Here are, in my view, two paired comments by perhaps non-Christian writers that exhort to a Christian perspective that is generally too little emphasized.

The acceptance of oneself is the essence of the moral problem and the epitome of a whole outlook upon life. That I feed the hungry, that I forgive an insult, that I love my enemy in the name of Christ — all these are undoubtedly great virtues. What I do unto the least of my brethren, that I do unto Christ. But what if I should discover that the least among them all, the poorest of all the beggars, the most impudent of all offenders, the very enemy himself – that these are within me, and that I myself stand in need of the alms of my own kindness — that I myself am the enemy who must be loved — what then? (Carl Jung)

The trouble is that many Christians do not perceive in God the very virtues which they expect in the saints. Jesus told us to forgive our brethren even if they sin against us “seventy times seven.” He said nothing about withholding forgiveness until we had extracted an apology and been assured that the offender would do his best not to let it happen again. But apparently such charity cannot be expected from God himself, “to whom it belongeth justly to punish sinners (1689 Book of Common Prayer),” and who dangles the soul over hell until there has been contrition, confession and satisfaction. (Alan Watts?)

As an aside, I can’t find a reference for God dangling the soul over hell, except the puritan, Spurgeon, saying that by our own indecision we dangle our own souls over hell, and the earlier puritan, Thomas Watson, describing some of his own inward experiences. It’s certainly not a general principle in the Bible.


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