Observations

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4 Responses to Observations

  1. The Judge says:

    Here’s some observations of my own, just letting my mind work as I type.

    The one major, almost insoluble problem that I have with Christianity, is that it postulates the idea of a ‘reward in heaven’ (Matthew) for virtue. My own view of love is unconditionally tied up with the idea of sacrifice. There is no love without sacrifice. And sacrifice in turn brings love, by ways impossible to trace or map or understand or codify.

    I find Christian ethics to be in complete agreement with that, except they then say that whatever sacrifice you do gets weighed out by means of joy in heaven. This nullifies the point in the first place. The resurrection of Jesus undoes his crucifixion. I could only believe in the point Christ was making if he were REALLY crucified – if it were a real sacrifice, and not just a metaphorical or ceremonial one. The only way to believe in Christ’s cyclical message, to me, is if he is really dead, dead past belief. And if we, when passing away, really do pass away.

    The question is much deeper than the simple idea of an afterlife. I find the idea that there could be a place of eternal joy after death to be outlandish, and so obviously delusional as to be hardly worth considering. But I’m really not that bothered – Christ’s teaching would still be worth following if they made justice in the present, that is to say, for their own sake, regardless of whether they have another temporal dimension.

    It’s like Christians made a point, and then chickened out of committing to it. Or like they advocated telling lies to spread the truth. Why should I believe in people who don’t believe in their own point?

    Anyway, just some late-night thoughts.

  2. The Judge says:

    It extends to the whole proposal of Christian lifestyle. Christians teach not to commit sin and to stay pure. But if you do that, you never learn why you’re doing it.

    You made the explicit reference, in your response to my first question, to sexual intercourse. That’s a perfect example. If I hadn’t “slept around,” as you put it, I would never have learnt what the meaning of sex is. Yes, sometimes it had some bad consequences – on occasions, excruciatingly painful ones. But I would still do them again – because without that suffering, I would have learnt nothing. I would be nothing. Furthermore, as much as sexual liberty led to pain, it also blessed me with some of the most wonderful moments and connections of my life. (Dostoevsky made a similar point in “Crime and Punishment” in relation to murder – but I don’t want to overstress that, because I really don’t want to turn this into the old cockfight about who’s read the most books).

    In my experience, Christian teachings are wrong. Purity, and defense from sin, are not the adequate ways to spiritual fulfillment. You’ve got to taste blood to know blood, you’ve got to lie to know lies, you’ve got to hurt to know joy, you’ve got to get OUT to come IN. Life without bloodshed is just a surrogate. Reward without sin is just hollow.

  3. The Judge says:

    Closing this now, I promise – but here’s Nietzsche on the same problem: http://4umi.com/nietzsche/zarathustra/8

  4. jackhudson says:

    The one major, almost insoluble problem that I have with Christianity is that it postulates the idea of a ‘reward in heaven’ (Matthew) for virtue. My own view of love is unconditionally tied up with the idea of sacrifice. There is no love without sacrifice. And sacrifice in turn brings love, by ways impossible to trace or map or understand or codify.

    I don’t know that sacrificial labor is undermined by the idea that there will be fruit from our sacrifice. A parent sacrifices for their children in hopes that they will have a better life. A man goes off to war, willing to sacrifice his own life so that his country can remain free. A person rushes into a burning building hoping to saves the occupants inside. Our most courageous impulses are motivated by the hope of a beneficial result. In fact one of the worst tortures is to labor meaninglessly with no hope of reward or have a result of our labors.

    Also, when we realize that our ‘reward’ in heaven is the lives of those we influenced toward salvation, it turns out not to be selfish gain at all.

    I find Christian ethics to be in complete agreement with that, except they then say that whatever sacrifice you do gets weighed out by means of joy in heaven. This nullifies the point in the first place. The resurrection of Jesus undoes his crucifixion. I could only believe in the point Christ was making if he were REALLY crucified – if it were a real sacrifice, and not just a metaphorical or ceremonial one. The only way to believe in Christ’s cyclical message, to me, is if he is really dead, dead past belief. And if we, when passing away, really do pass away.

    I don’t know that is true. Without resurrection, Jesus is merely another martyr. I think the work of MLK Jr. and Gandhi was admirable, but not something that motivates us to consider that God exists or has authority over life itself. The resurrection of Christ demonstrated that Jesus was who He said he was, and that God was not only good, but had the power to act in accordance with that good.

    And again for Christians the joy in heaven is the lives of those who are kept from suffering eternally.

    The question is much deeper than the simple idea of an afterlife. I find the idea that there could be a place of eternal joy after death to be outlandish, and so obviously delusional as to be hardly worth considering. But I’m really not that bothered – Christ’s teaching would still be worth following if they made justice in the present, that is to say, for their own sake, regardless of whether they have another temporal dimension.

    Interestingly Paul addressed that very issue. He said:

    If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. – 1 Corinthians 15

    Christ teachings call us to contravene our selfish impulses and desires. His teachings would not be worth following if there were no afterlife, in fact they would be bizarre. Why act contrary to your own desires when in the end it doesn’t matter anyway?

    like Christians made a point, and then chickened out of committing to it. Or like they advocated telling lies to spread the truth. Why should I believe in people who don’t believe in their own point?

    The Christians I know actually believe that Christ raised from the dead and that they will as well; as I have pointed out above, acting as a Christian only makes sense in light of the resurrection.

    You made the explicit reference, in your response to my first question, to sexual intercourse. That’s a perfect example. If I hadn’t “slept around,” as you put it, I would never have learnt what the meaning of sex is. Yes, sometimes it had some bad consequences – on occasions, excruciatingly painful ones. But I would still do them again – because without that suffering, I would have learnt nothing. I would be nothing. Furthermore, as much as sexual liberty led to pain, it also blessed me with some of the most wonderful moments and connections of my life. (Dostoevsky made a similar point in “Crime and Punishment” in relation to murder – but I don’t want to overstress that, because I really don’t want to turn this into the old cockfight about who’s read the most books).

    I disagree that sinning helps us appreciate what is good. Sin corrupts, it doesn’t instruct us. It deadens our ability to enjoy the good things in life, it doesn’t enhance our enjoyment of them. It is akin to saying that we would enjoy a painting more if we slashed it with a knife, or enjoy a fine meal if we tossed a little mud onto it. We don’t appreciate marriage more by being unfaithful, we don’t appreciate truth more by deceiving people, and we don’t appreciate contentment more by being greedy.

    Do you really suppose that Fyodor Karamazov the hedonist appreciated love and faithfulness more than did his pious son Alyosha in The Brothers Karamazov?

    Now realizing the depth and disgrace of sin can cause us to appreciate grace and forgiveness – in fact this is God’s desire. But sinning doesn’t make us better persons. Paul addressed this issue directly as well:

    God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were. But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant. So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful grace rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

    Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it? – Romans 5,6

    In my experience, Christian teachings are wrong. Purity, and defense from sin, are not the adequate ways to spiritual fulfillment. You’ve got to taste blood to know blood, you’ve got to lie to know lies, you’ve got to hurt to know joy, you’ve got to get OUT to come IN. Life without bloodshed is just a surrogate. Reward without sin is just hollow.

    I think you are looking at it backwards. No man is unacquainted with sin; we have all lied and lusted and coveted. Jesus made it clear that our hatred of others gives us plenty of familiarity with murderous impulses, and our lusts are akin to unfaithfulness.

    Acquaintance with sin really isn’t a problem for humanity – the problem Jesus came to solve is that once we were corrupted by that acquaintance, how do we then live? How do we restore the painting that has been slashed, the marriage marred by infidelity, the relationship damaged by dishonesty? How do we become a person who isn’t dragged down by our sinful tendencies once we recognize them? This is the power of Christ and what He taught.

    Hope this helps. Thanks again for your comments Judge.

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