Thursday, September 30, 2010

Fire and Brimstone

If "Pilgrims and Puritans literally believed that all humankind was stained by Adam's fall,", one has to wonder how much further they would cast their judgments on modern society.

One such Puritan, Jonathan Edwards, condemned many for their lifestyle choices, including "wicked, unbelieving Israelites,". In his sermon Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, there are several statements he makes that alludes to the belief that humankind is inherently tainted, like "The use of this awful subject may be for awakening unconverted persons in this congregation [...] That world of misery, that lake of burning brimstone, is extended abroad under you,".

To further scare his congregation into compliance, Edwards goes on to describe how the wicked among them shall be punished, "There is the dreadful pit of the glowing flames of the wrath of God; there is hell's wide gaping mouth open; and you have nothing to stand upon, nor any thing to take hold of; there is nothing between you and hell but the air; it is only the power and mere pleasure of God that holds you up,".

A sermon delivered by Edwards in the 21st century would not have the same impact as it did in 1741, because many of the modern populace believes in a more forgiving God than the angry torturer described in detail in Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. In 1741, perhaps churchgoers believed that if they had one sinful thought or committed one sinful deed, then God would come down upon them with all of the wrath he could muster. In today's world, people adhere to a moral code, but not one that is so restricted based on fear of retaliation from their God. Hopefully, modern individuals adheres to a moral code because they know it is the right thing to do, God or no God.

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