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Citsonga

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Citsonga last won the day on July 14

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About Citsonga

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    Sage
  • Birthday 05/03/1973

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    Male
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    Pennsylvania
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    Music, biblical criticism, logic, freethinker dialogue
  • More About Me
    I was raised in Christian family & was a devout Christian until age 29, when I began questioning things due to ongoing Bible study and mounting problems with it. I now fully realize that Christianity is mythology (and presumably all religion, for that matter). I consider myself an agnostic with atheist leanings.

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  • Still have any Gods? If so, who or what?
    Fresh salsa. Mmmm, good!

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  1. I'm sorry to hear about your panic attacks. That sort of thing sucks royally. It may be in your best interest to see a professional secular therapist. In the meantime, it doesn't hurt to look into some of the background of the idea of Hell. The following is an excerpt from a letter I wrote a few years ago. I hope it can help you. The Lake of Fire The Bible says that "the beast" and "false prophet" will be "cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone" (Rev 19:20), and that "the devil" will also be "cast into the lake of fire and brimstone" and that they "shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever" (Rev 20:10). After that we read that "death and hell" and "whosoever was not found written in the book of life" will be "cast into the lake of fire," which it also calls "the second death" (Rev 20:14-15). Though it doesn't specify here, one would assume that this implies that everyone thrown into this lake of fire would also be tortured forever, just like it says will happen to the beast, false prophet and devil. Granted, Revelation is highly symbolic, so one could argue that this is not meant literally, especially given the reference to a "second death." For the sake of this writing, though, I will treat it literally, as traditional Christians tend to do. As a side note, many confuse "hell" with the eternal "lake of fire." However, as can be seen from the statement that "hell" will be "cast into the lake of fire" (Rev 20:14), they are technically not the same thing in the Bible. "Hell" here is the Greek term "Hades," which was used for the grave, the nether world, the realm of the dead. But, since most people think of "Hell" as the lake of fire, from here on out that will be what I am referring to when I use the capitalized word "Hell" in quotes. So, let's move on and take a closer look at the concept of eternal torture and what the Bible has to say about "Hell." To hear Christians talk, "Hell" is one of the most important topics in Christianity. Indeed, what we supposedly need saving from is "Hell." Yet, if "Hell" is such a hot topic (pun intended), and burning eternally is the final punishment for the wicked, then why is the concept of the lake of fire completely absent from the Old Testament? Sure, the word "hell" is found in the KJV Old Testament, but it is the Hebrew word "Sheol," which means the grave, the underworld, the abode of the dead, a pit. Though there are several places where the Old Testament refers to "fire" symbolically, there is no place in it that says anything about eternal torture in fire (when preachers use Old Testament verses to prove "Hell," a quick look at the context always reveals that they mean something else). In the Old Testament, the punishment for wickedness is said to be death (Eze 3:18-19; 18:20,24; 33:8-14; Psalm 37:20; Prov 2:22). Beyond that, Isaiah says, "They are dead, they shall not live; they are deceased, they shall not rise" (Isa 26:14). Daniel contradicts that by saying, "And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt" (Dan 12:2), but though it doesn't fit with most of what we see in the Old Testament, even this verse doesn't say anything about torture. There is a significant Old Testament verse to mention, though. Jeremiah says, "Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that this place shall no more be called Tophet, nor The valley of the son of Hinnom, but The valley of slaughter" (Jer 19:6). In this verse, "The valley of the son of Hinnom" in Hebrew is "gay ben Hinnom," or "gay Hinnom" ("The valley of Hinnom") for short, and is the basis of a later Greek word "Gehenna" that referred to a valley south of Jerusalem where they reportedly burned trash, dead animals and at times the corpses of executed criminals. This "Gehenna" is translated "hell" in the New Testament. So, for clarification, there are two Greek words commonly translated "hell" in the New Testament. "Hades," as mentioned previously, refers to the grave or the netherworld. "Gehenna," on the other hand, was the city dump where refuse was burned. (The Greek word "tartaroo" is also translated "hell," but it's only used once in the Bible and its meaning is comparable to "Hades.") Now let's look at a few uses of "Gehenna." When we read, "Whosever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire" (Matt 5:22), that "hell fire" is referring to the burning dump south of Jerusalem. So is the statement, "It is profitable for thee that one of thy members (body parts) should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell" (Matt 5:29-30). When we read, "Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell" (Luke 12:5), that is again using the burning city dump for imagery. In addition we read, "And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched" (Mark 9:43-44). This is an often cited passage about "Hell," but let's dig deeper. Not only is this using the imagery of "Gehenna" discussed above, but it is based on an Old Testament quote that says, "And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched" (Isaiah 66:24). What is being talked about here is clearly not eternal torture, but simply mounting corpses. The worm not dying out is meant in reference to constantly having rotting corpses to eat on. Whatever "fire" may be referring to here, it is clearly not depicting the "Hell" that Christianity teaches. Again, if "Hell" was such an important topic, then why would God avoid making mention of it throughout the entire Old Testament? Why repeatedly warn of death as punishment if eternal torture was really the punishment? With the complete absence of "Hell" in the Old Testament, and the idea growing out of the imagery of a burning city dump south of Jerusalem called the Valley of Hinnom in the New Testament, isn't it quite clear that "Hell" is merely a doctrine that evolved over time? Beyond that, what about the ethics of "Hell"? How can justice be served by inflicting infinite torture as punishment for finite infractions? How is being burned forever a befitting discipline for mere mortals? What loving father would ever do such a thing? Would any good judge ever issue such an unfair sentence? Jesus supposedly said that "whosever believeth" in God's "only begotten Son" will "have everlasting life," and that "he that believeth not is condemned" (John 3:16,18). In Christian theology, that condemnation is "Hell." However, what about all the people who die having never heard about Jesus? What about people raised in different cultures far removed from Christianity, those who are indoctrinated with other views (through no fault of their own) to the point that that they cannot believe Christianity when presented with it? What about the many, many people throughout the ages who simply never had the opportunity to believe in Jesus? Some Christians try to weasel out of that dilemma by suggesting that God is just and will deal fairly with those other people. They may even cite the judgment based on deeds that Jesus spoke of in Matthew 25:31-46. While that may seem to be a noble thought, it is flat-out contradicted by the very quote from Jesus listed above, that "he that believeth not is condemned" (John 3:18). If one doesn't believe, then he's condemned, with no recourse. Besides, there are other logical problems with this argument. Since it indicates that belief in Jesus really isn't necessary for salvation, then what's the point in evangelizing and sending out missionaries? That's commanded in the Bible, of course, but it would be rather pointless if it was true that God would judge everyone justly anyway and that believing in Jesus really isn't necessary for salvation! In addition, what about other people, such as myself, who know the story of Jesus quite well but study Christianity and honestly conclude that it is without merit? With regard to us, as well as the aforementioned people who never heard of Jesus or who were already indoctrinated with another religious view, how could a loving God condemn such people to eternal agony when God himself has refused to show himself? If the all-loving, all-powerful, all-knowing God of evangelical Christianity existed and wanted to have a relationship with every person, then there would be no question that he is real and Christianity is true because he would make it clear! Yet the majority of people in the world have not been convinced of such. Where is this Christian God who is supposedly reaching out to everyone? Another common Christian response is to bring up the quote, "For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse" (Romans 1:20). Thus, it is argued, nobody has an excuse for not knowing, because "the creation" around us is proof. But is it really? If this verse was true and the natural world we see clearly depicted the Christian God, then everyone who looks at nature would automatically be convinced of the Christian God! Yet, throughout the world there are varying cultures with different religious views, and many of those people look at the exact same nature and see evidence of their gods! And other people look at nature and see no evidence of any god at all! How could this be if "creation" was so clear regarding the Christian God? Obviously, this argument from "creation" is simply false. Think about this. You were raised in a Christian culture that convinced you that Christianity is true, but in the same way people raised in a Muslim culture are convinced that Islam is true, and people raised in a Hindu culture are convinced that Hinduism is true, and so on and so forth. The fact is that people's religious beliefs are primarily dependent upon demographics instead of logic, reason and indisputable evidence. You cannot believe Islam to be true because you were programmed to believe Christianity. But the opposite is also true: Those who are programmed to believe Islam simply cannot believe Christianity. Put yourself in their shoes. What if you had been raised and indoctrinated with Islam, and therefore you could not believe Christianity? That would be no fault of your own; it would simply be the result of being raised in that culture. Would it then be fair to torture you in "Hell" forever and ever and ever, with no mercy and no relief, simply because you did not believe something that you had no ability to believe? Do you not see the absurdity and injustice in that? Do you really believe that a righteous, loving God would do that to his creation? You've heard about "cruel and unusual punishment." Indeed, when someone commits a crime, we expect them to be punished, but we expect the punishment to be in accordance with the crime. However, how could any criminal deserve being tortured forever and ever and ever? We are mere mortals with a very limited life-span, so how could anything one does be worthy of unending agony? Such torture would be "cruel and unusual punishment"! And, again, the idea of issuing such punishment for a lack of belief by those who can't believe is even more problematic. Clearly, any God who would torture people like that would have to be sadistic and unjust, because only a sadistic monster could be so cruel! To call any such God "good" is ridiculous, and is an insult to all that is good. Given that the unjust nature of the doctrine of "Hell" is incompatible with the idea of a loving and just God, and given the way the Christian doctrine of "Hell" evolved out of the imagery of a burning city dump outside Jerusalem, it becomes quite clear that "Hell" is not something revealed by God, but merely a morbid myth that developed over time and became useful for scaring people throughout the ages.
  2. https://www.patheos.com/blogs/godlessmom/2019/07/my-daughter-got-a-bible-for-her-birthday-what-should-i-do/ Good advice
  3. Though Luth's assessment of this thread is clearly a load of crap, I do have to agree with him that his PMs should not have been publicly displayed without his consent.
  4. "No one will be in hell who's not in a state of rebellion against God." Cool. I've got nothing to worry about.
  5. Thanks for posting this thread, by the way. You've advertised an event that should be beneficial to some. I was just in Vancouver a couple weeks ago. It's a very nice place to visit. They have the city and beaches and mountains all in close proximity.
  6. No I didn't. First, I never said nor thought the worst of you. Second, I already addressed your so-called sincere apology here:
  7. No, I don't see the worst possible, and I don't refuse someone's sincere apology.
  8. It's a free country. You can do as you wish. If you want to just leave it as conveniently ignored, that's your prerogative.
  9. That's understandable, but even though some in that category are full-fledged charlatans, others feel trapped and can't easily get out. The ministry is their vocation and they don't have many transferable skills. With families to support, they have to continue working. I have sympathy for them.
  10. Turning around and accusing us of taking ourselves too seriously for merely pointing out the trauma some endure kind of undermines your "genuine apology" claim. One who is sincerely sorry doesn't have that kind of attitude. I also noticed that you conveniently ignored these questions:
  11. Would you tell people dealing with other trauma (such as the aforementioned sexual and/or physical abuse victims) that they take themselves too seriously?
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