:

1. Unlimited patience, forgiveness, and tolerance.

2. Does not get angry or upset.

3. Treats everyone perfectly, equally, and fairly. Does not hold any one person or group higher then others.

4. Works to heal and correct people, rather then working to punish and harm them.

5. Is interested in everyone's happiness and well-being.

Those are some of the traits that I can think of off the bat. I can also go one step further and assume that God is higher and more perfect then I am.

If I try to be kind and tolerant towards others, then a God who is perfect has more kindness and tolerance then I do.

If I want to make the world a better place with more love, acceptance, and tolerance for everyone, then a perfect God would be interested in that too.

If I never want to send anyone to hell for all eternity for never-ending torture and punishment for limited human mistakes, then a perfect God who is higher and better then I am would not send someone to hell for all eternity.

Granted, this is a short list, but it could go on for much longer. If God is higher then me, nicer then me, and all around better then me in every aspect, then God must be a pretty nice guy (or gal).

If God is perfect, then God is above the frailties and weaknesses found in human beings. If God is perfect, then God does not get angry, furious, or upset over the things we get angry over. God does not go into a searing rage or get angry because people don't go to a building and worship him once a week (or five times a day or whatever).

***

The playground

***

The article "The Narcissistic Allah" by Faiyaz Taffakur (found here http://www.islam-watch.org/FaiyazTaffakur/AllahNarcissist.htm) has several excellent points about what a good, benevolent God would be like, and what that God would not be like. Because Mr. Taffakur's points are very good, I will list them out here.

1. A good person never expects anything in return, when he does a good deed to another. He would never expect the other person to thank him for the rest of his life, or bow five times a day before him, nor would he curse him or hate him for not thanking him.

A good, all-around person, as the article points out, does not expect anything in return when doing good deeds, nor does he desire to be thanked for the rest of his life. Now, if we assume that God is better and more perfect then said good individual, then we can assume that God does not require us to worship him, nor does God require us to sing praises to him.

Think about that for a moment. God does not require you to worship him (or her). Can you get your mind around that? A God that does not demand worship or praise? I can.

If God is all powerful (another trait that most religions agree upon), then God could get anything he wants. If God wants a super-delicious taco salad, then God could easily get a super-delicious taco salad. If God wants beings to worship him, then he could easily create some angels whose only desire in their existence is to worship the creator, then he could easily do that.

If God created the heavens, the earth, the solar system, galaxies, the laws of nature, the elements and everything that is in existence…then what could God possibly want from you?

If God is all powerful, perfect, good, humble and loving, then God would not want your worship or your praise. Granted, it would be nice, but it's not required.

If I was a contractor who built a school or a playground, the one thing that would please me the most is watching children run onto and happily use the playground, or to go to the school and learn things there. I think it would bring me great joy to watch what I built bring happiness to those who use it. I would be delighted if the children came up to me and thanked me, but I would be happy just sitting on a bench, watching kids enjoying themselves on the swings.

Perhaps God is the same way. If God is bigger and better then me, then God would be like me in the example above. God would have created the earth, set us on there, and then sat back and watched to see what we would do. I think it brings God (though I am an ex-christian, I still believe in God) great pleasure to watch people enjoying his creation and playing with it. If I would be delighted in watching children enjoy the playground I built, then God probably enjoys watching his creations enjoy the earth he created.

If I did create the playground, I wouldn't go up to the children, constantly demanding that they thank me and praise me for giving it. The kids might do it at first, but would eventually stop coming because they feared going near the crazy builder who constantly demands their thanks for my work. Now, if God is better then me, then God would not constantly tell us to thank him for building us this earth, which brings us to the next great point in Mr. Taffakur's article.

***

God the parent

***

2. …A good person doesn’t praise himself. He in fact remains humble even when his accomplishments are praised by others.

Now, if God is good, perfect, and more humble then I am, then God does not demand worship or praise for the things he/she has done. If God has created me, then God does not demand that I worship him for creating me.

Many people see God as a parent, so let's look at this model. God is the great daddy (why not mommy?) in the sky who watches us, rewards us when we do good, and punishes us when we do bad. God is the giant human parent, and we are the ignorant, sinful children of that parent.

What if this view of God is wrong? What if God…is not our parent? What if God is our creator, but not our parent?

People like the idea of God being our parent, because in a way, it assures us that we are being watched and cared for. However, there is one problem with the idea of God our parent. What is that? It is simple.

Does a human parent demand worship from his or her child?

Does a human parent punish a child for the rest of it's life for one mistake?

Does the human parent demand that the child submit to his or her will for life?

Does the human parent want the child to follow him or her on it's knees, constantly begging for help or relying on the parent for the rest of it's life?

The answer, hopefully, should be "no" to all these questions. Yet, at various times or another, humans give these ideas to God the parent. God the parent has to punish us for our actions to correct us.

It's the classic question: What parent takes their child, throws them in a gasoline filled bathtub, and sets it on fire, leaving the child to burn forever?

People may say that God punishes us in life and not after our death, but the most common thing I've read from Christians is that we can obtain forgiveness for our mistak…oh wait, that's not the right term…sins, through Jesus, who paid the price for all of them by his death on the cross. If we don't accept his gift, then we have to pay for our mis…pardon me, sins…in the only way we can…by an eternity of punishment and torture. You can commit only one sin in your life, such as…oh…wanting something that's not yours…and you'll go to hell for all eternity to pay it off, even though you can't possibly do so because you have an eternity to do so.

I personally find the idea absolutely ludicrous. No human mistake is punishable by an eternity of fire, flame, and torture. None. There is absolutely no human error that is worthy of eternal torture and hellfire.

Now, that does not mean that everyone should get off scotch free for what they do. If I absolutely had to send someone to hell for something they had done, then I can't imagine sending someone away to be tortured for all eternity.

Let's use the following example. Hitler is in a room, completely naked, and with nothing to hold on to, or to use. The room is wired up in a certain way that when you press a button, it will be heated up. The longer you hold the button, the hotter it will get.

Now, here's the question: How hot would you make it be, and how long would you keep it that way? Another thing to keep in mind is that no matter how hot it gets, Hitler will not pass out or faint. He will remain wide awake.

How high would you go, and for how long? I can imagine some people turning the temperature way up and leaving it that way for a few hours…maybe for a few days. A person who hates Hitler with a passion would probably keep it up for a very long time.

But how long would you go? You are in control of Hitler's fate. You are the ones with the buttons. You are the one holding it down, and you are the one watching him.

Can you imagine it? You're next to a room where a person is being tortured. He is on the floor, naked, screaming at the top of his lungs in unbearable pain. His skin is cooking, turning a horrible red, being seared while still on his body. He thrashes and writhes on the floor, shrieking at the unimaginable pain. He can't think of anything but the pain, and as a result, he cannot speak, except maybe to utter an agonized plea for mercy.

Can you imagine watching that? Can you imagine watching someone being tortured like that? I don't like watching people in pain or suffering. When I saw the pictures of the Iraqi prisoner abuse, I immediately thought, no doubt like many other people, that I could never do such a thing, and I don't think anyone would want to.

I don't think we're born with an ability to torture or hurt other people. Such a thing is learned, not inbred. There is such a thing as defending yourself and fighting for your life, but torture and the desire to harm and hurt another human being out of anger and hate is something that you learn. It's not something you're born with.

Can you see where this is going? If I were in charge of punishing Hitler, I can see myself only keeping him in a hot room for maybe less then a minute. If you want someone to change themselves quickly, give them ten minutes of hell.

If I had the ability to choose a penalty for Hitler, I would not choose an eternity of torture. I would require him to make up for what he had done. Perhaps I would have him be reincarnated, this time to help other people and save lives, rather then taking them. Rather then torturing someone for all eternity, which does nothing except satisfy someone's ego, I would have Hitler work to undo what he had done.

Now, if I would have Hitler make up for his actions, rather then torturing him, what do you think an all-perfect, better then me God would do? If my sense of justice is to have someone make up for what they have done, then what is God's justice like?

Although I am not a parent (being nineteen years of age as of this writing), I can guess what I would want a child of mine to do when he or she made a mistake. If my daughter broke a window, I would ask her to help clean it up and buy a new one. If my son hurt a friend's feelings, I would have him apologize and make up. If my daughter painted my van bright yellow, I would ask her to please help paint it back to it's original color.

Having children take responsibility for their actions and help make them up for their errors produces more responsible and well-adjusted children as a result. It shows them that their actions do have consequences. But even if we have to punish and correct, we don't do it forever. It is only for a limited period. It is better to make them make amends rather then punishing them severely and not having them make amends.

Maybe that is God's justice. Having us make amends for what we have done in life. If God punishes us (and I personally don't believe so), then it would only be for a short period, until whatever happened has been fixed and made up for. I cannot possibly imagine a God of perfection and unlimited love banishing someone to hell for all eternity.

Let us assume for a moment, that God is our parent. But let us also assume that this parent is the best one we can possibly have, since this parent is perfect, does not require or want anything from you, and wants you to be happy and successful in your life.

Now, here's a question for all you readers who are parents. Do you allow your children to be near you? Do you let them stay in your house?

Really, it's a simple question. It's not a trick one, I promise you that. Do you, as a parent, allow your children to be near your or to live in your house (or, if they are grown up, to visit)?

If you said yes, then you are better then the popular image of God as parent. How so? It is simple.

If you are a parent, you are no doubt aware that your children have faults. They may be lazy, or they may overeat and skip their homework, or they just may be uninterested in actual work. But even with their mistakes, do you love your children? Do you let them hug you, faults and all?

If the image of a perfect God is correct, then God will not let you, his creation, be near him. Why is that? Because if there can be no sin or mistakes near God, then perfect God will not let you near him. If you come to him with a mistake, God will get furious and send you away because you're not perfect (but that's a paradox, since everything God creates is supposed to be perfect). God, it has been said, cannot tolerate the presence of sin (question: If God is sitting down in a room and sin enters it, does God get up and leave?).

Yet God is supposedly perfect. God is supposed to be all-knowing. Now, if a perfect being has unlimited forgiveness and acceptance, and if God is your parent, and God loves you, then shouldn't God welcome you into his presence with open arms? If you love your children and accept them, faults and all, then why can't a perfect God do the same?

Only a person with an enormous ego demands perfection, even when it knows it cannot be done. The ego puffs up the individual with a self-righteous attitude, making the person more important and better then everyone around them. They are all less, and are not worthy of being with such an esteemed person.

If God cannot tolerate mistakes or the presence of them, then God has an enormous ego that has boosted God's self-righteousness into the stratosphere.

Yet if God is perfect and without human faults, then why does God have the greatest ego in all of existence?

Let us take another example. Once I asked a young christian why we needed to accept Jesus. He said so that our sins could be forgiven and so we could enter heaven without sin. I asked why we couldn't get into heaven without Jesus. His answer? He sadly said that no sin can be in heaven.

Hmm…

Here's another parent question that I asked before. Do you let your children, faults and all, live with you (or if they are grown up, visit)? Or because they are not perfect, do you kick them out side to stay in the rain and the muck?

If you answer yes to the latter, then child services should be around to pick up your child any day now. Again, this is the ego at work. The ego demands perfection even when it cannot be reached. Love accepts people, regardless of their faults or shortcomings. The ego knows about the mistakes and banishes the person who has them. Love knows about the errors and the mistakes, but accepts the person nonetheless.

That's what good parents do. Even if their child has made a mistake, the child is still loved and still accepted. If they are trying their best in life and in school, they shouldn't be thrown out into the streets because they've made a mistake. I still live with my parents and I make mistakes. I constantly forget to take the trash out. I'm sometimes lazy when it comes to doing my chores or something else.

Yet, despite all that, my parents and I love each other. I live with them in our house, and they accept me, faults and all. If we follow the fundamentalist christian view, God would instantly throw me out of the house and into the street since I was faulty and had made mistakes.

After all, this "god"'s ego demands that there are no mistakes in heaven, and this "god" cannot tolerate even the slightest mistake. The only way I could get back into my father's good graces is by accepting Jesus's blood sacrifice for my mistake.

Yet, if God does not have an ego and is better then us, then why should he not accept us home? If we can accept our children, faults and all, into our house, then why can God apparently not do the same? Only a divine being with an enormous ego that demands perfection and cannot withstand mistakes refuses entry to it's creations.

If God does love us as a parent and with a love that is far greater then ours, then it should be well within God's abilities to accept us, faults and all, into his home.

***

Perfect God and sacrifices
***

Let's tell a story. A few years ago, a child is trying to help daddy out with a project that is due for a big event. Daddy needs to make some flagpoles and has asked the child to help saw the ends off them.

Eager to please daddy, the child begins to saw away at the pipes that will make up the flagpoles. Working long and hard, the child does almost all the pipes before accidentally cutting himself on the hand. Bleeding heavily, the child goes inside to ask daddy for help.

While being treated for the cut, daddy goes outside to check on the child's progress.

Seconds later, the child hears daddy groaning. Going outside, he asks daddy what's wrong. Then daddy turns to the child, holding his head in frustration and gritting his teeth.

The child's heart freezes. He's never seen daddy angry like this before.

"What the….the….goddamit!" He says. "Damnit, damnit, damnit!" Daddy grabs a spare pole and slams it to the ground as hard as he could. He spins towards the child, his once kind face now twisted and red with anger. "How the fuck could you do that?!" He hisses. "How the goddamn fuck could you mess up like that?!"

The child backs away from the father.

"Well?! Answer me!" The father hisses. "Answer me Goddamnit!"

The child is terrified. No answer he can give will satisfy his daddy. If he says he diddn't hear daddy correctly (which is what happened), daddy will call him stupid and that he's an idiot. If he remains silent, daddy will get more and more angry.

The child cannot speak. Fear has gripped his heart and is holding it in a vice. His daddy is in a rage, and the child has the horrible feeling that daddy may take the pole he's holding and bash his brains in.

Suddenly, the child's older brother comes up. "Father, there is no need for this." He says. "I have paid for his mistake in full with that accident I had two years ago."

Instantly daddy calms down. His anger goes away. All is forgiven, for the older brother had paid for all his younger sibling's mistakes and errors. The daddy smiles, his anger gone. All is forgiven.

Does that story sound odd to you? A child makes a mistake, makes daddy furious, only to have his older sibling come in and save the day because he paid for the child's mistakes years earlier? The child is now off scotch free, with no need to make up for his mistake.

Doesn't that sound odd? The parent's anger can only be quenched by the older brother sacrificing himself for the younger one. You can probably guess who daddy is, and who the older brother is.

The idea that our mistakes can only be made up for by the sacrifice of Jesus is, in my opinion, ridiculous. It let's people off the hook and allows them into heaven without regard for what they have done. In this model, God is a seething, angry individual who loves us, but has no qualms about punishing us forever and ever with torture. Only through Jesus's sacrifice can our mistakes be forgiven and washed away, with no effort on our part.

It's a system that does not teach personal responsibility. It is a system that is based on creed, rather then deed. Accept Jesus's gift of salvation and forgiveness and you can go to heaven.

Does the parent need an intermediary between him and his child? Can the parent not talk to the child directly and forgive him or her for what they have done? If God is our perfect parent, then God does not need an intermediary between us. Parents can forgive their children directly, without needing someone to be between us. If we as parents can forgive our children for their mistakes and move on, why can God not do the same? In Christianity, this God is apparently only satisfied with eternal punishment for making mistakes. This God is not capable of forgiveness if you are not a christian.

Yet this is the point: If God is greater then us, then God has no problems accepting those he loves, faults and all, into his presence, and God allows those he loves, faults and all, into his house, then it should be very easy for God to forgive us for our mistakes as parents do with their children. Forgive and forget.

A perfect God does not punish someone for all eternity based on an honest mistake is not a God worth worshipping.

The story I told you above is true. It is a real incident that happened between me and my father four years ago. I tried to help saw some poles for him, but I cut my hand with the saw, eventually leading him to discover that I had messed up all the poles.

I had never seen my father that angry before (and to this day, I haven't seen him that angry since). He was raging at me, furious at what I had done. He had a pole in his hand, and I suspect that if something else hadn't caught his attention, he would have bashed my head in with it.

But unlike the story above, there was no elder brother. There was no instant forgiveness and an "everything's all right." No. There was running from the house until my heart was ready to burst, there were tears and crying. Then there was hate. I hated my father then. I hated him for being so angry at an honest mistake that I had done. I hated him so much I wanted to be the one with the pole, and I wanted to bash his head in for frightening me so much.

Yet…time went on, and the incident quietly faded away. My father and I eventually got back on solid ground. Eventually there was forgiveness between us, and now we're back to normal. I still have the scar on my hand. It is healed now, but it is plainly visible, a reminder of the most horrid day of my life.

It took time, but eventually our relationship healed.

If it was Christianity, and it was me and God, the relationship would never heal. I would still be in hell right now, being punished for accidentally messing up on the flagpoles. My human mistake would be punished with an eternity in hell because I was not forgiven (considering I haven't accepted Jesus). I would be there forever and ever, roasting because of a mistake, and an ego-driven god who cannot stand mistakes.

If the relationship between my father and I can heal, then why can't it be the same with a perfect God?

***

What would God want us to do?

***

Remember the questions at the beginning of this article? The ones about what if God asked you what you did with your life, who you loved, and who you helped?

What do those have to do with God the parent?

Before we answer that question, let's ask another one for all the parents currently reading this. What is your greatest dream regarding your children? What is it you want to see them do with their life? What would please you the most with what they do in life?

Think about it for a moment…

...

...


Have you got an answer yet?

I asked my father a few days ago what he hoped his children would do in life. I asked him what his greatest wish regarding my sister and I would be.

His answer? He hoped that we would grow up, become successful, well-balanced individuals who are active in their community, who would help other people, treat others like they want to be treated, and who would eventually become more successful then their parents.

Isn't that a nice dream for every parent to have? To have their children grow up, be successful, and eventually reach, and even surpass, their own success.

Here we go again. If God is like a parent, only without human frailties, human weakness and human anger, then what would God's greatest dream be? To see his creations become successful, happy, and mature beings.

Instead of wanting our worship and our praise...maybe God wants us to grow up.

Maybe, instead of wanting us to go to a building once a week and sing songs, maybe God wants us to grow into mature, well-balanced individuals who are capable of love, mercy, forgiveness, and with the ability to help others.

We are told that we were made in the image of God. Perhaps instead of us being little mini-human versions of God (with God being a big human), maybe we have God's power and love within us, just waiting to be released. Perhaps God wants us to grow and evolve to the point where we are like him, where love is our highest priority, where we help others constantly without thought of getting something in return, and helping to make the world a better place.

Near death experiences have much to say about our life on earth. Even if you do not believe that near death experiences are real (or, if you believe that they are a satanic deception), one can find some amazing insights about our lives.

Often, the most fascinating part of an NDE is the life review, where the individual having the experience sees their life from beginning to end. They see everything they ever did, and how it affected others. If they hurt someone, they see and feel that hurt. If they loved and helped someone else out, they will feel that love and happiness that they gave.

What are people asked about regarding their lives on earth?

"What have you done with your life?"

"How much did you love during this life?"
"Did you love others as you are being loved now? Totally? Unconditionally?"

"How much love did you give others?"

"What did you do with the precious gift of life?"

Howard Storm had this to say about life from his NDE.

"Mistakes are an acceptable part of being human. We are here to make all the mistakes we want because it is through our mistakes that we learn. As long as we try to do what we know to be right, we will be on the right path. If we make a mistake, we should fully recognize it as a mistake, then put it behind us and simply try not to make the same mistake again.

The important thing is to try our best, keep our standards of goodness and truth, and not compromise them to win people's approval. God loves us just the way we are, mistakes and all. When we make a mistake, we should ask for forgiveness. After that, it would be an insult if we don't accept that we are forgiven.

We shouldn't continue going around with a sense of guilt, and we should try not to repeat our mistakes. We should learn from our mistakes. God wants us to do what we want to do. That means making choices - and there isn't necessarily any right choice."


What is the most insights gained from the life review? Here are the most common:

*Loving others unconditionally as we love ourselves is the most important thing we do in life.

* Loving others is really the only thing that matters in life and love is joy.

*At the end of her NDE, Sherry Gideon was told this by a spiritual being. "You must help the world to understand that they must give of themselves freely without expecting and love is all there is!"

* I wish I could tell people: It isn't just about believing in God or heaven or Buddha or UFOs, that is important. It's about believing in peace, love and human compassion. It is about valuing life and living it, meeting your potential and following your heart and soul.

It is about living a life in contact with others, the way that you want to be treated.

Every day, you touch someone's life. It may be in line at the grocery store, it may be someone you work with, see at church or school or just walking down the street. Just your very existence, has in some way touched their life. Likewise for those you come in contact with, even briefly. They have touched you, had some impact on your experience no matter how minute it may seem at that given moment.

Cherish each moment from each person who touches your life. They may have taught you something you didn't even know you learned. You may have taught them something you didn't even realize you could teach them. Feel compassion and empathy for them because you do not know that you haven't known them before, or during this life, or that you will not know them again in your future. You do not know how valuable, what little seed of knowledge they give to you, may be to your future or theirs.

Don't wait to find your heaven in the clouds. Find it here on this earth and in this lifetime because it exists and it will be for you what you make it and what you are willing to accept of it…A heavenly existence for any of us will be what we have made of our own individual earthly existences, the truths we have lived and taught and believed in our current lives, and the love, peace and compassion we have known for ourselves and those we have touched. Anything else will be what we make to be our own hellish existence. (Tina, near-death.com)

The most common response one finds is that life is about LOVE. It is about other people. Life is about loving others and helping others.

It's not about being a christian and praising Jesus

It's not about being a particular faith

It's not about how pious or how rich you are

It's about love and about helping others

Think about this for a moment. The most common thing said about life from a life review is that what matters most in life is how much we love others and how we help others.

Imagine that. The thing that matters most in life is loving others. It's not about religion, or being Christian, or praising Jesus. It's about loving each other. Maybe that's what we're here to do. We need to learn to love each other and get along with each other, no matter what our personal beliefs are.

One of my two favorite NDE accounts (Mary W from nderf.com) has a moment where the woman experiencing the NDE reviews her life with God. I will repost it here for your reading.


"With that, placed in front of me to see and feel was a review of my life … in color. I had to see and feel all the good I had done (and the good I didn’t even know I did).

I actually could feel the joy each person felt when I touched their life in a loving way. I was getting “caught” doing something right for once in my life. During the good He was telling me “I am so proud of you!” I felt such joy for making Him so proud because I never realized what that felt like because I always felt like I couldn’t do anything right. Reviewing my random acts of kindness gave me the most joy because I was able to feel the difference I made in someone’s life that I hadn’t realized at the time …and I didn’t even know them. I was shown it is not the big things we do in life that make the difference. It’s all the little things we do each day that make the difference. Little acts of kindness mean so much to God.

Also, I had to see and feel all the hurtful things I had done (even the hurtful things I didn’t know I did). I had to feel the persons’ hurt I caused. But… you know how we are taught that we will stand before God and be judged one day? …God was not judging me. I was looking at my actions…with God at my side loving me while I was judging myself …and believe me, no one can judge me any harsher than I already judge myself. It was like getting “caught” by my parents when doing something wrong, only worse.

During the hurtful review I was so ashamed and there was no hiding. My immediate thought, and I said it out loud, was “I’m ready …I belong in Hell …I don’t deserve to go to Heaven!”

But it felt like He took hold of my arm as I was making my way to Hell and said “Wait a minute young lady you get back here! You don’t understand and I’m going to explain this to you.”

He was asking me “What different choices could you have made? What are you learning from this?” Not yelling at me and saying “How could you do that!?” or, “You’re going to Hell!” This was clearly not the punishing God I had been taught to believe in. The hardest part of this was realizing He had already forgiven me …I was having a very hard time forgiving myself. He showed me how I couldn’t let His love in without, first, forgiving myself. Punishing myself didn’t make me better in His eyes, accepting His love was what He wanted from me.

Once I was able to accept that God only loved, it was easier for me to openly and honestly look at my life. I wanted to learn as much as I could… I had so many questions. God loves me the way I love my children. Even when they do something wrong I still love them. I’m not happy with their actions but that doesn’t change my love for them. I hurt for them and …I make them take responsibility for their actions. There are no strings attached to God’s love. "

In case you missed it, take a look at this part again:


"During the hurtful review I was so ashamed and there was no hiding. My immediate thought, and I said it out loud, was “I’m ready …I belong in Hell …I don’t deserve to go to Heaven!”

But it felt like He took hold of my arm as I was making my way to Hell and said “Wait a minute young lady you get back here! You don’t understand and I’m going to explain this to you.”

He was asking me “What different choices could you have made? What are you learning from this?” Not yelling at me and saying “How could you do that!?” or, “You’re going to Hell!” This was clearly not the punishing God I had been taught to believe in."

In this experience, God is asking Mary (The woman experiencing the NDE) what she learns from her life experiences. Rather then punishing her for her mistakes, God simply asks what she can learn from it.

I think this is what God wants us to do. Go through life, experience things, and learn from them. God wants us to go out into the world and grow up into mature, responsible beings. Like any good parent, God, I think, wants us to grow up and get along nicely with each other. Don't become children who are utterly dependent upon the parent for everything. Don't become a child that spends all day praising the parent and devoting everything to him. Don't become an individual who is convinced that you have the only way to God, and everyone else is wrong.

If it is not apparent to you at this point, it should be obvious that I do not agree with the biblical image of God. As a spiritual seeker, I see the christian bible God as a human-made invention. I do believe in God, but I think that God is not like a human. God does not have human frailties, human errors, or negative human traits.

If God is perfect, then God does not have an ego. And if perfect God does not have an ego, then God is accepting of us, no matter who we are or what we believe. And if God is indeed our parent, and God is our perfect parent, then God wants us to grow up, put aside childish things and learn to just get along.

Perhaps Mrs. Mary Beth Willi can explain it best:

"God does not view me, or anyone as sinners. He views us as His children. Stop for a minute and think …do I see my own children as sinners? Of course not! I see them as wonderful human beings deserving of my love. That was how He made me feel in His presence.

We live what we believe about ourselves and it is much easier to live, knowing that God views me as a wonderful human being, deserving of His love, and not a sinner.

He doesn’t care about all the little rules and regulations each religion uses to make them different from the others. He cares what is in our hearts. Are we here to “pitch in and help” by looking outside of ourselves or are we here as “oh poor me, victims” looking only to take care of ourselves at all costs? Too many people are taught to believe that if they follow very specific rules of their church in a certain order …that will get them into heaven. That’s not what I see every day at work and not what I experienced in my Life Review.

It is important that we take responsibility for our actions and make amends as we go along. As hard as it is to make amends here on Earth, it is much harder to view and feel the hurt we caused others in Gods’ loving presence when you can no longer do anything about it.

The truth is, how we treat each other is very important …it makes life more joyful to live when we look outside of ourselves and give. The gifts you receive back are amazing. Random acts of kindness really do mean a lot, especially to God, and are priceless to those receiving them."

If nothing else comes from the insights that can be found in NDE's, it is that we need to be responsible for our actions, that we need to spend our lives helping others, and that we need to love each other. Isn't that what most atheists believe? That we should use our time to make the world a better place?

The creed of "Be responsible, help others, and love others" can be applied to anyone, atheist and christian alike. Perhaps that's what God wants us to do. Not worship him, not be a christian, but to take responsibility, help others, and love others. Isn't that what we want our children to do?

If God is perfect, then God is more interested in our deeds, rather then our creeds. Your actions are more important then what you believe or what you say you believe.

***

Summary

***

1. If God is perfect, then God is all of humanity’s good traits magnified to perfection.

2. If God is perfect, and if God is better then humans, then God does not have an ego

3. If God is perfect, has no ego, and looks at us in the way of a parent, then God might want us to grow up and become mature, responsible beings, rather then mindless worshippers who do nothing but praise him all the time.

***

Let's tell one more story (made up this time). A long time ago, there was a wise and responsible king who watched over a beautiful land. In his court there were many servants, but he especially favored two.

One day, he called his two faithful servants and asked them to go out into the countryside for one year and do anything and everything they could to improve the kingdom. The two servants agreed and set out on their journey. However, they didn't know that the king secretly sent out spies to watch what they did.

The first servant went out into the countryside and began to build buildings that were dedicated to the king and praising him. He built many of these buildings and spent almost all his time in them, praising the king and pledging him his allegiance.

The second servant, however, went out into the countryside and went to work immediately. When there was broken fence, he fixed it. When a family's house was damaged, he helped them repair it. When the roads in a local town were broken and ugly, he set to work repairing them. He spent his time working to improve life for everyone.

Finally, the year was up, and the two servants returned to the castle. The spies went ahead of them and told the king what each servant had done. When the servants entered the king's throne room, he was ready for them.

To the first servant he said "Welcome back, good and faithful servant. Please tell me what you did to improve our fair land."

"Well my king, I built buildings to honor you and to glorify you!"

"Very well. How many people did you help? Did you volunteer to help those less fortunate then you?"

"Well…ehm…uh…no, I'm afraid not."

"Oh dear. You mean all you did was sit around praising me all day? You didn't go out and help others?"

"Uhh…"

"Well…we'll talk later. Now, my second servant, what did you do with your year to improve our fair land?"

"I mended fences, fixed roads, helped people improve their farm fields, I taught six people how to read, I helped one young woman develop her skill with sewing, and I helped fix some of the roads in our kingdom."

The king's face lit up. "Excellent work my loyal servant! You have helped make our land better and more pleasant! As a reward, you get a one month vacation to wherever you desire!"

***

During your life, which servant are you going to be?

5/19/2006                                                                                       View Comments

Putting God's Name on Our Prejudices

Many women, both within Christianity and outside of the Christian faith have the vague sense that something is missing from traditional views of God or Goodness.

Christianity has its roots in patriarchal desert societies, in the traditions of the ancient Hebrews, which in turn have their roots in Akkadian and Sumerian epics and culture. In survival-oriented, food-scarce, warring traditions like these, God is generally thought of as male. But what, exactly, does that mean?

Here are some things we can say with confidence about how male humans on the average differ from females: more physical strength, higher aggression, more focus on difference rather than similarities, more mathematical ability, less verbal ability, more self focus, more independence, and lower empathy. Together these qualities lead men on the average to be dominant, to innovate more, and to nurture and cooperate less.

These differences are advantages in some situations, not in others. Either way, they don't have much to do with what makes a god worthy of worship: love, power, truth-honoring, mercy, justice, life-giving, nurturing, healing, compassion, creation, wisdom. In fact, some of the virtues that believers attribute to God are qualities that we most typically associate with the feminine dimensions of the human psyche.

Dan Brown's fast-paced tale, The Da Vinci Code, has stirred public attention and controversy for a variety of reasons. Not the least of these is the questions it raises about the Sacred Feminine. Was Jesus married to Mary Magdalene? Who knows. Although it may be fascinating to build a case on one side of this question or the other, we should be wary, very wary, of anyone who presumes to speak with certainty on such matters.

Christians have spent centuries arguing this point. In fact, the central authorities of Christendom have been willing to kill to eradicate this and other "heresies," which consequently were handed down through secret codes, symbols and rituals among some sects of Christians. (Hence the entertaining conspiracy theories of The Da Vinci Code.)

The orthodox authorities now have different tools at their disposal: the media savvy and vast distribution network of Catholic and Evangelical presses and mega-churches. But neither swords nor media savvy can turn the fog of history into a tidy landscape of certainties.

Ironically, in the arguments about whether we should imagine Jesus of Nazareth as a married rabbi with children, both sides reinforce traditionalist views of women: that the glory of women is marriage and childbearing. But from the very beginning, some forms of Christianity have made room for alternatives.

Even in the first century, women took on leadership positions, and uncomfortable traditionalists pushed back. Ancient stories tell of Paul's indomitable disciple, Thecla, and within the New Testament itself we get glimpses of the debate over females in leadership positions. Linguists who analyze ancient texts now widely believe that the misogynist verses in 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus, "Let a woman learn in silence in full submission. I do not allow a woman to teach or to exercise authority . . . but she will be saved through bearing children," were not actually written by Paul but were penned later in his name.

Perhaps it is time to challenge those who put God's name on their own prejudices.

5/17/2006                                                                                       View Comments

Testimony post script: Five Questions

Ex-Christians,

I submitted a testimony on Aug. 7-05.

I read every day on this site and have been amazed by the superior thinking ability of some of you. I never have been able to concentrate for long periods of time on academic pursuits, but some of the regular posters here mesmerize me to the extent that when I see their names, I can't turn the computer off till I have scrutinized every word of their posts.

I have a couple of questions for you. You are probably already familiar with my philosophy, but I would like to find out whether those as smart as some of you are, agrees or disagrees with my basic assumptions about life. I have already done the natural selection thing here many times, the natural process that brings us to the top of the food chain and made us the smartest species on, at least this planet.

These are the questions:

1. If a mother sacrifices her life for her children, is that love?

2. If a man finds a mate who has all of the physical and intellectual characteristics that he desires, is that love?

3. Since we as humans have obeyed nature and multiplied to the extent that we are poisoning this planet in an effort to try to feed everybody and give them a Ford or Toyota, isn't it enough for me in my retirement years, and with my limited income, to just trust that the problems of starvation, diseases, warfare, pollution, will take care of themselves, just like they always have, by millions of people dying, and becoming fertilizer?

4. As I have become totally convinced that all religions are manmade (And pretty silly and ridiculous at that), is there something wrong with me for not having a "God Hole" in my psyche anymore, and for feeling more normal, and less apprehensive than I have ever felt since childhood?

5. Is there something wrong with me because I don't want to hurt anyone, steal anything, or lie about anything, and for me to just want to be as happy here on earth as I can possibly be, using whatever talents I possess, as long as I, obey the law, don't jeopardize the health and welfare of anyone else on purpose?

Any one! Please feel free to make any comment you like. I will not be offended, just entertained, and enlightened!

Dan (Who says no to all five questions)

5/03/2006                                                                                       View Comments

The Day of Judgment

sent in by Ian

When I was a Christian, one of the most frightening and intimidating aspects of the faith was the dreaded judgment day, where God (or Jesus, depending on who you speak too) will judge you and send you to either heaven or hell for all eternity. What better way to keep someone in line by threatening them with a judgment?

Because I am no longer a Christian, I no longer believe in a day of judgment. In fact, I find the whole idea to be very juvenile. If you go through life seeing it as a trial, then the view of a judgment makes sense. If you go through life seeing it as an opportunity to learn and grow to become a better individual, the idea of a day of judgment becomes...well...silly.

My own views on judgment are not however, the focus of this article. What I do want to call in s the fact that the whole day of judgment may not be as simple as some may think it will be (that is, if it actually happens). How so?

In January of 2006, I was just starting to go through what is commonly termed, the dark night of the soul, where one struggles to find how they fit in with the world in terms of what the believe, what they view as truth, and how they fit in with the overall scheme of things. As those who have gone through it can attest, it is not an easy time at all. It is draining emotionally because you don't know where you are going. You are, in a way, like a ship without a rudder.

Yet, as I have discovered, in the moments of greatest darkness, the wonderful spark of inspiration is at it's brightest.

One day, I was browsing a website called godandscience.org I was, needless to say, a bit baffled at what was being put forth (such as how dinosaurs went on the ark with Noah). But one page in particular caught my attention and practically made my blood boil when I read it. Here it is (originally taken from this link: http://www.godandscience.org/doctrine/goingtoheaven.html).

*
"I am the Lord your God. Richard Deem, give me an account of your life."
"Lord, I did my best and led an exemplary life. I never was physically involved with any of my girlfriends. I was a Scout leader for years. I tried to help people in some way almost every day. I did a lot of other good things - I'm, sure you know all about them."
"Richard, have you ever lied?"
"I tried to tell the truth all the time and was almost always honest."
"Richard, have you ever lied?"
"Yes, Lord. I have lied some."
"Richard, what do you call a person who lies?"
"A liar, Lord."
"Richard, what does my word say about liars?"
"It says that all liars will be sent to hell, Lord."
"Richard, have you ever taken anything that is not yours?"
"Lord, You know that I am an honest person."
"Richard, have you ever taken something that belonged to someone else?"
"Yes, Lord."
"Richard, what do you call someone who takes something that belongs to another?"
"A thief, Lord. I am a thief."
"Richard, what does my word say about thieves?"
"It says that no thieves will enter into heaven, Lord."
"Richard, have you ever wanted something that belonged to someone else?"
"Yes, Lord."
"Richard, what does my word say about people who want things that belong to others?
"It says they are coveting, Lord"
"Richard, what does my word say will happen to those who covet?"
"It says that no covetous people will enter into heaven, Lord."
"Richard, have you ever killed anybody?"
"Of course not, Lord."
"Richard, have you ever hated anybody?"
"Yes, Lord."
"Richard, what does my word say about people who hate others."
"It says that they are guilty of murder in their heart."
"Richard, what does that make you?"
"I'm a murderer, Lord."
"Richard, have you ever called anybody a fool?"
"Yes, Lord, but he was really stupid."
"Richard, what does my word say about people who call others a fool?"
"It says that they shall be guilty enough to go into hell."
"Richard, have you ever committed adultery?"
"Absolutely not, Lord."
"Richard, have you ever lusted after a woman?"
"Yes, Lord."
"Richard, what does my word say about those who lust after a woman?"
"It says that he has already committed adultery with her in his heart."
"Richard, what does that make you?"
"I am an adulterer, Lord."
"Richard, what does my word say will happen to adulterers?"
"It says that no adulterers will enter into heaven, Lord."
"Richard Deem, are you ready for me to pronounce sentence?"
"Wait, Lord. What about all the good things I have done."
"Richard, are you pleading not guilty to the above crimes?"
"No, Lord. I am guilty."
*

What do you notice about this article? I noticed the following.

1. Richard is a wimp. He does not even try to defend himself.
2. God is a incredibly stern judge: Is this the God of love and mercy that Christians talk about? Looking over this article, my answer is no.
3. This "god" is an asshole. Why? Because this god has impossible-to-reach standards that nobody can ever, ever, ever reach. If God is supposed to be perfect, then would God be without human frailties? (That’s a subject for another time).

And here's the little afterward by the author of this article:

*
So, do you think you are going to get into heaven on the basis of your good behavior? The above exchange illustrates the futility of attempting to earn your way to heaven. No amount of good works is going to exonerate your guilt before the Holy God. My (and your) guilt is based upon the things we do against God's laws. It works the same way our criminal justice system works - if you are guilty of a crime, you go to jail. It doesn't matter how many good things you have done.

Now, maybe you have never done any of the things above… The rest of us realize that we have a BIG problem. I came to this realization upon reading Jesus' Sermon on the Mount from Matthew chapter 5. I realized that I needed a Savior to take away my sin. That is the only way I could appear before God without guilt. Jesus Christ died to take away my (and your) sin, so that we could be righteous before God. The Bible says you must receive Jesus Christ as your Lord (i.e., boss) and Savior. This means that you repent (turn from your sin) and believe that Jesus died for your sin. You also agree to follow Jesus to become more like Him. He will give you true joy in this life and eternal life with Him afterward.

*

Going over this article again four months later, this has all the appearances of a cult. Threats, warnings, fear, etc. But in this case, it's an organized religion, not a cult (then again, that's debatable). If this is what fundamentalists use to gain new converts, then the collapse of Christianity cannot come soon enough.

After reading this whole article for the first time, I was frightened. Then the fear turned to being upset. And then that turned to anger at the fear this article was trying to put into me. Then it was flat-out rage. So I decided that I should do what any angry, furious person should do in a time like this...

Poke fun at the article!

After all, isn't laughter the greatest medicine? Does joy and laughter not disperse fear quickly?

And so I quickly typed out the following article, and it indeed cured me of my anger. Though I still had a few more months of the dark night of the soul to go through, at least there was a little victory that had been won.

My purpose in bringing this article before you is to show that being saved is not as clear cut as one might think. I also wish for people to consider the popular notion that God will judge everyone and only those who have heard of Jesus and accepted his offer will be saved.

And it does go without saying that if you are a follower of the Christian faith, this might be offensive to you

*

"I am the Lord your God. Ian, give me an account of your life."

"Hi God! Oh boy, I’ve been looking forward to meeting you all my life!"

"That's good. Now, give me an account of your life."

"Well, I did my best and led the best life I could! I never was physically involved with any of my girlfriends. I was a Scout leader for years. I tried to help people in some way almost every day. I did a lot of other good things - I'm, sure you know all about them."

"Ian, have you ever lied?"

"I tried to tell the truth all the time and was almost always honest."

"Ian, have you ever lied?"

"Well, yes. I have lied sometimes."

"Ian, what do you call a person who lies?"

"A liar."

"Ian, what does my word say about liars?"

"Which one?"

"What?"

"Which book?"

"You don't know?"

"Well, there is the bible...but there is also the book of Mormon, the torah, the Qur’an, etc. And each of them claimed to be the source of your wisdom. So you know, I never really got into any of them. By the way, which one was the correct one?"

"Uhh...let's not go there. What does the bible say about liars?"

"Hmm...uhh...which part? Last time I counted there were quite a lot of stuff to say about liars."

"Okay fine, what does Revelation 21:8 say about liars?"

"Hang on a sec, let me look it up...uh oh."

"What does it say?"

"It says that liars will have thier place in the fiery lake of burning sulfur."

"That is correct. Now, have you lied during your life?"

"Well, to be honest God, yes I did."

"Then i'm afraid you know what happens to those who lie."

"Wait a minute."

"What?"

"What about the people who lied to save the Jewish people from the Nazis during world war 2? Are they going to hell?"

"Well..."

"And according to Psalm 116:11, New King James version, all men are liars. Now, I have a question for you."

"What is it?"

"Does that mean that Jesus is going to the lake of fire?"

"No he's not."

"But he was a man. Therefore, he was a liar because all men lie. The bible says it right there, clear as day."

"But I was Jesus. I took form on earth."

"You know, I never got that. But if you took on human flesh, you were therefore a man, and thus you are a liar. Does that mean that you're going to hell?"

"Uh...lets move on."

"But what about all the apostles? What about the thieves who died next to Jesus? What about..."

"Enough. Ian, have you ever taken anything that is not yours?"

"God, you know that I tried to be an honest person."

"Ian, have you ever taken something that belonged to someone else?"

"Well God, yes. When I was a young child, I did take things that did not belong to me."

"Ian, what do you call someone who takes something that belongs to another?"

"A thief, God."

"Ian, what does my word say about thieves?"

"Which word?"

"Do we have to do this again? The bible."

"Why not the book of Mormon?"

"Let's just stay with the bible. What does it say about thieves?"

"Hmm...If a man shall steal an ox, or a sheep, and kill it, or sell it; he shall restore five oxen for an ox, and four sheep for a sheep."

"No, not that one."

"Okay...If thieves came to thee, if robbers by night, would they not have stolen till they had enough? If the grape gatherers came to thee, would they not leave some grapes?"

"No! Go to the part about thieves not entering heaven!"

"Hmm... Where’s that? I can't find it."

"Well, it's there. Now, Ian, have you ever wanted something that belonged to someone else?"

"Hang on a second God. I did take things that belonged to me, but I eventually realized that it was wrong and I stopped doing that.

"Noted. Now, Ian, have you ever wanted something that belonged to someone else?"

"Of course. That happens to everyone at one point or another."

"Ian, what does my word say about people who want things that belong to others?

"The bible right?"

"Yes."

"Well, it appears to say they are coveting, God."

"Ian, what does my word say will happen to those who covet?"

"Well, it says that no covetous people will enter into heaven. So does that include every single baby who ever lived? After all, every baby at one point or another wants something that doesn't belong to them."

"Ian, have you ever killed anybody?"

"Hey wait a minute. You didn’t answer my question about the babies."

"Be quiet. Now Ian, have you ever killed anybody?"

"Of course not, God, and I’m glad."

"Ian, have you ever hated anybody?"

"Well, yes. There were a good amount of people I hated during my life on earth, but considering what they did to me, which included insulting me, putting me down and poking fun at me and my beliefs every chance they got, I’m not surprised that I did hate them. Luckily, I’m glad I got over hate later in life. Sure there was anger, but the hate was gone. I bet you're happy about that!"

"Ian, what does my word say about people who hate others."

"Hmm... Let me look it up..."

"Good grief, didn’t you ever read my word?"

"Ah, so the bible was your word?"

"Just keep looking. I haven't got all day."

"Ah, here we go. It says that they are guilty of murder in their heart."

"Ian, what does that make you?"

"That doesn't make much sense."

"Excuse me?"

"Well, that doesn't make much sense. I was human and I occasionally got angry at people. I didn’t like some people, but I certainly didn’t want to kill them. Yet according to the bible, hating someone is the same as murdering someone, when it's clearly not."

"Well, I put it in there, so it's correct."

"But in Luke 14: 26, Jesus says, and I quote, "If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple." So Jesus said that whoever wanted to be his disciple must hate his brother, yet later on John says that such a person is a "murderer" and will not go to heaven. Can you please explain that?"

*silence*

"Ian, have you ever called anybody a fool?"

"God, why won't you answer my questions?"

"Because I'm God, and I'll choose to answer what questions I will answer. Now Ian, have you ever called anybody a fool?"

"Yes I did God."

"Ian, what does my word...you know, the bible, say about people who call others a fool?"

"It says that they shall be in danger of hell fire."

"Which means...?"

"Let me guess...they go to hell?"

"Correct."

"Ian, have you..."

"Wait a minute God."

"What now?"

"Jesus says that "Whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire."

"Yes? And?"

"Well, I can't help but notice that Jesus often calls his critics and disciples fools. Therefore, that means he's going to hell."

"No he's not."

"Well, you said that whoever says "You fool!" will basically go to hell. So I guess you have to send Jesus to hell now."

"Be quiet. Now Ian, have you ever committed adultery?"

"Nope."

"Ian, have you ever lusted after a woman?"

"Of course God. My natural hormones worked perfectly as they tried to drive me to procreate and thus continue the survival of my species. In addition, I did fantasize about having a woman and giving her all the love and care I could give her. I wanted to spread love to the world, and I did like fantasizing about that."

"Ian, what does my word say about those who lust after a woman?"

"Well, it apparently says that he has already committed adultery with her in his heart."

"Ian, what does that make you?"

"Well, I guess that means that I am an adulterer. But...if those hormones of mine drove me to fantasize about women, and you created me, then why did you give me those sex hormones in the first place?"

"To make sure you could have children."

"Well that makes sense. But if those hormones that you created when you created man increases sexual drive, then I’m not really guilty here. I was simply following my hormones. Besides, wouldn't you be happy that I wanted to care and love someone?"

"Be quiet. You are an adulterer."

"But why did you make those hormones so susceptible in the first place?"

"So you could be tested to see if you would turn away from your sinful ways."

"Wait a minute. You want me to come to you and be with you forever because you love me, right? Then why did you create those sex hormones that are so susceptible? So you could test me? Knowing full well that I would fantasize, and knowing that simply having one thought about being with a woman is enough to send me off to eternal torture, pain, and suffering? Can you please explain that?"

"Ian, what does my word say will happen to adulterers?"

"You are avoiding my question God."

"Be quiet. Now Ian, what does..."

"That sounds pretty cheap. If someone has one simple daydream about being with a woman, he goes to eternal torture for all eternity, simply for following his bodily functions, which you invented if I do point out."

"Be quiet! Now, what does my word say will happen to adulterers?"

"Well, it apparently says that no adulterers will enter into heaven, God."

"Ian, are you ready for me to pronounce sentence?"

"Wait a second God. What about all the good things I have done? What about all the people I’ve helped? What about all the people I’ve entertained with my jokes? What about all those who I have loved and cared for?"

"Ian, are you pleading not guilty to the above crimes?"

"You're avoiding the question."

"I'm simply asking if you are pleading not guilty to the above crimes."

"You're avoiding my question about all the good things i've done."

"Answer the question!"

"Wait a minute, I just realized something."

"What?"

"According to Revelation 20, there's this bit here: "And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works."

"What is the point you are trying to make?"

"Well, if I’m being judged according to my works, then are you counting in all my good ones?"

"No. You have sinned, and are thus worthy of hell."

"Yes, I have made mistakes. I have made errors. But I learned from them and moved on."

"And you sinned more."

"Boy, you have some really strict standards here."

"I cannot tolerate sin or evil. No one with sin comes before me."

"So, that includes a five month old baby who wanted something that wasn't hers?"

"Yes."

"Wow. Why do you have such impossibly high standards?"

"I'm God."

"So?"

"Are you pleading not guilty or not?"

"Why can't you forgive me?"

"What?"

"I'm sorry for what I did on earth. I learned from my mistakes, and I moved on from them. I'm sorry for what I did. Can you please forgive me? I'm sorry."

"I'm sorry, but it's too late. No one with sin comes into heaven with me."

"Why can't you forgive me? If you're all powerful, then surely it must be easy for you to forgive someone who is honestly sorry for what they've done."

"It's too late."

"Then apparently, you're not all powerful. I thought you were merciful."

"In some cases yes."

"Hmm... Interesting. You resemble a medieval tyrant more then anything else."

"Be quiet."

"No, I will not be quiet. I saw you throw the entire population of ancient Egypt into hell a few minutes ago because of their sins. Now, might I point out that according to your bible, the only way to go to heaven is to accept Jesus’ gift of salvation. Why did you create the souls of the ancient Egyptians, Mayans, Incas, and all those other civilizations who never even heard of Jesus?"

"Be quiet."

"And I saw you throw over six million Chinese families into hell half an hour ago. That's a lot of men, women, and children God. Are you pleased with chucking all those Chinese children and babies into hell because they didn’t accept Jesus’ gift of salvation?"

"I judge all people fairly."

"Wow. Your sense of justice is disgusting."

"Tough. I'm God. Now prepare for an eternity of unbearable pain and suffering."

"And that's your sense of justice? For making common human mistakes? For daydreaming about women? For being upset at people for what they did to me? For wanting something that wasn't mine?"

"Yes."

"Wow. You're even worse then Hitler, Stalin, and all the other evil guys in history combined. And to tell you the truth, you've got some impossibly high standards here. Why did you create imperfect creations and apparently expect them to be perfect?"

"That was why I sent my son."

"Ah, I see. So you can be the worst, most scum ridden person on the face of the earth, who murders, rapes, kills, and does terrible things, and yet you can accept Jesus and be saved."

"That is correct."

"What about those who never heard of Jesus?"

"Some will be saved, according to if they heard about Jesus or not."

"Wait a minute. According to that, it's apparently better to never hear about Jesus and be saved, rather then hearing about Jesus and running the risk of not be saved."

*Silence*

"And let me point this out. Ordinary people who do good works and help everybody every day in all the ways they can are condemned to eternal torture because they don't live up to your perfect standards."

"That is correct."

"Wow. You're even worse then I could have possibly imagined in my worst nightmares. A God who has impossibly high standards, yet will let people, including truly evil people, off the hook by accepting Jesus. And so they are apparently judged on their work of accepting Jesus, and thus judged on creed, not deed."

"In a way, yes."

"Wow. You're a pretty bizarre God. And people worship you? What on earth did this world come to?"

"Well, that doesn't matter now. Are you ready to go to hell?"

"No, because I’m off the hook."

"Excuse me?"

"I'm off the hook, and I can prove it."

"How? You didn’t accept Jesus’ offer of salvation."

"That's true, but officially, I haven't done anything wrong."

"How do you explain that?"

"Okay, let's open the bible and take a look. At the very end of 1 John 4:7-8, it says "God is love."

"That's true."

"Then, in 1 Cor. 13:4-8, it says, among other things that love keeps no record of wrongs. Now, if you are love as your book claims to be, then you have no record of any wrongs that I’ve done. Therefore, I’m off the hook and I don't have to go to hell."

"Now hold on there..."

"Wait, I’m not finished yet. 1 John 2:1-2 says this. "My children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father; Jesus Christ the Righteous. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world" So therefore, Jesus died for everybody. It's right there, plain as day. Jesus died for the sins of everyone. He took away the sins of everyone, and thus everyone is off the hook."

"Be quiet, I'm..."

"Oh no, not yet. I'm just getting started. "For to this end we toil and struggle, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe", right there at 1 Timothy 4:10."

"Then we have this. "Not everyone who says to me, "Lord, Lord," will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in Heaven." at Matthew 7:21. Now, what is your will? Your will is law. And according to Luke 10:25-28, loving you and loving others is the law. Jesus said if we do this, we will live. Therefore, I loved you and I loved others, and now I am off the hook."

"And don't forget that each person will be rewarded according to his works. For example, in Matthew 16:27, we have this. "For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done." Therefore, if I have done more good then bad, then I will be rewarded for that. In Romans 2:6 we find, "For he will repay according to each one's deeds." The same principle applies. If someone loves you and loves others, then they will be repaid. Now, how do you answer all these?"

"I am your parent. I am your father. I must punish my children to set them straight."

"By sending them to be tortured for eternity? What kind of sick parent does that? Because a baby wanted something that wasn't hers, you're punishing her with an eternity of torture. Ditto for those who have had a daydream about being with a woman. If I may say so, you are the worst parent in all of existence."

"What?"

"Well, why are you judging me?"

"Because I am God."

"Well, according to John 5:22, "Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son.". So it should be Jesus judging me, not you. And don't forget that because Jesus was apparently a man, he was also a liar because all men lie. And don't forget that because he called people fools, he's also in danger of hell. I also just realized that because Jesus was also a baby, and babies inevitably want things that are not theirs, so Jesus as a baby wanted things that were not his. That's another reason you need to send him to hell."

"And I wish to point out that Jesus says in John 8:15-16, "You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one. But if I do judge, my decisions are right, because I am not alone. I stand with the Father, who sent me." And because God is love, and love keeps no record of wrongs, and thus guides Jesus while judging, then everyone is off the hook. Now, why are you judging me and not Jesus?"

*Silence*

"Well, let me continue. You're throwing people into hell for all eternity, right?"

"That is correct."

"Well God, you're going to eventually let us out, right?"

"No."

"Well, don't you know that in the original texts of the bible, eternal was a word that simply meant a long period of time? That it didn’t mean, literally, for all eternity? If you don't believe me "God", then why don't you look at this nifty article I found on the internet? http://www.godstruthfortoday.org/Library/thayer/DoctrineOfEternalPunishment005.htm The Greek adjective that our English Bibles translate as "eternal" or "everlasting" is "AIÓN or AIÓNIOS" which literally means "age-enduring" or perhaps "that which pertains to an age." I thought you would know that."

"Now wait a minute..."

"And when Jesus talked about "eternal punishment" in Matthew 25:46, the punishment he talks about is not eternal in the sense that it continues forever without accomplishing its corrective purpose. So if you're throwing us into hell for all eternity and never letting us out, then...can you explain that?"

"Be quiet!"

"No, no, I think I’ve heard and seen enough. You, our parent, are throwing us into eternal, never ending torture for having daydreams and a whole host of other normal conditions. You're judging everyone on how many sins they've done, not how many good deeds they've done. The real God may punish, if he punishes at all, but it's never forever. It's only until a person repents and turns to God. You, on the other hand...well, I don't know who you are."

*pause*

"Dangit!"

*phases out of existence*

"Wow, that was easy. Time to get a sandwich."

*

Oh, and if you are curious, what was the first Christian response when I posted this at a forum?

"If you were really to have an argument with God, you would never win. God is so smart will know what you will say before you say it. He will never be surprised by what you say, and he will know response."

*Discussion follows about a perfect justice system where all who hear about Jesus and accept his gift get off scott-free without taking responsibility for their actions*

It is my hope that this article has encouraged you to think and realize that nothing is black and white when it comes to religious doctrines regarding God, judgment, and salvation.