There is a fundamental contradiction in the evangelical message of salvation because, according to them, it is NOT Christ’s atoning death that saves you, it is YOUR BELIEF in it. (otherwise everyone would be saved). Therefore, this is not a salvation by grace, it is another salvation by works, albeit cognitive work. You must DO several things – find out about and understand the atonement, accept that Jesus dies for your sins, feel guilt and express your sorrow for being responsible, ask forgiveness, and invite Jesus “into your heart” to rule for the rest of your life.
IF you are sincere enough and it works, you get your life insurance (or fire insurance). Many people do this many times because they aren’t sure. What do these things mean? What does it mean to “believe,” “confess sin,” or “accept Jesus”? These are mental events with no objective evidence. And how does one force oneself to believe if the story makes no rational sense? Can you believe in Santa Claus again just because you need to save your life? With the threat of hell-fire condemnation, this is terrifying, crazy-making stuff. It’s no wonder that “believers” exhibit so much mental illness, including psychosis. Taught to children, I consider it child abuse of the worst kind.
I’ve wandered a bit from my initial point, which was that this doctrine is a salvation by works, ie, it is the accomplishment of the believer. Maybe that is why fundamentalists are so smug.
Aside from the obvious problem of people being unsaved because they are too rational, smart, enlightened or integrous, what about those who, because of the requirements of this deal, are too dumb to understand it, don’t know about it, only believe a little bit, etc. etc.? Even in our human justice system, people are not condemned for what they are thinking.
Here’s an analogy. Say you are in danger of a calamitous death and someone comes along and puts a present near you which will save your life – a FREE GIFT our of pure benevolence!! But you can’t have it until you notice it, find horrible fault in yourself, feel sorry and grateful, manage to get to it and pick it up, and then promise to devote your life to the gift-giver. If you are blind or lame or just don’t want a gift, good luck to you. How can they ever say this kind of gift is unearned??? And isn’t it pretty weird that the gift-giver is one and the same as the creator of the torment you get if you don’t accept the gift? Talk about strings attached. Imagine if we gave each other gifts like that.
I just had a birthday recently, and I’m glad ordinary humans have a better idea of giving.