In God’s Name

At the end of their lives two Christians and an atheist came before God. To the first Christian God asked, “What did you do in your life, my child?”

The first Christian said, “I praised your name by driving out sinners from our society. I reviled and shunned and beat and imprisoned and even killed those who did not believe in you as I did, and those who did not live by your word exactly as I did. I made their lives miserable to glorify your name.”

God: “So you used my name to justify your hatred and cruelty to your brothers and sisters.”

First Christian: “I… I thought I was doing your will, my Lord.”

God: “You were doing your own will and misusing my name.”

Turning then to the second Christian God asked, “And what did you do in your life, my child?”

The second Christian replied, “I believed in you with all my heart and praised your name in my prayers.”

God: “And what did you do for your brothers and sisters who suffered at the hands of those who misused my name for their cruelty?”

Second Christian: “I, uh, I felt sorry for them and I hoped that those who were cruel would stop misusing your name.”

God: “Show me the hand you raised to stop the cruelty that was done to your brothers and sisters in my name.”

Second Christian: “I raised neither hand, my Lord.”

God: “Show me the hand you extended to comfort and heal your brothers and sisters who suffered cruelty that was done in my name.”

Second Christian: “I extended neither hand, my Lord.”

God: “So you praised my name in your prayers but you did nothing for your brothers and sisters who suffered from cruelty done in my name.”

Finally, God turned to the atheist and said, “And now you my child, what did you do in your life?”

The atheist said, “I spent no time believing in you or praising your name. Instead I spoke out against hatred done in your name. For that I was reviled and shunned in your name. I worked hard to stop injustice and cruelty to others done in your name. For that I was beaten and imprisoned in your name. I fought against the horrors that were done around the world in your name. For that I was killed in your name.”

To the atheist God said, “You may go inside, my child and join the feast.” To the two Christians God said, “You two will stay out here for the time being, while you consider that your brothers and sisters needed your love and your help far more than I needed you to praise my name.”

About Richard Wade

Richard Wade is a retired Marriage and Family Therapist living in California.

  • http://nomorehornets.blogspot.com The Exterminator

    Sorry, but this is kind of dumb, even as an allegory:
    If you don’t believe in god, he will reward you.

    Seriously, it’s an insidious story, meant for Christians. Even an atheist can enter heaven if he or she does good works. Crap.

  • Joe

    I agree with The Exterminator…

  • Miko

    Might be useful as a revenge forward against those who insist on sending you religious junk, if I had that sort of temperament.

    Seriously, it’s an insidious story, meant for Christians

    Agreed. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Personally I’d rather let the religious clean up their own house.

    For a more philosophically-bent discussion of the same issues, I recommend Richard Carrier’s essay “The End of Pascal’s Wager” at http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/heaven.html

  • http://atheists.meetup.com/531 benjdm

    So, at what point does God judge himself for not raising his hand to help?

    Dumb story.

  • http://www.bernerbits.com Derek

    I have to agree… silly. Like a picked-on schoolkid going, “nah-UH… YOU’RE the one who is dumb and ugly and has inbreeding parents…”

    One empty threat against another. Also, it plays right into evangelicals’ whole “all non-Christians try to get into heaven by their works” thing.

  • Jason

    Interesting thought.

  • http://madmansparadise.blogspot.com Asylum Seeker

    I personally thought that this little story was a good way of showing how Christians get so caught up in being loyal to members of their own group and in doing what they want under the guise of a particular interpretation of the Bible that they do not realize how much damage they are causing. By pursuing what they believe to be one aspect of God’s will, they are opposing another one. And I thought it was also nice to see a God that was actually just. Clearly not the one that Christians worship, right?

    I agree that it is a little silly, but I guess it appeals to my sense of pettiness.

  • Ron in Houston

    Folks, it’s satire. It’s a slap at those people who profess belief but then act like jerks or just think that their silly belief does anything.

    It also says there are atheists who are better humans than any believer.

  • Jonathan

    I now understand how atheism is more pleasing to God than Christianity. It’s like that time when I learned I must build my house out of bricks instead of sticks or straw.

  • Bo

    If I were that atheist, I would be thinking “Damn! Damn! Damn! I was wrong!”

  • http://brentcliffe.blogspot.com Alex

    I think it’s a little on the lame side.

  • Larry Huffman

    Sounds like the atheist who came up with this is having trouble letting go of heaven…gonna get in even though I don’t believe.

    I agree with the above verdict of crap.

  • http://agersomnia.blogspot.com Agersomnia

    I agree… with Miko and Ron.

    For those who don’t belive it makes little sense. But it might be disgusting for christians, and some may start to think. And in some not evangelical religions, it might work actually help people change some attitudes, even if it’s just a little.

  • Jacob Dink

    The problem here is that, statistically, #2 probably gives more to charity than #3.

  • Darryl

    It’s a recasting of Jesus’s story of the Good Samaritan (really it’s closer to the account of the Last Judgment in the book of Revelation). As such, it’s meant for Christians only (since they believe in God and heaven and we don’t). But, since it’s not from the Bible, and Evangelicals will reject the idea that an atheist will get into heaven (because that would make them look majorly stupid for all their hatred of us), I don’t think it will change many minds. You’ve got those fundy nitwits out there that think that even a mean SOB of a Christian, or a do-nothing one, is saved by faith alone, once and for all, and his works will not damn him.

  • SarahH

    So, at what point does God judge himself for not raising his hand to help?

    Seriously.

  • Polly

    This is what I tell my wife:

    “If god is smart enough to create this universe, then he probably couldn’t care less whether a microorganism like me believes in him or not. And if he’s into hanging out with such, I bet the independent thinkers are the ones who he would most identify with.”

  • Kyle

    Yep, it’s silly and besides, my mother would just say that it’s simply not true. She has reminded me many times over the years; the ONLY way into heaven, no matter how well or badly you live your life, is by acceptance of Jebus into your heart as Lord and Savior.

    They see no shades of gray or irony in such a story. The bible is clear, the circle goes round and round and round. It’s a very comforting and high-minded concept for them, and just a ridiculous fiction for us.

  • David D.G.

    I was disappointed. I kept expecting the punchline to be this:

    God: “And now you my child, what did you do in your life?”

    Atheist: “If you were God, you’d already know.”

    ~David D.G.

  • Erp

    This is not a recasting so much of the Good Samaritan parable but the goats and sheep parable (Matthew 25).

    Evangelicals tend to emphasize salvation by grace not works so the original in the Bible tends to get interpreted differently. Such as “In the context of Jesus’ teachings, especially in the context of Matthew (as opposed to Luke), this parable addresses not serving all the poor but receiving the gospel’s messengers.”

    I suspect one way of distinguishing evangelical from liberal protestant christians is how they interpret the goats and sheep. I also suspect that it is a liberal christian with universalist tendencies who wrote the rewrite (the atheist gets entrance immediately, the others will get in eventually). The original casts the uncaring into eternal fire (which is usually the bit the liberal christians have problems with). (Note that liberal here refers to liberal theologically not necessarily politically).

    http://www.religioustolerance.org/salwdjs1.htm has more

  • Gabriel

    This one just made me angry. All I could think of when I was reading it was “Your God, what did you do? Jackass.” Well I had one other thought. I remembered an old movie called Erik the Viking. Erik and all of his viking friends along with a christian priest are transported to Vallhala. The chrisitan can’t see it because he doesn’t share the viking beliefs, he walks through the walls and the gods and can’t see anything that the vikings see. At one point he is referred to as an atheist by on of the vikings.

  • Pingback: Friendly Atheist » In God’s Name 2.0: The Explicit Version

  • http://www.fabulouslyinthecity.com Fabulously in the City

    David G — HA HA! :-) I love it!


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