I think studying the Gospel and praying for God's guidance on this issue is the most reliable source of truth. Go straight to the source!
You also might find some answers in Marcus Borg's books; he is a Jesus scholar. The God We Never Knew
is my favorite.
|It's not our job to judge who will go to heaven and who won't, who REALLY knows Jesus and who doesn't. (that's His job) There will be pastors and whole churches who claim to know "Jesus" that will end up at the judgement throne of God and He will say, "Depart from me. I never knew you." But it still doesn't mean that 'Jesus' is not the only way.
As I see it, Jesus in his time on earth was the living embodiment of the Way, and he is now a powerful spiritual connection to the Way, but what is really important is the Way and the Truth and the Life. The only way to get closer to God is by walking that Way, learning that Truth, and living that Life. Christians do it by following Jesus, holding hands with Jesus, listening for Jesus calling us, to help us stay on the path--relating to Jesus as a personality. Other people may find other methods of walking that Way, learning that Truth, and living that Life, without ever knowing that the "name" of the Way is Jesus, but it's the same Way and they're knowing and loving Jesus even if they don't perceive him as a personality. Does that make sense?
|I do not understand the Christian hoopla about life after death and heaven and hell.
Who knows really what happens after we die?
What may or may not happen after people die is not the main thing that being a Chrisitian is or should be about.
I agree! As far as I'm concerned, what happens after we die is that God, who loves us, takes care of us, so whatever specific thing happens is the right thing, and there's no need to worry about it. Jesus said not to worry about what will happen in the future but focus on today.
|If there were other ways for people to get into heaven, why would God have done the unthinkable and separated the Trinity, sacrificed His Son and caused a heck of a lot of pain to Himself? Why not just say "Well, we already have A, B and C religions and X, Y and Z religions will come along shortly"? If Jesus' death wasn't necessaryfor salvation, why did God do it?
To get our attention. To show us the horrors of which humans are capable and the injustices which can be perpetrated if we don't speak up to prevent them. To bring us the message of incredible hope and joy through the Resurrection. To demonstrate that Jesus truly was somebody very special (not just another prophet) and thus get people to take his teachings really seriously.
What makes you think the all-powerful God was UNABLE to bring us to heaven without doing something he DIDN'T WANT to do? Why do you think it caused him "a heck of a lot of pain" to implement his own plan?
I think the real sacrifice Jesus made was not suffering for a day and being dead for three days, but humbling himself to live in a human body for 33 years and get treated like just some dumb peasant. He didn't die so that we could go someplace nice after we die; he lived to show us the Way to live. In my opinion.