Friday, August 31, 2012

The Lake Of Fire: It Burns, Burns Burns...

"Ideas that have nothing to do with life after death, but everything to do with controlling human behaviour in the here and now, are simply not worthy of human beings, religious or otherwise. No one becomes holy through fear. No one becomes whole by a promised reward for good behaviour. We therefore must jettison from further consideration of life after death all concepts of reward and punishment, dismissing them as crude, debilitating, hostile and, finally, unbelievable. The secular world has long since done just that. It is time for religious voices to do the same, and to do it emphatically.
If the enhancement of life is the goal of all religion, then we need to recognize that the promised rewards and the threatened punishments of religion will never accomplish that. Behavior-controlling tactics always suppress life. They are never about becoming human or whole; they are always about becoming or being religious, about gaining an advantage. The emphasis is all wrong. That understanding of life after death is little more than one more aspect of the driving human need for survival. The fact is that if you and I live our lives motivated by our desire to gain paradise or to avoid eternal punishment, then we have not escaped the basic self-centeredness of life that is so natural to survival-oriented, self-conscious creatures. There is nothing worthy in that understanding of life after death. It must be abandoned and the personalistic God of reward and punishment, in whatever form we have been led to understand that deity, must be abandoned with it. It is the product of a childish religion continuing to live in an immature humanity. This mentality has produced a religion that has nothing about it that I can salute or that I desire to preserve. Its harm has been enormous. Its fruit has been minimal. Heaven and hell, as we have been taught to understand them, have got to go!"
~ Bishop John Shelby Spong, "Eternal Life: A New Vision"