What Christianity without hell looks like

What Christianity without hell looks like October 28, 2014

the girl is happy summer sun
The idea that the Bible declares hell a real and literal place is no more valid than the toxic lie that the Bible condemns homosexuality.

Yet the idea that hell is real persists. Why? Because over the centuries those in positions of power within the institutions of Christianity have methodically, relentlessly, and passionately used the doctrine of hell to exploit the innate fear of death that is harbored by one and all.

Show me a Christian terrified of hell, and I’ll show you a Christian ready to pay good money for the assurance that he or she isn’t going there.

If you don’t think the “doctrine” of hell is about the accrual of money and power, then … then God bless your naiveté.

For the rest of us, it’s certainly worth asking what a Christianity without hell would look like. Well …

A Christianity without hell would be literally fearless.

A Christianity without hell would have nothing to recommend it but the constant and unending love of God. It would allow Christians to point upward to God’s love—but never downward to God’s wrath.

A Christianity without hell would be largely unevangelical, since there would be nothing to save anyone from.

A Christianity without hell would trust that God’s loving benevolence towards all people (emphasis on all) extends beyond this life and into the next.

Bringing peace about the afterlife, a Christianity without hell would free Christians to fully embrace this life, to heed Christ’s commandment to in this life love our neighbors as we love ourselves.

In short, a Christianity without hell would be a fearless, trusting, loving, divinely inspired source of good in the world.

And this Christianity would be more biblical—would be truer to not just the words but the very spirit of Christianity—than any Christianity that posits the reality of hell.

I want that Christianity. I insist upon that Christianity.

Tell me I’m not alone.

[UPDATE: As expected, the fundies are now crawling all over this post like cockroaches on a candy bar. So I’ve disabled comments, cuz who needs that nonsense? A very hearty thanks to all of you who left such smart, thoughtful, funny, and wise comments. You folks make it a pleasure to write this blog.]

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Guest

    You are definitely not alone.

  • LMc42

    You are definitely not alone. 🙂

  • Scott

    You are not alone. Thanks for putting it in such beautiful & succinct language.

  • TigerArchivist

    You are not alone. I rejected the notion of a literal hell decades ago. It’s the only reason I’m still in the church. Well, not the only one…my choir director would haunt me forever…

  • Kristine

    I have never understood this concept. The idea of a God who is loves us so much that he would sacrifice his child for us, who is loving and merciful beyond our ability to even comprehend, yet at the same time is willing to cast billions of people into a lake of fire to burn for all eternity as punishment for not being Christian. Yeah….nope. Does not compute.

  • Isherwood Williams

    To hell with the fabled hell. But then, as you correctly observe, there is naught from which to be “saved.” Can Christianity be pared from its supernatural components to a secular philosophy? I personally find it difficult for detoxified Christianity—which becomes rather gaunt—to compete with Epicurean philosophy.

    Still, I support your de-toxified, de-helled, de-salvationed religion, if you can maintain it. If there was an actual historical Jesus, he’d probably agree more with you than what was written about him anyway.

  • Isherwood Williams

    It is simply a means of control by coercive threats.

  • Linda Barringer

    You are not alone! Always happy to find others who believe the same. It takes a great deal of courage for a Christian to admit they don’t believe in hell in the world we live in today.

  • Ellen K.

    I’ve never ever believed in Hell as a place I might be after this life. Hell as a metaphor for experiences in this life, yes. Hell as a place other people go, yes, in a partial, not very deep down sort of way (once upon a time). But the idea that I might end up in a place of eternal torment has never been a part of my beliefs, never been a part of my spirituality. God is love, and God loves me. THAT is my spirituality. And that to me is the message of Christianity.

  • Mike Jones

    Not the least bit alone, but I suspect you already knew that.

  • Trilemma

    I’m with you. It took a long time for me to completely abandon the doctrine of Hell because it is interwoven with a number of other doctrines and because so many English translations of the Bible are biased in support of the doctrine of Hell.

    The doctrine of Hell doesn’t appear to be a big part of early Christianity. Hell and eternal torment are not mentioned in the Apostles Creed or in the Nicene Creed. I would think something as serious as Hell should have been mentioned in the earliest creeds. Universalism was still taught when these creeds were written and wasn’t denounced as heresy until the beginning of the middle ages. The doctrine of Hell became popular during the middle ages when peasants liked to go listen to sermons on Hell as a form of cheap entertainment.

  • Proudscalawag

    You’re not. I’m with you.

  • Amy Wallace

    I’m with you in that the concept of hell doesn’t make sense (WTF is a loving God doing creating a place like that?), and isn’t an integral part of the scriptures. But. Then it seems to me Christianity loses its identity. If it isn’t a route to salvation, it’s merely a prescription for living well. I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing, I’m just trying to understand. The only difference I can see between a Christianity without hell and secular humanism is in labels and rituals, not actual substance. Explain it to me.

  • ChuckQueen101

    Love this post! The connection between belief in “hell” and the “accrual of money and power” is especially good. A religion of rewards and punishments is largely about control.

    I agree completely with the point that Christianity without hell will be “truer” to the “spirit of Christianity” though I have one slight bone to pic with the idea that it “would it be more biblical.” I would say, more “Jesus or Christ-like” or “truer to the story or sacred tradition of Jesus.” Unfortunately, the biblical view is quite diverse and there are some rather harsh, vindictive depictions of judgment, especially in the Gospel of Matthew.

  • Kester Brewin

    Hmmm… I’m afraid that, though this is a nice idea – and the connection with money and power is correct – it doesn’t really stack up. Why? Because the idea of heaven necessarily brings into existence the idea of hell. The two are different sides of the same coin. To use a quick example from film: there is no Batman without Bane. If you want to rid theology of the idea of hell, you’ve got to take the radical further step and also do away with the idea of a heavenly after-life too. You simply can’t dispose of one side of a coin.

    “Show me a Christian terrified of hell, and I’ll show you a Christian ready to pay good money for the assurance that he is not going there.”

    Fine – but show me a Christian in love with the idea of heaven, and I’ll show you a Christian ready to pay good money for the assurance that he/she is going there.

  • Karen Unrue

    its a HUGE leap for me because I was raised in a fundamentalist, legalist upbringing – BUT i have loved god all my life and been f****ing terrified of him too – I have always said that being a christian has been my greatest joy and my greatest torment – I mean to the point of mental illness (anxiety and depression) I am fine now because I have managed to leave those beliefs behind and transpose into progressive christianity – Sadly I also witnessed my wonderful mother in her last 2 years as she slipped into dementia live the horror of becoming more and more convinced she was losing her salvation and was going to hell. 24/7, without any respite, she lived in torment. It was heart breaking

  • You may have noticed that I never once in this piece used the word “heaven.”

  • ChuckQueen101

    Sure you can, Kester, especially if God wants to empty “hell” of its inhabitants. While I definitely believe in an afterlife, I think “heaven” and “hell” are largely metaphorical, symbolic ways of talking about states of existence. And I think the purpose of our “hells” is to bring us to “heaven” – that is, in conscious, redemptive union with God.

  • Kester Brewin

    Sure, but ” God’s loving benevolence towards all people (emphasis on all) extends beyond this life and into the next” is pretty much synonymous?

  • Guy Norred

    In many ways there isn’t a great difference. To me it is more a question of an understanding of the ultimate source of strength and love that overrides our failings as individuals and society. And in the end, it comes down to faith–faith that cannot be explained in rational terms as it truly is the “substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”, but which is still a deep, often quiet, reality once found.

  • Kevin Miller

    I’m with you, John, except for the non-evangelical part. Speaking for myself, letting go has hell has actually made me more eager than ever to share the good news, because it’s actually good news! But the good news isn’t that you don’t have to go to hell, it’s that you can be saved from a death-driven, fear-driven existence right here and now. And the Lord knows we need saving from that.

  • SonjaFaithLund

    I don’t have any definite answers, but here’s my thoughts: Christian doctrine teaches that there is one God, a personal God, whose character is best known in the person of Jesus, who was God embodied to experience what it means to be human and to connect to humanity in a new way. Our religion is largely about becoming close to God and sharing God’s love with others. Those are specific beliefs. None of them require Hell, but they are very different from secular humanism.

  • Mac

    If there is no hell then what was the need for Christ to die?

  • Trilemma

    Saying there can be no Heaven if there is no Hell is like saying there can be no light if there is no darkness.

  • This is the greatest question of all. I struggled with it for years. Until I read Genesis more carefully. It was then I realized that I’d been lied to about God. I was always told that God can’t stand in the presence of sin. And yet, He stood in front of Adam and Eve (while they were in the act of sinning, no less). I was also taught that God condemns sinners. And yet, He did not at any time condemn Adam and Eve. Sure, they were driven from the garden, but ONLY because they refused God’s love and acceptance. God did everything He could to restore them to fellowship (see I John 1:19). Of course, there’s a lot more to share from Genesis, but this isn’t my blog. 🙂 After years of study, this is the conclusion I’ve come to: Christ had to die because we wouldn’t (or couldn’t) accept God’s love and forgiveness (i.e. Adam and Eve). In other words, Christ’s death had NOTHING to do with appeasing God. Rather, He died to appease US.

  • maemarie

    1 John 4:18 King James Bible
    There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.

  • So people could have a way to be reconciled to God, and thereby shed (until they need that cleansing again, of course) the grueling shame and guilt that is the inevitable byproduct of free will.

  • No, I certainly don’t conceive or mean those as synonymous, at all. It’s the difference between a park closed off but for one gate and a wide open field.

  • Jill

    Fascinating, John. I will be giving this some consideration. I’d never heard it expressed that way before. Thank you for sharing it.

  • Hi, Kevin; so good to hear from you. You know, I thought I had included in this post, just before the word “unevangelical,” the modifier “largely,” specifically for this reason you cite. But I see it … that didn’t happen. So I’m glad you wrote to make the point you did, so that I could be reminded to go put that word back in. Thank you!

  • Andy

    I think it works fine if you think of hell the same way we interpret Sartre’s “L’enfer, c’est les autres” (usually “hell is other people”). With the tons of people in this world harming others every day, we are basically in hell here. If we all followed Jesus’ greatest commandment, we wouldn’t be in hell.

    Of course, the word attributed to Jesus usually translated into English as “hell” is Gehenna, which is an actual place on earth, and therefore its interpretation as a place of everlasting torment is pretty dubious. And if he was referring to the physical place and not a dystopian concept as I suggested above, then maybe the Sartre analogy isn’t necessary.

  • Andy

    Hell also rose in popularity because some rulers (or at least the upper class) dramatized as a means to oppress the plebians and hopefully keep them from revolting. With a few exceptions, it’s worked pretty well so far.

  • Andy

    But they need not be exclusive. There are secular humanists who believe in God and Jesus. Anne Rice, for example.

  • Rick Faircloth

    Heaven and no hell sounds nice. Unfortunately, I’m not free to define reality. The only place I can draw truth on which I’m willing to stake my eternity is Scripture. To pick out the parts I like and toss aside the rest isn’t being faithful, it’s creating God in my own image.

  • Lara

    You’re not alone. I’ve believed for a long time that hell is separation from God, and it’s right here on Earth.

  • Andy

    So, of the divers manuscripts from different times and places that the bible comprises…you think your interpretation is the correct one? Fancy that.

  • Rick: So is choosing to interpret the words of the Bible in order to facilitate using it as a weapon.

  • Eric Thorson

    I agree, but it might be a bit of hyperbole to say “without hell.” The Bible uses the image and idea of hell for a reason. It’s the world apart from God, created by human evil. It is both spiritual and material. It makes my pulse quicken when Hippolytus says that Christ died “to crush hell underfoot.” Evangelical Christians seem to prefer hell crushing us for some reason.

  • Diana

    You’re not alone.

  • KentonS

    I agree w/Kevin, but leave it unedited. This comment thread explains it well enough.

  • Andy

    Which image and idea of hell do you interpret as being indicative of a place of eternal torment to which the wicked go after they depart this transitory life?

  • You’ve made a good point, Kester. But, what is it based on? Who says that heaven and hell are synonymous? How do we know they’re the opposite sides of the same coin? If there’s a heaven, does there HAVE to be a hell?

    Also consider that the concept of “heaven and hell” are directly linked to the concept of the “after life.” But, does the Bible teach an afterlife? Or, does it say that, when we die, our body return to dust and our breath returns to God – and thus, we cease to exist until the resurrection (cuz, if we’re in already in heaven, then why would we need to be resurrected)?

    Finally, does the Bible say we’ll go to heaven at all? Or, does it teach that, after the final resurrection, we remain here, on the New Earth – the very place God created us and (obviously) intended for us to be?

    There is so much Roman mythology imbedded in Christian theology that it sometimes take a lot of effort and vulnerability to separate them. Because, if we don’t ask the right questions, I feel we’re doomed to never find the right answers.

  • Andy

    In fairness, sometimes there are a lot of comments, and a lot of readers don’t read many or any of them.

  • Party at my … online home! Good lord. How boring. On the other hand, plenty of room!

  • Thank you, Andy. (And thank you, too, Eric.)

  • Diana

    One resource I’d recommend checking out is Thomas Talbott’s “The Inescapable Love of God”. It goes into the scriptures regarding Hell quite a bit and shows why the Love of God always has the final Word.

  • Diana

    I like that! That’s one of the best explanations I’ve ever heard on that subject!

  • Diana

    Amen, brother!

  • KentonS

    Yeah, but that’s OK. If you edit it, then this thread looks confusing.

  • Andy

    “And he left them, and went out of the city into Bethany; and he lodged there.”

    — Matthew 21:17

  • Diana

    Yes. I agree.

  • Diana

    “If [Christianity] isn’t a route to salvation, it’s merely a prescription for living well.” If human beings actually followed the teachings of Jesus, maybe God’s Kingdom would reign on Earth as it does in Heaven.

  • Andy, if you were any drier you’d be … an outstanding martini.

  • too late man. I DID it!


  • Andy

    It’s one of my favorite verses. I blame The Simpsons.

  • KentonS

    It might help to understand “salvation” not as “escaping eternal conscious torment when you die” but “not having a crappy self-destructive life before you die.” We often use it interchangeably with “eternal life.” And yes, “eternal life” calls out to resurrection – our uniquely Christian hope – but it is also a here and now thing. I sometimes read it as “the life of all time.”

  • SonjaFaithLund

    Huh. I’d always seen secular humanism discussed as a particular strain of atheist thought, by both Christians and atheists.

  • KentonS


  • Andy

    I haven’t seen stats on the Venn diagram, but I suspect a lot of secular humanists are atheists, but not all. Humanism is compatible with religions, and “secular” does not mean “atheistic”. Depending on how you interpret the term “secular humanist”, I could be one, too.

  • You are so not alone. I chucked it as unstainable to the needs of my faith a few years ago.

  • ChuckQueen101

    I hear this frequently. We progressives pick and choose. Well, of course, we do. And you do to. Only we are willing to admit it and own it, and be intentional about it. So many who make this charge conveniently neglect or ignore the parts they don’t adhere to – like women wearing veils in the church, women being silent and having to ask their husbands at home (too bad if they don’t have one), women forbidden to wear expensive clothes, braided hair, and jewelry in church. Or what about stoning children who disobey their parents? Or eating shellfish or rabbit or pork which the Scripture calls an abomination? Do you claim and obey these Scriptures in your faith community? We all pick and choose which Scriptures will have authority in our lives and faith communities. You can do this intentionally, wisely, and discerningly, or you can do this haphazardly or randomly. Many do it to justify the beliefs they already have. Every one has “a canon within a canon” ( a Bible within the Bible).

  • Rick Faircloth

    Thanks for the recommendation, Diana. I’ll check it out.

  • Rick Faircloth

    Yes, it would, John. But the Bible has been given to us in order that we might draw closer to God and His will and ways, not draw God closer to us and our will and ways.

  • Rick Faircloth

    I’m not sure, Andy, what the Bible being comprised of diverse manuscripts (which it is), has to do with “my” interpretation. In this era, the Bibles we read (or not) all draw pretty much from the same manuscripts for the biblical text. None of us are using our own personal group of sources materials to create our own Bible.

  • Actually, I can live quite peacefully without either heaven or hell. I look at this life, where I’m at on this planet, in this time in the universe, in this pudgy body with myopic eyes, bad vertebraes, a bladder adverse to coughs, sneezes and jumping and road maps calves, and consider it an amazing precious gift. What happens when this body is all worn out and my soul is tired? It really doesn’t cross my mind, because I feel, that whatever happens, it will be peaceful and restful, either a cessation of existence all together, or a continuance on a different plane.

  • No argument from me on that.

  • Andy

    Have you ever considered why there are so many different versions of the bible?

    Also, the bible is composed of manuscripts, not comprised of them. The phrase “comprised of” is incorrect. Sorry, but I’ve seen a lot of people make that mistake lately and it’s really getting on my nerves.

  • Andy

    Also, one of my favorites, Leviticus 19:13 says you must pay your employees each day they work. Wouldn’t that throw the world into chaos? That would mean either a ton of checks or a ton of petty cash laying around…the question I have is, are EFTs allowed by this verse?

  • Rick Faircloth

    No, Chuck, I don’t pick and choose what Scriptures to obey; at least not knowingly. But I’d be first to say my obedience to Scripture is imperfect. I’m not sure you know me well enough to make that accusation. However, you are right that there are passages of Scripture (mostly OT) that are no longer applicable to New Testament life. Jesus didn’t abolish the Law of Moses, but rather fulfilled, or completed, it. Now concerning the NT admonitions you mentioned (women covering their hair, being silent, not wearing jewelry), those are typically understood to be admonitions for certain people at certain times against being “showoffs” of their standing and wealth, and not to be applied to all circumstances and all eras. (Although, not flaunting our standing in the community and wealth is always a good idea!) However, these admonitions can present a challenge to those who want to follow the Scripture’s teachings strictly. There are some today who still follow the admonitions that you mentioned. They don’t cut their hair short or wear any jewelry, and typically are not allowed to teach in the gathered church, even in “Sunday School.” But your concept of a “canon within a canon” is interesting. I think that would make a great book title. With your permission, perhaps, I’ll use it one day. :o)

  • Rick Faircloth

    Of course EFTs aren’t allowed, Andy. If God had wanted people to use EFTs, God would have put it in there! ;o)

  • ChuckQueen101

    Going to be away from my computer the rest of the evening. I will respond tomorrow. Takes to long on my i-phone.

  • Matt

    Following your premise to its logical extreme, do you honestly think that “a world apart from God” is any kinder than hellfire? An empty void without God–that is, without hope–unable to even struggle against the suffocating despair.

    The Bible also says that God is everywhere, and that no one can hide from Him, even in the darkest of places. What kind of a God can He be if His creations can so easily separate themselves from Him? If darkness so easily negates Him? What is the driving force behind this apparent need to have humans separate from God somehow?

  • Rick Faircloth

    Yes, Andy, I know exactly why there are so many different version of the Bible. Translators who work from the various source manuscripts make choices about the meaning of manuscript content and choose to translate the meaning differently: such as Old King James versus New King James. Sometimes, there are disagreements from those working from the source manuscripts as to whether or not one manuscript is more authoritative, if they seem to disagree. For example, there is about a 3 percent difference in the actual “content” of the King James Bible and the New International Version (not counting changes from “thou” to “you”, etc.) This was due mainly to the fact that the manuscripts available to the translators of the New International Version were much earlier than those available to the translators of the original King James Bible.

    I certainly understand “pet peeves.” Either way works for me. The Bible can comprised or “made from or of” the manuscripts or be composed or “formed as a whole by ordering or arranging” the manuscripts. The seem synonymous. But whatever way works for you! I think Paul had this kind of discussion in mind when he wrote about “passing judgment on disputable matters” or matters of little significance.

  • Heather McAuley

    Matt 13, 3 separate times states, ” When he spoke to them he spoke in parables” This is restated in Mark 4.
    The question is not whether hell exists, but what does the parable of hell mean. I don’t think that is picking and choosing to refuse to be held hostage by those that insist this is to be understood literally. In fact I think it is picking and choosing when they ignore that it is a parable. As to any reference of hell in Revelations, the whole book is allegory.

  • Rick Faircloth

    John, what about Genesis 3:11b, where Scripture states that God asked Adam, “Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” Then Adam tries to put the blame on Eve and Even on the serpent. However, the reason why Adam and Eve were punished is summed up in God’s statement, “Because you have done this…” and from there he punishes the serpent, Eve, and Adam. Adam and Eve were driven from the Garden of Eden because of their disobedience, the essence of sin.

    And to clarify why Jesus died, the Scripture states, in John 3:16-18: For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” That’s clear that God condemns sinners who refuse to find forgiveness through Christ. (And it’s in red, too. ;o)

    Lastly, concerning your statement that Christ’s death had NOTHING to do with appeasing God, I offer this Scripture as testimony: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!” Romans 5:8-9

    Do not these passages indicate that 1) Adam and Eve were punished for disobedience, and 2) that Christ died to appease God’s wrath and spare us from punishment for our sins?

  • lrfcowper

    The Kingdom of Heaven and Gehenna were both very much present tense in Christ’s teachings. They weren’t future things, but existences we experience here and now. Hell to me is that human tendency to see the world as zero-sum– for you to prosper, I must suffer. It is that desperate, greedy, grasping self-centeredness that eats us alive and stomps on everyone else.

    The Kingdom of Heaven is a citizenship of extravagant, undemanding, unconditional love– the recognition that wealth, joy, effort, thoughtfulness, etc shared is multiplied– that there is more than enough; and that impoverishing someone else only impoverishes us all. Christ’s work was to free us from the fear of our past (and future mistakes) so that we could love confidently, boldly, extravagantly.

  • Terry Major-Holliday

    I have not believed in Hell for years. You are NOT alone!

  • Rick Faircloth

    Nice thought, Chuck, but what is your authority for stating that heaven and hell are metaphorical and symbolic?

  • That is your interpretation. Others see things differently. That is the beauty of Scripture, it is such an interpretative work. There is no need to try to convince anyone here..

  • Rick Faircloth

    What are you referring to, specifically, as the “park”, “gate”, and “field”, John?

  • Rick Faircloth

    I would have to agree with you, Chuck. Rewards (heaven) and punishment (hell) is ALL about control: God’s attempt to help us control our behavior in a way that prevents the necessity of our punishment our disobedience.

    I know there are so many ways we would all like to change what the Bible says about life…this one and the next. But we can’t change the reality that God is in control of this life and the next. We can only experience it. We can’t change the reality of our existence.

    All these viewpoints have more to do with creating a book of fairy tales than an understanding of heaven, hell, God, and our relationship to Him.

    We might just as well declare that the Bible has no authority and we are each going to create our own religion and reality that best suits our needs and desires, and best soothes our feelings.

  • Bill Steffenhagen

    *****If there’s a heaven, does there HAVE to be a hell?******

    Of course, John. Dontcha know? There are good people and bad people, right? And there have to be rewards for being good and being bad, otherwise why shouldn’t I be having as much fun as that immoral bad guy next door? For instance, everyone knows that gays have more FUN with sex and sex should NOT be FUN. Pleasurable? Well, ok, maybe, but not FUN. Heaven forbid! And, ya know, if it wasn’t for hell, Harvey Fundy could be having just as much fun as I do and well, it just ain’t fair. So there’s gotta be a hell for “those bad people” otherwise where do they end up? Will they go to Heaven too? Horrors!! Harvey gave up all that joyful FUN just to end up in the same place as “those people”. Tain’t fair. Yessir, there’s gotta be a hell for them bad people.

  • Rick Faircloth

    Agreed, Diana. If we could just follow Jesus better, we wouldn’t have nearly so much trouble as we do now. We don’t love God as we should (with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength) and we have failed miserably as His Church to love our neighbor as ourselves. If we had done those two things well, everything else would fall into place. “All the law and the Prophets (everything that we get so wrapped up in and argue about) hang on these two commandments.” If we could get those two right, we’d all be ok. Sigh…

  • Bill Steffenhagen

    Other than human interpretations of ancient languages, what is YOUR authority for suggesting that they are not?

  • Rick Faircloth

    But, Andy, either hell is a real place or Jesus didn’t know what He was talking about.

  • Rick Faircloth

    Every word He spoke was not part of a parable…

  • Rick Faircloth

    I hear that! I can’t tolerate trying to have deep discussion on a phone, or even a tablet! I need a keyboard! My hands can’t talk fast enough on anything else! (I know some wish my hands wouldn’t talk at all! ;o)

  • isitjustme

    Since you want it and insist on it than who is God to stand in your way.

  • Why does there have to be an authority? We are talking about an intangible concept, one that is completely unprovable, a concept that has existed in a variety of forms in a variety of cultures and faiths and has been completely absent in others. Even with in Christianity, there is a variety of views, traditions and beliefs on this topic. We don’t have “authority”, at least I don’t think so, what we have is assumptions or beliefs.

  • isitjustme2

    I take it the hebrew law, jesus’ sacrifice, pauls writings and revelation are all wrong? Even if theres no hell, than what did Jesus save us from?

  • What do you think about the vast space of christian history, where access to any form of bible was almost completely inaccessible with the exception of a very few, where different varieties of scripture existed independently until the printing press was invented? What do you think about the founders of Christianity who lived in a world with a 10% literacy rate?

    That is just one of the problems about using the Bible as an authority. It does’t pass the history test as such.

  • OR. what we think Jesus was talking about is not what we think.

  • There are those who consider Jesus something other than a save our personal keister’s matter. Which is the point of this piece.

  • SonjaFaithLund

    Today I learned! 🙂

  • God doesn’t want to stand in my way. Apparently you do. I’ll let you know which of the two of you I find most persuasive.

  • isit: You tell us what Jesus might save you from. From what do you need saving?

  • Lauren Martin Gauthier

    You. are. NOT. alone.

  • Rick Faircloth

    Scripture > Apostles > Jesus

  • ttonsky Tonsky

    The only people going to hell are those who Jesus didn’t die for!

  • So….if you think that Jesus died for all sinners, then that means hell has no reason to exist….or is it something else that has you want it to be a reality?

  • Rick Faircloth

    Scripture is the only account of anything to do with Christianity. It’s authority is derived from the fact that the manuscripts that it is comprised of (or composed of ;o) the books of the Old Testament and the New Testament books were derived from writings of people who knew Jesus while he was alive; the Apostles. Except for Paul, who met him later. The Apostles witnessed the miracles Jesus performed while he was living to authenticate his claim to deity. Not to mention that he rose from the dead as his biggest display of deity.

    So, Scripture is my authority, which came from the writings of the Apostles (NT), e.g. Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, etc., who were personal witnesses and recorded the life of Jesus, His teachings, and His miracles, including His resurrection. And Jesus, the man/God, left heaven and came to earth. There is my current link back to the authority of God, Himself, as He has revealed Himself in Scripture.

    What is your authority for your beliefs?

  • Rick Faircloth

    True, however, the first rule of the interpretation of Scripture is that it means what it says. In other words, it’s not in some hidden code, allegorical mysticism, etc.

    With that in mind, when Jesus said to His disciples, “I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.”

    I believe that Jesus said that. I believe that Jesus knew what He was talking about. Therefore, I believe that hell is real, and a place where I do not want to be.

    If we don’t have some authority to base our beliefs on, then we can dream up anything we like. My concern is that my beliefs are based on the strongest authoritative source I can find… in this case, Jesus.

    I want to be in right relationship with God and my fellow human beings. Jesus came to teach me how best to do that.

  • fcb3

    I do not believe the Bible teaches about hell in the traditional way; eternal, conscious torment. But I believe that because I searched the scriptures and found no clear evidence of it. You haven’t really given any scriptural reasons for your stand, I find that weak. People need to be saved and to learn about fellowship with God and the richness it brings. I believe the Bible clearly teaches that life without faith ends in destruction, in other words, death. The apostles never mentioned one time eternal conscious torment; they spoke about eternal death, or destruction. To perish, to be destroyed is not the same as being tortured forever. Here are a few very clear scriptures that back my beliefs. The following are clear teachings that
    speak to the annihilation of the soul.

    2 Thess
    1:9 They will be punished with everlasting destruction.

    Thess. 2:3 The man of lawlessness will be doomed to destruction.

    Thess. 2:8 The Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth
    and destroy by the splendor of his coming.

    2:10 They perish because
    they refused to be saved.

    Peter 2:12 They are like brute beasts, creatures of instinct, born
    only to be caught and destroyed, and like beasts they too will perish.

    Ph’p. 1:28 This is a sign to them
    that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved…

    Ph’p. 3:19 Who’s
    end is destruction.

    John 3:16 whoever
    believes in him shall not perish.

    2 Peter
    3:9 not willing that any should perish.

    And of course Jesus taught that the wide roads leads to “destruction.” He also taught us to fear God who has the power to destroy the body and the soul. We know we are made in the image of God and so our morality is the same as his and we are not more compassionate than He. His laws guide the universe not just the earth, so an eye for an eye shows us proportional justice, where as eternal punishing and torture is unjust and disproportional. Jesus taught us to love our enemies not punish them eternally; and on it goes if one will simply study it out. That’s my take on it. God bless.

  • Rick Faircloth

    Anne Rice doesn’t believe in the God of the Bible or in Jesus. She just believes in a “higher power.” At most, she is an agnostic. Her beliefs have nothing to do with Christianity.


  • Sigh. We really don’t need sermons
    Those of us who have come to the no hell solution have done so after much careful thought, study, questions and consideration. We acknowledge that this is your take in the topic, not everyone here sees it that way.

  • fcb3

    Jesus paid the price for our sins, not to keep us from hell. There is a day of judgment and those who have denied the light in them will be judged by Jesus on that great day, and they will pay the price for their sins, some with many stripes some with few, and there will be no eternal life for those who reject the calls of God. Believers will be spared judgment for their sins and will enter into eternal life. Our sin keeps us from God in this life and the next, Jesus paid the price for those sins to restore our relationship with God so we can be filled with His Holy Spirit and work in His kingdom here and after life, forever. There are a number of good books out about hell and the three dominant teachings on it, I would read some and study this important issue out for yourself, it really matters, and if there is no eternal conscious torment where people are suffering forever, what a horrid thing we have taught about God.

  • Rick Faircloth

    From the Council for Secular Humanism:

    Secular. “Pertaining to the world or things not spiritual or sacred.”

    Humanism. “Any system of thought or action concerned with the interests or ideals of people … the intellectual and cultural movement… characterized by an emphasis on human interests rather than … religion.”

    Therefore, Secular Humanism is “any system of thought or action pertaining to the WORLD or THINGS NOT SPIRITUAL or SACRED concerned with the interests of ideals of people and characterized by an emphasis on human interest rather than religion.”

    Secular Humanism is not religious. A Christian, by definition, cannot be a secular humanist.

  • Have you read John’s piece? Its about those of us who have carefully chosen to consider a hellish afterlife for any human inconceivable and inconsistent with God’s love for all of us.

  • Rick Faircloth

    So, Jesus was ignorant of, or lying about, hell?

  • Rick Faircloth

    What meaning do you take from the passages I mentioned above?

  • Trilemma

    Luke and Mark were apostles? Actually, the writers of the four gospel accounts are anonymous which means their authority is not above question.

  • Rick Faircloth

    I was attempting to respond to “fcb3” and his assertion that hell is simply annihilation. But when I went to post my response, I got the red flag that his post had been removed. Boom! (Moderators are a lot like God on these forums… :o)

    But concerning a common idea that hell is simply when we “cease to exist”:

    Rev 20:10

    “And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the
    lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been
    thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.”

    Rev 20:12-15

    I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books
    were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life.”

    dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the
    books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades
    gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according
    to what he had done.”

    “Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death.”

    “If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”

    you can believe or not that the reference to the “lake of fire,” in
    which people whose names are not in the book of life will be tormented
    day and night, for ever and ever, is hell.

    I, for one, do not want to tormented day and night, for ever and ever, in a lake of fire.

    two passages are enough to show that we are not headed towards
    annihilation. Everyone whose name is not written in the Book of Life
    will be tormented day and night, for ever and ever. A terrible thought.

    you know, it doesn’t matter whether we choose to believe Jesus was God
    in the flesh, the Messiah, or a lunatic. God will have His way in this
    world and the next. It’s up to us how it ends for each of us an
    individuals, Anne Rice included.

  • Rick Faircloth

    Rev 20:10

    “And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the
    lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been
    thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.”

    Rev 20:12-15

    I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books
    were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life.”

    dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the
    books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades
    gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according
    to what he had done.”

    “Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death.”

    “If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”

    you can believe or not that the reference to the “lake of fire,” in
    which people whose names are not in the book of life will be tormented
    day and night, for ever and ever, is hell.

    I, for one, do not want to tormented day and night, for ever and ever, in a lake of fire.

    two passages are enough to show that we are not headed towards
    annihilation. Everyone whose name is not written in the Book of Life
    will be tormented day and night, for ever and ever. A terrible thought.

    you know, it doesn’t matter whether we choose to believe Jesus was God
    in the flesh, the Messiah, or a lunatic. God will have His way in this
    world and the next. It’s up to us how it ends for each of us an
    individuals, Anne Rice included.

  • Rick Faircloth

    I wonder that same thing, John. The only thing I can gather from isit’s comments is that you are either going to heaven or annihilated. Annihilation is certainly preferable to suffering endlessly! Oh, that it were so!

  • Lark D Kephart

    As they say, the devil can quote Scripture for his own purposes. (And no, fcb3, I am not calling you the devil. Just making the point that quoting the Bible does not add nor detract from your position.)
    I live in the South. Hell and the devil are very big here. The idea being, you do ‘bad’, you are punished in hell. Very clear, very simple, a ‘nice’ punitive way to live life. I have rejected the concept for many years now. Faith is choice, ultimately. I choose to believe in a loving God. If he, somehow, created all, he also created us to have free will. He knew we would make bad choices (sin) and, instead of punishing us when we did what he expected us to do, he gave us Jesus who showed by example and words how to live happily and peacefully and well on this earth. As I strive to follow his example, I am rewarded in this life. I do hope for a life after this one but I do not need the carrot to bait me into living ‘well’ and I reject the stick. Call me what you like, I call myself a Christian. Or at least, I try.

  • Rick Faircloth

    The writers of the four Gospels are not anonymous. Your perspective is shared by some, but disputed by others. The early church fathers were certainly familiar with the Gospel writers. But let’s just say that we disagree on authorship…

    However, you still need to answer my question: What is your authority for your beliefs? I have shared mine and would like to know from what source you draw your conclusions about life.

  • Rick Faircloth

    Good night, everyone. It’s been interesting, to say the least!


  • Zach R

    It takes a lot of nerve to declare the traditional Christian doctrine of hell to be a “toxic lie” without even engaging the passages in Scripture which inform that doctrine. The burden of proof in determining whether or not the doctrine of hell is a lie falls squarely on the author’s shoulders here, and he provides a frankly stunning lack of even pretending to care about engaging in a thoughtful, rational discussion which is grounded in God’s word.
    To classify the traditional doctrine of hell as a simple power/money grab and then to accuse the vast majority of Christian thinkers throughout the centuries of naivete for thinking otherwise is, well, I’m not sure they’ve invented a word for that kind of thing.

  • isitjustme

    John, God will not stand in you way. He will let you believe anything you want. He created us with free will and will allow us to exercise it to a point. He allows us to chose to follow Him and accept his offer of redemption or turn our backs to Him and head to destruction. It is up to each of us to make that choice. However, as I read scripture there is a penalty to be paid for turning our backs on Him.

  • Guest

    Destruction =/= eternal torture. You basically just disproved hell with all those verses.

    EDIT: oh wait, that’s what you said. Sorry about the misunderstanding.

  • Those verses only say that the devil, beast and false prophet are the ones being tormented forever. It doesn’t say that the same applies to everyone thrown into the lake of fire, and the other verses fcb quoted suggest that when humans get thrown in there, the result is destruction – unlike the devil, we’re not immortal.

  • Condemned doesn’t necessarily refer to eternal torment.

  • Which is actually true, though. Light ceases to lose meaning without darkness.

  • Karl

    I’ve always had trouble with the traditional view of hell. This is where my thoughts on the matter have lead me:

    The concept of hell is a very human way of thinking. A child does something bad, their parent punishes them. You do something illegal, you go to jail. You live a sinful life, you go to hell. The problem is though that hell is the only one of those examples that serves no purpose. Being punished here on earth serves to teach a lesson and, in some cases, to protect the public. But if you’re dead, what lesson can hell teach you? How can you put it into practice? The only purpose it serves is as a form of vengeance. And if we know God and Jesus, and the love they have for us, we know that love is not vengeful.

    So what is hell? I don’t think of it as a place, but more a state we choose to put ourselves in when we die. I have two ideas of how they might happen.

    1. If we reject God and choose to spend eternity without him. He wants all of us to be with him, but he did give us free will and so won’t force us to be with him.

    2. And/or, the sin in our lives has made us “incompatible” with God. He wants us to be with him, but in our sinful state we cannot exist with him. But by accepting Jesus’ gift to us all, our sins are wiped clear. What about non Christians? I believe they can also accept Jesus’ gift, even once they’re already dead. Why not? But again, their choice.

  • “True, however, the first rule of the interpretation of Scripture is that it means what it says.”

    There isn’t such a rule, and for ages it was not the case. Literalism is a modern concept dating from around the 18th or 19th century.

    See also – Jesus’ explanation of what it meant to be ‘born again’, and how he corrected the man who thought he had to actually re-enter his mother’s womb.

  • No, that would make her a theist, just a non-Christian one.

  • All this because a Christian, no several, quite likely lots of Christians have decided that your reading of the bible us not how they see things?

    Such a waste of condemnation

  • Rick Faircloth

    Our souls are immortal. And, besides, if God wants to keep our flesh intact, he certainly can do so.

  • Gavin Doran


    You are not alone, I assure you.

    I respect your desire for their not to be a Hell, but it is simply not true. The idea is nice-no consequences for our bad actions and only the upside of a perfect place called Heaven. However, you are engaging in what is called “Buffet-Christianity”-choosing the good and ignoring the bits you don’t like.

    The problem is that this is not how life works, nor Christianity. The reason you are not alone is that we live in a culture today that wants to “have their cake and eat it too”. Whether you, me or anyone else likes it or not, there are ALWAYS consequences to our actions.
    Bad for bad actions. Good for good actions.
    Pretending otherwise..well, we’ll just use your phrase: “God bless your naivete.”

    You are not a Christian if you don’t believe in hell. Period.

    Here is why:

    The Bible points to Jesus. The whole thing is about Jesus. Saving us from our sin.

    God sent his son to SAVE us from our sin.

    Let me repeat it.

    God sent his son to save us from our sin.

    If there is no hell and no consequences for our choices/actions, God would not need to send his only son to die on a cross for us.
    If there isn’t anything to be saved from, why would we need a Savior?

    Oh, that’s right!

    Because there is a hell.

    God tells us about it in:

    Revelation 21:8

    Matthew 25:46

    Psalm 9:17

    2 Thessalonians 1:9

    Mark 9:43

    Matthew 25:41

    Ezekiel 18:20

    …Anyway. I could list passages literally (and I do mean literally), all night.

    The point is that the Bible is explicitly telling you very literally that there is a hell.

    That is not the question. The question is:

    Are you, John Shore, going to believe what John Shore WANTS to be true, or have the courage to believe what God is telling you IS the truth?

    Because if you believe in the Christian God, The God of the Bible, there is only one answer to that question.

    Best of luck.

  • I just have one question (and I’m not trolling, I promise): If hell does not exist, or is not the eternal fire and brimstone many Christians have been taught, then what exactly did Jesus die to save us from?

  • Timothy L. Northrup Jr.

    Interesting, to insist. I can’t believe that hell exists. It just seems too far from the loving God of the New Testament. I often see the OT depiction of God as equally regal and loving and majestic, but talking to a relative 5-year-old and not to a moody teenager (if we are going to hold to the premise that humanity gets better and wiser over time, and that God meets us where we are.) But even in the OT all God ever threatens is people’s here and now and their near future.

    Then again, I expect that reality is far more complex than I could ever imagine. Could there be people just so set against God and all the wonderful perfection he embodies that a cessation of existence or some non-wonderful afterlife awaits them? I expect so. But the hellfire and brimstone, that is something else entirely.

  • Timothy L. Northrup Jr.

    I don’t pretend to speak for John here, but what is Christ dying to save us from? Separation and alienation from others and from Him. Any accounting that doesn’t take God’s holiness seriously, or our declarative independence (at least at the level we claim it, mostly a fool’s errant) breaks us from Him. But with God’s love overriding all else 1) I expect he had a plan in place in case this happened and 2) Seeing as this is God we’re talking about and God, being omnipotent as well as omnibenevolent and thus unable to fail to achieve whatever Goal He decides on pursuing,The plan has to work.

    A scenario involving God’s Holiness trumping all would probably result in all of us being condemned to Hell or Oblivion or something. A world where his Holiness and Love are relatively equal would probably result in the current Christian fiction of the Biblical story. A creation involving God’s love trumping all looks a lot like Universalism. Christ still dies to satisfy the Holiness, breach the divide, prove dramatically how much He loves us, etc. But to leave anyone out, except maybe if they are so decrepit and self-centered as to refuse all offers of love, well, that wouldn’t be the God portrayed in scripture. It would rather be something closer to an almighty Devil.

    So, the Christian in this life gains everything or very little depending on your perspective. They gain purpose, they gain that little bit more intimacy with God because they’ve been with him that smidge longer on an eternal time scale, and they get answers to the questions that plague all human existence from time immemorial to time inconceivable.

  • Timothy L. Northrup Jr.

    Why does what we are being saved from have to be an eternal torment? None of those verses envision a hell anything like what you have in your mind, and the Biblical writers before the NT wouldn’t have had a concept of the afterlife (the concept being co-invented in the Hebrew mind by the Persians and Greeks right as/after the close of the OT cannon as we have it today).

    As John is trying to point out, your reading of the verses reflects the Church’s institutional incentive to read much more into scripture than is actually there.

  • Timothy L. Northrup Jr.

    which, btw, doesn’t mean there are no consequences, in this life or next, just that they are dwarfed by God’s love

  • Given that the Bible says God reportedly wishes that all would save and is saddened at those who do not receive salvation, it would seem counterproductive and senseless for God to explicitly act to make the torture more torturous.

  • Andy

    First of all, agnosticism is an epistemological stance, not a theological stance, though it plays one on TV sometimes, especially for people who do not claim to have one. Agnostics can be theists, deists, atheists, something else, or none of the above.

    Second, this sounds like she’s still a theist, just thoroughly put out with the baggage that comes with Christianity.

  • Andy

    I just said it was a real place. You can totally go there. Today, if you want.

  • Andy

    The concept of hell as a place of everlasting torment after this transitory life is both nebulous and complex. If it were not, there would not be so many learned people discussing the matter from all sides with defensible cases. This, to me, says the matter is far from settled as to what exactly was meant by those passages we read in our bibles today.

  • Bones

    The Evangelical/Catholic view of the death of the Christ as atonement for our sins to appease an angry God who would have sent us/let us go hell because we are so wicked is only one view. In fact, it’s a fairly recent view which came about in the Middle Ages in Western Europe when Christianity was more like a law court. Protestantism didn’t go far enough in ditching this Western view of God which is really quite idolatrous and odious.

    There are other different interpretations eg the Orthodox see the Atonement as more of a hospital ie the healing of the sick and sinners. Sins doesn’t condemn us and neither does God. Sin holds us back from being all that we can be and causes suffering to ourselves and others. Sin is a form of disease which needs healing eg it is not those that are well who need a doctor but the sick.. And no one condemns the sick. They also see Hell as being in the presence of the God of Love whose purifying fire and love will eventually purify sinners in His presence. He doesn’t cast the sinners out but brings them close to Him. For the wicked that may be Hell.

    Liberation theology sees it as an act of nonviolent subversion against the oppressive powers that be, Hell is already on this Earth and people are living through it or in it and cooperating either with the powers of oppression and darkness or fighting against it.

    Jesus condemned the fundamentalists of his time. His talk of Gehenna (Hell) has to be seen in context with the judgement of Israel. It was figurative language using a very real place which existed on Earth.

    There are others eg mystics would take a different view again or the Christus Victor view that Christ died once FOR ALL and He has triumphed over the grave.

    Incidentally we are told that Jesus gave His life as a ransom but we are never told who the ransom was paid to.

    Hosea 13:14 makes it clear “Shall I ransom them from the power of Sheol? Shall I redeem them from death? O Death, where are your thorns? O Sheol, where is your sting? Compassion will be hidden from My sight.”

    The ransom was paid to Death itself. This is confirmed when Death is thrown into the Lake of Fire in Revelation.

    The Cross and the resurrection was about overcoming death itself which is what the message of the First Christians was about see also “Oh death where is your sting? where is your victory?” It was a victory over death, not hell. The message of the Early Christians had no stories of judgement. It was simple. He is not here. He is alive. He is risen..

    I’m agnostic when it comes to heaven because we don’t believe in heaven like the Early Christians did as a place above the clouds. It isn’t a place. The only notions of heaven and hell that makes sense is the Orthodox view. That Heaven and Hell are states of being.

  • Bones

    The Beast and False Prophet refer to Imperial Rome. The Beast is Nero and this is confirmed by other apocalyptic literature written by Jews and Christians at the time. It was common to refer to Emperors using number.

    There is noting futuristic in the Book of Revelation. Death cannot be destroyed. It is a state of non-existence. You cannot burn it. The Book of Revelation was making the point that death will be defeated as will those who martyred believers and those who refused to undergo martyrdom (that’s the ‘cowardly’ who are thrown into the Lake of Fire eg you and me)

    I can’t take anything dogmatic or believable out of Revelation. It’s Jesus is the antithesis of the Gospels. A Jesus who flays non-believers with a sword coming from his mouth? Revelation is the works of vengeance against an oppressive state who had destroyed the Temple. Hence there will be a New Jerusalem (Temple) when the oppressive forces of Rome are destroyed.

    It didn’t happen. It was the author’s hope and dream.

  • Bones

    The Beast and False Prophet is Rome.

    The ‘cowardly’ get thrown into the Lake of Fire too. They are the Christians who sacrificed to Rome. John, who was most definitely not the Apostle, hated those and that was an issue at the time. Many Christians did sacrifice to Rome rather than watch their families be executed. It later caused a split in the early Church as to whether to allow those Christians to remain in the Church.

  • Bones

    Revelation is not literal.

    Anyone reading it like that doesn’t understand the genre.

  • Bones

    Well Gehenna was a literal place (The Valley of Hinnom) which came to have a deeper meaning.

  • Bones

    Re the myth of God, the tree and all that


  • Bones

    Your God doesn;t sound like the Father of the Prodigal. According to you if the son didn’t come home to the Father and died, the Father would go out dig up his corpse, revive him and punish him mercilessly and eternally.

  • Bones

    Problem is, the Gospels most certainly weren’t written by the Apostles. Neither are they historical documents.

  • Bones

    Gehenna=Valley of Hinnom. It’s quite a nice place now.

  • Bones

    OK so those of us who can control our behaviour are OK then?

    The Bible isn’t an authority. Your interpretation of it is.

  • Bones


    There were many Christian writings accepted as ‘scripture’ by various communities of the Early Church.

    See here:

    Revelation wasn’t accepted by a lot of christian communiites. Some of Paul’s letters most certainly weren’t written by Paul.

    I contest that those writing these accounts weren’t even aware that they were writing scripture.

    Otherwise the Gospel writers might have been less anti-semitic if they thought Jews were still going to be condemned by Christians because of their words thousands of years later.

    My authority for my beliefs is my reason and intellect. If it can’t be true then it isn’t, no matter how much I want it to be.

    And that’s what beliefs are based on. Beliefs are a cognitive process for which we are condemned to eternal torture according to you.

    It is you who gives the Bible authority, not God.

    It’s the same with any believer and their Holy Book.

  • Bones

    “True, however, the first rule of the interpretation of Scripture is that it means what it says.”

    So have you given everything to the poor yet?

    Do you think victims of domestic violence can divorce or did Jesus forget that?

    Do you agree with Paul that it’s better for believers to remain single?

    Why didn’t Jesus condemn the pagan centurion instead of healing his servant? (Oh and the Syro-Phoenician woman and Samaritans).

    Jesus seemed to be less motivated by beliefs than we are.

  • I think the story of Adam and eve fits into the mythos category. I really don’t put much thought at all into the story, other than a curious tale, not unlike other such stories in other cultures.

    John’s statement is not backed up by other stripture, which is curious. But I think that, if this is an actual quote, which I wonder, by Jesus that he was saying that God had no intention in destroying mankind. The gates of hell part, which is the more familiar ending to the passage to me means death or the grave.

    Paul…I take a lot of his work with a grain of salt, feeling that he was speaking personal opinion. His stuff predates the gospels by several decades, John most of all, but all of the letters certainly credited to him are the thoughts and beliefs of a person. There is of course value and wisdom in much if what he had to say, but I think he spoke for himself not being God’s mouthpiece.

    I know that there were at least two camps of thought in the Jewish though during jesus’s day and that as Christianity evolved they adopted religious and cultural beliefs of others, including the amalgamation that is the modern teaching of hell.

  • kcdad

    Without hell, Christianity becomes irrelevant. Saved from what? Blood atonement for what?
    I agree hell is a fiction… so that leaves me with: Christianity is irrelevant.

  • Bones

    The vast majority of humanity never had free will. If you are born into a pagan/non-Christian culture, you do not have free will. Actually if you are a born into a Christian culture, you don’t have free will either.

  • Bones

    Do you believe hell is under the ground and heaven is above the clouds?

    The vast majority of Christian thinkers believed that.

  • isitjustme

    If there is no condemnation (not mine, God’s) for those who chose to do evil and those who chose to turn their backs on God’s offer of redemption then Paul is wrong and we can throw out everything he wrote. I don’t understand how this belief can be reconciled with the teachings of the Bible.

  • Bones

    “It is hardly complimentary to God that we should choose him as an alternative to hell.” —C.S. Lewis

  • Christians don’t believe in a lot of things that others do. Some insist that the only true Christians view the bible as Infallible, other insist that worshipping on Saturday makes them true Christians, still others insist being immersed at Baptism makes them Christian.

    People can take that list of scripture you have listed and say exactly the opposite, that a place of eternal torment for anyone just isn’t there, and that the passages are discussing something else.

    So the question is. Are you insisting that belief in hell is the key to true Christianiy?

  • Good point. Someone who has spent their life in a different culture, being taught from an early age that the particular faith of that culture was the proper way.

  • You don’t have to understand how this belief can be reconciled with the teachings of the Bible. It is merely a fact that people have done so. Condemning them for that is rather arrogant don’t you think?

  • I am curious where the concept of the immortal soul derives. it doesn’t seem to be a Biblical concept.

  • Mark

    Not at all. Christianity calls us to a better way of life. Jesus shows us a life of tolerance, love, and care for others, and calls us to do the same. How can that ever be irrelevant?

  • I don’t believe any of the writers of the New Testament ever met Jesus, and I believe historians and people who’ve studied the transcripts before I believe tradition. The first gospel Mark, was written at least 30 years after Jesus was here.

    Luke certainly was not an apostle. He may have been a peer of Paul and wrote the book of Acts and then later the gospel bearing his name, using the already written book of Mark as a model. That is if Luke was actually Paul’s peer and not an annonymous author who’s name was attached to the work.

  • Phil Kornegay

    this sounds like the Christian life that most people i know lead, without ignoring what Jesus taught about hell.

  • Why does there have to be an “authority” for one’s belief?

  • Bones


  • Bones

    So you’re after revenge.

    How does Jesus’s parable of the Prodigal Son fit with that?

  • Mark

    Today’s good news is, you (and others who share your beliefs) are not the gatekeeper to Christianity. You don’t get to make the rules for who is and is not a Christian. I still get to pray, and go to my church on Sunday, and worship God just like I did before you pronounced all hell-denyers non-Christians.

  • Bones

    Lol. You are not a Christian if you don’t believe in Hell?

    There’s the key requirement and belief of a Christian.

    Jesus has nothing to do with it.

  • Bones

    To sum up your post “You aren’t a real Christian unless you become like me.”

    Haven’t we done well throughout history sorting out who the real Christians are.

  • One thing I found almost universal in people who believe in the teaching of hell, is that none of them believe that is their personal fate, but rather the fate of others, whose beliefs differ. That bothers me.

  • Mark

    You mean, if there is no condemnation, then God truly loves unconditionally? God perhaps does not hold our failings against us for all eternity?

    Could it be that our choice to do evil and reject and remove ourselves from the God of love is, in fact, our own “hell”?

  • Mark

    A good friend of mine as much as told me that we should be Christians, if for no other reason than as an “insurance policy” against an eternity in hell. No charge to get in, and protection from hell, just in case.

    About that time I realized it was not beneficial to either of us to continue discussing religion with each other.

  • Partially, I think, and Egyptian, the Hindu/Buddhist faiths and the followers of the Zorasterainist faith.

  • Jay DeGraaf

    1. If hell doesn’t exist, then Dick Cheney wins. Lame.

    2. If hell doesn’t exist, that means people have no choice whether to be with God or not. What does it say about a “loving” God who forces people to be with Him/Her?

    3. Jesus spoke twice as much about hell as he did about heaven. It is folly not to heed his words and teachings.

    4. If hell doesn’t exist, I can treat my brothers and sisters on this planet in the most awful manner possible, and still get eternal life. This sounds like a great deal for those in power in treat others inhumanely.

  • Bones

    It’s interesting that some atheists have better morals than Christians. I wonder what motivates them if it isn’t eternal punishment? Also how we treat others is only part of the Get Out of Hell Card. You have to have the correct belief.

  • Bones

    Death. Ourselves. He certainly didn’t save us from God.

  • Jill

    I do so enjoy the snark of literalists. Entertaining.

  • Jill

    Oh don’t get me started… ;P

  • Anon

    “As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also other scriptures, unto their own destruction. Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness.” 2Peter 3:16-17

  • They do get points for effort, but then they are negated by ignoring the validity of our beliefs by trying to convince us theirs are superior.

    I wonder how many play the what if game? What if there was no such thing as hell?; how would that shape their beliefs, how they perceived God, other people, themselves, society?

    Ive found the game an excellent tool in trying to understand concepts and ideals

  • Andy

    Funny, some of those in power that treat others inhumanely believe in hell, and yet probably don’t think they’ll go there even though they have done so.

  • BarbaraR

    Oh gosh, thanks. No one else here has a Bible and we are all completely unable to look up and interpret scripture ourselves. (Rolls eyes)

  • Andy

    As I said earlier, I prefer Matthew 21:17.

  • JTT

    Jesus died, was martyred saving us from our false selves. Our selfish, greedy, unloving selves. He died trying to save us from the unhappiness of living such a life (a living hell). He died trying to teach us our true selves, that we are are a part of something much bigger and that we are loved. Teaching us to truly love unconditionally, to be compassionate, to give, and serve with a loving heart.

  • Al Cruise

    In the fundamentalist/literalist view, salvation [escape from hell] becomes possible only by chance. Being born at the right time and right place in history. According to literalist theology, millions of people were born just to fill the pits of hell. God had the means for them to experience life on earth but not the means to save them from hell. For the fundie/literalist it wasn’t until Martin Luther figured out how to do salvation properly, that people started to escape hell.

  • JTT

    May I ask you .. do you have children? If your children did something terrible. I mean so horrible that you couldn’t imagine – would you send them to their room forever. A room full of fire where they would burn and scream and be tortured for a never-ending amount of time? Honestly? Could you?
    What God did was send his Son Jesus here to save us, you are correct. To save us from our false selves (the greed in us, the need for more, the selfish part of us – because living a life like this, would surely be a miserable lonely life full of unhappiness =Hell). But instead Jesus wanted to teach us our true nature, and that we were created in the image of God. God is Love. Love is patient and kind. Jesus wanted us to know that we are loved, for any man that believed that he is loved beyond measure would sure live his life to love others. He would lead a life of compassion and giving, and serving. Loving others, heals. This is a domino affect, just like hurting others would do.
    Christianity has been poisoned by man’s ego.

  • Zach R

    I believe that the new heavens and the new earth are simply a redemptive restoration and re-creation of this physical reality. Hell will also necessarily need to be a physical place, because it will be a place for people who have bodies. I have no idea where that physical space is or will be, as the Scriptures do not give any such indication.

    I think it is slightly misleading to say that the vast majority of Christian thinkers believed that hell is under the ground and heaven in the sky. That may have been the dominant popular conception for some time, but it was not the view of nearly any Christian philosopher or theologian.

    My point is, the traditional doctrine of hell does not require a commitment to the belief that heaven is located in the sky and hell under the ground. In its most basic form, it is a commitment to the claim that those who have not gained the saving grace of God through Christ will in the future be justly condemned for their life of rebellion against God their Creator.

    To claim that this belief is a toxic lie manufactured solely so that the Church could make money and control people is, as I said, historically naive, theologically naive, biblically naive, and just bad rhetoric.

  • Andy

    “Christian” is just a word (one which is mentioned only a few times in the bible, anyway, none of which are attributed to Jesus, or say anything about salvation). You are not allowed to decide what it means for anyone else, nor are you allowed to condemn others to hell because they do not fit your particular definition. You are on thin ice here.

  • Andy

    This needs more upvotes.

  • lrfcowper

    That’s like saying that a Christian can’t produce secular music or teach in a secular school, that all endeavours that a Christian partakes in are automatically spiritual. But when I wash dishes or rake leaves or edit my SF club newsletter or walk my dog, I don’t need a deep spiritual reason to do them. I do them because it is necessary that they be done. Likewise, I don’t need a deep spiritual reason to support humans getting their basic needs, like potable water, adequate food, and suitable shelter, met, or advocating for human rights and social justice. It is necessary that these things be done. Now, my religious beliefs– as well as many other religious beliefs– *confirm* that it is necessary that these things be done, but I can join forces with a Muslim, a Pagan, an atheist, an agnostic, a Jew, a nontheistic Quaker, or even a Satanist in these endeavours because as human beings we all agree this is necessary work.

  • Andy

    Neil Peart has free will.

  • Andy

    Because apparently you can’t have a belief without it having been taught to you and approved by some authority. You are not allowed to think for yourself.


  • lrfcowper

    Yes, but what Jesus said, and his hearers heard was: “Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has the authority to send to the Valley of Gehenna [a real place just outside Jerusalem where garbage was burned and where human sacrifices used to take place]. Yes, I tell you, fear him.”

    Hell wasn’t some future place, it was right there on earth where anyone could go and look at it.

    So, if it means what it says and isn’t some hidden code or allegory, then Jesus was talking about a real place that was very much present on Earth. It’s not us who has imbued his words with allegorical mysticism, it’s you, and generations of Bible translators who mixed Pagan theological concepts of Hades and the domain of the goddess Hel into Jesus’ words.

  • Andy

    The lake of fire is where bad folks go when they die. Not to heaven, where the angels fly. They fry.

  • Andy

    I am also interested to know which of these you choose. Seems like a tough one.

  • Andy

    I. am. Here. With. You.

  • 1. Dick Cheney? Who died and made him Satan?

    2. If hell doesn’t exist, that means that people don’t have to make a choice, and the concept of an omnipresent God is no longer confusing, as we know that God is was and always will be among us.

    3. According to this reference, you are incorrect. http://www.christianbiblereference.org/faq_WordCount.htm. At most “hell” which most often meant death, pit or grave is mentioned 23 times in the NT. Heaven, over 200.

    4. If hell does exist, people still treat their brothers and sisters in the most awful manner possible and still believe they can recieve eternal life. I see not difference there.

  • Andy

    I was confused by that as well.

  • Andy

    Is it, then, hypocritical for a literalist church to use direct deposit every 2 weeks or month to pay their employees?

  • Andy

    Wait, what? The scripture is greater than the apostles, who are greater than Jesus? I think you have that backwards.

  • Rick Faircloth

    I agree with what you’re saying, but I think we’re talking about two different levels of life. Certainly any person, regardless of their religious beliefs, or lack thereof, can participate in any activity. “Secular Humanism” speaks towards a person’s worldview. If a person is a secular humanist, then they will not take religion or spirituality into consideration at all. Otherwise, they might be considered, more accurately, a person with secular humanist “leanings” or tendencies. I think the same thing would be true of what is commonly known as a “nominal” Christian.

    But I’m not Secular Humanism expert, by any means. I just quoted above what the Council for Human Secularism put at the top of their site to help others understand who they are and how they approach life.

  • Rick Faircloth

    There is *always* an ultimate authoritative source, in every situation, in every thought we have, in every decision we make. It could be another human being and their writings and perspective, it could be the Koran, it could be the Bible, or in, I believe, most cases a person’s own mind. Our ultimate authoritative source is that source that we turn to and trust for correct guidance in a matter. For me, my ultimate authoritative source is the Bible. I wrestled with this in college. I had a decision to make about whether my ultimate authoritative source for living my life would be: my mind, and it’s ability to discern the truth of my existence, or the Bible and everything I had been taught from it.

    At college, I was finally without influence from other people, such as family, to make up my mind how I would live my life and what source of authority would I trust to guide me down the right path.

    I wrestled with this for awhile. It was not until I came across, again, a passage of Scripture that leaped off the page for my situation, Proverb 14:12:

    “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.”

    I understand that to mean that despite my most honest, sincere, and noble attempts to discern the truth about life, my best understanding would likely lead to my death. (My spiritual “death”). In other words, my best would likely be wrong.

    After rejecting my mind as the ultimate authority in my life, I accepted the Scripture as the authoritative source for living my life and informing my worldview.

    So, with my explanation of what I’m trying to ask of you, what is your ultimate source of authority? The one thing that you turn to, when there is a conflict amongst the possible sources of authority, to decide a matter? Do you trust your mind above all other sources to inform your worldview and perspective on particular matters?

  • Steve67

    But it’s a way of life that one can learn from just about any other religion, philosophy, 12-step program etc. It reduces Jesus to a a moral example, while ignoring the fact that Jesus clearly spoke of hell as a reality and thus pretending there is no hell would turn Jesus into a liar. A Christianity without hell would not be more biblical, no matter how many times the latest progressive revisionist blogger insists it would be.

  • Steve67

    There is so much wrong with that comment I wouldn’t even know where to begin.

  • Rick Faircloth

    No, that’s not what I was implying, but I see how that would seem to be the case.

    What I was doing was tracing the path back from myself to increasingly greater sources of authority.

    Looking at it from the “top down”, it would be:

    God > Jesus (God in human form) > Apostles > Scripture/Holy Spirit, finally down to me.

    Scripture, and my comprehension of it as guided by the Holy Spirit, is the part of that line of authority that I have in front of me to read and deal with. I can talk to God and He talks to me, but in my fallibility, when I believe God is saying something to me, I turn to Scripture to clarify, as much as possible, that my understanding is accurate concerning what He is trying to communicate.

    Since Scripture is “His” word ultimately, I depend on it to clarify and guide my thinking. Scripture is not God, but it is a guide in my relationship with Him and responses to life.

  • Steve67

    Oh great, another liberal progressive has come along to tell us what real biblical Christianity would look like, without citing one bible passage of course.

  • Scott Dillon

    Is this patheos.com or salon.com? This is fluff without biblical arguments. How can we trust your article if you don’t give us any real reason to disbelieve what the church has understood about Hell for all of world history? Is the Bible the source of your theology or the servant of it? This is like making an argument for immersion baptism because big hot tubs in churches would be cool.

  • Rick Faircloth

    Barbara, I quote Scripture frequently in my comments, since it is authoritative for me, and I don’t want to just share what my mind concludes. I want to explain why I believe what I believe and how I came to that conclusion.

    I was criticized in a response to one of my comments, when I didn’t include Scriptural references. So, including Scriptural references, or otherwise, is not implying that others can’t do the same. I just try to give a reason for my belief out of respect for anyone who might read my comments.

  • Rick Faircloth

    That just shows how very careful we must be when trying to be “Christ-like” in our ways. Our sinful nature can and does often override His new nature within and causes us to behave in terribly “un-Christ-like” ways.

  • Rick Faircloth

    What does Satan have to do with hell?

  • Jill

    That’s how I got out from underneath the weight of literalism. I asked myself would my life/other people’s lives be so much worse if these literal things I was conditioned to believe weren’t literal? Could life possibly improve if I no longer bought into what I’d been spoon-fed? What-if?

    I found the risk of staying locked in goose step with fundamentalism to my sanity too great to ignore. I’ve never looked back.

  • Actually hot tubs in church would be rather cool, but then our congregation opts for sprinkling as soon at the parents get their wee ones into those adorable christening gowns.

  • What I’m trying to figure out.

  • Rick Faircloth

    All people are created in the “image of God.” Now, since sin has entered the world and defiled His image within us, we often have done sinful things and have sinful or “non-godly” perspectives.

    But the reason that we all share a great common morality throughout all the people of the world is that we all were, indeed, created in the image of God, which gives us a basic sense of right and wrong.

    E.g., it has been found, I remember reading at some point, that all cultures, even those who had no contact with other cultures, believed that stealing was wrong. How else could that moral concept be so consistent?

  • R Vogel

    Isn’t it great how denying the doctrine of Hell brings out the trolls? Is there some sort of internet alarm that goes off?

  • Al Cruise

    I am addressing the view of the fundie/literalist. ie the Jerry Falwell types and their view on salvation. Which is the view held by most conservative fundamentalists.

  • Rick Faircloth

    I love the writings of C.S. Lewis. And I agree with his statement you wrote above. And, I sincerely doubt that anyone whose motivation for becoming a follower of Jesus Christ is just to escape hell, will escape it in the end, anyway.

  • Trilemma

    If you believe God is saying something to you, and it doesn’t agree with the Bible, which do you go with?

  • isitjustme

    The prodigal son returned to his father in full repentance and the father welcomed him back. What would have happened if the son had not repented and returned to the father?

    Romans 12:19

    Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.

    I don’t seek revenge but I do believe what Paul quoted from the Old Testament to be true. Since God is just as well as loving He must punish the evil doer.

  • R Vogel

    ‘What if’ is not biblical. Jesus never said ‘what if’ you heathen. You are not a christian is you ever utter ‘what if.’ Gavin told me so and he is, apparently, the judge of such matters. Plus he knows bible verses.

  • isitjustme

    And I believe we that choice to turn our back on God and our “hell” here on earth will continue for all eternity. That is the choice we have. Either we accept God’s offer of forgiveness or reject it and suffer the consequences.

  • Rick Faircloth

    Why, from your perspective, JTT, did Jesus have to die to teach us “to truly love unconditionally, to be compassionate, to give, and serve with a loving heart”? It would seem to have been a better choice to stick around on the earth longer than 33 years and continue teaching us face-to-face. It was confusing to the disciples, who He taught continuously, what He was talking about when He mentioned having to die. It was until after His death that the disciples really began to understand why He had to live and die. His death was an atonement for our sins, and nothing less.

  • Mark

    If you say so. You may be right. But I don’t read it that way. And, if our God of love really did create an eternal hell for tormenting those who don’t follow Jesus, it raises many issues, such as:

    1) God does not love unconditionally. While He tells us – through Jesus – to forgive “seventy times seven”, He is only willing to forgive us as long as we inhabit our bodies.

    2) If the main goal of life comes down to avoidance of ending up in hell, why was this not important enough for God to have told the Israelites in the Old Testament times? Like at the end of the Ten Commandments, a note that explains the eternal torment that awaits if we screw up.

    3) If Satan is in charge of Hell, and all the non-Christians end up there for all eternity, the Satan wins on numbers, and He has to be kept around to run the place. Or not – maybe God runs Hell, and is the one actually doing the tormenting.

  • FrJesusGaylord

    Oh great, another whiny jackass who pops a boner thinking about all the suffering people in hell.

  • R Vogel

    ‘The problem is that this is not how life works, nor Christianity…..Whether you, me or anyone else likes it or not, there are ALWAYS consequences to our actions.
    Bad for bad actions. Good for good actions.’

    The ironic part of this statement is that is betrays a complete ignorance of how christianity is purported to work. Ephesians 2:8-9 anyone?

  • Guy Norred

    Who died and made Dick Cheney Satan?–love it–actually you owe me lunch because I spit mine out when I read this. 😉

  • Rick Faircloth

    Sorry, Bones. Have to disagree with you. The Scripture is clear that Jesus death on the cross was to take the punishment of Himself to satisfy God the Father’s justice. And we can only have that atonement applied to us personally, by believing Jesus is who He said He is, and by following His commands. Jesus’ death makes it possible for us to be in right relationship with God. There is no other way.

    And there is plenty of stories of judgment throughout the NT, especially from Jesus, Himself. It’s very easy to make unsubstantiated generalities about some “early Christians” and Scripture.

    And the ransom that was paid by Jesus, was paid to God, *not* to death or Satan. God is the one who will send people to eternal death, hell, if you like, not death or Satan. And Satan, the beast, and the false prophet, along with death and Hades are all thrown into the lake of fire as a result of God’s wrath. (Revelation 20:7-15) Just as any other beings, including humans, who reject Jesus’ offer of salvation and God’s will and ways. By virtue of being saved from God’s wrath, the early Christians could cry, “Death where is your sting? Where is your victory?” Death sealed their destiny and they knew it. But after Jesus’ death and, particularly, His resurrection, there new was a way to be victorious beyond death and the grave.

  • There must be. I haven’t found where they’ve hidden it

  • Russell Mark

    Wow John, you really know how to not only stir the pot, but blow-up the entire kettle! Good for you. Who was it who wrote, “Sacred Cows Make Great Hamburgers?” I think that’s what’s going on here. My clicking finger got tired of hitting “Load More Comments.” I get where your coming from and only disagree with one point…faith does save us from one thing…Fear (ala FDR). It’s fear that ulimately drives our worst human behaviors and ideas (like Hell). So, while I’m not your publisist, I have to say, dude, you have the makings of a great book here. Verily I say unto thee…go forth and type.

  • Imagine Christianity without the Bible, like what happened for the first several centuries of the faith

  • Rick Faircloth

    “But to leave anyone out, except maybe if they are so decrepit and
    self-centered as to refuse all offers of love, well, that wouldn’t be
    the God portrayed in scripture.”

    So you seek a caveat for people whose sin is “so decrepit and self-centered as to refuse all offers of love”, but that is you placing your standard in place of God’s concerning who deserves condemnation.

    And, anyway, your definition of someone whose sin is “so decrepit and self-centered as to refuse all offers of love” would be the very definition of a person who would reject the greatest love of all: the love of Jesus Christ, who gave Himself, in our place, to die on the cross to display His love for all. And that is what brings our eternal damnation: trampling underfoot the One who loves us best.

  • But do you believe that the majority of humanity is going to hell? You know the ones that aren’t Christian, or maybe even including the ones that aren’t the “right” type of Christian?

    If so, doesn’t that mean that the evil god, Satan wins, the good god, being of course God or Jesus? Satan gets the prize of the most humans, in the cosmic game of soul grab, at the end of which, all of humanity is finally killed off so the divying up can be done?

    I’ve just never seen how this belief of hell, and yeah, I fluffed it up a bit, is seen as the act of a loving, merciful God.

  • R Vogel

    I’m not sure what tradition you are coming from, but the idea that heaven necessitates a hell is a form of manicheaism. I’m OK if that is what you believe, personally I think the popular conception of heaven is just as silly as hell, but that is not really traditional christian thought. G*d, according to Judeo-Christian thinking, exists without necessarily giving rise to the corollary. So if all people are reconciled to G*d through Christ’s victory over ‘him who had the power of death,’ there is no necessity for hell.

  • D Wise

    Poorly written and unsupported; try again.

  • R Vogel

    O God, if I worship You for fear of Hell, burn me in Hell,
    And if I worship You in hope of Paradise,
    Exclude me from Paradise.
    But if I worship You for Your Own sake,
    Grudge me not Your everlasting Beauty.
    -Rabi’a al Adawiyya

  • JTT

    He didn’t HAVE to die, had he denied what he came for all along he wouldn’t have died, but he stood by his reason for being here, the truth. Therefor he was murdered for not submitting to the egotistical men who wanted him to turn away from his stance.
    Which means, he chose this. He suffered for us. He selflessly gave himself as we all should do. This is what being saved is all about. Being selfless.
    He not only DIED to save us, but he also LIVED to save us.
    Christianity seems to really put so much emphasis on his death, but shouldn’t it also be on his LIFE?

  • I am always amazed at the trivial comments people feel compelled to go through the trouble with just to create a disqus account.

  • Guy Norred

    Shows what I know–I thought it would be one of those posts that no one paid attention to.

  • It surprised me as well.

  • BarbaraR

    People come here all the time and fling scripture in the same way that monkeys in the zoo fling shit. Then they stomp away dusting off their hands with a self-satisfied smirk, pleased to have told us off and thinking, “Well, that’ll show ’em! If they go to hell, it won’t be on my watch!”

    Quoting scripture doesn’t impress me.

  • BarbaraR

    But that was literary criticism at its finest and most comprehensive!

  • Rick Faircloth

    Yes, R Vogel, I understand what you’re saying: we’re not saved by our works. However, we are saved *by grace* *through faith*. God’s grace provides the opportunity for salvation. Our faith is the means through which God saves us. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

    Our faith, made possible by God the Father (John 6:65), is still a choice. We can walk away from our faith at any point in our relationship with God. (1 Timothy 4:1)

    And even faith (mental assent only), without works, is dead. (James 2:17) Because even the demons, including Satan, himself, *believe* in Jesus. (James 2:18-19)

    So, we are saved by grace, through faith, and not by our works, but not without our works, which makes our faith complete. (James 2:20-22)

  • Me either. Most of us have read the Bible multiple times and are already pretty familiar with its contents, as well as the various views held about those contents.

  • Rick Faircloth

    But, Andy, you’ve hit upon the heart of this entire discussion: Source of Authority. If Gavin’s views, or mine, or anyone’s, are based on what our minds conceive only, then we *are* on *very* thin ice. (Proverbs 14:12)

    However, if a person’s source of authority is Scripture, well, for most, that carries significantly more weight, since we believe it is God’s perspective, not just a human opinion.

    And, realize, that if it were up to me, I wouldn’t condemn anyone to hell. But, this isn’t my game. It’s not my world, universe, or created order. I’m just a little pawn. It is God who pardons and condemns, whether we like it or not. We can hate Him for it, but we can’t escape it. Judgment comes to all, starting with the Church.

  • Here’s the thing with that Greatest love of all being Jesus’s death concept. There are people who’ve never and will never understand or accept such a concept, because it is that foreign to them, or they’ve heard it told, and the actions of the tellers make such a concept into a lie, or they live in a location where there are other cultural/religious teachings that are more compelling and relevent.

    It just doesn’t work for everyone, although its a great fit for some. Its like trying to make and market the one size fits all bra.

  • Rick Faircloth

    JTT, I told my son, when he was 12 years old and had a younger sister, 8 years old at the time, that if he ever came to a point in his life where he could not obey the rules of my house, he would have to find another place to live.

    Now, realize, that *did not* mean that if he ever did anything wrong in the least, that I was just waiting for the opportunity to kick him out. He knew he was deeply loved by me. But, for his sake, and for his sister’s sake, he was warned that if he chose to totally disregard my rules for my house, he would have to find another place to live. It was out of *love* that I gave him this warning. It was for his sister’s sake, who would be greatly tempted to follow in his footsteps, for good or bad, that he was warned. It was because I *never* wanted to be put into a position to have to send him away, that I warned him.

    He was a great kid. Almost never disobedient. Truly a joy to parent, as was his sister. I never even had to think again, after that day of warning, about such a dire circumstance.

    But I would have followed through. For his sake and his sister’s sake. And if you think God isn’t going to follow through with the warnings He’s made, then you don’t know the God of the Bible.

    “For we know him who said, ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ and again, ‘The Lord will judge his people.’ It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Hebrews 10:30-31)

    You don’t have to believe it, but you will have to deal with it.

  • FrJesus: That was awesome. Thank you.

  • JTT

    Rick, You did not answer my question. I too have children, and I agree with your stance and took that with my daughter as well when she turned 16. BUT, Kicking your child out of your home, and sending them to a place of torture and fire is different my friend. Completely. So, I ask you again. If your son or daughter did not “obey” you, would you punish them for all eternity with pain and torture?

    I think the problem here is that we as humans think that God acts in a human manner because we understand no other way. But God is bigger than that, much bigger than that.

    If you will see my entire point, from what you wrote above you will understand what I am saying.
    If your children CHOSE not to obey your rules and you kicked them out of your home, then they would have in turn initiated their own “hell”. Homeless, trying to make it on their own. Eventually they would surrender to your love and return to you, correct?
    This was a lesson. But you are stating that Hell is not a lesson, it is eternal, forever, and it is punishment. Punishment from God.
    Is this really honestly what you believe?
    God does not punish. God is not Human. God is not self seeking for us to obey Him. God wants us to know love, for once we know love, we know Him, and He knows us.
    The definition of love? = Jesus.

  • Steve67

    Nonsense. Read the early church fathers. By the mid 2nd century every book in the new testament had been quoted and cited by them nearly enough for to duplicate the NT itself. Just because there was no bound canon the 4th century does not mean that the scriptures were not used.

  • Rick Faircloth

    “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 3:14-15)

    “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.” (1 Timothy 4:1)

    “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.” (1 Timothy 4:16)

    Everyone has free will to walk away from what they know, but not without consequences.

  • Mark

    Why is that not in the Torah? Why did God let the Israelites believe there is no eternal hell for thousands of years without correcting them? Judaism has no eternal hell.

    I don’t worship a God who spends most of eternity punishing and hating. For me, if Jesus is God come to earth, and Jesus preached love and compassion, then God as eternal punisher/hater is inconsistent with Jesus.

  • Rick Faircloth

    Baloney, Timothy…

  • By whom? Literacy rates in that part of the world at that time was at about 10%. Plus access to any written work was not that easy to come by, being rather expensive and out of the price range for the average resident of the Meditteranian basin.
    Then what church fathers? There was a variety of text floating about some of which eventually made the canon, others that did not

  • Craig Nehring

    So, there was no canon or even writings for at least 700 years of the Christian faith (for “several centuries” is at least 6-7oo years)?

  • Rick Faircloth

    Karl, you trust your mind’s ability to explain God’s truth over the Scripture’s?
    The Bible is full of statements that rebut your statements.

  • Steve67

    Wow, accusing me of getting aroused at the idea of people going to hell. What a truly, intelligent and enlightened response. From one comment on a blog you can read my mind??

    Sorry I actually despise the idea of anyone going to hell, which is why I respond to this sort of talk.

    But tell me is your comment reflective of the loving, enlightened type of Christianity without a hell that you are all advocating for?? Yeah it’s so much more loving than daring to warn people that hell is real.

  • lizzysimplymagic

    I love this, Bones. I personally DO believe in Hell. My own strange and eclectic spirituality tends to think of hell as a state most of us will inhabit in order to heal. Healing is painful. Hell might even seem eternal, just as a painful moment can seem to stretch on and on, and who knows whether we will even experience time in the same way once we’ve gone beyond? However, I do not believe such suffering to be unlimited. I also don’t believe God created a place just to toture Her creation, but that She gives us the free will to learn what we need to learn, even if we choose a painful lesson. I believe Satan is more like an adversary who tests us rather than a being of ultimate evil, and I believe even Satan is a beautiful part of creation that God loves.

    I don’t feel a need to remove hell from Christianity, but I think a more nuanced understanding is certainly in order. If the only motivation to be “good” is to avoid getting into trouble, morality isn’t involved.

    “I want to put out the fires of Hell, and burn down the rewards of Paradise. They block the way to Allah. I do not want to worship from fear of punishment or for the promise of reward, but simply for the love of Allah.”
    – Rabia

  • Rick Faircloth

    A concern, to be sure. But this passage seems to answer:

    “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.” (Romans 1:18-21)

    Again, folks, not my words, but God’s…

  • Rick Faircloth

    We all do…

  • All our views are subjected, based on what our minds make of what we sense, and understand. To even say scripture is an authority falls into that subjective category, as all of us would view what that means from individual perspectives.

  • Rick Faircloth

    You’re right, Zach…

  • Steve67

    It’s church history. You answer your own question. I acknowledged that not everything was canonized at first. But the ones that were eventually canonized were also cited by the church fathers in the first and second centuries.

  • ChuckQueen101

    Rick, don’t take this personal. We all pick and choose what Scriptures have authority in our lives. And by the way, you might dismiss the crazy OT laws by saying that Jesus did away with the law through his death or for whatever reason they no longer apply to Christians today. However, if you believe the Bible is literally God’s word then you can’t just dismiss the fact that God gave these crazy laws – like killing children for not obeying their parents, or killing those who commit adultery, or God giving a command to completely exterminate civilizations, including women and children. What kind of God does this? The God of Jesus? So how do you harmonize these commands with Jesus’ God who says, “love your enemies because God loves his/her enemies.”

    Also, you mention certain admonitions/commands being only applicable to certain people at certain times. How convenient. Let’s assume that is true. You have to pick and choose. What is permanent and what is temporary? What criteria do you use to determine what is temporary and what is eternal. I could apply that logic to the imagery of hell. I think Jesus used the term metaphorically/symbolically, but I could, according to your position, just as easily argue that Jesus was simply accommodating himself to the times and did not himself believe in a literal hell.

    I used to say what you are now saying and would do all sorts of things to try to get around the clear meaning of the text. A case in point: 1 Tim. 2:11-14. Even when I was an inerrantist I could not bring myself to accept what this text actually says. It says that women should not “teach or have authority over a man” in church; that “she is to keep silent” (at least in the presence of men). Why? The writer says (I don’t believe it was Paul; probably a much later writer within the Pauline tradition): Adam was created first and the woman was the one who was deceived. That’s what the text says. Man has priority and women are gullible/easily deceived/morally inferior. That’s what the text says. Even as an inerrantist that pricked my moral judgment and so I did all sorts of exegetical gymnastics with the text to make the text say what it does not say. Finally I came to the point in my spiritual journey where I said, “I am going to just let the text say what it says.” I came to accept that the biblical writers were flawed human beings just like the rest of us. They see through a glass dimly the way we all do and they couldn’t avoid their fragmented condition anymore that we can. They could not avoid their biases any more than we can.

    See my recent post at “Faith Forward” — “Rethinking the Bible’s Place” http://www.patheos.com/blogs/faithforward/2014/10/rethinking-the-bibles-place-its-just-the-way-it-is-part-2/

    Yes, Rick, you pick and choose what you will take to be permanent instruction or what is temporary. And either way you have to struggle with the kind of God who would order genocide and have children killed because they disobey their parents.

  • Rick Faircloth


  • Rick Faircloth

    Nice summary. :o) Was that something you remember from long ago that was taught you? And, I’m not mocking you, it just reminds me of “summary statements” that are taught to children so they can remember them with rhyming, etc.

  • Not everything that was written was canonized. And those that were were done so from copies, imperfect ones as the originals were long since dissolved into dust. For the record, I’m a fan of history.

  • Yet you come here with the specific purpose of trying to shoot us all down because of your supposed theological superiority.
    How can you prove hell is real? Why do you want it to be?

  • Rick Faircloth

    Yes, there is historical reference, but more so, future.

    “Death cannot be destroyed. It is a state of non-existence. You cannot burn it.” You may not be able to, but God can. ;o)

  • Rick Faircloth

    But it is *very* interesting to find out what you do believe and how your arrived at your conclusions.

  • That is sort of what I was taught…or rather those not in the one true church would end up there, ceasing to exist

  • Rick Faircloth

    Wow, John! See what you stirred up! :o)

  • Please accept the fact that there are those where who simply see things differently. Preaching at us, does get so old.

  • Steve67

    So his comment was reflective of the type of Christianity that you would like to see??? Is his comment what you have in mind when you write of Christianity as a divinely inspired source of good in the world?? So in your mind, the Christianity that Jesus favored is one where people have the hubris to accuse people of being aroused at the idea of people going to hell. So the “Jesus” you look up to is one who-when He condemned bearing false witness-what He actually meant was bearing false witness against progressive revisionists? But those who dare to disagree with progressive revionists are fair game?? Not only are they fair game but offensive comments toward them are encouraged and, as you yourself wrote “awesome”. So that’s the loving, tolerant vision of Christianity you had in mind??

  • Rick Faircloth

    Why do you write “G*d” ? Just curious…

  • FrJesusGaylord

    I was raised by and among people like you, so I’m not a christian any more. Although it is refreshing to find people like John Shore who don’t believe in scaring people with bullshit.

  • Rick Faircloth

    The Bible. That’s what I’ve been trying to communicate. I have accepted the Bible as God’s revelation to humanity and represents Him truthfully, when it is right understood.

    The Bible’s teachings overrule all other opinions, including my own.

  • R Vogel

    It that’s the valley of the shadow of death no wonder they stopped for a picnic….

  • Rick Faircloth

    Not trying to impress you, Barbara. Just trying to share, as you are, what I believe and why.

  • You would kick your child out for not obeying rules?? You would render a child homeless? And you think they’d want to return home after such abuse? I wonder how they felt with that threat living over their heads. And people wonder why linking this concept to God is so abhorrent?

  • Rick Faircloth

    And many of us are familiar with views espoused here, as well. Just because you have thought them, doesn’t make your ideas original. However, we continue to allow you freedom of thought and expression. Can we not have the same courtesy without the vitriol?

  • R Vogel

    try someonestalkingshitabouthell.com, maybe there’s a sign up or something

  • Rick Faircloth

    You are so obtuse. Never answer a question. You made the original comment, so I assumed that you had some idea what you meant…

  • A christianity with no condemation, no fear of being rendered everlasting charcoal, no arrogance that you are free of that charcoal state, but it sucks to be the other guys, a Christianity that focuses on loving our neighbors, restoring relationships, healing the sick, caring for the poor, being grateful for the amazing gifts granted to us every day.
    It may not be for you, but for me it sounds wonderful

  • Rick Faircloth

    I won’t go into the first two statements, but number 3 needs a response. Satan is *not* in charge of hell. That is where God will put him. (In the *lake of fire*, specifically) Satan is a limited creature who will answer to God in due time.

    And, whether we like it or not, hell is God’s creation and destination.

  • John A. C. Kelley

    If you want to be Biblical, the word Hell doesn’t exist in the Bible and; therefore, to deny it is not contradictory to the Bible. Because you believe that it is Biblical, that leaves you to prove that it does. How can John Shore prove that Hell doesn’t exist if it doesn’t? Furthermore, the concept of Hell didn’t exist until Dante’s Inferno and the modern understanding comes from Germanic Pagan ideals. Your Hell is not Biblical, it is pagan.

  • Rick Faircloth

    I agree, Christianity is so much more about life, than death. But Jesus *had* to die to pay the prices for our sins so we could escape God’s wrath. (And remember, Jesus, the Son of God, part of the Trinity, is part of the Godhead who will be delivering the wrath.)

    And Jesus’ death at the hands of the Jews simply served God’s purpose in offering redemption for all mankind through the willing sacrifice of Jesus.

  • R Vogel

    He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives. Heb 2:14

    For a more expansive and interesting elaboration of how this might work you may want to look into Richard Beck’s Slavery of Death. He builds an interesting case using psychology, sociology and Orthodox doctrine.

  • Rick Faircloth

    I understand your concern. I share it. However, I trust God. I believe that what He concludes will be the right thing, regardless of what I think. So, I place my future in His hands.

  • R Vogel

    The best part about hell is all the other people you, ahem, I mean G*d gets to send there.

    It is the one part of the post I take issue with. I think the desire for a place called hell is a human thing. The principalities and powers can use it for their advantage, but they are keying into something that is pretty base human. Casting out the ‘other’ is pretty typical human behavior. To project it onto your conception of G*d seems to be just too easy. The very resistance you see to the rejection of hell for me is validation that it is on the right track. As the man said somewhere above, paraphrasing, it’s how the world works!

  • Rick Faircloth

    True, our perspectives our fallible. But we must start somewhere. I just have to be humble enough to believe that my views may be wrong. I can argue vehemently for them, but hope that if I’m mistaken God will help me conform to His view. But, at some point, we all have to take a stand.

    And, while I do agree *to a point* that accepting Scripture as ultimate authority is a subjective matter. It’s not as subjective as, say, accepting a human opinion on a matter. The Scripture has a tremendous weight of history, study, and even criticism behind its stature.

    But, accepting it as an authority is a subjective, personal decision. It’s part of faith…

  • Rick Faircloth

    You’re right, JTT. I don’t know if I could. However, I’m not God. If He does it, I trust He has good reason. But because it’s a hard teaching doesn’t justify my rejection of it. I must submit to what the Bible teaches or I risk placing myself on God’s throne.

  • there were writings of a variety of sources, all of the originals gone of course. We ended up with three main canons. the catholic, the greek orthodox and the protestant, the last came last of course. For most of church history, access to any of these has been impossible to difficult for all sorts of reasons, but mostly because books were extremely expensive to own and reproduce, as well as massive illiteracy.

    Europe wasn’t mostly Christian until the 900’s to early 1000’s, mostly because of political agreements between ruling factions. Wide access to any written work was rare. IT wasn’t until a good 400 years later before any Bible wasn’t hand copied, letter by letter

  • R Vogel

    Would you agree that the kind of evangelism would significantly change? I tend to thing of evangelism as such a negatively loaded word, essentially ‘loudly shrieking out propaganda,’ that it is hard to think of it as anything else.

  • The difference lies, in we aren’t trying to convince anyone, just sharing solidarity in the fact that there are those of us who agree on the matter of a hell-less universe.

  • Steve67

    So your assumption is that if one believes in hell, that automatically makes them arrogant, and not caring of their neighbors or restoring relationships or healing the sick and are not grateful for the amazing gifts that God blesses us with every day??

    Explain to me how conservatives are the self-righteous judgemental ones.

  • JTT

    And my guess is you believe that the bible is God’s Word, even though it was written by mortal human beings?
    Funny how one can trust these humans from years and years ago, but when someone now a days says God spoke to them and showed them truth, they are deemed crazy.
    I’ve also heard Christians state that God does not change. How then do you explain the old testament and the new testament?
    How then do you explain what was accepted then but not now? Or vice versa?
    Because everything seen or written or spoken when in relation to God, is told through the experience of the person telling it. You don’t think that it could be tainted even slightly with human agenda?

  • Rick Faircloth

    Don’t misunderstand. I gave an example of the type of extreme behavior that would lead to such an event: he chose to do drugs in his bedroom, hide them in the house, tempted his sister to do them, etc. If he could not stop this behavior, he wouldn’t be allowed to stay and destroy our family and, perhaps, ruin his sister’s life.

    And, I *never* said I would make him *homeless*. I would simply have to make arrangements for him to stay elsewhere. Besides, I might let him get away with it, but the police, if they caught him, would take him away and put him in much worse circumstances than I would to try to change his behavior. So, is my early intervention not love?

  • Steve67

    There were canonical lists as early as the 2nd century and at least two canonical lists in the 4th and 5th centuries.

  • Rick Faircloth

    I trust that since the Bible is the main means by which He reveals Himself currently to mankind (personkind ;o), He will have intervened throughout history to insure the veracity of His word.

  • I agree with you, Scott. If someone is going to make an argument about something taught in Scripture, then it should be supported by Scripture.The problem comes with… how do you use Scripture to support something that it doesn’t say?!? It’s like telling your kids, “The tooth fairy doesn’t exist,” and they say, “Oh yeah? Prove it!” How do you prove to someone (who WANTS to believe in a fairy tale) that the fairy tale doesn’t exist?

    The same is true with Scriptural doctrines. How do we prove from Scripture that they’re non-Scriptural, when Scripture doesn’t support them?

    There is a shocking amount of internal Scriptural evidence against the Catholic doctrine of hell. The Hebrew word “sheol” means “the grave,” not hell. So, the entire Old Testament does not support the doctrine. The Greek word “hades” occurs 11 times in the New Testament and is the direct equivalent of the Hebrew word, “sheol.” It also means “the grave.” So, the New Testament does not support the doctrine of hell. Finally, the Hebrew word ” “Gehenna” refers to the Valley of Hinnom in Jerusalem, which was a city dump, where all the trash was disposed of. Jesus used it as an example of how we should dispose of destructive habits. He never meant it to refer to any sort of hell. So, Jesus does not support the doctrine, either.

    There are a large number of Catholic doctrines that are not supported by Scripture. Like the doctrine of hell, they are based on MIStranslations of the Greek and Hebrew language. If we really want to know what the Bible says… it is imperative to understand it in the original language in which it was written.

  • so?

  • Kevin Miller

    Yes, of course. It’s a proclamation, not a warning. Everyone’s up for some good news.

  • Steve67

    Wow this board is filled with people who apparently have the ability to read people’s minds. Your question pre-supposes that I believe in hell only because I want to and that I have chosen it as an element of some personally defined vision of the truth. I believe in it because I believe in the authority of scripture.

  • I don’t worry at all about what happens after i die, or after anyone dies. Either there is a cessation of existence, or a renewal in a different plane. Either way, the rewards, and agonies of this life have been an incredible gift. I don’t plan on squandering it.

  • Rick Faircloth

    If you don’t like the word, “Hell”, John, we’ll use “lake of fire”. Just as bad a place to end up.

  • Andy

    I’m sorry, I think the joke went over your head. I could tell what you meant; I just chose to poke fun at the fact that the way you wrote it could be interpreted as a mathematical equation that led to an amusing, but false, conclusion.

  • Steve67

    Exactly what I wondered when I read your previous comment.

  • Excellent, John Robbins. Thank you.

  • So it is an intangible belief, based on a few passages in the Bible that you have given an authoritative stance.
    I already figured that out.
    So why are you here?

  • Rick Faircloth

    Actually, FrJesusGaylord’s comment was quite idiotic.

  • Rick Faircloth

    It’s not all about you, allegro63…

  • Trilemma

    If the Bible trumps God, that means the Bible is your God. If your understanding of what the Bible says is wrong, God can’t correct you or convict you of your error. That would mean you are beyond the reach of God because you have made your understanding of the Bible the ultimate authority.

  • Rick Faircloth

    They had the Bible. It was OT and the teachings of Jesus in verbal, and along the way, written form.

  • Rick Faircloth

    Sorry, I missed it! :o)

  • Guy Norred

    I did once have someone quote Dante to me thinking it was the Bible he was quoting (who I honestly thought should have known better–perhaps not that it was Dante, but would know it wasn’t Biblical). When I pointed it out, he actually tried to find it and eventually realized I was right. I have suspected that was a beginning of questioning a lot of things for him.

  • Andy

    That’s definitely true. A lot of outspoken “Christians”, who wear their faith on their sleeve (or possibly feign it for show) do the opposite of what Christ told us. A lot of politicians and pundits are guilty of doing this, and it sickens me. They promulgate ideologies and propose laws that oppress and exploit the poor, fortify the upper class, and deny rights to those they deem inferior (women, non-whites, LGBT+, etc.) I have no doubt that Jesus would not approve of all of these things. And yet, they have the gall to condemn to hell those “inferior” people I just mentioned.

    If there is a literal hell, I pray that it is by works that one is saved from it. It makes no sense to me why God would reward these assholes with heaven and condemn wonderful people who did good and made this world a better place just because they weren’t “Christian”, whatever that means.

  • R Vogel

    I don’t know your background, of course, but I would assume it feels like it has lost its identity because, like most of us, the doctrine of Hell was taught as such an integral part that it feels like something essential is missing.

    A radical solution to the human predicament accomplished through the incarnation, death and resurrection of Christ still presents a pretty unique identifier relative to secular humanism. The only difference between Christianity with Hell and Christianity without is that without Hell is Christ’s victory is for all people not just a select few.

  • Guy Norred

    I think you are onto something here

  • JTT

    Here is where you and I differ drastically. In my eyes you are submitting yourself to the teaching of men from centuries and eons ago, not God, but instead THEIR understanding of God,. You must seek God on your own, not through other men. The kingdom of heaven is within you.

    .. and if a mortal human could not send his son to an eternal suffering, what makes anyone think a God of PURE Love could do such a thing? Let’s take a guess … Men who wanted to push FEAR to serve an agenda.

  • Rick Faircloth

    No, not correct. I first accept that the Bible represents God’s will and ways perfectly. If I believe God is trying to tell me something, I want to know if my understanding is correct. So to aid my fallible understanding, I weigh what I think against His word. I can always trust the Bible to represent Him faithfully. It certainly has more credibility than my mind!

    One day, when this current life is over, either by my death or Jesus’ second coming, I’ll understand everything more clearly than I do now. It’ll be a relief. I hope to be able to ask God all the questions that have been raised here, and more.

    It’s like Paul realized: “Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”

    Let it be so…

  • Amy Wallace

    You’re absolutely right that the doctrine of hell was integral to my experience of Christianity, so I think you nailed that first point on the head.
    That’s probably what makes the Christianity-without-hell concept so slippery for me. If, as you say, Christianity without hell means Christ’s victory for all people, what does that MEAN? Salvation for everyone by default – everyone is a Christian automatically, since Christ’s victory is available to all? What are we saved from, if not hell? Bad living? Doesn’t secular humanism (and basically all other religions and philosophies) do exactly the same thing? I’m not trying to be a jerk, I just don’t get it.

  • jeffstraka

    Christianity would also be better if it were at least agnostic on heaven as a place after death.

  • JTT

    It’s like the old saying goes
    Old man “So, if I don’t accept Jesus as my savior I will go to hell”
    Pastor – “Yes that’s what i am telling you.”
    Old Man – “What about the people who have never heard about Jesus?”
    Pastor – “They won’t go to hell”
    Old Man – “So You’re telling me if I had never heard about Jesus I wouldn’t go to hell?”
    Pastor “Yes”
    Old Man – “Then why did you tell me?”

  • Andy

    Whether we as a people are on thin ice with God is irrelevant. I was talking about Gavin being on thin ice within this community. We do not tolerate people that promulgate viewpoints that are seriously antithetical to the tenets of this community without acknowledging that they are opinions. I would hope it is not difficult to imagine why.

    Among this community are people that have been repressed or ostracized by their families, their churches, their communities, etc. A lot of them still believe in God and Jesus but are seriously conflicted by things that people supposedly dear to them, or authority figures (e.g. priests, teachers) have told them are unacceptable about themselves. As such, we are very protective of these people from further abuse.

    In case you want an example, here are a couple that should illustrate the difference:

    “I believe homosexuality is a sin because [insert Leviticus or Romans verse].”

    This is generally acceptable commentary.

    “All you [slur]s are going to burn in hell!”

    This is not acceptable. It may be deleted, and you may be blacklisted from the community.

    Gavin’s statement that you are not a Christian if you don’t believe in hell, period, is the latter type. Do you see the difference?

  • Andy

    Some of us are.

  • Of course not. Its about all of us who have taken time, research, prayer, thought and consideration and have decided that hell is not a fit for our faith. That there is so much push back over our personal faith walks, only because it is a tad different from ya’lls is unfortunate, but sadly, not all that surprising.

  • JTT

    Amen to that!!! Once you step outside of the box, looking back looks more like a nightmare.

  • Andy

    Haha! No, actually, that’s from a song by The Meat Puppets and famously covered by Nirvana on their Unplugged in New York album. Here’s Nirvana’s version:


  • JTT

    And that is my point, who is to say He has not already intervened? Into MANY LIVES? To those of us who are waking up from this nonsense taught in fear? In love there is no fear. Look how many people are waking up from the sickening teachings of hell? You think this is coincidence?

  • Timothy L. Northrup Jr.

    do your research. learn just a bit about the language in use and about the language referenced when the Hebrew writers reference Sheol and the Apostles/Disciples reference it and Gehenna. Also, read Book 10 of Plato’s Republic or a similar work, and you’ll see the Christian version of hell was first conceived, in its original form, by a 3rd century greek philosopher.

  • Andy

    No worries. Sarcasm is difficult to convey in print, particularly if you are not familiar with the writing style of the author.

  • Steve67

    Hate to break it to you but you figured wrong. It’s not based on authority that I gave the bible subjectively but that Jesus gave the bible objectively when He rose from the dead, and that He spoke of hell as a reality quite extensively.

    As far as why I am here. Well, at this point, that is a good question. So at this point, since I am so overhwlemed by the over-flow of love and tolerance that I have seen from the likes of Mr Gaylord and John Shore, then I will leave.

  • Timothy L. Northrup Jr.

    I say that because there have been some truly wicked, self-serving people in History. I don’t underestimate our human ability to deceive or corrupt ourselves any more than I underestimate God’s ability to redeem. I know me, at my worst, and how horrible I can be or be tempted to be. I don’t think that anyone who was capable of any genuine form of love would fall into that category, but I fear some people just are that broken.

  • Al Cruise

    Pastor #2 Old man you’re still going to hell unless you speak in tongues.
    Pastor #3 Old man you’re still going to hell because you were sprinkled not dipped.
    Pastor #4 Old man to be sure your not going to hell you must read the King James Bible.
    Pastor #5 Old man you have to be elect or your going to hell. Only God chooses who is.

  • JTT

    God’s words, or the words of the apostle Paul?

  • But why are you here? What bothers you and the others so much that there are christians who can easily shed the idea of a God who would sanction most of humanity to eternal torture? Is it percieved as a threat to your personal faith, to Christianity as a whole?

  • Actually Jay started it when he said . “If hell doesn’t exist, then Dick Cheney wins. Lame,”

    I took the phrase and ran with it. My humor can be obtuse to those who don’t get it.

  • ^^this!!^^

  • Not at all. My husband believes in it. I don’t. I don’t try to convince him of my beliefs and he doesn’t try to convince me of his. We don’t insist that we are right, the other is wrong, we don’t spend any time on it at all, because we respect each other too much too much to disregard each other’s faith by trying to undermine it.

  • Jediah

    What happens to people that aren’t Christian if there is no Hell?

  • The same that happens to Christians?

  • R Vogel

    Those are kind of big questions that could not be easily answered in a short reply. There are several interesting roads you could follow – two I have recently read are Richard Beck’s Slavery of Death and Peter Rollins’ Idolatry of G*d. There is, of course, and eternal aspect at stake in christianity due to the belief in spiritual dualism which distinguishes it from anything secular. But these two books also discuss how the Jesus story may also be relevant to us in this life where sin is an impediment to truly loving your neighbor, rather than simply that which separates us from eternal life in G*d. How they define sin and describe how it hinders us from truly loving one another deviates from what you (and I) were probably taught. I found them both pretty interesting.

    I do believe that secular humanism and most philosophies and religions are attempting to do the same thing. They are tying to make sense and meaning out of a largely senseless and meaningless world. They accomplish this through different means. I am a pluralist and an agnostic theist so I am probably not the best one to ask that question as it relates to christianity. I’m not the one to make a strong case for it one way or the other. Christianity is the religious language I was raised with and I am fairly fluent, so it is often the language I use to consider such things. But I don’t think it is the only language out there. I know some words and phrases from others and try to expand my vocabulary all the time.

  • R Vogel

    Something I picked up from my Jewish friends somewhere along the way. I liked it, so I borrowed it. It is a continual reminder to me that anything we try to say about G*d will always be incomplete.

  • Jediah

    Then what’s the point of Christianity?

  • philswaim

    The problem is that Hell is mentioned in various ways in the Bible


    Just a few.

    Jesus Himself said those who are righteous (not self-righteous, mind you) will go off to eternal life. All non-righteous to eternal punishment.

    There would be a day of judgement where we are separated left and right.

    Also Paul in Acts says all will stand account for their works and words on earth.

    Sorry, way WAY too much evidence of Hell in the Bible.

  • Jay DeGraaf
  • That of course depends on who you ask.

    For some its a means to escape a firey afterlife.

    For some its to gain entrance to paradise.

    For some its because their family has always been thus, so to follow is a natural progression.

    for some it a means of communing with God

    For some its the comfort in the traditions and rituals,

    for some its a community of like minded people.

    for some its an attempt to follow a rather remarkable rabbi, using some of the examples recorded about his life as a way to emulate it through actions.

    For some its because of fear, for others peace, for some vengance, others reconcilation, for some death, for others life.

  • That would be true, if the Lake of Fire were an actual place to end up. The problem with the Lake of Fire is that it is ONLY mentioned in the book of Revelation… which, we should remember, is a “Revelation of Jesus Christ” (1:1), not a Revelation of the Lake of Fire.

    One of the most revealing passages about the Lake of Fire is found in Revelation 20:14, which says, “And death and
    the grave were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.” The reason this is interesting is because neither death nor the grave are literal things that can be literally burned up.

    Death and the grave are two things that God did not create. They are conditions of this fallen world. So are adultery and murder and lying and stealing. God did not create any of those things. So they, too, shall be cast into the Lake of Fire.

    I believe the Lake of Fire is God’s way of ridding His creation, once and for all, of all the harmful things the God did not create. So, the question is: Will people (whom He did create) end up there?

    We know the devil ends up there (20:10), but there’s some indication in both Revelation and Matthew (25:41) that the “devil” was a synonym for pagan Rome. Whether that’s true or not (and I have the no problem debating conjectural issues) the reality is…

    …we should never build a doctrine on a FEW, UNCLEAR verses. Rather, our beliefs should be built on the WHOLE of Scripture, both Old and New Testaments and the CLEAR words of Christ. And the Lake of Fire doesn’t fit that bill. We don’t know enough about it to turn it into a doctrine.

  • Jediah

    So what about the point of the Church that the bible gives?

    Matthew 28:16-20 says: “6 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.'”

  • If God didn’t create death, the grave or the lake of fire, who did?

  • Well, true, for some Christianity is about making more Christians.

  • Jediah

    Why is it not for all Christians?
    Shouldn’t it be? Seeing as Jesus gave us that mission as our goal on this earth?

  • Guy Norred

    I had wondered about your specific reasoning myself. Thanks for the explanation. I may have to consider it myself.

  • I am one of those who believe that Christianity has it wrong… but, I understand (historically) how it happened. I also believe that God is using both the Internet and modern scholarship to bring the Truth back to light.

    I believe the “fall of Christianity” occurred shortly after the fall of Jerusalem (circa 70). I also believe Paul was responsible for the Messianic Persecution that resulted from his bringing the Messianic community to Nero’s attention. Finally, I believe that the Gentile who converted to Messianic Judaism, in order to escape the Jewish persecution, had to abandon all things Jewish (they had to abandon the Jewish Scriptures, the Jewish holy days, the Jewish Sabbath, etc.) and merely pretended to participate in their old pagan practices. That’s why there is more pagan ritual and doctrine in Christianity than there is Messianic.

    But, thanks be to God for the Internet, for archaeology, for modern scholarship and for those daring, fearless individuals who are willing to stand up and declare the truth of God’s beautiful, awesome character.

  • Amen, Anon!!!

    This is exactly what John Shore is doing! We’ve had two thousand years of the unlearned and unstable wresting the Scriptures unto innocent people’s destruction. Thanks be to God for these bold, dedicated men who are willing to stand up and preach the undefiled Word of God.

  • Guy Norred

    I would say that is about this present world and helping it to be a better place. Lately it occurred to me that in order to completely fulfill the Great Commandment (not that I think anyone does or even can), the love we have for God cannot be because we fear what will happen if we don’t. Coerced love is not love at all but extortion.

  • To make everyone Christian? I don’t think so. I think the gospel was hinged more closely to the greatest commandment…the love God love your neighbor. Simple, impossible, yet so damned worth every moment of the attempt. The cool part of that is that you don’t have to be the adherent of any organized faith to engage in the practice of loving God and loving your neighbor.

    Then there is this, Jesus wasn’t a christian, nor did he sanction the orientation of a new religion.

  • I agree, Mark. Who cares about hell? Even if there were no heaven, I would still choose the Life of Christ. It is the awesome change in me that God has wrought through His Spirit that I love. It is that part of me that blesses others, that makes the world enjoyable, that gives meaning to life. If there were nothing else to Christianity but “living Christ,” I would still choose that over anything else.

  • Bones

    The vast majority of Christian scholars certainly did believe in a heaven above the clouds and hell as an underworld.that including the Biblical authors themselves. It’s only been since the discoveries of astronomy that we’ve had to change it to mean a spiritual place or another dimension, universe or planet.

    And of course in your world the priest who molests children and repents on his deathbed goes to heaven while those he raped and abused and hate anything to do with religion because of it burn forever.

    So where did hell come from? And why?

    It certainly wasn’t an early Judaic belief.

    Hint: Synchronised from Zoroastrianism/Greek.


    “Valley of Hinnom (or Gehenna), c. 1900. The former site of child-sacrifice and a dumping-ground for the bodies of executed criminals, Jeremiah prophesied that it would become a “valley of slaughter” and burial place; in later literature it thus became identified with a new idea of Hell as a place where the wicked would be punished.”

    The concept of hell has evolved.

    To quote Life of Brian “You’re making it up as you go along”.

  • Jediah

    Because without Hell you’ve just stripped Christianity of all meaning.
    Christianity is here for one reason alone. To cleanse humans of their sins and allow us to get into heaven.
    To say there is no Hell strips Jesus of His credibility as God(for He would have had to have been lying), strips Christianity of it’s mission and meaning, and in the end shows simply this:

    Either you had not thought this through and thus did not see your holes, you pick-and-choose which parts of the bible are true(which in essence makes none of the bible true), you simply have not heard of these facts before now, or you are attempting to lead Christians off the path.
    If not one of those four, I do apologize, but really those are the only options I see.

    Cause to throw your argument back at you. Why are you here? According to your religious beliefs (which sound very post-modern) as long as you can somehow interpret something from the bible then it’s all fine. So why does it matter to you whether or not people believe in Hell?

  • I totally agree. It wasn’t Christ’s death that made the impact on His disciples. After all, anyone can do that. Dying is the easy part. What turned their worlds upside down was that He rose from the dead. Christ was physically resurrected.

    Of course, today this doesn’t seem like such a big deal. But, at the time of Christ, there was a HUGE religious debate over the validity of the resurrection (which stemmed from Job 19:25-26). “Would God resurrect people at the institution of the New Earth (see Isaiah 65:17) or will they simply cease to exist?” That was the debate that raged during Christ’s ministry… and Christ answered that debate in the Garden of Gethsemane.

    Check out Matthew 22:23-33 and Acts 23:6-9. You’ll see the debate in action.

  • Jediah

    So you’re saying that really it doesn’t matter if you’re a Christian as long as you’re nice?

  • Al Cruise

    Pastor #6 Old man you need to read Tim Keller in order to be saved. Reading anyone else and you will surly go to hell.

  • Bones

    Jesus didn’t have a problem with people’s beliefs eg Samaritans, pagans.

    Why is the Great commission about saving people from Hell?

    Is there anything beneficial about Christianity beyond not being roasted forever?

  • Rick Faircloth

    “Jesus wasn’t a christian, nor did he sanction the orientation of a new religion.” Funny!!!!

  • Guy Norred

    It is a paradox, but to me it seems it matters enormously and at the same time not in the least.

  • Thanks! I’m here all week.

  • lymis

    That’s a gross oversimplification, Jediah.

    Even among human beings, a coerced relationship is seen as abusive. “Love me or I will murder you” isn’t love by anyone’s standards. So how can “Love me or I will punish you for all eternity” possibly be?

    What matters is that people pursue their connection to God, to live most fully, to love most freely. For lots of people, Christianity is the way God calls to them, the way they structure their ongoing connection to God, and the framing they put on the way they see the world around them.

    It matters to Christians that they are Christian because that’s the best and fullest way for someone called to it to live it.

    But’s arrogance literally beyond the bounds of human perception for anyone to claim that that’s the only way that God can call his creation, or the only valid path to God. Even the Bible speaks of other sheep, and many mansions in heaven.

  • Jediah

    Why are you a Christian if it doesn’t matter then? It seems to me like you would get a better response if you just said you were an agnostic.

  • Trilemma

    Are you saying your understanding of the Bible is not fallible? Why should your fallible understanding of the Bible always trump your fallible understanding of what God is trying to tell you? What assurance do you have that the Bible itself is not fallible? It still sounds like you’ve made the Bible the ultimate authority and not God.

  • I have thought this through, and spent a great deal of time coming to my conclusion, which is obviously shares by John and others.

    I do not, nor never have believed that the Bible was infallible or THE WORD OF GOD (uttered with proper mood music in the background) I have read it a great deal, as I often read past the suggested text in church growing up, often finishing up the entire book, before the pastor finished droning on for 45 minutes.

    I have seen a variety of schools of thoughts on the teaching of the afterlife, within Christianity and from other faiths as well. Taking an objective, holistic view of the teaching helped me make my decision.

    I have no desire to change anyone’s faith, it is unique to them, as mine is to me. I live, surrounded by people who’s faith views are quite different than mine. I see no need to make mini-mes religious wise.

    I’m here because John’s work is compelling and helpful, and I enjoy the interaction with others. I’m also here, because he asked me to moderate the page.

    As I”ve mentioned, my husband believes in hell. Most of his family does, as well as most of mine, and my co-workers and peers. It doesn’t bother me at all. I just don’t. What does bother me is people trying to change my mind, thinking I’ve not already been down this path, long ago.

    Why does it bother you that I, or John, or any other others who’ve spoken do not believe in hell?

  • Yes, which good any parent would do. If we use the analogy of parent with god, she would do the same. (God can be mommy too) Not write us off because we disobeyed some rules, saying, you didn’t play so burn baby burn. Instead she would try to reconcile us to a more healthy path on life. Yes we make bad choices, all of us do, but god has placed all sorts of tools about to help us on that reconciliation thing.

  • You mentioned that “God sent His Son to save us from our sin.” This is a mantra repeated over and over in the New Testament in many different ways. However, there are some things about the language of this phrase that we don’t understand today.

    1st) the word “from” is a transitory word that literally means “out of A and into B.” It means departing one place and entering into another. So, the phrase would more fully be translated as: Christ saves us OUT OF sin and INTO not sin. Which leads me to the second point.

    2nd) the word “sin” is an action word. A verb. It is an archery term that literally means “to miss the mark.” It means that whatever we were shooting at, we missed it. The word denotes an action. It is not a state of being, it is not a condition, it is not a disease or a dysfuntion or a corruption of genes. Sin is an action; sin is something we do – whether it is something we say or think or do… sin is always and only an action.

    3rd) when it says Jesus came, it means He came to earth, as a Man, and He demonstrated (by His own behavior) how to live. And, by emulating His behavior (that is, living the way He lived, speaking the way He spoke, thinking the way He thought) we will be saved from (literally “out of”) bad behavior (“missing the mark”) to godly behavior (“hitting the mark”).

    I know this is all very complicated, because these ancient concepts fall grotesquely short when translated into English – just like foreign jokes are no longer funny when they’re translated – but it helps us understand that there is WAY MORE TO IT than meets the eye.

    Like Paul, we see through a glass darkly. But, by continuing to openly and honestly and diligently study the language used by the original writers of Scripture, we will eventually begin to understand what they meant.

  • DonRappe

    Should we be careful not to throw our awareness of the evil one out with the lake of fire?

  • isitjustme

    I have to admit the Torah question has me perplexed.
    Jesus also preached repentance and spoke of judgement. In the parable of the rich man and the poor beggar He refered to the rich man being in a place of torment. If it were not so would Jesus intentionally mislead us?

  • It’s a long story, I’ve covered parts of it on my own blog

  • I like that

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    A Christianity without hell would be literally fearless.awareness of the evil While the sand slipped through the opening

    And their hands reached for the golden ring

    With their hearts they turned to each other’s heart for refuge

    In the troubled years that came before the deluge

    Some of them knew pleasure

    And some of them knew pain

    And for some of them it was only the moment that mattered

    And on the brave and crazy wings of youth

    They went flying around in the rain

    And their feathers, once so fine, grew torn and tattered

    And in the end they traded their tired wings

    For the resignation that living brings

    And exchanged love’s bright and fragile glow

    For the glitter and the rouge

    And in the moment they were swept before the deluge

    Let creation reveal it’s secrets by and by

    By and by…

    When the light that’s lost within us reaches the sky

    Some of them were angry

    At the way the earth was abused

    By the men who learned how to forge her beauty into power

    And they struggled to protect her from them

    Only to be confused

    By the magnitude of her fury in the final hour

    And when the sand was gone and the time arrived

    In the naked dawn only a few survived

    And in attempts to understand a thing so simple and so huge

    Believed that they were meant to live after the deluge

  • Cat Rennolds


  • Steve67

    For various reasons. Because I believe the denial of hell is a dangerous lie. Because, more often than not, these sort of assertions are based on misrepresentations of orthodox Christian teaching and those who ascribe to it. And this article definitely is no exception. Seriously, he makes an assertion like this- “Show me a Christian terrified of hell, and I’ll show you a Christian ready to pay good money for the assurance that he is not going there.” and provides no basis beyond his own presumptions and prejudices and he’s practically hailed as brilliant, while anyone who dares to question his assertions is automatically castigated as a fundie/hate-monger and dismissed as a “troll”. And conservatives are the reason why Christianity has an image problem?? Seriously??

    I also post because, no, I do not want people to go to hell. I know it doesn’t fit the narrative that Mr Shore and Mr Gaylord would have you believe, but we do not get some sick pleasure out of the idea of people going to hell. It sickens us and we don’t want to see it happen, so yes if someone writes something that I believe could help to send people to hell then yeah I am going to respond to it. If that makes me a fundie in your mind then so be it. I have been called worse.

    So that’s a little idea of why I would post on a blog like this. As I said, it is most definitely not because I get some sick pleasure out of the idea of people going to hell. And nor does the reality of people denying hell in any way threaten my faith.

  • Cat Rennolds

    It bothers me more that there are people who believe in it *and* believe they are going there and that there is nothing they can do about it. You can’t call it love to teach people that.

  • Cat Rennolds

    other way around. light is a thing, an actual object. darkness is just a space that doesn’t have any. if it were all light, it would be …. all light. sight might lose meaning, but light wouldn’t.

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    thanx 4 this!

    ‘the love we have for God cannot be because we fear what will happen if we don’t. Coerced love is not love at all but extortion.’

  • Rick Faircloth

    Ooh… is that an invitation to read your blog? And maybe even comment? Perhaps I haven’t been too much of a pest here as I thought! :o) URL?

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    i think what jesus prob ment was all would seek and find a relationship w/ him. jesus was pre christian wasn’t he? if you hear him he’ll send you to others in your sphere of influence and you’ll be like him; humble, merciful w/ love. if you don’t have a first hand relationship w/ him he will send you one who knows him who can help you hook up. i think that one will love you where ever you are in life and not judge but will be inspired to understand all your psych/spiritual hangups and pain. i think god has a plan and a contingentcy for everyone of us MF’s

  • louismoreaugottschalk


  • Karl

    Hi Rick,

    Remember that what’s written about hell in the Bible was not written by God. It was written by humans who believed (rightly or wrongly) that they were speaking for God. This was then transcribed and translated many times throughout history. Not to mention the fact that it was written in an entirely different era by people with different levels spiritual maturity than people today.

    The problem with all of this is that the traditional view of hell contradicts the way hell is described in the Bible. And even that description contradicts the very nature of God as we know him through Jesus. We have to choose which side of that contradiction to side with, and I know which side I’m on… God’s side.

    So no, I don’t trust myself over God. Certainly not. But I certainly trust Him over the human writers, transcribers and translators of the Bible.

  • Rick Faircloth

    Nah, don’t worry about it. Just toss our all concepts of morality, right and wrong, truth, justice and punishment. Let’s just have a free-for-all! Evil is only a concept made up by the ruling class of the Dark Ages to keep the great unwashed and illiterate masses under control! Evil is ONLY WHAT I DECIDE IT TO BE!

    So I can do anything I want to anything or anyone and label it morally as I please. The highest power is my mind. It rules over all and answers only to itself! Boy, I’ve got a lot of things I want to do and I know the people I want to do them to, now that I’m free from the constraints of religious, specifically Christian, morality and do not have to fear punishment from anyone beyond this life!

    Let loose the chaos!

    Who will join me?

  • Rick Faircloth

    Who care about making this present world a better place? I just want to make it a place that is pleasing to ME! I’m the highest authority and I make the rules for my life. So whatever I decide to do and whoever I decide to do it to is between me and them. No one else can judge me! Free at last!

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    tick, tick, tick….

  • Rick Faircloth

    Nah, Christianity is a first century human construct designed to control the ignorant and gullible! We are too smart to fall for that nonsense today! Be free from the shackles of religion! Let your mind and imagination guide you without fear or trepidation! No hell! No hell!

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    that’s what you think!

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    now i’m really REALLY comfused!

  • Rick Faircloth

    That’s right! Jesus didn’t want to start a new way of being! He was just angry that he couldn’t get rid of the Pharisees whose place he wanted to take at the head of the table! So, if he couldn’t be chief pharisee, he would discredit them in the eyes of others! And along the way, he was going to stick it to the Romans who ruled over his people.He was going to be top dog or else! Except the or else was turned on him and they crucified him as the subversive criminal that they knew him to be! If he was God in the flesh, he would have saved himself and come down off that cross! He was incapable of such a feat, because he was just a weak and pitiful man with a messiah complex!

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    who is getting lynched?

  • Rick Faircloth

    That’s right lymis! There are as many paths to God as their are thoughts to be had. Christians are just a bunch of ignorant pharisees, who think that Jesus was the only way, the only truth, and the only way to eternal life. What a crock! Ignorant morons!

    There is no way truth could only be one way! Truth is whatever each person decides it to be! You want your bedroom doorknob to be your god; your higher power? Boom! There it is! All you have to do is think and it’s the truth!

    What freedom!

  • Cat Rennolds

    you know, until now I thought you were a reasonable kind of person who was having a civil argument….

  • Rick Faircloth

    Nothing matters, Guy. All this discussion is just fairy tales. Make you own truth! it can matter enormously or not at all! Whatever makes you feel good!

  • Cat Rennolds

    Compared to the civil, thoughtful comments you were making earlier, I can only conjecture: You’ve been hijacked, you have had a mental breakdown, you are intoxicated, you simply lost your temper, or you were a troll to begin with and you got bored. Or you’re scared.

  • Rick Faircloth

    No, Christianity is just another form of crowd control! It’s a means of coercing people to give money to organized religion whose leaders then use it to arrange adventures as pedophiles! Ignore Christians and their nonsense. We spend way too much of our time and energy trying to figure out this nonsense. Just live and be free! Enjoy life any way you see fit and let the future unfold as it will!

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    is it me or does a topic like this bring out the trolls?

  • Cat Rennolds

    down boy! Sit! In the absence of a moderator: Peace, be still. Breathe. You are not acting in love.

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    thx 4 that cat wisdom.

  • Rick Faircloth

    I agree, Barbara! Just post whatever thoughts happen to enter your mind. No need to provide any sound reasoning! Throw out any radical idea and watch the dogs fight it out. It’s quite entertaining! Do you have a blog that I could read, Barbara? I won’t even ask to participate in the comments until I can free my mind from all constraints on my being. Then I can be free to dream up any truth I like and defend it without reason!

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    most prob he/she/it got high sitting at her/his/it’s computer. is it a teachable moment for he/she/it? no. just another manfesting addiction to negative attention. please don’t feed the trolls.

  • Rick Faircloth

    How great to know that! What we don’t understand fully we can just ignore! Wonderful! I’ve realized that I understand so little of the Bible that I’ve decided there’s little I should pay attention to! After all, there is no hell, no lake of fire, no wrath, no punishment, not even sin! Because I have declared it so! My mind conceives it, so it is! Wow, this is SO much easier that having a master other than myself! No wonder so many of you choose to turn Christianity into your own little kingdoms!

  • Karl

    If we love and follow God just so we go to heaven (and don’t go to hell), then that is not a loving act. It’s selfish. It’s not for God, and it’s not for others. It’s for ourselves. It’s in that case that I would ask, “what’s the point in Christianity?”. The answer would be “to selfishly pursue heaven”.

    But if hell does not exist, what then is the point of Christianity? To follow Jesus! Duh! 😉 To love God and love our neighbour! As soon as you take away the threat of not going to heaven, we are free to love God unselfishly. We no longer serve others selfishly in order to get into heaven. We do it because we love God and our neighbour and want to live that out through our actions. That is pure selflessness and is the kind of love Jesus demonstrated to us.

    We should love God and others because it’s morally right, not so we can go to heaven.

  • Rick Faircloth

    No one did! They don’t exist! They are all allegorical constructs designed to scare people enough to cause them to place money in the offering place to allow the “religious rulers” to buy chairs and staircases of gold! And that’s ok! Because that’s their truth! If they believe it, is it so. All truth is subjective!

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    rick pours another drink

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    no it isn’t.

  • Rick Faircloth

    You’re right, John! The word “Trinity” doesn’t exist in the Bible, either! It’s just a contrived word used to deceive the skeptical into believing that Jesus was divine! And, in reality, it really doesn’t matter if something’s in the Bible or not! Because the Bible is just a collection of ancient, contradictory writings cobbled together to provide ruling Authorities with a weapon to beat the “heathens” into shame and submission! Preach it, brother! Only heaven for all! No hell for anyone! We’ve come a long way since Jesus’ day and can now we say we truly walk in the light!

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    down the hatch! what is it tonight vodka or bud or bittabud?

  • Rick Faircloth

    Guy, we shouldn’t worry about being accurate or not! We are our only judges, so anything we think is correct! We have finally realized that we, ourselves, are God! Start your own religion! Take parts of this one, some of that one (just the parts you like, of course) pagan beliefs, especially the ones that involve sexual rituals and create your own set of festivals. (Of course you’ll want to make the sexual rituals coincide with your own personal sexual desires!) If you have any ideas for me to start my own religion, Guy, please share them! Since you know exactly what is in the Bible and what is not, I would want to make sure I stay clear of biblical stuff! Hey, you can be my editor for my new word of truth!

  • Cat Rennolds

    you just usually see the flip to froth sooner than this.

  • Rick Faircloth

    Actually, we could use the hot tubs for members of the congregations who desire to incorporate “hot tub sex” into worship! That’s guaranteed to fill more pews, or, rather, hot tubs! :o)

  • Rick Faircloth

    It’s too bad that the Europeans had to finally fall for the deception, huh, allegro63? That would be so much better of today without Christian influence! Oh, wait! Christianity is waning in Europe, so there’s nothing to worry about! They’ll be godless completely in no time! Party without consequences or guilt! Yeah!

  • Rick Faircloth

    Yeah, I think it would have been more fair and balanced if they had just been inclusive enough to allow any and all writings brought forward to define the Christian faith! They were so bigoted back then!

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    i guess this falls short of your expectations (i’m cringing!)

  • Rick Faircloth

    Right, Cat! Logic brings about complete consensus in all matters! Silly me, to think that we as 6 billion individuals might come to different conclusions about common moral issues!

  • Rick Faircloth

    Great perspective, Karl! Trust yourself more than you trust those who knew Jesus personally! God isn’t able to insure the correctness of the Bible! He has limits, you know! The Holy Spirit could not possible have guiding the thoughts and writings of those composing the Biblical texts!

    And, yes, the Biblical writers were certainly too spiritually immature to have written anything close to the truth. They just weren’t so noble-minded and intellectually mature as we are today! Hey, we should get together and rewrite the Bible! We have the tremendous resources of these blog commentaries to draw upon as source material! Our Bible would have no hell, only heaven, nor not, and no delineation of sin. That’s just too annoying. I think a Universalism slant would appeal to the most people, even pagans.

    And I like the idea of not disregarding what the Bible has to say about God and proceeding to remake Him in our image! So much simpler than submitting to Him as Master! Thoughts on my approach to a completely new Word of God, Karl?

  • Rick Faircloth

    Oh, come on Cat, and lmg! I’ve decided to try to do things the way everyone seems to like on here! Just throw out what you don’t like and make it up as you go! It’s more fun! As many have here, perhaps I’ve just grown weary of casting… no, not going there! I’ve just grown weary and decided to join the crowd. It so much easier to just go with the flow than paddle upstream! You should be proud that I’ve joined the “have it your way” crowd! Are you not pleased?

  • Rick Faircloth

    Oh, now you’re just hurting my feelings…

  • Rick Faircloth

    lmg, you’re about to be banished from existence. Perhaps to another world. Want oxygen there?

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    just so you know i think personal attacks, name calling, and mocking are trollish

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    well duh!

  • John A. C. Kelley

    Actually, Jesus makes clear that He and the Father are one and there is Trinitarian imagery all throughout the New Testament. Hell; however, is not supported anywhere in the Bible. This does not mean that there is no punishment. Annihilation theory still can hold some weight due to the fact that many scriptures say that those who do not believe will perish. This is explained in John 3:16. Notice that it doesn’t say be tormented in eternal fire, but it does say parish.

    If you would like to be asinine, I would suggest that you do your research first.

  • Rick Faircloth

    Yeah, he definitely has a plan for all of us, those on the left, into eternal fire! (Matthew 25:41) Those on the right, to eternal life! (Matthew 25:46b) But, you know, that’s just the Bible talking, so take it or leave it. Some ignorant boob (sorry ladies, not trying to be sexist) wrote that with a terrible hangover. He was just grouchy.

    Well, but for you, lmg, I doubt he cares at all for you. He wouldn’t even bother to clear a spot in hell for you if you deserved it. (That is, if hell existed… ;o)

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    take another hit or snort sport!

  • Rick Faircloth


  • Rick Faircloth

    And who is to say I need to act in love? Where does that concept come from? I thought we were free to act as we please? NOW you want to start having rules for behavior! Sigh, I’m so confused!

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    hate is a drug. who do you hate? why do you hate?

  • John A. C. Kelley

    You do realize that Jesus was a Jew and came to reform Judaism, not to start Christianity, right?

  • Hell, real or not, is no reason to be dick here on Earth. (Sorry, men, don’t mean to be sexist.)

  • John A. C. Kelley

    You’re not confused, you are acting in an obnoxious and immature manner. Why? I can’t say. I would assume that it is because you don’t have an intelligent argument to offer, so sarcasm is your only resort. I could; however, be wrong. Please feel free to prove me wrong.

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    #1 drug of choice; ‘i’m right’

  • John A. C. Kelley

    You do realize that the parable of the sheep and the goats is a parable about the judgement of the nations, not people. Apparently you didn’t read verse 32… “All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats;”

  • Rick Faircloth

    Oh, wait! I’m sorry. I did decide to dust off my Bible and actually see what it has to say. Hmmm…

    “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 have me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in…”
    Matthew 25:41

    Does that meet the standard of research? Or should I translate the Greek for you?

    It’s a good thing that we don’t have to take the Bible at face value and believe that it means what it says! I choose to believe Jesus was just using a parable to make a point. But why would he say that he (this writing is in red so it carries more weight!) was going to do such things to people? He is supposed to love EVERYONE! Without judgment! Who does he think he is!

    I just choose to believe that the Jesus portrayed in the Bible is ridiculous and unacceptable. That caricature is completely unacceptable. MY JESUS loves everyone, so ignore that quote. Now I feel better.

  • John A. C. Kelley

    So that supports Hell, huh? Looks like you didn’t read the 32nd verse where Christ says that is the judgement of the nations, not people. Notice how it doesn’t have any mention of believing in Christ, which I would assume is what you believe saves you from Hell.

    How about instead of being sarcastic and immature, you have a rational discussion. Last time I checked the Bible says that God is Love, but it doesn’t mention Him actually being anything else.

  • John A. C. Kelley

    Doing a scripture search on Hell doesn’t constitute as evidence… There is no evidence for Hell. If you are quoting Matthew 25:31-46, then you should reread it because that is explicitly speaking of national judgement according to verse 32.

  • Rick Faircloth

    Jesus never existed in the flesh. Just ask the gnostics. He was merely a phantasm. So no, as a non-physical being, he couldn’t have been a Jew! And Jesus was just a deluded man who deceived others enough that they began to believe in his own messiah complex! He didn’t care about Judaism, he reinterpreted it’s teachings constantly. He chased Jews around with a whip! Bully! Meany! And “start Christianity”? No…. people in later centuries just got bored with the status quo and being without power, so they made up a messiah they could call their own and ram down other people’s throats or slit them, whichever they preferred.

  • Rick Faircloth

    What are you saying, lbg? You have to use sentences to be a little more clear. Perhaps there is someone here who can read minds? Can you hook up with lmg and clarify for him?

  • John A. C. Kelley

    Jesus could not have been crucified if He “never existed in the flesh” and Jesus never chased people with a whip. You have some serious rereading to do…

  • Rick Faircloth

    Can you prove otherwise, lmg?

  • louismoreaugottschalk


  • louismoreaugottschalk


  • Rick Faircloth

    You do realize, John, that nations are comprised of individual people. A little deeper thought might enlighten. But it doesn’t matter if it real or not! If you choose to believe it, it’s true for you! But if you choose to believe it’s a deceptive lie, then it is! I love this new way of thinking about biblical teachings!

  • John A. C. Kelley

    Ironically, Rick is somewhat right in his reply to this comment… Death and the grave don’t exist. Death is the absence of existing. Life is a state of being, sickness is a state of being, etc. Death is the absence of a state. Just like silence doesn’t exist, it is the absence of sound. Darkness doesn’t exist, it is the absence of light. I think you get the point.

    The grave is another word for death and the lake of fire was not something that John stated that God didn’t create.

  • Rick Faircloth

    Now, you too are just hurting my feelings, Elizabeth. I’m not feeling the love of Christ. And why can’t I act any way I choose? Are you the morality police? According to the consensus of this group, we are able to behave any way each of us wants! We can be profane, as you demonstrated, or nice, or mean, believers, or make-believers and no one can make any form of judgment because there is no standard for behavior. Why do you believe there isn’t a reason for me to behave as you describe, Elizabeth?

  • John A. C. Kelley

    So you’re telling me that because Rome would have fallen into the category of the goats, that Paul, Simon, Peter, James, John, Matthew, etc. all went to Hell because they were a part of the nation? No, your logic is lacking.

    Judgement of the nations was a way to say that any nation who fell into the category of goats would be destroyed (ie. Sodom, Babylon, Rome, Greece, Nazi Germany, etc.).

  • Rick Faircloth

    Hate is just a mental construct used by bigots who want to demean other people. I don’t hate, lmg. I love everyone! do you hate me, lmg?

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    what is hate? what is love? why worry kimosabe?

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    what proof do you need chubaca?

  • Where on Earth do you get the idea that my opinion has anything to do with Christ’s love or whether Hell exists? You’re confusing humanism with Christianity.

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    when is the next time you’ll be sober?

  • Rick Faircloth

    Jesus’ crucifixion was just a fable, John. An allegory. The story was just to show us the meaning of sacrifice. Jesus wasn’t punished for, what does the Bible call it? Sin? That was simply a justification for the crucifixion by the con-artists of later centuries who wanted to create a religion they could control, since only 10%, according to some here, could read.

    Can you prove Jesus was actually crucified? I didn’t think so. If you can’t prove it by the scientific method, then it can’t be true.

    Never chased people with a whip? Well, those deceiving disciples must have just made up a lie trying to show that Jesus really care about God’s house. And again, can you prove Jesus never chased people with a whip? You meniton “rereading”… do you mean the Bible? You actually take any of that seriously?

  • Rick Faircloth

    I didn’t want to type Louis Moreau Gottschalk every time. And I prefer to address people personally, so lmg.

  • Rick Faircloth

    Discernment is your problem, John. ;o)

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    alcohol is bad for your liver

  • buzzdixon

    Outside of the parable of the talents, I can’t think of any parable of Jesus in which people were punished for doing wrong. The parables of the wedding feast, the foolish virgins, the prodigal son, the sheep & the goats, even the rich man & Lazarus don’t involve a vengeful authority hammering down on some schmuck who did something/s wrong, but rather the tragedy of people who had a shot at fellowship w/God but passed it over for selfish desires. They could have had everything & instead followed their own interests and wound up missing out on what God wanted to share with them.

    (And I think it’s a fair reading of the parable of the talents that Christ was talking about those who should know better — scribes & Pharisees & members of the Sanhedrin — but rather than work for God’s kingdom they did nothing for fear of offending God.)

    Hell is a condition, not a destination.

  • Rick Faircloth

    And John, I just realized you called me mean, hateful, judgmental names! Obnoxious? Immature? Sarcastic? Feelings hurt! Feelings hurt! Hater here! Moderator! I’m being labeled and judged! I thought this was a judgment-free zone! And I thought freedom of expression was the utmost goal here!

    Everyone else has been writing as they please and espousing whatever ideas they wanted to in order to re-create God and reality in their own image. I just want to play, too! Why am I being bullied?!

  • Rick Faircloth

    I worry because I want everyone to like me! That’s most important! We need to affirm one another! No tear on another down. Nothing is that important. The most important thing is to make others feel good. Truth doesn’t matter. You can make that up as you go. Don’t you like me, lmg?

  • Rick Faircloth

    Whatever you need to prove me wrong? The burden’s on you to back up your perspective, bro.

  • I like that, that Hell is a condition instead of a destination. My favorite pericope is John 8:10-11: “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she replied. “Neither do I condemn you,” said Jesus. “Go away, and from this moment sin no more.” We never know if she deserved punishment or, in fact, sinned no more. It’s irrelevant.

  • He lasted longer than I thought he would. (And, given my recent long e-mail exchanges with RF–in which he was thoughtful and kind and gentle–I’d bet my right gonad he’s now answering here drunk or stoned or something like that, cuz nothing else makes sense.) Good-bye, Mr. Faircloth.

  • Charles Toy

    Rick Faircloth, seriously? Are you just here to troll and play games? Why? If you don’t agree with the folks here why are you here?

  • Charles Toy

    Wow. You must have a really boring life. You’re not impressing anyone here. You’re acting like a complete jerk. People are trying to have a discussion here. You’re just antagonizing and annoying people. If that’s your idea of how to act as a Christian I feel really sorry for you.

  • Charles Toy

    Actually he did, when he ran the money changers out of the temple.
    “So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables.” —
    John 2:15

  • Mr. Toy! Good to hear from you, brother.

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    Powers & principalities.
    Wickedness in high places.

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    what was the point of the confederacy?

  • I’m glad you’ve joined us here, Louis.

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    but i don’t wannu prove anything to you. i just wannu love you.

  • Going on a nitpicky tangent that doesn’t entirely follow logically from my previous post (sorry) – the existence of darkness is inherent where there is light. Take a given, lighted space and put it next to an even brighter space, and the former would be ‘dark’. The only exception would be if all the light were of an equal intensity. The same happens with things like temperature, or good and evil.

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    thx 4 that! nations, systems, institutions

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    i love you kimosabe. when was the last time you went to a meeting?

  • Andy

    I am quite confused by this as well.

  • An agricultural economy dependent upon slave labor, it fought a war under the guise of states’ rights. I’m *pretty* sure they didn’t get a “don’t pass go, don’t collect $200” dice throw into Hell, but it’s your analogy.

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    Preshate that.

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    Christianity is different than being a Christ follower and friend of Christ. Christianity seems to me to have as much to do with Christ’s friends as slaves had to do w/the confederacy.

  • BarbaraR

    Even though John has already blocked you, I’ll respond: God, you’re an ass.

  • Mark

    I don’t pretend to have all the answers. I do see our sacred scriptures as being written by men, and not the “word of God” somehow channeled through those men. And in that light, I’m not sure how much of “what Jesus said” is actually what Jesus said. I try to take the overall picture of Jesus’ life.

    Rob Bell’s book, “Love Wins” has been of great help to me in coming to some better understanding of the scriptures which deal with hell, and the context in which they were written.

  • Mark

    And this doesn’t sound in the least bit silly and ridiculous to you? That this “lesser god” has been allowed, since the dawn of time, to encourage people to disobey God, and that these people, whose “crimes” all pale in comparison to Satan’s, have been being tortured, most for a period long beyond their time on earth, and that ultimately, the Satan character gets nothing more than the same punishment as the individual who blasphemed against God, who didn’t make legal the marriage to her husband, who stole food to feed his hungry children, or who had the misfortune of being born to the wrong tribe and being taught to worship God in the wrong way?

    “Whether we like it or not,” none of us really KNOWS what awaits us after death. All we have is our belief. Mine is in a God which loves unconditionally, one which doesn’t quit loving when our souls leave our bodies. One which doesn’t “lovingly” hold an eternal grudge.

  • Mark

    An actual “Evil One”? A lesser god, so to speak?

  • Bones

    Dude there are many good people in the world who aren’t good because of fear of burning in hell.

    Heck Christians could learn from them.

  • Wayne Green

    John, please provide evidence! I want to believe in universal salvation…I really do! But I need some evidence!

  • Bones


    Dude I’m jealous. Whatever you’re taking, you ain’t sharing.

  • Bones

    Wow, what a dummy spit!

    Need a hug.

  • Bones

    The Force is strong with this one.

  • Bones

    No it’s only clear to your interpretation and how you’ve been told time after time. And to question that interpretation is to make oneself liable to the fires of hell.

    It’s a horrible belief where being wrong means eternal condemnation.

  • Bones

    Is Paul god?

  • Bones

    You could try Allah.

  • Bones

    When Jesus talks of hell (Gehenna) to whom is he referring to? (Who are the bad guys?)

    Yet sinners and people of other religions receive no condemnation at all for their beliefs.

    I think persecution and a need for vengeance and retribution had a lot more to do with the Biblical authors and their communities than we realise.

  • Bones

    Bastard won’t even share.

  • Bones

    Man how many beers and packets of chips will this thread take to read through.

  • Bones

    Someone needs a hug.

  • By the bus load.

  • Cat Rennolds

    I’m actually a little worried about him. but if his earlier posts were honest, he’s in good hands and he’ll get there.

  • But what if there isn’t a hell?

    What if Satan, and a scary afterlife scenario is all a myth?
    Why should belief in God contain a very healthy dose of terror?

    Why is the goal of so many evangelicals to 1. convince people there is such a place, 2. try to talk them into joining a religious mindset. 3. write them off as future embers if they say “no thanks”?

    Where is the hope, joy and peace in a belief that God would willingly and gladly allow most of humanity to suffer eternal torture? Where is the victory in that? Where is the love?

    You see it is those questions, that people like myself have asked for years and have found the scripted answers we’ve recieved lacking.

  • I suspect he’s in the the bible is “the word of God” camp. Every every word contained was dictated directly from the divine to the pen.
    I’d personally love to ask Paul what he thinks about his personal letters being deemed thus.

  • Mark Young

    You are NOT alone! This is what I preach and teach always in our church gatherings. Your eloquent and passionate words will be shared with my people as they are still trying to she’d 177 years of proclamation of that dangerous doctrine. Thank you, John

  • philswaim

    I think reading all of Matt 25 is key. The whole chapter is about the last day and what the judgement will be like. Clearly there are those who will be separated right and left for various reasons.

    The verse you mention in vs 32 does indeed say God will gather the nations. The whole world will be gathered in this judgement. Not just one nation. Global judgement. Not only this, but the judgement has eternal consequences. Either punishment eternally or life eternally.

    There are many more scriptures about hell. Paul even talks about the day of the Lord coming as a thief in the night and how Christ will come to judge the world, but be a witness to those who are His.

    A scripture on Hell doesn’t itself constitute evidence, but read those scriptures and you will find evidence. There are plenty of references to eternal punishment in a last day in the Bible. I enjoin you not to overlook those passages. They are a part of Christ’s own words and therefore Christianity.

  • JTT

    This is ridiculous Rick. I’ve heard this all before.
    What you need to understand is that, this goes back to intention of the heart.
    Just because something APPEARS wrong and bad to the eye does not necessarily mean that it is. This could go so many ways, all a matter of perspective.
    What we need to remember most is one simple word. LOVE. “I give you this last commandment, to love one another”
    Most of the pain and suffering come from the lack of love. The deep pain that people refuse to heal – through love. One only comes to know love, when they understand the love of Jesus and the beauty that lives within them, and not many do or will ever, because Christians like to push LAW rather than LOVE and FORGIVENESS.
    They like to teach unworthiness rather than the perfection that we are (in our fault and sin).

    If a person lives in love, then it honestly becomes more of a challenge TO sin, than not to sin.
    One doesn’t need rules and regulations and laws to know what is good and what is not.
    BUT to get there, WE MUST LOVE. LOVE heals, LOVE WINS.

  • philswaim

    Mark 9:43 is another good example. Hell is specifically mentioned and he is talking about things that hinder us from being righteous and not sinning. He says it is better to cut your hand off, if it causes you to sin, and enter heaven, than to have both hands and go to hell where the fire does not end.

    Sorry, too many references to eternal consequences as a result of the end of time judgement. I don’t buy this article’s premise.

  • JTT

    No one wants you to throw up your hands and say lets just act like a bunch of animals. But I do want you to think for yourself. I want you to stop going by what you are TOLD and sit for a moment, in the silence and dig into your heart and think “What if?” Just use your own mind and heart and seek GOD. Your relationship with God is between you and him and no one else. Shouldn’t you find it on your own by seeking Him rather than being told what He is? <3 Love to you my friend. I understand your frustration.

  • Bones

    The Orthodox would say your theology certainly isn’t orthodox. Orthodoxy is in the eye of the beholder.

    Protestantism is merely Catholicism Lite except the Catholics have abandoned much of their abhorrent and medieval beliefs.

  • JTT

    Oh Rick. : ( This makes me sad. This is why you will never bring people closer to God. This is how Christians fail at Christianity, Is this how Jesus would act? Reply? Is this drawing people closer or pushing them away? I hope this morning finds you with a rested heart.

  • No one is asking you to. What it is asking is if there are people who are in agreement with a hell-less universe. There are. End of story.

  • JTT

    I hate to tell you this my friend, but I can’t tell you how many people have outcast me because of my way of thinking and how it differs from them. But one thing is for sure, I don’t care at all if they like me or not. I’m not here to please anyone or to change my heart for anyone. My job as a human being is to love others regardless of their love for me. To treat people with compassion, to serve to those in need. To do my best to live a selfless life. To do my best to lead by example and to walk in the footsteps of Jesus. But I am not and will never call myself a Christian, its just a label.
    My church even took my membership from me, stating that I cannot be a member of their “Club” because my beliefs are different. My home church, the one I have been a member of for 10 years.
    This is not what Christianity should be. Humans have poisoned it with their rules, and need for power.

  • Andrew K

    Without the doctrine of Hell, God’s justice is non-existent, thus no
    punishment for the wicked. If God turns a blind eye to evil, then a
    logical determination would be that God is evil. A thought that is
    truly more terrifying that Hell.

    Furthermore, there is no such thing a a “Christian terrified of Hell”. True “Christians” are purchased by Christ, safe in His loving care, sheltered from God’s wrath, never to be plucked from His hands. No terror of Hell exists for the “Christian” This is the beauty of the Gospel.

  • AtalantaBethulia

    I think it is possible that it is fairer to say that “Without the doctrine of hell, your (and a certain segment of Christianity’s) understanding of God’s Justice is non-existent”? but this does not mean God’s justice does not exist. It merely does not exist in the way in which you understand it.

  • Wow JTT. That’s sad. Just because you see things from a unique perspective, you are outed. I wish cases like yours weren’t so common. Somewhere along the way, segments of Christianity became exclusive minded. That’s so unfortunate and damaging.

  • So what is evil? What are the things that God determines is worthy of eternal torture?

  • AtalantaBethulia

    Hyperbole is one rhetorical tool of communication. It can be useful at times. Maybe not this time.

    This perspective though does highlight a tendency among some thinkers to rush to this all or nothing, binary conclusion, which seems… so clearly unnecessary.

  • “I’ve decided to try to do things the way everyone seems to like on here! Just throw out what you don’t like and make it up as you go!”

    What you see here is “Christ” at work in the heart.

    When that happens all the legislated and manipulated adages of the past come into perspective. The scaffolding comes down.

    This inauthentic jestering on your part just seems desperate. Not helpful.

    Why not try to learn? Trusting the integrity that comes from God.

  • JTT

    The intentions are different. You are being spiteful. they were not. See the difference?

  • Tenacious

    As an evangelical Christian for over 30 years, I was not in fear of God’s wrath – except for my fellow man. I worried constantly that they weren’t saved. I spent decades attempting to justify the proposition that God loves all people but saves only some. I never resolved the fact that eternal damnation an excessively cruel and destructive punishment for (seemingly) petty crimes. We are all infants in God’s eyes. In most cases we grew up believing what our parents taught us to believe. Yet God will punish us forever for getting our theology wrong the first time through? Knowing that there are thousands of “Christian” denominations, what are the chances that you (or I) were born into the “correct” one?

    No. I lived under the influence of hell until the age of 32, I’m in my forties now and I’ve never been happier. My theology is far more consistent with Jesus’ teachings, and I am for the first time in my life free to love God, myself and others completely — without judgement.

  • R Vogel

    I actually love the word All*h. I have been known to use both personally or among intimates. I’m not sure using in in a public forum would not simply create unnecessary confusion or appear disrespectful. G*d seems to be an appropriately generic term for what I am trying to express.

  • lymis

    Perfect justice takes into account all the factors that went into the infraction. Human justice has to make approximations because we can’t weigh all of someone’s motivations, past history, social and biological influences, and everything else.

    God can.

    Seriously, given that human beings live at most somewhere around 100 years, and that no matter how heinous an act in human terms, God also has the ability to comfort those who were victims in life, what could a human do that would possibly justify a literal eternity in torment?

    Seriously, even if you believe in lakes of fire and demons with pitchforks, Purgatory makes far more sense than Hell – especially given the point of the whole story of the Prodigal Son.

    Nobody and nothing can exist independent of God. So nobody and nothing can ever be completely cut off from God. And where there is a connection to God, there is the possibility of redemption. Any claim to the contrary flies in the face of all we know about God.

    Far from a lack of Hell being proof of an evil God, the idea of a hell where people who realize their error and cry out for God will never be heard would be such a proof. In an effort to imagine a God who doesn’t turn a blind eye to evil, you claim a God who turns a blind eye to suffering and repentance. That’s far worse – and to me, blasphemous.

    We claim to believe that what happens to us after death is more important and more real that what happens here in our limited incarnations on earth. We claim that God is all powerful. We claim that the most important part of what makes us children of God isn’t our bodies.

    And yet you are willing to celebrate eternal consequences for ephemeral acts, rather than a God who sits down with the sinner and says, “What were you thinking?

    We arrest and jail parents who murder their children for breaking a rule rather than sitting down and helping them understand what they did was wrong. And yet you claim that the Ultimate Parent doing the same thing is a terrifying and unacceptable concept.

    If your God behaves in ways that would have a human arrested by DCFS, there is something wrong with your picture of God.

  • “Sigh, I’m so confused!”

    A trail of lies makes it hard to find your way home. What are you doing?

    Just say the word, and someone can throw a bucket of cold water on your head.

  • lymis

    Well, that’s silly.

    If a significant part of one’s argument is that the Bible is not inerrant, or literally true, and that we have other forms of access to God, not the least of which is the presence of the Holy Spirit acting in our lives and in the world around us, it doesn’t follow that Scripture has to be used to defend scriptural interpretation.

    We don’t have to “prove from Scripture that they’re non-Scriptural.” We can use science, human experience, and our own collective interaction with a Living God to note that often, the Bible writers (even if we grant their best intentions) got things wrong, and that unquestionably, other people’s interpretations of things in the Bible are wrong for a lot of reasons.

    I’m no longer Catholic, but the Catholic Church has never claimed Scripture to be its only source of truth. While I disagree with a lot of what they do claim to be truth, I fully agree with them that the Word of God to humanity neither started with, ended with, or was ever exclusive to, the words collected in the Bible.

    Disagree with the Church all you like – God knows I do – but don’t try do discredit things they never claimed to say.

  • Guy Norred

    I am copying this into my reference folder.

  • Steve67

    There is a difference between Orthodox (capital O) and orthodox, ie right teaching consistent with scripture and what was passed on by the historic apostolic church.

  • Andrew K

    Breaking any one of the 10 commandments

  • Guy Norred

    The first I remember of him was a late night flurry of comments on another post that were fairly quickly deleted the next morning. They were considerably meaner spirited in general than these last ones and I remember thinking when I saw the name again that I wasn’t sure it was the same person. I understand your concern but share your hope.

  • Jill


  • Andrew K

    Curious to hear your understanding of God’s justice.

  • Jill

    I always enjoy your comments, Bones. Something to look forward to.

  • Jill

    If I heard things broken down like this in church sermons, I’d actually attend services.

  • SeraphicFather

    The question how do you ignore the words of Jesus who spoke of it more than any other place or time in scripture. Well, perhaps the historical methodology of scripture where we consign the things we don’t like or agree with to the scrap heap of that time period. Or the ever-present argument of taking scripture too literally except of course the very like-able things such as forgiveness which we must take Jesus at his absolute word.
    We live in a time period where there is a desire to re-create God in our own image and likeness, which is certainly present in this article. Love does not force itself upon anyone or any thing….hence we come to the doctrine of hell. Hell is the outcome of the choice against love. Ultimately God ‘respects’ that as our choice, the choice away from him. So a Christianity without hell is a Christianity without choice…Because in the end their are two freedoms at work; divine and human. In the world of choice the last one to be made will be that of God in his sovereign way…please note Mt. 25:31 for a measure of that sovereign choice. Also not in that parable how much love matters both in this life and the next!

  • Jill

    And yet God is said to have created humankind in his image, so it’s like we’re looking in a mirror.
    Do we respect parents that would throw their disobedient children into a furnace? So why would a human parent be more righteous than God?

  • James

    A finite sin is worthy of eternal torture? How is that any kind of justice, much less “perfect justice?”

  • As we’ve said repeatedly, we understand the view you are presenting. We just happen to see what Jesus had to say on the matter from a different perspective. To reject the concept of eternal torture is not rejecting God at all, but a theology that we see as highly problematic.

  • James

    Asking for evidence in favor of any given theology is like asking a rock to write a book.

  • Steve67

    “What if Satan, and a scary afterlife scenario is all a myth?
    Why should belief in God contain a very healthy dose of terror?”

    Well if that’s what you believe then it shouldn’t bother you that I would post on here. Why does it bother you?

    And why would I want to convince people that hell is real?? Because I don’t want them to go there. I don’t really care whether someone adopts a “religious mindset”-whatever the hell that means- I just want people to know the truth.

    “Where is the hope, joy and peace in a belief that God would willingly and gladly allow most of humanity to suffer eternal torture?”

    There is hope, joy and peace in a God who would give of Himself so people don’t suffer and die for eternity.

    “You see it is those questions, that people like myself have asked for years and have found the scripted answers we’ve recieved lacking.”

    And you see, we have heard these questions ad nauseum for years, and those question have been answered yet the questions still come. I get your frustration, but it’s frustrating for us when you respond to the answer we give by dismissing it as “scripted”, as if we have not given this any thought ourselves. Or as if we are just parroting what we’re told to say. And it’s not just about whether you agree with me or not. It’s clear that you don’t. But it’s one thing to simply say you don’t share my belief, and it’s yet another to assume that my only interest is in pushing some “religious mindset” and that I am just parroting a scripted response. In other words, it’s one thing to respectfully disagree, it’s another to condescendingly disagree. And it’s completely disingenuous for Mr Shore to purport a desire to see a more loving and tolerant Christianity while making baseless generalizations and accusations toward those who have a different belief regarding the doctrine of hell than he does. Can you at least see that?? And in that same spirit, since you asked me if my faith was threatened by people having a different belief regarding the doctrine of hell, I wonder why you don’t wonder the same thing about Mr Shore-whether his faith is threatened by those who do believe in hell, given how insulting and condescending his comments toward them were.

  • So people who don’t worship on on the Sabbath are doomed to eternal torture? Has anyone actually figured out what take the lord’s name in vain mean? How is either of those evil?

  • Im guessing on this, but does justice equate punishment to you? Because in every case, where the word is used in Christian conversation that’s what justice always means…punishment.

  • KentonS

    Did you read Love Wins? It’s not an exhaustive answer, but if you really want to believe in universal [reconciliation] but need some evidence”, it’s a good starting point. It clocks in at under 200 pages and reads pretty quickly. There are more scholarly attempts at evidence after that, but start there.

  • SeraphicFather

    That is exactly my point!! Humankind is in the image and likeness of God…but see that for what it is: When I look in the mirror I see the image of me but it is not me. The ‘me’ is wholly other and altogether different (by the fact of my independent reality) and exists apart from the image: it is contingent on me being in front of it. The difference is that ‘I’ am real and that image is the replication. In God the only way it (the image) becomes real is by its participation in the life of the One who creates it and that is only done by choice and that is love.

  • Andrew K

    Taking the Lord’s name in vein is using God’s name in the form of a curse word, in essence, dragging the name of the Holy Creator through the Mud. Yes, those who break the commandments are guilty of breaking God’s law and are doomed to hell. They are evil because God, who is holy, says they are evil. In fact, Jesus says you who look with lust are guilty of adultery. You who hate one another are guilty of murder. (Matt 5:21-30) So… allegro63…how have you done? Have you kept the commandments?

  • Andrew K

    There is no such thing as a “finite” sin. All sin is equally, horrendously offensive to a Holy God. James 2:10

  • Ebook

    You are not alone! Bring me this kind of Christianity, stat!

  • Andrew K

    “Justice”, at least the way I understand the Bible to define it, would mean “payment”. More like a debt to be paid. The “debt” to be paid for breaking God’s law would be “death” – both physical (end of life), and spiritual (eternity away from the presence of God in hell).

  • JTT

    Let’s, for a moment .. talk about God’s Justice.
    From the Christian point of view, a man can do horrible things his whole life, rape children, murder people, whatever you can imagine, BUT.. on his death bed he can cry out for God’s mercy and say that he believes Jesus is his savior, and he suddenly has a ticket to heaven. Disregard all the hurt he has caused people. (Where is the justice here?)
    On the flip side, you have a kind compassionate human being who has stirred clear of religion and yet has cared for and loved God’s children (Other human beings) .. and this person has a one way to ticket to hell to be tortured for eternity. Justice?

    Excuse my language but – WHAT THE !@%^%!?
    Something here seems DRASTICALLY wrong.

  • Donovan Shaw
  • John A. C. Kelley

    You should do some research bro. Jesus says Gehenna, not Hell. Gehenna was a garbage dump outside of Jerusalem in the valley of the son of Hinnom. It was a place where bodies were burned and was deemed evil due to the child sacrifices that were once held there.

  • Jesus’ name didn’t exist when the Old Testament was written so I doubt that law was referring to saying “Jesus Christ” when someone cuts you off in traffic. Taking the Lord’s name in vain means making a vow or promise in His name while not planning to keep the vow or breaking the vow later. It also means calling yourself a Christian (the Lord’s name) and behaving in a manner that shames him.

  • lymis

    It absolutely does not follow that a “choice against love” is an irrevocable and eternal situation, even if God honors our option to make such a choice while we are alive.

    We humans don’t do that – when someone hurts us, even deeply, we recognize the option to reconcile, forgive, and forge new bonds that, while different from the bonds of “never been hurt” are still real and valid. When we love hurts themselves, we often see it as a Christian duty, as well as a deep expression of human love, to keep the doors open to them and help them find their way back to better and more loving choice. Why think less of God?

    If people remain people after we die, why would the ability for God’s grace to touch us, heal us, and reconcile us to new and better choices end with our death?

    With all eternity to work with, why take it as a given that God writes anyone off for all eternity? And how can anyone claim that doing so would be either loving or just?

    A Christianity without hell is NOT a Christianity without choice. It’s a recognition that cutting ourselves permanently off from God’s love and grace isn’t one of the choices any of us have available to us.

  • lymis

    And that choice – to participate in the love of God – isn’t one that ends when our body dies. How could it be?

  • John A. C. Kelley

    Reread that passage that you literally just quoted… Who does it say that Jesus chased out with a whip of cords and what is a whip of cords? It says Jesus drove all the sheep and cattle from the temple courts with a whip of cords. If you did your research, you would know that a whip of cords was not an abusive weapon, but was an animal husbandry item that was not used for striking, but for creating loud, sharp cracking noises that herded cattle and sheep. It does not say anywhere that he used said whip on people and to do so would not have hurt or done anything to any effect in the first place.

  • The mirror analogy is a nice one, yet an imperfect, incomplete one. God doesn’t have to be standing in front of anything for us to exist. We do so regardless. We don’t cease to exist if we are acting unkindly or selfishly. The faith status we find ourselves is irrelevent to our existence, or to our connectivity to God and it isn’t dependent on that mirror either.
    I think what it means is weshould try to imitate or mimic the nature of God throught our actions having the capacity to do so, as it was put into all of us.

  • lymis

    You have constructed an image of an incredibly petty God.

    If all sin is “equally, horrendously offensive” to God, then all sin is equally capable of being redeemed by a God who doesn’t get his knickers in a twist by people being people.

  • lymis

    Nobody can exist “away from the presence of God.” That implies that human souls have an existence independent of God.

  • Really? Well people sure don’t act that way. The categorical way “sin” is bandied about, with some activities getting a free pass, and others, just being categorized a certain way, are deemed a surefire highway to find oneself firepit fodder, no matter what. I don’t buy it for one moment.

  • Hell as hellfire is largely a Roman Catholic creation intended to control the herd and evoke dollars. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man describes a sermon that covers it from all the angles, and can make your pants pull off you and run away. We are in relative terms here. Connection to God and the universe vs. pain and solitude on earth can be quite a difference. Never seeing God (which I doubt is possible as this place sets up) would be, therefore, a good enough hell for most.

  • The evidence is the cross. If hell exists, the cross means nothing. Jesus took on all sin and destroyed it on the cross. All sin. Why? Because he loves us. All of us, past present and future. All of us millions of humans are so deeply loved by Jesus, that he died on the cross to destroy our sins. Now, how can that possibly gel with Jesus then turning around and physically torturing those same people for all time? Because that is what the concept of hell says. That Jesus, who loves us all so eternally deeply, will physically torture us for eternity unless we say some magic words. The concept of hell falls apart in the face of the cross and in the face of Christ’s love.
    If we, as humans, would not physically tie down and slowly burn our loved ones when they hurt us, why can we so blithely imagine that God would?

  • John A. C. Kelley

    Christ never mentioned “Hell” once, He used Gehenna, which was a garbage dump outside of Jerusalem in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom. This is the place where the bodies of the dead were burned and wild animals ran free. This explains when Jesus said the Phrisees would not escape being burned in Gehenna in the darkness and gnashing of teeth. Their bodies would be cremated, both Jew and Gentile alike in the darkness of the valley, with the gnashing of teeth from the animals.

  • I’ve heard that explaination of the third commandment as well as others. All that proves is that is certainly subjective, and that we should only judge ourselves on the matter, not others.

    You don’t mention your take on the 4th commandment.

    I follow, or try to follow two commandments. I do so imperfectly, but I have no need to fear eternal torture, nor do I think anyone does.

  • so its punishment.

  • Oh, Lymis. That makes me so happy. 🙂

  • lymis

    Nobody is saying to toss away all concepts of morality, right and wrong, truth, or justice.
    Some of us are saying that proper behavior motivated ONLY by the fear of punishment is coercion, manipulation, and abuse, not morality.

    Morality only begins when you do the right thing because it’s the right thing and you choose to do it because that’s who you choose to be.

    We impose punishments on children because they haven’t developed the adult sense of taking their place among grown-ups.

    My God doesn’t want a bunch of people who are cowed into fearful submission, afraid to put a foot wrong, any more than my parents taught me to be terrified of them so I wouldn’t piss them off. They raised me to be a loving, caring, adult who freely chooses to be a decent human being, even when I don’t feel them hovering over me with some sort of weapon to smack me down.

    When we were children, we thought as children. Now that we are adults, we should be able to set the need for punishment aside and embrace love because love it the better choice.

    The need for Hell is a choice to remain a moral child.

  • Stryker

    Lymis, where do you get that nobody can exists “away from the presence of God”. And will you define what you mean by “presence”?

  • John A. C. Kelley

    Did I insult you? I think you need to read again. I did not call you any names whatsoever. Obnoxious? I said that you were acting in an obnoxious manner. Immature? I said you were acting in an immature manner. Sarcastic? I said you were employing sarcasm as a resort. You were not labeled, nor were you judged. I did not call you names or personally defame you. I pointed out that your current behavior is not mature.

    No one has been recreating God in the light that they want Him in, they are interpreting scripture to the best of their ability. If you disagree, then offer an argument, not rude and snide comments meant to get a rise out of people.

  • Stryker

    Mark, it’s quite startling that you’d embrace John’s blog post in such a significant way when he offers no rationale for his “wishful thinking”. His blog post is just a “wouldn’t it be nice, if…” statement. You take his mental meandering as support for your position so much so that you’ll share it with other Christians? You “due diligence” in supporting your theological stance is questionable, to say the least.

  • Stryker

    And how do you get your information from God, brmckay?

  • Andrew K

    You are tapping into your God-given desire for justice to be served. That is good… It’s there for a reason, but you, like so many others, do not understand neither the weight of sin, nor the holiness of God (neither do I for that matter – as I don’t think we will ever exhaust that contemplation). The truth is, that we all are guilty of sin, even the kind, compassionate human being who has steered clear of religion and cared for and loved God’s children. Even that person has broken the 10 commandments, we all have. The question is NOT, “how can God condemn good people to hell.” The question is, “how is it possible that God would allow ANY one of us into heaven.” Because none are good. If God were to rid the entire world of evil at midnight tonight (execute justice), every one of us would be doomed, none would be spared, myself included.

    You have also tapped into a grand question, and it comes straight from the Bible…

    Proverbs 17:15
    He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous
    are both alike an abomination to the Lord.

    What did God do to Jesus on the cross? He punished His perfect, holy, righteous Son, Jesus, who did not deserve that punishment, for the sins of those who trust in Him. What does God give wicked, evil sinners who trust in Christ? Eternal Life… right? How is that justice?? It seems as though God is doing something that is abhorrent to Himself!

    John Flavel shed some great light on this, when he penned, “An Imaginary Conversation Between God the Father and God the Son” it reads…

    “Here you may suppose the Father to say, when driving his bargain with Christ for you:

    Father: My son, here is a company of poor miserable
    souls, that have utterly undone themselves, and now lie open to my justice! Justice demands satisfaction for them, or will satisfy itself in the eternal ruin of them: What shall be done for these souls And thus Christ returns.

    Son: O my Father, such is my love to, and pity for
    them, that rather than they shall perish eternally, I will be
    responsible for them as their Surety; bring in all thy bills, that I may see what they owe thee; Lord, bring them all in, that there may be no after-reckonings with them; at my hand shalt thou require it. I will rather choose to suffer thy wrath than they should suffer it: upon me, my Father, upon me be all their debt.

    Father: But, my Son, if thou undertake for them, thou
    must reckon to pay the last mite, expect no abatements; if I spare them,I will not spare thee.

    Son: Content, Father, let it be so; charge it all upon me, I am able to discharge it: and though it prove a kind of undoing to me, though it impoverish all my riches, empty all my treasures, yet I am content to undertake it.”

    This is the gospel. God’s plan to redeem a people from a world full of injustice, hurt, pain, evil, disease, and ultimately death. There is glorious mystery in the cross. A mystery I will cling to until my death. I encourage everyone on here to do the same. Repent… put your trust in the one who paid your debt… and live!

  • Stryker

    JTT, what if Rick has arrived at his conclusions after many years of silence before God and digging into his heart and considering all possibilities? I think he would agree that “What if” has to end at some point and convictions take their stand.

  • Stryker

    But, after reading some of earlier comments, I think Rick would say that Christian maturity allows us to accept hard things, as we do when we mature from children to adults. Being able to accept and submit to things we don’t find appealing is more a mark of maturity than simply trying to change the game.

  • Andrew K


  • Andrew K


    Question: “If God is omnipresent, does that mean God is in hell?”

    God’s omnipresence
    is one of His essential attributes. His justice is also essential, and,
    therefore, it is necessary for Him to punish sinners who do not trust
    in Jesus for
    salvation. Thus, we have a God who is referred to as everywhere present
    yet who maintains a place called hell, described as a place where
    people are removed from His presence (see Matthew 25:41).

    Three passages are particularly important to this discussion. First is Psalm 139:7–12,
    in which David says, “Where shall I flee from your presence? If I
    ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are
    there!” Sheol is simply a transliteration of a Hebrew noun that means “the grave” or “the place of the dead.” Sheol is a broad term and is not synonymous with hell, the word commonly used to refer to the eternal place of punishment.

    Second Thessalonians 1:7–9 says that those who do not know God “will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might” (emphasis added). Yet Revelation 14:10 says that any who worship the antichrist “will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb”
    (emphasis added). These two verses are by far the most confusing on
    this topic because of their apparent contradiction. Even so, there is a
    rather simple explanation found in the original Greek.

    In Revelation 14:10, “presence” is a literal translation of the Greek enopion,
    which means “in the presence of, before.” This is a spatial word,
    suggesting proximity and literal, measurable distances. In contrast, the
    word translated “presence” in 2 Thessalonians is prosopon, which most commonly refers to a person’s face or outward appearance. Paul appears to have taken this verbiage directly from Isaiah 2:10 as found in the Septuagint.
    There are other references to God and His people being “separated,”
    even on earth. Jesus’ cry of agony on the cross is one example (Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34).
    Theologian Dr. Louis Berkhof teaches that Paul refers to “a total
    absence of the favor of God.” This description of hell would present a
    more exact opposite to heaven. Heaven provides blessing and wholeness
    not through being closer spatially to God, but by being in
    complete fellowship with Him. Hell is associated with a complete lack of
    blessing due to the severing of any fellowship with God.

    Ultimately, it appears that God is indeed “present” in hell, or hell is
    in His presence, depending on how one looks at it. God is and will
    forever be omnipresent. He will forever know what is happening in hell.
    However, this fact does not mean that the souls imprisoned there will
    have a relationship with God or any communication with Him.

  • Stryker

    JTT, I’m sure Rick appreciates you concern. But it seems that he would say that he is most definitely concerned with drawing people near to God. That would seem to be his only goal. But, I believe, he wants to make sure they are drawn to the one true God, and not a false image, which could lead people to terrible, eternal consequences.

  • Andrew K

    That’s how “people” break the 2nd commandment. They make a God to suit themselves. A God, “in their own image”. They serve a God who looks upon some sins as okay, and others as “crossing the line.” The Bible says all sin crosses the line.

  • Stryker

    Wow, JTT, I’m sorry to hear you had to experience being ostricized from your faith community. Would you be willing to share what doctrine(s), in particular, caused your congregation to take such an extreme step? Sorry for you pain…

  • Andrew K

    Yes, all sin is equally capable of being redeemed. Where sin abounds, grace increases. (Romans 5:20) But again, if God turns a blind eye to sin, where is His justice? The answer is in the cross. Christ took our punishment for us. The gospel is the answer. Sin demands justice. Christ died so that God could be both just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Christ. Our response must be none other than repentance of our sins, and fully trusting in His righteousness, not our own.

  • John said: “Tell me I’m not alone.”
    I say: “You’re not alone, my brother! I am with you every step of the way! I insist!”

  • im with you on that, which is one of the reasons hell just doesn’t work.

  • Stryker

    I think Rick would say it’s just really aggravating to have serious, beneficial discussions about the truth of matters, when there are no agreed upon sources of authority and every thought carries equal validity, whether substantiated or not.

  • Andrew K

    Christ is our Sabbath. The Sabbath was instituted to point us to a greater rest… in Christ. Likewise, all the commandments were meant to point us to Christ. Because we cannot fulfill them. Col 2:16-17… 16Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day— 17things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ. Hebrews: 4:8-9 9So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. 10For the one who has entered His (Christ’s) rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His.

  • Stryker

    With or without substantiation, Ebook?

  • Stryker

    I agree.

  • isitjustme

    So I suppose how we look at scripture is what leads us to very different conclusions. While it is true the Gospels were written years after the events the men who wrote them spent time with Jesus or researched the events and therefore I believe the record is accurate.

    If the Bible is not reliable on what do you base your faith?

  • JTT

    You are right that each and every one of us are sinners, and I do put my trust in God and in Jesus, whom I aim to try and be like (which is a daily challenge) I choose to LOVE others, and still after being raised in a southern baptist church for 36 years, I do not and will never again believe in a place of torment established by God.

    “forgive them for they know not what they do”
    Humans are ignorant to their own purity within, their own part of the holy spirit that lives within them.
    For if they knew where they came from, they would treat themselves and others in a completely different manner.

    The bible speaks of a jealous God and then says that God is love, and then says that Love is patient and kind and not jealous or boastful.
    Which one is it?

  • Stryker

    lymis wrote: “With all eternity to work with, why take it as a given that God writes anyone off for all eternity?”

    Because God said so, as best I can honestly discern from what the Bible teaches. I don’t have the option of changing the way God has set existence. To try to do so, would be attempting to displace God from His sovereignty and put myself on His throne. I just can’t go there, personally…

  • Stryker

    But what substantiates your rejection, allergro63? Do you trust your thoughts more than the Bibles claims? Or do you interpret the biblical passages which speak of hell, eternal punishment, the lake of fire, etc., in a manner that disqualifies them as truth? And when you say ” *we* see as highly problematic”, who is “we”?

  • Yeah….no thanks. That version of god is abhorrent to me.

  • So you are ok with God sanctioning most of humanity to eternal torture? You youreself are safe, of course, right?

  • Mark Young

    Stryker, you make several assumptions that need to be checked. First, you assume that I cannot see what John’s lovely reflections really are… Wishful thinking. Indeed, that is what it is: wishful thinking that fundamentalists would learn to Understand the Bible, not just quote it, wishful thinking that future proclamation of the Gospel would be a divine celebration of the ineffable love of God, not angry, judgemental tirades threaghtening people to hell. I get what he is saying. Second, you assume I need his thoughts to support my own position. I was raised in a fundamentalist church. I have come to the conclusion that hell doesn’t exist after 35 years of intense and in-depth Biblical study, that includes having learned to read Biblical Hebrew and Greek. I have moved, slowlyvand cautiously away from my fundamentalism precisely because of my “due diligence” in immersing myself in Biblical study. You also assume that you have the authority to question my ministry and proclamation, and you seem to assume that John and I owe you an explanation.
    I do not. I preach and teach the incomprehensible love of God with conviction and enthusiasm, and I will never care if you like it or not.
    I wish you well on YOUR journey, and ask you to stay out of mine.

  • I don’t have to explain myself, other than I have taken a great deal of time to consider the matter, and have concluded that any God who claims to love people so much that he’ll destroy most of them, is not the God for me. So either the God is wrong, or the teachings about God are. I believe the latter.
    And the we is all of us, who have agreed that the teaching of hell is anethema to our faith.

  • That’s not justice then. Its only condemnation.

  • Sigh. more sermons.

  • JTT

    So you believe God wrote the bible?

  • Stryker

    We are not given, as parents, authority to “throw our disobedient children into a furnace”, Jill, but God has that authority. Your objection was raised as recorded in Scripture in Romans 9, which deals with God’s sovereignty over His creation:

    “What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! For he says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.'”

    “It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: ‘I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”

    “Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.”

    “One of you will say to me: ‘Then why does God still blame us? for who resists his will?’ But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? ‘Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’ Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?”

    “What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath – prepared for destruction? What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, who he prepared in advance for glory…?”


    This is a hard teaching, to say the least. But because I find it difficult, doesn’t mean I have the authority to ignore it and say it is untrue and unfaithful to God’s character. I trust the Bible to define God’s character than more own fallible mind and sinful heart.

  • JTT

    Which would be 99.9% of Christians.

  • Ebook is welcome to his or her beliefs. We do not expect explainations why here.

  • But what is sin? If its just the ten commandments, then I guess being of another faith is ok, just as long as one puts the Jewish God first, I guess gossip is ok, as well as same sex marriage, being LGBT, divorce and remarriage, as well as having multiple spouses, working in a liquor store or a strip joint, smoking, drinking alcohol, getting tipsy, getting soused, being lazy, eating anything you want, being a full fledged glutton, not attending church, not being charitable…
    none of those are in the ten commandments.

  • JTT

    I didn’t mean to delete my previous comment. 🙁
    But I ask of you, if we can’t ask why he would condemn those to hell, but instead we must ask, why would he allow anyone into heaven – then lets ask?
    Why would he? BECAUSE HE LOVES US. Everyone. Each and every soul is loved beyond measure. We cannot even fathom God’s love which is why we act horribly and sinfully.
    We know not what we do.

  • Stryker

    And “the nature of God” is most clearly defined by Scripture, not by our sincere and honest, but wishful, thinking.

    “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6″

    “Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil. this will be health to your body and nourishment to your bones.” Proverbs 3:7-8

    And even more to the point:

    “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9

  • Stryker

    Because God set it up that way. That’s the way it is, whether we understand it or like it, or not.

  • JTT

    I’ll answer this question. As for me, When things just didn’t feel right, (The Holy Spirit Speaks Loudly Inside!) I decided to not be TOLD what to do, and how to feel and how to act, but instead I took it upon myself to seek God with all of my heart mind and soul, through a personal relationship between Him and I.
    I found God when I cried out for him in my lowliest and most agonizing times in my life, and He found me and carried me and showed me truth and how it has been monopolized and twisted and how people, even though they naturally question, are too afraid to steer away from what they believe to be the Holy Word of God for FEAR of HELL.

    What they seem to not understand is that God tried to show the way through Jesus Christ, but humans wrote the bible and it was tainted with their emotions and their perspective of things and it has become far from the truth because people want to take judgement into their own hands and push Law rather than Love.

  • Robert Hunt

    So it is in fact predestination, only universal predestination to salvation. Sorry. I’ll take free will – the choice to deny God is the choice that makes us human.

  • Stryker

    Well said, Andrew…

  • Stryker

    But, again, JTT, by what authority do you declare “a place of torment” to not be a part of reality for all people? Or is it just a situation that you declare can not be imposed by God on you? My point being, we simply cannot, based on experiences past, present, or future, redefine reality. We do not have the authority nor the power to do so.

  • Stryker

    Oh, but JTT, we do know what we do. Each of can recognize sin in our lives.

  • Stryker

    Oh, my, lymis… You would accept DCFS judgments over God’s?!

    What you are saying, lymis, is that you don’t like how God has set up the world and eternity to work. So you reject the God of the Bible, recreate God in your own image, in a manner that satisfies your concepts of mercy, grace, judgment, and punishment.

    Would this not be true, lymis?

  • JTT

    It was very painful, I admit. But I am over that pain and I love them all none-the-less. They felt it was important to stand by their beliefs, which I admire. Unfortunately the sad part is, my children do not understand and this has been an awful example for them. 🙁
    My church is/was a southern baptist church.

  • SeraphicFather

    “If people remain people after we die…”
    This is a very big assumption. It would real to us to understand that death changes things….a reality of hell is not merely going to a place and being the person you were in this life in another horrific reality. The former person (at least as we knew them) is gone. That is to say the intrinsic loss of the good qualities of the person and it is to say they are no longer a person as we would know. Case in point the devil. It wasn’t his former state he retained in hell but he is other than his existence prior to that fall.
    This is where Jesus leads when he talks of eternal death in the Gospel.

  • Stryker

    Well, that’s convenient. But will this form of discussion lead other to truth?

  • JTT

    Of course we recognize when we hurt another, what I mean is that we know now what we do against our own purity. This sin is NOT who we are, it is what we have become.
    What we fail to know, is who we truly are. Made in the image of God. If only for a moment we could look into the eyes of another or into a mirror and into our own eyes and see the light of our soul, The image of God. What a difference our actions would be.

  • It may come as a shock to many people, but the church through scripture and tradition, which scripture is a part of, has taught Universal Salvation. I can do a brief demonstration here, at the risk of sounding “preachy.” I will keep it brief as possible….

    “If, because of the one man’s trespass, death exercised dominion through that one, much more surely will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness exercise dominion in life through the one man, Jesus Christ” (St. Paul the Apostle, Romans 5.17, NRSV used throughout).

    In other words, if Adam’s sin and transgression entered into the world and all men died because of it, how much more will the Grace of God bring life to all men? We see this in the next verse: “Therefore just as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all” (Romans 5.18). Note the word, “ALL.”

    “Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2.9ff). Note the “every knee should bend” where? “in heaven and on earth AND UNDER THE EARTH.” That is everyone!

    The Apostle Paul was not the only early Christian to teach this. Universal Salvation was taught by many early church fathers, including: St. Clement of Alexandria (150-220), St. Athanasius, (296-373), St. Basil (329-379), St. Gregory Nazianzen (330-390), and St. Gregory of Nyssa (335-390), and St. Morgan of Wales (354-440). These are just a few that we know of.

    Origen (185-254) became the next president of the Catechetical School at Alexandria after St. Clement of Alexandria mentioned ^^ above. He was generally considered the greatest theologian and biblical scholar, scientist and mathematician of the early Eastern Church and up until the time of Augustine was the most influential theologian of the church. He taught about “apokatastasis” or ‘restoration of all beings’, by denying a perpetual hell, preaching instead a progressive purging of the soul by spiritual fire for a limited time. When the soul is purged of all sin, evil and ignorance it shall be rehabilitated and purified in its resurrection into heaven. Each and every soul INCLUDING SATAN HIMSELF shall be restored and returned to a knowledge of and presence with God.

    In 553 A.D. at a local council meeting in Constantinople, later called the Fifth Ecumenical Council, called by Roman Emperor Justinian to specifically condemn universalism and some others ascribed to Origen. The Council failed to concur with the Roman Emperor, his queen, and a groveling bishop. Absolutely NO doctrines resembling universal restoration were anathematized. Origen’s name appears in the 11th canon of the Council, but scholars think the insertion of Origen’s name to be a forgery.

    Furthermore, Universal Salvation was abroad in England as demonstrated by the Protestants, who drew up their Forty-two Articles of Religion, in 1552, condemned it. In 1562, when the convocation revised the doctrines of the Church, the number of articles was reduced to thirty-nine, omitting, among others, the one condemning universalism.

    Traditionally, many Irish, Scottish and Welsh monks have taught Universal Salvation. Therefore, this doctrine is a “fundamental” in many Celtic Sacramental Churches today. The grace, compassion, love, mercy and the intimacy towards all humanity by the “Ground of Being” called God trumps EVERYTHING. We take Jesus very seriously when he said, “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous” (Matthew 5.44f).

  • Stryker

    Ok, JTT, I understand perfectly what you’re saying. You’ve decided that you can discern the truth of our existence from your own mind and your believe God is saying to your personally, regardless of what the Scriptures say.

    Do I understand your perspective?

    That seems to be what 95% of the commenters of this blog have decided. I am just trying to clarify where people are coming from with their thoughts and perspectives.

  • YOu know, simple answers work. Copy/pasting long statements usually has people tuning out, especially if done frequently.

  • Stryker

    If the point of commentary is not to discuss and debate the article and commentary, then what are we doing here? Just an exercise in affirmation only?

  • JTT

    I tell you this my friend, I do not think I am any better or any less than any other person on this planet. I am an equal. Unfortunately Christians like to think they are above others, You know, The “elect” – Pushing away those who are less than them. Make them feel less than a person.
    So, if then, God chooses to send me to this place known as hell, because I love, because I have aimed to be more like his son Jesus Christ, because I don’t believe in a justice as this, then surely I will be where I belong, where he wants me.
    I will not however, believe in something just because I am told to or fearful of it. I trust my relationship with God that much, over the relationship someone else has with God.

  • Determining who’s got the better handle on “truth” is not the topic for discussion here.

  • Stryker

    But, allegro63, my perspectives are most clearly explained by, and taken from, Scripture. Others have posted longer commentary from their own thoughts? Why is referencing Scripture considered anathema here?

    (And, I do type all of my Scripture references… no copying and pasting. :o)

  • Your perspesctive is rather presumptious and hints of a religious sense of superiority. Our faith, and our beliefs aren’t yours to scrutinize and find lacking, mostly because you lack the ability to do so.

  • Stryker

    And here we get into the doctrine of original sin and our inherent sinful nature. These kind of discussion always lead to many worms crawling from the can! ;o)

  • Stryker

    I trust God to dispense justice appropriately, Andrew. It’s a burden off my shoulders.

  • I may have what you are looking for. It is kind of lengthy. However, it all can be verified. Look for my “long” comment up ^^ above, starting out with: “It may come as a shock to many people, but the church through scripture and tradition, which scripture is a part of, has taught Universal Salvation…”

  • No, you’ve just copy/pasted a bunch of stuff, or spent way too much time and energy typing out mini-sermons and pretty much have dismissed anyone else’s views as inferior or invalid. We have not done that to you. Your views are yours, we are not trying to change them. On the other hand, you as well as others have fallen all over yourselves to “point out how wrong we are”. See the difference?
    Its getting tiresome/

  • Stryker

    JTT stated: “I trust my relationship with God that much, over the relationship someone else has with God.”

    As do I, JTT. However, I trust the Bible to *guide* my relationship and understanding of God more than I do my own thoughts apart from Scripture. That’s the difference between us, as far as I can tell.

  • JTT

    My mind? Wrong, My mind wants to tell me 1000 other stories. You’re confusing my heart with my mind. I know I know. I’ve heard it from just about every other Christian I know. They want to tell me that I have been deceived by Satan, because they have no answers for the God I experienced on my bedroom floor the night I wanted to commit suicide back in 2012.
    They tell me I’m crazy, they call me all sort of things because of the bible. Its different from the God I met.
    The odd thing is, in the bible it says to Seek God with all of your heart mind and soul, but most people do that by putting their nose into the bible. Why? Why not seek God yourself!? You are the temple of the holy spirit!
    So, if God says to us, Seek me and you will find me. If God says give your worries to me and I will carry you. Why then am I called crazy when I reached out for God with every part of my being and I was rescued and shown truth!? I didn’t make this up for the fun of it. WHY on earth would I choose to suddenly walk away from the only religion and scriptures I have ever known to make up my own religion? That is what is crazy!

  • Why not? This is something that the Church has done and continues to do. Even in Scripture itself (ACTS 15) the Church had decided to turn against Scripture and Tradition to allow the non-circumcision in for fellowship.

  • Why not? Why can you not simply acknowledge or affirm that people see things a certain way? You don’t have to agree with our views, no one is asking or demanding that of you or anyone else. It just would be nice, that for once, people would see one of our views and react like “ah, so they see things that way. Dont’ work for me, but Godspeed to them.” and move along.

  • Stryker

    Wow, allegro63! You do love to keep the worms stirred up and crawling out of the can, don’t you! :o)

  • Stryker

    I think you’re right, Enesvy. However, using His name in a flippant or profane manner is very disrespectful and a practice to be avoided, for sure. Wouldn’t you agree?

  • Its a bird, its a plane, its SUPERLIKE!

  • Stryker

    Ok… as great as this is, I’ve got to get some work done. I don’t see any manna on my lawn. :o)

  • JTT

    When you’ve truly experienced God, one on one, you don’t need guidance from words written by other men who have also experienced God. You’ve got that one on one connection, no middle man needed.

  • ABSOLUTELY! Thank you for that JTT!

  • I agree. My relationships is not defined by others having a “better handle” on things. If it were, that would be a billboard sign of codependency.

  • Leslie Corley Strovas

    So, what then, is the point of the cross and the salvation purchased for us there by Christ? What precisely was he saving us from if not from the wrath of God? Scripture is clear that God is a perfect God and Jesus was this perfect God wrapped in an earth suit, the fullness of BOTH truth and grace. What you have described here is only grace. But there can be no grace or mercy if there is not first the law and justice and a corresponding sentence for breaking the law. Scripture is clear that all have broken God’s laws and that the sentence for this transgression is death and separation from God (this is Hell). There is not one who is righteous, not one. Here are the words God uses to describe us: His enemies, dead to His spirit, evil, unregenerate, powerless, poor, lost, prostitutes, sinners. But God is His great love for us, decided to show us mercy and pay the price Himself for that transgression. This is the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is what the original disciples and thousands of people since have died for – are still dying for – not this watered down, feel-good version you wish for. Like it or not, new life starts at one place and one place only: the cold hard wrath of God.

  • Ding ding ding. Being introspective, considering ourself, our strengths our weaknesses, how God has done so much for us already, has laid tools for us to lives by…compassion, generoristy, humor, patience, wisdom, etc. and showed us all sorts of ways in and out of the Bible in the applications of those tools.

    If we do regular self check ups, so that we can better interact as representatives of love, then we just dont get all that hot and bothered over other people’s so called sins. Why? because love is patient, forgiving, gentle, merciful..etc. It seeks the best in others, desires to restore, renew, rebuild, not judge, destroy, dismiss.

  • Agreed. To use the Bible as a tool to help connect to God can be beneficial, but to depend on it, and only it for that connection, or for guidance, is to me not near enough, not even close.

  • If my faith was based on the simple dictates and experiences of what someone else had, then it is not valid for me. BRAVO for finding your own experience with the Divine, for no one can take that away from you. They can’t because it is authentic. It is your experience, your vision, your song. That is what the Ground of Being gave to you. It is a gift. No one is allowed to “snatch them out of my hand.”

  • What would torturing eternally billions of humans accomplish? Love?

  • And you did quite well. My path took a somewhat similar meandering.

  • Have a good day!

  • JTT

    Wow, this God you talk about sounds amazing! How can I get to know Him? How could i possibly love, nurture, care for and respect myself or anyone else for that matter if this is how you tell me God feels about me?
    This is so sickening.

  • JTT

    I think the only thing she has accomplished is pushing people away from this God she talks about. God, forgive her.

  • You’re not alone! Excellent post.

  • This has been answered in some of the excellent comments found in this thread. However I will try to summerize.

    1. There are those of us who agree that scripture is ambiguos on the matter of hell, and after much thought and study have decided that eternal torture of the vast majority of humanity is not part of God’s plan.

    2. There are also those of us who do not think that the purpose of jesus’s life and death means a get out of hell free card for anyone and that’s it, but that he had much to offer while here, including demonstrating how to love one another better.

    3. Not believing in hell, or any other particular theological issue that has been debated exhaustively for eons does not render belief or faith in God null and void.

    4. We recognize that there are various views on the matter, as has well been seen. We disagree. End of story.

  • Holy cow! I’ve missed all the fun!
    There’s nothing more to add that’s not been said already, but I really love the post!

  • JTT

    It has been a pleasure! Have a good day!

  • Dave A Kohler

    What this opinion describes is Universalism not Christianity. If you reject Jesus than you are condemning yourself. Will you Universalist stop calling yourself Christian?

  • Universalist thought exists in Christianity, as well as a wide array of belief philosophies. Its ok. I wouldn’t sweat it that much, the faith is certainly big enough for all of us. And God most certainly can handle us with ease.

  • Seoc Lee

    Nope. Not alone. I would love to see Christianity teach something without whipping everyone to fear, forcing them to do things that they wouldn’t do. That is for bullies and Christ was no bully.

  • Jenny Jacobs

    Surely the Church SINCE Jesus has spoken far more of Hell than Jesus ever did? I don’t think Jesus spoke much about Hell at all. It certainly wasn’t a major part of his teachings.

  • Personally? No, not really. I wouldn’t go out of my way to work his name into my vocabulary in that way. But I wouldn’t care if someone else did. Jesus is a bigger man than that being anything that would bother him, imo.

  • Thomas Tonsky

    The whole of traditional theology hinges on Jesus’ failure to accomplish what He came here to do. He is not the lamb of God who came to give the world a chance to have their sins taken.

  • does it grow better than grass? Cause my poor lawn is mostly dirt.

  • Seoc Lee

    That was two and a half blogs! That comment was longer than the article itself! ha ha! I would like to agree with you, however, I am under the impression that the 5th Council was against the Universalism that you subscribe to here. Is there a link or something you can direct me to, because I do admit, I could be mistaken. Also, Origen was anathemized, right? Because yes, he was an influential theologian for a time, but Church doesn’t like him much these days. He is treated with a lot of suspicion.

  • Forty years of practice, curiosity and earnest enquiry.

    What about you?

  • We don’t get to decide whether God gives justice and/or mercy. That’s only his realm. We get to trust him that in the end, all will be well. It’s not our job to be indignant that some “sinners” “don’t have to pay.” We have no idea what that person has paid and will continue to pay.

  • “What we don’t understand fully, we can just ignore.”

    I don’t hold that notion. Nor do I know anyone who does. I do believe, however, that we have to be careful about the doctrines we form… especially when those doctrines are formed on a few, vague verses taken out of their cultural context and poorly translated from the original language.

    For decades, I dug through the doctrine of hell and the Lake of Fire and the final judgment… and, what I learned during that journey was far different from the traditions I was taught in Sunday School.

    So, I don’t discount anything in Scripture. Rather, I study (really, truly, genuinely study, with an open mind and a willing heart) to show myself approved unto God as a workman who is not ashamed, and seeks the Word of truth as if it were buried treasure” (II Timothy 2:15 and Matthew 13:44).

  • Agreed! To depend on the Bible and nothing else completely rules out the work of the Holy Spirit. As if he can be bound by a written text.

  • Dave A Kohler

    New International Version 1984 Matthew 7:13-14 The Narrow and Wide Gates “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

  • Excellent summation, allegro! Bravo!

  • No, it would not be true. God compares himself in the Bible to a parent. So are you saying we should all literally be systematically burning our children when they sin (not enough burning that they die, mind you. Only enough that they are tortured)? Or should we be practicing mercy and forgiveness? Apparently, we are better parents than God.

  • Do you ascribe to a theology that adheres to a very strict set of dogmatic tenets that allows for no variation of thought, practice, experience, understanding, interpretation or mindset?

  • Julianna

    This is awesome. Thank you.

  • I have a quote and a web link for you, I know a lot of people don’t like wikipedia, but right now, until I can find the other link from the Roman Catholic site, which I am looking for now, this is what I can come up with.

    “However, some scholarly controversy exists over the authenticity of fifteen additional “Anathemas against Origen”, which specifically spell out his erroneous doctrines. Disagreement exists over whether or not these specific canons were produced by the Ecumenical Council or by a Constantinopolitan Synod[2]. This has been misinterpreted from time to time as indicating that Origen and his doctrines were not anathematized and his doctrines not deemed heretical. Nevertheless, it is not the anathematization of Origen nor condemnation of his doctrines as heresy that is in question but the Ecumenical authenticity of fifteen additional anathemas pronounced against specific aspects of Origen’s teachings.”


  • FrJesusGaylord

    How ever will you enjoy heaven if you don’t know people are suffering for all eternity?

  • Set what up? Were you replying to me?

  • Seeing how the majority is going to miss that turn off, you better make sure you are not in with the herd when that happens…. just saying…

  • FrJesusGaylord

    Denying you is not the same thing as denying god. This is a point conservatives never seem to understand.

  • “Here are the words God uses to describe us: His enemies.”

    I used to think God was our enemy, as well. Until I came to Colossians 1:21. There, Paul told the Gentile believers (of which I am a part), “you were once alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior.”

    The question is… were the Gentile believers enemies with God? Paul says, Yes. But where? In reality? No, not all. They were only enemies in their MINDS. And why did they believe God was their enemy? Because of their evil behavior.

    Once I understood that its all in our heads, that our perception of God is the problem, I took a longer, deeper look at Scripture (as a whole) and found that it paints a FAR, FAR different picture than the one the church paints.

    God has never been our enemy. He didn’t go looking for Adam and Eve in order to condemn them. Neither did He confront Cain to condemn him. God is not, never has been, nor ever will be anyone’s enemy. We only THOUGHT He was. And I believe that’s why Jesus had to die… to change our erroneous perception God.

  • Stryker’s reply confused me too…

  • That is actually an excellent question.

  • If one takes the doctrine of Original Sin to heart, then the only way out is for Universal Salvation. Through one man sin and death entered the world. Through another man the Grace of God entered into the lives of all. If Original Sin is what Paul taught, and Grace is “bigger” than condemnation, because Grace trumps it, then Universal Salvation has to be…

  • Is it possible that the reason some Christians are opposed to the wicked being saved in the end (that is, rehabilitated after death so they can be admitted into heaven) is because they’re miserable being Christian and resent the idea that the wicked get to indulge in all the things they secretly wish to indulge in but are too afraid of hell to do what they actually want to do? Just thinking out loud…

  • AtalantaBethulia

    That’s a favorite of mine too. So true. Reminds me of another favorite by Robert Frost… The Road Not Taken.

  • They say ignorance is bliss. However, with God being called “light” that leaves that option off the table.

  • AtalantaBethulia

    Still fun to be had, Ford!

  • Matthew 7:13-14 is often tied to the after life. The problem is, Jesus wasn’t referring to the after life. He was referring to the here and now, to this life. And that changes the meaning of the verse dramatically.

  • And my earworms, just perked up and started merrily singing a Manford Man tune.

    Thus goes the oddness that is my brain.

  • I have come to give life more abundantly.

  • Good one! Makes me LOL out loud!

  • AtalantaBethulia

    I think it’s because the same folks who are heavily invested in hell being real and a place of perpetual utter torment are the same folks who hold a dualist worldview and without that duality, their entire worldview falls apart… and that existential angst in the form of cognitive dissonance is far to painful to consider. So, instead of doing the heavy lifting that would be required to travel down that path, their ego lens protects them from it by rejecting outright.

  • Seoc Lee

    Thanks! When you find that other link, let me know!

  • AtalantaBethulia

    Particularly when you also use the lens that readjusts seeing the wide and narrow ways to that of ego/selfishness and compassion/selflessness rather than unbelief and belief.

  • In a word, no. There is so many different choices we face today and many of these decisions impacts the way we live our lives later on. A person addicted to a chemical compound, is that person really living up to his or her fullest potential as opposed to another who lives out their lives bringing blessings to family, neighbors and people in the community? Who, in the end, will “feel good” about themselves? I think that is the message Christ was giving us. Do those things that is really important. Don’t sweat the little stuff. Don’t be living our lives just for ourselves and our gratification, because in the end, that is a very lonely path.

  • Death is a by-product of our separation from the Tree of Life (see Genesis 3:22). Access to it will be restored in the New Earth, after we are resurrected (see Revelation 2:7, 22:2 and 22:14).

    The grave is just a hole in the ground, so it’s created by shovels. 🙂

    And the lake of fire… well, that’s debatable. Personally, I believe God creates it, but not necessarily for the reasons we might think. Remember, His thoughts are far, far above our thoughts, so I’m pretty certain I cannot begin to even fathom what wonderful work He can and will accomplish through the Lake of Fire.

    The one thing that helped me understand God’s character was when a rabbi explained to me that God is only ever referred to as the Creator. He is never called the Destroyer. While He does destroy, He will always restore; while He does wound, He will always heal; while He does kill, He will always resurrect (see Deuteronomy 32:39, I Samuel 2:6, Job 5:18 and Hosea 6:1). God never destroys something without the intention of restoring it.

    On the other hand, Jesus said the devil ONLY destroys (see John 10:10). The devil never restores, because he cannot restore. He is not the Creator and therefore can neither create nor recreate.

    But, when God destroys something, He always recreates it. Better than it was before.

  • John Bickham

    Lovin it FrJesusGaylord! Love that sort of humor…

  • I look at it as my path, no one elses, because no one else can walk that path, and I’d be a fool to try to walk down someone else’s.

    Yet there are people who demand that everyone walks the same way down the same path and it never works. Or someone tries to force someone along at a pace or direction that is not the natural progression for that person.

    Faith is like that to me. I learned not to follow the crowd, as the crowd doesn’t have my best interest. I’ve also learned that others mandating my faith, or my life is also not serving my best interest. Neither is motivated for individual development.

    And the gate? Well the one that’s best for us is small, because its just big enough for one to pass through as we enter that journey called life.

  • AtalantaBethulia

    Have you ever considered that God was not saving us from something but to it?

    And if Jesus is God personified, where in the life and teachings of Jesus do you see an example of God’s wrath?

  • Well, okay. But you do know that if Universalists are not Christian, then the Apostle Paul is not a Christian….

  • John Bickham

    You’ve done your homework Jack! Good work! Now back to throwing pots.

  • Seoc Lee

    Oh, I get what you are saying… duh! Pardon me as I just had an aha! moment.
    So if sin and death affects everyone because of one man’s folly, then grace of God affects everyone because of one man’s innocence. Since I was born this way, grace automatically applies to me, hence, universalism. Gotcha!
    Actually a very brilliant argument!

  • Here’s an example of God’s judgment in the Gospels:

    Jesus said: “the Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son and has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man” (John 5:22, 27). So, God doesn’t judge people, but has given Jesus the authority to judge us.

    But then Jesus said: “I judge no one” (John 8:15).

    So… if I understand Jesus correctly… the Father judges no one and Jesus judges no one. And… He also commanded us to judge no one (Matthew 7:1). Hmm. Maybe Jesus wasn’t being clear enough?

  • Seoc Lee

    Of course. It comes from a bad idea (God has secrets that no one knows except us) that leads to a whole bunch of other bad ideas (God treats us good, but smites you all; or one of my personal favorites: You have to do exactly as we say to gain God’s favor).

  • Leslie Corley Strovas

    JTT, don’t miss the part about how this God’s love for us compelled him to die a bloody torturous death in our place so that we could be redeemed! He satisfied His own wrath on our behalf. That’s an amazing love! That’s a compelling love! I can’t imagine someone I’d want to know more than the one who would do that for me. The whole of scripture is a love story, a sacred romance. God creates us in His image to be in unfettered, ecstatic intimacy with him, puts us in paradise where he is with us always and we have everything we could ever desire or need. We’re safe, free and wanted and we throw it all back in his face because some joker wants us to believe God is holding out on us. And in spite of everything we have and are, we buy it. We betray God, scorn his generosity, love and goodness, and lose it all; the intimacy, the joy, paradise. We trade it for our own way, along with suspicion, isolation, shame, conflict and brokenness. We give up paradise for the human condition. Then this jilted lover God – who describes himself over and over as a jealous lover, hurt and angry because our betrayal because he is absolutely worthy of our love and adoration – spends the rest of the story setting the stage to win us back, finally coming himself as Christ to pay the debt of our betrayal through a tortured death and bring us back to himself, back to our home and back to the way he always intended it to be. But the homecoming and healing happen when we can admit that what we did to God – what we continue to do when we refuse to love him and love each other – was wrong, that we are helpless to redeem ourselves and that we need Jesus, crucified on the cross and resurrected, to make it right with God. That’s the whole story, not the partial one John has described in this post. I can’t say whether salvation is universal – believe me, I would like it to be as I have many people I love who don’t know God or even believe in Him. What I do know based on what Jesus said is that He is the way to the Father, and He was very clear that he had come to do two things: pay for our sins (gospel of salvation) and bring God’s kingdom to earth (gospel of the kingdom). He was also clear that people had to exercise their God-given free will, repent and place their faith in Him for salvation and new life. A spiritual rebirth was required. I’m willing to accept that the timing of that acceptance may be in another time, dimension or space, but I’m not willing to dismiss that God’s wrath is real and that there will be people who do not place their faith in Christ and are separated from God as a result. That means dismissing great and relevant parts of the scriptures that are foundational to the Christian faith, and if you dismiss some of it, you must dismiss all of it and find some other basis for your faith.

  • Mike Bickley

    John, not sure how you can call these ideas “more biblical.” I have spent my life committed to the words of Jesus… and your ideas are at odds with what He clearly teaches. He speaks regularly regarding condemnation, judgment, sin, and hell. Unfortunately the “Christianity” you want leaves out the “Christ.”

  • Seoc Lee

    Isn’t it true that if a dad leaves his 2 year old because he threw the bottle and spilled milk all over the place, that father should be arrested for abandonment? Here it is, God, the perfect parent. He abandons at the drop of a hat. Yes. Something is wrong with that picture and anyone who tries to deny or reconcile that mess is someone who is risking their intelligence and/or integrity.

  • Unfortunately… there is nothing in Scripture that even hints at what your describing. Nada. Zilch. This idea is based on nothing but human imagination. When Jesus was resurrected, He was resurrected a flesh and blood human being that ate and drank and slept, just like He did before He died. The only difference was, His body had been changed from being mortal to having the ability to be immortal.

    When we are resurrected, we will be resurrected in the same flesh, only with the ability to be immortal (see Job 19:26). So, when the “wicked” are resurrected (see Revelation 20:12), they too will be in the flesh, with the ability to be immortal.

    Of course, that immortality is conditional (just as it was in the Garden of Eden – see Genesis 3:22) upon our eating of the Tree of Life, which will be in the New Jerusalem, where we will go once a month to eat of its fruit (see Revelation 22:2 and Isaiah 66:22-23).

    God specifically created us as flesh and blood creatures. It wasn’t an accident. It wasn’t something He has to correct. There was no flaw in His design. And, as He created in the beginning, so shall we be for all eternity.

  • Isn’t that something? Christ went through all that to keep us from going to hell and look! Most of us are headed there anyway… Surely, God could have come up with a better plan? Something that would save us all?

  • Say again??? How does that leave out “Christ?” Jesus wasn’t a hell and brimstone preacher as much as you like or think he is…

  • lymis

    ” What you are saying, lymis, is that you don’t like how God has set up the world and eternity to work.”

    What a genuinely bizarre twisting of what I said.

  • Want some satisfying answers? Let me recommend a well-researched 300-page book devoted to debunking hell from Scriptural, historical, and philosophical viewpoints. http://www.amazon.com/Raising-Hell-Christianitys-Controversial-Doctrine/dp/0984357815/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1414699716&sr=1-1&keywords=raising+hell+ferwerda.

    If you long for a way to *know* that God won’t quit on anyone, I hope you’ll check out this book!

  • lymis

    If you aren’t connected to God, you can’t exist. Period. Nothing has an independent existence from God. Otherwise, there are beings – by the common definition of Hell as “being totally cut off from God,” that would be every single damned soul, and presumably all the fallen angels.

    If, on the other hand, all created being require God for our very existence, then in some form or another, we all remain connected to God or we not only cease to exist, we cease to ever have existed. And if we are connected to God, we are subject to redemptive grace.

  • Thanks for helping me better explain that!

  • Excellent point, Jack.

    Might I also add that we, as fallable parents, would NEVER condone “wrath” in our relationship to our children. The word “wrath” means “vengeance as the consequence of anger.” Can you imagine if we were to have that sort of attitude with our kids? We’d quickly find ourselves in prison for child abuse.

    And yet, we think it’s okay for God to be “wrathful.” This is a perfect example of how pagan Rome bastardized both the language and intent of the Hebrew Scriptures.

  • Ebook

    Huh, Stryker? Not sure what you mean.

  • Leslie Corley Strovas

    I don’t know FrJesusGaylord. This is a question I often think about and I don’t have an answer. I love many people who do not know Jesus or even believe in God and I don’t want to believe that they will suffer as a result of their unbelief. But I can’t just dismiss so much of what scripture says God says about Himself and those who are separated from him. I was separated myself for many years, lost in trouble and sin, and it was hell and it was torturous and I suffered a lot. There was no true beauty, hope,joy, peace, love or friendship, or wisdom, no real life. So perhaps those who are separated from God are already living in hell of sorts. It’s not a hard stretch to make: those of us who placed our faith in Christ can probably all look back to the time in our lives when we didn’t know him and say that at some point it was hell and that since placing our faith in him we’ve experienced something new in our hearts and lives. But what I also believe is that God is all powerful – his love is SO compelling – and that he is working this story out according to his will, which is that none should be lost, and that one day, every knee will bend and tongue will confess that he is our wonderful lord and lover, worthy of our love and adoration. I choose to believe His mercy and love will win over all, but that doesn’t negate that his wrath and perfect justice is real. It’s not the only facet of his person – but is a part of it.

  • Jediah

    1) The problem with this is that you all came to a consensus. Which is great and all. But just cause it’s majority doesn’t mean it’s right. God speaks to how no one that has sinned can be in His presence. So if that’s the case then where do all the sinners not covered by Jesus’s great sacrifice go?
    2) So what do you say to all the verses that say that Jesus came here specifically for that purpose? If He was a good person then He would not have risen from the dead, in fact He probably never would have dies in the first place.
    3) No it does not. Except for that not believing in punishment makes mercy pointless, Jesus’s sacrifice pointless, and thus being a Christian pointless.
    4) Oh you do huh? If it doesn’t really matter, and you’re fine with other people believing whatever they want, then why have you spent the last day and a half (at least) arguing with people on this issue?

  • Matt Clawson

    John Robbins, your comment here concerning the meaning of Matthew 7:13, 14 is very intriguing. Could you explain your understanding of it a bit more? I am not refuting your comment, I am very interested in learning more about it. Thank you.

  • Jediah

    Can you think of a better plan? It’s great to suggest there’s a better option, but if you can’t think of one then….

  • Leslie Corley Strovas

    He did say it was finished, absolutely. And so grace and salvation are available to everyone. But what was finished? His purpose and mission, which were to appease God’s wrath, restoring the relationship between God and people that was broken when we betrayed God (in the garden and in our hearts) and to bring the kingdom of God to bear in the hearts of those who believed and accepted his gift of redemption. It’s for this reason we are called by John the Baptist, Jesus Himself and all the apostles, most especially Paul, to repent. We just have to say we’re sorry to God for betraying him and accept that Jesus paid the price for that sin, which was to bear the brunt of God’s wrath. God’s wrath is no longer directed toward us but that doesn’t mean God wasn’t wrathful. The cross proves that He was.

  • Jediah

    I’m sorry for you that the world has gotten to you all.
    God’s entire existence is about LOVE, not merely love, but LOVE that we cannot understand. But for someone who has sin in his heart to be near God would be worse torture then if they just went to Hell.

  • Sarah

    Mr. Shore – This thinking is not of God, and I pray that the Holy Spirit would convict you to remove it from the internet for fear of leading others astray. If you consider His Word sacred and true, then please, revisit it (Romans and Revelation come to mind) and prayerfully reconsider your conclusions about hell. On the note of evangelism – Jesus Himself asked us to carry out the Great Commission, not power-hungry church leaders, as you seem to feel. On the topic of fearlessness – life in Christ IS fearless – what does the believer have to fear from God, man, or evil when covered and cleansed by His precious blood and assured of eternity with Him? I can assure you, I fear neither death nor hell, and I am deeply aware of hell’s reality. In regards to loving in this life – how else should the bought and redeemed Christian treat others, if not by showing the same love to others as that which was extravagantly poured out for him on the cross? Jesus reminded us that following Him would not make us popular – it would make us hated and despised. Believing in the reality of Hell as expressed in God’s Word is just one of those hated beliefs. In today’s world, it does not typically lend the Christian credibility, money or power, but it does help the believer to understand the gravity of the unbeliever’s condition, the necessity of prayer-filled evangelism, and the tragic end from which Christ’s blood saved him.

  • CanIbeFrank

    I’m still waiting for the church to kick out a newly married couple who is living in his parents’ house for financial or cultural reasons, since the Bible clearly states that a man is to leave his mother and father and be joined with his wife. One can’t obviously “leave” if one is living with them. Because this IS a prescriptive verse of the ONLY acceptable marriage plan, right? I mean, that’s what I keep hearing….

  • Exactly! My grandmother would love me no matter what. I could cuss her, slap her, spit on her (not that I would want to do any of these things to her, btw) and I have no doubt that when push comes to shove, she would still die for me if it would ensure my happiness. That is the love my grandmother had for me. Why would I expect God to be any less?

  • Leslie Corley Strovas

    I agree Jediah. And only the spirit of God can route that sin and replace it with his love so that we can be with him again.

  • I consider the Bible sacred and am tired of people assassinating God’s character. If God is love, and he is all powerful, there is no way hell fire can exist.

  • Jediah

    God is all powerful. But He is a just being, so to allow crimes to go unpunished would be against His character.

  • Torturing humans for eternity is just? Why?

  • yet that in itself becomes a work. It is something that I do to earn salvation. If I were to accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior, that is something that I did.

    Notice gravity. Whether I believe gravity or not, it is still there. I can deny gravity or affirm it. It makes gravity no difference. Gravity will still keep me in my place. I have to enact higher laws to outdo gravity, but if that were to happen, gravity is still there, pulling away, so when I fail, down I go!

    God’s grace is no different and it is by grace. Nothing I can do can stop it. God’s grace trumps everything. That is the point.

  • When the phrase “clearly teaches”, “The Bible clearly states” or something like that, is used, it is always something that is a debatable matter. Because it is a debatable matter, it is not as clear as some would suppose. This is one of those cases.

  • “He speaks regularly of condemnation.”

    JESUS: “Neither do I condemn you” (John 8:11).

    “He speaks regularly of judgment.”

    JESUS: “the Father judges no one, but has delegated judgment to the Son; and I judge no one” (John 5:22 and 8:15).

    “He speaks regularly of sin.”

    JESUS: “the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” (Mark 2:10); “Be of good cheer, your sins are forgiven” (Luke 7:48); “go and sin no more” (John 8:11); and “if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone – and then, forgive him seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:15-22).

    “He speaks regularly of hell.”

    While it is true that Jesus spoke of Gehenna, it is not true that He spoke of the imaginary Roman hell. Jesus was a Jew, whose teachings agreed with the Old Testament. He did not believe in or teach an eternal burning place of torment. People today read that “into” Jesus’ words.

  • Jill

    “Is God unjust? Not at all!”
    ~So you say eternal torment is just? One set of rules for humans (no setting fire to your kids), and another set of rules for God? That’s not justice in my world.

  • Jediah

    It is just. It’s not fun, it’s not nice, and I personally hate the idea of anyone having to endure it. But that doesn’t change what the bible says. It doesn’t matter if I cry myself to sleep every single night for years because one of my friends who isn’t Christian is dying. God still says that salvation only comes through Christ, and if you don’t accept it then there is nothing to be done for them.
    Trust me, I hate it. I know a 3 year old that is going to die of cancer unless a miracle happens. I know dozens of friends that all could die right now and not go to heaven, and merely cause they were misguided. But it doesn’t change the bible.

  • SickOfThisSpamCrap

    Who is this guy? This spouting is certainly not Biblical and makes me believe he’s never read it. This is nothing more than wishful thinking on his part; an attempt to justify himself without coming to terms with the one who does the justifying, the Lord Himself, Jesus Christ. I would urge him to take the time to take a look, to read, and to pray for guidance. “God, if you are there, open my eyes” is for any non-Christian looking for a place to start. I know, I’ve been there.

  • SeraphicFather

    I agree with you for the most part. That we are created flesh and blood and that makes us complete and that there is no flaw in his design.

    But things change dramatically at death. They did for Jesus. He ate and drank. But also walked through closed doors and walls. He disappeared at will (Luke 24:31). Was not recognized by those who knew him well (John 20:11-18). While Jesus was the same man (in his person) after death in his resurrection he was changed.

    Death changes things. Even for us and it can be seen visibly in the decay of the flesh. You are right there is no flaw in God’s plan but the flaw of man’s sin is certainly real enough. The flesh that we are born with are a gift and God’s design on the human person, but it, in and of itself is not immortal. That comes as another act of God.

    Death is in fact the separation of body and soul and that is what I wrote about in that previous post without saying it specifically as to what happens to a ‘soul’ that does not have eternal life with God and before a general resurrection. It was only to say that nothing at death changes is false…things do change and dramatically.

  • 1, We disagree on that, which has already been pointed out. there is no need to rehash

    2. We disagree on that as well.

    3. See point 1 and 2

    4. I have repeatedly stated as have others that we have our beliefs, you do yours. yet you, keep attempting to shoot, down, discredit, dismiss or belittle our beliefs. You are one of the people doing this. We simply are stating how we see things. I don’t care if you don’t like it. I don’t care that you disagree. I know you believe what you do. It is not a threat to mine or anyone else’s beliefs, nor ours to yours.

    However, I do care about the integrity of this place and the people who visit and participate here. I will go Mama bear if needed to defend others, and I will ask tough questions. I will engage, I will challenge, if for no reason than to hopefully have a robust, respectful dialog with others here, and partially to cull out would be trolls. Thankfully they’ve been few with this discussion.

  • Leslie Corley Strovas

    One of the points of Jesus’ life was precisely to deliver and save people from death and condemnation. He says it himself. However, there is the matter of his resurrection which points the way to the gospel of the kingdom i.e. the kingdom of God is here, right now and it’s coming in its fullness at some future date. It’s the real reality and the ticket to get in is repentance and faith in his sacrifice for our sin. And Jesus did not demonstrate how to love each other better. He demonstrated how God loves, which we as humans – even faith-filled ones – are incapable of doing in our own power. Would you be willing to get up on a cross for Adolf Hitler, the child molester down the street, the guy who raped you, the woman who stole your husband, the guy who sold your kid drugs or walked into your kid’s school and shot your child, or the drunk who paralyzed you, the people who nailed you to a cross? Need I go on? That’s exactly what Jesus did. And do we believe we’re as bad as all these? God says we are without Christ, that if we’ve broken one of his commandments, we’ve broken all of them, and we’re condemned to live apart eternally from him. That’s hell.
    I agree with your statement in #3, but I also agree with Jediah. If Jesus was not crucified to appease God’s wrath for our sake, then there was no point to his crucifixion, and although he may have been a nice, good man, he was undoubtedly a madman or a raving egoist.

  • Thank you for your concern. Its not needed, Really. It isn’t.

  • Hi Matt. Early in my Christian walk, I was taught that Matthew 7:13-14 referred to “eternal” life – that is, the life we life after we die and are resurrected. Then, I learned that the words we interpret as “eternal life” meant something completely different at the time of Christ. In the original context, the phrase meant a “full life,” or a “life lived to its fullest.”

    That changed everything for me. So, I went back and looked very carefully at what Jesus did and DIDN’T say (it’s often just as important to see what Scripture doesn’t say about a subject). And, this is one of those verses that DOESN’T say what we think it says.

    Jesus is not speaking of the after life. In context, He is speaking about judgment (see Matthew 7:1-5); and, in verses 13-14, He encourages His listeners to enter through the narrow gate (which would be a life lived without judgment), because it leads to a “full life.”

    On the converse, broad is the path and wide is the gate that leads to destruction (that is, a life lived with judgment). When we judge others, it hurts us internally, it hurts them internally, it hurts our relationship with others, it hurts our relationship with God, and it hurts innocent people who are poisoned into becoming judgmental like us. It is a horribly destructive path.

    In Matthew 7:13-14, Jesus encourages us to avoid the destructive path of judgment. “Judge not,” He said. It’s hard to give up judgmentalism, and few find the strength to do, but giving it up is the only way to realize a “life lived to its fullest.”

    I hope that helps.

  • Leslie Corley Strovas

    Yes, even faith is a gift! And God’s grace does trump everything, even hell. But that’s not an argument for there not being a hell, which is what John’s post wants us to embrace.

  • I’m beginning to tire of having to repeat myself. We don’t have to agree. We believe God loves us all despite our divergent beliefs. We believeGod is much less concerned about whether we believe in this really really hot place than treating one another as we wish to be treated…with dignity, kindness, respect….

  • Does that means that you are resolved to be content with the belief that all non-Christians or people who didn’t meet a particular theological criteria is going to suffer endlessly? You for us, that is unacceptable, and in opposition to a loving, compassionate God.

  • Al Cruise

    Here are some observations from 40 years of street ministry. A fairly common thing that occurs in street ministry over time, is you inevitably end up being with people who are dying and being with them in their last moments of life. Often it can be because they are homeless and have no one, or estranged from family. In our group of outreach workers there is one lady, Marie, who is a professional nurse and trained in hospice care. Over the years she has been with 200+ people at their final moments of life. People tend to fall into three categories. 1. Quiet and silent, 2. In varying degrees of euphoria, seeing loved ones, and/or figures of light. 3. horrific agony. The following things did not seem to play a roll in what category people fell into. They are. What doctrine about God and the afterlife they believed in, being atheist and sexual orientation. I am not suggesting that I know what really happens after death , I do not, and I do not believe anyone else knows either. Marie shared a recent case where an individual who was a professed believer and Church elder [ evangelical Christian fundamentalism], dying in horrific agony. His last moments were screaming in terror and about seeing demons and fire coming through the windows, with his family fleeing the room. Many hospice care workers will share similar stories. I am not suggesting anything definitive about these experiences, I merely want to share observations and let you draw your own conclusions.

  • John Powell

    Interesting, and certainly got everyone’s dander up. But I already live a Christianity that is fearless, trusting, loving and a divinely inspired source of good in the world that has me constantly looking up to God’s love. It’s because of Jesus Christ and his sacrifice and resurrection for me!

  • Jediah

    I both agree with you and disagree with you on that.
    I disagree in that the more people who oppose this article the more likely it is that even one of you who support it will change your views.
    I agree however in that it doesn’t matter to keep arguing. I should have known better then to get involved in the argument online. Even if one of my arguments did prick an interest in someone I can’t tell, and you’re highly unlikely to admit it.

  • That is a powerful statement, and a powerful calling, to help people that have been so abandoned. How sad that the final gentleman mentioned had such terror haunting his last days. I would not wish that on anyone.

  • Excellent post, Leslie. I encourage you to continue studying this topic – but with an open mind and a willing heart. Any English translation is less than perfect and words are laden with history and presupposition. What we think the word “hell” means is not at all what the original writers of Scripture imagined.

    In the same context, the English word “wrath” IN NO WAY meant “wrath” to the original writers. The original writers never imagined a God who would act out in angry vengeance. Even as sinful parents, we would never be that way with our children.

    And, perfect justice? What would be more perfect than God saving everyone, regardless of what they’d done in this life? In my mind, that would be the most awesome feat I could ever imagine. That would be the one thing that would prove God is the one true God… if, in the end, He could save every single soul He ever created.

    That would be, like… WOW!

  • No one is going to be changing anyone’s minds here. Why people insist on trying to “fix our beliefs” mystifies me, yet it happens all the damned time. I’ve been a part of Christianity all my life, in three quite different denominations and i still don’t get why people insist on doing so.

  • What utter nonsense. All that the author does is prove how little of the Bible he has read. The most truthful line of the whole thing was the last: “I insist upon that version of Christianity”. Clearly. In the Bible they refer to this as i-d-o-l-a-t-r-y. For a Biblical vision of God see here: http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/stop-apologizing-for-god

  • Sarah

    God is perfectly holy, good and pure. When we do something evil, (which we do, all the time) we offend His very nature. Because God is holy, He hates evil – it would be against His nature to allow everyone into His presence (heaven) given that we have so offended Him. Revelation indicates that those who cannot enter heaven due to their sin, by default must go somewhere else (hell) after they die. The way I see Hell is this: I believe that God is the source of all the good in the world, all the beauty, all the joy, and to be banished from His presence is torturous. Otherwise, I know very little of what Hell is like. There are a few verses in the Bible about it, but not enough information to have a clear picture, other than that it is a horrible place. But God is not in Hell, He is in Heaven, so I don’t see it as “God torturing humans” in an active sense, but rather humans torturing themselves because of their rejection of God. If torture goes on there, I would imagine it would due to the fact that in Hell, evil has been given free reign to do what it likes. I understand that you consider the Bible to be “debatable” but I think certain parts are incredibly clear (Revelation 20-22 are applicable here), and in understanding God through the Bible, I try to use the clearer parts of the Bible to cast light on the less clear parts, because I believe it is an internally consistent book. But that is all to say that the far more interesting question for everyone on this side of eternity is why sinners who follow Christ (Christians) get to enter into God’s presence at all, because it is most certainly NOT because they have found some way to stop being evil – it is because Christ took their just consequences upon Himself – He took the blame, the punishment, the sin – He took it all upon Himself so that those who follow Him can have a restored relationship with the Lord.

  • Mark

    Hmm. I don’t consider the Bible unreliable, I just don’t believe it was literally handed down by God to the men who wrote the scriptures. My belief in God has changed over the years, as I’ve come to understand that all religions have their sacred stories, and I can’t claim that the Christian tradition is the only way of communing with and worshiping God.

    I would say I base my faith on a Jesus for whom the most important things were to love God and to love our neighbors as ourselves; and, on being raised to believe in God – brought up right or indoctrinated, depending on your point of view. There are times when I question the existence of God. If there is a God, I believe it is a God which is OK with my questioning. This is the best answer I can give you to your question.

  • LESLIE: “If Jesus was not crucified to appease God’s wrath for our sake, then there was no point to His crucifixion.”

    Leslie… just because you can’t think of any other reason, doesn’t mean they don’t exist. I can think of several reasons He had to die that have nothing to do with God’s wrath.

    We need to be careful not to limit God. Not to put Him in a man-made box. Just because the church has told us something is true, doesn’t mean it is. Scripture must be taken as a whole… and in the context of its original language.

  • Not having to judge that my non-christian friends and aquaintences are going to suffer untold horror because they don’t believe as I do. Not having to justify the so called evil god Satan, getting the biggest part of the human pool, because God is just, so pretty much concedes a loss, while calling that loving, good and just. Not having to go about trying to convince people to get “brisquett proofed” and worrying about those I believe are charcoal fodder. Not thinking of God as mean, and terror inducing.
    That’s what I gained, when I gave up hell. It works for you. Great. It doesn’t for us. That’s pretty much it.

  • Your disdain is noted.

  • Leslie Corley Strovas

    I will continue studying John, always open to what the holy spirit wants to show me. Agreed on the translation – I speak several languages and ALWAYS run into trouble with translation. There are words – or word picture or word ideas – in other languages that have no corresponding meaning or even idea or principle at all in English. And then of course, there’s tone, context, vernacular and syntax – it makes for quite a complex recipe. I can understand why many question the validity of scriptures on this point alone, and yet, it’s not the intellect that understands them, but the spirit, no? I’m not sure perfect justice would be God saving everyone, if I understand justice correctly, which I take to mean the exact and appropriate price paid for the crime committed. God’s perfect justice would have been to annihilate the earth upon Adam and Eve’s betrayal. The really awesome feat would be for him to NOT annihilate us but instead make a way for his perfect justice to be satisfied while also demonstrating his passionate, perfect love for us and his own pure goodness. 🙂

  • Actually John Shore knows a lot about the Scriptures. Just because he doesn’t quote it doesn’t mean he is ignorant. I am not speaking Gaelic here, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t speak or understand it…

  • John doesn’t you to embrace a belief that doesn’t resonate with you. he simply states that he doesn’t believe in hell, and mentions a few reasons why, and asks if anyone else agrees., which quite a few have. Since then people have been coming here by the busload trying to insist on our changing our views on the matter.

  • Leslie Corley Strovas

    John I haven’t tried to think of any other reasons, but have relied on what Jesus said. Please tell me what the reasons are that you’ve thought of and the scriptural references. I’m not asking for quotes out of scripture – I have a very difficult time with believers who just want to bandy God’s word about to prove their point but have taken no time to really study God’s word and search it for deeper understanding. Instead, please tell me what in scripture has lead you through to your thoughts. I believe the bible is the living word of God and therefore, there is depth, insight and revelation beyond the words themselves, but the spirit will never reveal anything that is not in accordance with God’s truth.

  • Leslie Corley Strovas

    You don’t have to repeat yourself, we understand your point of view and agree on some points. Still, there are others we disagree greatly on about which we wish to continue the conversation. This is how we learn and encourage each other as believers.

  • My mentor is a chaplain in a local hospice center. He tells me that after his 20+ years of service that people do experience the same phenomenon regardless of religious beliefs/philosophy. Some agnostics experience feelings of euphoria where as some “born again” Christians see pain. He tells me that there are several different factors involved here. One (prob. the biggest-but not only factor) is the pain they are experiencing at the moment.

    That is why in many Buddhist and Hindu traditions, it is important for that person be in a calm state of mind, to where they can detach and yet still be aware. This awareness is why they won’t take pain medication, unless, of course, the pain is so much that it prevents the calmness of mind.

    It is also the reason why many, though not all, Catholics have a better time transitioning and “passing through” than most Protestants. A priest is there to do the prayers, read scripture and do the rites that are designed to set the penitent’s mind at ease. Within some Muslim traditions, same thing, except it is an imam instead of a priest. Some Jews have rabbis.

    The more euphoric, the better and easier the transition.

    Fear has a lot to do with this as well as guilt and shame, which is why it is so important for dying people to make those amends and meet everyone so they can get “closure.”

    Thank you for sharing Al Cruise. It really reminds me of how crucial my job will be when one day, I become a chaplain.

  • Guy Norred

    He is also all knowing. He knows why we have committed the crimes we have committed. He looks at our hearts with depth and compassion we cannot fully imagine.

  • Leslie Corley Strovas

    No, we’re not insisting on anything! And please don’t consider different views as trolling – they are anything but! This is an important topic, and wrestling with it is part of working out our salvation. If John’s point in writing the post was simply to state what he believed, well, he’s entitled to do that, it’s his blog. But, if there’s an insistence that there be no active wrestling or debating then I guess I’m in the wrong place. I thought Patheos was about Hosting the Conversation on Faith? Correct me if I’m wrong and I’ll leave for debatier pastures.

  • If I was interested in changing my mind, I would Google to know where to go to find answers. I would talk to someone face to face. No one on line is going to convince me of anything, nor will I convince others that I am right. If someone is really unsure, they will go to someone they trust, someone they know who actually knows.

  • Al Cruise

    The interesting thing is Marie has had to other similar cases and they were also people who had very fundamentalist beliefs and especially belief in hell and were very judgmental about it. I personally have not witnessed that with the dying that I have been with. I have heard stories from other hospice care workers, and I challenge everyone to talk to hospice care workers in your area, they may be willing to share their experiences.

  • Mark

    So, you believe God is going to send a 3 year old to Hell? Seriously? Why, because he/she carries “original sin” and hasn’t been baptised?

  • Guy Norred

    I am coming to the belief that this was a much bigger theme in Christ’s ministry than I had been lead to believe.

  • I have. Yes. That is a good suggestion. I have learned a lot from those who work with those who are dying. People from all walks of life.

  • Actually, God would be the cure of that, wouldn’t God be?

  • Ross Canning

    I’ve often wonder why, when Peter preached on the Day of Pentecostal, he made no mention of hell, yet more than 3000 were converted. If the preaching of hell is so important, how come it was not important enough to be reference by Peter at such a pivotal moment in Church history?

  • Mark

    My Jewish friends would point out that they already had a way to “have a restored relationship with the Lord.” The OT is full of people who repent, and are saved by God. Look at the Ninevites.

  • Al Cruise

    Makes you wonder when Jesus said ” the Kingdom of God is within you” That Kingdom being one of unconditional love and compassion for everyone. Do some people create a kingdom within themselves that is judgmental, angry, hateful, unforgiving and at death you go to the kingdom created within. Just my thoughts.

  • Mark

    Or to be passed along to Moses with all the Commandments?

  • Elliot

    A Christianity without Hell looks like a “christianity” that does not come from the teachings of Jesus, Paul, the author of Hebrews, 1 John, or really any of Scripture. The truth is that Scripture overwhelmingly teaches that God is holy and just. As such he must punish sin. Murderers and thieves, liar and rapists and every other sinner will have to give an account before God. Hebrews 9:27 tells us that after we die we will face the righteous judgment of God. If there is no judgment for sin, no holy wrath of God, then why did Jesus die? Jesus is the mediator between God and man and died as the appeasing sacrifice to make a way for sinful humans to have relationship with holy God.
    A christianity without Hell is nothing but one more worthless religion that makes us temporarily happy while blinding us to the approaching judgment.

  • Elliot

    I would guess it comes from either anger/ a desire to defend one’s beliefs or it comes from concern for you.

  • Mac

    Then why does Paul so often mention the need to have faith in Christ Jesus? If it was unnecessary for people to have faith in Christ than why even evangelize? Why not just tell people to be good human beings towards each other?

  • Matt Clawson

    Thank you John. Yes it helps tremendously. It makes a lot of sense and it completely changes the way we understand. Thanks.

  • Leslie Corley Strovas

    Not at all! Never! May I tell you that most of my friends hail from vastly different cultures, backgrounds, religions, sexual orientation, and families? I have traveled and lived all around this world and know the meaning of diversity. Likewise, I also know that there is one thread that binds us more deeply than any difference could separate: brokenness. It doesn’t matter where I go or who I meet. Everyone is fighting a battle, wrestling with something, desperate for love and friendship, wanting to be known, seen, heard, fighting for security and control, afraid in the deepest part of their being, walking the thin line between despair and hope, carried by waves of self-doubt, condemnation, shame, unable to change no matter how hard they try, dying but forgetting or denying that they are, lost. This is everyone on some level. And why are we all like this? Because we are not with God, the one for whom we were made, because we chose another lover, our own way. So, if Godlessness is our problem, then God is the solution and that is who I try to bring my loved ones to: God in his whole perfect being as embodied by Christ – loving, compassionate, merciful, gracious, beautiful, perfectly just, perfectly good, perfectly wise, all powerful, always present, sovereign, faithful, passionate, joyful, jealously yearning for and anticipating our return to him. I don’t even pretend to understand the workings of God in the human heart when it comes to faith, but I know He works – always – and I know his ways are above our ways. I also know that humans have been given free will to choose him and live, or not choose him and die. That is God’s word, not mine, and although He is not willing that anyone should die, He will not force himself on anyone. That is part of his compassion and goodness and though it breaks his heart, he will let someone choose their path straight to hell (by which I mean eternal separation from God which IS eternal suffering, here and now and at the end of all things) if that is what they are determined to do. Can you or I force anyone to do anything? Absolutely not! Could God? Yes, but it’s not in his nature to force, although he will use circumstances in our lives to lead us to the end of ourselves and seek him. But if he’s the answer to our suffering, then even this “forcing” is an act of mercy. Is there a time at the end of a life when the scales fall away and we see what we could not see in life? Maybe. But the choosing is still to be done and it’s my hope that all choose Him.

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    This generation is an evil generation; it seeks a sign, but no sign will be given it, except the sign of Jonah (Lk 11:30).

  • Guy Norred

    I stop short of universalism because I agree, there is a choice. The thing is, it seems that the choice of God is so clear that no one can but choose God if there is not something in the way of our seeing the truth. The brokenness you speak of is what blinds us to the truth, and God seeing this brokenness also sees our blindness. The Lord looks at the heart.

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together. MATTHEW 24;28

  • And there are those of us who prefer your so called worthless Christianity. Removing the condnation and self righteous disdain from our faith is, at least to me more peaceful

  • JD

    According to you I’ve already 3 brothers in hell. Their crime: having the audacity to die non-Christian.

    If that is the case I plan to join them for I want nothing to do with your deity or religion.

  • Leslie Corley Strovas

    Maybe it’s different when we come into the presence of God, maybe it’s so compelling that truly every knee bends and every tongue confesses. I hope so. Or maybe because the spiritual heart is unborn it is blinded and can’t even see God correctly, that it might experience God’s light as terrifying, overwhelming, blindingly horrible like that and put up resistance. In other words, we see only what we want to see. Have you ever read C.S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce? A thoughtful allegorical exploration of this.

  • JD

    Someone awhile back tell me that you wont remember your loved ones that went to hell. In fact you wont be aware there is a hell and there are people being tortured in it. Sorta like divine amnesia……

  • I am in complete agreement with you, Leslie. Over the years, I’ve discovered certain principles that sort of “unlock” Scripture. Now, I always look for principles. It’s the only way I study. I constantly ask, “What is the holy Spirit trying to reveal to us here?”

    The biggest key for me was in Genesis, when God confronted Adam and Eve in the garden. The first thing I noticed was that God went looking for them (possibly for Sabbath fellowship). Of course, being omniscient, God already knew they had “sinned” – that is, “missed the mark.” And yet, He went looking for them, anyway – I believe – for fellowship.

    I do not believe He was looking for them in order to curse them or condemn them.

    But, the conversation between God and Adam is very interesting. There is nothing, and I mean nothing, condemnatory in God’s approach.

    I believe God gave Adam every opportunity to confess his “sin” (missing the mark), because Adam needed to experience God’s forgiveness (evidenced by the fact that Adam hid from Him).

    I believe I John 1:9 would have applied to Adam as much as it applies to us. If Adam had simply confessed his sin, God would have been faithful and just to forgive his sin and cleanse him from all unrighteousness (that is, whatever “wasn’t right” in Adam’s head).

    Now, here’s the kicker. IF Adam had done that, IF he had confessed his sin and experienced God’s forgiveness and been restored to a loving relationship with God… would he have been allowed to stay in the garden… to eat of the Tree of Life… to live forever?

    I believe the answer is yes. And, if the answer is yes, then no animal would have had to die… thus, no Christ would have ever had to die… and we wouldn’t be in the mess we find ourselves in.

    If all Adam had to do was confess his sin and if that’s all it would have taken to restore his relationship with God… especially since we know that God takes no pleasure in the death of anything… then Christ didn’t have to die to appease God’s wrath.

    And, from the way I see God treating Adam and Eve and then later Cain… I don’t believe God has “wrath.” Not in the westernized English sense of the word.

    I think the only thing God is angry about is how we hurt ourselves and others. Just as parents… what angers us? When our children are hurt – either by themselves or by others – or when our children hurt others. I think that’s what God is mad at.

    Forgive the length of this post. But if you have any more questions, please let me know.

  • Glad you asked! I have thought of a better plan, and better yet, it is right up G-d’s alley! We save everyone! Loddy Doddy Everybody! If all sins can be forgiven, then why not all of them? Here it is 2,000 years later, I am saved. My sins are forgiven. Why not my Muslim neighbor down the street? Why not my gay co-worker?

    If drug dealers and pimps can be forgiven, then why can’t child abusers? Prostitutes? Murderers? Theives? Why not the one that broke into and invaded my apartment a couple of years ago? Even him too, though right now, he is still doing a little time at the pen. Even he can be forgiven.

    When I say everybody. I mean everybody! Every sin washed away. Forgiveness everywhere, like gravity. Now, I ask you, if there was any evidence for the existence of G-d, that would be it, wouldn’t it? Cause we all know, no one can let go of a grudge like the Beloved can!

  • Dave Downin
  • louismoreaugottschalk

    maybe it’s the same thing as alcoholics hating to drink alone. misery loves company. the rigormortised religious addict cannot stand opposition to a ‘belief’ in their own righteousness and this plunges them into an identity crisis?

  • JEDIAH: “For someone who has sin in his heart to be near God would be worse torture then if they just went to Hell.”

    What have you seen in Scripture that makes you think that?

  • Caleb Paul

    I am curious how a proponent to this interpretation of theology would respond to Paul’s exposition of condemnation, judgement and salvation by vicarious substitutionary atonement. I am curious how you would also respond to the number of times Christ himself mentioned hell. John Shore seems to propound that true Christianity would be to live fearless, trusting and loving lives, and to be a divine source of good in this world. A noble pursuit I will admit. But I feel as if you fail to grasp that this question is barbed, and I can ask it in the other direction. If hell (or your interpretation of it) doesn’t exist, If all the doctrine is, is scare tactics for the accrual of money and power. Then what was the point of Christ dying on the cross? Salvation literally means ‘preservation from destruction or harm’, what then are we saved from? The present evils of this world? Failure to achieve God’s purpose for us in this life? When I read posts like this I feel as if the author of it hasn’t truly understood the meaning of the moral world we live in or need for judgement, without such condemnation grace has zero meaning. Here is another note I would like to add humans are wired to crave for justice, and outrage occurs when it is denied (as we can see from this post). But maybe that’s a crime in itself – that we have demanded our personal requirements of justice be served rather then the almighty God.

    Perhaps what we should be discussing is not justice at all. Maybe what we all really need, is mercy.

  • Agreed. I think some Christians are upset because they feel like they are being “cheated” out of something. What they fail to see is that the way Christ taught is the way to live life more abundantly, to connect to something greater than oneself. 🙂 If they think that they are missing out because they are not sinning as much as others, they kind of lost the point, wouldn’t you say John?

  • I think the real struggle with the issue of hell is our belief in an eternal soul. Because of how I understand Scripture, in its original context and language, I don’t believe in an eternal soul. It’s a Roman belief, not a Hebrew belief.

    I view the soul like wood and nails. The wood is our flesh, the nails are the breath of God. If we combine the wood and nails, we have a box. We can stand on it, put stuff in it, move it around. But, if we separate the nails from the wood, then the box simply disappears. It didn’t exist prior to the combination, it doesn’t exist after the separation (see Psalm 104:29 and Ecclesiastes 12:7).

    Just as we didn’t know anything before we were born, we won’t know anything after we die (Ecclesiastes 9:5). At least, not until we’re resurrected.

    But, once someone believes in an “eternal soul” that can’t be destroyed (see Matthew 10:28), then all of a sudden they have to believe in some eternal place for that soul to go. Hence: heaven or hell.

    But, if the “eternal soul” doesn’t exist, then neither does the need for a place for eternal damnation. Does that make sense?

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    when religious addicts use phrases “clearly teaches”, “The Bible clearly states” maybe they reveal that they have been programmed by other than a real relationship w/ a living lord and holy spirit. anyway that’s what I think.

  • louismoreaugottschalk


  • Paul? Very easy… Keep reading the comments on down. You’ll see!

  • JD

    “If there is no judgment for sin, no holy wrath of God, then why did Jesus die?”

    Good question.

    If there is no hell -and there isnt- then why did Jesus die?

  • Exactly! Hence: the Great White Throne Judgment.

    Have you ever noticed that God has two books? One is the Lamb’s Book of Life (Revelation 13:8 and 21:27), the other is just called the Book of Life (Revelation 20:12, 15).

    I’ve wondered if one may be for believers while the other is for unbelievers.

    The question I ask is, Whose name would be written in the Book of Life? Perhaps, everyone who was ever alive?

  • JD

    “He will not force himself on anyone.”

    Believe or burn IS forcing; it is a form or terror.ism.

  • Dude, it’s been, like, a year since I was on JS thread that made me an idolator. Yeah, I keep track. 🙂

  • Romans, Revelation, and the Great Commission are, like, the trifecta of fundamentalism. Well done.

  • Jack is right – most of what you asked has been covered at great length in the posts below. However, here’s one we haven’t covered:

    CALEB: “Salvation literally means ‘preservation from destruction or harm’, what then are we saved from?”

    Since Jesus was sent to the Jews (Matthew 15:24) and He sent His disciples to tell the Jewish world at large that He had risen from the dead (at least, until He included Gentiles in the 10th chapter of Acts), it is very possible that Jesus came when He did, with the message of Love, to keep the Jews from rising up against Rome (and thus be destroyed).

    Had the Jews listened to Jesus, they would literally have been saved from death and destruction.

  • Caleb Paul

    Its Caleb, and I see two views.

    (1) God is perfectly holy, good and pure. When we do something evil, (which we do, all the time) we offend His very nature.


    (2) God doesn’t torture humans for eternity because it isn’t just.

    For the latter view, by what standard or objective measurement do you justify that viewpoint. Is it your own standard of justice? (what seems the ‘just’ thing for God to do or not to do)?

    For the former view I can see how eternal condemnation is consistent with God’s loving character because I see my own sin, and I see the need for Christ’s sacrifice.

  • Ransom Backus

    Christianity is whatever people want it to be nowadays. Don’t like one version, pick another or invent your own.
    I wonder if Christians who are constantly running and hiding for their lives in many other countries in the world can afford to make the faith arbitrary by sharply opposing each other and dividing up into their own little cubicles…or if any of this stuff really matters.

  • Caleb Paul

    I see your point and it is duly noted and its nice to see some historical evidence weighing in here. But I am not asking about the Jews. I am asking you personally. What then, are you saved from?

  • Sharlee

    I too was frustrated by the author’s lack of any evidence other than what seemed to be his own opinion. Too often, we look to our leaders to “tell” us what to believe instead of doing the research or demanding the evidence and we end up falling for a lie. However, he is not wrong in his assertion that the idea of “hell” is not biblical as we understand it today in 2014. It absolutely has been made up to control the masses through fear. The concept of hell as we know it today was introduced by Paul, not Jesus, as Jesus followed Judaism (Paul hated it) and the Jews have no concept of hell. They actually believe in more of a purgatory state of reflection and healing regarding one’s life that lasts no longer than 11 months in the after life. I would dare say that your attachment to the Bible over what Jesus really taught and lived is idolatry.

  • As a Gentile convert, I believe I am saved from “missing the mark.” Christ came (and died) to show me that love is the proper way to think, speak and behave. It is how God designed us. It is how we work at “optimum output.”

    So, I study the life of Christ – the way He thought, the way He spoke, the way He acted – and I emulate that, as best I can. Sure, I fall short, but I have assurance of God’s forgiveness and His enduring Spirit to guide and comfort me, and I press on.

    The word for sin in both the Old and New Testament is an archery term. It means, “to miss the mark.” The word Torah is the Hebrew root form of Yarah, which is also an archery term. It means, “to shoot with force and accuracy.” So, the purpose of Scripture is to teach us how to “hit the mark.”

    But where the Torah fell short of that purpose (teaching us to hit the mark), Christ accomplished by giving us a LIVING example (see John 13:15; 1 Corinthians 11:1; Ephesians 5:1-2; 1 Peter 2:21; and 1 John 2:6).

    Of course, some people think this “waters down” Christ’s purpose… or that a PRACTICAL Christianity isn’t as important or as valuable as a THEORETICAL one. But, I LOVE the life I live in Christ and would never trade it for the world.

    Even if there were no heaven… I would still choose the live my life in Christ. It’s just THAT good.

  • Sharlee

    You don’t understand why a Christian insists on “fixing your beliefs?” Because they are a child of God and therefore, from God’s mouth to their ears and because they are his child, he must be on their side, ergo, if you don’t believe as they do, you are WRONG and must be fixed.

  • What do you feel you did that deserves ETERNAL condemnation?

  • Sharlee

    I would like to challenge that thought just for a moment. We are talking about hell here. Not crime and punishment. We are talking about eternal torment no matter if you lived a very loving and giving life but just couldn’t buy the Jesus story so you get torture for ETERNITY. THAT is NOT just. That is disgusting. Add to that, the person that lived a life full of selfishness and greed and evil and yet repented on their deathbed and therefore gets to go to heaven. THAT is NOT just. That is disgusting. It insults my, and yours if you cared to admit it, intelligence to believe that is just on any level. Think man! Use your brain. Under any different circumstances, you would NEVER call that just. Ever! Now, If that is the god you would serve, I feel sorry for you, but make no mistake, you do so out of fear. No one would choose to serve a god like that.

  • Exactly. All we’re doing is sharing thoughts, ideas, things we’ve come across. By doing so, we build each other up. Even if we don’t agree. Agreement isn’t important. Fellowship is.

  • Do you really think God takes sides? Or that being Christian requires you to believe that?

  • Sharlee

    I don’t believe that at all. I was just saying why some Christians feel the need to fix ppl. While I don’t believe it, MANY Christians, especially evangelicals, do. If a hell does exist, it exists for them.

  • Caleb Paul

    I think I can relent and potentially agree with you that sin is ‘missing the mark’ (which I take to mean God’s holy and perfect standards. But I think you should go one further. I feel as if you can simply adhere to continual ‘missing the mark’ without any recompense or penance because you consistently appeal to God being a God of love. I don’t think this interpretation goes far enough to advocate how much of an affront our sin is towards God. I would say it also states explicitly sin is transgression against God’s law (1 John 3:4) and implicitly rebellion against God (Joshua 1:18)

    But let me put that love in another way… This is in response to two comments which have disturbed me when reading this post and the comments section.

    Comment 1 – ‘A Christianity without hell would be largely unevangelical, since there would be nothing to save anyone from’ John Shore

    Comment 2 – ‘I believe I am saved from “missing the mark.” Christ came (and died) to show me that love is the proper way to think, speak and behave. It is how God designed us. It is how we work at “optimum output.” – You

    To me both these are bordering dangerous territory. The former raises a whole can of worms, why then did God chose to torture his son on that cross? Is that some kind of selfless act which we should be imitating? To lay down our lives for one another in this manner? But to me nothing speaks more of God’s love than placing Christ in the position we deserve to be as sinners.

    The latter is even more prickly. Arent you going into more ‘works’ based salvation?

    I would also be interested in knowing where you think the secular world or atheists/other religions would fit into this ideology. I surmise that you believe that grace is freely given to all.. What about those who chose not to repent? Is there more chances given in the afterlife?

    Again not criticizing, simply asking, I want to gather as much knowledge as I can about another persons view so as not to sound dogmatic.

  • Here is another thing that stops me on the hell is real thing. The idea of Sin, or rather we are all born sinful, which I assume links back to that original sin concept. It feels like a set up, like the personas of adam and eve were set up to fail. God places the couple by a tree and says look don’t touch, gives them curiosity and doubt as well as a certain gullibility, then punishes them for acting by design. And because of that design flaw its all our fault.

    Yeah I know, weird way to look at the store of this allegorical couple, but I tend to look for holes in the story. I’m commaded to zip my plot hole pointing mouth shut if I watch a movie with my daughters

  • Caleb Paul

    Have you got an answer to this question you posted?

  • JEDIAH: “But that doesn’t change what the Bible says.”

    CORRECTION: It doesn’t change what you’ve been TOLD the Bible says. The Bible doesn’t teach the concept of hell. Read the posts below for a fairly thorough discussion on the topic.

    Or, check out this link: http://www.godsplanforall.com/mistranslationstomeanhell

    While I don’t agree with all the site’s theology, it’s explanation of hell is spot on, in both the Hebrew and Greek. It’s one of the best I’ve come across.

  • The answer is found in some of the comments . its a bit of a read, but worth it

  • I also stop short, because everyone will be free to choose. But, the reality is… there will be a Great White Throne judgment, wherein every living soul will be resurrected to stand before God.

    The question is: Why would God bother resurrecting them if He were simply going to destroy them? That would be like us sending our kids to bed without supper (sleep=death), only to wake them up at two in the morning to beat the to death (hell). We would NEVER do such a grotesque thing and it is inconceivable that God would, either.

    So, why bother resurrecting them?

    Is it perhaps to give them the opportunity to stand before God, like Adam and Eve did? To give them an opportunity to see the truth in all its glory? To ask whatever they want to ask, to say whatever they want to say, to be given an ACTUAL choice?

    Who, when faced with our great and loving God, would not respond with all their heart and soul? It takes my breath away just to think of it.

  • Thanks Sharlee. Awesome comment below.

  • Um… I’m not sure how this adds to the discussion of whether hell is real or not… but, there’s been a lot of excellent, loving debate below, if you’d like to join us. 🙂

  • Wayne Green

    You all can make a decent universalist argument from Jesus. I see that now. But what about Paul? Paul seemed to be very clear when he talked about salvation, judgement, and so on. What about Revelations? Revelations gives us a clear picture of hell. I’m trying to make sense of this all, but it’s really difficult!

  • Ransom Backus

    Because it’s true. Christianity without hell…Christianity WITH hell…..we all have the luxury of making up our own brand of Christianity that suits us and argue over it while others who run for their lives and have a price on their heads due to their faith don’t. It brings things to a very real and painful level.

  • And what boggles my mind is how people apply the Great Commission to themselves, when Jesus gave that commission SOLELY to His eleven disciples. He didn’t tell everyone to go out into the world and preach. He only told THEM. And yet, people feel they’re somehow entitled to include themselves in that commission.

  • Karl

    Whoa, settle down there buddy. That’s quite a leap you’ve made.

    First of all, no, God has not insured accuracy of the Bible. I don’t know why, but perhaps it has to do with what we expect it to be. It has errors in it, it contradicts itself, it includes folklore stories intertwined within real events etc. We know these truths now through scientific and historic research. Of course the Bible has errors in it; it’s a story about God, written down and passed down by humans.

    I never said that people of the Biblical era weren’t noble, but as you read through the Bible you can certainly see a chronological maturing of spirituality. And we continue to mature now. That’s why we no longer have (human) slaves, woman are no longer property of their husbands, people of all races are viewed equally, some of us no longer use capital punishment, some of us openly welcome homosexuals, etc.

    I am not denying the existence of hell. Just the traditional view of it: that God sends you there for eternity as punishment. As I said before, that idea of hell goes against what we know is the nature of God. Not a God that I’ve created in my head, but God as portrayed by Jesus in the Bible!

    So no, I do not trust myself more than those who had first had accounts with Jesus. But I certainly do trust God more than I trust them, and more than I trust the people who the stories got verbally handed down to, and more than the people who finally wrote them down, and more than the numerous people who transcribed the stories for centuries before the invention of the printing press, and more than the numerous people who translated those stories, and more than the people who decided that those texts, and not others, were deemed suitable to be included in what we know today as the Bible.

    God, as he is described and demonstrated by Jesus in the Bible, is who I trust, love and follow.

  • What I find interesting is that Paul says that sin came through Adam. Not Eve. And yet, we blame the woman. Why the difference? Here’s what I discovered:

    God told Adam to not eat of the Tree. Period. Adam then told Even not to eat of it (in fact, don’t even touch it!!!). So, when she saw the serpent in the Tree, touching the tree, and not dying, it made her think that God lied.

    Sin entered the world through Adam because Adam sinned first: BY ADDING TO THE WORD OF GOD. See Deuteronomy 4:2; Proverbs 30:6; and Revelation 22:18-19.

    The doctrine of hell (and many other Roman doctrines) fall under this category… of ADDING to the Word of God. Of making it say something it doesn’t say. Of twisting it to mean something it doesn’t mean. It is the sin of Adam, perpetuated to this day.

  • AtalantaBethulia

    Paul is not Jesus. We would do well to read Paul in light of Jesus rather than Jesus in light of Paul. Paul never knew Jesus. He was not a disciple. He did not have the gospels at his disposal because they were not yet written. And he lived in an era of Roman occupation and imminent threat.

    Revelation is a genre of early Judaic literature called Apocalyptic. It is not prophesy. It is veiled language about the imminent threat of Roman rule and destruction and describes events that have already occurred.

  • Caleb Paul

    I can respond to this by using both my interpretation and your own.

    I ‘missed the mark’ or I fell short of God’s holy standards by rebelling against him.

    From there I would adhere to what Paul says about sin ‘the wages of sin is death’ I take that death, to not just mean physical death but spiritual death also (separation from God not only in this life but in the next)

    I know you probably don’t agree with it but from my own personal convictions I would probably go along with what a few people have already said in the comments section here about Romans 5 and how sin entered the world through one man (Adam). So I would take the view that I myself personally was ‘born into sin.’ (But this is Christianity at its hardest and i’ll let more seasoned scholars debate this point)

    I will admit out of all honesty that I personally struggle to fathom how my few sins could warrant such violent repercussions in the afterlife but you see that statement right there is self-righteous. So then this righteous judgement, or (or in this case being spared from it) makes me even more grateful to God in that he would love me enough to save me from it.

    I want to clearly distinguish that the God i follow (whom I believe has reserved eternal punishment for non-believers) Isnt only right in doing so, but the bible explicitly states that sending them there is not his desire.

    Eziekiel 18:32 – “For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies,” declares the Lord GOD. “Therefore, repent and live”

    Or even John 3:17 – “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him”

  • I’m not a universalist. I’m perhaps a deeply flawed Christian, but I’ll leave God to sort that out. He knows I try. Here’s my take on Paul. He was writing letters to a specific audience, small pockets of Jews who were in danger — and he should know, having been one of the persecutors. So he laid down strict rules to protect them and aspirational ideas to keep them going. He never pretended to be writing Gospel; he was a (very good) PR man. He wouldn’t worry today that my head was uncovered.

    If you can make sense of Revelation, you’re better than I. It lost me at the horses.

  • Wayne Green

    So are you questioning Paul’s authority? The authority he says he has from God over and over again. Isn’t that a dangerous road to go down?

  • AtalantaBethulia

    Not for me. No. Either Jesus has more clout or he doesn’t. To claim that Jesus doesn’t have more clout than Paul seems a dangerous road to travel down.

  • AtalantaBethulia

    If Jesus is God incarnate and he revised the Conventional Judaic Wisdom from a form of retributive justice of “an eye for an eye” to “love your enemies as yourself”, “forgive 70×7” and “turn the other cheek” how does your framing of God’s Justice meet the standard that Jesus taught?

  • Wayne Green

    I’m not questioning Jesus’ authority. I’m simply asking the tough questions. Thank you for your stating your opinion.

  • Wayne Green

    I like your take on Paul. You don’t just out right reject him like some people. And Revelation is really confusing. I don’t know how to make sense of it either.

  • These are excellent questions, Caleb.

    Q1: “Why did God choose to torture His Son on that cross?”

    A1: There’s nothing in Scripture to indicate that it was God’s choice to have Christ die on a cross. It just happened to be Rome’s execution of choice at the time.

    Q2: “Aren’t you going into more ‘works’ based salvation?”

    A2: If my wicked works is what Christ came to save me from, then how else can His salvation be demonstrated except through my works? If there’s been no change in my thinking, speaking and behavior, then what proof do I have that I’ve been saved? Talk is cheap. Actions speak louder than words.

    I don’t ascribe to the traditional view of salvation from original sin and I certainly don’t accept the notion of salvation from hell. I think both those things are guilt-laden tactics created by evil men to control and pillage helpless, uneducated congregations.

    The whole “salvation by works versus salvation by faith” debate is based on a grotesque misunderstanding of Paul’s writings. But, that should be left for a different thread. This one is about whether hell is Biblical or not.

  • David Mason

    “They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might,” 2 thess 1:9

    “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” Matt 25:41

    “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matt 10:28

    “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” John 3:18

    “For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment;” 2 Peter 2:4

    Mr. Shore, you have been deceived. The bible clearly teaches in a real hell; a coming judgment.
    You may feel that a christianity without hell is better, but it simply isn’t the truth. Do you think its kind to tell people there is no hell? Would it be kind for a doctor to tell a cancer patient that they are healthy?
    Hell is real and a lot of people are going there, especially if we don’t warn them. It isn’t brave, kind, smart, nor loving to lie to people about their eternal destiny.

  • These are two excellent verses for this debate, Caleb. God said He has no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies (not even Christ). Here are a few other verses that correspond to that.

    David, a man after God’s own heart, said about God: “You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; You are not pleased with burnt offering” (Psalm 51:16).

    In another place, he said of God: “You have opened my ears to hear. You are not pleased with sacrifices and offerings. You do not ask for burnt offerings or sacrifices for sin” (Psalm 40:6).

    In another place, God Himself said: “I want you to be merciful; I don’t want your sacrifices. I want you to know God; that’s more important than burnt offerings” (Hosea 6:6).

    There are other places, as well, and Old Testament stories that demonstrate the principle. God is not pleased with sacrifice. So, the question is… if sacrifice wasn’t to please God… then who was it to please? If He never wanted it… then who did?

  • You’ve struck an important note, Elizabeth.

    1st) Paul’s letters are just that: they are LETTERS. At best, we are only getting half the story, because we don’t know what he was answering or responding to. The best we can do is surmise.

    2nd) Paul was a pharisee of pharisees, which means he was DEEPLY rooted in both the oral and the written law. He knew more about the Torah than any of us ever will… and he wrote to Jews, who knew more about the Torah than any of us ever will. And here we are… ignorant Goyim… trying to force the Torah to fit our mistranslation of Paul’s letters, rather than reading Paul’s letters in the light of Torah.

    3rd) Paul wrote his letters in a particular time and culture that we know very little about. Consider how much the English language has changed in such a short time? We use the word Awesome to mean mind-blowing, but the word means “only having SOME awe.” Then we use Awful to mean terrible, when it means “being FULL of awe.” But that is our culture at this time. This same principle applies to Paul’s letters. We have to understand the cultural context in which he wrote, if we ever hope to understand what he meant.

  • David Mason

    “There’s nothing in Scripture to indicate that it was God’s choice to have Christ die on a cross.”

    I think you’ve miss the point of the question: Why did God send his son to die in the first place? If you don’t believe the Father actually sent the son to die then have I got some verses for you:

    “Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.” Isa. 53:10

    The night before Jesus’s crucifiction, he said “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” Luke 22:42

    “[Look] to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Heb. 12:2 Jesus could bare the pain of the cross, because he knew it was the only way to save his church from hell.

    The death of Jesus was not in vain; it was not pointless. “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

    Jesus died for our sins. He did this because the wages of sin is death, and because of his love he took the punishment for us, so that we may live.

  • Caleb Paul

    Because when Christ taught those verses he was speaking in the context of forgiveness specifically to humans who have wronged you. Its imperative that we as Christians forgive others because of how much we ourselves have been forgiven. In fact this point supports my view. We shouldn’t seek retributive vengeance against other humans because God himself is the righteous judge.Romans 12:19 “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” When Christ ushered in a new realm, one of life and righteousness he completely flipped the teachings of the conventional Judaism Churches and doctrines as you rightly pointed out. His ministry was one of peace and humility. He openly advocated that the power and right to judge was God’s alone (since ‘he emptied himself’ to be one of us in order that he might save us)

  • David Mason

    One thing that we need to keep in mind about Paul, is that he was an Apostle. The word apostle literally means, ‘one who is sent with the authority of the sender.’ This means that when Paul spoke, he spoke with the authority of Jesus. And this is different then a prophet, who merely relays messages from God.

    Before Christ went back to heaven, he commissioned the apostles to spread his gospel.”Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sake I consecrate myself that they also may be sanctified in truth.” John 17:17-19

    This scripture states that the apostles would continue telling the world about the truth of Jesus, and with the help of the Holy Spirit, they would later write scripture that is just as from God, as were the words of Jesus.

  • Oh yes, I totally agree with what you’re saying. You’re saying that God sent His Son, knowing He would die on the cross for a crime He didn’t commit, yet He would never sin, even though He would suffer on a cross.

    This is powerful and it’s one of the things that drew me to Christ. But, just because God sent His Son, knowing He would die on the cross, doesn’t mean that Christ’s death was NECESSARY for God to forgive sin, any more than the blood of the bull was necessary for forgiveness.

    God forgives because He is God. Because we believe He is our enemy (after all, only an enemy would torture us forever in hell), He had to do what was necessary to PROVE to us that He is NOT our enemy.

    If we would have accepted God’s love and forgiveness and allowed Him to restore us to fellowship with Him, Christ would not have had to die. Our DISBELIEF in God’s loving character is what made it necessary.

    I do not believe Christ died to appease God’s anger. I believe He died to appease our DISBELIEF.

  • David Mason

    Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

    Peter mentions that they should repent of their sins. Why should they repent, if not to save them from hell?

  • Caleb Paul

    It wasn’t the actual sacrifice. It was obedience. God demands complete obedience. DIS-obedience is sin. And now we come full cycle when we see Christs sacrifice (the ultimate act of obedience on the cross). All those OT chronicles about God punishing the Israelites were because of their adultery with other foreign God’s and their continual disobedience. Yes God is not merely pleased with sacrifice. Have a look at the story of Saul and the Amalekites which is a brilliant example of exactly what God wants with his children (1 Samuel 15:1-35).

    But I must disagree that sacrifice is not important, for my view to hold water God, in order to ‘dwell’ with his people (check out Leviticus) required of them a scapegoat so that the sins of the people would be put upon it. For the relationship between God and mankind to be restored there must be atonement for sins. Remember when God said to Abraham as the was about to kill his only son ‘The lord will provide’? Well 3000 years later God did provide. This time the axe did not stop.

  • CALEB: “When Christ ushered in a new realm, one of life and righteousness he completely flipped the teachings of the conventional Judaism Churches and doctrines.”

    ME: Actually, everything Jesus taught came directly from the Old Testament (aka, the Torah). Nearly every word He spoke can be traced back to the Old Testament (some of His teaching even came from Jewish apocalyptic literature, which we don’t accept as Scripture).

    We marvel at when He said the Law hangs on two commandments: love for God and love for one another. And yet, He didn’t come up with this. He simply quoted from Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18.

    He did nothing to flip conventional Judaism. Rather, He affirmed and confirmed it.

  • Caleb Paul

    Sorry you misunderstand, Or else I wasn’t clear, this wasn’t meant to be a controversial point. I was just asserting the difference in views between what the Jews wanted from a savior and what Christ actually represented.

  • Back up the truck a moment. We call him the Apostle Paul — and I have no idea who came up with the nomenclature — but he never knew Jesus. He became an apostle after His death. And John, my favorite, probably didn’t either. So they weren’t in the crowd with tongues of fire floating over their heads. There’s authority and there’s the people who saw a young man in white at His tomb — women, none of them “apostles.”

  • The word “repent” means simply to “turn around.” More literally, “You’re going the wrong way, turn around and come this way.”

    We need to be careful that we don’t read our own, modern ideas into the ancient Hebrew language.

  • David Mason

    “In this is love,not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” 1 John 4:10

    The term propitiation has fallen out of fashion since most of the modern world don’t offer sacrifices. Propitiation is something that satisfies the wrath of something else. For example, if you said something to make your wife angry with you, you could propitiate her wrath by buying her flowers, or a foot massage, or just plain begging.

    Jesus is our propitiation, because his death and resurrection satisfied the justice of God.

    We believe God is perfect, and one aspect of that is he never lies, and he is perfectly just. If God were to look at you or me (who are sinners) and said “You are now not sinners,” without doing something to change us, then God is lying. It would be like God looking at a dead cat and said, “this cat is alive,” but the cat was still rotting away. If God merely said the cat is alive, but the cat was actually dead, then that would make God a liar, because he contradicting the reality that he created. But if God resurrected the cat, then he could say “this cat is alive,” and he would be telling the truth.

    Now turn that logic to us. We are all guilty of sin. God is holy and perfect, and sin cannot stand in the presence of his glory. Sin is rebellion against God, and God would be just punish sin completely. But he is also love, and he desires to save us so that we can enjoy him. In order to be with God, we must be made holy and sinless. In order to by holy and sinless, our sin MUST be dealt with. In God’s great mercy and love, he sent us his son to take the place of sin. Christ is the only one that can atone for sins, and because he is divine, his sacrifice is complete. In one gracious act on the cross, Christ paid the penalty of sin, conquering death, and washing us of our sins. This is the way God proved that he is both loving and just, that he didn’t ignore our sin, but defeated it.

  • Here’s the thing. When you put the suffix “al” at the end of a word it means “in accordance with” or “pertaining to”. So for example, if I
    were to say that my question was rhetorical I mean that it follows the rules of rhetoric. If I say that my post is comical I mean that is pertains to matters of humour or that its general tone
    is itself humorous. To say therefore that something is biblical implies that it is in accordance with the Bible or that it pertains to the contents of the Bible. In what sense would a notion of Christianity devoid of hell, judgment or morality be MORE in accordance with the Bible? Here are some things that are actually IN the Bible:

    Surely his salvation is near to those who fear him, that glory may
    dwell in our land. (Psalms 85:9 ESV)

    The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise
    wisdom and instruction. (Proverbs 1:7 ESV)

    Point of fact: Fear is a part of what it means to relate to God
    ACCORDING TO THE BIBLE. God is not tame. God is not only love. God is holy and holy should be scaring to sinners like me.

    Here are some other things in the Bible:

    9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Corinthians 6:9–10 ESV)

    “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from
    iniquity.” (2 Timothy 2:19 ESV)

    21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ (Matthew 7:21–23 ESV)

    Point of fact: The Bible says that some stuff is outside God’s prescription for life and is therefore SIN. That is a moral judgment. People who want to call themselves Christians have to name sin as sin and pray for grace to hate sin as sin and to depart from it. Those who don’t are named as false believers by Jesus. Therefore, any
    form of “Christianity” that is void of moral content is by definition

    Finally, and soberingly, here are some things the Bible says about

    You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being
    sentenced to hell? (Matthew 23:33 ESV)

    11 I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, 12 while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 8:10–12 ESV)

    And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous
    into eternal life.” (Matthew 25:46 ESV)

    And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.
    Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matthew 10:28 ESV)

    Please note that all of the above verses are spoken by Jesus, the
    founder of Christianity according to the Bible.

    Point of fact: The Bible tells us to fear the one who can destroy soul and body in hell. Fear of the holy God who judges sinners is
    not a fund raising add on, it is a prescribed doctrine. Furthermore it is taught by Jesus almost exclusively in the New Testament. Therefore to suggest that the doctrine of hell is not in the Spirit of Christ-ianity is essentially unintelligible. Christianity is the religion of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the one who said that we were to fear the one who could send people to hell. Knowing that we will stand before a holy God and give an account for our sins is the reason we are to confess our sin and cast ourselves upon the mercy of Christ in faith so as to be forgiven and granted eternal life. The bad news of
    hell is what makes the good news of the cross intelligible. They called the message of the cross “The Good News” because it made hell a thing NO LONGER TO BE FEARED. No Christian fears hell precisely because our sin has been wiped away by the blood of the cross. The doctrine of hell is foundational to the Christian Gospel. It establishes the dark and sobering background upon which the good news of Jesus Christ shines as a beacon of hope and salvation. Nothing could be more “Biblical”. Nothing could be more “in the spirit of Christianity”.

  • With all due respect, here are some things the Bible says abouthell.

    You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being
    sentenced to hell? (Matthew 23:33 ESV)

    11 I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, 12 while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 8:10–12 ESV)

    And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous
    into eternal life.” (Matthew 25:46 ESV)

    And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.
    Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matthew 10:28 ESV)

    Please note that all of the above verses are spoken by Jesus, the
    founder of Christianity according to the Bible.

    Point of fact: The Bible tells us to fear the one who can destroy soul and body in hell. Fear of the holy God who judges sinners is
    not a fund raising add on, it is a prescribed doctrine. Furthermore it is taught by Jesus almost exclusively in the New Testament. Therefore to suggest that the doctrine of hell is not in the Spirit of Christ-ianity is essentially unintelligible. Christianity is the religion of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the one who said that we were to fear the one who could send people to hell. Knowing that we will stand before a holy God and give an account for our sins is the reason we are to confess our sin and cast ourselves upon the mercy of Christ in faith so as to be forgiven and granted eternal life. The bad news of
    hell is what makes the good news of the cross intelligible. They called the message of the cross “The Good News” because it made hell a thing NO LONGER TO BE FEARED. No Christian fears hell precisely because our sin has been wiped away by the blood of the cross. The doctrine of hell is foundational to the Christian Gospel. It establishes the dark and sobering background upon which the good news of Jesus Christ shines as a beacon of hope and salvation. Nothing could be more “Biblical”. Nothing could be more “in the spirit of Christianity”.

  • Guy Norred

    Actually it is somewhere in the middle of my “to be read” pile. I have been thinking about moving it higher.

  • Congratulations Mr. Carter! You have successfully shown how the Bible contradicts itself! Although, maybe you shouldn’t congratulate yourself too much here. It’s not like it hasn’t been proven before and besides, I get the distinct feeling that this was not your intention! Congrats anyway!

  • David Mason

    Paul, an apostle—sent not from men nor by a man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead— 2 and all the brothers and sisters with me, Gal. 1:1

    Paul is called an apostle because thats what he called himself, as well as the other twelve men who followed Jesus while he was on earth. They were called apostles way before any of them died!

    The bible gives certain criteria to be an apostle. One if which is to be commissioned by Jesus himself. Did Paul ever meet Jesus? He did while on the road to Damascus:


    In this story you see that Jesus personally said that Paul would spread the word to the Gentiles. Paul was sent with the authority of Jesus Christ. Paul also performed miracles much like Peter and James did, showing that he was indeed and apostle.

  • Guy Norred

    I agree.

  • We use the word apostolos often, but we use the English equivalent of that Greek word except when used with specific ones from the Scripture. But the Greek into English is actually MISSIONARY. Thank you very much! The Apostles were missionaries.

  • I don’t want to devolve into nitpicking. Paul was cool, he didn’t bring Christianity to Western Civilization because God didn’t like him. But I’m totally blanking on his miracles. What were they?

  • Hey Jack, not trying to be confrontational or disrespectful here, just saying that the author overreached himself. He should have just said: “This is the type of religion I want”. No problem. Free country. However, calling it “Biblical” is just a bridge too far. The facts don’t bear it out. Peace brother.

  • AtalantaBethulia

    So, wait till your Father gets home?

  • David Mason

    Yeah, turn away from your sins, right? They are going down the road of sin, they need to repent and follow the way of righteousness. This passage is still emphasizing that the way our lives are going will destroy us if we don’t repent (or turn around?) and look to Christ for the forgiveness of sins. If our sins are not forgiven, then we are doomed to hell.

    (and not to be nit-picky, this passage was written in Greek.)

  • AtalantaBethulia

    A mystical experience of the already dead and resurrected Jesus is not the same thing as knowing Jesus and being one of the twelve.

  • David Mason

    “And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, 12 so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them.” Acts 19:11-12

    Paul could blow his nose and throw away the tissue, and it would heal people. He had “apostle-nostrils.”

  • AtalantaBethulia

    Ignorant Goyim, FTW!

  • And thus we have the cult of relics. I have a flake of skin supposedly from Elizabeth Ann Seton, the first saint from the United States. That’s… good to know. It’s kind of a vague second-hand miracle, though.

  • AtalantaBethulia

    Still doesn’t mention hell.

    Because sin (selfishness) has natural consequences that cause harm o oneself and to others. And sin does not foster one “living life to the full.”

  • Excellent points. According to the Tradition of Luke, Paul and Barnabas was “commissioned” by Peter at Antioch to become a “missionary” aka “apostle” of the Church (Acts 13.1ff). Interestingly, Paul disputes that claim in his letter to the Galatians (1.11-24), by claiming that the Resurrected Christ commissioned him himself, that his credentials as an apostle, aka missionary, was not by any human being.

    What is even more interesting is the fact that Paul recognizes a woman (Junia) as being a prominent apostle (Romans 16.7). Church tradition does hold Mary Magdalene as the “Apostle (of, or to) the Apostles,” because Christ chose to “send” her of all people to the “brothers” and instruct them as to where to meet the Resurrected Christ.

  • David Mason

    Actually, the Greek word for apostle is apostolos, like you just said. I will admit, there are varying degrees of an apostle. An apostle can mean simply “one who is sent” but it can very well mean “one who is sent with the authority of the one who sent them.” And by degrees, I mean usages. What we have to figure our is how did the writers of scripture use these terms, and I contend that The Apostles use it in its strongest since.

  • AtalantaBethulia

    Destroyed doesn’t have to mean doomed to hell.

  • David Mason

    Well that’s gross, but if you see anybody healed because they simply touched it then make sure to not keep it to yourself.

  • It depends on which Scripture you read. In Acts 13, Peter was told by the Holy Spirit to send Paul and Barnabas, as missionaries (aka apostles). Paul, on the other hand, disputes this by saying it was Christ all along that commissioned him (Galatians 1).

  • David Mason

    The wage of sin is death. If sin isnt dealt with, then we will pay the price, namely hell.

  • I shoplifted it from an estate sale because it didn’t have a price tag. It’s in a box with her info typed and taped on the top, though, so it must be true. 🙂

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    i think god is still speaking to us by sending the holy spirit. i speak to others about what i am hearing from my relationship w/ god and jesus thru the holy spirit. i think paul was prob filled w/ the holy spirit & went where he was instructed & spoke what the spirit gave to communicate in his time of being alive on earth. He set us a good example of being obedient & serving others I think. Paul is no longer here but we are. Am I being sent as Paul was? Am I being sent as Jesus was? Mmmmm…could be.

  • AtalantaBethulia

    Note: Jesus did not “found” Christianity.

  • Caleb Paul

    I’m sorry? Is this supposed to be an insult or…?

  • David Mason

    Ok, now we’re getting to a somewhat different idea. Is hell an actual place, or do evil people simply cease to exist, which is considered, annihilationism.

  • Paul was a universalist. Read Romans 5.6ff, and verse 15; Philippians 2.9ff, note the phrase “every knee.. in heaven, on earth and below earth.” When Paul speaks of condemnation, the apostle is actually speaking of judgments we put on ourselves, because ultimately, we are “saved by grace and not by works, lest any man should boast.” The fact that there are several places that show Paul as a universalist is one of many reasons why a lot of Messianic Jews have a problem with him.

  • David Mason

    That is so weird! Is it huge? The really weird thing is that she wasn’t saint-ified until she was dead, so how would they get it?

  • AtalantaBethulia

    It’s a metaphor. Or, a simile, if you will, without the “like.”

  • Absolutely love that! Jesus did not start a brand new religion. He was into reforming the old one. The new religion didn’t start until after 70 CE, when the Gospels were being written. We see in Matthew and Luke where the split was starting to occur and by the time John is written the split was complete. Thank you for sharing that thought! It is an awesome thought!

  • David Mason

    But it simply wasn’t a mystical experience! Paul saw Jesus. The people who were with Paul heard Jesus speak. Aninias was told by Jesus to care for Paul while he is blind. And Jesus literally said “he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel” True he wasn’t one of the 12, but his commissioning story is very different from yours and mine.

  • Caleb Paul

    I don’t understand what you mean, nor will I put words in your mouth because that wouldn’t be fair, so you’ll have to spell it out in detail sorry.

  • pookdesignz

    This resonates with me – very compelling perspective – thank you for this:)

  • It’s tiny, like a flake of skin after you have a sunburn. As to the bigger question, how do any of them get it? Yet there are small chapels all over Europe whose only fame is a square of someone’s clothing or skin or toenail or what have you.

  • DonRappe

    These women were the very first apostles, IMHO.

  • cken

    Assuming Heaven and Hell are physical places, which I personally doubt, Christianity without fear of hell wouldn’t exist. It is classic psychology the carrot and the stick. That is why they decided to add Revelations to the Bible after the fact so just in case fear of hell didn’t work there was always this apocalyptic nightmare of being left behind at the second coming. However if those are your reasons for being a Christian you are really missing the good stuff. The fear tactics don’t or shouldn’t matter Christianity is a positive thing.

  • AtalantaBethulia

    Re: “Jesus is our propitiation, because his death and resurrection satisfied the justice of God.”

    Substitutionary atonement is only one of several atonement theories (doctrines).

  • Well the rapture thing is pretty recent. There was a Jesuit priest in the seventeenth or eighteenth century who thought that there may be a rapture but it won’t be until the nineteenth century that Scofield actually developed a theology out of that. Now, it is one of the “hottest” debates around. Historically and traditionally, the church has maintained that Revelation was speaking about events that was occurring in the first century and its aftermath (the destruction of the Temple, etc, etc).

  • cken

    Jesus was a master of symbolism and metaphor helping us understand things we can’t possibly comprehend.

  • David Mason

    I don’t see in Acts 13 where Peter was the one who sent them. According to verse 4 it was the Holy Spirit.

  • Guest

    But that’s just your interpretation of the inclusion of revelation. You just think that its use is only for scare tactics and to drive people to Christ. I see it as prophetic, some of which has been fulfilled and some of which will be fulfilled.

  • Bill Steffenhagen

    I did say “other than human interpretations”, right? I’ll give ya Jesus, but even his purported words are subject to the caveat. Any other sources?


  • Caleb Paul

    What do you think he means then when Christ talks about hell in the above verses?

  • David Mason

    Well, my fist thought is that they are fake, but maybe there were some serious people who went around collecting and cataloging various people skin tags in hopes one day one of them is turned into a saint.

  • AtalantaBethulia

    You said: “Because when Christ taught those verses he was speaking in the context of forgiveness specifically to humans who have wronged you. Its imperative that we as Christians forgive others because of how much we ourselves have been forgiven. In fact this point supports my view. We shouldn’t seek retributive vengeance against other humans because God himself is the righteous judge.Romans 12:19 “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” When Christ ushered in a new realm, one of life and righteousness he completely flipped the teachings of the conventional Judaism Churches and doctrines as you rightly pointed out. His ministry was one of peace and humility. He openly advocated that the power and right to judge was God’s alone (since ‘he emptied himself’ to be one of us in order that he might save us)”

    Which, in essence, means: You earthly people have to be nice to each other because that’s what I taught you to do even when you hurt each other… but God (your Father) is the only one who can whack you for hitting each other–therefore–“wait till your Father gets home” to receive your punishment. In case you aren’t from the U.S., it’s an idiom referring to a time in American history of the stereotypical nuclear family and housewife where the mother stayed at home with the children and when they fought she had no authority (nor, supposedly, will) to discipline them to which she would say, “Wait till your father gets home.”, which is implying that their punishment will be reserved for a later time when the due wrath of the Father will be poured out on those children’s sorry arses for having disobeyed their mother earlier in the day.


  • Funny, that! The wages of sin is death. That means that once we die, our sin is paid in full. If that is the bad news, what is the good news? The good news, according to Paul is that our death isn’t the last chapter. The good news according to Christ is that there is so much more to life than just trying to survive it. Why not be a part of something greater?

  • AtalantaBethulia


  • I see some that accept annihilation. That makes more sense to me than the hell fire thingy… Once people die, they stay dead. Some others, like myself, takes on a Universal position.

  • AtalantaBethulia

    Sin > Physical death > Literal hell… is an interpretation.

    It is not the only interpretation.

  • I wish you peace as well. All I’m saying is that the hell fire theology isn’t the only way to think of eternity; according to Scripture. Read some of these comments down here and you will see.

  • cken

    Here is how to make sense of it. Ignore Revelation. Read Paul’s letters like you would read Plato. He has some great insights and makes some statements of wisdom, but remember he was simply writing letters to churches. These letters reflect his opinions at the time. Some theologians think the book of Job is completely fictional. Whether it is or not doesn’t matter because it still teaches a great lesson. The descriptions of Hell are allegorical to help us understand a metaphysical concept within the physical limitations of our thinking.

  • cken

    Well put Elizabeth. I about got kicked out of a church for saying Paul was a great Jewish salesman. I agree about Revelation; nobody actually understands it. Anybody who claims to understand Revelation is self delusional.

  • excellent, David. thank you.

  • cken

    Paul was a self anointed apostle. He had no contact with Jesus before the ascension.

  • pookdesignz

    Would totally agree with these thoughts:)

  • But don’t you see? The same word-of-mouth that makes my skin flake a relic, barring any kind of scientific test, is the same that made our “proofs” in the Bible. Someone wrote it, and someone said it was important, and it’s our job to process what that means. Paul’s tricky. I’ll leave at that.

  • pookdesignz

    Thank you for sharing this. I keep coming back to all the individuals who have had NDE’s – I believe that the afterworld is far more complex than we could imagine and in some ways is reflective of our own conscious belief systems – the idea being that “thought carries weight and can manifest into a metaphysical reality” – no proof here either but just from the observations I have read via countless NDE accounts and other data related to the “afterlife” – I simply am beginning to believe that God is the ultimate source of love – you either have an affinity for this source or you don’t, regardless of your faith background. The degree to which you have this “affinity” (meaning your response to what “love” really is) will either make your transition from this life to the next realm easy or difficult. I can no longer ascribe to the “fundamentalist evangelical” version of judgement or their “lense” of hell – it simply does not resonate with me or even come close to what I feel is the “truth” of what lies behind our current physical existence. There is so much more to explore and more will be revealed as science and religion continue to “dig” deep. We are a species in constant states of evolution – what makes us think we have the “Bible, God and the afterworld” in the “bag” Our beliefs are so very subjective, sometimes our lenses are too narrow.Religious dogma has a way of doing that to people especially when we are so eager to believe we “know” the truth and that our way is the “only” way to see things. I do believe in a God’s whose love is unconditional and unwavering – this entity is far too big and vast to be “stuffed” into any religious group’s theories or “concrete” belief systems. God is creative and his love in my mind is limitless – hope rules with Him as far as I can see – just like in “Leilo and Stitch” no one gets “left behind” – I feel that if there is “stuff” that needs to still be worked out – there are enough “metaphysical” spaces or realms for the work to be done in perfecting the soul or bringing it to a state of pure peace or pure connection to God (however we can define Him ( I use Him as that has been the way I was taught – it doesn’t mean I am correct though) but no one group should have complete authority on defining God’s will or attributes or where we go from here after we leave this world. Thank you Al and Jack for sharing these posts here – it gives me hope when I read posts like the ones you have offered up.

  • Caleb Paul

    Yes, I see the metaphor now, sorry I’m an Australian. I think the metaphor itself is a pretty crass and inaccurate description of God’s righteous judgement. It gets this point right that only God has the authority to condemn and punish humanity. And No, I don’t think in essence it means we must be ‘nice to each other’ because that’s what Christ taught us. Forgiveness is not an obligation or even an emotion/feeling. Its a choice. Humanity isn’t ‘waiting around’ to receive its just due, even though we deserve it (and i think that’s the biggest difference in our views).

    However I think the metaphor works brilliantly if the children aren’t us but rather the Jewish leaders in the time of Christ. It reminds me of the parable of the Vineyard and the wicked servants.

  • DonRappe

    My sense of this book is that it is a letter to seven churches in Asia minor which were under a sort of genocidal persecution. My mental image of saint and martyr archbishop Oscar Romero being tommygunned at the altar as he said mass colors my interpretation of Revelation. He washed his clothes in the blood of the Lamb and made them white. I know that we Americans trained these criminals and spent approx. 2 million per day to support them. This colors my interpretation of the Great Whore of Babylon. The great lake of fire is used to describe God’s condemnation of violent and bloodthirsty acts, such as those we Americans committed, under Reagan, in the dirty war against latin american labor unions. The images are not meant to frighten anybody. Their purpose is to comfort the survivors of those men, women and children who were brutally raped, tortured and murdered to accomplish ends which people in power believe are “for the greater good”. Wherever people are brutalized, the book of Revelation can be understood. Thankfully, most of us cannot understand it.

  • JD

    IOW’s Christ needs hell or he’s out of a job….

  • DonRappe

    Paul saw a great light, not an image. He and no one with him heard the voice of Jesus. What book have you been reading?

  • I quite agree on the issue of “original sin.” That is a theological discussion that got underway with Augustine of Hippo. I am a St. Morgan fan (for those who do not know, St. Morgan’s Latin name is Pelagius Britto). I see lots of evidence that he was unfairly condemned as a heretic and that is most unfortunate, because he was misunderstood and misinterpreted.

    Salvation by works versus salvation by faith is a useless point for me. That is because I espouse the ancient doctrine of “Universal Salvation.” All are, or will be saved. How that works out, I have no idea. I know that this was a thorny issue for many early Christian leaders.

    I definitely agree with the “actions speak louder than words.” My grandmother always asked, “Can you walk that talk?” Another of her pithy sayings went like this, “God helps those who help themselves.” Once I start to move, God will be there to take care of the things beyond my control.

    About the cross thing… RIGHT ON! 1) it was a Roman execution, not a Jewish one, therefore the accusation, “Christ killers” levied at Jews is completely and utterly false. 2) Matthew and Mark show that the curtain in the Temple going into the Most Holy Place was ripped right at the time of Christ’s death — which is where the atonement people get their theology from. Luke, however, has that curtain ripped BEFORE Christ dies, thereby rendering the atonement hypothesis debatable. John, as far as I know, doesn’t mention as much as a curtain. So, there goes that.

  • DonRappe

    A central theme in the book of Acts is that after receiving the spirit of Jesus, the followers of his Way, especially Peter, could work any wonder that Jesus did. This, of course, remains true to this day.

  • Robert Elton

    I personally found this passage helpful, in my faith. Note most Bible scholars predate this letter of Paul’s before any of the Gospels most likely 50-60 A.D. In this passage note that He tells His readers if they do not believe Him that they could go talk to the 500 witnesses of which ,most of them were still alive, about Jesus being resurrection and the ascension. Also to paraphrase C.S. Lewis from “Mere Christianity”: “We Christians believe humans go on forever. Now my bad temper unchecked might be a slight problem in 70 years, but it would absolutely be Hell in a million years.” 1 Corinthians 15 New International Version (NIV)

    The Resurrection of Christ

    15 Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you,which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

    3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance[a]: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third dayaccording to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas,[b] and then to the Twelve.6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.

    9 For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. 11 Whether, then, it is I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed.

    The Resurrection of the Dead

    12 But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14 And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15 More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19 If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.

    20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. 24 Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For he “has put everything under his feet.”[c] Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. 28 When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.

    29 Now if there is no resurrection, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized for them? 30 And as for us, why do we endanger ourselves every hour? 31 I face death every day—yes, just as surely as I boast about you in Christ Jesus our Lord. 32 If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus with no more than human hopes, what have I gained? If the dead are not raised,

    “Let us eat and drink,
    for tomorrow we die.”[d]

    33 Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”[e] 34 Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God—I say this to your shame.

  • Yes, I knew it was you, Caleb, that asked. When I said “Paul?” I was responding to your question regarding how Paul would take on this idea of a non-hell Christianity. I was merely saying read down further…

  • pookdesignz

    We can be Jesus followers; be Christian and still believe in Universalism.

  • AtalantaBethulia

    The point was not to take every aspect of my explanation and apply it as a 1:1 equivalency in the metaphor. The only thing that I was drawing a parallel to was what you outlined as delayed judgement in the form of God’s wrath, ergo: “Wait till your father get’s home.” The rest was me trying to–in great detail–explain why that was a relevant point to make but was not part of my original “metaphor.”

    I’m sorry you don’t get my brief attempt at (apparently sacrilegious) humor.

  • Funny you should bring that up about the sheep. Christ even made a parable about that. He said that for the welfare of one of those sheep, he would leave the 99 others. Kind of like, “no sheep left behind” policy. I know you’re Australian, so for the benefit of the doubt, many Americans will recognize my “quote” as a saying from our former President Bush in the “No Child Left Behind Act” in improving education around here.

  • pookdesignz

    Love this! Totally “nails” it for me – thank you:)

  • Interesting light… kind of makes a little sense of what is called the “Philosophical” approach, maybe?

  • It was the Church at Antioch. I might have read Peter in there because of Chapter 12 and in Galatians 2, Paul and Simon Peter have a showdown in Antioch. Church Tradition has Peter as Bishop of Antioch before becoming the Bishop of Rome.

  • There is an excellent study on this topic, short but thorough, that reveals the meaning of every word from the Greek and Hebrew that has been translated into hell. It’s easy to read and very informative. I am not affiliated with the website, but I appreciate it’s information concerning the doctrine of hell.


  • Not to mention that the Greek word hilasterion is translated not from the original Greek manuscripts but from the Roman (aka, Latin) Vulgate, which used the Latin word propitiātus – which is a pagan (aka, Roman) term for “appeasing a vengeful god.”

    What people don’t know is that the Greek word hilasterion was used in the Septuagint – that is, the Greek translation of the Old Testament (translated by believing Jews, not ex-pagan Gentiles) – and it referred to the Mercy Seat on the Ark of the Covenant.

    This is the usage that Paul and John would have been familiar with, and this is the way they would have used it. So, by using the word “propitiation,” we are infusing a “new theology” into Scripture that would have never entered the minds of the original Jewish authors.

    Just for fun… replace the word “propitiation” with the phrase “mercy seat” and see how it might change the meaning of the verses in question. And then, try and view that change through the light of the Old Testament.

    It’s an AMAZING revelation.

  • Paul said the wages of sin is DEATH. He said nothing about hell. So, we need to be careful not to put words in his mouth.

    And the reason we repent (turn around) and follow God is to improve life here and now. The future doesn’t even exist. Jesus said we shouldn’t worry about tomorrow (aka, the afterlife). He said the Kingdom of heaven is here, right now, in this lifetime.

    The destruction that Jesus referred to absolutely applies to this life, but it could also have applied to the coming destruction of Jerusalem by Rome. If they did not “turn around” and follow God, then they would be destroyed.

    They didn’t. And they were.

  • The Bible is pretty clear that, when we die, we cease to exist (this was debated at length further down). Just as we knew nothing before we were born, we shall know nothing after we die.

    At least, not until we are resurrected.

  • Elizabeth Cox

    Anyone who wants to clear God’s maligned character (He’s been compared to Zeus/Jupiter by using their mythos of torturing people for all of time- don’t think so, what happened to Prometheus again? An eagle pecked out his liver for -how long-? Yeah.), can look up the origins of hell…this is the age of information. If you love God, of course you don’t like Him being lumped in with other gods as no different! (I’m not sure why it’s so over the top to believe that the pillar of fairness is actually fair, or the God of Righteousness is actually righteous…or that all that marveling about how God is so merciful isn’t just terrified meaningless toadying.)

    There are several words that have been translated with the English word ‘Hell’ (Anglo-Saxon helle:a concealed place): Sheol, Hades, Tartarus (used only once, for the place where angels awaiting punishment are held in that 2 Peter 2:4 verse), and Gehenna (Valley of Hinnom) …and when you look into Gehenna, the word Jesus used, you’ll find it was an old metaphor- well known to His audience. If you are a Christian, you’ll care. You’ll dig. Maybe not this very moment, but sooner or later, you’ll care, and you’ll ask the Holy Spirit or you’ll pray, and you’ll be amazed at how that information is just right there.

    “”Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking,
    and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to
    For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.” Matthew 7:7-8

  • Ross Canning

    Why should they repent, if not to save them from hell?
    ANSWER: To receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

  • Who is more important in your eyes, Paul or Jesus?

  • Well considering that the only references to Paul being an apostle was by himself, you kinda wonder why he gave himself that title, AND if it meant in his mind what people have taken it to mean today.

  • I think Paul himself would question the divine authority that people have placed upon him.

  • So all that suffering remains a secret…classy

  • Wayne Green

    Jesus. But Paul had authority as well, given to him by God.

  • Wayne Green

    I’m not placing divine authority on him. I’m respecting him as an apostle, sent not from men nor by a man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father (Gal 1:1).

  • lymis

    Just to be clear, you do realize that Jesus didn’t speak English, right? That everything you quoted is a translation of something that someone wrote in a different language entirely, decades after his death, usually based on passed-down beliefs rather than eyewitness testimony, and selected for inclusion in the Bible and later translated into Latin and then into English by people who took the existence of hell for granted?

    The Bible records what people understood about what the people who think they remember what people reported that Jesus said, not something some reported copied down for the record when he said it.

    No reasonable discussion about it can ignore that fact.

  • lymis

    Says who? Paul?
    Nice work if you can get it.

    Paul was a fallible human person like anyone else, and a product of his time and his upbringing. He got some things beautifully right and some things staggeringly wrong – like the Christian obligation to return escaped slaves to their masters – and most of it was seen through the social lens of his time. Even if his views were perfect for 1st century Middle East, they don’t all inherently apply today.

  • lymis

    “Sent with authority” does NOT mean “guaranteed infallible.”

  • lymis

    Paul doesn’t have any authority over me. He’s a fellow traveller along a somewhat similar path to the one I’m on. We are both informed by the Holy Spirit, and I have the obligation to review anything that ANYONE says in the light of my own personal relationship to God.

    A lot of what Paul said (or is recorded as saying, a significantly different issue) speaks to me. Much of it does not.

    Paul has no authority simply because he says he does, no matter how often he said it. Would you accept my authority over you if I told you God gave it to me?

    Any authority Paul has comes from God, and that means that the Holy Spirit working in my heart and mind is the authority I use to validate or discount what Paul (and his many translators, who have very little authority) may have to say on any given issue.

    Paul is not accountable to God for my soul or my behavior or how I love my neighbor. I am. I have the obligation to be my own authority, because I will be the one giving any account of myself that is demanded.

  • Bones

    Well Paul also said he went to the third heaven.

    My favourite is the seventh.

    Oh and

    “I am holding your prayer cloth! Click here request yours now — and I will send it to you saturated with Holy Spirit power for your miracle! ”

    Does God really need to be passed around?

  • lymis

    Whether or not “allowing crimes to go unpunished” would be against God’s character, you’ve got a lot of assumptions piled up there, most of which I disagree with.

    First, the idea that justice requires punishment. Human justice often does, because we cannot possibly know all the things that lead to someone’s actions, we cannot control someone’s future behavior, and we have an obligation to protect others from harm. None of that applies to this situation.

    God DOES know everything that influenced someone’s decision, and in eternity, there isn’t a question of ongoing misbehavior, only misunderstood interpretations, and nobody else is harmed by someone’s errors.

    So it’s far more in character both for God AND for the idea of actual justice to believe that it’s not a matter of “punishment for crimes” but rather for helping someone understand the twisted place they’ve gotten themselves into and helping them unravel it and come fully into the light of God’s love.

    The idea of a “crime” against an omnipotent and omniscient God is a flat absurdity. No created being is remotely capable of doing something God does not allow, and the idea that God is horrified and offended and forced into eternal retribution for something God could have stopped at any point is ludicrous.

    It all hinges on the idea that what we do as humans is the most important thing in God’s eyes and that all that matters is obedience. Instead, it’s far more sensible to believe that whatever we are doing here, it’s to experience humanity and to prepare for who we are to become.

    Just like a lot of people point out that “what matters” about things like team sports isn’t whether or not you win, but what you learn and who you become in the process of engaging in them. When the game ends, the winners aren’t “better” people, and the losers aren’t “wicked” or “condemned.” When the game ends, the game may end, but the effects it had on the participants continue beyond that.

    The purpose of being human is to have been human. What we are to become has not yet come to light.

  • lymis

    Sarah, we do NOT “offend God’s very nature” by simply being human, with all our flaws, all our inadequacies, all our misunderstandings, and all our limitations.

    We can be better or worse. We are called to be the best people we can be, with loving our neighbors as the guiding touchstone of that.

    But we don’t “offend” God when we aren’t perfect. The idea that we could is what’s offensive. What a shallow and petty God that would be.

  • FrJesusGaylord

    So god brainwashes you so you won’t remember what a monster he is. Makes sense.

  • Bones

    The GOOD NEWS of the cross is NOT that God is not sending us to hell. (nor are we sending ourselves to hell)

    God did not kill God to make God happy.

    Salvation is not salvation from Hell or God, but salvation from sins and oppression, it’s freedom for captives,

    “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
    because he has anointed me
    to bring good news to the poor.
    He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
    and recovery of sight to the blind,
    to let the oppressed go free,
    to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

    Is good news to the poor really that they won’t burn in hell forever?

    And what is this year of the Lord’s Favour? Look guys I won’t fry you if you believe in me?

    The GOOD NEWS of salvation is forgiveness, healing, peace, compassion, mercy.

  • Wayne Green

    A person can be infallible yet still have authority. And I never said Paul’s writings inherently apply to today. Historical context is important. What I’m saying is that I’m unwilling to write Paul off as if he was nothing. Because Paul was an apostle sent by God to preach a beautiful message of grace. You might not believe that, but I do.

  • AtalantaBethulia

    Foul! FOUL! I cry… using smarts and knowledge and more original source material. To what type of dark arts do you ascribe!? How dare you challenge us with this cognitive dissonance!


  • Wayne Green

    I disagree. I believe that Paul was God’s “chosen instrument to proclaim His name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel” (Acts 9:15). And I believe Paul when he said that he was “an apostle, sent not from men nor by a man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father (Gal 1:1). You’re entitled to your own opinion, but like I said, I disagree.

  • Bones

    And a fairly recent one at that.

  • Which is why taking hell out of the picture works.

  • Jeff Preuss

    “The way I see Hell is this:” And the way John sees it is different – is that not allowed?

  • Bones

    I actually think there are competing schools of thought in the Old Testament especially with those in the Priestly tradition against those in the prophetic tradition namely:

    God does not desire sacrifice.

    Psalm 51:16

    “For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; You are not pleased with burnt offering.”

    Neither does God need sacrifice to forgive sin.

    2 chronicles 7:14

    “14 if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”

  • Bones

    No one is writing Paul off.

    But he was an ex-Pharisee heavily influenced by Greek philosophy. There is no doubt that both those philosophies influenced his writing.

  • Bones

    Yeah, I never needed it. It actually repulses me. I have never considered myself as being in need of salvation from hellfire. There are real present day issues I have needed salvation from.

  • Me. too. And finding it in a literal, as well as an emotional and spiritual sense has given me peace, gratitude and joy.

  • JTT

    Just an interesting fact: There are some 41,000 different denominations JUST under the Christian religion. Hmmm…. Which means that someone took a verse from the bible and said, we don’t believe it means what you think it means and stepped aside to form a new denomination.
    A bible verse can be perceived in so many different ways its impossible to really KNOW anything at all, UNLESS you stop reading to find answers and seek God fully with your own heart! Humble yourself. A wise man admits he knows nothing.
    Basically, Jesus left us with this “I give you this last commandment, to love one another” I’m pretty sure if you follow this basic rule, you won’t break the other commandments and you will have found heaven – through Love =God. 🙂

    I would also like to add, that of all the horrible people who have walked this planet, I can’t think of one human that I would want to suffer for all eternity. That is absolutely heartbreaking and I think if anyone and I do mean ANYONE actually met Jesus themselves, they would understand Him. The problem is, SO MANY steer clear of Jesus because of religion. Because of Christians, being bible pushers and judging and belittling and so on ..
    The love of Jesus needs to be shown through example. <3

  • True. He was a Roman citizen after all, and had lived in Tarsus, in what is modern day Turkey, very heavily influenced by the Greco/Roman world and its previous cultural owners, the Persians, Also the meeting place of Mark Antony and Cleopatra. He spent more time in the that part of the world than he did in Judea.

  • Jeff Preuss

    No, no, no. MY denomination’s interpretation is the ONLY TRUE way to interpret that verse…um, whichever verse you want to pick. THE BIBLE IS CLEAR…except when it’s not. 😉

  • Al Cruise

    Excellent comment. There are over 7 billion people {plus billions who have already lived and died} in the world today and many through no fault of their own, were not exposed to the fundamentalist theology of some of the commentators here. According to these commentators these people have no choice but “hell”. Yet they teach about this “loving” Jesus who will still throw people into hell because they were born in the wrong place or the wrong time.

  • So, reading a fair portion, but by no means all, of these comments; I’m wondering if I do or don’t believe in hell.

    To me it is clear (and I’ve said it before) that hell is a work in progress.

    The effect of living out life in the trance of relativity. Ignorant of the Truth of absolute non-difference.

    Our actions create our experience. Look around and you can see what that is like.

    If the world we are born from, becomes too toxic. If the company of our fellows too chaotic and unpredictable. Too bestial. Existence becomes unbearable. But we are born or reborn again and again.

    Why? Because eternity is the Truth of it. But that Truth, of our One Self, becomes harder to know. And yet more necessary that we do.

    So yes, hell is likely but it is not punishment. It is a potential effect. Here and Now.

    Comes from laying up our treasures where the moths and rust can have at it.

  • cken

    It means eternal separation from God. The rest is symbolic imagery. Neither heaven nor hell are physical places.

  • cken

    Nobody understands the whole of the book of Revelation, conceptually, philosophically, or theologically. You can however, take a line here and there and say see see told you that has happened.

  • Dave-n-TN

    Interesting that the Gospels were written 70 years later. Makes one wonder how correct the “Jesus said” parts might be – I can barely remember what someone said a day or two ago … and to think that the writers remembered exactly what was said 70 years later – if, in fact, they were the ones who heard him speak.

  • jimfromcanada

    I think that the purpose of sacrifices that are prescribed in The Torah are to reassure the sinner and others that their sins are actually forgiven. God does not need sacrifices in order to forgive sin. In the same way Jesus’ death and resurrection reassure us that God forgives sinners as Jesus forgave those who crucified him. So God also forgives us, allowing us to leave the burden of our sin behind and get on with loving our neighbours.

  • jimfromcanada

    I believe that Jesus died and was resurrected to assure us of God’s forgiveness as Jesus forgave those who crucified him.

  • That is a really good point you brought up. That was the point of the “Jesus Seminar” done a few decades ago, to find out the real “historical” Jesus and what it was he actually said. But, your point about not remembering what someone said a few days ago really drives home the point. There may actually be something else going on here. For example:

    Notice, in the Gospel tradition of Matthew, the traitor Judas gave the money back to the priests and hung himself (Matthew 27.5). In the Luke tradition, Judas keeps the money and buys a field. He falls and dies. When he fell, his gizzard fell out dropping everything in his bowels, so we are told (Acts 1.18f). The field in both accounts was called “Field of Blood.” The difference is who purchased it. Was it the priests in the temple (Matthew) or was it Judas himself (Acts)? How did Judas die, did he hang himself–suicide (Matthew) or did he have a tragic accident (Acts)?

    If we just stop to think about this and consider that maybe Judas wasn’t a disciple (a man) at all, but is code name for the Temple (Judas in Greek is the equivalent to Yahudah “Judah” in Hebrew). This is why Judas and “Jews” sound similar. If this is the case, in both accounts, we can see a pattern develop that explains how and why the Temple fell in 70 CE. If this is the case:

    Then Matthew is explaining that it is the Temple that deliberately “betrayed” Christians living in Jerusalem at the time, but felt remorseful afterwards. Then the nation went insane afterwards, going on a suicidal mission against Rome, which brought the whole system down.

    The Tradition of Luke explains that the Temple authorities betrayed Christians and as a result, G-d’s judgement came down on them by having the Romans flatten the temple. All the Jews (within the bowels) came out may actually be a reference to the expulsion of the Jews from the Holy City.

    What was the betrayal of Christians that the Temple authorities did? We can not be too sure, so we can’t really get dogmatic about it. It might have been the crucifixion of Christ, some 35 (within a generation = 40 years) years ago or it could be something far more recent, like what Josephus hints at with the death of James the Just, being thrown off the Temple roof.

    All this is very interesting, and it is a reminder that sometimes, what we read in Scripture isn’t suppose to be taken as literal truth.

    Thanks for sharing that thought Dave!

  • Paul was a product of his time. So were all the prophets, scribes, priests, etc, etc. There is no doubt in my mind that Paul was a good man at heart, but somethings he was incredibly wrong on!

  • There is a lot of evidence that supports what you said there Bones! Paul even quotes Greek poets in at least two different places.

  • David Mason

    Acts 9 is the road to Damascus story. In it, a light appears and Paul hears a voice and ask who it is. The voice says that he is Jesus. Verse 7 says the men with Paul heard a voice but saw no one.

  • David Mason

    In order to take Paul as someone we can trust, you have to have faith that the bible means what it says. Paul said in 2 Timothy 3:16 that all scripture is god breathed and is suitable for growing in god, basically. I believe the bible is the word of God, faithfully kept throughout the ages from error, and defies all logic in how it came to be.

    With that said, if you seek you will find, and if you pray for understanding, God will open the Scriptures to you.

  • I too believe the Bible is the word of God. (John 1:1: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. It’s more complicated since logos isn’t an exact translation for word in Greek, it’s got a lot more meaning packed into it, but still: completely OK with it at face value.) I believe the Bible was faithfully kept. I know mistranslations, typos, and redactions happened over millenia, but God is a good enough writer to transcend them. It’s the literary masterwork of the ages.

    I studied the Bible as literature, not religion, so I come at it kind of sideways. God hasn’t complained yet.

  • pookdesignz

    I agree with this!

  • I don’t think you are alone, in fact, I meet people like you almost every day. I
    meet people who don’t want to live in a world without God. They don’t want to be nihilists like Nietzsche and they don’t want to be arrogant tiny demi-gods like Dawkins. They want to live in a world that is under the Sovereign oversight of a God. Just, not the God of the Bible. Not the God of the cross. I hear you saying that you want that kind of Christianity, indeed I hear you saying you insist upon it,
    but may I provide a caution? Have you really thought through the implications of a universe ruled by a God without justice? Have you really thought through
    the implications of a Christianity without hell? Before you go too far down this wide and well travelled road, would you hear a little bit of counsel from a friend who fears
    what you might find?

    I’ve written a longer response but I don’t want to fill your comment section with something you are not interested in. If you’d like to read it go here:


  • There are several factual errors in your question which leaves me unsure how to respond to it. Scholars generally agree now that Jesus would have spoken Aramaic (a Hebrew dialect), Hebrew (in the synagogue context), Greek and likely a little Latin. Scholars disagree what parts of his recorded dialect were translated by the Gospel authors. The Gospels were originally written in Greek and were translated into English directly from the Greek – no one has translated from the Latin Vulgate for hundreds of years. I use the GNT 28 Greek New Testament for my own translations and have found it to be remarkably reliable. However, I am unclear how the translation history of the New Testament relates to the doctrine of hell. Sounds like a bit of red herring to me. Whether Jesus said it in Aramaic (likely) or Greek (less likely but hardly significant) the meanings of the words used are not in dispute. If a person wants to disregard the teaching of Jesus on hell he/she will need to try a different tact. Suggesting that the original meaning has been “lost in translation” simply will not fly.

  • Agreed. I am not defending any specific understanding of the nature of hell – merely its literal existence. I understand that when Jesus says that hell is a place of “fire” and “darkness” he is speaking symbolically. He is saying, as you have inferred, that hell is a place of “judgment” (fire) and “separation” (darkness). He is saying “it is like that” not “it is that”. My point is simply that it IS something. Something best understood through the symbols of fire and darkness. Symbolic yes. Real yes. That is the point I am making.

  • To speak of something in symbolic language does not imply unreality. Hell is real but Jesus spoke of it in symbolic terms because we have no direct frame of reference for understanding it. He did this with the kingdom of God as well. The Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed. Clearly it is not actually a mustard seed, but neither is it nothing. It is something. Something that can be compared in some sense to a mustard seed.

  • chitox

    This is foolishness and sounds like it was written for a college newspaper. “Literally fearless” literally means nothing – and it gets more nonsensical from there. God’s constant love for all people is a fact in Christianity regardless of your belief in Hell. There are also good reasons to evangelize besides Hell. I’ve heard good arguments for Universalism but John Shore isn’t making any here. This is just a list describing Christianity at its best in some parts and as nonbelievers wish it were in other parts. I “insist” people stop spreading this garbage.

  • chitox

    People who aren’t saved should fear Hell – that doesn’t mean that the place mustn’t exist. You, like the author of this article, just assume without any basis that believing you’ve been saved from Hell somehow precludes or cheapens other joys or experiences. You can’t back that up in any way. It’s argument based on wishful thinking.

  • lymis

    It’s a huge leap from “a universe without hell” to “a God without justice.”

    Many of us feel that a God who would eternally punish someone for any ephemeral act is unspeakably UN-just.

  • lymis


    My point was that Jesus didn’t speak English, and that no contemporary author recorded his words in any language.

    So even if every word is accurately translated – and there are FAR too many examples of translations that warp the original understanding of the terms once they end up in English to claim that every translation into English is accurate – there’s no authoritative proof that anything in any of the originals was literally accurate.

    Pointing to an English translation and saying ‘See, here’s the word hell, so obviously we know what Jesus intended” is shoddy at best.

  • You insist? Are you boss of the world now?

  • Bones

    Tarsus was the capital of Greek philosophy. Many philosophers were from Tarsus.

    From Strabo:

    “The people at Tarsus have devoted themselves so eagerly, not only to philosophy, but also to the whole round of education in general, that they have surpassed Athens, Alexandria, or any other place that can be named where there have been schools and lectures of philosophers.”

  • Bones

    An example is Paul’s teaching on the flesh which I reject because it is flat out Greek dualism between the spirit and the flesh.

  • Al Cruise

    “God is the ultimate source of love – you either have an affinity for this source or you don’t,” I think you a are very close to ground zero with that statement. The big irony is that some Theologies are their own worst enemies and are taught in a manner that rejects the love from God. Fundamentalist evangelical is a good example.

  • I’m literally fearless. There’s a psychological term for it, but since you’ve never read a college newspaper, you wouldn’t understand.

  • klhayes

    I stopped believing in Hell a long time ago. I remained a Christian a long time after that and believed I should treat all people as if they were already saved, regardless of their beliefs or lifestyle. It’s when I realized that much of Christianity didn’t feel this why that I decided I no longer wanted to be a Christian.

  • JD

    Does you need hell to make that system work?

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    thx 4 this!
    ‘To me it is clear (and I’ve said it before) that
    hell is a work in progress. The
    effect of living out life in the trance of relativity. Ignorant of the Truth of
    absolute non-difference. So yes, hell is likely but it is not
    punishment. It is a potential effect. Here and Now. Comes from laying up our treasures where the moths and rust can have at

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    “insist?” (holds up a crossed pair of sticks) you have no power here!!

  • jimfromcanada

    I think that a person would see hell enacted in day to day life sometimes. Jesus came to rescue us from the hell we create for others and ourselves. So, it is not a matter of needing hell, helll was already present in their lives in the actions of the powers and principalities if their time.

  • jimfromcanada

    Interesting that hell was not a part of the cosmology of the Jewish people until after the Persian Empire. I think that Jesus used this image because it was part of the popular parlance of his time.

  • Sure Paul, you might try to make an argument that a loving and just father has every right to hang one of his children by his thumbs in the basement for spitting while all the other children are upstairs opening their presents on Christmas day. Now imagine these children all KNOWING their brother is hanging by his thumbs while they open gifts….how will that gift giving and receiving go? The truth is we arrest people like that for being psycopathic. You might say ONLY God who is just, has a right to send one son to hell and another to heaven. But imagine if you WERE in heaven with enlightenment knowing that one of your brothers was being tortured forever below. I assume you would NOT be ok with that? I assume you would have a difficult time enjoying the pleasures of heaven and still be enlightened? Or do you think somehow…in Heaven you’ll know as God knows, and think, “Yes! my brother should be down there roasting his skin off daily for not accepting Jesus as his personal Lord and Savior.” If we have learned nothing of Grace, then we have missed everything. Will I be somehow guilty of hell for being more compassionate than a “loving God?”

  • and it was NOT as many Christians claim, ONE sacrificial death to cover the worlds sins…it includes billions of sacrificial deaths including every innocent child who died a miserable agonizing death…just so a Just God could get what he wants, to fill heaven with those who “freely” chose to bow to him…and dump the rest in eternal agony. If this belief is fine with people…I’d worry about their own morality and a terribly warped sense of Love.

  • chitox

    Wow, you really pay attention to detail don’t you? Read the penultimate sentence and direct your question to Mr. Shore.

  • chitox

    If you didn’t read the article, how do you expect to understand the comments.

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    the love of god & each other is a shared experience i wish to share w/ you. What do you want from me?

  • Beautifully said.

  • chitox

    Are you drunk? I was replying to your response.

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    love is kind.

  • Amen, Lymis. I don’t care how rational they try to make their argument sound, the reality is:

    1) The traditional doctrine of hell is not supported by Scripture, and

    2) Eternal punishment for ANY sin, I don’t care how atrocious, is unforgivably wicked.

  • isitjustme

    You and I agree that the most important commands are to love the Lord with all my heart and love my neighbor as I love my self. Jesus said this. However I beleive when John recorded Jesus as saying “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” they were actual words of Jesus. I understand many religions have sacred stories but they can’t all be true. There is ultimate truth somewhere. I believe it is found in scripture and while I don’t have a full understanding of God and His heart and mind I am ok with that. As a Christian I need to be humble enough to admit I do not have all the answers.

  • JD

    I can understand that kind of hell, or as some refer to it as suffering. Yet how does believing in a demi-god make that better?

  • chitox

    Kind not fake. Learn the difference.

  • AtalantaBethulia

    Showing people the difference is a useful tool for learning. It would be helpful for you to do that here.

  • patrick oconnor

    you will know there is a hell when you get there!

  • AtalantaBethulia

    Do you think this comment meets Jesus’ criteria for treating others as you wish to be treated?

  • Eris, elder daughter of Nyx

    If there is a hell, you and I can comfort each other there together.

  • BarbaraR

    Judging by his comment on another article, “I will leave the church if they allow divorced and remarried to receive communion! ” my guess is that he doesn’t give a rat’s ass about treating others as he wishes to be treated. It’s all about dogma, baby.

  • BarbaraR

    I “insist” people stop reading stuff that upsets them unduly.

  • Eris, elder daughter of Nyx

    So, he’ll divorce the church if they allow the divorced and remarried to receive communion? Do you think he’ll start attending a new church and begin receiving communion there . . . remarrying, in a sense? Tee hee.

  • J. Durm

    You are not alone.

  • Jae

    Except a Christianity without sin nor hell is no longer Christianity because it no longer needs grace, nor Christ, nor love at all.

  • AtalantaBethulia

    Again, those doctrines that are built upon one another that you mention and to which you refer are only one set of Christian doctrines about grace, love, Jesus, heaven, hell, the afterlife, atonement, sin, salvation, the trinity, the nature of God and our existence here on earth.

    I realize that this is likely a surprise to many people, because, like many of those people, I too was reared to believe that there is only one true, faithful understanding of Jesus, the bible, and God – one absolute truth – and my church–naturally–was the only one who had it and all others of different doctrines, dogmas, denominations, and religions, clearly were in grave and mortal error.

    But “the Church” and Christianity have never been univocal on matters of theology throughout the age… like Judaism, there have always been disagreements, differences, nuance and varying schools of thought.

    So, the real question is, are we able, as people of faith, to grow beyond our tribalisms of what we have been taught is the only true and right way to believe, to grow beyond our binary worldview, and do the hard work of trying to understand those who believe differently than we do and why and how they have come to a different understanding and interpretation?

  • What a sad thing to believe, Jae. Why must you have condemnation before you can accept grace, Christ, and love?

  • AtalantaBethulia

    Do you think this assessment will be helpful in furthering any dialogue with him?

  • Ah, there’s that mature Christian reflection …

  • Cecilia Davidson

    At this point, it’s clear they don’t want dialog, but to damn.

  • Cecilia Davidson

    With all due respect, did you know Paul of Tarsus and Jesus of Nazareth (AND MOST JEWS OF THE TIME) didn’t think of hell as anything other than a burning garbage pit, than oblivion?

  • Says who? Publish a link so I could study that because between the 4 years I spent studying classics and religious studies and the 3 years of seminary I have not run across that. Just because a reporter with a 4 year journalism degree says something is so…..

  • AtalantaBethulia

    Is it?

  • David Thatcher

    You can have “forgiveness, healing, peace, compassion, mercy” without Christianity. So why keep it around at all?

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    i think i know the difference but i’m thankful for your honesty.

  • Bones

    Fair comment. In fact a lot of the time Christianity has been about the opposite and would be better off not existing at all, especially considering the effect it has had on indigenous peoples and minorities.

    The Jesus of the Gospels would not have had a problem with the Pharisees if they had practiced those. In fact He wouldn’t have been nailed to a Cross. Neither would he have a problem with atheists. He had a problem with those who put doctrine and dogma ahead of people. Unfortunately for Christians Jesus has been more like a password to get out of hell and a name to differentiate groups of people.

    Like I believe in the real Jesus.

  • jorgei

    This is the best answer to the questio as to what is Christianity without hell. Nothing.

  • Bones

    So the only reason Jesus came was to stop us going to hell? That’s it?

    I think you’re missing something. (Hint something called resurrection)

  • John didn’t “insist” everyone else to accept his version of Christianity, only himself and others who may agree. You insisted “people” (I guess that’s everyone else) stop spreading their own thoughts. Pretty bossy, if you ask me. But I do see what you did there.

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    I think the possibility of recovery from religious addicion takes my willingness to see the patterns of abuse in the systems & institutions of ‘christian’ in which I have had involvement, own the ways I was compliant and subsequently injured emotionally & spiritually, hook up w/ a community in recovery & allow some time for healing. I can’t teach what I don’t know or have never experienced.

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    why do you say that? w/ respect to your experiences w/ religion what are your personal thoughts about hell. i really think you might have a relevant story to tell if you are willing to share it i’m willing to hear it.

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    i think living life on lifes terms, as it is proposed in 12 step programs, takes a supernatural awareness of the awesomeness of being human & appreciation of the genius of whoever is behind the beauty & creativity that the world manifests. As a recovering alkie I have had some mystical experiences of deliverance from an alcoholic death & introduction to the possibility of help on a daily basis from my loving higher power. I don’t expect anybody to believe me.

  • BarbaraR

    I don’t think dialogue is on his agenda, not ever.

  • Just Thinkin’

    My heart breaks to think what Jesus went through under the whip and on the Cross, and the separation from the Father; all for nothing, if what you say is true. A pointless death, a pointless sacrifice. Universal salvation makes a mockery of Christ, the Cross and of the Holiness of God who lives in unapproachable light.

    What if the end result of free will is simply “with God” or “without God” for eternity. To be apart from the sustainer of life, is hell. There doesn’t have to be punishment, or deliberate eternal suffering by a sociopathic cohort of angels with whips and truncheons. Just the separation from the One who sustains all things, in Whom is found all things, that is “hell” enough. God does not have to DO anything for a person to be in Hell. That person simply has to say “no thanks God” and he will enter an eternity where God is not.

    Does the doctrine of Universal salvation demand that those who do not wish to be saved, will also be saved. I can imagine the frustration of Bertrand Russell and Huxley at realising that their rejection of God is all for naught and they are saved in spite of their desire not to be…

    To twist the concept of hell and make it a negative reflection on the character of God, as opposed to a accurate reflection on the character of man, is the true error here.

    God is gracious and kind. That is why He chose not to be served by slaves but to be loved by friends. But the flip-side of that free will is that some will reject him. We cannot blame God for the free will that gives us the freedom to choose. The alternative is that there is no free will and no freedom to choose; in which case God is a worse tyrant than any historical person ever was.

    If there is no freedom to choose, then by the lives so many are forced to live, God must Himself be evil to allow it to be so. The complete absence of free will creates a far worse picture than the presence of Hell.

  • Bones

    The argument against that is of course whether their really is a choice involved. Eg what free will does someone have who has never heard the gospel? Or those, like atheists, who reject a distortion of what they’ve been taught Christianity to be? Or people who have been abused by Christianity and chosen to leave it?

    Also your theology implies that humans are evil, which I reject.

    No one freely chooses hell. That’s ridiculous.

    Oh and salvation does not mean salvation from Hell. Why would you think Jesus’s death is pointless if there was no hell.

    The purpose of the Israelite sacrifices was not so they wouldn’t go to Hell.

    Neither did sacrifices ultimately please God.

  • AtalantaBethulia

    I realize this. However, based on your comment above about him do you think others will perceive that dialogue is on your agenda?

  • AtalantaBethulia

    I agree.

  • The doctrine of hell and eternal damnation was a factor in my deconversion from Christianity. And as others have said, if there is no hell or eternal damnation, the death of Christ has little meaning (or certainly, it has significantly less meaning). There were many issues with Christianity for me, but the horrible inequality of eternal damnation for petty crimes was certainly a factor. There’s also the illogical idea of man’s free will vs. God’s sovereignty. The Bible makes it abundantly clear that God is in absolute control and he even chooses who will or won’t be saved, which contradicts free will. And of course, there’s the absurdity of God sacrificing himself, to himself, to save us from himself.

  • Matt

    So without hell you would never hurt anyone, whether on purpose or inadvertently? Without hell, you’re a perfect being of white light? How is getting rid of hell getting rid of sin?

  • Just Thinkin’

    Hi, Bones. Thanks for your thoughts 🙂 we all wrestle with these things, my friend. But if course there is free will. The alternative is that there is not. 🙂

    It is not ridiculous that people choose hell. Strange yes but not ridiculous. Pride and vanity mean that bowing the knee can be an impossible act for some… Anyone, like BR aforementioned who rejects Jesus and says that God has simply not provided sufficient proof of Himself labors under this condition. So do people who deliberately misinterpret or modify scripture to suit human desires.

    I think Jesus death would be pointless because without the existence of an eternity without God there is no reason at all to reconcile Man to God. You do not need to reconcile a slave without free will to his Master and you do not need to reconcile anyone to God who has no choice anyway and will be in Heaven regardless of their life and beliefs.

    It makes a mockery of it all.

    Humans are sinful. It’s in Scripture.

  • summers-lad

    “A Christianity without hell would be largely unevangelical, since there would be nothing to save anyone from.”
    In my youth I believed that Jesus died to save us from hell. I later came to realise that he died to save us from sin, and that a focus on hell reduces that to saving us from the consequences of sin. I also have a friend who describes his conversion as salvation from futility.
    There is plenty to be saved from, but I don’t believe that includes unending torment in hell.

  • Bones

    “Humans are sinful”

    Well there’s no choice involved. Because the vast majority of the human race is on the


  • Bones

    Sounds like your god has only reconciled himself to some, not all.

    So Jesus’s mission was ultimately a failure.

    If that’s what it was.

  • Just Thinkin’

    I don’t own god. He’ is not MY God. I am His. That, I think, is the problem here?

    Whether Jesus mission is a failure or not is right where He left it – in the hands of the church, and yes, she has not done a great job so far. But there is time, and an opportunity to make it right.

    But that is not the point here. The point you are making is that none of this matters. At all. Heck, Christianity doesn’t even matter and it never even needed to exist, because when the great curtain closes on all our lives, from Hitler to Ghengis Khan, to Osama bin Laden, and you, and me, God is cool with it all. Regardless.

    I still struggle with that. Not with who can get “saved” – anybody can, that is grace. But that nobody NEEDS to get saved. All hail hedonism. All hail getting what I want at the expense of everyone else. Let evil prevail and innocence be massacred on the altar of greed and power. None of it matters anyway. We are all saved…

  • Bryon Cake Smith

    A Christianity without hell sounds suspiciously like Hinduism. (I approve.)

  • ash

    Well, darn, this just about makes me cry. Christianity makes so much more sense to me without the utterly morbid idea of hell. I’ve felt this way since I was a child, and to find others who believe it’s not a theologically sound idea brings me such relief.

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    ‘salvation from futility.’ this i like! it’s
    what i experience too. i have peace and felt sense of ‘arrival’ if any one
    understands what i mean.

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    ‘ people who deliberately misinterpret or modify scripture to suit human desires.’
    w/ respect…would that be…i don’t know…YOU? or possibly the ppl who interpeted it for you that way?

  • Just Thinkin’

    Hi, Louise. It is possible, – even probable – that I misunderstand a great deal. I know that. God and His Word are way beyond my full understanding. I have no illusions. I don’t even understand the original Greek and Hebrew. But deliberately misinterpret, or modify? No.

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    it seems to me that either fear of going to hell (law) is always present w/ me and controls me w/ brutality or the love of a living god is w/ me as friend and advisor and resource provider (spirit).

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    w/ repect how do you know the difference? btw i don’t have the answers for anyone.

  • Just Thinkin’

    In a world where I cannot know much, I trust deeply in what has been Written. I will bend myself to embrace it, and will not bend it to embrace what I want to be true.

  • louismoreaugottschalk


  • AtalantaBethulia

    Do you think “reading what is written” doesn’t involve interpretation?

    Do you not see how ‘people [have] deliberately misinterpret[ed] or modif[ied] scripture to suit human desires’ down through the age, including the Church?

  • Matthew Kilburn

    The Bible talks about Hell. Jesus talks about Hell. The Old and New Testaments both make direct references to the Devil. Jesus says explicitly that there are people who will not gain entry into Heaven. What, precisely, do you think is the alternative?


    “How is getting rid of hell getting rid of sin?”

    It may not be getting rid of sin, but what consequence is there to sin if everyone is going to Heaven no matter what they do?

  • Just Thinkin’

    Hi, Atalanta. Of course reading involves interpretation. That’s intelligence 101 🙂 . And we all wrestle with the many different scriptures that have shades of meaning. So yes, even reading the Bible involves some form of interpretation. And not being a greek or hebrew scholar I am acutely aware of the realities that what I have is already a translation. But I do what I can to minimise my own slant on Scripture – as a start, I frequent forums with different viewpoints and learn from them and try enhance my understanding of alternative views; I constantly test myself and my views against theirs. 🙂 The reason I am in this debate right now is because I will not reject a viewpoint until I have tested it – mine or yours! But I always keep in mind that I am a peashooter to a cannon compares to some minds, and humility is more important than trying to be right. So I ask, and I learn, and I wrestle. But most importantly I trust.

  • Kilburn: What you’re saying is that without knowing ahead of time that you’ll be rewarded for it in the afterlife, you’ll have no reason to do good in this life. Must you be rewarded for doing good? Can’t you just do good because doing good is the right thing to do? You know, like adults do?

  • (annnnnnnd the countdown begins…..)

  • The doctrine of Hell is the product of the most inhuman bullies the world has ever known. Not even the most brutal and sadistic dictators that ever lived, wanted to keep their enemies alive forever in a torture chamber for uncountable trillions of years. Even Stalin or Saddam or Pol Pot or Hitler eventually killed people. But the God of Islam and Christianity is unique in the sadistic theory that dissent should be punished by sociopathic torturing of dissenters for all of eternity. No Nazi or Communist ever had a theory that sick, that inhuman and that psychologically-damaging. The fact that the majority of Christians and Muslims are comfortable with this means that the world is really ruled by semi-sociopaths, which accounts for, by the way, the very unique disregard for human life that these ideologies spread around the world. Murderers of all religions merely need read The Book of Revelations or The Book of Joshua to see modeled sadism, genocide, remorseless killing and sociopathic torturing. Hence, there is nothing ISIS does that is even a fraction of the evil one finds in The Book of Revelations, where the murder of our entire planet is not merely tolerated, but overtly and repeatedly celebrated. The guilt of moderate and liberal Christians is that only a fraction of them have the guts to face down the Bible and admit which parts are Satanic evil and confront conservative Monotheists of every type, who have overlapping scriptures, and condemn them to no end for their cruelty, and cowardice, and bullying of humanity. And, if there is a Hell, really, the single greatest candidates for such a place would be the very religious conservatives who have destroyed billions of lives and set humanity back a thousand years by their soulless, calculating spiritual abuse of the entire world through the doctrine of Hell. And shame on all secular yuppies who let these monsters off the hook for this in order to ensure their continued comfort. It’s cowardly of them to kick the can down the road and leave the next generation to face the moral horror of Christianity and Islam and their doctrine of Hell. Shame on you complacent, comfortable yuppies who know better.

  • Just Thinkin’

    Hello, John. Not sure what you mean 🙂

    I hope I have not dishonoured your forum with my contribution. If so, I apologise. And if so, feel free to tell me so that I learn from this how to better contribute 🙂

  • Wait. So are you gonna tell us what you think?

    [Joke. That was a joke.]

  • The alternative is not to believe in books which glorify genocide, torture, mass murder and war. If you can read the first ten chapters of the Book of Joshua and not get sick to your stomach, then your religion has made you sociopathic. The fact that a Book, (and God never writes human books), is more important to you than not believing in a sadistic celestial dictator whose pompous self-righteousness allegedly obliges him to remorselessly torture most of humanity forever — the fact that you can’t let this go, but prefer the addiction of a false 100% certainty in your life — this really is a kind of emotional corruption. The alternative is calling out the Bible for what it is, a sick, sick document that, in The Book of Revelations not only tolerates, but glorifies the mass murder of a whole planet, our planet. It’s mere addiction to historical tradition and personal social security, (since the majority of the people of the world believe in this evil), that allows us to hold on to such a pattern of bullying and cowardice.

  • Fundamentalist Christianity has been the single most destructive element in my life, the life of this country, and the life of the world, that combined with Fundamentalist Islam.

  • No, you’re fine. You may be the one believer of your sort–and if so you’d be literally the first one in my eight years of doing this–who can actually maintain the respectful and humble tone you’ve used thus far. People who sound like you invariably–usually about six more comments from them down the line–snap, and start being … a lot more stridently fundie. But I must say, if ever anyone who believes what you do has ever impressed me as being capable of actually maintaining the … accommodating tone you’ve utilized here thus far, it’s you. And if anyone has ever more been than willing to be surprised by someone who believes what you do, it’s me. So … great! Thanks!

  • You know, Mel, if you’d ratchet back your vitriol and polemic hyperbole by about 15%, you’d be a formidable voice. Consider sacrificing a little passion to gain a little gravitas. Rage is impressive, yes. But controlled, measured rage is … scarier.

  • I also do that from time to time. However, I like to experiment with the kinds of speech that Christians get a free pass on all the time. So, you’re right, ultimately, that it’s more productive to be milder. But, I admit, I’m still fascinated by this question: If a secular person spoke to us, and proposed fates for us as extreme as conservatives do, why would they be immediately socially ostracized, but the person preaching Hell for us, as a fate they point in our direction — why do they get a freebie on that, while the rest of us must really control what we say? So, you’re right in that I can’t get a seat at the negotiating table being as mean as they are routinely. You’re correct about that, and that’s why, on other days, and in other situations, I go with the go-along thing. But, still, I’m blown-away that they can teach just anything, and still, oddly, get taken very seriously and even get tons of social props for it. It’s a weird double-standard. So, I confess, sometimes I break this taboo, not to be productive, but just to exercise the freedom fundamentalists always get, not just from each other, but from secular folks.

  • For example: I’ll be in downtown San Francisco, and the fundamentalist guy with a sign there will call my girlfriend a whore and tell her she’s going to Hell, and secular folks say, “Oh, don’t worry, he’s not doing any harm, and maybe it will do some good.” Hey, if a secular person spoke like that, I shudder to think what his fate would be. So I’m just endlessly curious that no secular person and no religious moderate, or really anyone, will state why they believe that one group of people can preach the most ultimate violence ever proposed, but somehow be good and harmless, even to those who are victims of this kind of speech, but then be super angry at anyone who calls a fundamentalist out on this. I’ve had liberal Muslims write me and say, “We can’t explain why, but we just must not talk about this.” So it’s odd, because that one Muslim was a major intellectual in world religions. So there’s this odd mutual silence thing agreed upon, but no one can state the reason; but, for some reason, it’s bad form for a secular or liberal religious person to read a fundamentalist the riot act, so to speak, but a total freebie for the fundamentalist to say the most horrible things imaginable. No one will say why this dual standard is so sacred. It’s weird.

  • Bones

    Mel, you da man.

  • Bones

    Who can remember the agonies of a being a single Christian bloke dealing with masturbation?

  • Bones

    “The point you are making is that none of this matters. At all. ”

    How do you get that? I’ve been a christian since at least 85 and have never needed a doctrine of hell.

    You know some of us have been through hell already.

    We don’t need to be threatened with the afterlife.

    As for hedonism – welcome to western Christianity. eg Luke 16, Matthew 25

    And Jesus really didn’t say sell all your stuff and give to the poor. That just applied to that particular bloke.

    If the gospels are true about judgement then repeating nice little prayers won’t help you when you come before Him and He asks what you did for the poor.

    It’s a case of be careful what you wish for. If there is a hell don’t think you won’t be going there.

  • Bones

    Actually it’s the West that has corrupted Christianity not the Orthodox. The Orthodox have never had need of a Reformation.

  • Just Thinkin’

    Hi Bones. I really appreciate the dialogue. Firstly I appreciate how important all is our beliefs are and I am not here to change anyone’s mind. Trust me. I am here to reasonably inquire, that is all. The question of my salvation is a non -issue 🙂 in my world view salvation cannot be lost, and in yours it seems to be unnecessary 🙂 I have been through hell, as you put it, trust me. And an immovable (and some have called Jobian) view on God had sustained me through those times.

    My comment about “none of it matters” is more addressing the dangers of Pauls words “should we sin more so that grace will even more abound”. Without the requirement of a personal relationship with Christ or a life lived in response to that grace, what point is there to anything Christ did? God could have achieved everything needed for the reconciliation of Man without Christ’s life on earth.

  • Bones

    Have you ever thought that the death of Christ was reconciling humanity to God? Peace on Earth, good will to all men and all that and of course “All things are of God, who has reconciled US to Himself by Jesus Christ” (II Cor. 5:18-19).

    Nowhere is there anything in the Bible about having a ‘personal relationship’ with Jesus saving you from Hell. It smacks of smugness and elitism, not unlike the Pharisees who thought god was on their side.

    Of course that’s if you accept that Jesus died to placate God’s anger against humanity.

    Jesus Himself didn’t berate people over their beliefs whether they were pagans such as the Syro-Phoenician woman and Roman centurion or Samaritans.

    Jesus, unlike His Father (who can’t abide sin apparently!!!), welcomed sinners.

    The idea that He would heal a centurion’s servant then condemn him to hell when he died is insane.

    Did Paul believe in a hell? He doesn’t mention it. Not once.

    I thought Paul said Christianity was about resurrection, new life, the Holy Spirit and all that.

  • louismoreaugottschalk

    i would like to hear more of your personal journey out of fundamentalist christianity. you have a gift w/ words.

  • Just Thinkin’

    Hi Bones. Can you maybe help me to understand your view on Romans 10:9-15, please

  • Bones

    Paul’s having a dig at the Jews.

    See Romans 9 and the rest of Roman 10

    Salvation (from what) is not based on law.

    The Law is ended and was a millstone around people’s necks. Another reason why I don’t believe God even gave it to them.

  • JTT

    The truth of the matter is, that hell just does not make any sense. At all. I know I know, Christians believe it does, “because the bible says so” … everything is because the bible says so. Which means every thing you do, is an action upon which you are TOLD to do or not to do. A lot of the world’s problems are due to religion. Let’s just think for a moment, if we didn’t have someone or some THING telling us what to do, what is right and wrong and how we should act, but instead lived based off of our hearts. Loved one another. Loved them for their mistakes, loved them for their hurt, their confusion, oh wait and even their “sin” …
    If we lived with the desire to help others, to lift others ,… instead of lifting ourselves. We ourselves would be lifted. Make sense?
    To love others is to be full of love.

    Hell just makes no sense… and for those of you whom it DOES make sense … you should do a heart check.

  • nyboe

    Some will be WITH God in the afterlife, and some will be APART from God in the afterlife.

    Being apart from God = Hell.

    End of discussion.

  • JTT

    Isn’t that the truth! You want to cry because all of your life you have felt something was not right with Christianity… but yet too afraid to question it for fear of hell and fear of the questions themselves. It opens many many doors and stepping outside of the box, is stepping into the vast beauty of truth. (The other side of the veil) There are others!

    Jesus himself said, “Awake O sleeper, arise from the dead, the light of Christ shines on you.”
    The dead are all of those walking around like zombies, dead to love, dead to emotion, dead to life, living like robots doing what they are told one moment to the next.
    Maybe When Jesus said he would return, maybe he meant that he would return through the hearts of men. Maybe The change comes from within, where the Kingdom of Heaven resides. 🙂

  • JTT

    Agreed, I meant the kind of hell that Christians believe in. Having a stone heart will keep you separated from God. That surely does feel like hell is described, but that can also be right here, right now.

  • Susan Svensk

    Christianity is not a religion where its adherents gets to define God by who they want Him to be rather than accept God for who He is.

  • guitta Dabe

    A life without accountability! Cool! This is liberal’s idea of heaven on earth!

    The problem is that life before enlightened Christianity has been tried and earth was a brutal place, literally hell on earth.

    Where does the idea of forgiveness and showing love even to one’s enemies (vs. an eye for an eye) come from? Yes, from the same Bible that so many want to interpret away.

    More recently the grand experiment of taking God away from schools has predictably resulted in the graduation of unethical individuals, and many amoral monsters. The more the Left is succeding in removing Christianity from the Public Square, the more people have become more shallow and self-centered.

    In all, watch out what you wish for. You might get it. But it’s going to be way uglier than you think. You don’t have to guess at the consequence, just look at History. Try to learn from it this time!

  • blackbart

    You don’t get to pick and choose which parts you like and ignore the others.

  • nyboe

    Here is what I believe: (and in my opinion what you HAVE to believe, to believe in God)

    1. God – is the creator. (if he didn’t create us, then he is not God)

    #1 is the MOST important belief, since everything that follows is based on that one belief.

    2. God could have created … basically organic robots that do exactly what he wants them to do every time and nothing else. BUT, instead he created us with FREE WILL. Free will by necessity implies sometimes doing things God wouldn’t want you to do.

    Now… here’s where we come to the first big fork in the road.

    God will either tolerate the beings he created being in his presence while openly disobeying him, or he will not. Or in other words, there are either laws and/or rules in the afterlife, or there is anarchy.

    A – If you believe that God will NOT tolerate a being he created being in his presence while openly disobeying him.. then you MUST believe there is a place away from God (we call this place prison on earth, and hell in the afterlife)

    B – If you believe that God WILL tolerate beings he created, being in his presence while openly disobeying him… then …. there is no need to listen too or obey God. Because then there are no consequences for disobedience, no enternal justice, and simply anarchy after death.


    we call the place where you are with God, Heaven.
    and we call the place where you are away from God, Hell.

    What does Heaven look like ? What does hell look like ? I don’t know and to me it doesn’t matter.

    Hell MUST by definition be worse than Heaven, since if it were not, then it wouldn’t be much of a punishment for committing a crime (known as sin in heaven).

    The article seems to be implying that punishment in heaven for crimes is somehow unjust, and that a loving God would never do such a thing.

    I would argue that living forever in a place with no rules or punishment would be hell.

    Once you have gone through all the above and decided and agreed that.

    1 – There is a God
    2 – He created us with free will
    A – If we obey him, we will be with him in a good place in the after life.
    B – If we disobey him, we will be away from him in a worse place in the after life.

    Then what remains is simply to determine what God wants!

    (here is where most part company)

    Everyone thinks THEY know what God wants! But the reality is none of us know for sure.

    We can read and study on the subject for our entire lives and still never know for sure the truth.

    But I do know … that GOD knows.

    The best we can do is look at the information we have. Most of which is in the old and new testaments. (Because, unless God descends from the heavens and decides to clarify things to you personally this is the best we can do)

    So a smart person who believes in God will do his best to follow to the best of his ability what is written in the old and new testaments.

    Now, honest, good, caring, loving people can disagree about what we are being told to do or not do.

    But. You can’t argue we are not being told to do or not do anything, and that there will be no consequences for doing the wrong thing! Because to argue that would be to argue that either 1 – there is no God, or 2 – that the afterlife is a lawless anarchy.

  • blackbart

    The Bible is the Word of God it gives us the standards by which we are to attempt to live our lives in order to please God. There are descriptions about what hell will be like. The bible also tells us that these things are written on our hearts so that even if you never have knowledge of the bible you know what is right and wrong.

    As for making sense to a human, if that is your standard you don’t understand that we are not the ones who matter.

  • TimTripod

    A Christianity without hell makes Christ’s sacrifice on the cross unnecessary.

  • nyboe

    without a seperate hell, heaven would be a lawless anarchy… heaven would be hell basically.

  • Getreal

    Then heaven doesn’t make any sense either. If there is no hell, why does everyone assume there is a heaven? If there is no wrath, than there is no justice.

  • Getreal

    Simply because you say so–wow, what an inerrant, infallible authority you are. From here on out we should just quote you instead of the Bible.

  • Rockgod28

    Luke 16:19-31

    The most plain doctrine and explanation of hell in the Bible. These are the words of Jesus himself.

    Lazurus and the rich man.

    Lazurus suffered in life. We know he came to the rich man’s gate to beg for food. All he received from the rich man were scraps and Lazurus died in front of his house. The rich man died too. Lazurus was taken to father Abraham. The rich man to hell.

    There the rich man was tormented by his own guilt. He knew he was guilty of depriving the poor of his substance, the means to relieve suffering of his fellow people. Yet he did not so the rich man thirsted and hungered.

    It was a spiritual thirst and hunger. He thirsted for forgiveness and hungered for his family, specifically for his brothers to be saved. This spiritual experience burned him being separated from God by a gulf between the rich man and Abraham and Lazurus.

    None could passover it, cross it, fill it or breach the gulf of misery.

    The rich man begged Abraham to send help to his brothers to avoid the same fate. He asked that Lazurus be sent back from the dead. Abraham responded that his brothers had the words of the prophets.

    So it is in our day. We have people suffering and like the rich man we give scraps or like the widow’s mite we give from our abundance, not of our substance, our time, our souls.

    We a judged by our works, what we do in our faith, whatever that faith is according to the standards we set for ourselves. A person of wealth knows its value and it is precious to him or her. Purposely turning away an obviously sick person begging for food and help is terrible.

    What is more terrible is the spiritual aspect. Spiritually what do you have to offer besides food and drink. Tomorrow like Lazurus the begger will thirst and hunger again. Lazurus will die. So will the rich man.

    By our deeds whether you are like Lazurus or the rich man we will either be carried off by angels or find ourselves in hell burning.

    The doctrine of Jesus Christ makes it very clear that there is a hell and not all who say Lord, Lord will enter into his presence who have preached and done miracles in his name. Matthew 7:21-23. Why? What qualifies a person for hell?

    It is simple. Not doing the will of the Father or do what Jesus has taught which is the same. Luke 6:46-49.

    So what is the commandment of Christ? That too is simple. John 14:15 and John 15:14. Paul expounded the meaning of this teaching by Jesus: Charity, the pure love of Christ.

    If you do not live by this principle then you have nothing and are an unprofitable servant to God. That means anyone is in danger of being cast into hell for simply a lack of love or charity in their heart.

    Heaven and the love of God is real. So is the justice of God and hell for all the disobedient to his will. Be sure to know it before it is too late.

    John 3:16-18

    All are condemned already according to Jesus himself. Only those that believe on the name of Christ are saved, period. There are no exception for there is no other name, way or means anyone can be saved without Him. John 14:6

  • Getreal

    So in your great “tolerance” and “love”, why don’t seek to have us all arrested, tarred and feathered, and sent to concentration camps? Exterminate us all and the world will be a better place for your hypocritical act. But thanks for emotional existential rant. It has some entertainment value even it is short on intellectual merit.

  • Getreal

    Fashion designer Christianity predicated on extreme flights of eisegetical fancy. But why stop at hell? If there is no hell, why should we seek a heaven? Christ spoke more on hell than He ever did on heaven. In the end, your article is a good illustration of revisionist hermeneutics.

  • nyboe

    I think where people get confused is to assume the flames in hell were put there by God.

    I think God simply put those who didn’t want to follow the rules in another place. Those who were put there turned that place into a burning hell! (imagine a jail with no guards) or a riot where the police never come to calm things down and bring order.

  • sigzero

    If you somehow conclude hell isn’t a real place then you somehow do not know how to comprehend the Bible.

  • sigzero

    No, just no. Stop making your own stuff up and stick with what the Bible says.

  • Andy

    As long as you’re spouting verses, maybe you should check out Matthew 21:17.

  • Andy

    That does not logically follow, unless you make all sorts of wild assumptions that have either no factual basis, or only one found in text(s) that have been translated and reproduced from a time and place far away and 2,000 years ago.

  • Andy
  • Andy

    I don’t see why not. Lots of outspoken “Christians” do it all the time. They condemn gays with a couple verses from Leviticus, but ignore the ones about eating certain animals and getting tattoos and paying your employees every day. If they are able to, why shouldn’t everybody else?

  • elvischannel

    From their start the Universalists denied the existence of hell. They could have stopped there but chose to continue questioning accepted beliefs. The Unitarians chose to deny the trinity and also chose to continue questioning accepted beliefs. It was no surprise when they merged and continued the questioning–to the point where you can question the questioning enough to even believe in hell and the trinity now and become members. Every other denomination chooses to limit the questioning in some way and rely on faith. If you can’t handle the questioning, maybe you can’t handle the truth.

  • Andy

    Right, because there are no examples of bad Christians or good non-Christians. You think all the outspoken, hypocritical “Christians” only came about when progressives became mainstream? No, people have been doing bad things in the name of God for a long time. Probably since before Christ, even.

  • Andy

    That does not follow at all. Perhaps there is neither wrath nor justice, and all are reconciled.

  • Well, the important thing is that you managed to find an avatar that perfectly reflects the maturity of your reasoning.

  • “Where does the idea of forgiveness and showing love even to one’s enemies (vs. an eye for an eye) come from?Yes, from the same Bible that so many want to interpret away.”

    Yes you do find this teaching there, but it is hardly exclusive to that body of work. It is found in the code of Hammurabi (dated appox 1705 BC), the story of the eloquent Peasant, an Egyptian take on the concept which they called Maat, (2450-1650 BC), in the Chinese philosophies of Confucius, Mozi and Laozi (500-400BC), the teachings of Roman and Greek philosphers, the Jewish rabbie Hillel, the Saksrit and Tamil teachings of India.

    Second, the idea of taking God away from schools is a fallacy. People of faith attends schools all over the world, The purpose of a secular school, which all public schools is to teach subjects such as math, reading, science and history, not religion. Public displays of one kind of religion doesn’t tend to fare well for people who are not off that faith. As the US has a beautiful diversity of faiths represented, we should respect that diversity and not insist on only one way of portraying public displays of religious expression. Therefore limiting it to private setting is more appropiate.

    The idea of people become more shallow and self-centered because Christianity is being removed from the public square is also a fallacy. No one is trying to remove anyone’s freedom to worship. We just wish that people of all faiths have that same freedom. Besides the trope of “Kids these days being disrespectful and ungodly” is so ancient…Its not been proven for certain, but Socrates currently gets the credit for this.

    “Our youth now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for their elders and love chatter in place of exercise; they no longer rise when elders enter the room; they contradict their parents, chatter before company; gobble up their food and tyrannize their teachers”
    Modern up the language and it can be stated today by elders, degrading the youth. So if you look at history, it does tend to repeat itself, doesn’t it?

  • Andy

    This kind of comment is not acceptable here. If you do not acknowledge that these kinds of things are your opinions, you are not welcome here. There is no “end of discussion” on these matters.

  • Thank you for your opinion.

  • Unless that sacrifice was about something else entirely.

  • bunnykiwi

    so what you’re saying is that following rules gets you into heaven? And those who don’t follow the rules get placed in Hell.

    but i thought christianity was all about grace, which extends to ALL? or does grace stop giving once you die.

    here’s the conundrum that christians can never justify 🙂

  • RolloMartins

    I realize now that I must be a Unitarian!

  • C. Hunter Thorne

    So what happens when it is later found out that these rules are not the laws of God, but the laws of corrupt men claiming to speak for God? What of those who followed the wrong rules thinking they were the rules of God?

  • William LaRue

    When you are comprehending the Bible, you need to realize that the term “Hell” was added 115 times to the original Greek text by St. Jerome (bless his heart!) as he translated it into the Latin Vulgate. When he was called to task for this addition, he admitted it, but said that others were doing far worse.

    The idea that there might not be a place called Hell is not as radical as you might think; Bishop Robert Barron, a respected theologian in the Catholic Church, has taken the position that we all go to the same place; our thoughts, words, and actions while here on earth determine our enjoyment (if that is a correct term) of our eternal stay there. No condemning God, no need for His eternal damnation, we do it to ourselves. Those whose failings are relatively minor can learn and grow in that environment, those whose intransigence is complete will suffer forever. It does put a crimp in the theology which uses guilt to motivate people, but is a valid theological construct that fits what we know and believe like a glove, right down to Jesus’ “Many Mansions” quote.

  • Ron Murphy

    Hell is real, but it is to purge evils and wickedness away! It’s finite punishment to purge away the evils of the unrepentant–not infinite, vindictive punishment for finite sins committed in a *very evil and sin-cursed world* in a very brief life, and all the multitude of people that are deceived by “the prince of the power of the air”, Satan and his demonic forces. God’s moral laws of true divine love for a pure and holy life are immutable. Sexual perversions have always been an abomination to God and they always will be to those who practice homosexuality and other perversions.

  • Don Lowery

    Thank you for showing the truthfulness of John 3:17.

  • Spirit Plumber

    From an engineering standpoint, hell/the lake of fire is a solvable problem anyway. So don’t be afraid of it, some roughneck who died in the 1950s already took care of the thermodynamics anyway probably 🙂

  • BrotherRog

    And such a Christianity does exist! Most progressive Christians do not subscribe to a notion of a literal hell. And we recognize that the word hell is not even to be found in our Bible.
    “I don’t follow Jesus in order to go to heaven when I die — or conversely, to avoid going to hell. That’s a cheap form of faith that is really nothing more than fire insurance. I follow Jesus here and now for the sake of experiencing salvation (which means “wholeness” and “healing”) here and now – and to help others do the same.”

    Roger Wolsey, author, “Kissing Fish: christianity for people who don’t like Christianity”