Response to: Jesus is Love...

Everyone has heard it: Jesus is Love; God is Love; Jesus preaches love and not hate... Claims are frequently made by critics and followers of Christianity that talk about either how Jesus preached love and some other noise about Jesus being some amazing moral teacher.

Sometimes this kind of talk is praised. Sometimes it's derided. Sometimes it's used to point out hypocrisy in Christian behavior.

I agree with the well-worn phrase that actions speak louder than words. For example, if Gandhi had preached non-violence but regularly push old ladies down the stairs for fun, I doubt we'd be so impressed with his teachings.

So, what is the case that we have with Jesus? Starting with the famous verse of John 3:16 which is often seen on signs from people continue to proclaim the loving nature of God.

John 3:16 (NRSV)

"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life."

I would say that as far as a Christian is concerned, the actions of Jesus and God must be the highest example moral example that a he should hope to emulate.

Jesus allegedly implores us to love our enemies.

Matthew 5.44:

But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,

Luke 6.27:

‘But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you,

Luke 6.35:

But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.

I have previously mentioned in passing the stupidity of saying "Do X expecting no reward, and you will get a huge reward" in my essay: Jesus: Unoriginal Thinker.

So, Jesus definitely preaches loving your enemies. This ought to bode well for me, an atheist who actively argues against the organized superstition known as Christianity. I would have to be considered an enemy of Jesus.

So how does Jesus elaborate on how He will love His enemies? Jesus apparently shows His "love" for his enemies torturing those people for eternity in hell.

John 3:36 (NRSV)

"Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever disobeys the Son will not see life, but must endure God’s wrath."

If you can distort the word "love" to mean "to torture forever", then perhaps you're right. Of course, changing the teaching to be: torture your enemies just doesn't seem to be quite as enlightened, does it? Let's stop giving such undue respect to a person that will torture his enemies forever as though this character is some kind of noble being.

The inevitable response eventually arises that "you choose to go to hell, Jesus isn't punishing you!"

So, if I'm in hell and I realize the mistake that I made, does Jesus give me another chance?

If yes, I'll wait. If no, then we have another example of the limitless love and mercy of the eternal torturer.

Note that a number of denominations don't even believe in hell... in which case, you ought to alter this argument accordingly.

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