Colonel Sanders God?

David Palmer has an interesting post about life after death which got me thinking.

It is imagined by naive unbelievers that religious people sign up because they get to have pie in the sky. It’s thought that we poor ignorant folk follow our faith because we have been promised eternal life and happiness forever, and that the whole thing is a huge case of corporate wishful thinking.

Is it? I think the Christian believer’s position is actually quite thoughtful and shrewd. We weigh up the possibilities and choose the path of least risk, and the least amount of wishful thinking. You see, Christian belief is only wishful thinking if the God we follow is a happy Colonel Sanders in the sky who is jolly and welcomes all in with a family bucket. If this is the God we believed in, then we could be accused of wishful thinking. If our God was a sort of Coca Cola Santa Claus, then yes, we’d have to admit wishful thinking.

However, the God we believe in is not only a merciful Father, he is a righteous Judge. We believe that we will be held responsible for our decisions and actions, and that there will be a price to pay. He’s making his list and checkin’ it twice, gonna find out who’s naughty or nice. Heaven is by no means a sure thing, and I might end up in the other place. If I were thinking wishfully, this is not what I would have wished for.

In contrast, the agnostic or atheist who denies life after death is the true wishful thinker. They believe that when it is all over, it is all over. Death and then oblivion. Isn’t that peaceful oblivion a kind of pie in the sky? Furthermore, the result of their wishful thinking is that what they do here doesn’t really matter. They can have fun and do what they like and there will never be hell to pay. Isn’t that the most extreme, risky, naieve and terrifying version of wishful thinking?

You remember what Padre Pio said when asked what he thought of liberals who did not believe in hell?

He replied, “They will believe in Hell when they get there.”

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13284543760145049952 Dean

    I signed up for the pie. . . the rest was a bonus.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15289315616310472359 annie

    It’s the same shrewdness and calculation that went into Pascal’s wager!I really enjoy the thought and care that you put into your posts, and I loved the Gollum illustration – but I wonder if in your last post, you aren’t being too harsh on the Calvinist position. The doctrine of total depravity does not somehow negate the image of God in which all humans are created, and with it the human capacity for acts which reflect, however poorly, the God who made us. Even in Calvinism, the tension is still there!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/02809651586349621296 Athanasius contra mundo

    I personally think that fried chicken would be better than pie anyways.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12373317560249811006 Fr. Dwight Longenecker

    Annie, good comment, I did allow for a more nuanced Calvinist position, reporting my immature perception of the doctrine, rather than a sophisticated explanation.

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, there are days when Pascal’s wager is the only thing that keeps me faithful. Sad, isn’t it? Yet it does keep me faithful so there is something positive there … at least in the desire to be faithful LOL.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13753776175726884530 Rowena Hullfire

    The greatest proclaimers of “pie in the sky when you die” are the Marxists, who wait in bread lines and suffer without meaning in this life, and haven’t seen pie in a long time.Let them eat pie!I didn’t sign up for merely afterlife bennies. There’s goodies in this life too. Joy!


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