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Please Don’t Fret for My Immortal Soul

An Experiment

If there is, as you believe, a benevolent Creator who is all-knowing and all-powerful, then surely He wants me to be the best person I can be. Surely he wants me to be true to my heart and my reason. After all, if He exists, then He is Author of my cognitive faculties. It’s inconceivable that He would want me to go against the best and only lights I have. It’s beyond imagining that He would give me a rational intellect but wish me to go against it. It’s absolutely incomprehensible that He would create in me a sense of moral purpose and integrity and then demand that I ignore these on pain of death, indeed, under threat of eternal damnation. Preposterous!

And yet, I worry that you worry about me.

I was talking with a Theology prof here at the University. He said one thing he always respected about Martin Luther was his call for us to trust in God’s goodness. Perhaps that thought provides some solace, if indeed you fret over the ultimate disposition of my immortal soul. If God is good, then perhaps this is all a part of His plan.

Published inTheology


  1. Anna Anna

    To trust in God’s goodness, to me, equals faith. I asked my Aunt recently (the nun) about my friends that arent christian, will they be ok when they die? will they go to heaven. She believes so (so do i), and she reminded me that not every person has the gift of faith. So, dear Bart, I personally dont fret over the disposition of your immortal soul, at all. I am quite sure I will see you on the ther side of the pearly gates one day, faraway. Cheers.

  2. Nicely put. I asked my parents during our last argument on the subject, “Who are you to question God’s decision to make me an atheist?” Needless to say, they did not find it as funny as I did.

    I can no longer worry that they worry. It still upsets me that people I care for think I have some sort of defect, but there’s simply nothing I can do. They’ll either come around or they won’t.

  3. Garvey Garvey

    B, you’ve got the theology all wrong. Others have done it better, so suffice it to say that if you really did want to know more about this, you should read some apologetics or listen to the audio versions (e.g., C.S.Lewis’s “Mere Christianity”). I mean, you’ve got it all wrong from even your first sentence: “He wants me to be the best person I can be.” You are incapable of that, (i.e., according to Christian theology, which is what we’re discussing, right?), which is why God has made provisions for your imperfection through the blood atonement if His Son, Jesus Christ.

    Also, don’t confuse your friends’ or relatives’ inability to address your questions on the same intellectual caliber that you exhibit as a lack of reason or argument existing at all. Instead, it just means these folks haven’t done the job for you. That doesn’t invalidate the theology or arguments. (Just because your daughter can’t currently convince me that the world is round doesn’t mean it isn’t round.)

    I will say this, though: what you are proposing throughout this post is pure idolatry. You have conceived God in your own image and want to make Him into what *you* want Him to be. Doesn’t work that way.

    Also, God has granted you free will. Otherwise, you’re proposing that He is the author of evil. Um, no.

  4. I had a response typed out hours ago. By divine intervention (?) it disappeared into the ether, and I decided it was not worth trying to regenerate.

    Your struggles with the faith of your fathers may indicate a struggle with the Hounds of Heaven. The Spirit moves as it will. I’ll just leave a link to a blog that you may be able to grok, and even enjoy. One Cosmos is a blog that has wandered all over cosmology. I can guarantee that the first reaction is ??? WHAT is THIS?, but it’s worth coming back to often to try to catch up to Gagdad Bob, something of a subgenius.

  5. But Bart, isn’t Martin Luther spending eternity in the fiery pits of hell? People who are heretics have to believe that God just wants good behavior. As a Bible scholar, I’d have to point out that Yahweh gets very upset over some pretty trivial things, at least they seem trivial to me. Remember he’s the deity who keeps testing people with forbidden trees in the midst of the garden, and telling fathers to kill their children. The punishment if you fail these tests: death. You should probably go back to thinking if hell exists, you’ll be there chatting with Martin Luther and that Theology prof who told you this jibberish.

  6. Garvey Garvey

    @Michael: Why would Luther be in hell? I wonder, MH, do you consider yourself a Christian? I see on your blog that you call yourself a Catholic, but I’m not sure what that means. You also state you are a Biblical “scholar,” yet you state on your blog that you “eat catfish in direct violation of Leviticus 11,” which begs the question: didn’t you read the New Testament in all of your scholarship, i.e., Acts 10? And if you reject so much of Catholic legalism, why bother to self identify as a Catholic? Plus, it’s not just the Catholic teachings you reject, but you seem to reject things that are specifically written in scripture (e.g., you favor women priests). Obviously, you don’t owe me any kind of explanation, but are you just picking and choosing parts of the Bible that you want to accept, to cobble together a religion in your own image? Do you believe that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the Living God, as Peter confessed? Do you believe in His resurrection from the dead? Because if you don’t believe in any of this, why go around pretending you’re a Catholic or a Christian? What’s the upside for you?

    @Anna: I wonder why your Aunt the nun would say make such a statement that everybody goes to heaven? That is based on nothing. In fact, it is in *direct contradiction* to Biblical teachings. She doesn’t sound like much of a nun, to be honest, if she is spreading dangerous untruths and ignoring her (presumed) lessons on scripture. John 14:6; John 3:16-21; and many, many more references…

  7. Some Drexel Asshole Some Drexel Asshole

    Preach it, Brother Garvey!

    The Majisterium is pissed, to use a Biblical phrase.

    Dr. Francis is going to hear about this.

  8. Garvey Garvey

    What would be the minimum requirements to be a Christian? If you don’t believe in the divinity of Christ, are you still a Christian? If you don’t believe in direct New Testament commands (note: I didn’t say adhere to, I said believe in), are you still a Christian? What would be the baseline criteria?

    I’m not a Catholic, so I don’t know what that entails. But just for internal consistency’s sake, if you reject the teachings of that particular faith, then at what point are you no longer a Catholic and are something else instead? It’s not about heresy or whatever you Catholic folks like to call it: it’s about internal consistency, if nothing else.

    Or maybe you are just an institutional Catholic who doesn’t really buy into what the church is promoting but you believe in a few parts of its mission enough to want to change it to be in your own image. That’s the only thing that might make any sense, I guess. But if you don’t believe in the divinity of Christ, then what has drawn you to Catholicism as the place for your activism? Why not Islam, for example? Seems kinda arbitrary.

    Best case, you actually do believe in Christ. But that is never made clear. Are you ashamed to call Him Lord?

  9. Some Drexel Asshole Some Drexel Asshole

    Amen, Brother Garvey!

    I just got off the phone with the Magisterium, and they told me to tell you to keep it up. They said you should keep deciding who is a real nun or not and that that old lady can take a flying leap with her lifetime of service. Also, same thing with deciding who is a real Christian or not. They said no one would be happier with your judgment than Jesus. But most of all, please keep telling us about the value of being internally consistent.

  10. Garvey Garvey

    @Drexel: Ahhhh…accusing of judgment. There’s a fallacy named for that, but I’m too lazy to look it up.

    Check out 2 Timothy 4:1-5.

    If someone professed Christ as Lord, they are a Christian. This isn’t being “judgmental.” Seriously, is it that hard? I didn’t say if you don’t adhere to a bunch of Catholic laws then you’re not a “real” Christian. But at a minimum, if you don’t profess Christ as Lord, then what are you? I asked for your baseline definition, and you gave back some ad hominem. Can you even engage in the questions? All I asked was questions. What is your definition of a Christian?

    If I said, what is the definition of a teetotaler, aren’t there baseline criteria for that definition? Or what is the definition of a dentist? I mean, we just get to call ourselves whatever we want now? OK, I’m a dentist. I haven’t been to dental school; I don’t practice dentistry; but I do buy toothpaste from time to time. Hey, everybody, I’m a dentist now! And if someone called me on it, I’m supposed to say, “Wow, man, you’re so judgmental for deciding who’s a real dentist or not”?

    (Or are you just a troll? You use troll language, so maybe I shouldn’t feed you.)

    @Anna: What does your reading of John 14:6 say? How about John 3:16-21? Which parts of those do you see as syncing with your Aunt’s beliefs? Do you trust Jesus’s words straight from his mouth, or is your Aunt the better authority than God Himself?

    (Again, for Drexel, this isn’t me passing judgment. If you can’t see that, then you’re not a serious person. And enough with the magisterium. I’m no Catholic. Rebuking and edifying are not the same as judgment. I have no idea where your faith is, or isn’t, or the condition of your salvation: you have neither claimed Christian status nor denied it, and even so, only God would know. But that doesn’t negate was Jesus himself said. And if quoting his words means judgment to you, then by all means, you do stand judged: by God alone, through His words. Not mine. I made no such claim. If you have some light to shed instead of simple attacks, I would love to see it.)

  11. toneknee toneknee

    It seems someone has taken this conversation a bit further than necessary. When you surpass certain supposed “enlightened” points of discussion with intricate and painstakingly meticulous self-conscious drivel then you’ve lost your audience. “Enough is enough” is usually a good rule to follow in this case.

  12. Garvey:

    The definition of Christian is obviously relative to the person making the statement and the person about whom one is speaking. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have the myriad differing opinions about who real Christians are and what they believe. The Christianity of Pat Robertson doesn’t mesh with the Christianity of the Vatican which has nothing whatsoever in common with the Christianity of the SBC or the Mormon Tabernacle. Then there are people like these assholes. I’m so glad you finally got it exactly right. Good luck with that.

    As to this:
    “Do you trust Jesus’s words straight from his mouth, or is your Aunt the better authority than God Himself? ”

    Do you trust the words that an ancient patriarchal council decided were those that Jesus actually said? Why can’t Anna’s aunt be just as much an authority as the men who have, throughout history, continually contradicted each other and themselves in their various interpretations of these supposed words of God?

    I, along with many, many others, have rejected these mental gymnastics, gyrations and contortions in favor of that which we can see, measure and reason. Take your Bronze Age parchments and shake them at people who care what you think they mean, if you can find any. My soul, if it exists, is clean and clear without any interference from you or your gods.

  13. Jack Schick Jack Schick

    I too, had composed a long post back a few days ago, but it POOFED away
    after I let it sit too long, and gave a Mystical ERROR-404 Omen from the Holy Etheric InterWeb….
    Bart!…and Y’all….
    We face The End…..with a Hollywood “Flourish of Trumpets”.
    It is Obvious.
    Those who have Ears, let them Hear.
    It is only IN SPITE of Catholicism, and Catholic gibberish, that a Good Soul
    like Anna’s Aunt reaches the Correct conclusion: God, The Most High, is
    in Charge, and NOT the Freekin’ POPE.
    God Bless You, Anna, for your Good HEART.
    All of Y’all:
    You need to gain access to Adventist video productions, or even attend
    their Revelation seminars or Prophecy meetings.
    The Roman Empire Church is a go-along-for-World-Power Game Player.
    This is NOT the “Church” of Jesus Christ.
    Back in about 1968, I read MAD Magazine religiously.
    I recall seeing, in the “Marginal Thinking” cartoons by Sergio Aragones,
    a reference to,– ARE YOU READY??–,
    “Running Dog Lackeys of the Imperialist Warmongering Empire”
    This Phrase was Not easily understood by an 8-year old surrounded by G.I. Joe’s, John Wayne movies, and a bedroom full of Every type model of World War One and World War Two Aircraft, filling the walls on shelves. Cousin Danny
    built them all.
    Running Dog Lackeys of the Military-Industrial Complex Murder Organization.
    We have big rich mega-“churches” pushing horrible False Doctrines.
    We have Horrible False Prophets pushing the Continued FALSE-WITNESS lying
    against Arabs, Muslims, Iranians, and anybody who dares speak the Truth.
    Last year there was the Horrible Organized Crime of
    the unprovoked Attack on Russian Orthodox Christians in South Ossetia, a disputed section of ex-Soviet Georgia-and-Russia.
    What happened was a pre-planned sneak-surprise-bombardment by the
    nasty combination of US Dirty-Ops, Blackwater Murderers in cahoots with
    Israeli Mossad stirring up a Pro-Georgian, anti-Russian Thug mafia army to
    attack this Russian housing area.
    Our completely-controlled Zionist Israeli “news” media has continued to
    paint Russia as Evil in this, and all, matters.
    Notice, if you have time, or a news-serious friend…
    Notice, Look, Observe:
    the troubles in Ukraine, Kazahkstan, freekin’ everywhere!
    We, Suppliers of the Israeli Empire, are covered in BLOOD!
    ROME is only a cheap WHORE of BABYLON, playing it all for MORE POWER,
    and ignoring the True Facts.
    CHRIST is about NOT FOLLOWING this Evil BEAST.
    “Running Dog Lackeys of the Imperialist War-mongering Empire”
    That is ALL of us COMFORTABLE American Bourgeoisie.
    Thank You Jesus for Saving Me, an Undeserving Sinner! Amen!

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