The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Fact Checking--Ancient Christian Schools Taught Universalism

After reading the article you got the link for I think it does seem pretty clear to me now that the doctrine of ‘reserve’ was about the nature of the punishment and not the duration. Would you agree ? :slight_smile:

Sobornost, thanks for the reply. Unfortunately, I can’t figure out what you’re referring to! LOL Here’s what you said:

“Well done Brian - I can’t tell you how pleased I am about that. Thank you :slight_smile:

Would you mind clarifying?

Regarding Rivera, I’m reading The Secret History of the Jesuit Order by Edmond Paris. He’s a French author of works on History, mostly pertaining to the modern history of the Catholic church. I haven’t seen anyone contesting his work’s accuracy yet, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the Catholic Church tried to refute him.

I bring him up because he allowed (or possibly requested) Dr. Rivera to write the Introduction to the book. And the publisher was Chick Publications. Of all of Edmond Paris’s books, I believe that’s the only one published by Chick. That doesn’t mean that Paris checked out Rivera’s story, though. It’s just something to be noted.

I have another book my Chick Publications called Is Alberto for real? It goes through all of the evidence and people (often former Catholic priests) supporting Rivera’s story. At least that’s what it claims–I haven’t had a chance to read it yet. I’ll let you know what I find in the book and if it’s convincing or can be cooborated with outside sources. It’ll take a while since I’m reading the other book first. If they were on audiobook, I’d have them read in a few days while driving.

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I was truly delighted that you’d shelved a conspiracy theorist - because they sometimes seem to have taken over. That was the reason for my brief moment of joy :slight_smile:

I would say it was about the nature of punishment for Gregory of Nyssa as I laid out in my last response to Brian. But even in Gregory’s case the argument is based only on the word “correction” that he used. If he had used the more neutral word “punishment”, the issue would still be pretty much in the air. What I’m getting at is that when one was practising reserve he may have used ambiguous words that told the hearers nothing definite about the punishment’s duration.

I think it would be an oversimplification to say that sometimes a limited medicinal punishment was taught and at other times a limited retributive one. I’d rather say that when a retributive punishment was preached its duration may not have been clearly described or even if it was said to be limited, it could have been thought to lead to annihilation.

Origen seemed to say that many Christians, though they believed in future punishments, did not at all understand what these punishment are leading up to. He didn’t say they believed in endless torment, or annihilation. Perhaps some of them did, but perhaps they just had no definite idea, except that there will be a terrible punishment for sinners.

it might be said by the Father of the Christian doctrine, I have given the best laws and instruction for the improvement of morals of which the many were capable, not threatening sinners with imaginary labours and chastisements, but with such as are real, and necessary to be applied for the correction of those who offer resistance, although they do not at all understand the object of him who inflicts the punishment, nor the effect of the labours. For the doctrine of punishment is both attended with utility, and is agreeable to truth, and is stated in obscure terms with advantage. (Against Celsus, Book 3, Chapter 79)

the Scripture is appropriately adapted to the multitudes of those who are to peruse it, because it speaks obscurely of things that are sad and gloomy, in order to terrify those who cannot by any other means be saved from the flood of their sins, although even then the attentive reader will clearly discover the end that is to be accomplished by these sad and painful punishments upon those who endure them (Against Celsus, Book 5, Chapter 15)

I would say Origen didn’t operate with two universalist doctrines of punishment – medicinal punishment + universalism vs. retributive punishment + universalism. Rather, he taught the complete doctrine of medicinal punishment leading to universalism to the “perfect” and the obscure doctrine of fearful punishment that neither denied nor confirmed universalism to the “multitude”. Though even to the multitude universalism was sometimes occasionally divulged, it doesn’t seem to me Origen did it on purpose, it was more of a slip-up.

Another problem with saying that reserve referred only to the nature of punishment arises if we count Gregory of Nazianzus and Basil of Caesarea (not to speak of Chrysostom) among its practitioners. These guys did explicitly teach endless punishment at some instances. But maybe we shouldn’t consider them adherents of reserve, but rather proponents of “medicinal lies”.

I’m getting a feeling the situation was quite nuanced back then. There may have been no monolothic understanding of reserve. Instead I get the impression there was just a culture of playing fast and loose with the facts which influenced different theologians in different ways - some kept back portions of truth from their flock, some occasionally lied, and others lied a lot.

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Well, I apologize for stealing your delight away, but I haven’t shelved it. lol

Think about it like this (and all I’m about to state is factual and we’ll documented from several government sources and histories: there is plenty of documentation on the Jesuits and their activities and how they operate. They’ve been thrown out of several countries because of their attempts to weed their way into governments and start controlling the country to bring it under the power of the Pope or use it for whatever reason he so desires. We know the Jesuits intermarried with the richest families in the world, whom eventually started the Federal Reserve banks in order to control governments that way. Dr. Anthony Sutton was a professor at the Hoover Institute who did historical research for the government on the Federal Reserve banks working with our government to cause wars that the bankers would profit from heavily. He shows the bankers were funding and manipulating the events that started WWI, WWII, and so on. He shows how all of the US’s biggest companies (which are the biggest in the world and all owned by the Fed Res bankers) went to Russia between 1917 - 1930 and built bigger, better factories there than those here in the US. He then shows how they financed Russia’s communism. The Bolshevik Revolution that created that communism was also orchestrated by the Jesuits and Jesuits were put on the throne after it was complete. The big companies who’d built factories in Russia were building their rockets with exactly the same parts as our rockets, which is how they started the space race with us. Dr. Sutton shows all of these things with government docs. The government stopped funding his research once it showed that the government (how much of the government is hard to say–elements of it, at least) was working with the bankers on all of these things. When the government then started contesting his claims, he would openly present proof in the form of government documents in the news and that shut them up. They finally stopped coming against him to mitigate exposure. So when you think bankers, think Jesuit control of the bankers. Apply that to everything stated above.

Since I’ve read accounts of how Jesuits infiltrate organizations and governments and churches and use leverage against people to control them, and since biblical scholars from the 19th Century talk about how it had been well proved that the Catholics had falsified historical documents to support their beliefs, I can’t help but think, “What if they did that to Dr. Alberto Rivera?”

So, honestly, it would be irresponsible and naive of me to just take the little bit I’ve read about the supposed inaccuracies of Dr. Rivera’s claims and assume they’re correct and he’s a fraud. That’s not only judgmental and dismissive on my part–it can easily lead to false beliefs. I approach both the Bible and other research projects with a lot of open-mindedness and objectivities, considering the legitimate possibilities until I can rule them out with solid evidence.

Quick case and point: a group of State appointed officials (a corrupt judge, DA, and law enforcement) all strategically worked to destroy Kent Hovind, a Creationist. There were websites put out that flat out lied about why he was arrested and imprisoned, making it out to be tax fraud. But when you look at the case, these people got him on a charge of making more than one bank deposit for his company in a single year. I forget the technical name for it. It was absurd. I want to say there was another charge that was also ridiculous l, too. And what’s interesting is that he has recordings of the agents who came in and raided his place and specifically were looking for his seminars on CD and they targeted a specific one, I think having to do with either evolution or old earth. I forget. They took all of those specifically. It was a very bizarre case. While Hovind was in prison, all of the above mentioned state employees went down for crimes.

When I see things like those, and I hear the testimony of former Pentagon officials who specialized in tracking the Jesuits in our country, I can’t help but consider that Rivera may have been telling the truth and was defaced for it.

So it’s still a subject I am looking into. At first glance, sure, it looks like he was a fraud. So I keep that in mind and give it considerable weight. I’ll just have to see what I find and see if I can come to any solid conclusions from it. Hard to say.

But I definitely am thankful that you mentioned Rivera could be a fraud. That’s very helpful, even if it did cause me a lot of work researching him more in depth. But for all I know, you could be a Jesuit priest operative. LOL :wink:

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That’s a wonderful answer. I’ll run with that. I guess some of this is rooted in Plato’s concept of the ‘noble lie’ :slight_smile:

I think your initial idea here was that the Catholic Church conspired to silence universalists because of its authoritarian/totalitarian ethos. Like all conspiracy theories there is something in this. But nothing is ever as simple as a conspiracy. For example it was Justinian the Emperor of the East who is now a Saint in the Orthodox Church who drew up the original condemnations against Origenism and explicitly against universalism. Augustine - who was more influential on the Western Church which was to become the Catholic Church - also condemned universalism and had great influence in so doing. But Justinian’s role is enormously important - so it’s not good history to say that the suppression of Universalism was simply a Catholic plot. It’s good to see those grey areas. The truths of history are difficult and messy.

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Origen certainly was influenced by the concept. Let me quote Jerome’s Apology Against Rufinus. In that work Jerome indulged in rabid anti-Origenism, but he also put excerpts from Plato and Origen side by side quite nicely:

“The words of Plato in the third book of the Republic are as follows: Truth, said Socrates, is to be specially cultivated. If, however, as I was saying just now, falsehood is disgraceful and useless to God, to men it is sometimes useful, if only it is used as a stimulant or a medicine; for no one can doubt that some such latitude of statement must be allowed to physicians, though it must be taken out of the hands of those who are unskilled. That is quite true, it was replied; and if one admits that any person may do this, it must be the duty of the rulers of states at times to tell lies, either to baffle the enemy or to benefit their country and the citizens. On the other hand to those who do not know how to make a good use of falsehood, the practice should be altogether prohibited. Now take the words of Origen: When we consider the precept ‘Speak truth every man with his neighbour,’ we need not ask, Who is my neighbour? But we should weigh well the cautious remarks of the philosopher. He says, that to God falsehood is shameful and useless, but to men it is occasionally useful. We must not suppose that God ever lies, even in the way of economy; only, if the good of the hearer requires it, he speaks in ambiguous language, and reveals what he wills in enigmas, taking care at once that the dignity of truth should be preserved and yet that what would be hurtful if produced nakedly before the crowd should be enveloped in a veil and thus disclosed. But a man on whom necessity imposes the responsibility of lying is bound to use very great care, and to use falsehood as he would a stimulant or a medicine, and strictly to preserve its measure, and not go beyond the bounds observed by Judith in her dealings with Holofernes, whom she overcame by the wisdom with which she dissembled her words. He should act like Esther who changed the purpose of Artaxerxes by having so long concealed the truth as to her race; and still more the patriarch Jacob who, as we read, obtained the blessing of his father by artifice and falsehood. From all this it is evident that if we speak falsely with any other object than that of obtaining by it some great good, we shall be judged as the enemies of him who said, I am the truth. This Origen wrote, and none of us can deny it. And he wrote it in the book which he addressed to the ‘perfect,’ his own disciples. His teaching is that the master may lie, but the disciple must not.” ( Chapter 18.)

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That’s really interesting Questorius :slight_smile: You should write an article on this one. I don’t think anyone else has yet as far as I can see. :slight_smile:

Thanks a lot for the encouragement :slight_smile: For now I’m content with having shared a couple of my findings here. If I have time to do more research, I’d really like to write a book that would examine in detail the various Christian ideas of hell existing in the first 300 years after Christ. In fact, I’ve already done a substantial amount of research in preparation for writing the book, but the greater part of work is still ahead of me. If all goes well, I will get to the actual writing in a year. If it turns out I can’t find enough time, I’ll probably just dump here the most interesting of the obscure patristic quotes I’ve collected :slight_smile:

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I’d buy your book :slight_smile: You’ve opened up a whole new horizon for me :slight_smile: Most things I know about the Patristics comes from trying to understand Michael McClymond’s book ‘The Devil’s Redemption’. I had to go read some of his sources to come to a tested conclusion about his claims about the Gnostic origin of Universalism (although I was tempted to just dismiss it). It took a whole year for any critical reviews to come out). So yes I did read his primary sources - especially Irenaeus and the Gnostic Gospels - and came to a the considered conclusion that his scholarship is bad. But this has whetted my appetite for reading more about this period and topic. Bless you for posting your stuff :slight_smile:

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I didn’t mean to give the impression that I had it all figured out and it was simple. I was speaking in general and about only part of the cause of Universalism being snuffed out.

Regarding Justinian, that was only a local council, not and ecumenical council. The only real lasting power it had was when it was referenced by proponents centuries later, it seems. At least that’s how Beecher made it sound if I remember correctly. Augustine played a much bigger role simply in convincing the masses of a different belief (ECT). But who’s to say Justinian’s council wasn’t a Catholic plot that was well hidden? I doubt it was, but I suppose it’s possible. The Catholic Church did some really crazy things over the years.

While it may have looked like I was jumping on a conspiracy their, I’m actually constantly trying to disprove them. I figure that’s a good way to test them. Some hold water. Many don’t. I will say that I’m surprised at how many manage to hold water, though, at least to a degree. But to a degree isn’t good enough. Must have difinitive proof. Otherwise, it’s just speculation. And contrary to what you said, sometimes, I’ve found that an event truly is just a conspiracy. Saying it’s never just a conspiracy is speaking in absolutes, which is often be the opposite of seeing the grey areas.

I’m curious why you think Justinian’s role was enormously important. You probably know more about it than I do. What I know, I read in Beecher’s and Hansen’s books.

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I tend to agree with that explanation. Origen didn’t seem the type to lie from what little I’ve read from him and if him. Not speaking the whole truth but rather just a portion of it regarding hell makes the most sense to me. And maybe it was unintentional, though people with that level of intelligence are usually very aware of what they’re doing and saying and how it will be received by those listening. Hard to know for sure with so many centuries between us and him.

If I understood Hansen correctly, he argued in his book about the first 500 years that though Justinian was incapable of suppressing universalism, he did contribute significantly to its demise:

he [Justinian] arbitrarily closed the schools in Athens, Alexandria and Antioch, and drove out the great church centers that theological science that had been its glory. He had “brought the whole empire under his sway and he wished in like manner to settle finally the law and the dogmatics of the empire.” To accomplish this evil work he found an aid in Rome, in a “characterless Pope (Vigilius) who, in gratifying the emperor covered himself with disgrace, and jeopardized his position in the Occident.” But he succeeded in inaugurating measures that extinguished the broad faith of the greatest fathers of the church. “Henceforth,” says Harnack, “there was no longer a theological science going back to first principles.” (

Hansen of course mentions other reasons why universalism almost disappeared. To me he seems to place the greatest emphasis on moral degradation of the church that didn’t care about people anymore and became more “practical”. I don’t reject that argument, it might be true. But I think it’s a claim that’s hard to prove and opponents of universalism will probably brush it off. Actually, I even read somewhere a kind of an opposite argument – that because morality was going down-hill theologians realized how naive universalism was. Now I don’t buy that argument, all I’m saying is that connecting a moral decline with condemnations of universalism and saying that universalism was condemned mainly because the majority of clergy were suddenly bad people is problematic.

What I think we’ve been discovering in this discussion is how complex and nuanced the development of ancient Christian views on hell was. We can’t fully explain what happened by pointing to Augustine, Justinian, and corrupt popes. I would add to the list of the main “culprits” Chrysostom whose frequent proclamations of endless hell influenced eastern Christians, but even so the development that took place is still very far from being explained. There were numerous individuals who played their part in suppressing universalism, they could’ve been simply corrupt, or just genuine admirers of Augustine and Chrysostom. In the west it was for example Fulgentius of Ruspe and Gregory the Great (both of these not only believed in endless torment, but even fully accepted that all unbaptized children will experience it, Fulgentius even wrote in To Peter on Faith that Christians should never doubt that even unborn miscarried babies must burn). We should also not forget Cyprian and Hilary who actually came before Augustine and advocated endless hell in many places. In the east I could name off the top of my head only John of Damascus who lived in the 7th/8th century. Here’s one quote of his:

everlasting life and everlasting punishment prove that the age or æon to come is unending. For time will not be counted by days and nights even after the resurrection, but there will rather be one day with no evening, wherein the Sun of Justice will shine brightly on the just, but for the sinful there will be night profound and limitless. In what way then will the period of one thousand years be counted which, according to Origen, is required for the complete restoration? (

Now all the people mentioned were quite influential, but there were certainly many others who had a hand in this. Plus the doctrine of reserve, medicinal lies, purgatory (that could explain away references to the purifying fire), so-called Nestorians who were universalists separating from the imperial church, and a couple more factors… and maybe when we add all that together we’re getting close to explaining why things turned out as they did. So although I’d say Justinian played an important part, he was just an individual and no individual could single-handedly turn the tide. I mean, even if Augustine (who is perhaps the one most culpable for the spread of endless hell) didn’t attack universalism, endless torment may have still triumphed. It’s not like Augustine had significant influence in the Greek speaking world, and yet endless hell came on top even there.

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As for the council that condemned Origen, in my view it turned out to be a very successful anti-universalist move on the part of Justinian. Even if it was just a local council (which I grant though I haven’t researched it at all), very soon condemnations of Origen started to be associated with the ecumenical council and these condemnations started to be interpreted as precluding any universalism.

A good example of this is Sophronius of Jerusalem (560-638) who is considered a saint by Roman Catholics and the Eastern Orthodox. In his synodical letter he wrote that the ecumenical council of 553 “condemned and threw out to destruction in the first instance the senseless Origen and all his dreamy pomposities, and his writings full of many kinds of impiety, and together with him the teachings of Evagrius and Didymus and all their pagan and monstrous, not to say fabulous, nonsenses.” In the same letter Sophronius also says that the Origenists “dream up, both godlessly and mythically, that all rational things were produced in a henad of minds, and they abuse the creation of waters above heaven, and want an end to punishment”. I copied those quotes long ago from the following source, pages 129 and 123 respectively which sadly seem to be no longer part of the preview: But there is another quote from the book preserved here: Sophronius clearly states there his belief in endless torment:

walking in the footsteps of our Fathers, we both speak of the consummation of the present world and believe that that life which is to come after the present life will last forever, and we hold to unending punishment; the former will gladden unceasingly those who have performed excellent deeds, but the latter will bring pain without respite, and also indeed punishment, on those who became lovers of what was vile in this life and refused to repent before the end of their course and departure hence.

The third Council of Constantinople (680-681) put its stamp of approval on the work quoted above as well as the saintliness of Sophronius:

We have also examined the synodal letter of Sophronius of holy memory, some time Patriarch of the Holy City of Christ our God, Jerusalem, and have found it in accordance with the true faith and with the Apostolic teachings, and with those of the holy approved Fathers. Therefore we have received it as orthodox and as salutary to the holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, and have decreed that it is right that his name be inserted in the diptychs of the Holy Churches. (, Session XIII)

So let’s sum this up: Less than a hundred years after the ecumenical council of 553 Sophronius, an open proponent of endless torment, claims that the council condemned Origen one of whose heretical ideas was finite hell. Then, little less than 130 years after the council another ecumenical council officially agrees with Sophronius and declares he’s a saint. So even if Justinian originally only managed to have Origen condemned by a local council that did not specifically refer to universalism, in about a hundred years it became widely believed that Origen and universalism were ecumenically condemned.

So if Ramelli was right, I would conclude Justinian basically made the first step toward finally rooting out universalism from the church. Eternal torment advocates then quickly seized the opportunity and finished the job by misinterpreting what had happened, or even fabricating evidence to convince the Christendom that Origen and universalism are anathema. Whether the ecumenical council of 553 truly pronounced them anathema is irrelevant in a way. For many centuries, universalism and Origen were believed to be ecumenically condemned and for many Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox it’s unconceivable that millions of believers and thousands of saints could be wrong about such an issue for so long. Questioning whether universalism was condemned may for conservative believers be tantamount to questioning the reliability of their church’s tradition. Honestly, I would have to agree that a church which can be deceived for so long probably isn’t the one true church (but then again I’m not a Christian and don’t believe in any true church, so it doesn’t matter to me).

Either way, even today many, perhaps most Christians familiar with this controversy believe that universalism and Origen were ecumenically condemned. It may often be the case that what is presently believed about the past determines the present more than the actual past does. The Eastern Orthodox university professor whose lectures of patristics I attended this year once mentioned the current controversy over whether Origen was condemned or not and insisted that he was and that many councils confirm it. In his opinion “it is foolish to deny that and pretend to love Origen more than God does”. However, when I asked him whether Origen is in hell right now, he told us Origen is in Hades and that no soul’s fate is fixed before the last judgement. By the way, this same professor seems to view Augustine as a bigger heretic than Origen, though he grudgingly admits that Augustine holds a respected place in the church tradition.

Anyway, whatever was the original nature of the anti-Origenistic condemnation passed under Justinian, it has had significant consequences that can be felt even today.

As to whether Origen ever lied, I rather meant Gregory of Nyssa when I wrote that some were keeping back a portion of the truth. I believe I came across quotes of Origen that couldn’t be harmonized with universalism, but I can’t remember where. So maybe I’m wrong, or maybe he did lie sometimes. Origen’s words already quoted above seem most consistent with the hypothesis that he lied only occasionally: “a man on whom necessity imposes the responsibility of lying is bound to use very great care, and to use falsehood as he would a stimulant or a medicine”. So if Origen happens to contradict universalism in some sermon or homily, this passage explains why that is.

Oh, hold the same views you just expressed about how Universalism was snuffed out (not counting Nestorianism, of course). But I’d forgotten that Justinian played anymore a role than the local council. Thanks for that info. It’s been a while since I read Hansen. When I point out one cause, I never mean for that to be the only cause. There are many facets to what happened. Whether there was some orchestrated long-term effort by the Catholic heirarchy, I don’t know, but I don’t suspect there was. No evidence of it.

LOL That’s interesting. Thanks for the information.

I believe in universal restoration and pre-existence and Jesus, but I don’t really like to call myself a Christian because I’m not a fan of labels and the judgments that come along with them. I don’t like the idea of organized religion. It’s about relationship for me. People so easily get sucked into focusing on the religion and traditions and process to repress their shame instead of seeking relationship. Religion is supposed to point people to the relationship, and many do, but they usually also somehow manage to get people stuck on the religion instead. I don’t think it’s intentional. It makes a lot of sense to me that it happens that way. Religion, in my opinion, is a convention. It’s beliefs people share that usually put God in a box, and I’d others put God in the same box, then they group up and create a religion or denomination. There’s great division in that. Religion is like a wall between man and God. But it’s ideas, beliefs. It doesn’t actuality physically exist. So I simply took the wall away and look at it as just mankind and God. No wall to get through. I go to a non-denominational church, but I mostly go for the two men’s groups I go to throughout the week to hang out with other guys and help them out and share what I know or share insight, etc. They’re small groups with open discussion. So it’s about relationship with them and with God. That’s all.

That’s just my way of looking at things and doing things. Doesn’t mean I’m right or better than anyone else, of course. It’s just what I choose.

I only shared that because I’m about to ask you why you what you believe since you said something similar to what I believe: that there’s not really one true church so church history doesn’t really matter. I take the same stance. When I said Nestorians were probably the real Christians/Church, I misspoke. What I meant to say is that I think the Nestorians were closer to the truth than the Church after, let’s say, the 4th to 5th centuries. Didn’t mean there was a true church. I get in a hurry when I’m posting on here so I’m not taking the time, sometimes, to really use the right language. Gives the wrong impression sometimes.

So what is it you believe exactly?

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A year ago, I was an atheist, but now I’m… don’t know what exactly to be honest :smiley: I don’t believe Jesus was resurrected so I certainly don’t view myself as a Christian. I also am not a materialist because I don’t see how my mind could be material. And perhaps there is a conscious god who created our minds and is somehow always present in them.

But as for having a relationship with this god as you say – and as most Christians say – I don’t see how I could really have it. No god ever spoke to me, I have never seen him/her, I have never read anything written by him - when I read the Bible I get to know the people that wrote it, but no god. Perhaps I could love Jesus as he is represented in the Bible, but only because I can imagine him as a human. Still, it would be a one-way relationship, because the resurrected Jesus will never directly communicate with me (unless I’m another Saint Paul). But when I think of the holy spirit, I couldn’t love him because he’s immaterial. I couldn’t imagine him because that would be idolatry. Or am I to imagine him as a dove? :smiley:

I can be grateful to god, I can admire him, I can keep his commandments, but I can’t genuinely love him. He’s too intangible, too impersonal for that. Even if he’s a person, he doesn’t present himself that way to me, so I’m unable to truly love him. We can speculate that in the next life he might show himself more directly, but until then I can’t “love the Lord my God with all my heart, soul, and mind.” I could love my spouse, my friend, or my child like that, but not God. I often hear that Christianity is not a religion, but a relationship. Christians say that as if it was a great thing. But if there really was a god who expected me to have a loving relationship with him in this life, to me it would feel like a death sentence. I’d say a religion that requires me to just worship a particular god would be more acceptable.

Now I don’t believe that if there’s a god, he wants me to love him like I would a person. It doesn’t seem like god is lonely and seeks our company. I know that some Christians say that our having a relationship with God helps us, not God. But frankly, I don’t feel like having a relationship with god would help me. I tried to have one for several years when I was a Christian and I don’t need to go through that again. I can feel something like a connection to god sometimes, but it’s just a feeling of peace, hope, not an interaction. Maybe Christians are being hyperbolic when they speak about having a relationship with God. Would you concede that your relationship to people is of a much more intense and personal nature than your relationship to God? Perhaps the word “relationship” is used by Christians rather ambiguously.

Sorry for the rant. I was happy to get this off my chest. I’ve been hearing this talk of a relationship with God for so long and wondering if I’m the only one to whom it doesn’t make sense. So maybe based on the reactions to this post I’ll find out if I’m crazy or not. :smiley:

So, Brian, to answer your question about my religious beliefs as best I can: Our minds are immaterial and there’s some other immaterial thing or being that keeps them in existence and may continue to do so when we die. This “god”, however, doesn’t want to be worshipped or loved. But I can’t help but be grateful. “God” has given us all and wants nothing in return. I have been freely given a very pleasant life on this earth as I believe most of us are given if we use it properly. We are to appreciate the gifts we undeservedly received and help those who have been given less. We should love one another, have genuine relationships with other people and ourselves. Gradually we discover what is harmful and helpful to all living beings. One day all beings will be good and happy if enough people work to make this world better. I’m not convinced “god” will make me immortal – if my mind is to disappear when my body dies, I still know I’ve been given so much and will not be wronged – but even if my consciousness dies, I can be happy now when I imagine the perfect future that will one day be accomplished. I hope I will contribute my infinitesimally small part to achieving that end.

Great reply! You’re honest, transparent, straightforward, and searching. You don’t just accept what church or society has told you—you actually look for answers yourself and think outside of the box when doing it. So you’re a lot farther along than a WHOLE lot of religious people.

I typed up a lot of my own story, but it’s too long to post here. You’ll probably find many similarities to your own story in it and my find some things that will help you in your search. I’ll PM it to you since it’s too long to post.