muppet's wager

Correct me if I’m wrong, but did Jesus or his pop ever actually say all sins? He says that by believing, your sins are erased, so there is one unforgivable sin.

One caveat, IIRC, although your pardon occur after death, it’s based on your petitioning for it before. So if you forget to ask for the waver before you leave, you’re out of luck.

I’ve had people say that hell isn’t consistent with an all loving god. So what’s it going to be? An all loving god, or hell.
You seem to be basing the wager on the “all loving/all forgiving” notion of god. That’s only one interpretation. A vengeful god is also one. AND if there is a contradiction, why would it be resolved in our favor?
Looks like we need a ‘Dream Team’ of lawyers to work this out! :slight_smile:

dlb: You are correct on the gist of my wager. However, I don’t think I’m going about it in the way you describe. All I’m saying is either your sins are forgiven or they aren’t. If they are, great! Orgies all around! If they’re not, this house has a rotten foundation, whether a strong man with goods to plunder lives there or not. It rests on whether or not God is willing or able to forgive the sin of not believing in him. If unable, he is impotent, if unwilling, he is spiteful. Not to be a jerk about it, but that’s how I see it.

PosterChild: I think you’re right… he never did say all sins. Stupid humans just read into it whatever they want, but literally, at the very minimum, there are only 2 sins he forgives. It really is a crap shoot. I think the Hell+Loving God goes in the basket with gigi’s freewill+mercy, another thread. Also, it’s well established that hell has all the lawyers. Jesus/God doesn’t stand a chance.

But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Whoever believes in me will do the works which I have done. You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one. Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.

One who has been forgiven a little loves me only a little. I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.

Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.

To what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market places and calling to their playmates, ‘We piped to you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not mourn.’ But Wisdom is the mother of all her children.

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.

Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand.


I forgive God (and men for that matter)for not believing in me. That’s the only sin I’m interested in at the moment. Will he forgive me for not believing in him, as ridiculous as that sounds?


Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.


Excuse me for being a little slow, you’re going to have to spell out the relevancy here.

To what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market places and calling to their playmates, ‘We piped to you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not mourn.’ But Wisdom is the mother of all her children.

I think Jesus had a little better sense of humor than you do.

All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.

I seem to have misunderstood you earlier on this one. I thought you meant Commandments. I’d be happy to have a broader philosophical discussion, but this doesn’t really relate to the OP either. Just trying to stay on track here.

Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. **

I’ll try not to take this as a personal insult… yet.

But you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone!

Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.

I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me.

I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours.

I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.

If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love.

Not everyone who says to me, `Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.

Who is my mother, and who are my brothers? [Pointing to his disciples, he said] Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.

All right, I give, I’m lost. :confused:

Well done jay!

No implication whatever of your being a jerk; however, I think I did not sufficiently communicate my point. Forgiveness in a Christian context is not a legal process of being released from having violated a law, but a process of being restored in relationship to someone you love. It is hard to be restored in relationship to someone you don’t believe in.

In other words, in Christian theology forgiveness is a two step process. God holds out his hand and you have to grasp it. God is always, eternally willing to forgive you the sin of not believing in Him; however, you must be able to come to Him to accept the forgiveness.

A lot of this rests on the very conception of sin. In the Old Testament understanding, sin is violation of the Law. In Christian understanding, sin is separation from God. Now, in fact Christians believe that this is the same thing; to violate the Law is to separate yourself from God, but the point is that forgiveness is repairing the relationship, not just avoiding a penalty. Repairing a relationship is something that has to be done on both sides, not just one. A judge can release you from jail; both husband and wife have to repair a marriage.

And Satan has it in a nutshell!! (I’m quoting ** Satan **?!)

You will not be forgiven for any sin that you do not ask forgiveness of (and repent of, which goes further than asking forgiveness). It is ** not ** correct to say that sins are either forgiven or they’re not. All sins have the potential to be forgiven and not to be forgiven. God is not unwilling to forgive them, but if you don’t ask, you don’t get! That doesn’t mean the house has a rotten foundation, it’s just the rules of the game, for want of a better phrase, and it’s God’s game we’re playing, so He sets the ‘rules’. God has some steps for you to follow if you want to be forgiven. They’re not difficult, and you don’t have to follow them if you don’t want to. If you don’t want to, fair enough, but don’t call God spiteful just because you don’t want to accept the consequences of your choice. (Just to confuse things - the Bible does hint at one sin that ** cannot ** be forgiven, but, thankfully, we don’t actually need to go into that here to discuss the validity of muppet’s wager).

To follow up my quote from ** Satan **, standard Christian theology is (basically) that you have to ask to be forgiven - for any sin. If you don’t believe in God, why would you ask His forgiveness? If you don’t believe, you won’t ask, and you won’t be forgiven. If you do ask His forgiveness, then you don’t not believe in him (deliberate double negative), and therefore aren’t committing that sin!

The wager is therefore fundamentally unsound, and doesn’t stand up to logical, nevermind theological, examination. It may be useful for shutting up the less quick-witted Christians, but before you get too smug, just remember that they’re going to Heaven and you’re not! :wink:

(That was a joke BTW, in case I get flamed!)

dlb has it right. You don’t get to go to heaven because you followed the rules, you get to go to heaven because you love God and have expressed a desire to be with Him.

Here’s another analogy that you might find useful. God is like a really rich guy who offers you the choice of living with him in his mansion forever or living under a bridge forever. It is your choice. If you choose to live under a bridge, is the rich guy being spiteful if he lets you live under the bridge like you decided to do?

The meaning of this is that you have until you die to make a choice. The choice is to love God and live with Him, or to not love God and live in another place that is not as good.

When God talks of forgiving sins, he is saying that you can sin, but if you make the choice to love Him in the end, your sins will not be held against you and you will be allowed into heaven. If you make the choice to not love him in the end, then you don’t get to live with Him.

Furthermore, if God was just going to let everyone into heaven, why bother with the whole Earth thing?

Where on earth did you get the idea that God doesn’t believe in you? To not believe in something you created doesn’t make any sense.

So I showed Drain Bead this thread, and how I nicely summed up the problem with “Muppet’s Wager,” and what does she do? Throw in this monkey wrench:

What if you don’t believe, but every day faithfully say aloud, “Please forgive me for not believing in you. Oh, and all that other stuff you wouldn’t like if you really existed.”

She puts it, “hedging her bets.”

While the idea of talking to someone who you don’t think even exists may seem odd, human beings are capable of much stranger things than that. H. Ross Perot comes to mind.

So, is she saved?

I will not speak with you much longer, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold on me, but the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me.

If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.

If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. Now, however, they have no excuse for their sin. He who hates me hates my Father as well. If I had not done among them what no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. But now they have seen these miracles, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: `They hated me without reason.’

Father, everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.

My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.

Enough! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.

Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I sat in the temple courts teaching, and you did not arrest me. But this has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled.


This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

[To his disciples:]Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

[he exits, stage up]

(Afterword, by jmullaney: so, to make a long story short – the flaw in muppet’s wager is you don’t get the forgiveness unless you stop your wrong ways (i.e. repent) at least according to the Jesus which existed as the Bible says)

Nope, doesn’t count if you don’t mean it. At least as far as I know. And if you don’t believe, I find it hard to imagine that you mean what you are saying.

But jmull has it right. If you do mean it when you ask for forgiveness, then you will strive to not do it anymore. You may not always succeed, but so long as you are giving it your honest best.

It is not spite to refuse to set the unrepentant thief or murderer free.

What you treat as a “logical fallacy” in the Xtian faith is actually meant to be construed as a condition deliberately inserted by a careful, conscious, and personal God. You’re trying to catch God on your (fuzzy) interpretation of his rules. And they are–supposedly–his rules. Forgiveness isn’t just an automatic catch-all, but a thing given from person to person: from God to you.

Of course, it’s all Church propaganda, right? But as someone raised Xtian, I find your argument to be, well, specifically refuted by the same authority which claims to grant you forgiveness. Better you figure out what the true religion is & try to convert the Xtians (that’ll scare 'em) then just look for loopholes in their power-structure’s self-serving mythology.

What, precisely, does she not believe in? A boogey man told her by a Sunday School teacher? A set of logical propositions? In what form does she meet the Lord of the Universe on a daily basis?

Let me put it this way. I feel much better about the soul of an “atheist” who refuses to believe in a “hell and damnation” God that he was confronted with in his youth (and that he cannot shake as an adult), but who consistently and faithfully searches for what is true and loving, than I do for the nominal Christian that preaches everyone who does not belong to his cult is damned to eternal hellfire and that it is proper and Godly to go out and beat homosexuals to death. Much, much better.

As a Christian, I believe that God is a reality. If someone follows Him and uses some other words to say so, the reality is what counts. Doctrinal differences are less than nothing; doctrine and religion are supposed to help the relationship, not the other way around. If doctrine gets in the way of the relationship, doctrine should be jettisoned.

I suppose my best image is at the end of “The Last Battle”, the final book of the Narnia series by C.S. Lewis. An enemy soldier kneels before Aslan, wondering why he has been accepted when some Narnian soldiers have not. Aslan replies that good actions, even if done in the name of Tash, were counted as done for Him, and evil actions, even if done in the name of Aslan, were counted as done for Tash. What matters is the reality, not the words.

‘Someday’ came sooner that I thought…

You’re right, this is the crux of it. This is what leaves pretty much everything open to interpretation, almost to the point of everyone being right, no matter what.

I have to disagree here. The ‘choice’ you speak of is not really any kind of choice at all. It’s the equivalent of a street mugging: believe in me… or else! I think a good example can be found here. The point of an unforgivable is at the heart of muppet’s wager. If there is one, it falls. If there is not, it holds. As I see it, the problem is not that it cannot stand up to logic, as much as that trying to argue Christian theology logically is rather like arguing ethics with a politician, there is so much illogic built into it. And of course, it won’t stand up to a theological argument, because its not the kind of thing a theologian wants to hear.
Whenever I have these kinds of discussions with my Christian friends, they are constantly having to run back and ask the pastor, so obviously less-quick-witted Christians are the only ones I know, outside of the SDMB, and I appreciate all of you restoring my faith (no pun intended) when it comes to this.

jmullaney had said something to the effect that I’m not forgiven until I forgive others. So I forgave his disbelief in me in hopes he would return the favor. Sounds silly to me too, but apparently that’s a rule.

It is spite if you told him you were letting him free and then never do, just as it is impotence to want to let him out but be unable to.

The only ‘logical fallacy’ I pointed out was jmullaney’s use of Jesus’ ‘either/or fallacy’. If that is what you are referring to, I’m deeply disappointed the the Supreme Creator of Everything doesn’t see the error in undermining the intelligence he created.

The wager seems to be more of a musing on God’s omnipotence.

Like: Could God create a rock so heavy he couldn’t lift it?

Except Muppet’s saying: Is there a sin so great that even God–the ultimate forgiver–can’t forgive it?

It just points out the absurdity of the concept of omnipotence in any form, and, to me, begs the more important question of why God is such a poor, sadistic craftsman that he would make inherently flawed creatures and then torture the most badly broken ones for all eternity. If he can do anything, why didn’t he make people that didn’t f*** up?

But that’s just me. :slight_smile:

OK, I think I’m seeing something here…

muppet, your whole thing seems to be that God promised everyone unconditional forgiveness. I’m not sure that’s true, it’s a conditional forgiveness. You are forgiven if you are truly repentent in your earthly lifetime.

Whether that makes God spiteful and petty…that’s your opinion, I don’t think it does. But I think your whole wager rests on your assumption of unconditional forgiveness, when that isn’t the case.

By the by, IIRC, some Catechism teacher told me blasphemy is an unforgivable sin, so that might also cut a hole in the wager. I’m just not sure that’s actually correct.

Yes, I think that’s what I’m getting at. Jesus died to forgive your sins, or he didn’t. Not a couple, not all but one, all of them. If blasphemy is an unforgivable sin, it surely does cut a pretty big freakin’ hole out of the premise, but if I was going to choose one denominations interpretation of things, it definitely wouldn’t be the Catholics’.

I’m assuming you didn’t mean that as a slight against my religion, but what’s wrong with the Catholic interpretation of things?

But what about the earlier point being that it is not an unconditional forgiveness, but instead a conditional forgiveness? That you have to choose to be forgiven.