Alright. I’m going to make absolute certain I say this on the front end because I don’t want anyone blowing me up over this. I struggle with religion. I haven’t always, but lately I’ve been a lot more introspective about it and have come up with some concerning questions. So let me make that clear – I am NOT knocking religion, and I’m not disrespecting it, so please don’t interpret it that way. All I’m doing is voicing my thoughts and my questions. If that offends you, I invite you to read the other billion blogs on this website rather than my own. Here’s a good one to start with that might be more inviting: https://merndaj.wordpress.com/
Anyway, I had to get that out of the way. So I was raised Catholic. After I got confirmed in 8th grade, I started going to a Church of Christ (my high school sweetie was CoC). After moving to West Virginia following college, I attended a Southern Baptist church. So I’ve had my share of different perspectives.
Here’s the issue I have. At least the main one. According to what I’ve been taught, you HAVE to believe in God and Jesus as the son of God in order to gain entry to Heaven.
Sounds reasonable, right? I mean if he creates us, I suppose that’s a logical rule to make. But what about the other people? I know this is a super old topic, but put some serious thought into this. Let’s use Mother Teresa as an example.
Here we have arguably one of history’s greatest humanitarians. An extraordinary human being, for all intents and purposes. Well, what if she was Buddhist? According to Christian doctrine…she goes to Hell. Is that REALLY fair? I presume most people are going to say one of two things:
One: well Matt, she wasn’t Buddhist. I guess that’s a fair statement. But are you telling me that there aren’t people out there in the world who are GOOD people, but not Christians? People who contribute to humanity, who genuinely have the right intentions, but follow a different belief system. If you can honestly believe that, then I hate to say this – but you’re wrong. Get mad all you want, but you’re wrong. I know dozens of incredible people who are of all sorts of different faiths. And I mean good by universal standards, not just my own. So if that’s your argument, then I would encourage you to be more open-minded and expand your ability to critically think.
The second thing most people say to this is that God saves those who deserve to be saved according to his standards. Well, I hate to say this, but no one on the planet ASKED to be created. Why do they have to live according to someone else’s standards? That would be like me cloning a bunch of dogs, and then condemning the ones who I thought didn’t live by my rules. Well what if some of them didn’t want to look cute and fuzzy? What if they wanted to play with cats instead of other dogs (I’m not a cat person…so to hell with you dog!). That just doesn’t seem right, does it? It’s the same concept with God. I know we’re conditioned to believe its taboo and inappropriate to question these things…but if we can’t question them, what kind of invention are we in the first place? As entities, I mean. If we aren’t allowed to question things, we’re essentially glorified slaves.
So I guess that’s my primary concern. I find it very difficult to be okay with the fact that one of my closest friends is going to be rotting in fiery brimstone simply because he chose a different path. So if anyone has a solution to this that could ease my mind, I’m all ears.
Perhaps my mother’s recent passing has made me resentful of God. I’m the first to admit that. And that very well may be the case – but that one issue has always bugged me.
The sad thing about what I’m about to say next is that I KNOW it’s going to turn people off. At least in their perception of me. Which really sucks, because I can’t help how I think. Believe me, if I could I would. But in all honesty, I feel like I’m slowly drifting down a path of losing my faith. I just can’t stomach the hypocrisy and counter-intuitive concepts I’ve noticed.
As I said at the beginning…it’s clear I’m struggling with all of this. If I could make it vanish, I’d do it in a heartbeat. I guess sometimes ignorance really is bliss.
2 thoughts on “Struggles with the Man”
Thank you so much for such an impassioned response. I really did appreciate your candor. I even linked your comment yesterday to some friends who have helped me through all this to get their thoughts.
At the ground level, all of this thought process is stemming from the question of whether or not my mother still exists. I want to believe that she does, so so badly. But my constantly tormenting mind keeps butting in and tells me that I need to discover proof. Which is my ultimate problem, I suppose. What is “proof”? I think that’s where I’m stuck. To me, reality is what I can physically perceive. And that might be my issue. Maybe there’s something that I simply don’t comprehend at work that’s the driving force of everything.
In any case, again, I sincerely thank you for your comment. It was well received.
My name is Jonathan and I have come across this blog post and felt your sincerity warranted a reply. We do have some things in common, namely the loss of our mothers, our exposure to various biblical and even spiritual perspectives (I was raised and confirmed in a Lutheran church, studied various East Asian religions in college, read parts of the Bhagavad Gita and the Quran, all before truly coming to faith in Christ and being saved at a Pentecostal/Full Gospel revival meeting in Texas in 2015!), and then we have both lived in West Virginia (go mountaineers!). I just want to say that I am in no way being critical of your questions or condemning you for asking them, this is simply my heartfelt response.
To your first point about having to believe in Christ in order to gain entry into Heaven. I would contend that us gaining entry into Heaven was never God’s intended purpose for sending Christ and if that is the focus of our faith then we have lost sight of Christ and what He did. There are many doctrines being taught in the Christian church today that have been very effective at muddying the waters, so to speak. A vast majority of Christians today believe that Christ died to forgive us of our sins (God had already been forgiving sin since the creation), that He died to take our place or take our punishment (thus implying that God was demanding we be punished or that we pay some debt which is unfounded in scripture and also implies that God and Christ were somehow at odds with each other), that He died to save us from Hell, which is also responsible for the once saved always saved doctrine (He died to save us from sin), that He died so that we could go to Heaven (a result of having lived our life on Earth in union with God). The truth is that Jesus THE Christ died to take away our sins that we might be made a new creation, holy and acceptable before God, that we might be restored as His original creation (Adam and Eve prior to the fall). The purpose of Christ was reconciliation to God that we might have a personal relationship with Him. A personal relationship that can not exist when sin is still in the equation. The symbolism of the veil being torn at Christ’s crucifixion is so often overlooked.God desires to have fellowship with us!
When we understand Heaven in the context of relationship then everything changes. Allow me to use an analogy. Say you knocked on the door of the nicest, most expensive home in the country and a guy answered the door and you said, “Excuse me, I’m moving in with you because I’m a good person.” What would expect him to say? He would probably say no right? He would say I don’t even know who you are…
The argument of good people coming to a terrible fate is difficult to understand. The idea that there are people out there, like you mentioned, that have such a passion for humanity and helping others but because they don’t believe then they will go to Hell. You mentioned being “good by universal standards,” but ultimately those are the standards of man. There is scripture that speaks of the wisdom of man being as foolishness to God. I wonder what more the good of man would amount to in God’s eyes. What about being good by God’s standards? (I know you responded to this in your post) God’s standard for being good is living without sin. Living a holy life. This is where false doctrines really cloud the mind. When we believe that Christ only forgives us of sin and we can continue to live however we want because of grace then we start to run into problems. Christ died to make us holy. The unfortunate truth is that no matter how seemingly “good” people might be, they are still separated from God by their sin. And we understand that no matter how hard we try we can not defeat sin by our works, it’s simply impossible. Even living by the Law is not enough to make people holy. This was the purpose of Christ.
I know this particular point was not made in your post but it is often used and it does relate. Why would God send good people to Hell? The truth is that God is not sending anyone to hell but that we as people will send ourselves there. God is not willing that any should perish! He has given us the answer in Jesus The Christ, His answer, but it is up to us to believe Him and accept it by faith.
You mention having to live by God’s standards. And that we didn’t ask to be created. I would argue the exact opposite point. We don’t HAVE to live by God’s standards, in fact the vast majority of the world doesn’t. We can actually do whatever we want to do because God did NOT make us slaves. He gave each and every one of us free will to make our own decisions and decide what we want to believe out of His love for us. If He had created all of us and made it mandatory for us to love and respect and seek Him, that would be a creation made into slavery. Love that is forced is not actual love and God knew and understood that.
What we must come to terms with is that God did give us an answer. He gave us a way. Too often Christians are criticized for being narrow minded. Why does it have to be the Christian’s way or no way at all? Allow me to us an analogy again (sorry I like analogies lol) Say we are still talking about that beautiful, expensive house from before and you have spoken to the guy that lives there and he is giving you directions how to get to his house. “Go down the road 7 miles and hang a right, go another 3 miles and take a left, follow that for 11 miles and you’ll come to a dead end but my house is there on the right. That is the only way to get to my house, no other roads lead here!” I’m sure you already know where I am going with this. The point is that we are not at liberty to decide how to get there. We can ignore those directions but in doing so we will get lost. The beauty of God is that He doesn’t force us to do anything. He simply responds to our hearts. If we seek Him then we will find Him, but we have to take that step of faith.
Losing a loved one is a very trying and confusing time and it’s difficult to make sense of God and what is really going on so I offer my condolences and prayers to you in your loss. My own personal understanding of this is that too often we tend to blame God for the awful terrible stuff in our lives that happens to us and then fail to give Him any glory or credit when great stuff happens to us. God ends up being our punching bag. The reality is that Satan came to kill, steal and destroy and that God does not will that any should perish! Too often we accuse God of doing things that Satan is actually responsible for. We have misplaced anger and frustration. I pray that that doesn’t come between you and God.
I will be praying for you Matt and if you have any questions or concerns I encourage a reply. I apologize for the shorthand nature of this post, if you are wanting scripture references to anything that I’ve stated I would be happy to find those for you. Also, if you would like any reading materials I would love to send you some books.
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