Tuesday, May 09, 2006

I must have been maybe 16 or 17 the first time I vocalized the burning question in my mind. Specifically, did all the native american inhabitants of our splendid nation who died previous to the migration of the puritans automatically go to hell due to their lack of proximity to an obnoxious protestant?

If so, the love and justice of God are called into question. If not, christian theology regarding salvation and the role of Jesus are called into question. Really, there's no winning.

Being a cold and heartless bitch with a mind for logic, I presented some half-baked reasoning of my own. Maybe there's a loophole for people who haven't had the opportunity to pray the formulaic jesus prayer in which we put so much trust. Sort of like an "If..... Then.... Else... equation in a computer science assignment. I wanted to make two conflicting ideas somehow fit into one paradigm.

Well I made the mistake of opening my inarticulate mouth to one of my more dogmatic friends.... and she flipped out. "What did Jesus die for then?"

Indeed.

Her response only served to embed the matter in my psyche. If she had calmly considered the issue, I may have let it pass, but her intense reaction only told me that there was something important and frightening in the question.

I didn't understand it fully at the time, but as I've given it more thought over the years I'm starting to understand why it's scary. I mean, a christian's entire identity is built around the divinity and death of Jesus. The necessity of Jesus dying implies a need for salvation, which alludes to the concepts of heaven and hell, and it provides the exclusivity which christians seem to enjoy so much.

But if Congolese Pygmies can go to heaven if they haven't had the opportunity to reject Christ then there's a way to be saved aside from Jesus, which means that Jesus didn't need to die in the first place. This would imply that an entire belief system is built on.... well..... not much?

I will be perfectly honest, it scares me too. My childhood was wrapped up in Jesus, my adolescence absorbed in the knowledge of Jesus, everything I ever learned somehow wrapped around Jesus so that He is the very epicenter of my consciousness.

Who is Jesus? What is salvation? Salvation from what?

There's so much more I'd like to say on the subject, but another day. Your assignment for tonight is to dream up all the correct answers and tell me them in the morning.

3 Comments:

Anonymous drew said...

Some would say that Jesus died for everyone, whether they know it in this lifetime or not. This theory is known as the doctrine of Universal Reconciliation. See http://www.drewc.net for more on this idea if you so desire.

May 10, 2006 6:58 AM  
Anonymous ursa smaller said...

thank you drew, that's actually the next thing on my mind. It will help to have more information on the idea before I start in on it.

May 10, 2006 9:21 PM  
Anonymous drew said...

Not a problem. Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on it. :)

May 11, 2006 1:03 PM  

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