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Wrestling with the "exclusivity" of Christianity... please help! - Page 12

post #221 of 279
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thao View Post
Well, there you go. Proof that non-Christians go to Hell!
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Originally Posted by smeisnotapirate View Post


I walked into that one!
post #222 of 279
Quote:
Originally Posted by Thao View Post
Well, there you go. Proof that non-Christians go to Hell!
post #223 of 279
lol... see, I knew it!

Anyway, I do find it interesting that there are few references to hell or eternal fire, condemnation etc in the Old Testament.

There is one in Daniel 12:2

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2 Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.
Malachi 4:1

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1 "Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and that day that is coming will set them on fire," says the LORD Almighty. "Not a root or a branch will be left to them.
and Im investigating more. I found a whole slew of references to eternal banishment from God's presence, eternal condemnation etc in the gospels and the epistles.
post #224 of 279
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Christians have been dealing with this for generations. Such luminaries as C.S. Lewis and Madeline L'Engle (my favorite Christian author) have struggled with this issue and implied in their writings that they accept mamabadger's concept that anyone who is saved has by definition accepted Christ whether they know it or not (sorry, Sme! ). It's not really dealt with clearly in the Bible
Ok, with all due respect, I believe it is dealt with in the bible, which is why Im certain that the answers will come (for me).

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One thing, though, that I think is important is to learn what "hell" was back then. From what I have learned, Judaism did not have a concept of hell like what is taught in Christianity. Jesus lived and existed within that context and I think kept his teaching within the cultural and religious context of his day.

So with that in mind, if there was not a teaching/belief in literal hell (sheol was where all went at death - righteous and unrighteous), what did Jesus mean when he used the word. Also, what was the original word in Greek and/or Aramaic? I guess I would want to look into those answers before I could gather an opinion on what he meant, if that makes sense.
I do think it is important to learn what hell IS. Not just back then, but what it is forever. If it even exists, which I believe it does. Im not sure if 'back then' judaism did have a 'concept' of hell like the one taught in christianity, in that it is eternal condemnation, punishment, etc, but, I look at verses in Isaiah and Daniel, Malachi and think they did. Maybe it was something that they just pondered, discussed, the way Sme, in this thread or another, said Jews do. But I believe Jesus came to make things clearer, to say something like 'you dont have to guess anymore, Im gonna tell you how it is'. Which is why he often talked about 'The Kingdom of Heaven is like...'

Note: Im not sure if Jews consider all these as part of their sacred writings, I must admit Im a little bit unedumacated as far as thats concerned. Since the Jews of Jesus' day, his followers who became known as christians, and since Jesus was a jew (even tho I believe he was equally divine, which goes a LONG way to explain what and why I believe what I believe), since a lot of them quoted the jewish scriptures (what they considered Jewish scriptures of their day) I tend to believe they did have a 'concept' of hell. Even if Jews may not recognise those particular books as sacred (?) today. Well, forgive my ignorance, but I dont even know if jews think of their books as sacred, am I right in making that assumption (apologies for a stupid question).


Quote:
Is 33:14
14 The sinners in Zion are terrified;
trembling grips the godless:
"Who of us can dwell with the consuming fire?
Who of us can dwell with everlasting burning?"
That ones not as good at making my point but I think Daniel is better.

Quote:
2 Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.
Malachi 4 talks about it too.

Quote:
1 "Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and that day that is coming will set them on fire," says the LORD Almighty. "Not a root or a branch will be left to them. 2 But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall.
Im keeping the quotes simple and to the point so as not to get sidetracked.

Admittedly I found lots more scripture dealing with hell and eternal condemnation in the new testament. ...But, I think there is a reason for that and its something I learned a little bit about before but right now its being driven home, and its the fact that, I believe, God reveals things over time. I believe that Jesus is one with the Father, that he came from heaven (or eternity if you like), so, being that he knew all things from eternity (he often talks about how he can do nothing that wasnt taught him from God. His Father has taught him everything etc) He knows a lot more then what God had previously revealed to mankind ... and at that time in human history revealed that much more to us.

Did I go all over the place here, Im trying to keep it simple.
post #225 of 279
AFAIK, those references from the Hebrew Bible are all referencing a single day - the Day of Judgement. We talk a lot about that as Jews. The DoJ is a day when all of our deeds are laid bare and G-d judges us based on the life we lived.
post #226 of 279
Well, Sara, I wouldnt argue with ya there! But would you agree that, in Dan 12:2 quote atleast, that they do mention an eternal condemnation?

Quote:
2 Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.
Malachi 4 talks about it too.

Quote:
1 "Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and that day that is coming will set them on fire," says the LORD Almighty. "Not a root or a branch will be left to them.
post #227 of 279
Daniel was written about a certain time period - the Babylonian Captivity. The four apocalyptic visions of Daniel (Dan 7 - 12) are widely debated in rabbinic literature. Some believe they described the siege of Jerusalem in 597 BCE, and others believe that Daniel, a minor prophet, was trying to prophesy about the Day of Judgement. I'm pretty sure that no rabbinic literature states that it has anything to do with hell, though. On the Day of Judgement, all will rise from their graves to be judged, so that's where the reference in Daniel 12:2 comes from.

Shame and everlasting contempt is also not a hell-thing. It's a Jewish mom thing. Seriously, though, I believe it's about the contempt of G-d for living a wasted life, not condemnation.

Malachi, in the Jewish Canon, only has 3 chapters, so I'm not sure that there's any Jewish writing on Malachi 4. That was a later addition of the Septuagint. Malachi is also concerned with sacrifices offered at the Temple - that they be correct and offered in the right way - and concerned with punishment of those who don't follow the rules of sacrifice set out in Leviticus.

The Jewish concept of hell or Gehenna is also a temporary place. You and I, after death, will go to Gehenna to give us the chance to repent for our sins - where our sins are laid bare and we are given a chance to get closer to G-d through true repentance. Only the most righteous (the 36 tzaddikim) will escape time in Gehenna. All people but the truly wicked will complete their repentance within 12 months. There is nothing in the Tanakh that says what happens to the truly wicked.

Does that clarify things?
post #228 of 279
Quote:
Originally Posted by genifer View Post
Ok, with all due respect, I believe it is dealt with in the bible, which is why Im certain that the answers will come (for me).
You'll notice I said that it is not dealt with clearly in the Bible. There are no unequivocally clear statements that support our modern idea of Hell, not in the way there are unequivocally clear statements about the nature of Yahweh or the prohibition on stealing.

The verses you quote could, as Sme points out, have been written to mean something other than how you are understanding them.

Which is why Christians have been praying and thinking and reading the Bible about this issue for two thousand years and come up with different answers, all of which can be reasonably thought to be supported by the Bible.
post #229 of 279
Sara, that is fabulous that you posted that! And you bring up a good point. Many of the references to suffering, etc. refer to things that have already happened by now. They really were messages to the people of that time, not people of this time. A lot of the "end times" scriptures in the New Testament refer to predictions or descriptions of the Roman destruction of the Jewish temple, which would have happened fewer than 40 years after Jesus' death and in fact was happening at the time the gospels were being written. The events of that time greatly influenced how things were written down.
post #230 of 279
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You'll notice I said that it is not dealt with clearly in the Bible. There are no unequivocally clear statements that support our modern idea of Hell, not in the way there are unequivocally clear statements about the nature of Yahweh or the prohibition on stealing.

Hey, no worries Thao. Im going to be looking out for that tho, bc I think there are, ive just refrained from posting them till now.

ETA: There are some verses that do confuse things a bit about hell, eternal condemnation (I am thinking of romans somewhere), but I dont think those verses necessarily point to a universal salvation. I think, or am learning that its the opposite. That all of creation is sujbect to decay and destruction, condemnation and wrath and that we needed a Saviour. This is where my studying is leading me to conclude. I think those verses are what confuse things.... possibly.

Now, the 'why' are we ALL declared by God as deserving of His wrath is what confuses us(?), this is what we've been saying here, if Im understanding you guys correctly. Im trying to gain a better understanding of this too.

Quote:
The verses you quote could, as Sme points out, have been written to mean something other than how you are understanding them.
And I suppose in one sense they could have been. There is a 'rule' when reading scripture, and that is to take ten verses before and ten verses after. Its not a RULE rule, but its a good idea sort of rule to get the context and full understanding of scripture at hand. I just wanted to keep things simple.
post #231 of 279
IMHO, the Western (aka Christian) version of hell looks more like Dante than the Bible (Christian OR Hebrew). Google "Dante and hell" and let me know what you think.
post #232 of 279
definately will do!
post #233 of 279
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by smeisnotapirate View Post
IMHO, the Western (aka Christian) version of hell looks more like Dante than the Bible (Christian OR Hebrew). Google "Dante and hell" and let me know what you think.
I am definitely not a scholar on the concept of hell... but I will say that my church teaches that Hell is basically the absence of God - so it's an eternity away from God. My previous church home was a Methodist church that taught a similar understanding of Hell.

The idea of hell being fire/ice/torture/circles of hell/etc. I've always thought was more of a pop culture version of hell than anything believed by a majority of Christians. But I could be totally wrong... this is just my experience with the teachings of Hell (a subject my church doesn't discuss very often, to be honest). I'm sure many Christians out there have a very different view then me and my understanding.

I have soooooo much to learn on this subject, I probably don't have any business posting on this thread.
post #234 of 279
Quote:
Originally Posted by smeisnotapirate View Post
IMHO, the Western (aka Christian) version of hell looks more like Dante than the Bible (Christian OR Hebrew). Google "Dante and hell" and let me know what you think.
Well...Dante's Inferno was fiction. I don't know about Protestants, but the Catholic teaching is generally that Hell is eternal separation from God. Dante was Catholic but I think it's important to understand that he wasn't saying "This is literally what Hell is like." We talk about eternal torment and fire etc, but that doesn't necessarily mean LITERAL fire (although it's possible). Hell is a place that's so horrifying it's completely unimaginable. Imagery like Dante's isn't meant to be literal, but to try to impart the terror and torment of Hell.
post #235 of 279
I agree with what you're saying about Dante. My point is that his writings, though fiction, have changed the image culturally. Sort of like how after JRR Tolkien wrote his books on Middle Earth, the rest of the genre of "fantasy" changed completely. Or after Martin Luther, Christianity completely changed. Dante's influence on the images we have of hell is real and that was the point I was making.
post #236 of 279
Quote:
Originally Posted by ILoveSweetpea View Post
Do other Christians really believe that (for example) Gandhi is in hell right now? That just seems ... unthinkable!!
NO I DON'T! I'm sorry, it's late and I don't have time to read through this whole thread, which looks fascinating, but I just had to register my "No" vote on Gandhi's eternal damnation!

I am a Christian (and fairly Orthodox at that) but I believe that God is bigger than Christianity. I do believe that Jesus is the only path to fully knowing and being reconciled to God, but I have observed many who seem to know Christ in spirit, if not in name. While there are many verses in the bible that speak about the exclusivity of Christ, the whole New Testament is about opening up God's love and welcome to people outside the Jewish faith. Why would we think that opening is only for Christians? I believe that God desires to be reconciled with all people, and all of Creation, and that God makes him/her self available to all in ways that each person can relate to. Anyway, just my $.02, since you asked!
post #237 of 279
Quote:
Originally Posted by smeisnotapirate View Post
Dante's influence on the images we have of hell is real and that was the point I was making.
In terms of firey torments and such, Dante's image of hell and the imagery used to describe it in my religion is often not very far apart. My sole point being that the imagery well predated his time period and works ... it is entirely possible, probably even, that it is more the case that the medieval Christian image of hell was deeply influenced by pre-existing theological discussions on the matter than it is that it created them. (Although there were a number of Islamic philosophers who were quite popular reading in Europe predating and in Dante's time, so no doubt there were some intermingling of ideas there as well.)
post #238 of 279
There's also Tartarus:

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In classic mythology, below Heaven, Earth, and Pontus is Tartarus, or Tartaros (Greek Τάρταρος, deep place). It is a deep, gloomy place, a pit, or an abyss used as a dungeon of torment and suffering that resides beneath the underworld. In the Gorgias, Plato (c. 400 BC) wrote that souls were judged after death and those who received punishment were sent to Tartarus. As a place of punishment, it can be considered a hell. The classic Hades, on the other hand, is more similar to Old Testament Sheol.
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In most English Bibles, the word Tartarus is simply translated as Hell, even though early Christian writers usually used the term Gehenna, the Hinnom Valley, to mean hell.
It's interesting that this word (as well as Hades, which is simply the underworld, not Hell) was used in the original writing of the Bible, being based on Greek mythology. The ancient Greeks, as far as I know, didn't write about a place of eternal damnation, but they did seem to think that immoral souls reaped just rewards.
post #239 of 279
Quote:
It is a deep, gloomy place, a pit, or an abyss used as a dungeon of torment and suffering that resides beneath the underworld.

...

Dante's influence on the images we have of hell is real and that was the point I was making.
It is interesting actually. I do believe however that in some parts of the bible, like revelation for example, do talk about eternal seperation from God. Which is what I think IloveSweetpea is talking about (am I right?). Which is what I went to bed and woke up thinking about! lol. Im going to have to further study that.

Im not sure how much Ill be able to participate in the discussion for a while. Its been fascinating and a great exchange. Ive got to focus on some stuff on the homefront, but its been wonderful 'talking' this out with you guys. I might lurk and post here and there, but I gotta take a step back for now.

post #240 of 279
If there is a place of eternal separation from God, then God is not omnipresent. There must be a place, then, where God is not. I don't believe that.

I definitely live part (most?) of my life "separate" from God, in that I focus on my own selfish desires and stuff that isn't even remotely important, worry about stuff I have no control over (directly ordering some of the most beautiful and reassuring words of Jesus,) judge people, who are also children of God, etc. etc. rather than focusing on God. I also definitely live part of my life in communion with God, and my desire as I grow spiritually is more of the latter and less of the former!

FWIW, I used to "take the Bible literally" as we've been discussing, and it was during that time where I began to believe in universal salvation.

On the subject of hell, which is fascinating, can someone tell me what gnashing of teeth looks like?

I also have read, and this makes sense, that this idea of heaven and hell was a product of a belief that heaven is above, and hell is below, which makes sense if one believes the earth is flat, but kind of falls apart with the knowledge of a round globe. I definitely always wondered about that as a kid! Is hell in the center of the earth? Is God like a donut and we're in the middle? Is Jesus roaming around in this donut-shaped heaven that surrounds the Earth? That's what my kid-brain did with the ideas of heaven and hell. (If heaven is "up above" it has to be up above for us as well as for China!) We can say that these things exist in the spiritual realm, but then I return to my first point in this post, and that is how could there be a place in the spiritual realm where God is not?

And if I have the tiniest bit of compassion towards other people, and I do, how could God not be even more compassion? How could I have a characteristic like compassion and God not have it?

Hmmmm.... yes it's 3:20 in the morning. Some times I can't fall back to sleep after being woken up!!!!!!
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