Proof that believing in hell is not Scriptural

Proof that believing in hell is not Scriptural November 1, 2014

helltextblog

Evangelicals who believe in a literal hell are very keen to argue that rejecting hell means rejecting Scripture. But no amount of posturing can make that true.

There is solid scriptural support for the three radically differing traditional Christian models of hell known as Eternal Torment, Annihilationism, and Universalism. (See image above.*)

The theory of Eternal Torment posits that upon death Christians go to heaven, while all non-Christians to hell.

Annihilationism teaches that upon dying some Christians go to heaven, while everyone else is annihilated into nothingness.

Universalism teaches that after death literally everyone is eventually reconciled, redeemed, and ushered into heaven.

At different times in history each of these theories of hell has enjoyed prominence over the other two.

Today, of course, the theory of Eternal Damnation reigns supreme.

Isn’t it interesting that the theory of Eternal Damnation is the only theory among the three which lends itself to making money? Why? Because it’s the only one that engenders profound fear of the afterlife. If you want people to pay money to support your institution, you can’t beat making foundational to that institution the belief that not supporting it condemns one to eternal torture.

To quote … well, me (from this post): 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.

To put it another way: Guilt + fear + doctrine of hell = $$$$.

If you are a Christian who harbors the idea that a literal hell is grossly incompatible with an all-loving and all-powerful God, please rest assured that rejecting the notion of hell is not only morally and rationally right, it is supported by Scripture. You can also be assured that the day is quickly dawning when more Christians than not will feel the same way.


* This post is based upon my review of Kevin Miller’s excellent documentary about hell, Hellbound? (from which I also saved the image atop this post), which is now available for streaming on Netflix.


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  • JOHN: “the day is quickly dawning when more Christians than not will feel the same way.”

    I agree. We are watching a new generation of young people arise who are not easily swayed, who don’t blindly follow, who won’t be manipulated, who look deeply and think simply and understand principles. I just wish I were younger, so I could be a part of this great movement.

    I think we are going to see a RADICAL change in Christianity over the next century. Or, we’re going to see its complete and total demise. And, in my opinion, one or the other needs to happen.

    The time of the Gentiles has ended. God’s great and final work is underway, when all the pagan mythology will be exposed and excised from the Gospel. And, apparently, the first myth to go is the myth of hell.

  • Guest

    Wow! Really convincing argument, John!
    Here’s my rebuttal:

  • Guest

    Are images not allowed?

  • Stryker

    Here’s my rebuttal to your arguments, John:

    Isaiah 66:24, Daniel 12:2, Matthew 5:22, Matthew 5:29-30, Matthew 7:13, Matthew 10:28, Matthew 13:38-42, Matthew 13:49-50, Matthew 25:31-46, Mark 9:43-45, Luke 12:5, Luke 16:19-26, Matthew 19:29-30, Matthew 25:46, John 3:16, John 3:36, John 4:14, John, 5:24, John 6:40, John 6:47, John 6:54, John 6:68, John 10:28, Romans 5:21, John 12:32, Acts 3:21, Romans 5:18, Romans 11:32, 1 Corinthians 15:22-28, 2 Corinthians 5:19, Philippians 2:9-11, 1 Timothy 2:4, Titus 2:11, Hebrews 2:9, 1 John 2:2, 2 Peter 3:9

  • I am confused. Your rebuttal is to repost teh same verses he used in the post?

  • Right?

  • I guess I have no sense of humor here, but… huh?

  • AtalantaBethulia

    Wait. I know this one: Because Iron sharpens Iron and no scripture can be rightly understood unless discerned through the lens of other scripture.

  • disqus_8qoTk5AufV

    you forgot my favorite verses…. how dare you, lol! Colossians 1:19-22 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself ALL THINGS, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

    21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him.

    Of course my pastor argued that “all” doesn’t really mean “all”. SMH…. I am definitely leaning towards the Universalist camp… Makes so much more sense….

  • Jeff Preuss

    “I speak truth because I say I am speaking truth.”

  • Leum

    I’m surprised you don’t address Revelation at all in your infographic. Also, this is like the ultimate in proof-texting, which I didn’t think you approved of.

  • JJ Marks

    I am enjoying watching my almost 90-year old pentecostal minister-father’s theology evolve. It sounds like this, “I know less and less than I thought I did about scripture.” He rolls his eyes at the madman of Patmos. Even in my youth, he rarely preached from that book of fantasy.

  • Owen

    I’m definitely in the Universalist camp… But I’m not sure that stacking bible versus in literal pillars against each other, then suggesting that one pillar is potentially more profitable, is “proof” that that pillar is incorrrect. You said it yourself… There is equal scriptural references supporting all three…

    I think it is about exploring that a universalist perspective is a VALID perspective… But respecting that others interpret things differently… What a boring place the world would be if we didn’t.

    if we want to be “scriptural” about anything… Why not make it the whole “love your neighbour” thing.

    Accepting. Empathising. Loving.

    On top of any scriptural reason… Lets not forget that we are not idiots… And it is the sign of an educated mind to be able to entertain an idea without accepting it to be your own truth.

  • I didn’t “suggest” that the “Hell as Eternal Torment” is potentially more profitable: I said, flat out, that it is–because there’s no question but that it is. I also never said that it being so is proof that it’s “incorrect.”

    Actually read before you critique, maybe?

  • Mark Perdue

    The Annihilation verses do not say anything about going into nothingness. Most don’t comment at all upon the negative…just that those who believe will have everlasting life. And one of them contradicts Annihilation.

    As to the Universalist view…this is highly interesting. Some of the Universalist verses could be interpreted this way. It certainly wouldn’t be heaven for everyone…but I have to think about the next issue….Is all that is required belief in Jesus? It seems that this is possible…which is vastly different than the fundamentalist view.

  • Alliecat04

    If I find that a politician happens to support a cause beloved by the people who contributed most to his campaign, that’s not PROOF that he supports it because he wants campaign money, but it’s a strong indicator that his motives should be examined closely.

  • Alliecat04

    I’m not sure why they left out the entire chapter Isaiah 55, which seems strongly Universalist to me. And a few other choice verses on both sides. Does anyone have a more comprehensive list, just for the sake of argument?

  • Bones

    Nothing new.

    All men are Christ’s, some by knowing Him, the rest not yet. He is the Savior, not of some and the rest not. For how is He Savior and Lord, if not the Savior and Lord of all?—Clement of Alexandria (150-215 CE)

    There are very many in our day, who though not denying the Holy Scriptures, do not believe in endless torments. — Augustine (354-430 CE)

    Maybe love wins and mercy triumphs over judgement.

  • Dan

    Why is Matthew 10:28 listed under eternal torment rather than annihilationism? I think it’s probably the clearest verse in the whole Bible for annihilationism.

  • Glenn Peoples

    “There is equal scriptural support for the three radically differing traditional Christian models of hell”

    Not even close. Just listing an equal number of verses under each heading doesn’t show that each heading is equally well supported. This is exactly what is wrong with so many cases for traditionalsm – listing verses without offering any plausible account of how they support the view.

  • Christopher Wright

    Hebrews 6:1-2 talks about eternal torment being an elementary tenet of the Christian faith.

    To what eternal torment does it reference? If there is no hell, what is the elementary teaching of eternal torment?

  • Might want to read that again. The mention of torment is in a list of things we shoulshouldnt dwell on if we’re going to move to maturity.

  • Why does “judgment” have to equal hell? Who are any of us to tell God what that final judgment will be or look like?

  • Al Gleason

    So if we believe through Faith that Jesus took all man’s sin upon himself on the cross – died destroying the power of sin – and defeated Satan. Then if we believe through Faith that only Sin could make someone not believe in God and follow him. Then where does that put EVERYONE upon resurrection day through Faith?

  • All that was required was answering for sin–for someone to take responsibility for all sins. I believe the Bible makes it clear that Jesus did that on the cross. For everyone. When he said “It is finished,” he meant exactly that.

  • Revelation is primarily visions and dreams. It is ALL symbolic. We don’t get to say parts of it are literal and parts of it are symbolic. If the “lake of fire” isn’t symbolic, then neither is the dragon waiting to eat the woman’s baby as she gives birth.

  • Christopher Wright

    Well, I wouldn’t want it to be so, personally, but I am not finding a theme in scripture that sin does not equal death and upon death, a judgment takes place, and in that judgment is separation from God and destruction of the souk by fire that cannot be quenched and to which a man once longed for just a cool drop of water to give him relief. Luke 16 talks about this.

  • Christopher Wright

    What is your point?

  • Zaak

    The list of verses suggests that they were all saying the same thing, but the authors used different language: Matthew predominantly a hell of suffering, John predominantly a hell of death, and Paul predominantly a hell of cleansing. Suffering could be the same as cleansing which could be the same as dying to self.

  • Christopher Wright

    Depends on the context, I think. Thus the challenge that requires constant study: what is literal and what is a parable, metaphor, or symbol. It suggested to me that the lake of fire could be literal, and the dragon symbolic.

  • Owen

    The title of your article is “Proof that believing in hell is not scriptural”… Then the first third of the article deals with the three pillars, the next third solely discusses the profitability of the doctrine of eternal hell… And the final third with the problematic nature of reconciling eternal hell with a loving God…

    That’s a a pretty big bite of the article on profitibility… And with the title being as it is… I, perhaps incorrectly, took a small step to the conclusion that profitibility was one (of only two) of your arguments that “believing in hell is not scriptural”.

    Obviously the actual purpose of that section has eluded me… my mistake.

  • Guest

    The title of your article is “Proof that believing in hell is not scriptural”… Then the first third of the article deals with the three pillars, the next third solely discusses the profitability of the doctrine of eternal hell… And the final third with the problematic nature of reconciling eternal hell with a loving God…

    That’s a a pretty big bite of the article on profitibility… And with the title being as it is… I, perhaps incorrectly, took a small step to the conclusion that profitibility was one (of only two) of your arguments that “believing in hell is not scriptural”.

    Obviously the actual purpose of that section has eluded me… my mistake.

  • Bones

    eg the Lake of Fire is symbolic as Death itself is thrown into it.

    You can’t burn a non-entity.

  • Christianity is just another example in a long line of Greco-Roman mystery cults that promise redemption from an afterlife in a mythical underworld realm ruled by Hades/Hell, via some sort of sacrifice. Universalism, while admirably rejecting the abject immorality of torture, is awkwardly trying to put lipstick on the following pig:

    […] they perform their ritual, and persuade not only individuals, but whole cities, that expiations and atonements for sin may be made by sacrifices and amusements which fill a vacant hour, and are equally at the service of the living and the dead; the latter sort they call mysteries, and they redeem us from the pains of hell, but if we neglect them no one knows what awaits us.

    Plato (4th century BCE) The Republic. Book II.
    classics.mit.edu/Plato/republic.html

    Hellfire and brimstone evangelicals, as immoral as they may be, have a more accurate view of the impetus behind the ancient sacrifice-redemption pageantry.

  • It puts everybody in the same place as a dead horse.

    Ecclesiastes 3:19 Surely the fate of human beings is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; humans have no advantage over animals.

    You and I are going to the same place, pushing up daisies. That suits me well; I simply cannot hate my life on this wonderful Earth enough to desire an eternal escape.

    John 12:25 anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life

  • The River/Lake of Fire, Phlegethon, is just more silly Greek mythology parroted in the bible.

    wikipedia.org/wiki/Greek_underworld#Rivers

  • Enesvy, back when Christianity was invented, most everybody held a flat-earth cosmology, and believed in an underworld realm ruled by Hell/Hades. Plato, 4 centuries before Jesus, wrote of sacrifice-redemption pageantry of mystery cults just like the late-comer of Christianity.

    Progressive christianity may be admirable in trying to attenuate the moral horrors of Hades/Hell, but in the end, Hell really is what any salvation cult like christianity is all about.

  • I agree, annihilation is absolutely nothing to fear. Yet Jesus did preach fear.

    But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him. [LK 12.5]

    Problem is, morally, Jesus is a religious terrorist.

    ter·ror·ism (n.) the use of actual violence or threats of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of religious, political, or ideological aims.

    If Jesus were alive today, he’d be no more welcome in my house than some ISIS terrorist. He’s just a fear-mongering jerk.

    If Jesus repented of his terroristic emotional abuse, I might reconsider.

  • I guess my point is that you are proving the point of Johns post. That you can find support to back up any view you want while ignoring ththe rest of the Bible verses that seem to contradict that view. You’re dwelling in Hebrews to support an eternal punishment view while not a dressing the other two views mentioned in the post.

  • I think a straight forward readingnof the verses listed is pretty much all that is needed for the sake of this blog post.

  • Thanks, Allen.

  • Leum

    But Revelation belongs to a larger genre: Apocalyptic literature. And in that genre the idea that the wicked dead are sent to unending torment is a recurring motif. It’s not universal by any means, plenty of apocalyptic lit has the wicked dead annihilated in flames, but to suggest that we have no idea at all what is literal and what is symbolic is possible only if we don’t compare it to other apocalypses.

  • Dandhman

    A former Catholic may say somthing like Purgatory. It is a sad thing that over the centuries it became more and more like hell.
    The “temporary separation from the grace of God” doesn’t fill pews like “being burned in purifying fire”

  • This could be true… IF the original writers hadn’t been devout Jews who didn’t believe in hell. This is what modern Christians don’t get: Jesus was a Jew. His disciples were Jews. And they preached (and wrote) to Jews. And Jews didn’t believe in hell. So, to use any verse from the New Testament (as a proof-text for hell) is taking the verse out of context, because the original writers didn’t believe in hell.

  • What?

  • Not to mention that the book of Hebrews was written to… oh gosh… to HEBREWS. That is, to Jews. And first-century Jews didn’t believe in hell. Period. So, to use the book of Hebrews to “prove” hell is like using the U.S. Constitution to prove Communism.

  • (*thumbs up*)

  • Bones

    “Separation from God”

    So there is a place where God is not?

  • Rebekah

    I also was raised needing to see it in scripture – and not just in a couple random verses, but consistently across OT and NT. This can be found in Edward Fudge’s “Hell, a Final Word” book that opposes the traditional view of hell as eternal torture. There is judgement. Very scriptural. Happy reading!

  • Bones

    Btw the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus should have those of us in the West shaking in our boots regardless of your creed.

    Jesus just dropped a massive dump on capitalism.

  • Rebekah

    I also was raised needing to see it in scripture – and not just in a couple random verses, but consistently across OT and NT. This can be found in Edward Fudge’s “Hell, a Final Word” book that opposes the traditional view of hell as eternal torture. Very scriptural. Happy reading!

  • The book of Hebrews was written to Hebrews… that is, to Messianic Jews. And, since first-century Jews (whether messianic or orthodox) didn’t believe in hell, anything that “appears” to support that doctrine in the book of Hebrews is either taken out of context, mistranslated or simply misunderstood by today’s culture.

    Consider this: Do you see the amount of argument going on in this forum over the suggestion that there might NOT be a hell? Can you imagine the amount of argument that would have raged in the first century if Paul had suggested to the Jews that there WAS a hell, just like the pagans believed?

    But, the truth is (and both Scripture and history confirm this:) there was no argument. Why? Because Paul didn’t introduce the pagan doctrine of hell to them. If he had, the Jews (both messianic and orthodox) would have at least dismissed him as a fake or at worst stoned him for heresy, because he would have been teaching contrary to the Law and the Prophets.

    He would have been guilty of trying to introduce pagan concepts into their faith.

  • Rebekah

    Actually, judgement for humans in revelation is referred to as ‘the second death’ over and over – not torture forever. That is used only in reference to the beast etc.

  • lymis

    If I get what you’re saying, Jesus redeemed all the sins up until his death, and anyone who believes in Jesus becomes part of that, but anyone who subsequently refuses to believe commits a new sin that isn’t subject to the redemption of the Cross – so off to hell, bunkie!

    But you’re ignoring the point that so many people to – Jesus isn’t limited to interacting with us while we are alive. What prevents someone coming to Jesus, repenting their sins, and being embraced into salvation after they die? With all eternity to think it over and a loving God waiting for them?

  • He did at that. The lesson there is not about a mythical hot place, but about valuing, position , possessions and power over people.

  • Below is a more “literal” graph. It lists every instance the word “hell” occurs in the Bible – from the Latin Vulgate to the modern translations. The discrepancy alone should tell us something.

    Note that the Latin Vulgate mentions hell 111 times – the highest number of times the word occurs when compared to any English translation.

    The Latin Vulgate mentions hell in the Old Testament 87 times. The authorized King James Version only mentions it 31 times in the Old Testament. No other translation on earth mentions hell in the Old Testament.

    Why such a massive discrepancy? Because the word hell doesn’t exist in the Hebrew language. So, the word (or even the concept) never appears in the Old Testament. So, what does this mean about the Latin Vulgate? It means the Latin Vulgate added pagan concepts to the Word of God.

    On top of this, there are also a huge number of New Testament translations that reject any notion of hell occurring in the Greek Manuscripts of the New Testament. Among the more prominent are Young’s Literal Translation and the Emphatic Diaglott Greek/English Interlinear Bible.

    And why would the Greek Manuscripts be devoid of the doctrine of hell? Simply put, because every book and letter in the New Testament (just like the Old Testament) was written by Jews. Of course, someone will try to say, “No, Luke was a Gentile.” While this is true, Luke was also a Messianic believer. Which means he converted to Judaism.

    The sad reality in this argument is that everyone wants to argue their “proof texts” without taking a single look at the facts. Jesus was a Jew. His disciples were Jews. And they preached and wrote to Jews. Both the Old and New Testament are Jewish books. We are saved by a Jewish Messiah. And we worship a Jewish God.

    And the Jewish faith does not have a hell. It is strictly a pagan invention.

  • Guest

    Here’s the graph.

  • Guest

    Sorry… I used the Upload Image option in the response box, but it won’t load my graph.

  • While Luke faithfully recorded the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, he failed to put it in context.

    The key to unlocking the parable is the use of the name Lazarus. I believe the parable was told by Jesus while on the way to raising his friend Lazarus from the dead.

    Why do I believe that? Look at the way the parable ends. What is the MORAL of the parable?

    The rich man begs Abraham to send Lazarus back from the dead to testify to his brothers. Abraham says: “They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.” The rich man says, “NO, father! But if Lazarus comes back from the dead, they will repent.” And Abraham answers (are you ready for the key?): “If they won’t listen to Moses and the Prophets, then NEITHER WILL THEY BE PERSUADED IF LAZARUS RISES FROM THE DEAD.”

    The parable is about the religious leaders not being persuaded to believe in Jesus as the Messiah, even if He raises Lazarus from the dead.

    And, what was the result of Lazarus being raised from the dead? Caiaphas, who was high priest at the time, said, “It is better that one Man should die for the people than for the whole nation to be destroyed.”

    But they didn’t just plot to kill Jesus. “the chief priests plotted to put Lazarus to death also, because on account of him, many Jews believed in Jesus.”

    The parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus has nothing to do with hell. Or with the evil of riches. It has to do with the religious leader’s rejection of Jesus as their Messiah – in spite of the fact that He raised Lazarus from the dead.

  • Leum, would you mind referencing other Jewish apocalyptic literature that tells of the wicked dead being sent to unending torment? I’m only familiar with the wicked being destroyed in flame.

  • I think the most amazing thing about the argument of hell versus universalism is that the idea of hell DOESN’T MAKE SENSE. Even us evil, wicked, wretched human beings wouldn’t torture someone for eternity for something they did once in the heat of passion. That wouldn’t make sense.

    And, if we’re created in the image of God, then what doesn’t make sense to us probably doesn’t make sense to Him either. After all, He said His thoughts are HIGHER than our thoughts. Not lower.

  • I applaud you, Stryker. You went to a lot of trouble to look up those verses. Unfortunately, you’re trying to use Jewish writings to “prove” the pagan concept of hell. And it doesn’t work that way.

    You can’t use Jewish writings to prove a pagan belief. And the fact that they are Jewish writings means that (somehow) you’ve misunderstood what you’ve read. That’s understandable, since you’re not familiar with either the Hebrew language or the Hebrew culture. People make this mistake all the time. It’s to be expected.

    So, you see, it doesn’t matter how many “proof texts” a person quotes, it’s neither possible nor even proper to use Jewish writings to “prove” a pagan belief.

  • A few months ago, I looked up all the verses on hell and was surprised how many of them seemed to favor annihilation, based on the word translated “destruction” (e.g. Romans 9:22). But when I looked at the Greek, according to biblehub (cognate 684), the word translated “destruction” does not mean annihilation.

    “Cognate: 684 apṓleia (from 622 /apóllymi, “cut off”) – destruction, causing someone (something) to be completely severed – cut off (entirely) from what could or should have been. (Note the force of the prefix, apo.) See 622 (apollymi).
    /apṓleia (“perdition”) does not imply “annihilation” (see the meaning of the root-verb, 622 /apóllymi, “cut off”) but instead “loss of well-being” rather than being (Vine’s Expository Dictionary, 165; cf. Jn 11:50; Ac 5:37; 1 Cor 10:9-10; Jude 11).”

    Is that just *their* interpretation of that Greek word, or is that pretty standard? Seems pretty unclear to me, but they emphatically say it does not imply annihilation. What do you make of this word?

  • The Greek word apóllymi is a transliteration of the Hebrew verb karat (a linen term which means, to cut off). It means, literally, to cut off the “bad part” of the cloth to preserve the “good whole.”

    This is why the Torah uses the term karat in punishment. When a person commits a particular crime, the Law says they shall be “cut off” from among their people. The bad part is “cut off” in order to preserve the whole. It doesn’t always imply death. It can sometimes means separation. For the Jews, the punishment must always fit the crime.

    The same word is used for the Scapegoat.

  • Jan de la Vega

    Your question brings up an excellent point. Psalm 139 says that God is everywhere, including Sheol. So to receive the wages of sin, there must be non-existence.

  • Thanks, John, for the interesting background on that word.

    Those meanings don’t seem to fit “annihilation”, and they are not inconsistent with eternal conscious torment (ECT).

    Take Romans 9:22-23 for example. “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, whom he prepared in advance for glory…?”
    I always interpreted these verses to mean that God predestined some people to ECT, and not only that but the reason was to help the elect in some way. That interpretation always bothered me, of course. Only recently have I allowed myself to freely question the Bible and now I reject “election+ECT” as hideous. But it sure seems like what Paul is saying in Romans 9.

    How do you interpret Romans 9 (in particular vs 22-23)?

  • Alliecat04

    To be fair, they didn’t necessarily believe in the resurrection either – we see a little bit of that argument, with Jesus arguing back and forth with the Sadducees about it. It’s not difficult to demonstrate that many 1st century Jews didn’t believe in an afterlife period. What’s trickier is arguing that they believed in heaven (or the resurrection) but not hell.

  • Leum

    As John noted, Daniel 12:2 says the wicked dead will awaken to “everlasting contempt.” The (non-gnostic) Apocalypse of Paul, which might be a bit late, also has unending torment for the dead (except for one day each year). Without having other texts to hand, I’m not sure which other ones speak of it.

  • Excellent question, Charles.

    I try to be careful when it comes to Paul’s letters, because they are just that: letters. We don’t know what he was addressing, what the customs were of those he addressed, the idioms they used, or the particular issues they had to deal with. It’s like eaves dropping on a stranger’s phone call. We only hear half the conversation and will be lucky if we understand anything they’re talking about.

    So, I look carefully at the words, in the hopes that it will give me get a better picture of what Paul meant.

    We’ve already discussed apōleia, which means to “cut off,” not “destroy.” But, there’s another interesting word in this verse. It’s the Greek word orgē. It’s generally translated “wrath.” But again, this is not really what the word means.

    The word orgē is actually an agricultural term that denotes ripe fruit, swelling with juice. And yet, we translate it “wrath.” I don’t know why. It’s obviously a first-century idiom, but I have yet to find out what it meant to communicate.

    It’s not easy translating from foreign languages. It’s even harder translating from ancient foreign languages (because we don’t know everything about their culture).

    That’s why I try not to argue over English “proof texts.” Because we might be arguing over something that the text doesn’t even say!

  • Yonah

    I think John Robbins is right to point out the Jewish dimension, although I have a somewhat different take on it. In broad strokes, Mr. Shore does not seem to consider that Jewish context. At the same time, as a Jewish Christian, my experience of current Judaism and my understanding of 1st century Judaism is that they both and the whole tradition between are polyphonic on the topic.

    I take it that Mr. Shore is mainly arguing against a fundamentalist concept. At the same time he appears to counter that concept with a moral imperative to avoid guilt and fear. I would ask, all guilt and fear at all cost?

    It seems to me that, in this late hour, humanity has achieved hell-on-earth. That achievement is of deeds that have been done…and need to be accounted for. For example, how many give the Sandy Hook massacre much of a thought not long after? Nothing has been done to rectify the legal structures which enabled the atrocity, but the NRA et al have actually used the massacre to further their reach of Death. Have Progressive Christians spent much time on this? No. If one wants to translate “hell” as “Death” in Jesus’ pronouncement that its gates shall not prevail against the Church, fine. But, that certainly does not get anyone out of the guilt and fear business. For, if we believe Jesus’ word about the antithetical relationship between Church and Death, and we are not active against Death’s march in the world, here and now…how then are we Church? And, if we are not Church, then what are we?…when we do not fight Death? Perhaps we are in Hell, and it has prevailed against us.

  • Al Gleason

    Sorry – wasn’t clear – I think Jesus paid the price for ALL sin – past, present, future. I was trying to make a case for universalism (guess I did a bad job) by saying that only Sin could separate you from God – and Jesus died and paid the price for all Sin – thus saving everyone, who’s ever lived or will live.

  • We should probably also point out that sin does not separate us from God in REALITY, but rather, only in our minds. This is proven in the story of both Adam and Cain (and a hundred other examples, as well). Sin doesn’t separate us. WE separate ourselves, because of guilt and fear.

  • Al Gleason

    Absolutely! The price of sin was paid at the Cross – when Jesus chose to take it on him. I was part of a good study about Repentance along these lines. It’s foolish to think we have a petty God who needs us to repent and beg him to forgive us. It makes it look like God is on an ego trip – needing our debasement for his jollies. Instead, Repentance is to allow us to forgive OURSELVES for the Sin – which separates us from the Most High and gets in the way of the relationship.

  • It was primarily the Sadducees that didn’t believe in the resurrection.Most everyone else did, because it was hinted at in the Law and the Prophets. In fact, both Elijah and Elisha resurrected people.

  • Bones

    Yonah, we introduced tight gun laws in Australia after our worse mass shooting.

    We didn’t care about lobby groups.

    No one was listening to them after a nutter shot 35 innocent people.

    The NRA and the Christian Right are a symptom of American society.

  • Sadly, the order of writings in the NT canon is perfectly suited to induce massive fear since the canon begins with the most hell-filled Gospel, Matthew, and the statement that one should fear him who can cast both body and soul into “hell,” and then, as if to emphasize how the canon began, the final book of the NT has Jesus transforming from prince of peace into Judge Dred as God pours out bowls of wrath on the whole world, and tosses people into a lake of fire against their will. Yippie!

  • Yonah

    Thank you for reminding that not all is lost, yet.

  • You’re right. And the thing of it is, the first time we have the 27 cataloged as our NT didn’t happen until nearly 400 years after the crucifixion/Easter event, at the time of Saint Athanasius of Alexandria roughly in the late 300’s.

  • Al, I think your argument does have merit, but probably because I am a Universalist (so, I am a bit biased here, I admit). What could strengthen your position is Paul who said:

    “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. For just as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. But law came in, with the result that the trespass multiplied; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, just as sin exercised dominion in death, so grace might also exercise dominion through justification leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 5.18-21, New Revised Standard Version).

    Of course, at the first, this passage seems to support the “Original Sin” doctrine, developed by Bishop Augustine of Hippo 400 years afterwards. This is one of those doctrines I reject. However, it is interesting to see that if one does take Paul as teaching Original Sin here, then one must become a Universalist, because what Paul is saying that whatever sin does, grace undoes. If sin condemns everyone, then grace, through the same way (one man’s sin/one man’s righteousness) negates it, redeeming everyone; and all the more so, even, because grace is “greater” than sin.

  • Zaak

    So, replace hell with “some judgement thing that happens after the wicked die.” I don’t at all contend that Jews had a belief in Hell or Hades the way it is defended in contemporary western evangelical culture. I used the word hell because it’s the most handy word in our lexicon. I was just noting the interesting trend I hadn’t noticed before that the proof texts* people use to defend doctrine on hell were so bound to certain authors depending on the doctrine. So, if our understanding of the Bible is that it should never be read apart from the whole (*proof texting = bad), then each of these passages should speak to each other.

  • That is really interesting about that Gk word “orge.” I wondered if there is a relationship with that word to a modern English word “orgy,” so I started to Google it. I haven’t really found a connection yet, just glancing over there, but it is fascinating to see that our English word comes from the Latin “orgia” which comes from some word in Greek.

    Passion is a key word, I think, in both if there is a connection with these two specific words (English and Greek). The word in Greek (if it is this one) was used a lot with the rites of Dionysius and was especially connected with the rituals at Orpheus. It kind of meant a sort of madness, if you will, where social norms (not necessarily that of a sexual nature) was suspended in the duration and the deepest emotions would surface, whether that would be lust, anger, fear, panic, etc, etc.

    If our English word does come from that word “orge” in the Greek, that would actually answer a lot of questions raised during this thread for me.

  • Im a bad American then. I am a fan of neither the NRA nor the gun insanity that is plaguing the nation, and my religious beliefs make my right leaning christian friends and family squeamish.

  • Andy

    Don’t forget Matthew 21:17.

  • Andy

    You most certainly are not. Well, either that, or we both are.

  • You are not alone in this regard, though it is true that “people kill people,” and that if there were no firearms, people would find other weapons to kill each other. When I am faced with this kind of objection, I counter with, “Good! If you can find other ways to defend yourself, then you shouldn’t have a problem with the government regulating the sales of firearms!” I can tell you, I am not very popular with my conservative friends these days…

  • bondservant1

    The words “eternal” and “everlasting” usually mean “eon” or “aion” – which mean an extended or unknown length of time. There will be judgment for those who are not true disciples of Jesus (not all believers are disciples) – we just don’t know how long that judgment will be. But, unlike an eternal judgment, it will be based on God’s definition of what is necessary for judgment, with the purpose of restoration… God’s ultimate goal for all.

    By using eternal or everlasting, we miss other things as well – one of them is the “everlasting” covenant regarding circumcision of the flesh. It was for a period of time, until the greater covenant was revealed… no longer being physical but spiritual.

  • I was going to comment on that, but you beat me to it! You worded this better than I could, I think. Great point!

  • John Robbins said: “Do you see the amount of argument going on in this forum over the suggestion that there might NOT be a hell? Can you imagine the amount of argument that would have raged in the first century if Paul had suggested to the Jews that there WAS a hell, just like the pagans believed?”

    My response:
    Thank you for that! I never considered that before! YES! If Paul taught a retribution form of Wrath, there would be much augmenting regarding that, just like the circumcision thing…

  • John Shores

    This is your third post about Hell in recent weeks. That, in and of itself, is telling. I’m curious why you feel the need to speak about it.

    Hell is completely irrelevant in any discussion about god except where that discussion is centered on creating a psychological profile of the person. Taking into consideration the actions attributed to god in the OT (plagues, genocides, killing an innocent infant as punishment for its fathers sin of murder and adultery, exiles, etc), the continued executions in the NT (the assisted-suicide/virgin human sacrifice of Jesus, Acts 5, etc), and the massive slaughter of Christians in the first three centuries AD (I won’t bring up the Crusades which many tend to attribute to Christians/god but which I see only as politics) I do not find the idea of eternal torment to be at all inconsistent with the character of the Judeo-Christian god. Not in the slightest.

    Why not simply embrace it? What is so offensive about Hell in particular? Why try to dismiss it or explain it away? Why is it a topic of discussion at all?

  • Andy

    Because it’s antithetical to the concept of an all-loving god. Now, one could argue that gods transcend logic, but that’s highly debatable. But how can one reconcile the idea that God loves his children unconditionally but will send them to a place of eternal torment if they disobey something he (allegedly) said? Parents who take that approach with their kids would be locked up. Why, if God is all-loving, would he be so?

  • John Shores

    But by that same standard, isn’t the whole concept that mankind is “fallen” and that the only way to reconcile to god is via a bloody human sacrifice antithetical to the concepts of a marginally decent god, let alone an “all-loving” one?

    There is nothing about the Christian god (as far as character or morality) that isn’t sub-human. Indeed, if one was to attribute to a human being the actions and words that are attributed to god throughout the Bible, that person would be identified as criminally insane.

    This is why people take refuge in the “transcends logic” argument, IMO.

  • We often times behave how we perceive the Divine to be. This probably explains why the US is so “hell bent” in our military actions all across the globe. It is easier to get the approval of the people if they believe in divine retribution and see the extension of divine power in secular institutions, such as our government.

  • That was a story. Do you also believe (as in that same story) that every person will be cradled in Abraham’s arms for eternity like Lazarus? Everything in that story is symbolic. Those weren’t real people.

  • Also interesting that you have more compassion than God, seeing as you wish hell didn’t exist.

  • I don’t see why.

  • Wow! I learned something new today. I thank you for that John!

  • Thumbs up everywhere!

  • Very interesting!

  • You’re correct! That verse and others like it does seem to support an annihilation approach.

  • Do I hear an amen? Or, should I say, “amein?”

  • John Shores

    That’s a two-way street. I think that people tend to invent a god that reflects their base desires more so than their higher aspirations. Is there a deity in all of history who was actually better than the people who invented them?

  • Andy

    What’s this about an audience? Next you’ll be telling me Leviticus wasn’t meant for the entire world, either.

  • Andy

    “But by that same standard, isn’t the whole concept that mankind is “fallen” and that the only way to reconcile to god is via a bloody human sacrifice antithetical to the concepts of a marginally decent god, let alone an “all-loving” one?”

    Hey, no argument here.

    “There is nothing about the Christian god (as far as character or morality) that isn’t sub-human. Indeed, if one was to attribute to a human being the actions and words that are attributed to god throughout the Bible, that person would be identified as criminally insane.”

    Only if you take those passages literally.

    “This is why people take refuge in the “transcends logic” argument, IMO.”

    That, or the special pleading allows them to continue to believe in scriptural inerrancy.

  • Andy

    Oh no you di’in’t!

  • Andy

    You sound a bit like John Shelby Spong.

  • John Shores

    Only if you take those passages literally.

    About which passages are you speaking?

    I went through a long and grueling exercise in which I read every passage of the Bible and asked “Can Christianity stand without this?” and I found that you could dismiss pretty much the entire Bible without impacting either Orthodox or Protestant theology. The only idea that you cannot dismiss is this idea that man is “fallen” either in a literal or metaphorical sense.

    If you accept the premise as metaphorical , there is no reason for a literal life/death/resurrection of a god-man.
    If you take “the fall” as a literal event, you have a host of issues that end in a conclusion that the premise is severely flawed.

    Either way, if one calls oneself a Christian, they have to first believe in the inherent flawedness of mankind and that this is a spiritual issue. I think the grounds for this assertion are as incorrect as old ideas that diseases were a result of some sin or other.

    If one does not accept that man is fundamentally flawed as a result of some spiritual condition, how can they claim to be Christian?

  • Jill

    From my vantage point, hell is only irrelevant if it has never darkened your emotional or psychological doorstep. If it never has, bravo! You have not been bitten by the rabid fundamentalist goblin.

    For the innumerable who find great comfort in John Shore’s wisdom on this blog, this is extremely relevant in order to slough off the detritus of a toxic belief.

  • Bill Steffenhagen

    Yet another Tower of Babble, tho I am not blind to its sincerity. This discussion clearly illustrates how difficult, if not impossible it is to believe, literally, a great deal of what is written in the Bible. So much of it, perhaps ALL of it is interpretations of interpretations of interpretations ad infinitum of original oral stories or writings no longer in existence that I find it impossible to view the Bible as anything more than a general outline of moral and historical (?) guidelines; certainly NOT the literal Word of God. After a lifetime (I’m 70, and gay, btw) of questioning absolutes from a source (Christianity and its Bible) that appears to actually have very few absolutes one can truly believe in, can it be any wonder that I, and no doubt millions of others simply make our own ethical rules to live by? For me, that is the Secular Humanism of the Golden Rule, the Great Commandment of Jesus, and Romans 10:13. Beyond that, what I don’t totally dismiss as preposterous is, at the very least questionable, and therefore undeserving of unexamined “faith”

    Which, I grant, doesn’t leave me with anything remotely absolute in terms of afterlife that I can have confidence about. And so I choose to believe that there is Something, some form of existance that is so wonderfully and maybe even lovingly beyond our human speculations that all I can do is hope for it.

  • ChuckQueen101

    The biblical support for all three positions above is an excellent example of why it is so important to carefully think about the Bible’s place in discerning God’s will. For anyone interested I have a post on this. http://www.patheos.com/blogs/faithforward/2014/10/rethinking-the-bibles-place-its-just-the-way-it-is-part-2/

  • John Shores

    I was a Christian for 43 years, the son of a pastor, and deeply devout. I have studied both Protestant and Orthodox theology. In all that time, there was constant cognitive dissonance and so I set out to prove that Christianity is the one true faith. I came away from that journey as an agnostic just on the border of atheism.

    Much of the reason for this is that when looked at objectively, the premise of Christianity is pretty horrific. I think that the folks here are compassionate and have a tendency toward humanistic viewpoints. As was I at that time. And it was because of this that I came to a realization that I simply do not have it in me to think that there can be any correlation between a loving god and the Christian god.

    I appreciate rabid fundamentalists because they are more truthful about what the Christian faith actually is and they make no attempts to make it into something else. To me, the nice, touchy-feely, kinder/gentler version of Christianity is far worse than the fundamental version because it keeps people locked in a world where they are bad by default and extremely needy.

    It seems to me far better to have no faith than to have a faith like that. But that’s just me.

  • The fact that people have bought into the myth that they have a need to defend themselves by means of a potentiall lethal tool is to me odd. “From whom?” I ask.
    They reply, “From a robber who breaks into your house to steal your stuff?”
    ” So stuff is more important than someone’s life? ” Rambling cognative dissonance is the usual reply.
    The assumption that its always some stranger out to get you is the problem. Most gun deaths are accidental, or because of suicides. Most gun injuries are accidental. Most intentional shootings are the results of altercations between people who know each other. If for no other reason than to reduce the 75k gun injuries a year, then you can guess what I support.

  • Andy

    “Christian” is just a label. Who am I to tell someone they are or aren’t Christian? Who are you to tell someone the same?

    Personally, I don’t give a shit if anyone thinks I am or not. I don’t really like labels, anyway. Labels put people in boxes, which leads to bad things sometimes.

    “When you call yourself an Indian or a Muslim or a Christian or a European, or anything else, you are being violent. Do you see why it is violent? Because you are separating yourself from the rest of mankind.When you separate yourself by belief, by nationality, by tradition, it breeds violence. So a man who is seeking to understand violence does not belong to any country, to any religion, to any political party or partial system; he is concerned with the total understanding of mankind.”

    — Jiddu Krishnamurti

  • ChuckQueen101

    I suspect that in the authentic sayings of Jesus where he uses the term “hell” (only once in Mark and Luke) he most likely uses it in a metaphorical or hyperbolic way as in the example you point out. In light of his teaching on loving enemies because God loves God’s enemies (which is truly radical and nothing in the ancient world parallels it) it’s hard to imagine Jesus thinking of hell in literal terms. You are certainly right about Matthew. Matthew (in contradiction to his own portrait of Jesus; Matthew gives us the text about loving enemies) tends to embellish the judgment passages with harsh, vindictive language. Apparently some within his church had an ax to grind.

  • Rockgod28

    God is more than Love.

    God is Justice too. If God is just then why do so many suffer at the hands of the unjust?

    This life is unfair. It is fire. It is trial. It is testing. It is temptation. It is tragedy. Most importantly this mortal existence is on purpose. Why would an all-loving God send his children, even his beloved son to such a world? A world that kills. A death planet.

    Lucifer, Satan, was cast out specifically to this world. Here we are sent to the home of our greatest enemy. Our minds blind and unprepared for an onslaught of wickness bombarded without ceasing all our lives. We are sent into darkness itself, alone to wander the world until death takes us.

    Why do we suffer? Why doesn’t God stop the suffering and pain?

    To learn. To experience the bitterness of mortal life. We are here to suffer, to feel pain, to feel regret, to feel tragedy and sorrow. We are to experience disease, handicaps, weakness and death.

    Most of all we are to learn to overcome all of it.

    Can you overcome your pride?

    Can you be humble?

    Can you show charity?

    Can you serve a God that sends you into death?

    The most difficult thing to do to be faithful is from a position of strength. To be in control, to have wealth and power yet be compassionate and charitable.

    Daniel’s friends literally faced the fires of life directly. The were cast into the furnace. Before they went they were given every chance to save themselves. They were wealthy, wise and honored men. Instead they said God might save them and in the most profound example of faith they said, ‘But if not,’ we will serve the Lord only.

    Thousands since have been cast into fires, tortured, suffered and millions have died for their faith.

    Hell is real. Those men and women who lit the fires, burned, tortured and killed burn spiritually with guilt and torment where there is weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth in hell.

    They are condemned by their own conscience and knowledge of their guilt. Only two can forgive them and end their spiritual suffering. First the guilty must accept their guilt in the face of the justice of God. The spirit of rebellion must be burned out of them. If not their is no forgiveness or rest from just torment. The rebellious will endure forever in their sins.

    Those that do accept the judgment of God can be saved spiritually from hell.

    The extreme danger is in this life what your spiritual condition is when you die. Are you in rebellion against God?

    If you are that is the worst condition you spirit can be in leaving this life. Not an atheist, but a Nay-thiest. An enemy to God, just like the father of lies, Satan.

    Satan is as real as hell. He tempted Jesus to worship him. Jesus taught the danger of being condemned to hell repeatedly to his disciples and enemies.

    It takes more than money to avoid hell as the rich young man learned to gain eternal life. To avoid hell you need to follow the way, the truth and live a Christ centered life. For straight is the gate and narrow is the way and few there be that find it. Broad is the way and wide is the gate that leads to damnation which many find.

    Heaven = Obedience, faith, hope and charity.
    Hell = Disobedience, rebellion, vanity and pride.

    Sound pretty simple to me.

  • Excellent point. Therefore, why is it important for John Shore to argue this? I think you just answered it. 🙂

  • Andy

    “Why would an all-loving God send his children, even his beloved son to such a world?”

    You asked this question, but I don’t think you really answered it.

  • John Shores

    Well, a lot of effort was spent by some really smart guys to define what the Christian faith actually is, who will and who will not “inherit the kingdom of god”, and how authority works in the “body of Christ.”

    Those who call themselves Christian and yet have no knowledge of the writings of the Early Church Fathers and the traditions of the Orthodox Church are (by Christian standards) putting their souls in peril. (This is just silly IMO but that’s the reality of the faith.)

    I agree with you with regards to labels. However, the word “Christian” actually means something very specific as was laid out by the founders of the faith. It’s not a club that one can join or a label that one can adopt. To call oneself a “Christian” without understanding what that actually means is like a progressive Chinese cabinet member calling himself “American” just because he agrees that America’s constitution has some good ideas.

  • John Shores

    I would just suggest that the end of this progression leads away from any faith at all.

  • Rockgod28

    Huh? What is your answer to why we are here on this world with Satan, an enemy to God, to suffer, face adversity and die?

  • ChuckQueen101

    I would not even begin to guess what it might look like, but I do believe that whatever form it takes it’s always for the purpose of restoration and redemption. I’m a hopeful universalist, but I still believe in judgment. Judgment is part of the process that refines, redeems, heals, transforms us. I think all Jesus scholars would agree that Jesus spoke of judgment, but the early followers tended to fill in the details.

  • John Shores

    For now arose within him, not without ultimate good, the evil phantasms of a theology which would explain all God’s doings by low conceptions, low I mean for humanity even, of right, and law, and justice, then only taking refuge in the fact of the incapacity of the human understanding when its own inventions are impugned as undivine. In such a system, hell is invariably the deepest truth, and the love of God is not so deep as hell. Hence, as foundations must be laid in the deepest, the system is founded in hell, and the first article in the creed that Robert Falconer learned was, ‘I believe in hell.’ Practically, I mean, it was so; else how should it be that as often as a thought of religious duty arose in his mind, it appeared in the form of escaping hell, of fleeing from the wrath to come?

    from “Robert Falconer” by George MacDonald

  • According to Job, Satan is an agent of God (Elohim) as a “devil’s advocate.” Satan can only work within the parameters that God places. He, therefore, works for God. Note, the story of Job comes after the story of Adam and Eve, so did the devil revolt against God in the Garden (or sometime before)? According to Job, no.

    What is more, 1 Kings 22.19-23, we read that the LORD hired a deceiving spirit to entice Ahab to his death. Who better to play that role than Satan or one of his legions? How could a “good” angel come up with an idea to deceive? King Ahab, incidentally, comes after Job…

    IOW, Satan may not be the enemy that he has been credited for all these centuries.

  • ChuckQueen101

    The Jews didn’t believe in hell until a couple of centuries before Christ. By the time of Christ a variety of apocalyptic images and ideas flourished within Palestinian Judaism – hell as annihilation and conscious torment were part of the mix.

  • If there is a judgment, I could see it as reconciliation rather than retributive, kind of like going through rehab.

  • Guy Norred

    That defense thing…

    I live in Chicago–the Chicago they are always pointing to saying “see what happens when people have strict gun laws” and it really has never occurred to me to be fearful of the things that these people seem to fear. Now I will admit, the Chicago in which I live in is not quite the same as the Chicago of many, many others. My Chicago is a center of relative affluence and privilege (and as can be easily shown, gun violence is greater in areas of greater poverty–I just saw a study that compared statewide statistics and not specific cities and, let’s just say, I feel safer to no longer live in Louisiana). Part of my privilege follows me even when I am in other areas simply because I am white. Of course, none of this makes me completely immune to being a victim, but I think being constantly fearful must be a victimhood as well.

  • Could be. In my experience, the opposite happened.

  • John Shores

    Really? I’d like to know more about that journey.

  • John Shores

    Have you considered the possibility/likelihood that we aren’t?

  • Rockgod28

    All are fallen that come into this world. All are under condemnation because all men and women are not angels. A simple look around the world of the dealing of people reveal the truth. The natural man is an enemy to God.

    Humanity would need to follow a set of principles, not laws or governments, to guide us out of the abyss we have made this world into by our own hands.

    Jesus taught the way out of chaos, rebellion and despair.

    First is to love God with all our heart, might, mind and strength. Second is to love our neighbors as ourselves. Third is to grow our talents, expand our minds through knowledge and wisdom after seeking out the kingdom of God to join the fellowship of Christ. Fourth is to practice pure religion, to care for the poor, widows and the fatherless. Fifth always strive to endure in faith against adversity, temptation, trials, testing and tragedy.

    A Christ centered life is the opposite of low concepts. In fact it is the most difficult of human endeavors and behavior. To put away childish things and become holy, justified, sanctified and redeemed through the blood of Jesus Christ.

    We are children of God and we are human. The potential to be both a natural man, an enemy to God, or to strive to be holy by development of the spark of divinity within us. We choose our fate, our destiny and outcome of our immortal life by the work of our hands, our words and attitude.

    There is nothing low in elevating humanity by correct principles to reach for the stars, the divine traits of God.

    Faith, Justice, Truth, Mercy, Knowledge and Wisdom.

    To be honest. To have integrity. To be kind. To be faithful. To be intelligent. To be wise.

    All these traits of God elevate us to be better, do more to be worthy of the gifts of God has given us in his tender mercies to his children.

    This is possible only upon the grace of Jesus Christ. Otherwise any act, any work or any good we do for ourselves is worthless unless it is based on the divine. Only obedience to the will of the Father has any merit to save. It is the standard we should all live our lives and that is mighty.

  • Jill

    I’m with you on many points, but I can’t concede that fundamentalists are more truthful about what Christian faith really is. They seem only to be more truthful about their own insular agenda.

    I’ve not made the leap from my own safe haven of religious disbelief, but one thing I can say with full confidence is that fundamentalisms’ roots are of the Pharisaic tradition. If any Christian belief leaves you “bad” or needy, again– it is toxic.

    Perhaps some of us still peeking into the progressive faith blogs, all the while agnostic/atheistic/other, have done the great work of de-toxifying ourselves and are simply looking around to find something that has been left untainted. Something worth a second look…

  • It really is a long story. To make it really short, my fundamentalist faith and my scientific mind couldn’t be reconciled with one another. When I was able to let go of a lot of elements embedded in my fundamentalist background, I found that there really was no need for reconciliation after all.

    For example, as soon as I was able to let go of the idea of the “inerrancy” of Scripture — recognizing the Sacred Writings as being written from a human perspective, instead of a Divine one — there was no need to reconcile what was written in those pages with what I knew of geology, biology and physics. In short, questioning my faith actually saved it.

    What you mention there as a progression is true if we are thinking in terms of fundamentalism. That would not survive. If it did, one must truly be content in ignorance, because one would have to ignore all the known scientific facts in this regard.

  • John Shores

    All are fallen that come into this world. All are under condemnation because all men and women are not angels…

    That’s an awfully big assumption. I see no difference between this idea and the old idea that epileptic seizures were actually demon possessions.

    Dogma is not evidence. Conclusions should be arrived at based on evidence. One ought not start with a conclusion and then find things to support it. That’s not a reasonable method of arriving at truth, IMO.

  • Andy

    “Well, a lot of effort was spent by some really smart guys to define what the Christian faith actually is, who will and who will not ‘inherit the kingdom of god’, and how authority works in the ‘body of Christ’.”

    IDGAF

    “Those who call themselves Christian and yet have no knowledge of the writings of the Early Church Fathers and the traditions of the Orthodox Church are (by Christian standards) putting their souls in peril.”

    Yeah, I don’t believe that, either.

    “However, the word “Christian” actually means something very specific as was laid out by the founders of the faith.”

    Can you show me a sourced definition of what it means, please?

  • I’ve never found any evidence that Judaism ever embraced the pagan version of hell that Christians embrace today. If you’ve found evidence to the contrary, I’d love to hear it.

    Here is their CURRENT view of hell: http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/1594422/jewish/Do-Jews-Believe-in-Hell.htm

  • Andy

    I don’t really believe in Satan. At least, not as the typical “enemy of God” as touted by some fundamentalists, and certainly not as the caricature of the devil as depicted in literature and popular culture. I do not believe Satan walks among us and personally tempts us to sin or any of that shit.

    Before I give an answer, I’d like to hear yours, since you asked the question in your post but (as I see it) didn’t answer it.

  • John Shores

    How do you arrive at the idea that there is such a thing as a “divine perspective”? Given how often such an idea has become a weapon, why even go there?

  • Jesus was not the only one to teach the principlesl of integrity, kindness, care for the less fortunate, to love one’s neighbor as ourselves, to be merciful, , to possess tenacity, resist temptation, etc. These are all universal traits that have been taught for millinea by many teachers, sages, philosophers and priests.

    They are all, of course beautiful standards all people can live by, as they help us to live better together, regardless of our culture, our religion, our society.

    Being under condemnation because we aren’t angels? I have no idea what that means. But then I don’t believe in original sin, or being in a condemned state. I will admit the angel angle is a new one.

  • John Shores

    I agree. Looking is good and using this toxic notion as a guideline is even better. I have failed to find anything unique to Christianity that is not toxic. If one is to say that Matthew 5 is the key to Christian beliefs, even that is pretty awful seeing as it introduces thought crimes and whatnot.

    Leaving the Christian faith is a very difficult choice with pretty harsh consequences. I completely understand that.

  • It worked for me Jill. I was done with Christianity, then I happened upon this blog by this guy…

  • John Shores

    And if one is to believe that the Gospels have any basis in fact, even then we get the new issue of Thought Crimes in Matthew 5. Gentle Jesus meek and mild? Not really.

  • John Shores

    I took the time to read the writings of the Early Church Fathers and to talk to theologians of the Orthodox, Protestant and even Jewish faith so that I could gain understanding. I’m not going to give you a book report.

    If the faith is of any value to you, you will do your own due diligence. But your “IDGAF” remark leads me to believe that you are not so much interested in truth as you are in simply stating your opinion (rather impolitely at that). I don’t think there is a basis for profitable discussion if you are simply going to discard what the first apostles handed down.

  • Don’t forget the story in I Samuel 10, where God sent a spirit to torment Saul to the point of madness!

  • Rockgod28

    Yes.

    Then I look at science as it stands today and realized it is corrupt. The Big Bang is a myth created by a Belgium Catholic Priest. It is so ridiculous to believe such a fairy tale:

    In the beginning there was nothing. A singularity of infinite mass, density and composition exploded. A black hole exploded expanding at the speed of light for 9.2 billion years. 4.5 billion years ago our solar system began to form. Dust compressed upon itself by gravity, the weakest force in the universe, to create the Sun and planets.

    Out of a primordial soup of inorganic compounds, lightning and precambrian conditions no longer in existance today with a meteor shower or two of interstellar material life began to evolve on this planet Earth.

    Out of the muck, the ooze, organic life advanced against the laws of physics and thermodynamics. Mutation after positive mutation species changed from single cells, to multicellular, to fish, to amphibian, to lizard, to bird, to mammal and the into us. A 13.7 billion year journey that defies logic, reason and most incredible science.

    Dark energy, dark matter, black holes all make up the majority of mass in the universe. Substances that can not be replicated in any experiment or proven except by interpretation by ‘experts’, theoretical constructs that have no basis in reality, only mathematical models.

    To see the fairy tales of the Big Bang are false all a person needs to do is look at the latest groundbreaking mission to understand the universe: The Rosetta Mission of comet P67.

    We have told for over 50 years by science that comets are dirty snowballs. When Rosetta got to the comet there was not a trace of ice. As one of the lead scientists of the mission said the comet was “dry as hell”.

    A myth taught and still taught in schools all over the world that comets are dirty balls of ice is false proves the myth of the Big Bang. Rosetta was named as it was because it was believed that direct study if the comet would be a rosetta stone for the universe.

    The Universe is infinite, eternal and the laws of science prove it is. Matter can be neither created or destroyed. Space is the void in which matter dwells. Space can not be manipulated, handled, controlled, bent, folded or changed. Only filled by matter or moved within.

    It is nothing. Space is the immovable object. The irresistible force is time which is seperate from space and matter. Time can only be measured and just like a clock can be manipulated, but time itself it like space. It has no mechanism or method that can bend, break, fold or touch Time. It can only be observed much like the nothingness of space.

    The immovable object exists as well as the irresistible force. The both met without beginning of days or end of years. We live in them. Matter, the elements, are real that are also eternal.

    This is a place to start to contemplate the universe leaving behind myths of the big bang theory in the dust bin of history.

  • John Shores

    As a reference into things that god has done that no decent human being would do, I refer you to, well, the Bible.

  • Rockgod28

    Isaiah 14:12-15

    Yeah he is according to the Bible both old and new testaments also to mention the temptations of Christ.

  • I don’t think we’re flawed at all. I believe we are exactly the same creation that God created in the garden of Eden. I don’t think we’ve changed one iota. And, I can’t find any evidence (either spiritually or scientifically) to prove otherwise.

    The idea that we “fell” or became genetically tainted by the effects of sin is ridiculous. I’ve heard arguments that our frontal lobe gets smaller, the more we indulge in sin. And yet, there is zero evidence for this theory.

    Yes, I understand that Paul “appears” to teach the fallen nature. But, there are better explanations for the things he taught – if you look at the Jewish idioms used at the time of his writing.

    And I agree, John: If we accept the premise of “falling” as metaphorical , then there is no reason for a literal life/death/resurrection of a god-man. And that’s the thing we should REALLY be looking into.

  • John Shores

    I am dumbfounded by this response.

    All I can say is that there is overwhelming data to support the theory of a big bang. There is exactly no data to support the hypothesis of a god or devil.

    That was an awfully brave attempt at massive deflection though. 🙂

    (I would also refer you to the works of Ronald Mallett who was the first physicist to mathematically prove that time travel is possible. Your assertions with regards to space-time are not as fixed as you would have us believe.)

  • Rockgod28

    Wasn’t from God. Saul brought death, madness and destruction upon himself, not God. All he had to do was humble himself and repent. He would not do it. Pride destroyed that man.

  • See how the fundamentalist approach fails? When people start saying that God dictated words to human secretaries, like the Fundamentalists say, that is problematic at best. When one denies that, these problems cease.

  • Except that all the stars aren’t moving in an outward trajectory. Many move in different directions – some even move inward toward the “center.”

  • Oh… I remember that story well! Funny thing, that! King Saul started to take it out on David (who was anointed by Samuel, which makes David a “Messianic” figure).

  • ROCKGOD: “Any act, any work or any good [deed] we do for ourselves is worthless, unless it is based on the divine.”

    Hey, RockGod, where does this idea come from? That good works are worthless and count for nothing?

  • Rockgod28

    No deflection. It is the truth. CBR (cosmic background radition) is from our own galaxy. Most theories of the universe are speculation without direct observation like Rosetta. The probe had ice harpoons and ice drills only to find no ice.

    The rational and basis for removing God from the universe is a lie. A lie that has been taught like dirty balls of ice for over fifty years.

  • John Shores

    This is like saying that it is irrational to remove Sauron from the universe. The burden of proof lies with the one making the claim. You cannot prove god. You can only assume or invent.

  • John Shores

    I’m still confused though. If one denies that there is a god, how is that any different than denying that some god has communicated through humans?
    Maybe terms are important here. If you are talking about a creator of some sort, I have no problem with that. It’s when people start suggesting that said entity is involved in the lives of us humans that I stand amazed. IMO, such a claim requires an unfathomable lack of humility.

  • The thing about Isaiah 14 along with Ezekiel 28 is that we might not be talking about Satan at all. Note the absence of his name in both chapters. On the face of it, these two chapters are “poetic” or “prophetic” laments against the King of Babylon (Isaiah) or the King of Tyre (Ezekiel). Oh yes, BTW, that “bright morning star” where we get the name “Lucifer” from.. even that title belongs to Christ (Revelation 22.16). How is that for literalness???

  • Rockgod28

    It is if this life is purposely for testing and trials. It is if we are to experience temptation and tragedy.

    We are to experience sorrow, pain, anguish, weakness, illness and death.

    Why?

    To know the sweet from the bitter. To choose God over our own natural desires. To increase our experience of all these things of our mortal lives. To prove ourselves in the fires of adversity to the end.

  • Andy

    TOO LONG; DIDN’T READ

  • Andy

    Seriously, though…how old do you think the earth is?

  • That is not what I’m suggesting at all. I quite agree with you. Looking back at this thread, I think a misunderstanding occurred. Here is where I think it happened:

    Jack said:
    “For example, as soon as I was able to let go of the idea of the “inerrancy” of Scripture — recognizing the Sacred Writings as being written from a human perspective, instead of a Divine one — there was no need to reconcile what was written in those pages with what I knew of geology, biology and physics.”

    John asked:
    “How do you arrive at the idea that there is such a thing as a “divine perspective”? Given how often such an idea has become a weapon, why even go there?”

    HERE IS THE MISUNDERSTANDING. I probably misunderstood your question. I was denying the “Divine perspective,” not affirming it. So when you say, “It’s when people start suggesting that said entity is involved in the lives of us humans that I stand amazed. IMO, such a claim requires an unfathomable lack of humility.” I am wondering what your question is… 🙂

  • Kind of reminds me of the analogy of God being a kid with an ant farm….

  • Andy

    “I’m not going to give you a book report.”

    Didn’t ask for one. A simple reference to where I can read the definition they came up with will suffice. Surely they were able to whittle it down to a few concise words, right? Can it really be more complicated to state the central tenets of what constitutes a Christian?

    “If the faith is of any value to you, you will do your own due diligence.”

    I have. But I also question, and I do not swear allegiance to a book written by men, whether or not it was divinely inspired. Man is capable of error, after all. So if a book tells me to do something and my heart tells me not to, I’m going with my heart. Unless I am certified crazy.

    “But your “IDGAF” remark leads me to believe that you are not so much interested in truth as you are in simply stating your opinion (rather impolitely at that).”

    It was meant to be more flippant than hostile. I apologize if you construed it otherwise. My point was, I don’t care if anyone else thinks I’m a Christian. What’s between me and God is between me and God. I don’t need or want anyone else telling me what to do. I have spent a lot of time to arrive at my current beliefs, and I will continue to do so. But I will do so because I want to know the truth, not because someone or something else tells me that their way is the right one.

  • Rockgod28

    Yes I can. Proving a spiritual fact by science will not make you believe. God is accessible to everyone through prayer. By mathematics with just one concept I can prove infinity.

    Pi.

    The number never ends, it will go on into infinity without end.

    If infinity exists in mathematics then why not the universe. A being of perfect understanding of all of creation. To give you and others an idea of that that means lets predict the weather on Earth. Most models fail even after a day. Some try to predict the weather up to a week or month or years with no success.

    Why?

    You would need to put a machine say a nanobot on every particle on the planet and solar system to measure every variable to have an accurate prediction of the weather.

    Direct observation by and knowlwdge of God negates faith. Without faith any disobedience would result in immediate spiritual death. A contradiction. Direct access to God by manifestation would remove choice and faith. So to us God appears hidden when he is only a prayer away ready to help and guide us home.

  • Rockgod28

    Over 255,000,000 years old. 🙂

  • Rockgod28

    Don’t care, just my thoughts. Read them or not. Feels good to get them out. 🙂

  • Okay. I admit, you lost me here….

  • Andy

    But no big bang? Interesting.

    Your alternative hypothesis might win a Nobel Prize.

  • Instead of flawed, why not incomplete? Some Christians hold on to that idea, that we are developing…. this is consistent with the Gospel tradition of John, where Jesus compares being saved with being “born again from above.” Right now, we are in the womb, waiting to be reborn into a newer, higher, brighter life…

  • Andy

    Okay, I (sort of) lied. I did skim a bit.

  • That is completely understandable. I do this often too, especially when a post is exploding at the moment, like this one right now LOL!

  • Rockgod28

    Yes.

    Just ask the Assyrians, the Egyptian Empire, the Persian Empire, the Mesopotamia Empire(Greeks), Romans or monarchies of Europe.

    They are all gone, their good works rubble.

    America is the same with our remains, ruins on the moon, that we have not explored or pushed beyond the bounds of Earth.

    So yes all the good works of non-christians are ultimately of no worth or eternal consequence.

    The proof is in the ruins of many civilizations even ones I did not mention.

  • Exactly. This helps support the idea of massive, mega blackholes in the center of a spiraling galaxy. That would explain the shape the galaxy takes AND the erratic behavior of the stars nearer the center…

  • Andy

    “Flawed” is more negative, more oppressive. If you can convince people they are flawed, they’ll be more willing to take corrective action than if they are “incomplete”. Hence, they’ll be more likely to follow you if you promise to make them better.

  • Bones

    Really? I call bullshit.

    Been to the doctor lately?

    The atheist Dr Fred Hollows legacy lives on and will keep living on as long as people have need for eye surgery.

  • Andy

    Not all works are physical structures. Though poor by comparison with today’s preservation techniques, there’s some writing that has survived, and is still taught in schools today.

  • Andy, as usual, I find us in full agreement!

  • Andy

    The list of non-Christians with positive, lasting contributions to the world is practically endless. Where would one even begin? Perhaps at the beginning…with DNA…and Watson and Crick. Not sure about Wilkins, but Watson and Crick were certainly not Christians.

  • One of my favorite bishops of all time has a quote that I find most appropriate here:

    “God is not a Christian, God is not a Jew, or a Muslim, or a Hindu, or a Buddhist. All of those are human systems which human beings have created to try to help us walk into the mystery of God. I honor my tradition, I walk through my tradition, but I don’t think my tradition defines God, I think it only points me to God.”

    Emeritus +John Shelby Spong

  • Andy

    Yes. Interestingly, I think this dovetails nicely with the Krishnamurti quote I’ve posted a couple times.

  • John Shores

    I don’t agree that there has to be a bigger “purpose” in order for life to have meaning.

    I’m pretty content with life and relationships.

    I don’t need someone to burn down my house in order to appreciate the home that I share with my wife and kids.

    I don’t need constant introspection to know who I am.

    I don’t need chaos in order to appreciate orderliness.

    I don’t need to be told that I am flawed so that I can feel good about being forgiven.

    Some things happen. Other things don’t. Looking for some ethereal “purpose” behind events is effort wasted, imho.

  • Jill

    Funny how that works…

  • One of my favorites is this:

    “In obedience there is always fear, and fear darkens the mind.”

  • Rockgod28

    They are gone. Period, preservation or otherwise.

  • Rockgod28

    Yet those techniques will end and those lives. All the good work buried in history or the ground.

  • Rockgod28

    Lol.

  • Andy

    What’s gone, the works, or the people?

  • John Shores

    You have a rather narrow view of “works.” Here are some amazing “works” contributed to humanity that were not provided by Christians:

    – Fire
    – The Wheel
    – Ship Building
    – Geometry
    – Algebra
    – Astronomy
    – Writing/Reading
    – Sculpting
    – Painting
    – Medicine
    – Farming
    – Fireworks
    – Ridiculing that which is ridiculous

    You seem to have rather a gloomy worldview.

  • Rockgod28

    If I cared to fight the dogma, the hypocrisy and outright financial interest to keep things the way they are. I have other things to do and I don’t need credit to know or share the truth.

    🙂

  • Rockgod28

    Very old.

  • Rockgod28

    Of course. The office needs to held by someone. Hell and Satan are real.

  • Rockgod28

    No.

  • ChuckQueen101

    According to the Anchor Bible Dictionary (a standard in mainline scholarship) on Gehenna:

    “One product of the development of the concept of the afterlife during the Hellenistic Period was the notion of a fiery judgment (1 En. 10:13; 48:8-10; 100:7-9; Jdt 16:17; 2 Bar. 85:13), a judgment usually in a fiery lake or abyss (1 En. 18:9-16; 90:24-27; 103:7-8; 2 En. 40:12; 2 Bar. 59:5-12; 1QH 3) The Valley of Hinnom,often referred to simply “the accursed valley or “abyss” then came to represent the place of eschatological judgment of the wicked Jews by fire (1 En. 26-27; 54:1-6; 56:1-4; 90:24-27). . . .

    “By at least the 1st century C.E. there emerged a metaphorical understanding of Gehenna as the place of judgment by fire for all wicked everywhere (Sib. Or. 1.100-103; 2:283-312. The judgment of the wicked occured either as a casting of their soul in Gehenna immediately upon death or as a casting of the reunited body and soul into Gehenna after the resurrection and last judgment (2 Esdr 7:26-38; 4 Ezra 7:26-38; Ascen. Is. 4:14-18; cf. SIb. Or. 4:170-91). This understanding divorced Gehenna from its geographical location, but retained its fiery nature. Gehenna had become hell itself.”

  • John Shores

    spiritual fact

    This is a phrase that I have never before encountered. Care to point to one such “fact” upon which all people can agree?

    I fail to see how an infinite universe or multiverse has any bearing on a “spiritual” anything.

    All you seem to be saying is “if I can imagine it then it must be.” In which case, I highly recommend that you avoid the Nac Mac Feegle.

    I disagree with your assessment of the word “faith.” I have faith that my wife will not cheat on me. I have faith that Rush Limbaugh will say something inflammatory this week. I have faith that the San Diego Chargers will never win a Super Bowl (more’s the pity).

    To me, faith has to have some basis in reality. I don’t think that believing that there is an unknowable, invisible, insensate, supernatural being with qualities at all like ours can rise to the level of “faith” so much as “wishful thinking.”

  • So am I right in thinking that you believe the King of Babylon, or the King of Tyre is now being held by God because someone has to hold the office?

  • I’ll give it a look over… 🙂

  • Rockgod28

    No.

  • Jill

    I find many parallels with my journey in what you’re saying.

    I haven’t set out to find something unique in Christianity that isn’t also found elsewhere, in other faith systems and/or non-belief. I came back to Christianity primarily to put away what was unresolved in me, to exorcise some demons. Basically I came back so I could forgive and let go of my own junk.

    Overly simplified, I find Christianity is a mode of being that works for some people. I mean, really works, to the extent that they would not be the open, kind-hearted, giving and daring people they are without it. But I see it in them as a ‘mode of being’. The people that ‘do’ Christianity are the ones that tend to make me uneasy.

    I have not found my place in the Christian universe, but I have been fortunate to have found more than what I came in search of. That may not sound so thrilling, but to me it has been a gift beyond anything I expected.

  • John Shores

    Ah. Alas that the written word is so ill fitted for clear communication!

    Thank you for your patience and for clarifying your statement.

  • So you start out trying to deny the big bang theory, then proceed with a not half bad outline of the event. the rest is a convoluted ramble.
    So my take away is, “Huh?”

  • Andy

    Welp, I’m convinced.

  • ChuckQueen101

    It’s hard to know if there is “equal” support and I would agree that some of the verses listed are something of a stretch. But the point is made that there are different “biblical” perspectives because the early followers held to different understandings. The early Jesus movement was quite diverse in its understanding of other issues as well. For example: When did Jesus assume divine status? At his birth (Luke and Matthew), at his baptism (Mark), or at his resurrection by God (Paul). Or did his divine status precede his birth (John, Colossians) – and were the writers talking metaphorically about Wisdom (often personified as Divine in Jewish ancient Jewish literature) or did they believe that somehow Jesus was a divine being before he was born?

  • So it had no ice. Big deal. Ice was a theory proven not quite accurate. Until we actually could get to one to examine it, we were guessing. Just like we’ve guessed on a shit load of things science wise, until get got better evidence.

  • Luke Wenke

    In Edward Fudge’s Conditional Immortality people suffer torment as well as being annihilated…

  • John Shores

    You can start with the Athanasius Creed, Ireneaus Rule of Faith, Apostle’s Creed, Nicene Creed, Hippolytus’ account of the baptismal service, The Council of Sardica Canon V and perhaps Anathemas of the Second Council of Constantinople.
    If you want to really be amazed at how vastly differing the Protestant faith is from Orthodoxy, a cursory view of the Seven Sacraments will offer a tremendous amount of insight and questions (and don’t leave out what Martin Luther had to say about the importance of the sacrament of Confession in particular). There is a true sense of holiness and true reverence in the sacraments which is completely absent in Protestant theology.
    But the really good stuff is found in the writings of Polycarp, Clement of Rome, Origen, Justin Martyr, and my all-time favorite Christian (and I mean this with true reverence) Saint Ignatius. Now THAT was one absolutely studly true believer!
    I have a great respect for the ideas within Orthodox Christianity. I simply cannot accept the (single) premise upon which it is founded.

  • office?What office?

  • Political mechanicisms, wars and a sword destroyed the man as it has many. He wasn’t a terrible king, as he did stablize the tribes into a single nation.

  • John Shores

    If god has not “dictated words to human secretaries”, by what means has/does god intentionally communicate with humans?

  • Agreed and you’re welcome!

  • The reason why I asked that is because I didn’t think you would, yet your answer to my response suggested just that…

  • Rockgod28

    Exactly. There is nothing supernatural about spirituality. It can be quantified and measured. The experiments are morbid so can not be done at all.

    Spirit is not intangible, immaterial or unscientific. If fact it takes greater dedication than any other science. To tap into the divine requires alignment, sensitivity and deep commitment.

    Faith is more than the belief the sun will rise the next morning. You have faith in something. Belief is not faith. It is spiritual assurance by God. A gift that only can be gained by seeking spiritual truth and understanding.

    It is like describing the smell of a lion to a person who has never experienced it.

    You can measure the smell of a lion, quantify it, describe it and maybe even replicate it, but nothing is the same as experience. The power, fear and predatory essence of a lion smelled for the first time.

    It is the spiritual experience that must be sensed to begin to understand the divine.

  • Lets see. Ive lost a parent at an early age, lived in a cult, been abandoned, physically and sexually abused as well as emotionally, been in poverty, and had to start all over, along the way realizing that I needed to also redefine my faith into something less dogmatic.
    so you say this is because I’m to choose god over what the hell “natural desires” are supposed to be? Again…huh???

  • And one day we too will be remembered as ancient, the fragments of our lives sifted and anazlyed, and our contributions to future generations bandied about. Its how civilization works.

  • True, including the Bible, but the Bible tends to be taught in churches

  • Andy

    I can only imagine what the state of the internet in 2010 will look like in 200 years or more. As far as I know, a lot of the crap from previous civilizations either didn’t survive or has been discarded. Our generation may not be so lucky, even if we’re not around to endure the eventual ridicule.

  • Rockgod28

    Yet all those people are dead. After over five millennia of lost civilizations that have done great engineering feat we can no duplicate I have every reason to be gloomy.

    Vast scientific achievement is gone over and over. Rediscovery of basic concepts in your list relearned. It is a repeated cataclysm of human arrogance and pride to list pitiful advancement on a universal stage.

    One EMP and no more internet. All that advancement, discovery to be restarted, if we are luck to not wipe ourselves out because of technology outstripped our spiritual principles.

  • John Shores

    While I agree that this is beautiful imagery, I don’t know that it is as valuable as I once thought.

    When I left the faith, one of the most profound and immediate results on my psyche was a sense of smallness, humility and a strong sense of responsibility. As a Christian, I had inadvertently adopted an attitude that all of this is “passing away” and so I had adopted Keith Green’s perspective when he said “…hey man, this is like living in a garbage can compared to what’s going on up there.”

    Not expecting that there is anything beyond this life, I have found a sense of joy and awe and wonderment that completely escaped me before. I don’t mean that I have become an environmentalist wacko, although I am far more contentious about my contributions to the environment. I mean that this universe, this world, the inhabitants of this astounding orb have taken a far more importance to me than ever before.

    “Life gets mighty precious when there’s less of it to waste.” If there is something beyond this life, well, OK. But this life is far too important not to enjoy today. I never had this sense of joy and love when I was a Christian.

  • Rockgod28

    Both.

  • You might really enjoy “The Great Divorce” by C.S. Lewis, if you haven’t read it yet. Very interesting take on the afterlife.

  • Rockgod28

    Get on building that warp drve then and help out Dr. White to leave behind the superstitions of the past at faster than light speeds.

  • John Shores

    I really like you Jill. Thank you for reminding me that Christianity actually does “work” for some people. My philosophical disagreements and the neuroses that the faith inflicted on me individual are indeed my own story.

    I’m really glad that I found this site. It isn’t often that discussions are this civil and thoughtful.

  • John Shores

    In your estimation, is there any downside to one’s inability to experience this thing that you care calling “spirituality”?

    Said another way, if I am happy with life as it is, have I lost anything?

  • Rockgod28

    Natural desires. Greed, vanity, pride, selfishness, weakness (vice), hatred, envy, immediate gratification, lust and out of control passion.

    You have experienced first hand natural desires upon you. I would think you would understand what that means. I guess not.

  • True. We’ll be thought of as silly barbarians, with some insane religious and social ideals, but some good things too. Most of our innovations will be of course lost…..sept twinkies and plastic grocery bags. Just our luck one of the lasting legacies will be the discovery of a cache of DVD’s. All episodes of Honey Booboo, Duck Dynasty, and Lizard Lick Towing. We’ll be looked at as the buffoons of history,

  • John Shores

    Now I’m really confused. You believe in spirituality and not in an afterlife?

    How do you know those people are dead? Perhaps they have reincarnated? Perhaps they have moved on to another dimension?

    And let’s assume that there is nothing more than here and now. What does it matter that those people are dead?

  • John Shores

    But I can leave them now while merely walking…. 🙂

  • Rockgod28

    No he was terrible exactly as God warned he woud be.

  • Rockgod28

    Spiritual office or divine appointment or heavenly title or whatever you want to call it. Keep up here.

  • Admittedly, this is where my analogy fails for now. I have yet to find a solution to that problem. Once we think this life is temporary, but that it isn’t the final one, we can take things for granted and I think that this is quite unfortunate.

    What I have found is that people who generally take the idea that the “grass is greener” on the other side are in the mindset that the grass is always greener over there. “There” is a place that is never made, because once one gets “there,” they notice something “greener” still further up the road or they found that instead it isn’t so green as previously thought. There is no doubt, we do need contentment.

    We do need to be content. We do need to have a respectful attitude towards “creation” whether we believe our physical universe came through direct creation or through scientific, physical processes. Finally, we need to learn how to respect, love and get along with one another.

    It is here where I seek a solution that may or may not support the spiritual ‘hypothesis’ above, regarding the “incompleteness” of humans. If not, that is okay. It is not like I haven’t changed my cosmology before because something didn’t fit the data. This process is very familiar to me and I am constantly evolving, growing and understanding. I haven’t got everything figured out yet and this is okay…

    To steal an old saying, “progress rather than perfection.” That is what my spiritual life dictates. As long as I stick with that, I am constantly growing and learning new things.

  • That! Exactly that!!!

  • John Shores

    It may help to understand human affairs to be clear that most of the great triumphs and tragedies of history are caused, not by people being fundamentally good or fundamentally bad, but by people being fundamentally people.

    -from “Good Omens” (Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett)

    I think that by accepting that “people are fundamentally people”, much of our angst toward other people dissipates.

  • Jill

    Ah, you’re very kind! So much similarity in how I’ve processed my wounds and dissonance… it’s quite a journey. I promised myself I could let go of some serious baggage if I found a person that I could personally describe as “better through Christianizing”. I kept my expectations low. 🙂

    To my grateful surprise I’ve found many, and they’ve helped me heal beyond anything I could ever put into words to explain.

    John Shore Land is one of the very best places on the blogosphere. Very glad to meet you out here! You’ve made my day!

  • I know what you are implying. I am just incredulous at its audacity

  • And David was any better? That was one dysfunctional human being. Or he was written that way. Brilliant, but dayum could he ever make a mess of things

  • Oh bovime offal. That isn’t reality. That isn’t even humanity, and it certainly doesn’t play in Christianity

  • Andy

    Let me put it this way: have you ever heard of Plato? Aristotle? Socrates?

  • Andy

    “And what did you find for 2007, inspector?”

    “Well, for one, the first iPhone came out. You might remember that as the first widely-used smartphone. On the other hand, there was something called The Search for the Next Pussycat Doll on TV.”

  • Andy

    Maybe he’s an annihilationist.

  • Andy

    Interesting, your comment about the EMP. You did know that 24 is fiction, right?

  • John Shores

    Plus he has a cool name.

    It’s weird. I was raised in San Diego and I worked in Carlsbad for years. I have never met anyone whose last name is “Shore” or “Shores” outside of my own family. You’d think we’d run into each other. (Or maybe that would cause a karmic explosion.)

  • Alan Christensen

    Maybe Rockgod is thinking of the Carrington Event of 1859. Not an EMP but a massive coronal ejection from the Sun.

  • Alan Christensen

    I have the same issues with eternal torment that you do, but wouldn’t it be fairer to say that Hell, while having some scriptural support, is highly debatable?

  • I wholeheartedly agree!

  • The temptations of Christ doesn’t prove whether Satan was an enemy of Christ. Some Christians have seen this as a “testing” to see if Christ is worthy of being the Christ. That would be the devil playing the devil’s advocate all over again. Interestingly, in Matthew 16, Jesus calls Peter Satan himself!

  • Rockgod28

    Sad to say, but these are natural desires and common.

  • Rockgod28

    Nope David was worse. I agree. Yet we can learn from his mistakes so we do not repeat them.

    Remember conspiracy to murder to cover up betrayal and adultery is bad. Very bad.

    He was the king. Man up. He slew thousands and in the end he feared his own weakness to cover it up.

    It is a tragedy of epic proportions.

  • Rockgod28

    Ok. *Shrug*

  • Rockgod28

    Good one. 🙂

    If science is the key then getting out there in the cosmos can only increase our knowledge and understanding of the universe like with Rosetta.

    Maybe a Stargate. (Love that show.)

  • Rockgod28

    Nations, republics and empires have no soul. They do not have an afterlife. The civilizations of our past failed. Their achievements are lost and we are poorer for it.

    Unless people are living over 1,000 years or more I am certain they are dead.

    Engineering principles by the Egyptians, Babylonians and others are gone. Sciences lost.

    It matters that instead Chistopher Columbus doing interstellar or interplanetary travel he was not traveling the stars just the oceans. There are huge implications when civilizations collapse that can last millennia.

  • Rockgod28

    Yes.

    That said, if you are happy I am happy for you too.

    I am a seeker of knowledge and especially wisdom. I expand my horizons and work to increase what I know and understand by study. I try to not limit my scope.

    I am happy with my life too. I live in a constant state of discovery and excitement as I learn. Somethings I can do something about and others like Rosetta I can’t. I don’t let it bother me and I am happy exploration, even unmanned, continues as we expand our understanding of the universe.

  • Rockgod28

    Yes it is. I have never watched it.

    Our technological world is fragile. One CME which barely missed us and poof no more internet for months at best.

    Yet here we are. 🙂

  • Rockgod28

    Yes.

    Barely taught in school and just a passing mention. I know the most about Aristotle, Star Trek fan.

    I am however more of a fan of Archimedes.

    Death Ray!

  • Rockgod28

    I disagree. You believe otherwise and that is ok.

    It was pretty clear from Jesus ministry specifically where he cast out devils they were not on the same side. Jesus himself pointed out a house divided against itself can not stand long before President Lincoln.

  • Rockgod28

    It has been fun, but life is calling.

    Have a wonderful day and make the most of each.

    🙂

  • The scientific method starts with an observation and then a hypothesis, aka an educated guess. Then experimentation comes. Easy peasy…

  • Jill said: “Overly simplified, I find Christianity is a mode of being that works for some people. I mean, really works, to the extent that they would not be the open, kind-hearted, giving and daring people they are without it.”

    My response:
    Jill, You ROCK!
    Until I was able to “find” God not as personal deity that was keeping tabs on every sparrow (along with every screw up I ever did) but as the “Ground of Being” the Source of All and Beyond… Until I was able to “read between the lines,” Christianity was a mere romantic relic of the past. Now, it is a vibrant tradition that points me to the very mystery of being, and how we are all connected to each other and everything else in the cosmos because of that!

  • I have to admit, when I saw your first comment here, I did not see the “s” at the end of your last name and actually thought you were John Shore with a different thumbnail. When I read your comment, I had to check again… 🙂

  • Glenn Peoples

    That seems clearly false. There are passages listed for eternal torment, for example, that on a straight forward reading offer literally no support at all for that view.

  • I will second many of the authorities you mentioned here. Strange though… St. Gregory of Nyssa, one of my all time favorites (he was the one that summarized the council at Nicea and formulated the Nicene Creed) had this opinion on hell:

    Apocatastasis

    A name given in the history of theology to the doctrine which teaches that a time will come when all free creatures will share in the grace of salvation; in a special way, the devils and lost souls.

    This is found here:

    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01599a.htm

  • I have even discovered, due to another discussion of this very issue on another site that even William Barclay was a “Convinced Universalist.”

    http://www.auburn.edu/~allenkc/barclay1.html

  • Andy
  • Andy

    …and here’s you, down here.

  • Andy

    …and that means…. c’mon, you got this…

  • Rockgod28

    Morons.

    🙂

  • Jill

    Right? Who would’ve thought it? Smells like fate to me… 😉

  • Alliecat04

    Actually I was reading something in Babylonian just the other day, and we still use a lot of their constellations.

  • Alliecat04

    Okay, Jesus did not need your help, his words were better without your spurious additions. First, yes. Second, yes. Third, see first. Fourth, see second. Fifth, see first.

    True Justice, mercy, knowledge, and wisdom are to know that only God knows the hearts of men, and only he knows what burdens they labor under and what faults they struggle against. The truth is that you are a made creature; you did not make yourself. And your neighbor, whom you are so ready to judge, was also made by God, exactly as God wished to make him. It is completely not your business to judge the children of God.

  • Jill

    Where is this nihilist conversation even going? I’ve lost the coherence.

  • One of the things that tends to make heads go pop is the discovery of how the Moors spent such a great amount of time and energy preserving literary works during their time on the European continent. including copies of Christian authors and biblical translations. The Islamic influence in art, music, language, science and even religion with Europe is significant

  • Andy

    Definitely. Except I think you mean the “Moops”.

  • You held onto it longer than I. I started imagining what future archeologists would make of our modern culture. Imagine if they mistook our landfills for cities, and spent decades pondering over all those disposable diapers, and their possible uses during our uncivilized time.

  • Jill

    Well, not exactly… I jumped around, looking for a place to land my brain, and I think my annoyance radar went off with all the talk of ‘nothing means anything’. There’s only so many ways to describe non-belief imo. As my Jordanian friend would say, Yalla, which is Arabic loosely translated as come on or let’s go/let’s move on.

  • spinning2heads

    I’m still partial to my own, logic-based argument against the existence of hell. It rests on the assumptions that God is rational, and that She does things in the best way possible.

    1) There are two possible rational reasons for god to have created a hell in which people are tormented for eternity. The first is that it serves as a warning to the living. The second is that it serves to teach the damned souls their error.

    2) A hell that the living can’t see cannot be the best warning that God could provide. Wouldn’t a better warning be showing hell on TV, or making it a place the living could visit? It certainly wouldn’t be just an article of faith. Moreover, as an article of faith, it is equally effective whether it actually exists or not. So that can’t be the reason for God to have created hell.

    3) A lot of research has shown that people learn things best through non-painful means. Moreover, hell is said to last for eternity, so that can’t be much of a learning experience, with no opportunity to try again. So the educational reason for hell is out.

    4) The only possible reason that still exists is that God has a vengeful need to punish people who have done wrong. But revenge is not rational, and does not serve to do anything positive, so that is out.

    5) Therefore, on the basis of the above, God has no rational reason to create a hell in which people are punished for all eternity. Having no reason to do so, She has not.

    And there you have it. Love is nice and all, but you only need rationality to do away with hell.

  • RosePhoenix

    Here’s how I see it. Some sort of Hell exists, whether eternal or not. I am sorry, but I cannot go to a Heaven populated by the people who tormented me in life and were completely unapologetic. I am sure that victims of crime feel the same way, and I was only verbally bullied. I have tried to forgive. However, a Heaven in which I have to coexist with those people, unless they have truly changed, would be Hell to me. I believe that there must be some sort of place for people who have chosen not to love others and show no remorse for that. I don’t think it’s all fire and brimstone. I think it is a place without love. Maybe it is more like Purgatory–there for a while, and then saved. Or maybe their punishment, or Hell, is reincarnation–a new life on this Earth full of suffering. Whatever Hell is, I believe it exists in some form.

    Would I like to see the people who hurt me, and who hurt others, attain salvation? Sure. But only if I knew that they had truly changed and had gone on to live a life filled with love and compassion for others.

    In addition, I cannot completely discount the stories of people who had near-death experiences and said they went to Hell rather than Heaven. Why would anyone choose that? I don’t believe that they were just making it up. The fact that these people were given a second chance–being rescued by God–seems to point to the idea that it may not be eternal. I also can’t discount the children who claimed to have visions of Hell–I forget their names, but they did say they were shown Hell by the Virgin Mary, or at least one of them did.

    It is not my place to judge who goes where. That is up to God. But I do believe that both places exist. I also believe that there must be separate places for angels and demons. If demons are not cast into Hell, then where do they go? Are they simply destroyed?

  • Jordan Robert Dirks

    “He could help to make my life better in a second, but he’d rather tear off my feelers and WATCH ME SQUIRM!” lol that one?

  • Alliecat04

    People who have had near-death experiences all have one thing in common: they didn’t die. In addition they all experience exactly what they were led to believe in by their upbringing. All they prove is that the brain has certain experiences while starved of oxygen. Please don’t depend on them for theology.

  • Mark

    I like that guy, too.

  • Mark

    We’re here because we’re here, just like dogs, and fish, and rocks. IMO, because we’re the only species capable of taking care of our planet, and the only one capable of destroying it, our purpose is to take loving care of this world we’ve been given. I saw your subsequent post, but it looked too long and rambling for me to read. Sorry.

  • Arthurian Daily

    If there is no hell, then Jesus died for NO REASON. (That is some God, you got there… dying for nothing!)

    Right and wrong, good and bad – – these are just terms we use to indicate personal preferences.

    The icing on the aforementioned cake? Life is meaningless.

    Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot… We will all be partying with these folks in heaven, right John?

  • Arthurian Daily

    [comment deleted]

  • RosePhoenix

    I am not depending solely on those experiences for my belief in Hell, and am fully aware of what happens when the brain loses oxygen. Also, you say that they didn’t die, but these people were declared clinically dead. So, “near-death experience” is a bit of a misnomer, because their hearts actually stopped.

    Regardless of all that, I believe in a Hell or Purgatory mostly for the other reasons I stated in my original comment.
    If there is no Hell for people, I still believe that some sort of separate realm must exist for demons.

    Again, that is me, and if you disagree, that is fine. However, this is one area on which I will have to say, “Let’s agree to disagree.”

  • Wayne Green

    “The Bible is not God. The Bible is simply the cradle that holds Christ. Anything in the Bible that does not hold up to the Gospel of Jesus Christ simply does not have the same authority.” – Nadia Bolz-Weber
    I love this quote. Maybe Paul’s writings about judgement and destruction don’t have the same authority? I don’t know. Thank you, John, for your incredibly blunt blog posts about hell. They force me to reevaluate what I believe. Which is good to do every once in a while.

  • buzzdixon

    I sometimes wonder if this existence isn’t Purgatory…

  • There are billions of people on the earth at the moment. There are billions more who have lived and died and who will live and die. What makes you think that, among these multitudes, you would somehow manage to end up not just meeting but coexisting with the people who tormented you on earth?

    That aside, probably every single one of us has done wrong to another, whether we are aware of it or not. If that automatically made someone a bad person or disqualified someone from heaven, then… heaven is going to be a very, very empty place.

  • Alliecat04

    Aren’t you rather jumping the gun suggesting that we would go around in circles? And here I was, getting ready to make a reasoned reply to you!

    I do disagree with your quibble over “near-death.” Even the medical profession recognizes that death is an ongoing process which cannot be solely defined by the beating of the heart. But, relevant to this discussion, I don’t believe God has a lot of “oops” moments. “Oh look, better send this one back, they’re reviving him!” Whatever happens to people after the soul is permanently dislodged from the body, we haven’t seen it.

    In any case, “going to heaven,” is a folk belief which would have given most early Christians an allergy attack. They believed in a bodily resurrection, as found in the Creed, and that heaven was a place for angels, not dead people.

    I can’t say I’ve made an exhaustive study of near-death experiences, but I have

  • Alliecat04

    Sorry, disqus won’t let me continue without a new post…

    I have made a study of them along with ufo abduction experiences, and similar experiences. The single most statistically relevant predictor of such an experience is whether or not the person reporting it had an interest in such experiences before it happened. Nice old ladies who hand out tracts full of girly-looking angels and collect angel statues report angels like the ones in the statues. Hippies envision bright lights and love. And so on.

    I do believe real spiritual experiences are possible. BECAUSE I believe that, I also believe in stripping through impostures and foolishness. The one real test is: did this result in either words or deeds which show the hand of God operating here? Because frankly most of these “revelations” are about as revealing as the joke in a bubble-gum packet. God does better work than that.

  • RosePhoenix

    What would you say are “real spiritual experiences?” Please give me an example.

  • RosePhoenix

    I do know a bit of what made my main bully hurt me–he was selling (and maybe doing?) drugs and was upset over his parents’ divorce. He tormented me all throughout middle school and high school. He saw me as an easy target because I was smaller than him. He was a short guy, and there I was shorter than him. He only stopped when I stopped responding to him in the way that he wanted–that is, getting upset about it. It took me all I had to smile and look him in the face and tell him, “Have a nice day” rather than what I really wanted to say. That was only one of the people who hurt me. I can only speculate on the others. One guy who didn’t have the nicest face called me ugly every single time we passed each other in the hall. I don’t know if he did it to anyone else. One guy accused me of being pregnant when I was on corticosteroids for Crohn’s Disease for a reason I will never know, but I think he was a friend of a guy I’d turned down.
    The only people I’ve been able to forgive are a group of kids that actually apologized. These were kids who were in the same gifted class as me, and we had to go by bus to another school for certain subjects. The entire bus was making fun of me for a reason I haven’t figured out to this day. They apologized and never bothered me again.
    Little incidents like this just add up (and I haven’t named all of them), and I have no self-esteem or sense of self-worth. In fact, if there’s a Hell, I think I’m probably going to it, because I can’t be good enough for Heaven. I’m not perfect enough. I’m afraid to trust anyone. I’m afraid to trust God.

    If they go to Heaven, that’s fine. I just don’t want to remember them or have them near me. I’m sure that some victims of violent crime feel the same way.

  • Alliecat04

    By real spiritual experience I mean specifically an interaction with God which is actually an interaction with God and not a hallucination or altered state of consciousness taking place entirely within the individual’s brain. We can get very philosophical about this if you want, but all I mean is the common-sense meaning of “real,” as in, there is a real cat on my lap at the moment, I am not hallucinating having a cat. My father, on the other hand, hallucinated small gremlin-like men taking the batteries out of the remote. Those were not real. I believe they were not real because a) no one present could see them besides him, b) the batteries were still in the remote, and c) he had brain damage from a stroke and was on medication which explain why he would be likely to have hallucinations.

    It’s of course very difficult to prove that an encounter with anything supernatural is real, but you can look at the end chapters of the gospels and at the book of Acts to see that the apostles relied on the same sorts of evidence: did more than one person see it, did it provide information which was true and consistent with the character of (God, Jesus, an angel, etc.) and did the person who experienced such a revelation become a better person? You can also see skeptics asking the same questions people would ask today: are these people drunk, are they crazy, are they encountering God, or some other spirits, are they faking it?

    The first question to ask is, is there a more reasonable explanation? If a religious leader says God spoke to him and said give him money, the most reasonable explanation is that he wants money and is lying. If Hildegard of Bingen has debilitating headaches and sees mandalas of light with crenelated edges, the most likely explanation is migraine auras. If someone in a seriously altered state of consciousness (passed and and about to die) has visions, they are most likely hallucinations.

  • Alliecat04

    Oh dear. If you listen to anything I say to you! please listen to this: God is not mean enough to send anyone to hell after a lifetime with crohn’s. Crohn’s sucks and I’m sorry you have to deal with it. High school also uniquely sucks and seems designed to destroy the self-worth of gifted people in particular. Real life is somewhat better because there are far fewer busses and far more opportunities to be around people who aren’t nasty. For what it’s worth, I hope and pray you meet some people who make you feel beautiful and loved and protected, to make up for some of your past experiences.

    You sound very empathetic. In a perfect world – just for a moment imagine a perfect world – wouldn’t it be nicer for that bully to not even want drugs because his life was such a perfect high, and not feel bad about his parents, than to burn in hell forever? And for you to be strong and powerful enough that you had no need to fear remembering him, because everything bad that ever happened was just so much dust in your rear view mirror, with nothing but glorious road ahead?

    I promise you, I promise you that God is not a God who punishes people for being hurt, any more than a loving parent would whip a child for falling down and hurting herself.

  • RosePhoenix

    Thank you. That was very informative. I get visual migraines, actually, and when I got one for the first time, I thought I was going blind–I’d had the headaches before, but never the visual symptoms. I’ve developed floaters (rare for someone in their late 20s) and I thought, “Well, either something is wrong with my eyes, or I’m going crazy.” Divine revelation or spirits never entered my mind. The diagnosis? Benign vitreous degeneration in my eyes.
    It is definitely hard to prove that experiences are real, especially when the person is home alone and they are the only ones who experienced something supernatural, such as seeing a ghost. There are rational explanations for those, of course. I think more credible accounts are, like you said, when many people report seeing the same thing on different days with no prior knowledge of what has been seen in that place before–multiple witnesses without any expectation. I have heard of certain environmental factors making people feel like they are being watched and such. I think it has to do with electromagnetic energy, which is, in fact, used as proof in ghost investigations that there are spirits there. It’s interesting how skeptics and believers interpret the presence of that energy in entirely different ways.

  • Lynette

    The only thing that list proves is everyone is capable of taking scripture out of context. If the Bible is true & people have the choice to believe in/ accept God or reject God, then doesn’t it follow that Heaven is where God is (all love/ goodness) & hell is the absence of that? Earth is both because of sin & God’s grace… I think earth provides plenty of examples of what happens when people are left to pursue what they want without concern for others -evil has many forms. What good people are capable of is because God sustains so many things that give us hope, without any hope people dispair & turn against each other.

  • Sarah

    I looked several references up. The annihilationism column is all about how some people have eternal life. If those were the only verses in the Bible about the afterlife, I could see how “perish” (John 3:16) might be interpreted as annihilation. But instead, we have graphic images, like Lazarus and the rich man and the explanation of the Last Judgment at the end of Revelation suggesting that “perish”/the opposite of eternal life does not mean no life/consciousness at all. The universalism column certainly has some one line zingers. But in the face of explicit passages like Revelation 20 I read the one-liners as saying (depending on the verse) is that a) God wants everyone to be saved, but this is not necessarily going to happen since not everyone will come to repentance or b) explaining that Christ died for the sins of everyone in the sense that anyone could come to repentance – no one is too sinful to be saved by grace again with the implication that not everyone will come to repentance. While I agree that any column read in isolation points to a different view, all three columns read in unison point logically to the idea of Hell as a place of suffering after death.

  • Here’s what I think the story of Lazarus means: What the Story of Lazarus Really Means. And if you’re basing an argument on what is real by anything found in Revelation 20—which starts with “And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain …” then you’re really, really reaching.

  • AtalantaBethulia

    The meme isn’t proof. It’s a visual to make a point. Neither is the meme a doctoral thesis representing 2,000 years of theological thinking on the matter.

  • Glenn Peoples

    That they shouldn’t be listed as support for eternal torment.

  • Andy

    Exactly!

  • Nerdsamwich

    Unless what you’re hoping for is some magical rescue, whether by a handsome prince or a returning Jesus. That kind of hope leads you to tolerate the intolerable, to let things slide that you could be changing, because that rescue is coming any day now. When good people act, it’s because they’ve given up hope that things will change on their own.

  • Nerdsamwich

    I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t go to a heaven that contained a god who would send people to hell.

  • Nerdsamwich

    Why does a thing need to have eternal consequence in order to be meaningful? I was having a bad day once, and a stranger gave me a donut. It meant the world to me at that time, in that place. We all do little things every day that mean absolutely nothing to the universe as a whole, but everything to one person here and now. Why would you denigrate that with your talk of eternity?

  • Nerdsamwich

    Why does something need to last forever and echo throughout all of the universe in order to be meaningful? Have you any idea how truly vast the universe is? All of humanity is less significant to the universe as a whole than is one of your gut microbes to you. Even our entire galaxy, which is enormous beyond human comprehension, is just a tiny speck in an ocean of similar tiny specks. It’s ludicrous to try to mean anything to all of that. What we can do is to make our existence meaningful to ourselves and the people around us. The things that last forever aren’t the things that really matter. What makes the biggest difference are the things that last a moment, because that’s what life is, a series of moments. What will yours add up to?

  • Valerie Wilkins

    You do realize that SOME of those claiming to have positive NDEs
    are NOT Christian–some are even atheists.
    There have also been SOME Christians who claimed to have hellish” NDEs.
    This kind of evidence kinda goes against your “Christian dogma”
    reguarding heaven/hell and who goes which place.

  • RosePhoenix

    Actually, no it does not. People can claim to be Christians and not act one bit in the manner that Christ taught people to act. And atheists can act more Christ-like than many so-called “Christians.” So, no, this does not surprise me one bit and does not go against my beliefs of who goes where.

  • Valerie Wilkins

    If “being Christian” were the only way to get out of going to hell, as most Christian fundamentalists have been preaching for some 2000 years, then (IF one believes these accounts), NDEs are seriously contradicting that belief.
    I think your view is much more progressive (and likely truer) than most practicing Christians.

  • My understanding is that the concept of “hell”, or sheol, was not even a part of the Hebrew dogma or doctrine until after the captivity in Babylon. Even with that, the Hebrew belief is that sheol is a metaphor for oblivion, not a physical place.

  • loonsrunningthecuckoosnest

    Its not that complicated. Tireless ramblings are for those desperately trying to find an excuse for their sins. Ahhhhh…….a way out! A loop hole!!!!!!

    If you know God, no explanation is required. if you don’t know God, no explanation will suffice.