Hubris of the Holier than thou

By Albert de Zutter

Copyright 2012

The gall of the “Evangelical” Jerry Newcombe of the American Family Association to consign people who are not “in Christ” to hell! When did God die and pass his powers of judgment to this presumptuous nincompoop?

Newcombe uses the tragedy of the mass killing and wounding in Aurora, Colorado, to foist his questionable theology on the public, saying this tragedy occurred because America has lost its fear of hell. He went on to say that death for those young people who died who are Christian (have “accepted” Christ), “is not tragic because they are going to a wonderful place.” But “if a person doesn’t know Jesus Christ…if they knowingly rejected Jesus Christ, then basically, they are going to a terrible place.”

Ask the families, the loved ones, the friends, if the deaths of those young people is not tragic! Those deaths are tragic because they represent the loss of lives that held promise and were precious to those who loved them, and love them still.

Let’s take a look at Newcombe’s theology: Once you “accept” Jesus (whatever that means) you are “saved.” Nothing to it. Just as easy as that! If you don’t “accept” Jesus, you go to hell, even if you never heard of Jesus.

By that logic, everyone who ever lived before Jesus walked the earth is in hell, and everyone who died never having had the opportunity to “accept” Jesus is in hell. In the meantime, people who presume themselves to be “saved,” like Jerry Newcombe, can be smug in their assurance that for them nothing can keep them from heaven, because they have done something (what?) they call “accepting” Jesus.

Let me put it this way: if you are fortunate enough to have faith in God and in Jesus, you have undertaken a responsibility to carry on the work Jesus started; you have not received a privileged status that gives you assurance of personal salvation. As St. James said, “He who says he loves God, whom he cannot see, but hates his neighbor, whom he can see, is a liar.” The test of how much Newcombe or anyone else loves God is how much he loves his less fortunate neighbor. The Catholic Church whittles that concept down to a very understandable level: what do we do, personally and as a society, to help the poor. That is the standard by which we will be judged.

To truly accept Jesus is to heed his command to love one another. “For I was hungry and you gave me to eat … thirsty and you gave me drink …naked and you clothed me … a stranger and you welcomed me …”

Any sane Christian believes in a loving God, a God who seeks to include people in his salvation, not exclude them by the billions. If you believe in the Christian doctrine that Jesus became man to save us, you believe he came to save the entire world, not just the few who pride themselves on being “saved.”

If your God is an exclusivist, as Newcombe’s God appears to be, he is not worth following. If you believe in a God that plays dishonest games, like making it impossible for the vast majority to be saved, you don’t believe in the Christian God.

As a Catholic I don’t believe that anyone goes to hell accidentally — by being born in the wrong time or the wrong place, for example, or for lack of opportunity to “accept” Jesus, as Newcombe says. I believe hell is for those who actively reject God in some manner, and it is not up to me or to Newcombe to say who has done that or when that occurs. That’s God’s prerogative.

And, as the psalm says, the Lord is kind and merciful. Thank God!

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