Note: This is a long post, so I'm responding in chunks. My responses in red. This will be the last update on my site for the year - gonna take a little holiday vacation until after the New Year, when I'll be refreshed and ready to go.
Merry Christmas! All hail the great King Jesus Who takes away the sins of the world and makes all things new! He's coming again soon!
God. Allah. Yahweh. Jehovah. Adonai. Shiva. Odin. Zeus. Jupiter. Osiris...I hate to drop a bomb...but I've got a secret: THEY'RE ALL THE SAME BEING!!!
I would agree that God, Yahweh, Jehovah, and Adonai are names for the same Person. However, that Person is nothing like these other “beings” that you mention. All of those other “beings” behave like humans. They’re capricious, throw tantrums, eat, sleep, marry. And I don’t recall Jehovah ever saying “kill the infidel” and bribing adherents with 72 virgins for the accomplishment of that task. Jehovah is unique.
Jesus himself said, "In my father's mansion there are many rooms." Could that possibly mean that maybe there's room enough for more than one way of believing? Could it possibly say that it doesn't matter what we believe, as long as we believe?
Offhand, I’d say it means there’s many rooms in the Father’s mansion. Jesus does not mention anything about belief in this particular quote. He is speaking to his disciples and says He will prepare one of those rooms for each of His disciples. I imagine the quote applies to any disciple of Christ...like me, for instance.
Jesus is highly concerned with what we believe. Practically every sermon, parable, and miracle was based on belief, specifically whether people believed in Christ or not. I hope you've heard the most famous verse in the Bible:
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son (Christ), that whoever BELIEVES IN HIM shall not perish but have eternal life.
I don't know about you, but to me, that kinda sounds like God thinks what we believe is pivotal to our eternal destiny. I think you would do well to consider that question a little more carefully rather than think it doesn't matter.
The worst part about organized religion is that it professes to "love thy neighbor, do no harm," et cetera. But the reality is that they routinely engage in blood-soaked mayhem against anyone who believes differently than they do. Open a history book. Any history book. Open it to a random page. (Don't worry, I'll wait.) What do you see? You're probably looking at a thinly veiled example of, "Our religion's better, but you've got all this good land, cool stuff, and good-looking women. We're going to take it all, and you be good little heathens and run along and die now."
That supposed adherents to Christianity disobey its precepts invalidates neither the precepts nor the One Who gave them; it invalidates the supposed adherent. In other words, those who consistently disobey and do these kinds of awful things are not followers of Christ, they only say they are.
Now before we start in on the hell issue, since I'm plainly a heretic and headed that way at maximum warp, let me say this: Hell is a mathematically unsupportable concept, and thus I don't believe in or worry myself with it.
Math and logic have nothing to do with hell. Nobody goes to hell because they can’t add or think sequentially. The go because they choose it over submission to God.
Wow! That's quite a nerve you've got there; pretty gutsy not to believe in Christianity's big stick.
Actually, quite cowardly, speaking from my own experience. At one time, I found it quite comforting not to believe in hell. Nobody ridiculed me like they do now. Nobody thought me judgmental or bigoted. For myself, it required way more guts to believe in it than not. Now I find it much more comforting to believe in the grace, love, and protection of God rather than not to believe in hell.
Point one. God is eternal and infinite.
God is literally nothing humans can understand.
I understand a great deal about Him. Of course, it’s just the rudiments, but even the rudiments are many and varied to anyone who’s interested.
So we've got this eternal being knocking around, builds a universe or five, and finally gets around to making us. Then God says, "Hmmm...might have f*****d this one up. Need something to do with the factory rejects." Kinda screws up the whole infallibility clause in God's description, doesn't it? There's flaw 1.
God never said any such thing. He made no mistakes, man did. God gave man free will, man chose sin over obedience to God. What God DID say was something more like this: "Hmmm...YOU have f*****d this one up. Don’t worry, I have a plan and I will fix it, but in the meantime, you’ll have consequences to endure."
Point two. This infinite, infallible being points at humanity and says, "HEY! I'm God, and I'm eternal. But you little peons screw up in the average 78.6 years I allot you to live on Earth, and you'll burn in Hell forever."
Again, He says no such thing. THIS is what He says: “You are sinful. A natural consequence of sin is hell. If you cut yourself, you bleed; if you sin, you go to hell. I don’t want you to go to hell, so I’ve provided a way of escape. I sent Christ to earth to pay for your sins so you don’t have to go to hell. All you have to do is accept Him as your Lord and Savior and believe that He can do this for you. Please accept this offer; I don’t want you to go to hell, and this is the only way you can escape it.”
Flaws 2 and 3. God's already had all eternity to get it right and made who knows what kind of mistakes along the way. Now I come along and backtalk my dad and I'm going to Hell? Kinda crosses the whole "God is Love" thing off the list, too, doesn't it?
God came to earth and died a horrible death for you so you don’t have to go to hell for your sins. If that’s not Love, I don’t know what is. People often forget that God is perfectly Just as well. Nobody "gets away" with anything...ever. God will demand payment for every single sin. Either we will pay, or Christ will pay. It's our choice. I'm letting Christ pay. How about you?
So, okay, now that I've come in and shot my mouth off...what do I believe? Fair question. I am a practicing ceremonial magician. I practice Kabalistic magick with a little bit of quantum mechanics, physics (wait...aren't those the same thing? Maybe; but I wouldn't count on it), and a little bitty drip of psychology just to give it some spice.
Good luck with that.
Who do you pray to? See that list at the top of this post? All of them. They're all aspects or faces of the same being.
Nope. No comparison between the One true God and all those other “beings”. He is unique; nobody and nothing like Him.
RESPONSE FROM REBELPRINCE
Now that I have time to sit down and give your response the attention it deserves, I am.
First off, I'm not interested in running down someone else's belief structure just because I don't happen to share the same philosophical framework. However, if you do some research, you will find, and I'm afraid you're not going to like this at all, that every religion on earth has its own version of a Messiah. The Egyptians had Osiris, the Norse had Baldur, the (Babylonians?) had Marduk.
The difference is that Jesus was a historical flesh and blood human being Who was crucified by real, historical roman authorities. Those you mention are myths, fables, fictions of men.
Additionally: It seems that the more "Christian" someone is, the more likely they are to exclude people who don't believe exactly as they do. I believe in the same basic tenets as a Christian, Muslim, Jew, (your favorite religion here); only difference is that I'll sit down with a Satanist or a Santerian just as readily as I will a Wiccan, a Christian, or a Jew, and once we're done talking, I'll wish them a nice day and go about my business, not threaten them with the eternal punishment of a capricious being.
Christ is about as inclusive as it gets: “For God so loved the WORLD that He gave His only begotten Son, that WHOSOEVER believes in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life.” Is there any way to be more inclusive than the whole world?
You believe in the same basic tenets of all those religions? That's quite a feat, seeing that they're diametrically opposed to each other. Muslims spend an awful lot of time butchering Christians and Jews, even other Muslims. Jews have little to do with Christianity and spend a lot of time defending themselves from Muslims. Those who follow Christ spend their time telling people about Christ and what He did. However, I will stipulate that Christianity has Judaism as a foundation.
That some “Christians” mistake God's invitation to be accepted/rejected as a decree to be enforced speaks to the depravity of man, not the capriciousness of God. Even if it did speak of His capriciousness, what unfathomably generous caprice! He offers a free ticket out of hell and into heaven to ANYONE who will take it.
Oh, wait. You shot that one down, too, didn't you? Well, let's take a look at the Old Testament. Seems to me that God was just about as capricious in the old days as any of the gods I listed. He drowned the entire earth, made the Pharaoh, keep the Israelites in Egypt specifically so he could plague them, massacred whole cities routinely...and that was Him in a relatively GOOD mood. What about Job? He made a bet with Satan that Job couldn't be swayed, and put the poor guy, who had spent his entire life worshipping God without deviation, through hell. What about that isn't capricious?
The God of the Bible is anything but capricious. What do you think all these hundreds of prophecies coming true centuries later is all about? Caprice? I guess we have different definitions of capriciousness. To me, it means something like “acting on a whim with little or no forethought or warning”.
If memory serves, God told Adam and Eve He would provide a Savior a few millennia before Christ actually came. Then He sent prophets for a few millennia who predicted many different facts and characteristics of that Savior so nobody could mistake Him. Does that sound capricious to you? Because to me, it sounds like God planned it from the beginning of time.
And perhaps I'm mistaken, but I think not...didn't God tell Noah about the flood 120 years before the fact? And didn't Noah warn everyone about it? Didn't God give Noah precise instructions about how to build the ark and other things he was supposed to do? And didn't all the people see Noah building the ark and deride him all the while? Does that sound capricious to you, because to me it sounds like a well thought out plan.
And pharoah and the plagues...didn't God tell Abraham before Isaac was born that he would father a nation (the Israelites), and that they would serve as slaves in Egypt for 400 years, but God would bring them out of Egypt with a strong arm? Does that sound capricious to you, because to me it sounds like God planned it hundreds of years before it actually happened.
As for Job, God used Job to teach us about Himself and our relationship to Him. God did not cause evil to befall Job; Satan did. However, God DID permit it and why? Not to punish him, but because He loved Job and had an exceptionally high opinion of him. But you can read it yourself. To me, it reveals a great deal about God, but to you, I’m sure it’s foolishness.
At any rate, maybe whatever god you're talking about is capricious, but the God of the Bible sure isn't.
God is either perfect, or he's not. If He's not, then hell makes sense. If he is, then nothing that happens in, with, or to the human race is by anything other than His design. So if that's the case, and we all behave and respond according to God's individual will for each of us, then hell becomes utterly inconceivable.
On the contrary, the logic works just the opposite way. If God were imperfect, then hell makes no sense because Who is He to judge? He'd be no better than any of us. Hell only makes sense if God is perfectly righteous and just and possesses all knowledge to judge appropriately.
I think you're forgetting one small item: free will. We can choose whether to obey God or not, and He gave us that freedom. He did not create automatons, but living beings who can freely choose who they will love and obey. We used that freedom to choose the power to thwart His will over obedience to Him, and became slaves to sin. Now we cannot help but live our lives against His will and contrary to His design except if we choose a new way, His way. That's why God invites us to join him rather than forcing us. He wants free lovers for His children, not robots or slaves.
Call me a coward if you will; but I live according to my beliefs and my rules don't change just because someone else believes something different. I believe what works for me based on evidence, not faith; but it's my way and my way alone. It's up to each of us to find what works for them.
Actually, I called myself a coward, not you. I spoke from my own experience.
Here's what you said you believed:
I am a practicing ceremonial magician. I practice Kabalistic magick with a little bit of quantum mechanics, physics (wait...aren't those the same thing? Maybe; but I wouldn't count on it), and a little bitty drip of psychology just to give it some spice.
If that's true, I would assert that you exercise far more faith than I. I am the King of Skeptics. It takes quite a lot of evidence to convince me of anything. What I've read of Kabbalah makes very little sense to me. It's high-sounding gibberish to me, like all other pantheistic religions that say we're all interconnected to one another and we're all part of a god-entity-source that nobody can understand. For myself, I'm much too practical and pragmatic to yield myself to something impossible to understand. That requires more faith than I happen to possess. I'd feel like a first-class sucker. I need to understand what I believe. To me, a belief that starts with incomprehensibility can yield nothing but nonsense and meaninglessness. That's a deal-breaker for me.
By the way, I don't threaten anyone and neither does God. He simply states the facts as they exist. Reject Him as Lord and Savior, and you suffer the consequences. Accept Him as Lord and Savior, and you reap the benefits. Easy to understand. Not an ounce of caprice or whimsy...been telling people the same message for over 2,000 years. He's telling YOU right now. If you want nothing to do with Him and His reign, He will grant that desire by sending you to the only place where that's possible when you die. Hell is God's last gift to those who allow Him to give them nothing else.