Religion: Isn’t god good?! To god be the glory!
Me: Of course God is good. Why would you feel the need to state something so obvious? And what do you mean by “to god be the glory”?
Religion: I mean, everything I do, I try to do in order to glorify god.
Me: You have the ability to do things – something; anything – that glorifies god? What do you mean by “glorify”?
Religion: I am obedient. I try to follow god’s commands. I pray in the morning, at meals, and at night. Even if everyone around me is caught up in the world, I put god first in everything I do.
Me: To what end?
Religion: I don’t know what you mean.
Me: Why are you doing these things? What is the goal? What is your intended purpose?
Religion: To please god!
Me: So, to you “be the glory,” then.
Religion: No! I do these things so that god is glorified.
Me: I don’t understand. How is God “glorified” because you feel that you are pleasing? Doesn’t doing – or attempting to do – all these things make you feel better about yourself?
Religion: These things make me a better person and god is pleased with me for that.
Me: I can’t follow the logic – What do you mean by “a better person”? “Better” by whose standards? How possible is it that God is “pleased” (whatever that means) by anything outside God’s-self? And am I to understand that God’s worldview – God’s point and purpose in and for creation – is for you to be a better person?
Me: Haven’t we returned to, “To you be the glory”?
Religion: No! I sin. I am a sinner. So I follow god’s commands to keep me from sinning. I try to be obedient to god by praying and by not doing the things of the world and by only doing things that glorify god.
Me: So you’ve said. What do you mean by “the things of the world”?
Religion: There are things that are of the world and there are things that are of God.
Me: So, in other words, you’re saying that there are secular things and there are sacred things – two distinct categories of things?
Me: And these two categories are never to coincide? These “things” always and forever stay in their respective categories?
Religion: Yes! In fact, god is pleased with the things which glorify him and he will judge the things of the world. He is pleased with what is right. And will judge the things that are wrong.
Me: Interesting. Something else, outside of God’s-self with which God is “pleased” (whatever that means). And from where have these two categories come? Who has determined that these are the two categories?
Religion: god has said it in, in his word.
Me: “In his word?”
Religion: Yes, in the Bible.
Me: So the Bible is “the Word of God”? God has no other words?
Religion: If they’re not in the Bible then they’re not his words!
Me: Interesting; irrational, but interesting.
Religion: Logic and reason have nothing to do with it! God is beyond logic and reason.
Me: I don’t understand the sounds coming out of your face! We can’t even communicate without… Bygones… Does “the Word of God” state that “god is beyond logic and reason”?
Religion: Well, no. But logic and reason are things of the world.
Me: And the Bible states that fact?
Me: My apologies. So let me see if I am understanding this – Your “obedience” – your attempt to follow “God’s commands,” praying, and doing what is “right” instead of “wrong,” for the purpose of making you a “better person” – brings “glory to God.”
Religion: I don’t like the way you’re saying it but, yes.
Me: And am I also understanding correctly that this – your “right” way of doing it – is the way God has prescribed in “his Word”?
Religion: Well, it’s not my way but, yes, it is the way the Bible says is right.
Me: And what of a person who does it differently – the “wrong” way?
Religion: There is only one way! Every other way is of the world. And the world’s way leads to Hell!
Me: You say “Hell” with such a sparkle – a flash – in your eyes.
Me: And just so I am clear – God will judge everything of that other category, those “things of the world,” correct?
Religion: Exactly! To god be the glory!!
Me: Well, I believe congratulations are in order.
Religion: What? Why?
Me: Because your god has brought everything into existence for the soul purpose of your obedience and his pleasure is found only in your attempts at doing right in the hopes of being a better person, in which he (somehow) finds himself glorified.
Me: This is incredible! And convenient, too!
Me: Not only are you the central figure in god’s worldview, but god agrees completely with your version of events, and will judge everyone else accordingly! Congratulations, you’re the Messiah!
Me: Unfortunately, I will not be in paradise with you. Apparently I will be in “Hell.”
Religion: But you believe.
Me: No, I “believe” in a First Cause (logically) – an Uncreated Creator, necessarily; a self-aware being outside of space/time – that has brought everything into existence, not for the purpose of obedience but love – God’s own love. I “believe” that how God did this is not directly expressed in “the Bible” but in that creation itself (which is the purpose of science), and that all the books and libraries on the planet cannot contain all the things that God has to say.
Religion: You do not believe the Bible, then.
Me: I do not “believe” your interpretation and definitions. I “believe,” according to the original language of the Scriptures, that “the word of God” is God’s very own logic (logos, in the Greek, is “logic” and not specifically the written “word”). The Logic of God is God’s very own worldview, expressed to creation in creation, and revealed to humanity through the minds of human beings. Incidentally, I find it fundamentally flawed to believe that one can bind in a cover, capture on paper, and fully express with a pen – all nicely captured and transported in the human hands – the Word of God.
Religion: I have never heard the things that you’re saying.
Me: Just wait, I’ve got more offense! I “believe” that God, by definition is something/someone other than. And no amount of sacred Laws, moral/ethical codes, or self-righteous obedience to the same can somehow, magically, make me a person good enough to transpose space/time to be with God.
Religion: So you do not even try to please god.
Me: I do not “believe” that God could possibly be “pleased” with anything or anyone outside of God’s-self; otherwise, it is not “God” by definition of which we speak. Your own Bible says that no one can keep the Laws (“no not one”), for the Law is a picture of who God is and not who we should/can be therewith. You would have us attempt the impossible. And any “obedience” we claim to have is but a symptom of our degradation – it is only a lie we tell ourselves in an attempt to make ourselves feel better about ourselves.
Religion: If not by obedience, then how does God judge us?
Me: With the Cross of Christ! God is not judging humanity, but rescuing it. It is sin – the missing and subsequent moving of the mark of God’s intended goal for humanity – which God is “judging.” The rescuing act of God is sufficient for all humanity, yet efficient only for those who agree with God’s worldview.
Religion: So, you believe in universal salvation?
Me: I “believe” in universal atonement. If all have died in Adam, then all are alive in Christ. The logic is irrefutable.
Religion: This is not what I’ve been taught.
Me: Because you do not “believe” in thinking (logic and reason)! You understand it to be at odds, contrary to God when, in reality, it is from the mind of God. All the Natural Laws (of physics, thermodynamics, mathematics, and logic, etc.) are secondary causes, effects really, of the First (or Primary) Cause.
Me: And because you “believe” in some arbitrary division between the sacred and the secular – the things of God (“right”) and the things of the world (“wrong”). I cannot fathom what you mean by the division. By “world” do you mean creation? When God had caused creation, God said that it was “very good.” God loves God’s creation. Do you mean this present state in which we find ourselves? If so, why then does God come in the form of the humans of this present state? Why is God rescuing and restoring that which he, according to you, will “judge?”
Religion: But the Bible says…
Me: No, your interpretation of the Bible says… Without thinking, you “believe”… You have always been taught by others-of-the-same that “the Bible says…” You don’t even apply to yourself (yourselves) the same standard, concerning the Bible, to which you hold everyone else. You said “the Bible is the Word of God,” and that if it’s not “in the Bible” then it is “of the world.” But, defying the First Law of Logic, you contradict that premise by extracting a “belief” that is not biblical – “logic and reason is of the world.” You’ve adopted the Jewish texts as your own – Christianizing them – and ended up in the twilight zone for your lack of common sense.
Religion: Aren’t you afraid of going to Hell?
Me: First, I fear not, because I “believe” in the God (and God’s grace) that I proclaim. Secondly, fear is a tool in the attempt to control the masses. And finally, why?! Because I think for myself? Even if I’m “wrong” (which I am not), God will not zap me with lightning (that’s the action of another so-called god) because that defeats the purpose of the Cross, that brings all logic (and theology) crashing to the ground for lack of substance.
Religion: Then what do you think is God’s point and purpose?
Me: If the Scriptures (“the Bible”) are believable – and as the Christian First Principle it is necessary – then the only one who is “obedient” is Christ and, therefore, humanity is in need of God’s grace. That grace is abundantly available within God’s own worldview. Any other worldview (including yours) is counterfeit and contrary to reality. God’s worldview is to apply therapy, healing creation’s brokenness. And that worldview is for humanity to be an expression of God’s rescuing act. God is a community and all creation generally, and humanity specifically, is an expression of that image of God.