H – E – double hockey sticks

If you're a regular listener to This American Life, then you already know this story. But if, like me, you have a huge backlog of TAL podcasts you've been meaning to get around to some day but haven't yet, then this story may be news to you too.

Here's TAL's intro to the story of the Rev. Carlton Pearson, which they have titled simply, "Heretics":

Carlton Pearson's church, Higher Dimensions, was once one of the biggest in the city, drawing crowds of 5,000 people every Sunday. But several years ago, scandal engulfed the reverend. He didn't have an affair. He didn't embezzle lots of money. His sin was something that to a lot of people is far worse: He stopped believing in Hell.

That didn't go over too well in the Pentecostal/evangelical circles in which Pearson used to be a rock star. It got him officially branded as a heretic by a Pentecostal bishops group. His congregation dwindled to a fifth of its previous size and its makeup changed to include all sorts of dubious types, like Episcopalians, homosexuals and Unitarians.

Wikipedia has a brief but useful entry on Carlton Pearson, the site for his New Dimensions church has a bit more information, and Selwyn Crawford of the Dallas Morning News fleshes out the story in his article, "The fall and rise of Carlton Pearson."

What I find most interesting in this whole saga is that Pearson was never condemned for his earlier heresies, which strike me as more extravagant. He began his ministry, after all, as a protege of Oral Roberts and for years taught a variant of Roberts' "prosperity" doctrines. Going around and telling people that serving Mammon is the same as serving God apparently doesn't get you in hot water with the Joint College of African-American Pentecostal Bishops. Denying the existence of Hell does.

That's curious, since the Bible spends much, much, much more time on the dangers of chasing money than it ever does on the subject of eternal torment. The Bible's priorities, however, have been inverted by evangelicals, for whom Hell has become a central, essential doctrine.

I'm not sure how that happened. St. Paul had precisely nothing to say on the subject of Hell. He had a lot to say about death, resurrection and the kingdom, but not one word about Hell. The Nicene Creed, similarly, mentions heaven three time, but never mentions Hell at all. The Apostle's Creed mentions it. Once. It says Jesus went there. (Yes, that Jesus).

Yet ask any evangelical Christian about their faith and Hell is one of the first things they'll mention. And they know all about the subject. They can describe Hell, earnestly providing details from Dante or Fantasia while dimly believing these come from the Bible (you know, the Epistle to the Ghibelines or something).

So let's take a quick look at what the Bible actually does have to say on the subject of Hell. Specifically, let's look at three passages that Carlton Pearson has been condemned for not "interpreting literally."

1. Luke 16:19-31 describes a soul in agony in "Hades." He is described as being "in fire" and "in this place of torment."

2. Matthew 25:31-46 says that the unrighteous "will go away to eternal punishment" sent "into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels."

3. Revelation 20:11-15 describes the judgment of the living and the dead. "The lake of fire is the second death," it says. "If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire."

That's three separate mentions of eternal, fiery torment. Sure sounds a lot like the Hell all those evangelical preachers love to talk about.

And yet this doesn't fully convey how deeply, deeply weird it is for such preachers to turn to these three passages and to come away from them with nothing other than a belief in hellfire and torment.

That's not what these stories are about. The preachers seemed to have latched on to the descriptions of hellfire and torment in these stories because those tangential details seemed less troublesome and dangerous than the central themes of the stories. Those central themes may be more threatening than anything Carlton Pearson has ever had to say.

So let's look at each of those passages again. This time, instead of looking exclusively at what they describe Hell as being like, we'll look at what or who they describe Hell as being for.

1. Luke 16:19-31

There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man's table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.

The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried. In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, "Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire."

But Abraham replied, "Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony."

Evangelical preachers say a "literal interpretation" allows them to claim this story as a source for their doctrine of Hell. That gets tricky, because at the same time they want to insist that this story's description of heaven is not to be taken literally. And that this story's explanation for who goes where is just plain wrong.

Lazarus, we are told, was hungry and covered with sores. We are not told that he did good deeds, or that he had faith in God, or that he accepted Jesus Christ as his own personal Lord and savior. We are simply told that his life was nasty, brutish and short, and that when it was over "the angels carried him to Abraham's side."

The rich man, we are told, dressed really nice and ate well. We are not told that he refused to accept Jesus Christ as his own personal Lord and savior. We are simply told that there was a beggar at his gate with whom he never seems to have shared his food. And that, the story says, is damnably wrong.

Which is the entire point of the story. It's not about who goes to heaven or who goes to Hell. And it's certainly not intended to provide cartographic detail about the afterlife. It's about ethics — about the obligation we have to the beggars at our gates. Heaven and Hell appear in this story only to make this point more emphatic. To decide that its description of Hell must be taken "literally," while simultaneously ignoring the reason it mentions Hell at all, cannot be described as a "literal interpretation" of the story, only as an illiterate one.

2. Matthew 25:31-46

This is nearly the same story. Thi
s famous pass
age about the sheep and the goats is, again, primarily a story about ethics and the obligation to meet the needs of others.

Then he will say to those on his left, "Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me."

They also will answer, "Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?"

He will reply, "I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me."

There's nothing subtle or ambiguous about that central theme here. Every detail in the story points to this same idea. The sitting on the throne with all the nations gathered is not the main point here. It is, again, an emphatic device to draw attention to the main point. So too are the cheers and jeers of eternal reward or punishment presented here. There's one and only one distinction that matters, Jesus is saying, how do you respond to the needs of the least of these?

To miss that, perceiving nothing from this story but an affirmation of one particular notion of Hell, seems perverse.

3. Revelation 20:11-15

This, too, is nearly the same story as that of the sheep and the goats. The context is different, though, coming at the end of John's eschatological, once-more-with-feeling retelling of the Exodus. Here God's people arrive at the Promised Land from which they can never be taken into exile. And Pharaoh and his soldiers? Once again the horse and rider are hurled into the sea. This time for good.

But it's not just the bad guys who get thrown into "the lake of fire" here. "Death and Hades" are cast in first. (Yes, the same "Hades" in which the rich man received his fiery torment in the first story.) So if you want to insist that this reference to a "lake of fire" must be interpreted "literally," then you're going to have to explain to me what it means for the abstract concepts of death and Hades to be literally thrown into it.

And if you're a Protestant, you're going to have to explain why "lake of fire" is literal, but "each person was judged according to what he had done" is not.

These three passages aren't the only basis for the belief in Hell as eternal fiery torment, but they provide the strongest evidence to support the idea. And as you can see, this evidence is not really that strong. These passages certainly don't provide any sort of basis for the idea that Hell ought to be a central or essential core belief that shapes our faith, or our concept of God, or our concept of one another or of the meaning of our lives. That's not what these stories are about.

That's not what our story is about.

  • Serai

    Haven’t read all the comments, but I’d like to point out one thing. In the Revelations story, “Death and Hades” get thrown into the fire, and Fred wants to know “what it means for the abstract concepts of death and Hades to be literally thrown into it.”
    You may not know this, Fred, but Hades is a person as well as a place. Hades is the Greek god of the dead, and the name was given to his realm as well, where ALL the dead go. The good dead go to the Elysian Fields, where all is sunshine and happiness and wine, and the bad get tortured with incredibly clever torments. (Remember Sisyphus and his boulder? Tantalus and his flaming wheel?)
    So the quote actually does make sense, if you know the mythology of the ancient world. These days, I suppose, it’s not that likely that people would get the original meaning, which is the truth for so much of the Bible. Once context is lost, you can make anything you damn please out of it. Sad.

  • Jas

    It is outrageously weird that some fundamentalists call Christian universalism and open theism “heresies” (especially when one considers that open theism is more in keeping with the concept of a dialectical God found in Judaism—Judaism being the religion of Jesus !)
    Nowhere do any of the verses of the bible state that universalism , nor open theism are any “heresies” .
    As a NON-fundamentalist Christian , I will always hope and pray that eventually every person will be redeemed by Jesus –or if not redeemed perhaps remediated). There may be some people who persist in some immoral behavior so tenaciously and severly that their souls may have to be destroyed partially and then have the elements of their souls reconstructed later –or their spirit somehow redeemed without the soul ..(perhaps serial killers and such might be included in such a prospect) .
    Thank Jesus for universalist theologians !
    Here below I am posting two articles that make the case that the use of terms like ‘heresy’ and ‘heretic’ in the New Testament epistles–should NOT be interpreted in the broad way that many ultra-Fundamentalists do…
    The case is made that since in the epistles of Paul , where words such as ‘heresies’ and ‘heretic’ appear in the text…nowhere does Paul state explictly which specific doctrines are to be considered heretical , and since the only place in the bible scriptures where there is anything close to a definition of “heresy” is in the epistle of 2 Peter, where the author refers to people , ‘denying the Lord that bought them’ and NOT to Christian Universalism , open theism , or every form of unusual doctrine , but specifically to denying the Lord…and so the broad accusations that such and such a doctrine is “heresy” (that many ultra-Fundamentalists like to cast around) are playing fast and loose with the text .
    Furthermore, the doctrines of Fundamentalism are not on every point “orthodox Christianity” . True orothodox Christianity is more in keeping with the Eastern Orthodox sect—NOT the doctrines promoted by lousy theologians like John Calvin, Charles Spurgeon ect. Gregory of Nyssa and a number of the early church fathers supported universalism .
    I see that some have posted words to the effect that they were going to pray that Carlton Pearson stop supporting universalism and support a fundamentalist outlook . That is disgusting !
    In light of how Jesus taught that ‘it is more blessed to give than to receive’ and how that applies even to salvation , please do not pray that I become a fundamentalist. If it turns out that an ultra-Fundamentalist deity is running the universe (a different Deity than the Father of the Jesus who gave us the sermon on the mount)—then me becoming a fundamentalist and going to a fundamentalist heaven while other people (even nice people) are being tortured endlessly for not praying a Christian prayer prior to bodily death ..I would regard as a worse state of affairs than me being sent to a hell of fire and brimstone . It would be outrageously selfish for me to go to a fundamentalist sort of heaven —if there are people being tortured for an endless period of years .
    If an ultra-Fundamentalist wants to send people to a fire and brimstone hell (or “allow” them to go there) where people are endlessly tortured —even nice people—then I’d just as soon rather try to persuade such a deity to to torture me instead *in the fire brimstone forever , rather than them and let the other people out of such a hell. If such an ultra-Fundamentalist deity maintains that such persons who have died without converting to Christianity are unworthy of heaven because of their sin or belief , then they could still be let out of that hell and sent to some other place that is *neither heaven nor a painfull variety of hell —that does not have any of the pleasures of heaven and yet does not have the pain and sufferring of hell—a neutral place of endless tedious boredom , or embarassment maybe .
    Those ultra-fundamentalists, who would be disappointed in Jesus, if Jesus eventually saved everyone, remind one of the weird atitude by the people in the parable of the laborers in the vineyard who were disappointed that the people who were hired at the last hour were given the same wage as those who worked all day long and endured the heat of the day .

  • Jas

    NOTE: Thogh I am defending Rev.Pearson, I lean towards a different version of Christian universalism then he does —one that does have the hope that eventually all will make some sort of confession in Jesus —that every toungue shall confes that Jesus is Lord, to the glory of God the Father .
    THE PERILS OF HUNTING SO-CALLED HERESY [Part 1 ]
    In this present era especially , there is a lot of talk in some sectarian groups–especially Fundamentalist protestant groups and in some anti-progressive factions of Catholicism about so-called “heresy” and “heretics” . What’s odd is that in some of these religious factions –especially Fundamentalist factions to label some notions “heretical” apparently because these notions seem way too exotic or way too unusual , even though some of the beliefs supported by such Fundamentalist pundits and theologians were, at one time in history, themselves called “heresy” by many of the other earler dominant churches when these religious movements, to which these Fundamentalists belong, emerged .
    An example: the practice of the Baptist denomination to baptize people as adults when they had made more of an inquiry into what Baptism meant about 3 or 4 centuries ago –when the Baptist sect was young–was condemmed as a heresy by the earlier dominant church denominationsin Europe.
    It is also quite hazy as to whether a lot of the hunters who object to so-called heresy have any fixed criteria for deciding if some notion is heresy or not. Calvinists and those factions of Arminian /Protestants who believe in free will (and are ALSO fundamentalists) tend to regard the doctrines promoted by each other as alternative forms of Christianity –the Calvinists disagree with Arminian doctrine and vice versa (but with perhaps a few odd exceptions) don’t call each other heretics, yet might call other doctrines so-called “heresies” like open theism (to give an example) or say elements of the Charismatic movement -to give another example .
    Jesus in the gospels never uses the word ‘heresy’ . Jesus denounces some people for being NON-consistent.. having internal contradictions in beliefs and attitudes, and/or for being petty , superficial , venal /greedy, NOT for having some exotic theology ! Though Jesus is fond of pointing out internal inconsistency in the beliefs that some people express , he does NOT in the gospels show any desire to support some doctrinal ” correctness” as any goal for its own sake .
    Jesus criticizes the false prophets not for teaching unusual doctrine , but instead for fostering unethical conduct . The difference between a true prophet and a false prophet was a true prophet produced good fruits and false prophet bad fruits .
    St.Paul uses the term ‘heretic’ in the epistle to Titus , but does NOT define a list of doctrines that make a person a heretic or make up ‘heresy’. Thus it is presumptuous to claim support from St.Paul for the broad use of the term ‘heresy’ that many Fundamentalists and some factions of Catholics like to bandy around .
    The only time the word ‘heresies’ gets anything almost like a definition is when in the New Testament epistle called 2 Peter chapter 2 verse 2 which describes heresy as ‘denying the Lord that bought them’, and NOT in the broad sense that the word ‘heresy’ is used today. Thus, according to 2 Peter chapter 2 verse 2, the term ‘heresies’ specifically refers to denying the Lord. It does NOT in that verse have a broad application of applying to each and every exotic or unusual doctrine or belief .
    In the book of Revelation, there is a particular doctrine that is villified called ‘the doctrine of the Nicolotaines’ (Revelation 2:15) . However, according to many of the early church fathers like Iranaeaus , the doctrine of the Nicolataines was rejected and opposed by the author of Revelation out of an objection that was more basic , inasmuch as the Nicolaitaines were anti-nomians (i.e. hedonists) of a sort who espoused wild sexual promiscuity and also eating foods set aside to be devoted to polytheistic pagan idols . Hence, the opposition in the book of Revelation was NOT based on some sort of doctrinal groupthink which sought to reject notions because they were too exotic–but, instead, out of ethical objections having to do more with personal conduct and also a disapproval of accepting polytheistic practices .
    It is interesting to note that in Phillipians I :15-18, St. Paul acknowleges that those in the Christian community which were against Paul as leader were, nonetheless, preaching the same Jesus and rejoiced in that they were doing so .

  • Jas

    SOME ADDENTUMS
    Furthermore, some of the previous comments that offer partial defense or an attitude of resignation towards the prosepct of people even nice people being left in a place of suffering in the afterlife for endless periods , is quite disturbing .
    One of the worst fallacies of all time is the appeal to resignation fallacy . The appeal to resignation fallacy is the sort of weird thinking that concludes if you cannot or are not likely to change a situation then that somehow allegedly means the situation is somehow for the best. The if you cannot change the situation then defend it mentality which is quite weird; quite
    ANTI-logical .
    One person who expressed misgivings about the notion of people —even nice people—being left in some place of torment , then with an atitude which seemed like unto resignation —-entertained the weird notion that somehow the idea of a benevolent , kind Deity could somehow be found compatible with the notion of endless torture for all people who did not become believers prior to being sent to a permanent “hell” .
    He went on to conjecture that somehow in another era yet to come such contradictions would be shown by some higher way of thinking to not be contradictions —though he still expressed that he would not be comfortable with such a situation .
    Yet even that claim that somehow what is a contradiction according to the rules of logic , would somehow turn out later to somehow not a contradiction in some Future yet to come , is ridiculous !
    It is a contradiction and will *always* be a contradiction . To suppose that in some epoch yet to come it would be revealed to not be a contradiction according to some magical new so-called knowledge , is , indeed, a mendacious cop out .
    The laws against internal contradiction are pre-existent , having not been constructed by man but discovered .
    In the gospel according to John chapter 1 verse on teaches in the beginnign was the Logos . As the original New Testament greek of John chapter 1 verse 1 proclaims en arche logos . In the beginning was the logos .
    The logos —which is loosely translated word , refers not to a spoken word as the term ‘rhema’ does in New Testament Greek, but , instead, refers to an organizing principle . It is the root term of the term ‘logic’. What’s all that have to do with what we have been discussing? (the reader may be now asking) .
    It is but more indication that the weird doctrine popularized by fundamentalists that God has some inscrutible , other kind of logic or reasoning that is allegedly somehow different from the logic / the reason that humans use —is a false doctrine. God in His infinite Greatness does use the same deductive logic as humans do , he is just more committed to using it .
    The verse in Isaiah ,’My ways are not your ways ,
    ‘ my thoughts are not your thoughts ‘,
    does NOT mean what a number of ultrafundfamentalists have claimed it does .
    After all, Isaiah 1:18 has God say to the human prophet , ‘Come and let us reason together. ‘
    The verse ‘come and let us reason together ‘ indicates that God and humanity use the same type of deductive reason , otherwise there would be no common frame of reference by which a human and God could come and reason together .
    The upshot of such considerations is that claiming that there could be some magical sort of so-called knowledge in the future that would show that the torture of people in the afterlife, for a neverending span , could somehow be shown to be somehow compatible with the notion of a God of infinite kindness , is a false notion . A Deity of infinite kindness , would NOT leave people to be tortured for a neverending span . No more than a God who has endless patience , give people a finite amount of chances to repent !
    The notion that a God who is kind to all –even to the unthankful (as Jesus reported in the Gospel of Luke) , would allow people to remain in a place of unending torture (if they did not come to believe prior to physical death) is a contradiction and remains a contradiction . No future knowledge could ever make it other than an internal contradiction .
    And though the epistle to the Hebrews states ,’It is appointed unto men once to die and after cometh judgement’ , the verse does *not* say that *immediately* after death cometh judgement, nor does it say that the judgement is irreversible .
    Some postmodernists have wrongly claimed that the so-called Godel Proof of mathematician Kurt Godel , somehow allegedly shows that logic is somehow “up for grabs” , that logic can somehow supposedly be in error even when applied perfectly, but that claim is also quite false .
    Actually , the claim that logic as it applies to mathematics supposedly cannot be both complete and consistent, was shown to be a false claim by another mathematician named Gerhard Gentzen, who apparently demonstrated with transfinite induction that logic CAN be BOTH complete and consistent . Don’t let the people who tell you that there is some sort of magical knowledge where in the future Divine Kindness is somehow compatible with a neverending torture of the dammed , fool you .
    Fundamentalists are sometimes wont to claim that God could not allow a person who refused to believe and repent into heaven, for, according to many of the Fundamentalists, such people are undeserving of heaven . Well even if one accepts the premise that the people who die unbelieving / unrepent are undeserving of heaven even at a much later date —if they were to repent and believe later—then why not send them to some neutral place say , a place of everlasting tedious boredom that has just the bare minimum ..a place that has neither the suffering of an endless hell , nor any of the rewards and pleasures of heaven ? Why not send them to a place like that instead, even if universal salvation isn’t in the proverbial cards !
    Furthermore, to the person who proposed that ‘you just do’ when one is asked how does one go on looking forward to a heaven when loved ones one has known one thinks are likely in a hell , that is NO grounds for justifying the selfish desire to enjoy a heaven when one’s relatives (including the ones who were nice people but may have failed to have made a Christian confession, previous to bodily death , are thought to be in a hell ) .
    Jesus taught that it is more blessed to give than to receive , that would apply to salvation too .
    If it turns out that my Grandparents who have died were sent to a hell , then if I went to a heaven despite the prospect of them being in a hell then I would have become horribly selfish !
    It is not that I love them more than Jesus . It is that I love them more than myself . And well I should , as the precept of Jesus quoted in the book of Acts teaches , ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive. ‘
    Woe betide me if I ever become so selfish as to accept myself going to some sort of heaven if my Grandparents aren’t there , or at least if not in heaven , then some place more comfortable than any sort of hell !

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    The notion that a God who is kind to all –even to the unthankful (as Jesus reported in the Gospel of Luke) , would allow people to remain in a place of unending torture (if they did not come to believe prior to physical death) is a contradiction and remains a contradiction .

  • Jas

    buy propecia ,
    I applaud the post that you just posted . This website has been a blessing .
    It saddens me that there are people that talk or think themselves into mendacious thinking telling themselves that somehow it could be anything other than a contradiction …such as fundamentalists who claim that somehow it merely seems a contradiction to us and that in some future era to come it will be shown to us in eternity not to be a contradiction ..I’m glad that you are unhestating in stating that it is indeed a contradiction and remains a contradiction .
    Often people will dress up internal contradictions with fancy misnomers like “paradox” …but the term “paradox” remains a misnomer …There is no authentic paradox ..what seem at first glance to be such are either just contradictions or statments that seem to be self -referential but aren’t or other fallacies in interpreting language .
    The notion that there is some sort of separating between divine reason and some so-called “human reason” or “human logic” that could somehow reconcile contradictory propositions …is misleading and runs contrary to Isaiah 1:18 which indicates that God does use the same sort of deductive reason that humans use…albeit with greater committment and that the notion that there is somehow a mysterious “insucrutible” Divine reason separate from human logic …is a false logic for if God had a mysterious logic different from the logic that human beings use …then there culd be no reasoning together.
    The supporters of the weird doctrine that God has an inherently mysterious other sort of logic than the logic of humans may cite the verse in Isaiah that states ,
    .my ways are not your ways / my thoughts are not your thoughts’ ,
    claiming it supports that thesis , but that verse would be more plausibly interpreted NOT that God has some sort of mysterious other sort of logic than the deductive logic that humans use.
    Instead, that verse would be more plausibly interpeted that God is more thourough in using the same deductive logic that humans do …NOT that he has some sort of mysterious other logic . Furthermore, the verse that comes before it indicates that the proposition at stake is that God is willing to show mercy, unlike humans who tend to bear grudges and are less likely to show mercy, For the proceeding verse states ,
    ‘Let the wicked man forsake his ways and the unrighteous his thoughts and let him return unto the Lord and he will abundantly pardon ‘…thus indicating that the verse is more of a statement about God being unlike people in willing to show mercy …and NOT the prooftext for the doctrine that God somehow has some mysterious other sort of logic or reason different from reason that humans have …as some people (especially those influenced by Calvinism would be wont to interpret it) .
    There are other verses that some might misconstrue to claim they support the notion that God has some mysterious inscrutible type of thinking different from the logic that humans are familiar with such as one in Romans that states ,
    For who hath known the mind of the Lord ?Who hath been his counsellor ? and adds , ‘His ways are past finding out’, yet that could be plausibly interpreted to mean that God is *more resourceful* than humans are
    …*NOT* that God is mysterious , inasmuch as it relates how the *partial* fall from grace of Israel at the time allowed for Gentiles to be grafted into the New Covenant faster .
    And hence the statement in the letter to the Romans where St.Paul states , ‘He hath declared them all in unbelief, so he might have mercy on all .’
    Speaking of the letter of Paul to the Romans Paul writes a statement in that letter that is quite *contrary* to the notion that God’s Will is some sort of mysterious affair .
    He writes that the ‘hidden and invisible things of God are clealy understood by the things that are made and the things that do appear even his invisible power and Godhead’ . That verse is quite a contra-indication ….if Paul was right when he wrote that verse…that the will of God is a mysterious affair .
    IF I should ever sell out and accept the state of affairs of people being endlessly tormented with no possiblity of another chance at redemption …which is what many Fundamentalists maintain is going to happen …then woe betide me .
    If it so happens that there is Fundamentalist Deity running the cosmos , then it would indeed be quite selfish for me to go to a heaven if some souls are being forever endlessly tortured with some sort of agony ..be that agony physical or spiritual for all of endless time .
    If the Fundamentalist sort of God is running matters and considers the people who died in some sort of unbelieving or “unsaved” state undeserving of a heaven…then why not send them to a place that has none of the pleasures of a heaven and yet none of the tortures of an endless hell …say an alternate hell or other place of perpetual tedium with nothing to do ? (for example).
    Again the prospect of other people …even nice people who meant well , but may not have made a christian confession prior to bodily death being sent to a place of unending torture ..I find far more gloomy, and far more disturbing than the prospect of myself being sent there to suffer forever . (Even though I am a Christian albeit a
    non-fundamentalist Christian) .
    Like Moses in Exodus 32 petitioned that God show mercy to the Israelites that mercy be shown them when they sinned in the wilderness and were tenatively scheduled to be consumed from wrath from up above , and persuaded the God of Israel not to consume them , if there is an endless hell of agony we should continually pray for the dammed to be let out of that hell and transferred if not to a heaven at least someplace that does NOT have the privations of hell .
    Sincerely ,
    Jason L.

  • Jas

    FIXING SOME TYPOS
    PREFACE: In the post I posted above there are some typos in the sentence construction that could lead to misunderstandings . Here in the space below, I will rework one of the paragraphs to fix the typos . The insight that I was trying to convey is that the weird doctrine that alleges that God has some sort of mysterious other sort of logic than that which humans are familiar with is a a false doctrine …and that God uses the same sort of deductive logic that humans do …and there is NOT some sort of dichtomy between any so-called “human logic” and the logic that God uses …
    Often people will dress up internal contradictions with fancy misnomers like “paradox” …but the term “paradox” remains a misnomer …There is *no* authentic paradox ..what seem at first glance to be such are either just contradictions or statements that seem to be self -referential, but aren’t, or other fallacies in interpreting language .
    THE REWORKED PARAGRAH (with better punctuation , and sentence construction than the previous version)
    The notion that there is some sort of separation between divine reason and some so-called “human reason” or so-called “human logic” that could somehow reconcile contradictory propositions …is misleading and runs contrary to Isaiah 1:18 which indicates that God does use the same sort of deductive reason that humans use…albeit with greater committment, and that the notion that there is somehow a mysterious “insucrutible” Divine reason separate from so-called human logic …is a false *notion*, for if God had a mysterious logic different from the logic that human beings use …then there culd be no reasoning together…since the frames of reference would be different .

  • Jas

    FIXING ANOTHER TYPO
    Here is another version of another paragraph from the texts shown above with better sentence construction from the earlier version .
    R$EWAORKED VERSION (with hopefully better sentence construction and punctuation)
    There are other verses, that some might misconstrue, to claim such verses support the notion that God has some mysterious inscrutible type of thinking different from the logic that humans are familiar with such as one in Romans that states ,
    ‘For who hath known the mind of the Lord ?Who hath been his counsellor ? and adds , ‘His ways are past finding out’, yet that could be plausibly interpreted to mean that God is *more resourceful* than humans are and
    …*NOT* that God is mysterious , inasmuch as it relates to how the *partial* fall from grace of Israel at the time allowed for Gentiles to be grafted into the New Covenant faster .
    And hence the statement in the letter to the Romans where St.Paul states ,
    ‘He hath declared them all in unbelief, so he might have mercy on all .’
    Speaking of the letter of Paul to the Romans, Paul writes a statement in that letter that is quite *contrary* to the notion that God’s Will is some sort of mysterious affair .
    He writes that the ‘hidden and invisible things of God are clealy understood by the things that are made and the things that do appear even his invisible power and Godhead’ . That verse is quite a contra-indication ….if Paul was right when he wrote that verse… of that doctrine of some the will of God is supposedly a mysterious affair .
    (A TEXT ADDED FOR CLARIFICATION)
    Which is to say that it runs contrary to that doctrine .’


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