“No Heaven For You!”

If you love God, God will reward you for that love by blessing you with an eternity filled with joyous bliss.

If you do not pledge to God your loyalty and fealty, God will punish you by cursing you with an eternity filled with horrendous physical torture.

Die a Christian? Up you go to heaven!

Die a non-Christian? Try to make sure that before it closes shut someone tosses a bag of marshmallows into your coffin. (And then—what with where you’re going—prepare to never find a stick.)

And don’t think it will matter why you died a non-Christian, either. Because it won’t. Maybe you were born and raised a Muslim, Jew, Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Native American, Bahaist. Maybe you were raised by dingoes in the aboriginal wilds. Maybe you decided there is no God, and became an atheist. Maybe you decided you just couldn’t decide, and became an agnostic. Maybe you just didn’t care all that much, and figured you’d know soon enough anyway so why pick a lane you don’t have to?

Yeah, none of that will matter. All that matters is that if you die anything but a Christian, then no heaven for you!

That’s what being a Christian boils down to: Be one—or else!

And that, friends and fellow earthlings, is the Christianity in which so many believe.

And that is the Christianity that’s responsible for so many people today leaving church—and for so many others refusing to ever go near a church in the first place.

And that’s the Christianity that has just got to go.

“Love me, because I love you. And if you don’t love me, I’ll torture you forever.” What would that be, from the Stalker line of Hallmark cards? What kind of sickness is that? And what kind of unhealthy relationship must it produce?

Who wants to be in a relationship because they’re terrified not to be in that relationship?

The model of Christianity upon which that kind of relationship is predicated needs to go the way of the dodo bird, slavery, and blood-letting. God is still talking—and he’s telling an awful lot of us to grow up already, and stop treating him like some big mean Daddy in the sky who’ll whip us all real hard forever if we’re not good little boys and girls. That’s not who God is. That’s not how God operates. Those aren’t God’s values.

That kind of Christianity belongs to a mentality that feeds on the fears and resentments of men, not the love and acceptance of God.

That kind of Christianity is mad about naming who exactly is and isn’t with it, and why.

That kind of Christianity needs enemies to give it focus and purpose—and the more enemies it has, the happier it is.

That kind of Christianity swaggers, preens, points, scowls, judges, and with its confident, braying bravado opportunistically and purposefully strikes fear into the hearts of perfectly decent people who want nothing more than to know that, in some real and lasting way, their human frailties are forgiven.

That kind of Christianity revels in pointing an accusatory finger with what it dares declare the hand of God.

Do you know that in the Bible Jesus never says a word about the ultimate fate of anyone who dies a non-Christian? Not once does it come up. We have no idea who does and doesn’t get into heaven. None.

Apparently Jesus didn’t think that was anything we should be worried about. Apparently he didn’t think that what happens to anyone in the afterlife is any of our business.

He sure was clear about how we should live in this life, though, wasn’t he? No waffling there, was there?

One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:28-31)

There. That’s our mission.

That’s who God is.

That’s who God wants us to be.

We’re supposed to love God, and then—filled with God’s returned love for us—love our neighbors.

Heaven help the person who endeavors to turn that clear directive into a prescription for who does and doesn’t get sentenced to hell.

 

Along these lines I also once made this:

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About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. John is a pastor ordained by The Progressive Christian Alliance. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. And don't forget to sign up for his mucho awesome monthly newsletter.

  • Paul

    Reminds me of the late Bill Hicks:

    “The whole image is that eternal suffering awaits anyone who questions God’s infinite love. That’s the message we’re brought up with, isn’t it? Believe or die! Thank you, forgiving Lord, for all those options.”

  • http://sparrowmilk.blogspot.com Shadsie

    I do hope God forgives me for coming-in under the desire for eternal life and the fear of condemnation.

    I’m willing to admit to being a weak and fearful person – less so now, but still… when I read that Stephen Hawking said that the afterlife was for “people afraid of the dark” I thought, yeah, I’m afraid of the dark. I also think it’s braver to admit one’s fears than to have none, and much better than pretending to have none.

    But, I never wanted Hell to be true, even when I was sure it existed. I do want something… non-eternal… to happen to very bad people, I mean, I think some people need to be hit with empathy before they should be let to frolic with their victims…. but, I’d rather think that good lasts forever, but pain does not, even if pain is necessary. Or something.

    • Marcelo

      Shadsie:

      I love this phrase: “I’d rather think that good lasts forever, but pain does not, even if pain is necessary.” This is just beautiful. I think that’s the triumph of God: pain exists, but pain fades in the face of love and goodness. It can’t win and it can’t endure.

    • Matthew Tweedell

      Dying is rather like falling into a black hole. Beyond the event horizon, time stops. Within it, are things unseen and no longer meaningfully differentiated one from another: no hydrogen and helium, no more you or me. Yet it was Dr. Hawking himself who showed that black holes do in fact radiate from the energies of things fallen into them, eventually giving a birth of new existence in our universe to what once was thought forever lost. Black holes aren’t so black after all. Anyway, as I’m sure Dr. Hawking is aware, it is not less accurate that one conceive of being in a state of death as being in pure light than it is that they conceive of it as being in darkness. And I would add that what is experienced in that last flicker of the mind, whether it is a wonderful or a dreadful thing, when we lose any sense of time or connection to being in the world as we know it, may very well be determined by the deeply-rooted disposition of our psyche, of our mind—the all-encompassing spirit of our being that dwells in our heart, in our soul.

  • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ sdgalloway

    OH how I love this blog post. I’d count the ways, but that would get rather boring after awhile.

    Instead I will simply state I utterly agree that our true calling as people of Christ is to adhere, emulate and emit out of every pore that whole concept of Love, loving God and loving our neighbors, who just happen to be about everyone we happen to meet, have met, may meet, or may never meet.

  • Susan in NY

    Amen, brother.

  • Anji

    Great post John. I enjoy reading your stuff and would like to share this post with a facebook page called Darkwood Brew. It is a growing online community of people engaged in an interactive discussion which includes weekly Skype guests (usually authors…like you!). Last Sunday we had Brian McLaren. Upcoming guests are Diana Butler Bass, Rachel Held Evans and Bishop Carlton Pearson. We just started a series titled “If Love Wins … Now What?” in which we will explore the issues of heaven, hell, and salvation from a decidedly non-fundamentalist, but unapologetically Christian perspective. I hope you & your readers will check out the website and fb page….better yet, watch live on Sunday 5:00 central…(http://www.darkwoodbrew.org/)…viewers are able to chat live while the show is airing….would love to include your voices in this community.

  • Matthew Tweedell

    Yet that kind of Christianity is what the word “Christian” presently refers to, and it’s not merely important to represent ourselves accurately to others but that we view ourselves accurately within our own being, as the labels we associate ourselves with, determine what all else we associate ourselves with, and it’s important that we be pure, remain undefiled, keep ourselves from corruption, to whatever extent the self exists: For, indeed, there is no heaven for you, no heaven for me, but perhaps there is heaven for us. As you know, of course, God only knows; or perhaps He does not know. I cannot say, because the god I know does not exist; yet God, I know, is there.

    • Don Whitt

      Bravo. Inspired and seriously brilliant.

      • Matthew Tweedell

        Thanks, Don W.!

    • Don Rappe

      Well said Mathew. I think all reference to God is necessarily metaphorical, as parables. Do you agree?

      • Matthew Tweedell

        Certainly, Don R. Now, there’s sense in which descriptions of the nature of any essence are metaphors for relations to whatever else there might be, but God is beyond even being literally relatable to any thing of this world, or of heaven above (or wherever it is). God is even beyond being beyond being…

  • Michelle

    How does one then explain away Jesus saying, “No one comes to the father except through me”? No other religious figure in history claimed to be the Son of God. None. Either Jesus Christ was a liar or a lunatic. Or both. Either way, He makes a bold statement of exactly what is required to “come to the father.”

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      I explained it by the making the video I did, which is right above your comment.

      • A

        You’ve explained several times before why you don’t believe Christ is the only way into Heaven, but you always seem to come to this verse. I’ve always been curious what your thoughts are on Romans.

    • Don Rappe

      Jesus says: “I am The Way”. But here again he tells us what he is. Who is he? He is Rabbi Jesus Josephson of Nazareth; He is risen and transfigured into a divine figure who is a revelation of God. The “Tao Te Ching” attributed to Lao Tzu tells us: “There are many ways, but only one Way (Tao)”. Why should I distinguish between the Way of John the Evangelist and the Tao of Lao Tzu? I see no good reason to do so. Jesus says to the 21′st century “I am the Tao”. And the Tao, however it is encountered, may be regarded as The Lord Jesus Christ by Christians.There is no reason either Christians or Taoists should be eternally condemned for their beliefs..But for those who seek the Way/Tao, watch out!

      • Don Rappe

        I meant to say: VBut for those who do NOT seek the Way/Tao, watch out!

    • DR

      I don’t believe that everything that is of Jesus has a gold cross stamped on it. Perhaps Jesus uses the beauty within other religions and bringing them to the beauty of Him and conversely, the Father. Jesus may not be as rigidly contained as we sometimes interpret Him being.

      • http://www.barnmaven.com Barnmaven

        Yes, Don. Amen.

  • JulieD

    The whole aspect that you consider here of each of our childhood upbringings REALLY bothered me as a kid. I knew even then that I had (have) a basically compliant personality, and that I would pretty much follow whatever my parents taught me about God. I used to honestly thank God that I was born into the “right” kind of Christian family, but it seemed patently unfair to other kids like me who were born into other faiths. Huh? They’re all destined to burn forever?

    That said, I think the typical evangelical response to what you wrote about God punishing people with eternal torture would be that HE did not choose it. By rejecting him, the person chose it for him or herself. I heard this kind of stuff for so many years in my Baptist upbringing … It’s why The Great Divorce is such a liberating book, I think, for so many. Before Lewis, I’d never even really considered that anyone got another chance after death.

  • http://sparrowmilk.blogspot.com Shadsie

    Somewhat related: Is someone horribly, wretchedly ego-ed if they want heaven or an afterlife/spirit-life of some kind?

    Reading comments on a news topic (got to stop doing that), I saw somene talking about how people who want anything more than just this life at all were selfish, horrible people.

    And my thought was: That person needs to have a loaded gun shoved in their face! Or get into a car accident. Or take a tumble down a flight of stairs into solid concrete (the last example happened to me once) – just anything that’s a “narrow miss.” Then, they need to think whether or not they are “egoed” or “selfish” for surviving, being glad they survived, or for *wanting more life* in that moment.

    We all want to live. It’s pure instinct for us to want our conciousness to continue. I don’t like it when people try to put others down as weak or selfish or horrible for that, whether it’s in the temporal or in matters “eternal.”

    From what I’ve seen and known, the only people who want to die to the point of *really, truly* wanting non-existance (for which “darkness” or “eternal sleep” are only fecking euphamisms, mind you), are people who are in horrible pain. Even though I like to believe in something, I’ve thought “nothing” as not a bad option in my worst moments of suicidal-thinking because it was beside the point of my “not wanting to be a burden upon the world” any longer. And sometimes, reading some people’s thoughts on these matters, I feel like a burden upon the world because I have beliefs and hopes that persist. Maybe I’m horrible or just too weak to be a truly valuable member of society because of them?

    But yeah, I think people who talk big about having no fear and not wanting to “survive death” need to have at least one close brush with death and see if they change their minds.

    Thoughts?

    • Matthew Tweedell

      People like you, Shadsie, keep me where I ought to be, that, although I myself do not feel a need for any particular theological constructs, though even I may disdain what Christianity is today, I cannot deny what Christianity *ought* to be; I cannot deny the true Christ. I could, and feel now that I should, do a better job of avoiding promoting turning to whoever happens to preach under the banner of Christ for any sort of transcendent truth, or promoting the sort of thinking that retards human progress, or the sort of labeling and the resulting “us-them” mentality that leads to daily conflict in the world, and, basically, avoiding having so much blood on my hands from meaningless human suffering and unnecessary death.

      Atheists, of course, are part of the problem too. They (as a whole) contribute their own hate and bring even more divisiveness. Yet they generally believe in the same “afterlife” as I, only they do not realize it! For if they desire to take a stand against religion, why is that? Either they are doing it for selfish reasons, and cannot even share the blame with their god as the religionist might, which, although no excuse, makes more plausible that they aren’t just such arrogant buttholes in, of, and for themselves); or they are doing it because they believe in some greater Good than themselves, which they feel they are serving in doing that, hoping in the reward, not merely for the present, temporal existence of theirs (at least, not those who would remain defiant atheists unto the day of their death), but of timeless significance beyond the edge of their own life (which can come to an end any day and are no better than already finished if one has not love).

      So they too sew the seed of their resurrection, from the seed of their faith, by the works that whatever they believe motivates them to do. It remains to be judged whether that will be unto everlasting life or eternal destruction. The idea of going to heaven as I understand it just means being in the hope, and the light, of the resurrection that is to come, and already comes. Yet even here and now, we can know both paradise and hell. Perhaps most of us have to spend a little time in each, and I’d hazard to guess that those who tear apart people with a perfectly normal, healthy mentality, accusing them of being wickedly selfish are in hell (though they’d likely refuse to acknowledge the reality of any such disposition of their spirits); karma tends to have a way of doing that to you.

      We all should want to live this life as long as we might and look forward to living on in others and take comfort in the fact that our bodies are recyclable: sure, to dust we must return, but from the dust, I believe, we will rise again. But only if the spirit that animates our life in the present is such as shall still live on might it be reunited with our body on the other side of eternity, and only as we draw nearer now to the sort of world we hope to live in then should we expect Kingdom come to await, beyond the grave, which—just as the sort of life that we now know—is temporary (even if it is insignificantly {relative to eternity} longer).

      God bless!

      • http://sparrowmilk.blogspot.com Shadsie

        Thanks. Quite encouraging.

        The more I ponder things, I feel like I can’t hope for meaning in “just this life.” Maybe it’s selfish of me? I mean, I have no children and never expect to have any (trust me, I’d not make a fit parent, too insane, I am), I create – a lot… but… It really feels like it’s all a “Behold, I am Ozymandius” thing. If you don’t believe in anything existing outside of time, watch the special/series “Life After People” and get scared. (I loved it, actually, since I thought such a world would be paradise. I love ruins, seeing nature take over old buildings and stuff)…

        Of course, it could be in some of the stuff I like to create, too. One of my major hobbies/art forms is cleaning and painting wildlife and livestock skulls and bones. I’ve got colorful death all over my walls. (I’d be happy if somene did that to my bones, too).

        It’s just… I overthink, really. It’s not just my death that I fear. As you’ve said, even people who don’t believe in an afterlife seek immortality in some form. I, on the other hand, think ahead to the heat death of the unverse and think “Well, if there isn’t even a *something* to remember that humanity and the world existed, what’s the point?” I’d rather take my non-existance now than to live another 50 years with that knowledge – the knowledge of eventual entrophy and meaninglessness.

        I think I might rather have Hell. Hell is something, at least.

        Is probably why I stick with Christianity even though I have doubts and so many people hate it. In Christian philosophy, I feel like I’m not worthless – like no life is worthless, “eye on the sparrow” and all that. It doesn’t matter if I don’t know what my meaning is, just the idea that I might have one is… what I want.

        I fear the dark. I fear lack of meaning even more than the dark. I think some kind of eternity or something or someone with a memory outside of time-ness is needed for meaning.

        And thus, I am weak?

        This is all my thoughts, how it is for me, nothing that’s “for” anyone else. I mean, if a person is “not afraid of the dark,” good for them – just please don’t treat me like poo because I am and am gutsy enough to admit to it in a world that despises any weakness and only praises strength.

        I also have an idea about those people who do incessantly put others down – I think that it’s A. Human Nature – we’re all pretty egoed, feel like we need to be king of the mountain, it’s an instinct of some sort and B. I think some people, even though they don’t realize it, feel like they they are lacking in hope and are perhaps jealous on very subconcious level when they see it in others – and putting them down so they can feel “better” or “smarter” than them is… all they’ve got, the only sense of meaning they have. Of course, I could be wrong, but that’s what it feels like to me when I see some of the worst insults.

        • Matthew Tweedell

          “I, on the other hand, think ahead to the heat death of the universe…”

          The biblical writers told us, long before the concept of entropy had been formalized and formulated, that all the things of this world will surely pass away. But do you think faith, hope, and love exist in the world of things measured in terms of time? It is mistaken to think of them as ever coming to an end, for such things are timeless—without time: whenever there is any time (wherever some observer is marks positions of the sun, moon, and stars, the hour, minute, and second hands of a clock, etc.), there is sure to be there the essence of faith, of hope, of love, of truth, and so on. So let us become those things: our name is our virtue.

          Regarding your last paragraph, I think you’re right that people often do that to construct some sort of meaning for themselves, but, though they find comfort in doing so, I’m not sure it’s that they find meaning in affirming their “superiority” over anyone; rather, they think—they hope—they believe—that aggressively combating Christian (and other) faith the way they do makes a meaningful difference. Of course, the reason (the “selfish” motive) to feel that we’re making a meaningful difference is basically that it’s supposed to make us feel good about ourselves (that is, about our place in the world).

  • A

    I’ve been reading your blog for a while, and while I don’t agree with everything you have to say, as a fellow believer I admire your commitment to Christ’s love above all else.

    However, my reaction to this post was.. not positive. I personally believe that eternal salvation comes only through Jesus, and that our purpose as Christians is to be, literally, “little Christs” and to spread His name throughout the world. Now, I don’t take offense to your disagreeing with me on that matter. If I had a problem with everyone who disagreed with me on something.. well, I wouldn’t have very many friends. But I *do* take offense to your portrayal of people who share my belief.

    You suggest that, because I believe in Hell, I must operate out of fear. That is probably what kept me in church when I was a kid, but it’s what pushed me away as a teenager. God’s love is what brought me back to the Church, and my service to Him now is a direct response to that love.

    You suggest that, because I believe in Hell, I must be abrasive and self-righteous. Because of my beliefs, I am humbled by the grace my Father has shown me. I don’t claim to be perfect (or perfectly humble). Rather, because of my imperfection, I am continually grateful for God’s mercy.

    You suggest that I must consider myself better than non-Christians. In reality, because I believe in Hell, I believe that I, on account of God’s grace, owe my life to nonbelievers. I owe them every second of my life and every ounce of love in me, so that they might someday know Christ.

    You seem to think that all Christians who believe in Hell are close-minded, bigoted Bible thumpers with nothing better to do than stand on street corners yelling at women for wearing pants. But I’ve been the victim of that brand of “evangelizing,” and it’s always been my desire to be the exact opposite of “That Christian.”

    I think the reason that this post left such a sour taste in my mouth is that it seems to suggest that I can’t believe in Hell and Christ’s love at the same time. In fact, it is because of Hell that I recognize Christ’s love. I believe down in my core that Scripture tells us the only way to salvation is through Jesus. Otherwise, what was the point of His death and resurrection? I have also spent the last several years trying to learn what it means to love like Jesus. I don’t believe in yelling at people, or preaching at them, or judging them or telling them hatefully that they’re “bad.” I believe in loving people with everything that I have. And I believe in the Gospel. So I think I am offended because you tell me that the two can’t be reconciled. You tell me that I either have to give up my deeply rooted belief in God’s plan for salvation, or that I have to give up my love for others and become a hypocritical, judgmental ass posing as a Christian.

    I don’t really care for either of those options, so for now I’ll keep believing what I believe, and I’ll keep trying desperately to love people in the way I think Christ would want me to.

    • http://ricbooth.wordpress.com/ Ric Booth

      I was ambivalent about hell as a non-Christian. After becoming a Christian, I classified hell as a place absent of God. Then I took a course that taught, among other things, the doctrine of hell, where I “learned” that God’s wrath (and hence God himself) is ever-present in hell. I objected with the teacher. He correctly pointed out that my “absence of God” concept is inconsistent with the “omnipresent nature of God” concept.

      And herein is where we arrive at the conundrum presented in your post, John. Most people, when saying that they believe in hell as a literal place, do not realize that they are necessarily saying they believe that God rules over hell with eternal judgement, wrath, and torment.

      Mark Driscoll explains this doctrine in very scary terms (very calmly, too, I might add). If you search youtube for “what you don’t want to hear about heaven and hell” you’ll get a 5 minute clip posted by his church about his belief that “Jesus rules hell.” I am not sure what level of PTSD state I would need to exist within to believe this doctrine and still sleep at night.

      • http://findingthebliss.wordpress.com Mike Wise

        The Eastern Orthodox church would agree with you that no person no place is seperate from God. They believe that when we die we are all in the presence of God. They also believe that God doesn’t torture these people but people who have no want or desire for God would simply feel tortured to be there in his great presence and light. Eventually it is believed though that they would give in.

        I might be thought of as a heretic for thinking this, and while I do affirm the belief in the afterlife I believe that most of the language the bible uses to describe the afterlife is allegory and metaphor. I also believe, as the blogger mentioned in his post, that Jesus really doesn’t offer much description about what waits for us in the life after at all.. I tend to think that idea’s like “heaven”” and “hell” are states of being that we presently live in, and when we die whatever state we were in here will continue on. I tend to view both heaven and hell as transient in nature and the real end to all of this is the restoration of all things which began when Jesus was crucified and raised from the dead and will conclude at his 2nd coming.

        • Diana A.

          I really like this. I think my beliefs are similar.

      • Matthew Tweedell

        Could hell be not the absence of God, but the absence rather of the sons of hell?

    • http://www.barnmaven.com Barnmaven

      I can’t accept that only those who have “accepted Jesus” go to heaven and everyone else goes to hell. What about infants who die shortly after birth? What about people who are mentally ill or who have severe disabilities and are unable to comprehend what is being said to them? What about people who grow up in terribly remote areas such as the Amazon rain forest who have never met outsiders? What about kids who spend their life insulated from the outside world in a cult or a commune?

      I do not accept that God would let these people, who surely are as dear to Him as any of us, go to hell. I just do not accept it and no doctrine or dogma or scriptural reference is going to convince me otherwise.

      • Diana A.

        I agree with you. I also have similar beliefs to what Mike Wise wrote above.

  • Don Rappe

    This post describes a relationship (covenant) between God and his people which is abusive. This theology(?) seems to sanction abusive relationships.

    • Matthew Tweedell

      Sadly, yes. A man is made in the image of his god: if such is the god a man is raised to believe in and believing such is the epitome of righteousness and goodness, whose holiness, of this very nature, one must strive to emulate on pain of wrath, of this very nature, the how else could anyone expect him to behave? Fortunately, there are right and wrong answers to moral questions that are independent of whatever whimsical beliefs such as these. Unfortunately, such beliefs are granted a respect which, if to be given at all, is due properly to the divine Mystery alone; such are allowed in the world of this perverse generation the credence of the truly sacred!

  • Suz

    Wonderful!

  • http://www.balancepoints.wordpress.com Machelle

    I really appreciate this post. Christianity has become to me, after being raised as a “Christian” a modern-day Religion, yes, with a capital “R”. Many Christians will tell you it is not a religion, but instead, a “faith”, which they consider much different from a true, theological religion. But in my humble opinion, Christianity smacks of everything of a dogmatic, doctrine-filled Religion. And unfortunately it reminds me of the need for the very popular book, “Codependence No More”.

    The Modern-Day version of the Bible, and specifically how it is taught in “The Church of the Four Walls”, “The Church of Conformation”, has its followers, its congregation, believing in a God so jealous of their unfaltering love and devotion that He will unabashedly strike them dead and send them directly to HELL without “passing GO and “without collecting $200.00″ if they even think of turning from their Religious ritualistic dogma and doctrines prescribed to them by their modern-day Pharisees.

    I just don’t buy all of the segregating bigotry. Like may who are finding a different kind of totally encompassing and embracing love of God, I am learning that the Grace that is spoken of in the New Testament expands far beyond what our mere human minds can comprehend. Thus the mystery of the covenant Jesus brought with him and completed upon the cross when he stated, “It is FINISHED.” The Old Testament had literally been FULFILLED. And what is fulfilled has literally been finished and is no longer needed in the every day practical sense. As a “guide” only, yes, but to use as law, condemnation, judgment, and punishment, no. Jesus finished all of that with the completion of his work upon the cross for ALL humankind, whether they would ever know of his work, or not. It is not any person’s “fault” if they do not hear of his work. Until he accomplished his work, yes, his disciples HAD to go out into the world and tell of the Gospel, so that the (spiritually) dead in God would be made to know God and God to know them. But after Christ, no. Christ was, and is the “connector” of God and each and every human. It is Christ’s Spirit that performs the connection. I cannot believe that Christ would ignore one single individual on Earth simply because they do not have access to a Church or a missionary. I personally believe that the Spirit talks to each person in a way each person understands and each person then responds in the way they choose to respond, either believing, or not. But each person is given the opportunity, each person is reached, either physically, or by Spirit, one way or the other, somehow. Even time was changed after the death of Christ, from B.C. to A.D. Hello????

    But this whole idea by “The Church” that God is a segregating bigot, so jealous of our love that He would make our relationship with Him into a codependent one, is an absolutely untrue and false doctrine we are warned about in the Bible itself!

  • dana111

    When Jesus said, “No one gets to the Father but through me,” the concept of “Christianity” did not exist. There were no “Christians” at the time. No “Christian” theology, no Nicene Creed to repeat to let us know exactly what we need to believe to be “saved.” Nothing like that. The only thing that people had at that time was Jesus’ words, his actions, and his love for God and love for others. So, which is more likely? That when Jesus said those words, he met that only the “Christians” that lived after his death and resurrection, who were born in the right family, who said the right prayer, who went to the right church, who belonged to the right denomination, and who read and interpreted the New Testament in the “right” way could be saved? Or, did Jesus mean that those who lived their lives as He did, who loved God as He did, and who loved their neighbors as He did could one day see the face of the Father? We are committing chronological snobbery if we believe that our own current interpretations of the bible and our current creeds are more meaningful and more salvific than what, I believe, Jesus told the disciples sitting right in front of him to do in order to reach the Father- believe in His message of love and salvation (no “Christian” moniker needed) and strive to emulate His love for God and man. That should be all that matters.

  • Mary G

    “That kind of Christianity…” sounds like a middle-school, adolescent, cliquish little punk wrote the rule book.

    • DR

      Dear Mary,

      We think you’re kind of a jerk.

      Love,

      The Internet

  • http://www.em-cat.blogspot.com M-Cat

    I’m wondering why you didn’t publish my comment when I made the correction that Mormons are INDEED Christians.

    Can you at least privately explain your reluctance to be corrected?

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      I agreed with you, and so made the change. Which then would have rendered your comment nonsensical. So I removed it. And I assumed you’d notice I’d made that change, and understand what had happened.

      Man. Snark much?

      • DR

        TAKE MY CORRECTION JOHN SHORE OR ELSE!!!

      • http://www.em-cat.blogspot.com M-Cat

        I didn’t re-read your post so thus didn’t see the correction, but thank you. As a Mormon, it is frustrating that the myth persists that we are not Christian.

        And to the shouting reply below (all caps) – wow. Didn’t think I was threatening at all in my question, I was merely trying to understand. From one Christian to another, I thought this site would be a little more understanding of each other instead of snarky, mocking and misjudging.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

          M-Cat: You don’t know me or my work (and there’s no reason you should, of course), but I’m a friend of Mormons. Throughout high school and afterwards my best friend–who was also the best man at my wedding—was a Mormon. His family was outstanding to me. I’ve written good, supporting things about Mormonism. So … no worries. And welcome to my blog, for sure.

        • Matthew Tweedell

          If Mormons are Christians, are Muslims Christians? If we’re judging by self-proclaimed believing in Christ rather than the adherence to some certain creed defining that belief, then what is it even to be Christian at all? Not only Rastafarians, but even atheists who happen to believe that Jesus did exist and that many of his teachings are worth their giving credence to, are Christians then. The Bible, however, says his followers shall be known by their love, and we cannot just assume because someone calls him-/herself Mormon, or Catholic, or Presbyterian, or whatever else, that he/she loves like Jesus commanded. So why don’t we *all* just stop calling ourselves “Little Christs”? Let us have the humility to consider ourselves unworthy of that name rather than jumping up to make sure that everyone knows us by it, especially when that term is so tainted by so much that Jesus stood clearly, and firmly, against.

        • DR

          It was ironic. You come across as very demand-y.

        • DR

          (Sorry, I can be mean. Seriously. I’m sorry.)

  • http://manalive7@blogspot.com Allen

    straw men set up and knocked down daily

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      non sequiturs dropped down at random periodically

      • http://rinmmkay.blogspot.com Mariah

        Oh look, a distraction!

  • http://rinmmkay.blogspot.com Mariah

    For the longest time I fiddled around with the concept of reincarnation. In my mind, one lifetime’s worth of deeds could not possibly be enough to earn a person into a place of perfect eternal bliss or endless suffering (except in special cases of those who commit heinous, violent crimes, things like that). Then I was reminded that no one can ever truly reach that standard of perfection, ever. That we will, as human beings, fall short. And that that is the reason why God’s love is so amazing and so precious; because we are forgiven and loved and cared for even when we are undeserving.

    I’m still a little on the fence with this one. Still requiring some deep thought.

    I hope that at least some of the above made some sense. I’ve been awake since 3pm yesterday.

    I’ve always agreed with John on this point.

  • RoeDylanda

    I love this. If I were the sandwich-board-wearing type (and I’m not! Don’t run away!) this is what would be on it. Thanks.


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