Is this truth? Is this the path to God? It doesn't matter, it is essential, an essential requirement if humankind is to achieve a peaceful society free of violence and anger. Isn't this the same as knowing God? Isn't finding God just another way of ending human suffering? Christians will say that the father represents God and all of us are represented by the prodigal son. Maybe that's true, or maybe it is telling us that it's possible for all humans to practice this form of absolute forgiveness. We can all feel the joy the father feels. We as humans DO have the capacity for this level of forgiveness, we can forgive anyone for anything, we just need to be reminded of it. Christians will tell you that we are not capable, that we are fallen. Unfortunately history seems to be proving them right, but it's not forgone that we are to be this way.
This parable should have been the foundation for the entire New Testament, a foundation for a new and perfect society. Yet it was ruined. When I first learned the concept of hell I was confused and then horrified. When I realized what it meant for the Prodigal Son I was heartbroken. The story of the Prodigal Son and the actuality of Hell cannot coexist. The idea that we are all condemned to damnation for the crimes of our ancestors is the antithesis of the parable. The same God could not have given us both. The author's of the New Testament could not have been divinely inspired and what their intentions were is not entirely clear. They were unsure of something, so much so that they had to create a God that was both forgiving and barbaric. Didn't they see the contradiction in this? Was this deception? Are we to believe in a God that would tell us a story of unbelievable compassion and mercy only to then threaten us with the oppressive and unjust prison of Hell, to tell us the horrendous depictions of rotting corpses being devoured by maggots, flesh burning, voices screaming in agony, all lasting for eternity? Do we not all have an internal sense of justice? Was this not given to us by God? Can anyone, sound of mind, say that guilt by kinship and eternal torture are just, let alone forgiving? The Prodigal Son is the story of limitless forgiveness, and Hell is the story of uttermost injustice. Hell destroys everything the Prodigal Son accomplishes. The perfect society ruined.