Why God Lied to Me: Salvationist Theism and Justice

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Abstract:

It is widely assumed that God is either incapable of lying to humans or utterly unwilling to do so. However, there appear to be compelling reasons for God to intentionally deceive that are rooted in the traditional conception of God as an agent of salvation for humanity. A terroristic threat like eternal damnation (“hell”) illustrates these reasons. God’s love for human beings as wayward members of a divine family in concert with the obvious moral and cognitive limitations many humans suffer provide sufficient reason for God to deploy (or allow uncorrected) the threat of eternal damnation. A proper understanding of justice supports the contention that eternal damnation is contrary to justice, and therefore divinely inspired threats of eternal damnation are deceitful.

Keywords: autonomy; children; hell; justice; lying; salvation

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1467-9795.00105

Publication date: June 1, 2002

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