All throughout my years as a Christian I remember hearing the story of the betrayal of Jesus by Judas. I remember hearing about how awful a person Judas had to have been in order to turn his back on his friend and teacher for a couple of pieces of silver. He was easily one of the most demonized figures in biblical teaching.
All that said, if you take into account the whole reason that Jesus came to Earth according to the bible, don’t you think that Judas kind of gets a bum rap? I mean, without Judas’ betrayal there would have been no trial of Jesus. Without the trial, there would have been no execution of Jesus. And without the execution of Jesus there would have been no opportunity for him to rise again, thus beating the bonds of death and serving as a stand in punishment for humanity’s sins. Doesn’t God’s entire plan fall apart without Judas?
It seems to me that Judas should be celebrated for what he did. What option did he have? It almost seems to me that he didn’t even have any free will in the process. The plan was made and executed exactly as God had laid it out. And Judas has taken the fall for it. When you actually take a step back and look at it this way, the story really seems silly (it’s silly for lots of other reasons too, but I’m gonna stay on topic here).
I’ve recently asked a few members of my family a religious/philosophical question that they have not been able to give me an answer to. I feel that it’s a legitimate question, and I really would love to know how they are able to reconcile this. Though, ultimately, I believe it to be irreconcilable under their current belief system. I will post the question below (as was presented to them) and then their initial responses and some of my replies.
Here’s the question:
“You and I are riding in a car and have a horrific accident. We both die instantly. We come to find out that it WAS, in fact, true that there is a god and it’s YOUR god. So, you get to spend eternity in heaven and I, obviously get to spend it tortured in hell. Now, you’re my mother/brother/sister/etc, so please explain to me how heaven is going to be a wonderful place for you to be knowing that I (and probably many MANY other people that you’ve known and loved in life) am being burned and tortured in hell?”
I realize this is a rather harsh concept, but I feel it addresses a rather important issue for believers. They claim that their goal is to get to heaven and spend eternity in God’s presence, but I don’t think any of them have contemplated what it would mean to have their loved ones not there, and according to the doctrine they believe, they are in hell.
This is the response my mother gave:
“One thing i know, God is the only one that can judge your heart and mine. I know his word well enough to know he loves us both. I know you want an answer about how I could enjoy heaven at that thought. I couldn’t. Not the way I am now. How could I. But all of his promises and assurances from the time I gave him my heart to him, tells me I can trust him with all that I have all now, and what I will experieced in the future. He hasn’t failed me. He’s my father. My papa. He brought me through so much pain and gave me peace. He is a loving God and knows the heart.
I love you.
This is an overwhelming thought and I’m praying for a clearer answer.”
I replied to her that I was looking forward to a further response on the question, but one never came. We did talk about it over the phone briefly once, and her thoughts came down to the idea that those memories would be gone. So, she figures she’d have no memories of her lost family members. How is that concept of heaven something desirable? My family, wife, and daughter are the most important things to me. If there was a heaven, I would want nothing to do with it if those things weren’t part of it. Not to meantion that it certainly seems like you would have to be fundamentally changed from who you were in life in order to be that way in heaven.
I posed the same question to my brother (who actively serves in the ‘ministry’). Got the following response…
“I will respond in time, i appreciate your patience…”
That was two months ago. Nothing else has been forthcoming.
The lack of valid responses to the question leaves me to believe that there is no good response. I think it leaves them feeling very uncomfortable because it truly does cause problems with their beliefs. I know I couldn’t resolve this in my own head. I’m open to honest responses from believers. I really am. I’d love to hear from people who can try to explain how they would resolve this. I’ve considered this for quite some time, and for now, I find it to be the ‘irresolvable problem’.
Last week, on Facebook, I posted a link to a Fox News video clip about an ex-atheist who is now a believer because he prayed for his mother to win the lottery and she did. While the problems with this are obvious (why is an atheist praying, etc), the ensuing discussion in the comments, as expected, became interesting rather quickly. In the ‘news’ story, the interviewer had the gall to bring up the tornadoes down south and how we are getting ‘signs’ of God all over. Like the fact that an entire town was destroyed, but a cross from a church was left standing. I brought up this fact and my mother commented:
“Hmmnnn, God/lottery…. Doesn’t really fit. God does permit people to die. His word says “it is appointed for man, once to die” though.”
And another, more distant, relative later responded:
“Sorry, disagree honey – we plan and God laughs…He’s the one in control….”
My reply was this:
And I would never, in a million years, do anything to take away your right to believe that. That said, I find myself in a very small minority whose voice is often lost in the throngs of the believing majority. Especially here on Facebook. So, because of that, I will never stop voicing what I believe to be a sound worldview based on logic & reason. What I find most interesting and has been very enlightening to me can be explained with what I was talking about earlier. Tragedies like the tornadoes, the earthquakes in japan and Haiti, etc make a lot more sense when you take god out of the picture. You no longer have to do massive mental gymnastics to reason why an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-good god would allow these things to happen. When you take him out of the picture, the random functions of our natural world make a lot more sense, though, it does not lessen the tragic nature of those events. Nothing can!