The escape from godlessness to paradise takes place in three stages.
The First Stage of the Escape
Transforming Settlers into Pilgrims by Shattering the Illusions
God is the gift giver - a philanthropist. He gave Adam and Eve the gift of his love, the gift of life, the gift of a home with Him in paradise in which to live it and the gift of a spouse with whom to share and enjoy it. They received a cornucopia of gifts from God.
This was the point and place of beginning.
The serpent threw a monkey wrench into the affairs of humanity.
God had made a mistake. What a boner! So the serpent thought. We were unworthy. We did not deserve the cornucopia of gifts that God gave us. Our unworthiness made us ineligible to receive them. Only the worthy, superior beings like the serpent, are eligible for gifts from God. [Note: many in the aristocracy of the Church share the serpent's opinion. Like the serpent, they think that our sins disqualify us from the generosity of God.] Surely, the serpent reasoned, when God is made aware of his mistake, he will rectify it. He will stop loving wretches like Adam and Eve. Therefore, the serpent plotted to make God aware of his mistake. The means the serpent uses is to highlight our unworthiness.
At Eden, the serpent highlighted our ingratitude. Surely, the serpent reasoned, when God takes notice of our ingratitude, the love that burns for us like a bonfire in God's most sacred heart will be extinguished. To show God his mistake, the serpent would induce us to opt out of paradise for godlessness . To do so, the serpent would lie to us. The end justifies the means so the serpent thought. The serpent would conjure up two illusions to induce us to abdicate paradise for godlessness: 1) the illusion that sugarcoats the sourness of godlessness and 2) the illusion that camouflages the sweetness of paradise. The illusions are the enemies of our rationality. They induce us to sink roots deep into the hostile desert of godlessness - to become settlers there.
Therefore, in the first stage of the escape, the illusions need to be shattered. No progress to paradise from godlessness can be made until the illusions are shattered. We need to pick up the sledgehammer of truth and wield it against the illusions to shatter them as the blow of a hammer shatters glass. When the illusions are shattered, the natural inclination of reality becomes visible to us. We see the sweetness of paradise and the sourness of godlessness. The truth sets us free. Rational people seek the sweetness of paradise and flee the sourness of godlessness. It is against our self-interest to do otherwise.
Never assume that the illusions are shattered. Shattering them requires persistence. We are always in the first stage of the escape.
Furthermore, much is true. Much that is true, however, is irrelevant. The truth that matters is the subset of truth that shatters the illusions.
What truth shatters the illusion that sugarcoats the sourness of godlessness?
For the children of Adam and Eve, God inserted a delay between the delivery of the gift of life and the delivery of the gift of paradise. God does not rescue us right away. He could snap his fingers to rescue us immediately by dint of omnipotence. But he does not. During the delay, God lets us stew in the sourness of godlessness. We experience the sourness of godlessness for ourselves.
Stewing in godlessness is the aspect of God's rescue plan that generates all of the complaints about it. Its harshness keeps the complaint department busy. More than a few have cursed the sourness of godlessness and waived their fists against God .
The effectiveness of the medicine, however, justifies its harshness in God's eyes. Stewing in the sourness of godlessness proves in the most persuasive way possible that the serpent is our enemy and a liar. Godlessness is not as nice as the serpent said it would be . Moreover, stewing in godlessness has the additional benefit of stopping us from opting out of paradise after the gift of paradise is delivered to us. When God delivers to us the gift of paradise, we will not opt out of it as Adam did, as Eve did, as Lucifer did and as a gaggle of angels that followed Lucifer did. Instead, we will keep the gift of paradise. The experience of the sourness of godlessness makes us know better. The prodigal son is never going back to the pig sty and neither will we.
Furthermore, to mitigate the sourness of godlessness, God made life brief. Life is an infinitesimally thin slice of time when we compare it to the thickness of eternity. The brevity of life proves the mercy of God.
What truth shatters the illusion that camouflages the sweetness of paradise?
We are strangers to paradise. The memory of a life in Eden has faded. For us to know the sweetness of paradise, knowledge of it must be revealed to us. Therefore, God the father sent his Son to pay us a brief visit for approximately thirty-three years at and about the city of Jerusalem in a region of our planet known as the Middle East more than two thousand years ago. The purpose of the visit was to reveal the sweetness of paradise.
What is the sweetness of paradise?
The Son of God clung to his love for us, held tight and refused to let go as he passed through the boiling cauldron of pain and suffering in which we baptized him. On many occassions, we did evil to God. Yet, God has continued to love us nonetheless. God loves us even though we are unworthy of his love. The serpent and others who think like him do not understand that God gives his love to the unworthy.
The Second Stage of the Escape
Showing Pilgrims the Way by Sharing the Map
After the illusions are shattered, we become disoriented. We wonder about how to get there from here - to paradise from godlessness.
The Church knows the way.
God built an escape route from godlessness to paradise, defined it with holy places, made a map of them, established a Church, entrusted the map to the Church and gave the hierarchy of the Church a mission. The mission that God gave the hierarchy of the Church was to facilitate the escape - not to frustrate it, not to filter it and not to foul it up. The aristocracy of the Church are responsible for the logistics of the escape . Noblesse oblige.
The escape from godlessness to paradise is primary. Nothing else matters. Everything else is secondary. Anything that interferes is suspect. Only by making our escape from holy place to holy place that define the escape route from godlessness to paradise can we be sure that we are heading in the right direction. The movement of the escape forms the needle of the compass that always points to God.
A new exodus is making its escape through the hostile desert of godlessness on the escape route from slavery under the yoke of pharaoh to freedom with God and his holy family in the promised land.
The Church has the map. It knows the way.
The sourness of godlessness and the sweetness of paradise are the two engines that drive us on the escape route from godlessness to paradise. The sourness of godlessness pushes us to its exit. The sweetness of paradise pulls us to its entrance. The potential difference between the sweetness of paradise and the sourness of godlessness powers the current of salvation. The current of salvation carries us from godlessness to paradise. All that was needed to get the current of salvation to flow was a conductor between godlessness and paradise. Jesus became the conductor. He is the way, etc. He is the bridge between the world of godlessness and the world of paradise. Through his bloody wounds, the current of salvation flows.
The second stage of the escape is the Big Picture of Christianity. The second stage is about the escape. In the second stage of the escape, the map of the escape route is shared with the pilgrims. At this stage the children of Adam and Eve have been transformed into pilgrims from settlers. They hunger and thirst to know the way from godlessness to paradise. If they do not yet hunger and thirst, the first stage of the escape has not yet been accomplished.
The Third Stage of the Escape
Giving Pilgrims the Key that Sets Them Free - the Bit, Bridle and Reins of Morality
The third stage of the escape deals with morality. Morality is about self-government. It is about us taking the bit into our mouths, the bridle onto our heads and the reins of morality into our hands ourselves. Morality is self-inflicted, voluntary self-regulation. Morality imposed upon us is not morality but external government. For morality to work it must be self-imposed. Settlers and pilgrims view morality differently. Settlers view morality as a prison that enslaves them. Pilgrims view morality as the key that sets them free. What an antipodal view of the same thing! Morality, therefore, is reserved for pilgrims who are making their escape from godlessness to paradise. Furthermore, only a teacher who genuinely loves the student can successfully teach morality. Love opens the ear of the student to the instruction of the teacher. Without love, the ear of the student is closed. Most teachers of morality are loveless. The highest form of morality focuses on ameliorating the sourness of godlessness to our neighbors. It is consequential not intrinsic. Behavior that ameliorates the sourness of godlessness for our neighbors is the proper subject of morality. If it is not about ameliorating the sourness of godlessness to our neighbors, it is shenannigans pretending to be morality. Morality teaches us how to fit in to the culture of paradise. Sin is a tool of morality. Sin is a conclusion that the Church affixes to behavior that the Church thinks is incompatible with the culture of paradise. Sin's niche is in this stage of the escape. When sin escapes this stage it does more harm than good. The Church is the escape. Unfortunately, the hierarchy of the Church has earned it the reputation of being nothing more than the Church of a million sins. It is a bad reputation. Deserved but bad. Many in the Church do not know how to function without the crutch of sin. They have become dependent on the crutch of sin. They rely on it. But our Chruch is more than sin. If you cannot talk about Christianity without recourse to sin, you do not understand it.
The Sequence of the Escape
In talking Christianity, it is helpful to be aware of the stage of the escape about which you are talking. The three stages of the escape are the framework for clarity of thinking about Christianity. Respect the sequence of the escape.
The appeal is to our faculty of rationality not to our faculty of obedience. If Adam and Eve taught us any lesson, the lesson they taught us is that our faculty of obedience is broken . God is not stupid. He did not base his rescue plan on our broken faculty of obedience. Give God some credit for wisdom. God bypassed our broken faculty of obedience. Instead, God is appealing to our faculty of rationality. He is exposing us to the truth. The truth shatters the illusions conjured up by the serpent. Our rationality does the rest. When exposed to the truth, rational people seek the sweetness of paradise and flee the sourness of godlessness. It is against ourself-interest to do anything else .
God plans to deliver the gift of paradise to us just as God delivered the gift of paradise to Adam and Eve. God will not be less generous with us than God was with them. Adam and Eve were the first beneficiaries of God’s love for us. They were not the last. God’s philanthropy did not end with Adam and Eve; God’s philanthropy began with them. This is good news of great joy - very good news for us indeed.