Oh Holy Moses | Giftie Etcetera: Oh Holy Moses

Monday, March 3, 2008

Oh Holy Moses

So I managed to get into a discussion of religion with MIL and Alan's aunt. Not the brightest thing to do, but I was tired and cranky at the time, and it just happened.

They were SHOCKED, and I mean SHOCKED, to hear that I don't think accepting Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior is what gets you into heaven. What I believe is that anyone, an athiest (which would make many an athiest scoff, I'm sure ;)), a Wiccan watcher of the Discovery Channel, a Mormon - you know, the big three "foolish" groups, according to MIL's pastor (except that I added the Wiccan part for emphasis) - can get into heaven. I think being good in spirit and action and avoiding sin is the path to heaven.

The discussion arose because we were watching a news report saying that a televangelist paster (Hague, I think) who Catholic-bashes endorsed John McCain, and many Catholics took offense. My in-laws commented that he shouldn't "bash" anyone, and I commented that their pastor does all the time. Look, you are free to believe that acceptance of Jesus is the ticket to heaven, and the rest of us are going to hell. You are free to secretly pray for my soul. Whatever. But to mock other religions...for a pastor of a church to get up and call Mormonism "foolishness"...to preach to young girls that their husbands do make the rules and to not cause their husbands to raise a hand to strike them...all irresponsible, unChrist-like, and morally reprehensable (sp?).

I think I made them angry. Ah, well. I used to follow the *don't discuss religion or politics rule* with them, but since I heard my MIL's dramatic (and very evangelistic, Southern Baptist) reading and interpretation of Veggie Tales to my son, I think it's time I make it clear that we will be teaching Ander what we believe and not what they do, thank you very much.

I'm in a mood. Can you tell? :)



pacatrue said...

Alright, I found C.S. Lewis' quote on this (p. 65 from Mere Christianity, in section 5 of the "What Christians believe" chapter.)

"Here is another matter that used to puzzle me. Is it not frightfully unfair that this new life should be confined to people who have heard of Christ and been able to believe in Him? But the truth is God has not told us what His arrangements about the other people are. We do know that no man can be saved except through Christ; we do not know that only those who know Him can be saved through Him."

Here's my interpretation. Lewis would agree with the MIL that you can only be saved through Christ, but it isn't clear we know all the options involved in "being saved through Him". A person who has never heard of Christ may be able to serve Christ through good action and heart. In the last Narnia book, The Last Battle, there's a character "Emeth" (can someone tell me the meaning of the name?; I'm guessing it's not random) who is a Calormene and worships the horrible (demonic) god Tash. However, what Emeth does in Tash' name is in fact all of the good deeds that the true god Aslan would support/enable/make possible. Emeth is welcomed into heaven at the end, because he was acting through the good Aslan all along. On the other hand, the bad characters in the book, who take over Narnia by doing bad things in Aslan's name, are all taken away by Tash in the end. They were truly serving Tash despite exhortations of serving Aslan. Even with an absolute view that one can only be saved through Christ, we can't rule out that people of other religions are operating through him now, even though they are ignorant of this truth.

Essentially, I think the MIL needs to clarify what she means by saying that you must "accept Jesus Christ as your personal lord and savior." What does this mean? The bad characters of the Last Battle know of Aslan but reject him. Emeth does not know of Aslan but serves him all his life.

abyssean said...

I guess it is a good thing I really didn't talk to them...I'm sure they would just LOVE me! :)

Anonymous said...

Have you read the Philip Pullman "His Dark Materials" trilogy? I bought the audiobook on iTunes for the commute. Once I finished, I decided to read the books from the library. Still reading book one, but it does have some nice "imagery". I can also see why there was initial resistance to the story (Philip is very critical of large, organized churches).


Anonymous said...

Aw K, thanks for defending us Mormons! And Irony (for your mil's pastor) = We also believe that we are saved through the merits of Jesus Christ.


Mamaebeth said...

there is actually a Vatican II document that addresses the issue of salvation through christ in respects to people of other faiths/no faith. (i think it might be lumen gentium, although Nostre Aetate also touches on it) it hits upon alot of the same points you do.

i will look up emeth in my hebrew lexicon when i get home. is that how he spelled it exactly? is it pronounced with a short or long e sound?

pacatrue said...

Mamaebeth, "emeth" is the way it's spelled. I can only guess at to either Lewis' pronunciation or a Hebrew one.