HELL-The Christian Dilemma
Love- ours and God's - of universal humanity
To love an enemy, effectively, is a contradiction in terms. Therefore, Christ calls on us to call our enemies friends and to treat them as friends.
There is a certain way in which one can love man that one could not do unless one first loved God. However, there is also a way in which one can love God that, because of the particular conception of God being loved, does not issue in that quality of love for man that is consequent upon a genuine love for God.
Our love for God should be directed towards man. For himself, God does not want us to love him as he loved us but that we love one another as God loved us. In other words, God does not want us to sacrifice ourselves or give up anything of our own for his sake. Indeed, more often that not such an understanding will only mean that we will want to sacrifice ourselves for our own sakes, i.e. to achieve our own salvation. God wants us to sacrifice ourselves for humanity, for our fellow human beings- for it is this which God himself did, in Jesus. Jesus' life, which is the Christian’s command to imitate, was not a long, rigorous attempt to achieve his own salvation (how could God fear an eternal exile from God?) but rather to achieve the salvation of the world or, as it were, other people. His sacrifice was to them, not to God. What he gave up he gave up for humanity, not to any other end- not to God, to persuade him of own his worth or to meet some personal need God had for him to give up his life to him. God is fully sufficient in himself and needs nothing for himself from us. Just as he didn’t from Jesus. It is not God but Satan who takes from us and cleverly makes us take from one another. By contrast, in need of nothing in himself, God abundantly gives himself to us in all things, even unto death; and only asks that we give ourselves abundantly, not to him, not to God, but to our fellow men in all things - even unto death.
God would be inferior to us if he needed anything from us. Inferior beings take, superior beings give. The true interest and health of the inferior is served by taking from the superior its substance, in order to satisfy its own need to become superior. Similarly, the true interest and need of the superior is to facilitate this process, to raise up the inferior to its own level, by giving its substance to it. This is the correct order of the operation of growth and of love. It is the upsetting of this order that leads to chaos- and the manner by which it is upset is through a reversal of these roles. If the superior, instead of giving to the inferior, takes from it, the superior, having received the substance of the inferior, will become inferior, whilst the inferior, no longer capable of taking from the superior, will possess no way in which to advance. Thus, both will now be inferior and there will be no way out forward for either.
God is superior to man and man is superior to Satan. One can now see how all is wrong. Instead of God willingly, joyfully, giving himself to a humanity that in return willingly, joyfully receives him, man gives himself to God and, through the anthropomorphism of religion, God receives man's attributes and becomes like him - that is, brought down to man’s level. Instead of man happily imparting to a joyful and receptive Lucifer the light of life that man receives from God, Lucifer feeds man with the Knowledge of good and evil and Man accepts this ‘gift’ in his incessant flight from innocence, in self-exaltation and in judgement. And so, in consequence, that being, Lucifer, who needs above all to receive, to take, becomes the supreme head and principle of the universe, being its fundamental provider; and God, from whom light and innocence require to be taken, becomes instead the great receiver, and in consequence, the object of all our self-sacrificing worship. God now gives us nothing, while what he has to give will restore us. Lucifer now gives us everything, while what he has to give destroys us.
God, by loving himself across and between the two poles of existence, each at different ends and extremities of the creation, embraces and encloses the creation in that love. God journeys, through death and damnation, to the distant extremities of the created, immanent poles to do this.
The fruit of our love for God is our love for our fellow men. When we are raptured in the love of God, in union with God, we exit the creation in our hearts and souls while remaining within the creation in our bodies. Thus, from the divine perspective - outside the creation - even though nonetheless through senses and a body, we perceive afresh with new eyes of love a humanity and world as God and Jesus perceive it.Whereas before, in our fears and blindness, we wanted to judge and mock the world, protect ourselves from it, exploit it for our own ends and account ourselves better than others, now in our eternal comfort and joy, in our opened vision, we want only to love the world and to sacrifice ourselves for it, to serve it and to liberate it; and we want this not for duty's sake but from a pure prompting of love and longing after the divine, in which we would willingly see ourselves crushed if only it would help unite our fellow men with us in this ineffable, divine love.
If God damns God, God is no longer free to damn man, by which I mean man is no longer free to damn another man in God's name. Only man can damn himself, by not letting his own sins be forgiven by God. By accepting the forgiveness of sins, we enable God, as he wishes, to take possession of our hearts and implant the spirit of his son within us. Now in this new spirit we seek to follow God not out of terror but out of love, Christ’s own love for his father, our father, operating through us.
In the Incarnation, did Christ assume Adam's pre-fallen humanity or his post-fallen humanity? As to his human nature, was he perfect or imperfect? Could Jesus really have known our temptations and combatted them as he did if he possessed a perfect humanity as opposed to our own imperfect one? Was it not, in fact, that Christ became our own imperfect, fallen humanity and joined his divinity to that; and not to this notion of a mysterious ideal of a pre-fallen humanity? After all, to be ‘very human’: what does that mean? To be very much like us or to be very much what we ought to have been? If the latter, Jesus does not speak to us, his dialogue is only with God. If the former, would he have been free of Original Sin, however? Of course not. But could he then still have been sinless, and, as such, a perfect atoning sacrifice to God? Yes, if there is not and never had been such a thing as Original Sin, and that then by sinless we mean only that he was not overcome by Darkness. As a mere fallen human, like one of us, not only is God’s condescension, his empathy, but also his resistance to temptation, all the more splendid and astonishing. For then, his strength to resist temptation came not with the assistance of an uncorrupted human nature, as if he possessed some natural fleshly advantage over us but was rather wrought with and in the same flesh as ours.
Although God cannot force us to love him, he does have the freedom to be crucified for as long as it takes to evoke this love from us.
To love one person and not the whole universe is theft.
In order to be just one need not love, but if one loves, one surpasses justice. Justice commands as a duty only that one administer justice- not that one love an enemy, forgive a criminal or resurrect a universe out of love. It is the injustice of God's death that saves a damned universe and nothing else.
It is not merely that God has given the universe the opportunity to save itself. It is his own personal desire that it be saved. Will then the will of God be defied?
Not only do we want, if necessary, to suffer and die for the sakes of others. We do not want to be thanked or praised for it. For we wish to think this way of living eminently normal, quite unremarkable - as indeed in any healthy world it surely would be. It is not love that is extraordinary but the lack of it. It is this world, its values and standards, that is so weird and strange. Christianity - the only religion depicting God directly and voluntarily embracing the suffering of the creation - cannot be understood if it is not understood as a Gospel, as good news, promising the consummate fulfilment of all the wishes and hopes of all beings- namely, the absolute alleviation and annihilation of all suffering everywhere- in Heaven, on Earth, and to the depths of hell. Teaching may get rid of error, but only the death of God can destroy death. If God has died, if the fate of the mortal has become the choice of the immortal, the joy of the mortal has been swallowed up in love. God died to destroy death- that much is clear. Did he then fail?
Love overthrows the world by negating fear, the cornerstone on which it rests, the dark fountain from which all its disorders flow.
We have to wonder- what happens to a soul when it is endowed with an abundance, a superfluity of love, such that its entire being resonates with an insuppressible, incorruptible love for all things which exist?
To refute, to deny and tear down the reality of God's abundant, impassable, irrevocable love for what he has created- this is the ambition of the "powers of darkness." Yet this infantile, stunted adolescent passion will cease. The only significant question to ask is: how long will it take before repentance, before metanoia; or, to put it another way: when will we stop crucifying Jesus?
Unless one identifies with the fate of another, one will never truly love that other. Each member of the union of love is held captive by the concern and attention of the other. Love never abandons the object of its love and follows it with selfless devotion wherever it goes; however so much the beloved hates its lover, however vigorously the beloved wishes to be severed from its lover.
Every sin is a sin against man and against the creation. We can neither hurt God nor touch God. But every sin against the creation is a sin against God for that very reason - because it is a sin against the creation.
It is the fact that we cannot hurt God that makes possible God's impassable, abundant love for us. It is because to God we are but a small, frail, vulnerable child, ignorant and blind, that God will never hurt us. To ask God to damn any of us is to ask God to be a child murderer - a misdirected and fruitless request if ever there was one.
The next stage in the development of mankind will be an emotional enlightenment- a decisive war waged against our present condition that allows us to view a stranger from afar or even sit next to our neighbour and hate him and murder him in our hearts.
It is God who is above every heaven and below every hell, who both suffers in no way and in every conceivable way. It is he who in all infinity holds finitude in the all-encompassing hands of his unquenchable love.
Let us not demand that we agree with one another. But let us certainly demand that we love one another. For where there is no love, life has not even the possibility of beginning..
It just happens to be the case that humanity, that "human nature" is selfish- it needn't be. If it were not and the mind caught hold of the notion of salvation, it would not ask "how can I be saved?" but "how can I save?"
Unlike created beings, God exists beyond death and without death. We created beings exist before death, towards death and in death. Whereas we subside towards death involuntarily- preferring as we would to live forever, neither having to fear death or taste death - God embraces death, indeed an alien death, voluntarily desiring, as he does, that we escape death and live forever. For it is clear, if that which is immortal dies out of will in substitution for the death of the mortal, the mortal can no longer die, since the love of God has compelled him.
God can die if he wants to. He can take upon himself the exotic if he wishes. Who can stop him? Who will tell him what to do?
It is normal for man to die. It is only for God that death is strange. Is God frightened of death, of the alien, the peculiar, the "wholly other"? Is mankind frightened of immortality, of the alien, the peculiar, the "wholly other"? The marriage of humankind and God, a delight and hope that God has striven for for millennia, can only come to pass through the overthrowing and dismantling of what divides them: death.
Having renounced amortality through egotism, the mortal has become enchained in the labyrinthine snares of death. To become immortal - which is no longer his choice as it was before the fall - is not a task that the mortal can achieve on its own but must be achieved for him by God on his behalf. This is the love of God, perpetually penetrating and suffusing the dead creation, taking upon itself mercifully the death that the mortal afflicts it with, entreating the creation to the necessary response.
The creation of the universe and the crucifixion of God prove that only in one sense and not another is God sufficient in himself. For only with the glorification of his creations is God fulfilled and at rest, when he is no longer without an autonomous being with which to share himself.
I do not understand why it cannot be the desire of the Christian that all the creation should be saved. Is not this a pure and noble desire? Personally, I had always believed this is what Christian faith enjoined, this desire, this hope. Not the salvation of oneself, or one's community or the "Church" but all things - and indeed the consummate obliteration of Hell.
I write to innocence, desiring innocence, and an end to this sick, sick saga of hatred and death. If I am wrong I am wrong, but have I not the right to write? God bless the Reformation and the Enlightenment for granting me this right. The truth, because it is the truth, does not need to be defended. This cruel world is so weird and so wicked and so incredibly boring.
Mercy is mercy. It cannot be compromised. It cannot be mixed with its opposite, damnation. When mercy assumes centre stage, damnation is at once banished. Mercy is not an act that waives a just punishment as a consequence of the fulfilment of certain conditions- for example, contrition or the granting once again of obeisance or honour to God. Mercy is a feeling and an act. It is a feeling of love and compassion. It is an act of gentle revival, the perpetual dissemination of insight, teaching and liberation.
The certainty of universal salvation is not based upon any idea of the "intrinsic goodness" of humanity or the inevitability of its eventual "submission", but upon the tenacity, unboundedness and ‘insanity’ of true love. Such a love is not so very strange in-itself. A good mother knows what this love means all-too well. It is only a Ruler who is without compassion, who is alienated from his subjects, who is drunken with and stuffed full and fat with ludicrous theological and philosophical ideas, who finds it impossible to understand the nature of this love.
A God who does not love the creation is a God that does not exist. God is the creator of all things. Therefore God is the parent of all things, inanimate and animate, non-human and human. Not only is he the parent of all things, he is the perfect parent of all things. As the parent of all things, he is the perfect lover of all things. And so it is, therefore, that what Christians are inclined to say against universalism is complete nonsense- and not only because what they believe is based upon a certain, particular interpretation of pieces of wood.
God, against his will and yet with a full and decisive will embraces a suffering, a suffering which is evil. To do this is against his will because suffering is evil and God detests evil, but he embraces suffering with full will out of love for his creatures that are sunk into their suffering and cannot escape it. It is ridiculous to suggest that God embraces suffering - which is evil - without the express intention of absolutely annihilating it from the entirety of his creation.
God can certainly do better than fail to save and restore all of his creation.
There is nothing sentimental about love because there is nothing sentimental in a God being slaughtered by beings that he is only trying to love. There is not even anything especially beautiful about love, though of course in another context, in a revived, more tranquil and more serene context there certainly may be.
In the absence of love: morality; the orthodox - unorthodox polarity; fleshly conflict and discord.
In the Kingdom of God, one loves one’s neighbour and stranger with as much necessity and inevitability as one breathes oxygen and eats food. Therein the concept “enemy” will simply not exist. There will only be noted outside the borders of the Kingdom, in so far as it is not yet universal, certain peoples who are sick and afflicted and in need of our love and service.
One thing above all I wish to see triumph: love, that which for the interests of the other but also for its own interests, cannot and will not endure the existence of suffering, any suffering, anywhere.
Love- Ours and God's of the wicked and Satan and "Hell"
Certainly, if we were to be fully, completely liberated from the yoke of "the devil", he would no longer be any threat to us, but so would he not be if he were somehow retransmuted back into a genuine creature of light and love. Interestingly, this would not require the redemption of the Devil, that is Satan. For Satan is not a creation of God, just as fallen man and the fallen world are not creations of God. Satan, the Adversary of God, is the creation of Lucifer, the morning Star, who out-of-himself created and became Satan. Thus, the restitution of Lucifer, and with him the entirety of material existence, is not incompatible with the eternal annihilation of Satan, just as Pre-fallen man's restitution is not incompatible with the eternal destruction of fallen man; in fact, the restitution of both is only realised and guaranteed by such destruction. Indeed, Satan's own higher will is that he be destroyed just as it is fallen man's own higher will that he be transcended, overcome, surpassed and transmuted into the golden, immaculate image of the deity- Christ himself.
Since God did not create the Devil, just as he didn’t death and Hell, the Devil has no part in the consummation of God's restored universe. The torment of the Devil can only last as long as time exists, as long as day and night endure; for only within the context of time as we know it can the phrase "for ever and ever" possess meaning; and that which is "everlasting", though it last a very long time, can only last as long as things are able to last, that is, as long as time endures, that medium through which things can "everlast."
If Sin, death, suffering, damnation, darkness, hell, evil and the totality of negative aspects of existence are to remain after the end of time, then it would be shown that such aspects - to be brief let us call them evil - are eternal, that is, independent of time. But if evil is eternal and endures after the end of time then, being eternal, it must have existed before the beginning of time. But to call evil eternal is either to call God evil or to assert that God in eternity faces an eternal rival, an eternally opposing being of darkness and death. To assert the former is to question or dismiss God's holiness, the latter to embrace the oriental cosmogony of a cosmic duality and be bound firmly in the shackles of a cosmic pessimism, one compelled to affirm that evil is a necessary part of any future creation. For in either case, the creative force is in part evil and must for certain mark that creation with the mark of its own nature.
Some want to save and restore what is evil so that all becomes good and better than good; others to protect and liberate what is good from what is evil, leading the good to eternal security, driving evil to its ruin, thereby building an eternal dichotomy of light and darkness, health and suffering. Yet that in this scenario the light is fully separated from the darkness does not alter the fact that the darkness perpetually exists and so by existing perpetually mars the universe and renders it perpetually imperfect.
The totality, the universe, contains all; nothing that is created lies beyond it. Therefore, Hell is a part of this totality and for being imperfect renders the totality imperfect. The totality can only become perfect if Hell itself is annihilated. If it is not, it will perpetually inform and influence the very nature of the good- obliging it always to be remembered as something owing its essential characteristics to the existence of that darkness and evil against which it reacts. But this makes evil something eternal, something powerful enough to influence the essential nature of the perfect. What, can we not, even in perfection, escape the memory and influence of this abomination?
Love must be for all things; if it is not, it is not love but preference, partiality or favouritism. In consequence, we must not only love God and our fellow men but demons and Satan himself. For if we do not love the devil, how can we claim to be confessors of the Gospel of Christ, which is Love, or else claim to be enemies of Satan's role, dominion and Gospel, the Gospel of hate? Yet each needs to be loved according to his nature: God for being God, in the way appropriate to God, man for being man, in the way appropriate to man and the Devil for being the Devil, in the way appropriate to the Devil. Each way and form of love is different.
George: "What we want of Satan is not his redemption. Satan only came into being, his being as Satan only makes sense, within the context of hell. Since Satan takes his identity from Hell it is impossible for him to exist as Satan outside of it- and it is to deliver Satan from hell that is precisely what we want and what we would mean by his redemption. Consequently, in terms of traditional understandings of redemption, Satan cannot be redeemed, for if he were, either hell would swallow up the entire cosmos, such as to accommodate him or, as would in fact happen, Satan would cease to exist. Satan needs to be in hell, hell needs to be his environment if Satan is to be what and who he is. And so it is that Satan cannot be redeemed, that is rescued, from hell."
Can God hate? Has Satan then won a triumph and through his revolt imputed to God an alteration of his eternal being? T'is impossible. God will not hate, and cannot; nor does he damn but damns himself out of love.
Satan's redemption, the transfiguration of the energies he stole, the return of the morning star, bright and wild, joyful in excess, will entail the total destruction and annihilation of Satan's being, delivering him from himself and the energies of instinct from Egypt, where, enslaved and subjugated, the cruel, crucifying face of the stony moral Law bleeds cold the vigorous of self-sacrificing love.
Thomas: "The Christian is saved, irreversibly and irrevocably. The Christian is set free- his freedom compels love, which is life. The Christian, overflowing in and with this love, desires the salvation of the damned - to spread and suffuse the fullness of this life into the outermost recesses of the universes.’
So it is therefore that the Christian, not because damnation is a good but, on the contrary, because it is an evil that exists, invokes upon himself, as Christ did on the cross, the damnation of others, in order to liberate these others from the accursed state to which they are subject and so bring them into the blessedness of Salvation, the state which they themselves, like Christ, irreversibly enjoy.
Obviously, it is clear that Satan should be loved least of all things and beings, that the author of evil should in a very real sense be despised. On the other hand, in a very different but still pertinent sense, with respect not to esteem but concern, it is surely clear that Satan should be loved the most of all things and beings, indeed that Satan should be the ultimate focus of all the love in the universe- not, I will stress at once, because he is good, imitable or loveable, but for all the contrary reasons: that he is wicked, that he does not invite to life, that he is the propagandist and champion of death, despair and all manner of ruination.
We should remember- Satan operates exclusively within a world of hatred. He is familiar indeed, to an expert and peerless degree, with all its machinations and manifestations and in his own lunatic, very pitiful way could no doubt floor any contestant in his ridiculous game of pointless dereliction. He, on the other hand, knows nothing of love. Building as he does his whole endeavour on the absurd conviction that no such thing exists, he has thought nothing of learning and progressing in its splendour and is thus supremely unskilled in its art. Being the criminal possessor as he is of an earth that he can only corrupt and which therefore only corrupts him further in its turn, it is best for everyone, for the earth, for us all, and for Satan himself, that his unfortunate suzerainty over the earth come to a swift close. It is Almighty God and Almighty God alone who knows how to bring peace, fulfilment and beauty to our Earth and the sooner power and direction be put back into his hands the better for us all.
The Christian, like Christ, stares into the void and, though frightened, is not daunted. Out of love for the iniquitous he will walk in and expect nothing of an eternal Salvation.
Not merely must the innocent be saved from the wicked, the wicked must be saved, must be delivered, from themselves. The wicked have no duty, they can know of no such thing, being as they are profoundly sick, profoundly starved of the sweetnesses of peace, love and life. But the duty of the innocent is to love.
"I am a damned heretic and shall remain one until God grants grace to the devil".
"Why do I deserve any more than the least of the devils of Hell? Will this one day become the normative call to Christian humility and service?"
We have the whole of eternity to spend in heaven and in that which is above the heavens so whilst in this our temporal world let us not be intoxicated stupid by the thought of "heaven", and whilst not ceasing to invoke its love, strength, guidance and power, let us keep our eyes fixed firmly on Hell, Gehenna, on the vast expanses of suffering, pain, poverty, oppression, dereliction and death that spread such pestilence and ruination throughout our beautiful Earth and amidst our beautiful humanity. Evil must be annihilated from its roots.
Abandoning Hell for the sake of Heaven is what the priest did when he neglected that service which we see perfected by the Good Samaritan. If we are God's servants then we are here to do God's work, to assist him in his purposes as his workmanship. Our primary function is to do his work, and his work, we know, is a salvific work, so we exist to serve the creation and everyone in it. Our job is not to fret desperately about our own individual salvation, as we would if in fact we did not have faith in God, but to concern ourselves rather with the salvation of others, of those uncovenanted who lie outside the Church and Israel. But in our service let us not imitate the bizarre "charity" of the Inquisitors and colonialists who justified to themselves "in the name of God" all manner of tyranny by the belief that by such they were saving people from the fires of eternal Hell. Let us not do this again; let us remember that God is love and only love and that love is abominated by such an absurd and abhorrent defense.
God can enjoy his own innate peace and infinity even when in the depths of hell, where he can love Satan without being overcome by animal vengeance. It is only a finite, contingent, vulnerable being that will retaliate against and think ill of an evil doer. God is far, far, far too infinite and far too majestic to be injured or roused to anger by Satan's assaults upon him. However much Satan despises God, however much Satan rises up in war against God, however successfully Satan manages to wrap himself and all his unfortunates into whatever labyrinthine web of suffering it may this time be, one thing Satan will never achieve and that is to make God turn from loving him and abandon him, stop working in zeal for his Salvation and hate him. Satan, the most piteous wretch the Cosmos has ever witnessed, is none other than that being for whom Jesus most profoundly died, for love pays no regard, it pays no respect, to the willful protestations of broken self-contempt. For indeed Satan does despise himself, as must every being first do if it is to despise under God's heaven.
Absolute mercy, irradiated outwards and downwards from on high, without price and without condition: this is Christianity.
If the evil will is a sickness (only convenience leads us to deny this) and evil actions its symptoms, are we then here to uphold, as not concerning other sicknesses, or at least the vast majority of them, that the afflicted person is responsible and to blame for their condition. But is this consistent?
Heaven is enviable but not because it does not suffer, not at least as yet. It does suffer, only not in itself but in pursuit of hell.
Though it is of course a healthy and good desire to want to go to "Heaven", there is a definite sense in which we must resist its temptation if it means our desperate desire to get there plays to the tune of our indifference to and abandonment of our fellow human beings, be they Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Humanist, Atheist, Satanist, enemy, criminal, fascist, sadist, or wicked deviant. All come under the suzerainty of the impassable, irrevocable love of God, a love that is urgent and ardent and bold and listens not to the petitions of the merciless, of the bitterly vengeful, a love that is merciful, kind, patient and gentle and takes its delight in the things of peace, harmony, reconciliation and joy.
Facts are facts- it is obscene to acquiesce in and affirm the suffering of another, be that other God, Angel, human, demon or Satan, be that suffering experienced upon the Earth, in Heaven or in hell, be that suffering physical psychological, emotional or spiritual, be that suffering deserved or undeserved.
I declare boldly that it is intrinsically unloving not to want the salvation of the damned, that it betrays a weakness, an immaturity, indeed an inoperancy of love not to embrace damnation for the sakes of the damned - not to back up their salvation with the collateral of one's own body and soul.
Can it be that Jesus Christ has any sympathy for, or understanding at all of, the envy Lucifer felt and of the pain experienced whenever existence comes under orders and is humiliated and stripped of its freedom? Now Jesus, of course, cannot himself feel envy as he himself is God. Does he, I am wondering, feel any pity or love for those lesser beings who, unlike himself, have to accept their inferior status and the contingency and sense of impotence and suffocation which this involves.
Can we then say that it was for Jesus any great trial or difficulty to obey his Father? He was, after all, God’s Son, God himself, of the same substance as the Father. It seems that a priori he is blessed with an ontological advantage over us in following those principles of obedience and devotion which he enjoined upon us to dedicate ourselves to. Different being? Same orders? Are things therefore tougher for us than they were for him?
“Indeed it must be so- God does not hate Satan. On the contrary he loves him, and of course it is by loving Satan that God overcomes him, for if God were to hate Satan, Satan would grow all the stronger. But we love Satan in the right way- which is to despise him.”
Criticisms of Humanity , "Christianity", Religion
We have lost our sense for levels of being, of gradations in the framework of ontology. In place of this wisdom we have constructed a system we call hierarchy. In this scheme we place God at the uppermost pole and keep him there, fixed, static, the prisoner of our obsequious idolatry. Between ourselves and God are fixed mediating beings that bar the possibility of direct divine experience and insist that our experiences of God be conformable to specific types. Although day and night we worship a God who renounced his majesty and assumed the form of a slave, we yet remain incapable of understanding the devastating meaning of this divine gesture. Because of our belief in hierarchy we believe this wretched and despised Jesus was still in fact, despite his outward appearance and internal commitment, the same mighty sovereign God in the sky we are accustomed to depict sitting atop a mighty imperial throne. By so misconceiving Jesus' ministry, by negating the force of Jesus' identification with the outcast and oppressed, we bring to nought the transformative effects Jesus' life was intended to bear upon our systems of hierarchy. For clearly, if a King becomes a slave, he ridicules all systems of hierarchy.
Whilst God is the absolute, the eternal, the omnipresent God, he is also the filthy wretch, the accursed blasphemer, crucified in desolation outside the city walls for crimes against the state and against God.
Indeed God is in the highest echelon of heaven and above heaven, exalted above heaven still higher. But he also wails and screams in crushed humiliation, afflicted, despised in the very lowest regions of hell. Above us is God and below us is God and between God and God is man persisting in stubborn blindness, capable only of attributing to God the hatred he feels for himself.
God is not only insulted but saddened by our worship. Insulted because we do not worship him but rather only our images of him- which is idolatry; and saddened because we perpetually attribute to him those qualities that he would far rather we cultivate in ourselves. Love, mercy, understanding- God is well aware he possesses these qualities in exemplary fashion and does not need us to remind him of the fact in the ritualistic, self-effacing manner in which we do, in a manner, moreover, that effectively alleviates us of the responsibility of emulating and practising these virtues for ourselves. For by setting these qualities at a distance, far off, and projecting them onto an inaccessible deity in an unreachable heaven we thereby distance ourselves from them and consider ourselves unworthy of practising them towards others as God practised them towards us.
Real worship of God is imitation of God, which means that we must love others, have mercy on others and be crucified for the sakes of others if necessary, as Jesus loved us, had mercy on us and was crucified for us.
Just as we think God doesn't care for humanity so we feel free not to care very much for humanity ourselves. God, so we believe, is only really concerned to get himself worshipped by human beings. That we believe is his reason for wanting to create and later redeem humanity. To satisfy his vanity, to get himself correctly worshipped by that which he created. So we believe that God does not value us for what we are in ourselves but only for what we give him- namely our worship of him. Thus, we turn God into the great Cosmic demander, a great taker who damns those who don't give him this worship and saves only those who do- moreover, only those, it might be added, who give him this worship in the correct manner. To understand God as the great cosmic giver who demands nothing from us for himself in return save that we model his example and give ourselves abundantly to our fellow men, is a model of God that is clearly incomprehensible to Religious practitioners.
God only wishes us to worship him because, through worship we come to concentrate our attention upon him that we may learn the lessons he wishes to teach us and struggle against our conditions, the consequences of the fall and be able to be blessed more and more with the gifts that he wishes to give us. The notion that worship is an eternal and a priori characteristic of man's relationship with God is clearly insupportable, for if our attention is always upon him and we always receive his wisdom and there are no fallen conditions to struggle against, for which we need his help, then for what could we be gathering together and confessing and appealing to him? In such an environment, we would lack nothing and have no sin. We may/would indeed continue to praise God but we would praise him not as something distant but immediately present, not as something that atones for sins (for we would have none) and not as something that provides for us in our distress or graciously grants us those things for which we petition him? What then would our praises be and for what would we praise him?
God calls on us to let him enter our hearts that we might become like him; in effect, therefore, he calls on us to be God, to let ourselves become God. We, however, refuse his call, spurn his teaching, fail to interpret his son's life as a call for the overthrowing of Religion and keep him forever separated from us by striving to perfect his worship. We thank God for having given his son to the world and then refuse to accept him through a false and pointless self-abasement. Consequently, along with God we reject his estimation of man as a worthy vessel of his own substance.
True Christianity is not the struggle to win back one's union with God or ensure one's salvation; it is not a factory for the manufacture of spiritual supermen. We cannot of our own will ascend to God but, by descending, God can unite himself to man- as God did in Christ and now wishes to do with us all. Indeed, qualified only by our own rejection of him, all people are now united to him. The obstacles that separated man from God have now been removed through God's incarnation, his experiencing of mortal life and death and his triumph through and over it. Salvation is therefore not something one needs to win or struggle for, nor is it something one can lose. Though it not be realised and actualised, salvation is the inalienable property of everyman.
God is only angry because man is angry. It was man, not God, who introduced punitive wrathful morality into the world. It was man not God who conceived and gave substance to death, which for God was only an idea to warn us against. It was man who brought good and evil to his own knowledge and so lost his regenerate innocence, who sunk down into egoism and learnt the evils of guilt, accusation, judgement and hatred.
God, reflecting back to us our own acquired baseness now spoke to us not as the friend and intimate lover he once was but as the cursing, condemning, furious, punitive God that makes his first appearance only in the latter part of Genesis III. So it is change in man that wrought a transformation of God's external personality
When God says "I am that I am" he says that for being exactly what he is, he is exactly what he wants to be. By defining him as something, anything, according to an image, from earth or heaven, we strip him of this right and force him to communicate to us through, and in, a fixed identity and image that we have imprisoned him into through our worship. Thus, we effectively kill him, rendering him capable of being only the dead God of old, making it impossible for him to communicate to us as the living, vital, indefinable God that he is. And so, not surprisingly, when he comes down as a human being, we fail to recognise his divinity and crucify him for the crime of offending and challenging our fixed, rigid, conceptions.
The Christian should not act, feel, think, believe in a certain way that his sins may be forgiven and he saved from punishment. The Christian, like all men, is saved, there is no possibility of punishment; because of this, and his knowledge of this, he acts, feels, thinks and loves towards others as God acted, felt, thought and loved towards him. He loves and brings salvation to others as God loved and saved him and if necessary he is prepared to sacrifice and lay down his life for others as God sacrificed and laid down his life for him. The Christian life mirrors that of Christ. Just as Christ sacrificed himself for humanity, both in his ministry and experiencing of death, so we sacrifice ourselves, not for God, to whom we have nothing to give, but for humanity as members of Christ’s body and extensions of his power.
True worship is not something performed but something perpetual, without beginning, end or specific form; the essence of this worship has moved on from the flattery of God and self-effacement of man to the active doing of God's will: the sacrifice and dedication of oneself to the service of the all.
Indeed it had to take God himself to put a final end to this idolatrous worship of God. Only by putting an end to this worship could God's purpose proceed: that of divinizing the Creation and restoring all things to Christ. With this realisation, passes one kind of worship and commences quite another kind.
Two thousand years on the Cross seems to have done nothing to turn our hearts from the cruel idolatry of dualism, and so our murder of God continues - pathetic, infantile, a true, decisive criticism of our species. One wonders in a weaker, less hopeful moment whether we shall ever learn the elementary lessons of love. As a cynical aside, I might think not; after all, what evidence is there to go on? There is no evidence. We are still sub-spiritual, sub-christian, now as ever. Our lust for enemies is undaunted, rapacious, indeed it would seem omnipotent. How difficult we make it for God to speak to us! We think that in defending God's honour by defending his "name", his "Religion", his "Law", his "Church", his "people", his "spirit", by punishing and despising those who hurt and profane these things, that we are actually serving God's will- when what we are really doing by spreading fear, divisions and hatred is opposing his purposes and crucifying him. For there is no Hell except the one we sustain in existence through our hatreds of one another and our failure to address the Christian Gospel of mercy and forgiveness to the World.
Though understandable, it is truly a defeatist idea- to think people must always be so irresponsible that they will only act decently if they are terrified senseless of acting otherwise.
Mankind is the image of God not because he possesses this spurious agent, "free will" (in reality the freedom to submit to threats of absolute terror) but because- and the following words are crucial- when he is awake he knows what is right and good action, and because in such a state he praises God perpetually, without even the conscious exertion of the will.
Be not deceived- he who puts people to death in the name of Jesus puts Joshua to death.
"He who will put people to death and consign them to Hell in the name of Christ puts Christ to death and damns him."
To most people, God is authority and authority is God, as if God would then cease to exist when all traces of metaphysical regulation have passed away, as they must.
It is when I know I am loved by the one offering knowledge- it is then I learn, it is then I listen.
Religion by asserting in the abstract that God exists has exalted power hungry man as an idol and banished God from omnipresence. God, in the deep, impenetrable silence of his being cares not for his honour, for how people view him or that; for example, he is a crushed wretch and associates with criminals.
The desire to be worshipped is the last and worst of all temptations.
"God does not give the Cosmos the "opportunity" to be saved. He forces it to be saved. God is a virile God, a hunter God, a strong and unyielding God. But he is also a God who is only love, only light, neither knowing evil nor capable of committing it, and so when incarnated among us he strives with zeal to help us. But if as so often happens we reject and despise him for the peace and love he freely wishes to lavish upon us, he allows us to crush him- holding out neither malice nor vengeance towards us, loving us with no less of a love, striving to help us with no less of a commitment. I would not be a Universalist if I did not believe in this utter impassability of the love of God. Our persistent hatred of God and the wisdoms of God, as history testifies leads always and only to our ruination. It never hurts God, for we, our energies and our powers are but dust before his infinity. Our hatred of God hurts only ourselves, because it robs us of the possibility of the fountain of health. It does not hurt God; it does not even touch God. He is entirely impregnable to the childish leaps, the pathetic bounds, the insane and most piteous vortices of the hatred we hold out towards him. As untouched by it, he is not roused to vengeance against it, and he continues to love us, as much as if we adored him. And so it is that God loves the "wicked" no less than he loves religious, moral and virtuous people; he simply loves them in a different, less satisfactory, because unreciprocated way. This is our creation, because it is we, not God, who have to live in it. If it is tumult and chaos because we selfishly and senselessly abuse our responsibilities, it is we, not God, who have to face the consequences.
The idea that God does not want, independently from ourselves, impassibly within himself and in himself, to improve and redeem the lot of his pitiful human beings. It is this idea that lies behind the centuries old tyrant belief that God is far more disposed towards damning and torturing human beings than towards doing that which always remains an unavoidable adornment of his being, that is, serving and loving everything and everyone without restraint in an impassibly and non-negotiable commitment.
If Christ is committed to all of humanity and Christians committed to Christ, it follows by extension that Christians are committed to the whole of humanity. The direct meaning of Christianity is the service of God but the indirect and focal that is the secret and real, meaning of Christianity is humanity. God is the eternally self-existent, self-subsistent creator of all things, independent, pre-existent, in no way in need of his creation for his own self. To suppose, therefore, that we serve God because he needs such a service for himself is plainly ridiculous- in fact absurd, if not a little offensive and of course arrogant on our part (as if anything we are or do can be of the slightest help to him. The creator can only create things which are less glorious and perfect than himself, and if anything is to approach anything even vaguely close to equality with him, it would have to be the totality of the creation, that is the whole, that is everything AS ONE.) Ultimately, we do not serve God- he does not need us. God, however, does serve humanity and we do serve God by assisting him in the work of service which needs to be enacted through us if it is to have any real effectiveness. And so God is a humanist, Christians are humanists and the work of God is a Humanism- which is simply the service of humanity, which lies behind the call of Abraham, the election of Israel, the incarnation of God and the mission of the Church. It is both absurd and offensive to allege that God despises what he has created (the Augustinian madness of Original Sin) or that he does not love everything that he has created equally (a species of the dualist heresy) or that he will, presuming appropriate responses, allow aspects of his creation to forever rot and burn in hell (that product of the imperialistic mind). This is nothing other than the despair of man, the pride of man and the vengefulness of man foisted onto God.
Being a Christian has got nothing whatsoever to do with "being saved" as opposed to "being damned". It has, however, got everything to do with the process of salvation, not of an elect portion of the cosmos but the totality of the cosmos. Christ remains crucified and Christians crucified in him until all the universe, all the universe without limitation or exception, is redeemed and resurrected. Yet this should not be viewed in any sentimental or outraged light. It is the will of Christ, as it should be the will of every Christian, to see all things translated into love and the very concept of "enemy", which is THE curse on existence, extirpated from all consciousness and obliterated forever.
I do not respect submissive views of piety. God created us to be active creatures not passive mirrors.
Sometimes, out of the love of love, even only out of the love of our common humanity, it is necessary, even with a crypto-promethean rage, to oppose "God" and the things of "God"- always of course whilst actually thinking and believing that the true God himself is as merciful, indeed, because he is God infinitely more merciful than we are, as we gaze out with desperate, unyielding eyes of love upon the cosmos, as we long that all might be well and that peace and light might absolutely reign in all things, turning all things into the depth and height of love, the face of God.
The Church is the activity of Christ in the world. Thus the Church does what Christ did when Christ was in the world. It is the servant of the outsider, the stranger, that human community that exists beyond its own boundaries; it is for this community that it lives, breathes, moves, prays and suffers. Thus the focus, vision, directedness and intentionality of the Church are outward, beyond and away from itself. The Church does not exist to work and pray for its own salvation but that of all humanity. Universalism is not an option for the Church but a foundational necessity without which the Church must fail to understand its own meaning and purpose and by extension fail to reap success as the workmanship of God. Christ came down from heaven not to save himself but to save and redeem lost, fallen humanity- all humanity. How then can it be that the Church should feel justified in exclusivism and insularity, in introspection, self-protection and the delineation of salvation when their Lord, their God, their model of imitation is in all things the express image of the exact reverse and contrary attitude? Did Christ not renounce heaven for the sake of the Earth? When on Earth did he not abandon respectability, abandon the ways, habits, judgements, prejudices and hatreds of the world and reach out in service to the very least? Did he not resist the temptations, the consolation of the thought of exclusivism, that most comfortable awareness that one belongs to the only community worthy of God's favour and salvation? Did he not have his face set against violence, punishment, political aggression, vengeance and the cool, rational instincts of human ambition and self-preservation? Having been cut off from the Earth by his own people, his own flesh and blood, did he not descend into hell? As ascended Lord, did he not approach Paul with a new revelation: to spread the light of life to the Gentiles also, not only throughout Israel? Does not Christ direct his energies away from himself, to what is outside himself, to that which is not himself, to those people who do not know the peace and joy of God. Indeed, Christ, out of love, negates himself to make room for others. By renouncing his majesty and taking upon himself the form of a slave he strives and works to elevate us to the level of his own majesty. Yes, out of mercy, indeed, out of mercy, but also out of love, and out of will, out of love because he does indeed love and only loves but out of will also- and he is entitled to his own will.
Life contains two types of people: Those who hate duality and those who take it for granted. The first group are strangers in this world, outsiders, introspective, intense, and philosophical (as anyone would be who lived in an alien landscape). To these the maxim "Love your enemies" is not shocking since everyone to them is friend and enemy because everyone alien. The second group are fully citizens of this world, at home within it, taking its standards, values, habits, judgements and ambitions for granted unreflectively, working within its boundaries without hesitation. To these the words "stranger", "friend", "enemy", "neighbour" and "lover"' all possess exact, specific and circumscribed meanings. These are those who reason and operate dualistically, who judge, hold prejudices, discriminate and evaluate a person's value in terms of their external (or internal, what's the difference?) performances, beauty, adeptness, strength. For these, love is never a truly self-abandoning, self-negating affection but one that must always retain its roots in and contact with a certain well-defined and self-aware ego. These are those for whom love is a transaction. Yes, they give of themselves but always expect and want something back, a dividend from their investment. Consequently, love for them is not an affection and certainly not a commitment which they suppose God wants them to spread out and irradiate over everyone: family, friends, neighbours, strangers, foreigners, wicked people, demons and devils. To these, the universe, like their own minds and hearts, is split into like and dislike, sympathy and antipathy, purity and impurity, beloved and hated, comforting and frightening, familiar and strange, good and evil, light and dark. These divisions to them are strict, unequivocal and eternal, demarcating and separating the two competing realms, the heavenly and the hellish. These are those who, although possessing enemies, yet fail to love them- for to do such would confound and defeat their precious cosmologies. They await salvation by their God and do nothing to strive for the salvation of their enemies; on the contrary, these enemies are those who they insist out of JUSTICE must go to this place called hell. When these their enemies are in hell, they will do nothing to help them get out of it, they will do nothing to deliver or save them from it- indeed some may even gloat over the torments of these unfortunates. It will never enter into their minds that they should be taking their place and deploying their energies, abilities, power and freedom to suffer and strive for the goal of their salvation.
To reiterate, it is not Hell I deny. Hell is within us, all around us and beyond us. I deny the eternity of Hell, that is, that it is everlasting, that it is never-ending, that those fortunate and lucky enough not to be in it can do nothing through their love to rescue and save those who are in it; that we cannot and should not pray to God that he intervene and rescue those unfortunates who are in it. Love is no crime- whatever its direction and focus, so let us love our enemies, which is our duty, and love those who are in Hell, which such a Love must imply; and let us not falter or renege from our duty, which is to proclaim the Gospel of love and to dedicate and rededicate ourselves to the service of our suffering and afflicted Earth, our humanity and our universe.
Two errors tend to creep into practical, as opposed to theoretical and doctrinal Theology. Firstly, that Jesus is the totality of God, an error making it hard for us to believe he was a human being like us. Secondly, that it was not God himself who died, which makes it hard for us to grasp the intensity and boldness of God's own love for us, and that he has wished to identify himself intimately with his creation and whatever its fate transpires to be.
That which is priestly does not have its eyes set upon universal salvation- far from it.
The Priest is exclusively concerned with purification, a task reliant upon the perpetual existence of filth and dirt. Out of his natural human instinct for self-survival and career defensiveness, the Priest must oppose and anathematize the doctrine of universal salvation, that is the universal, irreversible and eternal cleansing of all that is since such must one day spell his own demise. Only through the scandalization of uncleanliness, only by declaring it untouchable, does the Priest secure his own position.
Soteriologically, the Religion of Methodism seems the most sane because the most loving; yet it still suffers from the defect of apathy (it is only critical and dismissive of the doctrine of eternal damnation. Ultimately, it puts up with it. It is not scandalized by it) and suffers, of course, from the general Protestant defect of individualism. Not that R. Catholicism or G.& R. Orthodoxy, mind you, are without blame
If humanity as a whole is condemned, the individual, of course, is rendered politically emasculated in a very efficient way. Original Sin is a theological tool for the political subjugation of contexts and contingencies. Since all of humanity is universally damned, individual human beings can do nothing of themselves to escape their fate of eternal damnation. Consequently, they are forced by the naturally implanted dynamic of self-preservation to submit themselves body and soul to the overarching control and domination of the thing which can transmit that which is necessary for their salvation- the Church. Through its priestly sacraments (and through these things alone) can the effects of Original sin be annulled? Thus the Pre-Reformation church bound to its control every human being natural enough to be concerned for his own deliverance from the prospect of never ending torment. The only people left in resistance to this general, levelling submission, the only people over whom other more earthly means of coercion were required to be exercised were, on the one hand, intellectual free thinkers (and their followers) who stood up to and rejected this doctrine and on the other selfless "Madmen" who couldn't give a damn about their salvation anyway.
Christian understandings of mercy implicate upon God a dual personality. On the one hand, God is a punishing avenger. On the other, he is an all-forgiving lover. Not merely is God dual and contradictory, he is also set over and against himself in opposition. His first personality eclipses the clarity and coherence of his second personality. His second personality is so alienated from his first that it strives constantly to liberate humanity from it. This struggle of the merciful against the punishing in God is so acute that it can be perceived that there is not witnessed a duality, a struggle in God, but that there are in fact two rival Gods at war with one another. This indeed is the erroneous perceptions of the Gnostics that led them, in their love for the tenderness of Christ, to clarify their own stance towards God by identifying Jehovah with Satan.
It is not God that punishes. It is the structures and mechanisms of the world that punish.
It is understandable that humanity should punish. Humanity is a fallen, twisted, decrepit disaster. But to suppose that Almighty God, the all-loving, all-perfect creator of all things should punish is quite simply absurd. As I have said, it is the mechanisms of our world, a fallen world which punish, not God, who is far too busy looking after, loving and trying to restore and save the creation and deliver it from its self-perpetuating bondage to darkness and death.
It is beneath God to punish, it is ignoble, it is unmajestic, and so he does not do it.
Pelagius' error was to deny the fall of man and in particular its implication- that mankind exists at a level of being beneath the one he was designed for, on which he should be existing. Augustine's worse and more devastating error, however, was to say that this fall was intrinsically biological passed from generation to generation by the incredibly natural and completely sinless act of sexual intercourse and procreation. This belief, obviously and clearly, damns the created order, which is surely nothing other than a scandal and blasphemy against Al
lmighty God, the Lord of Hosts, the
pure, immaculate, uncreated creator of all that is. So, both Augustine and Pelagius are mistaken;
but at least Pelagius stood in the tradition of ancient Israelite thought on
questions of sin and morality; at least he listened to the dictates and wisdom
of down-to-Earth, practical, common sense; at least he understood, like the
apostle James, that faith without works is like love without mercy -entirely
vacuous, null and void, worthless.
The problem about Post-Babylonian thought is that it introduced a concept that had not existed before-damnation. Against this new, alien idea "salvation" underwent a transformation, becoming the opposite of damnation and acquiring thereby a new meaning. No longer is it the concrete conditions of actual, physical suffering from which we and the world need to be saved by God. Now it is God himself, God the punisher, God the avenger from whom we need to be saved- and strangely enough we need to be saved from this God by God- extraordinary! An alienation, a chasm, a gulf, is established between humankind and God of a kind that does not exist in Pre-Babylonian times. Beforehand, yes, life was not Edenic, nor were man and God fused together into oneness, but at least before this time God and man were on the same side and God was working for the interests and betterment of humanity, for its entire universal restitution and indeed for the redemption of the earth. But after the exile all this changes. God becomes the enemy, the condemner of humanity and it is remarkable if any humans are saved at all.
Christianity and Islam both believe that Sin is an essentially vertical phenomenon. The greatest sins one may commit are those one commits against God (for example, by not believing in his existence or thinking him evil, wrong, to be railed against, denounced and opposed). Even sins against one's fellow human beings are only interpreted as sins because they are sins against God. This is why these faiths are not stirred, or at least have not until very recently been stirred, to moral indignation at the idea of an eternal torment of human beings in hell. It is, of course, why these faiths will kill and oppress and torture people in the name of religion, and why they can allow themselves to be largely indifferent to the carnage of war, the plight of criminals and the afflictions of poverty, homelessness and hunger.
It is simply inconsistent to say on the one hand that god unconditionally loves all people and on the other that he requires the slaughter of an innocent man to make effective his love for a mere portion of that humanity by cancelling out his wrath against all of humanity. If he feels wrath towards humanity, he does not hold out love towards humanity. Are there then two powers at work on high- one the power that loves, which sends its son into the world to save humanity from the wrath of the one that hates? This appears to be what's going on. Is God then split within his own mind and personality? Fragmented, shattered within himself, utterly mad? (Yes indeed, but then this is not the true God, only the projections of our insanity flung onto the canvas of the void. Anything, it seems, will be acceptable to us but the brutal fact that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, God incarnate, was killed by the humanity he tried to serve.
To say there is one way and only one way to conceive of and worship God is like saying there must be only one way to love and delight in one's family, friends or spouse.
David: We will love anything and everything except that which truly needs our love. We will love objects, nature, war, vice, money, power, sex, nation, religion, God. Yes we will even love God, but come way may we will not love our fellow human beings, our neighbours, strangers, aliens and enemies. And so we render ourselves all but useless to God who is a high God of love, who is crucified at our hands and remains so until love reigns, to the glory and awe of his shocking, unbounded majesty.
Our love of the knowledge of good and evil, that is our hatred of innocence and our love of conflict and judgement- which is our Original Sin - is the most tenacious of all our loves.
It is utterly, totally obscene to say that pre-marital sex is a sin whilst at the same time saying it is not a sin to kill a heretic, Muslim Jew or criminal. Jesus himself was a heretic, criminal and blasphemer, as is obvious from even the most superficial reading of any of the Gospels.
Good Christianity forgives an individual and releases him from both fear and sin. Good Christianity liberates, reconciles, unites and loves. Good Christianity does not disdain variety, plurality, freedom of contextual expression but only hatred and conflict, which sadly may, but need not, co-exist with a breakdown in uniformity (witness schismatism, sectarianism, cultism- the degeneration of the universal psyche). On the other hand, good Christianity condemns centralist domination, the oppressive, normativizing of the expression of worship and life- be this intellectual, emotional, liturgical or practical. It resists dogmatism, understanding it as something that earnt its historical currency from essentially political factors in the Post-Constantinian era. It is mild, gentle, loving, unaggressive and not cruel towards Jews, heretics and witches (without nevertheless renouncing the gospel). It denies the doctrine of eternal damnation, of eternal hellfire, of eternal torment, of eternal punishment as an iniquitous idea, intrinsically flawed and false. Yet it withholds condemnation from those who constructed it and believe in it, recognising it, as it does, as an idea of political foundation and pastoral expediency. It grounds itself on, and shackles itself to, the Rock of Love, which is the fullness and consummation of the Gospel and indeed the entirety of the divine revelation. It practices love, it embraces love, it meditates upon the glory, the splendour, the beauty, the miracle of love, it departs not from the way of love under any conditions, ever. It waits in patience and certainty for the triumph and victory of love.
Essential error of religion- to suppose that it is anything but a means, an arrow, a temporary necessity. To suppose that it in itself is the fullness of any true or real relationship with God.
The argument from Satan is just a cop-out, an effective evasion by which we dodge our blame and responsibility and by which we comfortably drug ourselves into inactivity on account of the supposition that “evil” people and not ourselves are responsible for the problems of the world.
Mankind always blames God or Satan for the evil in the world when it has not the guts, insight and shame to blame itself.
To strip Christianity of its superstitiousness, to suspend from it considerations of fear, guilt and militancy, to make it tender, mild and endlessly compassionate. To remain true to the essence: love, forgiveness of sins, everlasting life through belief in Jesus Christ.
To speak of the Gospel, yes, but not merely- also and centrally to be it, to be good news to pagan desolation, to embody for it a free gift, a free exit.
We think perhaps that this world is ugly and bad because of the “forces of darkness” when really it is so only because of us, because we make it so.
Life without Christ is hell. Life without Christ is hopeless- its only solace, its only comfort is illusion. But life, existence, is not hell. Life is not hopeless.
Jesus Christ did not lecture or preach. Rather he was and is.
What is Christian morality? Christian morality, in essence, is that we love our neighbour, that is everybody, as we love ourselves, that we treat our neighbour as we ourselves would like to be treated. To say it is anything more or other than this is dangerous. There is nothing to add. There is only a question, a standing question, importunate, penetrating and massive: How can man love? This question does not go away and will not go away until it is adequately answered- not in theory but in concrete practice. Christian truth is simple. Perversion begins with extrapolation. Christian truth is simple. Who can bear it?
Religion’s failure is that it preaches the love of God above and before the love of humanity when in reality one can only love God if one does so through the love of humanity. This is why it has been possible for the Religious to be capable of murder for the love of God. If things had been properly understood from the beginning one would no more have injured another human being than one would injure one’s God, one would no more have wanted to kill another human being than one would wanted to kill one’s God.
And this of course is the consequence of the incarnation: that to injure another human being is to injure God and to kill another human being is to kill God.
It was then I understood that authority, hierarchy and control derive not from god but from man. Power and Judgement- these also come not from god but from man. Man demands these things and cannot live without them. God then is compelled to work within the forms and parameters in which man is capable and prepared to accept him.
It is clear that out of a terror of God I repress many of my angers and much of my resentfulness towards the Bible, its interpretations in the world today and towards Christianity.
Jesus did not strive to be God. Neither should we - for we do not know what God is. We would exalt an image, an idol and try to become that. Rather we should love one another. This way we will become that which we had never expected to become and in the process become mature sons and daughters of God, Gods ourselves.
Criticisms of "Spiritual selfishness"-of the individual
That age old desire of the Christian, to secure his own individual salvation against the so-posited on- coming judgement and punishment of God. As if it were first necessary for a person to be acutely selfish before he could even understand the above mentioned mode of consciousness. Only to a humanity the inner impulses of which are not directed outwards toward the hope filled desire for the rescue and beautification of all men and all other beings; only to a humanity filled full only of the instinct of self-preservation and self-elevation; only to a humanity that saw his every neighbouring human being only as its acute rival, not as its potential lover - only to such a humanity, only to such, could the fear of individual punishment, of personal eternal damnation, act as a rousing call to obedience and submission.
I deny hell, even though out of will more than knowledge. Your threats, it seems, will have no power over me. I lack that necessary desire for self-preservation, that requisite selfishness. You threaten me will hell. You fail to understand that so long as hell exists I want to be there, struggling against it.
"The idea that it is NOT a Christians role and duty, if necessary, to humiliate and empty himself in love and devotion to other people and lay down his life as a Sacrifice, as a ransom for the deliverance of these others, is the single, most far reaching error to have crept into the Christian community. The idea that we should strive for our own individual salvation and interpret love as a call to assist or, as it can be, threaten other people toward the goal of securing their own individual salvation, constitutes a straightforward inversion of the teaching of Christ and his call to follow him to Calvary. It was the concern of his disciples, each utterly absorbed in their own egotistical self-devotion, to attend to the interests of their own personal welfare, that led them all, except John, to abandon and deny Christ and leave him a solitary wretch to be cursed and crucified alone. It is this same all-too-human, animal self-obsession which today dictates to the Christian the concern to achieve his OWN salvation, his perpetual protection from Christ’s self-annihilating damnation and crucifixion. But to share in the burden of his burden, to attend not to their own welfare but to that of others, that great and glorious reversal of the instinctive priorities of the fallen self, the true inheritance of the Christian revelation: is what Christ himself entreats us to.
I think it is insane to live virtuously or believe in God either in order to secure particular rewards for oneself in the afterlife or else to secure for oneself an afterlife with God at all. The point is to be selflessly devoted- for the sake of devotion, because one is devoted.
I have driven my face into hell and I shall not withdraw it until there is no more hell from which to withdraw it; and so I shall not withdraw it. This does not so much take courage as that simple, normal, natural, unspectacular kind of a love which it is the peculiarity of our culture and our religions to be divested of.
What I want is this: To go down, to be used by the creative purposes of light, to be sacrificed again and again, as many times, for as long as is necessary to see firmly and securely and incorruptibly established a kingdom of peace extending over and including the all.
In the Old Testament man sacrificed animals to God, in other words man gave to God, gave up for God that this might atone for man's sins (or at least Israel's) and keep God reconciled to him.
But in the New Testament, God, without man realising it, got man to sacrifice God to God, in this way atoning for all man's sins for ever and so bringing all sacrifice to an end. What value now can attach to anything man might sacrifice of himself or his possessions to God since God himself has outstripped and brought to nothing such offered sacrifices through the sacrifice of himself to himself on man's behalf. All human sacrificing to God is now anachronistic, God having made to himself, through Jesus, an everlasting mortal sacrifice. To dispute this is to deny the atoning death of Jesus and empty it of meaning. This is not to say, however, that sacrifice is overthrown altogether. Rather it now assumes a different nature; sacrifice is now no longer made to God for the sake of man's sins but rather to our fellow men and for their sakes - that they might also know that their sins are forgiven and receive God's free, unmerited gift of eternal life.
Self-sacrifice is not for God (he needs nothing from us) nor for ourselves (the ascetic mentality- exalted selfishness!) but for our enemies (whom we do not have the right to consider enemies anyway). God is the eternally, infinitely un-animal who is perpetually, with abundant patience, beckoning us to wake up from our pathetic carnality and embrace without shame the infinite riches of his majesty.
If we ourselves do not get crucified with Christ, are we not in danger of ending up not as the crucified but the crucifiers of Christ?
Of course, it is not good to be crucified or to suffer in-them. Best above all if there'd been no reason for Christ to suffer on behalf of the human race in the first place. But Christ, who himself came from the mansion of love, from heaven, who existed with the Father in glory before the creation of anything that is created, who became himself created to redeem the fallen creation, came to suffer in order that the multitudes that suffer might be enlightened and liberated from their captivity to suffering and death, and the entire creation be translated into the glory of the all pervasive incarnation of the Father, from whom all light and wisdom proceeds.
When we crucify Christ, Christ out of love forgives us on account of our blindness. The point for us is not to crucify either Christ or ourselves but like Christ to acquiesce and give ourselves over to whoever wishes to crucify us so that they, who think God hates them, might learn that the opposite is true and one day be edified to the stature and vision of God's wisdom.
"That person who is not prepared and if necessary does not want to sacrifice himself for the salvation of his "enemy" is not in his heart a true Christian."
Are we Christians to follow Christ’s sacrificial example or not? I ask myself is it my desire to lay down my own life, on my own cross, in order to strive after and hope to realise the betterment and redemption of my fellow human beings the answer that comes to me is Yes, always Yes, a billion times Yes and it has to be Yes; what else can it be since for me Christianity has always only ever been the struggle of love to triumph over all darkness. This Christianity, which is the only one I can in conscience uphold, is crippled from first to last, divested of all its hope and substance by the doctrines of everlasting punishment and its perpetuity of darkness and evil.
Criticisms of doctrine of eternal damnation
Unlearning the fear of eternal torment is an exceedingly exacting, laborious and difficult process. After all, even if one reacts over passionately and too defensively against the notion and against those who produced it, upheld it and still uphold it, this yet proves that one still lives under its power, that one has still not yet unleamt it.
The doctrine of the eternal damnation is the eternal enemy of Christianity- it always has been, is now and will continue to be until it is utterly extirpated from our minds and vanquished. It is obscene, it is grotesque, it rips the very heart out of Christianity, it turns the splendour and glory of God into rank diabolical fumes. To expect this kind of behaviour from the most oppressed and wretched of men may be understandable, but to expect this same base vengefulness from a being of infinite being and eternal wealth, who not only created, out of love, all that is but cannot be injured in any way by the creation.....
The doctrine of eternal torment is the eternal enemy of Christianity- it is this doctrine which, if it got its own way, would keep Joshua crucified forever. It makes an utter mockery of any lucid grasp of what it might mean that Joshua should live and die for the sins and death of the universe. Absolute mercy, irradiated outwards and downwards from on high, without price, without condition- this is Christianity.
The idea that God will punish the wicked is as much, perhaps more, a consolation to the good- that their persecutors will get hammered- as it is an effective discouragement for these wicked. So it is then that this vengeful notion is a species of humanity's own incapacity for mercy, foisted onto God.
How absurd- to accept belief in God because he satisfies our preconditions, because we are satisfied he feels and reacts towards the world, towards good and evil, as we do and as we would if we had God's power. But what if it were revealed that God does not "reward" the virtuous or "punish" the wicked? Would we then reject and despise God for not being a creature permeated with our humdrum moral dispositions, and for being a wholly other, far more exalted, far more merciful and divine personality.
The doctrine of hell takes the very sting, the very depths out of the mystery of Golgotha. For if we know our enemies will get suitably hammered we will not think for a second that the true meaning of the cross is actually that Joshua wants us to follow him into hell and assist him in its total and utter dismantlement.
Any understanding of eternal damnation turns upside down and hammers into dust any living, active, dynamic, coherent, tangible understanding of the love of God. As if God were so small, weak and paltry that he could possibly feel vengeance towards what he, out of his love, had created. As if God would actually behave as we, we very unspectacular humanity always does.
The doctrine of eternal torment is the eternal enemy of Christianity. It is this doctrine which, if it got its way, would keep Jesus crucified forever. It makes an utter mockery of any lucid grasp of what it might mean that Jesus should live and die for the sins of the universe.
The wicked doctrine of eternal damnation exists for two reasons. Both expose the fallen, sinful, ungodly condition of man.
a) We are beasts and need beastly, that is terrifying, motivations to act in normal, sane ways towards our neighbours and "enemies” that is with virtue, respect, gentleness and love.
b) We are beasts and in consequence refuse to show mercy and compassion towards those who suffer from the sickness of wickedness, of blindness, of darkness, of death and because we are incapable of enduring the afflictions of those who injure us without reacting retributively and wishing pain upon them.
The wicked doctrine of eternal damnation is not Christian; it is in no way Christian. It is now, as it has always been, the chief obstacle standing in the way of the establishment and development of a true Godly affection and orientation.
Besides, even to have all this threatening talk of hellfire have any effect upon us, we must first have abandoned our Christian duty of selflessness and taken upon ourselves a sheer, loathsome selfishness that is, on the one hand, responsive to such tyrannical cajoling and coercion and on the other quite indifferent and blasé toward the pain and torment of those who suffer in this hellfire. This doctrine is thus selfish on two accounts, one positive, the other negative. Positively it reveals our selfish concern to secure our survival against such threatening assaults. Negatively, it reveals our selfish indifference towards if not our actual support for the suffering of others.
No error has been greater, no error has spread more of a profound pestilence and darkness than the belief that Almighty God is in the business of damning people. This belief turns Christianity on its head and emasculates its power.
Eternal torment, were it to exist, would eternally mar God's creation and thus eternally thwart and confound the purposes of God. Since God is Alpha and Omega, that which is at the end must be what was at the beginning, but if eternal torment will always remain, the "powers of darkness", as it were, shall have forever scored a victory over God; but this is unacceptable, not merely in point of view of God's sovereignty and providence but in view of the fact that such would mean that God was not in control of eternity, which indeed is effectively an atheism, or if not that then certainly a dualism and certainly neither Christian nor Jewish.
If by denying "Jesus Christ" I deny a man who approves of and supports the eternal torment of conscious existents, then deny Jesus Christ without contempt I shall. If such a denial means that I myself will become such a tormented existent, then such a one I will become, lamenting only that God, after all, was not as loving and charitable as I had hoped and believed he was, that God all the time was not that bounteous fountain of love that had inspired in me my love for him. Yet, when I am in hellfire, tormented, do not suppose it was my desire to be there. I do not want to go to hell, but heaven yet see no choice but to go to hell as long as hell exists, as long as Heaven itself has not absorbed and conquered hell into itself. For hell itself is suffering, materially, actually, palpably, transparently and unmysteriously. What else then can Earth and Heaven do but stoop down and assist the tormented in their plight, liberate the tormented from their situation and open wide the gates of Heaven liberally for all the desperate and afflicted creation, which in its entirety was made through Christ, subsists in Christ and must again return to Christ.
The doctrine of hell is nothing but the assertion of the righteousness and blamelessness of the hatred of people.
It is better to go to hell than to Heaven and there decadently acquiesce in the suffering of those burning in hell. But we do not believe in hell - and if we are told that it does exist then we will go there and stay there and never come out whatever the temptations of heaven until hell itself is annihilated and we are thrown out with All Souls.
It is not enough to say "hell exists but is empty"...we must affirm that hell does not exist and has never existed. We have, in short, to dismantle unequivocally condemn our post-Babylonian past. If we do not do this we affirm only that we are dualists and a party to a cosmic murderer, that we are selfish, introverted, indifferent and callous, that we are despisers of the Earth, haters of mercy and wicked to our core. It is obscene in itself to be dualistic, but to be dualistic "in the name of God" is disgusting and absolutely intolerable.
What I say I say in conscience; I speak without authority but in love; if I am wrong, I am wrong and if God as a consequence wishes to send me to hell to hell I will be sent and to hell I will go, sad, disappointed, unhappy but, so I hope, neither vengeful nor animated by hatred.
"For Lent in the year of our lord 1994 1 will give up the following things
Hellfire- the evil belief that my beloved humanity is to be abandoned to eternal
torment in an abode of punishment.
Heaven- that is my egotistical desire to get there in spite of and in indifference to
the fates of others.
Spiritual and material selfishness, which is the essence of sin, the murder of God."
The doctrine of hell is repugnant- affectively, spiritually, ethically and aesthetically. It can be given no quarter. Even if it were true, it would have to be denied. Some things are more important than the "truth" ...for example the condemnation of cruelty and purposeless punishments in all their forms. We deny hell. We do this first on affective grounds, that it negates at once the Gospel of Love, then on intellectual grounds, that it is only provable arbitrarily and can as equally well be disproved or at least substantially disputed; then on spiritual grounds, that it is a species of the pernicious and divisive, dualistic mind-set so typical of established spiritualities; then on ethical grounds, that it embodies and represents a supreme monument to the grotesque and profoundly unjust and finally on aesthetic grounds, that it is ugly, tasteless, crude and in every sense vile.
If the doctrine of Hell were merely false that would be O.K. If its effects were limited only to the intellectual plane and it counted only as an error of apprehension we would condemn it only with that mild dedication that we extend to all other errors of intellect and knowledge.
The intensity of indifference which Christians hold out towards the damned (I mean in their callousness, not in their missionary zeal.) This is what has always struck me as amazing given the fact that their religion is founded upon self-sacrifice and upon love. Surely by very virtue of the fact that Christianity claims to be a religion of love it cannot talk about hell at all (except in terms of its utter destruction). What more consummate hatred is there than to send creatures or people that the God one reveres has created in punishment to such a dungeon of unending torment? What reveals itself, then, to be merely an obnoxious excess of cruelty is that people are consigned to this hell, which, allegedly, it is the delight of the blessed saved to gaze in to from afar, for the innocuous and null-and-void crime of not believing in the metaphysical significance of a particular first century Nazarene.
What are the conditions in which a living fragment of existence can reject God, the source and foundation of all things? If a being can act in such a way- to its own suicidal ends- I am yet compelled to ask why it should act thus.
The same question returns: What evil force, what iniquity has ever arisen within a being except on account of the fact that the transmission of love to that being or/else the acceptance of love by that being have not successfully come to pass?
The crucifixion of Joshua is the most unjust event the universe has ever witnessed. Do not talk then of the justice of God. God is superior to justice.
To look at the cross and see in it an affirmation of suffering is a gross, grotesque distortion. What the cross really proclaims regarding suffering is the following: that it, in its perversest form- in the scandal of Golgotha, is a phenomenon, that it manifests itself in the rejection and murder of a God whose only will is to serve us, that it crashes with all its impact upon a victim who is innocent, that all blame and guilt regarding it and all other suffering everywhere is absorbed into God and overcome and crushed therein, and that it reveals the love and mercy of a God who resists not his persecutors but loves and serves them to the end - and beyond the end.
It is intriguing how the gruesome image of the cross has been interpreted as an affirmation of punishment, not as the negation and overthrowing of punishment. After all if, as it is said, God the Father punished God the Son, God punished God; but if God, who is perfect, can be punished it is obvious that everybody else, who is imperfect, can no longer be punished, (since under the force of the evident impossibility of evading punishment through the practise of virtue the whole system of punishment collapses under its own weight of insanity). Strangely, however, the cross has been interpreted in exactly the opposite sense. So it is said, because God needed to punish God, it is revealed that God is ferociously wrathful and angry, in need of an infinite sacrifice to alleviate his infinite condemnation of man. It reveals, then, that God is an enormous and monumental punisher- the revelation of the cross reveals just how punitive and retributive God is. And so the Cross, which should reveal the gentleness, mercy and non-retaliatory aspect of God, comes instead to reveal that he is stern, harsh, judgemental and in every sense vengeful and punitive.
Who can deny that the reason for the absolute destruction of Christ, as concentrated in the event of his crucifixion, is the achievement for the universe- which was created through him- of the absolute annihilation of suffering?
One may, of course, interpret the thought that one might not get to heaven as a lack of faith in God.
To us, today, believing in God means believing he exists. But it could as much mean trusting in God, trusting that God is faithful. This faith presupposes an acceptance of his existence yet goes one step further. But in our sceptical, atheistic world the question of faith is forced to revolve around the first understanding. It is, therefore, of no surprise that the quality of our religious life is so base, depraved and underdeveloped. We are stuck struggling to believe in the existence of something, the divine that in ancient, pre-Socratic times was never questioned.
It is absolutely not culpable, absolutely not deserving of punishment not to believe in God. It is only a God of human construction that it is reasonable to believe in- essentially because it was reason, indeed a particular kind of reason, that crafted him, established him and set him aloft in the distant imperial heavens. But that which is imperial is a broken Jew upon a crucifix; indeed, that which is imperial keeps the broken Jew on the crucifix continually, afflicting him again and again.
For many the assertion " I believe in God" means nothing other than "I have subjected myself to a particular totalitarian authority and resigned my rational, critical faculties for the purpose of escaping the fires of eternal torment." A charming declaration.
In no sense is it a sin not to believe in God's existence. It is only a darkness and sadness.
If being a member of ‘The People of God’ implies I am not a member of a rejected people, if there be such a thing, I decline to join. I exist as I breathe- to serve the damned. The parable of the Good Samaritan proves that the compass of God's love is not restricted to particular peoples of God. The absurd, noxious arrogance of such disgusting exclusivism is what repeatedly leads to the scandalous slaughter of God. I don't want to be saved. So long as there exists a state that is, as it were, unsaved I want to remain forever damned. Hell- the sole abomination, it is hell, gehenna, the abode of pain, suffering and death...it is this that must be overcome and annihilated. The true meaning of being saved must be that there is no longer anything to be saved from.
One cannot believe simultaneously in a God of love and a cosmic struggle between good and evil
Dualism kills love. It is the frustrator of Israel, the age old persecutor of the Jews, the enemy of the Gospel, a force of darkness that crucified and crucifies Christ.
Let us wake up and be aware: It was the dualist disaster, which lies at the root of our psyches, that was responsible for the tragedy of Golgotha and the subsequent incredible interpretation of Jesus' life and death as the embodiment of a necessary substitutionary atonement to placate the angry wrath of God.
This model - all-too rational to our carnal reasoning - cannot but dismantle the notion of a transcendent, all-loving God- as indeed it has. To think that God can in any way be moved in the heart of his being towards hating anything that he has created is immediately to dismiss and eradicate his transcendence. God cannot stop loving Satan whatever Satan does. Only if he were contingent, finite and conditioned like us would or could he be roused to feelings of contempt. It is we who demand vengeance not God, it is we who love and delight in the punishment of others, not God, and it is we who demand and love these things because it is we, not God, who suffers from existence.
Being a Universalist is the committed stance that inevitably, irresistibly flows from the conviction that evil, as a force, lacks a fundamental status in the universe. Such an idea, of course, is Orthodox. Yet the objection to Augustine and the wider Church's attitude to eternal torment is based on my inability to understand how such a vacuous thing as evil should persist, indeed be sustained by God, into everlastingness despite both God's resolutely all-loving will and the fact that all the creation is good and blessed. These conclusions do not add up and could only do so if God himself were in part evil.
Existence is a thing not of symbols but of flesh and blood. Existence is a thing not of abstraction but concreteness. Concrete flesh and blood is the fundamental, the base, the root, the given, the presupposition. Symbol and abstraction is secondary, a procession, born of longing and pain, suffering and hope. Heaven dreams not of the abstract, but looks down concretely on the darkness of flesh and blood, serving it out of its abundant love, penetrating all with its vision, yearning still for its salvation.
What the Orthodox Christian wants is to be delivered from existence, to have the effects of Original Sin blotted out and erased, to be rescued and lifted up out of an endarkened fallen world, to be saved through and in a hyper-spiritual salvation from the body, the flesh, sexuality, women, the feelings, the instincts, the intuitions, the passions, the senses, creativity, the imagination, contingency, contextuality, space and time, history, the present, concreteness, nature and actuality itself. But this is Gnosticism, Orthodox Christianity, in this sense, is Gnosticism. And it is Gnosticism despite the fact that it defiantly claims not to be and professes an allegiance to the idea of the intrinsic goodness of the material creation. Whilst, granted, Orthodoxy's Gnosticism is not as extreme as explicit, self-confessed, unmasked Gnosticism, it yet remains Gnostic because of its particular understanding of the fall of man and the fall of the created order. It says, on the one hand, that the created order is good ... in this of course it is quite right. In effect, however, on the other hand, it effectively denies this by saying that mankind is intrinsically, biologically fallen. This fall they hold to be ontological, that is to have tainted, twisted and marred the innermost structures and reality of our human beings. Though Orthodoxy does not say that mankind is intrinsically wicked it does say that it is intrinsically fallen. It understands, through the doctrine of original sin, this falleness in a strictly ontological sense, not merely in a moral, behavioural, affective, intellectual or spiritual sense. Its condemnation of mankind is thoroughgoing, unconstrained, profound. This is why, according to the Orthodox faith people, all people, when they die, if they do not "confess" Christ or "believe" in Christ (an incredibly Gnostic", metaphysical thing to need to do) go to a nasty, horrible place called hell and are tormented there for all eternity.
A spirituality that renounces the Earth is like a love that renounces insight. Similarly, a love that renounces insight embraces punishment.
Traditionally, the fundamental statistic has been torment and damnation- the rare exception salvation. Moreover, this salvation is nothing positive in-itself but only a mere negative exception from this universal torment and damnation. Traditionally, it is existence itself from which we need to be saved and delivered- this life we have to live under the perpetual Damocles sword threat of eternal torture. Now, I'm sorry, but this is nothing if it is not a pure Gnosticism a pure dualism whatever Orthodox apologists might wish to say in tradition's defence.
Orthodox soteriology, though not a strict Gnosticism, a conscious and explicit Gnosticism, is yet an event within the tradition and history of Gnosticism, having appropriated and affirmed its essential tenets, even though this was not done explicitly and only unconsciously.
Unfortunately for it, Orthodox theology does not in fact affirm that Jesus Christ has "come in the flesh." The true implication of a thorough, genuine affirmation of such a notion is universalism and must be universalism. The Orthodox depreciation of this affirmation is not, of course, explicit (as it is in Docetism), nor is it invalidated by implication through any "Arian" depreciation of Jesus' divinity. For indeed, actually, conceptually and theoretically, in its exposition of Jesus' consubstantiality with the Father, Orthodox doctrine does declare that Jesus Christ is fully human and fully divine and as such, therefore, has "come in the Flesh." Unfortunately, however, in reality this action is subtly yet very significantly denied in two closely interrelated ways. The first is through the general anti-physical, anti-corporeal, anti-naturalistic philosophical background to and framework of Christian theology. This renders us unwilling to accept that in fact Jesus, the incarnate God, was a normal human being like us. Rather, we like to think of him in superhuman terms, as perfect in an ontological and not just moral sense- an otherworldly, purely spiritual and ethereal being. The second way it is subtly denied is through the doctrine of original sin which on the one hand damns all human flesh and so makes of it a place of residence unworthy of Jesus Christ, and on the other, related to this, separates the incarnate God from all other human flesh because of Jesus' own innate biological exemption from it. Because, then, of this general philosophical, neo-Platonic, neo-Gnostic background on the one hand and original sin on the other orthodox theology unintentionally, without realising it, effectively denies the affirmation the Jesus Christ has come in the Flesh. The flesh he assumes, instead, is an exalted and perfected human flesh, not therefore our flesh, this flesh but rather another type of flesh altogether. Similarly, it is a flesh that unlike ours, which because of Original Sin is intrinsically corrupt, is perfect and incorrupt. Again it is affirmed: Jesus' flesh is different to our own. But our flesh, this flesh is what matters, it is our domain, our situation, it is where we are at. lf Jesus Christ has not come in our flesh it is meaningless and pointless to talk of him coming in any other, purer, more perfect flesh. If Jesus has not come in our flesh then he hasn't come in the flesh at all.
If God is a dualist, the creation of the universe was his first and most resounding mistake. But the created order is God's and he is not a dualist and he loves all his creation and "the devil" is as nothing before him. But this is so obvious- if there is a God he must be like this or he is not.
Philip: "The idea that matter is evil, and with it temporality and contingency, is actually a deeply unspiritual idea- apart of course from being merely offensive. The Gnostic or, as it were, neo-Gnostic depreciation of matter is nothing but a depreciation of the created order, therefore of the creation, and therefore, since creator and creation are intimately associated, of the creator himandherself. This Earth, this life, this body, this creation, exist, and they exist because God has wanted them to ((they would not exist if he hadn't.))
Punishment and Dualism-The relationship between the above is direct and exact. Punishment derives its currency, energy and force only from the Dualist mentation; it has no other basis... if it is not based in it punishment crumbles away and is overcome.
Dualism- the belief that evil has a fundamental self-existent ontological basis; that it is not merely a sickness requiring charitable treatment but rather a conscious, rational, self-feeling, self-knowing, self-choosing iniquity which by the eternal sanction of an unchanging principle, be that Nature, Law, Justice or GOD, necessarily demands a retaliatory punitive response.
Richard “one is of course still left wondering: Why did god create the physical creation if he will not allow us to embrace it without shame? If it IS vile and corrupt why in Heaven’s name does it exist? It exists- therefore do not tell me I cannot touch it, love it and move and walk about freely upon it. I’m sorry, but as long as you do insist that I cannot do these things, so long as you do not provide me with a reasonable, comprehensible explanation, how will I be able to interpret your motivations as anything other than political, oppressive and tyrannical. Do not expect me to hate or revile you, though certainly I will be hated and reviled by you......
When we renounce the God of this world we ascend in our beings to a point above the stars and sun. For when Christ lives in us God lives in us; God is gnosis and gnosis sets us free from the mechanality of stars, sun and moon. At such a moment we stand before matter as master, not as tyrant but liberator, for matter is glorified when led by the image of God but only well-regulated when ruled over by the lesser lights
Yet, in this present world matter is not even well-regulated. The light of the night, the moon, holds dominion; the least of the created lights, which rules over the night and its obscurity has become our prime object of focus and reverence. Man, potential image of God, worships the moon, a being inferior even to organic matter. Quite how alienated he is from his own and the universe's potential is hard to fathom. Indeed, because of this lunar devotion matter is worse off than it would be if man didn't exist at all. Ultimately Man should be God- embodied, extensions of his own substance. Then, as God incarnate mankind would be superior to and more powerful than the stars; so much so that he would overthrow their need to exist and do away with the duality of day and night, good and evil and the seasonal bondage of the creation.
The regulatory systems of the universe- seasons., years, day and night, the moon, the sun, the stars, time, space, mathematics only ever existed to be the temporary preliminaries to the miracle of man, the microcosm of the universe and incarnation of God- necessary indeed, but only to carry and order things in his youth, in the absence of his attaining correct awareness and maturity. When Man is not awake in Christ matter is obedient to God's mechanical laws, but when he is the entire created cosmos is set free and transfigured, as the consciousness of the transcendent God, which created the universe as something external to himself- charting it, binding it with natural regularities and laws, meets in man Christ, the consciousness of the immanent God. As God external meets God internal the created, fixed and regulated becomes the uncreated, the creating, fixing and regulating. A creation that possessed no freedom, because no divine consciousness becomes a limitlessly free creation, as man, formerly a slave to inexorable necessity becomes the exultant, overjoyful son, forever, perfectly in love with the Father.
What is Christianity- that an infinite being became finite and that an immortal being died?
He who cannot love his enemy abrogates his right to have said or done what ever it was that offended that enemy and made him into an enemy. We owe one another silence if, when speaking, when revealing ourselves we cannot be gracious and polite to one another in our actions.
If I end up getting sent to Hell I can only hope my friends win come and rescue me ... that is if I have any friends.
What God wants is that we relate to him directly so that he can incarnate himself into us and throughout the creation.
Created human beings, by departing in their ignorance from God's instructions and bringing death into existence, have made it necessary for something extraordinary to happen- namely the death of an eternal and immortal being, the death of the source of life itself.
What I really want is a tasteful, graceful denouement to existence, a peaceful, loving, gentle, closing refrain.
A person who lacks conscience cannot be blamed for his crimes just as a person who is blind cannot be blamed for not seeing.
Mr Satan I would wager is simply that Gentleman who needs God's loves the most. Without our precious hatred of Mr Satan- one wonders, could we survive?
His most Imperial lowness Emperor Satan at your most unfortunate service. Visas to leave my Empire understandably applied for- to be found over by the window where the fight is shining.
Everyman is a subject and I am subject to Everyman.
Paul: "Investigate for yourself and you will see that the alienation between man and woman is real, independent of our wills and insuperable. It seems the sensation of misogyny wells up in me when with all my will I try to get behind the phenomena of the female and then fail. This offends because it is the rejection by the mother, that is this woman, of myself, that is the Child. Sexual lust, analogous to the Child's tearful, angry disdain towards the mother is then occasioned. This reduction of the woman into a sexual object is caused as it were by this repetition of my own mother's rejection of me which then, as it does now, caused panic, fear, frustration and incoherent feelings of both anger and revenge."
If it is said that the body of a naked woman is unclean or dirty what is revealed is not that the body of this woman is unclean and sordid but that the perception of this woman is unclean and sordid. Philosophical and spiritual depreciations of woman and sexuality touch not upon woman and sexuality but upon those who depreciate woman and sexuality-Monks, theologians, philosophers, priests, moralists and the like.
God sees all women naked, he sees all acts of sexual intercourse naked, and every act of female menstruation is seen naked directly by him. Does this then make him a pervert? Or does it make these things unclean just because he sees them? But God sees everything, is then everything unclean?
I delight in order but in an order that is innate, an order without authority, hierarchy and control. Jeremiah's vision of order.
God, being the creator of being will glorify being.
The glorification of being is joy, energy and delight planted firmly upon the unshakeable foundation of peace.
Once we have given birth to genuine mutual affection, to love, then ((and only then)) may we labour on the reconstruction of society and the conditions of life.
He who is in Christ no longer sins against God; rather he sins against himself since he does that of which the substance of Christ within him disapproves. For those in Christ not to sin is not to sin against one’s true self, that is, the Christ within. Only those outside of Christ, or rather those in whom Christ is dormant and asleep, can Sin against God, a God that to him is entirely external, conceivable only through the instrument of Law.
All in the profoundest, most essential sense are Christ- either the dormant-incarnated God, as opposed to the awakened-incarnated God that was Jesus. Christians are the latter, the substantial aspects, limbs and instruments of God, awake and incarnate in the creation, as Non-Christians are this same God’s limbs and instruments, only those asleep in the inoperancy of Life’s death.
To obey, or rather to unite wills...but firstly to be able to. Until then, I will not be able to love him. He could even force me to consummately be seen to be loving him but I would not be doing so.
Can it really be that God is divided and unsympathetic and hostile to me only because I follow impulses and desires the origin of which I have not commanded.
Tim: “What to you is the central horror of existence?”
James: “The way one human face opposes another. All evil that exists derives from this fundamental rejection. To embrace another human face, to affirm, console and love it- this is the heart of the Gospel. There would have been no fall of man, nor the Tragedy of the Cross, if humanity had not decided to forsake the tangibles of love and slaughter his neighbour for the sake of cruel abstraction.”
One of the reasons I want Constantinian Catholicism to be the Antichrist is that this would soften the understanding of this figure and of Satan’s work in the world today. It would more easily allow for universal salvation.
“I confound your vision of the universe. If you were God I would not exist.”
What do I ((fear and)) object to- that I, simply by trying to transform and improve life, by trying somehow to find out how we might love, will be accused by Christians of being an Antichrist.
Existence demands but one thing of itself- virtue.
There is assuredly one privilege that Jesus possesses uniquely, a property extended it seems, to nobody else: Jesus was freely permitted to think himself God and to think this exotic but most wonderful, for most liberating thought, without experiencing any attendant sense of shame, guilt or fear. To any of us to think this thought, however, that we ourselves as individuals are God, or aspects of God, is of course the greatest of blasphemies.
But what am I saying? The Jews killed him precisely upon the pretext that he proclaimed himself to be the Son of God- in essence Divine- and because for him to do so was dire blasphemy. If then it was not the Jews who permitted Jesus to accredit to himself a Divine identity of what entity or agency do I speak when I say Jesus was freely permitted to think himself God. I mean that he was permitted to think this by the God beyond his own consciousness by the environment and backdrop of his consciousness, by his own conscience, by the unprecedented nature of such a claim, and its own consequent authentic possibility as an explanation of his own being, life and mission. But we do not feel permitted to think this, not to think this that is free of guilt or fear- for if we do think this at once we hear growling the condemnations of vigilant Christians and may even imagine ourselves Antichrists or to have invoked upon us the wrath of God. All this for having been attracted to Jesus’ own experience of absolute cerebral freedom, and envious of him on that account.
“The envy which I feel towards Jesus causes me, when I am aware of it, to feel guilty. But what is it in Jesus of which I am envious? A) That by Christians he is deeply, unconditionally and universally adored. That he is to be an everlasting Ruler. B) That he need feel no shame, awkwardness or fear at thinking himself at one with the Father, that he feels no timidity, doubt or compunction at attacking and dismissing all and every other system or philosophy of thought and action that departs from his own. His pre-eminent right to be right and to know.
One wants this sense of freedom and energy for oneself; not to deprive him of it but to receive it from him and to thank and love him for it. Certainly one wants this sense of absolute freedom both to live abundantly and free from fear and to be absolutely loved as one oneself loves absolutely.
The essential thesis of this book is that God is involved in a two-fold project, to annihilate Human and thence animal suffering and to elevate the quality of life to that level of excellence which he himself eternally enjoys in his own being
As an intrinsic part of this project God in principle sets his face against Cruelty in all his forms
There is therefore no abode of everlasting conscious torture.
This assertion is fundamental to my thesis but so too is a re-interpretation of the significance and meaning of the Easter event, that is the torture, death and resurrection of Calvary.
To Wit - that by it is not God's cruelty towards and judgement of man but man's cruelty towards and judgement of man that is overcome and destroyed. In becoming the victim of Man's evil and the sole object on to which it is directed God breaks apart and disables the endlessly repetitive cycle of man's vengeance towards man. All human vendetta's, grievances and hatreds, being absorbed in God, and so vicariously deflected from their intended object, are rendered inert and resolved to the astonished, scandalized, awestruck satisfaction of all men. The Human victim is replaced by the divine victim and the human anger annihilated in the divine scapegoat.
Central to the successful consummation of this process is the necessity of the arising in man of the feeling known as Repentance, or Metanoia, without which the cycle is not broken. Thus God's essential act is that of the conjuror- to that extent only stretches the ambition of his "magic". He could not force our hand even if he wished, given the irreversibility of the autonomous nature of man's existence. Beyond the exercise of this appeal nothing can be done- unless he were to destroy evil by destroying the entirety of the creation itself..
This principle, the importance of Repentance, explains the inefficacy of the Easter event to restore the Earth over the course of the past 2,000 years.
It is also a testimony to the Fact that God is not omnipotent as he has been classically understood.
The torture and death of God is the cause of the inevitable but as yet potential Restoration of the Earth, the Resurrection its symbol, sign and promise. What happened to and In Christ on the Cross is what has happened to the creation since the beginning. What happened to Christ in the Resurrection is what has not yet but will happen to the creation.
It is only in a Divine inversion and humiliation of the location or rank of God, the supreme standard of value, in the realm of judgement that man can be shaken from his consumption of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
What had been the justification for all acts of judgement, namely God, becomes instead the object, the "sinner" upon whom they are inflicted.
In consequence it is now impossible to associate notions of Virtue or righteousness with the practice of punishment- unless absurdly one is to punish the very principle that justifies that punishment.
One cannot, if one is aware of it, punish a man for violating God's standards if in punishing that man one is punishing God
Virtue, Righteousness can so come to stand on their own, where they belong in unadulterated light. Punishment and judgement join iniquity and transgression in the category of darkness.
BOTH MAN AND GOD ARE CRUCIFIED ON THE CROSS OF THE ABYSS THAT SEPARATES THEM BOTH
"If Adam's sin binds upon everyman the fate of death Christ's righteousness binds upon everyman the fate of everlasting life. God's love is stronger than our hatred, God's Will that we be saved stronger than our will that we be damned. One can now no more choose death than after Adam's sin one could choose life. If one can now choose death then After Adam's sin one could have chosen life. But after Adam's sin one could not choose life since all were condemned to die. As a result neither can we today, after Christ's death, choose to die since all are destined to everlasting life. Belief does not determine whether or not one receives everlasting life, only when one receives it.
Universalism is the only tasteful Christian theology, as well as the only correct one- on both counts because it is the only Christian Theology that is actually centred in Love. "Your Salvation or my Damnation." Such is the essence of the universalistic creed.
Universalism is the only theology that deprives evil of a fundamental status and the only theology that convincingly upholds the existence of an all-good, all-loving, omniscient, uncreated, pre-existent, transcendent and creator God. Universalism adds to the traditional properties of God, however, that he is possessed of WILL, and of one moreover equal to his infinity.
If Universal Salvation is not true a great, wonderful delight will remain eternally unrealised.
I am a Universalist before I am a Christian and if necessary without being a Christian.
I am a Universalist before I am a Christian and if being a Universalist means I cannot be a Christian then, alas, I am not a Christian. If to "strive to love too much" is crime that places me outside the Church then there I am and there I shall be planted.
Ultimately being a Universalist means that one has identified oneself with the damned and is prepared to face the consequences for oneself if one is wrong. It is of course a gross and obscene error to suppose that because of this commitment the Universalist must necessarily be a person who loves evil and delights in wickedness. Such an interpretation betrays an utter and profound misunderstanding of the universalistic Christian faith.
Universal salvation does not mean that everybody is really a Christian or that everybody is destined one day to become a Christian but that nobody is tormented in hell for all eternity - which everybody is to be saved from that fate.
Yes, in effect the Universalist vision insists that people be denied the right to damn themselves. But only a voice an alien to mercy and genuine self-sacrifice could fail, surely, to discern in that vision the fire of true love...
When I say I believe in a Universalist denouement I am saying only that I believe in the eradication of evil, not through its separation from the forces and realms of love but on the contrary by its total and utter absorption into such triumphant love and its profound transformation by that love. Exclusivism, the limited conception of atonement destroys not evil but the possibility of a thoroughgoing correction of the universe- every chance of the fulfilment of the designs of Love. Evil on the contrary it upholds and perpetuates, reconciling it comfortably to a universe that Satan successfully and irredeemably alters from its original design.
The effect of being threatened is always and can only be to convince that one is not loved unconditionally. The consequence of knowing such a thing is to know that one's value and acceptability is tenuous and fragile. The effect of this, of course, is the emergence of a desire to invoke that very reality of wrath that is implied by the threatened to lie behind the threat. Thus threats, as instruments for the promotion of virtue, are astonishingly counter-productive.
A predeterminist outlook on human existence compels mercy in our hearts far more abundantly than our typical, unsubstantiated, superstitious obsession with "free will." For it is obvious that if it is believed a person has freely chosen the life of sin which leads to death, this person in his death will not attract much compassion. But the facts are quite otherwise. All death everywhere demands our compassion, without qualification or condition.
"Though God cannot force us to love him he does have the freedom to be crucified for as long as it takes to evoke this love from us."
The attractiveness of evil is power, the spurious luxury of being able to manipulate and control. But the repulsiveness of evil is intense, perpetual solitude, the utter banishment from the graces of human community.
Evil is boring...... everybody with even half an eye for anything knows this. Conflict destroys the possibilities for life.
Evil is the product of ontological instability, the ontological fragmentation of human beings.
What was understood as a book that damned everything but Israel is now, I trust, understood as a book that damns Israel for the salvation of the world and the glorification of Israel, for the salvation of Israel and the glorification of the world.
For what is salvation for Israel is different from what is salvation for the world. Each suffers without God their own different damnation- and the absence of ONE salvation works salvation for the other. For all the created universe is held together by love and worked towards a universal redemption by the uncreated, eternal and transcendent creator, who is light, who knows not hatred and is only love.
If we, reisraelizing the Christian faith substitute Israel for the kingdom of heaven and the nations for hell we may begin, albeit with some modifications, to understand anew - and this time accurately - what the function and purpose of Christianity is. Just as Israel had a mission and hope for the nations, so the kingdom of heaven has a mission and hope for hell. Thus to speak of an eternal hell is equivalent to speaking of an eternal failure of the hope of Israel for the nations, the redundancy and vacuity of Israel's purpose, the emptiness of the Prophets and the absolute pointlessness of Israel's original construction. Can it reasonably be supposed that Israel was brought into existence for the purposes of its own salvation? Does this not annul the promise to Abraham? But if the raison d'etre of original Israel is universalism why is the same not the case for the extension of Israel, namely the Church, the harbinger of the new, merciful covenant of Christ? It is stupid, absurd and plain wrong, as well as damaging, to deny the existence of Hell. This is tantamount to denying the existence of suffering, grief, pain, sorrow and death. But to deny that Hell is temporary is obscene, apart from being an act that utterly eats out the very heart of Christianity and tears up its roots. Either Christianity is founded upon love or brutal malice, petty vengefulness and world renouncing elitism. But if it IS founded upon love, which it is, then hell's annihilation is inevitable since love can not endure anything else.
It has been considered incoherent and inconsistent both to deny Hell and uphold a faith in Christ. It is interesting why this should have been so Jews cannot become Christians for obvious reasons- such would be to affirm that their brethren, unless they too were to convert, are going to hell, that their ancestors (to whom they owe their life, culture and identity) are in Hell and that the Christian persecution of the Jews was valid. It would be to turn their back on their Kingly commitment to one world of Justice and Righteousness and affirm a cosmic dualism that would in fact spell the obliteration of their God. It is almost as if the Jewish people should be thanked and praised for having stood up, theologically, to the history of our murderous Christendom.
The belief in the power, might and ferocity of the devil cannot but (can only) undermine and compromise the healthy, ancient Israelite faith in the one monotheistic, Almighty and creator God. I am of little doubt that before Sargon II's invasive and destructive impoliteness and before the veil of Babylonian darkness was pulled over the face of the Earth, nobody with half an ounce of sanity believed in Mr Satan the way we Christians do to this day.
The fact is this: In ancient Israel the sacrificial offerings in the Temple made on behalf of the people were not made to atone for the sin of existing, the sin of having been born through the mediation of the sexual act but to atone for actual acts of Sin, transgression and iniquity committed on earth during and in one's actual life here and now. The idea that to exist is in-itself a damnable crime would have been considered not only wrong but blasphemous.