By TinMan ~
“You can appreciate God all you want, it does not imply he loves you back.” — TinMan
Hell. It strikes worry in the heart of the believing and the unbelieving. This doctrine has to be the most terrifying aspect of any religion, but it is specifically accurate for these who grew up in the Christian tradition (and I would extend it to Islam as properly). If I had to speculate, I would say everybody gets into, and stays in, Christianity simply because of the dread hell creates in persons. For the duration of my time in Christianity, all I wanted was an assurance that hell would not be my eternal fate. If there is one particular point I discovered even though I obsessed more than dogma, it is this: there is no assure, and there by no means will be.
I want to speak about the worry of hell simply because it is one thing that borderline debilitated me mentally as a human, and I know it has the similar impact on other folks. Hell did not terrorize me just simply because of my personal individual wish not to be in discomfort forever, but I could not stomach it for the sake of other folks as properly. When I was a Calvinist, I got to a point exactly where I could not intellectually, and emotionally, deal with the concept of God firing persons into the pits of hell. It was also troublesome, also grotesque, and also unmerciful. At some point in time, certainly God’s blood lust should really be sated, certainly God would develop tired of sustaining his pure hated for other folks. Primarily based on mainstream Christian theology, the aforementioned is the only way hell could exist. If YHWH produced, and hence sustains every thing, then hell can’t be a location absent of YHWH hence, for eternity, YHWH is displaying appreciate for some, and active hate and malice for other folks. If this premise is accurate, then God does not appreciate his enemies as he commands us to appreciate them.
How do we escape this fate? How can we uncover ourselves in God’s fantastic graces? My conclusion is that no one particular could ever know, not in this life anyway. I want to go by way of a couple of diverse speaking points to demonstrate that there is no resolution, no assurance, and absolutely no assure that becoming a component of the Christian nation will avoid you from going to hell. I bring this up simply because I know a lot of persons, myself integrated, waver in their choice to leave the Christian faith. The threat of hell hangs more than our heads and at instances, we want to run back to the illusion of the security net supplied by belief.
Personally, I did not just choose to leave the faith one particular day. It is not as if I packed my bags and headed out the church to by no means return. What occurred to me is that I wanted to know the truth. What is the truth of the reality I observe? How can I know what is accurate? My issue with religion is epistemological. Since only understanding what is accurate can I escape my accurate issue, which is avoiding hell, or rather, eternal suffering. This is the simple issue Christianity sets ahead of us, and what we seek to resolve.
Christians will say that you can prevent hell by becoming saved. Properly, what precisely is becoming saved, and how can we know if we are saved?
What is the typical response to this dilemma? The sinner’s prayer. We all know it, get on your knees, accept the tenets of the faith (for the sake of this argument, we will assume the Apostolic Creed), beg Jesus (or Joshua, or Yeshua definitely) for forgiveness of sins, and accept the atoning sacrifice of Yeshua. As extended as you petitioned, and believed with your complete becoming, it took. Nine time out of ten, this is the typical answer I get when I ask the query. This theological notion runs parallel with the notion that salvation comes by way of faith, and not of functions. For ideal now, we will just say faith is accepting the truths of the tenets of the faith and trusting in the finishing perform of the atonement. Appears straightforward adequate, and all round, absolutely nothing also taxing of the believer. But is this definitely all there is also it? Does this definitely do the trick? Is there any way to back this up? Quick answer: no.
Naturally, the similar Christians who told us that this is all there is to the faith will then say the Bible supports the easy program of salvation. However, when I turn to the Bible, I see some proof for this, but I see a lot of proof pointing away from this easy program of having ideal with God. When Jesus was speaking to the crowds, and his personal disciples, some important comments stick out in my thoughts.
“Be excellent as your father in heaven is excellent.”
“Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the Pharisees, you can’t enter the Kingdom of God.”
“Enter by the narrow gate for the gate is wide and the way is straightforward, that leads to destruction, and these who enter by it are a lot of.”
I am certain I do not want to go on, just these couple of statements get the point across. What about other books of the Bible, what do they say about just possessing faith?
“Faith with out functions is dead.” – James
“…not to associate with any individual who bears the name brother if he is guilty of immorality, or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or robber – not to even consume with such a one particular.” 1 Corinthians
There is a relatively constant theme by way of the OT, and the NT, that it is not just about possessing faith. It is faith and living holy, becoming a living sacrifice, etcetera. I just do not see any other way about it. Then the query becomes, what is the threshold? How significantly do I have to sacrifice? How forgiving do I have to be? How can I know exactly where I stand with YHWH? Even if you think in Christianity, and want to reside out the faith, you will by no means know how you price with God. We can conclude that just possessing faith does not resolve our dilemma in attempting to prevent hell. If we are to prevent our issue of hell, we ought to have faith, and we ought to be undertaking some other step-actions to satisfy YHWH. But what are they, and how do we figure them out? Let us go back to the Bible.
Initially and foremost, attempting to uncover a congruent believed in Christianity is fairly frankly untenable. I uncover the Bible has a lot more in prevalent with Wonderland from Alice in Wonderland than it does with our perceived reality. For the sake of this discussion, let us say the 66 books of the Protestant Bible are all we have to perform with. That becoming the case, we are going to try to make sense of it, as only humans are capable. No matter what, humans are bound by their personal worldview, their personal understanding of explanation, and of course biases. It is not possible just to turn these off when reading the Bible. I can’t inform you how a lot of instances I would study some quip by an apologist or a pew potato saying you have to study the Bible with an uncluttered filter – fantastic luck with that. It is not as if humans have this constructed in binary switch you can set to “do not be biased, or feel about this with a western mindset.” The most simple assumption is that our perceived reality is there, and we can investigate our perceived reality with the scientific technique and logic. Rapid note on this, any time you hear an apologist state that scientist are “biased” against the supernatural, that is patently false. What scientist do say is that we are not capable to investigate or test the supernatural, hence, the supernatural is not necessarily excluded, science is just unable to say something about it. Our scientific tools are only capable of investigating the all-natural globe. This typical line from apologist is an equivocation.
Enable me to expand upon the several factors I uncover that the Bible could only be accurate outdoors of our perceived reality. For the Bible to be regularly accurate, it could only be accurate in a different reality, a different universe that is bound by a diverse set of guidelines, it can’t be accurate in our reality. Think about the Gospel of John exactly where it states, “God is appreciate.” How can God be appreciate and then he assigns his creation to eternal torment? Not even a couple of, but most of his creation is in hell, recall….narrow is the way. If hell is eternal torture, then in our reality, God is not appreciate. The which means of appreciate is now meaningless to us. It requires on some definition that is outdoors of human practical experience and understanding but however, how does the Bible define appreciate? Paul has one thing to say of it in 1 Corinthians 13:
“Love is patient and sort appreciate is not jealous or boastful it is not arrogant or rude. Like does not insist on its personal way it is not irritable or resentful it does not rejoice at incorrect, but rejoices in the ideal. Like bears all factors, believes all factors, hopes all factors, endures all factors.” Haha, what!!!!!??? If God is appreciate, and appreciate is what we just defined, then what is the deal with hell? I will go even additional and say that is not a systematic definition of the God we uncover scattered by way of the Bible. What God is the author of 1 Corinthians 13 even speaking about?
Why does the proof we uncover in our perceived reality not match up with the stories relayed in the Bible? If God produced the universe in six days, why does our universe appear old? Why does not Noah’s flood match up with paleontology and geology? Why are we so close in genetics to apes? Why does it seem that all living organisms share prevalent ancestry? Why are not miracles, or rather interactions with a god becoming, or angels, a component of our day-to-day practical experience? Why does not prayer perform?
If God is appreciate […], then what is the deal with hell?1 Kings 22 presents a different issue, what if God sent you a lying spirit? For all these Christians who say the Holy Spirit is speaking to them, guiding them, how do they know? Thousands of diverse denominations attest to the reality they can’t all be ideal, but they could all be incorrect. Who has the Holy Spirit, who is deceived, and who is God purposely sending a lying spirit to? How could any individual know if they have been basically following the ideal way? What technique could we employ to figure out the “truth?” Apparently YHWH has no issue letting persons be deceived, regardless of whether by way of their personal actions, or he basically sent a lying spirit to throw them off track. If God desires all to repent and come to the truth, why enable us to be deceived? And the massive query, why in the globe would you let a spirit deceive us! In particular if the one particular in search of the truth has sincere intent? This only additional substantiates our inability to uncover a resolution for the stated issue: How do we prevent hell?
To summarize the biblical challenge, Protestant denominations state the Bible is inerrant, infallible, and accurate in just about every aspect. As stated ahead of, that could only be accurate in some other universe exactly where logical contradictions are all simultaneously accurate, and that fairly frankly is outdoors of our capacity to conceive. We are becoming asked to think in one thing that is not doable for us to basically think. I would argue we are physically incapable of undertaking so. Do with that what you will.
The issue we have is that the most trusted technique humans have to test what is accurate can’t be applied to biblical stories, and theological ideas. That technique is the scientific technique:
Make an observation
Build a hypothesis
Test hypothesis with an experiment
Refine hypothesis if experiment did not yield conclusive outcomes
Application of the scientific technique is how we know one thing can be demonstrated to be accurate in our perceived reality. Our understanding of the demonstrably accurate then feeds our capacity to construct logically accurate premises and conclusions all of which are tentative primarily based upon new proof.
By now, I am certain any individual can see there is no conclusive way to know regardless of whether or not you are going to hell. In this regard, I feel the Catholics and Eastern Orthodox have one thing more than Protestants. We might be in a universe exactly where we have a god like Angra Mainyu, who is going to torture all of us just for kicks. We do not know, and ideal now, we can’t know. We do not have the capacity to test such a point. When it comes to Christianity, unless we basically went by way of some sort judgement day, had the sheep and the goats separated, and then ended up someplace, it is all degrees of possibility.
Personally, this is how I deal with it – I just accept that I can’t know. I would like to know, I would like to have an assurance that an afterlife would be eternal bliss versus discomfort, but I realized that there is absolutely nothing I can do to assure that. All I can do is weigh the proof, and hold a tentative conclusion on what is likely accurate primarily based upon the proof. If there is a hell, then the god who produced it place us in an not possible position…we have been set up for failure. We have no capacity to sift by way of the information and come to the right conclusion. As shown currently, saying a prayer, possessing faith, and apparently even performing miracles is no way to know exactly where you stand with God (Recall these people on judgement day pleading with Christ simply because they did miracles in his name, “Depart from me, I by no means knew you” – Jesus). Only this god could give me the wisdom necessary to one particular: figure out what he wanted two: be okay with the majority of humanity suffering forever. I could not be in heaven possessing a fantastic time understanding billions of other folks have been suffering. I am incapable of it. That signifies God would have to adjust my complete framework of how I see every thing. When I was leaving Christianity, I usually prayed that God would just make me a spiritual zombie that believed what ever he wanted me to think and do all the time. I was a lot more than satisfied to give up my freewill simply because it just seemed that my individual freewill was a waste of my time, and God’s time. But that has not occurred, so if there is a hell, I am powerless to do something to prevent it, hence, why should really I commit just about every waking moment dwelling on it? I am not the sort of particular person who dwells on conditions I have no energy more than. If there is a hell, it is inevitable I am going there, and I will just have to deal with it when I arrive. What are you going to do? It is a hopeless circumstance.
For these who are terrified of hell, I want you to take into account what is it about hell that scares you? Is it the discomfort? Is it that you feel you will by no means practical experience any fantastic once again? You will by no means quit becoming terrified of hell if you do not know what precisely about it that bothers you. I applied to be afraid of the discomfort aspect of hell, of becoming on fire all the time. When I definitely believed about it, in some way, the discomfort may possibly be so excruciating you do not even really feel it. Probably it is so intense you are nearly frozen in time. At some point in time, I would feel the nerves would be destroyed so now you are on fire and you do not even really feel it. I have heard some Christians say the physique just keeps regenerating so you really feel it all more than once again – so loving. All through history, some Christians have definitely painted a fairly grotesque image of hell, and I can inform you they delighted in it simply because they did not feel they have been going there. I have terrible news for them, they do not know that. I bet if a lot more persons definitely believed they may possibly ended up in God’s Toyland of Torture, they would be attempting to temper all of the horrific elements. Even these in the holiness movement by no means basically feel they will finish up on the spit, it only holds accurate for everybody else.
As I mentioned in my quotes at the begin of this, you can appreciate God all you want, it does not imply he loves you back. Telling your self you are one particular of God’s unique children is a statement you can by no means prove to be accurate. It is all speculation and wishful considering. Understanding this is what definitely drove me to investigate the claims of Christianity, I wanted to know I was in God’s fantastic graces. I wanted to know I was going to heaven. I wanted to know God was fantastic, and merciful, and sort. For all the factors stated above, I could not, and can’t, know any of it.