Saturday, 16 November 2013

Religion - my experience - Part 2 - heaven and hell

Courtesy of Wikimedia
This is a follow on from the post I did a week or so ago. In some religions, not just Christianity, there is a widespread belief that you will go to heaven if you believe and adhere to a particular set of beliefs. If you don't, you will go to hell.

I don't have enough experience of other religions to comment on their beliefs, but, in Christian terms, you must believe in Jesus as your Lord and Saviour and 'follow' his plan for your life. Jesus died for you on the cross to forgive your sins, and you are made worthy of heaven if you believe in him. Then you will go to heaven when you die. If you do not believe this, then you are a sinner and will go to hell when you die. There are various different interpretations that Christians have of hell, some of which are horrific - the 'lake of fire' being particularly so.

Here's the crack, and this is very important to take note of: Christians and other religions would say that God is just to send people to hell. I used to say that. But, if God were to appear to any Christian or Muslim and say to them - 'Actually, your belief is wrong. You needed to do something else in order to get a ticket to heaven. Joseph Smith was the man you needed to follow. You are a sinner, and you will go to hell.' - Would they still be saying that God is 'just'? And also, if a family member dies who is not a believer, and God sent them to hell, would they still be saying that God is just?

I don't think I need to give you the answer to that one.

And it is all rather odd to me that believing in Jesus can make the difference between spending an eternity in heaven and an eternity in hell. It's a bit like saying that giving 2 pence to a charity is going to make the difference between feeding every starving person in Africa, and not feeding them. Poor analogy, but hopefully you get my drift.

Unfortunately, I sucked up the whole hellfire and brimstone nonsense, which led to a pretty frightening experience when my religious beliefs fell apart. I felt like I had betrayed Jesus. Biblical phrases such as 'It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God' were at the forefront of my mind during the worst time of my life in 2006. Thankfully, I survived, and eventually realised that my brain had been taken for a ride. But it was a very serious matter at the time.

This image of God as a 'holy and just God who will not tolerate sin' really does need to be removed from the conscience of all human beings. If any human being punished someone with the fires of hell for even a day let alone eternity, they would rightly be regarded as a lunatic and madman and be reviled by the rest of society. God, just because he has apparently never sinned (although the Old Testament might have something to say on that one) is allowed to let people go to hell and still worshipped.

We do not need redemption for our sins. None of us are perfect, but it's not down to Adam and Eve. We all have the potential to be beautiful people, with or without a Jesus or a Buddha influencing our lives.


Picture by James 'Bo' Insogna
I know full well that Christians will come back at me by saying things like:
'God doesn't send people to hell, he has provided a way out by sending Jesus to the cross to pay for our sins'. And to be honest, there's a part of me (the ego) that wants to prove myself and my beliefs right. And some of the Christian beliefs now seem like such utter nonsense to me, that I feel like speaking out against them at times. 

I have no idea how each religion started or how the beliefs were formed. But I think the whole belief that we are sinners is the most harmful. It's a reflection of the self esteem of people over the centuries. Why does anyone even want to entertain the idea of themselves as a sinner? It makes no sense. 

There must have been so much fear in people to come up with these stories about hell. If there had been more love in the world over the last 2 centuries, there may not have been any need for religion, let alone wars. Mankind has lost touch with nature, with life itself, with his/her original essence of love. Maybe Jesus was crucified because people couldn't stand his message of love - rather than God sending him to the cross to pay for our sins.

Why would we need someone to save us? If our self esteem was high and we believed in ourselves as loving, divine beings - we would not need someone to pay the price for our sins. We are enough.

I hope you enjoy reading this. 

1 comment:

  1. Wow, what a gift you have given yourself Andy. You now have the freedom to explore your spirituality and beliefs without the constraint of a religion. I do not come from a religious background, so I don't speak from experience, but it must have been a difficult and confusing time for you. From my standpoint, it seems to me that religion can place such constraints on people, and it rules from a place of fear as a means of controlling people. I believe that God, Truth, is love, and that is all there is. If something is coming from a place of love I welcome it into my heart. If it is not, then I don't. I wish you well on your journey; we are all fellow travelers and actually, it's all good, even if it doesn't always feel that way. Peace and love to you.


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