MADPRIEST ON BIN LADEN AND HELL

God has the divine right to forgive or condemn who God pleases and there is a good case to make that God is always ultimately merciful. However, God, when God's Kingdom was brought into our world through the resurrection of Christ, gave God's people a more active role in God's economy than they were allowed previously. One of our new responsibilities was the right to forgive or continue to condemn those who sin against God or God's creation. For God to forgive an evil person prior to that evil person's victims, although completely doable and within the purview of God, would result in God reneging on a previous decision made by God, namely the giving of the right to forgive or condemn to God's people.

Therefore, in my Biblically based opinion, until the last person, living or dead, who has been damaged by the evil acts of Osama Bin Laden, forgives him, God, although wanting to be merciful, will not be merciful to him. I do not think that anyone who was not a victim of the atrocities committed by Bin Laden has the right to even discuss the mercy of God towards him. That would be presumptuous arrogance, pastorally insensitive in the extreme and the ignoring of the priority of God's decisions.

I am a humanist and an adherent of liberation theology. This means I have a high view of humans in God's plan and see humans as an active part in that plan. Sometimes, I have to take the rough with the smooth and accept stuff, like the existence of hell, that grates with my liberal, personal views.

Comments

MADPRIEST ON BIN LADEN AND HELL — 49 Comments

  1. Since everybody’s talking about it these days, what’s you definition of hell?

  2. I live in New York, and I saw what Osama did. I like to think that maybe God can forgive even him, but I can’t and won’t.

  3. Can a “fallen” human being forgive or condemn anyone else? Such judgement would be made by someone who is themselves in a state of sin. I would hope that God’s love and mercy rises above the levels of our human limitations.

    (Just stirring the pot – I need to think about this one a bit longer.)

  4. Going by that explanation, all the witches the church burnt are still burning in hell and God hasn’t forgiven them because he gave us the right to forgive and condemn.

    I’m not saying that Osama Bin Laden was a good guy like the witches were good girls. But I am saying that none of us can truly judge anything and that we haven’t been given any rights that go beyond this life.

    What God does with Bin Laden is up to him, and because we believe that he is Love and that whatever he does is Good, we just have to trust that the right thing will happen.

  5. “I do not think that anyone who was not a victim of the atrocities committed by Bin Laden has the right to even discuss the mercy of God towards him.”

    Well, how are we defining “victim” here?

    Are we just talking about friends and family of people who were lost there on that day?

    Or are we talking about citizens of the countries that suffered an economic meltdown as the result of the US being bogged down in an 8 year war following 9-11?

    What level of victimhood is necessary to grant the right to pronounce condemnation or forgiveness on this man?

    This is not snark. At the very least, ALL of us Americans (esp. the working class) have suffered tremendously in this post 9-11 world we live in.

  6. what’s you definition of hell?

    I really don’t have one, Bex. I think Jesus used metaphor when referring to it and meant to convey it wasn’t a nice place rather than to give an exact description. It is likely that in his human manifestation Christ didn’t even know what it was really like himself. perhaps the Old Testament idea of hell as a place of shadows where souls just slowly fade away is more accurate. But nobody can say for sure.

  7. But I am saying that none of us can truly judge anything and that we haven’t been given any rights that go beyond this life.

    Yes we have. That is my point.

  8. What level of victimhood is necessary to grant the right to pronounce condemnation or forgiveness on this man?

    Personally, I wouldn’t condemn someone to eternal damnation for screwing up the economy. But it would take me a long time to forgive somebody who made a loved one of mine jump out of the top floor of a skyscraper. I think this is a “You would know it if you were it” situation, Tracie.

  9. I wonder if we would have been having this conversation at all on April 30, 1945.

    Not me. I hadn’t been born yet. We should ask Mimi.

  10. A concern troll accusing other people of being tedious.

    He is obviously a concern troll with the self awareness of a slug.

    No – the self awareness of a slug’s faeces.

  11. I wonder if we would have been having this conversation at all on April 30, 1945.
    Yes, human beings change but slowly and such reactions even more so. I would agree with Tracys question as to the degree of victimhood in your argument…and the question of time. For us it is linear but is this so for God? For grace to extend such forgiveness it cannot be subject to limitations, especially something as arbtrary as time.

  12. I’m grateful that this is above all of our purview/paygrade (most of all, the troll’s!).

  13. It is, which is why I pose the question, difficult questions demand hypothesis. Even allowing for the infinite regression of ‘victim’, exactly when God may forgive cannot be a question within a grace that exists outside of our frame of reference. Accepting your proposal would subject God to the control of Gods creation, would it not?

  14. Accepting your proposal would subject God to the control of Gods creation, would it not?

    No, as I make clear in the original post. God gave the responsibility freely. God can withdraw it. So nobody is controlling God.

  15. As a humanist, I am more interested in the human responsibility angle. Sometimes what might at first sound noble turns out to be copping out.

  16. I think what I am saying is that being an active part of God’s economy is more wonderful than having a God that loves us but doesn’t trust us. Or maybe I’m saying that giving victims the right to punish or not punish is more loving than automatically forgiving evil.

  17. All I can say, Jonathan, is that there really is a marked difference between the pre-9-11 America I lived in, and the post-9-11 America I currently live in.

    It’s just one of those things – you’d know it if you were in it.

    And I’ll determine for myself if he’s worth forgiving, by God or anyone else, myself, thanks very much.

  18. Would it have made any difference if I told you the question came from Joe as much as from me, so I wasn’t the only one thinking along those lines?

  19. Homophobe Matt Barber believes they WILL be waiting for Osama—but they’re “72 leathermen from San Fran’s Castro district” (Well, we all know Barber‘s idea of Paradise now, don’t we? }-p)

  20. Eh. I’ll be impressed when they carry out simultaneous surgical strikes on Sarah Palin and anyone on the Tea Party and/or Richest 1% rolls – add Matt Barber, Maggie Gallagher, and Ratzinger – and then you’ll have done something to eliminate enemies of peace and democracy.

  21. Tracy
    I don’t want to remove America’s victim status here and I know that 9/11 really has changed your country.
    But that’s partly because it was the first time someone attacked you and it’s shaken you out of a feeling of security you previously had.
    Europe has been living with attacks for a long long time and Bin Laden is also credited with masterminding the 7/7 London underground bombing. Yet the response to his death is much more muted here, the whole thing isn’t framed in terms of justice, retribution and who is allowed to forgive. That conversation is born out of your particular circumstances, not because Bin Laden was a particularly vile person compared to so many all over the world.

    MP: so when the creeds say “He will return in glory to judge the living and the dead”, it really just means He will return and rubber stamp our decisions?

  22. and I’ll determine for myself if he’s worth forgiving, by God or anyone else

    Isn’t that the point I’ve been making all along?

  23. so when the creeds say “He will return in glory to judge the living and the dead”, it really just means He will return and rubber stamp our decisions?

    This indicates that decisions will be made. It does not say “he will return in glory to let everyone off the hook.” Also, good judgement entails taking the requirements of the victims into consideration and, in most legal systems, to accept the decision of the jury.

  24. It doesn’t say that everyone will be let off the hook. But it says that decisions will be made. That clearly means that our view of things may not prevail, otherwise there would be no decisions to be made.
    What the judgement will finally be, we’ll have to leave to God.

    I’m sure those who burnt witches will be absolutely horrified to discover that God doesn’t agree with their verdict and that he “lets witches off the hook”.

    People who used to be called evil are now often called sick and are being treated rather than punished. Our understanding of sin, evil, guilt and judgement is constantly evolving.

    There’s no reason to believe that God is bound by the understanding people in the 21st century consider to be definitive.

  25. There’s no reason to believe that God is bound by the understanding people in the 21st century consider to be definitive.

    I make the point, very clearly, in my post that God is not bound by anything. My observation is that God deliberately gave something to human beings that God did not have to give. God did this to include human kind in God’s history. Although, God is not bound to be consistent or by God’s own past decisions, I personally believe that God is.

  26. My point is that God gave us nothing but the assurance that his Kingdom will come.
    He gave the disciples the power to make judgement on earth and he may, for all I know, feel bound by what they and possibly even all subsequent priests decided.

    I couldn’t say – there are priests on every side in every human disput and it would be interesting to see how God can square the circle of condemning homosexuals while at the same time blessing and celebrating them.
    How he can support those who kept people in slavery as well as those who worked to abolish slavery.

    But even if we accept that as a biblical possibility, this “we” who gets to judge is not every single one of us. That power wasn’t given.

    HE will come in glory to judge.

  27. I am not talking about acts of prejudice or even petty hurt. I am talking about acts of evil. There is no equivalence between bigotry and the righteous anger of victims. They are two different types of thing.

  28. But even if we accept that as a biblical possibility, this “we” who gets to judge is not every single one of us. That power wasn’t given.

    Once again you are reiterating what I originally said. I have made it perfectly clear that I am talking about the rights of victims.

  29. So where in the bible are the victims given the right to exert eternal judgement?
    The bible recognises that forgiveness is the only thing that heals victims

    It’s an achievement of the modern era to recognise that victims are the last people who are capable of genuine judgement because, naturally, their own hurt gets in the way.
    When victims take on the role of the judge we tend to call it mob justice.

  30. It’s an achievement of the modern era to recognise that victims are the last people who are capable of genuine judgement because, naturally, their own hurt gets in the way.

    I think that’s more to do with the patriarchal need to retain all power than the interests of victims – an attribute you seem quite happy to project onto God.

    But, as I have said, I am not talking about earthly justice but post-mortem justice.

    I wonder how many times I am going to have to write “as I said” on these threads.

  31. I’ve read what you wrote a number of times now and you simply state that “One of our new responsibilities was the right to forgive or continue to condemn those who sin against God or God’s creation.” And then you state that this is biblical, and in the subsequent conversation you narrow it down to the victims right to make eternal judgments.

    So where in the bible is anyone other than the immediate disciples given an active and binding role in judgement?
    I can read what you say, what I can’t is work out what you base it on.

  32. “So where in the bible is anyone other than the immediate disciples given an active and binding role in judgement? “

    I think you are mistaking me for a Roman Catholic.

  33. Well, you’re making a claim and I’d like at least to understand how you arrive at it, especially since you call it “biblical”.

    I don’t expect it to be literal, but you have to base your view on something others can at least follow, whether we then agree or not.

  34. The concept of an always forgiving God is not in the teachings of Jesus or elsewhere in the New testament.

    I think the onus is on you metaphysical types to prove your contentions rather than on me to prove the various active roles in God’s economy conferred on God’s people after the incarnation of Christ. Whether you view these gifts as conferred on just a small group of men, long dead, or, through the disciples, on just priests or through the disciples on all God’s people, is up you. I have no proof as to the answer to this one although I naturally tend towards an inclusive interpretation that I have tried to reflect in this post.

  35. I didn’t say that God always forgives (although I happen to believe it).

    To me, it’s logical. We have made completely contradictory decisions and judgements about absolutely everything in the past.
    There is no way God could honour all of that.
    But he doesn’t promise what he doesn’t deliver. So he can’t have promised that he would.

    Victims are told to forgive their enemies.
    That’s an enormous indication against God accepting the wrath and hurt of victims as a final verdict.

    Jesus will come to judge the living and the dead. To me, that’s an incredibly strong indication that he is a real judge, not a rubber stamper of anyone’s decisions on earth.

    The adulteress was guilty. But every single person (and they may well have included victims) was told not to judge.

    There is nowhere in the bible or in the logic of the stories where one person can interfere in the relationship between God and another person.

    Naturally, I don’t have proof either.

  36. “One of our new responsibilities was the right to forgive or continue to condemn those who sin against God or God’s creation.”

    If it really works that way, then we’re all screwed…

  37. If it really works that way, then we’re all screwed…

    Yes. But I don’t believe we stop being human or included in God’s economy after our deaths. Hopefully when I enter the Kingdom of God I will develop a more merciful attitude towards those who have ruined my earthly life. But I absolutely refuse to demand that of others, especially those who have been damaged far worse than me.

    There is nowhere in the bible or in the logic of the stories where one person can interfere in the relationship between God and another person.

    Yes there is. See post above this thread.

  38. Thought it worthwhile posting what I have on the sidebar of my Blog:

    The Higher Truth
    Wherever opposite views are held with warmth by religious-minded men, we may take for granted that there is some higher truth which embraces both. All high truth is the union of two contradictories. The truth does not lie between these two, but in a higher reconciling truth which leaves both true.

    The truth will be found, not in some middle, moderate, timid doctrine, which skilfully avoids extremes, but in a truth larger than either of these opposite views, which is the basis of both, and which really is that for which each party tenaciously clings to its own view, as to a matter of life and death.

    Rev. Frederick W. Robertson M.A.

    Opening words of a sermon preached at Trinity Chapel, Brighton, 10th March, 1850.

  39. I accept that, SR.

    For myself, I am not arguing for a particular doctrine. I am trying to make two points that I am pretty confidant will be part of a higher truth.

    1. Those who are not directly affected by an event should be very careful before imposing their doctrine onto that event. There should always be a priority towards the victim.

    2. God chooses to include humankind in the action of God’s economy.