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Thread from CS: Religious advice -- struggling here.
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Old 05-22-2015, 12:02 AM
mjr mjr is offline
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Default Thread from CS: Religious advice -- struggling here.

I'll try not to get into fratching territory here. Mods, if this is inappropriate, let me know, and I'll start this in fratching.

I'm sure that some of you have heard the expression "There's a special place in Hell..."

Well, here's what I'm struggling with:

I have a good friend of mine who is very Christian. I turn to him sometimes when I have a question about Christianity, to get his opinion, being a believer myself.

He believes that if you're a Christian, and you ask for forgiveness, it's granted, regardless of what you do.

But I'm having trouble reconciling that with some of the actions that people have taken. I mean, I believe in Salvation and such, too, but I do struggle sometimes with whether or not some actions still allow people to get into Heaven, if they ask forgiveness.

I started this because of something I recall that happened a few years back near where I live, and a horrifying video I watched today on CNN.

A few years back, there was a case where a guy and his wife quite literally starved their 10 year old to death. They were both convicted and got jail time, but I can only imagine the pain, betrayal, and loneliness the kid felt as he slowly died...because his parents intentionally withheld food.

Today I see one on CNN about some @$$hole dentist in Florida who does unnecessary things to his "patients" (which I believe are kids), and then charges it to Medicare (because most of the parents of the kids are on Medicare).

There's a video with an interview of one of the moms where they were supposed to get one tooth pulled, and the dentist pulled seven.

Even more horrifying was the VIDEO of the little girl who was literally restrained in the dentist chair (hands and feet) terrified and screaming in terror (and likely high pain) and writhing to try to get free. And the doctor is acting as if nothing out of the ordinary is happening. I can only imagine the terror and the horror going through the little girl's mind (I think it's a girl, hard to tell, just going by what the clothing looks like). And apparently the dentist didn't allow parents in the room. I think a parent can recognize their kid's screams, so I wonder if the parent tried to go back and they wouldn't let them. I'm sure if you google something like CNN Florida Dentist child abuse you'll find it.

I have a hard time reconciling these actions with these people getting into Heaven...especially considering that they did what they did to CHILDREN

It really affected me. I may have trouble sleeping tonight because of it...

I don't know if there's a way to reconcile this...

What say you?
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  #2  
Old 05-22-2015, 12:54 AM
Kheldarson Kheldarson is offline
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Powerful question.

It also illustrates a major difference between Protestant denominations and Catholic rites.

We don't believe in the "one time guarantee". We believe that through God's grace we are saved, but we can lose that salvation. We lose the grace and salvation through our actions and deeds. So while good works aren't necessary to receive God's grace, at the same time, if you're not doing good deeds through God's grace, then what are you doing? Either sinning or wasting His grace, both of which are a rejection of his salvation.

More explanatory answer:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Catholic Answers
Some people promote an especially attractive idea: All true Christians, regardless of how they live, have an absolute assurance of salvation, once they accept Jesus into their hearts as "their personal Lord and Savior." The problem is that this belief is contrary to the Bible and constant Christian teaching.

Keep in mind what Paul told the Christians of his day: "If we have died with him [in baptism; see Rom. 6:3-4] we shall also live with him; if we persevere we shall also reign with him" (2 Tim. 2:11-12). If we do not persevere, we shall not reign with him. In other words, Christians can forfeit heaven.

The Bible makes it clear that Christians have a moral assurance of salvation (God will be true to his word and will grant salvation to those who have faith in Christ and are obedient to him [1 John 4:19-24]), but the Bible does not teach that Christians have a guarantee of heaven. There can be no absolute assurance of salvation.

Writing to Christians, Paul said, "See, then, the kindness and severity of God: severity toward those who fell, but God's kindness to you, provided you remain in his kindness, otherwise you too will be cut off" (Rom. 11:22-23; see also 1 Cor. 15:1-2, Heb. 10:26-29, 2 Pet. 2:20-21).

Note that Paul includes an important condition: "provided you remain in his kindness." He is saying that Christians can lose their salvation by throwing it away. He warns, "Whoever thinks he is standing secure should take care not to fall" (1 Cor. 10:11-12).

If anyone asks you if you have been "saved," you should say, "I am redeemed by the blood of Christ, I trust in him alone for my salvation, and, as the Bible teaches, I am `working out my salvation in fear and trembling' (Phil. 2:12), knowing that it is God's gift of grace that is working in me."
So, essentially, the folks in your scenarios may claim to be Christian, but until they reject evil works, repent of their evil (and for Catholics that includes doing penance to make up for what you did wrong), and "go forth and sin no more" by doing good, it's unlikely that they'd be going directly to Heaven.
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Old 05-22-2015, 12:59 AM
cewfa cewfa is offline
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Man, that sucks, and I feel where you are coming from, because I am going through something similar.

This is kind of a waste of post, since I have nothing to contribute, but I just wanted to lend some support.
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Old 05-22-2015, 03:05 AM
Gravekeeper Gravekeeper is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mjr View Post
I have a hard time reconciling these actions with these people getting into Heaven...especially considering that they did what they did to CHILDREN
Well, to be completely honest, this is the inherent problem with an absolute morality system. It requires an absolute scoring system to define good and evil. Whereas the world does not and has not ever worked that way. There are too many shades of grey involved. You can't look at it in terms of good ( you're in ) and evil ( you're out ). Or you'll give yourself a nosebleed once a week reading the news.

The most powerful weapon you can wield at this point is understanding. You don't need to judge or forgive. But if you understand it may bring you some more peace on subjects like this. "Evil" doesn't just emerge fully formed from a vacuum.

In both the cases you're talking about for example, it takes a profound lack of empathy to neglect or harm a child. As in, a psychological absence of it. Be it psychopathy, a personality disorder or narcissistic disorder. The dentist sounds like he could fit a narcissistic personality disorder for example. In which case you have a problem. Who do you blame at that point, from a spiritual perspective?

The amount of factors that go into to something like a personality disorder is pretty broad. Genetics, parenting, brain structure, etc. Do you hold someone's soul eternally accountable for the flaws in its meat suit? That isn't really fair as it means people are getting fucked from birth both in this world and the next.

So yes, not to go all Dalai Llama on you here but understanding and compassion will get you further than trying to mentally debate who deserves eternal damnation and who deserves a free pass into the club house. Its much harder to do. Much much harder. As you have to stand above your own base emotions as well. But I find the world makes a lot more sense ( and is more bearable ) if you can.
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Old 05-22-2015, 03:19 AM
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Andara Bledin Andara Bledin is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mjr View Post
He believes that if you're a Christian, and you ask for forgiveness, it's granted, regardless of what you do.
From what I understand, to be granted forgiveness for your sins, you actually have to repent of them. Divine forgiveness isn't handed out like complimentary mints at the local Olive Garden.

Throwing out 5 Hail Marys isn't some shortcut to absolution.

The important part is to believe that those who do terrible things will get what they deserve in the hereafter and to continue with your own life, doing your best to be a good and decent human being.
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Old 05-22-2015, 05:51 PM
s_stabeler s_stabeler is offline
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I think the issue is primarily a case of a difference in what you believe counts as asking for forgiveness. It's NOT just praying to god to ask. It's showing that you understand that you were sinning- and acting better in the future. If you do, then God won't slam the door in your face.

Indeed, technically, the prayer asking for forgiveness for your sins is actually unnessecary- if you act in a reasonably good way, you won't be condemned. (which is why I call bullshit on the idea, in the medieval era ( I don't know if it still exists or not) that a baby who dies pre-baptism is condemned to hell.)

there's also the question about if you need to "earn" a place in heaven- by following religion, including all the ceremonies, etc, or if you simply have to avoid outright rejecting God- In other words, if you are neither notably good, or notably evil, what happens? it's my belief that you enter heaven. In the Middle Ages, I believe the Church taught that unless you followed religion- more or less exactly- you were condemned to hell.
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Old 05-22-2015, 07:25 PM
Kheldarson Kheldarson is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by s_stabeler View Post
(which is why I call bullshit on the idea, in the medieval era ( I don't know if it still exists or not) that a baby who dies pre-baptism is condemned to hell.)

there's also the question about if you need to "earn" a place in heaven- by following religion, including all the ceremonies, etc, or if you simply have to avoid outright rejecting God- In other words, if you are neither notably good, or notably evil, what happens? it's my belief that you enter heaven. In the Middle Ages, I believe the Church taught that unless you followed religion- more or less exactly- you were condemned to hell.
Well, neither one of those positions are taught anymore, and I'm pretty sure the Church has never held that pre-baptized babies went to hell; Limbo/Purgatory would be worst case scenario.
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Old 05-22-2015, 07:26 PM
cindybubbles cindybubbles is offline
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This is why we Catholics have a third option: purgatory. It feels like hell, but it has an exit door leading to Heaven. You go there to purify yourself of your sins if you repent after you die, I think.
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Old 05-22-2015, 07:27 PM
cindybubbles cindybubbles is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kheldarson View Post
Well, neither one of those positions are taught anymore, and I'm pretty sure the Church has never held that pre-baptized babies went to hell; Limbo/Purgatory would be worst case scenario.
My Church always held the stance that pre-baptized and unborn babies went to Heaven because they are already pure.
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Old 05-22-2015, 07:27 PM
wolfie wolfie is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by s_stabeler View Post
I think the issue is primarily a case of a difference in what you believe counts as asking for forgiveness. It's NOT just praying to god to ask. It's showing that you understand that you were sinning- and acting better in the future. If you do, then God won't slam the door in your face.
One Bible verse has Jesus telling a woman "Go forth and sin no more". Sounds like this is what you're talking about regarding forgiveness - He is forgiving her for her past behaviour, conditional on not continuing it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by s_stabeler View Post
there's also the question about if you need to "earn" a place in heaven- by following religion, including all the ceremonies, etc, or if you simply have to avoid outright rejecting God- In other words, if you are neither notably good, or notably evil, what happens? it's my belief that you enter heaven.
Wouldn't Purgatory fit into this? The "blue light specials" (anyone remember the old, short-lived TV series "Second Chance"?) get a chance to repent their sins (note that anyone who crossed the "moral event horizon" - Hitler is the classic example - is by definition not a "blue light special") and be admitted to Heaven.
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