Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Awakening is not for everyone - but is for those who want it

The way that too-many have interpreted God's 'judgment' as if this mortal life was a kind of examination we passed or failed - and God a harsh examiner, has probably means that real Christians tend to become too concerned about those who reject salvation.

After all, Jesus himself was clear that there were many who he encountered that it was pointless to argue-with or to try and convince. He gave people a chance - but when it became clear that someone was determined to misunderstand him, he accepted this.

My point is that it is quite likely that many people, perhaps even most people, enter this mortal life having already made up their minds that salvation is 'not for me' - and determined to reject Christ's gift of life eternal.

If we regard this mortal incarnate life as the choice of each person who enters it, then such a situation is one which God would 'allow'. After all, a salvation-rejector is not 'predestined' to damnation, because he can choose salvation at any moment. But, in practice, there are those who will not.

I say 'allow' because I assume that this mortal life is a necessary step in theosis, it is in other words, a necessary step on the path to full divinity and parity (not equality) with our brother and Son of God, Jesus Christ. I assume we are not forced to be born, but we could have remained as spirits in the pre-mortal state.

To be born is to risk that we will, in the end, choose damnation. However, not to be incarnated is to remain as a child - blissful in Heaven but un-free, not a full and mature self. To remain in the pre-mortal state is like remaining a young child, happy but under the control of loving parents.

Just as happy children usually enter the dangerous state of adolescence because that is the only path to adulthood; so we chose to enter this dangerous spiritual state, here and now. And just as some children are well prepared by their disposition to come-out-of adolescence well - so others are not so likely to avoid the hazards, and some are very likely to make bad, disastrous, life choices.

I assume that our Heavenly Father knew that some of us born into this world were very un-likely to come out of it well, were indeed very likely to choose damnation. But it was not inevitable - and the risk was one that we each personally chose to take.

However, this seems to explain why the world is as it is; which is one with many people who have apparently decided that salvation is 'not for me'; including some who actively embrace damnation and who seek the damnation of others.

Such an interpretation makes a difference to someone involved in the kind of broadly-'evangelical' activity of this blog. To seek the 'awakening' of 'Albion' cannot be to expect that each and every person will become a 'spiritual Christian' - indeed it cannot even be to expect a majority of the people of Albion will awaken, nor even that there will be a majorty of those with power and influence...

It is (I think) more of a hope for awakening 'in' Albion, 'among' the people of Albion; or, that there will emerge a kind-of nation-of-Albion, which is the spiritual reality above or behind Britain. This Albion may be a minority, may be very small, may even be a tiny group! Nonetheless, there is the belief that however small, such a 'nation' would be worthwhile, significant, important.

This explains to me why I think such a marginal and minority 'venture' as this, may yet be a thing of value.

In a sense, I cannot allow myself to be downcast by those (a majority, perhaps; certainly a majority of the powerful, rich, influential...) who are determined to embrace damnation; just as Jesus (and the Beloved Disciple) were realistic about those who actually saw Jesus, heard him speak, observed his work; yet rejected him, hated him: the light 'shone in the darkness' but 'the darkness comprehended it not'; 'the world knew him not'... 

Yet although this was and is a cause for regret, it was entirely what Jesus expected. The fact that it happened did not deter him.

There is no compulsion with Jesus. Free will and personal agency are necessary, real and good - and they have implications that Jesus did not deny, nor did he wish to deny them. Jesus did what he did for those who wanted what - by his life, death and resurrection - he offered.

And the value to each of those who accepted Christ's gift is as immeasurably great, as the resurrected life is everlastingly long.


edwin said...

I am surprised by your statement that we could have remained as spirits in a pre-mortal state. Such a conception does not occur in any Christian tradition I am aware of and, to my knowledge, only appears in Plato, in the 10th book of The Republic, where we are presented with a vision of souls choosing to be incarnated in particular circumstances, knowing that they will forget that they made this choice once they enter the flesh. I would be interested to know how you arrived at this understanding and also how you conceive of time in relation to it, although that may be too involved to discuss in a comments section.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Edwin - It is part of the Mormon theology to which I adhere (although I am not a member of the Mormon church) - also

Chiu ChunLing said...

I would concur that the option of remaining spiritual infants in perpetuity is not realistic, or rather, not compatible with God's love. It would be possible only if God did not respect and value our capacity to choose our ultimate destiny for ourselves, once the chance of further development was made available.

Or rather, if one resorts to Mormon doctrine, those spirits that chose not to accept the inherent risks of sin in mortality were those that followed Lucifer to become the Fallen host, demons with no destiny beyond their futile effort to prove that free will is impossible and thus force God to return all His children to a state of infancy.

Jared said...

Satan brings confusion by introducing the lie that we can somehow
be forced to choose something we don't want. This can cause us to be too concerned about those who reject salvation, because we imagine that it's somehow unjust that they choose and receive what they want just as everyone does.

Because God wants us to become like him, what is required is not just one choice or one realization, but an awakening and a deep commitment that will manifest itself through all our choices. Satan's lie that "The mind is its own place and can make a heaven of hell or hell of heaven" (from Paradise Lost) needs to be rejected along with everything that distracts us from our goal of choosing the right.

The dangerous state of adolescence we take part of in this life includes to the danger of despair as well, which is what will happen if we buy into Satan's lie that we can be forced to choose what we don't really want.

Bruce Charlton said...

@CCL - It is indeed Mormon doctrine that Lucifer and the demons cannot incarnate, and remain as pre-mortal spirits; but this was not because they refused to reincarnate. My understanding is that it is more that - because of their rebellion - they are 'forbidden' to incarnate, it is impossible for them.

My view, derived from William Arkle's insights, is that a loving God will not use 'or else' threats to compel humans to choose the path he wishes for us. Therefore, I suppose there will be come souls who choose to remain 'permanenly' as pre-mortal spirits, as angels (of that immaterial type)... in service to God the Father, aligned with his gaols but not-fully-free ('messengers').

Somewhat free, as are all entities; but not as much free agents because, without a body, the individual consciousness is part of a general consciousness - a sort of group mind, irradiated by the divine will.

Perhaps some of these include people who realise that is they incarnated they would be likely to choose damnation - and who perhaps wisely decline the offer.

When I say 'permanent' I mean that they can stay this way in an open ended fashion; but they could potentially change their minds.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Jared - Well siad!

Moose Thompson said...

I assume damnation in Mormonism is equivalent to eternal torment, like traditional Christianity. If so, then why would anyone choose damnation knowing they will be tormented eternally? Or do you believe people can be deceived into damnation by illusions?

Bruce Charlton said...

@MT - I have seen people choose Hell in their mortal life; for example as adolescents. Indeed, it has almost become the norm in some circles. CS Lewis depicts the process in The Great Divorce.

Moose Thompson said...

I will check out that book, but the idea that there is a place of eternal torment that the masses will willingly choose to go (as you imply) - aside from being repugnantly cruel and inconsistent with the idea of a loving merciful God - sounds highly implausible. Furthermore it smacks of the tribal aspects of religion and politics that have erstwhile been problematic where some people get dehumanizingly "othered" by "the group".

Bruce Charlton said...

@MT - Read the fourth gospel - many/ most of the people Jesus met, who saw him do miracles including rasing the dead, who heard him teach... they hated him and wanted to humiliate, torture, kill him. There have always been people who hated the good and embraced darkness. Usually because there is some-thing they *want* which is evil, but which they will not acknowledge as evil. Look inside yourself - we all harbour such temptations.

Nathaniel said...

So many people are stupid though, it seems like a lot of the choice for damnation is out of ignorance - actual lack of experience, not really comprehending the reality of things and where their choices will lead (e.g. living in media la-la land) that a strict adherence to sin categories would suggest eternal damnation, but I wonder if they are really fully culpable.

Do they have a brief moment perhaps at or after death to repent when they are perhaps temporarily broken free and can actually see their life (in a "flash") and the real consequences and suffering caused by their sins?

I certainly can't say you're wrong, as it seems many Church saints expressed this view, but my hope still remains that all of creation can be "renewed" and perhaps even those brief instances of goodness in an unrepentant sinner's life ("the innocent baby" even) might be resurrected.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Nathaniel - If we trust in the love and Goodness of God, then we can be sure that every individual will know what is at issue from their choice.

BTW the fourth gospel is clear that everyone is resurrected - but to different fates.

William Wildblood said...

I think we probably judge ourselves rather like at the end of The Last Battle when all the Narnian creatures rush towards the door where Aslan stands and look him in the face. Some are overwhelmed with love and come through the door while others respond with hatred and fear and veer off into darkness. But the way they respond has been determined by the character they have built up over their earthly (Narnian, I should say!) lives. In this way our fate is entirely up to us.

Moose Thompson said...

Bruce - Yes, it is true we all have evil within us, but part of my point to you would be that are we so different from those bad people we imagine "choose" damnation? Traditional Christian teaching says no but you can be saved by having faith in Jesus or through the sacraments.

You seem to take it as a given that the masses will be damned because they prefer evil over good. But I doubt your claim that the majority who saw Jesus hated him or wanted to do him harm. While it was a different time, so I don't know - it certainly isn't consistent with the human nature I observe. All the modern people I come into contact with - I just don't see this hatefulness or indifference to good and evil or even enough rational motivation to hate someone teaching Christian teachings. Yes they are worldly, indolent, nihilistic, hedonistic, confused, stupid, anxious, overwhelmed and so much more and you could argue this is all evil, but I hardly think they would choose everlasting torment over goodness given a stark choice.

And if we truly are children of a loving God, and the filial relationship is a model for our relationship with God, what parent would create a situation where one can be led so easily into sin by ignorance and external conditions beyond our control and then be damned on the grounds one "chose" evil over good? This doesn't make much more sense or seem much kinder than doctrines of predestination. What kind of parental relationship contains something as analogously cruel to damnation anyways?

There is a further problem that I hinted at regarding this view that it appeals to a tribal aspect of human nature that can motivate evil. There is a temptation to marginalize and dehumanize anyone that disagrees on the grounds that he/she is one of "those" people that "rejects" salvation, so no need to worry about them. Or perhaps we need to militantly shove the truth down everyone's throats lest they die unrepentant. Furthermore, what of all the cultures and peoples that have never heard of Christ? Should such (evidently mostly sincere) peoples be dehumanized and their lives trivialized? Note, Bruce, I'm not saying you do this, but i'm merely pointing out the moral hazard associated with some of the ideas you suggest in this post.

Now all that said, I actually do believe in evil beings and probably humans that develop towards evil and even Hell. What I find implausible and inconsistent with other Christian teachings is the notion that most people are going there forever for not believing the correct doctrine, or for confused choices over a single life in an external environment that only tertiarily points individuals to the spiritual. WW's model of reincarnation and the "Earth as a school" makes much more sense to me.

Bruce Charlton said...

@MT - You seem to be focusing on mathematical questions which cannot possibly ever be answered - such as the proportion of people who are damned, or the duration of damnation.

I would say that these matters need to be kept separate from the qualitative matters, without which we can not have understanding.

In particular, I sense that you are mixing-up peoples behaviour in terms of them being nice and kind with their state of sin.

For exampler, for Christians *pride* is regarded as the greatest sin Of course, pride here has a different meaning from the modern usage - but it is not a coincidence that the Pride festivals in the West are *objectively* understandable as public, official, mandatory (for many participants, eg the police) propaganda for, and celebration of, sin.

The magnitude and rank of the sin are not the point - it is the fact of denying the reality of sin - of advocating the sin - which is serious: which is indeed lethal. This is only one example of the modern inversion by which the good is put forward as bad, and the bad as good.

It is this which makes the modern West perhaps the most evil society, ever. Whether people are nicer or nastier is beside the point - it is a matter of whose 'side' society is on: for God's creation and purposes, or against them.

This understanding is not obvious 'common sense', it is not about being mean or kind, it is not about doing or forbidding what provides pleasure; it is about the denial of the reality of God's creation and the insistence upon lies, upon falsehood.

Sin *cannot* be understood from a mainstream, secular, materialist stance - such as is universal in The West; because from such a stance there is no sin - nothing is forbidden, nothing is good or bad. Such discussions always degenerate into assertions and predictions about what policy will be likely to make people happier or to suffer more. And which groups of people matter most. The usual stuff. Psychology.

If you are a person who does not believe in God, or does not believe that this world was created but is a produce of mindless determinism and/ or randomness; then you can have no objective morality - because your 'morality' will reduce to psychology - to how you feel and how you suppose other people feel; and to assumptions about the causation of feelings; and to assumptions about the quantitative summation of feelings... And it may be that you cannot move forward until you acknowledge *this* fact.

To understand sin one cannot be a modern person, using the language of modern public discourse; one *must* regard the world as *in reality*, objectively meaningful, purposive, and that we each have a place in it.

Moose Thompson said...

Bruce I actually agree with most of what you are saying here. The thing is if you take most Christian sects' teaching (as well as Muslim, I think) at face value, the quantity is almost everyone and duration forever. I focus on quantity in my comment because I am suspicious of the origins of such doctrines and am suggesting that believing or pushing this idea is potentially problematic and difficult to reconcile with other Christian ideas.

I also agree with you that morals are tied to God's purpose and not feelings. Where my view perhaps differs from yours is I strongly suspect people are being trained morally whether they choose to believe in God and sin and all the rest or not. Most people's lives are difficult and I suspect the experiences they have touch a deeper part of themselves than mere intellectual belief. Indeed people seem to choose to believe things based on deeper things within them. I'm not saying that belief's are unimportant, but I am doubtful as to the importance of correct belief in various doctrines especially given the extent that doctrines differ even within a single religion. Evangelism also is a different animal when we lack a consistent set of beliefs. Sure we could (and in my view should) argue for various metaphysical and moral principles that we can all agree on, but that doesn't seem quite the same thing as pushing a religion. That said I do fear the consequences of belief in metaphysical materialism.