By “Chewbacca” —
The fear of going to Hell, or Hell itself as a place, is something that caused me years of depression and anxiety. Thankfully, due to advances in modern medicine, I was able to combat some of those feelings with a daily dose of anti-anxiety medication. However, this wasn’t going to solve the issue that had been consuming my life for years. The pain and endless nights without sleep made me miss out on so much joy in my life, which still angers me to this day. It felt like it was never going to end, the nagging fear and constant thoughts dragging me down.
When I was finally brave enough to start asking questions and pulling back the layers of the Christian fear cult, it felt like I was on to something huge and very important. All those pastors and youth group leaders through the years had been lying to me and I knew it, but now I had to prove it. How would I do this?
Simply, the Apostle Paul.
It was not an easy journey to the great place where I am today, but I am proud to say I no longer have these feelings of guilt and anxiety. I would research one topic and debunk it, only to have another thing pop up and takes its place when I moved from one rabbit hole to the other. Reading books from Bart D. Ehrman and watching endless hours of YouTube debates of Dan Barker taking on Christian apologists was helping but it still wasn’t enough. Why couldn’t I just snap out of this? It was exhausting and frustrating. I was getting discouraged and wanted this irrational fear to go away forever and FAST!
The more I researched, the more the pain hurt me, but that’s what I had to do. I’d be up in the middle of the night trying to see how some Hebrew word was translated incorrectly over thousands of years to assure myself that the Bible wasn’t the true word of god. It was both impressive, and also embarrassing for me personally, to email professors at divinity schools to make sure I was getting all the information I could to help me overcome my fear.
One day, though, I finally had the light bulb moment I had been hoping for. I was driving and I thought to myself, “If Jesus was so clearly predicted in the Old Testament, as Christians claim, then why did the Apostle Paul persecute the followers of him?” Something wasn’t adding up logically in my head and I had to find out why. This moment finally led me on the path to discovery and ultimately freed me from my fear of going to Hell — all thanks to two simple verses from the Apostle Paul. I’ll explain in great detail below:
The Apostle Paul was a very well educated Jew. Any Christian will agree with you on this topic. He knew these Old Testament “prophecies” like the back of his hand. The greatest “prophecy” that Paul writes about, and is the corner stone of the Christian Faith, is found in Paul’s own letter to the Corinthians.
1st Corinthians 15: 3-4
“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, that he was buried, and he was raised on the third day according to the scriptures.”
Paul is explicit that the resurrected Jesus comes to him in a vision and says he was the promised messiah to die for the sins of the world and would be resurrected on the 3rd day by God. (Shouldn’t Jesus be resurrecting himself because he is God? Whatever. Moving on.)
This is the single greatest thing Christians claim Jesus did when it comes to fulfilling Old Testament “biblical prophecy”. Not being a king, or being born in Bethlehem, or riding on a donkey. His resurrection. Period!
There’s just one big problem with this claim by Paul. Nowhere in the Old Testament does it say the Messiah, the King, the Son of god, the Anointed One, the Redeemer of Israel, the Servant (Isaiah 53), He or Him, will one day die for the sins of the world and be resurrected by God on the 3rd day. Absolutely nowhere! There isn’t even a single story of a single person dying and coming back to life three days later in the Old Testament; so you can’t even claim the dual prophecy argument.
The only reference to a single person going through some sort of 3-day trial is Jonah and the giant fish; and we all know that never happened. Plus, Jonah never even died in the belly of a whale. He was also atoning for his sins, not the sins of others, as Jesus was said to have done on the cross. Regardless, another crazy, ludicrous story when you step back and honestly think about it.
The whole notion of a suffering messiah was completely foreign to Jews themselves, as Paul even writes about in 1st Corinthians 1:23: “But we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to the Jews.” A stumbling block? This just adds to the point that there wasn’t a Jew on the planet who thought their messiah was going to die, let alone come back to life 3 days later.
Another thing is, if this “prophecy” was spoken of so clearly in the Old Testament (which it isn’t at all), why was Paul so angered by this message when he first heard it? Why was he violently persecuting these Christians? He wasn’t persecuting them because they said to feed the poor, or love one another. It was because they alleged that a crucified criminal had come back to life and was the promised messiah of the Jews. This angered Paul. It was blasphemy to him.
So one has to ask: if Jesus was the promised messiah as Paul says he is in 1st Cor 15:3-4, wouldn’t Paul have recognized this fulfillment of prophecy and celebrated in the streets of Jerusalem? Why the persecution?
It’s like if someone promised you that your favorite political candidate was going to win the election, and when he or she did, you became angered by the news and started persecuting the people spreading the message. Or, your favorite baseball team was promised a messiah to lead your team to victory in the World Series and when it happened, you had wished the other team had won and started throwing peanuts at your own fans.
Yeah… that makes a whole lot of sense, NOT!
Pretty sure on the Hebrew oral exam they had to state what the Jewish messiah was going to do when becoming a Pharisee. Dying and coming back to life 3 days later wasn’t on the exam. If it was, they would have been hopeful and excited at this news, not angry.
I’ve always said the story of Paul is the definition of Irony. His writings and past actions undermine the Christian faith completely. He undercuts his own argument while trying to spread it at the same time. This is what finally freed me from the Christian fear cult. There were other things like contradictions on how to achieve salvation, and what day Jesus was actually crucified on, etc., but this is what finally did it. If this is all the word of God then wouldn’t have God clearly stated this through his many “prophets” in the Old Testament?
“Make no mistake about it, the messiah of the Jewish people will die on a cross for the sins of the world and I (God) will resurrect him back to life 3 days later, and just so you know this is the word of God, the gases making up our atmosphere are 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen, and 0.93% argon.” Now that’s a prophecy. But that didn’t happen because the Bible isn’t the word of God.
The great awakening of my brain that had been injected with lies and irrational thinking over so many years had finally started thinking rationally. It was an amazing feeling. We have to remember too, Paul is risking life and limb spreading this message. A message and an idea that’s nowhere to be found in the Old Testament. He is completely 100% making this up. Why did he do this? Scholars still debate this today, but nonetheless, he died for a lie. It’s as simple as that. Paul is just another religious kook that had a vision.
Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, said Jesus appeared to him and told him to write stuff down on golden tablets. He was imprisoned and beaten just like Paul. 39 members of the Heaven’s Gate cult confidently drank poison Kool-Aid, and countless suicide bombers have died in the name of Islamic extremism. The idea that “nobody would die for a lie” is proven false by religious zealots of many different faiths.
I want everyone to know that you will get over the fear of Hell. I never thought I would but this is what finally did it in for me. It was so liberating for me and still is. The hard part now is realizing that I might never see my loved ones again and that I’ll die one day and that’s it. End of story.
However, at the end of the day, I believe nobody has a clue why we are here. If anybody tells you that they just know, and they got all the answers, guess what — they don’t. It’s like trying to determine where Space ends and begins. Kind of impossible if you ask me. Maybe there will never be an answer to all of this, but thankfully we don’t need to worry about the anti-Christ coming and putting microchips in our brains, the rapture, or eternal torment. I’ll gladly accept uncertainty about the future rather than believing in some psychotic monster hovering above me in the clouds, stoking the fires for all the Jews who died at Auschwitz, because they didn’t accept Jesus as their Lord & Savior.
By the way, if you were an 8-year-old Jewish kid, you wouldn’t have ever believed in Jesus either; sorry evangelicals, but it’s true. Why? Because an 8-year-old child will believe just about anything in a room full of adults. When I was 8, I was told at bible camp if I didn’t accept Christ I would burn for eternity. Most kids in the world aren’t raised that way.
I hope this helps anyone struggling with the childhood abuse that is religious indoctrination. It’s a long and painful journey. I walked it for years. To my beautiful wife and sister, friends I have met along the way, I am forever grateful for your support in getting me over this episode in my life. I hope this at least helps one person struggling. I promise you it will be ok. You are not going to Hell, because that place doesn’t exist. You are going to feel scared and alone and quite honestly depressed through this journey but you will get through this. Trust me.
Oh and I almost forgot to say, thanks again Paul for your blatant lies and lack of critical thinking on this subject. It really has helped me to relax and see the light.