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Author Topic:   The Tension of Faith
Suspended Member (Idle past 1561 days)
Posts: 35298
From: Nevada, USA
Joined: 10-06-2001

Message 1 of 2 (820308)
09-19-2017 3:16 AM

I was intrigued by this article that a friend sent me:
The Tension of Faith: Why I Appreciate Christians Who Believe I’m Going to Hell
My friend has found it offensive that Christians believe people of other beliefs are going to Hell, but this article gave her a more understanding take on it. Here's how it starts out:
He didn’t want this conversation, and he hadn’t started it.
Neil and I had been friends and college classmates for about a year. He was a religious Christian, and I a secular Jew, but he never preached to me. Out of nowhere, I asked him whether he thought I was going to hell, and he demurred, saying it wasn’t up to him. But I couldn’t accept that dodge. I pressed and prodded until he had to admit that, yes, if his theology was correct, and I didn’t believe in Jesus, and maintained that non-belief until death, then I was, tragically, hell-bound.
Since then, I’d been grilling him for hours, even more doggedly than before. Surely he would see how cruel his belief was. Surely he’d never stopped to think about his good friend burning in eternal fire, and if he only would consider that, surely he’d stop believing something so monstrous.
He told me, If I get to heaven, and find out I’m wrong, and see all my Jewish and atheist friends there I will cry tears of joy. I will shout, ‘Thank you God!’ I will be so happy.
Then, he paused:
What I believe isn’t the same as what I want.
I didn’t know what to say. Neil’s sympathy his genuine love didn’t fit into the only story I knew how to tell about people who believed in hell: that they were judgmental and hateful. It had never occurred to me that someone could believe something other than what he wanted.
The article made things somewhat easier between me and my friend, since in these cases I usually have to avoid saying much about my beliefs, so it was a big relief to have a less conflictful frame of reference. It's SO true, I don't WANT anybody to go to Hell, but if I believe God has decreed it I can't argue with God, and all I can do is pray that God will save those I care about.
Later the writer of the article becomes a practicing orthodox Jew who encounters some things in his religion he has trouble accepting (much the same things GDR for instance has trouble accepting in the Old Testament), and he remembers Neil's statement in his new context.
An example: every man, woman and child of the nation of Amalek had to be killed even the infants. To be clear, this commandment applied only in antiquity, and never applies today, but even in distant history, a commandment of genocide is appalling.
Another: children born of incest or adultery, who have done nothing wrong themselves, are classified as mamzerim forever, forbidden to marry anyone except other mamzerim.
The article is then about how one comes to accept things that bother us about our religion if we are going to be true to the revelation and not impose our own feelings on it (which is what liberal believers do).
Religion’s finest moments in history have starred zealots who refused to bow to common sense whether the common sense of Seleucid imperialism, or the common sense of American slavery. Religion must be uncomfortable and unusual, or it will be tautological. It must be authoritative and binding, or it will be a sham.
To put it another way: if I can decide to change the law of the mamzer because I don’t like it, how shall I answer my fellow Jew who decides to change the laws of giving charity? Beautifully demanding laws they are, but utterly useless if any Jew can suddenly change them because he’s just read Ayn Rand and decided hand-outs are immoral. No. Cries Deuteronomy 15:11:
You shall open your hand to your brother, to your poor, and to your needy in your land.
Yes, I could change the system. I could join one of the liberal denominations that have conveniently done away with the law of the mamzer, but only if I’m willing to let Deuteronomy 15:11, and every other sacred commandment, be similarly defanged.
He goes on to discuss the Biblical story of Abraham's being called by God to sacrifice his son Isaac, in one of the loveliest presentations of that event I've ever read. It's one of the severest examples of the conflict God puts us all through in various forms, between what we want and what He wants, to test our faith and mortify our self-will, and this is even emblematic of the conflict we are all put into in giving the gospel to people who reject it.
I found a lot of depth in this essay and many angles that could be discussed.
Edited by Faith, : No reason given.
Edited by Faith, : No reason given.
Edited by Faith, : No reason given.

Posts: 13085
From: EvC Forum
Joined: 06-14-2002
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Message 2 of 2 (820316)
09-19-2017 8:02 AM

Thread Copied to Faith and Belief Forum
Thread copied to the The Tension of Faith thread in the Faith and Belief forum, this copy of the thread has been closed.

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