Lisa Miller, author of Heaven, appeared on The Colbert Report last night and touched on something I’ve wanted to write about for awhile. I am a committed Christian, one who believes it is possible to have a personal relationship with God. My friends and I frequently discuss this (there’s nothing funnier to them than a guy performing abstinence), and there’s a few concepts that are being embraced widely.
The first is that everyone or almost everyone goes to heaven, and there is no God. Those that believe in a God prefer to call it a “higher power.” But, no religion has it right on morals, heaven, or anything—moral, cultural and religious relativism to the max. Basically, the most comforting aspects of religion are embraced, while anything involving responsibility, judgment or insecurity is deleted.
Miller mentioned this trend in her interview, which you can watch here:
|The Colbert Report||Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c|
It’s a difficult concept to argue, because parties to the above concepts inevitably take it as judgment or a declaration that they won’t go to heaven. Miller points out that heaven originated in Judaism, and heaven and God went hand-in-hand. I’m not an expert on comparative religion by any means, but I think it’s safe to say that almost every religion has a heaven and a God. To separate them is to basically make things up.
My thinking goes along these lines: If heaven is perfectly good, then something embodying good had to create it. If you believe God is good, then how can you be good but not just? If God claimed to be good, but overlooked evil and didn’t have some sort of judgment, would we believe His claims of being good? On a human level, the “good guy” in movies always intervenes to judge those who are evil.
We’re comfortable with it because we don’t identify with those being judged. And I understand why that makes people hesitant to accept the God of the monotheistic religions—it was a barrier for me for a long time. But then I understood two things: For God to be good, He must judge. And the rules that define what sin is aren’t made simply so we feel guilty, inevitably fail and struggle our whole lives. Those rules are made for our own good, so that we can live the best lives possible and get closest to God. Those rules are not a way of torturing us, but an act of guidance and love. And when we fail, as we all do, that love isn’t jeopardized.
I think Christians, and actually all followers of the monotheistic religions, need to be prepared to answer these challenges—and hopefully, in a more articulate and powerful way than I am able to. The entire reason behind these new concepts is to create a more comforting spirituality that doesn’t involve the judgment that makes us feel targeted and unworthy. Christians should be able to sympathize with the desire to be spiritual but in a comfortable way, and show them that they are actually running away from the great comfort that they are seeking.