Friday, October 31, 2008

Allegory of Man's Soul

In the earlier part of the Bible, there was no mention of a resurrection and a final judgement that would send some to eternal Hell while sending others to everlasting Heaven. Instead, it seemed that God carried out Holy judgement for the living in life. If you were really good, God blessed you physically, such as with children or with wealth. However, if you were really bad, you just might find yourself afflicted with diseases, captured by enemies, or killed by God Himself.

In this study, we examine the prelude of God's destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Many Christians are somewhat familiar with the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. These towns were so filled with evil people that God took it upon Himself to destroy the towns. Sodom in particular is associated with rampant homosexuality. Not many Christians know the full details. This is part one of a two part study.

The Allegory of Man's Soul
Before God destroys Sodom and Gomorrah, He and a couple angels take on human form and pay a visit to Abraham to tell him and his wife Sarah that they will have a baby. After the visit, God and his man-angels start walking to Sodom, and Abraham starts to walk with them (Genesis 18:16).

After a brief discussion in God's mind of whether or not to do so, God decides to tell Abraham what He is going to see Sodom and Gomorrah for Himself, and will destroy them if they are really as wicked as He has been told (Genesis 18:17-21). Genesis 18:20-21:
Then the LORD said, "The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached Me. If not, I will know." NIV
You may ask; why does an omniscient God need to turn into human form and see it in person? I don't have an answer for that, because there is no logical reason for God doing this.

Abraham is a bit surprised at this revelation and proceeds to ask God many questions (Genesis 18:23-32). Will God kill the righteous with the wicked? If there are 50 righteous people there, will God destroy the city? God says no. How about 45 righteous people? God says no. 40? No, nor for 30. 20? No, nor for 10.

Quickly note two significant things here. First, God doesn't get angry with Abraham questioning the actions of God; which is actually pretty good. Second, God does not correct Abraham to say that nobody is righteous because everybody sins, so one must wonder if that is really how God sees it. Meanwhile this is one of the core messages of Christianity; that everyone sins and therefore deserves the wrath of God, and therefore everyone needs the forgiveness made possible only through the shed blood of Jesus Christ.

Back to the story, it always makes me think about the nature of man in an allegory. I think of a city representing a man's personality, and the people within being parts of that man's personality. It is very rare indeed to find someone that is completely good or totally bad. So allegorically, Abraham would be asking; what if someone is all good except one fault? What about mostly good except five faults? Etc.

It is a muddy task to judge the heart of a man; to judge it completely; to judge it for all eternity. If he is mostly evil, but has some good in him, is he worth rewarding with Heaven or suitable for Hell forever? What if he is about half evil and half good? What if he is overwhelmingly good but has some small weakness and commits a minor evil? Or what if a man had led a very evil life but realized that it was wrong, and now does only good to the best of his ability?

Modern Christian theology greatly simplifies God's judgement process with two questions; do you whole-heartedly believe that Jesus died for your sins and do you repent of your sins? While the Old Testament God may have rewarded you just for doing good, such as with Noah and Abraham, the modern Christian theology strongly downplays the requirement of how good you are as a person to receive a favorable judgement.

In modern Christian theology, the worst sinner can enter Heaven with a repentant heart and an acceptance of Jesus. This action supposedly showcases the awesome mercy of God. Indeed, such mercy would be worthy of praise.

However, when you consider the flip side of that modern Christian theology policy, God's actions seem unreasonably intolerant. If there is a man that is morally upright and repentant of his past mistakes, and yet does not have faith, he would be condemned for Hell simply for not believing in Jesus. That one fault, which has absolutely nothing to do with morality, could damn him eternally. Does that seem odd to anyone else?

A believer may argue that this is just, because such a man is rejecting Jesus and therefore rejecting God. However, when you take into consideration that the average person can't really hear God's voice or see God's actions in today's world without making biased assumptions and interpretations, and the average person can't consistently and empirically test the power of God, such as by measuring the constancy of requited prayers, I don't think that unbelief is unreasonable.

Furthermore, if there was such an unbelieving, yet morally upright man, don't you think he would learn to love God in eternity even if he didn't know God in life? I would think so. God is supposedly the epitome of morality. To me, one of the most attractive things about people is their moral character. Show me a man of strong character and I'll show you a best friend.

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