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  1. #51
    ⒺⓉⒷ Eric B's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by niffer View Post
    If someone is going to be religious for the sole purpose of escaping Hell as a fate, then they totally fail the point of religion.

    However it also works the other way around. Being religious has many emotional benefits that are potentially attractive to many people. "I don't believe in Hell" or "I don't like taking responsibility for my future" probably isn't much of a buffer from making people want to enter religion, considering these benefits. What makes more sense to me is that many people simply aren't interested in these benefits, or they fulfill these benefits with other means in their lives.

    I hope this was an appropriate contribution to the OP question.
    Quote Originally Posted by Southern Kross View Post
    I am not at all anti-Christian but one of my main problems with the religion is its approach to consequences and the after-life. It really bothers me that heaven and hell are used as carrot and stick ethics. Christianity doesn't encourage people to do the right thing because it is right, instead it exploits the fears and selfishness of human beings to twist their arms into behaving morally. It is also an attempt to place Church doctrine above the conscience of the individual, if not teaching people to ignore their conscience altogether. It glosses over and clouds the real issues at the heart of any moral matter, simply reducing things down to: "Don't do that because you will go to hell". To me this is like saying, "Don't kill people because you will go to jail", all the while missing the actual point that killing itself is wrong.

    Not all Christian faiths are as bad as others in this regard but there's often a strong emphasis on the word 'sin'. And 'sin' is often implies "something that's wrong because we tell you it is", which of course is encouraging moral ignorance. The Church should be a moral guide, assisting you in learning what is right and how to act righteously, instead of simply bullying you into it.
    The utter irony of this is that the carrot stick method of trying to do good to escape Hell is all-out "works righteousness", which is precisely what the same evangelical/fundamentalist movement preaches against, because Paul makes it clear that we cannot be saved by works. Some of them will even say if you are only behaving or believing in fear to escape Hell, you will still go there!

    I until recently was of the evangelical persuasion, but there were so many problems and unanswered question regarding what God is really doing in the world today.
    Basically, the New Testament describes Law (which is what condemned man, and was represented by the Temple, where sacrifice was made for sin) and Grace (where "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation". 2Cor 5:19).

    The problem arises, because the New Testament also seems to put a condition on this "grace". You've all heard it: "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved" (Acts 16:31). And the NT also preaches good behavior, to overcome those sins that put Christ on the Cross, and that grace is not "license".

    All of this of course raises the question of what of those who have never even heard; what if you're not really convinced, why only one way, and we have to say all other religions are wrong and try to convert everyone, etc.
    It has also raised a lot of confusion within the believing community, with the apparent contradiction between "grace", and the continued emphasis on doing good works, persevering vs "falling away", God's judgment on sin, and especially a future judgment. So you have Baptists, who hold "Once Saved Always Saved", and the other groups insist you can "fall away". OSAS holds that having to persevere with works would compromise Faith/Grace Alone, and the anti-OSAS will come back with the scriptures on falling away, and the OSAS camp will explain them away.
    Some argue that the spirit "changes" you and makes you do the good works. That's one way to reseolve the contradiction. You are basically saved by good works, but it's God who does the works in you, so it is still Him, not you. From this, you get into "perfectionism", where if a person is sinning too much, people will judge that they must not really have received Christ and the Spirit, so are not really saved. Then, you have a paradoxical statement "not by [works], but not without". And on and on it goes.

    And then, other groups, such as Catholics and various "sects" (Church of Christ, sabbathkeepers, Jehovah's Witnesses, etc) who insist that works are necessary for salvation. And it is the Baptists themselves who have often preached against sin with an emphasis on hellfire, as if in practice, sin vs good works is what makes the difference between Heaven and Hell.

    What seems to be the problem is that in the New Testament, the two covenants of Law and Grace were actually overlapping. Christ came and paid for sins, but man still defaulted to being under the Law (and thus, its condemnation), and each person had to choose one to be freed from the other. This would only last until the temple was destroyed, in AD70. so we have a whole bunch of prophecies speaking of "the end" coming "soon", in a time when some of the people there would still be alive!
    Because the Church after that time did not understand this, they futurized it, and "soon" eventually stretched into 2000 years and counting, and of course, the Church often manipulated this to scare people into obedience. So you would both be "judged" in this world by being "left behind" when all the end time terror begins, and still have to face an eternity in Hell.

    And thus we are left with all of these contradictions, and unanswered questions, and a supposed "good news" that is more bad than anything else, and an institution that continues to live large from it all, even as they complain about the larger world revolting against them.

    I'm going out on a limb adopting a radical idea like this (that "the end" was the end of the Old Covenent in AD70, and that unconditional grace spread afterwards). I'm still trying to explain it to my wife (have to put together an outline on it today, all preious attempts were basically tl;dr); people will say "oh, you're leading everyone down to Hell by not scaring them away from it" (they won't put it this way, of course!), though it obviously isn't scaring anyone who doesn't already believe in it; is it?

    But this is the only position that can explain why both works and grace would be taught and coexist simultaneously and not contradict each other, and it is also the only possible thing that can explain how an "end" would come "soon" 2000 years ago, and it is the only thing that can be truly "good news".

    Of course, when tradition and control are at stake, things making sense is often discouraged. It's supposed to not make sense. But while that will sway some to just follow without question; it will also lead the majority to revolt, and you ultimately lose all the power you had, as many leaders complain when they try to get God into schools and public places and such.
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  2. #52
    @.~*virinaĉo*~.@ Totenkindly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Babylon Candle View Post
    ...This is a serious question regarding the whole "praise him" thing. The jesus praise I can understand...and saying thanks to god now n then, yes...but why would heaven just be about praise 24/7?
    Actually, yes, if you talked to my grandparents, who were country baptists, they think this is literally what you do for eternity... sit around and sing hymns to God all day... and "yes, won't it be glorious?" and whatever else. I'm not kidding. This is what they believed; this is what their church taught (and I attended it a number of times, when we'd visit).

    My mother, I think, is a little more modern... but not much. She might wonder if that would get boring, but she just accepts that it's true and God is good, so therefore singing praises to God 24/7 for eternity will be exactly what is best for her and so she's going to be happy about it.

    .... I sort of approach things differently.

    Quote Originally Posted by Southern Kross View Post
    I do believe that the concepts of heaven and hell are intended to serve as an incentive/deterrance dichotomy. What is hell other than the threat of eternal damnation? Its purely for the incitement of fear with the intention of bringing people into line. Emphasis on heaven as a reward is just as bad. It encourages people to do what is right purely so they might benefit from it. And surely this approach to ethics undermines the fundamental teachings of Christ.
    The hell concept didn't really appear at all in the literature until close to the time of Christ. For the Jews throughout the OT, damnation was literal, involving literal death and/or expulsion from the community. There was no prolonged period of suffering, people were punished almost immediately for their crimes, and that was that. There was hope that those who had died and had been faithful to the covenant would be given life by YHWH again one day.

    Hell definitely seemed to appear as some sort of apocalyptic literature and with the separation of evil from the nature of God and being attributed instead to a fundamentally evil Satan figure.
    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"

    “Pleasure to me is wonder—the unexplored, the unexpected, the thing that is hidden and the changeless thing that lurks behind superficial mutability. To trace the remote in the immediate; the eternal in the ephemeral; the past in the present; the infinite in the finite; these are to me the springs of delight and beauty.” ~ H.P. Lovecraft

  3. #53
    Carerra Lu IZthe411's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer View Post

    The hell concept didn't really appear at all in the literature until close to the time of Christ. For the Jews throughout the OT, damnation was literal, involving literal death and/or expulsion from the community. There was no prolonged period of suffering, people were punished almost immediately for their crimes, and that was that. There was hope that those who had died and had been faithful to the covenant would be given life by YHWH again one day.
    Hell definitely seemed to appear as some sort of apocalyptic literature and with the separation of evil from the nature of God and being attributed instead to a fundamentally evil Satan figure.

    The Bible teaches that death is the punishment for dead people (God told Adam & Eve that they would 'die' for eating that fruit), that dead people are not conscious, thus not able to know of feel anything, and that 'Hell' is actually mankind's common grave (where all dead people go, good or bad).

    So the concept of further suffering after you've paid your price (death) isn't reconcileable with the Bible as a whole. It seems like people are taking certain scriptures and not cross referencing them with others.


    The Bible speaks about Jesus going to hell when he was dead for that 3 day period. Do you really think God allowed him to suffer in a hell if he didn't do anything wrong?

    And Jennifer, you are right. Hades (OT) and She'ol (NT) are terms for the common grave. Gehenna is the term that signifies total destruction; Gehenna was an actual place where the Jews threw out Garbage and stuff. It was like a large fiery pit. Sometimes criminals were tossed in there if they were deemed unworthy of a proper burial. So when the Bible is using Gehenna it's symbolic of total destruction without a hope to live again (as Jennifer mentioned above).

  4. #54
    @.~*virinaĉo*~.@ Totenkindly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer
    The hell concept didn't really appear at all in the literature until close to the time of Christ. For the Jews throughout the OT, damnation was literal, involving literal death and/or expulsion from the community. There was no prolonged period of suffering, people were punished almost immediately for their crimes, and that was that. There was hope that those who had died and had been faithful to the covenant would be given life by YHWH again one day.
    Hell definitely seemed to appear as some sort of apocalyptic literature and with the separation of evil from the nature of God and being attributed instead to a fundamentally evil Satan figure.
    The Bible teaches that death is the punishment for dead people (God told Adam & Eve that they would 'die' for eating that fruit), that dead people are not conscious, thus not able to know of feel anything, and that 'Hell' is actually mankind's common grave (where all dead people go, good or bad).

    Exactly. The ultimate punishment was an earthly death, and then being given to the embrace of Sheol... But I also see a "damning" number of possibilities too -- your body left to be eaten by animals and birds. If your body was defaced, devoured, or gone, how could it ever be brought back to life? All those things were saved for pagans or the truly damned; Israel had prohibitions against body alterations, as well as explicit body-destroying punishments for those who were beyond redemption. At least, that's what I see personally inherent in all that. All the really nasty people had their bodies destroyed, devoured, degraded, or dismembered in some way.

    The Bible speaks about Jesus going to hell when he was dead for that 3 day period. Do you really think God allowed him to suffer in a hell if he didn't do anything wrong?
    Well, theoretically, if there IS a hell people are tormented in, then it seems at least reasonable to suppose that a "substitute" would also burn in hell for taking their place, legitimately. (And the most unreasonable part would be the idea that someone could suffer equivalent punishment in three days for an eternity of pain for someone else. Realistically, it's not equal and thus the price hasn't been paid.)

    And Jennifer, you are right. Hades (OT) and She'ol (NT) are terms for the common grave. Gehenna is the term that signifies total destruction; Gehenna was an actual place where the Jews threw out Garbage and stuff. It was like a large fiery pit. Sometimes criminals were tossed in there if they were deemed unworthy of a proper burial. So when the Bible is using Gehenna it's symbolic of total destruction without a hope to live again (as Jennifer mentioned above).
    yes, Gehenna was different from Hades, just in the way you've said.
    It's interesting to examine.

    I guess in regards to the OP's premise, I'm not sure the concept of "Hell" itself was mature, psychologically or spiritually as is being insinuated... although it definitely does put a fire under people's feet (um, ha ha) and motivate them to change. I think if people could prove that hell existed, it wouldn't be a discarded idea; I think part of the reason for its discarding by culture is just because it seems untenable and cruel, not just to avoid responsibility for one's actions even if for some that might measure into it.
    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"

    “Pleasure to me is wonder—the unexplored, the unexpected, the thing that is hidden and the changeless thing that lurks behind superficial mutability. To trace the remote in the immediate; the eternal in the ephemeral; the past in the present; the infinite in the finite; these are to me the springs of delight and beauty.” ~ H.P. Lovecraft

  5. #55
    Senior Member Tiltyred's Avatar
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    This may be of interest:
    To hell and back - Dateline NBC- msnbc.com

    It's a Dateline interview with Carlton Pearson, a Pentacostal minister, student of Oral Roberts, who came to believe in what he calls "The Gospel of Inclusion."

    Pearson: And you saw these African people—mostly women and children walking slowly back trying to come home. There was no light or life in their eyes. It was a horrible thing for me to see. Swollen bellies and skeletal bodies, emaciated... and then the babies looking at the mom and the mama looking out in space. It was sad. And I’m sitting there with my little fat-cheeked baby and my plateful of food, watching my big screen TV. A man of God, a preacher of the Gospel, and Evangelist, and I’m looking at those people assuming that they’re probably Muslim and going to Hell. “’Cause God wouldn’t do that to Christians,” I’m thinking...

    Morrison: They deserve hell.

    Pearson: They deserved hell.

    And then, right at that moment, Carlton had his revelation.

    Pearson: And I said, “God I don’t know how you’re gonna call yourself a loving God and allow those people to suffer so much and then just suck them into hell.” And I believe it was the Spirit of God in me saying, “Is that what you think we’re doing?”

    Morrison: You heard this voice.

    Pearson: Yes, sir. And I said, “That’s what I’ve been taught”

    He talked back, he says, at that voice in his head.

    Pearson: “God, I can’t I can’t save the whole world.” And that’s when I heard that voice say, “Precisely. That’s what we did. And if you’d tell them that they are redeemed, you wouldn’t create those kinds of problems. Can’t you see they’re already in Hell?”

    Clear as a bell, says Carlton, he heard god telling him to preach this new message that hell is a place in life, and that after death. Everybody is redeemed. Everybody.


    But aside from the question of hell, I think Lark may have been talking about post-modernism in general, which seems to make people unable to take a firm stance on anything.

  6. #56
    @.~*virinaĉo*~.@ Totenkindly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tiltyred View Post
    But aside from the question of hell, I think Lark may have been talking about post-modernism in general, which seems to make people unable to take a firm stance on anything.
    Post-modernism is a good comparison to make, at least in the sense that people are acknowledging that all knowledge is necessarily partial.
    "Hey Capa -- We're only stardust." ~ "Sunshine"

    “Pleasure to me is wonder—the unexplored, the unexpected, the thing that is hidden and the changeless thing that lurks behind superficial mutability. To trace the remote in the immediate; the eternal in the ephemeral; the past in the present; the infinite in the finite; these are to me the springs of delight and beauty.” ~ H.P. Lovecraft

  7. #57
    Senior Member Tiltyred's Avatar
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    Yup.

  8. #58
    Carerra Lu IZthe411's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer View Post
    Exactly. The ultimate punishment was an earthly death, and then being given to the embrace of Sheol... But I also see a "damning" number of possibilities too -- your body left to be eaten by animals and birds. If your body was defaced, devoured, or gone, how could it ever be brought back to life? All those things were saved for pagans or the truly damned; Israel had prohibitions against body alterations, as well as explicit body-destroying punishments for those who were beyond redemption. At least, that's what I see personally inherent in all that. All the really nasty people had their bodies destroyed, devoured, degraded, or dismembered in some way.



    Well, theoretically, if there IS a hell people are tormented in, then it seems at least reasonable to suppose that a "substitute" would also burn in hell for taking their place, legitimately. (And the most unreasonable part would be the idea that someone could suffer equivalent punishment in three days for an eternity of pain for someone else. Realistically, it's not equal and thus the price hasn't been paid.)



    yes, Gehenna was different from Hades, just in the way you've said.
    It's interesting to examine.

    I guess in regards to the OP's premise, I'm not sure the concept of "Hell" itself was mature, psychologically or spiritually as is being insinuated... although it definitely does put a fire under people's feet (um, ha ha) and motivate them to change. I think if people could prove that hell existed, it wouldn't be a discarded idea; I think part of the reason for its discarding by culture is just because it seems untenable and cruel, not just to avoid responsibility for one's actions even if for some that might measure into it.
    I thnk it's the wrong kind of motivation, though. What good do you get out of threatening people? I'll do whatever you are saying out of fear of punishment, but in the back of my mind if I find a loophole, or an out of this situation, I will. And that's what's happening now. People are asking the questions that earlier generations were too scared to ask, and these religious leaders either backpeddle in their explanations or fail to come up with one at all- because a fiery place of eternal torment isn't supported in the Bible. They lose credibility and respect, and so does God, as an extension, since they claim to represent him. The book of Revelation puts them on the hook for all those people that leave, and they will have to pay.

  9. #59
    ♪♫♪♫♪♫ luminous beam's Avatar
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    i will pose these questions: nowadays there are so many tv shows and so on about ghost hunters with "proof" that there is an afterlife where ghosts exist. they also differentiate the "good" ghost spirits who need help crossing over from bad "demon" like spirits. if there is a possibility that these were to exist, where would they dwell or roam? if these are being filmed or recorded in "haunted" locations but yet cannot really be seen to the naked eye, could there be a possibility that there is another dimension on top of our 3d world? could this afterlife be amongst us, hell in front of us? just some thoughts lol enjoy.


  10. #60
    Away with the fairies Southern Kross's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer View Post
    The hell concept didn't really appear at all in the literature until close to the time of Christ. For the Jews throughout the OT, damnation was literal, involving literal death and/or expulsion from the community. There was no prolonged period of suffering, people were punished almost immediately for their crimes, and that was that. There was hope that those who had died and had been faithful to the covenant would be given life by YHWH again one day.

    Hell definitely seemed to appear as some sort of apocalyptic literature and with the separation of evil from the nature of God and being attributed instead to a fundamentally evil Satan figure.
    Yes, it is clear that the Christian concepts of heaven and hell were created as to remedy the complications with the Jewish idea of earthly punishment and reward. The fact that God allows evil to prevail so widely has always been a fundamental problem in Christianity. Pushing heaven, hell and the devil is meant to bring solace to the disillusioned righteous as much as it is an attempt to scare the wicked straight.

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