I don't believe you. I don't believe Christians. If the stakes are truly as high as you say they are, if I and millions - billions even - of human souls are going to be punished for all eternity, why are you Christians (especially the moderate ones who exist peacefully in our society) so complacent and noncommittal about it?
It should go without saying that I prefer these kinds of Christians. I don't like getting hassled (although I do enjoy a good argument/debate) and I certainly don't like getting blown up, but if you think about it, their actions are not really in line with their beliefs.
I know quite a large number of Christians. In fact, I can only think of a handful of friends and relatives and people in my life that are specifically not Christian or religious in some way. To those who are "just spiritual but not religious," I have to wonder - why bother? As Pat Condell puts it (in reference to Buddhism), it's like a prison without walls.
But for everyone else who is a Christian, why aren't you on the front lines of the culture war? Why aren't you holding protests in front of abortion clinics and gay bars and opposing every shred of legislation that offends your god? Why aren't you at my door each and every day, bombarding me with email and flooding my mailbox with letters telling me how to get into heaven? Do you not love me? Don't you care about me?
I appreciate your restraint in conversations - I really do! I am glad that we can talk about the weather and movies and TV and books. I'm glad that we can avoid talking about the elephant in the room. I'm not so glad that you see me going to hell to be tortured and tormented for eternity and don't bother bringing it up for fear that it will offend me or jeopardize our relationship. This life is just a crumb, a drop in the bucket, a drop in the ocean of the experience of life - surely the souls of me and all our fellow man are worth fighting for. Even if this entire life is wasted, even if you don't have a job and have to live on the streets, subsisting on discarded sandwiches and garbage from restaurants, isn't that a small price to pay? In the grand scheme of things, you probably won't even remember this life! Think of the pain you suffered as an infant - all those earaches and teething pains and diaper rash and general frustration... you remember that, don't you? You don't? Well, I'm willing to bet that after just 300 short earth-years in the presence of God, you'll forget all about the embarrassment and pain you feel when you're doing the Lord's work.
So why don't you spend more time witnessing? I'm not just referring to the wealthy Christians, the big-box preachers with large incomes - I mean anyone who is living comfortably is wasting their money on junk. Give to the poor! Go and witness to the lost in Africa and China! Leave your jobs and take only what you need to keep spreading the Gospel. That is what Jesus means when he says that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.
Do you think that at the end of the day (and it's a pretty short day, isn't it?) God will look at your life and say - 'Good job on that great career and new car. I'm glad you spent all that time picking out curtains and china.' I'm betting that he would be far more likely to say - 'Because you wasted all that time I gave you and spent all your money on junk, I am going to torture three thousand souls for all eternity. Hope you're happy! The chapel is over there, the buffet's there - now piss off!'
Actually, I don't think God will say that at all, since I'm pretty sure he doesn't even exist. And I don't think that you do either. If you do think he exists, you haven't thought it through all the way. In fact, I know you haven't thought it through, because if you had, you'd be just like Pat Robertson or John Hagee or Osama Bin Laden. Those assholes have the fire of conviction in their eyes. They truly believe in what they are doing, and their faith in god makes your faith look like a magic 8-ball.
On the surface, where belief is convenient and easy, you accept Jesus as your personal savior. On the surface you think that god loves you, loves the little children of the world, loves the sinner but hates the sin. But you aren't willing to take that belief any deeper in case it's wrong. Lurking just under the thin veneer of your belief is doubt that there is any kind of afterlife. Because it would be just tragic if you were to waste your one chance under the sun on something foolish.
So here you are, between beliefs, teetering on the edge of reason. You have accepted a fool's wager that there is a god and you should be on his side when the cards are down. But that god, who you so readily believe will torment and torture me-us- your friends, will probably not appreciate the time you spent on yourself. And how can you even want to live like that? What kind of sick dementia makes you love this kind of character?
Your affections are not mine to judge, I suppose. But you should think about it. Pick a side. If there is a god, then he needs you to devote your life - all of it, all your money, all your time - to spreading his Gospel message. He told you so, he explicitly commanded this of you and I can't imagine that he would be pleased with anything less. He died, gave his life for you! Didn't that insane splatter film The Passion of the Christ teach you anything? If he can do that for you, can't you at least sell your possessions and give the money to the poor?
If you aren't willing to do that, then congratulations - you're really an atheist at heart. Toss your bible into the trash or file it next to the Iliad. Before you do, though, read a little bit of it and you'll see what a fantastic villain god is!