Thursday, October 1, 2009

Is That What You’re Saying?

“Are you telling me that if a good person like Nelson Mandela doesn’t accept Jesus’ offer of salvation he can’t get into heaven?”

Without knowing that Nelson Mandela HAS accepted Jesus’ offer of salvation, this was the challenge laid down by an atheist. His point however was clear.

. Are you telling me that if a good person doesn’t have any money, he can’t buy the car?

. Are you telling me that if a good person doesn’t apply for the job, he can’t get it?

. Are you telling me that if a good person doesn’t put the sandwich into his mouth he can’t eat it?

. Are you telling me that if a good person doesn't have the tickets he can't get into the concert?

. Are you telling me that if a good person doesn’t go to the game he can’t be there to watch?

. Are you telling me that if a good person doesn’t accept Jesus' offer of forgiveness he can’t be forgiven?

Yes, that’s what Jesus is telling you. He's saying that we cannot be reconciled to God based on merit, effort or desire. A transaction needs to take place. Either we do something in response to what Jesus has done for us, or nothing happens, nothing changes, we remain God's enemies with the consequences that go along with that. John 3:18,36.

Many atheists rant about this faux dilemma or that Jesus said that He is the only way to God. Like Jesus' comment, "I Am the resurrection," (Without Me there is no resurrection) Jesus is saying that without Him there is no reconciliation with Creator God. Rather than fretting over the fact that there aren't many paths to God, we should be thankful that there is ONE path by which we might escape the loss of eternal hope.

23 comments:

PersonalFailure said...

There is, however, a slight difference between not getting the car or the sandwich and spending eternity in hell.

Trust me, you're not going to convince atheists that it's righteous and moral that Ghandi is in hell while a pedophile got into heaven. You can try, but it's not going to work.

Makarios said...

I know. We are so in love with ourselves that it’s almost impossible for us to believe that no one is good enough to be good enough for heaven. We certainly can't accept that Grace alone can do the job because that leaves us out as being part of the solution.

Question:
. What if Ghandi diddled with just one child? Would that be enough to cancel out all his good?

. Or what if he diddled with two or three children?

. Or what if he masturbated to thoughts of children (thereby ignoring his wife's sexual needs) but didn't actually touch them?

Would he still have done enough good deeds to cancel out these?

Because atheists seem to have a pretty clear idea of who is and who isn't good enough for heaven, if you were God, where would you draw the line?

This isn't a trap or a trick. I'm curious. Creator God says no one is good enough. What do you say?

Gorth Satana said...

Nelson Mandela? The car-bomb terrorist?

Makarios said...

You got me. What's that about?

Gorth Satana said...

Mandela started and lead a bombing campaign in the 1960's until a CIA agent tipped off the government and he was arrested.

Makarios said...

Good grief man! Would you want to be judged today by how you behaved 40 years ago?

Anonymous said...

So... if someone believes and breaks one of the commandments, they can be forgiven.

If someone doesn't believe and follows them, it doesn't matter because they're going to hell anyway.

What's the point of the commandments if the only people they don't apply to are the only ones who they'd do any good for?

Makarios said...

Hey, good question. The purpose of the Commandments is to let us know that we are failing. Even with the commandments, atheists think they're good people. However, for those who have the ability to be honest with themselves we have a clear standard to help us see that we are in desperate need of forgiveness.

Croconilly said...

@Anonymous

No one has kept the ten commandments. If you truly think about the ten commandments, especially in light of the way Jesus spoke of them, then you would be forced into acknowledging that you broke all ten of them The purpose of the ten commandments is to break us and turn us towards the cross of Christ.

Makarios said...

Croc - You're right of course, I didn't emphasise it propery. Thank you.

Gorth Satana said...

It's wrong to judge people on what they did 40 years ago?
Where does that leave your god? LOL!

"The purpose of the ten commandments is to break us and turn us towards the cross of Christ."
Like cutting people to sell them bandages.

Anonymous said...

so... the purpose of the commandments (as it's impossible to live life without breaking them) is to ensure that you need jesus to get to heaven? it's entrapment?

Jerad said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Makarios said...

"It's wrong to judge people on what they did 40 years ago?
Where does that leave your god?"

What does that mean? From my pespective it leaves Him looking very good. If you looked at my Christian walk today you might say, "Who cares?" If you compared the today me to my pre Chistian days 40 years ago, I'm inclined to think that you'd say, "I want some of that."

So again, what do you mean?
==============

so... the purpose of the commandments (as it's impossible to live life without breaking them) is to ensure that you need jesus to get to heaven? it's entrapment?"

It's a warning. If you think that you're a good person, paticularly if you think that you're on your way to heaven because of your goodness, the 10 are here to say, "Think Again."

Dale said...

So ... if, say, the top 10 highest ranking Nazis (Hitler, Goebbels, Goerring, whoever) made the appropriate commitments to Jesus minutes before they died, Jesus accepted them just as gladly as anyone else? Neat?

And meanwhile, Jesus sent every non-Christian-converting Jew to an eternity of hellfire after their death in Nazi ovens / gas chambers?

If so, then I have to ask if we're making a mistake in your eyes to bother with distinctions like who is mass-murdering whom here on earth, since your favorite god doesn't seem to give a hoot.

If we should make a distinction, upon what basis? How we'll spend eternity doesn't turn on it, and as you Christians are always saying, this life is not as important as the one to come. (And why would it be? What will those first 72, 80 or even 100 years of life on earth matter after we've spent a few billion centuries either roasting in hell or fine-dining in heaven?)

Neat!

Makarios said...

I know that it suits your world-view to dwell on, "How could God send billions of people to hell?"

However have you ever wondered why God would take billions of people who were destined for hell, and instead saved them for heaven?

Makarios said...

I also wonder if anyone has any ideas on the questions that I asked PF. She has the same questions as Dale.

Question:
. What if Ghandi diddled with just one child? Would that be enough to cancel out all his good?

. Or what if he diddled with two or three children?

. Or what if he masturbated to thoughts of children (thereby ignoring his wife's sexual needs) but didn't actually touch them?

Would he still have done enough good deeds to cancel out these?

Because atheists seem to have a pretty clear idea of who is and who isn't good enough for heaven, if you were God, where would you draw the line?

This isn't a trap or a trick. I'm curious. Creator God says no one is good enough. What do you say?

Dale said...

OK, Makarios -- No tricks or traps here either. I can think of all kinds of punishments I would assign to those crimes against people. I could look beyond my own thoughts and examine history -- what punishments have been assigned to these across time and circumstance? I would come to a judgment of them, and I would not claim to come to "perfect" judgment -- or to need "perfect" judgment.

Taking Ghandi, entirely hypothetically: he did a lot of good, and supposing he was also found to have molested a child, I would expect him to pay a price for that. I would want him to spend some time in jail -- say, a year? Two years? More, depending on particulars that speak to his state of mind, his awareness of the gravity of what he was doing, etc. I would want competent people to assess his likelihood to repeat the crime and consider that in connection with his being granted full freedom. I would expect him to receive counseling and come to understand the roots of his deed(s), and to take good-faith steps to fix whatever went wrong, inasmuch as anyone can. I would want him to show genuine remorse and to suggest ways to make restitution, and to make good on those. Pay for counseling of the affected child might be such an idea. Pay all the state's fees for having had to prosecute him would be a fine gesture too.

Were I to look to the Bible as you portray it (and not wrongly, as far as I can tell - the words are indeed as you paraphrase them), God's view is: who gives a crap? Diddle one kid, diddle a thousand kids, diddle and then kill a million kids, so what? The *important* thing (says your god) is to think the right thoughts about god.

No traps or tricks -- that's disgusting. That's about as far from a morally good stand as I could imagine vis-a-vis these deeds we're discussing.

For the record, I have no notion of what or who qualifies for "heaven." I have some idea, imperfect though it is, of what constitutes justice, morality, just desserts.

I cannot imagine a crime whose proper punishment is eternal torment.

When I use the word "love," I mean "love." Same with "good" and "moral" and "just" and "evil" and so on. I have no clear idea what you have in mind when you put these words through the Biblical sieve, but it certainly doesn't resemble my idea -- and I'm glad it doesn't. Your idea of it is vile.

To be absolutely clear: if "Creator God" says that the last-minute-repentant Hitler / Goebbels / Goerring should enjoy eternal bliss while the millions of non-Christians they murdered deserve eternal torment, then "Creator God" is a filthy, vile monster.

And I'll go you one further: you damn well know it.

Makarios said...

Mmm, ok, we’ll run into a problem here. I was asking what constitutes warrant for heaven and you are talking about what constitutes warrant for hell. You’re looking at it from the “punishment” end and I’m looking at it from the salvation end. I don’t expect you to get this but I’ll put it out there anyhow:

. Hell is not punishment per se. Hell is the place reserved for those who REJECT THE OFFER of hope, goodness, love and salvation. That’s why it has nothing to do with degree of wrong doing. We are all born on our way to hell and if we don’t change our course, that’s where we’ll end up.
One day, evil is going to be banished from the universe, just like atheists demand that it should be. Anyone on the side of evil will be banished as well.

Those who accept the offer of rescue WILL be rescued.

Take a look at my examples again and perhaps it will start to sink in - maybe.

Dale said...

Well Makarios, since you prefer to put it in terms of the awesomeness of the "heavenly reward," I'll do the same.

Quite simply, heaven can't be a pleasant place if it comes with the recognition that billions of our fellow human beings not only aren't there, but are suffering terribly.

I think of the idea of standing around eating treats while I know my mother or grandmother or son is roasting and enduring the 112th broken-glass gang rape of the day, and no matter how I play it out in my mind, the treat just doesn't taste very good. This cannot be a happy place.

In my own case, my mom and grandmother -- and for that matter all the rest of my grandparents and plenty of other relations and friends I have loved dearly -- are already dead. I have no idea if they had the Jesus-approved thoughts when they died, but I strongly suspect they didn't, with perhaps one or two exceptions.

I focus on the eternity of suffering because it's intrinsically a big deal. No matter what fantastic things might have been going on elsewhere in the world of 1937, the people in Soviet gulags were suffering terribly. And those who knew this was going on, let alone who knew it was happening to people they knew and loved, and yet went on partying like it was 1999 were, ipso facto, profoundly deficient -- either they lacked the basic cognition we call 'morals' or they managed to actively suppress them. Either way they were far from genuinely blissful, and, at best, of severely dubious moral merit.

Who deserves "heaven"? Who deserves "hell"? I neither know nor care who deserves to get to fictional locations; we might as well dispute over who gets to go to the hobbits' Shire.

I'm interested in the picture of morals you're sketching here.

Who deserves justice, love, respect? And who deserves the opposite? And who deserves something between? Now those are questions with answers, and indeed answers that matter. Towering stacks of books have been written on the subject.

Whether the question is who deserves good treatment (call it "heaven" if you wish) or who deserves poor treatment (call it "hell" if you wish), the answer is NOT to point to the content and sincerity of thoughts about Jesus in exclusion of all other considerations. It just isn't, and you know it isn't. It isn't, even though passages of the Bible say it is. Something has cowed you into repeating this garbage you're reading in the Bible and declaring it the final truth of the matter, and I say you should stop insulting everyone's intelligence (including your own) and see the garbage for what it is.

Makarios said...

Dale: "Quite simply, heaven can't be a pleasant place if it comes with the recognition that billions of our fellow human beings not only aren't there, but are suffering terribly."

That's right, so obviously it doesn't come with that recognition.
================

“Jesus-approved thoughts”

You really can’t get what the post is saying, can you? Where does it indicate that what you THINK about the car or sandwich or tickets or job has anything to do with attaining them? There is an offer on the table. Do you or do you not want to be rescued from hell? Yes or no? You don’t have to like God to accept forgiveness. You don’t have to be a certain level of good to accept His offer of forgiveness. What you do have to do is accept His offer of forgiveness. If you don’t accept His offer, if in fact you reject His offer of forgiveness the consequence for doing that is hell and it was your decision to go there. It’s not complicated.
==============

“Either way they were far from genuinely blissful, and, at best, of severely dubious moral merit.”

You know, that’s one of the most difficult things about counselling. I know that based on the decisions they make, many of the people who walk out my door are going to remain screwed up for perhaps the rest of their lives. I know that some of them will kill themselves. However, that’s life. People, counsellors who carry every body else’s pain, will themselves get sick and crash. It’s a dilemma, no doubt. We’re doing the same right now - right? Thousands of kids are going to die, today, from not having enough food. Millions of children of are working in sexual slavery, and on and on it goes. We simply can't save the world, but we can make choices so that our lives don't detroy the lives of those who depend on us.
================

"Who deserves "heaven"? Who deserves "hell"? I neither know nor care who deserves to get to fictional locations;"

Hmm, you seem to get quite upset of these fictional issues.
==============

“Whether the question is who deserves good treatment (call it "heaven" if you wish) or who deserves poor treatment (call it "hell" if you wish), the answer is NOT to point to the content and sincerity of thoughts about Jesus in exclusion of all other considerations.”

That’s right and in fact the Bible is adamant that our salvation or destruction will not be based upon those things. Why? "Because all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." It’s God’s grace and mercy and love that causes Him to extend His offer of salvation to anyone and everyone, including you. A day of judgement IS coming but right now is the time of God’s favour. Right now is the day when salvation is being offered to everyone, regardless of the level of evil in their lives.

And THAT is what drives atheists crazy. Atheists stand in judgement of others who in their minds don’t deserve to be forgiven. In this respect atheism is perhaps the most judgmental philosophy going.

Dale said...

You're evading the issue, Makarios. I answered your side-tracking question about getting-to-heaven versus avoiding-of-hell, and you still sidestep what actually prompts me to write: namely, the way you've abused and debased the very idea of right or wrong by lowering to whether a person has -- as you now seem to want to put it -- accepted Jesus's offer of forgiveness.

So getting us back on track, your position seems to be: the 100 highest ranking Nazis were, in fact, granted salvation / heavenly bliss / the ultimate post-life rec center / "heaven" *so long as* they accepted Jesus's offer of forgiveness before death. Yes?

Whereas the millions of people they killed were, in fact, damned / sent to "hell" -- every Jew who did not accept Jesus's offer of forgiveness as of his/her last moments in the ovens of a concentration camp is now roasting in an even hotter oven down in hell. Yes?

I agree you have the Bible right -- substantial parts of the Bible say exactly the above. But the Bible is just a book; the trouble is that people take it seriously -- people like you, apparently. Here's where I begin to care. I question the merits of the above, and I question whether you actually believe it. I question whether you, Makarios, think it is a just result to send forgiveness-offer-accepting Hitler to "heaven" and send forgiveness-offer-indifferent [six million Jews or so] to "hell." The Bible says that. Do you? Honestly?

I suspect you reject this nonsese as much as I do, but you are simply too afraid to speak up and say so because you think there's a god with the means and motivation to smite you (in whatever way) if you admit the simple truth, namely, this Biblical picture of justice & morality is a sickening, ridiculous debasement of justice & morality.

Here's my view, again: the agency that damns or saves human beings on the basis of whether they accept his/her/its offer of forgiveness; the agency that decides between eternal torment and eternal bliss for human beings on that basis and it alone, casting aside all consideration of what they did in life, to whom, for whom, and for what reasons -- is a disgusting tyrant that makes Stalin and Hitler look mild by comparison.

Might does not make right, not even for the agency you call god.

I ask you to show me where I'm wrong about right, wrong, justice, and injustice and not do any more tap-dancing around with phrasing.

Makarios said...

http://makarios-makarios.blogspot.com/2009/05/forgiven-murderer-or-mahatma-gandhi.html