More musings on Doctrine

It seems to me absurd that the God of all goodness, God who is transcendent goodness personified, could possible be ascribed the very epitome of evil.

In what sense could the One who creates all with the intention of eventually restoring all Creation to Himself be considered far worse than any good human father?

How could we accept a god who creates humanity with the full knowledge that many will end up in Hell-fire (or any level Dante desires to name). What morality is there in knowingly doing that?

How can anyone be prepared to argue (as they do) that Hell is a necessary outworking of God's justice? That free will necessarily condemns untold millions to eternal damnation. By any stretch of the meaning of Natural Justice how could that ever fit any conceivable (or inconceivable) finite crime? Dear God, we are so much more than 'me': we are the product of nature and our nurture, of all those who have influenced us and moulded us, or whom we have modelled ourselves upon. We may only live for, say, 20 years, yet be consigned to hell for eternity: no, it is too monstrous and destroys any hope of good news.

And if that is not enough, we are then faced with the extremes which insist only a minority were ever in the club. Are we to evangelise to save people from God's vindictive 'justice'? Are all hung over the pit of Hell during their lives (as George Whitfield preached); or is this just some crude tool to manage social conformity through fear?

Added to this we, in the West, (for neither of these infernal doctrines have ever had traction in the Eastern Church) thanks to Augustine's reading of the confusing Vulgate and his even more confused psychology, have had to bear the cultural consequences of original sin and the power that gave to an overburdening political church establishment.

This is rubbish when looked at from any scientific or logical viewpoint and yet the Church still looks on babies as somehow tainted, demanding that they be ‘sainted’ — or else. despite our Good God pronouncing all things good and humanity 'very good'. Are we to believe He changed His mind within a moment?

Yet again, this crude doctrine is supported neither by the Eastern Church nor Judaism (and the latter, after all, wrote Genesis).

“But, what about the Apostles Creed?” I hear you ask. Good question. I’ll write about that next.

So, what do I believe?
Well, I go along with the Eastern Church, Judaism and Pelagius. I reject original or inhered sin.
As to hell, the absence of the knowledge of the Good is hell enough. I believe the sight of Him and His love will melt any heart (before or after death). Oh, and don't tell me minds are fixed at death or the story of angels who chose a different path can't be true.

I also believe that these doctrines have thwarted the practical living of the Good News. For centuries we have been inculcated with the hope of ‘jam tomorrow’: that the church navis will carry us to heaven so long as we stay safe in its walls. Jesus, on the other hand, taught us to pray “Your kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven“ and in that phrase lies a command to live the gospel now.

In the end, I just trust that God is Good: it is enough for me. Some questions we just have to live with.

I will probably add to this blog as I go along.

There has been a lot of reading that has helped me put some flesh on what my heart has been telling me for many years (though I’m not an academic) but I would mention, in no particular order:

St Gregory of Nyssa: On The Making of Man
George MacDonald: The Hope of the Gospel (Kindle Ed)
David Bentley Hart: That All Shall be Saved (Kindle Ed)
Julie Ferwerda: Raising Hell (Kindle Ed)
The Letters of Pelagius
Rumi: Selected Poems (Kindle Ed)
Sean Carroll: The Big Picture — On the Origins of Life, Meaning and the Universe itself; Something Deeply Hidden (Kindle Ed)
Darwin: ‘Origins’
Steve Jones: Almost Like a Whale — ‘Origins’ updated
Steve Chalke: The Lost Message of Paul
Barbera Brown Taylor: Finding Faith (and many more)
Peter Enns: The Sin of Certainty; The Bible Tells Me So; How the Bible Actually works; Genesis; etc (Kindle Eds)
The Orthodox Study Bible (Olive Tree ed)
The Jewish Study Bible
Dante: Divine Comedy

This is a personal blog website and I have no interest in tracking visitors.
Cookies are used to make the site work.
Requests to third-party servers are anonymised so no user-identifying information is shared.