Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Yeah, Let's Make Up Our Own Religion. That Should Work.

I think I’ll create my own religion. Everyone will want to join because in this religion, instead of going to heaven when we die, we’re all going to Disneyland. Doesn’t that sound like fun?

Someone on Facebook said that Robin Meyers spoke at their church. I didn’t have a clue who Robin Meyers was, so I did a simple search and the first thing I found was this guy saying that using the “fear of hell” makes religion fundamentally bad and that any of the religions out there can get you to God. I asked if this was the same guy. She responded by saying that “Dr. Meyers doesn't believe in hell (and as he said today, he hopes he's right!), and he has great respect for the various spiritual traditions in which people find their way to God.”

During my life, there have been a lot of things that I have hoped were true. Even though my parents never encouraged my belief in Santa Claus I wanted to believe that if I could believe hard enough then he would actually bring me all that stuff I wanted. Then there was a time when I wanted to believe that I had a twin sister that my parents had never told me about. Oddly enough, the woman I wanted to be my twin sister was old enough to be my mother (weird, but true). And there was a time when I wanted to believe that my parents and my sister were superheroes, but they had to keep it secret from me because I didn’t have their special powers. Of everything, that was the one that I came the closest to truly believing. I was convinced that if it were true then everything would seem normal to me.

All of you realize those things are fanciful, but the thing about fanciful ideas is that as long as we don’t have proof that something isn’t true then we can argue that it is, even convincing ourselves to believe it. Have you ever noticed that Santa stories always say that he only reveals himself to non-skeptics? It’s hard to argue with that. As a skeptic, I point to the lack of evidence for his existence and they can say that I won’t be able to see the evidence because I’m a skeptic. That’s very convenient for them.

The problem we run into with people like Robin Meyers is that they try to apply Santa Claus belief to theology. They can read the Bible as well as anyone else and they can see that it clearly says that there is a Hell. They can see that Jesus said, “I am the way the truth and the life. No man cometh unto the Father but by me.” They can read were it says that God is to be feared because he is a consuming fire and a jealous God who will destroy those who follow after other religions and other gods. They can read it, but they don’t like it, so they decide that they aren’t going to believe it. They decide that they aren’t going to believe in hell and they’ll redesign God. Their justification for that is the belief that the Bible is sort of like a Santa Claus story. It may be a good way of telling us how we should live better lives, but it shouldn’t be taken as an accurate representation of who God is.

Folks that believe like Robin Meyers seem to think that what one religion says about God is about as accurate as what is said by any other religion. They would have us to believe that the various religions are like the blind men trying to describe the elephant. The truth may be out there, but no religion has the complete picture.

The problem with that view is that the Bible is pretentious enough to say that Jesus is the only way to God. It is pretentious enough to say that it is the very God breathed word of God. It is pretentious enough to call the other religions foolish. It is either wrong or it is right. There is no room for in between.

The problem Robin Meyers faces is that as soon as he throws out what the Bible says about hell, we have no means of knowing who God is. The only way to say that hell doesn’t exist is to say that the Bible is a lie. If that’s the case, then what it says about hell is just a product of fiction. If it’s just fiction, then we have no basis for any beliefs about the afterlife. Is there an afterlife? Maybe. Maybe not. Is there a heaven? Maybe. Maybe not. Is there a place of punishment? Maybe. Maybe not. Does God expect us to live up to a moral standard? Maybe. Maybe not. Given that, the only fact that we have about God is that he must exist because the world exists, the rest may just be fiction created by some writer.

What saves us from the foolishness of Robin Meyers is that we have proof that the Bible is true. Here’s a simple test for you: Open up a Bible to a random location and read until you find a promise made by God. Determine whether that promise was fulfilled or not. As an example, I opened my Bible and it fell open to 1 Kings 22. My eye fell on the statement, “So the king died, and was brought to Samaria; and they buried the king in Samaria. And one washed the chariot in the pool of Samaria, and the dogs licked up his blood; and they washed his armor according unto the word of the Lord which He spoke.” All throughout the Bible we find similar wording, “according unto the word of the Lord.” God says it and it happens. Our basis for belief is that when the Bible says something will happen, it happens. No other book can make that claim.

But sadly, for foolish people like Robin Meyers, one of the things that the Bible has promised is that the unbelieving will be cast into the lake of fire. He is literally playing with fire when he says that he hopes he’s right that there is no hell. That’s quite a gamble. After the Bible has proven itself to be right about everything we have the ability to test, he is betting that it will be wrong about what it says about hell. He is betting that Jesus lied. I suppose when he reaches the Great White Throne he’ll stand there and say, “You mean there really is a hell? I thought you were just kidding.” No, Dr. Meyers, I’m afraid I must tell you that when God says something, he means it. When God’s written word tells us something, it is our responsibility to believe it, not to make up a belief that we like better.