Jump to content

Aftermath


Ralet
 Share

Recommended Posts

This is my first post (hopefully not in the wrong thread). I am 23,in the middle of my deconversion and I feel lost. I would like to share my thoughts with you, mostly for sake of writing them down. (English is not my first language so you might find some mistakes, but I hope it is still understandable.)

My faith in god didn’t have a significant influence on my life in the past years. A few years ago I made the decision that following Jesus wast right for me at that time. (I don’t want to go into details right now. Maybe I will post my whole story later on.) I was just living my life and enjoying my freedom as a student far away from home. But I always felt something lacking in my life. I truly believed that at some point in my life, god will pick me up and I will become a true christian again. I believed that there is a plan and somehow it will all make sense in the end.

Once in a while I felt the need to seek god. Some nights (mostly after drinking to much) I prayed to Jesus that he would come back into my life.I started looking again. I went to different churches and was welcomed warmly. Their services were interesting but I never felt touched or a connection to my life. I didn’t find god and thought maybe it isn’t the right time/church/approach, maybe I was to sinful or not trying hard enough, maybe this is part of gods divine plan,... and I just continued living.

A few weeks ago I had this urge again and the result was disappointing. I came to a conclusion that I never thought of: It's not me. It’s God. It is his lack of existence.

Like I said early I wasn’t an "active" christian, so this shouldn't have had a great impact on my life. I wasn’t going to church regularly. I wasn't part of a christian social circle. Not many of my friends even knew I believed in god.

Nothing changed.

But the impact was enormous. I feel like the rug was pulled from under me. I feel like I am losing my balance. Losing my mind. Asking myself the same questions over and over again.

What should I do, now I know that there is no „plan“ for me?

God was my safety net. And now I am in the middle of a balancing act realizing that there is no safety net at all. I can't move forward.

I always thought, no matter how far away I was from god, how much I screwed up,that he has a plan for my future. I thought he will guide me to the right profession and to the right partner.

And I believed the decisions I had made in the past, where somehow guided by him. Of course looking back I made them by myself, achieved everything by myself, but I never questioned myself. It just seemed to be right. But now I know there is no absolute “right” or “wrong”. I could have picked a different major, a different university, a different lifestyle without god interfering. So is this the life I want to live? What is the purpose, meaning or goal of life? How do I know what to do if there is no right or wrong/ no particular plan?

Why do I live at all? I know my parents didn’t plan (want?) me, but because they were christian abortion was no option. They didn’t plan me, god didn’t plan me. Why do I exist?

And who am I? Nobody created me the way I am. There is no particular reason that I am who I am. My personality is just a random result of my culture, upbringing and experience in life. I haven’t achieved anything imported and I don’t believe I ever will. What is my worth?

With my faith in god I lost my faith in “fairytale” love. There is no soulmate for me. There is no happy ending.

I never thought that my christian belief was the foundation of my self-esteem and my understanding of life and I don’t know how to regain hope and meaning.

 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is what freedom looks like! You don't have to be scared of it!

I felt like your balancing act metaphor to start with - then realised it was a bit like walking across a tight-rope in empty space - it doesn't matter if you're not walking along it because there isn't any gravity - you're not going to fall onto anything!

Thing is life is incredibly complex and hard to understand and maybe you never will, and you don't necessarily have to understand it to enjoy it! It goes on surprising you whether you think you get why it's doing so or not! For instance, your cells will go on replicating, your hair will keep growing, you'll keep breathing even if you don't understand why and how it all happens!

Maybe you will find your fairytale love and your happy ending, but you'll have to do it on your own terms, not being shoved towards it by an omnipotent God. Sure that's scary, but it's also pretty liberating right?

It is all very disorientating, be patient with yourself and give yourself time and hopefully you'll start to see the benefit of this freedom :) And focus on what you still have! You still have your morals right? And your personality? It doesn't all fall apart without Jesus no matter what the church may have taught you.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think you are touching on some very important questions here that might seem depressing while still possessing a Christian point of view. I thin you are on to something though

 

"Of course looking back I made them by myself, achieved everything by myself" 

 

God is a crutch if you will and like a person recovering from an injury when they are healed sometimes they are not ready to leave the crutch behind they don't trust themselves to walk with out it yet. This is that first step in your life. Whatever "god" told you to do in picking your major, lifestyle, university came from within yourself it is like the subconscious part of you that knows what it wants and just uses god to explain it. One thing is for sure though you don't need to know what to do at this point you have the freedom to make what you will of your life enjoy the time you have here and cherish it. plans are over rated anyways this is your opportunity for freedom its your life to make what you will of it there is no need to have a god to tell you no. What is right and what is wrong will always be circumstantial the world works better without absolutes anyways just try to do what is best for yourself and others. I'll tell you something else to people still had soul mates long before jesus came into the picture and still do after wards. if you look at the human race your personality works like a lock and only certain keys will fit. There is a special someone out there for you without the need for god to make it any more complicated than love is.

 

 

How do you regain hope and meaning with out god? well that's all on you. Your worth meaning and hope are all dependent on what you want in life. Meaning in life comes by how you influence those around you whether its good or bad is up to you and the worth is he quality and quantity of that influence. There is no need for god there either.

 

 

Hopefully  This helped but as always I am just some random person from the south so take my advice with a grain of salt it might not work as well for you as it does me cheers and good luck your on the tough and windy road of deconversion now and you'll need itwoohoo.gif

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You're not that high off the ground that you need to struggle to balance yourself. A safety net is unnecessary. Just hop down off that wire and walk away. Not as easy as it sounds, but it's true anyway.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We are all the author's of our own lives; we are the sum of our choices and how we perceive them. Acknowledge your past, strive for a goal, and live in the present. Life is because it is, and the only standards you have to live up to is your own. The only thing you can do is explore new things and find a goal to work towards like maybe picking up a new hobby. You can also try looking at other religions and see what they have to say. Even if you don't find what you are looking for there, there is a chance you could find some nuggets of understanding. 

 

I'm not saying this is going to be easy, not by a long shot. One cannot just flip a switch and change the mind immediately. It takes time to find a new way of thinking of things, and it takes time to internalize the new thought process. The most important thing though is to not sacrifice who you are in the process. If something doesn't feel right, there is probably reason why it is not. Trust yourself and stay sharp. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Welcome to Ex-C, Ralet!

 

I think what you are experiencing is normal. Take your time. Deconversion is nothing to rush. Keep us posted. Most of us here have been exactly where you are.

 

It gets better!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's a difficult time, but you will find your way eventually.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you, for your replies. They gave me alot to think about. I think my problem is that I have the need to solve everything. This time there is nothing to solve, there is no right answer. I have to accept that, wait and see.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

(double-post because i dont know how to edit. unsure.png )  I wrote my final prayer today. It look me alot of time and I planed to end it with a last request for forgiveness but instead, after hours of thinking and writing (and some tears) i wrote: "I am not writing this for you. I am writing it for myself. It is MY life now. That's it. I quit. I'm moving on." woohoo.gif 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Ralet.  No issues understanding your English.  I wouldn't have been able to tell it's a second language for you if you didn't say so.  Then again, I have crappy English (it's my first and only language, and yet my foreign collaborators regularly correct my English on my scientific papers), so what do I know?

 

 

I can relate to your problem somewhat.  Just as English wasn't your first language, Christianity wasn't my first religion.  When I converted to evangelical Christianity, I thought that Jesus was the meaning of life.  I was convinced that "in him are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge."  When I realized that Jesus was a lying fraud, a cruel taskmaster, and a torturous sadist, I too was left with little understanding as to the meaning of life.  For a lot of people, atheism presents a viable solution.  Not so for myself.  I suppose I'm just not wired to be an atheist; atheism simply isn't something I'm intellectually capable of believing (and it's certainly not a matter of "getting through the day," as I do not struggle with any kind of depression). I've never been an atheist throughout the course of life. even well before I was a Christian, and couldn't really imagine myself holding a remotely atheistic viewpoint at any time in the future.  This was more of a curse than a blessing, because most authors I've tried reading who are critical of Christianity take an atheistic standpoint.  And that's not really helpful to me.  Their arguments always amounted to a statement of why Christianity is ridiculous.  I wasn't looking for ridicule; I was looking for explanations of the moral evil behind Jesus and Christianity.  In a sense, after deconversion I was looking for others who were equally hostile to Christianity as myself, but who didn't engage in mockery, and I couldn't find any.  I wish I could appreciate atheist critics of Christianity, but I really can't.

 

Unlike you, my "deconversion" is complete.  I do not consider myself to be remotely Christian, and actively detest Jesus and what he stands for.  I do not even consider him to be a "good moral teacher" as many do, but rather regard him as an evil and godless man who fancied himself to be God (and that's not a good thing, when you're not really God).  But like yourself, I am still asking myself the question "now what?"  I've returned to the religion I was born with, yet I don't really believe in it at the moment.  I've moved forward with practicing all the religious rituals, and to a large extent I don't mind the fact that I'm simply going through the motions.

 

One thing I do know: I'm free to ask these questions without being labeled a heretic or contentious.  In evangelical Christianity, one must comply with established doctrine or be damned (quite literally).  You and I may not know the meaning of life, but at least we aren't force-fed unsatisfying answers, and at least we are free to pursue new answers to these questions.  Yes, Christianity presented us with a sense of self-worth.  But it was based on lies, namely the divinity and goodness of Jesus.  We now know Jesus to be a fraud, and there was never any true benefit in believing that we had salvation in his name (the very idea of Christian "salvation" is an invented concept).  I think we are in a better position now than we used to be.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Slightly off-topic (sorry!!) but your thoughts on Jesus are very interesting Bhim, I've been struggling to come to terms with what I think of Jesus, as my pastors used to say 'For making these claims - Jesus was either mad, bad, or the son of God, there isn't a middle ground' this was of course stated to confirm our belief in Jesus's resurrection, but now that I've discounted the last I'm left with the other two :/

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Ex. So your pastors probably got this idea from C. S. Lewis, who proposed the so-called Trilemma in which Jesus must be "liar, lunatic, or Lord." My reason for having a negative view of Jesus is independent of this, specifically I see Jesus as threatening to send people to hell for failure to adopt a Western European religion. That said, the Trilemma has been on my mind. It's an attractive argument to many because throughout the world, people have a positive view of Jesus. Even many ex-Christians view him as a good moral teacher, claiming that Paul perverted his teachings. So Christians try and force you into accepting Jesus as Lord or hating him, knowing that no one will choose the latter. I, however, don't view Jesus as a good person to begin with. He introduced this concept of eternal hell. I don't think people stop and realize how horrible a place he'll would be, if it existed. And we want to call hell's inventor a good moral teacher? I'd just as soon label Jesus as cruel.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Ex. So your pastors probably got this idea from C. S. Lewis, who proposed the so-called Trilemma in which Jesus must be "liar, lunatic, or Lord." My reason for having a negative view of Jesus is independent of this, specifically I see Jesus as threatening to send people to hell for failure to adopt a Western European religion. That said, the Trilemma has been on my mind. It's an attractive argument to many because throughout the world, people have a positive view of Jesus. Even many ex-Christians view him as a good moral teacher, claiming that Paul perverted his teachings. So Christians try and force you into accepting Jesus as Lord or hating him, knowing that no one will choose the latter. I, however, don't view Jesus as a good person to begin with. He introduced this concept of eternal hell. I don't think people stop and realize how horrible a place he'll would be, if it existed. And we want to call hell's inventor a good moral teacher? I'd just as soon label Jesus as cruel.

 

I've got a new version of the Trilemma for C.S. Lewis. Jesus must be "Liar, Lunatic, or Demon Lord of the underworld who inherited the throne from his father, the Father of all that is evil". zDuivel7.gif

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Another version of the Trilemma I've heard is "Liar, Lunatic, Lord, or Legend."  My vote is for "legend", as I believe that Jesus is just a bunch of stories of a bunch of different people, glued together with horseshit that people made up along the way to make the story more compelling.

 

Welcome Ralet! I found it both helpful and empowering to realize that everything I have done in my life, I did on my own.  It's not like God did all the good stuff, and only the stuff I screwed up was all my fault.  But yes, it was very scary at first to discover that God was not there all the time keeping me from harm.

 

I think what you're feeling sounds a lot like some of the stages when a child is learning to ride a bike.  They feel safe when their parent is holding on to the bike.  Then somewhere along the line, the parent lets go, and the child doesn't realize it.  When the child sees that they are riding the bike by themselves, they might freak out a little bit - but eventually they figure out that they can do it without help.  Of course in this situation, there is no parent that was ever holding the bike.

 

Try not to focus on the fear.  Focus on the wonderful fact that you now have the power to derive whatever meaning out of your life that you wish.  It's all up to you.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

And I believed the decisions I had made in the past, where somehow guided by him. Of course looking back I made them by myself, achieved everything by myself, but I never questioned myself. It just seemed to be right. But now I know there is no absolute “right” or “wrong”. I could have picked a different major, a different university, a different lifestyle without god interfering. So is this the life I want to live? What is the purpose, meaning or goal of life? How do I know what to do if there is no right or wrong/ no particular plan?

Why do I live at all? I know my parents didn’t plan (want?) me, but because they were christian abortion was no option. They didn’t plan me, god didn’t plan me. Why do I exist?

And who am I? Nobody created me the way I am. There is no particular reason that I am who I am. My personality is just a random result of my culture, upbringing and experience in life. I haven’t achieved anything imported and I don’t believe I ever will. What is my worth?

With my faith in god I lost my faith in “fairytale” love. There is no soulmate for me. There is no happy ending.

I never thought that my christian belief was the foundation of my self-esteem and my understanding of life and I don’t know how to regain hope and meaning.

 

If there's no particular plan or right or wrong, you don't have to worry about making the one-and-only set of correct choices for your life. They're just choices. Some may work out better than others, and it's good to use the knowledge you currently have to try to make the best choice for you and your particular circumstances, but you don't have to worry about getting it wrong the same way I used to worry about as a christian. Sometimes you've got to pick between two good options - you no longer have to worry that one of them might be sneakily wrong becuase it's not what god wants for you. Just live.

 

It may be good to sit down and think about the previous choices you've made in your life without god, to really sit down and examine on what basis you made those choices and how they worked out for you. Remind yourself that you've done alright without god in the past to reassure yourself that you can continue to do so in the future.

 

For purpose and meaning, you've figured out that those don't just get handed to you. They're your responsibility to figure out. So think about what brings you joy, what is meaningful to you, and come up with a small number Big Goals for your life. Mine include getting to know and spend time in nature and developing some artistic skills that will allow me to make stuff I can share with others. It took me a while to figure out what my life goals were, and I review them sometimes to see if they're still what I really want out of life. Then I come up with short term plans that are in line with those goals, like "buy camping equipment and go car camping a few times this year" for the being in nature thing. Or just "take a short walk outside in the afternoon". For having worth, I discovered that for me that means contributing to society. So I look at what my skills are, what I like to do, and think about how I can use those in ways that benefit other people. I can do that by doing well at my job, selling art I've made in a small local shop (contributing to society and making money aren't always conflicting goals), and playing a musical instrument passably enough to bring joy to other people (so far that's mostly other musicians I play with; I'm trying to get to open-mic night level of performace quality). Don't ignore the questions about meaning now that you've realized the christian god doesn't exist. Look at your feelings about those questions to figure out what sort of meaning you were looking for and expecting, and find your own way to fulfill your need to have a meaningful life.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Perhaps someone should start a new thread, I'd very much like to continue expounding regarding my thoughts on Jesus.  However, maybe Ralet would find it helpful as well, so for the moment I'll continue here.

 

The option of "Legend" is certainly legitimate.  However, I do want to reiterate that the very concept of the Trilemma assumes that the listener has a favorable view of Jesus.  When Lewis proposed the Trilemma, he did so specifically to combat those who wished to accept Jesus as anything other than the LORD (i.e. Yahweh) and sovereign god.  I don't know if Lewis had Hindus in mind, but most members of my religion have the view of Jesus that he strives to reject.  The idea here is that Jesus is one aspect or representation of God among many, and that one can know God through Jesus (among other options).

 

Whatever I may detest about evangelical Christianity, I will agree with them that two competing beliefs with contradictory teachings cannot be simultaneously true.  And thus I reject the general Hindu opinion on Jesus, which is shared by universalists in the West.  Jesus' concept of hell is almost universally rejected.  Even Islam has a milder version of hell than what Jesus envisioned.  So then, which of the three options of the Trilemma do we choose?  Let us assume for the moment that there was a character from history who was reasonably similar to the Jesus of the gospels (i.e., let us preclude the option of Legend, while allowing the gospel's supernatural/miraculous claims to not necessarily be true).  He is not a liar, since I can believe that he genuinely thought he was telling the truth.  He is not a lunatic, because one can be factually incorrect without being clinically insane.  And we reject him as Lord, because his teachings contradict the general conscience of most humans, and this conscience seems more believable than any words on a page.  Add to this the fact that the words of Jesus contradict the teachings of God in the Hebrew Bible.  God says that no man should be worshipped as though he is God.  God says that the Messiah will bring about a golden age to the nation of Israel, whereas the words of Jesus have caused the decimation of the Jewish people.  Jesus fails the tests imposed by the Hebrew Bible.  It's no wonder that Jews rejected him and that the apostle Paul had to invent doctrine about this Jewish rejection being necessary for the salvation of Gentiles.

 

I propose another addition to the so-called Trilemma: false prophet.  And Deuteronomy 13 makes it clear that God commands men such as Jesus to be executed by stoning.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On the trilemma, I think there's good ground to pick a fourth, "legend," as new2me and others suggest.  Excluding that choice, though, wouldn't a false prophet convinced of his own prophetic mission fall into the "lunatic" category?  I recall that Lewis gave as an example of a lunatic "a man who thinks he is a poached egg."  The lunatic of the Jim Jones sort is quite differet.  Lewis' rhetorical sleight of hand masks this.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Despite that the analogy comes to us from Lewis, it's probably best to return to the actual definition of lunacy, which implies clinical insanity. This also defeats Lewis' intellectual slight of hand that you mentioned, wouldn't you agree?

 

I say this because a lunatic can be somewhat excused for his insanity, whereas I think it's important to hold Jesus accountable for the moral evil of his hell doctrine. And the Trilemma, as it stands, doesn't really leave any room for this.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Despite that the analogy comes to us from Lewis, it's probably best to return to the actual definition of lunacy, which implies clinical insanity. This also defeats Lewis' intellectual slight of hand that you mentioned, wouldn't you agree?

 

I say this because a lunatic can be somewhat excused for his insanity, whereas I think it's important to hold Jesus accountable for the moral evil of his hell doctrine. And the Trilemma, as it stands, doesn't really leave any room for this.

 

What 'Hell Doctrine from Jesus'? There is no Hell mentioned in the Bible by Jesus. Nothing about eternal suffering either, or any other sort of punishment in the afterlife. He speaks of reward for the faithful, but never mentions punishing the unbelievers. As far as I know, according to Jesus, the only thing 'unfaithful' people get is no invitation to his 'Super Awesome Kingdom'.

 

There's a vague reference to a garbage dump in the NT, but no hellfire or eternal suffering is ever mentioned by him at all.

 

Revelations gets into a 'pit of flames' and such, but even then it's really not a reference to 'Hell' as we understand it. All that Revelations represents is a prophecy that never came to pass about the fall of the Roman Empire and the return of the Messiah. It isn't even really about 'the end of the world'. It's basically one big dream fantasy along the lines of 'those Roman guys suck and they are mean to us, so when Jesus comes back he's gonna kick their asses and then we'll be in charge forever'. Even in Revelations the 'lake of fire' is reserved for Demons and the Ungodly, and no mention of tossing human souls into it is ever made. It's not meant to convey that and modern translations of the idea that suggest that God is tossing people into it have no basis. Again, they are merely bad translations about some guys power fantasy wet dream about when his 'Savior' returns to throw off their Roman oppressors.

 

Hell is the product of the Church, not Jesus. It didn't come about until much later when the Church decided to take a page from other faiths and come up with a big scary place for bad people to keep the rabble in line. It was inserted into Scripture by them when they intentionally badly mistranslated the ideas of Hades, and Sheol, and terms like grave, and pit. These are simple references to the 'plane of the dead' which doesn't fit the idea of 'Hell' at all. It's simply a place where dead people go and has nothing to do with punishment or judgement.

 

Jesus had nothing to do with the concept of Hell, and even the Bible isn't directly to blame for it. It was just clergy using vague passages that really had nothing to do with the idea to justify their new idea [that they stole from other religions] that people who didn't believe what they said and behave like they wanted would suffer forever, so it was probably a good idea to do what they said. It was Christians who came up with the concept of Hell much later on, not Jesus, and it isn't supported by what's actually written the Bible either.

 

Saying that we should 'hold Jesus accountable' for Hell and how it is used in reality is kind of like blaming Gandalf for Nazi Germany's Eugenics program because the breeding of Uruk-hai in the Lord of the Rings is kind of like the idea of Nazi Germany's Aryan Superman. Even if one did happen to inspire the other, Gandalf had nothing to do with it.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi ContraBardus. I'll try to explain from whence I derive my highly negative view of Jesus.
 

What 'Hell Doctrine from Jesus'? There is no Hell mentioned in the Bible by Jesus. Nothing about eternal suffering either, or any other sort of punishment in the afterlife. He speaks of reward for the faithful, but never mentions punishing the unbelievers. As far as I know, according to Jesus, the only thing 'unfaithful' people get is no invitation to his 'Super Awesome Kingdom'™.
 
There's a vague reference to a garbage dump in the NT, but no hellfire or eternal suffering is ever mentioned by him at all.
 
Revelations gets into a 'pit of flames' and such, but even then it's really not a reference to 'Hell' as we understand it. All that Revelations represents is a prophecy that never came to pass about the fall of the Roman Empire and the return of the Messiah. It isn't even really about 'the end of the world'. It's basically one big dream fantasy along the lines of 'those Roman guys suck and they are mean to us, so when Jesus comes back he's gonna kick their asses and then we'll be in charge forever'. Even in Revelations the 'lake of fire' is reserved for Demons and the Ungodly, and no mention of tossing human souls into it is ever made. It's not meant to convey that and modern translations of the idea that suggest that God is tossing people into it have no basis. Again, they are merely bad translations about some guys power fantasy wet dream about when his 'Savior' returns to throw off their Roman oppressors.
 
Hell is the product of the Church, not Jesus. It didn't come about until much later when the Church decided to take a page from other faiths and come up with a big scary place for bad people to keep the rabble in line. It was inserted into Scripture by them when they intentionally badly mistranslated the ideas of Hades, and Sheol, and terms like grave, and pit. These are simple references to the 'plane of the dead' which doesn't fit the idea of 'Hell' at all. It's simply a place where dead people go and has nothing to do with punishment or judgement.
 
Jesus had nothing to do with the concept of Hell, and even the Bible isn't directly to blame for it. It was just clergy using vague passages that really had nothing to do with the idea to justify their new idea [that they stole from other religions] that people who didn't believe what they said and behave like they wanted would suffer forever, so it was probably a good idea to do what they said. It was Christians who came up with the concept of Hell much later on, not Jesus, and it isn't supported by what's actually written the Bible either.
 
Saying that we should 'hold Jesus accountable' for Hell and how it is used in reality is kind of like blaming Gandalf for Nazi Germany's Eugenics program because the breeding of Uruk-hai in the Lord of the Rings is kind of like the idea of Nazi Germany's Aryan Superman. Even if one did happen to inspire the other, Gandalf had nothing to do with it.

 
It's a common claim among well-meaning liberal Christians that gehenna, or the Valley of the Son of Hinnom (i.e. hell) refers to the burning trash-heap outside Jerusalem. And sure, that's where the imagery comes from. But that's like reading a statement on this forum about how "that thread about the mathematical proof of God is a black hole," and thinking that the writer really meant to refer to a collapsed star. Jesus said that God destroys both the body and soul in hell:
 

 

And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matthew 10:28)


So I would put the question to you: what does it mean to destroy the soul in hell? An apologist for Jesus may say one of two things (that I can think of, anyway). He may claim that destruction of the soul means just that; the person ceases to exist, and suffers no further punishment. This is the Christian heresy of annihilationism. The second approach someone might take is that condemnation to hell results from a life of sinfulness, and isn't explicitly connected to faith in Jesus. Jesus himself takes care of the second argument in verse 33 when he says, "but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven." Given what the gospels say about Jesus calling people to run away from home to follow them, it's hard to interpret this statement as anything other than "convert to Christianity or suffer endless torment."

As to the possibility of annihilationism, Jesus precludes this in the parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man when he gives us a picture of the Christian afterlife:

 

The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame. (Luke 16:22-24)

 

Note that here Jesus doesn't use the word hell. He talks about Hades, the Greek word for the afterlife, and yet uses the same firey imagery of hell. Now you said, "It was inserted into Scripture by them when they intentionally badly mistranslated the ideas of Hades, and Sheol, and terms like grave, and pit." But here's the difficulty with that claim. In talking about Hades with the image of fire and torment, Jesus himself (and by consequence not the church) is claiming that the Hebrew concept of sheol involves torment. Elsewhere in the New Testament, Psalm 16:10,

 

For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption. (Acts 2:27)

 
However, Psalm 16:10 uses the word "Sheol," since Hades is a Greek word. If you read the Septuagint, you'll likewise find that Sheol is translaed as Hades. So in the parable, Jesus is referring to Sheol. He does indeed regard the Jewish afterlife as a place of torment for those who don't believe. One might be tempted to say that the parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man proves that hell is connected with charity and not belief. However I'd cite two passages, the first from an unlikely source.
 

For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” Those who heard it said, “Then who can be saved?” But he said, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” (Luke 18:25-27)

 
A lot of people think this passage means that riches are antithetical to following Jesus, because they only quote the first part. But evangelicals seem to have no problem with the rich. And for good reason. Jesus says that although the rich could not be saved by their own merit, they'll be saved by the effort of God. What effort, you ask? It's made clear in John 3:36.
 

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.

 
Everything hinges on belief in Jesus. Action counts for nothing. Even obedience is here connected with belief. This notion of salvation by grace through faith, apart from works, didn't come out of nowhere. It's straight out of the pages of the Bible, and you don't have to go to Paul to get it. The opposite of salvation is condemnation, and Jesus is quite clear on what that entails.

 

Now, does the possibility of some release from hell exist?  I admit that the passages I quoted don't clearly state that there is no opportunity to believe in Jesus and be saved after going to hell.  Then again, Jesus nowhere says that pigs can't fly.  To say that hell isn't eternal because Jesus doesn't say otherwise is an argument from silence.  I don't dare attempt to interpret the book of Revelation, since Christians themselves can't decide what it means.  But going by the Bible, it seems that hell is a real place that you are going to forever unless you convert to Christianity.

 

Does the Bible misquote Jesus?  Maybe.  Was it assembled by fourth century Christians without any aid of divine intervention.  Almost definitely, in my opinion.  But if you reject the Bible, what else do we have that tells us about Jesus?  A plethora of gospels and pseudepigrapha that contradict one another.  Christians weren't fools, they chose the canon because it presented a reasonably clear view of Jesus with not too many contradictions.  I have no idea if Jesus even existed in the manner as presented in the Bible.  So when evangelicals tell me "this is what Jesus said," I accept it at least for argument's sake, and reject Jesus on the grounds that what he says is ungodly and immoral.

 

We have no way of reading dead Christians' minds and understanding why they put the verses they did in the canon.  But I can judge the character of Jesus that they present to me.  And he utterly fails as a figure I'd want to obey as a god, irrespective of what medieval church institutions taught about him.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Guidelines.