Many Christians highlight love and mercy as the point of their religion. That's undeniably appealing. But is it true to Christianity? In the end, isn't the belief all about escaping God's violent wrath? Aren't those that are unable to accept the system's contradictions and absurdities promised suffering and eventual destruction as punishment for their disbelief?

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Yes...most certainly. It's a join us or die attitude - plus some with a dash of broiling in a pit of sewage for all eternity.
Fear of wrath, and fear of the unknown/death is really the core. If they don't know the answer, it's always "God-did-it!" Have you EVER heard a fundie xtian say, "Gee, I don't know. That bears further investigation."

And let's face it, we are realtively priomitive animals, death is a fearful thing for most. Beware the snakeoil salesman that has the cure for all your ills!
I think that fear really is a part of the faith. One time a guy I knew heard I was an atheist. He said to me, "Well, what if you're wrong? Wouldn't you rather believe just in case?" And I was appalled. It sounds like people just believe so that they can get out of hell. It's pointless.
I would say so. The abrahamittic religions are the only (of the ones I've read about, which includes about 10) where you are punished by eternal torture if you do not believe in their god. In most other religions that has some kind of hell, you are punished only for your evil deeds.
Speaking of which, I did have a funny conversation with some guildies in WoW today, touching religion slightly. One of them said "why must you believe anyway? I am an atheist", and the other guy said who is a Christian I should add "I am too weakminded to be an atheist". Through past discussions with him, I also know he claims to have met god and all that, but never said how which I respect since it might be highly private matters.

However, it's interesting he said so, because in a way I think it touches something important. It is also quite ironical he does believe he will get to hell when he dies, knowing he is a sinner and all that, and accepted that fact. At the end of the day, I also know Christians who claim it's hard to be a Christian since you live in constant doubt of your faith and your god. For them being an atheist seems to be an easy solution. This of course, answering the argument that it's easier to believe in something where you have all answers.

I would say it's pretty much the same both ways. Doubt is still doubt. Can we actually put doubt on a scale? However, these people whom I've spoken to have chosen to become Christians out of choice. They don't fear hell and stuff like that. I would say, they are primarily Christians solely because of the message of love. However, why can't we love without a god and a Jesus? Does it mean you love more than anyone else because you are a Christian?

Sorry, I know I didn't really answer your question. I don't think it's that simple to answer, because human nature is too complex, which I tried to show with my examples.
I really think it depends on the christian. Many subscribe to fear and are all about escaping hell and being with jesus. Others like the nice happy feelings and claim the nasty stuff is just metaphor, and not literal. Both types claim that the others don't understand the bible and have incorrect interpretations. (This is just my personal experience and I find it frustratingly hilarious.)

I think the Christian message is completely muddled at this point.
Thanks for the great replies, all. It's interesting to me that several posters have commented about the divergence between what many Christians consider their faith to be about and the true core of Christian doctrine- salvation/escape from divine punishment/retribution. Meggan's post nicely points out the disconnect so many Christians suffer from.
Of course it is....But usually when one is threatened with death if they don't choose life...they submit to life....

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