Religion and Spirituality

Tracts of Repentence: Merry Christmas

My grandparents haven’t talked to me since I left Christianity, except for cards for my birthday and Christmas that contain pointed tracts and/or Bible verses.  This year I was very disappointed in my birthday card that wished me only love and prayers (I am not going to hell any less than last year, I am fairly sure). Fortunately for my soul, I got an extra special tract this year with a link to live services I can watch.  Because southern Baptist church (the white variety, they are unofficially segregated) makes for riveting entertainment.

On to the tract! Wishing me a Merry Christmas, with the Christ part bolded in case I am tempted to take the Christ out of Christmas.

First up, we are reminded that many people never grasp the importance of this holiday and asked to select what Jesus is to us, from the following list of options:

  • A good man
  • A great teacher
  • An example to be admired
  • Your Savior

I would go with none of the above, but the tract implies the answer is savior, together a Bible verse that doesn’t seem to really support that:

The Bible says that Jesus Christ provided a way for every person to be saved from their sin. These things have I written unto you…that ye may know that ye have eternal life (Heaven)..1 John 5:13

What, if anything, that verse has to do with sin or even what things were written previously in 1 John, is left as an exercise to the reader.

Next question: “Are you 100 percent sure that you will go to Heaven when you die?”

No. I am reasonably sure there is no such thing as heaven.  Interestingly, when I was a Christian I was always terrified I wasn’t Christian enough and so I wasn’t 100% sure of going to heaven.  Now I am not fussed about it and I don’t get hell dreams anymore!  If I were to proselytize for atheism my pitch would be “you don’t have to be scared of hell! It’s fucking great!”

We now have “brief Bible truths” (as opposed to objectively demonstrable truths I suppose) to “explain the meaning and significance of the birth of Jesus Christ and how you can know for sure where you will spend eternity.”

Bible Truth 1: “Jesus is the sinless Son of God. …But (Jesus) was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.  Hebrews 4:15″

I think they may mean to use brackets where they are using parentheses. At any rate, we haven’t defined sin, and on the sinless part of Biblical Truth #1 is supported by this verse.

Bible Truth 2: “We are all sinners.”

Yay, we get a definition of sin!  “The Bible calls sin any action, thought, word or attitude that does not please God.” I think they need a Biblical citation, less ungood thought policing, and a less arbitrary definition.  God isn’t pleased by strange fire, fig trees out of season, people touching his stuff, or menstruation.  At least this time the Bible verse chosen to prove this Biblical truth actually does, at least for men. “Wherefore, as by one man (Adam) sin entered the into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned. Romans 5:12.”  The parentheses in place of brackets is making me flinch just a little because it is really unclear reading it what is their interpolation versus what is textual.

Bible Truth 3: “The payment for our sin is death. For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 6:23. The wages or payment of sin is eternal separation from God in a place the Bible calls Hell.”

You cannot get hell out of that verse.  You can get that people who sin die and everyone else lives forever. But, the tract asks “Do you understand that Jesus Christ never sinned, but you are a sinner and your sin must be paid for?” Sure, I menstruate and I’m probably a fan of strange fire because it looks cool so I don’t please god, but why must sin be paid for, to whom, and what does Jesus, if he existed, have to do with it?  Tracts like these assume that people who read them are already thoroughly primed with Christian theology, despite their stories of people who have never heard of Christianity picking them up in truck stops and converting on the spot.

Bible Truth 4: “Jesus came to earth to die for your sin.  But God commendeth (proved) [again, fairly sure they meant brackets] his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8.  So, Christ died for us. I’m still menstruating and being ritually unclean like that. But if somehow someone has to die for that, which seems silly, doesn’t that make God fairly awful?  Fortunately, we have:

Bible Truth 5: “Jesus did not remain dead. He rose again!  …He (Jesus) rose again the third day according to the scriptures. 1 Corinthians 15:4. Cool, it doesn’t really count as dying so we’re all good.  The penalty for our sin is someone else’s death that didn’t even stick. Because that makes sense.

 The tract then asks if I believe Jesus Christ died on the cross to pay for my sin and rose again three days later. I don’t believe any of that.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3.16 God loves you and does not want you to perish forever in Hell.  He offers eternal life as a free gift to all those who believe in him.

Again, you can’t get Hell out of this verse. Waiving that objection, if the alternative is Hell, Christianity is a free gift the way the Mafia is free protection.

Finally, we get an explanation that it isn’t enough to believe Jesus existed or was a good example (I don’t even believe those things) but we have to have faith that Jesus died for us and is how we get to Heaven (which I also don’t believe).

You can express your belief on Jesus through prayer. Pray Sincerely…”Dear Jesus, I know I am a sinner and that I deserve Hell.  I believe you died on the cross, paid the penalty for my sin and rose from the dead three days later. I am placing my faith in you alone to forgive my sin and save me.  Thank you for giving me eternal life. In Jesus’ name [are we praying to Jesus in the name of Jesus? Wat?], AMEN.” 


So Merry Christmas, you deserve hell!

After reading this tract, I am still not converted. Maybe if my grandparents bothered to actually talk to me they might get a little further.

What about you, gentle readers?  Are you all Christian now?



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Elizabeth is a professional belly dancer, a flaky computer scientist, and a returned Peace Corps volunteer. She lives in Georgia (the state of the U.S., not the country) but is nonetheless somehow not a combination of stereotypes from Gone with the Wind and Deliverance. Her personal blog is Coffeefied. Operafied. Fluffified. Beglittered.

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