As a disclaimer this not a “nice” post but it is an honest criticism of what I see at the heart of the Christian message.

Let us start with the most well known verse in the New Testament, is it on the tip of your tongue just yet?

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16).

Talk about a bargaining chip, am I right? The implication here is that everyone is a sinner, no exception, the very best human beings deserve justice in the form of death and likely, hell. Believe in Jesus, and you won’t perish!

Pop movie reference,

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Romans 6:23 famously states that, “the wages of sin is death,” and  “the gift of God is eternal life,” so on and so forth. Now, embrace the up and down motion of a verbal teeter totter.

Death, life, heaven, hell! Death, life, heaven, hell! Pay for your own mistakes or embrace a substitute to suffer in your place. “Gee, thanks Jesus, I’m gonna love you forever and ever and…” I’m imagining the overly repetitive and annoying voice of Patrick from the well known Spongebob series.

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My friends and fellow comrades let us not be naïve here. What form of justice places the sins of the guilty upon an innocent? Sure, it’s a nice gesture, if voluntary, but at the same time pretty lousy justice. Not to mention that this is said to be God’s solution! Wow, almighty God came up with that one?

Allow me to adjust the lens to give you guys a broader picture for a moment. In this scenario God hates sin so much that whether you think about that cute person lustfully or kill someone in cold blood, both are equally deserving of death and hell. Whether you lie to your loved ones about who stole the last candy bar in their secret stash, or whether you physically abuse a child, the same verdict stands. You deserve death and hell. I suppose the only caveat is that the lusting candy bar stealers won’t be punished as severely as the cold-blooded murderers and child abusers. Fair enough, right? The punishment is still forever but justice has now been satisfied.

Is anyone else sensing the disparity here?

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Also, I don’t really like being the mean guy but if someone is trying to make the sale with me, I’m going to think about their motives. I’m going to think about what weaknesses they may want to exploit within me to get that deal closed and my apparent need satisfied.

You see, Christianity wants us to bite. We each have an impending death that is drawing ever closer. We each probably have some regrets about how we’ve made mistakes, hurt other people, and have struggled to find amends at times. Jesus comes along and claims to wipe the slate clean as well as grant us life everlasting. I call this the ultimate appeal to one’s own desire for self-preservation.

Oh, and there is still a cost my friends. There is always a price to pay because the reverse form of this wager is that we may have wasted the one life we know we have enslaved to a system of thinking that just isn’t all that helpful in the end.

To which side shall we favor a better outcome? 1) Conform to a sketched out scenario narrated by one of out of thousands of other holy books, or 2) Think for yourself! Period.

Do not be ruled by fear but instead bravely evaluate everything thoughtfully and even be willing to challenge the status quo. For your own conscience sake, think about it! Evaluate what you really know in life, level out your playing field, and think about it.

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6 thoughts on “Faith And Self-Preservation

  1. Talk about a bargaining chip, am I right?

    I never saw it that way.

    It’s an expression of praise. In my experience, expressions of praise are always greatly embellished and are not to be taken literally. They are expressions of feelings. They are not descriptions nor are they expressions of fact.

    For sure, the Christian apologetics folk want you to take it literally. But that’s not the way that language actually works. When we hear flowery language, we are supposed to take it with a grain of salt.

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  2. Interesting perspective. Out of curiosity what is your previous religious background? I was previously a conservative Protestant hence why I’m making my argument in this way. I’m talking to the men and women that take the Bible quite literally from Genesis to Revelation. You’d be surprised just how much people hang on every word. Studying the Greek and Hebrew texts is also pretty fascinating.

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    1. I grew up in Australia, so it probably isn’t comparable.

      I was in an evangelical church, which I would class as conservative. But it was not as conservative as we see today in the USA. And I think I might have always been a liberal Christian, by today’s standards. I was a naturally conservative person. But I took it that the teachings of Jesus were central to Christianity. And Jesus was a liberal, railing against the conservative establishment of his day.

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    1. I initially accepted that view from the church. But, as I studied for myself, I came increasingly to see that Jesus never actually claimed to be god. And, more and more, I came to see the church as a society of pious hypocrites.

      Those two insights had a lot to do with why I abandoned Christianity.

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      1. I also find it rather fascinating that people are brought into and led out of faith-based perspectives for various reasons. Almost any Atheist or nonreligious person that I speak to has a differently nuanced set of reasons for why faith is not compatible in their own lives. Many of our judgments about what constitutes as poor reasoning among our faith-filled friends have commonality, but often our own personal journeys are met with differing sets of factors that contribute as the ultimate lynchpins for why we have left the faith, so to speak.

        Christianity uses this imagery of the church being the bride of Jesus, right? Well, what if the bride doesn’t sense compatibility with the groom? Many of us who grew up in the church ultimately find our resting place outside of its influence. In other words, Christianity just doesn’t present this universal love language or spark that it so desperately claims to have. While it may provide a paradigm for some, it certainly doesn’t for everyone.

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