Friday, August 30, 2013


"I mean, I've been praying. But I must not be praying right. Looks like we're just gonna have to answer each other's prayers."
--Excerpt from "The Sixth Sense"

When I was a kid, my friends and siblings and I would play a game which we affectionately called "Hot Lava". You may have heard of it. Our preferred method of play was to go to our outside jungle gym and swing set and work our way from one end to the other without touching the ground, which we had labeled "hot lava". Climbing and swinging from one apparatus to another was great fun. If the Seattle weather did not permit outside play (which, quite frankly, rarely stopped us) we would use the couches in the Living Room to protect us from the carpet (blue is such a strange color for lava). In a simple kind of way, we had effectively found a solution to the made-up problem of lava covering the ground.

A friend of mine, who has somewhat recently returned to Mormonism after a hiatus of a few years, posted on Facebook what could be described as a call to sinners to never give up on repenting (because that's what Satan wants):

"The adversary tells us we've gone too far and that there is no hope. It is his greatest lie. His hope is that we'll believe it and give up until we can no longer heed the voice of inhibition and reason. That we'll just give up and take it one step further and then another. And slowly drag ourselves down until there truly is no hope. Christ's atonement covers every dark deed and selfish desire. It doesn't just have the power to cleanse us and enable us, it has the power to change us. It can change even the dirtiest of sinners. Then why not us? The message of the atonement is love. Who cares what we have done in the past. God loves us so much that he forgave us of all we've done and will do before we were ever born. He just asks that we seek him out and accept the power of Christ and allow ourselves to be changed. He cares not about the past. Only the future."

Before I delve into the heart of his admonition, one might argue that Satan's "greatest lie" is not that sinners are too far gone to repent and be saved, but that he is, in fact, god. Just gnaw on that for a bit.

It is a rather common teaching in Mormonism, and I imagine in Christianity as a whole, that Christ's atonement is all-encompassing and that Satan gently coerces us to step away from god through sin and then convinces us that repentance is futile. This seems to be the point my friend wishes to refute, and, honestly, for one who believes such a theology to be true, it is probably comforting and it may even be useful. But is it true?

Let's suppose, for now at least, that it is true. Then, is it just? Is the system which Mormonism (and Christianity) proposes the best an all-knowing, all-powerful creator of everything (most especially us) could come up with?

This system is set up in such a way that every single human being is guaranteed to fall short and sin against this creator. And because we are all doomed, an innocent third party is summoned to pay the price of our sins through human blood-sacrifice. Some theologians quibble over the question of whether the atonement took place at Christ's death on the cross or as he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. Either way, the result is the same: an innocent, uninvolved person absolves us of our responsibility and accountability for finite crimes against an omnipotent judge. Ah, but this ultimate sacrifice of eternal love has a catch. You must accept this filthy blood-sacrifice on faith (meaning without any evidence that it actually happened or was even necessary), and failure to do so puts you right back where you started--DAMNED.

This is absurdity of the lowest grade. If true, this system is immoral and quite literally unbelievable by a thinking person; if untrue, this is millenia-old hucksterism and should be expunged from our society. Please tell me why an omnipotent being would be offended by such arbitrary transgressions by puny mortal beings which he intentionally designed to offend him? Why can't he just forgive us for his mistake of not creating us in such a way as to be able to pay our own debt. Isn't the very notion of a debt inconsequential to an omnipotent being? Why should he care? Isn't taking offense a sign of weakness rather than omnipotence?

As with my nostalgic game "Hot Lava", where we solved the problem of hot lava on the ground by climbing over furniture, so is the atonement of Christ a made-up solution to a made-up problem. And who, you may ask, made-up this sloppy solution to a fictitious problem? The very same who invented god to explain natural phenomena: ancient, ignorant men.


The thing that god can't do (warning: explicit):

 How amazing is God's Forgiveness? Not very. 

Christopher Hitchens: The Immoral Teachings Of Christianity 

No comments: