Thursday, December 11, 2008
I'm still working on a post which compares the authoritarian ex-bishops who now claim the protection of the Primate of the Province of the Southern Cone of the Americas with cult leaders, but it's a complicated subject and I want to do it right.
HOWEVER, while I was walking to the church this morning I was listening, once again, to a podcast of This American Life about the Rev. Carlton Pearson. He was a big star in the Charismatic/Fundy/Evangelical Protestant Christian world. Then he started preaching that there was no hell, that Jesus died for EVERYONE, and that everyone was saved by Jesus' sacrifice. He started preaching the Gospel of Inclusion, which has resulted in his being declared a heretic by those who once sang his praises (yeah, being declared a heretic by spittle-flecked, fundy heretics must be hell!) and his mega-church lost many members. Now his congregation is meeting in an Episcopal church (so you KNOW he's in trouble!).
I grew up in the Assemblies of God church, and I was saved some twenty-five times. I wasn't so much worried about Eternal Damnation in the Fires of Hell, as I realized at a young age that one was supposed to end up in hell when one was dead, and, since one was dead, one didn't have a body, so how the heck were the fires of hell supposed to hurt? I mean, what exactly were they going to burn? This was not the kind of questions encouraged in that particular faith tradition. No, I wasn't worried about hell, I was worried about being left behind in the Rapture. THAT was my motivation for getting saved so many times!
Personally, I don't think that the fear of hell should be the motivating factor in one's faith. I believe that one should decide to have that change of mind and heart and follow God's way instead of one's own way because it is the right thing to do and because things certainly go better for one when one tries to treat others with love and kindness. While following God's way instead of one's own way because one doesn't want to burn for all eternity in a lake of fire may work for some, it seems to me that such motivation really doesn't work for most people. A fear of being punished is more of an authoritarian mind-set, along with the desire to inflict punishment. Having been influenced heavily by Origen, I have problems believing that a Loving God is really into punishing everyone.
So, I want to know: how many of our Gentle Readers' faith is motivated by a fear of Eternal Damnation? If an eternity spent with weeping and gnashing of teeth is not what brought about your conversion, what IS the motivating factor in your faith? Talk to da Padre in the Comments.
I See You!
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