What if the Christian version of the End of the World came an hour from now?

by Terry 8 Replies latest jw friends

  • Terry

    The next thing I knew, I was knee deep in conversation with a Seminary Student covering two thousand years of religious history. Damn, how did that happen?

    I won’t bore you with lavish details. In fact, I only mention the incident for one reason.
    I'm no smarter than anybody - but I've had way too much practice chatting with eager Christian Seminary students.
    I posed a couple of questions I’d never done before which seemed to stop this fella dead in his tracks.
    Never has this occurred previously.
    Bullets bounce off Seminary students!

    Here is how it went down.

    Me: “Half the world population (4 billion people) have never made a phone call, have never seen a television set, or heard a single word about a fella named Jesus. Let that sink in a minute. Now listen to me. I PROPOSE A THOUGHT EXPERIMENT. This is a WHAT IF. What if the Christian version of the End of the World came an hour from now--the Lord God Almighty takes you, John, aside and tells you the following . . . “

    GOD: “John, I’m going to have to destroy 4 billion men, women, children, and infants. Is that okay with you?”
    Me: “So, what do you answer, John?”

    At this point, my young bearded Master of Divinity student begins to squirm. He deflects, he dodges and rebuts and pivots to the point I step in again and say firmly:

    Me: “John, please accept the premise and simply respond honestly. God has asked a question and He expects an answer.”

    After more squirming and another intervention on my part, finally, John answers.

    John: “Yes. God is righteous and Just and Sovereign and can do no wrong. I have to accept that no matter what He does--it is always the right thing.”

    Me: “Thank you, John. One last question--a variation on the first one. Are you ready?”

    John (not ready at all) : “Okay.”

    Me: “God now says to you. . . “

    God: “ John, I’m going to leave the matter of LIFE or DEATH for those 4 billion persons entirely up to you. You are now able to save all of them by simply asking me to spare them. But, John---you have to die in place of them. Okay? What is your answer?”

    Do I have to tell you, there followed another five minutes of wiggly, squirmy, pivoting? I waited for him to wind down making excuses. I cornered him and repeated ‘God’s’ question one more time until John answered wearily:

    John: “Yes, I would have to do what Jesus did--as a Christian, I’d have to sacrifice myself to save others.”

    My only purpose in setting up this artificial dilemma was to get him to realize something he had never considered at all.

    Me: “John, do you realize what you’ve just done?”

    Almost terrified (I kid you not) John’s eyes widened.
    John: “What?”

    Me: “You’ve demonstrated that YOU are more merciful than God Almighty! You would rather die than see 4 billion sinners destroyed even though you acknowledge they DESERVE to die because they aren’t believers in Jesus. How can you explain that?”

    Now, I won’t repeat all of his subsequent dialogue. It was special pleading, diversionary rhetoric, and pure bombast.
    I waited till it died down before proceeding. We have all heard this sort of thing a thousand times, haven't we?

    Me: “The meaning of “Good” and the meaning of “Bad” are opposite meanings--except when God acts--suddenly Justice, Mercy, Love--all disappear in a puff of whimsical smoke! How can you believe God is Just and Loving no matter whether He kills 4 billion people or lets them live? When left to your own sense of Justice, Mercy, and Love you do the OPPOSITE of what you believe God would do on His own. John--that makes you a BETTER PERSON than God Almighty!”

    John went into rhetorical meltdown mode for a good (bad) fifteen solid minutes of self-exculpation and disavowal.

    Me: “ When you say God is Sovereign--you allow into your mind a Leader capable of any atrocity or miracle simultaneously. I submit to you--what is the difference between such a God and Kim Jong Un or Joseph Stalin, or Saddam Hussein? YOU are willing to give him a blank check and will sign off on both atrocity and miracles. If it were up to you (and trust me, it really IS) you wouldn’t approve of His outcome-based morality. So, I just wanted you to face that situation squarely. It is not a MORAL position for you. It is an IMMORAL one.”

    John didn’t like what I was saying.
    It wasn’t important, I fully expected him to bristle.
    simply wanted to crack open the vault he’d sealed himself in whereby he detaches himself from humanity.


    What I didn’t tell you was the previous fifteen minutes conversation. That conversation was John going on about Homosexual sins, abortion, transgender bathrooms and such!

    I listened with my stomach tightening. This was so clearly a person with a mind locked tight against his fellow human beings SOLELY because he thought God knew best--at least his version of God.

    I left John after that long conversation with the following sentence. You judge for yourself if I was a big bully or not.

    Me: “Your half of America sees the other half as THEM. Their half sees your half as THEM. Are you really willing to see them dead--or are you willing to die for them? Which is it really--and based on what? Christianity is many, many different ideas at odds--not a monolithic set of tablets with Do’s and Don’ts. When you earn your Master's Degree, what is it you’ve really “mastered” except a formula for condemning people who disagree?”

  • RubaDub

    What if the Christian version of the End of the World came an hour from now?

    Well, I would save the effort of going to the curb and pulling in the recycling container they just emptied and instead open up an 18 year Johnnie Walker bottle of scotch I was storing in the collection for special occasions. I would pour a double, and little extra.

    I would then get a chair and sit on the front lawn with a Leffe Tripel as a chaser. I would get my polarized sunglasses I use for fishing to cut down on the glare of the fire and sulphur as my neighbors' houses are melted away.

    Depending on the mood, maybe have enough time for a second round.

  • eyeuse2badub

    Damn if the christian version of "the end of the world" came an hour from now we would all miss the final day of the Zoom Zoom----- "Always Rejoice" Regional Convention. How sad would that be?

    just saying!

  • under the radar
    under the radar

    I like the way you think, Terry. But I'm sure you realize by now that you cannot depend on reason to make points in a religious discussion with a "true believer." They'll finally resort to something along the lines of, "It's not a matter of reason. It's a matter of faith."

    Reason has no power against blind faith. When people have already made up their mind what they want to believe, no amount of persuasion or logic or reason will dissuade them. It's a lost cause.

  • Terry

    John (the student in Seminary) had protested: "Jesus already died for everybody; he already proved His love. It's up to us to warn them." I had to smile (having been a JW with the same mindset.

    I pointed out something he had never ever thought about before.
    I said, "Yes, but Jesus came back from the dead. So, that's more like a magic trick where the woman isn't really sawed in half.

    Death is a very elastic concept in spiritually minded people. Dead isn't dead as a doornail.
    Dead is "But wait--there's more!" Only kidding - it's temporary.

    Dead is judgment. Dead is Hell. Dead is heaven. Dead is paradise.
    Because why?
    These are assertions un-provable until you've traded the most valuable thing you have for what's behind door number three.

  • pistolpete

    You are now able to save all of them by simply asking me to spare them. But, John---you have to die in place of them. Okay? What is your answer?”

    Insert; Except John, you won't get a resurrection like Jesus. You'll be dead forever. With that in mind will you still die for those 4 billion infants, children, mothers, fathers, and grandparents who never heard of Jesus.

    I wonder what reply John would have given under these circumstances? Would he still die for all those people if no resurrection was available for him anymore?

  • Terry
    To disincentivize self-sacrifice removes the dopamine squirt the brain offers for virtue signalling.

    My now deceased best friend who is the person who evangelized me into the Watchtower religion is guy I had more discussion / debates with than any other human.
    I once asked him, "What if you heard a voice in your head instructing you to put your daughter down with a kitchen knife - and the voice assured you it was Jehovah speaking?"
    Before he could form a coherent reply, I reminded him that it would be practically identical to the situation Abraham faced with Isaac.

    He knew he was trapped by the apparent insanity of believing a "voice in your head".

    I think the contrast shook him a little - but - he told me - if he genuinely believed Jehovah was speaking to him, he'd have to comply.
    Just hearing those words sort of chilled me to his fanaticism.

    I simply responded, "And we today don't even actually "HEAR" Jehovah's voice telling us what our sacrifice is to be ...no...we listen to the Governing Body who CLAIM it is THEY who hear."
  • LeeT

    Your question reminded me of the "poof or drown" question often posed by Doug (PineCreek Youtube channel) which is set in Noah's flood.

    God consults you about these people that must die. Do you advise God to poof them painlessly and instantly out of existence or do you suggest a drawn out and terrifying death by drowning in a flood, along with innocent animals?

    Say poof and you're suggesting God took the wrong course. Choose drown and your only excuse is probably that we are feeble minded imperfect humans and God is omniscient and all loving so must have good reasons, whatever they were.

    It leads into all sorts of questions on the Euthyphro dilemma.
    Are things good just because that is what God would do? That sounds like "might makes right" and God can pick and choose his own moral standards. I think Hitchen's compared this to the celestial North Korea style love of the Great Leader.
    Alternatively, does God only choose to make decisions which are morally right in any case, independently of what course he chooses? If so, why can't we figure out a good moral code without God's guidance?

    The poof or drown question has already been discussed on ExJW Reddit.
    Reddit - Poof or Drown

    PineCreek with Greg Koukl on Poof or Drown

  • Terry

    Interesting. I like it! Thanks, LeeT

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