Christians, how do you justify that God is not a total prick?

Having a conversation with a friend last night. He was telling me about his daughter and how he had to explain to her the he personally doesn’t believe in God; but if she wants to believe in God like her mother; there’s nothing wrong with that.

The daughter didn’t quite take this piece of advice as well as he thought. She started to get upset to the point of tears because she thought her dad was going to hell. He was able to console her by (his words) lying to her and telling here that “God gives a free pass to family members.” (Or something to that effect. I can’t remember verbatim.)

But seriously, let’s just say for the moment that the Christian bible IS true. How do you get over the fact that God will make [anybody burn in hell for enterinty who doesn’t belive in him or accept Jesus as their saviour? Even if said people have been good people their whole lives?

Isn’t that a total prick move?

Am I outdated? Do people still subscribe to the eternal damnation thing?

I don’t.

Moving thread from IMHO to Great Debates.

Let’s just not.

Why do you single out Christians? Aren’t Moses and Abraham and Allah and Muhammed and Khrisna total pricks too? And have you ever studied Nordic mythology? Now there are some dubious gods for you.

I don’t believe this for one second. No one I personally (IRL) discuss religion with believes it either. Just one data point.

As far as Krishna goes, one of the basic tenets of Hinduism is that all religions reflect the same basic truth. And you don’t burn in hell for not accepting Krishna (or, more importantly Vishnu, or Shiva, or Brahma) as your personal savior.

Because that is the topic of this thread? You are free to start threads on the prickworthyness of other religions if you wish, but the OP is under no obligation to do so here.

Brilliant observation. Or not. I never said he was obliged to do anything, I’m examining the conditions of the OP better to address the topic. Is he only interested in input from Christians, or is he also interested in input from other religions.

Either you accept the premise that you can’t judge God and what he does is by definition right or you don’t.

Being a good guy on earth is irrelevant. It’s not about good works. It’s about acknowledging that God handed mankind Eden and man said “fuck you, God”. So God decided to give man a second chance, incarnate in human flesh, and accept the punishment for Original Sin in that flesh. All he asks is that man acknowledge and accept that sacrifice.

It’s all about heaven. What happens on earth is mostly beside the point. Oh, it’s a good idea to toe the line, but acknowledging Christ as the path to God/Heaven is the key.

It’s not for man to wonder about justice for others in God’s sight. Man has enough on his plate just avoiding temptation and keeping his eye on the Jesus ball.

(I’m not a Christian, but I’ve been through the process.)

Moses, Abraham and Muhammed aren’t Gods. And as far as I can tell, the ancients never thought the Norse gods nor the Greek gods were anything like omnibenevolent. Hell, they shtupped anything that moved. In Christianity, as I understand it, you are supposed to say God loves you right after he kills your entire family.

Here is what Jesus actually said:

So, four things to note. First, the sheperd in the parable does not turn any sheep into a goat or vice versa, nor has the ability to do so. The sheperd only looks at each animal and determines whether it is a sheep or a goat. So the parable does not imply that Jesus will choose who is going to go into each group, but only that he will label members of each group correctly.

Second, the criteria which distinguishes the two groups is not having faith in Jesus Christ, but rather providing for the specific physical and other needs of those who were needy.

Third, members of both groups (or presumably some of the members of both groups) will be surprised by the fact that they ended up in that group.

Fourth, the nature of the punishment is not told. We are only told that it is eternal, so in other words God has provided separate places where those who choose to spend eternity with God will be able to do so, and those who choose to spend eternity apart from God will be able to do so.

Hell and eternal damnation are one of those areas that every different sect has a different take on it, and every single congregation has THEIR spin on what they sect says, and then everyone in the congregation has THEIR personal interpretation.

Some will state that without personally accepting Christ as your savior, you are hell-bound.
Some will define hell as being without Christ’s love.
Some take the “My Father’s Mansion has many rooms” to mean that there is room for everyone.
Some take the tact of “I don’t know if there are other ways to heaven, but I DO know that accepting Christ’s gift is A way to heaven.”
Many like to sing a hymn of “They will know us by our Love” - implying that acts on earth SHOW that you have accepted Christ. It is not the acts that matter, but the acts are a form of proof that you are going down the right path.

So, yeah, there are some out there stating that you are hell bound for various reasons. While marketing and sales strategy certainly emphasizes the value of the “Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt” pitch, I prefer a more loving pitch if someone asks me about my church.

We have to be clear about what “true” means here since strict semantic truth won’t work. We can’t even imagine it’s true in that sense–since the thing has several contradictory statements in it.

Trying to ignore that problem, though, I can still say the Christian scriptures don’t clearly say or imply that anyone goes to a tormented afterlife forever.

Passages that use the word “eternal” or the phrase “forever and ever” may seem to say otherwise–but there are both translational issues and issues of interpretation internal to the context of the passages.

The translational issue is–it turns out, as far as I can tell, that the greek word Aionios and phrase “Aion tas aionios” are often used in Greek from around that time to mean either simply “divine” or “a very long stretch of time.” “Aion” meaning “forever” apparently came later than Biblical greek.

The context and interpretation issues are several, but one of the most saliant is that a careful reading of Revelation seems to show that the Lake of Fire exists only during one phase of the world-history laid out in that work. Later on there seems to be a progression toward a more fully redeemed creation. There’s supposed to be “no more death” and “no more pain” once God “makes his dwelling with man”–which seems to imply that the Lake of Fire (a place constituted by death and pain) will be no more.

That’s all interpreting Revelation possibly much more literally than was ever intended in the first place.

Various other scriptures say things like “God is the saviour of all men” and “God will be all in all” etc, all of which are in serious tension with the notion that anyone will suffer hellish torment for eternity.

I agree with the logical point the OP is making–a God who is responsible for the torment of non-believers forever and ever is, indeed, a giant prick.

ETA: Years ago when I took the formal doctrinal aspect of religion seriously I threw my lot in with these guys (Christian Universalists). Got me in big trouble with my family too, let me tell you. Anyway, those days are past.

The standard response is of course:

“We cannot know the mind of God.”

But not even 5 mins later you’ll hear:

“God loves us and wants what is best for us.”

Calling the whole “you’re all sinful and going to hell unless you worship me” model a “prick move” is putting it lightly. What we’re looking at, if true, is one of the most depressing realities possible. A celestial totalitarian dictatorship that we can never escape, not even in death. Makes Big Brother look like an amateur.

To answer your second question first, a Christian would say that nobody has “been good their whole life.” Every single person in history has had their moments of failing, when you didn’t do what you ought to have done (or did what you oughtn’t). Everyone has hurt someone else at some time when it wasn’t necessary, or taken what wasn’t theirs, or dealt with someone dishonestly. So the idea of “people who have been good people their whole lives” is fiction. That’s a pretty universal Christian doctrine and comes straight out of the bible.

The question is really, do imperfect people who don’t believe in Jesus deserve to go to hell, and do they in fact go there? And there is a spectrum of beliefs on these questions. Most US Evangelicals and Fundies will say yes to both questions. They would say that by rejecting God in this life, they have chosen for themselves. God does not make people go to hell; people choose to go there. One writer (Lewis maybe?) said Hell is God’s way of saying to us “thy will be done.”

However, a good case can be made, Biblically, that Jesus’ death on the cross provided salvation for all. All, as in, everyone. Those who know Christ are getting a taste of the Kingdom of God here and now, but eventually all people will come to know Him. Hell is a place reserved for the devil and his angels.

If God wants to justify her ways to a person or people, then she is welcome to do so, I won’t do so without being paid my hourly rate and without open communications with the client.

Now if God wants me to justify my ways to him, well, I’ll take that pro se.

Seriously, if insurance companies won’t indemnify for acts of God, then why should God explain the acts of your run of the mill asshole or the laws of physics? You work for God, God does not work for you. You follow God’s commandments to treat other people correctly. How the universe and its various instrumentalities treat you is above our pay grade. See Book of Job.

…andas usual, the number or non-Christians answering in a thread like outnumbers Christians 20 to 1. Take out all the fun of trying to particiapte in it.

Posted by: ITR champion:

How do you know that’s what Jesus actually said? Did you hear him say it?


Bottom line: even if He’s the biggest prick in the universe, He’s still the man. It doesn’t matter if it makes sense or not; it’s not for us to question or understand, our part is merely to obey (or not).