turn or burn?

Shirley, this one’s for you, since you seem to be the only one reading this thing… 🙂 It’s not that I don’t want other people to read this and chew on it, because “I Dooooo“. Pardon my pointless movie quoting… it’s in my genes. Back on topic…

One time when we were up at your house, we all got talking about Hell. I want to revisit that topic, in light of some really interesting stuff I’ve been reading lately.

First off, I want to stress that this is a regular person’s opinion about what the Bible says, and not a well-known theological scholar. So there, right off the bat, you can discount the whole thing if you want to. But I think his (Matt Ritchie) approach to reading the texts are very straight forward, and he seems to have a pretty good grasp on the “big picture” of Jesus’s message which I think is HUGELY important in wading through some of these difficult passages and topics.

So, here goes.

This is the first post to read, entitled To Hell and Back Again (A Summary of the Journey So Far). One of the high points of this post is the following:

Ghenna and Hades are consistently used to describe the status of those who set themselves up against God’s kingdom. That is, “hell” is a way of describing the status of people who try to be in control of the world as God’s kingdom arrives. Such people, we are told, will find themselves tossed “out” of their positions of privilege and power and into the garbage dump.

And the second post to read is entitled Farewell to Exclusivism. A high point of this post for me is the following quote:

Exclusivists, I’m convinced, have to do a lot of cutting and pasting to reach their conclusions…

…Problem is, what John is saying about condemnation in the first text may have little or nothing to do with what Matthew is saying about hell in the second one, and vice versa. You can only come to an exclusivist position by equating things that were written in different times, to different people, in different contexts, addressing different issues.

Ready? This is the kicker:

To put it another way, none of the direct references to hell (whether the original word is “Ghenna” or “Hades”) ever state anything that is close to the exclusivist position: that hell is a place for all non-Christians. Instead, in each case, they describe only one action (or a small list of particular types of action) that put one in jeapordy of hell.

I think the point of all this, for me at least, is not to somehow prove this or that about heaven and hell… it’s more about wanting to really understand what was going on when Jesus was here. And to make for DARN sure that we’re not basing our beliefs on other people’s speculations about what the Bible might be saying inbetween the lines. Let’s look at what’s there, people… read the black, not the white. The words that ARE there are hard enough to figure out sometimes, let along it we start going around trying to speculate about what it’s NOT saying.

Anyways. That’s all for now.

Advertisements

3 thoughts on “turn or burn?

  1. Well, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking since I read your blog last Friday night. It is good that you are wrestling with the concept of hell. I suggest that you read other theologians in addition to McLaren and Bell. Give yourself the advantage of learning the various viewpoints. If you want suggestions of whom to read – ask and I’ll give you the info.

    There is a root quetion to all of this discussion about hell.
    And I ask you to think it through. For the answer to the question provides the answer about eternal destruction /separation. In fact it is the main answer about God’s redemptive work…….

    Is each human being inherantly sinful?
    What makes us inherantly sinful?
    Is there anything we can do of ourselves to make ourselves worthy enough for God?

    I think that some of the teachings /writings about the word “hell” have been misleading. Doing a word study/search on “hell” or “gehenna” is only part of the process. Jesus and the writers of the books of the New Testament referred to an “eternal suffering or eternal separation from God”. This is the result for those who do not accept Jesus as God and Savior.

    The NAS version of the Bible gives the most accurate translation from the Greek. This is good for those of us who are not Greek scholars.

    2 Thessalonians 1:7-9 “…then the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, 8 dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 And these will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power…”

    There is a root quetion to all of this discussion about hell.
    And I ask you to think it through. For the answer to the question provides the answer about eternal destruction /separation. In fact it is the main answer about God’s redemptive work…….

    Again the questions:
    Is each human being inherantly sinful?
    What makes us inherantly sinful?
    Is there anything we can do of ourselves to make ourselves worthy enough for God?

    God is HOLY. God is JUST. He is totally without SIN.

    Why does God go to all the trouble to reconcile us to himself?

    Jesus promises eternal life to all who accept him. Then what is the opposite for those who do not accept him? Eternal separation – eternal death – eternal punishment.

    There is an exclusiveism to all this. Jesus said it. God put it in place. We don’t have to like how the system is set up. God is in charge, not us. And it’s all about him and not all about us.

    For God to love humans so much that he provides a way for sinful people to become clean and “not guilty” in his presence, that’s a huge thing. God doesn’t have to do this for us. He does it because he loves us. All God requires is for us in faith to accept Jesus. Jesus’ death is the substitute for the punishment of death that we really deserve. Jesus’ death is final sacrifice that is needed to make unclean humans be clean and in right standing before our Holy God. Jesus’ resurrection is his victory over death. Thus through faith in Christ, we also have eternal life = being with God forever.

    It’s interesting….. when God created the world, he put humans in the Garden of Eden where they were in fellowship with God. In that garden was the Tree of Life. While humans lived in the garden they would live forever with God.

    When humans chose to disobey God and try to have equality with Him, they sinned. Their punishment was to be banished from the garden, and from eternal life with God. Death came into our existance.

    The Bible is God’s revealation about who he is – and about his efforts to bring humanity back into a garden fellowship with him. Revelation, the last book of the Bible, has the new Jerusalem – the place of eternal life. Guess what is there? The tree……

    This is a lot to think about.
    Work on it. Work through the tension of it.

    More thoughts will follow later.

  2. Hey,
    I didn’t mean to make this personal to you with my use of “you”.
    Or to quote our favorite movie “yooooo”. 🙂
    My intent was to suggest that everyone, including me, needs to work through what the Bible says. It is work. But the effort is worth it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s