Tuesday, November 27, 2007

God Is Better Than I Am

One reason I’m vaguely universalist is that I believe God loves people more than I do. Also, since I try to take seriously Jesus’ teachings on love and compassion, there are very few people I believe deserve to spend eternity in the fiery pit of hell. Hence, if God’s grace is more abundant than my own (and it most certainly had better be) it stands to reason that an awful lot of people are going to make the cut and get into heaven.

Sure, people are often selfish, wrong-headed, lazy, incompetent, and egotistical. But does that mean they deserve to be condemned for all eternity? I don’t personally know a single person who is unquestionably evil - someone I’d be happy to see in infinite, unbearable pain. There may be murderers, child molesters and conservative radio hosts who deserve eternal damnation, but I don’t happen to know them personally.

I also cannot imagine a loving God throwing entire religionfuls of people into a sulfurous lake of fire, simply because they don’t acknowledge Jesus as divine. If God is to cleave the saved from the doomed, I would think he would care a lot more about behavior than belief.

I know it is not for me to judge, but that’s the point isn’t it? I have to believe God would do a better job than I would. If God is truly our creator, I would guess he loves humans even more than I love my own children. There is very little my own children could do to deserve eternal damnation from me, although if they don’t stop bickering at each other soon, I just might threaten it, again.

So, I’m guessing almost everyone gets into heaven. And even the bad ones, like evil dictators and sugar plantation owners, should probably just lose their consciousness forever. Otherwise, it seems like revenge, which is the kind of thing I or my fellow humans might be tempted to engage in, not an all-loving and grace-filled God.


Robert Sievers said...


Perhaps you should teach your children not to be concerned about social agenda. After all, even if they act maliciously, they will probably still make it to heaven, and their life here can be more happy and worry free.

Here is a teaching of Jesus. DO you believe it? Matt 7:13-14 "Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.

Dan S said...

Hey Bob,

I'm not seeing how acting maliciously will make my kids happy and worry free. It seems like quite the opposite to me.

But, the question is good - why behave well if there is no reward for it? I would challenge that though - there are rewards for doing the right thing - better relationships, better community, a better earth, etc. If the only reason someone does good deeds is the promise of heaven or the threat of hell, I would bet God would see through that as fairly manipulative. So, the main reason to do the right thing is that it is God's will, and the right thing to do.

Also, I do think Jesus' words are wise. It is easy to find ways to live that are destructive, and hard to live in a totally life-affirming way.

I also note that he doesn't say you have to be Christian to enter through the narrow gate. :)

Robert Sievers said...


I agree that motivations matter. Trying to do right out of desire for reward is quite misguided. (See Acts 8:18-22) However, I didn't choose my words well. I think it is much more comfortable living a life of apathy than a life of sacricrice.

As for the quote of Jesus, we will deal with different religions next. The first question is do you believe his teaching that the gate is narrow. If you don't even believe that, there isn't any point going forward.

Dan S said...

A friend of mine sent me a link to a recent writing from the Pope here. The quotes he highlighted for this post are good ones:

Pope Benedict is not proposing a facile hope in heaven undoing injustices of life on Earth. Indeed, this is where he brings in Dostoyevsky. The Pope asserts that "the last Judgment is not primarily an image of terror, but an image of hope". A world without God is a world without hope, and "God is justice".

With justice comes grace, yet "grace does not cancel out justice. It does not make wrong into right. It is not a sponge which wipes everything away, so that whatever someone has done on Earth ends up being of equal value. Dostoyevsky, for example, was right to protest against this kind of Heaven and this kind of grace in his novel The Brothers Karamazov. Evildoers, in the end, do not sit at table at the eternal banquet beside their victims without distinction, as though nothing had happened."

In answer to your question, yes, the gate to living a fully faithful life is narrow . I'm not sure anyone can really do it.

All I'm saying is that I don't believe failing at being faithful translates to eternal damnation, because God's grace is bigger than that.

Robert Sievers said...

dan said "yes, the gate to living a fully faithful life is narrow"

That wasn't the gate Jesus was referring to.

dan said "All I'm saying is that I don't believe failing at being faithful translates to eternal damnation"

But faithfult to what? That is the question. If I am a faithful axe murderer, so what? Does faith in any religion, even Satanism, good enough? If not, which ones count, and which would you exclude?

Dan S said...

There must be something wrong with blogspot's email forwarder - I didn't see your latest comment Bob until now, because it wasn't forwarded like usual... Oh well.

By faithful, I mean faithful to what God wants us to do and believe in life, not Satanism, or axe murderering, etc. We will all fall short of that faithfulness in our own ways.