Hemant “The Friendly Atheist” Mehta questioned the ethics of atheists offering post-rapture pet care (featured here previously, there’s also a post-rapture greeting card service). I didn’t think anybody would pay money for that service – but I misunderestimated the psyche of the American survivalist.
Most atheists in the thread (and I agree) believe the practice is ethical – it is not based on trickery, but rather the application of probability based on one’s presuppositions about the existence of God.
I don’t want to let the atheists languish in this position of being the only people offering post-rapture services. So I am launching the “Lazarus Scheme” based on Luke 16 (see below for some key bits).
For a paltry sum of $5 I will try my darndest to put in a good word for any willing atheists at judgment day. For just $10 I will even memorise a list of your five best good deeds and I will, if the opportunity arises, put them forward in your defence.
I will accept direct debit payments, and potentially PayPal – but at this stage, payment should be arranged by making email contact (using the email link in the header of this page). I will email you a receipt that will double as a certificate of participation.
Let me say, right from the bat, that I have some theological misgivings about this offer – because I don’t think that when the time comes I’ll be able to perform my offered duty, nor do I think it will actually effect the outcome of proceedings on judgment day. I am a protestant (Presbyterian) theological student, I hope to have been a minister of religion for some time by the time judgment day comes around – and if we apply Pascal’s wager and assume that perhaps the Catholics, Muslims, or any other “good works” based belief is correct (just for a moment) then it is likely that I will have chalked up some merit points (in my own tradition these good works count for nothing – in fact, the apostle calls them what could be appropriately translated as used menstrual rags).
I offer no guarantees on this service whatsoever – in fact, I encourage you not to take up the offer. Actively. If, however, you choose to proceed, my conscience is clean because I believe I have abrogated any notion that my efforts will be successful. You may wish to proceed on the basis of balancing probabilities and covering as many bases as possible. Who am I to say no at that point?
Getting a pass from God at judgment day depends on choosing Jesus now.
Here’s the key part of Luke 16, a parable Jesus told about two men and their post-death futures. Lazarus had been a God-honouring beggar, while the other man, a rich man, had sat inside his property ignoring the poor man on his doorstep. It’s a parable, which means it’s not a literal picture of stuff that happens, but a story with a theological moral:
22“The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23In hell,[a] where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’
25“But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’
27“He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father’s house, 28for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’
29“Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.
30” ‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’
31“He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’ “
If you haven’t been keeping up with the interesting and constantly evolving debate on morality occuring on this post… then perhaps you should be.
After our Westminster Confession session finished last night conversation turned to this same topic – a discussion of morality, with particular reference to gay marriage.
I suggested that, consistent with my stance in that other thread, Christians shouldn’t be imposing our moral standards on others – and that in fact this is a strategically bad idea because the greater the gap between Christian behaviour and social standards the more powerful the witness of our difference becomes – which I see as one of the essential roles the Old Testament Law played (it marked Israel as different).
One of the counterpoints to that argument was that God’s judgment against nations follows immorality (eg Sodom and Gomorrah). While this can, taken to extremes, lead to church groups picketing soldier’s funerals – there may be a point.
Though I wonder if the lack of general morality is in fact part of the judgment – rather than there being cataclysmic consequences there are societal consequences where we pay the price for our actions.
I also wonder why those Christians who believe that the “judgment against the nations” means hastening the rapture, tribulation and judgment day aren’t arguing for the sort of behaviour that would bring things to a hasty end. It seems inconsistent.
However, this is essentially an incredibly long preamble to today’s slightly crass XKCD comic – which perhaps makes the point… morality is a slippery slope.