The Requirement of Beliefs

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them. John 3:36

IMG_0523I always thought the Christian requirement of belief in Jesus in order to achieve eternal life is a bit strange. There is something about it that just does not seem right. People hold beliefs because they have direct experience that forms or affirms a belief or because that belief was culturally taught or imprinted upon them. A belief is simply something that someone holds to be true or false. A belief is not the same as the thing that is believed in. As such why would God or Jesus require a belief in them in order to satisfy them? It seems suspicious to me.

Put another way, truth is truth regardless of what I or anyone else believes. If God exists why would He demand my belief in Him? It is not as if He would cease to exist if everyone stopped believing in Him.

Moreover, requiring belief without providing evidence is unfair and suspect. Why should anyone be held in contempt because they chose not to believe in something for which they felt they had no evidence to support? To do so seems awfully unfair, arbitrary and spiteful. This seems to be the standard that an alcoholic parent might hold their children to. “Believe that I am an honorable person even though my example shows you otherwise and if you do not believe me to be honorable you deserve to be punished,” sayeth the alcoholic parent. I find it hard to believe that a true and loving God could endorse such an interpretation of John 3:36.

If we are to examine the quotation from John 3:36 with specificity, he tells us that “[w]hoever believes in the Son has eternal life.” He then says, “…whoever rejects the Son will not see life…” The word reject seems strong here. A rejection sounds to be more than a question (although some might interpret it that way). So in this sense there may be room for a person who questions their belief to also have eternal life.

This one passage has been interpreted differently by different Bible versions. Almost all versions speak of a person “believing” in the Son of God. One version substitutes “trusting” which essentially means the same thing. The versions differ, however, in their interpretation of “reject.” The terms vary between reject, doesn’t obey, believeth not, refuses to believe, disobeys, and is not subject to. There is a difference in meaning between the words believe and obey. The former is a mental activity. The latter means to act in accordance with or follow the commands. I suppose one could argue that to obey the Son of God requires a belief in Him but again there seems to be room for interpretation.

But we cannot fully escape the problem that the statement seems to require belief (or obedience) without evidence. These acts could be said to describe faith. But it is a faith under the threat of punishment. The way I normally think about faith is that it is a voluntary activity. It is a gesture of trust and not something that can be threatened out of someone. That would be more like an ego act of self-preservation which I suppose is more in line with the “obedience” interpretation.

I imagine this exploration will be uncomfortable for some Christians. John 3:36 clearly requires a person to hold a specific belief in order to obtain eternal life. It is unclear whether the questioning of the belief is grounds for damnation but that does seem to be a very viable interpretation. It would be difficult to force a person who does not hold a belief to simply change their belief. The mechanics of belief do not seem to work this way in real life. I do not think John would make an exception for someone who simply professes to believe something without actually believing it. Although he might make an exception for someone who convinces himself through psychological repression that he believes something he does not.

Finally, I would not be honest if I did not express a certain distrust in the plain meaning of the passage. I question the motive behind it. Why is John so interested that I believe something that he must threaten me with punishment in order to get me to believe? Why does he want me to hold this belief in my mind (the most personal of spaces). Could there be some ulterior motive? I can think of several historical instances where governments have punished belief in order to keep its citizens in line.

I fear I will not come to any satisfying conclusion on the subject. Obviously the plain meaning of John 3:26 seems at odds with what I actually believe. I am not saying that I do not believe in the Son of God. But I am saying that I question the requirement of believing him for the reasons I mentioned earlier. I am no religious or biblical scholar so of course take what I say for what it is worth. I am simply trying to articulate a question that has stuck in my mind for some time.

 

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37 Comments

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37 responses to “The Requirement of Beliefs

  1. thordaddy

    Should there be no metaphysical order?

    If one hates his father so relentlessly as to give the impression that one was not this father’s child, does this impression now serve at a mark against the father or the child?

    Your argument boils down to asserting that your Father has provided you NO reasons to love Him and yet punishes you nevertheless with WHAT?

    What is your punishment for possessing NO REASON to love your Father?

    You AT LEAST ACCEPT that there shall be a consequence, no? Your total lack of love for the Father CANNOT AMOUNT TO “nothing,” can it?

  2. thordaddy

    In John 3:36, the bottomline assumption is KNOWLEDGE OF THE SON such that any embrace or rejection IS REAL. And real rejection of The Perfect Man HAS PHYSICAL CONSEQUENCE per physical law… As all beliefs carry consequences in the physical world.

    Your argument is that the rejection of The Perfect Man, ie., the Son, SHOULD CARRY NO meta-physical consequence.

    Your argument is that a loving Father SHOULD welcome a son who had hatefully disowned Him.

    THAT’S ^^^ IT…

    That’s ^^^ your liberated “Christianity.” A pathological paradox bound to create a mass of rotten “sons” full of violent and vitriolic anti-racism.

    • Do you feel that questioning the requirement of a belief is the same thing as rejecting?

      • thordaddy

        That’s not what you are doing…

        You are questioning the consequence of BEING a rejector of The Perfect Man.

        And that consequence “being”total self-annihilation.

        You are questioning whether in rejecting The Perfect Man, you are bound for self-annihilation?

        You are and you somehow manage to blame the Father for YOUR CHOICE.

        You are at a real crisis, but not really. That’s radical autonomy.

      • That’s news to me. What specifically did I write to make you feel this way?

      • thordaddy

        What is the “REQUIREMENT” that YOU believe in The Perfect Man?

        THERE IS NO REQUIREMENT.

        NONE whatsoever.

        Yet, you CALL YOURSELF a Roman Catholic WHICH IS EQUAL TO saying, “I believe in The Perfect Man.”

        Put these ^^^ two elements together and what do you come up with?

        A FALSE ASSERTION of a “requirement” + self-avowed Roman Catholic + a “questioning” of Truth = ???

        A crisis of faith… But not really more than a concrete choice to reject belief in The Perfect Man and then blame the Father for a bad fate to come…

        Classic radical liberationist.

      • Since I never said what you are claiming I said (or anything close to it frankly) I can only assume what you are ranting about has its origins inside of you. You might need to do a little introspection on this subject.

      • thordaddy

        You are questioning the Truth of John 3:36?

        You are questioning the “requirement” of belief in the Son OR there shall be no eternal life, ie., damnation.

        I HAVE DECONSTRUCTED what you are really attempting to do.

        Are you claiming John 3:36 FALSE or not?

        Your questioning REQUIRES an answering?

      • Questioning the reason for the requirement of belief is not the same thing as not believing.

        Moreover, Christians question their faith all the time. Saint Mother Theresa herself spoke of questioning faith. It’s a spiritually healthy practice.

      • thordaddy

        Where is this “requirement of belief” that you keep writing of?

        What’s the REQUIREMENT?

      • Obviously according to the John 3:36 belief is required to have eternal life.

      • thordaddy

        So YOUR BELIEF is that in rejecting The Perfect Man that one should still get eternal life UNLESS God is a real mean and evil Father.

        And because this would be such a metaphysical catastrophe akin to mass diversity amongst white Supremacy, it makes YOU A VERY RADICAL individual…

        But not in the way of certain faith that such total rejection met with a total embrace is a complete paradox, but radical in the manner of impressing a self-annihilating paradox on the Catholic masses.

      • Again, questioning the reason for the requirement of belief is not the same thing as rejecting.

        I am simply asking a question. And a faith that cannot stand up to questioning is built on a very flimsy foundation.

        It makes sense that you would react so angrily in the face of this question as I suspect your unique system of beliefs probably sits upon such a flimsy foundation.

      • thordaddy

        “React angrily?”

        You must be joshing?

        This made up emotion IN YOUR MIND is part and parcel of you rationalizing and justifying your “questioning” of basic ontological order…

        You want to call your spiritual crisis, “spritual health,” and then refuse to concede that you are mired in a state of “radical autonomy.”

        A Father who you do not believe in CANNOT THEN grant you “eternal life” AS you do not believe in eternal life. You believe in total annihilation.

        You QUESTION the Faith to HIDE this latter understanding.

      • As nothing you say remotely describes my state of mind I can only conclude that you are projecting your own repressed psychology on to me.

        Good luck with all that.

      • thordaddy

        You QUESTION John 3:36 as though it were a sign of “spiritual health” when it is a sign of a lack of faith in the most basic of ontological order.

        A Father who does not grant YOU eternal life BECAUSE you do not belief in eternal life IS JUST Perfect… Rightfully ordered.

        This is the ANSWER to your QUESTIONING of John 3:36.

        PS. You’re not a profiler by any stretch of the imagination. I’ve been informally profiling for twenty years. This makes my social skills second to none.

      • Do you notice how you are so ready to pounce on to any perceived “mistake” I might make? You should think a little about that. What are your true motives?

        For the record, I stick with my assertion that it is spiritually healthy to question one’s faith. It is the only way that faith can deepen and grow from a childlike state to maturity.

      • thordaddy

        No I don’t… I do not mistake your PURPOSE for a “mistake.”

        When do you answer your questioning and restore your Faith to a place of certainty?

        Questioning your faith as a matter of memetic redundancy ALLOWS one to avoid answering.

      • My faith is an ever growing enterprise. I think you should focus your energy on your own beliefs rather than fixate on mine. It’s a little bizarre frankly.

      • thordaddy

        I’m a white Supremacist and you are an avowed Catholic who is “white.”

        WE ARE SUPPOSED to have the same beliefs...

        Are you saying that because I have “answered” John 3:36 that my Faith is shaky?

        How does this ^^^ comport with reality?

      • I’m saying the fact that you are so threatened by my ability to question my faith suggests to me that your beliefs are not as iron clad as you let on.

      • thordaddy

        Are you this dense?

        Using a word like “threatened” INDICATES A REAL MOTIVE to shake peoples’ Faith…

        YOU DID NOT just QUESTION your “faith.”

        YOU HAVE PUBLICLY QUESTIONED THE FAITH…

        And arrogantly maintain that your question has not been answered many, many times by WHITE Christians of better mind than myself.

        And you are not just questioning your “faith.” You are questioning a PARTICULAR TRUTH, namely, the one that “requires” you to believe in what exactly it is that you want…

        Fugging silly is your question…

        Calling it “spiritual health” is just another tell of subversive.

      • Do you notice how when you post your silly opinions on the Othosphere everyone typically ignores you. Why do you think this is? Could it be related to the reason why you obsessively troll my blog? Could it also be related to the reason why you have no authority to judge my faith and how I practice Christianity?

      • thordaddy

        “Ignore?”

        There are, absolutely, more options than this stunted self-serving CONJECTURE.

        Can YOU EXPLAIN a Father who gives a son what he does not believe in outside of a radically autonomous “father,” ie., a father who will give you what you do not know you could be given?

      • Questioning the reason for the requirement of belief is not the same thing as not believing. Accordingly your question totally misses the point.

      • thordaddy

        There is no “requirement of belief.”

        Therefore…

        There is NO REASON for a “requirement of belief.”

        THIS ^^^ IS A FALSE “reality” USED to justify and rationalize your anti-racism.

      • So according to your reading of John 3:36 belief in the Son is not required for eternal life? That seems to go against the obvious plain meaning of the text. How do you justify your strange interpretation?

      • thordaddy

        John 3:36 IS SIMPLY TELLING YOU THE TRUTH…

        Transmogrifying THIS ABSOLUTE TRUTH into a “requirement” IS PERVERSION OF REALITY.

      • That’s silly. It’s clearly a conditional statement.

      • thordaddy

        What’s the “condition” other than a personal deconstruction?

      • According to John 3:36 belief in the Son is required for eternal life. I am interested to know why this is required. Why is it so important to God? What are the mechanics of this trade off in other words. I get that you don’t understand that. There’s no need to continue to argue such an obvious point that the requirement exists.

      • thordaddy

        Lol… Are you kidding?

        “Required” IS YOUR INTERPRETATION…

        Justifying YOUR PUBLIC QUESTIONING of the Faith…

        Under the guise of YOUR personal “spiritual health.”

        Yes… It is obvious that if one believes in eternal life then he believes in the Father and His creation of The Perfect Man.

        ONLY YOU QUESTION THIS TRUTH…

        Even though you desire eternal life.

      • You obviously do not understand what I am asking and I really have better things to do than trade barbs with a buffoon like yourself.

        In closing I suggest you ask yourself why you are so compelled to troll my blog and why you need to blame others for your problems. (That’s really what racism is about isn’t it?) I imagine there’s more than a bit of shame at work behind your behavior. It would probably be better for your spiritual health if you addressed this issue before it’s too late.

  3. Pingback: Troll Jujitsu | Winston Scrooge

  4. Pingback: The Requirement of Beliefs Part II | Winston Scrooge

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