Why is Belief in Christ Necessary? (part 2)

January 11, 2009 at 2:42 am 15 comments

Jeremiah said the following in commenting on my previous post (see comment #10): “The Bible also says For ALL have sinned, and come short of the glory of God(Romans 3:23), and the wages of sin is death(Romans 6:23)(a) but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord(b).”  These are the passages that many Christians use to promote the idea that belief is required for salvation.  I would like to show that this is a big con.

The point of these passages is that since all of us have sinned we are all going to hell.  But, Jesus died on the cross so that we can be saved.  So, if we believe then we are saved.  If we don’t believe we are damned.

This is a lie, however.  Why?  Because if we have all sinned, but only a portion of us are going to hell, then we are not being damned for our sins.  That is simple logic.  Something else must be the determining factor in whether we are saved or not.  That factor turns out to be belief.  Those who believe in Jesus are going to heaven, and those who don’t are going to hell.  So, in Christianity, you are not damned for your sins.  You are damned for your beliefs.

In my previous post, I said that requiring belief seems perverse.  This is why I find it so perverse.  Everyone holds beliefs.  Often, we have good reasons for holding particular beliefs.  Sometimes, we have good reasons for holding incorrect beliefs.  We change our beliefs if we can be shown why the belief is incorrect.  If some beliefs are wrong and God really wanted us not to hold these beliefs, he doesn’t need to threaten us with punishment.  He only needs to appeal to reason.

Anyone who God would hold accountable for his or her beliefs could be presumed to have a mind capable of discerning the truth.  If not, then God is simply immoral in the same way anyone would be immoral for punishing an individual for not performing something of which they are incapable.

I simply cannot accept that God would punish us for not believing in Christ.  The idea is absurd.   If God wanted us to believe in Christ, he would give us better evidence than a book gathering oral traditions from an ancient tribe, authored over the course of centuries and edited by a Church with very political motivations.

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Why is Belief in Christ Necessary? Why is Belief in Christ Necessary? (part 3)

15 Comments Add your own

  • 1. interspiritualchristian  |  January 11, 2009 at 4:55 am

    Greetings:

    After reading some of your thoughts, I was wondering if you’ve heard of the movement commonly known as the emerging or emergent church. I would like to recommend a book entitled, A Generous Orthodoxy, by Brian McLaren. I think you might find it to be a very interesting read. Also, please jump over to my site, browse through the postings, and comment wherever you like. Another extremely good book is Jesus Before Christianity, by Alan Nolan.

    God bless.

    Reply
  • 2. R. Eric Sawyer  |  January 11, 2009 at 5:54 am

    I’d like to suggest a slightly different way of explaining Christian belief. As a starting disclaimer, I am on record as in agreement with the classic Christian understandings, so be forewarned that my end point may not be very different from ideas you already reject. My route, however, may be different than what you’ve seen before, and may at least aid understanding.

    My method here is not scriptural. By that, I do not mean that I reject the Bible, I do not. I hold it very highly indeed. I also do not mean that my conclusions are different from the ones taught in the Bible. I strongly believe and hope that I am in accord. If not, I am probably in error.
    I mean instead that, just as you could not expect me to understand a letter passed among members of your family, the Bible is best understood by those already “part of the family” There is a certain amount of background relationship and context needed. That is not a slam at non-believers, just a reason why “scripture-quoting” and “chapter and verse” citation is probably less than worthless to non-believers, although it goes a long way with me. I would like to explore a bit of this idea from common reason.

    I take God to be, at a minimum, truth – “the way things really are”
    As you probably remember, the Bible, in the story of the burning bush, reports God as telling Moses that His name is “I am that I am… Tell them that ‘I AM’ has sent you.”
    Although I believe a great deal more about God, the defining creative force behind the entire universe is reality; “the way things are”, not “the way things are not” and certainly not “the way Eric understands them to be.”

    One of the bigger ideas in Christianity is the idea that God desires that humans (not just “humanity” but individual humans) be reconciled to him, after a long separation. If God is at least in part, “The Way Things Are” that unity has certain consequences. It means that I must be united with things as they actually exist, with the truth. Of course, it could mean that I am united with God in the same way that this morning’s bagel was united with me – it really had no say in the matter, but Christianity maintains that the essence of who I am endures still as “me”. If I (in any meaningful sense of the word “I”) persevere after death, then I am to be united with all truth. In this life, I have shown an amazing and alarming tendency to ignore and disclaim truth even when it is staring me in the face. I tell lies about what my alarm clock says in the morning, I tell myself lies about who’s ‘fault’ something is, about whether I have ability to help someone who I don’t want to help, and so on. I tell and believe all sorts of lies about myself and other people. Well, if I in my conscious mind am to be united with “all truth” (and that is part of what I understand by ‘Heaven’) then this won’t do. I cannot be united with truth while still maintain a lie, while still preferring my own point-of-view. This means that I am capable of continuing to choose my false ideas, particularly about myself, what I have done and why, and about God, and who He is in relationship to me. Remember, I am not talking about someone whose ideas are their own, who followed their own drummer as best they could. I am saying that when a time comes, as I believe it will for all of us, that we know the *entire* truth, with nothing swept under the rug, nothing hidden; that you and I will have the ability to accept that truth, or to not accept it. To accept the whole truth will be to be united with that which is, with all truth, with “I AM”. To refuse to accept that truth is to be separate from the way things are, and is to be somehow in an existence of unreality (here, we call that insanity)

    Now, in all this, I have not said one word about what Christians believe that truth to be, and intentionally so. My point is not that “you must believe in Jesus or be eternally damned”
    My point is rather that “one must accept that truth is truth, when confronted with it, or one will become increasingly separated from reality.”

    I believe that the Christian account of Jesus is truth. If I am right, then that fact, along with the idea that I personally “have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” are part of the reality that I can be joined to. Or not. But there is only one reality to which we can be joined. All else is unreality.

    For what it’s worth, I am quite aware that this idea of “truth” cuts both ways. I have a lot of ideas concerning God, humans, me, my contacts, the state of this world, of other drivers on the road, etc.
    Almost certainly a lot of them are BS. When I see the truth as it is, will I embrace it, or will I prefer my own opinion, as strong as they are?
    I think that I will be allowed either path. But only one path leads to unification with reality, while the other to unification with unreality, to eternal insanity.

    One of my own convictions is that Christianity is much more rational and believable than what our childhood story-book versions may suggest. I did not come to faith through philosophy, but I have come to believe that mature Christianity is quite robust intellectually and philosophically. The level of understanding appropriate for teaching very young children becomes a straw man when set up as a target for adults.

    Reply
  • 3. efilyzarcym  |  January 11, 2009 at 4:40 pm

    “So, in Christianity, you are not damned for your sins. You are damned for your beliefs.” ….All I can say is wow!! That was amazing. I’ve never thought about it that way before – – and I can certainly tell you that I have heard that “sin” argument so many times by christians. Thanks for a counter-thought!!

    Reply
  • 4. Jeremiah  |  January 17, 2009 at 1:44 am

    I just found the new post Thaddeus. No, you don’t go to Hell for unbelief, it IS your sins. Satan believes in Christ, but his eternity will be spent in Hell. The Bible says For the wages of SIN is death(eternal death in Hell) You MUST have your sins cleansed of you through Christ’ sacrifice on the cross. But you must believe in Christ’ death, and ressurection, and ACCEPT it to be forgiven of your sins. Si nis what causes eternal death.

    Reply
  • 5. Thaddeus Dombrowski  |  January 19, 2009 at 8:57 am

    Satan doesn’t believe in Christ as his personal lord and savior. Perhaps that is why he is in hell?

    Reply
  • 6. Jeremiah  |  January 23, 2009 at 8:25 am

    Satan rebelled against God, and that was sin, then when Adam, and Eve were created Satan tempted Eve to sin, and then she tempted Adam to sin(by eating the fruit from the tree God told them not to eat from) And from Adam, sin passed into the world. If it wasn’t for Adam, and Eve sinning, Christ wouldn’t have had to come and die on the cross for our sins. You may admit that Christ is real, but that isn’t what saves you, you MUST believe in Him, and ask Him to forgive you of your sins, and you MUST repent(turn from) you sins.

    Reply
  • 7. Jeremiah  |  January 23, 2009 at 8:43 am

    Thaddeus, think of it this way. God is our judge, like a judge on Earth, but a perfect judge. We have laws here on Earth, and if we break a law, we have to go to court. Say you stole a car from some one, and you are found guilty of that crime. You might have to take some prison time, or a fine, the judge wouldn’t let you go free without a punishment or he would be a corrupt judge. Now, God gave us laws to live by, the 10 commandments. Let me ask you, have you ever made a “god” out of something to fit you? If yes, you’ve broken the 1st 2 commandments, thou shalt not put any other gods before Me, and thou shalt not make unto thee any graven images(idols, or a made up god) have you ever lied, white, little, huge, fib, it doesn’t matter, if yes, you’ve broken a commandment, thou shalt not bear false witness(lie). Have you ever stolen anything(irrespective of the value)? If yes, you’ve broken another commandment. Have you ever looked at a woman, and had sexual thoughts about her(that’s not your wife, if you’re married). If yes, you’ve commited adultery, or fornication if your heart. Have you ever used God’s name to curse? Saying “oh my God”, or “Jesus Christ” to curse. If you have, you’ve broken another commandment. Now, back to God being the judge. Would a righteouss judge let you off the hook? No, BUT God provided Jesus to be the sacrifice for our sins, Jesus is the one who “payed your fine, or jail time” so you can go free. If you accept Christ, and ask Him to forgive you of your sins, He will, and God will forget your sins, and you’ll never have to pay the penalty for your sins. After the Christians are raptured, and the 7 years of tribulation pass there will be Judgement Day, and God will be the judge of all the sinners. Some will have Christ free them from that Judgement, andsome sadly won’t. You see, you can believe in the “man who will pay your bail” for stealing the car, but will you accept it? It’s the same with Christ, you have to accept Him.

    Reply
  • 8. Thaddeus Dombrowski  |  January 24, 2009 at 2:49 am

    Jeremiah said, “You may admit that Christ is real, but that isn’t what saves you, you MUST believe in Him, and ask Him to forgive you of your sins, and you MUST repent(turn from) you sins.”

    Why do I have to ask him to forgive me if he already chose to come and die on the cross for me? He already made the choice to grant forgiveness. Now I have to ask him for something he already gave to me?

    Reply
  • 9. Jeremiah  |  January 25, 2009 at 4:35 am

    God gave you the free will to accept Christ as your savior or not. You must choose to accept Him or not. The reason you aren’t saved by Him just dying,and being raised, it answered in Luke 13:3 it says: I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. You must ask Jesus to forgive your sins, and you must repent(turn from) your sins to be saved. 1 John 1:9 says: If we confess our sins, He is faithful, and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. All you have to do is ask Jesus to forgive your sins, ask Him to be your savior, and turn from your sins.

    Reply
  • 10. R. Eric Sawyer  |  January 25, 2009 at 5:51 am

    Or to say it another way, how can be reconciled, and know totally both the need and means of that reconciliation, if do not acknowledge that I am in need? Remember, there is nothing hidden. If the message hidden (as I think) in my heart is “I’m really quite good enough on my own; I don’t really need this ‘Jesus-stuff’,” I should think my ability to walk in unity with God will be severely compromised.

    He says one thing, I say another. Do we just “agree to disagree”? With the foundation of Truth?

    I think all will know exactly what the truth is about themselves, about the nature and extent of our sin, and the price of redemption. At that point, to not accept it will be to say that truth is not truth. The Father said to Moses “I am that I am… Tell them I AM has sent you.” Jesus said “I am the way and the truth and the life.” How can I be united with truth itself, while refusing to see what I see, refusing to know what I know?

    Reply
  • 11. Jeremiah  |  January 26, 2009 at 12:56 am

    Mr. Sawyer, I don’t quite understand, are you adding to MY point, or agreeing with Thaddeus. And Thaddeus, to add to my point, Christ’ gift on the cross is exactly that, a GIFT. Say someone wants to give you a million dollars, by him offering it to you doesn’t mean you recieve it, you have to reach out, and take his gift. It’s the same with Christ.

    Reply
  • 12. R. Eric Sawyer  |  January 26, 2009 at 1:44 am

    Jeremiah, my point is the same as yours, but worded in a slightly different manner so as to avoid any hint of semi-pelagianism.
    If I have a bank balnce of 0, and you put, even without my asking, 1 million in, if I refuse to ackowledge what you have done, it won’t do me any good.
    When we “know as we are known” we will all, even unbelievers, see who The Christ is, and what He has done. There is no confusion. I can’t have it and reject it too.

    Reply
  • 13. Jeremiah  |  January 28, 2009 at 5:15 am

    For one thing, to put money in someone’s account you have to have a deposit slip or their account number to put money into it, YOU would have to LET me have the number or slip to let me give it to you. YOU would have to accept my gift, and give me that information. Look in Revelation 21:23-27 it talks about the city in Heaven, and verse 27 And there shall in no wise enter into anything that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie; but they that are written in the Lamb’s book of life. This is the very end of the Bible after Christ’ death, and ressurection. It talks about people STILL going to Hell, but the saved, who are the one’s written in the Lamb’s(who is Jesus) book of life will go to Heaven. Jesus DID die for our sins, but not everyone will go to Heaven. Also read Revelation 20: 11-15, it talks about the coming judgement of the unsaved sinners, they will be cast into Hell. The bible says Christ died for us, He did, but as the Bible clearly says, you MUST accept Him to be saved of your sins.

    Reply
  • 14. Thaddeus Dombrowski  |  January 28, 2009 at 11:49 am

    Jeremiah,

    I’ve been busy so I haven’t had the opportunity to respond to you. I will write another post in the next few days.

    Reply
  • 15. Jeremiah  |  February 1, 2009 at 11:56 pm

    It’s fine, actually, it’s the exact same problem for me. I’ve been busy too.

    Reply

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