Thursday 29 October 2015

There is good outside of Christianity - Nirvana is not an evil self-choice

Following from

Not all good is within Christianity - there is good outside it.

But, because we are (and this is just how things are, the way we find ourselves) children of God; because God made us what we are and made the world as it is - then that good outside of Christianity is a personal good. It is good for ourselves only.

What I mean is that we come to consciousness to find ourselves currently in a scheme or plan which comes from God. That we have consciousness comes from God. We are invited to regard this schemes as good, and to join with it - to accept and embrace God's plan of salvation and divinization of Men and Women.

To oppose the plan, as a matter of principle - to try and persuade others not to join in... well, that is evil, because we cannot offer anything better.

However, each of us, ourselves, as individuals, may reasonably decide we do not want to join-in with the plan - that we would prefer to opt-out. And this is not itself an evil decision - it may be a personal good - apparently the best conceivable course of action for us personally; it may be well motivated albeit selfish (in the sense of someone who knows what they he himself wants but not about others).

Because in the end, salvation and divinization are about happiness (in an elevated sense of that word) - and happiness is not a thing that can or should be forced upon a person.

So I am sure that God (as our loving Father) has made good provision for those who want to opt-out, who as individuals prefer not to join in with the plan. This provision has been termed Nirvana - an eternal (or as eternal as is desired) and blissful state of absence of consciousness.

Nirvana is not evil, to want Nirvana for oneself is not evil; but to preach the ultimate desirability of Nirvana is evil; not least because to do so is incoherent - given that the motive for choosing Nirvana is, and can only be, personal.  


Unknown said...

Since Nirvana does not exist, and since Scripture and all of Tradition propose to us only heaven and hell (and limbo, which is hell without the poena sensus), and since reason itself tells us that there can only be two choices, in the end (i.e., conformity to being or hostility to being)... is certainly true that to "opt out" of explicitly Christian redemption and glorification is always an objectively evil choice. There is no opt-out. God has not left that option to us. It is not good to desire the nullification, suspension or remission of the constitutive elements of our God-given nature, which we are commanded to use for communion with our Maker. In fact, it is positively ungrateful and hell-worthy.

Nathaniel said...

I think you could extend some of this idea to the monastic life. Monastics don't actively recruit, or expect everyone to become monastics, but for certain people it is the valid or best path.

Bruce Charlton said...

@CP. I think you are in error for the reasons stated. A loving father offers us a wonderful gift, but he does not insist we accept the gift or else eternally be in torment - that is neither loving nor a true choice.

Unknown said...

That's what I'm saying; you speak as though God were designing multiple afterlives and giving a choice, when in reality He sets Himself before us; we either want Him, or we don't. On the Last Day, the veil is rent and all men stand naked in His presence; we are either happy with Him, or we are miserable before Him. There could be no middle option. A father can love his son all he wants, and can keep offering him great gifts; but if the son has resolved to hate his father and to spurn all his gifts, choosing instead to be happy "all by his self," what kind of happiness do you think this son really has? The answer, is none; he is miserable. Have you ever seen a son reject the love and kindness of a good father, who was healthy and happy? An happy and healthy son reciprocates the love of his father and receives his gifts in all humility and gratitude. You propose the impossibility of a son who must be made happy by his father one way or another, or else we blame the father for not being loving enough. I refuse. I blame the son.

Besides, our nature - made for communion with God - is not simply a "nice gift" given to us as an option by God; it represents His will for who and what we are. To reject our nature and its faculties and its natural end, is to reject the Maker of our nature and the Ordainer of our end. It is not simply to opt out of a bonus package; it is to hold reality and Existence as God made them in despite.

And finally: all of Scripture and Tradition, more than being merely silent, actually contain specifically contrary teaching to your idea. To the best of my knowledge, even Mormon theology sets before us the three heavens and outer darkness. If your idea were possible, why would we not be free to reject all of Scripture and Tradition for any other neat-sounding ideas that we happened to like?

Bruce Charlton said...

God our heavenly father is always at least as good as I am, and I would never treat my children in the way you describe. In which case there must be a misunderstanding behind it.

My point is that there is a difference between the rule, and the exception. It is wrong to advocate Nirvana as a general goal. It is also wrong to understand Christianity as if it was compulsory. It is good news, a gift - but not the proverbial "offer you can't refuse".

Nicholas Fulford said...

Outside of the many physical reasons, the most damning reason I walked from Christianity was the belief in damnation at the end of time. Eternal torment inflicted as judgement is an infinite evil, and hence this God I could not hold as real, because such a God is morally repugnant. This was as much a wedge as any other, in fact it was really at the top of the list. I encountered other traditions, philosophy and science in university, and these convinced me that the exclusivist claims of any one faith tradition were not True. They could not be, and so I walked away because the Christianity I had been a part of was wed to a God who throws many of his children into eternal torment.

The doctrine of an eternal and totally extreme form of torture as just is anathema to a moral man. Justice must always be balance, otherwise it is base vengeance, and I expected a lot more of an entity worthy of the title God. If such a God exists then I will stand with my fellow condemned and make my moral stand. I would want no fellowship with an entity that would commit so great an evil.