So, I was involved in the running commentary at a post over at Deus Ex Malcontent (at which my brother-in-blogging Big Man dropped in to say a few words, too) in which religion, faith, science, life, the universe and everything else is being hashed out. I think we all, over the course of things, sorted everything out that’s been bothering people for a few thousand years, so that no one needs to debate the topic again.
But what I really want to address is a comment that I somehow evoked from someone merely, I guess, by my existence on this planet. The comment:
Dear “Deacon Blue” spare me. All that talk about “the point is not I’m right, you’re wrong, man. I respect you.” I just spent too long browsing your blog, man.
Why don’t you tell us how we poor sinners (that you totally respect, man) burn in hell, tortured forever because we don’t think like you think. How does that gibe with your whole respect bullshit “I just ain’t sayin’ I’m right” crap? Because seems to sinner me that you think you’re right. No matter what you say, in your black and secret heart you know everyone, but your own personal groupthink will burn.
You’re full of shit, bro. Why do you feel the need to misrepresent, yo?
Religion sucks. (What is the difference between a Methodist and a Presbyterian anyway?) But if it wasn’t about god, people would still kill each other for equally stupid things.
My reply to Clessie in that comment thread could be described as less than diplomatic, since I don’t see how anyone could actually spend any significant time perusing my blog and getting this impression of me and I loathe being misrepresented. If any of y’all agree with him/her, and really think that I’m that much of an ass deep down (or not so deep) around here, by all means point out where I have failed. But really, that’s not the point of this post.
The point is to discuss my BLACK AND SECRET HEART.
Apparently, I believe that everyone outside my personal “groupthink” will burn. So, is Clessie right? Is that what I believe? Yeah. No. It depends.
Does she mean that I believe that people who don’t read the Bible and haven’t verbally claimed Jesus as Lord and been baptized and all that are definitely going to Hell, every last one of them?
But if she means that I think those who are not “born again” will receive some sort of punishment that we only have the name “Hell” to really go by at the moment…well…
So, now that I’ve been thoroughly confusing, let me explain. My father-in-law, a pretty spiritually conservative Christian preacher, likes to say that there are plenty of people who are born again and don’t even know it. Not just Christians who don’t think they are worthy enough for Heaven and assume they will burn who are born again. He means people that aren’t Christian at all. Who might not even have given two seconds of thought to whether Jesus is literally the son of God.
Personally, I believe that there are Jews who are born again. Atheists who are born again. Indigenous people along the Amazon River who are born again. Yes, even some lawyers and politicians who are born again. Believe it or not. Being born again is a spiritual thing. It’s about seeking to shed the sinful, hurtful self that is bogged down in base desires and letting the spirit in and letting it shine through.
Now, personally, I think Jesus is the son of God. I believe that he died for all of our sins, past, present and future. I believe that the surest way to Heaven is to turn to Jesus with an open mind, heart and soul. To put your faith in him.
By the same token, I think the surest way to career success is to take a lot of AP classes in high school, get into a good college, apply yourself there, and then apply yourself to life with everything you’ve got. That being said, there are some pretty successful folks who didn’t apply themselves much early in life or, for that matter, even obtain college degrees.
But the notion that God is going to send every single person to Hell who doesn’t verbally proclaim His son their personal savior while still here on Earth is patently absurd to me. Not everyone has access to the Bible. Not everyone even has access to missionaries. Not everyone even knows that there ever was a guy named Jesus of Nazareth and that there is any reason to take him seriously once they hear about him.
There are people who are raised in homes with other belief systems. There are people raised in homes with no faith-based upbringing at all. There are people who only encounter idiot Christians and obnoxious Evangelists in life. There are people who have too much despair to even consider the life hereafter because they can’t imagine getting through the one on this planet.
I’m not saying that all you have to do is “be a good person” to get salvation. Some mean and rotten tempered people will get into Heaven, too. And some folks you would categorize as the sweetest people around won’t get in at all.
Some people will burn in Hell, if indeed burning is what happens there. Or they’ll be erased from existence. Or they’ll have some eternity of more of the same of what they lived through on Earth, over and over. Or they come back as bugs. Or they create their own personal hell. Or, for all I know, they’ll sit on hunks of ice being forced to deep-throat porcupines.
I just don’t know those details. But not everyone is going to make it to Heaven. Frankly, deep down, I think there are plenty of people who don’t want to be there or accept God even if He reveals Himself to them. I wholeheartedly believe going to Hell will be their own choice in that matter. No one’s getting tricked into Hell. No one gets some sucker punch from God, as far as I can imagine. God isn’t trying to damn people. He wants them to choose the right path. But that’s just it, He gives them a choice.
I don’t know what Judgment Day is going to look like for any sinner, myself or otherwise. But I believe that what it’s going to come down to is whether you want to hold on to all that crap you had in life or not. Do you want to remain anchored to your conceits, your desires, your hates, your fears and all other nastiness and pettiness that you and I hold so dear down here on Earth?
Fine, hold on to that anchor if you want, and it will pull you down into whatever damnation is. Or, let it go, embrace God, and choose love, knowledge, growth. I admit that I’m attached to a lot of things here on Earth, but no so attached that I want them for eternity. I want more than this world offers. I want to know what it is like to truly love, to truly shed things that hold me back, to truly touch the universe and not just see it.
Is all of this strictly biblical? No. It isn’t. But the Bible is, sadly, frustratingly vague on some details, and archaic in its imagery. Jesus healed people of illnesses of the body and mind. But when he freed a person’s mind from madness, he didn’t talk about using his powers to reset their neurotransmitters. People believed in demons. So he couched it in those terms. The Bible wasn’t written for the kind of knowledge and awareness we have today; God expects us to be able to fill in the blanks in a lot of places and make the connections.
We fall short, and we remain apart from Him. But He wants us to reach out.
So, that, Clessie, is my “black and secret heart.” The belief that people too selfish to open up and throw off the crap will reap a bitter end. That people who want something better and can admit to their own failings and sins will reap something sweeter.
If that is indicative of a black and secret heart, I don’t know what to tell you. I’m not talking about Heaven being only for those people who learned the secret Christian handshake before they died.
God isn’t looking for Christians. God is looking for His children to come home. If you don’t want to be part of the family, Clessie, that will be your choice. And no one can take that choice from you.
Talks about “Gentiles” being saved outside of the law because despite their ignorance of the law, they still keep its commandments through the power of their conscience.
Now, I think that if you willingly reject Jesus with the aim of being a “good person” and getting into heaven, you’re going to hell.
But, if you are truly ignorant of what the Bible means, yet still manage to live a life according to God’s commandments, the Bible seems to be saying that you will join God in heaven.
I’ll admit this runs counter to what I previously believed, but reading those scriptures was eye-opening. It also makes me wonder why one of the main arguments of non-believers is “Well you think anybody who doesn’t agree with you is going to hell.”
That scripture right there gives lie to that whole concept. Yet folks who regularly debate the Bible haven’t even bothered to take the time to read about it. So sad.
Why do people get so upset that other folks think they’re going to hell?
Remember, you’re not even sure there is a HELL!
Unless people are mistreating you, why are you getting so upset about the thoughts in their minds. If a white person isn’t mistreating me, I could care less if they are a racist. Treat me and other black folks as equals, and you can believe we’re all niggers for all I care. I might not like it, but I’m not going to be making a big deal about it.
As to your first point, I agree that it all will ultimately come down to Jesus’ sacrifice and accepting our sin natures. In the end, I believe that’s what God is going to lay before all of us, and whether we accept both things is what will make the difference between where we end up/how we end up.
As to the second point, I don’t get it either. I thought about addressing that point but I was already being wordy enough. Getting mad because I MIGHT believe that are going to a place you don’t believe in for not following the rules of a God you don’t accept the existence of. I mean if I was calling the person a foul, evil damnable sin-flooded bastard, I could see getting mad at me…
“Now, I think that if you willingly reject Jesus with the aim of being a “good person” and getting into heaven, you’re going to hell.
But, if you are truly ignorant of what the Bible means, yet still manage to live a life according to God’s commandments, the Bible seems to be saying that you will join God in heaven.” (Big Man)
So basically it comes down to awareness? I think in your scenario’s there we have 2 people both doing ‘good’ – yet in your system – one goes to ‘hell’ and the other to ‘heaven’…based basically on knowledge of something. Is all Christianity is is a confessional?
I would of just stopped at the point of doing ‘good’…I think one’s actions are the defintion of the person…and this is the showing of what they really ‘believe’. That’s not to say we all don’t make mistakes and the use of grace/forgiveness/mercy is not part of the story – but if one can make a mistake and make it right – then I think we have someone that believes in ‘good ethics’ and ‘repentance/responsibility’.
I am not sure the confession means much at all?
The problem with “good works” in my opinion, SocietyVs, is when people do good but down deep are doing it for the recognition.
If we don’t truly look at what we are and realize that we have selfishness that runs very deep, then our good works are just a mask. A way for us to trick God into letting us in a way.
It’s not that we have to grovel and say “I’m a wretched sinner” but that we have to truly be able to realize that we need MUCH more development to be truly spiritual beings worthy of God’s attentions. He has paved the way, but for the final connection to be formed and for us to become what we should be, we have to recognize that we have baggage to dump.
This, I think, it the reason for the admonitions in the Bible that it’s faith and not works that get us there. It’s not that works are bad, it’s just that if we expect them to carry us through, then we are saying, essentially, “I’m already good enough” without realizing we’re still babes who need to learn a whole lot more after this life.
Those who pridefully approach the judgement seat with an attitude that they shouldn’t have to do anymore are not going to make the cut, because they lack the desire to truly grow.
I’m typing with my little girl distracting me, so I hope that came out like I intended and made sense.
Then you have folks like me who’ve read the g@#%$$^9m Bible cover to cover how many times, read the Sermon on the Mount dozens if not hundreds of times, and I’m no Christian. I look around and see that damnation to Hell for eternity doesn’t make sense. I see that Gandhi and Buddha and all these other folks say the exact same thing as Jesus, and how do I then say, well, they’re all wrong and Jesus is “the” way? Nah. I’ve been born again and done the Christian Science thing and been to so many churches that I gave up, and not one of ’em did shit for my gender dissonance. It took rejecting the whole mess and accepting that we’re all spiritual and beautiful and accepting me for who I am and who god or goddess or whoever made me to be to find peace and happiness. If god’s gonna condemn me to torture for that … well, the Bible says She won’t give me more than I can handle, and gender dysphoria was damn sure more than I can handle. So it’s her fault.
Anyway, what it comes down to, among other things, is intent. What is your intent when you take that action? What is the motive? is it fear, or love? We make way too many decisions out of fear. We stay with terrible jobs, or torturous relationships, or “witness” to non-Christians because we’re afraid we’ll go to Hell (or whatever).
I’m coming out here as more bitter than I am, I think. Sorry about that. But, frankly, I’m not worried about Hell in the hereafter. I’m worried about not living life fully today. Because that’s what hell is. It’s living in fear. I’d rather live in love. And you think about it. Jesus told us what god is. He said, “God is love.” Ergo, love is God. And love casts out fear.
A thought on eternity: Similar to infinite speed, where one is everywhere at once, eternity is infinite time; and the only way to break that down into something that makes sense is that eternity and Now are one and the same. Condemnation to hell happens constantly and instantly, and is Now – not in the hereafter. Salvation is always available. Cast out fear and embrace love.
But then, all you got to do is look at my androgynous, half-male/half-female lycanthropic body to know I’m weird. Lots of folks think I’m insane and/or depraved. So what do I know?
I think that it IS important to deal with the here and now. Becuase that is where we can help people and be kind and loving and positive. Also, well…it’s the only place we have to grow and learn right now, so we HAVE to deal with the here and now.
But at the same time, I think it’s a good idea to tend to the spiritual, if one has any inkling that there is a hereafter.
And, as you say, intent is a key thing in our actions. The problem is that too often, people have intents that are less than honorable, but convince others and even themselves otherwise…and that is something I think we all need to be aware of.
Thanks for the input, Seda, as always.
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I think you’re right, the awareness is the big issue.
We’re operating from the premise that God created the world, he created heaven, he created hell. He said that in order to go to heaven, here are the conditions you need to meet.
Since he created it, I’m of the mindset that he has the authority to decide what it takes to gain entrance. From what I’ve gathered, God has decided that if you are aware of Him and His Son, and willfully decided to ignore their desires, then you don’t get to come to heaven.
However, if you honestly are not aware of God and his desires, and I believe this excludes people who maintain a willful and purposeful ignorance, then if you manage to live the kind of life God desires, you will be admitted into heaven.
Once you gain knowledge, you gain a greater responsibility. Without knowledge, you do not have that responsibility. It’s very similar to the lessons many parents teach their children, which makes sense given the nature of God’s relationship with us.
Ultimately, entrance into heaven is dependent on grace whether you know God or are ignorant of him. That’s the case because if you lay out the lives of all humans, none of us have done more “good” deeds than “bad” deeds. (Good and bad been in relation to God’s word, not our own opinions.) Consequently, nobody can actually “earn” a trip to heaven. The Bible teaches that when you develop a relationship with Jesus, you will seek to align your life with his, and while you will fail to ever align it perfectly, the constant search for that joining is what validates your acceptance of him.
At least that’s how I understand it.