5 votes

What If God Is A Brutal Authoritarian?

If you don't pay your taxes you'll go to jail.

If you don't believe in God you'll go to hell.

But of course, each is "voluntary" and you have the "free will" to object?

HMMMM...

If force against peaceful individuals is wrong, then why would God do it to those who peacefully reject him? Just something I've been increasingly thinking about.

The reason we object to the income tax is because it's backed up by force, therefore there's no "free will" or freedom to choose otherwise without the potential for serious repercussions. Thus it's not a choice and is a tyrannical act of force against peaceful individuals and WRONG. We see the reality of the income tax - it's the act of a brute or tyrant, not the act of a peaceful or benevolent person.

Well, when it comes to this belief in a hell - I see the same glaring contradiction, only this one is much bigger.

You have free will to choose to believe in God, but if you don't then you'll be burnt in perpetual agony in a place with no doors and no time. If God cannot even grant his own creation liberty, what makes us think it comes "from God"? And if it does, then why hold the threat of hell over our heads when doing so is basically a shakedown by an intellectually weak or dishonest authoritarian?

This question is posed for those who actually believe there is a physical hell and that God will send us there should we CHOOSE not to believe in him, and that it's a perpetual punishment/pain. If there are any on here... lol



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My thoughts...

#1 : You don't go to Hell for not believing in GOD, you go to Hell because you are a guilty sinner (we all are) and because you did not accept the forgiveness and redemption that is derived from the blood of Christ, you must suffer the consequences - this is what the Bible teaches.

#2 : I think that if GOD were tyrannical and a brutal authoritarian, I don't think we would ever have Libertarian Freewill - I think that GOD would have created us all as robots enslaved to worship Him or do His laundry or whatever, rather than give us freewill, creativity, imagination, desire, sex, hope, peace, knowledge, relationship, wisdom, charity, beauty, grace and all the other cool things that we enjoy in this life - you even get to enjoy most of those things in this life if you reject Him!

#3 : I also truly believe that if GOD were as you describe Him then He would not have created humanity in the first place or, again, if He did, we would all be shackled in chains without personalities or the ability to make choices.

You are asking a good question, though your bias is a little too overpowering, but keep asking these kinds of questions and seek the answers through the Bible or sites like www.reasnoablefaith.org that draw their answers from the Bible.

Asking questions is always good, especially questions of GOD, just be sure that when you ask a question you don't already have the answer decided upon in your mind/heart :)

"The more you sweat in training, the less you bleed in battle."

I found the bias of the

I found the bias of the original poster to be considerably less than yours.

I have a book that says that anyone who quotes ancient religious texts as an offering of proof of the unknown is very gullible. If you dispute me, I will prove you are wrong by quoting from my book.

Totally incapable

Prior to being born again, I had no freedom to choose what is right. My heart was wicked not able to discern right from wrong and not able to act upon that righteous path.

Nothing in me was capable to choose God. I was like that dead body stuck in the muck at the bottom of some lake. I wasn't even treading water at the surface to even raise my hand for help. Dead, to what life really is about or who God is. God saved me by His loving grace and mercy. He lifted me up and out of the lake not because of who I was nor what I may have done to please Him. He saved me simply out of His good reason or pleasure. He has blessed me in this current life and an everlasting life here after.

I would recommend examining the doctrines of the bible explained in a catechism or creed. Read the questions and answers of the Heidelberg catechism for example:

http://www.reformed.org/documents/index.html?mainframe=http:...

Otherwise, see the conflict of man's flesh and spirit in Romans I-III. We all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. God sent his son to redeem us, to pay for our sins. This is the love of God (the tyrant to evil doers). By our faith, God establish the law having carried out its justice in punishment through Christ. We are now sinless, made righteous before God.

Laws of tyrants are unjust. The laws of God are holy, and the commandment holy and just and good. I would prefer the judgement of God upon me rather than the judgement from any man.

Note, to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. So, being justified by our faith, we have peace with God through Christ.

The night is far spent, the day is at hand.
And those who have not heard shall understand.

No Crutch Needed

Thats pretty sad. I have no religion and am capable of being a good rational person and improving my life daily without the promise & threat of an afterlife. This to me feels like true freedom. I would hate to think I was doing it just to impress... whomever..

Not challenging you

It's not me who was challenging or insulting others' belief so as to make my position more comfortable to me. Its the person with this post and requesting information and challenging the character of God and Christianity. Now after an answer is given of course you chime in and say how Christianity or a belief in God is somehow a crutch.

The atheist must be the most uncomfortable person having to deep down suppress their knowledge of God, "For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse." Rom 1:20

Atheism provides little to no real answers apart from the laws written in all of our hearts by God. Unlike the animals, reasoning was given to man as God's gift. We were made in His image and thus have some His attributes such as love, mercy, justice, logic, reason.

Christianity has answers for all areas of life, whereas Atheism has for example the highly dubious and false doctrine of you and me growing out of monkeys, that takes a lot of "blind" faith and misuse of God's given reason capabilities by any Atheist.

While you mentioned crutches, I think the Atheist belief system is in need of more crutches. It's all been tumbling and falling apart as the truths are revealed and lies uncovered.

The truth, "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them." - Romans 1:18,19.

Have a blessed day.

The night is far spent, the day is at hand.
And those who have not heard shall understand.

You just admited

1) Before you was thinking with heart. Socialists still do.
2) Today, you do not think. You believe. You are using minds of others.

I believe.

I agree and I long to have the mind of Christ. He is the perfect example of what man is to be like and so that is my life long goal. it is called the sanctification process. Thinking with the spirit of Christ in me is a good thing.

Thinking with the heart to many is emotional and illogical. It is a flesh and spiritual battle.

Today, I still think but with my eyes opened and I think with a goal in mind, to please God.

Have a blessed day.

The night is far spent, the day is at hand.
And those who have not heard shall understand.

Calvinist

I'm a Calvinist, so I don't believe in the libertine notion of freewill (although I am a libertarian... that's another discussion.) However I have on occasion struggled with this question and here is one thought I have had: Are we "authoritarian dictators" if we do what we want with our property? Of course the answer is no. Therefore, since God created us and all that exists doesn't He have the Right to do with us and the rest of His creation as he sees fit? If he chooses to save some and send some to punishment isn't that his right as the legitimate owner of His property? The apostle Paul posed the question:

"But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this? Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?" - Romans 9:20-21

Sounds like the libertarian theory on property rights to me. Just a thought. I'm still mulling over this issue.

"Do not suppose that abuses are eliminated by destroying the object which is abused.Men can go wrong with wine and women.Shall we then prohibit and abolish women? The sun, the moon,and the stars have been worshiped.Shall we then pluck them out of the sky?

Wait one minute,

Wait one minute, please.

Shouldn't it be more proper to say that you don't believe in X, Y, and Z, therefore you are a Calvinist? You are illustrating a very important point about religion and other groups such as Democrat and Republican.. You are indoctrinated into a group, therefore you believe or disbelieve certain things, when the logical process for the sentient, independent thinker would be exactly the opposite. I believe or don't believe the following things, therefore I can classify myself among people that believe and disbelieve similarly.

Hmmm

Interesting... I will say that I was not raised as a Calvinist and did not really discover its particular theological traditions until my late twenties. My eventual acceptance of the Reformed tradition came about much the same way that I came to accept Rothbardian libertarianism. I came to both with some properly basic presuppositions and found that both ideologies/theologies were inherently internally consistent and had very appealing explanatory powers with their respective worldview paradigms. I also found that they mesh well with each other with some notable exceptions.

As to your final comments on "sentient, independent thinker" I find that to make such a comment is to seek to dehumanize a group of people whom you disagree with. Furthermore your basic premise is irrational. Everyone comes to certain schools of thought with particular presupposed ideas already established in his or her mind. Would you call someone non-sentient for presupposing logic or other such properly basic ideas? I should hope not. I presuppose Judeo-Christian scripture as my foundational belief. Therefore I view the world and inform my worldview through this lens and Calvinism orders this presupposition.

1. I presuppose scripture
2. Calvinism brings structure to this presupposition
3. I view the world through this ordered presupposition

Am I less than sentient because of this?

I hear what you are saying in regards to groups and organizations and people who only hold ideas based on what the group believes but a rational person disassembles these groups arguments based on logic not by dehumanizing them. For instance, I reject Republican ideology because it is internally inconsistent and therefore irrational. I do not reject the ideology because it is associated with a group I reject. This would be circular reasoning, which may be what you are engaging in. Indoctrination itself is not inherently bad. It is the ideology that one is indoctrinated into that can be good or bad. If I were "indoctrinated" from an early age to think logically would that be bad because its still indoctrination? Are you implying that it is immoral to teach truth or morality to our children, because that is indoctrinating them to truth or morality? We ALL believe certain things a priori there is no way to get around this. Broad stroke accusations of "indoctrination" are not only unhelpful but also irrational.

In conclusion, I agree with you that perhaps my ordering of my opening sentence may have been less than precise but my intent was to quickly give a broad over view of the school of though that I was coming from.

"Do not suppose that abuses are eliminated by destroying the object which is abused.Men can go wrong with wine and women.Shall we then prohibit and abolish women? The sun, the moon,and the stars have been worshiped.Shall we then pluck them out of the sky?

Calvinist

Do the Calvinists still believe that people are preordained or predestined to go to heaven or hell? So if someone is not of the "chosen" or the "select" they have no chance of salvation? That seems to be in contradiction to the belief of the Baptists and most Christians who, as I understand it, believe we are saved by grace.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Predestination_%28Calvinism%29

Yep

Calvinists do still believe in predestination as does every Christian who values the word of God because the word itself is in scripture. :) However, the definition of the word and how it has played out is what has been disputed for ages. Calvinists hold that God predestined the elect to salvation before the laying of the foundations of the world. A Calvinist believes that the Bible teaches that Man is fallen in sin and TOTALLY unable to do anything meriting salvation and therefore it can only be a totally independent act of God which saves people. Grace is the essential element in God's sovereign work of salvation. Grace means unmerited favor and that is exactly why he saves some, because of His unmerited favor according to His perfect will. In fact, the Calvinist tradition specifically hold to what is often called the Doctrines of Grace, summarized by the acronym T.U.L.I.P.

I don't know the baptists you have interacted with but I am a Baptist in that I hold to the 1689 London baptist confession. Further more one of the greatest Calvinist preachers was a baptist, Charles Haddon Spurgeon. It's actually pretty common to see Baptists who hold to the doctrines of Grace laid out by the reformation.

Good question, I hope I answered it sufficiently.

"Do not suppose that abuses are eliminated by destroying the object which is abused.Men can go wrong with wine and women.Shall we then prohibit and abolish women? The sun, the moon,and the stars have been worshiped.Shall we then pluck them out of the sky?

I'm not a Calvanist (I don't think...?)

and I do believe in the notion of Libertarian Freewill (I think...?) and yet I really like what you have written.

While it is very hard to swallow that we are in a sense property of GOD and He can do with us as He wishes, I would agree that it is true.

"The more you sweat in training, the less you bleed in battle."

Here is some food

RP, as a Christian, could not go beyond the limits of faith. Thus, he does not understand Ayn Rand and has settled for Rothbardian interpretations of "right." Rothbard himself plagiarized Ayn Rand, but was corrected later by Hoppe (the latter did not acknowledge Ayn Rand even though the correction was the proof she was right.)

Human "rights" do NOT come from god or nature (RP) and are NOT Libertarian axiom (MR), they are the produt of human REASON (AR.)

Beliefs (religion) and feelings (longing for Utopia) have nothing to do with reason.

Yes, Ayn Rand was right about

Yes, Ayn Rand was right about this in my opinion.

AR

Everything comes from feelings. I'm pretty sure that our only physical opening to the world is through our senses which communicate with our brain using senses, so it all starts there.

I do want to read AR's position on how rights come from reason, but how come our rights couldn't come from God and be defined through reason?

Lot of unsubstantiated assertions

in your post.

"Beliefs (religion) and feelings (longing for Utopia) have nothing to do with reason."

You must not have read many of the early church fathers or Calvin for that matter in order for you to have made that assertion. Try reading Van Till or Gordon Clark and then tell me that reason isn't a consideration. I'm not asking for you to agree with their logic, just acknowledge that logic and reason does play a big part in theology particularly Reformed theology. To make an assertion to the contrary smacks of willful ignorance.

"Do not suppose that abuses are eliminated by destroying the object which is abused.Men can go wrong with wine and women.Shall we then prohibit and abolish women? The sun, the moon,and the stars have been worshiped.Shall we then pluck them out of the sky?

There are seven billion people on this planet

All with a different idea of who or what "God" is, and their own choice on whether or not to believe their God, and how.

The OP's suggestion is merely one possible version of God.

I believe in the freedom to be what we choose to be.

Capitalism and Religion

A religious person will be compelled to promote his dogma over individual liberty. Examples are plentiful in history. Popes' anti-usury laws, laws against other religions, anti-pornography laws, anti-science laws, anti-gay laws, anti-abortion laws, etc. Religious are in fact the same as progressives. They simply lost majority power because many Christians today are in name only (like Obama or Hillary.)

For a religous Christian, an ideal Free Society is when a capitalist creates a tangible product and gives money to local charity. If capitalists are Jews or muslims donating all their money to Israel or on building multiple local mosques, that wont be free society they like. They would rather have socialism with the church as a wise central planner.

really...

Then how come the very religious founding fathers of this country created the most free society to have ever existed? Huh???

And of course it was a capitalist system.

Phxarcher87's picture

The True atheist whould not find himself squabbaling on this

But what i gather by the post and some rude attacks is. Some people are pretty passionate about something they don't believe in.

It kinda sounds like this....

The atheist.

1. There is no God.

2. And i hate him.

I'm sticking with Dr. Paul, The Judge, Tom Woods, George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson and my Grandpa. I'm in their camp of truth.

Thomas Jefferson

SIGNER OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE; DIPLOMAT; GOVERNOR OF VIRGINIA; SECRETARY OF STATE; THIRD PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES

The practice of morality being necessary for the well being of society, He [God] has taken care to impress its precepts so indelibly on our hearts that they shall not be effaced by the subtleties of our brain. We all agree in the obligation of the moral principles of Jesus and nowhere will they be found delivered in greater purity than in His discourses.65

One of the biggest pitfalls in a "movment" is the temptation to get cultish about it and refuse to realize that it is only part of the picture. -Joel Salatin ; You Can Farm pg 202

Thomas Jefferson

was NOT Christian in today's traditional sense nor was he an atheist. Your duality is simplistic. Deism was part of the package for people OF ENLIGHTENMENT to whom he belonged.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deism

Phxarcher87's picture

You are 100% correct

This question is posed for those who actually believe there is a physical hell and that God will send us there should we CHOOSE not to believe in him, and that it's a perpetual punishment/pain. If there are any on here... lol

The practice of morality being necessary for the well being of society, He [God] has taken care to impress its precepts so indelibly on our hearts that they shall not be effaced by the subtleties of our brain. We all agree in the obligation of the moral principles of Jesus and nowhere will they be found delivered in greater purity than in His discourses.65

It was more of a reference to Him, (Mr.Jefferson) who believes in God and Jesus, the creator of heaven and hell.

Mr. Jefferson in now way acted or pretended as to whether or not he could escape Gods judgment like some people on here. But what do you have of the part on the recorded statement where he talks about, "We all agree in the obligation of the moral principles of Jesus"?

One of the biggest pitfalls in a "movment" is the temptation to get cultish about it and refuse to realize that it is only part of the picture. -Joel Salatin ; You Can Farm pg 202

The whole conversation

is misleading then.

Trying to apply logic where belief rules supreme is funny. That is an idle talk of socialists and religious alike. For example, many socialists who support trade union fight against capitalism do not understand that this is against Marxism. Marxism believes that mature capitalism will usher socialism.

Phxarcher87's picture

Would you like me to delete my account and crawl into a hole?

i Don't know a whole lot about marxism and idle talk of socialist and religious alike.

I love God.
I love my Neighbor.
And ride snow, waves and long single track trails.

oh and promote the same message Dr. Paul promotes

I tend to focus on the more simple parts of the message, not reading or studying a whole lot about marxism. Iv kinda always took the stance that if something smells like poo, looks like poo, its safe to say its poo. No further reason to mess with it.

One of the biggest pitfalls in a "movment" is the temptation to get cultish about it and refuse to realize that it is only part of the picture. -Joel Salatin ; You Can Farm pg 202

Thank You.

.

John 3

16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

in contrast with your statement: "This question is posed for those who actually believe there is a physical hell and that God will send us there should we CHOOSE not to believe in him..."

The Bible indicates that one is on their way to hell and it is not because they choose not to believe, it is because they have not believed: Not believing comes before choosing not to believe.

i.e. if someone is drowning and a rescue rope is provided, who is at fault if the rope is not accepted?

...

I was raised Christian

And I still have a lot of respect for Christians, due to their code of ethics. The problem I always had, since I was a small child, was that people can't make others or themselve truly believe something. Due to fear of hell, or not being saved, I wanted desperately to believe that Jesus was my savior...because I was scared of that ever present threat. I tried and tried and tried, often I pretended to believe and even convinced myself for quite a while that I believed. But there was always this nagging at the back of my mind that it was just an act...because no one wants eternal condemnation/damnation. And I realized that I couldn't possibly be the only one.

Think about this: Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin, according to Christian dogma, can be saved after torturing and murdering millions of people simply by repenting and believing Jesus is their savior. But someone else who never committed such heinous acts and tried hard to live a good and honest life and was mostly successful, will be condemned for eternity simply because they couldn't make themselves believe...though perhaps they tried really hard to do so. There is no way to rationalize such injustice as coming from an intelligent, loving and forgiving God.

Death is the great mystery that we all fear most. It appears to be final and it collides violently with our will to survive (to go on existing). Think about how easy it is to exploit this fear and use it as a control mechanism...join my church and believe as I do and you will survive death! join not my church and believe not as I do and you are condemned forever and ever to eternal non-existence (or hell) when you die! Of course, this can't be proved either way since none of us have seen a dead person come back a few years later and tell us about the afterlife. The ridiculous, nonsensical threat is what gives the whole church away as a cruel hoax. Threats are just another method of FORCE and if you require force to believe something, your "belief" in that thing will always be suspect.

Dear Missy,

Thank you for adding your thoughtful words and for taking time to share the journey you have traveled.

I too was raised in Christian home. That is, both of my parents professed Christ as Savior. My relationship with God began at age 7. It is at that age that I understood why and how Christ died. I already knew the information historically, but a light went on as to the why. From what I can tell, you are familiar with the why: I understood that I would go to hell if I died without having my sins forgiven thru the blood of Christ.

I saw that you remarked about fear:

“Think about how easy it is to exploit this fear and use it as a control mechanism.”

I see fear as a positive force. I am afraid to put my hand into fire. It is good that I have a healthy fear of fire; otherwise I might be careless and get burned. I have a healthy respect for fire. It is that same respect that I have towards Holy God. I am not afraid of Him, but I respect his awesome power. I respect that He is Holy and cannot fellowship with sin. I understand that even though I am basically a good person, I do wrong things. Sometimes those wrong things I do are by choice, sometimes by accident. But still those wrong things cause me not to be holy. I am thankful that God has provided a way for me to have a relationship with Him.

You spoke of not being able to believe. I understand those words. One of my very favorite verses in the Bible is:

• Mark 9:24 KJV
And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.

Another favorite:

• Romans 8:16 KJV
The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:

It is that verse that I can point to in my life. I know I am a child of God because God has comforted me and brought me thru many life struggles. I strayed from God when I was in high school. I took drugs and drank and did everything that went along with that life style. I was miserable. The Spirit of God would not leave me alone even though I said God d leave me alone. He was there calling me back. Finally after several years, He provided a way back. It was a miracle. I had tried to get out of that lifestyle by myself at my own will and there was no way out, but when God made the way, my life changed.

In 2001 I found myself in a very difficult pregnancy. I did not know if my child would live or if I would live. I was in horrible pain multiple times, in and out of the hospital, on bed rest, etc. I found comfort in the Wings of God when there was no comfort to be found. The verse that says he is Counselor rang true for me during that time.

In 2008 I found myself with ovarian cancer, multiple surgeries, chemo and in complete peace because I knew that God would take care of everything whether I were to live or die. I did not know if I would live. I prayed that I would live long enough until my boys were not so needy. I am still alive. They are 8 and 10. However, I also know that if I were to die that He would take care of them and me.

So you see, it is not just in death that I trust God. I trust him with my very life. I know He is real and I know He has forgiven me of my sin. I know what it feels like to have a load of sin and guilt lifted from my shoulders. That is the miracle I experienced during high school. I know what it feels like to rest safely in the Wings of God, and I know what it means to walk thru the valley of the shadow of death without fear. I know what it means to have His Spirit bear witness with my spirit.
You said these words:

“Due to fear of hell, or not being saved, I wanted desperately to believe that Jesus was my savior...because I was scared of that ever present threat. I tried and tried and tried, often I pretended to believe and even convinced myself for quite a while that I believed. But there was always this nagging at the back of my mind that it was just an act...”

Perhaps the answer is that it “was” just an act? I don’t know. I don’t know you. I only know the words that you express. If you did not believe and it was just an act, would you not need to know that in order to make it more than just an act? It is the job of the Holy Spirit to draw us and to show us where we are wrong. Perhaps the Holy Spirit was working in your heart? Did you ever cry out to God and tell Him exactly what was going on in your heart and mind? Did you caste yourself upon his mercy for help? I don’t say those words in a judgmental way. I am saying them in a pleading way.

The Bible says

• Hebrews 11:6 KJV
But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is , and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

Did you give up?

You have asked me to
“Think about this: Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin, according to Christian dogma, can be saved after torturing and murdering millions of people simply by repenting and believing Jesus is their savior. But someone else who never committed such heinous acts and tried hard to live a good and honest life and was mostly successful, will be condemned for eternity simply because they couldn't make themselves believe...though perhaps they tried really hard to do so.”

This is what I think. I think that if the blood of Christ is not enough to cleanse a Stalin or a Hitler, then the Blood of Christ has no effect or power to cleanse any sin. If Christ’s death could not save a Stalin or Hitler, then Christ’s death cannot save me. I also think that if God’s grace and mercy is wide enough for a Stalin or Hitler, then God’s grace and mercy is wide enough for me. However, one must also consider whether a Stalin or a Hitler have hardened hearts such that that they will not believe. In any case, just like my cancer, I leave that concern in the hands of a Sovereign, Omnipotent, Omnipresent, Omniscient, Holy, Righteous, Loving Creator and Judge of the Universe who says:

Isaiah 55:6 Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: 7 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon . 8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

You are right: “There is no way to rationalize such injustice as coming from an intelligent, loving and forgiving God.”

Our human minds cannot fathom the depths of God. Just think about what it takes to create the world. Is not that God capable of sorting out eternity? You Missy, are responsible for you. Not Stalin, not Hitler, not me. You will answer to God for yourself and everyone else will answer for themselves. And I can trust that God, who can do no wrong. will do the right thing concerning you, me, Stalin and Hitler.

The Bible says these words:

• Romans 2:2 KJV
But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things.

God’s judgment will be according to truth, not error. Jesus said in:

• John 17:17 KJV
Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

Jesus also said

• Luke 4:4 KJV
And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.

We have the written word of God...it is an open-book test.

You said “Death is the great mystery that we all fear most.”

I have no fear of death: None what so ever. All of my eggs are in a single basket. That basket is faith in Christ. If Jesus does not save me, I will not be saved. His Word says that he has saved me, so I have no fear of death. I am saved.

You said these words:
“Think about how easy it is to exploit this fear and use it as a control mechanism...join my church and believe as I do and you will survive death! join not my church and believe not as I do and you are condemned forever and ever to eternal non-existence (or hell) when you die!”

I agree. There are those who exploit the Word of God. Jude says this:

Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, [and] called: 2 Mercy unto you, and peace, and love, be multiplied. 3 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort [you] that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. 4 For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ…16 These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling [words], having men's persons in admiration because of advantage.17 But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ;18 How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts.

So yes, there are people who use the church and good news of Jesus Christ to fulfill their own lust and greed. There are also those who love the Lord and who will give their lives as martyrs to Ceasars and Neros and Stalins and Hitlers and Popes and Moas because they will not recant. There is a trail of blood and that trail was not laid by lust or greed but of faith and good conscience toward God.

• Acts 21:13 KJV
Then Paul answered, What mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus

And his words speaking of his soon death to Timothy, his Son in the Faith:

• 2 Timothy 4:6 KJV
For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand

So yes, there are evil people who take advantage of others for their own benefit, and there are also people who have and continue to risk their lives for the sake of the Gospel so that others can hear.

Yes, Jesus speaks of fear:

• Matthew 10:28 KJV
And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. 30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows. 32 Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. 33 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.

That same God who can destroy my soul in hell knows the number of every hair on my head, and His Son has told me not to fear because I am of great value. So much so, He gave His very Life on my behalf so that I could become a Child of God.

This is my life verse: Philippians 1:6 KJV
Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ

I realize this has been a very lengthy reply, but it is a very weighty matter. One of us is wrong about Jesus. You think it is me, and I think it is you. And yet I do not say that with any ill regard for you, and I hope you can feel the same toward me.

...

few things.

Well there are a few pivotal definitions that could change that whole perception. The definition of death, the definition of being saved or what a savior is, and God.

Honestly I don't know the bible all that well. But I've heard there are three different types of death, one of which is just a spiritual death. I'm pretty sure there is some level you can reach to where you can't make it back (and can't be saved....like when their hearts are hardened).

I feel that Jesus showed us the path to be saved from the reality of hell. If we fall for our self-centered temptations, we fall into the cycle of suffering. I think many have shown us most of the way to escape it, but if Jesus was the son of God sent down here to 'save' us...or show us how to live a moral and truly enjoyable life, then I think it's safe to say that he set the best example and made the ultimate sacrifice by showing this almost unimaginable amount of love for those doing evil acts directly to him!

Now if God is love, and Jesus showed the most amazing example of love ever, then it makes sense to me that he showed us how to be close to God and therefore saved us. That is if we accept the example/message he set with his life.

I definitely feel what your saying though, about trying to believe, and the fear mongering used through religion sometimes.