God does not let any of His flock stray.

"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand." (John 10:27-28)

This passage is about as blunt as Jesus gets: there is no power in Heaven or Earth that can separate the people of God from His love. Those who are born again in Christ are not signing up for a religion. Their basic nature has been transformed. Sin and death, while still a presence in their lives, no longer have power over them. Once they were wayward creations; now they are beloved sons and daughters of the Almighty and heirs to the Kingdom of Heaven.

So what of those who have lost their faith, or have cast it aside? What of those who turn to other religions, or reject the idea of God altogether?

"They shall never perish. No one shall snatch them out of my hand."

Our doubts and failings are not, can not, be stronger than God's love. It's easy for us to imagine a god who gives up on us when we don't listen to him, or who "doesn't give a fuck" about us at all, as VaiPhile suggests above. It's only common sense; people are like that. It is very, very hard for us to grasp the idea of someone who is willing to give everything, even to the point of torture and death, for our sake. Yet that is the nature of the God presented to us in the Bible.

God is and has always been a crutch of mankind. Often He provides an explanation to the questions that vex us, a comfort for the emptiness that can fill us, a justification to the atrocities we commit, and above all else, a model for our behavior. Any who stray from His flock are bound to come around sometime...especially when they stand before Him to be judged.

If the followers of the Judeo-Christian God are right in this, all mankind will be judged upon the Apocalypse. At this time we will all be found either worthy or lacking, whereupon we will either ascend to Heaven or be cast into Hell for all eternity.

Well, as an athiest, I'm curious...where's the third choice? If God's all about freedom, including the freedom to stray, why the limitations? Those who don't subscribe to His rules, or even His existence, can't be held responsible for not adhering to them, under the circumstances.

This is equivalent to beating a stray dog for begging. He doesn't know any better, and you have no authority over him anyway. I know that one possible rebuttal to this argument is that athiests are rarely ignorant of the rules of God, especially in Western society, where those rules extend heavily into the secular. I bring upon you then the scenario of the 'Good Athiest'. Suppose this individual acted in a good and positive fashion throughout his entire life, not for the rewards of Heaven, but rather in accordance his own intrinsic moral code? Would this kindly heathen be punished in the afterlife for his heretical lifestyle? (I'd love an actual canonized text reference for or against this point, but my religious texts are all at home, and I'm not.)

My personal beliefs, or lack thereof, must be obvious at this point, but I'm asking that all rebuttals hold to a secure foundation of logic, as I have aspired to here.

Perhaps this would be best asked of Zeus, Apollo, Thor, Aphrodite (who may be an E2 regular, hmmm), Jupiter and all the others. Their "flock" strayed centuries ago. Now they only exist in Dungeons and Dragons games or history books. They were Gods in their time, and people believed in them with the same fervor that folks now believe in Allah, Jehovah and "God". If a God's power is derived from his/her/its followers, does that God de-exist when they lose their flock? If we discover and meet an alien civilization, this will contradict a lot of what is in the Bible. Will this be the inevitable slide towards extinction for todays Gods, just as those classical Gods that came before him/her/it?

I also have an argument to hang on the hook of the statement of Lometa's :-

The Bible is all about the refusal of slavery and the pursuits of freedom. This struggle for the pursuit of moral absolutes, a holy good, makes the action of the Christian relevant to all people. The chief end of man IS the pursuit of freedom.

Most of the current Judeo-Christian organised religions seem to be made up of rules, any form of rules define what is possible and impossible, by definition. Therefore organised religions rules limit people's freedom.

Most people brought up in Christian countries seem to have adopted the ten commandments as a personal moral code, and believe as long as they stick to it, they will have a place in heaven; religon, or church attendance is not necessary.

However, having a moral code implies you are following rules; or, if you have no rules, you have no morality; despite having perfect freedom. I believe that the chief end of man is not just the pursuit of freedom, but to find a moral code that on average gives each individual within their society the greatest number of possible actions, whilst allowing a society that is stable and can advance.

That's why murder is the worst possible sin, through you exercising your freedom to kill, you cut untold possibilies from the future history of your society.

God allows us to stray, as trying to herd us only lessens our freedom. However if by listening to teachings, we come to accept that we have the most freedom possible,( within our society) the same result is acheieved without any limitations imposed on us from upon high.

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