2cornucopias

The Mythical God by Jack Reagan

In 08 Musings by Jack Reagan on 2012/03/23 at 2:11 AM

Wishful thinking really does not have much to do with thinking; it is an unsupported hope that something negative will turn out to be positive in the end.  Prior to WWII, it was thought that if Hitler were treated as a normal person, he would act accordingly.  He didn’t.  Some women marry men with serious flaws hoping that marriage will change them for the better.  It seldom does.  We vote in elections at all levels hoping that perhaps this time the politicians will act like statesmen … or at least act rationally.  Maybe in the next election!

There is a deadlier form of wishful thinking that is becoming more widespread and snares many people who do not have a basic grasp of Christianity.  It is the illusion that God is so loving that He could not possibly condemn people to hell forever and that eventually everyone gets to heaven.

In the Catholic version of this, I suggest that the Catholic people have been told for the last 30-40 years that “God is love”.  (This is true, but incomplete.)  God loves us unconditionally, and He simply cannot bear to lose anyone in hell, so the illusion goes.  At the same time, when did you last hear a sermon on sin as the topic?  In the Pope’s talk to American Bishops recently, he referred to the decades of inferior  instruction in the US.

“Love” is a tricky word. In English it is used to denote not only true love, but also hopes (I’d love to visit Paris), preferences (I love pie more than cake) likes (I love that song).  English is basically an Anglo-Saxon tribal language, but more refined languages such as Greek use different words for love, depending on what is being loved.  There are different words for religious, physical, and parental love.  The Greek word for religious love is “agape” (ah-ga-pay), and it connotes nothing of sentiment, romance, or irrationality.  What it does suggest is that divine love means that God is committed to us.  (The basic meaning of the idea of love is commitment to someone.)  But, like any commitment, it demands reciprocal commitment.  Commitment in marriage cannot be one-sided.  Neither can our relationship to God.

It is certainly true that God has a commitment to mankind, and it is also true that God is good, but He is not stupid. He is certainly not the silly old doting grandfather figure so enamored by sinners.  There is even a denomination known as Universalism whose chief belief is that nobody stays in hell.

It is a deadly (spiritually) idea that God does not really care that much about sin, and that He ignores sin. It has no Scriptural foundation.

1. In the Gospels, Christ warns about hell far more that He mentions heaven.  Recall the story of Lazarus and Dives. “Many are called, but few are chosen.”  The reference to the lake of fire. Nowhere is it suggested that hell is a temporary situation.  If you read the Gospels and conclude that hell is not permanent, then read them again.  Christ was also God; therefore, His words reveal Truth … whether we like it or not.

2. Since God has set down Commandments and rules, He simply cannot ignore disobedience to them.  If He were to do so, he would be deficient and defective as God, and, therefore, imperfect … and, therefore, not really God.  God’s divine nature demands that he not ignore serious sin because such sin involves a broken relationship with Him … and He cannot ignore broken relationships.  To fail to punish at some point would not be consonant with His divine nature, and He cannot reject His own nature.  Thus, one who dies in the state of a broken relationship with God must expect the eternal consequences.  Remember that once you die, you cannot repair any spiritual problems.

3. It would not be fair, even in human terms, for someone who leads a dissolute, sinful life to share the rewards of the saints. What kind of a God would reward Mother Theresa and Adolph Hitler in the same way?

4. If everyone eventually ends up in heaven, what would be he point of living a moral life?  Might as well “live it up” with the sinners.  It’s probably more fun and will not cost you anything ultimately.  More than that … if everyone is going to heaven and will be saved, what was the point of the Incarnation and Redemption?  Humans would not need to be redeemed. Therefore, everything about Christianity is a waste of time and, worse, a fraud.

5. Last, but not least … it is true that God condemns no one to hell.  Nor does He assign anyone to heaven.  It is our choice which He merely ratifies.  We are free agents in the matter of salvation: we can choose it or not.  (The work of divine grace is involved, but that is for another essay.)  If we end up in hell, it is because we chose to, and God never voids man’s free choices.

False philosophies, bad ideas, and poor judgments lead to negative effects.  To believe that you can go through life making decisions on matters that are the province of God (moral law) and presume that, even if you are sincerely wrong, God will nevertheless still welcome you to Paradise is the ultimate in wishful thinking.  God will never declare our errors to be truth.

The Gospels tell us there is only one narrow road to heaven and a wide freeway to hell. If you find yourself breezing along a freeway, you may think it’s worth it for a temporary sojourn in hell … but that is wishful thinking.

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