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Fun with Tracts

Faith Baptist Church Tract - Page 1

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Every now and then, I find a religious tract lying around… a movie theater, a restaurant, the top of a urinal at an all-inclusive resort in the Mexican Riviera (seriously). I always pick them up because they usually provide a fair amount of amusement. Chick Tracts are the most amusing with their over-the-top cartoons, but I rarely come across them “in the wild.” More often than not, I find ones similar to the one pictured here (you can view the full tract by clicking on the image). They’re not as exciting as the Chick ones, but tend to be entertaining, anyway.

I do find it interesting to note that I’ve never received one directly from another person. I only ever find them lying around. I assume it’s because that, for most people, it would be a little uncomfortable to walk up to a perfect stranger and hand them a tract, opening an opportunity for dialogue, but also for ridicule or rejection. I used to work in commission sales, so I know that feeling and can sympathize with the tract carrier in that regard. I am, however, always disappointed when I don’t get the opportunity to discuss the tract. I’m not a hostile or angry person, and if I had time available when given a tract, I’d happily take some time to talk to the giver to find out about their beliefs and why they believe them.

Since I didn’t have that opportunity at the all-inclusive resort in Mexico, I’m going to talk about the tract here. It won’t be quite as fun as talking to the original carrier, but I’ll take what I can get.

You can see the opening question in the image above: “If you died right now, do you know for sure that you would go to Heaven?” It’s the eye-catching, interest-building, *POW* opener! I can immediately answer without a second thought since I don’t believe in a god or Heaven or Hell, so the title, for me, screams “Free Entertainment!” Let’s peek inside.

1. God Says,
“For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23

After stating that everyone is a sinner, the tract pulls a “Ray Comfort” on the reader with a “if you’ve lied, you’re a liar” bit, except they phrase it differently and a little incongruently by saying “If you’re honest you know that you have lied.” I know what they’re getting at, but the contradictory phrasing is amusing. Of course, they point out that all mankind are sinners. If you read the bible, you’ll find that, given the rules set out, even without “original sin,” there’s no way to not be a sinner, given all the contradictory demands. The bible sets you up for an unavoidable failure so that it can then provide you with its “solution.”

2. God Says,
Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin: and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” Romans 5:12

Here’s why we’re all sinners: The Adam and Eve story in Genesis. In the story, God, like the bible does with mankind, sets Adam and Eve up for failure. Tempting someone as a test is one thing, but doing it when you’re omnipotent and omniscient is silly and cruel. If God is omniscient, he knows the future and knew in advance that Adam and Eve would eat from the tree. He also knew that the serpent would tempt them. He also knew that I would be typing this blog entry this morning. If religion is going to claim an all-powerful, all-knowing god, they shoot themselves in the proverbial foot.

In addition, God actually lies to Adam and Eve about the tree. According to the Genesis , God told Adam and Eve,

“But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” Genesis 2:17 (King James Version)

So God said that if they ate from the tree, they’d die that day. My favorite translation of that verse is from “The Message” version which just says, “Don’t eat from it. The moment you eat from that tree, you’re dead.” That obviously didn’t happen, since they went on to bring shame, sin, and ruination onto humankind and giving birth to two sons.

One has to wonder, especially given God’s supposed omniscience, why he would first create the situation in the Garden of Eden and then why he would actually lie to Adam and Eve about it. Doesn’t lying make God a sinner? Perhaps it wasn’t a lie, but was simply a mistake on his part. “Oops! I was wrong!”

On BibleGateway.com, every English translation except four have the wording indicating that Adam and Eve will die the same day they eat from the tree.

Moving on in the tract…

3. God Says,
“But God commandeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

The tract assures us that God loves us very much and doesn’t want us to go to Hell.  I find that an odd statement. If an all-powerful, all-knowing being actually loves us, why would he even hold eternal damnation as a possible punishment (putting aside that he already knows what we’re going to do)?

A religious friend once pointed out to me that God wasn’t demanding love in return. It was more like parental love — unconditional love no matter what, demanding nothing in return. I pointed out that his description sounded nice but that even if God wasn’t specifically demanding love in return, he was eternally punishing those who didn’t love him. After a few rounds of “Yeah, but…” he did concede the fact that despite the illusion of choice, there really wasn’t one… unless you’re actually into that eternal punishment deal.

The tract then continues to talk about Jesus and how God sent him (himself) down and he (God/Jesus) got nailed to the cross and (God/Jesus) took all our sins and his (God/Jesus’s) blood washed us clean (which is just gross). Here’s an interesting bit, though.

When He died on the cross, He paid your price for sin, death. […] He conquered death and He conquered sin.

Then it quotes Romans again with this.

“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6:23

Now perhaps the bible has a different definition of “death” than the rest of us because earlier in the tract, it states that “The price for sin, eternal death in Hell, also passed down to you and me.”

Eternal death? I thought that was pretty much a given, so what’s the point of Hell if you’re eternally dead? Maybe “death” in the bible really means “life” because “eternal life in Hell” seems like it would be a much better deterrent against sin.

Now we get to the good stuff. Here, you filthy sinner, is how you can get eternal life (unless God is lying to us like he did to Adam and Eve).

Eternal life is a present. […] …you can’t do anything to get into Heaven, except to be sorry for your sins and trust Jesus dying for you as your only way to Heaven.

4. God Says,
“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Romans 10:13

That sounds simple enough. There’s a little more detail in the tract, including step-by-step instructions on how to “call upon the Lord.” It makes it sound pretty easy. I just have to admit I’m a sinner, believe Jesus is the son of God, be sorry for my sins, and ask for God to save my soul. Ta-dah!

I find that deplorable. Believers like to claim that atheists have no basis for morality and that, without accountability to God, atheists have nothing to stop them from running around raping and murdering. I feel the exact opposite is true.

I’m accountable for my actions to everyone in my life… and everyone on this planet, since everyone can potentially be affected by my choices. My life relies on the good will and forgiveness of other people. When it’s done, it’s done, but until then, I’m accountable to every single person I meet.

Christians have no accountability. There is no accountability to God. Christians get a free pass. According to the bible, they can sin and sin and sin and sin their entire lives and all they have to do to absolve themselves of their sin is to repent, believe in Jesus and ask God for forgiveness. It makes no difference who they’ve harmed along the way. It makes no difference what trauma they’ve caused. It makes no difference if they’ve ruined lives, committed murder, lied, stolen, cheated, committed adultery… none. As long as they repent, it’s all good.

How is that considered a basis for morality? How can any Christian, with a straight face, make the claim that the bible provides an objective basis for morality when it teaches that the only action that gets you into Heaven is glorifying Jesus and saying “I’m sorry, God.” The bible gives some rules, contradictory ones and silly ones and horrible ones, but then turns around and says that the rules don’t matter.

To say that is objectionable is a vast understatement.

One Comment

  1. Buffy says:

    Indeed. That is not morality, let alone “objective” morality. It’s mind and behavior control, nothing more. That anybody still falls for it is the sad part.

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