Friday, July 3, 2009

Repent!

I got an email on my website the other day. The message was concise and to the point:
"Repent"

In the spirit of brevity I replied:
"For what?"

Within a day my mono-syllabic friend had countered with:
"athiesm, anti calvinism, the whole song and dance."

His relatively verbose response compelled me to an equally expansive reply:
"Calvinism argues that the die was cast long before I was born. What sense would it make to repent?"

In a reply that can only be characterized as escalating, my theological friend had this to say:
"Calvinism also argues the elect to come back, if then you are an elect repent. If not, then so be it, and God's hate abidith upon you."

Ah...there it is at last...the ultimate trump card. If you don't see things the way I do, God's hate abidith upon you.

I have so many different thoughts about this remarkable dynamic. I once heard someone make the argument that sports is an outlet for social aggression. Our favorite football team steps onto the field to do battle with the enemy. The sports fan cheers his representative warriors to victory, screaming for them to kill the other guys. If that sports fan were to walk down the street and threaten to kill another individual, he would be arrested for assault. At the arena we are joyous in victory, crestfallen in defeat. But the violence within us is quenched for a time and society is safer. Or so the argument goes.

It seems to me that religion sort of acts the same way. I have all this aggression in me but I don't dare tell someone to their face that I hate them and wish they would suffer eternally. But if I deflect it and make it about some big equalizer in the sky, I can tell you all day that god hates you and you will be punished for eternity. I feel better about myself and can dismiss you completely as another sentient creature.

Any way, I digress from the story line. I thought about his reply for awhile and decided to ramp up the rhetoric. It's not that this poor fellow was the first to insult me with his simplistic, self-righteous, judgment. It's just that this one followed a more interesting path, so he gets the brunt of my anger.

My reply:
"So it's a bit of a waste of my time and yours, not to mention incredibly presumptive, for you to tell me to repent. Your world view includes an entity that I have clearly indicated I don't believe exists. This is a belief that I arrived at after years and years of searching and agonizing. Were I to postulate the existence of, say, a dragon like creature inhabiting the catacombs of long dead volcanoes, you would justifiably demand extraordinary proof before you would accept my belief.

It's fair for me to require the same of you. For you to circumvent that entire process and arrogantly demand that I repent...too whom would you have me repent? For what? Why? The answer to all those questions presuppose, assume, facts that are simply not in the evidence.

I will repent to those real life people on this earth whom I have wronged. I will be held accountable to those in my life whom I agree to have such a relationship with. I will love those whom I love without the threat of eternal suffering as the impetus. I will NOT permit another moment of my life to be controlled by the fear of a mythical being.

If you feel you have earned some special treasure in heaven by contacting me and making such a rude demand of me...well, that's unfortunate for you. Where do you plan to spend that treasure...Hypocrites-R-Us?
"

I know that I have a tendency to become a bit caustic when my ire is raised. That's something I should repent for, but just now I don't much feel like it.

4 Comments:

Blogger David Eaton said...

Why a Calvinist bothers with church, or exhortations to repent, is certainly worth discussing, but not here. Even if I believed any of it, I cannot see myself deliberately believing self-contradictory stuff.

I admire your courage, and while you were probably shouting at someone deaf to reason, I would not bother repenting, since your response was perfectly appropriate.

July 7, 2009 at 1:25 PM  
Anonymous Burn said...

here is a concise and to the point message for you.



Thank you.

August 20, 2009 at 9:45 PM  
Blogger Frimmy said...

Well said Nate.

September 29, 2009 at 5:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just discovered your blog through a comment on HuffPo to a story about the Westboro Baptist Church's protest at Sidwell Friends in D.C.

Thank goodness you survived. There is hope.

It's wonderful to see what you write and realize that there is sanity in the world. Thank you for taking the risk, investing the time and energy into writing this blog.

I am sorry you have to bear the brunt of hateful emails. However, know that your blog is helping restore faith in reason and calm.

November 10, 2009 at 6:25 AM  

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