This quote is going around Facebook:
If one person were to say to another, “I love you. You will love me, too, and do what I say, without ever questioning me, or I will punish you with the worst torture you can imagine for the rest of your existence,” we would, as a society, cry out loudly, “That’s not love, that’s abuse!” But apparently, it’s okay if it’s coming from a Deity. – Unknown
I am not an atheist. I do believe in God. I’m just not Christian, and this is one of the reasons why. I don’t really think God says this. I think the Christian church says this – Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodox, and Protestant denominations. Some Protestant churches seem to allow a bit more questioning, but basically, there is a belief in heaven and hell, and if you don’t “believe in” Jesus (in other words, if you don’t agree that you are a sinner and accept Jesus as your Savior), you will go to hell, pure and simple. The church also says you can have “everlasting life” if you go to heaven, but not if you go to hell. Of course, they also say that if you do go to hell, you will spend eternity there. So which is it? Do you have everlasting life and spend an eternity in hell or not? I’ve never figured that out. Of course, if you’re hell-bound, you probably don’t want everlasting life, anyway, right?
I believe in God. I believe that God is a loving entity, and that God loves ITS entire Creation unconditionally. Unconditional love is love without conditions, without limitations, without exceptions. This is apparently hard for some people to accept, because they don’t really want God to love their enemies, even though Jesus taught exactly that. (See Matthew 5:43-48, part of his Sermon on the Mount.)
If you’re a parent of more than one child, do you decide to punish your oldest child for the mistakes of all the others? When you punish your children, do you lock them out of house and home and never let them back in? These days, parents like that get a visit from Social Services. Why do people believe that God behaves this way?
Just because people are imperfect, that doesn’t mean God is. It means people don’t have all the information God has. They haven’t learned about the Law of Karma or the Law of Love. They haven’t learned to forgive and be forgiven. They haven’t learned to face and triumph over their fears. They haven’t learned that they create their own problems, and that solutions are always available, but that those solutions do require a bit of effort to find and put into action. They haven’t learned that money and possessions will not make them happy. They haven’t learned that power over people will not make them happy. They haven’t learned how to look into other people’s hearts to try to understand their motivations. They haven’t learned to forgive others for being imperfect. They haven’t figured out that they are Soul, that they will live forever, and that they can never die. They haven’t learned that they were created for a reason, to take their unique place in Creation as one of God’s helpers. They haven’t realized that God loves them, forgives them, and sends them chance after chance to grow and change.
Why does God allow people to be imperfect? Well, if you’re a parent, do you expect your kids to be perfect? Of course not! You expect to have to teach them things, and when they make mistakes, you expect to have to correct them. If you’re smart, you also arrange for your children to have experiences that will train them to be a useful, well-adjusted human beings. Sometimes you have to scold your kids. But you also tell them that you love them. If you’re a good parent, you make sure that your kids know you love them dearly, no matter what they may do. You may be disappointed in them from time to time, but you still love them. Why do people think God is any different?
Isn’t it possible that God has put Souls here to learn and grow, and that God doesn’t expect us to be perfect, only to do our best. Doesn’t it seem wasteful to you that God would make the effort to create each and every human being as a unique individual and then relegate the vast majority of them to hell?
I’m not saying there’s no such thing as hell. There is. Some of it is right here on Earth, in this lifetime. Some of it is in the Worlds of Spirit. But these places are not forever places. Souls who are there may feel cut off from God, but that’s an illusion. No one is cut off from God. Once a Soul has learned what It needs to learn in these places, and once the Soul figures out that It no longer needs to be there, It can leave. Just like that. In the blink of an eye.
You may be Catholic, so you might decide that you will probably just go to purgatory (a place of temporary punishment, or purification) for a while. Actually, the Jews believed in a kind of purgatory, as well, even before Jesus. The idea is that if enough prayers are said for you after you die, you won’t go to hell, but simply visit purgatory for a while, then go on to Heaven when you are completely purified.
Why does the church say this? In the past, the Christian Church (specifically, the Roman Catholic Church) had a lot of power over people. They could effectively control the population (as well as royalty, military leaders, and their own priests) by threatening them with everlasting hell if they misbehaved. The Catholic Pope could bring a king to heel simply by threatening to excommunicate him and all the people in his kingdom, thereby automatically consigning the king and all his subjects to everlasting punishment in hell. Once that happened, the king would quickly realize that people would not follow him if they thought they were in danger of everlasting damnation. It was an extremely effective political weapon, particularly in the hands of certain popes who were interested in amassing power and wealth.
Regarding reincarnation, one of Christianity’s foremost early scriptural scholars was Origen of Alexandria, who died in AD 250. Origen was a proponent of reincarnation, and many other Christians also subscribed to this belief. In the Bible, some people ask Jesus if he is Elijah come back. He says no. (This is often cited as the reason why Christians don’t recognize reincarnation, but if you think about it, just because Jesus said he wasn’t Elijah doesn’t mean that there is no such thing as reincarnation. Was I Cleopatra in a previous life? No, sorry, that was some other Soul, not me.)
Here’s the real reason why Christians no longer believe in reincarnation. Starting about 50 years after Origen’s death, controversy began over this doctrine until the year 553, in which Origen’s doctrine was condemned at the Second Council of Constantinople. The chief reason was that the idea of reincarnation seems to weaken the church’s teaching of salvation by believing in Jesus. In addition, it seemed to go against the church’s teaching of the resurrection of the body, it created an “unnatural” division between the body and the Soul, and people didn’t seem to remember their past lives.
Well, sure it weakens the church’s position on heaven and hell. You can’t believe in a forever hell if you believe in reincarnation. And you can’t threaten people with damnation if they believe there is no such thing as a forever hell. About the division between body and Soul, of course there’s a division. One is physical and the other is not. What’s unnatural about that? And as for remembering past lives, more and more people are remembering them. It’s just that when people remembered them before, they were condemned to death as witches or otherwise told that they were under the influence of the devil. No wonder people didn’t speak out.
What about the Catholic Church today? Like the Protestants, it seems that they are stressing forgiveness over damnation, but you still have to toe the line. There are still an awful lot of Christians who aren’t really sure whether or not they will live on after death, much less whether there is really such a place as heaven. Curiously, people seem more convinced of the establishment of hell than they are of the existence of heaven. A lot of people who aren’t sure have chosen to hedge their bets. They go to church, try to be good, confess their sins, and pray.
Actually, I think most people are doing fine in this lifetime. Sure, there are criminals and petty crooks out there, but the vast majority are doing their best from day to day. Do I think they will go to heaven? Yes, we all will. Heaven is vast and there are many places in the Inner Worlds. Do I think heaven is a forever place? Yes, but we go back and forth between heaven and physical life. Do I think heaven is a place of ultimate reward? No, I think heaven is a learning place for Soul, just like earth, but it’s maybe at a higher level, like going to college after high school. Do I think people stand around and sing praises to God all day with a harp? No, I think people continue to learn. They have jobs there. They learn more about interacting and working cooperatively with other Souls. When they have absorbed the lessons of their most recent lifetime on earth, they make ready to go back again. The conditions of their upcoming lifetime are carefully chosen by their advisors and agreed to before they go back. It’s like signing up for college classes. There are some basic courses and some electives.
How do I know this? Well, I have been trained to remember my dreams, and some of them have been past life recalls. I also know that my dreams are experiences I have as Soul while the body is asleep and going through its normal nightly repair routine. So it’s my personal experience. I have also listened to or read a number of testimonies by people who have had extraordinary out-of-body experiences. Dannion Brinkley (Saved by the Light), Dr. Eben Alexander (Proof of Heaven), Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor (My Stroke of Insight), and Anita Moorjani (Dying to Be Me), to name a few. In addition, two books by Michael Newton, PhD., called Journey of Souls and Destiny of Souls describe how he learned in his hypnosis practice to regress people to their time in heaven, “between lives.” A book that gently explains how reincarnation does not actually conflict with Christian teachings is Gina Cerminara’s book Many Mansions: The Edgar Cayce Story on Reincarnation. Another book about past-life regression is Many Lives, Many Masters: The True Story of a Prominent Psychiatrist, His Young Patient, and the Past-Life Therapy That Changed Both Their Lives, by Brian Weiss, M.D.
It’s apparently easier for some to believe that somebody took the rap for you so that you can get in free to heaven. It’s easier not to have to take full responsibility for our mistakes and blame them on the devil. It’s easier to think somebody’s going to save you after one lousy lifetime, rather than having to spend lifetime after lifetime learning how to be a better person so that you can serve God. It’s easier to have the Church control your behavior, rather than learning how to control your own behavior. It’s easier to say a bunch of generic prayers once a week than to have an ongoing conversation with the Creator every single day.
Just my two cents. Your mileage may vary. 🙂