Saturday, October 3, 2009

Of Salvation, Damnation, and Inexpungeable Monstrosity

Makarios pretends to interrogate his own theology and lets us all know exactly what Jesus was telling us:

Are you telling me that if a good person doesn’t accept Jesus' offer of forgiveness he can’t be forgiven?

Yes, that’s what Jesus is telling you. He's saying that we cannot be reconciled to God based on merit, effort or desire. A transaction needs to take place. Either we do something in response to what Jesus has done for us, or nothing happens, nothing changes, we remain God's enemies with the consequences that go along with that ... Rather than fretting over the fact that there aren't many paths to God, we should be thankful that there is ONE path by which we might escape the loss of eternal hope.
This has the Bible right; parts of the Christian Bible say the above, albeit not verbatim, and yet the "faith versus works" conflict has roiled Christianity at least since Martin Luther because other parts of the Christian Bible prioritize good deeds (e.g. James 2).

On the assumption that the Bible is a faithful statement of an actually-existing deity's will, a reasonable observer would expect the Bible god to beam down to earth and make an unambiguous declaration on the matter, since nothing less than salvation or damnation of human beings hangs on the question. The trouble is, reasonable observers are routinely dismissed as mere skeptics, ranting atheists, filthy trouble-making bomb-throwing heretics, category five assholes, and so on.

Things get difficult, absurd, and troubling when people take the Bible as something more than it is, namely, a heavily-edited collection of ancient writings. In the case under discussion, Makarios's vision of justice serenely contemplates the eternal salvation of Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, Jack the Ripper, Jeffrey Dahmer, Timothy McVeigh, or any other murderous thug so long as they accepted Jesus's offer of forgiveness before dying; and it equally serenely contemplates the eternal damnation of every one of their millions of victims who didn't convert to Makarios's theology before dying.

Under Makarios's vision and the Bible's, there is no child-raping, torturing sadist who can't gain salvation by taking the right attitude toward Jesus; and there's no raped, mutilated, crushed victim of theirs who can hope for better than eternal torment should they fail to accept Jesus.

This is sheer monstrosity. Even on the assumption that the Bible god exists and that Makarios has accurately portrayed his will, it remains sheer monstrosity. Viciousness is not mitigated by the power of the agent perpetrating it.

The Biblical picture of justice and morality is a sickening, ridiculous debasement of justice and morality.


larryniven said...

Isn't this your absolute favorite amateur writing technique? I just love it when people give themselves softball interviews, especially when they do so through two-dimensional characters who have a penchant for incredulously asking exactly the question that the author feels comfortable answering.

If Berkeley couldn't pull it off, some halfway-illiterate loon on the internet sure isn't gonna be able to.

Zennalathas said...

If you followed the first link in the post, you'll note that Dale has had a lengthy discussion with the individual he quotes... He didn't give himself a "softball" interview; he had a very real discussion with an individual and posted some summary thoughts on the exchange here, on his personal blog.

It's kind of cute that you claim some sort of intellectual authority on such discussion, but can't even follow a fucking link.