Sunday, January 16, 2011

Casting Hell into the Lake of Fire?

This post is much harder to write than I thought. I've started and stopped. Thrown out drafts and avoided composing new ones. I don't feel I've arrived at a definite answer to my questions about hell, so I don't have firm conclusions, just tentative ideas.

I appreciate all the comments on the last post I wrote on hell. Reflecting on them has been helpful in shaping how I think about this topic. I've also reflected on a few posts found here here and here by HeIsSailing on his rejection of hell, which I highly recommend. I have ordered 2 books on the history of hell, which I will certainly discuss here when I finish them.

Based on comments several of you left on the last post as well as conversations I've had with friends at church, it's clear we handle the concept of eternal punishment very differently. For some of us, we have been plagued and tormented. For the majority, though, it's been just one of many doctrines they accept without a great deal of discomfort. Several have asked why. One of my friends noted that most just don't take their faith that seriously. I would concur. I also think that we tend to protect ourselves from unpleasantness. Our minds have terrific defense mechanisms that prevent us from "tragic news" overload. Another friend of mine noted that she couldn't handle considering every terrible outcome that could occur. And that is true of most, if not all of us. We grow desensitized to reports of shootings, we justify murders or find ways to hold victims responsible, because we'd like to think we can control our fate and prevent terrible things from happening to us. We flat out deny allegations of sexual misconduct in churches. I'm certainly an example of what happens when those defense mechanisms don't work, when one faces head on the terror that is before you. I was miserable and terrified. Of course, there came a point when I finally chose to take advantage of some defense mechanisms, and for most of my adulthood, I've done my best to just not think about hell. After my trip to Hungary, I was simply emotionally worn out. As a consequence, I stopped being quite as evangelistic. I didn't feel quite the drive. Also, in evangelizing, you are forced to confront your belief that people are unsaved. That became increasingly uncomfortable. Of course, I felt guilt for my lackadaisical ways, but I tried to rationalize my behavior. I tried to tell myself I was "leading by example." I opened my mind to the possibility that there might be other Christians saved besides those in the church of Christ. I tried to convince myself of a final fair outcome by woodenly repeating "God will do what is right." At some point I stopped considering being re baptized. I now realize why. It was because I wasn't sure I wanted to repeat a ritual in which I was accepting a God that mercilessly sent the majority of people to hell. Did I really believe that such a God existed? Of course, all my worries of hell and doubts about God finally broke through my defenses, and here I am. Examining and evaluating them at the risk of hell itself. Through this process, I have lost most, (though not all) of my fear. For two years I have been questioning God in a way that before would have left me certain of my doom. I think this has desensitized me in large part to the fear. I haven't been avoiding hell through perfect Christian behavior, prayer, or continual evangelizing. In coming close to hell, really evaluating the doctrine and examining my beliefs and feelings about it as well as those of others, it's starting to lose its grip on me. I think I'm starting to see that it's nothing to fear.

In this evaluation process of mine, I realize part of my difficulty with hell is that it has put my religious beliefs in conflict with my moral beliefs about justice and love, my conscience, and my emotional responses to others. For my entire childhood, I assumed that my heart was out of line with my religious beliefs. Being angry or horrified that most of the world was going to hell was wrong because whatever God decrees is somehow right and holy, even if it makes no earthly sense. I am now beginning to turn the tables on this problem. Why can't it be that my doctrine is out of line with my heart? Maybe it feels unjust and unloving, because sending almost all humanity to hell, for all eternity, when they did not believe the right things and did not behave in the right way for 100 or fewer years, is not just or loving. I use to discount my emotions where understanding God is concerned, believing only the Bible should guide my beliefs. However, the truth is that emotions are an important information source and help guide our behavior and relationships with others. Our sense of compassion motivates us to care for others, our anger helps us defend ourselves, our fear causes us to flee danger, and our worry causes us to be cautious and make prudent plans. I have even been cautious in the past about using my conscience and moral beliefs to pass judgement on beliefs about God and the Bible. After all, my conscience can be "seared as with a hot iron" rendering it useless. And my moral nature is fallen, so how can I trust my revulsion at the genocide described in the Bible or in God sending the Hindu from 200 AD to hell for not believing in Jesus? "God's ways are not our ways." Maybe that's true, but in a different way. Maybe God's ways are not our ways because there is no hell. Maybe it's a figment of human imagination that God finds revolting. Maybe He wishes we'd listen to the consciences he gave us. Several of you voiced similar beliefs in your comments on the last blog post. I appreciate your collective input as it has opened me up to valuing more than just my intellect in resolving the dilemma of the doctrine of hell. That being said, I still plan to do more reading on the topic!:)

27 comments:

  1. DoorDoNot says:
    "In coming close to hell, really evaluating the doctrine and examining my beliefs and feelings about it as well as those of others, it's starting to lose its grip on me. I think I'm starting to see that it's nothing to fear."

    I think you hit the nail on the head here. I found that the closer I got to a particular fearsome doctrine, and the more I dissected an issue, tore it apart, examined its componant parts, learned of its history and interpretation over the years, and really studied in detail its constituents, the less fearful it became, and the easier it became to understand it, and even dismiss it.

    Fear is borne from ignorance. I believe Hell is no exception. Keep up the search - growth and maturity will surely follow.

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  2. DoOrDoNot,

    I resonate with so much of what you've said in this post. For so long I feared that my even questioning what I believe was the certain road to hell. In facing that fear I've had to really reexamine everything I believe. I feel as if I'm deconstructing my entire thought processes and having to rebuild them entirely from the ground up.

    If you don't mind my asking, what are the two books you've ordered on the history of hell. I think I'd like to read those myself.

    Thank you for your transparency and honesty as you deal with this. I've considered starting a blog myself to chart my journey. I really appreciate those who have gone before doing so. I know several have contemplated ending their blogs and some, like HeIsSailing, have stopped and restarted in a different direction. Thank you for helping a fellow traveler along this long and winding road.

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  3. The books I'll be reading include The Formation of Hell: Death and Retribution in the Ancient and Early Christian Worlds by Alan E. Bernstein
    and The History of Hell by Alice Turner.

    HeIsSailing, do you have any other resources you recommend reading on hell?

    D'Ma, I encourage you to start a blog. I sort of accidentally stumbled into it and I've found it helpful in clarifying my thinking and in finding a supportive group of friends.

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  4. Thank you for the information, DoOrDoNot. And I did take the plunge and start a blog. :)

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  5. DoOrDoNot asks:
    "HeIsSailing, do you have any other resources you recommend reading on hell? "

    I have never read a book on that subject, sorry to say. I have read a couple of books from Christian Universalists, that is, a denomination of Christianity which believes that all people will ultimately attain salvation. Some believe that nobody will spend a moment in Hell, but all will be reconciled to God, and others even believe that Hell does not exist at all. Since they do consider the Bible to be authoritative, and they do consider themselves Christians (although many Calvinists would disagree), this may not the kind of thing you are looking for, but I do find this kind of stuff interesting, and it may offer you a different perspective than you are used to hearing.

    One of the early founders of Christian Universalism is Hosea Ballou, and his groundbreaking book, 'A Treatise on Atonement' is HERE. I have read it, it is an older book so the language and style is kind of tough to get used to, but the main reason I recommend it is because it is short and you can download the whole thing for free.

    The book I really recommend is 'The Inescapable Love of God', by Thomas Talbott. Clearly written, and again, gives a perspective on the Bible that you will definitely not hear every day, but makes a lot of sense. You can find a pretty decent preview of the book HERE.

    So not really histories of Hell, instead I guess these are histories of ways Christians have attempted to deal with that dreadful belief. I found, especially Talbott's book really interesting.

    Hope that helps.

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  6. D'Ma
    I just checked out your blog, I like the background. For some reason, I wasn't able to post a comment there, but I'll be back!

    HeIsSailing,
    Thanks for the reading recommendations. I'll check them out. I don't know how different Universalists are from the Unitarian-Universalists, but I've actually been attending a congregation of the latter denomination on occasion.

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  7. DoOrDoNot, I attended a UU service once. I don't think they bare much resemblence to what was originally Christian Universalism. Unitarians were originally a denomination related to... I believe Congregationalists, similar to Puritans but with a different government structure, but Unitarians had the heretical view that the Trinity was un-biblical. Several of the early US presidents were Unitarian, notably John Adams. Anyway, today's UU denomination is no longer a Christian church, at least, I don't think they consider themselves Christian anymore.

    Sorry - I find 18th-19th century religious history in the US most interesting.

    Anyway, do you enjoy the UU services when you go? Sorry if this is going a bit too off-topic for you.

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  8. Sounds like your research and focus has been pretty one sided. If you do continue researching that way, there's almost no way that you will choose not to side with them. I don't know of any literature that I would personally recommend that leads in the opposite direction, tho.

    If you DO still believe in God, I would recommend that you start expecting an answer from Him - and ask (if you haven't - which you probably have). Most of my relatives are Church of Christ, so I know to an extent what kind of background you have religiously. They are very much into "do this and that" or go to hell - and they don't even believe you can KNOW you won't. So no wonder you always questioned getting re-baptized or re-saved. It also may make it hard for you to believe that God can or will answer you, but He can.

    Now, the way you feel about hell - disgusted and hoping that no one goes there (or do you hope that murders and rapists go there) - is the way that God thinks about Hell. For Christians that don't believe in Hell, they may have a new version of the word Perish (Maybe disappear for all eternity) but they still recognize that Jesus chose to die so that none would "perish" but would have everlasting life. (It says that He WILLS that NO ONE would "perish".) So He is actually far more against it than You. You went to another country and talked to people (which is good). He went to another reality and allowed Himself to be tortured and killed. (And He didn't stop by dying. He's still working.)

    I really think if you're not sure if you believe in God - that should be your focus first rather than Hell. But if you DO believe in God, I really recommend you take your quest

    I hope you don't mind me being more forthcoming in this reply than in the last. You can guess where I stand, now, on the question of hell. I prefer not to try to convince people of my views, but I feel like you're getting one-sided influence.

    On the question of Salvation ( a much more argued question among Christians ), I believe that Jesus came to give life. He said that He didn't come to do away with the law but to fulfill it - not follow it but fulfill it. Salvation is by grace through faith. If you have to work for your salvation then God didn't do it. You can probably think of lots of verses that seem to complicate this issue... But it's at least worth looking into further. What is Salvation, really?

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  9. I don't know as much as you, but I'm also interested in 18th and 19th century religious history, partly because my denomination (church of Christ) comes out of that period. Also, one of my favorite places in the world is the Shaker Village in Kentucky. I think of it as a beautiful place where everything, from the decor and furniture to the music reflect their values of industry, worship through work, simplicity, and modesty. It all really appealed to me.

    I do enjoy the UU services. It's relaxing to worship in a setting where I'm not constantly having internal dialogue opposing everything I'm hearing in the service. However, I love music and aesthetically, that's been a bit disappointing. Not only that, but many of the songs are sung to nature itself. They seem to have replaced the Trinity with Mother Nature. We human beings love our projections, don't we? Anyway, I do appreciate the way they draw from a variety of religious traditions. I think there's wisdom to be gained in them all. I've never before thought of Halloween as offering an opportunity for a meaningful worship service, but the UU church certainly honored the day in a thoughtful way. I wrote about it in a post here right after Halloween. I may have actually written a couple of posts on my experience with the UU church. My husband felt horribly uncomfortable at that halloween service and expected the pastor to fly off on a broom with her black cat at the end of worship. He didn't count the experience as worship. I would agree that they aren't Christian. If there's any holy book they are reluctant to quote from, it's the Bible, esp. the New Testament. You won't hear the name of Jesus and even the term God is used somewhat sparingly. They don't pray, but they do share concerns and praises and light candles for them.

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  10. I learned about the discrepancies about hell in a college lit course...how hell was a New Testament construct. Though I still retained faith in Christianity, I think subconsciously, hell lost some of its draw for me - or some of its scariness. I think I've gradually been moving to the universalist camp since then (without reading anything, but because it fits my moral compass more). Yet, I always thought my views were incompatible with Christianity. When I switched from a S. Baptist church to a PCA church 4 years ago, one of the main attractions was the lack of alter call and lack of hell-fear tactics. So you can imagine my dismay when I learned about Calvinism and started to detects the references to the "elect". I too would be interested, at some point, in learning different theories about hell. Like you, I've attached the doctrine of Hell to Christianity, so if disbelieve in hell, I feel I have to abandon Christianity.

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  11. Israel,
    Somehow, your comment wasn't visible the last time I posted a comment here and I didn't get notified via email, so I'm just now seeing it.

    Your moniker threw me off briefly, you were usedearplugs last time, right?

    Please feel free to share your views openly here. I appreciate your comments. It's true that over half of what I read is from a perspective other than my conservative Christian upbringing. That is because I'm making up for all the years my study was truly one sided. However, I continue to alternate my reading to get a variety of views on many topics. For example, after reading Crossan on the resurrection, I spent time reading NT Wright. I admit that it is easier to read where my preferences are, though.

    So far, I still think it makes sense that there is something beyond us, bigger than us, though I even question that at times. I'm much less sure that God has any interest and/or intervenes in the world though. I pray on occasion, but not much. I use to pray more, but it's very hard to do. When I do pray, I still ask for God to help me know/find Him and live and be in harmony with His will. I can't say I expect an answer, but I hope for one.

    I don't think I'll find my answer to the existence of God in any book. I've spent two years attempting that. I think it comes down to personal experience and one's preferred world view. More than trying to answer whether or not there is a God, I'm wanting to know if the God of Christianity is the God. And if Jesus is God incarnate.

    If you'd like to continue this discussion, I'd be interested in knowing how you reconcile us all being saved by grace, with there being a hell. Does it exist but is empty because of Christ's death/resurrection? Or there something we have to do in terms of accepting grace that doesn't qualify as works? You asked what salvation is, but I don't have an answer. I would certainly like to know.

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  12. I believe in grace by faith. In John 5, Jesus says that Whoever hears His words and believe Who sent Him will not be "condemned" or "judged" but has already passed from death to life (also John 3:18). I do think that just SAYING you believe in God and actually believing in God are different things. I think you'll be able to tell the difference, and don't need to wonder or worry. The guy who said, "I believe but help my unbelief," had some of both but it was enough.

    But I do believe that hell exists and that people do go there. I'm not totally sure what all I believe about what exactly hell is... But despite any details, I'd say it's worth avoiding.

    As far as what Salvation is... I think Salvation is something more than just not going to Hell.

    OH! And yes... Israel and Usedearplugs are both me.

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  13. Just had to share this, after what Israel said above about Salvation being more than just not going to Hell.

    This is today's post from my spiritual director's blog, Journey in Faith, at www.jeffmarx.blogspot.com

    I think that the saddest thing about church life is how little "life" there is in "the church." I am no expert, but I will share some reasons why I think this is so and what we can do. I may be posting on this theme in general for awile.

    1. The Greek word for heal is sozo. It also means save. As we read English translations of the Bible most of us do not know that. The word "save" is a technical term in the South. It means, for many people, "going to heaven." Hence, the question, "are you saved?" While going to heaven does sound very appealing, that does not seem to be a central function of Jesus' ministry. Jesus never asks the question, "If you died tonight do you know where you would spend eternity?"

    2. sozo in the sense of being rescued from danger, healed or proptected from harm has a different feel for me. It is the idea that creation matters. It is a reminder that God made this world and He intends for us to live in this world. In the Bible, the New Jerusalem comes down from heaven to earth. In the Bible, Jesus will return to earth to raise the dead. I am sure it will be different from now, but it is not some purely spiritual existence.

    3. Because we live in a fallen world (ruled by Satan, sin and death) we regularly experience suffering of mind, body, heart and spirit. For some people life is a terrible burden. Sadder still, we create suffering by our own actions, hurting others and hurting ourselves. We make choices which damage the world. So it can feel almost hopeless. [I wrote some time ago about systems theory and the law of unintended consequences. One corollary of that is Today's solution is tomorrow's problem]

    4. A review of history reveals that peace and prosperity are not the norm. Conflicts with nature and with each other is the norm. War, famine, earth quake, flood, economic collapse occur on a regular basis to upset our tranquil lives. In places like Haiti it seems to occur non-stop. Our existence is insecure on this planet, even if for most of 'us' the last fifty years have been relatively pleasant.

    5. The "healing ministry" of Jesus is an activation of that future (hope) in the present time. Physical health is being 'saved from physical illness,' mental/emotional health is being 'saved from illness of soul,' forgiveness and renewal is being 'saved from sin,' resurrection is 'being saved from death'.... The list is as long as anything that ails or harms us.

    6. The task of the church is to proclaim that Jesus can do this (save/heal) now as a (partial) preview of the ultimate salvation/rescue/healing in the Final Renewal of Things. Unfortunately, too much of the church membership does not see the vocation of proclamation to include not only word, but also deed. In Acts it is called "signs and wonders" and it seems to have been one reason why the church was energized. I will share more on that later. It is enough to ponder the question: what would it be like if our local churches acted like they were on a mission from God?

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  14. Thanks, Sheila, for that blog post. Christianity does become more meaningful if we are concerned about salvation in a more holistic way. I think it's easier to see this in the teachings of Jesus than in reading the apostle Paul.

    Israel, Thanks for your response. We can at least agree on the fact that salvation is more than avoiding hell. I'm still stuck on the idea that anything is required to receive grace, even if it's "just" faith. It takes me back to all my thoughts on the basic inequity inherent in the doctrine of salvation and damnation. But that is my issue, not yours.

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  15. You're quite a person! God guide you on your journey!

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  16. Thanks for your interesting post. Sheila shared it with me.
    I came to the conclusion long ago that Hell describes a broken relationship. We are offered rescue from hell by mercy and love. But God seems willing to allow us to reject Him and I think forever-rejection/hell is real.
    I know God's heart is for all to live with Him in perfect joy. I know God wants all people with Him. I do not rule out Hell as an option which people can and do take. These are deep questions.

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  17. Ran across the site from a chain of links: I hope you don't mind a newbie commenting.

    I'm with several of the others above: God in Christ seems pretty committed to bringing people back to him if they'll come, so I take Matthew 25 as being about those who never had the chance to learn about Jesus (they're pretty surprised by the outcome, I notice).

    As to the nature of hell I am blessedly ignorant of any first-hand knowledge, and pretty sure that the descriptions in the Bible are symbolic of something outside our ordinary experience, but I'd think that being separated from our creator/maintainer couldn't be something good.

    Parenthetically, there's a little conflation of uses of the word "Christian" that bedevils some of these kinds of discussions. The way I solved it was to use three different labels: "professing Christian," "acceptable to the church," and "acceptable to God." I take "professing Christian" as somebody who assents to the Apostle's Creed (nice and simple). "Acceptable to God" has pretty obvious meaning, though we don't get to find out who's who until later. "Acceptable to the church" should also be pretty clear; though sometimes the reasons for the unacceptability aren't good.
    This way I can focus on issues more precisely. Roman Catholic and Southern Baptist are "professing Christian;" even those who never darken a church door until funeral time. They'd each be reluctant to accept the other as teachers in the church, and both would invoke a little church discipline on Jeffrey Dahmer until he changed his habits; so some people are not "acceptable to the church" in belief or in practice (in different ways). The fissioning of churches can mean that Jack can find a group somewhere that will accept him no matter what he believes or does--which muddies the meaning of my term somewhat, but not fatally. And we can all pray that the circle of those "acceptable to God" is as wide as possible; even including those we don't want teaching Sunday School.

    You'll notice I didn't say "practicing Christian." Figuring that one out requires knowledge of a person's spiritual journey that I don't generally have (though sometimes its pretty obvious). My metrics aren't always God's: He may consider Joe's attitudes toward his boss more significant than the things I can see and hear around Joe.

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  19. James,
    Always happy to have new folks commenting. I do like the distinctions you make and agree that we conflate the terms you mentioned inappropriately. Certainly, in my childhood experience, "acceptable to the church=acceptabe to God" and I can no longer buy into that idea. I'm happy you've had no "first-hand knowledge" of hell! And I hope, of course, that is the case for us all, for all eternity.

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  20. Jeff,
    Thanks for stopping by. I think highly of you given Sheila's respect for you. I don't think there are many people who can surpass the depth and beauty of spirit she possesses. My husband and I do read your blog some and he has commented in the past, I know.

    Your conceptualization of hell sounds a lot like CS Lewis.Does he influence your thoughts on this matter?

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  21. There are several ways to think about hell, and I've been puzzling through one approach. I'm not able to wrap my mind around the nature of God's knowledge--never will be--and that's pivotal to this approach. I'm not saying the juridical model of the judgment is wrong--it may prove to be the best description our minds can handle. But there are a few details that have me looking at another view.

    Works like this: Creation and maintenance are the same operation viewed different ways. I assume we have free will in some things, which means our decisions play a role in that maintenance--we are "co-creators." Some of our decisions have been evil--contrary to our nature and to the nature of God, whom we have thereby tried to involve in our crimes. The customary view is that these are redeemed in Christ for those willing to accept it. No problem there, but I wonder what happens with the evil that refuses to be reconciled. Is it endured, or is the new heaven and earth (and the destruction of death and hell) a remaking of the world with the old evil judged and in some sense stripped out? You see where understanding God's knowledge comes in here--understanding in what sense He can eternally know about and endure evil.

    The view of judgment that God endures the wicked until the day of judgment at which time He will endure them no more is a view that is easy to understand, and useful enough for encouragement and warning; but it leaves the world as we have made it as something that He timelessly endures eternally. (Time-based language is hard to work with.) An eternal hell containing rebels is also maintained by God, and also in some sense endured by Him.

    Our evil is such an integral part of history that the only way to get it out demands a complete remake of the world. If our lives are one of the things we "co-create" what then becomes of the actions and decisions that have made up our lives; our selves? There've been a few people, if you contemplated getting rid of what was evil and what was ignoble, would leave you wondering what was left. (When I think how many OK things I've done with mixed motives, I wonder what that rule would do with me.) In such a case hell is the judgment and destruction, and then the evil is not and never was. And the evil one is not and never was?

    I don't know. Maybe I should spend a little time with Psalm 131.

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  22. CS Lewis is one of my bigger influences. I am also reading more OT which makes the discussion more interesting (in light of a thorough lack of interest in the subject of Hell found there!)

    The model of "relationship" seems more helpful to me. If God really does desire that all people come to know Him then it seems contradictory to draw a circle around most of humanity and label them "fire wood for hell." The trouble with dividing up good and bad is, that while there are some outliers whom seem safe bets, like Mother Teresa and Adolph Hitler, we cannot ever know the soul/heart of another. Also, our measuring tools do not provide near enough information when they deal with a muddled soul like my own (se James above for a wonderful expression of that).
    I think the Reformation provided a solution for some of the church's biggest problems in the Middle Ages. Unfortunately, in systems, "today's solution is tomorrow's problem." I daresay many of the issues that you are raising are a function of the new problems created in the Reformation... We seem to be enterring a new phase of church history. I assume we are going to create a host of new issues with our contemporary solutions! Peace!

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  23. I realize this comment comes about a month after your original article, but I thought I'd comment anyway since I came across it.

    Thank you for your thoughtful article.

    I've been reading "Surprised by Hope" by Tom Wright, and would recommend it as food for thought.

    I agree we should face this issue of hell, rather than using avoidance tactics, since we can't really face should a horror. Facing it is to face our worse fears, which is why we need to face it.

    You talk about your emotional response to this doctrine, and I identify with this, but I think we need to try and see what the Bible is really saying.

    For example, if the issue were really were about an eternal lake of fire for all who are not "saved" wouldn't the emphasis in Jesus' ministry have been somewhat different? Wouldn't this doctrine have been the priority, the most important issue, His starting place? But in Mark's gospel he begins by announcing the kingdom and calls for repentance. "Hell" (butnot the lake of fire type) doesn't get a mention until chapter 9, and then only as a (severe) warning to his disciples. If Mark is writing to his early Christian community (a reasonable assumption,) then hell will not loom large, at least in their evangelistic preaching.

    I'm not a Universalist, and I don't think we can read the Bible in this way with integrity. But I think we should reevaluate the doctrine of hell, not to make it say what we want it to say(on the emotional level,) but to recognize the Jewish Bible may well not be saying quite the same thing as presupposed by many modern-day Christians influenced by centuries of tradition (especially as influenced by Greek thought.)

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  24. Nicodemus,
    I think you're right that one would expect Jesus to have taught exclusively on hell if that were the primary reason for his being here. However, if any one ends up in hell, I should think it would be a major teaching. What do you think the Jewish Bible was saying? thanks for stopping by.

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  25. Ive been dealing with the fear of hell and its the worst feeling ive ever had I didnt use to feel this way Iuse to always talkl to God everymorning about everything anything I did i would always say if its your will lord let me get this job or Father Im having a personality conflict with this person help me with this,but since 9/11 something hit me Iheard voices I went over a month with almost no sleep and praying and going over everysin i could think of and confessing it,asking Jesus to come into my heart, I just want to be with him I feel seperated from him and God even my family I want to be more than just salvation from hell I really want to know and experience God and Jesus I want a Daddy who comforts me,I dont remember what a Daddy was like he died years ago I need to be saved from this emotional and mental anquish,I love him because he is and he is the only person who ever loved me and im so sorry for things ive done and said to him or about him i know hes awesome even though im not experincing him or his love right now. And I dont like being so caught up in what i am or am not feeling.and my obsessions.i feel like i am in a sort of hell now.I do cry out I believe help my unbelief.and I hate it that i have any traces of unbelief.

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  26. (((Anon))) I'll be praying for you. I think you might be struggling with some form of OCD(obsessive compulsive disorder) It's not a spiritual failing on your part at all, but a form of mental illness that could happen to anyone. I have a dear brother with this challenge.

    Seeing a counselor, and even getting on medication can help with this. God can work through all kinds of means in our lives.

    Love,
    Rebecca.

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  27. Reading C.S. Lewis's book years ago, "The Great Divorce," really made an impact in my thinking in this. You might find it interesting, and helpful, DoOrDoNot.

    Basically, I do feel that all "salvation," is in Christ, but I would not take this to mean that everyone apart from conscious and intentional faith is heading for Hell. I honestly don't think that this is even the historic position of the church. To me it's not even a matter of some are in, and others are out at all. It's more a matter of the direction people are moving and why, either toward or away from the goodness, and love of God.

    Definitely feel the images used to describe Ghenna in the Scripture are more figurative than literally true.

    The bottom line for me is that seeing the deep love and mercy of God in Christ, I feel that we can so trust Him in this whole thing.

    Rebecca.

    Rebecca.

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