Monday, June 05, 2023

Hell is a Path of Fear and Division

This is one of the most corruptive factors of Hell theology.  It puts a wall between neighbors.  The reason Evangelicals have such a well-defined and separate subculture is because they don't love their neighbors... they fear their neighbors.  Secularists, unbelievers, non-Christians, and people of other faiths (or lesser forms of Christianity) are good for only one thing - conversion.

ANY church that has Hell in their theology is on a path of fear and division.  They may have great coffee and children's programs.  They may do some fine local charity work.  Their pastor may talk about love and acceptance repeatedly.  But in the end, they will draw you into an insular community that cannot love people beyond their faith.

Ask the Pastor to give you a straight answer, "Do you believe God will eternally punish anyone who does not become a member of your faith?"  If he or she does not answer with a firm "No", leave immediately.

Before even getting that far, check their website under their Beliefs.  Churches often like to save their Hell talk for AFTER you join... but you can usually find it buried in their statements of belief.

Thursday, June 01, 2023

Into the Trash Can

It is a testament to the grooming and indoctrination that children are subjected to that the moral horrors of this story do not occur to most American believers.  I actually spent decades siding with Jehovah on this story.

Growing up learning Greek Mythology, I was very aware of the human frailties of the gods on Mount Olympus.  They were petty, cruel, and often downright nuts.  Yet, I couldn't connect the dots for that awareness with my god.  I would read passages of scripture where Jehovah/Yahweh was being as awful as any Greek deity... but I just couldn't put 2 and 2 together.  I could spot the holes in other religions easily... but remained oblivious to my own.

The religious scholar, Bart Ehrman, has an explanation for this.  He says it is because we read the holy books of other religions objectively but we read our own devotionally.  That hit me like a bolt from Thor's hammer when I heard it.  I decided to try reading my Bible objectively.

Whoa, Nellie!  I had a Damascus road experience.  The scales fell from my eyes.  It was like reading a completely different book.  For the first time, it seemed really problematic that blood was painted over doorposts so that God would know which children NOT to kill.  How on earth had that not bothered me before?

For weeks after that revelation, I poured over scripture finding insults to humanity I had never "seen".  My god was just like all the other gods I had read about - just as petty, cruel, and often downright nuts.

It has now been over a decade since I have really read my bible.  While cleaning recently, I found it, dust-covered, underneath a dresser.  The Amplified translation, red cloth case, page after page highlighted with notes in the margins.  Unceremoniously, I took it outside and dumped it in the trash can.

I know folks still find use in reading it objectively.  Like the Greek Myths, there is value to be found when read as a story.  But for me, having been so indoctrinated, the greater value was in a clean break.  My moral compass can be encouraged and refined by books that do not, in my case, have so much baggage and negative history.

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