Sinners, Don’t Get Optimistic On Us.

This is a paraphrase of a sentence discussing the late Cardinal Avery Dulles who, “warned that a ‘thoughtless optimism’ about salvation had become a serious problem.”  I found it in a wonderful article by J. Peter Nixon at USCatholic.org.

In the article, Nixon traces the Catholic push and pull over hell.  At various times, hell was  the ultimate hammer over the heads of the Catholic flock.

Then, there were periods when it was noted the Bible never really identifies anyone who is in hell.  In these periods the faithful were encouraged to look not at the God figure so much as the Jesus one.  And, with Jesus, not the cranky saber rattling one and but the forgiving version.

And so it goes in the Protestant branch of the faith as well.  There are factions who want sin followed by hell to be the main message and others who choose a hell-lite version.

So which phase are we in, the hot hell or hell-lite version?  It seems like the hell-lite version is gaining just now.  Even though the current Pope and the largest denomination of Protestants, the Southern Baptist Convention, are on the sin-hell team, growth seems on the other side.

If secular people, who do not think there is either a hell or a heaven, were in the bleachers watching this game, who should they cheer for?  I’d say the burning-in-hell team.

It turns off young people.

 

Avatar of Jon Lindgren

About Jon Lindgren

I am a former President of the Red River Freethinkers in Fargo, ND, a retired NDSU economics professor and was Mayor of Fargo for 16 years.
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42 Responses to Sinners, Don’t Get Optimistic On Us.

  1. Wanna B Sure says:

    Jon; I have used the term “The proper distinction between Law and Gospel” here before, and I believe I have explained it in depth. The application of this “Law and Gospel” would and does prevent the wild swings of emphasis you present here. Balance, without both extremes being dominent.

  2. entech says:

    You really would think that “HE” would send a messenger to correct all the errors being made about what he/she really wants and expects, it would hardly be the action of a just god to punish someone for eternity for believing someone who is supposed to be his servant on earth that turned out to be not correct.

    Or, perhaps as the deists might say, he has gone away and we are on our own. Just a kick start and away we go, so many things happen that would negate the concept of a personal god the problem of evil being quite minor really.

    • Wanna B Sure says:

      Good questions . You might find the answers yet.

      • entech says:

        Lots of questions looking for answers, I will keep looking you and yours will keep thinking that they have the answers. Still I suppose that is better than the Hams and other young earthers that think they have answers in genesis when all they have is answers looking for questions – you know what I mean science says here is the data what is the conclusion, religion says here is the conclusion let’s find the data.

        Newton, possibly one of the greatest intellects of all, was held back by his religious beliefs. When working on the planetary system and the mutual effects of gravity, Two bodies earth and moon easy to calculate, three earth, moon and sun not too bad – when the numbers start to rise and the math gets a bit complicated he says too complex God has to give it a nudge once in a while. This was not beyond him but when you introduce God all research is hindered by preconceived notions. Not long after all this someone asked him why the orbits were elliptical, he went off and invented calculus just to show how the effect of gravity made the elliptical orbit necessary. There are many cases were research stops because the easy answer is God did it.

        • Wanna B Sure says:

          Re. your last sentence; and that would be wrong.

        • entech says:

          Oh ye of little faith :) I have just got a little black book from my shelf and the first sentence says “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth”. The next few lines go on to explain, it seems to me that he visualised in his mind what he wanted and then enunciated the desire to cause it to be created as in “Let there be light: and there was light”.

          2:45 No I haven’t asked all the questions yet. I do not know all the questions yet. Sometimes you cannot know what a new question is until you get the answer to a previous question.

          Sometime you have to work hard and demonstrate a huge intellect to find the question to ask, profound questions like “were you there” :( ;) sorry I just could not resist being silly and sarcastic, but I stand by the second paragraph.

    • Avatar of Jon Lindgren Jon Lindgren says:

      entech 1:39 “You really would think the “HE” would send a messenger to correct all the errors being make about what he/she really wants and expects..”

      That’s a question we secular people are really interested in, but the faithful seem not interested in at all. That is to say, how can there be an all knowing, all powerful big guy, and he can’t seem to do a thing about really important problems?

      I suppose if the only important question in their minds is, “Am I OK for heaven,” the things we think are important are not at all important to them.

      • Wanna B Sure says:

        Jon; You may want to re-word that. You are making some seriously false assumptions. (With errors). Peace out.

      • entech says:

        That is the point Jon, apart from a set of self appointed “gods spokesperson on earth” types and some ancient scribble (which no one alive as there to verify that it was written by the claimed author, love that “were you there “thing almost as good at shutting something down as “god did it”) we have nothing verifiable to tell us what this entity actually wants, actually pretty hard to demonstrate that there is actually is such an entity.

        If their beliefs and ideas keep them happy then who are we to complain just leave them to it. Unfortunately it seems that they won’t be happy until they can convince everyone else, I guess if you have something that is so hard to believe, and, that you have to accept on faith: then it becomes imperative to get as many people to validate the thoughts as possible to show you are not wasting your time and brain power.

      • Wanna B Sure says:

        More good questions. Almost self validating. Who needs science.

        • entech says:

          Thou Wanna.

        • Wanna B Sure says:

          The “who needs science” was in reference to you. When you have your mastery of philosophy, science is really unnecessary. Thou indeed.

          • entech says:

            In Newton’s day Science was called Natural Philosophy, I can’t remember when they became separate fields, if they have, or, when science split into it’s separate branches. Either without the other becomes sterile and is in danger of falling into some kind of religious certitude.

            Sorry that if reads as pretentious.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            I’m concerned that you have become sterile.

          • entech says:

            Perhaps always was, 45 years married with no offspring?

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            I’m tempted, but I’m not going there.

          • entech says:

            The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
            Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
            Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
            Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.

            And that inverted Bowl we call The Sky,
            Whereunder crawling coop’t we live and die,
            Lift not thy hands to *It* for help—for It
            Rolls impotently on as Thou or I.

            Not to be confused with Omar

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            That would give a hyper literalist a brain freeze.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            David; On the lighter side, are you familiar with “The worlds most interisting man”? Dos Eckes Beer (XX beer from Mexico), uses it as an advertisement. Funny. Google has lists of attributes, and on U-Tube. “I don’t drink beer very often, but when I do, it’s Dos Eckes.”

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            Sorry; DosEquis—Most interesting man in the world.

          • entech says:

            Funny

    • Bob says:

      Entech 1:39 Please don’t say the “she” part Entech. For millinea, most women have been under the heavy horrible yoke of the male gods. Don’t try make it equal now or politically correct, when its only been around a hundred years or less since women have even had the vote in the U.S. Just don’t go there Entech. Its rude and inconsiderate to say the least.

      • entech says:

        Note that I used the first he in upper case with the “scare” quotes around and the second time was a male/female combination. I was intending to show the ambiguity of the whole thing, according to my reading this deity has no gender. That it is invented by man (as male not generic) for the benefit of man is of little if any doubt.

  3. A. Friend says:

    One may question God’s existence but one cannot question His creation. One can dismiss all of recorded history surrounding the existence of Jesus Christ and his disciples and followers but one would then also have to dismiss the recorded history surrounding Caeaser, Gengis Khan, etc. What drives a person to suffer and die rather than deny their faith in Christ? What of the people who claim to have died, albeit briefly, and then recount their time spent “away”.

    • entech says:

      Beautiful video and very inspiring, unfortunately it does not inspire me to accept the conclusion. If such awe inspiring beauty all there was it would be easier to accept, but, we are still left with Blake’s question, “did he who made the lamb make thee”. There is too much horror to counterpoint the beauty.

      • Wanna B Sure says:

        I paraphrase something from someone I can’t remember, but it stuck in my head; “Philosophy, that fine art which raises much dust through which one cannot see.”

        • entech says:

          Sounds like something out of Bishop Berkeley, not to be confused with Bishop Usher who raised a dust storm that has blinded many people for a long time.

          • Wanna B Sure says:

            ???

          • entech says:

            Sorry if that was a bit convoluted, sometime times I get to be too much of a smart A for my own good.

            Berkeley was a philosopher, and empiricist and an idealist. Usher was also an Irish Bishop, as I am sure you know he was the person that calculated that everything began on the evening before Sunday, 23 October 4004 BC (Julian).
            Berkeley said that we sometimes raise so much dust in our philosophies that we cannot see clearly (maybe a bit guilty sometimes). Usher raised so much dust that young earth creationists have never been able to see clearly.

        • Wanna B Sure says:

          It could have been Berkley. I read it probably 20 yr. ago. Usher, I am well aware of him. For his time, it may have been reasonable but unfortunately far too many today still rely on his calculations. His was a different time. This is now.

  4. Bob says:

    Do me, discussing the the whole hell fire and brimstone or the kinder forgiveness supernaturalist thing, is no different than discussing any other fantasy literature’s idea of after life.
    You could do the same with Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. Only Lord of the Rings is a better story and better written as far as I’m concerned.

  5. Bob says:

    Jon 2:17 “about what he/she really wants and expects..”

    There’s been very little “she” with any kind of power throughout history.
    So don’t bother trying to be politically correct after millinia, its just insulting to women who’ve are and have been under the male god yoke for thousands of years.

    That’s just rude Jon, and inconsiderate.

  6. Bob says:

    I should have added with all due respect, because I do respect your post/blog.
    Thanks
    Bob

  7. entech says:

    Bob, I think you are looking for a gender fight with the wrong people.

    • Bob says:

      To Entech 9:54 With all respect,
      Well…I don’t mean to. Its just it really bugs me when referring to god as a he/she after all this time when most gods are male and females are still under the male god yoke.

      Do you see?
      Bob

  8. Bob says:

    Entech, 3:37, then please don’t use he/she if you really agree.
    Its the majority male gods that are and have done most of the damage.

    Thank you.

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