Thursday, 27 August 2015

Utopian religion (and the Christian utopia defined)

Religions that successfully seek volunteer converts may do so by offering a 'utopia' - or at least a better situation than the convert currently has - this seems like the right thing to do, as a first step (of course it is not the only thing to do).

So for Christians seeking converts, it is worth establishing very early whether a person realizes that they should be expecting eternal life (that is what will happen to them) - specifically eternal life as them-selves potentially perfected, in a perfected resurrected body; and then to establish whether they want that life to be as a Son or Daughter of God (that is, as a substantially divine personage)?

And that this 'God' under discussion is a God of Love, primarily and always. And love means relationships.

Mormons need to make clear that they are 'offering' an eternal family life.

If a potential convert does not want to live as a Son or Daughter to a Loving God - if they have some other hope or preference (e.g. for solitude, or to have their self-consciousness dissolved into bliss) then they probably don't want to be Christian.

So, perhaps Christians need to start by sketching out their Utopia, stating clearly This Is What We Offer.

So first the religious utopia, and only then the decision; first know and understand the claims of religion, and only then, proceed to the evaluation of those claims.

1. First understand the advantages - the Pros

2. Then understand the disadvantages - the Cons (the requirements of a convert, the limitations etc).

3. Only then, if the potential convert likes the sound of it, only if the religion offers to provide something that he or she wants, the potential convert should investigate the truth and validity of these claims.

After all, what is the point of evaluating something you do not want; how can you know if you want it when you do not know what it is; how can you evaluate something you neither know about nor understand?

My point is that there is no point in discussing the truth of Christianity or evidence for or against the validity of Christianity until after Christianity has been understood. It is a waste of time and opportunity. And Christianity ought to be understood in terms of what Christianity offers, not in terms of anything else.

In particular it is an error to try and prove that Christianity is true, before a person has decided whether they want it to be true, or understand what it is.

And what Christianity is, has not much to do with theology and a great deal to do with what happens after you die.

This is nothing new, but was probably the usual way that Christian converts were won from paganism in the early centuries of the church. The missionary or evangelist would start by demonstrating that Christianity offered more, far more, than paganism.

They started by making clear the fact that (as Blaise Pascal stated so clearly in his Pensees), if they understand it, most people would want Christianity to be true.

And if people have not realized that fact - i.e. that if Christianity was true, then they would want it - then they probably don't understand Christianity - although, as I say above a minority people do not want what Christianity offers because they do not want to remain persons or do not want to become divinized or live with God or their families - In sum, there are people who do not want to continue having relationships after death.

But Christianity is mostly about loving relationships continued after death - that is the Christian utopia; and if people do not want loving relationships at the heart of their eternal lives. then Christianity is not for them.