6/07/2010 | Share this article:By Renoliz --
Heaven or Hell? Pick one or the other. These are your options. Dancing on streets of gold or roasting for all of eternity? Hmmmm. Sign me up for Heaven!
J.W. got me to thinking about the fact that when an evangelist shows up at your door, you are not given all of your options. You are certainly not given your options if you grow up in a household that believes in the Bible and God. You simply may not know there are other options available and you may not know what questions to ask.
You say, "Waiter."
"Sir/Madame," he replies.
"I didn't see that on the menu."
"Oh, that's not on our menu but there are other options if you know what to ask for."
Geez, you didn't know you could order off the menu!
So, maybe when the evangelist came to your door and asked, "Heaven or Hell?" it didn't occur to you to say, "Neither, I'll take the logical option that was not presented today." You didn't know there were more choices available. Really, if you grew up in a family that believes or even if your friends up the street believe, you are thinking, "Geez, okay, I know God is real. Heaven or Hell? I gotta go with Heaven!"
In my case, the preacher came to the door a few years back and Hubby wanted to get "saved". I didn't really think twice even though I hadn't "believed" in God or been to church in years. And I really had no idea we would be joining a brainwashing cult. I didn't care not did I ask, "What are my options?"
Pastor Butthead did not say, "Heaven and Hell are sometimes considered imaginary concepts by other people and groups. Also, when you join our church you will be under tremendous pressure to see things my way. You, as a woman, will give up your sense of self worth and well-being by becoming a second class citizen to your husband who will also give up his sense of self worth and well-being by submitting to my authority. By the way, many people consider us to be a cult much like the Hare Krishnas." If Pastor Butthead would have said it like that, I don't think we would have joined the church.
Every word written about Jesus was written long after the fact by people that never met Him. It all seemed so innocent. "We'll go to church because it's nice in church and we will meet nice people and learn more about God." We had preconceived notions, and not very well formed ones at that. Vaguely we knew that preachers are good and church people are nice and morality comes from the Bible. We didn't know nor did we care that we had options.
Now, if this was the Fourth of July Committee and you found you weren't suited to this calling, then you could just decide you wouldn't help out again next year. But once you are a Christian and you join a church it starts being all about Hell and damnation and Satan stalking you. God/Jesus is your redeemer and savior and you must worship and love Him. Once you are wrapped in the loving arms of God and the church, even though its warm embrace is strangling you, it is difficult to see that there are other choices.
Until you finally think to yourself, I have no choice. I must try to figure this mess out. I cannot go on like this. Don't think, don't ask questions, don't make a move or you'll be criticized. Am I turning into a poo-poo that really believes that everyone but us is going to Hell? Am I being forced into a role that I don't think is psychologically healthy? Is there any way to figure out this mess?
If you are like me,and a lot of you are, you start reading Christian apologetics. You read the Bible for yourself. You go on the Internet. You figure out there really are inconsistencies in the Bible even if Pastor Know-it-all says there isn't. You discover just how many versions of the Bible there are. You try to understand what the Bible really says in the original Greek.
Then you start looking at what other Christian groups think. And there is a mind boggling array of Christian groups, literally thousands of them. There are Mennonites, Lutherans, Roman Catholics, Amish, Episcopalians, numerous types of Baptists and Greek Orthodox and on and on and on. You go from Arminianism to Calvinism to Universalism. After awhile, maybe you figure out there is no Hell. God is not going to roast you or your family members or friends or anybody forever and ever and ever. There's a weight lifted off your shoulders.
Somewhere in this process you say, "What do you mean the Bible is all made up and the Jesus of the Bible never really existed?" Even the Christians think most of the words that have been attributed to Jesus in the New Testament, Jesus never spoke. Even the Christian and the Jews who are archaeologists admit there is virtually no evidence for the Bible stories to be found in the Middle East. Even the Christians admit that the Bible is a creation of a council of men ordered by the man, Constantine. Even learned Christian scholars admit that there were 42 authors during Jesus' time period and not one wrote single word about a man of miracles or even a great quake. Not one mention of the great events of the New Testament. Every word written about Jesus was written long after the fact by people that never met Him. So say the scholars, many of whom are believing Christians.
But a lot of you, just like me, having done a lot of soul searching and research on numerous topics and issues of Christianity, somewhere along the line you say, "What is there left to believe in?" Wow, that's it. There really are other choices. People can make these invisible gods of their religions into something but a figment of people's imagination cannot send me to Hell or Heaven or Nirvana.
And, finally, you order off the menu. I'll take the logical option. The option with no Heaven and no Hell. The option with no god.
You start extracting yourself from Biblegod. You try to figure out where it all went wrong. You see the abuse from the pulpit and the insanity of trying to figure out what God wants. God and Jesus and the Bible and Hell and religion are fading fast. Finally, there is nothing left of God. All that is left is is the wonderful/happy/sad/amazing/crazy/beautiful/difficult real world. And it feels good.
Many people can tell a story much like this one. And somebody figures it out for themselves everyday. I say, "Good for Us." So, whether your journey through Bible land was short or long: Congratulations! Congratulations for finding your way out of the maze of Christianity. Congratulations for figuring out that you have other options. Congratulations for finding the real world.