Greg Boyd is the senior pastor at Woodland Hills Church, and has authored a number of books. I personally have read: Letters From A Skeptic, and Lord or Legend?: Wrestling With The Jesus Dilemma. While I obviously don’t agree with Boyd, his books tend to be very readable despite the frequent times I find myself frustrated saying, “But you’re not considering x-y-z!” Greg comes from the Open Theism school of thought and would likely be considered by fundamentalists to be on the liberal side of the Christian spectrum.
On May 19, 2011 Greg tweeted the following:
“Boyd’s ‘Pascal’s Wager’: You have everything to gain, and nothing to lose, by living AS IF Jesus is Lord and love is all that matters.”
I happen to disagree with Greg on this matter, and would like to unpack exactly why I think this way of thinking is flawed. The reason I’m taking the time to even blog about it is because it happens to be something I’ve thought about a great deal, and as a matter of conscience, is a pattern of living that I could never follow.
Let’s say for the sake of argument that I’m wrong about everything, and there is a god in heaven. And let’s say that god happens to not be one of the tens-of-thousands of other gods who have been worshiped in human history, but that it happens to be the monotheistic, three-in-one god of Christianity, with Jesus on the throne. I’ve died; St. Pete has let me through the pearly gates (that’s how it happens in all the jokes anyways), and I’m standing before the creator who says, “Why didn’t you believe in me, and why did you lead others to not believe in me?” My response would be something along the lines that he is the one who made me, and gave me the brain in my head. With that brain I doubted due to the lack of evidence there was, and due to the destructive nature of false beliefs, I spoke out against what I sincerely thought was an untrue delusion — a delusion of which I was a part of for many years no less. I would follow that with a request that if he required torture in hell for my actions, that he would not hold those that I had “led astray” accountable, but that the punishment would be solely mine to bare. In essence, I can still ask for mercy, and more importantly; I still have the opportunity to say the words, “I was wrong. I’m sorry.”
Now let’s say that I’m right and there is no God. Greg Boyd dies and as a result his consciousness becomes just like it was before he was born — non-existent. He will have lived his entire life promoting a lie. Despite the desire to live a life where Jesus is Lord, and where “love is all that matters,” people will have followed after and believed in a delusion that he promoted his entire life. People will have lived their lives feeling guilt for doing what comes natural biologically. Families will have lived lives full of grief and strife over loved ones who did not believe, fearing that they were suffering for eternity after their death, or fearing it for decades before as they waited for the inevitable. Individuals will have suffered at the words and hands of those living where “love is all that matters,” as they “love the sinner, but hate the sin.” To promote this point of view when it is not true is to rob people of the only life they will ever get to live, and this is indeed a great tragedy. However, the greatest tragedy of all is that Greg Boyd will not have the opportunity to say: “I was wrong. I’m sorry.”
With the odds (tens-of-thousands of gods to one) and the evidence in favor of the atheist, agnostic, and the skeptic point of view, I stand fixed as a matter of conscience in the position of now being able to say I’m presently sorry for promoting what I now see was not truth (i.e. Christianity) for 15 years of my life. In the event that both the odds and the evidence are wrong, then I guess I’ll find out later, and I’ll still be able to say, “I’m sorry.” To say that “you have everything to gain, and nothing to lose, by living AS IF Jesus is Lord” is not only untrue, but it is to say you do not care so much for the truth, as much as for what makes you feel good.