Monday, August 08, 2005

My Mother's Theology

Stella's first ambition - which lasted until age 12 - was to become a missionary. She had been taught that there were millions of poor souls in Africa and India and China who knew nothing of Christianity and who were in peril of Hell if they were not saved. Clearly someone needed to save them.

But the apparent injustice of condemning all these people troubled Stella, and she found it hard to believe that a compassionate God would send people to Hell for no fault of their own. Eventually some teacher of pastor confided that the infidels who had never heard the teachings of Christianity were in no danger; it was only those who had been offered salvation, and knowingly rejected it, who would face damnation.

Well, if that was the case, she reasoned, then the missionaries ought to leave well enough alone! Clearly they were doing more harm than good. And so, on the page in the family album dating from 1940-1941 ("Grade 7, Age 12, Mrs. Severin"), my mother notes:
This was the year I learned heathens who had not heard of Christ weren't necessarily going to hell. End of missionary.



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