So, I was involved in the running commentary at a post over at Deus Ex Malcontent (at which my brother-in-blogging Big Man dropped in to say a few words, too) in which religion, faith, science, life, the universe and everything else is being hashed out. I think we all, over the course of things, sorted everything out that’s been bothering people for a few thousand years, so that no one needs to debate the topic again.
But what I really want to address is a comment that I somehow evoked from someone merely, I guess, by my existence on this planet. The comment:
Dear “Deacon Blue” spare me. All that talk about “the point is not I’m right, you’re wrong, man. I respect you.” I just spent too long browsing your blog, man.
Why don’t you tell us how we poor sinners (that you totally respect, man) burn in hell, tortured forever because we don’t think like you think. How does that gibe with your whole respect bullshit “I just ain’t sayin’ I’m right” crap? Because seems to sinner me that you think you’re right. No matter what you say, in your black and secret heart you know everyone, but your own personal groupthink will burn.
You’re full of shit, bro. Why do you feel the need to misrepresent, yo?
Religion sucks. (What is the difference between a Methodist and a Presbyterian anyway?) But if it wasn’t about god, people would still kill each other for equally stupid things.
My reply to Clessie in that comment thread could be described as less than diplomatic, since I don’t see how anyone could actually spend any significant time perusing my blog and getting this impression of me and I loathe being misrepresented. If any of y’all agree with him/her, and really think that I’m that much of an ass deep down (or not so deep) around here, by all means point out where I have failed. But really, that’s not the point of this post.
The point is to discuss my BLACK AND SECRET HEART.
Apparently, I believe that everyone outside my personal “groupthink” will burn. So, is Clessie right? Is that what I believe? Yeah. No. It depends.
Does she mean that I believe that people who don’t read the Bible and haven’t verbally claimed Jesus as Lord and been baptized and all that are definitely going to Hell, every last one of them?
But if she means that I think those who are not “born again” will receive some sort of punishment that we only have the name “Hell” to really go by at the moment…well…
So, now that I’ve been thoroughly confusing, let me explain. My father-in-law, a pretty spiritually conservative Christian preacher, likes to say that there are plenty of people who are born again and don’t even know it. Not just Christians who don’t think they are worthy enough for Heaven and assume they will burn who are born again. He means people that aren’t Christian at all. Who might not even have given two seconds of thought to whether Jesus is literally the son of God.
Personally, I believe that there are Jews who are born again. Atheists who are born again. Indigenous people along the Amazon River who are born again. Yes, even some lawyers and politicians who are born again. Believe it or not. Being born again is a spiritual thing. It’s about seeking to shed the sinful, hurtful self that is bogged down in base desires and letting the spirit in and letting it shine through.
Now, personally, I think Jesus is the son of God. I believe that he died for all of our sins, past, present and future. I believe that the surest way to Heaven is to turn to Jesus with an open mind, heart and soul. To put your faith in him.
By the same token, I think the surest way to career success is to take a lot of AP classes in high school, get into a good college, apply yourself there, and then apply yourself to life with everything you’ve got. That being said, there are some pretty successful folks who didn’t apply themselves much early in life or, for that matter, even obtain college degrees.
But the notion that God is going to send every single person to Hell who doesn’t verbally proclaim His son their personal savior while still here on Earth is patently absurd to me. Not everyone has access to the Bible. Not everyone even has access to missionaries. Not everyone even knows that there ever was a guy named Jesus of Nazareth and that there is any reason to take him seriously once they hear about him.
There are people who are raised in homes with other belief systems. There are people raised in homes with no faith-based upbringing at all. There are people who only encounter idiot Christians and obnoxious Evangelists in life. There are people who have too much despair to even consider the life hereafter because they can’t imagine getting through the one on this planet.
I’m not saying that all you have to do is “be a good person” to get salvation. Some mean and rotten tempered people will get into Heaven, too. And some folks you would categorize as the sweetest people around won’t get in at all.
Some people will burn in Hell, if indeed burning is what happens there. Or they’ll be erased from existence. Or they’ll have some eternity of more of the same of what they lived through on Earth, over and over. Or they come back as bugs. Or they create their own personal hell. Or, for all I know, they’ll sit on hunks of ice being forced to deep-throat porcupines.
I just don’t know those details. But not everyone is going to make it to Heaven. Frankly, deep down, I think there are plenty of people who don’t want to be there or accept God even if He reveals Himself to them. I wholeheartedly believe going to Hell will be their own choice in that matter. No one’s getting tricked into Hell. No one gets some sucker punch from God, as far as I can imagine. God isn’t trying to damn people. He wants them to choose the right path. But that’s just it, He gives them a choice.
I don’t know what Judgment Day is going to look like for any sinner, myself or otherwise. But I believe that what it’s going to come down to is whether you want to hold on to all that crap you had in life or not. Do you want to remain anchored to your conceits, your desires, your hates, your fears and all other nastiness and pettiness that you and I hold so dear down here on Earth?
Fine, hold on to that anchor if you want, and it will pull you down into whatever damnation is. Or, let it go, embrace God, and choose love, knowledge, growth. I admit that I’m attached to a lot of things here on Earth, but no so attached that I want them for eternity. I want more than this world offers. I want to know what it is like to truly love, to truly shed things that hold me back, to truly touch the universe and not just see it.
Is all of this strictly biblical? No. It isn’t. But the Bible is, sadly, frustratingly vague on some details, and archaic in its imagery. Jesus healed people of illnesses of the body and mind. But when he freed a person’s mind from madness, he didn’t talk about using his powers to reset their neurotransmitters. People believed in demons. So he couched it in those terms. The Bible wasn’t written for the kind of knowledge and awareness we have today; God expects us to be able to fill in the blanks in a lot of places and make the connections.
We fall short, and we remain apart from Him. But He wants us to reach out.
So, that, Clessie, is my “black and secret heart.” The belief that people too selfish to open up and throw off the crap will reap a bitter end. That people who want something better and can admit to their own failings and sins will reap something sweeter.
If that is indicative of a black and secret heart, I don’t know what to tell you. I’m not talking about Heaven being only for those people who learned the secret Christian handshake before they died.
God isn’t looking for Christians. God is looking for His children to come home. If you don’t want to be part of the family, Clessie, that will be your choice. And no one can take that choice from you.