The Raving Theist

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God Squad CLXIX (The Pope in Hell)

May 21, 2006 | 9 Comments

Is Pope John Paul II in hell? The Southern Baptist husband of a Unitarian Squad reader thinks so. He accepts the word his of pastor, who preaches that JPII, like all dead Catholics, had not “jumped through the hoops.” Noting that have since Vatican II Catholics been more charitable about throwing non-Christians (or at least Jews) into the Lake of Fire than Protestants, the Squad offers its usual Equivocation Theology:

What you hear preached in your husband’s church may, indeed, be crude intolerance and naked bigotry; however, it may be a bold and controversial but authentic Christian critique of the “many ways up the mountain” school of theology that affirms many ways to salvation.

To say that Pope John Paul II is in hell is, however, theologically over the top. In our view, people who don’t believe Jesus is the Christ and accept Him as their personal savior may be doomed to hell — or they may not be. We’ll find out only when we die.

The Squad concludes that if the husband’s Pope-in-Hellism is affecting the couple’s friendships, “you may need to explain to him that private theological beliefs are fine, but discrimination against people who’ve tried to find God in ways different from his is not.”

What, the bold, controversial and authentic critique of many-way mountainism becomes “discrimination” as soon as you express it publicly to those who need to hear it most? If those “private theological beliefs” are the ones that God subscribes to, screaming to Him that it’s discrimination won’t stop the flesh from melting off your bones. Given the stakes, and the Squad’s own uncertainty on the matter, I’d say it would be reckless not to point the hoops out to everyone, and force them to do some jumping. In any event, it’s ridiculous to imply that the Squad’s brand of sloppy ecumenicalism is somehow less of a “private theological belief” than any other. What they’re really suggesting is that ecumenicalism is superior in some way to all those harsh, narrow crazy, cultish beliefs that every religion must maintain to have any identity at all.

And why is the idea that the Pope’s in hell the one “over the top” theological concept? If it’s not over the top to suggest that billions of Christ-deniers might go there (which they do in the very next sentence), it’s not over the top to suggest that Christians who worship Him in the wrong way get added to the heap.


9 Responses to “God Squad CLXIX (The Pope in Hell)”

  1. breakerslion
    May 22nd, 2006 @ 8:48 pm

    But… “everyone knows”, only our brand of detergent gets souls their whitest and halos their brightest!

    Shameless huckstering.

  2. Darius
    May 23rd, 2006 @ 9:04 am

    “Equivocation Theology” – love it! Closely related, I think, to Obfuscation Theology and Tendentious Apologetics?

    I’m an atheist myself in terms of my critical approach, but do think there’s a baby in the bathwater of religion and spirituality – but there’s a WHOLE lot of bathwater, and religion as an institution, and more than ever in recent decades, has been workin’ hard (as George would put it), to drown the baby.

  3. Kafkaesquí
    May 23rd, 2006 @ 4:49 pm

    Problem is Darius, this particular baby can walk on water — or maybe not.

  4. diogenes
    May 24th, 2006 @ 10:14 am

    Once you assume that is bathwater you are assuming there was a baby taking a bath. What if that is not bathwater, but pee?

  5. Darius
    May 25th, 2006 @ 11:51 am

    Kaf: I don’t believe in the baby that walked on water either.

    Diogenes: To reply with equal sophistication: ca-ca.

  6. diogenes
    May 25th, 2006 @ 3:02 pm


    Seems to be kepler who said don’t throw the baby with the bath water. It means “In getting rid of waste, don’t also discard what is worth keeping.”

    When you saw the pee, you throwed it out with my question.

    But it was a legitimate one.

    By equating bath water to religion you implied that maybe there was something valuable in the latter: a baby(i.e. god, soul, etc.)

    My question was: what if the equation is wrong and the metaphore doesn’t apply?

    What about this metaphore: that religion is a septic tank where if you find a baby most probably is a corpse.?

    Not, you are not atheist in any sense if one is to believe what you post in your blog.

  7. diogenes
    May 25th, 2006 @ 3:28 pm


    Darius, don’t worry about not being an atheist. Here the Management accept people even with bad credit.

  8. Darius
    May 26th, 2006 @ 10:23 am

    Diogenes: You need to get past my use of the word God and acutally read the content of what I post. If there’s something you disagree with, then respond to it.

    I AM an atheist with regard to not believing in the same “God” you don’t believe in. Like any atheist, I don’t believe in any God at all. I deplore the things about institutional religion that you deplore.

    But I don’t make “atheist” my primary identification. It’ s just a word for the stuff I’m against and doesnt’ describe what I’m for.

    You need to actually read the words and follow what I’m saying, not nitpick according to your cursory misreading as a way to showcase that you think you’re smarter than me. (By the way, that’s one of the good things about religion/spirituality at its best: it tries to distinguish the crap in ourselves from the good stuff.) You’re having a knee-jerk reaction to my making use of biblical material for subversive purposes, as far as the vast majority of Christians would see it.

    I’m also very clear, it you go back one or two posts to “The Anti Creed” that I do not believe Jesus was anything but human.

  9. diogenes
    May 26th, 2006 @ 4:19 pm

    I concede my cursory reading of your blog. I went there once again and now I’m more confused than before.

    I cannot understand this:

    “For me, religious life is primarily about loving others, loving God (not Og, as per below); faith; and our experience, in undertaking this way, of an identity shift away from the self alone and toward experiencing our own identity with the One in whom each of us truly lives and moves and has our being”

    God, Identity with The one, faith. These concepts usually belong to religions.

    Then you say in your Manifesto:

    “There is not a shred of evidence for a Creator existing apart from creation. Creation is creating. We are steeped in God, we swim in God; and this one and only living God, God as Reality-Itself, is bigger than the anthropocentric attributes with which we have tried to invest it. Let us stand in awe of actual God and not fall to our knees adoring the god we have made in our own image.”

    This sounds me kind of Pantheism, isn’t it?. It also carries a distant sound from Spinoza.

    Finally you said:

    “I’m also very clear, it you go back one or two posts to “The Anti Creed” that I do not believe Jesus was anything but human”

    Am I a nitpicker if I remember you that, about the existence of Christ, we have no more than a partisan document, The New Testament, and a forgery of Flavius Josephus?

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