Hi Rachel, If I may inject my own perspective here, I am going to address some of the points you made here https://johnadavid.wordpress.com/2012/08/16/will-god-not-accept-us-in-his-kingdom-if-we-sin-as-christians/#comment-72,
I am going to break it down. It is going to be a long post. I think we should go step by step. Lets define what we are addressing. In this post, I am talking about sin, the average joe, Hitler and forgiveness. How God treats sinners and the things related to it. Next we’ll move to confession, repentance, being sorry and being saved. I think the below should be enough to be digested first, through and through and then we will proceed forward. I would appreciate if you can keep your thoughts to the points I have discussed, we will get on with the others a little later.
I am not asking you to to accept theism as truth but namely that what are your thoughts on the following?
- Is any thought new to you? in the sense that you can treat something in a new light perhaps?
- In your opinion would it make sense, up-till the point that I have discussed; and what will be your objections to any logical explanations below?
What I am NOT looking for is:
- emotional appeals to what seems unjust by any non-theistic perspective
- hasty conclusions.
- A one liner which says “I dont believe in your sky daddy so all of this is crap.” OR God is a hypocrite because he let murderers in his place but not gays. ;). Please I am well aware of these and I can tell right now, and further down in the post I’ll demonstrate why it is wrong. That this is more assumption on misinformation, faulty logic and less exploring; if you explore more and assume less you would not accuse me of something I do not hold to.
Hope you understand my concerns. I am asking you to judge the following rationale, not based on our world view or bias, but on pure logic, within the framework I have given you. You don’t have to agree with me, just what you think about it and if it makes some sense?
It might seem superficial to you Rachel, but confession of sins, is not the stamped ticket to heaven. It gets put that way but really that is not the reason why anybody should go to heaven, no murderer, pedophile, rapist or homosexual is going to heaven because he confessed. Neither these people are going to hell for not confessing. There are somethings in your posts, which to me are mis-representations of what my faith holds to. But it is either because of your misunderstanding, lacking a context or simply because that is what you have heard from Christians at rallies, on the T.V, in church, on the street or the internet and therefore you treat their stance on things with an air of authenticity by their teachings. However bad religion has caused much of the confusion. Sometimes the true message never gets out. I am not saying that everything you ever heard was wrong but may be some of them were wrong, some of them were not fully explained, and some were explained wrongly or in a bad way. Some were human ideas with an air of authority, such as they might have been treated by Christians as they would treat scriptural authority. I have been a victim of religion like this and I can tell you first hand that the consequences are nothing short of disastrous.
My explanation of the following is not to have you agree with me, Rachel. I expect you won’t side by me on the theistic perspective and for what its worth I don’t want you to agree even if my explanation has some logic to it. But I really would like you to understand the justification of what our faith says and why it works within the limits of our framework. So you may know what the scriptures say and what they do not. And while you can obviously observe people for being hypocritical, you will see that it is not God behind them causing the fierce outcry.
And before we go further, I am going to go out on a limb here and say this, that I personally believe a lot Homosexuals might be saved, a lot of liars, a lot of cheaters, even some murderers too.
Why I believe this? there is sufficient reason and it comes from the scriptures too.
First of all we need to define somethings in order to continue.
What is sin?
The lack of virtue or the capability of being virtuous in perfection. Virtue in its essence is pure goodness but pure goodness is not the equivalent of good behavior. Not in the classical theistic sense of the word.
Consider this, take a paper and draw a circle by hand using no geometrical tools, now you might not be able to draw a perfect circle but you will draw something which might look like a circle in the loose definition of the word but geometrically would not be considered what you may call a full or perfect circle. Being good without having the essence of virtue is the same. People can be good without being virtuous and so they may look like virtuous but they are not, not in the perfect sense of the word. Because like the circle you drew by your own hand, these people have some problems. Your hand drawn circle, looks like a circle but it has a few rough edges, some indented line of force which did not end the way it was supposed to. So are the people, who by their own selves and efforts are somewhat mixed, good and bad together. I have truly seen no one, who does not have the same traits of a hand drawn circle which is not perfectly drawn on some side. No person is truly good in every way, would you agree? We are good but we have some bad in us too, whether that bad is murder in thought or a simple lie, it is because we lack perfection in goodness. A bad act is caused by having a bad thought even if the act itself is missing, the thought only came because there was something missing for us to be truly incorruptible, unless its not by our own doing.
God is not a hypocrite nor are the scriptures, ah but yes, people can be hypocrites, because to us our bad behavior sounds less offensive then someone else’s. Consider a christian who cheats on his wife and calls an atheist, a sinner. Or a man who feels hatred towards his neighbor and gives charity to the poor. Or consider a man who divorces his wife wrongly to marry another but has also adopted a child. Can you see, some bad, some good.
Now imagine this, you lie sometimes in the capacity of a normal human being, I am Hitler and I kill 6million Jews, and the christian right next to me cheats on his wife, the gay man across the street is watching porn, a lady is beating 3 year old daughter for wetting her bed, a drug addict is injecting himself with what will be his last dose of heroine. A priest is having pedophile desires, a rapist is being overwhelmed by his urges and he realizes he soon has to go out and do something. A con is hatching a plot to rob a jewelry store. A man is sending his son to child labor. An Indian women is being burnt alive with her deceased husband according to the ritual of Sati, by the local community. Kim Jong-il of orders a mass massacre, Americans drops the A-bombs on Japan, Al-Qaeda hits the twin towers, a suicide bomber attacks a public place. A mosque is set on fire, a church is stoned, in the Tiananmen Square tanks run over students protesting against the Chinese government, Vietnamese women and children are being napalmed but the men doing so are awarded medals and the stars.
What do you think all of these people have in common. True, their acts vary widely on the spectrum, some seem much worse, some are self destroying, some are of limited loss than compared to the rest. Some were done in the line of duty, some were done because of bad habits. But all of these people, have one thing in common, they lack the virtue of being completely good and so they are sinners. Note, I am not counting them sinners by their acts but by their incapability to not be bad, whether that bad is great or small, is of a little consequence here and is irrelevant.
Bad is bad, whether that is a simple lie or murder or genocide. They have the same essence just like any particular ingredient in cooking has a certain essence of smell to it. Whether it is a strong one of a subtle one, is a of no consequence. It is like if I say “Chocolate is bad”. then you eating dark chocolate or white chocolate, has no bearing on the argument that chocolate in its essence, is bad.
The same is with sinners, Christian faith and forgiveness has nothing to do with what you have done but rather your inability to be perfect good. And it sees sinners not on their actions but rather their corrupt nature which is not complete good (remember, corrupt is corrupt, whether it is in lying or in murder). Bad acts do not produce sin or the lack of virtue…but rather it is the lack of goodness which produces bad acts.
When you hear words like, stealing is sin or homosexuality is in, the people saying such things more often do not even understand the full meanings and methodologies of how they came to use the words in their present sense and the philosophical blunders they might be giving away, unintentionally at times too.
My cousin is a drug addict and when I tried talking him out of it, he reasoned with me that as long as his addiction is “under his control” and not harming him fatally, why should it be wrong?
You see while I think it is crappy reasoning, one can not see the blunder being made, that somehow his drugs – as long as they don’t physically harm him, are “not bad” and then somehow them being not bad to him physically, is equal to them “being good” for him too – so he keeps on doing it. He fails to realize that drug addiction in its essence is wrong. It doesn’t matter to what degree it is hurting you.
And that is my point: are there greater sins and lesser sins?
In the human understanding of society yes. In theism sin is, as I defined above, not a bad behavior but the lack of perfect virtue. That is how scriptures treat sin in their closest to original meanings.
So yes, Hitler and a man cheating on his wife are not the same with respect to the magnitude of what they did; but they are same in one way – they all are in essence corrupt to some degree, they are the hand drawn circle.
That is what is sin or sinful in the right theistic framework or perspective.
God’s love and forgiveness is not aimed at the amount of sin but to the core of the issue to what is causing the sin. Whether a sin is harmful to yourself or not, OR, or to others, is not relevant here. We are dealing with the reason of the fault not the fault itself because that does not solve the problem at all. That does not grant forgiveness because the fault will be done again because the reason for being it there in the first place is still there, because the corrupted self is still there. That is what forgiveness is aimed at and therefore granted to men, whether they be liars, homosexuals, cheaters, abusers, porn addicts, murderers and rapists, pedophiles and Hitler.
There are big sinners and small sinners but they are not being punished on the amount of their sin. Lets say, you commit murder, you are arrested and sentenced to death in the electric chair. OK, now, somehow you break free and go on a murder spree again.
Now answer me this, how many times can you be punished for the amount of your murders when you have already been sentenced to die once?
Lets say you should get one death for each victim you murdered and the pain you caused to each of your victim. Now, we all know that once you get the chair for the first time you die, there is no secondary chair that can electrify you again. Now there is a person right next to your cell, who has only committed one murder, only one. And he starts bitching about the fact that you only get to get the chair once for your multiple murders. His objection is obvious enough, the amount of pain he will go through for doing one murder and multiple murders should not be the same. Logically, you did more murders therefore you should suffer more pain. He only killed his wife’s lover, you on the other hand killed children and women, old people, and infants, you practiced necrophilia and you may have raped one of your victims before you murdered them too. Now his crime seems like nothing compared to yours and therefore he is complaining about a flawed system, in fact in the loose sense of the word, his crime almost seems like justified in one weird way, yours do not. But the punishment for one murder is the same for multiple murders, is that a fault of the state? yours? his? whose fault is this, there is no fault, the truth is no matter how many murders you do and to what degree of brutality and savagery you subject your victims to, you can be punished only once that may be for your entire life but still, you ain’t gonna die twice now, would you?
And even if you are taken to the electric chair for every murder you did, even if that could be arranged, its still would be only one time punishment which you received once. Because the only time you actually paid for your crimes was when you went through the pain of death and pain of conciseness and died, after that we are just punishing a dead body not you, not your essence by a far mile.
But does the outcry, that someone did more sins than you, should be punished according to the magnitude of his sins, a fair one?
Yes in one way it is, but the truth is your existence can only be punished once. Hitler can only be punished once and so does the average Joe who killed his cheating wife. No matter how you come about it, one can not justify the pain and suffering they caused on such a large scale that it changed the world and yet a man like Hitler can only die or suffer as a single human being, once.
See it another way, this is in one way unfair too. Why because everyone, including the ones who are calling for some kind of extreme punishment for multiple murders, are the same like you in their core, a being who is corrupted, but only to a lower degree, therefore he sees his outcry justified. I mean most adults lie, one way or the other but they would not dare compare their lie, even the most harmful of all lies to be anywhere compared to the racial killing of 6 million people.
So we recognize we are sinners but we grade ourselves with the amount of sin, to God all of us are sinners not because we are bad, half good or bad, or trying to be good and end up bad, but because we all are not complete circles., we are not perfect in Goodness. We each have some problems, we each have some bad things in us, therefore we all need to be saved.
God doesn’t rank bad deeds like us, to him sin is sin, great or small, little or big, it is all the lack of being virtuous not a ranking match of sinners. We are all guilty to some degree as we are all somewhat corrupt – not perfectly good. And the price of sin is the corrupted self and it must die because in the end corruption must end, I am talking about spiritual death here not the physical.
So my point is, punishing murderers by how many murders one did, is really a moot point. Because the logic is flawed. This can only be challenged on emotional appeal by a victim and I would understand why the victim is in pain but there is nothing which can be done except to punish the criminal once and for all.
You would be surprised to learn that most Christians would fume at the very hint of allowing God’s mercy to even be attributed to Hitler in the most little of ways. No way, they will outright tell you that such a sinner can not be forgiven. The same way they say that homosexuality can not be forgiven. But if they lie about some of their behavior than that is ok, cuz they confess their sins each night at bed time, grovelling in the feet of God for forgiveness because they are chosen and more holy than the rest of us.
What does it mean to repent? can God be cheated?
To Repent doesn’t mean “I am sorry I molested that child. Can i go to heaven now? I have said my sorry…”
Confession is not the same as repentance and repentance is not the same as being sorry, and being sorry for your sins is not a stamp of a guaranteed seat in heaven. These words mean a lot in themselves and it is vital to explore them. (We will, in the next post)
All of this is treated as if God has no choice in the matter. God can not be cheated, so I do not think anyone can cheat God by confessing and then smirking that he is now guaranteed his way into heaven, moments before he die. It doesn’t work like that, not for you and me, not for Hitler, nor with people who think they are spiritually more holy than others. Nor for Christians either.
Anyone enjoying and relishing their corruption, whether that be a pedophile priest, Hitler or a rapist, will NOT enter heaven. I put it delicately because your question is what I would call loaded, not with malice of course. But the question is formed in a vague way, it doesn’t define its terms in the proper framework. It would be more akin for me to ask you,
Having you stopped beating your child yet?
If you answer yes, you have a problem, if you answer no, you have a problem. Either way you answer, you end up giving the wrong impression. You would want to clarify the situation first. Same is with your question: Can a pedophile enter heaven if he repents? If I answer yes, I am not making it clear and obviously am wrong too, if I say no, then I am also not telling you the complete thing because part of my answer is something that your question is not addressed at. So I need to start from zero to tell you the complete thing, which I have done so. But remember, there is NO quick-home made- formula of saying your sorry and then go to God; and the people who make it sound like such are wrong, Christians and atheists both are. In fact you are partly wrong to assume that a pedophile can not enter heaven and then you are also partly right to assume that a pedophile won’t enter heaven. Why? Because we still have to define repentance, forgiveness and grace.
If we get clear on these things we will go further. Eventually there will come a point where you will have to disagree with everything that I say. That is fine. I am expecting that. But at least the next time you write on your blog, you wont be attacking strawmen-christian teachings.
I await your response to my questions at the beginning of the post.
Please take your time to go through this. Hope you enjoy reading, if nothing else. 🙂