Saturday, March 22, 2014

Christianity, predestination, Fred Phelps is dead

We are all destined to die... .
But not all are going to live.

One of the stumbling points for me as a Christian was the whole idea of predestination and the omnipresence of God.

When I was in University I attended a Christian group. We did Bible Study every Friday, attended weekly prayer meetings, went to church every Sunday and tried to preach the Gospel of Christ to our non-believing friends - Without fail. We also believed that the Bible was the absolute Word of God. Going on dates.. kissing was frown upon - much less premarital sex.

Looking back  -that was such a narrow use of my time and youth.

There are of course different ways of interpreting the Bible - or basically choosing what to ignore, play down, or emphasis. Back then there was a huge fight between the Charismatics and the Evangelists Christians. The former choosing to emphasize spiritual experiences like experiencing the presence of God, speaking in tongues and miracles and the latter emphasizing the reading of the Bible and the de-emphasis on "God's speak", miracles and spiritual experiences. I can't believe I wasted so much time worrying about that sort of stuff instead of going out with girls and enjoying life.

The guy in charge of the Bible study was a hard-core Evangelist and decided to choose a staunch conservative Anglican priest to be our Bible study coordinator. We spent one year or so discussing the doctrine of predestination - which to him was not so much doctrine but fact. And that literally blew my mind. Because predestination does not allow for free will. Everything was ordained. Even the choice of becoming a Christian was something enabled by God. Everything was by grace - there was no free choice in the matter because we were all godless sinners condemned to die in eternal damnation.

But that begged the question - if there is no such thing as free will then wtf are people going to hell for? It also makes God into quite a monster.

It also took our Bible study group into murky waters which didn't really help the spiritual growth of our members - basically its like teaching extreme drift driving techniques to beginner drivers.

It also fucked up my mind that year.

It poses a crazy conundrum - if God is loving why has He chosen to choose some people to be saved and not others. If He is all powerful why did He plant the Tree of Knowledge in the Garden of Eden knowing full well Adam would eventually be tempted to eat it and condemn trillions of human beings to eternal damnation. If God is love how has He chosen some people - trillions of people - relatively speaking good people - to eternal damnation to everlasting torment?

(At this point I should have thought about it very very long and hard and realized - a significant section of the Bible was utter rubbish - and I really needed to do something else on my Friday and Sundays. Anyway...)

Looking back I'm not sure that whole teaching episode was inspired by God. One of the hallmarks of the Spirit of God is the spirit of gentleness (which was not particularly evident in the O.T... but nevermind) - not ruthlessness - if you do believe in an Almighty God you realize that it would be easy for Him to write in the sky with flaming letters "Repent or Die and Spend Eternity in Damnation"- but He doesn't do that. Instead we get Rainbows. There must be a good reason why. So just because you got the knowledge for the salvation of people's souls - that doesn't give you the right to ram it down people's throats.

Christians like most human beings don't get it - which explains why we spent the last 2000 years fighting religious wars and burning or torturing people who have a different point of view - see the Witchcraft Trials in Europe for some fucked up shit.

Anyhow, I've come to the conclusion that there really is only two important rules in the Bible. As Jesus said to Nicodimus - "Love God - and Love your neighbor as yourself (or treat other people like you yourself want to be treated." If Christians followed that - the world would be such a better place. But they don't - that's why we had over 2000 years of religious wars, witchcraft trials, persecutions, oppression of women, slavery, colonialism, etc..

The problem is - Christians choosing to love the Bible more than God. If you believe that God is Love (2Corinthians13) - then it stands to reason that you won't go around being such an arsehole to other people like forcing women and children to live with abusive husbands and fathers - or for that matter starting Crusades, discriminating against non-believers, Colonialism, etc...

But many Christians want to follow the Bible to the letter and often live miserable lives - fine. But then they want others to be just as miserable and hateful as them. So we get people like Fred Phelps a Baptist preacher who goes around picketing funerals with horrible slogans. Don't these people have better things to do with their lives? Honestly, are there no more orphans and widows or homeless people in America (whom they can help)?

Read this below.

BTW the hardcore Evangelist we had in Uni eventually became an agnostic and stopped going to church.

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