Anyway, this guy has created the “Good Person” test. It’s a relatively clever series of questions that get the interviewee to admit to a slew of sins, or crimes against God, and force the person into the uncomfortable realization that, according to his own admission, he should probably be going to hell.
Here’s an example of Comfort using this method on a poor, and unwitting kid: http://www.youtube.com/wat
Typing in “good person test” in YouTube yields a number of examples with some, more charismatic, evangelists pointing out that a person who steals is a “thief” and not a “stealer. The Steelers are a football team.” Quid pro quo, you feisty theists!
Needless to say I was fortunate enough to run by a booth of campus crusaders running the “Good Person” test and giving away free bibles. So, I took it. Under one condition: I would take the test exactly the way they wanted if they were able to answer a few of my questions afterwards.
By the end of the test, I came to the conclusion that most people do: I am a liar, adulterer, murderer (this is debatable depending on how angry you have to be at someone for it to qualify as hatred), thief, blasphemer, and disobedient child. They didn’t bother asking, but I also don’t keep the Sabbath holy, probably qualify as an idolater, and certainly haven’t kept the first (most important) commandment.
At this point he was put off with how candid and unapologetic I was. “Doesn’t it bother you that you are going to Hell by your own admission? How come you are smiling?”
“The night is young…” I replied (In fairness, I was a bit too smug).
But there is good news, he told me. If I were set before a judge, the good judge would have to condemn me. However Jesus pays my “million dollar fine” (as he put it) and all I have to do is repent and accept his gift of salvation (though, if you read the fine print there are plenty of catches to this arrangement).
Forgetting about our earlier agreement he started to pursue another rhetorical line (about how I might go about receiving this salvation) when I interrupted him. “Wait, I think it’s my turn to ask a few questions.” He nodded, “Sure.”
First, I decided to counter his test question premises. I asked him if, at any point during his childhood if he wet his bed. “Sure,” he said, “all kids do it at some point.” “Okay,” I replied, “what does that make you?” He laughed at this point, “A bed wetter…?” “I guess it does. How about picking your nose. Have you ever done that?” “I don’t do it now.” “Well, have you ever picked your nose, Craig? (his name was Craig, by the way)” “Yeah, I guess I have when I was a kid.” “Okay, what does that make you?” I asked. “It makes me a nose picker?” We were both enjoying the absurd nature of my questions, but I suspected that he was picking up my point when he asked, “What’s important about that, anyway?”
“Because, I don’t think you are a bed wetter or nose picker any more than I’m a thief, blasphemer, or liar. Your argument mistakes permanent or compulsive character attributes with the temporary lapses in moral judgment that we all make. In order for me to honestly say that I’m a liar and that is a defining attribute of my person, I would have to assume some pathology or compulsiveness to the behavior. I don’t naturally assume people are liars unless they frequently lie. There is a big difference between these two things.”
He milled over my point. “Well, okay. But Sin (capital “S”) is broken forever until it’s re-paid by Jesus. (sic, I’m sure he meant to phrase this with more theological eloquence, but you get the point. I’m trying not to alter his words)”
“I’m not sure that it is a morally good thing to receive vicarious fulfillment of punishment. Take your example of the Judge. Let’s say a vicious murderer killed your parents and he was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison. Now, let’s say some self-sacrificing Jesus figure walks into the courtroom and says, ‘Judge, let me take the punishment’ and the judge agrees. Would you say that is just for the Judge to let the murderer go free?”
I could tell he was deflecting his argument when he replied with, “But Jesus forgives you no matter what you did.”
“That’s fine if you believe that, but it doesn’t sound like justice to me. You would probably stand up and demand that the punishment fit the criminal. What’s even more absurd is that you get the same punishment, Hell, for a relatively benign set of crimes such as ogling girls and telling the occasional lie, or stealing a book from Barnes and Nobles.”
“No one gets into heaven who doesn’t want to go to heaven. Sinners don’t want to go to heaven because they’d rather sin.”
“Really?” I asked, honestly incredulous. Had he really thought about this statement before saying it? “I doubt that anyone given a vision of their judgment at the hands of God would choose eternal torment over eternal happiness.”
He was excited to reply to this one, “That’s why we have to repent while we are on Earth and have faith, so we can get into heaven.”
“So if we don’t repent before we die, we’ve sealed our fate?”
“Nothing that man can do can repay the debt of sin.”
“I can think of one example: say you steal one hundred dollars from someone. One way you could repay the debt is by giving the one hundred dollars back with a sincere apology. Besides, you are also presupposing that your God is the judge that we’re facing after we die. Do you keep to the five pillars of Islam? Do you worry about your Dharma? What if you end up in front of a judge you didn’t expect to with a whole list of crimes you didn’t know you committed?”
“I can see this isn’t going anywhere,” he interjected. Right when it started getting good, damn. “Just do me a favor, Jordan. Pray that God shows Himself to you.”
I shook his hand, “Craig, do me a favor and think about it.”
I think I passed.
There are plenty of other logical problems with the good person test. For example, the whole example of the judge falls apart when you accept the Christian premise that we can’t repay our debt. If you are found guilty by our courts, you might face a fine, a misdemeanor and maybe even some jail time or probation. But when you finish out your punishment, you have (according to the philosophy of our legal system) paid off your debt to society. However, the Christian God doesn’t let you do this. “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ the Lord” Romans 6:23. If you’ve sinned, your only hope is Jesus… and breaking God’s law (of which the Ten Commandments is a part of) is sinning. Doesn’t this strike you as unjust? Why can’t it be that I forgive the man who lies against me, or better yet… forget the occasional and trivial lie and focus on more important moral malfeasance.
This leads to my last point. If you examine the Ten Commandments, only 6, 7, 8, and 9 are actually moral. And while Jesus was a remarkable moral figure who radically improved, for the most part, the moral standards of his progenitors, I have to disagree with the argument that looking at a person with hate is “murder” and a women with lust is “adultery”. This is complete hyperbole and a perfect God should be able to make the distinction that we ALL can make.
Test it yourself…
Do you make the distinction?
Let’s say you have to CHOOSE one of the two options.
1. Joe from across the street hates you so much that he’s posted a sign in his yard to that effect, reading “__insert name___ is an asshole. You should hat him too.” To add insult to advertisement, he openly calls you a “fool” every time he sees you in person.
2. Joe kills you with his 12-gague.
Keep in mind that Jesus doesn’t make the distinction between these two scenarios (according to the WOTM evangelists).
Try this other scenario:
1. Your wife or husband eyes your best friend and you catch him/her saying to a mutual friend that he/she would love to jump your friend’s bones if he/she wasn’t married.
2. Your wife or husband has sex with your best friend.
Obviously for both scenarios we wish that there was a third option, “None of the above”. For the fortunate, life works out that neither scenario plays out. But the point stands. I think what Jesus was trying to say, and pardon my non-literal interpretation was: Don’t be a dick and try to tame your horndog tendencies at least for the sake of your significant other.
Think about it.