Fundamentalist Christianity is too fast to condemn people to hell. Their god is pitiful small to torture (and not punish as people never get a chance to correct their behavior) people for such a short time to exist. My grandfather falls into the hell-bound category according to them. He was never baptized, drank, and other things that mark him as the condemned. In his age, he developed Parkinson’s, Alzheimer, and other problems that prevent him from being dunked even if he wanted. Admittedly his nihilistic thinking troubles me as a Christian Buddhist, but I don’t judge. He is suffering deeply.
It just sad that fundamentalist Christians can lack compassion even on an old man who is losing himself piece by piece. He can’t get out and enjoy fishing or hunting, let alone get out to attend the prerequisite for salvation every Sunday. The lack of compassion and such broad judgmental attitudes trouble me. I too used to think that way.
Since I became a Christian in a fundamentalist church, I was always deeply troubled by how so many people will be “punished” by God for not being a member of the “true” church. I drank the kool-aid despite how I could feel it poisoning me. I am naturally a soft-hearted person, quick to empathize and slow to judge. Over my 10+ year delusion I developed into a judgmental person. Everything was sin. I was hell bound if I even went to another congregation that had instrumental music in worship and didn’t repent.
Such so-called Christianity is wrong. It is far from what Jesus taught. Ironically it took an act of desperation and deep depression to free me from the mental shackles. The church always spoke about how the “yoke was easy, the burden light” but it weighed on me as a mountain. I always was drawn to Buddhism. I was a practitioner without realizing it. My act of desperation was to purchase “Peace was Every Step” by Thich Nhat Hanh and “How to See Yourself as You Really Are” by the Dalai Lama. I was heading to hell in my diseased thinking anyway. I was too deeply depressed and my faith was fading fast. God was silent and forsaken me because of my sins.
Those books stroked the flames of compassion that I had ignored for so long.
I had long known my fundamentalist faith was wrong, deeply and biblical wrong. Yet, I feared hell and being ostracized by the church. Those books opened my eyes to how I was Buddhist in my thinking and reason. I awoke from the cage of my own fears. Even now, 2 years later, I still find myself feeling fear and judging people. I still feel the tattered paper shackles of mental dissonance. As I practice mindfulness and compassion, as I meditate, I slowly return to my natural compassion and empathy.
I still consider myself a Christian. Buddhism has to be practiced in context of what you know. Although my faith is weak, it is more gentle and peaceful. I look back at my zealotry and am revolted. Ironically it was my studies of the Bible that weakened my faith. The Bible just doesn’t stand up to hard scrutiny as a unit. It is rife with contradictions and small, damaging ideas if read literally. It speaks of both compassion toward all and genocide of unbelievers. I read it as a progression of human understanding rather than a complete revelation. I read it in context of the time periods it was written, using archeological evidence to frame it properly.
I hold nothing against the members of the church I used to belong. I mostly feel sadness for their delusions and small thinking. They are good people but are terribly trapped by their judgmental faith. They fail to see just how they lack compassion and mercy. Sadly, very few will listen to a “fallen” Christian like me. Christianity can do a lot of good, but it seems the fundamentalist flavors are beyond the ability to practice universal compassion as Jesus taught. They are too busy judging and trying to adhere to impossible demands by a small idea of God.
I am much more peaceful now that I am being true to my nature. Although I still retain the fear of hell upon my death, I cannot live a life other than one of mindfulness and compassion. If my acceptance of people for who they are condemns me so be it. I cannot return to such extreme so-called Christianity.