Saturday, August 20, 2005

Is ET a roadblock to non-believers?

Recently, a famous atheist, Anthony Flew, came out of the closet as a deist. This has a lot of Christians very excited. But, Mr. Flew is not a Christian and seems to have no plans to become one. When asked what holds him back from Christianity, Mr. Flew cited a few reasons. Here is a quote from the interview with Christianity Today:
“Of more significance, Flew detests any notion that a loving God would send any of his creatures to eternal flames. He cannot fathom how intelligent Christians can believe this doctrine. He even said in his debate with Terry Miethe that he has entertained the thought that the Creator should punish, though not endlessly, only those who defend the notion of eternal torment. On this matter, Flew is willing to entertain fresh approaches to divine justice. In fact, he had just obtained Lewis's book The Great Divorce in order to assess Lewis's unique interpretation on the topic of judgment.”

Full article: Christianity Today Article

We all know that G-d didn't guarantee us an easy path to the Kingdom. Yeshua turned off many would-be followers by HIs hard sayings. There are hard, brutal things in life. But, the fact that ECT (Eternal Conscious Torment) is such a hard thing for thinking, caring people to accept and understand should, at least give us pause when we ascribe this doctrine to G-d and go out and preach it as the “Good News”.

Just think about this illustration:

A man has a dog breeding business. He breeds puppy after puppy. He breeds from pedigreed stock and those turn out to be great dogs. He lavishes his attention and affection on these dogs giving them the best life possible. He trains and teaches these puppies and they grow up to be fine dogs.

At the same time, the man has breeding stock that constantly produces mad dogs. The man abuses these dogs giving them just enough food and water to keep them alive. He keeps them in the dark and only brings them out to punish them for being such horrible dogs.

When asked why the man keeps breeding the mad dogs, he says to show his fine skill as a breeder and so that the other dogs will realize just how special they are.
This is how I view Calvinism. Try explaining this doctrine to the man on the street and see how far he follows along with you.

Another illustration:

A man has several children. Many of them have grown up to be fine adults and the father has a wonderful relationship with them. He tried to have great relationships with all of his children. But, some just wouldn't listen to him. No matter what he tried, they went astray. When you visit him, he tells you about the children he has locked in the basement where they are tortured day in and day out. You find out the children are grown. When you ask why the man has them locked in the basement and why he continues to torture them, he says because when they were small they wouldn't listen to him. So, his plan is to keep torturing them forever because he is so offended by the things they did “to him” when they were younger.
I realize these are simplistic illustrations (and not very good ones). But, these are common sense views on how most people think of ECT. We've got the Calvinist god who creates defective creatures, blames them for their defects then keeps them alive just to torture them. We've got the Arminian god who loves all his creatures. He just can't control them. But, instead of putting them out of their misery, he too tortures them forever for their poor choices. I've read arguments for Calvinism (which I still seriously cannot understand) and I've read arguments for Arminianism (which I can at least listen to without wanting to vomit).

I've been told that any offense against an infinite being (G-d) merits infinite punishment. Wow. If this is true, I'd rather not have been born and face even the possibility of such a thing. This flies in the face of almost anyone's common sense of justice or fair play. You have to really make some theological leaps, twists and contortions to justify how any act or acts committed on Earth in a finite time with a finite understanding of what we are doing warrant Eternal (Unending) Conscious Torment.

These of course aren't arguments that prove that G-d doesn't torture some (or most of His creatures) eternally. He could. Hey, He's G-d. But, hopefully, if you believe in ECT, they will at least make you think about why G-d would do such a thing and what it really means.

1 comment:

Rev. Jeff Doc.Div. said...

Anyone ever get the old illustration about how Yeshua came to save all mankind but it was up to the individual folks to accept it in order to be saved?

The illistration went something like everyone had a certain type of sickness and there was only one doctor in the world who knew the cure and the cure was immediate and very simple. All one had to do was go see this doctor and they wouldn't be suffering anymore.

Well, while we were in blind subjection to theological systems of most churches teaching ET, this seemed all fine and dandy and a darn good illustration.

Think about this illustration from the non-believer's side and tell me if it's fair to them.

The doctor is a witch doctor that's going to smear dung on you and bathe you in blood and you've got to fly to Madagascar and travel through miles of dense jungle to see him. Everyone you know who said they were going were all a little loony anyway.

Get the picture?