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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

George Carlin on Christianity

UPDATE: I'm not writing this blog anymore, but please visit my YouTube channel The Vocabuverse and subscribe for more great things to come!

Occasionally I find myself being sucked into the Stumble Upon app on my phone. It’s like a bad science fiction movie where trapped in the Event Horizon of a Black Hole time slows down and before I know it I’ve been Stumbling for nearly an hour without even realizing it…

It was during one such session that I found myself reading quotes by the late George Carlin.

Not being that much acquainted with his career, beyond the Bill and Ted Universe that is, I decided to google him further, in particular to find out what his religious views were, something I seem to be doing with a lot of celebrities these days…

It didn’t take long before I found James Aquione’s site with 101 of Georges “Greatest Quotes” and I don’t have much to say that is negative, after all I found myself laughing at most of George’s quips, such as “Honesty is the best policy, but it’s important to remember that apparently, by elimination, dishonesty is the second-best policy.”

I kept reading down the line until I found what I was looking for, George’s “comedic” take on religion, and it made me sad because, well, although I know he meant it as a joke, if this is what he truly believed then his attitude toward Christianity was abysmally wrong when he said:

“Religion has convinced people that there’s an invisible man living in the sky, who watches everything you do every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a list of ten specific things he doesn’t want you to do. And if you do any of these things, he will send you to a special place, of burning and fire and smoke and torture and anguish for you to live forever, and suffer and burn and scream until the end of time. But he loves you. He loves you and he needs money.”

The sad thing is, throughout my life I have encountered many people with this same view of the Christian faith, that God is this grumpy old man, usually with a beard, in the clouds who doesn’t want us to have any fun so he made up a bunch of rules that were impossible to live by and then he punishes us for them – what kind of God is that?

But you might as well be looking at a picture of the Queen and describing her as a horse, because this is NOT what Christianity is about at all!

I don’t know why people take this view when the Bible spells out the truth so plainly? Perhaps the devil has a misinformation campaign dedicated to mislead would be seekers from the actual facts, or perhaps people just make this stuff up to use as an excuse?

Whatever the reason is I would now like to break down George’s “statement of faith” and show why his view of Christianity was at best only two dimensional and at worst, completely false.

1) Religion has convinced people that there’s an invisible man living in the sky.

First up let’s be honest – George is not talking about religion. He has used the word as a euphemism for Christianity. The rest of his joke proves this, but we’ll get to that later. I would like to point out that Christian’s do not believe in an invisible man in the sky. Yes God is invisible to us but so are atoms and so is the wind. The Bible teaches that God is Omnipresent and therefore is not specifically in any one place at any time but rather in all places at once. Please see Psalm 139 for proof. Interestingly In Ephesians 6:12 the Apostle Paul points out the strange relationship the spiritual forces of evil have with the “heavenly realms”. So perhaps the only man in the clouds we should be worried about is the Devil?

2) Who watches everything you do every minute of every day

Yes, this is true, we do believe that God watches us every day but I think there is way more to it than that. Perhaps I am nit picking here but the Christian God is not bound by the confines of space and time. To say God watches us every minute of every day suggests a linear perspective of how God does this, when the Bible says that God knows the end from the beginning and the beginning from the end. He doesn’t sit there watching every event as it happens in chronological/glacial order – he sees every minute of every day, every minute that has ever been and every minute that ever was ALL AT ONCE. The Bible teaches that not only is God Omnipresent, he is also Omniscient which means he knows all things, every event, every minute detail of everything and everyone, Jesus himself said that every hair on our head is counted (Matthew 10:30). Please don’t mistake God for someone who just watches us, it’s way more complicated than that.

3) And the invisible man has a list of ten specific things he doesn’t want you to do…

Yes BUT the Bible does not teach that obeying the Ten Commandments will get us into heaven. As Paul said in Romans it is through the law that we become conscious of sin. We would not know what sin was if God had not given us this law. We would not understand why we needed a savior in the first place if God had not given us the law. Read the Book of Romans for an in depth discussion of this. I’d also like to knock out the ridiculous view that God somehow sat down one day and made up the Ten Commandments arbitrarily, this is simply not the case. The Ten Commandments are a picture of God’s perfection; they are a reflection of his character. If you want to know what God is like then read the Commandments; if you want to see them in action then study the life of Christ – the only human being who ever kept every single one, not because he tried to keep them but because he embodied them as an individual.

4) And if you do any of these things, he will send you to a special place, of burning and fire and smoke and torture and anguish for you to live forever, and suffer and burn and scream until the end of time.

Wrong again. It’s simply not that simple! We aren’t sinners because we do these things; we do these things BECAUSE we are sinners. The Ten Commandments prove that our human nature is opposed to God’s character! Actually one of the reasons I believe in Christianity is because the Ten Commandments are so inhuman in their demands I can’t imagine any man-made religion as having come up with them.

There’s another point I would like to bring up here, God is not a thief. When he said, “Do not steal” he meant “I do not steal, therefore you shall not steal.” What’s my point? God will take into heaven that which belongs to him. People who are destined for damnation don’t go there because he wants to send you there. It’s because he is NOT a thief. The Bible teaches that if you do not belong to God you belong to the other guy. In Matthew 25:31-46 we read the parable of the sheep and the goats, when Jesus judges the nations. When he casts away the “goats” he says, “Depart from me you who are cursed into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” From my understanding of Scripture the point is clear, eternal punishment was made for the devil and his angels. When the devil goes there he will take that which belongs to him. God is not a thief. He has purchased us with the blood of his Son, but if we are unwilling to accept God as our new owner then there’s not much that can be done about it outside of God robbing the devil, but if he did that, he would be a thief, and therefore not a good God.

One last point, there seems to be this notion that the Lake of Fire as described in the Bible is a place where there is torture and demons brandishing pitch forks. From what I have read, there won’t be any fallen angels having fun in damnation, they’re being punished too.

5) But he loves you.

Yes, he does. I’m a dad and I don’t love anyone enough to give up my children for them, at least not in my limited Human capacity. When was the last time you said to someone, you know I’ve just been told that if I sacrifice my child then it will end world hunger? Would you believe them? No sane Human can say they love their fellow man that much. And yet God does. I can’t even begin to explain the mystery of the relationship between God the Son and God the Father but I do know that God the Father sent God the Son to die a brutal death, which he did not deserve, to purchase Humanity with his blood so that we could have that one shot of getting into Heaven, not because we kept the Ten Commandments but because by them we knew that we were sinners and needed a Savior.

6) And he needs your money.

Actually no, he doesn’t. The Bible says that God “owns the cattle on a thousand hills” and that, “the earth is the Lord’s”. God has no need for money. There is a gross overemphasis on money in the Western Church which I am ashamed of but please, for the love of God, consider Revelation 3:17 as Jesus says to the Laodicean Church, “… you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind and naked…” I believe this verse is for the modern Western Church as much as it was for the Laodicians.

However I also believe in using my resources, whether that be time or money, to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ. Another way to put it is if I had a brother who was dying because he couldn’t afford his treatment but I could afford it, then what kind of man would I be if I did not use my money to save my brother’s life? The Gospel is the same, it is the treatment that Humanity needs, those of us who have the money to take it to the ends of the earth should.

But there are also times in the Christian walk where one might feel convicted to relinquish their dependence on money but this has more to do with our need to depend on God and has nothing to do with his dependence on our money.

Of course, I’ve probably taken this joke too far. George did after all say, “I love and treasure individuals as I meet them; I loathe and despise the groups they identify with and belong to.” And I respect him for saying as much, but the statement he made, as I said before, reflects the average non-Christian’s view of what I believe and I hate when people put words in my mouth.

UPDATE: I'm not writing this blog anymore, but please visit my YouTube channel The Vocabuverse and subscribe for more great things to come!

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