Monday, December 3

Perceptions of God

I stopped in the newsstand at the train station today. The last couple of years, we've gotten my brother and sister-in-law a board game for Christmas. I was hoping to find the current issue of Games Magazine, which has their annual list of the best new board games. They didn't have it, but something caught my eye while I was there.

The cover of the current issue of Harper's Magazine teased an article by asking whether the Christian God is evil. I had to pick it up and skim the article. Essentially, this piece stated that while some Christians are good, forgiving people, that God is evil. This is because he condemns everyone who doesn't accept him to an eternity of torment. The authors argue that only someone who is evil would deliver that kind of punishment to someone who disagrees with them. The authors even go so far as to make a comparison between this kind of thinking by God and what the Nazis believe.

It started me thinking about how to rebut that kind of argument. The easy, obvious answer is to say that it isn't God that makes that choice. People make the choice for themselves by deciding whether they want to have a relationship with God and whether they want to align their wants and desires with his. I believe that this is the true answer. God gave us free will. We can come to him, or we can go away from him. Either choice has its consequences, but it is our choice to make.

Unfortunately, I can also see how this can be a very unsatisfying answer to people who don't have a relationship with Jesus. They can keep coming back to the argument "but if we don't make the choice you want, we get punished for it. That's not a true choice."

The truth is, I'm not sure that I have a very good logic-based argument that would persuade someone who is that far against God. What I'm left with is the belief that our best argument may be the lives we lead. If I am truly following someone who is evil, there should be at least some evidence of that evil in my actions. On the other hand, if I say I follow God, and my life shows only good, then maybe it will force them to rethink their position about God.

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