Animal Poet, I’m not by any means abdicating universal love and all the frou-frou feel goodism that’s run by emotions and how we “feel” these days. However, there are core tenets to Christianity that have been co-opted in the name of power and money and created a bastardized version we often see now, lacking grace, humility, and kindness. Part of growing humble as a human entails seeing that you’re not so different from the person you demonize. The age old adage is that we hate most in others what we hate in ourselves. So to some degree, in order to grow in kindness and humility we must recognize we’re not all that better off. We’re just better at playing the comparison game. I think you are correct, though, that there are a lot of self-deprecating Christians who just see themselves as worthless, when what Christianity teaches is that we’re so marvelous, God went on a covert rescue mission and have infinite worth. Sadly, the former is most often taught and everyone leaves feeling beat up.

In regards to hell and sin, Jesus talks about hell quite a bit, so that’s not something you can toss out without the crux of Christianity falling apart. However, when you look objectively at parables like Lazarus and the Rich Man, I tend to align with CS Lewis and The Great Divorce where people’s character flaws are left unchecked for eternity growing more selfish, greedy, prideful, covetous, etc. (which to me is the very definition of hell). They then choose life apart from God—rebels to the end. Even if they could get out of hell, they’d choose not to, thus they create their own hell. The concept of hell isn’t just characteristic to Christians though. All major world religions teach about a hell or how to reach some type of heaven. If I were Buddhist and continued to do ill I could be reincarnated as cockroach, never reaching Nirvana. Even those who believe in no higher power have beliefs in what constitutes a good life and what makes good human beings, but there are those who would disagree over what that entails. So who would be right? Your belief or mine? When we force those views on people then we grow intolerant as opposed to polite discourse and disagreement, and many Christians—as well as atheists—have done just that.

All this to say that I’m not trying to fluff up some new iteration of Christianity that’s hip, but that gets back to authentic roots. Hope that helps clear up any confusion and thanks for reading!

Storyteller | Combat wounded veteran | Metalhead | Designer | Bleeding on a page just makes it more authentic: https://benjaminsledge.com

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