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Problems I could not reconcile with christianity
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Problems I could not reconcile with christianity
I wanted to just pose a few of the fundamental problems I developed with christianity and see how current christians deal with these questions.
1 - Hell and damnation. OK, so the way I was taught and interpreted the bible, all you had to do to get into heaven was admit you were a sinner and ask Jesus into your heart and for forgiveness. Well that's nice and easy. But at this point, we have a little understanding of the history of the world and culture. Jesus lived in the middle east and probably never traveled very far, by modern standards, in his lifetime. So, every single soul, on every other continent...South America, Asia, Africa, etc...all of these souls who were not exposed to Jesus were damned to hell? All of the native americans who existed in this country before we got here...every last soul in hell? Someone born in modern day Iran...some normal person who just wants to wake up in the morning, go to work, love and be loved by his family is damned to eternity in hell simply because he was not exposed to your particular story?
Personally that seems like a pretty weak and ineffective god, to only spread the good word to so few...
Maybe there's only so many seats in heaven?
OK, so maybe we'll just start with that single problem that I have with christianity...I could certainly pose more, but this was my first big, moral dilemma and what lead me to lose faith in that god.
I would remind you that God is the creator, and that God is love. I will trust in God to handle these things as he sees fit. You and God are not equals. Most people are too vain to grasp this concept, and it is an important one because God, not you, makes the rules!
However...every example that I have found in the bible points to God being a patient loving God that has a plan. We are his creations and he knows what we will do before we even do it. I used to worry about philosophical things like you mentioned, but not any more. I will instead choose to trust God. I wouldn't be supprised if he had a plan for all of these people you mentioned above before the beginning of time.
I ask this instead. Who is hell for? We know that the bible tells us that The Devil and his angels will be cast into the lake of fire
So hell is for those that have made the choice to turn away from God. He is constantly calling us, but we choose to ignore him and do our own thing. I think that is who hell is for. Will there be many? Yes. That scripture above says "their number will be as many as the sands of the sea"...countless, numberless masses of people that turned their backs on God will be cast into the lake of fire for all eternity. But I choose to trust that our loving creator has a plan for those that never knew of him and lived a just life.
OK. Let's make sure that I understand your premises, and the christian premises that we are dealing with in general. In your opening statement you say that god is the creator and that god is love. If god is love, combined with what is written in the christian gospels, it is then logical to assume that god loves all his children and loves them all equally.
Back to the concept of hell. We could go down a lot of different roads here, but I believe we can keep it simple and say that hell is the least desireable outcome for your afterlife. Hell is bad. Hell is not where you want to be nor where god would prefer you to be. This is based on the assumption that god is love and loves us all equally and therefore wants what would be best for us and not the least desireable. Simply based on geography and the history of communication technology, if we accept the christian premise on how one gets into heaven, then we have to ask how an all loving god could condemn virtually every soul that has ever walked the face of the planet to hell.
god is the creator...right? Does that imply that god is all powerful? That's how I was taught. So we have this all loving god, who does not want us to go to hell, yet his simple inactivity has damned 99.999999999% of all humans who have ever lived to hell.
Perhaps god is not so powerful? Absurd.
Perhaps god is not all that loving?? Blasphemy!!!
OK....well, perhaps what is commonly taught in christianity about how to get into heaven, specifically, accepting the divinity of Jesus and asking for forgiveness is not THE, or at least the only path to heaven??
In my opinion, this is the first step off the path of christianity. Saying that you simply trust god to do as he sees fit is a cop out and devoid of any thought or logic. So you simply trust that god is love despite what god has done, or more correctly, what god has not done. You simply accept that god is all powerful because he apparently created everything but does nothing to help his loved ones.
You simply trust that this god has these attributes, despite the fact that this god has only shown a lack of these prescribed attributes.
Keep in mind, I am speaking specifically to the traditional christian path to heaven and beliefs regarding heaven and hell.
You don't reconcile any of these thoughts because you just take comfort in the fact that he has a plan...a plan that, obviously, doesn't include the majority of the souls of his equally loved children throughout the course of history.
Or...maybe christians just don't have it right.....jesus - great man, possibly the greatest moralist of all time who was raised to the level of martyr upon death. Made out to be more than he ever was or claimed to be...
Thank you for your very honest and thought provoking posts. You raise some excellent questions that deserve answers. This is just the type of discussion that I envisioned for this group.
The issue you raise is an excellent one, and one that I've wrestled with for over over 30 years, since 1980. I've found an answer that satisfies me, but it will take me a while to write it out, so I just wanted to tell you that I'm pondering this, working on it, and even praying about it.
I really appreciate the spirit of your inquiry. I've been there too. In 1980 I came to doubt everything about Christianity after believing it for 4 years. I scrapped everything I believed, doubted everything I could, and started at the beginning. This was one of the questions that fueled my doubts, and receiving unsatisfactory answers just inflamed my doubt even more.
I'll add more after I get my thoughts put together.
Now, I cannot claim to be familiar with many of the teachings of the non-Catholic Christians, so please excuse my ignorance (I was raised in a very devote Roman Catholic household, although my mother was a non-practicing Luthern).
But one major problem I had with Catholicism (and, by extension, any other Christian denomination that holds the same belief) was that to be saved, one must go through a human intermediary (i.e., the preist or preacher). There is NO WAY that I can reconcile the idea that you can have a personal relationship with Jesus/God yet you MUST be saved through the Church. Human organizations tell me that the only way in which to achieve salvation is through their organization?
I'm sorry, but that works on ignorant, illiterate serfs in the Dark Ages but human knowledge has come too far for me to fall for something that obvious.
Man, I have so much to add, but sure don't want to derail this. I mean, we have the rest of our lives to work all of this out.
Jukeshoe - The "Non-denominational" Christian faith that I was brought up in actually thought that the Catholic church's need for an intermediary with god (among other things) goes against the teaching of jesus and is not christian. In fact, the majority of the non-catholics I know do not consider catholics to be christians, but rather idolters, false prophets, etc... and as we all know, if you're not christian, you can not go to heaven. Sorry catholics
My fiance is a spiritual person who does not have a particular religion. She feels that the Hell/Damnation thing is putting to much letter to the law. She doesn't think that God would love us so little that he would put all of those people to hell. In God's eyes we are like children, and he knows we are not perfect. So, it doesn't make sense that he would measure us against perfection to get into heaven.
For me, if there was a god and he was loving, he certainly would allow 99.9% of the world to go to hell. Also, How can there be a devil or hell in the first place? Angels supposedly had no free will, so how could Lucifer defy him? And why would god allow such a horrible place when he is supposed to be a loving god. I think Hell and Damnation was invented by the churches to rule over the people.
I am really trying to stay on topic here. But in the bible, god kills millions of people with the ark, the plague, and numerous other things. This supposed devil only kills 10 people? That sounds really one sided. I mean did god kill the entire planet and everyone who believed in him made on the ark to survive? I think it is not fair to judge a Christian's beliefs by the bible, because it cannot all be explained and it will never be "the truth" as it is displays a vengeful god and not a loving one.
Donovan, why do you keep saying the "Devil only killed 10 people?"
I'm unfamiliar with that number. I don't recall the Devil killing anyone, from what I was taught.
Care to elaborate?
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