Follow by Email

Search This Blog

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Jesus: "You look good, you smell good, but..."

you're going to hell, and there's nothing I can do about it until you give your life to me." That is an exact quote from Jesus to our friend Rick one day when he threw his Bible down and challenged God. He wasn't a Christian at the time, although he was attending an Assembly of God church. He was there mostly to establish a presence for the men of the church so they would stay away from his cute little wife. Terri was from a long-standing church-attending family. Rick was raised in foster homes after his mother was murdered in his presence. Because his family were itinerant farm workers, Rick and his siblings never went to school until he was around 8 years old.

Rick eventually joined the Navy and was deployed on a ship out of San Diego. After several months at sea the ship was coming back to the port. On board, Rick was reading one of the darker passages in the Old Testament. He was horrified at how bloody and vengeful it sounded. "Why would anyone want to serve a God like that?" he muttered, tossing the Bible. Suddenly he was taken into a different place, a sort of bubble in some other dimensional space. A voice, which he knew to be that of Jesus, told him, "Rick, you look good, you smell good, but you're going to hell, and there's nothing I can do about it until you give your life to me." Then he was back in his bunk.

Terri was at the dock to pick him up when he arrived. He told her to take him straight to the church and the pastor there. He hardly said a word the whole way there. Terri was really worried. Rick went in to talk to the pastor while she sat in the car and cried. Due to his silence and serious demeanor, she was afraid that he was going to divorce her or that something equally terrible had occurred.

The pastor explained the way of salvation to Rick and led him to a commitment to Christ. He told him that the following Sunday night he was to give his testimony in the service. That Sunday, Rick made his way to the front and shared with the congregation that even though he and Terri taught children in Sunday School, he had never made that commitment. After the service, he was down in front on his knees in prayer. He looked to his right and saw the worship leader. On his left was the youth leader. Both were praying and calling on God. "What are you guys doing here?" Rick asked. The both agreed, "Well, we watch you, and if you're not saved, we sure aren't. We're here to get right with God."

Rick has always had good stories to tell about his life. In case one might ask if he is just a story teller, it's important to remember that Terri backed up his story one hundred percent. She is a PhD in Psychology today, not one to joke, exaggerate, or tell wild tales. Whatever you might think hell is, the God of the Bible came to Rick to assure him that there is one and that hell could even be the fate of people who preach and teach in a church.

In the reincarnation books I read, there is no hell. Just lots of therapy. And school. Lots of that. Michael Newton, Ph.D., (a popular New Age practitioner) assures us that no soul is evil when it joins with a fetus. Sometimes the soul and the fetus talk to each other during the joining process. The fetus may ask, "Now that you're here, who am I going to be?" (Destiny of Souls, p. 392). The soul may decide that the fetus body is incompatible and leave it, even as late as the eight month. In that case, another soul takes its place. Or, the soul may help the baby's brain develop and may comfort it as it passes out of the womb. The baby appreciates all this help, of course (393). We'd like to think that once the baby is born that the soul firmly binds with the little body and they become one. But no, according to Newton some souls wait until age 5 or 6 to fully bond with the body. That imaginary playmate your child talks to... that's the child's soul playing with it, or maybe a spirit guide (394). If you are an adult ageless soul, I guess the primitive, developing brain of a child is pretty boring.

So, in Newton's world, there are no real evil souls, no devil, no demons, no bad ghosts (just dysfunctional ghosts that need a little extra therapy, p. 57-60), no aliens butchering cattle or abducting fetuses, no genocidal, sociopathic leaders to punish. If there are such, I imagine that they appear before the Council of Elders between lives with great reluctance and chagrin. "Oh gee, I blew it again. I'll sure hear about this one. Gosh." The Elders will rap his or her knuckles and send them back to school. And by contrast, there was poor Rick, a Sunday School teacher of babes and children who merited hell just because he wasn't really born again. So who do you believe, the Jesus that warned Rick or Michael Newton? Thing is, if Newton is wrong, he is already in more doo-doo than any Council of Elders can rescue him from. I don't want to really think that Rick would have gone to hell, but if I want to buy a bridge in Brooklyn, I'll check in with Newton.