Saturday, January 8, 2011

How Hell Tormented My Childhood

This sounds like an uplifting post, doesn't it? *Grin* I have put off writing about hell, because it is such an emotionally complicated topic and because, I fear, it will only serve to highlight my neurotic tendencies! However, it's clear that I need to work through my beliefs and emotional reactions on this topic. As noted in a recent post by DagoodS, it's often hard to let go of ideas that have influenced us so strongly. Though my study of hell has largely led me to believe that it is a concept humanity developed over time in a variety of contexts, I still have lingering worries about the possibility of its existence. And this serves to impact both my and others' ability to question and reevaluate their faith. At the same time, I don't want to reject aspects of Christianity just because I don't like them. What if the truth is, in fact, a bitter pill to swallow? Pretending it doesn't exist won't make it go away. Denial doesn't work as a long term strategy. In future posts, that will become clear in my case. That being said, I am hoping, through my writing, to more fully understand and integrate my studies, personal experiences, and emotional reactions on the topic of hell to come to a conclusion about its nature and existence. This is my first post in this effort. I'll begin by giving the context in which I first heard about hell and the way I responded to it as a child and adolescent.

As a child, I was a worrier. In first grade I worried that I would fail if I didn't make straight A's. In third grade I worried about selling enough girl scout cookies. Nothing was too trivial for me to obsess about. I was serious about doing everything right, even perfectly, if it was possible. So it comes as no surprise that this carried over into my religion.

For me, Christianity was about believing and doing the right things to go to heaven and avoid everlasting punishment. This was partly due to my personality but mostly due to the denomination in which I was raised (church of Christ). Hell was an ever present worry for me throughout my childhood. And not just worry really. More like a gnawing fear that I was able to suppress better some times more than others. By 6th grade, I stressed out enough that I developed ulcers. It was during that time period that I began my persistent discussions with my parents about hell. At one point they asked me if I wanted to go talk to a therapist to help me not be so anxious. That only made me feel as if I was deficient in some way, so through tears I promised myself and them that I would get better if they would not take me to a therapist. I had been baptized in fifth grade to save me from the fires of hell, but that did not serve to quell my fears. Did I carry out my baptism correctly, or was God displeased in some way? My church taught that we were saved through baptism, but we also had to live in obedience to God. Therefore, I couldn't rest easy in my salvation.

I talked with both my dad and my preacher about whether or not I should get rebaptized just to make sure my baptism was acceptable to God. What if I really didn't understand what I was doing at the time? What if I wasn't fully immersed? What about my sinful attitude during my baptism? I remember being irritated that a "frequent flyer" came forward to repent the Sunday I also came forward to be baptized. How vain to want the moment for myself! Anyway, I didn't want any of those things to send me to hell because they rendered my baptism invalid in some way.


I had additional reasons to doubt my salvation as well. What if, during bedtime prayers, I forgot to ask for forgiveness for rolling my eyes at my mom and then mysteriously died in the night? Would I go to heaven or hell? Although my worries from childhood seem simplistic and naive, they weren't far from those expressed in church by adults. I remember Bible class discussions where church members discussed whether or not one would go to hell if there was any unrepented sin. It just didn't seem possible to repent continually while also going about my daily tasks, but I did try my best.

Of course, I didn't just worry about myself. I didn't want anyone to burn in hell forever. This made me evangelistic, despite my extreme introversion. I went on every campaign and door knocking activity our church initiated. In Jr. high and high school I conducted Bible studies with adults in their home. I started a Bible study group at my school. When my family visited my grandma up in Detroit during the summers, I would talk with my cousins about God and salvation, which prompted one to be baptized after one visit. These efforts weren't easy and I berated myself often for not being more open and bold about my faith. I felt horribly self-conscious but I also felt horribly guilty for keeping the saving truth from those destined for hell. It was especially overwhelming because in my world view, almost everyone was destined for hell. (Narrow is the way that leads to life and few there be who find it.) My church taught that only Christians who followed the Bible as my denomination did were acceptable to God. This meant that over 99% of the world was going to hell. Not an easy concept to live with. I couldn't remain content to evangelize in my country. I had to move on to the world. Especially countries where people had less access to The Truth. I determined to do mission work. I finally got the opportunity for two summers during college when I visited Hungary with a mission team. I remember being very overwhelmed with the lost state of humanity as the plane touched down the first time I landed there. It was an impossible task. Why would God create humanity only to send almost every single one of us to hell for all eternity? Yes, he sent his son to die for us but why make it so hard for us to know this and accept this gift of salvation through baptism? Why make the salvation of others dependent on the mission efforts of the few saved individuals, who mainly happened to live in America during the 19th and 20th centuries (those from the church of Christ denomination)? These are the questions I began to ponder in Hungary, when the burden of hell became to great for me to bear any longer. I'll explore my response to these questions more in another post.

30 comments:

  1. Eeeks. My condolences. I don't think Catholics are near as hyper about this issue as other denominations. I've rarely thought much about it other than when I'm on an airplane and think about crashing.

    On a slightly related note (and I do look forward to your response to your various ending questions), it's quite interesting to note the response of other denominations to these questions when one asks them in difficulty. I find that the answer is quite often that the one struggling is [obviously] not understanding what hell is, or who Jesus warned about it, or which sin is the most important to avoid, or which acts grant one the most "surefire protection" from it.

    This topic sure highlights the apparent confusion surrounding the nature of eternal punishment/reward -- who gets it, under what circumstances, what are the conditions, etc. At a local atheist meetup group, I heard a talk highlighting the impossibility of reconciling all of Jesus' various statements about avoiding hell/attaining heaven. For example, some are inclusively prescriptive (you have to do x), while some are exclusively prescriptive (you have to avoid y), and there's a whole lot of others in between. It's not clear how to draw a venn diagram with a possible solution guaranteeing the right approach!

    In any case, I'm hoping that your re-evaluation has brought you some much needed peace about this topic in some form or another.

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  2. Hendy,
    It's a good thing that in childhood I didn't seriously consider the fact that my religion could be wrong while another might be right. Trying to sift through all the different paths to salvation while in Jr. High might have given me a stroke!I wouldn't know which souls to save or how to save them. Even if one wanted to protect themselves against hell by being "saved" in multiple ways, at some point, the path to salvation offered by one religion would lead to damnation by another religion (I'm sure Islam frowns upon worshiping Jesus as God.)

    Thanks for your kind words. I'm slowly gaining peace and hopefully that will continue.

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  3. Oh, I'm so sorry to read this. This is religion at it's worst, when it engenders fear as a means to control. Everyone doesn't react with the seriousness that you did, but religions can certainly encourage you to be that serious.

    I'm a Roman Catholic. I don't agree with much of the dogma of my church. I've read a great deal, studied and have, as I believe we all must, come to terms with these issues. For me it comes out thusly:

    No God is worth worship unless the deity is one of Love and Creation.

    God creates perfectly if I am to believe that God is all powerful,and omniscient. If God knows all, and gives his creation freedom to come to Him through faith, then he knows we must fail as much as we succeed.

    To punish us for doing what is natural is sadistic, and not loving, and therefore not God.

    I don't believe in Hell other than as a state of mind that I inflict upon myself when I deny my spiritual life and God. God always loves and always waits to be invited to communication with his creation. He works within us when we offer ourselves openly to his goodness. He serves as silent witness in grief when we fail, but continually calls us to our higher self.

    Some of us succeed better than others, but I am convinced no one suffers any permanent alienation. We have a choice to live grace filled lives as humans or we can wait, be more or less in pain and misery now, and only attain peace and joy upon death and return to the Creator.

    Just my take. I am glad I found your blog. I have two blogs: http://afeatheradrift.wordpress.com which contains my "autobiography...the last 10 chapters or so, are my spiritual journey.

    My other blog is http://witshadows.wordpress.com and deals with my life in the Roman Catholic church.

    Blessings.

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  4. Although I am pretty solidly in the agnostic camp now, I was a liberal Catholic for most of my adult life and I raised my children that way.

    When my daughter was in middle school she encountered evangelical Christians on the internet who told her that God would send her to hell because she wasn't really a Christian. Rather upset, she came to me and asked me whether I thought it could be true. I told her that there was no way to say for sure until we died, but that it was impossible for me to reconcile the idea of a God who sent people to hell with anything I understood about the love that a parent has for a child. If God could act in a way that made absolutely no sense to me, then there was no point in trying to make sense of anything. So while I couldn't prove that God didn't send people to hell, I couldn't see any way to live a life that made any sense if he did, so I didn't think I should worry about it and I didn't think she should either. That seemed to satisfy her.

    My wife and I describe ourselves as agnostics these days and my son considers himself an atheist. However, my daughter is twenty-four and still goes to mass every Sunday.

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  5. I had similar anxieties when I was younger. I've since come to reject Hell as both a biblical teaching and as a tenet of Christianity. Your post here makes a pretty case in demonstrating how profoundly damaging to one's psyche and mental well-being this doctrine is when it is actually believed.

    Personally, I don't think most people who claim to believe in Hell even really do deep down, otherwise they'd react much the same way you did. There is no other rational response if you *actually, truly believe* that God has prepared a place where you will receive eternal life for the purpose of unending horrendous torture. If true, this ought to be the single most important teaching in Christianity.

    Imagine what you would do if someone you knew was dousing themselves in gasoline right in front of you and about to set themselves on fire. You would do whatever it took at that moment and neither rest nor sleep until you had rescued them that situation — using whatever force necessary. If we really thought a fate a trillion times — no, a trillion trillion trillion times — worse than this was hanging over everyone's heads, including ours, it would be of the utmost folly to focus on insignificant doctrines like being nice, feeding the hungry, loving one another, etc. You would be a wicked person for wasting time at work or at the movies when there were people about to burn alive forever.

    In short, there is nothing righteous, nothing of value in the teaching of an eternal Hell. It's not even possible to entertain the notion without a high degree of cognitive dissonance.

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  6. DoOrDoNot - I sympathize 100% with your upringing. Though from a different denomination (s. baptist), the fear of hell and rapture were ingrained on me from an early age. It makes me sad. What made us eventually leave our last church (a pca church) what the doctrine of calvinism. The doctrine of hell is bad enough as it is, but imagine a hell that God actually predistines people to, by only electing some to go to heaven. I could not believe in a God like this, and coupled with my lingering doubts about Genesis, it was just too much to bear (and so my quest was started). I've become a universalist now, I guess, but I'm not sure if there is even a heaven, although I'd like to hope that there is something else. If I had to believe in hell, I couldn't even be an agnostic Christian. I agree with Sherry that hell is the torture we often put ourselves on earth when in despair.

    As an aside, I'm still struggling off and on. Just tonight, I was learning about Islam in the "What your first grader needs to know book"...and there goes my doubts again. The books states that the God in Judaism, Islam and Christianity is one and the same God. That is fine by me, except for the fact that each religion would be very offended at this comment.

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  7. Sherry,
    Thanks for stopping by. I agree that hell as I was taught is inconsistent with the concept of an all loving, omnicient God. My question, though, becomes, is God, in fact, all loving and all knowing? And further, is there a God? My question about hell has led to an avalanche of questions. I'm trying not to throw the baby out with the bathwater, but it's not easy. I'll check out your blogs.

    Vinny,
    It does seem incredible that we justify God doing things that we ourselves would find heinous and immoral. We often shrug our shoulders with a "His ways are not our ways."

    Paul D.
    I believe you are right that most people either don't really believe in hell, don't allow themselves to think about it, or find some defense mechanism to protect themselves from the cognitive dissonance. As you and I can attest, it's not an easy thing to live life perpetually terrified.

    Like A Child,
    I am thankful that I was not raised with Calvinistic beliefs. At least for awhile I could hold on to the idea that somehow people freely chose the fate of hell. Of course, I don't really believe we have completely free will, so if hell is real, then some of us are more likely to wind up in hell than others. All sorts of things are out of our control: what religion we are raised in, what continent and what time period we are born in, whether or not we are predisposed to violent behavior, whether or not we have a skeptical mind, etc.

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  8. DoOrDoNot,

    To give you another perspective as to the various fundamental households within America—as a child I was not too scared of Hell. We were raised in a Calvinist environment, and it was assumed we fell on the “correct” side of election. We were saved. The sun comes up in the east; my family was all going to heaven. That simple.

    The only sermons I recall had to do with other people going to hell. You know—nasty heathens. Bike gangs. Prisoners. Catholics, Jews and Pentecostals. But it was really all their fault, ‘cause they were deliberately not picking Jesus. So that’s O.K.

    This was so nonchalantly presented, with such quiet assurance, no one questioned it. Every funeral at our church—the person was going to heaven. Funerals for extended family members who “didn’t know Jesus”…they were not.

    I don’t even remember hell being described, much beyond “lake of fire” but more often “other place.”

    What I WAS terrified of, because we liked to talk about it so much, was the Rapture. You knew if all your friends disappeared, and you were left standing…that was it. And we didn’t particularly paint it you had a second chance. If you missed the first boat, you had (at best) 7 years of torture, beheadings, famine, pestilence, plague and smog. And then…well…you weren’t going to heaven, that’s for sure!

    I remember if my mom got out of sight for a few minutes at the store, my heart would start to race and I would frantically look for her (not saying anything because doubt is BAD) and upon finding her would have such overwhelming relief. I didn’t miss it.

    Or if I arrived home, and no one was there when I expected them to be, I would start calling friends “just to see” if they had been snatched up without me.

    That Rapture thing really spooked me.

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  9. Interesting, DagoodS. We didn't have a belief in the rapture, so I was spared that worry. And I don't find that I worry about it now. We are biased in favor of doctrines we have been taught. I certainly don't give the same weight to other denomination's doctrines regarding punishment and end times that I give to my own. I think I should learn something from this.

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  10. It's brave of you to even admit questioning and at the same time it's extremely wise of you to be careful not to throw something out just because you don't like it.

    I definitely felt like you a lot as a kid. Worrying about if you did everything right - even repenting right. Really, I think the question you are dealing with, or at least were at the time was more of a question of what Salvation is and how you can attain it. ~~Grace alone? Works? Grace followed by demanded perfection?~~

    At the same time, I read a blog a few months ago that for the first time made me really question why and if I believe in hell. I had to really begin some soul searching and Word searching... And I'm not going to tell you what I found!

    The most important thing is this... Jesus didn't come to put a heavy yoke of law on us. He came to free us from that yoke. They already had the law. He fulfilled it.

    It does still seem very complicated sometimes... I still have questions about a lot.

    I enjoy reading your posts and look forward to more! Thanks!

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  11. Thanks for commenting, Usedearplugs. Your moniker makes me smile. Very unique.

    I must say that I do wonder about what salvation really is if there is no hell. If there is nothing to be saved from, then what is Christianity about? What about Christ's death on the cross? As little sense as Christianity makes with a hell, I wonder if it makes just as little sense without. I just don't know.

    It's always nice to meet another person who is willing to reflect on his/her beliefs. Thanks for reading my posts!

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  12. The Jews have managed to believe in God for several millennia without needing a Hell to be saved from.

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  13. Paul D,
    It's also my understanding that eternal punishment is not part of Jewish beliefs. At least in the Old Testament, "salvation" seemed to refer to the earthly salvation of the nation of Isreal from her enemies.

    However, that still leaves my question about Christianity. I was taught that Jesus died to save us from eternal punishment. If there is no hell, then what do you understand the point of Jesus's death/resurrection to be? I'm trying to make sense of it. What does salvation refer to in the New Testament?

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  14. Thanks DoOrDoNot for the article on Hell. You and I had similar experiences growing up. I was raised with fire and brimestone preaching, a belief in the rapture and the soon-coming of Jesus, and I once scared myself witless by convincing myself that I blasphemed the Holy Ghost (a sure way of boarding the Etermal Damnation Express).

    I once went on a mission trip to southern Florida just after Hurricane Andrew in... 1992 I think. Like your trip to Hungary, this one depressed me more than anything else. It was a miserable experience. What was it about Hungary that depressed you so? Was it because you learned that religious beliefs differ in different parts of the world?

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  15. DoOrDoNot,

    In regard to your response to Paul D,this is also I question that I have. I struggle with the fact that Jews were/are not overly concerned with converting people (periods in history where they were more so exist but they were not the norm, at least that i am aware of.) Then I wonder about,as Christianity came out of Judaism, where the idea of hell came from. I've heard it may have been borrowed from Zoroastrianism?) If we are to look through our Jewish lenses; Judaism is meant partly to help people live ethically as well as worship properly. So... Is Christianity meant, really, for us to live ethically and this is the main thrust? It does call into question why Jesus would have had to arrive in the first place. This I can't quite get my brain totally around. I also have difficulty with the idea that God seemed to go along, making covenants with the Jews "for all time" or whatever the verbiage is; and it seems to me at least, he kind of takes a hard turn at the New Testament and says, wait, no, all i need now is for you to believe THIS. Oh well, this is not helping....

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  16. IsToo,

    This is something I've been wondering about myself. In my Southern Baptist Church the Jews are always painted as having missed the Messiah because they were looking for some military leader. Having spoken with a Rabbi and checked out several Jewish websites that's not entirely true. Also having checked further into the historicity of Judaism it's not as if gentiles were excluded from their thoughts of the afterlife. There are actually 7 Noahide laws that gentiles were generally expected to follow that flow out of the laws that God gave to the Israelites. The more I check into all of this the more confused I get, because according to that thought it makes no sense to me that God would have sent a Messiah for penal substituion or one so obscure to His "chosen people" in order to "graft in" the gentiles. The more I look at the whole thing the more it appears that greek mythology plays largely into the New Testament traditions.

    I may be missing something here because I'm only just beginning to check these things out. But the more I step back and look at things the less sense some things seem to make.

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  17. It is fascinating how different people react to the same fear mongering. Three of my sisters went to the same Catholic girls high school in the 1960's and heard the same lectures about sexual purity from the nuns. Two of them took those lectures with the grain of salt they deserved given their source while the third was racked with guilt every time she went out with her boyfriend in high school and felt the influence of the indoctrination well into adulthood.

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  18. HeIsSailing,
    I like your "eternal damnation express." That could be turned into a church hymn I think! If I had convinced myself that I had committed "the unpardonable sin" I'm sure I would have been found in a corner rocking back and forth somewhere.

    What Hungary did was give me a powerful visual image of the sheer number of people who were going to hell. It was one thing to contemplate most of humanity being condemned in the abstract, but it was much more emotional to contemplate it while facing it head on. Also, I think I felt responsible for the entire country for some narcisistic reason. It's a bit much to feel guilt over an entire country of lost souls.

    IsToo,
    It does seem like God took a hard turn in the NT, though maybe really it was St. Paul. When I reread some of Jesus's teaching, esp the sermon on the mount, I don't know that I come away thinking he was out to create Christianity. I have found it instructive and interesting to look at different conceptualizations of Jesus, such as Ehrman's view of Him as an apocalyptic prophet, or Crossan's view of Him as a Jewish cynic. One question just begets another, doesn't it?

    D'Ma,
    You raise good points about what God needed or didn't need to do on behalf of the Gentiles. Is there anything in the Old Testament that indicates it was considered provisional until something better came along? I need to study that myself, but off the top of my head I'm only thinking of New Testament verses that take that view.

    Vinny,
    I was always dismayed growing up that more people weren't as concerned about hell as I was. Though part of me wishes I hadn't been so concerned, the conflict it caused me led be to begin questioning my faith. And that, I think, is a good thing.

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  19. DoOrDoNot,

    I've found it very interesting in speaking to a Jewish Rabbi on what they are looking for in a Messiah. They're not looking for a man born of a virgin for one. They think of that as a pagan myth. In regards to IsToo's comment about Jews not trying to actively convert people, my new Rabbi friend tells me that in fact they discourage a gentile from converting. Once you've converted you must follow all 613 laws. So they feel it's better to remain a gentile. Their view of the afterlife is much different than ours. I don't understand it completely yet, but I have plans to meet with this Rabbi again. I just want to gain a better understanding of their culture and their customs because I think it sheds a lot of light on things. And like you, I can't think of any Old Testament verses that speak to that. In fact all the Old Testament verses that come to mind speak of a much different Messiah than the one that actually did come so I can see how the Jews missed it if it is Jesus.

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  20. D'Ma,

    I'd be interested to know what tradition the Rabbi you are speaking with comes from, i.e. Orthodox, Conservative, Reformed, etc. It's something honestly I have thought of doing myself at some point. If you like to read, I highly recommend any books by Rabbi Joseph Telushkin. I find his work is pretty useful for folks like us.

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  21. IsToo,

    I'll find out when I speak with him next. Thanks for the tip on the books.

    If anyone else would like to chime in with questions I'd be glad to ask them on your behalf and mine as well. You may think of questions I haven't. I'm trying to come up with a good list before I meet with him again.

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  22. D'Ma,
    I'd definitely be interested in hearing more about your conversations with the rabbi, especially his understanding of the Messiah, what salvation means, and what the afterlife is like.

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  23. I came across these posts re hell, that put a nail in the coffin of the whole doctrine for me;)

    http://craigbenno1.wordpress.com/2010/10/05/does-scripture-really-teach-the-doctrine-of-hell/

    http://diglotting.com/2010/12/06/mondays-with-moltmann-on-the-logic-of-hell/

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  24. good links, Like a Child, thanks. By the way, I'm glad you're continuing to blog. I know you've expressed some weariness about it all and I understand. But I would certainly miss you!

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  25. "I know you've expressed some weariness about it all and I understand. But I would certainly miss you!"

    Same here! I'm glad to have found some "friends" though not necessarily under these circumstances. But I am ever so thankful to have found you all.

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  26. I have never read someone's hellish experience that so echoes mine! Thanks.

    I worried about hell all the time. In my hyper-arminian denomination we could get saved multiple times; encouraged to! One unconfessed sin and then the bus hits you and AAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH!!!!

    After getting thoroughly indoctrinated at a fundamentalist bible college, with the consequent incessant thrust to evangelize and missionize, I became a pastor and finally had a chance to truly save the world.

    I remember listening to one of our denominational gurus teach us his evangelism methodology... he told the story of how he looked in the casket at a man and the reality of the fact that this man was going to burn in hell forever struck him... and how that transformed his whole ministry... his whole purpose... whatever was going to get more people saved was the only thing that mattered. (Parenthetically, now he is an evangelical "leadership" guru. I don't know if he left behind his concern for hell, or what.)

    I remember sitting in a movie theater with my wife once. I turned and said to her, "It's really difficult to sit here and enjoy the movie, knowing all the people that are going to hell." Sad.

    And now, questioning much of what I believe... how free am I to do that while playing eternal russian roulette?

    But just what is salvation? And how does one obtain it? And keep it? You would think these would be easily answered questions when God has given us a 66-book instruction manual. But at 50 y.o., and having taken the bible seriously most of my life, I have less certainty about the answers to those questions than I ever had. You would think that God would have made it all just a tad bit clearer?? And speaking of Jesus, why didn't he go around like a maniac every day telling people what to do to avoid going to hell?

    Interestingly, the hell topic has come up for me in a couple of ways recently. First, a whacky preacher on the radio who believes that the end of the world is May 21st this year came to believe the bible taught annihilationism. That seemed to be easier to stomach, so I started studying it, and it makes a lot of sense. Secondly, having lived for many years with relatively little fear of hell because of a strong belief in grace by faith, in spite of my inconsistent performance, now that my faith is being shaken, I can't rest on that any more! So, I have to go back to a position I had once before when I was a surrendered agnostic... "God, do with me what you will... I did the best I could to understand, and I couldn't." I had to leave it at that. What else could I do?? That may have been the rock-bottom truest grace/faith position I actually ever experienced!!

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  27. evangelically incorrect,
    Nice moniker. Sounds like we definitely relate on the religious background. I'm asking alot of the same questions as you. I no longer have that nagging fear of hell, mostly because I think I wore out my nerves. I like your term "surrendered agnostic." One does reach a point where there is nothing else to do but accept that you are at God's mercy. BTW, are you still employed as a pastor? It would be a challenge to continue that position while going through such turmoil, but I know people do.

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  28. DoOrDoNot,

    "Wore out my nerves." I like that!

    Accept the fact that you are at God's mercy. That could be considered frightening, but for some reason seems more comforting to me than not.

    No, I have not been a pastor for many years. Wasn't a good fit for me. However, I have been a Christian counselor for several years, and find it harder and harder to keep up the requisite presentation to my clients.

    Actually, without the faith base I was working from, I'm not really sure I have a lot to offer clients anyway. I always worked from a strong "God" underpinning... i.e., What does God want us to do in this situation? How can we seek help or comfort from God? How can we seek satisfaction from him instead of empty wells? etc. I was always leading them to greater faith, greater dependence on God, greater obedience, greater "Christ-likeness." And then I would always have strong prayer with them at the end. I miss all that... And I don't have anything better to replace it with. I don't get a lot of satisfaction tweaking people's aches and pains with cognitive-behavioral approaches and the like. I always went to a deep, foundational level. I think that's why so many of my clients got so much from me after having seen several counselors prior. So I'm letting my clients peter out and I'm working at a hotel now. Pretty sad.

    I have not wished for this faith crisis. It started cocontaminately with a deep depression last fall when I had gone off my anti-depressants for health reasons. I was suffering so much... I would cry and pray and read the bible. I read the whole NT in a month. But it didn't help. It just raised more questions and doubts.

    I'm now back on the medicine, and I think the depression is gone, and I'm not so obsessional; but the shaking of my foundations that happened seems to have stuck. Trazodone didn't fix that.

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  29. evangelically incorrect,
    I thankful for your sake that the depression has lifted, despite the continued faith crisis. I'm saddened for you that you're not in a place to continue to minister to others in a way that was obviously effective and likely gave you great meaning. My hope for you is that in time you'll find your way to what you find to be deep and meaningful work. Maybe it will be counseling, maybe not. I will follow your blog with interest as you continue this journey.

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  30. I am glad to have found this blog, Im going thru the same problem, I was baptized when I was 14 and felt for sure i was with Jesus, but still the things my Mom told me about endtimes (she said she hoped she was died before the last days ) she talked about the rapture the moon turning to blood,people being left behind,I dont think I was ever really taught about Gods love,really but I always had a love for Jesus just hearing or seeing his name made me smile.I remember my mom always being against the pentecostal denomination,and talking behind certain relatives back for their beliefs and i didnt understand, now ive attended some pentacostal churches seeking assurances of my salvation and living in the spirirt, I did have hanmds layed on me and i spoke in tongues.I had the spirit of joy prayed over me and laughed til I cried,but never experienced anything like it since,I want to be bold and brave i want every one i know to be saved , but Ive had sevbere anxirty for the past 10 years, Yes I believe Jesus died for my sins,but dont know why all the anxiety and fear over the terrors that the world is suppose to endure during the last days and the thought that i might not have enough faith or love to get into heaven , all i want is to love and be loved,but i feel anxious and afraid alot of times and that brings even more quilt because were told not to fear and to cast all our anxieties on him.I believe God loves me but not feeling it,I give up on feeling anything because Im numb alot of times all i know is I care about peoples fate and wish i knew what to do or say everyone I know have heard of Jesus .....Im just exasperated, I just throw myself and all my loved ones at the mercy of God.....i dont know what else to do im tired,but i will continue to pray and do what i think God would want me to do to the best of my ability.

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