As I've mentioned a few times here, I am not a believing Christian. However, I am a cultural Christian, and a "defender of the faith", in that I see that the tenets and followers of Christianity have built the most free, most prosperous, most decent civilization in the history of mankind.
Whatever its faults...by any adversary's measure (including mine)...that is simply the bald truth.
The American Constitution is the direct result of the influence of the Christian concept of "Equality before God".
And seriously, short of heaven, it just doesn't get better than that.
That being said...
I have some problems with the whole Christian story. I don't understand what appear to me to be unnecessary complexities and contradictions and what appear to be logic fallacies.
Except as they reinforce the divinity of the Christ and his mission, without which there wouldn't be much holding Traditional Christianity together, I don't see their point.
Of course, the problem with asking Christians, Christian clergy, Christian apologists and Christian historians and Christian Biblical scholars about the veracity or logic or likelihood of the correctness of the story, is that they, naturally, have a vested interest in it being true as the world currently understands it.
But if you approach it from (what I hope is) a disinterested point of view, it just doesn't hang together.
I don't want to insult any Christians....which is why I opened this post with my honest admiration of all the good wrought by their beliefs...but I just can't quite buy those beliefs as they are presented and seemingly understood by the Christian community of the World.
* * *
Here are a few of my observations.
Fundamental to Christianity is the need for ATONEMENT for the grave sin of Adam (and Eve?)
Without Adam's (and Eve's?) monstrous, horrifying, shocking, appalling, heinous, vile, hateful, abominable disobedience of God, Jesus doesn't have to "Die. For. Our. Sins".
But...what is this foul SIN of Adam (and Eve)?
From where I stand, it looks like evolution.
I know that some people believe that the entire Bible is literal truth. But many others understand it to be figurative in part, historical in part, and metaphoric in part.
I submit that Genesis is figurative.
Genesis seems to be telling us that Adam and Eve were living in an innocent time of pre-humanity. They lived like animals (in a good way) and ate like animals, and ran around naked, like animals. And just enjoyed being alive, generally hung out eating and sleeping and never worrying about much of anything, especially the future...like animals.
It was, kind of like, you know, Paradise!
But then, one day, they "ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil." Which I think is a figurative way of saying they reached the stage of evolution (or the moment God touched them on the forehead and "poof!") when they developed the ability to REASON, think abstractly, think creatively, developed free-will and self-agency.
Now, Christians says that through Adam (and Eve?), Sin entered the world.
Give man free-will, the ability to scheme - I mean "reason" - and some of things he thinks up are going to be bad, selfish, greedy, mean, cruel, thoughtless...
don't think Adam (and Eve?) sinned. I think they just grew up. And
growing up into Self-Awareness Self-Motivation, Self-Agency and
Creative/Abstract thought...leads to a lot of possibilities for bad
ideas and bad behavior - as well as Good ones.
And don't we just know it.
The Bible also says that God told them that if they ate of the Tree, they would surely die*. But it's obvious that they did not die, at least not right then. So, more figurative language. I think it means that when they became able to REASON, they became aware of their own mortality.
This would make you sad. This would be a major drag. So it sort of ruined the perfect happiness they had before.
So. (Still according to the Traditional Christian Dogma) We are mortal because Adam (and Eve?) sinned by eating an apple.
So. We are destined to suffer eternal torture in hell because Adam (and Eve?) sinned by eating an apple after God said "Don't Eat It!)
AND...so the story goes, God loves us so much....(?)...that he sent his only begotten (on whom? just wondering) Son to die for our sins, and redeem our souls from this sickening, gruesome, sadistic, punishment unearned by every single human being who has ever existed on planet earth...except Adam (and Eve?)
Just a reminder, for centuries, Catholic Dogma had it that un-baptized babies who died, and all the people in lands where the Word of God was never heard—so they couldn't be 'saved'—went straight to Hell. Forever. Eternal punishment. Amen. Praise the Lord.
Now that just pisses me off. I find it hard to stay "nice" about it. When I think of all the horrors, terror, dread, distress, and nightmares this so-called Truth has given true believers, (Think of the terrified children! And mothers of still-born children, And parents whose children fall away from the Church, and husbands and wives and friends who are not believers that Christians must believe will be consigned to eternal fires of Hell.
Think of the kind of person you become if you believe that most of the people you will ever meet, like, befriend, even love, will spend eternity suffering in the eternal fires of hell being tortured by the Devil and his demons.
Crazy? Paranoid? Brokenhearted? Hardhearted? Cold? Distant? Suicidal? Fallen-Away Christian?
Personally, I'd rather have my beating heart cut out by an Aztec priest...and be done with it.
It's a shorter and kinder end.
* * * *
So, in my Post-Christianity Christianity all of this is bunkum.
There was no Original Sin by Adam (and Eve?) that brought Death and Sin into the world. There is no Original Sin to taint every new soul born into the world.
There was just Adam and Eve gaining Reason. The Genesis story is sort of: "Evolution in a Bite"
So...there is no need for The Atonement.
Jesus of Nazareth does not have to "Die. For. Our. Sins".
Doesn't mean he wasn't born on Earth.
Doesn't mean he wasn't crucified
Doesn't mean he wasn't resurrected.
Doesn't mean he isn't God's Son.
Doesn't mean his life and death and resurrection are not the most amazing things in the history of mankind.
It's just a different story.
* * * *
What if we consider all creatures God's children?
Is it plausible to imagine that there were some creatures created before Man?
Is it plausible to imagine that they were spiritual beings rather than corporeal beings?
Might we, just for convenience, call them "angels" ?
Might we assume, because they are spiritual, therefore have no material bodies, that they are what we would call "immortal" ?
Might we call them the older siblings of Mankind...who are also God's children?
Might we assume that there is a "birth" order among the angels. That some were created before others?
Might we assume, say, that there was a First Born and a Second Born....the two oldest brothers to the rest of the Children of God?
What if they were Lucifer and Jesus respectively? (of course those are not their real names...but just for identification purposes...I'll call them that)
What if after all the Old Testament relationship with the Chosen People, God decided it was time to send a representative to His People to lead them to the next stage in their relationship; to send them not just a human prophet, but a real, actual messenger from Heaven?
Now, what if God said to Jesus..."Listen, Son, I need you to be born on Earth as human and teach the Good News about Me to my people. It might be dangerous, because your body will be mortal, and people can be dangerous. But I really feel like a direct emissary from Heaven is what they need to grow in their relationship with Me and each other."
And Jesus, being a good son, said, "Sure, Dad. I'll do it."
...What if Lucifer, the actual Firstborn. Beautiful, strong, righteous, mighty, shining Lucifer, the Light Bearer of God, and older brother of Jesus...
...went, "What the...? He's choosing the Kid to go on this important mission? What am I, chopped liver?"
And let jealousy and anger overtake him?
(Oh...did I mention that the first creatures of God - those angels - had free-will too?)
What if Jesus was born as a natural child to Mary and Joseph Carpenter and grew up in beauty and grace - being the Son of God and all...as well as being a human, and when he was about 30, knew it was time for him to begin his ministry to God's people.
And what if Lucifer, who was watching and waiting and biding his time, began his campaign at the same time.
What if, in his jealousy, envy and anger, he got the idea that if Jesus failed...if he got more followers than Jesus, his Father would see that He should have picked him for this historic mission, instead of his little brother, and all would be right with the world again. So he went to work.
He whispered, he slandered, he tempted, he promised...he poured his poison into the ears of anyone who would listen, and it was often those who were also disposed to feel threatened by and jealous of Jesus because of the multitudes who were hungry for his Good News that God was a loving Father who wanted nothing but the best for his children, that He was not a distant King of Rules and Punishment and Law...but a Loving Father God of Mercy and Forgiveness.
All those who lived and prospered under the old ideas which gave them power and made them feared and important...hated the new guy and his blasphemous "Everyone is Equal in the Eyes of God" crap that was threatening to knock the pedestal of special status and privilege right from under their feet.
Well, you know what happened next.
And when Jesus died, and went to heaven sorrowful that he had failed his Father because he didn't live long enough to reach everyone with the Good News, and Lucifer delighted by his success, joined him to gloat over his victory and get the appreciation of his Father for his success in the contest...got rather the surprise of his life when God told him to, "Get the Hell out of Heaven!"
Which He meant quite literally...
And he had to find new digs...and it ended up being known as Hell.
(God knew what he was talking about.)
With Lucifer banished, God sat Jesus down and told him that he was a good Son, and not to feel bad about not being able to finish the job. He had a great idea that was going to blow everybody's mind and they'd NEVER forget either Jesus or his message of Good News about a loving Father God.
God was gonna resurrect Jesus' human body, and Jesus could go back and inhabit it just long enough to prove to his grief-stricken loyal followers...and thence to the rest of the world... that Jesus really was God's true messenger, and that what he told them was the undisputed Truth.
So, Jesus returns to Earth, showing up in what should be his dead body, but is alive and well...and scares the shit out of his friends (wouldn't it just!) until they are convinced it's really him, and he tells them that THIS...this immortality...this rising from the dead...is what God has in store for everyone. That death isn't the end. That hope is alive. That God wants to hang out with his kids, and for the family to be happy.
Everyone will be saved. (There is no eternal punishment of any kind). Amen. Praise the Lord.
People, DOES IT GET BETTER THAN THAT???
Talk about happiness, and hope, and love, and peace and joy!
And that's what they were supposed to say. And most of them did. But it got a little mixed up in the translations and the cultural references, and we got a story that's a little heavy on guilt and punishment, death and torture and eternity...instead of hope and life.
* * *
Okay. I know some will say, "Wow, Gun, nice story. But what about all the criminals and killers and evil people. What happens to them? Are they gonna just waltz right into heaven. If so, why be good? What's the point, if what you do doesn't matter to salvation?
Well, of course what you do matters. In a lot of respects. First, you'll feel good. Being good has that effect. You'll be in touch with God right here and now. That's a plus. And you can really call Jesus, "Brother"...with all the respect and love and benefits thereof.
But I didn't say there wouldn't be a price to pay for being evil. I just said there was no eternal Hell. Big difference.
Remember the description of Hell is eternal fire?
Here's what that really is.
The pure light and truth of God shining into your soul.
If you've lived in the light your whole life, it'll be a sort of strong, warm hug from the Lord.
But if you'd lived in the darkness of sin, it will be a searing, blinding, blowtorch of a light, that will show every corner of your nasty little soul in a way that you will not be able to deny what's there.
And THAT will feel just like Hell. The heat will not be physical, of course, but psychic. And because, first and foremost, you are a Child of God, you will not be able to stand what you see there, the knowledge and awareness of it will burn you with shame and sorrow and you will want it gone. That is called "repentance"...and when the process is done...you'll be ready to enter the pearly gates.
I'd say the duration of the process will depend on just how wide and deep and labyrinthine the darkness is, and how stubbornly the individual remains in denial.
But hey, do you think you, no matter how cool and evil you think you are, can stand up to the cleansing light of God? Yeah, good luck with that.
So, yeah....everyone will be "saved."
Remember, God's pure light and truth is eternal. An eternal fire. And it will
shine eternally on His children. But it won't burn and hurt forever.
Just until the process of cleaning up that nasty, dark little soul of yours is
The Fire is eternal. The pain and suffering is not.
* * *
Oh, one last thought. Lucifer will be saved too.
Yep. In the end he will repent too. He will miss his Father, and his Brother and all of the goodness they represent more than he loves his anger, and his pride.
And he may be the very last. I like that scene: We'll all be in heaven, looking over the wall, watching him approach the gate, horns in hand.
Witnesses to the Last Act of Deliverance.
He's standing there. Wanting to come home, but knowing how evil he has been, and what horrors he has instigated, worried that he might be even beyond the forgiveness of God.
The Gate opens, the light shines out, and Jesus walks out and says, "Hello, brother."
Lucifer falls to his knees in the silence of despair, until Jesus speaks the next words, "Welcome home."
He remains kneeling, head down in submission...and the Father comes out to join them. He puts out his hand and touches Lucifer's forehead...and there plays the eons of evil, like a movie in fast motion that Lucifer has done - for all and himself to see.
And he burns like a star in the righteous light of Truth.
And when it's over. Lucifer, too, cleansed by repentance, is delivered.
So, that's my story. It's a Christianity that makes sense.‡
And I like a happy ending.
*"The Wages of Sin is Death" is a familiar warning. And, of course, the
reference is to Adam's (and Eve's?) sin, through which all succeeding
generations suffer the consequences of whatever it was they supposedly
did that was worse than Hitler's murder of millions of Jews, or Stalin's
murder of millions upon millions of people...or Mao's murder of
hundreds of millions of people...
...because, after all, their sins were NOT visited upon any subsequent generations. Just sayin'.
‡ "Making sense" can have, for me, elements of the supernatural. The story just has to hang together.
You can't have a loving God that damns people to eternal torment for anything. At all. Ever. Creatures who live in "time" can only commit "temporal" sins. So "eternal" punishment would be the product of a vicious sadist—neither just nor loving. You can have that God. I don't want him.
And one more important logical fail: In the story of Genesis, God supposedly tells Adam and Eve not to eat of the Tree in the center of the garden. We find out later that this is the "Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil".
If they ate the apple, before they ate the apple how would they know it was wrong? If you see what I mean...
If they ate the apple, before they knew the difference between Good and Evil...
...how could they be accused of doing Evil?
How could they have known that's what they were doing, if they hadn't yet eaten of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil?
See what I mean? It's circular reasoning. According to the Catholic Church (at least when I was in it), you can't commit a sin before you are 7 years old. (That's when you can receive First Holy Communion) It is considered the "age of reason". Until then, you are unable to distinguish good from evil. You're still just living within your appetites.
Wouldn't that be the same for Adam and Eve, before they reached the age of Reason, i.e., ate the apple from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil?
So how can what they did be a "sin"?
Doesn't hang together.
And without the "Fall"...there is no requirement for "Atonement".
And everything unravels.
Take it or leave it. It's my story, and I'm stickin' to it.
Praise the Lord.
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