Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Fisking the doctrine of eternal damnation

Back briefly. Read this essential piece from Norm, which immediately struck me as being long-overdue because it gets to the core of what salvation religions are all about.

For them, in this world there are the wheat and tares, sheep and goats, clean and unclean, the elect and the reprobate - the saved and the damned.

Western Christians have learned to be diplomatic, evasive and generally polite about this theological detail - but if they are remotely orthodox, this is what they believe.

It's why politicised salvation religions are intrinsically dangerous. Secular societies have no problem accommodating those who believe their inner-worldly piety will be vindicated when we leave this vale of tears.

The problem arises when this belief is combined with political power because it always and everywhere represents, even if only in small ways, an attempt to order this world according to a vision of the next.

And for those of us who are of the wider communion of the doubtful and the unbelieving, under these circumstances the best we can hope for is disadvantage, inconvenience and discrimination; at worst, oppression or annihilation.

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