Fear-Based Faith…

I’ve been reading The Unlikely Disciple, a book by Kevin Roose who was a student at Brown University but switched to Liberty University for a semester to experience it and then write a book about it. It’s a fascinating book, and thus far I think nails the Christian Evangelical culture down pretty solid, not in an abusive or destructive sense, but in a sense of having a very accurate assessment of what I, someone who has grown up in the thick of it, know it’s problems to be. I will probably post some more on it as I get through it.

This topic of fear of God has been prevalent in my last two posts as a motivator of my faith for much of my life. There is a quote from The Unlikely Disciple that does a very good job of exposing that culture of fear-based faith the dominates the Christian landscape. Roose quotes Jerry Falwell on page 48. This is a statement that Falwell made on September 13, 2001 while appearing on The 700 Club:

“The abortionists have got to bear some burden for [the attacks], because God will not be mocked…And when we destroy forty million little innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe that the pagans and the abortionists and the feminists and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way–all of themwho have tried to secularize America–I point the finger in their face and say ‘you helped this happen.'”

How’s that for evangelism and faith based on fear? It is no wonder to me why I got this message and now am having to fight it back when so-called Christian leaders make these kind of statements. No wonder at all.

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28 responses to “Fear-Based Faith…

  1. It’s not just the evangelical Christian subculture that trades in fear. If you watch enough network or 24-hour news you will be convinced that the world may end at any moment because of the sheer inanity, insanity, and inhumanity of what is happening. Most of the mail I get tells me about the terrible things that will happen if I don’t donate to whatever their cause is — this includes Christian groups, but also many secular ones. I heard President Obama on the news this morning talking about how the Republicans are trying to block health care reform by using fear tactics. Of course, he’s doing the same thing, saying we ought to be afraid of what will happen if we don’t pass health care reform. It’s the people who don’t try to control others using fear and shame who are unusual.

  2. I see what you’re trying to say Doug. There are still those who would say that your experience is unique, maybe you just misunderstood or weren’t listening very well, or whatever other reason they throw out.

    But I can tell you for sure—-YOU WERE NOT ALONE!! Your experiences can’t be chalked up to being ‘just unique’ or that you were/are such a deep thinker that you weren’t able to accept certain messages (that’s not to say you aren’t a deep thinker) as truthful way back then. That’s the same old BS (B-elief S-ystem, of course :o))!!!

    For anyone from within the machine to admit any culpability would be admitting that they failed many, or their system failed many. And if that still works for them….then I guess I have to be OK with that. But, It seems an injustice to you ( and me) to assume that you’re just a unique problem within the machine. Because that would be viewing many of the lovely people that I have come into contact with through the rosiest of glasses. Many are walking (if not running) away from the place we’ve come from and others like it.

    Although your experience is your own. I get you. Thousands of others do to

  3. Fear may motivate people in short segments of time, but it never works for long term motivation. The greatest commandment, in Jesus’ words, is to love God with all our heart. Fear can never motivate to love. And Jesus tender invitation is to come to him because he is humble and gentle and in him we will find rest for our soul and spirit. In the Old Testament David paints one of the most beautiful pictures of God as a shepherd who gently leads and faithfully cares for his sheep. Only love can give energy to faith for the long journey. And only faith can sustain love for the long journey.

    The efforts of some evangelicals to scare people are ineffective in the long run. However, since my retirement I have visited a number of strong evangelical churches in our area. I haven’t heard anything at all about fear but rather encouragement. Love and encouragement are more attractive to people and to me.

  4. Larry, could you answer me this? If it is only about love and encouragement, does it matter if one doesnt declare Jesus as Lord and saviour? Is there any price to be paid for believing in, lets say, Allah?

  5. i’ll have to pick this book up! the author was the intern for the dude who wrote The Year of Living Biblically. i really enjoyed that book, so i’ll have to pick it up. my OT prof reviewed it too, you can get to her review thru my blog under Julia O’Brien. great stuff dude.. and i gotta echo Karmen “you are not alone!” plenty have come out the other side, but few land where you do. most i find go dogmatic or atheist. very few go the “rational-mystic” route in search of a generous orthodoxy. RAWK!

  6. 2Reasons. Good points. We are told to fear everything in an attempt to persuade us to adopt a particular stance, product, or truth. But when it comes to faith in the God of the bible, it is, in my opinion downright deceptive, dishonest, and wrong. And it sets up dissonance in my brain. To hear on the one hand that God is angry and is going to send me to hell if I don’t walk around in purity all the time and try and rectify that with talk from the same people that God is so loving, that makes me schizophrenic. I am reminded of the movie, Apolcalytpo, and the opening scene where the tribal chief says to his son, “Fear is a disease.” I have posted on that quote before, and I believe it to be true.

  7. Karmen. I am so glad that we have been able to walk down this path together and largely remain on the same page. Having grown up in the same church culture and seen and heard much of the same thing, we do understand each other well, don’t we. Thanks for reminding me that I am not alone. Too often it seems like I am surrounded by people who just want to keep lying to themselves every day. It’s almost as if they have to repeat certain things to themselves over and over and over in order to convince themselves that what they say is the truth. And then if they can get you or me or anyone else to join them in their doctrine, well that gives it a bit more weight. I am lucky to have such a companion on this search for truth.

  8. Dad. I see what you say about Christ. He does offer that picture. But then why do some preachers and evangelists use hell in an attempt to get people to listen? That is just dishonest and deceptive and creates a lot of crap down the road. It makes me sort of angry.

  9. John. Great question. Not much wiggle room there. I’ll be anticipating the answer.

  10. Luke. I know what you mean by people turning atheist, and I feel lucky that I have been able to see as an onlooker from afar how easy it is to finally reach that point of having had enough, of being tired of trying to jump through all the hoops over and over to try and get it to fit together, of being weary of having to convince yourself daily of something, and to justthrow it all up in the air and say thatyou’re done. Making a second mistake and ending up on the opposite extreme of the line isreally no better than where one was while making the first mistake. It’s interesting to see the people on deconversion really doing the same meticulous arguing that they were doing when they were in the fundamentalistChristian camp now that they are in the fundamentalist atheist camp. Same song, different location. Thanks for helping me knowalong with Karmen that I am not alone. Karmen and I just had dinner last night with a wonderful couple who are in much the same place as we. It’s amazing how many people have been damaged by the message of fear that comes out of the church.

  11. I am writing on the same topic because I am finding many Christians are motivated by underlying fears they rarely share…and I am finding this leaves them little room to ‘question’ anything relevant in their faith – it kind of freezes them (lest they be questioning God).

    Now some fear can be healthy (this is known) – but the fear of something like ‘hell’ is just ridiculous. Anyone that preaches on hell as a literal place has also made a serious contradiction about the nature of God (love and hate). They just don’t know it yet – nor consider it.

    I am debating some Lutherans on another site – just for the experience of learning more about what they believe and why – and I am finding ‘fear’ is very apparent in their ideas…it’s like please follow but if you don’t…well you can guess the outcome.

    I am also on the quest to find the fire that fuel Christian hatred – and why it is allowed in a religion of ‘love’…and I am getting closer.

  12. Please understand I speak from my own viewpoint and understanding of Christian faith. I apologize in advance if my answer makes your eyes glaze over. My mind organizes things in sequence. And sometimes when I think I’m being perfectly clear I raise other questions. So I’ll be interested in your thoughts.

    The greatest commandment is to love God who is the great God of the Old Testament and the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ in the New Testament. So this love is specific to a certain, identifiable God.

    The central message of Scripture is how we can be reconciled to God and have a relationship with and an experience of him. That is accomplished by the principle of atonement for sin that has estranged us from him. In the Old Testament atonement is made by animal sacrifice. In Christian faith, Jesus is the one who satisfies perfectly the atonement principle. He is the redeemer because he made with his own life and body the atonement for us all.

    Atonement is not about appeasing God’s anger. It is about satisfying the principle of justice in a world God created to be moral.

    So for me, with that as the underlying truth, it makes a difference where faith and love are focussed. We’re commanded to love God because his nature is love and only love nurtures and supports life. Only in love can we experience healing for our soul and spirit and enjoy him.

  13. “The greatest commandment is to love God who is the great God of the Old Testament and the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ in the New Testament” (Larry)

    This almost sounds dualistic – like 2 versions of God – from OT to NT – you mean they are not congruent?

    “In the Old Testament atonement is made by animal sacrifice. In Christian faith, Jesus is the one who satisfies perfectly the atonement principle. He is the redeemer because he made with his own life and body the atonement for us all.” (Larry)

    I have to ask people on this site – have any of us ever wondered why Judaism has never accepted this idea of atonement? Judaism does have animal sacrifice in the Tanakh – 100% true. What they don’t have nor allow is human sacrifice as atonement for sins – unheard of.

    The reason I bring this up is because people do no realize how much this idea may be based on Greek/Roman mythology and gods more than the God of the OT…although the ideas seem to line up – human sacrifice never can. However, Molech was quite okay with such an idea.

    “Atonement is not about appeasing God’s anger. It is about satisfying the principle of justice in a world God created to be moral” (Larry)

    Can I hear an explanation on how God’s justice is appeased by atonement? What needed to be rectified – was it just the human condition or was there more to this – were we headed somewhere as punishment?

    “We’re commanded to love God because his nature is love and only love nurtures and supports life. Only in love can we experience healing for our soul and spirit and enjoy him.” (Larry)

    The conclusion is the same for me concerning the gospel and faith in God – love. Nothing more or and nothing less.

  14. Just to clarify: I noted that both Christians and not-necessarily-Christians use fear as a controlling/motivating device. I did not mean to excuse Christians or to imply that control via fear is somehow OK. I meant that Christians do not instantly (or ever) become perfect followers of Christ’s teaching.

    Now, please continue debating atonement — very interesting.

  15. Doug, I hope you come to a point in your life where you are so removed from viewing the teaching as so dogmatic but also will be able to get what they were trying to teach. Sometimes the fear is our drive and that becomes our passion and forget about the compassion. What has happened to you is very real, the frustration and pain is very real and I am not trying to make less of it that is not my intention.

    I was raised in the Catholic church, and I was so frustrated too because there were times when my questions were answered with, “that is just the way it is” that left me only with more questions. I also came close to a very unhealthy conversation in the confessional with a priest, I had enough wits to run out of there never to return again! Many years later I found out that a cousin of mine was raped by a priest at another church. My dad hated the Catholic church for being so legalistic with its rules and condemnations. I’m a product of this Doug, but the sheets of wall paper are coming down and hopefully and prayerfully I become what God has plan for me to be and not be so hung up on what made me so angry, frustrated and less compassionate.

    My parenting has changed now – in past I used the fear factor with my yelling at the kids. You know why I yelled? Because I was afraid, afraid that they would go down the same path of destruction I did, or the shame and pain that really was not necessary. Is that controlling? You bet! Was that compassion? If you sift through the yelling and passion you bet! It wasn’t working though I was only frustrating my kids.

    I believe that Christians are the same in that way we are so passionate that we forget to be compassionate. Doug I just returned from my hometown a few days ago and I am here to tell you that I returned to my old faith stomping grounds. It was so healing, through God’s grace I was able to see that God has sustain me, held me, heard me and even understood me, with all my frustrations, anger and passion. Guardian Angel Catholic Church is where I first learned about God, even if it was in a legalistic and dogmatic manner and for that I am truly grateful. Today I have wallpaper to come down … I’m a working process, not perfect, but always trying to follow what Christ modeled.

    Ironic how the very church I ran from is the church I ran to … and there God healed my hurts. I have a facebook write up you are more than welcome to take a peek.

  16. G.K. Chesterton said he went on a spiritual search and ended up where he started. Phillip Yancey reported this in his book, Soul Survivor, which I recommend. So the search can lead us to a whole new perspective and relationship with God. Yet we come out at the basic truths.

  17. Sounds like alot of questions to try and comment on. My understanding is that God is moral. Humankind was created to be in relationship with the Creator. That relationship was violated. Humans failed to trust and love the Creator and fell for the illusion that in the assertion of independence from him they could live life larger. But life wasn’t larger, it was actually smaller and, as I see it, confused and missing purpose and direction.

    But God is God. His nature doesn’t change. He is what he is. Atonement was needed to forgive the violation. Man had no means with which to make atonement. God provided the means in the giving of his Son. And he taught the meaning of it through animal sacrifice. It wasn’t just any old animal. It had to meet requirements to qualify.

    It was the violation of the moral principle of life that had to be atoned for. I can’t find the reference right now. I’m on the road and don’t have my home office resources. But there is a Scripture that says Jesus atonement enabled God to be both just and the justifier of all who believe.

    Finally, the question of punishment has been continuing in the discussion.

    If God ever brings his kingdom to completion, and I believe he will, it will be a kingdom of love.
    Nothing will be there that is destructive to life. If evil is real, and I believe it is, it will have to be put or sent or confined somewhere in separation from the kingdom of love. It won’t be a nice place to be.

    You should know that I was a pastor for 42 years. Preaching and teaching are my default mode. So although I certainly try not to be “preachy” I may inadvertently sound that way. Maybe you can make allowance for me on that point. I am sincerely just trying to add constructive thought to the process and respond simply and honestly to any questions.

  18. You should know that I was a pastor for 42 years. Preaching and teaching are my default mode.(Larry)

    “First we make our habits, then our Habits make us”

    Im still working on a few myself. Larry, I hope you have better luck than me.

  19. Queeniepoo. Thanks for your concerned response. I don’t know if I will find myself back where I started or not. This fear based belief that I developed from the culture of the church also has wrapped up in it all the stuff about an individually and personally unique relationship with God that sustains me and brings me peace. That all seems fairly distasteful and ridiculousto me at this point. I don’t want to pursue a relationship with God that in order to be peaceful feels like it hangs on me not screwing up. I find it hard to separate the two. I will be content to just be able to feel, truly feel and know, that there is a God who loves humanity, all of it, even those who were unfortunate enough to be born Hindu or Mayan or Aztec or Taoist and, therefore, will not know Christ but will still find themselves in pursuit of meaningful spirituality with God anyway, and even those who are so abused that they have no idea how to get out of the muck and the idea of God is ridiculous to them, and even those of us who are so blindingly arrogant that we happen to think that we are so perfect and pleasing to God mainly because of what we don’t do. If God is not about including them/us, then I can’t honestly say that I want much of that kind of God. I don’t feel like I need Godin order to be at peace. I don’t feel like I need God to give me some specialness as an individual. I don’t feel like I need God in order to not fall into moral depravity. I just want to know that God loves all of his humanity no matter how broken we are and no matter if we are fortunate enough to get half-way straightened out during this fragile life and that in the end at some point, we will all experience and understand that in its completeness. That is enough for me.

  20. Dad. I think you are doing a fairly good job of responding. Maybe sounds a bit preachy at times, but no one is offended by that. I think more what comes out is this: You preached for 42 years within a single denomination which shaped your thinking and theology as one would expect. That comes through a bit in your comments and responses which is certainly OK and appropriate. I’m just pointing out that it is visible. The people who comment here and follow along come from many, many different othe ways of viewing God and theology. Most of what they are trying to do is to poke you in such a way as to get you outside of the safe walls of your default theology. Don’t feel attacked or offended. Instead feel like a player in the game who receives and gives mutual respect for a well given effort from all involved.

  21. “Man had no means with which to make atonement” (Larry)

    This is a very selective view of the Torah – of course man had means to make atonement – it’s all written and provided within the words of the Torah…from God’s own hands and mouth on Sinai (if we believe Moses went up and got those God written 10 commandments). God provided a way for atonement – in animal sacrifices, repentance, and charity.

    It is also worth noting – animal sacrifices could not atone for intentional actions of sin (like murder) – the person would have to bare that one (Unbelievably Hebrews actually picks up on this point). And this idea is true in general society and amongst our deepest inner feelings on certain sins (again – like murder or incest or what have you). The person who committs such things must find a way to make that right with the people involved or hurt – and with murder – since the other party is ‘dead’ – forgiveness is not really an option.

    But the point is we had means for atonement – God provided them and repentance is one of the ways for this to occur (also sacrifice and charity). It is really odd when you read Matthew and you find Jesus’ first public words are about ‘repentance’ and within a parable about the kingdom of God – charity is seen a clear divider (see ‘sheep and goats’ patable). Apparently – these 2 ideals are very close to atonement – and not just animal sacrifice alone…which could only cover ‘un-intentional’ sins.

    “God provided the means in the giving of his Son. And he taught the meaning of it through animal sacrifice” (Larry)

    I just cannot believe the God of the OT would do such a thing – it’s really quite a foreign idea and warned about strongly in the OT (prophets)…do not sacrifice your son to foreign gods…but it is okay with God to do such a thing? Isn’t that kind of breaking from what He teaches in the OT? Also, animal sacrifice and a human sacrifice are quite different…so to compare them as equal or one as a fulfillment of the other is a stretch. Nevermind that Jesus is supposedly God and then sacrifices Himself – which is not human sacrifice but now Theocide. It just has no precedent in the OT pretty much.

    “It was the violation of the moral principle of life that had to be atoned for” (Larry)

    So through Adam comes death – what’s really changed? We will all die still. I have to ask what was actually accomplished by this atonement that we can actually see? The wages of sin are still ‘death’ and we still struggle with ‘sin’ – not much has changed from Adam to Christ to us. If the principle of life was atoned for – well – we still die – like Adam – to the ground we will return as dust. The curses have not changed in Genesis – women still give birth and men still struggle with the ‘ground’ (work). At what point of evidences will we begin to admit something does not fully add up?

    “If evil is real, and I believe it is, it will have to be put or sent or confined somewhere in separation from the kingdom of love. It won’t be a nice place to be.” (Larry)

    Evil is real – I agree. But what is evil? Are humans and the devil included in that equation? You make a generic statement there about ‘evil’. Also you wouldn’t be referring to ‘hell’ as that place of eternal punishment would you? If so, why?

  22. Larry – I will have to look at Soul Survivor, sounds like that is something up my ally!

    Doug, I do believe God loves “all” his humanity. Blessings and God’s love!

  23. I don’t know if anyone continues to read here or not since Doug entered a new post. But I don’t want to ignore questions. In Christian faith Jesus was the ultimate atonement. And the price of atonement being a sacrifice of life for me demonstrates the serious nature and issue of sin.

    I believe evil is the destruction of life. The consequence of sin is death. Severance of the relationship with the Creator resulted in death. Jesus said the devil is a murderer. He destroys life. Love is he enhancement of and blessing of life. And I know this opens up an entirely new discussion but that probably cannot be pursued here.

    We still bear the physical consequences of sin in physical death. But in my faith, the gift of grace is eternal or spiritual life through faith in Jesus. Physical death is the last enemy to be defeated.

    I hope hell is not a place of eternal punishment, but the Bible doesn’t, as far as I know, give any indication of anything beyond. But I would believe the devil would be there. I’m not trying to use overly subtle language. I’m trying to avoid theological or cliched language.

  24. “The consequence of sin is death. Severance of the relationship with the Creator resulted in death” (Larry)

    Sin = severance from God = Death

    Now

    Saved = connection to God = Death still?

    The problem with sin, in that easily understandable equation, is it has not been dealt with completely. This is a fact if one believe the wages of sin will result in death (and we all still die).

    “We still bear the physical consequences of sin in physical death. But in my faith, the gift of grace is eternal or spiritual life through faith in Jesus. Physical death is the last enemy to be defeated.” (Larry)

    Here’s where we switch gears and play with the facts. We move from a physical punishment (death) to a spiritual gift (eternal life) – which are 2 different categories but used beside one another in your explanation (seamlessly).

    Adam sins = physical death for humanity (not symbolic but physical)

    Jesus dies = spiritual re-birth for humanity (internal)

    There is a dividing up of the human in that equation. We start with a physical problem (death) and end with a spiritual answer (re-birth)…which practically ignores the physical problem altogether (which is we will die because that is the price of sin). Why is that?

    Which begs the question – is Adam real or figurative language? Is Paul using Adam as a symbolic figure of seperation with God – or as something literal? It must be literal – or Paul wouldn’t waste time on a ‘physical resurrection’. Rule spiritual death out of the equation.

    Fact is – Jesus died for all of humanity but this did not do away with our current problems/struggles with ‘sin’. Proof – we will die someday as Adam was promised. So what exactly was atoned for at Golgotha? If it wasn’t the problems with sin?

    I think I may have had an epiphany today – after studying those terms on hell on my blog for so long. We don’t understand the gospel and the terms associated therin…because we lack a good defintion of most of the words.

    For example, sheol is the term most commonly used by Jesus – which is from the Hebrew and in the Tanakh. It means the ‘abode of the dead’. It is where people go when they die. It’s like a purgatory in a way or a waiting room.

    However, that term seems to be the pre-cursor for a term called ‘resurrection’. In that we will resurrect from this abode of the dead back to life (as seen in Jesus’ life).

    The good news is that we have been given ‘eternal life’ – we will die of course and make our beds in sheol – but this is not the end. Resurrection is the hope – unto eternal life as was originally designed by God.

    The good news is concerning this idea – living a life in line with the ideas of God…unto eternal life. Those who squander such an idea may not inherit this ‘eternal’ life – they live like they don’t want it anyways (in their treatment of their neighbors and anything meaningful). So when they enter the ‘abode of the dead’ – they just remain ‘dead’. They decided a gift of eternal life was just not worth it.

    Now the big quandry is how to enter eternal life…this is the most problematic question. Most Christians would say ‘one’s confessional beliefs’ are what it is. As in hold the correct ideas about God and you have the correct faith…this is decieving…since it can be directed away from any level of morality.

    I think the ‘good news’ is the teachings about God and about our treatment of one another…in that there is a much better way to treat one another and God knows this. Those who live such a pattern of loving their neighbor (real concern for humanity) will inherit that ‘eternal life’. They seek life…literally. Those who want ‘life’ must also seek after it and hold it as the highest ideal. That is loving your neighbor.

    To me, it comes down to the actions of the person and not the confessions they make. An atheist can make ‘eternity’ because they seek the best for humanity (and maybe they have legit reasons for disliking God). Those doors are open to all who seek the best for humanity. Some of the best for humanity is you live your life to the fullest of your potential…that’s a fact.

    Christians seemed to have invented a system that ‘narrows’ that passage to that of a ‘secret society’ – know the right things to say or proper handshake and ‘you are in’! And churches function on that premise most of the time. Not even wondering if they are the one’s God looks down on now holding the kingdom from others when they themselves are not ensured entry. I wonder about that.

  25. “So when they enter the ‘abode of the dead’ – they just remain ‘dead’. ” (societyvs)

    I seem to remember the Bible mentioning a resurrection of all — some to salvation, others to damnation.

    “Most Christians would say ‘one’s confessional beliefs’ are what it is. As in hold the correct ideas about God and you have the correct faith…this is decieving…since it can be directed away from any level of morality.” (societvs)

    I’ve been wrestling with this idea myself. I agree that simply assenting to some orthodoxy — even if it happens to be true — isn’t much use. As James said, faith without works is dead. However, as appealing as it is, I don’t see the Bible teaching that atheists (or anyone else) can be “saved” on the basis of how loving they are. Jesus seems to be more central to the process than that. But I’m not sure I know exactly how it works.

  26. “However, as appealing as it is, I don’t see the Bible teaching that atheists (or anyone else) can be “saved” on the basis of how loving they are.  Jesus seems to be more central to the process than that.” (2Reasons)   Jesus could be central in a couple of different ways. Number 1: You have to know who he is and accept him. If this is true, what do you do with all the people especially prior to but also since who were just geographically unlucky enough to be in a location where it was or is impossible to know him. Until the last 200 years, most of the globe did not even stand much of a chance because just from sheer logistics, it was near impossible to know of him. There doesn’t seem to be much love and grace here which is contradictory to what Christ himself stood for. Number 2: The work Jesus did covers all humanity for all time whether you know him or not. This seems to fit much better with the grace and love that Christ modeled, the story of the lost sheep, the prodigal son, etc.   Where does the idea that you have to know Jesus by name in order to be “saved” come from? Why do we hold to it so tightly? Is it the wrong idea? Is it our (institutional church, evangelicals, fundamentalists, etc) attempt to gain control over people?

  27. “I seem to remember the Bible mentioning a resurrection of all — some to salvation, others to damnation.” (2reasons)

    But what is this damnation based on I would ask? Or what is this damnation – hell? If so, I checked each word for ‘hell’ and saw that ‘sheol’ was the one used the most – which is basically an abode of the dead. The underworld aspects of ‘hell’ actually come from Hellenistic influences and are not actually Jewish theology from the OT.

    So what damnation are they recieving – if hell is an abode of the dead already? Likely not resurrection at all is my guess on those terms.

  28. “However, as appealing as it is, I don’t see the Bible teaching that atheists (or anyone else) can be “saved” on the basis of how loving they are. Jesus seems to be more central to the process than that. But I’m not sure I know exactly how it works” (2reasons)

    Well each and every person from the gospels to the letters agrees on one simple thing – love your neighbor as the central theme. Jesus said this (in 4 gospels), Paul said this, and James also says this. What holds an athiest back from loving their neighbor…no one has a corner on that idea?

    I am not saying Jesus isn’t a central figure – but it’s not really about him as it is about God concern – which is humanity…and that’s an open door to everyone to partake in.

    I know, atheists aren’t religious – don’t think that fact hasn’t escaped me. But there are some legitmiate arguements they make for not believing in God – which they take up with God (and maybe they are that legitimate of reasons that God can understand the ‘whys’ of it).

    I know I am able to sympathize with some of their concerns and grant them to right to not believe – because it’s for the best sometimes. I cannot see why God would not be able to intake such concerns?

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