Good News or Bad News?

December 21, 2006 6:47am CST
Let me simply say that I think the“hellfire and brimstone” version of the Christian faith has turned the “good news” of our faith into the “bad news.” First of all, the idea of a God who loves us but is somehow obliged to throw a large percentage of us into a life of eternal punishment makes absolutely no sense. Jesus came to show us a loving Father. He came to show that to kill the body has no effect because we are eternal. And He told us that if we can’t believe that about ourselves, we can believe “in Him,” and see that these things are true. What many of the New Testament writers did, I believe, was to blend Jesus’ message for us with the Old Testamtent idea of sacrifice. God was angry, they believed, when they saw suffering in the world. Who, if not God, brought this about? And why, if not for something man has done against Him? How do we win back His favor? By sacrificing something that is important or precious to us to show God He is more important than anything we hold dear. Many ancient religions projected this image onto God – it was their way of explaining and dealing with a world that was full of tragedy and hardship. That the New Testament was written in these terms would have made sense to the people of that time, but it hardly makes sense in today’s world. A God who demands retribution and who is now satisfied because someone was tortured and killed in our place, is the antithesis of love. But of course, God doesn’t even stop there – if we don’t believe in everything He (supposedly) wrote in the Bible, and worship Him in the right way, we are threatened with the idea of hell. So God’s final dispensation of “justice” is not even an eye for an eye, but suffering and torment for eternity. Is this the “good news” that the gospels intended to preach? Is this a God to be worshipped? And why does God, who has and IS everything, demand to be worshipped in the first place? Isn’t the joy of knowing and loving Him enough? Not all churches teach this doctrine. Some just get around it by ignoring it, citing that we simply cannot understand God’s ways, or by talking about it in terms of abstract concepts instead of concrete reality. But it’s hard to trivialize such a huge contradiction, and I personally feel it should at least be questioned.
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