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Wrestling with the "exclusivity" of Christianity... please help! - Page 9

post #161 of 279
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Is it possible that Jesus reveals himself to people after they die and they get a chance to accept or reject him then?
Sweetpea, this is something Im in the process of exploring. I dont actually wrestle with it anymore, I used to. Wrestling with it, for me, was kind of like me not wanting to accept what God said on the issue, exploring it means that I accept what he says to be true no matter what it is, no matter how horrible for some it may sound. I trust his judgement, some, as stated here, cant and wont.

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I've only met a few people willing to stand by their definition of salvation (Jesus=only way) and say yes, Ghandi and all the Atheists/Muslims/Hindu/Buddhist/Non{insert their denomination} Christian are ALL going to hell. Obviously this is an exceedingly arrogant statement to make, but at least they didn't hide behind "gee I believe this, but who am I to judge". Either you believe it or you dont, you know?
Its not that Im unwilling to stand by what 'Jesus is the only way to the Father' means, its more a case of me being in the process of exploring what that really means. Im not looking to anyone here for that answer either, Im looking to the One who knows for certain. When I say Im not to judge, perhaps some cant understand what I mean. When I say that I mean to say I am not the Judge, but I do trust the judgement of the One who IS. Therefore, I dont make the judgements, I dont judge your heart, or anyone else's. Who can but God alone can make that kind of judgement? Jesus is the only way, but what exactly does that mean? Im in the process of exploring that, and that process started long before I happened on these threads. It doesnt mean Im hiding behind anything. It just means that Im not willing to satisfy questions like the ones put to me here bc Im in the process of exploring them. They dont make me feel uncomfortable, and there is no conflict within me, as Thao suggested. I think its quite serious, so Im taking my time to really study it.
post #162 of 279
Thread Starter 
Prepare yourself for the longest most rambling post in MDC history!! LOL!

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The word "cherry-pick" means picking out only the parts you like, and ignoring the rest. It implies a degree of shallowness (not really thinking about what one is doing) or outright dishonesty (knowing what one is doing and doing it anyway) on the part of the person doing the cherry-picking. I do not think that interpreting the "I am the way, the truth and the life" in a more universalist way is either shallow or dishonest. There are many reasons why one might come to a different and more universalist interpretation of that passage other than just discomfort with exclusiveness.
I hear what you are saying, and I apologize for unintended implication of my post. I certainly didn’t mean to imply that your interpretation was shallow. But if I were to ignore this passage, and similar others throughout the bible, I personally would be cherry picking based on my understanding of the bible. Again – this is very personal. But I believe the passage you’ve pointed out was intended to be taken literally. So if I ignore it because I am uncomfortable with it, I would be cherry picking. Now… someone who chooses to NOT take that passage literally can certainly come to another valid conclusion and I would not call that cherry picking. I would call that making an honest and different interpretation – but not cherry picking. I hope that clarifies what I meant, and I hope that makes sense. I didn't get a lot of sleep last night.

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There is logic, the contradiction between a God who proclaims his perfect love for His children and yet (in the exclusive view) set up a world where the majority of these beloved children would spend eternity in agony. I understand the argument that free will requires people to have the choice to reject God, however there is a real question of whether people in this life have a clear enough picture of things to be able to make an informed choice. I certainly don't feel that I do. The only way this works logically is to believe that everyone, in this lifetime, no matter their circumstances or background, has an "aha" moment where they suddenly realize that Jesus Christ really did die for their sins.

But that contradicts the facts of reality that you see when you look around you. You see serious and sincere people who tell you they have never had that "aha" moment, in fact they prayed the same prayers you have and have gotten an entirely different answer. Either God is sacrificing some of us to eternal torment for His purposes (which contradicts the idea of a loving God), or a whole lotta people are just not being honest with themselves (which is an inherently judgmental viewpoint -- doesn't mean it is wrong, of course, but anyone who holds this view really does need to own it as judging everyone else as having knowingly rejected God, a bad thing).
My husband and I had a similar conversation yesterday. We were talking about in terms of culture and how people tend to be the religion of their parents. DH and I have much more ample opportunity to come to Christ given our cultural surrounding than, for example, a person growing up in India whose parents are Hindu. Our initial response to this was "How is that fair?" We had a long discussion about this, but I don’t know if our conclusions would be satisfying to many nonbelievers. But we firmly believe that God loves all His children (including those who do not know him) and he reveals Himself to all who openly and sincerely seek him. Paul said that wherever we live, He is within reach of every one of us. I think it is in Romans that Paul says that God’s infinite power and deity are revealed to everyone on earth through creation. So God can minister to people in ways that are beyond our understanding.

But the question of how a loving God can send people to an eternity in His absence (which is Hell) is a question that has troubled many many seekers and Christians alike. I don’t pretend to have all the answers. There are lots of scholarly resources out there that address this important question much better than I ever could. The bible says that God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked – so he doesn’t want people to go to hell. But I believe that he gives everyone many opportunities to find Him. If they live their lifetimes on earth separated from God, then that is what they are choosing for eternity as well. I believe a Case for Faith has an entire chapter devoted to this issue that may be a helpful starting point.


I don’t know why some people seek God but never find him. I don’t know what is in their hearts, and I can’t possibly know what their true motivations are or if they didn’t “hear” a response. I do believe that God is available to everyone that seeks him sincerely. I believe he answers prayers in ways we would never imagine. I’m sure I’ve personally missed the answer, or misunderstood the answer, to my own prayers due to my own biases and expectations. I’m human, afterall. But I truly believe in my heart that if someone commits their life to seeking God, they will find Him. He leaves so many wonderful signs for all that seek Him.

Something my husband and I had to remind ourselves of is that just because something is difficult to understand (or even difficult to swallow!) doesn't make it untrue. These are tough topics that we may struggle with our entire lifetime.

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IMO, if trying to understand Jesus' "I am the way" statement in a way that fits with logic and facts is "cherry-picking", then the vast majority of mainstream churches are guilty of "cherry-picking". Because most churches have clearly re-interpreted Paul's model for gender relations (man is to woman as God is to man, women must never be in authority over a man, cover their heads, keep quiet in church, etc) in a way different from how it was understood when it was written.
I absolutely agree with you that many churches are guilty of cherry picking. This is always troubling to me. Religion is a man-made construct, though, and man doesn't always get things quite right. I certainly don't claim that I have everything figured out. But, I believe that people are honestly striving to understand the bible and to become closer to God. Who am I to question their motivations for seeming to gloss over certain passages while emphasizing others? I think most Christians earnestly try to follow the bible as they understand it. Are churches bending to modern culture to make their practices more palatable? I’m sure. We’ve lost some potential members to my own church due to the fact that women cannot be elders or pastor the church. There was some debate for a short time on changing the way the church operates in order to better retain or attract membership. I just take the viewpoint that all churches and church leaders are sincerely seeking God and interpreting the bible to the best of their understanding. I have no right to assume otherwise.



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Oh, and I wanted to say that I for one completely agree with you that most Christians are not judgmental people ! I do think there is a distinction between the person and the beliefs. The exclusive version of Christianity is, by definition, judgmental, but there are lots of really non-judgmental people who hold it. Some (maybe the the majority?) just never really think it through. Others do think it through and accept it but it always sits uneasily with them, because there is a conflict between their unwillingness to judge and the belief.
I’m glad to hear you say that! It's nice to hear someone having a positive experience interacting with Christians because you only seem to hear the bad sometimes, ya know?

I don’t think that saying that Jesus is the only way to God should translate into judging others. How can we? We don’t know what is in anyone’s heart. Only God knows that. Other religions that are exclusive don't seem to suffer the same label of "judgemental" as Christianity does - but maybe that is just because is a prevalent religion in the US and therefore subject to more criticism and scrutiny. But the Muslim religion, for example, most definitely claims exclusivity (not just theologically, but also linguistically as the Koran is only recognizable in Arabic). I think there are judgmental people of all religions and non-religious backgrounds. If someone is judgmental, they’ll find a way to justify it. If they are Christian, they may use Christianity as their excuse for being judgmental.

Once again, I've typed a lot and I don't know if any of it made sense. These are just my personal views and where I am at with my understanding of things right now.
post #163 of 279
Thanks for explaining about the cherry-picking thing, that makes sense.

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I’m glad to hear you say that! It's nice to hear someone having a positive experience interacting with Christians because you only seem to hear the bad sometimes, ya know?
Well, I was a Christian for most of my life, so I have a very fond place in my heart for Christians.

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I don’t think that saying that Jesus is the only way to God should translate into judging others. How can we? We don’t know what is in anyone’s heart. Only God knows that.
The idea was floated earlier in this thread that Muslims and Buddhists etc. are really following Jesus but just don't know it, so if that is what you mean then I suppose you could say you are not judging that person's ultimate destination. But if you don't hold that belief, then "Jesus is the only way" = "Muslims and Buddhists etc are wrong and going to eternal Hell". There's just no other way to understand it. Saying that YOU personally don't judge doesn't make the belief itself any less unpalatable to those who are on the other side of it. It's like being in a courtroom where a judge sentences a man to death, and then telling the man you believe the judge to be absolutely right in all his decisions but you personally aren't judging him because it was the judge, not you, that pronounced the sentence. If you believe the judge's decision is just and correct = you agree with the sentence = you agree that the person deserves to be condemned to death. Does that make sense? I'm not saying this to argue that you should change your mind, just to try to explain why from our perspective your belief does translate into judging others.

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But the Muslim religion, for example, most definitely claims exclusivity
A Muslim mama will probably weigh in on this, but I just thought I'd mention that Islam has always had the concept of the People of the Book which I believe means that it allows that Christians and Jews, while not having as perfect an understanding of God as Muslims, are people of God and as such not condemned to Hell. Judaism also does not have the idea that non-Jews are going to Hell. Nor does Buddhism. While you are correct that pretty much all religions claim to have the truest understanding of God, it is not true that all religions condemn non-believers to Hell in the way the exclusive version of Christianity does. As a matter of fact, I can't think of a single one that does.
post #164 of 279
Thread Starter 
I'm not sure if you are just trying to push me into a corner and get me to say "yes, I'm being judgmental"... but I am beginning to suspect that no answer I can give to your concerns will be satisfying. I am beginning to feel that you have an agenda you are trying to push.

Let's just respect that everyone has different opinions and perspectives on this. I just don't want this conversation to turn into me defending my faith and beliefs that I hold sacred. I hope you can understand and respect that.

I'm bowing out. I hope that's cool.

God bless everyone.
post #165 of 279
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Originally Posted by Thao View Post
A Muslim mama will probably weigh in on this, but I just thought I'd mention that Islam has always had the concept of the People of the Book which I believe means that it allows that Christians and Jews, while not having as perfect an understanding of God as Muslims, are people of God and as such not condemned to Hell. Judaism also does not have the idea that non-Jews are going to Hell. Nor does Buddhism. While you are correct that pretty much all religions claim to have the truest understanding of God, it is not true that all religions condemn non-believers to Hell in the way the exclusive version of Christianity does. As a matter of fact, I can't think of a single one that does.
In short: there is no blanket claim in Islam upon how non-Muslims will be judged. There is no equivalent whatsoever to 'Jesus is the only way' ... more like 'the closer to our way the better, but everyone is on their own before god.' That has been interpreted both broadly and narrowly throughout Islamic history, and one can always find sources willing to make it as broad or as narrow as possible still today, but in either direction that comes down to exegetical opinions, not hard-as-stone doctrine. I can see where the impression would come from ... god of all creation, direct word of god for all mankind, etc, not to mention the more hardcore modernist movements which do tend to 'cherry pick' the hadith in particular for an especially narrow interpretation, but yeah ... it's not really a correct impression.

A non-believer in Islam can look at it like this: Islam is the youngest sibling in the family of "the big three." And it came about in an area in which neither Jewish nor Christian theology was alien. That it makes some effort to reconcile and "correct" things people saw as difficult points within the other two really shouldn't be very surprising, and that a strict exclusivity is a difficult point isn't something people just thought of here on this thread.
post #166 of 279
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The idea was floated earlier in this thread that Muslims and Buddhists etc. are really following Jesus but just don't know it, so if that is what you mean then I suppose you could say you are not judging that person's ultimate destination. But if you don't hold that belief, then "Jesus is the only way" = "Muslims and Buddhists etc are wrong and going to eternal Hell". There's just no other way to understand it. Saying that YOU personally don't judge doesn't make the belief itself any less unpalatable to those who are on the other side of it. It's like being in a courtroom where a judge sentences a man to death, and then telling the man you believe the judge to be absolutely right in all his decisions but you personally aren't judging him because it was the judge, not you, that pronounced the sentence. If you believe the judge's decision is just and correct = you agree with the sentence = you agree that the person deserves to be condemned to death. Does that make sense? I'm not saying this to argue that you should change your mind, just to try to explain why from our perspective your belief does translate into judging others.
Thao, I cannot disagree more with what your saying here and your analogy of the courtroom actually describes my pov perfectly. Lets say the judge passes judgement, not me, and I can agree or disagree with the judgement, but that wouldnt matter bc I am not the judge and I have no power to make a difference in that individuals sentence, except prior when I could have possibly done something to prevent the person from going down the path that led them before the judge's seat. Its a little bit like that, christianity. I have no power to save one, I have no power to sentence someone to hell but I do trust the judgement of the Judge. Ive learned that we are all deserving of death, eternal seperation from God. This is what Ive learned. God is the judge not me. Ive been judged just as guilty as anyone else. The only hope for us is for us to be pardoned, but that pardon has certain conditions and you know what Im talking about, being a former christian. If it sounds like Im judging others, theres nothing more I can do about that. I do agree with the Judge, but Im not sat on the judgement seat. Im recieving a pardon, which is extended to everyone. This is what the christian believes. I dont know if judging is the issue here anyway. We simply dont agree on the issues.
post #167 of 279
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I'm not sure if you are just trying to push me into a corner and get me to say "yes, I'm being judgmental"... but I am beginning to suspect that no answer I can give to your concerns will be satisfying. I am beginning to feel that you have an agenda you are trying to push.
Nope, no agenda here . I don't think you are judgmental at all, I'm sorry if I gave you that impression. As I said earlier, I make a distinction between the person and the belief. You explained to me how things look from your side of the fence, and I was trying to explain to you how things look from my side of the fence. I was responding to your comments about other people thinking Christians are judgmental. If there is something off about what I said, please let me know.
post #168 of 279
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The idea was floated earlier in this thread that Muslims and Buddhists etc. are really following Jesus but just don't know it, so if that is what you mean then I suppose you could say you are not judging that person's ultimate destination. But if you don't hold that belief, then "Jesus is the only way" = "Muslims and Buddhists etc are wrong and going to eternal Hell". There's just no other way to understand it. Saying that YOU personally don't judge doesn't make the belief itself any less unpalatable to those who are on the other side of it. It's like being in a courtroom where a judge sentences a man to death, and then telling the man you believe the judge to be absolutely right in all his decisions but you personally aren't judging him because it was the judge, not you, that pronounced the sentence. If you believe the judge's decision is just and correct = you agree with the sentence = you agree that the person deserves to be condemned to death. Does that make sense? I'm not saying this to argue that you should change your mind, just to try to explain why from our perspective your belief does translate into judging others.
Well said, this is exactly what I meant earlier but you (as usual) said it much more clearly and definitely more eloquently than I managed to say it.

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Thao, I cannot disagree more with what your saying here and your analogy of the courtroom actually describes my pov perfectly. Lets say the judge passes judgement, not me, and I can agree or disagree with the judgement, but that wouldnt matter bc I am not the judge and I have no power to make a difference in that individuals sentence, except prior when I could have possibly done something to prevent the person from going down the path that led them before the judge's seat. Its a little bit like that, christianity. I have no power to save one, I have no power to sentence someone to hell but I do trust the judgement of the Judge. Ive learned that we are all deserving of death, eternal seperation from God. This is what Ive learned. God is the judge not me. Ive been judged just as guilty as anyone else. The only hope for us is for us to be pardoned, but that pardon has certain conditions and you know what Im talking about, being a former christian. If it sounds like Im judging others, theres nothing more I can do about that. I do agree with the Judge, but Im not sat on the judgement seat. Im recieving a pardon, which is extended to everyone. This is what the christian believes. I dont know if judging is the issue here anyway. We simply dont agree on the issues.
Ok I understand where you are coming from, I really do, because I used to think just like this. But from THIS side of the fence what you are saying doesn't make sense at all and there's no logic behind it.

If you believe God made you and all of your abilities are talents from God, then why wouldn't pure and simple logic reconcile even SOME of the beliefs and judgments of Christianity? We require logic and sensibility to believe everything else we encounter in life, why not this? And why is it offensive to question beliefs with logic? I'm not saying people who believe xyz are bad people, I'm just trying to understand adhering to a belief and/or judgment process that, when really thought out, doesn't make much sense and if it were applied in any circumstances most sane and rational people wouldn't adhere to it either.

I'm rambling. But anyways, I don't think anyone on this thread is a bad person or anything silly like that. But I do think if you believe the criteria to get into heaven is xyz then the converse of that is true...if you do not meet the criteria, you don't get into heaven. Saying "I don't make the rules, I just follow them" doesn't make it a more palatable argument. Then again, I can remember being in church where the pastor flat out would say "of course it's not a comfortable thought that we are surrounded by good, caring people that will burn in hell". So I really do get how people hold onto that belief so intently.

Still rambling...sorry about that LOL
post #169 of 279
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Originally Posted by genifer View Post
Thao, I cannot disagree more with what your saying here and your analogy of the courtroom actually describes my pov perfectly. Lets say the judge passes judgement, not me, and I can agree or disagree with the judgement, but that wouldnt matter bc I am not the judge and I have no power to make a difference in that individuals sentence, except prior when I could have possibly done something to prevent the person from going down the path that led them before the judge's seat. Its a little bit like that, christianity. I have no power to save one, I have no power to sentence someone to hell but I do trust the judgement of the Judge. Ive learned that we are all deserving of death, eternal seperation from God. This is what Ive learned. God is the judge not me. Ive been judged just as guilty as anyone else. The only hope for us is for us to be pardoned, but that pardon has certain conditions and you know what Im talking about, being a former christian. If it sounds like Im judging others, theres nothing more I can do about that. I do agree with the Judge, but Im not sat on the judgement seat. Im recieving a pardon, which is extended to everyone. This is what the christian believes. I dont know if judging is the issue here anyway. We simply dont agree on the issues.
You're right, it's not a great analogy, LOL. In a human courtroom, the judge would not be the Creator of All Things. But as far as the the analogy goes... the crime the person is being convicted of is not regular human sin, because as you very correctly point out we are all equally guilty of that. It is the crime of not listening when the aha moment happened and they realized that Jesus really is God. Assuming your beliefs are correct, and we have both had that moment (or I will have it before I die) then the fact that I die as a non-Christian means I have rejected God. (Disclaimer - I'm not saying this to put anyone on the defense or to imply that such a belief is bad, I am simply describing, please let me know if I have it wrong.) And for that crime I am sent to Hell, and although you are not involved in any way in that decision nor want me to go to Hell (at least I don't think you do! ) you do support the Judge and believe He is perfect in His judgement.

Did that make any better sense, or is it still a lousy analogy?
post #170 of 279
Theoretica, I dont know if I said anything about it being logical. Faith and logic arent always going to be bedfellows, ykwim?

It isnt palatable. It isnt comfy cozy. Not even for us who believe it. Im not sure I understand that part of your agrument. I guess what Im trying to say is that as far as what Ive said here, Im not trying to make it sound more palatable. Im sorry if I confused you there. Im just one person who believes .. xyz.. and am searching what that exactly means. Its a bit complicated, we seek, we wrestle, but we want to know the truth and believe its possible to be found. The more we walk with the God we know and love, the more we know and love Him and are convinced of what He says bc of our experiences with him. I think there is something in that that I cant get into bc dh neeeeeds the computer. And Im not sure i can explain it very well anyway. It lies with us, and not all of us, Im learning (however unpalatable this sounds), actually do meet with God, with Christ, and others dont. Ive been trying to figure out that one too. Ive read the arguments here and wonder the same thing. Have they given up too soon? I admit Ive wondered this. Do they just not like what God has said to them, refuse to believe it? Is God just silent to them? If so, why? I wonder that too. Some have said 'I cant and wont worship a God like that', but I say that he can slay me if he likes Ill worship him still. He can have my life and do what he wants with it bc it was him who gave it to me. If thats arrogant then Im arrogant, by someone else's judgement but I live for God so what he thinks of me is what matters. I think, or Im beginning to wonder if this is the difference.

right dh is giving me evils...
post #171 of 279
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you do support the Judge and believe He is perfect in His judgement.
I think we must have been formulating our posts at the same time bc I missed what you said here. I wonder if I need to take it apart, bit by bit so that we can analyse it fully.... Ill start with what I quoted above.

Im not sure its right to say I support the Judge. I guess it would depend on what you mean by that. But I do believe, without any shadow of a doubt that His judgement is perfect. Yes, I do. Now, support... thats interesting. See, this thread has given me such an awesome opportunity to explore and put into stone what I believe. For me, this is how I learn. I dont know what kind of learner that makes me (I wonder if in these discussions this kind of thing comes into play more then we realise, the reason there is such misunderstanding).

Right, support.

I guess I 'support' God by really genuinely wanting others to know Him the way I do. The way I believe He's revealed Himself to the world. I mean, God is who He says He is. I was telling someone privately that if God is who He is, and us humans dont want to accept Him as He is, then for eternity, should God pretend he's something or someone He's not for their sake? I, personally, dont think so.

And really, the best and first thing that comes to mind when I think of God is just HOW much He loves me. I believe God is love. I believe the scripture in 1 John that says that. I believe it first, bc I read it, then I thought 'what the heck does that mean' and he went on to reveal it to me.... ummm in some pretty painful circumstances. In those very same circumstances, I also learned how he loves even those who sin against Him in the worst ways, and how He loves those who hurt those He loves (I dont mind sharing details but dont know if its helpful for the discussion). He's a lot of other things, but His love for us is a crazy love that we do not have to capacity to understand until we meet Him. As in, it is a love that originated with Him. So I do support his efforts to bring any who want to know His love into ...knowing His love. However bad I am at it. I wish I could do it better. I really do. So, that is how I support Him, I guess.




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You're right, it's not a great analogy, LOL. In a human courtroom, the judge would not be the Creator of All Things. But as far as the the analogy goes... the crime the person is being convicted of is not regular human sin, because as you very correctly point out we are all equally guilty of that. It is the crime of not listening when the aha moment happened and they realized that Jesus really is God. Assuming your beliefs are correct, and we have both had that moment (or I will have it before I die) then the fact that I die as a non-Christian means I have rejected God. ... And for that crime I am sent to Hell, and although you are not involved in any way in that decision nor want me to go to Hell (at least I don't think you do! ) you do support the Judge and believe He is perfect in His judgement.
Im going to try to 'tackle' the bit I highlighted, I say try. I dont know if I can do a very good job...

I dont know if its an 'aha' moment, ya know. There may be some who have had an aha moment, for me it was different and I dont know if I can explain it very well. I guess this is the part about human nature that Im trying to understand just as much as you, but perhaps from opposite sides of the fence. For me, as I look back on my life, before and after meeting Christ, it was as if a light switch was turned on the moment I decided to believe. I do not know what happened, or even why, or how. I think everyone's 'conversion' experience may be unique and very different, and special actually, personal and intimate. For my dh, it was very gradual, but from an early early age He knew God was real, and loved Him even tho He didnt know Christ until later. Even still, he's getting to grips with who Christ is, even tho it was HIM who actually led me to Christ. My dh was the one who said 'You need to know Christ' and he said it with a joint in his hand, completely sloshed out of his head and he spent the next 4 or 5 years in that state, while I grew in Christ! I dont know how it happens, or when. Would it offend you Thao, if I said I have been praying for you (or would you expect that? lol). Im not here to try to convince anybody, thats not my intention altho, I will admit that if anything I say pricks anything in anyone, Im not at all sorry. But you have been special in my prayers and heart over these discussions. Anyway...



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Assuming your beliefs are correct, and we have both had that moment (or I will have it before I die) then the fact that I die as a non-Christian means I have rejected God. ... And for that crime I am sent to Hell,
This bit is tricky for me to answer, bc as I mentioned before, I dont know the answer to this one. I am being honest. But in saying that, what if it is true and I dont tell you so? Imagine my eternal guilt for not saying so. I would give my place up in eternity for the person *I* led astray! So, while Im exploring this heavy heavy question... I will just say 'what if it is true?' What does one say to that. Do we hate God for making the rules? I dont know if Im talking to someone who is seeking, someone who is trying to make me question my beliefs, I dont know your motives in asking these questions, you see. I want to give you an honest answer. God's revealed things to me slowly and over time. I met Christ, it was like I was a newborn babe (I do understand the being 'born again' bit), then over time God has, and is continuing to slowly reveal these things to me. I sometimes wonder if Christians dont question and search for the answers to these things for themselves and therefore dont have an answer to give when they are questionsed. I dont want to be like that. I ask God 'Why? What does this mean?' He doesnt bend to me as if He should do things my way, but he does slowly reveal things to me as and when Im ready to understand. Sometimes I wonder if he's preparing me for the answer, my heart for being ready to hear the answer. I spent a few years wandering. Questioning these things. Those difficult circumstances I mentioned earlier, those were what brought me back and helped me cover even more ground in my understanding of God and who He is. It was as if in response to those questions I had he had prepared a time for His 'lesson'.



Im sorry that went all over the place.

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then the fact that I die as a non-Christian means I have rejected God. ... And for that crime I am sent to Hell
I do believe hell is a real place. I do believe people will be sent there. I guess, to answer your question, I have to say Im seeking a difinitive answer from God too. How do you and I both know whether one has really rejected God? Maybe they are just confused and seeking? Maybe they have recieved him, but still dont understand things and in their rashness said 'rejected' Him. Im confused and seeking? That doesnt mean Im going to Hell. Im certain of my 'ticket' (just for some obligatory christian crass) to heaven. Im certain of it, it is my joy!! My joy is to worship Christ, to throw my crown at His feet! There's a LOOOOOOT more to it, but to sum it up, thats my joy! Knowing Him! Nothing compares! So, in all honesty, to answer your question, I cant answer it yet. I dont doubt God will give me an answer tho and it will be what it is whether I like it or not.

But no, I in absolutely no way want to see you thrown in Hell. I would give up my place in heaven for someone else, if that were possible. Im being sincere here. I just dont believe it works that way.

Thao. I have been thinking a lot about this and some of the things we've discussed. Now, Ill just throw some things out there. We talked about after death and a chance then to 'recognise' Jesus as Savior. I wonder if people's hearts, by that point, will be so hardened with hating Him in this life that they hate Him still then. These are just things Im pondering. What if the 'I cant and wont worship a God 'like that'' is their testimony, and God is like that. I dont think Heaven would be heaven if God 'let them in'. It would be just like earth as we know it now. What people love to do now, apart from God, God calls unholy. And if people want to continue to do those things, what should God do with them? For the sake of those who will love Him for who He is and nothing else and for the sake of who He is, and bc heaven is what it is and its that way bc He's there (!)... See. Im trying to understand these things too and havent come to an answer, but I suppose you can see where Im going, what side of the fence I sit on.

I have to just submit and see if it makes sense now.
post #172 of 279
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It is the crime of not listening when the aha moment happened and they realized that Jesus really is God
One more small thing... an incident from one of the gospels comes to mind. The one where the rich young man asks Jesus what he must do to gain eternal life. Jesus' reply is that he should sell all his belongings and follow Him. The rich young man goes away sad bc he has many things... which he loves more then God. Perhaps its the love of other things that keeps us from gaining eternal life and thrown into Hell- keeps us from knowing God, loving Him and its in loving Him that we gain eternal life (see my pp just up there). I wonder if its a case of God wanting people, a new creation, who will love Him. This makes Him kind of vulnerable, which to some, Im realising is unpalatable also. How can an awesome, incredible all sufficient God, be vulnerable, humbly seeking our love in return for His. Free will, man, we keep coming to that. Perhaps Im not able to explain it very well, and I hope one day I can, but I do understand it.

Some people I know, even people very close to me, believe Hell is a place where God created with angels of torture. Angels with torture implements and such. I have NO idea if this is true. My dh will read extrabiblical things like the book of enoch and the apocrypha (sp?) and it, he says, gives him a greater understanding of things. I dont know tho, lol. I dont know what hell is, what its like, maybe thats for another discussion. My understanding, and scripture backs this up a bit, is that hell is seperation from God, and Jesus says to seek Him while he can be found, so that makes me wonder if it is really eternal seperation. This is where some christians part ways, the universalists and those like me, who dont believe the Gospel is universal. Its not like I get a kick out of believing some will go to hell, but... well, there ya go.
post #173 of 279
post #174 of 279
genifer,

I've been thinking a lot about what you wrote about God not letting people into heaven who do not love him and have rejected him because they could not worship a God "like that" (that being one who could command wars, send people to hell, and things like that, I assume). Well, speaking for myself, it's not like that at all. I don't reject Jesus as Lord and Savior because the concept of Hell as punishment isn't warm and fuzzy. I reject it because it doesn't make sense.

It doesn't make sense to me that we have these incredible minds that are capable of asking questions and reasoning, and then have a sole creator God who tells us to stop reasoning and asking questions and have "faith" instead. My concept of the Divine meshes with our ability to reason. It is not dependent on what I believe, and it is not something outside the natural order of the Universe.

That does not mean that I "hate" God and that I think I know more than God or that I don't think God is "good" enough for my tastes. It is simply that in my deep questioning, I came to other conclusions of what is Divine.
post #175 of 279
First I really want to say this is an awesome discussion and I appreciate everyone's contributions and insight. It's great to really hash this around with people of varying mindsets!

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Originally Posted by genifer View Post
I do believe, without any shadow of a doubt that His judgement is perfect.
Really? There's not one situation that you think is bad judgment? Presuming there is a God (big presumption), and presuming further that God is omnipotent (otherwise wouldn't be God really), then where is the judgment in allowing a 9 year old to endure being pregnant with her stepfathers twins after being raped for years? And the Holocaust and all the suffering that encompassed? What about people dying from malnutrition and disease? War? Abuse? Death of innocents? I'm not asking a rhetorical question, I'm genuinely trying to understand how you reconcile 'his judgment is perfect' with the reality.

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Originally Posted by genifer View Post
God is who He says He is.
This is probably a spin off topic, but I'm curious how you (or anyone else) knows 'who' god is when you can't define anything about god? If you're going off of the bible, there's plenty of direct 'quotes' from God that clearly state God is an advocate of murder, incest, child rape, and much more.

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Originally Posted by genifer View Post
And really, the best and first thing that comes to mind when I think of God is just HOW much He loves me. I believe God is love.
Ok but the thing here is that people say God is love, God's love is a perfect love, that sort of thing. Then you cannot have a simultaneous duality of God being love AND God being evil. And there's numerous passages in the bible that clearly demonstrate God's propensity towards evil.


Quote:
Originally Posted by genifer View Post
Do we hate God for making the rules? I dont know if Im talking to someone who is seeking, someone who is trying to make me question my beliefs, I dont know your motives in asking these questions, you see. I want to give you an honest answer. God's revealed things to me slowly and over time. I met Christ, it was like I was a newborn babe (I do understand the being 'born again' bit), then over time God has, and is continuing to slowly reveal these things to me. I sometimes wonder if Christians dont question and search for the answers to these things for themselves and therefore dont have an answer to give when they are questionsed. I dont want to be like that. I ask God 'Why? What does this mean?' He doesnt bend to me as if He should do things my way, but he does slowly reveal things to me as and when Im ready to understand. Sometimes I wonder if he's preparing me for the answer, my heart for being ready to hear the answer. I spent a few years wandering. Questioning these things. Those difficult circumstances I mentioned earlier, those were what brought me back and helped me cover even more ground in my understanding of God and who He is. It was as if in response to those questions I had he had prepared a time for His 'lesson'.
Just to clarify, I don't 'hate' God. I don't hate anything or anyone, and I certainly don't hate things that probably don't exist. And I guess I'm trying to understand why it matters what someone's motivations are behind asking a question? A question is simply a question. Anyways, God violates his own system of law when he damns his creations to eternal suffering for sins.

Quote:
Originally Posted by genifer View Post
I do believe hell is a real place. I do believe people will be sent there. I guess, to answer your question, I have to say Im seeking a difinitive answer from God too. How do you and I both know whether one has really rejected God? Maybe they are just confused and seeking? Maybe they have recieved him, but still dont understand things and in their rashness said 'rejected' Him.

{snip}

I wonder if people's hearts, by that point, will be so hardened with hating Him in this life that they hate Him still then. These are just things Im pondering. What if the 'I cant and wont worship a God 'like that'' is their testimony, and God is like that.
Why is there a presumption of 'hate' though? I've heard this phrased before like this and its offensive (albeit unintentional, I'm guessing). Just because I don't believe xyz doesn't mean I hate xyz. It's not that I can't and wont worship a God 'like that'. It's that there's no reason to believe there IS a God, much less worship one. And I come by that after decades of being/growing/teaching as a conservative Christian. Its not that I'm hating...to me its like Santa, at some point we realize there's a lot of pomp and circumstances in place to make us feel happy when we don't have all the information. Its not necessarily a bad thing, but it CAN be a bad thing.

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Originally Posted by Purple Sage View Post
genifer,

I've been thinking a lot about what you wrote about God not letting people into heaven who do not love him and have rejected him because they could not worship a God "like that" (that being one who could command wars, send people to hell, and things like that, I assume). Well, speaking for myself, it's not like that at all. I don't reject Jesus as Lord and Savior because the concept of Hell as punishment isn't warm and fuzzy. I reject it because it doesn't make sense.

It doesn't make sense to me that we have these incredible minds that are capable of asking questions and reasoning, and then have a sole creator God who tells us to stop reasoning and asking questions and have "faith" instead. My concept of the Divine meshes with our ability to reason. It is not dependent on what I believe, and it is not something outside the natural order of the Universe.

That does not mean that I "hate" God and that I think I know more than God or that I don't think God is "good" enough for my tastes. It is simply that in my deep questioning, I came to other conclusions of what is Divine.

post #176 of 279
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Originally Posted by ILoveSweetpea View Post
From what I can understand reading the bible and from what I can understand by what my pastor says, Christians believe that Jesus is the ONLY way to God. DH and I struggle with the notion a great deal. Our church is fairly conservative, and when we have spoken to our Elders there they have affirmed that the only way to God/Heaven/Salvation is through Jesus. All others need to be saved.

DH and I have friends of other faiths. Maybe we aren't being good Christians, but we've never attempted to convert them. We don't believe they are going to hell... we just can't believe that. I don't understand how someone who seeks God and lives a moral life could be condemned to hell just because he or she is not Christian.

Our elders have told us that such thinking is just the result of modern liberalism. They tell us (and we do see) that the bible is pretty clear on this issue.

How can we accept this? Do we have to accept this? This is such a troubling issue to us. Are there any alternative ways to interpret the scriptures? How do other Christians reconcile this? Do other Christians really believe that (for example) Gandhi is in hell right now? That just seems ... unthinkable!!
I will start off by stating that I have not read the entire thread, but I did want to respond to the OPs questions.

I am LDS (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints aka "mormon"). So yes, I am Christian in that I believe in Christ and that Jesus is the only way to be saved. However I also vary from the mainstream christian crowd on a few points. So this is what I/we believe, but honestly I have no idea how others reconcile this point--it's a very good question that you raise there!

We believe that God, as a loving God, wants there to be a way for EVERY person who does live or has ever lived on the earth to be able to come to Him in heaven. Therefore, we believe that there is a 'waiting place' between death and assignment to heaven/hell, and that in that waiting place those who know Jesus will be able to teach those who have not known Jesus, and everyone will get a chance to choose Jesus (or not) with a full understanding of the ramifications of that choice. Our belief is that those who were good moral people (like Ghandi or whomever), whether they had heard of Jesus or not during their life on earth, will probably accept Him there...but of course no one will be forced to do so. We also believe that there are different degrees of glory--I believe it's 1 Corinthians that speaks of kingdoms with the glory of the sun, the moon, and the stars...We believe that that highest kingdom is for those who fully accepted Jesus, but that good people (who opted to not accept Jesus) will still go to a kingdom of glory, it's just a bit less glorious... There will only be a few people who were truly so nasty (knowingly and intentionally nasty) that they'll wind up in hell.
post #177 of 279
this was a question i asked my grade 9 religion teacher (i went to a catholic school). his reply was no, only Christians go to heaven. i didn't believe him then, and i certainly don't believe that now.

i love caroline myss' take on this issue which is there are going to be a lot of surprised people when their time comes
post #178 of 279
I've been swamped with work recently, but have been thinking about this thread.

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I dont know if Im talking to someone who is seeking, someone who is trying to make me question my beliefs, I dont know your motives in asking these questions, you see. I want to give you an honest answer.
I'm kind of that my motives keep getting questioned on this thread. I really tried to be clear about several pages back when I said
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At the risk of being tedious, I'd like to re-emphasize that I don't bring this up as a way of questioning your faith or encouraging you to in any way water it down. Your faith is a beautiful thing. I do however challenge you to be honest with yourself about the ramifications of your beliefs. [cut] If you can live with it, great. If you can't, then you need to question the belief.
So am I trying to get you to question your beliefs? Only if YOU feel uneasy with them. I know you said you don't feel uncomfortable about your belief in Hell, but then I wonder why you are struggling to find an answer about it? If you completely accept the idea that everyone else is going to Hell, there would be nothing to struggle over or seek an answer for. You would be saying, this is what I believe, and that would be that.

In your posts, I see you struggling to understand how you are different from us, why it is that we heard the wrong answer and you heard the right answer. Essentially, what we did wrong. I know you wouldn't phrase it like that, but as far as I can see that is the bottom line of comments like these:
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Maybe they are just confused and seeking? Maybe they have recieved him, but still dont understand things and in their rashness said 'rejected' Him. Im confused and seeking?
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I wonder if people's hearts, by that point, will be so hardened with hating Him in this life that they hate Him still then.
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What people love to do now, apart from God, God calls unholy. And if people want to continue to do those things, what should God do with them?
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He can have my life and do what he wants with it bc it was him who gave it to me. If thats arrogant then Im arrogant, by someone else's judgement but I live for God so what he thinks of me is what matters. I think, or Im beginning to wonder if this is the difference.
See, I and the other non-christians read these comments and say, nope, that's not me. I'm not confused, I don't hate God, I don't love to do things that God calls unholy, and (some of us anyway, I'm not sure I can claim this ) live for God in the same way you do. But there's nothing we can say that can convince you of that. Because for your belief system to make sense, we must have done something wrong.

Let me emphasize again that I am not trying to attack your belief. I've been on threads where posters with deeply held religious beliefs that contradict each other cheerfully agree to disagree, and I am perfectly happy to agree to disagree. I don't think you are a bad or arrogant person for holding that belief. But exclusivity is inherently judgmental, and I think that needs to be recognized. Judgment isn't necessarily a bad thing, I am not saying that to put anyone on the defensive. But if it is what you believe, then own it.
post #179 of 279
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thao View Post
See, I and the other non-christians read these comments and say, nope, that's not me. I'm not confused, I don't hate God, I don't love to do things that God calls unholy, and (some of us anyway, I'm not sure I can claim this ) live for God in the same way you do.
You know, I can't entirely agree with this. If I look at it from the perspective of, in the end, the Christian view turning out to be the correct one, then I am confused, while hate seems a strong word I do reject god as he is, I do love to do things -- make false claims about god's nature, prophecy, and intentions, for example -- that could easily be called unholy, and I do not at all live for god in the same way as someone who believes that faith alone is either all or enough. And I am so devout to a belief that so rejects so much of the christian view of Jesus in particular that I could actually see the argument being made that, face to face with a different truth, my own heart may be hardened against it.
post #180 of 279
Liquesce, thank you. Thats what Im trying to say.

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Then you cannot have a simultaneous duality of God being love AND God being evil
Nope you cant. But it all depends on what one defines as evil. And I defined what I believe to be evil in this thread or another I cant remember. Evil, as I define it, is a result of rejecting God, denying his existance. From that view, by God's estimation, from my understanding, is where evil comes from. SO, God cant reject Himself, therefore God is not evil.


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I am perfectly happy to agree to disagree.

so am I.

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Why is there a presumption of 'hate' though? I've heard this phrased before like this and its offensive (albeit unintentional, I'm guessing).
maybe I used the word 'hate' too quickly. I suppose one cant hate something they dont beleive in or know much about.

I dont have time to go into responding to all that you guys brought up but wanted to say that I am enjoying this discussion too.


See, I think we are all coming from different world views. We all start somewhere. Ive come to a point where there are certain things about my faith that I completely understand, other things Im seeking understanding on. We all have a worldview.

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So am I trying to get you to question your beliefs? Only if YOU feel uneasy with them.
This is interesting. Thanks for being honest.

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but then I wonder why you are struggling to find an answer about it? If you completely accept the idea that everyone else is going to Hell, there would be nothing to struggle over or seek an answer for. You would be saying, this is what I believe, and that would be that.
All very interesting that this is coming up for me. You see, I came to a point a few years back where I wasnt sure what I believed anymore. I asked the same questions you guys are asking me. I doubted the same ways I suspect you doubted. I dont know what the difference is (which is why Im reserving judgement until I gain a greater understanding), but over time and thru circumstances Id find it difficult to explain, certain things became clearer. Some things remained, and remain cloudy still, my understanding is cloudy still, I need someone to explain things to me, to spend time in prayerful study of these things. Im in the process of doing that now. And truthfully, before now, I wasnt ready to understand. I wasnt ready to accept that if my kids didnt believe they'd go to hell, my unbeleiving family too? Yeah, thats hard to swallow. Of coarse I have wrestled with these things! I think its foolish not to! Naive, maybe.

And thats all I can add for now, dh needs the computer again.
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