I Think Many Christians Just Do Not Give a Damn That People Die

Yep, that's what I've concluded. Theirs is a faith that must dismiss the tragedy of death. It does not matter to them who dies, how many people die, or what the circumstances are when they die. It could be the death of a mother whose baby depends upon her for milk during the first few months of life. It could be a pandemic like cholera that decimated parts of the world in 1918, or the more than 23,000 children who die every single day from starvation. These deaths could be by suffocation, drowning, a drive-by shooting, or being slowly burned to death. It doesn't matter to them. Their God is good. Death doesn't matter. People die all of the time.

Christians inconsistently claim to hold to the sanctity of life while many of them are politically pro-life. But Christians who accept the traditional interpretations of the historic creeds of the church are all pro-death. They justify death. They even personally long for it. Many of them hope for the so-called Rapture, disregarding the fact that many if not most of their friends and family members will be Left Behind, or worse yet be condemned to hell. They simply do not care. They see no reason why death is a problem when confronted with the incongruous claim that God loves us each and every one. God is good. Just look at some of the responses to what I wrote here. Christians simply do not care. They do not care. They do not care.

Christians will say that Jesus cares and that they do too, of course. I know this. And they do help people who suffer around the world, yes. But when it actually comes down to it they don't give a damn who dies, or how many, or under what circumstances. For in order to justify their belief in God's goodness they must minimize the value of human life. Theirs is a pro-death faith plain and simple.

I value human life more than that. So I cannot believe because I value human life. I am pro-life in this sense, and that includes all life.

No wonder I call Christians deluded. They just do not think about these things. In fact, I'll predict I'll get the same old pat answers regurgitated from Chick Tracks that rely on what an ancient superstitious barbaric set of canonized documents tell us. But that's what I'm calling into question here. Why should I accept these standard pat answers which do not deal head on with what I'm saying?

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Cheers everyone, and on this note may you all have a Happy New Year. Once-in-a-while I must say it like it is.

31 comments:

Leah Elliott Hauge said...

I also was unable to reconcile all the suffering in the world with a loving God, and pondered this during a time when I still believed that God existed and believed on an intellectual level that he loved me, but couldn't believe in his love in a way that had any kind of relevance for my life. People would say, "Just look at all the blessings he's given you! Health, a comfortable home, a beautiful family." But this didn't make sense to me because that logic would imply that God doesn't love a starving AIDS orphan in Africa, or at the very least, that he doesn't love the orphan as much.

And I do think that belief in an afterlife engenders placing less value on this life. What's it matter if we're just going to live forever anyway?

Jim Thompson said...

Now you sound like Christopher Hitchens!

Great news

Brad Haggard said...

John, 2 questions,

1. How do you either qualitatively or quantitatively care more about death now than before? Is this exhibited in lifestyle changes as well?

2. I know it's new years, but I'm still waiting to hear your answer to the charge that the OT is not barbaric or superstitious (and I think you would also add polytheistic). Job, Ecclesiastes, Lamentations, and many other prophetic books are profound reflections on suffering and purposefully avoid pat answers.

A theology that offers hope does not disqualify it from being reflective, as even modern naturalist philosophers shy away from the nihilistic conclusions of Nietzsche, opting for the modernistic "hope" of a vague sense of "progress".

chad said...

The god of the old testament is basically a tribal war lord who enforces fealty at the end of a sword, even against children Ezekiel+9:5-7 http://www.gnpcb.org/esv/search/?passage=Ezekiel+9:5-7 Indifference to the suffering of enemies is kind of baked right into pretty much all theistic traditions as far as I can tell.

I don't see how a thinking person can reconcile modern notions of a perfectly good god with that guy. Most christians seem to just throw their hands in the air and mumble something about divine mystery.

Brad Haggard said...

Chad, just quickly,

This is a good illustration of how skeptics mis-read and de-contextualize passages. The Ezekiel passage you quote happens to be in a vision, and not just that, but it's a vision of the destruction of Jerusalem! In other words, this passage shows the opposite of your point. If I read the OT superficially, I might come to your conclusion, but when you study the literature and history of the text (especially in it's ANE context, spanning about 1800 years) you don't see it as "desert nomad" screed.

Be wary of the memes you can pick up on the internet, some of them are just plain false.

Manifesting Mini Me (MMM) said...

The standard set by Jesus was that death is not a culminating or condemning factor in the life of a human being. While we are here, we do not have to be subjugated by the evil and suffering we witness, but rather, we have great opportunity to be shaped to serve ppl that suffer and grieve and are coopted by evil. The viewpoint that I used to embrace was dysfunctional towards the truth of suffering and life. By faith, we can be shaped to serve and offer hope of 'heaven on earth' even in the midst of suffering, evil and death - we can extend the offer of a loving community. Just saying...but the invitation is still offered...

John said, "I value human life more than that. So I cannot believe because I value human life. I am pro-life in this sense, and that includes all life."

Okay, I'm not gonna really call you on this one, but suffice it to say, I highly doubt that you would be willing to intervene on my behalf - I trust Jesus - He valued my life enough to do that.

Cole Houx said...

Well John I have to agree that there's not many Christians out there who would care if I died. But I also must say there's not many atheists who would care either. I like what MMM said about Christ intervening on my behalf at the cross. I'm not sure that it was based on my worth though like she believes.

I could be wrong but I've always thought of the cross as not being based on my worth but as being based on His worth. This is what I was told grace was all about. Grace frees me and empowers me to enjoy making much of God. This is what makes me feel loved by God. Him freeing me to enjoy making much of Him. The way I see it is that grace is unmerrited favor and it is therefore God centered. I think we love others by bringing Christ to them and by showing them that their value is found in Christ.

Eric J.S. said...

It was scary looking at those comments, but I see them as first rationalizations (within the confines of of this one faith out of thousands). I think a lot of people do not think. It is hard to think about death and other people's deaths especially. I think it is a a may they can handle the immorality of not caring enough. It also seems very existential, so I understand how people can make their lives unauthentic by not examining it and leaving it to the panacea for all mental ills called "God".

Eric J.S. said...

@ Leah Elliot
When John says Christians do not value life because they believe in an afterlife it means: A, you live this life solely for the purpose of doing and believing what your god says and to go to heaven; B, this life does not matter because it is only temporary; C, if life is only a means to get to heaven, suffering and death does not matter, most explicitly, the Holocaust does not matter.


The Christian faith as thus said would demolish empathy, charity, and good-will towards men to the degree one fully realizes their position. It is my best assuption that if asked and thoroughly examined, most people would answer that it is immoral to disregard suffering.

If the Christian faith attempts to remove from its believers all cares in this life pertaining to humanitarianism and the such, it is developing psycopaths. There are examples in every century of Christians going on their crusades and disregarding the consequences on people's lives. Hitler was a Catholic who still has not been excommunicated (you can check this yourself, but I admit a Hitler reference is a low blow). G. W. Bush Jr. believed that it was God's guidance that the U.S.A. went to war in Iraq. Billy Graham often advocated for war, there is a book that just came out that labelled him the "Prince of War."

There are other social issues as well and not all people who call themselves Christians think about heavenly rewards and Jesus all the time. SOme are straight up good people like Mother Teresa, who claimed to have "no Faith" to the Rev. Brian Kolodiejchuk.

I might not have eloborated and explained perfectly, but it think it would be wise to try to imagine what true morality is (a morality that does not care if a god exists or not).

Eric J.S. said...

Sorry if I am commenting too much.
@Brad
My favorite example of strange immorality in the old testament has got to be 2 Kings 2:23-24. Having two she-bears maul 42 children because they called Elijah a baldie, that is just cruel and unusual.
@ MMM
You can trust in Jesus if you want. I believe it would be ill-advised based on evidence and alternatives. If you claim a personal relationship with Jesus or God, I cannot take it as anything but delusion based on similar cases of delusions. For instance, some people claim to have aleins speaking to them telepathically. SOme people think ghosts are talking to them. Usually these cases are brought by either mental unhealthiness, indoctronation (partents believed in UFOs), or labelling a phantom presense as supernatural. A phantom presense is like a phantom limb. You are surrounded by people all day and when you are alone, the feeling of presense remains because your brain does not know that it is alone. All your beliefs are based on what you have been told and read in a single theology. Assuming Jesus cares about you and everything in the Bible is true or true enough is not cutting the importance of making an inform decsion of what you are going to do with your life, especially if it is your only life. I will let people respond now (no more posts here for me).

Rob R said...

"evolution is red in tooth and claw"

-John Loftus


Who doesn't give a damn? the ones who embrace a God who does see suffering and death as problems and distortions of the world which will be fixed or the one who doesn't see the suffering as an intellectual problem at all whether it is fixed or not.

And John, clearly, to make these statements, you haven't really reflected much at all on the writings and ordeals of those who suffer and die for Jesus to this day.

Rob R said...

one more thought

Yep, that's what I've concluded. Theirs is a faith that must dismiss the tragedy of death. It does not matter to them who dies, how many people die,

John, this is incredibly thoughtless on your own behalf and very potentially insensitive.

I know people who've lost children and brothers who have maintained the faith and have grown closer to God. You cannot make the judgment that you have just made against them and it's incredibly insensitive to do so.

Nicholas Wolterstorff in his book "Lament for a Son" found the experience supremely and profoundly painful and could not bear to think that God was responsible for the death of his son (and I agree with him on that though I note that Christians in that situation come to different conclusions along those lines). And yet he would not trade the closeness with God that he gained from the experience for anything.

There is not a dismissal of the tragedy of death here in the slightest and it isn't their for the couple at my church who lost their son nor for the woman who works at my office who lost hers only a few weeks ago.

the tragedy of death is absolutely important in my view and it works better in my view than it does yours. Death truly is tragic as it truly should not be. No consistent materialist can hold to this. In materialism, death is only tragic because the emotional force of that tragedy and ensueing behaviors have a survival benefit. It isn't because our sense that it should not be this way is true. Only an eschatological view such as Christianity can fully sustain the truth of the tragedy of death.

Steven Bently said...

"I know people who've lost children and brothers who have maintained the faith and have grown closer to God."


I'm wondering how one measures the distance from a human to an invisible being?

Is the distance to an invisible god measured by centimeters, inches, or feet?

Sounds like a metaphorical delusion to me!

Let me take a guess, it is measured by faith or works or by grace.

If you people could only see your own foolish indoctrinated implications.

Manifesting Mini Me (MMM) said...

This was written: "For in order to justify their belief in God's goodness they must minimize the value of human life. Theirs is a pro-death faith plain and simple."

Expression or sharing of belief is different than justifying a stance. Minimizing human life is what I experienced as an idolator and a nonbeliever - by faith, my capacity to care and be human hearted has increased.

Discussing death, suffering, evil does take on an impersonal tone when it is used as a topic of debate - perhaps, John, since you do care so deeply, you ought to consider omitting articles that exploit the suffering of others to promote your stance.

Thx for caring,
3M

stamati anagnostou said...

"the tragedy of death is absolutely important in my view and it works better in my view than it does yours. Death truly is tragic as it truly should not be. No consistent materialist can hold to this. In materialism, death is only tragic because the emotional force of that tragedy and ensueing behaviors have a survival benefit. It isn't because our sense that it should not be this way is true. Only an eschatological view such as Christianity can fully sustain the truth of the tragedy of death."~RobR

This was an excellent response, but I completely disagree with your conclusions. From my perspective, the eschatological view of Christianity only adds tragedy to what is already tragic. The emotional impact of death is enough to warrant its tragedy. Why must we find some other reason? Is the emotional pain that oftentimes manifests itself in the body not enough? To say that a materialist, or anybody, must be logically consistent when it comes to what constitutes a tragedy is to deny the very nature of tragedy.
Death is not understood logically, but irrationally and emotionally.
I think one of the great tragedies of evangelical Christianity at least, is that there is a mindset that is ingrained in the philosophy that every phenomenon has to find justification beyond the phenomenal world. It's not necessary and in my experience leads to great confusion.

Rob R said...

stamati,

I'm glad you found something worthwhile in my post.

But I'm not sure that you understand what I say. Maybe you do but then it is I who doesn't understand your response.

But let me put it this way. The loss of a child or spouse may be the most painful experience one ever goes through and I think there is rational thought that can come our of it and really, I can't imagine that this perspective isn't actually identical with the experience itself. That is this event should not be. And there is a non-rational component to this of course. If I might suggest an a change in your terminology, irrationality or logical incoherence is a sign of falsity, but it's not like logic can tell us everthing or that everything can be enlightened further, so such earth shattering grief would be better understood as non-rational, not irrational. This is a matter though that I think we need to probe both on the non-rational side as well as the rational one.

What happened should not be. That is the rational conclusion and the non-rational component, the emotional only profoundly anchors this like nothing else can.

Materialistic atheists can grasp this as well as anyone else. They can explain it as well and they may think that they can explain it better. Here, I think contrast and comparison is in order. In the materialistic view, here is the complete reason as to why a parent would feel such a way: These feelings have survival value. You are more likely to prevent the kind of events that lead up to this tragedy because of these feelings and because of this conclusion. Perhaps the empathy you feel for others is also a survival advantage for your genes as you are now more likely to assist fellow bearers of your genes to survive. The conclusion in and of itself is of instrumental value.

Is that really what such an experience is all about? Does that really do rational component justice? That this should not be? If you are genetically inferior and it is fitting for your genes to be deselected, you can still have these feelings. It seems to me that the unspeakable grief of such moments is just a useful illusion in terms of natural selection.

So what is the other option? In the Judeo Christian view, one has such pain, one feels that what happened should not be because it in fact should not be! That person didn't just have survival value but they had value in and of themselves, which is something that no law of physics nor chemical equation because materialism is unbecoming of the experience. No, that person was valuable in and of themselves and in the Christian narrative, it is because they bore the image of God. That we are patterned after the undesigned, the infinite, the immortal, the infinitely worthwhile fits the grief of the loss of one so precious in a way that the materialistic claim never ever will.

Now this may not fit folk theology where everything about the world is as God intended (as well as Calvinism which asserts it more consciously) it because folk theology is wrong. The world is terribly wrong, terribly broken and part of that brokenness is there because we are terribly broken. That brokenness is there because that is our context for redemption, so we cannot fully turn away from our own brokenness and may seek the redemption that is offered.

Of course, I'm not claiming that the whole Christian narrative follows from the truth claim of this grief (that is what is ought not be), but this narrative better fits one of these most important yet terrible aspects of our human lives than materialism where it is just a useful illusion and while it doesn't necessarily reduce the pain, it provides hope that one day what is ruined will be restored.

Looney said...

So if I give up Christianity, fewer people will die in the long run??? ;-)

stamati anagnostou said...

"so such earth shattering grief would be better understood as non-rational, not irrational."

Yes, thank you. That is a much better wording!

And I think we are understanding what the other as saying, as far as that is possible. My complaints with the Judeo-Christian narrative is that it is a narrative, I suppose. And in a story there is a beginning, climax, and a conclusion. There are heroes and villains and problems and solutions. In my mind, this narrative does more to mask the truths in life than reveal them. At least, it did so for me, but people like you at least seem to have a grasp on realities of life apart from a purely religious perspective. You version of Christianity seems less 'fundamental' and more down to earth, but it is nonetheless connected with the narrative which as I said earlier, in my mind, adds tragedy upon tragedy.

To understand what I mean read this post from a blog of mine: http://inandoutofeden.tumblr.com/
The language is rather polemical, but I wrote it at an angry time. Try to take the message of the post.

So, as you can see from my story, there is a level at which a person can lose value upon their death. Something already tragic is taken to such an absurd level of tragedy as to make it not tragic, but horrifyingly unjust.

Is there an element of death that says "This is supposed to be"? I think yes. People are 'supposed' to die. It's what happens. Knowing this can help someone come through such a terrible loss as the death of a loved one, whereas perhaps someone could have avoided hell, or perhaps God could have saved them. But we cannot avoid death.

Life is so other, so strange. It is weird to 'be.' This makes life precious, doesn't it? Is tragedy an illusion? No. It really affects us, our perceptions, our bodies, our actions. The reality of things stands apart from the existence of a meta-narrative.

Eric J.S. said...

@Christians
Whether or not you believe in Jesus's divinity or God is not strictly the problem with Christian morality. It is the Christian reliance on God to ease their mental ills when considering the suffering in the world. Deconverting will not save someone, but thinking about them and proposing good solutions that will actually help the sufferers in this life at least has a chance of helping. ALso if you click on John's link to the comments he is reffering to, you will understand the rationalizations Christians use to justify not caring. Also do not limit your thinking to your current faith with out giving it a very thorough examination. I might have been baptized and confirmed as a Chirstian, but I never really completely bought the God hypothesis. Because I do not have a god to give me morality and kiss my boo-boos, morality is more important. "I am an atheist so now what" is a phase I went through. I studied nihilism and existentialism. Long story short, I chose existentialism as my subjective understanding of morality. Dr. Andy Thomson provided me with my objective understanding of morality in a youtube video of his AAI lecture. I suggest if you want to understand how materialists feel about death, you should read The Plague by Albert Camus. I am not going to say materialists are more moral, I just going to say that we think about morality often very differently than theists do.

Manifesting Mini Me (MMM) said...

Eric wrote, "ALso if you click on John's link to the comments he is reffering to, you will understand the rationalizations Christians use to justify not caring."

If you are referring to my comments, your conclusion that they represent rationalizations for apathy is a corruption of my intention. I'm glad you brought this up, so I can clarify. The intention, as I wrote about it, is to discuss/represent an alternative point of view/approach to life difficulties and dangers.

I invite you to consider that an intention for sharing faith is to provoke thoughtfulness and inspire hope in the divine in order to increase one's capacity to care in humane ways (although Jesus warned of the way that religion and even His own name would be used to corrupt and abuse human empowerment).

What good comes from a focus on fear of condemnation and death - I've experienced how fear has the potential to lead to demoralization and shrink the ability to reach out to others. To eliminate hope (whether it be via religious or secular means), can incite a territorial, mercenary mindset and does nothing to alleviate suffering or grief. Moral hypocrisy/conceit for me, proved to be one of the more pivotal demoralizing practices that infected my life. By faith, I am free to love in accordance with God's will - which is a good thing.

Death is a very real and verifiable truth. How one responds and approaches it is a matter of faith and can have a profound impact on how one lives their life in the here and now. If one loves God, one will inherit a human heart.

I hope that the intention of posts that highlight human suffering will remain consistent for the purpose of discussion and representation of various approaches to the POE - indicting one another for antagonistic perspectives is not uncommon - I've done it myself when there appears to be a mixed and inconsistent message. It is divine nature that is void of condemnation, not ours.

We are all fallible and share a common need for grace, and ppl don't always have it to offer.

At any rate,
Thx,
3M

Eric J.S. said...

MMM said "If one loves God, one will inherit a human heart."

There four basic problems with this:
1) All non-Christians (or least those who don't believe in you God) do not have a human heart. American Indians, by your definition, would be heartless, immoral animals that need to be shown the grace of God and so forth.
2) When infants and other animals show characteristics of basic morality, it is not morality because they have not developed a relationship with your God. Almost all theories about morality have nothing to do with God, and morality can exist regardless of a god because of our evolved and taught morality.
3) Regardless of your theology, many people have used a relationship with God to justify actions that ignore the consequences to human life. For example, G. W. Bush thought it was God's will that the US go to war in Iraq, and the NAZI's had "God is with us" on their belt buckles. There are countless other examples of crusades, inquistions, etc. In Nigeria, Christian are ostrasizing and killing children because they believe they are witches. The Bible talks about witches and demon posessions, so this is only an emphasis on those beliefs in that culture. You have already responded to this point by talking about people abusing Jesus's name. However, if faith inspires hope in the divine, faith is the root you must look into. In North Korea, the dictator is seen as almost God. The people are told that if they touch pro-democracy flyers sent from South Korea, their arm will rot off. The people are so thickly brainwashed , they believe it. People outside of Christianity often seen your faith the same way, brainwashing.
4) Many religous and secular groups have a tendency to consider themselves more moral based on their own reasoning. Basically many people think everyone out of their group is going to Hell but them. You should be worried that you are not delusional. There are many faiths out there that think they are right and use the same arguments as you.

Another claim is that the nature of the divine is not area of condemnation. This relies on your definition of divine and humans. It is because you believe in the omnibenevolence of your God that he/she/it is beyond reproach. No one is saying people are not fallible. It is because people are fallible that there are so many faiths that rely on indoctronation and being wrong. Your concept of original sin and morality stemming from God is the reason you assume non-believers are not as moral as Christians.
Becaue there is no evidence that your God is the true god that is widely acceptable, your premise is on faith. Faith premises are equal. I could claim morality stems from the aliens' invisible computer chip they placed in my head and that the aleins know better than I do of what is right and wrong. That assertion is no better than yours at the moment. And just because a lot of people are Christians and not alein worshippers is not a proof for truth.
All I ask is, if you have the guts to look at your faith from the outside and try to measure its ability to provide consistent morality as say a philosopher or an ethicist, you might be able to understand that faith does not make one more humane. I will try to understand what you mean by having faith by reading the Flying Spagetti Monster Gospels. All shall be touched by his noodly goodness! Ramen! (sorry if I am not seeming serious, it just why Christianity when I can be a Pastafarian or some other cult.)

Rob R said...

Stamati,

After reading your post that you linked to, I'm not confident in the claims about what would happen in the afterlife of the girl. C.S. Lewis noted that how God will judge us is affected according to the trajectory of our life and the girl in your story was considering Christ.

It's not clear at all from scripture that everyone who doesn't have an explicit relationship with Jesus is destined for damnation. The story of Cornelius demonstrates this in acts 10 as he had pleased God even prior to Peter teaching him of salvation. Salvation as mentioned later in Acts 11 then is a fuller relationship with God. And of course, none of the old testament Jews nor "holy pagans" (Melchezidek, Jethrow, Job, etc.) had a relationship with Jesus as we come to it in the evangelical's sinner's prayer.

And you talk about justice in your scenario, but justice is precisely one of the reasons why the Jews began to believe that there would be a resurrection since God's justice is not truly and fully satisfied in our current situation.

I will grant that there is a context in which death and suffering is supposed to be. But that does not change the degree to which it ultimately ought not be. So again, when considering the options, what picture does the greatest justice. In materialism, it is useful that people die so that they don't take up space and resources.

In the Judeo Christian narrative, physical death and suffering were introduced into the world because our souls are broken. But the soul from the Jewish/Christian perspective is very closely intertwined with the body, and if the brokenness of the soul does not register in our physicallity some how, then our motivation for redemption may not be strong.

What is the nature of that motivation? In our context of redemption, our physical brokenness provides opportunities for compassion, to come together and depend upon each other and God, and that is precisely where the brokenness extends, between each other and God.

Of course I agree that tragedy is not illusion. So again, what is the best companion to this? I don't see that materialism fits and only compounds the tragedy... until we can make a pill that takes all such unpleasant feelings away which would seem to me an appropriate response in light of materialism and yet completely at odds with the truth that we should learn from tragedy, that this person had worth and value.

Manifesting Mini Me (MMM) said...

Hi Eric, "All non-Christians (or least those who don't believe in you God) do not have a human heart. American Indians, by your definition, would be heartless, immoral animals that need to be shown the grace of God and so forth."

So when you read scripture, you injected elitism into the message - that is not uncommon - as a matter of fact, it is consistent with a human, rather than a divine stance.

Then Eric said, "2) When infants and other animals show characteristics of basic morality, it is not morality because they have not developed a relationship with your God. Almost all theories about morality have nothing to do with God, and morality can exist regardless of a god because of our evolved and taught morality."

Jesus said to come to Him as a little child, (and sometimes that means confessing brutal truths to God) and He beckoned the religious elite, referring to them as "lost children"!

As for point # 3, I am well aware of antagonistic viewpoints, but my God said to love the enemy, so the aspiration is not to condemn or annihilate, or subjugate the opposition, but extend an invitation of peace and freedom from oppression towards those who I am enabled to.

And then, #4: You said, "Many religous and secular groups have a tendency to consider themselves more moral based on their own reasoning."

You are an astute observer of moral conceit/self-righteousness and I couldn't agree more! My God is about offering grace - self righteousness breeds all manner of hypocrisy and self empowerment - the foundation for all sorts of evil and suffering.

You then wrote, "I will try to understand what you mean by having faith by reading the Flying Spagetti Monster Gospels. " \

I really enjoy pasta, especially spaghetti - if God serves it at His banquet, would you like to come eat some?

In summary, there are ppl who witness and experience suffering and evil and condemn God's existence while others experience and witness suffering and evil and desire to be more like God in responding to it.

For it isn't God, Who said get into battles of ego and self righteousness and contests to see who can complain the loudest and raise the most offenses-- it wasn't God who said, "Don't feed the hungry or care for the impoverished" -- it wasn't God who said to maintain a rock quarry in our hearts so we can throw stones at one another and it wasn't God who said He would never share the worthwhile and human hearted work to help alleviate suffering and pain in this world.

We all share in the need for grace -that is the goal of faith.

Ttyl,
3M

stamati anagnostou said...

Rob, I really like the way you think. This is definitely an interesting perspective, although I'm unsure of the biblical nature of CS Lewis' statement. I'd rather prefer it that way however. But one sees verses that indicate that whoever confesses Jesus orally will be saved, or whoever believes inwardly, and that they must be preached to in order to recieve the word. I just don't think scripture is as generous as you or CS Lewis.

aharleygyrl said...

I have been posting this to many people's youtube channels and videos as a good article to read. Thanks for posting this! I had not thought about it before.

Rob R said...

post 1 of 3

Stamati,

One thinks of John 3 where, yes, belief in Jesus is attached to eternal life and disbelief is attached to rejection of Jesus. But what is provided simply cannot be taken as absolutes for one reason I highlighted, that those in the old testament did not look forward to Jesus. Some argue that they were saved because they all had a messianic expectation. But I don't think that case can be made and it's a huge stretch for at least one of the persons who is listed amongst the heroes of faith in the old testament, Rahab, the prostitute in Jericho who housed the Israelite spies who is considered faithful simply because she believed that judgement was coming with the approach of God's people.

For this reason, when I look at vs like John 3:18, I see a verse that really needs to be understood in it's context. Jesus ties damnation to rejection of him, but he is speaking to one and to a class of people who knew Jesus in the flesh and who knew the stories of him and his works from the very people who benefitted from those works, such that their insistence for more and more signs was not a matter of their critical thinking skills but only a guise for their rebellion. And Jesus, in the gospels makes it explicit that his presence is a deciding factor in how judgment would be applied such as when he said it would be easier for the inhabitants on judgment day than it would be for the Jews of his day who rejected him because his presence itself provided a profound opportunity which implied a greater responsibility to respond.

With the question of the unevangelized, I am very confidant that they have a chance to escape damnation and on biblical grounds. I know there are prooftexts to the contrary, but I believe such as John 3:18 that they have reasonable explanations and if you know of other prooftexts, against this, chances are, I already know of them and can explain them.

The positive case for this perspective is very powerful considering what I mentioned of Cornelius in Acts 10, the example of the holy pagans in the old testament, Paul's speech to the athenians in acts 17 is full of considerations including an explicit statement that God made it possible for people everywhere to reach out and find him (and I ask, why would God do something that had no chance of bearing fruit of any kind?)

How can they do this? We'd point to examples like Cornelius who's prayers and almsgiving were as a memorial to God prior to Peter's encounter where he would hear a message "through which [he] and all [his] household will be saved" (acts 11:14). It was upon meeting Cornelius (at the Holy Spirit's initiative) that Peter concluded "how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right." One can conclude that Cornelius earned God's favor through doing good works, but this is not the only interpretation of the story and it doesn't work with the Jewish/Christian view where we cannot earn God's favor. I believe that the best interpretation here is that Cornelius' works don't save him from hell but rather, they show that Cornelius was responding positively to the grace of God that was in his life. So why bother with whatever Peter was talking about in terms of "salvation?" Salvation isn't evidently from hell in this instance and to study the concept in the new testament, that isn't always the idea. The salvation which Peter brought to Cornelius then is the fullness of a relationship with God that only comes through explicitely knowing and following Jesus.

Rob R said...

post 2 of 3


In light of all this, I believe that the best understanding of escaping damnation is having a relationship with God, but relationships come in degrees and the highest degrees only come through following Jesus. And this is very crucial because life and redemption isn't primarily about escaping damnation. This may be the basic thrust of most of evangelicalism which I believe passes on a great deal of the authentic message of the gospel, but it is a distortion.

I believe that God judges us according to how we deal with the best form of grace that is available to us. That form of grace isn't defined by following their own religion or their idea of virtue, but evidence of that grace can be found there.

And what if the gospel is so ill understood or distorted that the person really doesn't have an authentic chance to respond to God appropriately in that way. The priniciple example of this may be Christianity under Nazi Germany where the Jews would've seen Christ as the angry God on the cross who is out to get vengence upon them for putting him their. In such a situation, there familiarity with Christianity doesn't amount to anything.

So this has been a long way of going about answering your question further, but it looks to be that in the scenario you suggest, I would say that the girl's situation fits the pattern of responding positively to God's grace.

Rob R said...

post 3 of 3



aharlygyrl

if you speak of John Loftus's post here, I'll tell you that perhaps nothing he has written is more poorly thought out than this post where he virtually tramples on the real pain and grief of real people who are Christians and have lost loved ones yet persevere in their faith and find strength in that faith.

I've explained more along these lines in my posts above.

Rob R said...

post 4


One thinks of John 3 where, yes, belief in Jesus is attached to eternal life and disbelief is attached to rejection of Jesus.


Just a correction here, I meant that disbelief is connected to damnation.

Double A said...

Seeing this post, I believe you are not a nice person, John.

Batis said...

Ofc they don't give a damm...what religious person, in their perfect sense, would!?! They are hard-coded to think that by acting like they do they will go to a better place...i mean they really don't care about life here on earth because it's only temporary..why should they care?!
I think religion should be abolished in every way...it's killing the human race...because religious people don't really wanna live here..and they don't mind if we all die...it's suicidal!