I am acutely aware of the seriousness of faith. The major Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) are all concerned with salvation, and how we can be “right with God”. If there is a God who has created this vast universe, as I am convinced there is, then His power to bring salvation or damnation is of the utmost importance and we are right to fear Him.
It is this fear of God which has led me to study religion in depth. In my adult life I have made it my mission to understand more about God and religion, and to try to ascertain what truth is and how I can live in the best possible way. I’m still learning, and the more I explore the more I realise the vast range of opinions that exist in matters that are of huge theological importance.
If heaven and hell exist, and if only one religious path leads to salvation, then many billions of people will be damned to hell. The reason I find this concept difficult is because I believe God is completely in control of our lives and our destinies. The idea that God would judge people for actions which He has freely undertaken (to unfold our lives in a certain way) is problematic as we can have done nothing freely to warrant God’s wrath. As a caveat to this, I must point out that it is not my place to judge God, and I don’t deny He has the power and authority to do whatever He chooses, even if damning certain people to hell might seem cruel or unfair to my human understanding.
I find it difficult to understand those who believe that God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent, but at the same time argue that we have free will. It is so clear to me that we do not have free will. We do not take the decision to be born. We do not choose to grow from nothing into babies and then toddlers and then teenagers and then adults. We do not choose the colour of our skin or our eyes. We do not choose how our organs are arranged in our bodies. We do not choose our parents, or our siblings. We do not choose to make our hearts beat, or our blood flow. We do not choose to grow our nails or our hair. We do not choose our dreams when we sleep. We do not choose to digest our food and drink.
In the same way, we don’t choose which thoughts will arise in our minds. If you believe you are in control of your thoughts then tell me, what is a thought? How do you make thoughts arise in your mind? What will you be thinking about in an hour’s time, or at this time next year? If you say thoughts are caused by your subconscious, then please explain what this subconscious is and who or what is in control of it. If you think that you are merely a product of evolution, then please explain what is the cause of this evolution. If you believe we exist due to a set of mathematical laws, then please explain why these laws exist. And tell me, why does anything exist at all?
What causes the seed to grow into a flower? What causes the tree to sprout up from the earth and grow its branches and its fruit? My friend, when you pray for good weather, a fruitful harvest, or a new job, are you not praying to a God who is in control? Do you really not see that God is in control of all things?
And yet still, there are those who attempt to argue that God only does good things; that He is not in control of your ailments and your diseases; your very life and death. There are those who argue that God blesses them with a husband or wife, or a tasty meal, or a new job, but then deny that it is also God who causes the divorce, or the food poisoning, or the redundancy. Friend, can’t you see the hypocrisy in this way of thinking? Surely you know, if you are honest with yourself, that God is in control of all those things which you call “good” and all those things which you call “evil”.
I hear you arguing that your holy scriptures talk about the devil as the cause of evil in the world. Friend, do not be naive. Have you really thought in depth about what the devil is? I would like to know some attributes of this creature. Where does he dwell exactly? Does he live within a creaturely body? Is he able to somehow insert thoughts into your mind? Surely he would have to be omnipresent in order to control our thoughts. What are his powers? What does he control in contrast with what God controls? Please, give me some insights into Satan and his powers, and let those insights be rational!
If the devil exists, he must be under God’s control, as everything is. To argue against this would be to deny God’s omnipresence. The myth of the fall, and the entire Christian story, are based on the idea that we have free will, which we do not. How can it be said that we are sinners, when all of our sin is willed by God?
If you’re still not convinced, my friends, I’d like to invite you to undertake a simple exercise. Take a sheet of paper, divide it into three columns, and label the columns ‘God’, ‘Satan’, and ‘Human’. Then under each of those headings proceed to list the things of which each of the three persons is in control. We might call this ‘The Will Game’. You could even put certain activities into more than one column. My intention is to encourage you to think deeply about the cause of activity in existence, in the microcosm and the macrocosm.
Now I do not wish to offend my Almighty God and Father, whom I kneel to in prayer each and every day. I do not wish to offend the God who has power to make me suffer in every moment for all eternity. Heavens, that is the last thing I wish to do! I am driven to speak the truth in accordance with my convictions, and may you, my friends, persuade me otherwise if I am wrong! I cannot argue that God is in control, as I have done here, and then deny that my convictions come from God. God must be willing me to write this article or I wouldn’t be doing so. The Lord knows full well that I am merely a puppet in His hands!
Perhaps I am in dangerous territory. Could it be that by speaking so openly about the truth that I perceive, I am participating in my own downfall? This worries me greatly. I don’t know whether the Christian story is so beloved by God that anyone who questions it is guilty of a grave sin. I can believe that the Christian story is God’s game that He has chosen to play over the last two thousand years, and maybe it is a great sin to shed light on the errors and inconsistencies in this great story which has produced so many saints and martyrs.
I write not to argue against God but to convey what God has revealed to me. I am a lonely voice in a world where either people have forsaken God in their atheism or they hold blindly to a set of doctrines and defend them at all costs. People are quick to say who will be saved and who will be damned, but I do not claim to have such knowledge, despite what any particular scripture says! I have a hope that God is ultimately merciful to every sentient being, and I do pray that God chooses mercy over damnation for all of us, regardless of our beliefs – beliefs which He has bestowed upon us!
Lord, forgive me if I have sinned in writing this article. You know my heart. You know that I hate doing anything that annoys or angers you. I know that if this article speaks to anyone, it will be through your Spirit working in the minds of those who read. I ask, Lord, that you would show these people only what is true, and that you would save their minds from any thoughts you would consider blasphemous. May your truth and your will prosper, Lord!