Christians got it backwards?

While debating with my southern baptist pastor friend about all things religious (started out, as usual, as a debate about religion), I was struck with a interesting thought.

What if the (fundamentalist) Christians have it exactly backwards?

It’s hard for me to imagine a loving omnipotent omniscient deity that would send anyone to eternal torture because they couldn’t believe something that is, frankly, on the face of it, unbelievable. The basic premise of at least some christians is that you will be sent to hell if you don’t believe in Jesus’s divinity, but A) We know humans are storytellers B) we know many of the bits of christian mythology are older than christianity, thanks to the work of Joseph Campbell C) we know that humans are susceptible to informational viruses – just look at facebook statusi that say ‘make a copy of me’ and D) we know that humans have a tendency to abuse that susceptibility.

I do believe, if there is a loving God and there is a Hell, Hell is a temporary thing. Only a evil creature would have someone experience torment for all time. Now, let’s posit for a moment that God is *not* evil. Perhaps to get into his utopia, you have to show a deep understanding of what love is, and Earth is a training ground for understanding that.

By insisting that God is planning on tormenting souls for all eternity unless they believe in this particular religion, while knowing that there are many competing religions, Christians may be demonstrating a failure to understand love that will result in them being sent back to Earth after they die to try again in the hopes that maybe next time they will learn a little more about love.

In other words, they’ve got the test entirely backwards. The test isn’t ‘have faith in this unbelievable claim so you won’t get tormented for all eternity’, the test is ‘recognize that this claim does not represent love to show that you understand love so that you won’t have a miserable time amongst people who are driven by it’.

I’m very fond of the bit of the bible where Paul (yes, that rat bastard Paul did have his good days) talks about Love – 1 Corinthians 13 I believe – you know, the Love is patient , love is kind, it does not keep a record of past wrongs..

Well, let’s try out a few Love.. statements and see if they seem reasonable

Love accepts you as you are .. seems to be the most reasonable one. At least, trying out the inverse, Love does not accept you as you are, seems to generate a strong resonance of falsehood within me.

I can understand “Love encourages you to grow”. But “Love threatens to torture you if you don’t grow” again generates a certain sense of falseness.

I should clarify that I’m only speaking of exclusionary Christians here – those of you who think I’m going to hell. I *know* there are Christians who see it the same way I do, who do not think that I’m going to be tormented for all eternity for the things I think and believe, and I thank you for not adding to the problem.

3 Responses to “Christians got it backwards?”

  1. Firesong Says:

    Oh, *this* is what you meant by having love backwards. Interesting.

    I get that same sense of inherent falseness.

  2. bunnerabb Says:

    There is no hell. Heaven is open to debate, but, I gotta tell ya, this entire solar system *reeks* of engineering. I just can’t buy the whole “one day, all the nothing blew up and created hydrogen and carbon and stars and stockbrokers and cheese and moose” thing. And that based on what I know about immutable laws of physics, not a book that got run through a shredder at the Council of Nicea.

  3. sheer_panic Says:

    Tying into the whole what you believe controls the reality you experience theory, it’s possible Christians got it exactly right but I *get* Christians backwards because of what I believe about them. (Even to the point that true Christians might well be both poly and extremely pro-choice, and pro-freedom including freedom to change genders, sleep with the same gender you are, eat whatever you want without ever having to worry you’re killing something sentient, etc. It’s a interesting rabbit hole that I wander down from time to time, thinking the problem is my input filters or my reality rendering engine that ties into my conscious experience.

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