So, a few days ago President Donald Trump got a lot of attention for his comment at a United Nations forum. During his speech, he said that there would be certain nations who would be “going to hell.” As you can imagine, living in the age of tolerance, everyone embraced the ideology that everybody is entitled to their own opinions. Because of the freedom provided in the 1st Amendment, people were eager to support Trumps God-given right of speaking freely what was on his mind. Unfortunately, that is not what happened at all.
Why? Because for all of our society’s lip service offered to the philosophy that we need to be tolerant and respectful of other’s people’s views (even when and if they disagree with us), they don’t really mean it. Why? Because it’s just that…cultural lip service. The society in which we live does not really believe what they profess. What they profess is used to silence any opposition, any other philosophy, any other worldview besides secular humanism.
Now I do not have a twitter account, but I do browse through the comments sometimes when the topic is related to issues like above. As you can imagine many people were “offended” by the comments of President Trump. “How dare a person, let alone the president of the United States, say a person or a group of people are going to hell.” One individual tweeted something like, “I thought Trump wasn’t going to impose his beliefs on others.” Another that they could not believe “how judgmental Trump was being.”
As I read through the comments I could not help but have a hearty chuckle. Well, as I mentioned in my last post, “You are free to speak your views unless and as long as others are not offended by them. Offend the hearer, and you have the right to remain silent. If you fail to observe this right, then what you say can and will be used against you in the public forum…” (The Intolerant Nature of the Modern Tolerance Movement). Evidently, Trump crossed that ever-moving line and the social media sphere let him have it!
This reminds me of a very important proverb, “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion” (Prov 18.2). Such is the society in which we live. Talking out of the side of your mouth is the preferred method of speech. I’ll tell you that your views are important. That your beliefs should be respected, but I will not take the time to see why you are saying what you are saying. I will cry out to anyone who has ears how evil and mean you are in order to silence you.
Doesn’t that sound, about right?
What I find interesting is the common held assumption that by voicing the truth you are imposing your views on another. That is just another way of saying, “You are forcing people to believe what you believe.” That line of thought rules the day.
Let me give you an example of what I mean. There was a class I was taking in college where a minister of the gospel tried to tell me that it was wrong for them to proselytize people of other faiths. To proselytize means to try to convert someone over to your beliefs. Often times this is associated with religious connotations, but there is nothing preventing us from applying this philosophy to other areas of life. Faith means to trust in something. Getting someone to change their faith, means to get them to trust in something else. Suppose I have faith that wearing my seat belt is the safest way to drive, but I run into another person who does not have that sort of faith in wearing the seat belt. What should I do? What would be the right thing to do? Shouldn’t I try to convince that person wearing a seat belt is the safest way to drive? If I care at all for my fellow human beings, shouldn’t that love motivate me to persuade them to adopt my faith system? What does that say about me, when I refuse to “proselytize” them because they are entitled to their own beliefs? Am I not showing a lack of love for my neighbor?
Now the minister in question was a chaplain in the United States military. He had been taught that the 1st amendment prevented him from proselytizing others. My response at the time was who ultimately has authority on this issue? If you say that you believe in God and that Jesus is the only way people will escape the fires of hell, then shouldn’t you do everything you can to rescue them from this fate. True they may have a different faith than you, but what if their faith is wrong; what then? You may disagree with the Christian faith, but to be a minister of the gospel means that you identify with Jesus Christ. For such an individual it is not optional to witness to others from differing faiths, it is mandatory. If God is God, then you should listen to him above others, even if that other is the United States government who has a hard time reading and understanding her own documents that set her apart from the other nations.
The problem, however, is perspective. There is an underlying conviction in this nation that all religious beliefs are equal; therefore, it is wrong to try to convince someone else that they are wrong. The idea is that “it’s not important what you believe in, as long as you believe in something, just make sure you live in harmony with the beliefs of others.”
This is perhaps best illustrated by the bumper sticker “coexist.” Perhaps, you’ve seen this as you sit at another red light hoping the fellow in front of you will not slow down once again at the next intersection when the light is still green. What the bumper sticker argues is that all beliefs are equal. Not one belief is better or truer than the other.
Obviously, the person(s) who designed this bumper sticker did not spend a lot of time reading up on what those various religions actually believed. If they did, they would see that living in harmony with one another is naiveté at its finest. The nature of truth is exclusion, and each religion (or faith system) claims that it’s truth is truth, and so from the very outset the conviction of the masses is at odds with itself.
For instance, green grass is not bright orange, ice is not scalding hot, but frigid, and true north does not point towards Antarctica. No matter how much we would like to change the logical way that the world we live in works, we cannot. Truth by its nature is the polar opposite of false; the two shall never in this life meet, sharing the same space.
What happens is that people try to mix categories. You see, when a person reads the label on Liquid Plumber they understand and believe to pour yourself a tall one on the rocks is disastrous to your health. More than likely it will lead to an excruciatingly painful death. When it comes to reality, to the world in which we live in people cannot consistently live by the philosophy, “Truth is relative, like waves on the ocean tossing this way and that.” Reality teaches that what is true for you is in fact true for me.
For the modern person, religion falls into the category of opinion. Whereas, facts and evidences of life…well they fit into those categories you just mentioned, Kris, true and false. Gravity does not make you float, it pulls you down. The moon is not made of cheese, but of rock (what kind of rock, I could not possibly tell you?). However, saying that there is a literal heaven or hell and that people will go to either one of these places is fanciful opinion; no different than picking up a branch of a maple tree and waving it around like Harry Potter trying to cast spells. Such things are make believe. Myths, superstitions that people use to comfort themselves when they suffer tragedy or loss. Such things give a false sense of hope, but if they want to believe in them that’s fine for them, just don’t try to force your views on others.
What is often missed by those who make such statements, who profess beliefs like that, is that they (themselves) do not live consistently within their own professed framework. The people who claimed Trump was wrong for impressing his views on others are guilty of double-talk. They call Trump judgmental, all the while they are judging his words as wrong. They say Trump is wrong for imposing his views on others, all the while they themselves are seeking to impose they beliefs on Trump.
- The Modern Person: “But ‘hell’ is a negative word Kris! Saying that others will go to hell is wrong, many people don’t believe like Christians do, and so for them hell is a myth, a superstition. Can’t you see that it is wrong to say that people from various nations will be condemned to an eternity of torment for not believing in the Jesus of the Bible?”
- Response: How can what you say be true? If hell is a myth or a superstition, then how can it be a negative word? Let’s weigh this thinking, shall we? Think about all the mythical creatures and places that you have learned of during your childhood. Santa and the Easter bunny, werewolves and vampires, Tartarus and Mordor or the witches home in Hansel and Gretel. Are any of these negative words or places negative words? How can they be if they are make-believe? Words or phrases only have the connotations that we give them. If you really believe that hell is not a real place, then why get upset? I have heard people say that hell is a place where a bunch of sinners are going to have a grand party. Why get offended, unless of course you really know it to be a true place?
So, let’s go back to the beginning. President Trump said that there would be certain evil people who would go to hell, and some were very offended by this in our politically correct culture; the culture of tolerance. Why? Do you really believe that all people are going to heaven? Do you not believe that certain evil people are destined for some place deserving of the crimes they have committed against humanity? Hitler killed over six million Jews, he hated fags and blacks…heaven or hell? Slave owners in the south who beat and raped their slaves, treating them worse than dogs…heaven or hell? Saddam Hussein tested his own chemical weapons on his people, killing thousands…heaven or hell? People who get joy out of murdering homosexuals…heaven or hell? Pol Pot killed upwards of three million of his citizens…heaven or hell? Even people who deny the existence of God will, when pushed, admit that such people are deserving of hell. And yet, Trump if vilified for saying the same thing?
My point is not to protect our President from the culture’s animosity. Personally, I am not sure that Trump is even a Christian, but why all the temper tantrums? Why the whining? Be consistent, live by the standards that you say you believe in. If you say you believe people are entitled to their beliefs, then let them speak them and stop your crying.
In closing, I want to add that what the President said is less offensive than what Jesus said. He said, “I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins” (John 8.24). So, who is Jesus? He declares, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14.6). In other words, you will go to hell not heaven if you fail to trust in Christ alone to save you from your sins. Granted we are all sinners, but it is only by the gift of Jesus that any person may be saved. If you find that offensive, you are not alone, but Jesus expresses this ultimatum to all who have ears to hear. The problem is very few want to hear the truth.