So CHF's comment to my bunker entertainment thread got me thinking.. (warning, the following is likely to challenge your faith, as its largely a description of what is challenging mine. If you find yourself getting angry, upset or otherwise uncomfortable, please understand that 1) I am not trying to piss anyone off 2) you are perfectly free to stop reading and ignore me)
So many of you know that while I am sympathetic to Christianity, and adhere largely to the Christian definition of morality, that I do not count myself as Christian because I have always found myself unable to accept - on faith - Christ as my savior. It often feels to me that God just doesn't want me to take that path, just as he seems keen on discouraging me from playing cards by giving me more than my statistical due of bad hands.
As far as my life goes, I have always been lucky when it counted, and I also ascribe those few lucky things that happened, the right opportunities, the right spouse, the wonderful children, the right friends to help me out of a jam, to divine intervention on my behalf.
As a child I read the entire Bible cover to cover. I made an earnest and honest attempt to study it - and tried to until my first year in High School . But I never found it "entertaining" - or even particularly illuminating. Most of what it says ( or I understand it to say) falls under the category "common sense" in my mind. As I learned Christ's teachings in Sunday School I kept thinking - well of course Christ taught that- what other way could this possibly work without violence and bloodshed? (I did not fully appreciate at the time that the humans around me tend to prefer violence and bloodshed naturally..)
Perhaps the point of throwing me the bad hands at cards is that he is trying to get me to play them as well as I can anyway - but I simply lack the interest in learning to do that. Winning or losing at cards just doesn't matter that much at me (and I am normally super competitive at games) Perhaps following Christ and reading the Bible is the same way - I simply lack the interest in doing that - and that may end up sending me to hell. But how could I lack interest in "winning at life" - or winning at the afterlife - or whatever? Because the rules, like the rules in cards, seem rather arbitrary to me. We aren't talking about the rules - as far as morality and right or wrong, but the rules on "salvation"
Nearly every religion teaches that there is only one true, narrow path to God, salvation, non-existence or whatever, and of course that way is the one that religion preaches ( The Mormons was the correct answer
) I find that clip from south park funny in that it highlights what I feel is the absurdity of that notion. What sort of a loving God would take that "quiz show" approach? You picked door number three? Aw sorry, you don't get the new car, that was behind door number one. I am afraid you are booked on an all expense paid trip to hell to be tortured for all eternity!
Seriously, is a God who sets things up that way worthy of worship?
Or maybe God isn't all powerful and has some sort of deep magic, some universal law that even he must obey? ( even if its a constraint he places on himself?)
If a Blood sacrifice is required to forgive us of our sins to appease the deep magic, but then why wait to send himself/his son to die for us, condemning so many to never hearing the word of Christ?
Why leave so many in the dark for so many centuries because of the primitive state of communication and travel?
Why not post his commandments using 50 foot unexplainable flaming letter in the desert for all to read and see? Maybe add a booming voice for the blind?
Obviously he doesn't because FAITH is required. But WHY?
For what reason does God require faith and deny his children proof of his existence?
It is to protect our freewill? To force us to use our own judgement and not simply point to the letters in the desert to affirm our beliefs?
Is it all some bet with Satan ( Book of Job style) where he can't prove he exists to us because that would unfairly till us in God's direction?
Is a God who is willing to destroy men's lives and cause them suffering over a Bet ( book of Job style) a God worth worshiping?
Is a God who is willing to tell a man to sacrifice his first born son and then tell him "only fooling" worthy of worship?
Why are the terms of the first covenant with Moses and his people so very different than those that Jesus gave us and taught us?
Is it the same God in the old and new testaments?
Were the different terms a result of the human race growing up- similar to how you treat and deal with a toddler much differently than how you deal with an older child who can be reasoned with?
All of these questions assume a rational God who does things for rational reasons ( as imperfectly as I may be able to understand them) - but that begs the question - Is an irrational and capricious God worth worshiping?
I had a Christian friend tell me I simply wasn't serious about walking with God or attain salvation. That I had no right to question God on his motives or to decide if he was worth worshiping. That Its not up to be to chose what God should be like.
But say you die and show up to heaven and find that God is just like Obama, Hillary, Valerie Jarret or Nancy Pelosi - is he still worthy of Worship?
If anyone can lay claim to your life, God certainly can, but what sort of choice is Obey or be tortured in hell?
That makes worshiping God a lot like Harry Reid's "voluntary tax system
" doesn't it?
Is that something a loving father would do?
Does God really want people to worship him under coercion and duress?
IF God is a liberal in that way, is he worth worshiping?
I have heard many Christians deal with this by simply redefining Hell as a turning away From God. A Choice to not face him and join with him - but is that really what the Bible teaches? (are we talking Old Testament God or New Testament God...)
No, I can't know the mind of god. No I can't understand all of the reasons he may or may not make certain choices and take certain courses of action.
But He gave us free will (and NO, I can't accept that we are at fault for that. Put a child in a room - a child bound to instinct and therefore with no free will - and tell him not to eat the candy? If we can all see the outcome of that, couldn't God?) and with that Free will are we not supposed to use our judgement?
Perhaps the entire point of returning to God is to give up our freewill and our judgement and thus return to the Eden we rejected buy willingly placing our trust in him.. .. God is our natural ruler, actually possessing the knowledge and power that the leftists arrogantly imagine they have, but if giving up our freewill is the price, and something to be enforced by threats of torture if we choose wrongly, can you "trust" such an entity if he makes the same threats Harry Reid does? Are our souls just spiritual currency to God? A pocket of split change he wants back in his wallet?
As you can see, I have few answers. And Trust doesn't come easily to me. ( And yes I fully appreciate the parallels to the Dwarves in Narnia)
The God described in the Bible - the old Testament God in particular, his actions - do not engender trust in me, and are at odds with what I believe to be my encounters with God over my lifetime. He has always been there when I needed him - like a loving father would be. HE has touched me and comforted me, showed me his presence in the miracles around me, reassured me there is a plan to all I see, and given me challenges to teach me, to prepare me for what is coming. Isn't that what a father would do? Help each child to grow, to learn? To prepare them for what they face?
Would a loving father set up a single path by which his children could come to him, and then make his children try to figure out the correct one ( its was the Mormons) ? Would a loving father really leave that open to chance? Would he leave some of his children in the dark and deny them ever even hearing about this path to him? Would a loving father deny a child who had acted morally and loves his Father simply because that child failed to put his Faith in one of those paths? If God isn't a loving father , is he still worthy of worship?
This is why when I pick up a Bible its of little use to me. It tells the story of and describes a God that I am unsure of. It doesn't bring me peace or hope. It fills me with dread that this is the God I will one day face, and a God that is willing to use his most devoted child, Job, as a plaything in a bet, could only be a liberal - with no concern for that man's life or suffering. Job was rewarded? No - he lost his wife and children. Getting a New wife and new Children is NOT an adequate substitute nor will it take away the scars and tears he suffered. It describes a God that would tell his child - its not enough you obey my rules, it is not enough you love me. You must also accept this (or that) story of blood sacrifice - on faith - or I will deny you.