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Why the Christian idea of hell no longer persuades people to care for the poor

What was behind early depictions of hell? Photo by Erica Zabowski/Creative Commons

It’s that time of the year when hell is used as a common theme for entertainment and hell-themed haunted houses and horror movies pop up all over the country.

Although many of us now associate hell with Christianity, the idea of an afterlife existed much earlier. Greeks and Romans, for example, used the concept of Hades, an underworld where the dead lived, both as a way of understanding death and as a moral tool.

However, in the present times, the use of this rhetoric has radically changed.

Rhetoric in ancient Greece and Rome

The earliest Greek and Roman depictions of Hades in the epics did not focus on punishment, but described a dark shadowy place of dead people.

In Book 11 of the Greek epic the “Odyssey,” Odysseus travels to the realm of the dead, encountering countless familiar faces, including his own mother.

Near the end of Odysseus’ tour, he encounters a few souls being punished for their misdeeds, including Tantalus, who was sentenced eternally to have food and drink just out of reach. It is this punishment from which the word “tantalize” originated.

Hundreds of years later, the Roman poet Virgil, in his epic poem “Aeneid,” describes a similar journey of a Trojan, Aeneas, to an underworld, where many individuals receive rewards and punishments.

This ancient curriculum was used for teaching everything from politics to economics to virtue, to students across the Roman empire, for hundreds of years.

In later literature, these early traditions around punishment persuaded readers to behave ethically in life so that they could avoid punishment after death. For example, Plato describes the journey of a man named Er, who watches as souls ascend to a place of reward, and descend to a place of punishment. Lucian, an ancient second century A.D. satirist takes this one step further in depicting Hades as a place where the rich turned into donkeys and had to bear the burdens of the poor on their backs for 250 years.

For Lucian this comedic depiction of the rich in hell was a way to critique excess and economic inequality in his own world.

Early Christians

By the time the New Testament gospels were written in the first century A.D., Jews and early Christians were moving away from the idea that all of the dead go to the same place.

Early Christians portrayed hell through different terms. Here is “The Harrowing of Hell,” an old Icon painting. Image courtesy of Creative Commons

In the Gospel of Matthew, the story of Jesus is told with frequent mentions of “the outer darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.” As I describe in my book, many of the images of judgment and punishment that Matthew uses represent the early development of a Christian notion of hell.

The Gospel of Luke does not discuss final judgment as frequently, but it does contain a memorable representation of hell. The Gospel describes Lazarus, a poor man who had lived his life hungry and covered with sores, at the gate of a rich man, who disregards his pleas. After death, however, the poor man is taken to heaven. Meanwhile, it is the turn of the rich man to be in agony as he suffers in the flames of hell and cries out for Lazarus to give him some water.

For the marginalized other

Matthew and Luke are not simply offering audiences a fright fest. Like Plato and later Lucian, these New Testament authors recognized that images of damnation would capture the attention of their audience and persuade them to behave according to the ethical norms of each gospel.

Later Christian reflections on hell picked up and expanded this emphasis. Examples can be seen in the later apocalypses of Peter and Paul – stories that use strange imagery to depict future times and otherworldly spaces. These apocalypses included punishments for those who did not prepare meals for others, care for the poor or care for the widows in their midst.

Although these stories about hell were not ultimately included in the Bible, they were extremely popular in the ancient church, and were used regularly in worship.

A major idea in Matthew was that love for one’s neighbor was central to following Jesus. Later depictions of hell built upon this emphasis, inspiring people to care for the “least of these” in their community.

Damnation then and now

The idea of hell is used to bring about conversions. Photo by William Morris/Creative Commons

In the contemporary world, the notion of hell is used to scare people into becoming Christians, with an emphasis on personal sins rather than a failure to care for the poor or hungry.

In the United States, as religion scholar Katherine Gin Lum has argued, the threat of hell was a powerful tool in the age of nation-building. In the early Republic, as she explains, “fear of the sovereign could be replaced by fear of God.”

As the ideology of republicanism developed, with its emphasis on individual rights and political choice, the way that the rhetoric of hell worked also shifted. Instead of motivating people to choose behaviors that promoted social cohesion, hell was used by evangelical preachers to get individuals to repent for their sins.

Even though people still read Matthew and Luke, it is this individualistic emphasis, I argue, that continues to inform our modern understanding of hell. It is evident in the hell-themed Halloween attractions with their focus on gore and personal shortcomings.

These depictions are unlikely to portray the consequences for people who have neglected to feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, welcome the stranger, cloth the naked, care for the sick or visit those in prison.

The fears around hell, in the current times, play only on the ancient rhetoric of eternal punishment.The Conversation

(Meghan Henning is an assistant professor of Christian Origins at the University of Dayton.)

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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Meghan Henning

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  • Nice exposition of Christianity comprising an extension of older myths. That’s the normal course of myth, especially when passed down orally.

    And today’s conservative Christians hardly can spare the time from peeping into bedrooms of consenting adults to order up much concern about societal injustices.

  • What a lot of people discovered was that neither Heaven nor Hell was relevant to a commitment to caring for the vulnerable.

  • Well, it’s wonderful to learn that God stole the idea of Hell from the Greeks and Romans. He’ll be pleased that someone from a liberal website even thought of Him. Hell is an actual place. For a tour of Hell, please read Luke 16 for what God taught on Hell – Lazarus and the Rich Man,.

    “These apocalypses included punishments for those who did not prepare meals for others, care for the poor or care for the widows in their midst.” What is your scripture reference for that please? Gosh, does that mean that I HAVE to cook ALL of my husband’s meals?

    Proverbs 15:24 ( The path of life leads upward for the prudent to keep them from going down to the realm of the dead.) I guess the apostles weren’t the first to use Hell as the author purports: “Matthew and Luke are not simply offering audiences a fright fest. Like Plato and later Lucian, these New Testament authors recognized that images of damnation would capture the attention of their audience and persuade them to behave according to the ethical norms of each gospel.” Jeepers, even Soloman referred to it….I guess you don’t read OT? Did Soloman’s wisdom consist of knowing the truth, or just a means of manipulating others with fear? We’ll never know……..
    Psalm 9:17 – The wicked go down to the realm of the dead, all the nations that forget God.” It is generally believed that David wrote that psalm for himself – he needed to manipulate and threaten himself too? wow

  • Meghan Henning didn’t either.

    For example her “By the time the New Testament gospels were written in the first century
    A.D., Jews and early Christians were moving away from the idea that all
    of the dead go to the same place.” is not accurate.

    For the Jews read:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Resurrection_of_the_dead#Rabbinic_and_Samaritan_Judaism

    All Christians from the beginning believed in a Heaven and Hell and a judgment by God as to which was merited based on leading a good or a bad life.

    There was no “all
    of the dead go to the same place” to move away from.

    And yet you apprised it as a “nice exposition”.

  • CORRECTION: Nobody goes to “hell [on account of their] failure to care for the poor or hungry.” Hell won’t be “for people who have neglected to feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, welcome the stranger, cloth the naked, care for the sick or visit those in prison.” Read Matthew 24 and 25 again to see that you & I go hell ONLY BECAUSE we don’t endure the cross that we carry in our lives of faith in response to the ransoming Fatherly love of God through the crucifixion, burial and resurrection of His own beloved Son, Jesus, the Messiah of Israel and the savior of the rest of the world”.

  • CORRECTION: “Heaven [and] Hell [are totally] relevant to a commitment to caring for the vulnerable [if born-from-above, fired-up and die-hard followers of THE Christ Jesus of the gospels, epistles and revelation].”

    Source: Matthew 24-25.

  • Wait, what?! You read this article as a “nice exposition of Christianity” by “peeping into bedrooms of consenting adults”?! That’s messed up, ‘yo!

  • ” I go to hell ONLY BECAUSE we don’t endure the cross that we carry in our lives of faith in response to the ransoming Fatherly love of God through the crucifixion, burial and resurrection of His own beloved Son, Jesus, the Messiah of Israel and the savior of the rest of the world.”
    Could you unshake this word salad into something decipherable?

  • No, Hell was plagiarized by the unimaginative Christians. Stolen from other cultures like many other things in Christianity. You are part of a religion of cultural thieves.

  • Ms. Henning……I don’t know if you are Episcopalian or not, but, God came to the Earth as a man – Jesus (also called the Christ – research that from the Old Testament – I suggest). God walked among us, lived with us and taught about Hell. Jesus came for two reasons – He was spat upon, scourged, and eventually nailed to a cross – 1) to glorify God 2) to take our sins on Himself so that we don’t need to go to Hell. Now, you can choose to believe that or not.
    (edit)
    Now, the disciples all died in henious ways because they knew Jesus is God and what He taught is true.
    I suggest you research how they died and what they went through in defence of God and His truth.

  • In basic agreement with what you wrote. I would only add the following.

    When referring to “punishments for those who did not prepare meals for others, care for the poor” etc., You ask “What is your scripture reference for that please?”

    In His teaching on the Last Judgement (Matthew 25: 31-46), Jesus depicts Himself condemning to eternal hell fire those who did not feed the hungry, help the sick, clothe the naked, etc. So I think that part of the article has a sound Biblical basis (although I find the article in general to be very poor, and your objections to it are on-the-money.)

  • Hell is about as real as Nirvana, Shangri-La, Karma, Yahweh, Bigfoot or Spirits, Holy or otherwise. Nothing but our imagination at work and Christian plagiarism. Hell is as real as Heaven…which means it does not exist.

    The Zoroastrians started Hell the concept with the dichotomy between good and evil…Then the Greeks expanded it — Zeus throwing Cronus into Hades, the underworld. Christians then stole the concept to scare their ignorant followers. Islam then stole it again. Then Dante added to it…and now we are finally laughing Hell (and Heaven) off as the stupidity it always was !!

  • No, I won’t be looking out for your comments.

    BTW, how are things over at Westboro Baptist?

  • The idea of Hell began to fade in the Nineteenth Century, when people began to question the justice of the idea that people should suffer eternal torments for the sins they committed in this life. See https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/05/160513-theology-hell-history-christianity/ These days it appears that people in most countries believe more in heaven than they do in hell. https://www.religioustolerance.org/rel_comp.htm Perhaps we would be more inclined to be good if we believed more in hell, but I’m not sure. In New Zealand, religious belief has faded more than in other English-speaking countries, but they don’t seem to suffer or benefit from this in any discernible way.

  • In Matthew 25: 41-46, Jesus explicitly depicts Himself as casting into hell those who did not feed the hungry, care for the sick, etc. I prefer to believe what Jesus said about Himself, rather than what you say about Him here.

  • Rick, I have intense respect for your comments and I spoke to my husband about the scripture.
    I think we may differ on this if you are RC and I mean no disrespect if you are, but I believe my husband is correct.
    We do not get saved due to works (Yes, I’m protestant). “Works” are an outflow of our love for Christ – essentially Him using us for His purposes. We feed the poor, etc, because we have Jesus in our heart, and those deeds flow from a love for Christ. For the persons who did not do those deeds, they were lacking the love for Christ, not having
    Christ in them and ended up on the left as any unsaved person would.
    Faith without works is dead. I show my faith by my works.
    As I’ve said, I’m not sure we will agree, but I find our conversation most interesting.
    Thanks

  • Rev. 6:9-11 tells us who those people are that the nations of the earth did not help.

    Matt 25 presents no faith vs works issue at all.

  • thanks Shawnie…(edit)
    I respect your opinions probably most but, vs 9 – ” I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne.” That would include Christians, not unbelievers.

  • On the question of hell, people differ on what they believe is true, so we come back to belief rather than truth.

  • Jesus said that when He returned to earth He would gather all the NATIONS together before Him, not the dead. He promised to hold them accountable for hw they had received and treated His BRETHREN that He sent out among them.

    The end of Matt 25 only makes sense in light of the rest of Matt 25.

  • Let me break it down for you:

    (1) In the beginning, God
    (2) And His own beloved Son
    (3) And the ransoming Fatherly love of God

    (4) God sets the world free upon the payment of ransom using Jesus’ crucifixion, burial and resurrection as the only currency for redemption

    (5) Jesus to be recognized as the Messiah of Israel and the savior of the rest of the world

    (6) Such recognition comes only from born-from-above, fired-up and die-hard followers of THE Christ Jesus of the gospels, epistles and revelation

    (7) Only they endure the cross that they carry in their lives of faith in response to such love of God for them

    (8) Everybody else goes to hell for lack of such faith

    Source: The gospels, epistles and revelation

  • Question is, Who are they, these “the hungry, care for the sick, etc.”? I can tell you don’t know your bible.

  • Just words. No different than Homer’s Hades. But, perhaps you believe in the Gods of Mount Olympus.

  • When “in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 13:42), not a 1 shall ponder, Hmm, “with no evidence, the chance of any assertion being true shrinks to insignificance.”

  • But did you know this already?

    (1) From Ask the Atheist’s Jim Underdown, October 4, 2018: “I don’t think hell exists.But if I died and actually did end up in hell, I’d be surprised. You gotta be kidding me, I’d say. All indications were that this is a myth!”

    (2) From Dr. Bo (Bennett)Show, July 30, 2015: “[One] factor in how likely an atheist is to fear Hell and to what degree is their level of confidence in atheism. To use the [Richard] Dawkin’s scale of 0-7, 7 being 100% confident that no gods exist, those who are higher on that scale are less likely to fear the possibility of Hell, whereas those who have recently left their religion would be more likely to have residual fears of Hell.”

  • If your point is that a genuine commitment to caring for the vulnerable is not motivated by thoughts of reward or punishment, I agree. For folks who need a reminder to help people in need, on the other hand, Matthew 25:31-46 is apropos, especially v. 46.

  • Jesus also said, you must be born again – a Christian – to see the Kingdom of Heaven. He does not put Christians in Hell.

  • Meghan Henning provided no evidence, and you appraised her her article as a “nice exposition”.

  • What kind of dangerous radicalized Christian fundamentalist braying is this?! Ransom?
    noun – a sum of money or other payment demanded or paid for the release of a prisoner.
    synonyms: payoff, payment, sum, price
    “they demanded a huge ransom”
    verb -obtain the release of (a prisoner) by making a payment demanded.
    “the lord was captured in war and had to be ransomed”

    “Only they endure the cross that they carry in their lives of faith in response to such love of God for them” – this word salad still makes NO SENSE.

  • AMEN, SISTER IN THE CHRIST JESUS. Or as Ben in Oakland loves to say, Bang on!

    “Jesus … [shall] hold … NATIONS … accountable for how they had received and treated His BRETHREN that He sent out among them.”

    1:1000000 gets it. Not Rick Brant. Not Joseph Jaglowicz (he & I going way back to Disqus-sion on article on Jeff Sessions & Romans 13). Not the author, Meghan Henning. Albeit not the standard Bible Christian position, the gospel truth of this prophetic parable has won you over!

    Upvoted with thumbs up!

  • God & Jesus set the terms. You of all people worthier than you, don’t. Sign the Contract or don’t. Who do you think you are!

  • And it is other Christians who support and help and shelter the missionaries, whom others would consider public enemies so to speak.

    Think of the kind of religious persecution that goes on in China or North Korea — only all over the world.

    The promise of Matthew 25 is the world-wide corollary to the promise of Matthew 10. And as the first judgment came to pass:

    Therefore I am sending you prophets and sages and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town. And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Truly I tell you, all these things will come upon this generation.… (Matt. 23:33-35)

    …the second one will as well.

  • Mark 10:42 And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are supposed to rule over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. 43 But it shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. 45 For the Son of man also came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

  • I think Matthew 25:31-45 is one of the most powerful expressions of the ideal of altruism ever spoken or written.

    I suspect that v.46 was a later addition as church leaders, turning the Jesus Movement into a religious institution, realized that Hell could be very usefully hung over the heads of the faithful.

  • Ah, nothing like plumbing the Roman pagans and apocryphal literature to decide that the REAL message of the canonical Scripture is that hell is really just an eternal punishment for those who don’t sign up to the progressive agenda.

  • Yes, but I do not see how that contradicts what I said. Those condemned had merely lifeless dead faith – and so, “ended up on the left as any unsaved person would”. as you put it.

  • Belief in hell is a great comfort to people who have been systematically oppressed. They can rest easier knowing the people who wronged them will someday be punished. Take that away and all you leave them with is despair, hopelessness, and in a worst-case, bloody revenge.

  • Insofar as only believers are saved, and some of those referred to as “the nations” gathered before the throne in Matthew 25 are welcomed into the kingdom (are saved), it is clear that “the nations” referred to there includes both believers and nonbelievers. Or do you think Christ is there welcoming nonbelievers into His kingdom? I think not.

  • One cannot do enough good works to stay out of Hell. One does good works because he is a Christian and follows Christ who paid the price for our sins.

    One may also do good works out of kindness or repayment for good works done to them by others.

  • That’s the point. The nonbelievers gave no help to His missionaries, while the believers who responded to the gospel did.

  • So if you do good deeds without the love of Christ what is the worth of those deeds? Doesn’t a person’s good deeds, regardless of whether or not they are religious, have the same merit? I would argue yes.

  • Shawnie, I think the point you raised is important and that is being judged by how we treat “his brethren”, which includes all people not just Christians and Jews. A religion that only serves its own isn’t very appealing.

  • Ransom can have a different interpretation such as that Jesus released people from their ignorance, self-centeredness, limited way of thinking, etc.

  • God requires a punishment for sin – for example, stoning someone to death for adultery. His justice demands it. He has stated it will be and will not contradict Himself.
    He came in the form of Christ, and gave us the gift of dying for our sin – so we don’t have to, if we turn to Him, renounce our sin, and follow Him – hence, “allow” Him to be the God He intended to be in the beginning.
    God created us to have fellowship with Him. Due to our sin, we lost that abilty. What works could we have done, to have righteousness with God as all of our works are “filthy rags”.
    His perfect justice demanded a penalty for sin and He took the penalty for us, to restore our relationship with.

  • Our deeds are as “filthy rags”, and worth nothing. Salvation is a gift from God, not from us to God. Salvation is God’s grace to us.

  • Where exactly in the gospels did Christ ever refer to any nonbelievers as His “brethren?”

    Jesus describes His “brethren” in Matt. 12:49-50: “Pointing to His disciples, He said, “Here are My mother and My brothers. For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.”

    There are plenty of exhortations to generosity and charity in the gospels without mangling the Mount Olivet discourse into a social gospel message that misleads people.

  • Hp0 – that comes as no surprise as Shawnie is very smart, and Joe depends on man for his doctrine, rather than the Bible.

  • Except that’s not what He said:

    “Then He took the cup, gave thanks and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” Matt.26:28.

  • Let him come to my city’s soup kitchens, let him ask the poor/homeless on street corners and underpasses, “Are you hungry?”/

    “HpO asks a relevant question.”

    No. HpO asks a stupid question.

  • Sandi, it doesn’t make sense that God created us, knew we were going to sin ahead of time, and then punishes us for our fate. That seems sadistic. I also have a hard time comprehending how God sacrificing himself for our sins accomplishes anything. Couldn’t we have turned toward God without the needed sacrifice? I don’t see why not. Also, you mention that God’s perfect justice demands a penalty. Doesn’t this imply that God has needs or needs something from us? A God who needs is therefore dependent and far from perfect or eternal.

  • Mark, as I explained, God created us, but we have free will – to choose to follow Him, to choose to sin, to choose to not eat a piece of chocolate cake. We all have free will.
    As Christ was laying down His Father’s hopes for us, He explained what the penalty would be. Like a loving parent, we need discipline – He created us, we belong to Him – whether we choose Him or not and all children require discipline from time to time
    Out of love He sacrificed Himself for our sin – so that we don’t need to be punished – that is love when someone takes your punishment for you.
    As I explained, our most “righteous” deeds are as fithy rags to the One who is perfect and can give Himself anything He wants. He created us for company, companionship and to love. He created the Earth for us to enjoy. Nothing we could ever do would compare to that.
    God needs nothing from us.

  • Sandi, does God know our future ahead of time? My understanding of Christian teaching is that God is totally omniscient. If that is true, then he knew of our sins ahead of time which means we have no free will but only fate.

    In regards to a loving parent metaphor, would a loving parent punish for eternity? No.

    You mention that God loved us so much that he sacrificed himself for us. That doesn’t make sense to me. Why couldn’t he just forgiven the sin or made us better.

    If God can give Himself anything he wants then that implies he’s not omniscient. Why would a perfect all-knowing God need anything, let alone our company. Your last sentence contradicts what you said just a two sentences before.

  • Fortunately there are additional passages, particularly Hebrews in its entirety and the Church’s constant teaching from the Apostle to today, to correctly identify “ransom” as meaning more than releasing people form “ignorance, self-centeredness, limited way of thinking, etc.”

  • You also “depend on man” for your (biblical) doctrine. We all do. You in your fundamentalism simply refuse to acknowledge this historical truth about the traditioning, i.e., passing down, of scripture orally and later in writing from generation to generation. We’ve been here before. Quite recently, in fact, on a separate thread.

  • Right you are. Joseph Jaglowicz calls himself a Progressive Catholic, but he doesn’t know his Catholic Bible, nor The Catechism of the Catholic Church. Never mind THE Christ Jesus of the gospels, epistles and revelation. Huh, who? he once snorted back at me.

  • Sorry, not RC. Nice try.

    “… doesn’t know HpO’s version of the Bible.”

    There, I fixed that for you!

  • No. A human’s good deeds merely enable the human to submit a request to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob could well choose to deny this request. There are not a lot of variables that a human can control in getting Him to grant the human this request; therefore humans think He is inscrutable.

    The contrast set is the process of enlightenment, as understood in the Indian traditions. The process of enlightenment offers some variables a human can control; if a human is able to control these variables, not even the “gods” can stop the process of enlightenment.

  • No we have free will. We make the choice.
    No loving parent punishes for eternity – it is a choice made by those who reject Him.
    He could not forgive the sin because He declared a penalty and God does not contradict Himself.
    No. God created us. He can do whatever He wants, but, He loves us and wants a relationship with us. He could, and will burn the Earth up and wants to save as many as will look to Him. He could make more people for Himself. He is able to do anything, but, He made promises to us that He will not break because He is incapable of lying.
    Omniscience means that He knows everything.

  • Whether or not they “have the same merit” is an irrelevant question, because we are not saved by “merit”; we are saved by grace, through faith.

  • As a progressive Catholic, he believes he has evolved to a higher spiritual level that does not need Jesus’ teaching on hell in Matthew 25, which he believes is suitable only for benighted spiritual Neanderthals (“Folks who need a reminder to help people in need…”).

    Very similar to Origen’s high view of his own spirituality vis a vis the average believers of his day.

  • God created science and it has not caught up to His wisdom, Charlotte. (Also, I don’t open links from people I don’t know)

  • The concept of “free will” provides the answer.

    Any parent can relate stories of knowing what a child is going to do, and standing back and letting them do it.

    Nothing up to this point said God needs us.

    What God does accomplish is perfect justice. Justice demands a balancing of the scales.

    That’s the same reason the law provides for punishments that fit the crime.

  • Your error is in seeing it as “a loving parent punish(ing) for eternity”.

    Forgiveness without justice would be contrary to God’s perfection.

  • Your last paragraph is pretty slick.

    If you find something that rubs your fur the wrong way, it’s a gloss.

  • That is not knowing that is predicting based on prior experience. Totally different than god knowing someone’s behavior before they were born.

  • What if, however, the same “people” & the “you” in “you[r]” statement end up in that same place?

    Woe, huh?

    No, not whoah – but woe. One of Jesus’ favorite words, by the way. “Woe to you”, He’d say to the same “people” & the “you” in “you[r]” statement.

  • You just can’t handle peer-reviewed scientific journals, because they blow you’re homophobia out of the water.

  • PROOF #2 – See, you’re AGAIN using the term “homophobia” as an ad hominem argument, this time against my friend, sandinwindsor, who advocate values or positions of which you, a self-proclaimed “white bisexual genderqueer”, do not approve.

    FYII (For Your Insult to the Intelligence):

    (1) “Existing measures of homophobia have been inadequately psychometrically evaluated and therefore it is not clear whether currently this construct can be accurately measured. … Also the construct of homophobia, as it is usually used, makes an illegitimately pejorative evaluation of certain open and debatable value positions”.

    (2) “The boundary of the term ‘homophobia’ is made so elastic that it can stretch around, not just phobias, but every kind of rational fear as well; and not just around every kind of fear, but also around every critical posture or idea that anyone may have about the practice of homosexuality”.

    Source: (1) William O’Donohue and Christine Caselles, “Homophobia: Conceptual, definitional, and value issues”, Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, 15 (3) September 1993. (2) Gary Colwell, “Turning the Tables with ‘Homophobia'”, Journal of Applied Philosophy, 1999.

  • Yup, yup. Or as Pastor Bruce Willis’ Redacted Benediction goes, “Yippee ki-yay”.

    “Assistant Professor … Meghan’s book (Mohr Siebeck) on the pedagogical function of Hell in antiquity is entitled Educating Early Christians through the Rhetoric of Hell. She has written a number of articles, essays, and invited papers on Hell … Meghan is currently working on a book about the conceptualization of gender, disability and the body in the early Christian apocalypses (Hell Hath No Fury, under contract with Yale University Press).”

  • “s.t.u.p.i.d.”, you are I mean say?

    as in …

    sagacious?
    tactful?
    unnerving?
    panache?
    immaculate?
    defiant?

    well, bless you, my child, bless you, even though that still means you don’t know your bible, least of which are Matthew 24-25.

  • RICK BRANT (“19 days ago” & “22 days ago”): “It is a core Christian teaching that Jesus is God … that the One who is God was crucified for us. … The one crucified on the cross was indeed ‘God’ … Last time I checked, the Nicene Creed proclaimed that Jesus was: ‘true God of true God’, while the Athanasian Creed says: ‘the Son is God'”.

  • See? No speak English, you. You no understand Shawnie5. But you yes pledge to “the Nicene Creed” and “the Athanasian Creed”?!

    Eww.

  • You didn’t read the link that I posted in its entirety. It blows your “values” out of the water. Stop denying science.

  • Here’s a scientific rebuttal to that, from Tony Jelsma, “A Christian Look at the Biology of Gender Dysphoria”, In All Things, March 8, 2018:

    “Gender dysphoria is the conflict between one’s natal, or biological, sex and one’s gender identity. Although the term technically refers to those who experience distress about the incongruity between their biological sex and their perceived gender, I will use it to describe simply the condition of a conflict between sex and gender. The definition may seem straightforward, but gender dysphoria is not a uniform condition. Gender dysphoric individuals genuinely feel they belong to the opposite gender and that they do not have a choice about their gender identity. However, others argue that gender identity is fluid and there is a gender spectrum, with gender dysphoria at one end. … How do we as Christians respond to this issue? First, we should acknowledge that this is a broken world that is marred by sin, and that brokenness manifests itself in many ways, including gender dysphoria. Second, people with gender dysphoria do not choose to feel this way and generally suffer significant psychological trauma and social isolation as a result. Third, it should be evident that gender dysphoria is a disorder; otherwise, people with this condition would not try to resolve it through counseling, hormone treatments, or even surgery. Finally, while still acknowledging the biblical view of sex and gender, we should treat people suffering from gender dysphoria with the dignity, respect, and support that are due anyone created in the image of God, recognizing that their condition may not be resolved in this life.”

  • Here’s another scientific rebuttal, as reported in Daniel Trotta, “Born this way? Researchers explore the science of gender identity”, Reuters, August 3, 2017:

    “Paul McHugh, a university professor of psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, has emerged as the leading voice challenging the ‘born-this-way’ hypothesis. He encourages psychiatric therapy for transgender people, especially children, so that they accept the gender assigned to them at birth. …Last year he co-authored a review of the scientific literature published in The New Atlantis journal, asserting there was scant evidence to suggest sexual orientation and gender identity were biologically determined. … McHugh told Reuters he was ‘unmoved’ by his critics and says he doubts additional research will reveal a biological cause. ‘If it were obvious,’ he said, ‘they would have found it long ago.'”

  • I quoted the ancient creeds as evidence of what have been core Christian teachings for nearly two millennia.

    As they are. Unlike your delusions.

  • Duh, what do you think we are?

    I could likewise note that your approach is only relevant if you are not a Christian.

  • You wrote: “you are I mean say?”

    Huh? Better take another ESL class! (Or maybe lay off the bottle!)

    I meant your question was “s.t.u.p.i.d.”, as in…

    silly
    torpid
    unintelligent
    putrid
    imbecilic
    dopey

    And bless you, my lad, even though you hold delusions of Biblical literacy.

  • You have correctly identified without even knowing it that an omnipotent deity is not directly comparable to anything else in our experience.

    That makes clear your arguments by analogy aren’t valid.

    The reason why God know what will happen is that God exists outside of time, which is another creation like energy and matter, not because God willed particular behavior.

    Beyond noting that you rather dislike the notion of God, of rules, and rewards and punishments based on what you do with those rules, I am not reading anything substantive in your objections.

  • After you. After you scripturally defend this, The Old Roman Creed (341 AD, first written form ever) – especially where I’ve marked (?) – I’ll tell you what’s wrong with you:

    “I believe in God the Father almighty; and in Christ Jesus His only Son, our Lord; who was born from the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary (?); who under Pontius Pilate was crucified and buried, on the third day rose again from the dead, ascended into heaven, sits at the right hand of the Father, whence he will come to judge the living and the dead; and in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church (?), the remission of sins (?), the resurrection of the flesh (?), life everlasting.”

  • After you. After you scripturally defend this, The Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed (381 AD) – especially where I’ve marked (?) – I’ll tell you what’s wrong with you:

    “We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible; and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Only-begotten, Begotten of the Father before all ages, Light of Light (?), Very God of Very God (?), Begotten, not made; of one essence with the Father, by whom all things were made: Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven, and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary (?), and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate, and suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again with glory to judge the living and the dead, whose kingdom shall have no end. And we believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord (?), and Giver of Life, who proceeds from the Father, who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped (?) and glorified, who spoke by the Prophets; and we believe in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church (?). We acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins (?). We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the age to come. Amen.”

  • After you. After you scripturally defend this, The Athanasian Creed aka The Quicumque Vult Creed (circa 5th century AD) – especially where I’ve marked (?) – I’ll tell you what’s wrong with you:

    “Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic faith (?). Which faith unless every one do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly. And the catholic faith is this: that we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity (?); neither confounding the Persons, nor dividing the Essence. For there is one Person of the Father; another of the Son; and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is all one; the Glory equal, the Majesty coeternal. Such as the Father is; such is the Son; and such is the Holy Ghost. The Father uncreated; the Son uncreated; and the Holy Ghost uncreated. The Father unlimited; the Son unlimited; and the Holy Ghost unlimited. The Father eternal; the Son eternal; and the Holy Ghost eternal. And yet they are not three eternals; but one eternal. As also there are not three uncreated; nor three infinites, but one uncreated; and one infinite. So likewise the Father is Almighty; the Son Almighty; and the Holy Ghost Almighty. And yet they are not three Almighties; but one Almighty. So the Father is God; the Son is God (?); and the Holy Ghost is God (?). And yet they are not three Gods; but one God. So likewise the Father is Lord; the Son Lord; and the Holy Ghost Lord. And yet not three Lords; but one Lord. For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity; to acknowledge every Person by himself to be God and Lord; So are we forbidden by the catholic religion (?); to say, There are three Gods, or three Lords. The Father is made of none; neither created, nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone; not made, nor created; but begotten. The Holy Ghost is of the Father and of the Son; neither made, nor created, nor begotten; but proceeding. So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Ghost, not three Holy Ghosts. And in this Trinity none is before, or after another; none is greater, or less than another. But the whole three Persons are coeternal, and coequal. So that in all things, as aforesaid; the Unity in Trinity (?), and the Trinity in Unity (?), is to be worshipped. He therefore that will be saved, let him thus think of the Trinity. Furthermore, it is necessary to everlasting salvation; that he also believe faithfully the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. For the right Faith is, that we believe and confess; that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God (?) and Man; God (?), of the Substance of the Father; begotten before the worlds; and Man, of the Substance of his Mother (?), born in the world. Perfect God (?); and perfect Man (?), of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting. Equal to the Father (?), as touching his Godhead; and inferior to the Father as touching his Manhood. Who although he is God (?) and Man; yet he is not two (?), but one Christ. One; not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh; but by assumption (?) of the Manhood into God. One altogether; not by confusion of Substance; but by unity of Person. For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man; so God (?) and Man is one Christ; Who suffered for our salvation; descended into hell; rose again the third day from the dead. He ascended into heaven, he sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty, from whence he will come to judge the living and the dead. At whose coming all men will rise again with their bodies; And shall give account for their own works (?). And they that have done good (?) shall go into life everlasting; and they that have done evil, into everlasting fire. This is the catholic faith (?); which except a man believe truly and firmly, he cannot be saved (?).”

  • Then answer my question from “2 days ago”!!!

    “Question is, Who are they, these “the hungry, care for the sick, etc.”? I can tell you don’t know your bible.”

    Running to Shawnie5 for the answer is: “silly … torpid … unintelligent … putrid … imbecilic … dopey”, indeed.

    The question, however, is: “sagacious … tactful … unnerving … panache … immaculate … defiant”, indeed.

    NOW ANSWER IT.

  • Funny how you missed an obvious and just option: Remove the systematic oppression.

    Food, shelter, medical care, education, and a safe community are far better than some nebulous belief that the oppressors who deny them those boons will suffer in some later time.

  • Paul McHugh is debunked and discredited by his own employer.
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/long-shadow-cast-by-psychiatrist-on-transgender-issues-finally-recedes-at-johns-hopkins/2017/04/05/e851e56e-0d85-11e7-ab07-07d9f521f6b5_story.html?utm_term=.2ec799a48e0e&noredirect=on
    ‘Dean Hamer, a scientist at the National Institutes of Health for several decades and one of the first researchers to identify a genetic link to homosexuality […] termed some of the authors’ statements “pure balderdash.”’
    ‘“These are dated, now-discredited theories,” said Chris Beyrer, a professor at the public health school and part of the faculty group that denounced McHugh’s stance.’
    ‘Those involved in Hopkins’s transgender health services disagree with [McHugh’s] positions.’
    ‘Despite important gender research the university maintained over the years, it has ground to recover. The long break in its surgical program, coupled with McHugh’s vocal positions on gay and transgender issues, caused Hopkins to lose standing within the LGBT community.
    “It took an exceptionally long time,” Beyrer said. “Too long.”’

  • “that this is a broken world that is marred by sin, and that brokenness manifests itself in many ways, including gender dysphoria” is not a scientific position. Nor does it “treat people suffering from gender dysphoria with the dignity, respect, and support that are due anyone created in the image of God.”

  • Good comment. It seems that the idea of God existing outside the limiting dimension of time, which pretty much solves the paradox of free will, is hard for many people to fathom.

    The question always reminds me of Cosmos and “Flatland.”

    “Where were you?”
    “I was up.”
    “Where is up?”
    “I don’t know, I was just…up.”

  • By your rule, we can forego finding and using therapies that reduce the symptoms of chronic disease, and extend life, because the therapies don’t cure the disease.

  • On the other hand, however, according to that same reporter, Amy Ellis Nutt, “Long shadow cast by psychiatrist on transgender issues finally recedes at Johns Hopkins”, Washington Post, April 5, 2017:

    “With the title of university distinguished service professor at Johns Hopkins Medicine, [Paul McHugh] continues to wield enormous influence … Most recently his name was prominent on an amicus brief in opposition to the case of Virginia transgender student Gavin Grimm. The teen sued his school district to be allowed to use the bathroom of his gender identity — an issue that until last month was headed to the Supreme Court. ‘People with abnormalities of development should be helped to find their place as they see it best,’ McHugh said. ‘But they are a tiny number of the transgender population seeking and being given treatment.’ … A study by Jon Meyer, who ran the [John Hopkins] hospital’s Sexual Behaviors Consultation Unit … concluded that although ‘sex-change’ surgery was ‘subjectively satisfying’ for the small sample surveyed, the operations they underwent conferred ‘no objective advantage in terms of social rehabilitation.’ ‘With these facts in hand,’ McHugh later wrote, ‘I concluded that Hopkins was fundamentally cooperating with a mental illness.’ Two months later, its gender-identity clinic was shut down. … In the decade that followed, other academic hospitals often cited the research when they discontinued their own transgender surgical programs. … Last fall, a 143-page report, titled ‘Sexuality and Gender’ … in the New Atlantis … authored by McHugh and Lawrence S. Mayer, a professor of statistics and biostatistics at Arizona State University and, at the time of the publication, a scholar in residence at Hopkins … contended that neither sexual orientation nor gender identity is biologically determined. … In an interview from his home in Baltimore, where he still sees patients, McHugh explained that the ‘duty of all doctors who propose a treatment is to know the nature of the problem they propose to treat. The issue of transgender [people] is, the vast majority coming for surgery now don’t have a biological reason but a psychosocial reason.’ While McHugh successfully lobbied for more than 30 years to keep gender-reassignment surgery from becoming a Medicare benefit, he supports the operation for those born with an intersex condition, which means having a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t fall into the typical definition of male or female.”

  • Tony Jelsma’s is a scientic rebuttal once it handles the research – by “Sarah M. Burke, Amir H. Manzouri & Ivanka Savic (2017) Structural connections in the brain in relation to gender identity and sexual orientation. Scientific Reports 7:17954” – this way:

    “Burke et al. examined the brains of people who had not undergone hormone treatments and found differences in a white matter tract that relates to, ‘… areas processing the perception of self and body ownership.’ … How do we as Christians respond to this issue?”

    Hence that position paper by Tony Jelsma, “A Christian Look at the Biology of Gender Dysphoria”, In All Things, March 8, 2018.

  • Nope, I am acknowledging the role of human behavior in transmission of the sacred scriptures from generation to generation. As a literalist, you do not so acknowledge.

  • Do a Google SEARCH for “There is no Hell in the Bible” (you’ll get a hypertext URL). Because of its length, I don’t recommend reading the entire text. I do, however, suggest perusing any of his observations that challenge fundamentalists like yourself. I’m not suggesting I agree or disagree with the writer, but his arguments do seem generally if not perhaps completely credible.

    Judge for yourself.

  • Hell has lost much of it’s motivating influence because these days all too many people don’t believe in God, they believe in Santa Clause—a higher power that might be “keeping a list and checking it twice,” but doesn’t actually do anything with it. Both Paul and James saw the same tree, but where Paul focused on the roots James focused on the fruit. To put it clearly, if you do not succor the poor and hurting, you are not a Christian. After all, demons do not just believe Jesus is the Son of God, they KNOW—and their knowledge condemns them instead of save.

  • You’ll note that their offering of succor to the stranger is to people passing through, not coming to stay. Do you think they would be so generous if they thought those thousands, along with all the rest, were going to be moving in permanently? More, do you think they will be so generous with the next caravan, and the one after, and the one after?

  • Kindly explain how a comment I made (several weeks ago) citing some ancient creeds as witnesses to the centrality of the incarnation, etc., to Christianity is in any way germane to the topic of hell, etc., being discussed here. Seems like deflection and moving the goalposts on you part.

  • I’m bent on debunking your defense of yourself to “sandinwindsor a day ago” when you told her off, “Although I value much of the ancient Christian tradition, please don’t assume I am an RC [Roman Catholic].” That apologia so happens to be consistent with your assertion from “20 days ago” & “23 days ago” that “the Nicene Creed” & “the Athanasian Creed” sum up for you “a core Christian teaching”.

    My working hypothesis here is that you can’t, or are too chicken to, scripturally defend (1) The Old Roman Creed (341 AD, first written form ever), and (2) The Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed (381 AD), and (3) The Athanasian Creed aka The Quicumque Vult Creed (circa 5th century AD). Otherwise by now you’d already have scripturally defended the unbiblical statements in those 3 Creeds where I’ve marked (?).

    I REST MY CASE: Rick Brant, mere conservative and mere “ancient Christian tradition”-ist, doesn’t know his bible!

  • You are not making any sense. That the ancient creeds I referred to have long been considered standard statements concerning Christian teaching on the Incarnation (the “core Christian teaching” that was under discussion) is an elementary datum of Church history. The three creeds have been considered standard statements on that topic by Roman Catholics, Anglicans, Lutherans, and some other Protestants. Eastern Orthodox Christians use only the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed, considering that creed to be the only ecumenical/universal one, since it was the only one composed by the Ecumenical Councils. (The Apostles and Athanasian are, in contrast, purely local (Western) creeds. These are matters of historical record, and are not contingent on whether or not someone can provide scriptural justification for any part of the creeds, nor is it subject to “debunking” by you. The history is what it is.

    “Otherwise by now you’d already…”

    This in response to my question of late yesterday! You seem to think I have as much free time as you do! I will respond with some Biblical references for you later, when I have nothing more pressing to do.

  • If hell existed like the right wing insists, it would reveal the total depravity of the entirely evil false god they claim to whoreship. It reveals the evil in their own souls very clearly.

  • The tens of thousands of Catholic nuns, monks and priests do selfless work for the poor with little monetary reward. Mother Theresa did not care too much about issues like H*ll. She spent her entire life in places few others cared to go

  • Even though I already showed, yesterday, that the ancient creeds being an reliable indicator of traditional Christian teaching on the Incarnation is a simple historical datum, one not contingent on anyone’s exposition of them, I will very briefly provide a few Biblical references for certain topics you do not understand. Far better references and explanations are available from more capable Christian scholars than myself, or in the writings of ancient Christians such as Gregory Nazianzen, Athanasius, Basil, etc.

    It would be repetitious to comment on all three creeds, so I will confine myself to the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed, since it is the only truly ecumenical (universal) creed, composed by two Ecumenical Councils and accepted by both Eastern and Western Christians.

    True God of true God: John 1:1-15

    God is light: I John 1:5

    Jesus is light: John 8:12

    Incarnation by Holy Spirit and Virgin Mary: Luke 1:26-45

    Holy Spirit as Lord – Closely connected to Father: Mat. 28:19, John 14:16, 2 Cor. 3:17
    – Eternal: Hebrews 9:14
    – Associated in act of creation with the Father and the Word: Psalm 33:6,
    Genesis 1: 1-3

    Church is – One: John 10:16
    – Holy: Ephesians 5:26
    – Apostolic: Ephesians 5:26
    – Catholic (kata holon: whole, complete, not lacking, sound): I Timothy 3:15

    Baptism for remission of sins, saves: Acts 22:16, I Peter 3:21, Ephesians 5:26

  • You simply have no idea what hell really encompasses.

    God is love (I John 4:8).

    He will fill all things with Himself (I Corinthians 15: 20-28, Ephesians 1;23, 4:10), and will be an inescapable reality (Revelation 21).

    For the faithful- the people of Love – this will be their greatest joy.

    But those who reject God will find his loving presence intolerable; for them it will be that “lake of fire” the Scriptures speak of.

    See “The Spiritual World of Isaac the Syrian” by Hilarion Alfeyev for a more in-depth explanation..

  • Mark, if God is truly omnipotent and not directly comparable to anything in our experience how do you know that my arguments aren’t valid. It seems you are basing yours on a belief that the Bible truly expresses the nature of God but for a non-Christian that seems like circular logic. If God is beyond time (which we cannot relate to) then God knows our actions in advance and therefore one is fated to act accordingly since to do otherwise would prove that God does not know our actions and not omnipotent.

    By the way, i do not dislike the notion of God, rules, rewards and punishments. You are projecting your impressions on to me. I am merely questioning your interpretation of God.

  • I guess I’m questioning your belief that good deeds done without the love of Christ are worth less than when a Christian does good deeds as a byproduct of faith.

  • Mark, how is that an error. God is constantly referred to as a father figure by Christians. How is it wrong to suggest God’s cruelty in punishing someone eternally. So when Christ taught to forgive, he did so knowing that the person he was forgiving was going to get their due reward, therefore all was ok? That is what you are suggesting when you state forgiveness without justice.

  • If God is not omnipotent and directly comparable to other things in our experience, then we’re describing ourselves.

    I arrived at my own belief philosophically, and only after that considered the Bible.

    I’ve read “If God is beyond time (which we cannot relate to) then God knows our actions in advance and therefore one is fated to act accordingly since to do otherwise would prove that God does not know our actions and not omnipotent.” several times and cannot ascertain your point.

    If you have free will and are not compelled, forced, or ordered to perform or refrain from an action, God’s pre-knowledge doesn’t enter into the matter.

    The relevant question is the existence or non-existence of free will.

  • A. Are “worth less” to whom?

    B. I don’t see where I said that “good deeds done without the love of Christ are worth less than when a Christian does good deeds” etc.

  • It is one thing to say that God is “a father figure” metaphorically, and another to suggest that a Being who is completely just is cruel in administering justice.

    To understand what Christ meant by forgiveness you need to dispense with the light pink fluffy version so many Christians apparently subscribe to.

    Christ was a Jew.

    The Jewish tradition teaches that we forgiven the repentant, and that teshuva (repentance) consists of several stages: the sinner must recognize his sin, feel sincere remorse, undo any damage he has done and pacify the victim of his offense, and resolve never to commit the sin again.

    So, what happens when a man steals your sheep, then comes to you later, says he is sorry, and replaces your sheep?

    You forgive him.

    But what happens if he does it again? Remember, repentance involves a resolve not to commit the sin again.

    The rabbis concluded that you should forgive him seven times. If he did it an eighth time, his repentance was not genuine, and you need not forgive him.

    That’s the background for the famous passage in the Gospels where Jesus is asked about forgiving, reminded of the rabbinical admonition to forgive seven times, and responds that we should forgive seventy times seven – in other words, never stop forgiving a penitent.

    But note what is lacking – any suggestion you should forgive the unrepentant.

    And when we read the Gospels that is what we see – Jesus forgives the repentant. There is not single instance of his forgiving the unrepentant.

    At his crucifixion there are two criminals, one of whom mocks him, one of whom accepts his punishment and acknowledges his sin.

    He only forgives the one who accepts him punishment and acknowledges his sin, telling him that on that very day he would join him in paradise.

    So, those who receive punishment really punish themselves by refusing to acknowledge their error(s) and seek forgiveness.

  • I would agree with you that we are describing ourselves in much of religious thought. As both the Buddhists and Hindus suggest, religions tend to be more fingers pointing to the sun than the sun itself. We can’t possibly define a God that is omnipotent and beyond time, existing inherently on its own without being dependent on anything else.

    I’m not suggesting you didn’t arrive at your own beliefs philosophically, I just don’t see things the same way and am questioning by own beliefs by questioning others.

    Free will cannot exist if one’s life is known ahead of time. If all one’s thoughts and actions are known then a person cannot possibly act otherwise. I don’t know how to state it any other way. What we believe is free is therefore only a fantasy. If we have the ability to act in a way other than what God has foreseen then God must not be omnipotent.

  • Mark, I understand what you are writing. I question this notion of perfect justice. First of all, who determined the notion of perfect justice? If it is based on the Bible then that begs other questions as to how we know the Bible is God’s words rather than man’s preconceptions as to how God would think. We also don’t know what happens to someone who is unrepentant after they die. Different religions may have theories and believers have faith but until we get there, we won’t know. So how do we know if justice has in-fact been served. Secondly, what does it mean to be unrepentant? That implies a moral framework which someone willingly violates. Who creates this moral framework. I would argue that it is subjective. As horrible as killing appears to us there are obvious times when most allow it (e.g. war, self-defense, death penalty, etc.). Many Christians also label those who don’t share their beliefs in Christ as unrepentant. If unrepentant then is it truly perfect justice for a God to condemn one who doesn’t believe in Him? I’m getting sidetracked but it also begs the question of a truly perfect God needing worship from his creation. If he punishes one for not believing then that implies that God is somehow needs that acknowledgement which seems shallow.

  • No problem!

    All I meant was that no one’s (neither believers nor unbelievers) good deeds are capable of meriting them salvation – which comes from God’s grace, not man’s acts. Perhaps I could have been clearer.

  • “True God of true God: John 1:1-15”? Nowhere found verbatim.

    “God is light: I John 1:5”? Not “Light of Light”, however.

    “Jesus is light: John 8:12”? Not “Light of Light”, however, verbatim.

    “Virgin Mary: Luke 1:26-45”? Nowhere found verbatim.

    “Holy Spirit … Closely connected to Father: Mat. 28:19, John 14:16, 2 Cor. 3:17 – Eternal: Hebrews 9:14 – Associated in act of creation with the Father and the Word: Psalm 33:6, Genesis 1: 1-3”? Not “the Holy Spirit, the Lord”, however, verbatim.

    “Church is … Catholic (kata holon: whole, complete, not lacking, sound): I Timothy 3:15”? FALSE & DECEITFUL! “The terms ‘catholic’, ‘catholicism’ and ‘catholicity’ is closely related to the use of the term Catholic Church. The earliest evidence of the use of that term is the Letter to the Smyrnaeans that Ignatius of Antioch wrote in about 108 to Christians in Smyrna. Exhorting Christians to remain closely united with their bishop, he wrote: ‘Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.'” (Per Wikipedia’s sources.)

    “Baptism for remission of sins, saves: Acts 22:16, I Peter 3:21, Ephesians 5:26”? FALSE & DECEITFUL! The Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed (381 AD) was pontificating The Catholic Church Sacrament of Baptism!

  • In order to define perfect justice, you need to define justice.

    Justice in Natural Law is similar to the laws of physics: in the same way as the Third of Newton’s laws of Motion requires that for every action there must be an equal and opposite reaction, justice requires individuals or groups get what they actually deserve, merit, or are entitled to – it renders to each and to all what belongs to them.

    Notice we have not referenced the Bible.

    Unrepentant means violating the rules and not being sorry about doing so.

    I am unaware of any moral system in which killing, per se, is immoral.

    Murder, on the other hand, violates justice. It takes from someone that which belongs to them – their life.

    Self-defense or the death penalty does not. If I attack you with a knife and you defend yourself as a result of which I die, you took nothing from me that belonged to you. I forfeited my life when I attacked you with a knife and undertook the risk you would successfully defend yourself.

    Similarly if I, say, shoot a group of people in a synagogue who were going about their business, thus depriving them of what is their due, I forfeit my own life as a matter of justice.

    God does not “need” worship. God does not “need” anything. Justice demands that we give to God that which is due.

    As we owe to our family and our friends fealty and honor, so we owe to the Author of our being fealty and honor, which we call “worship”.

    The questions you’re asking are really way beyond the scope of anything that can be even summarized in comments.

    Everything I’ve mentioned was sorted out by pagan Greeks, polished by pagan Romans. It’s the same source as:

    “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

    You really ought to buy yourself a book which walks through the history of philosophy in the West to gave yourself a foundation.

  • Leviticus itself was written by human beings *inspired by* — but not *dictated by* — God.

  • So I gave you Biblical testimony of the Incarnation by the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary, that the Holy Spirit was co-creator with the Father and the Son, along with every other item you asked about, and you think you can shrug it all off with the excuse that it did not exactly match the wording of the creed “verbatim” (even though expressing the same content)? How totally lame!

    Then you cast aside Biblical teaching on Baptism, as well as that on the Church, by some silly idea that the Creed “was pontificating” Roman Catholic teachings – when the RCC was not even in existence until centuries later? LOL!

    I really expected better of you.

  • Mark, I’m lacking sufficient time to respond to your thoughtful comments. I appreciate the discussion and especially the civility, which is often lacking on this site.

  • I’ve read parts of Leviticus, etc. and agree with biblical exegetes that God did not “dictate” the word-for-word contents of the Good Book.

  • You’ve got a lot of learning to do, but, first, you’ve got the task of cultivating an open mind. It won’t be easy for you, but you will have the opportunity for Christian growth. Good luck.

  • Mark, i agree that every thought, word or action has a consequence but that’s it. Why do you believe that individuals or groups deserve, merit, or are entitled to anything? I therefore agree with the beginning of your sentence but not the end since it doesn’t necessarily follow. An “eye for an eye” doesn’t make sense since everyone will be blind and is far from perfect justice.

  • Shawnie, in fact the idea of God existing outside the limiting dimensions of time is impossible for any of us to truly understand. Secondly, God is judging us according to how we act in time.

  • An American of some generations ago summarized why individuals or groups deserve, merit, or are entitled to anything:

    “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

  • But your point was that they are entitled to retribution which you claimed is somehow part of natural law. I disagree that there is some kind justice in natural law. By the way, in regards to groups or individuals being somehow entitled or deserving of something is a man made concept and one that is not held by all societies. Natural law, or whatever you want to call it, doesn’t care about rights or merit.

  • If there is no need for justice, and no inherent requirement that it be a goal, then it is everyone and against everyone.

    Stalin and Hitler were.

    That’s not because that Natural Law doesn’t care about rights or merit.

    That’s because Stalin and Hitler didn’t care about rights or merit.

    When the jackboot presses down on your neck, what do plan to cite as a reason it should be removed?

  • My point is that you are trying to state that justice is somehow connected with some natural law. I’m saying it is a human concept and is not universal.

  • And I have already informed you that you need to spend some time getting up to speed on the philosophical underpinning of Natural Law and opposing views.

    The opposing views all lead to one thing: tyranny.

  • Too many have shown on this site that they opened their mind to new things and their brains fell out. Does that describe you also Joe

  • Sheol in the Old Testament, and Hades, sometimes referred to as Hell, is only the common grave where both the righteous and unrighteous are not aware of anything, as if in a deep sleep or coma (Ecclesiastes 9:5, 10). There is NO place of fiery torment forever.

    Jesus further confirmed the condition of the dead to his disciples when he referred to his own dear friend, Lazarus, who had been dead for 4 days (John 11:-14), as “sleeping.”

    When Jesus gave an illustration about a rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31, Jesus gave a comparison about two different classes of people:

    The “rich man” class were the pompous religious leaders in Jesus’ days, the Scribes and Pharisees, who transgressed the commandment of God by their own man-made traditions which overly burdened the common people then (Matthew 15:1-20). This group was in “torment” because they lost the favor of God by their actions and hypocrisy!

    The “Lazarus” class were those common people who were thirsting for relief, which they finally received when Jesus provided refreshing truths and comfort to them, which they gladly accepted.

    The “lake of fire” referenced in the book of Revelation is also NOT a literal place of fiery torment! Revelation 21:14, 15 states as follows:

    “And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found in the book of life was cast in the lake of fire.”

    So death (a condition of man which is not a literal thing) and hell, or mankind’s grave were thrown into a symbolic “lake of fire,” or received eternal death, with no hope of resurrection, along with persons who were also judged to deserving of eternal death.

    This is confirmed by God’s promise for mankind on earth:

    “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be NO MORE DEATH, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the FORMER THINGS are PASSED AWAY” (Revelation 21:4).

    Pain, sorrow, death, and any other terrible conditions of man, shall finally be put to death by God!!!

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