Saturday, September 11, 2010

I am your Father, who loves you.

All the most orthodox divines, Calvinist as well as Catholic, taught that one of the chief joys of heaven is the viewing of the torments of the damned... Tertullian cackled with glee as he anticipated seeing pagan philosophers writhing in the flames. Surely Paine was right. Such doctrines have corrupted and brutalized humanity. Cruel dogmas make cruel people.” - Keith Parsons

I have found this quote to be very true. I have also found its inverse to be real ... rejecting cruel dogmas helps develop compassion.

I can give a scriptural argument for the rejection of an eternal Hell - a place where all hope is lost, redemption has died, wrongs can never be made right, and unforgiveness reigns - but my rejection is much more experiential. When Jesus prayed to God, he was praying to a Father. Being a Father has given me a sense of what God feels toward us. At some point in my faith, I decided to reject the "cruel dogmas"; the dogmas that, if true, could never be advanced by a good father.

I think a very good picture of a Father's love - a love that goes the distance, risks, and never quits - can be found in the movie "Blood Diamond". It is a story set within war torn Sierra Leon, where cruel rebel armies conscript children into their ranks.

In the story, Solomon is kidnapped and made to work digging for diamonds. His son is taken to be a soldier. The son is brainwashed and commits many evil deeds while with the rebels. Solomon escapes and spends the movie trying to get to his son. When they first meet, his son denies him; so deep is his brainwashing.

At a later point, Solomon rescues his son, but his son threatens him with a gun. Solomon appeals to the boy to remember who he is. He goes on to say:

"I am your Father, who loves you. You will come home with me and be my son... again."

This is not the message of most modern religion. In our religions, "God" will burn you down if you dare to point your "rejection" at him. This is not the view of a good Father.

To borrow a thought from Bart Campolo:

"I may be wrong in this matter, but I am not in doubt. If indeed faith is being sure of what we hope for, then truly I am a man of faith, for I absolutely know what I hope to be true: that God is completely good, entirely loving, and perfectly forgiving, that God is doing everything possible to overcome evil (which is evidently a long and difficult task), and that God will utterly triumph in the end, despite any and all indications to the contrary."

This is how I view God.


NW Ohio Skeptic said...

Great post, Andrew.

Andrew said...

Thanks friend :)

Sammy said...

I don't think I have ever commented on you blog, but I have been following for over a year now, and I must say this post was wonderful. The video almost had me in tears.

I recently started my own blog about universalism and wanted to invite you to check it out ( since many of our religious values are similar.

Andrew said...

Sammy, thank you and welcome. I shall be following your blog from now on.

That scene made me well up the first time I saw it too. It is interesting to me that, very often, universalism is painted as "soft" or "weak". I saw nothing weak there in Solomon.

OneSmallStep said...

If the father in that video is like God, then there's also an interesting comparison for humanity being the son -- the son was brainwashed. He truly didn't know any better, because someone else had completely taken control of him. In fact, the brainwashing had produced someone who was not the son, given how much the Father was saying "This is not you."

**It is interesting to me that, very often, universalism is painted as "soft" or "weak".**

Yes -- which comes across as saying that ultimate forgiveness and compassion and mercy is weak.

Andrew said...

Spot on OSS! :)

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