The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider, or some loathsome insect over the fire, abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked, his wrath towards you burns like fire; he is of purer eyes than to bear to have you in his sight; you are ten thousand times more abominable in his eyes than the most hateful venomous serpent is in ours. You have offended him infinitely more than ever a stubborn rebel did his prince; and yet it is nothing but his hand that holds you from falling into the fire every moment. It is to be ascribed to nothing else, that you did not go to hell the last night, that you was[sic] suffered to awake again in this world, after you closed your eyes to sleep.Yes. Jonathan Edwards. "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God." Always held in high regard in our household. We were all big fans of that "fire and brimstone" stuff. Special thanks for contributing to my childhood/adolescent immersion into Puritanism, Tabletalk Magazine!
["Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God," preached July 8, 1741. In Ola Elizabeth Winslow, ed., Jonathon Edwards: Basic writings (New York: New American Library, 1966) p. 159.]
Obviously, this sermon is completely ridiculous, but maybe you wouldn't know that if you underwent similar immersion through the entirety of your upbringing. We can't judge people, but we must challenge one another to question our beliefs. If something is true, then it should be independently verifiable.1 In our search for truth, though we may be dependent upon the (again, independently verifiable) work of others, we must remember that "authority" means absolutely nothing.
1There may be some who claim that "nothing can be completely independent!" This is a different discussion, but for our present purposes, I reject that claim as false, or at least irrelevant. Don't believe me? I'm not stopping you from looking into it!