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You Can't Save An Atheist
Let's begin this hub with a short little quiz. According to the Bible, which of the following people CANNOT get into Heaven?
(a) Adolph Hitler (genocidal warmonger)
(b) Father John Geoghan (serial child molester)
(c) Andrew Carnegie (American industrialist and billionaire)
(d) Osama bin Laden (Islamic terrorist organizer and financier)
Ponder these choices for a moment, and consider the characteristics of each individual: Adolph Hitler is held by many to be the very personification of evil, and is ultimately responsible for the deaths of tens of millions of people. Catholic priest John Geoghan preyed on numerous children in his care for decades while the church hierarchy moved him from diocese to diocese. Osama bin Laden founded and led al-Qaeda, a world-wide terrorist network responsible for, among other things, the 9/11 attacks in 2001. Without question, each of these individuals was evil.
However, if you selected (c), Andrew Carnegie from the above list as the only person unable to enter Heaven, you chose correctly! Hitler, Geoghan and bin Laden, despite their lives of evil, are guaranteed a place in Heaven if they sincerely sought forgiveness through Jesus before they died. Carnegie, arguably the greatest philanthropist in history, is responsible for generously bestowing thousands of schools, libraries and universities upon his adopted country of the United States. His philosophy was expressed most eloquently in his famous quote, "to die rich is to die disgraced" (which happens to mesh well with Jesus' philosophy regarding wealth). Yet Carnegie committed the one sin that CANNOT be forgiven: he was an atheist, and he blasphemied God.
In three of the accounts of Jesus' life in the New Testament, he personally removes any doubt as to the possibility of redemption for the offense of blasphemy against the "holy ghost":
Matthew 12:30-32 - He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad. Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.
Mark 3:29 - But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation.
Luke 12:10 - And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but unto him that blasphemeth against the Holy Ghost it shall not be forgiven.
There is no strict definiton of blasphemy in the Bible, but the examples provided throughout seem to concur with my dictionary that to "blaspheme" is to show contempt or disrespect toward God. Given that description, I'll proceed with this completely sincere and indisputably blasphemous statement:
I don't believe that God exists, or ever existed. I believe he's a fantasy, a delusion embraced by billions around the globe who have been brainwashed and misled. The God described in the Bible and Quran is an evil, violent, unjust, incompetent, childish, misogynistic and grotesquely insecure being who is worthy of only contempt and ridicule, not love or worship.
My comments are unambiguous, and the consequences laid out in the New Testament are unequivocal: I have blasphemied the "holy ghost," and I CANNOT be forgiven. Regardless of any other moral aspects of my character, and no matter what I do from this moment forward, I am condemned to an eternity in Hell with no possible hope of redemption. This creates a serious dilemma which I now present to every honest and contemplative Christian in the form of the following question:
Do I deserve it?
If you believe that I do -- if you agree with Jesus that the sin of blasphemy is the only unforgiveable sin, and thus worse than EVERY OTHER possible action a human could commit -- then I submit to you that you are an individual with extremely questionable values. If you sincerely believe that giving offense to God is a greater evil (and more deserving of punishment) than murder, genocide or child abuse (ALL which can be forgiven), then I urge you to re-examine your moral principles. Frankly, if this is the moral philosophy you embrace (which is supposedly so superior to secular morals), you should be ashamed of yourself.
On the other hand, if you don't believe that I deserve such consequences, then you contradict the words of Jesus himself. You either reject that my words are unforgiveable, or you recognize the absurd injustice of punishing such action more severely than great evils. In either case, you are essentially allowing your own moral judgement to override that dictated by Jesus (and thereby demonstrating that yours is vastly superior). And if your personal judgement intercedes in this particular matter of faith, how can you consistently and honestly maintain your agreement with anything else said by, or about, Jesus?
Of course, you could ignore the question altogether, but this is the worst possible response. In the words of the great atheist anthem Free Will, if you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice. In refusing to consider the issue at all, you've chosen to accept it as it currently stands -- that my blasphemy condemns me to an eternity in Hell. With your silence, you are not only suggesting your approval of this punishment, but are admitting that you lack the courage to openly say so.
To be an atheist is to inevitably be a blasphemer and, according to the New Testament, beyond forgiveness. But as a believer, you can honestly and objectively reconsider your beliefs and rediscover your own positive secular morality. You can't "save" an atheist, but you can save yourself.