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Does the idea of a Lake of Fire (Hell) really make any sense?


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5 hours ago, TheDude said:

I don't think the scriptures make the case that people that want nothing to do with God in the end will burn for eternity.  There are references to "eternal fire", and "eternal punishment", but not "eternal punishment in fire".  I would argue that if the Lake of Fire is not metaphorical, how could someone suffer in fire forever?  If one were cast into eternal flames, they would burn until their body is gone and most likely would not suffer once their nerve endings were destroyed.

 

In my faith, the Lake of Fire is a metaphor for eternal separation from God for those that in the end, even after being conscious in the Spirit World for no less than 1,000 years and coming to a full understanding of God, choose to want nothing to do with him.  I believe these people will be exceedingly rare, if any.

 

But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

 

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So for unbelievers it's off to the lake of fire. You say that it's just a metaphor for eternal separation from god. 

 

The glaring question, following the theme of my ongoing debate, is how do you propose being 'eternally separated' from an immanent and transcendent, infinite and eternal, omnipresent (which means all present) god???????

 

Here you are contemplating how nonsensical it is to burn forever in a literal sense. Yes, it's nonsense. But also complete nonsense is Genesis 1 and the creation myth. Total nonsense literally. As well as the nonsensical claim that anything could be "separated" from a god which claimed to be all present or everywhere present. 

 

The condition is called cognitive dissonance. And you've laid out quite an example of it here for this community. 

 

Welcome aboard!!!

 

Let's see if you will sink or swim????

 

 

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10 minutes ago, Joshpantera said:

It's called synchronicity. You're playing around with the art of coincidence without being tuned in closely to what it is you're doing. I have the same results as an atheist with no tithing or religious belief. Since I put my consciousness in a given direction the finances then correspond to my specific focus. This works the same for christian or atheists because it more to do with mind and consciousness and less to do with the existence of literal deities and such. 

I don't particularly value having assets for myself beyond what I need.  I like to invest wisely, but it's not about abounding in material wealth.  With that said, your explanation is reasonable.  I am not denying the mechanics of how one's wealth grows even when one is tithing (though I do believe everything happens for a reason).  I am merely stating that it doesn't feel like a burden to me, especially given the substantial improvement in my finances despite tithing.

 

15 minutes ago, Joshpantera said:

Yes, christianity is mostly an appeal to the human ego with it's desires for rewards and fear of punishment. The two combined have had a lot of influence on people. Whereas something like Buddhism outlines fear and desire as something of a weakness, to be overcome altogether if possible. But just consider that for a moment.

I am not sure I would agree that Buddhists don't fear "punishment" for their performance in life.  They avoid the accumulation of bad karma in this life because they believe it frustrates their ability to progress higher in the cycle of reincarnation.  Oftentimes, people who have made serious mistakes earlier in life are treated by other Buddhists as being unredeemable, because they believe they have accumulated too much bad karma.  Now of course, I don't want to claim this is true of most Buddhists; I can only speak anecdotally from the experiences of people who have expressed the relief they felt when they converted from Buddhism to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a result of no longer feeling anchored by bad karma.

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12 minutes ago, Joshpantera said:

So for unbelievers it's off to the lake of fire.

The word in Greek in this sentence that is often translated as "unbelievers" is "apistois", which means "untrustworthy".  Now, I've already explained my position on that earlier in the thread:

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While I still believe in Hell, I no longer believe that all people who don't accept Christ are destined for Hell (Luke 5:32), and I am no longer trapped in the idea of Heaven and Hell being binary.  First, by a reasonable reading of the Old Testament and also Luke 16:19-31, one would get the idea that both good and evil people are destined for the same abode after death (which I refer to as the "Spirit World"), though one's place and specific treatment specific treatment therein differs based upon one's choices in life.

 

I believe that at some point, Christ will resurrect the good to live for a millennium on the Earth with him ruling over it (Revelation 20:4, 6; 1 John 3:1-3), and they will have the opportunity learn and grow to be capable of dwelling in Heaven with the Father, sharing in all that he has (Luke 6:40; Romans 8:13-17, 2 Corinthians 6:16-18; Galatians 4:5; Revelation 21:6-7).  After those thousand years, the filthy and wicked will be resurrected too (Revelation 20:5), and they will live in a lesser state (Revelation 22:15).  I believe that everyone in the Spirit World will be taught about Christ (1 Peter 3:18-20) and the degree to which they allow themselves to be changed there influences their state therein and their state afterwards once they are resurrected (2 Corinthians 3:18).  If they don't allow themselves to change even after gaining a perfect knowledge of who Christ is and how much they need them to become righteous, they will remain as they are (Revelation 22:11), and then and only then will they be cast into "the Lake of Fire".

 

20 minutes ago, Joshpantera said:

The glaring question, following the theme of my ongoing debate, is how do you propose being 'eternally separated' from an immanent and transcendent, infinite and eternal, omnipresent (which means all present) god???????

You're presuming that I believe that God is present everywhere, which I do not.  I believe that he has a body that is spiritual in nature like that of Christ's (or vice versa, actually).  The Bible speaks of God's hands, his face, his back, his hair, etc., and thus I don't believe that he is a nebulous in form.

 

23 minutes ago, Joshpantera said:

As well as the nonsensical claim that anything could be "separated" from a god which claimed to be all present or everywhere present.

Where?

 

24 minutes ago, Joshpantera said:

But also complete nonsense is Genesis 1 and the creation myth.

Who says that Genesis 1 isn't allegorical?  Why would God be above providing an explanation to people according to their level of ability to conceptualize?

 

28 minutes ago, Joshpantera said:

The condition is called cognitive dissonance. And you've laid out quite an example of it here for this community.

You haven't made that case.  You've made assumptions about what I believe based upon what the majority of other Christians believe, and then presumed that my beliefs are in disharmony with one another.

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26 minutes ago, TheDude said:

You're presuming that I believe that God is present everywhere, which I do not.  I believe that he has a body that is spiritual in nature like that of Christ's (or vice versa, actually).  The Bible speaks of God's hands, his face, his back, his hair, etc., and thus I don't believe that he is a nebulous in form.

 

Granted, I have to tailor this to a Mormon situation more so than a christian one - allowing that Mormonism is not part of mainstream christianity. You do not abide by the creeds which make these declarations of totality about god do you? 

 

So the bigger situation you will face now is the question of what's greater than the "finite" concept of god that you've given me above? These are descriptions of something not infinite and eternal. So that leaves the surrounding realm of existence as greater than the concept of the finite, fixed form god. 

 

The god you are describing is little more than an extraterrestrial being, some being not of this planet, as opposed to ultimate reality itself, the whole, the absolute, the transcendent, or any of the more totality based god concepts. 

 

Which would then qualify as the god above your finite god - that which is greater and surrounding your god. 

 

How far have you considered this? I once tried directing some door to door Mormon missionaries this way. But they didn't follow me down this path. For sake of argument, will you? 

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Poster TheDude is performing the "This part is metaphor/allegory" and "That part is literal" routine.  For example, being cast into the lake of fire is metaphorical and God has hands, a face and hair is literally true because the Bible says so.  Convenient.

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1 hour ago, Joshpantera said:

 

Granted, I have to tailor this to a Mormon situation more so than a christian one - allowing that Mormonism is not part of mainstream christianity. You do not abide by the creeds which make these declarations of totality about god do you?

That is correct, we do not believe the creeds are inspired.  Though I do wish to point out that I don't use the term "Mormon" to describe myself or the members of my faith.  I won't take offense to it though as I don't think you're intending it as a pejorative.

 

1 hour ago, Joshpantera said:

So the bigger situation you will face now is the question of what's greater than the "finite" concept of god that you've given me above? These are descriptions of something not infinite and eternal. So that leaves the surrounding realm of existence as greater than the concept of the finite, fixed form god. 

 

The god you are describing is little more than an extraterrestrial being, some being not of this planet, as opposed to ultimate reality itself, the whole, the absolute, the transcendent, or any of the more totality based god concepts. 

It's interesting that you would think of God as an extraterrestrial being based upon my description of him as having a body.  That would indeed be an accurate description, because I believe he is a being that is not of this world.  However, I would disagree that just because a being has a body, that he is not infinite in power and eternal in nature.  The Bible speaks of people being granted "eternal life".  Well, as far as you or I know, we didn't always exist, and thus "eternal" in a scriptural sense doesn't necessarily mean "having always existed as one now is".  I would agree that my understanding of God is that he is finite in the strictest definition of the word because there are limits to his presence, limits to what he is willing to do, and l don't believe he has always been exactly as he is now.

 

Let me ask you this question.  Do you love your parents despite them having limitations to their nature?  Most people do.

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55 minutes ago, sdelsolray said:

Poster TheDude is performing the "This part is metaphor/allegory" and "That part is literal" routine.  For example, being cast into the lake of fire is metaphorical and God has hands, a face and hair is literally true because the Bible says so.  Convenient.

In any compilation of multiple books consisting of several genres, there are going to be different writing styles.  In any book that is heavily allegorical, there is going to be literal references, so I don't really see what your concern is.  If one reads the Bible and thinks that the God being described has corporeal features based upon their reading of it, it seems to me to be a reasonable conclusion.  If there is any allegory in a set of writings, you have to discern for yourself what's allegorical and what is literal unless the author goes right out and tells you.

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1 hour ago, TheDude said:

Ha!  Now, the universe is a pretty big place.  I think perhaps he had other things to do than micromanage the affairs of everyone living on this planet.

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I would hope God could multitask, be everywhere at once and do all things. I'm not sure what the LDS church says but my old fundy Pentecostal church claimed Jesus wanted a personal relationship with me. But, hey maybe the Mormons are like Catholics? More of a corporate 'salvation' instead of a one-on-one thing. 

 

Right, but again, the members of my faith believe that the Lake of Fire is a metaphor, not a literal lake of fire where people burn for eternity.

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Maybe heaven is a metaphor too. How do we determine what is metaphor and what is literal?

 

I don't think suffering an infinite atonement to pay for the sins of every person who has ever existed is expecting very little from their God.

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Is infinite atonement where Jesus died over the weekend, then came back to life and now resides at the right hand of God? What did he give up, exactly? (Other than a few years in a fallen world?) Christians seem to think Jesus is in heaven, which they feel is a great place and want to get there themselves eventually. Does not seem like a sacrifice to me. 

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I may sound like a disagreeable old fart and it's true, but when I was a Christian I just went along with whatever the pastor said and didnt really question much because I didn't think about what I was being taught and whether it actually squared with reality or made logical sense. After being here on this site a while I do question stuff that sounds a little off. But I'm not an atheist. :)

 

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1 minute ago, midniterider said:

I would hope God could multitask, be everywhere at once and do all things.

I don't believe that God is everywhere at once.

 

2 minutes ago, midniterider said:

I'm not sure what the LDS church says but my old fundy Pentecostal church claimed Jesus wanted a personal relationship with me.

I would agree with the fundementalists that Jesus wants a personal relationship with everyone.  But I also think that if God were to reveal himself to everyone, the would no longer the have agency to decide for themselves whether or not to do what is right.  If they do what is wrong after knowing that God exists, they would be willfully rebelling against him, whereas actions people take now oftentimes aren't acts of rebellion because they are done in ignorance.  One can forgive a mistake that someone else makes out of ignorance far more easily than one that is done with intent, right?

 

6 minutes ago, midniterider said:

Maybe heaven is a metaphor too. How do we determine what is metaphor and what is literal?

That is a reasonable question that I am not going to be able to answer.  I know that I am happier because I have faith that there is a Heaven, though, so even if Heaven does not exist, I am better off mentally and physically by believing it does exist, and society benefits more from me in turn.

9 minutes ago, midniterider said:

Is infinite atonement where Jesus died over the weekend, then came back to life and now resides at the right hand of God? What did he give up, exactly? (Other than a few years in a fallen world?) Christians seem to think Jesus is in heaven, which they feel is a great place and want to get there themselves eventually. Does not seem like a sacrifice to me.

I think suffering in agony in Gethsemane by taking upon the sins of the world, experiencing every single wrong that has ever been done to another person, every sickness and infirmity, being abused by the Jewish leaders, being scourged by the Romans to the point of near death, being paraded down the streets carrying a heavy cross, and then suffering the most excruciating method of execution devised by man up to that point is a huge sacrifice that only a God could endure.

 

12 minutes ago, midniterider said:

I may sound like a disagreeable old fart and it's true, but when I was a Christian I just went along with whatever the pastor said and didnt really question much because I didn't think about what I was being taught and whether it actually squared with reality or made logical sense. After being here on this site a while I do question stuff that sounds a little off. But I'm not an atheist. :)

I haven't sensed that you're being disrespectful in any way with your replies, and I understand the need to question anything that doesn't seem reasonable.  I am highly skeptical initially myself of anything that lacks sufficient evidence, so why should I be bothered that someone else is skeptical?  I think it's important to question everything and study it out for yourself when the stakes are high.

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God's omnipresence per the bible:

 

Jeremiah 23:23-24
“Am I a God who is near,” declares the Lord,
“And not a God far off?
“Can a man hide himself in hiding places
So I do not see him?” declares the Lord.
“Do I not fill the heavens and the earth?” declares the Lord.

 

Job 34:21
Verse Concepts
“For His eyes are upon the ways of a man,
And He sees all his steps.

 

Source: https://bible.knowing-jesus.com/topics/God~s-Omnipresence

 

Maybe LDS ignores some of the regular bible. Not sure.

 

 

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17 minutes ago, midniterider said:

God's omnipresence per the bible:

 

Jeremiah 23:23-24
“Am I a God who is near,” declares the Lord,
“And not a God far off?
“Can a man hide himself in hiding places
So I do not see him?” declares the Lord.
“Do I not fill the heavens and the earth?” declares the Lord.

 

Job 34:21
Verse Concepts
“For His eyes are upon the ways of a man,
And He sees all his steps.

 

Source: https://bible.knowing-jesus.com/topics/God~s-Omnipresence

 

Maybe LDS ignores some of the regular bible. Not sure.

 

 

The reference in Job appears to be describing omniscience rather than omnipresence.  The reference in Jeremiah largely does the same with the exception of the sentence you've underlined.  Is the verse describing himself as filling the Heavens and the Earth?  There are a few possibilities other than the traditional Christian explanation:

  1. It is describing the fact that he has created the Heavens and the Earth, and thus has literally "filled the Heavens and the Earth" with the building materials from which they are constructed.  I don't find that explanation particularly compelling, but it is a possibility nonetheless.
  2. It is describing his effect on the universe.  The effect of my presence extends to some extent beyond my body, because I radiate heat, generate sounds, leave an impact on the things with which I interact, etc.  If God is infinite in power and is the creator of the universe, which I believe him to be, he would have a similar but infinite effect.
  3. It is describing his awareness and power filling the Heavens and the Earth.  If he is omniscient and omnipotent, then in some sense his awareness and power are "omnipresent" while he himself is not.  This seems to me to be most likely what Jeremiah was describing.
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I take at face value that Thumbelina is a Christian if she indicates that she is.  If I were to hazard a guess without doing much research, I would assume she is either a Seventh Day Adventist or a Jehovah's Witness.

 

Now, regarding whom to believe, I think you have to decide for yourself what you think is right, but there is of course that neither she nor I are correct.  People in the Lake of Fire could somehow be burning for eternity (though that doesn't make much sense), or there could be no Lake of Fire at all.

 

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Dude,

 

Thank you for your replies.

 

I agree that I have to decide for myself what I think is right.

 

For me, what is right needs to be more than one of many equally implausible and highly subjective interpretations of an ancient book.

 

It needs to be firmly rooted in what we can objectively test, measure and observe.

 

Thank you.

 

Walter.  

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7 hours ago, midniterider said:

So LDS God can't be everywhere all at once. 

 

He has his limits. 

Nothing corporeal can be "everywhere at once", else everything material would be composed of it, which would be pantheism.

 

I would also argue that the God that Latter-day Saints worship is the same God that mainstream Christians, Jews, Muslims, Baháʼí, Sikhs, and many other people worship.  Though each faith has a different understanding of him, each has some amount of truth.  Just as my understanding of a person will be different than the understanding his children, his wife, his mother, his employer, his friends, his enemies, and their understandings will all be different, it doesn't negate the fact that we all have concepts of the same person.

 

I would also argue that the Latter-day Saint understanding of God's nature is the same as that of first and second temple Jews as well as primitive Christians, who were monolatrist and believed that God was corporeal.  First, the Bible seems to make that case in Genesis 3:8:

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And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden.

and also Genesis 5:1-3:

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This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him; Male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created.

 

And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, after his image; and called his name Seth.

and also Genesis 11:7:

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Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.

and there are many more references in the Bible that give that impression.

 

We can also see that by around the third century, after Christianity had been Platonized by those with an affinity for Greek Philosophy, that the idea of God being corporeal was being lost:

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"The Jews indeed, but also some of our people, supposed that God should be understood as a man, that is, adorned with human members and human appearance.  But the philosophers despise these stories as fabulous and formed in the likeness of poetic fictions."

-(Origen, Homilies on Genesis, ch. III)

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"Socrates and Plato held that [God is] the One, the single self-existent nature, the monadic, the real Being, the good: and all this variety of names points immediately to mind. God therefore is mind, a separate species, that is to say what is purely immaterial and unconnected with anything passible."

-(Eusebius quoting Plutarch as an authority, Praeparatio Evangelica”, ch. XIV)

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"Whatever attributes therefore you require as worthy of God, must be found in the Father, who is invisible and unapproachable, and placid, and (so to speak, the God of the philosophers."

-(Tertullian, Against Marcion, bk. II, ch. XXVII)

 

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2 hours ago, TheDude said:

Nothing corporeal can be "everywhere at once", else everything material would be composed of it, which would be pantheism.

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Yes, that's kinda my take on reality. We and everything is God. It's pantheist, non-dualist, Zen, advaita.  

 

I would also argue that the God that Latter-day Saints worship is the same God that mainstream Christians, Jews, Muslims, Baháʼí, Sikhs, and many other people worship.  Though each faith has a different understanding of him, each has some amount of truth.  Just as my understanding of a person will be different than the understanding his children, his wife, his mother, his employer, his friends, his enemies, and their understandings will all be different, it doesn't negate the fact that we all have concepts of the same person.

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I said 'LDS God' because I think the Pentecostals were more of the omnipresent God belief. 

 

I would also argue that the Latter-day Saint understanding of God's nature is the same as that of first and second temple Jews as well as primitive Christians, who were monolatrist and believed that God was corporeal.  First, the Bible seems to make that case in Genesis 3:8:

and also Genesis 5:1-3:

and also Genesis 11:7:

and there are many more references in the Bible that give that impression.

.

 

John 4:24: God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.

1 Tim 6:16: God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see.

John 1:18  No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and[a] is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.

 

edit: 1 Tim 1:17: Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

edit: Ps 139:7+ Where can I go from your Spirit?    Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

 

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Chimps are 98% genetically the same as people. If people go to hell, shouldn't chimps go to hell too? Imagine a lake of fire filled with chimps. It's too absurd. So it should be just as absurd for there to be a lake of fire for people.

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21 hours ago, TheDude said:

However, I would disagree that just because a being has a body, that he is not infinite in power and eternal in nature.  The Bible speaks of people being granted "eternal life".  Well, as far as you or I know, we didn't always exist, and thus "eternal" in a scriptural sense doesn't necessarily mean "having always existed as one now is".  I would agree that my understanding of God is that he is finite in the strictest definition of the word because there are limits to his presence, limits to what he is willing to do, and l don't believe he has always been exactly as he is now.

 

You admit more than most christians are willing. I have a guy pinned against the ropes in a debate over the issue of the contradictions in the bible of god being omnipresent, yet not present where it's uncomfortable to have gods presence. You readily admit that the omnipresence thing doesn't gel with everything else that speaks in terms of a limited presence. 

 

But that's the issue. If we look at this closely and the bible does say in one or more places that god is omnipresent, but then in other places contradicts that claim with partial presence, then we would be looking at a situation where whoever chooses either option is merely picking and choosing what they like and ignoring what doesn't fit their own preferences. Indeed, as ex christians most of us hold that the thousands of denominations of christians can exist because that's how many ways in which people can pick and choose their way through the bible, focusing in on what they want to focus in on and focusing out on things that they don't want to focus on. 

 

One person's throw away item is another persons key to the secrets of salvation....

 

Now as for god, if what you think of as god has a body, then it has an outline, and it is a finite object in the strictest sense. So a more pantheistic conception of totality literally consumes your god concept. Just the same as how a more pantheistic concept consumes any deistic concept. That's what I found lacking when the local door to door Mormons were trying to talk to me. I was raised SDA, for sake of conversion. William Miller was a paternal relative of mine. I was able to navigate the inconsistencies of my own cult-like upbringing and family background. And for a while I felt very compelled to try and help others over come there own cultish back grounds as well. So I'd speak to the JW and Mormon's when they'd come around. 

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7 minutes ago, Chikirin said:

Chimps are 98% genetically the same as people. If people go to hell, shouldn't chimps go to hell too? Imagine a lake of fire filled with chimps. It's too absurd. So it should be just as absurd for there to be a lake of fire for people.

 

Made in the image of God.... 😛

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On 5/22/2021 at 11:12 AM, midniterider said:

believe the "Lake of Fire" is a metaphor for willful eternal separation from God (i.e., "outer darkness").  Anyone that makes it there will have made a conscious choice that they'd rather rebel against God for all eternity, including Lucifer and all his angels.  I don't think there are very many people that have ever existed or ever will on this planet that are capable of such a choice.

 

It is easy for me to see why Hell developed into a lake of fire myth. By the time this part of the myth came into being they had already been influenced heavily by Greek mythology and other mainstream philosophical and religious beliefs on the after life. Before this "according to Bart Ehrmanns book Heaven and Hell" The Jewish people had already started believing in a system of punishment for those that had not followed Gods law like the Jewish people had. Jesus story of the rich man in hell is a prime example. Jesus didn't come up with that. It had been circulating for years before Jesus' time. We don't see it in the Bible because the books that reflected these beliefs weren't included in the canonical version of the Bible.

     They had seen the suffering of the Persian and Babylonian occupations, and were now under the hand of the Roman empire. It didn't seem fair to people that they would suffer at the hand of these people while they lived in the lap of luxury. So they began to developed beliefs that these unholy pagans would be severely punished after life. Couple that with the Hades myth of the underworld and volcanic activity. Literally seeing molten lava flowing like water from beneath the earth, and TAHDAH!!! A lake that Burneth with unquenchable fire burning eternal souls for eternity is born. 

     Not to mention it is a fine way to get people to do what you want them to do. Just make them believe they will be punished eternally after death and ya got some pretty obedient citizens. 

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So of course I can speak for the Adventist's. The idea is that there is no hell. The doctrine of "soul sleep" was developed. When SDA's die the funeral goes to the tune of singing songs about sleeping in the ground unconscious of anything till the resurrection. After which final judgement and the lake of fire situation happens.

 

Similar to the Mormons, I don't remember believing that the burning and torment goes on forever. They had ways of trying to apologize around it as the Mormons apparently do. I was given the idea that those who are not saved will get thrown in the lake of fire along with the devil, death, and the grave. But then it's over. It doesn't go on burning forever. They just get stomped out. 

 

 I don't know if that's because Smith was ahead of Miller and White and this type of apologetic's was adopted into SDAism or what. But Smith came before White, and White came before Russel. Jehovah's Witness was certainly influenced and fell into place behind Seventh Day Adventism. Going off in another direction. We were raised thinking that we were perfectly normal and the Mormons and JW's were bat shit crazy and the rest of christianity are a bunch of pagan sun worshipers following the devil along to worship the sun every Sun-day. 

 

How very convenient! One true church that somehow got everything right while everyone else got it completely wrong. The elite of the very elite. 

 

This is another instance of leading a horse to water but not being able to make it drink. (hint, hint, metaphor alert!) 

 

Unless it clicks in the cult members mind, they won't get it at all. How very convenient all of this is. You just happen to be of the select few who really understand the bible and can properly interpret it without error. A little TOO convenient if you strap your thinking cap on a little tighter. And the truth is, in each case, that not only are none of these groups without error or capable of perfect interpretation, but they're all extremely out of whack as they try and pick and choose their way through scripture and apologize away whatever doesn't gel with their particular choice of focus. 

 

 

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21 hours ago, TheDude said:

Nothing corporeal can be "everywhere at once", else everything material would be composed of it, which would be pantheism.

 

I would also argue that the God that Latter-day Saints worship is the same God that mainstream Christians, Jews, Muslims, Baháʼí, Sikhs, and many other people worship.  Though each faith has a different understanding of him, each has some amount of truth.  Just as my understanding of a person will be different than the understanding his children, his wife, his mother, his employer, his friends, his enemies, and their understandings will all be different, it doesn't negate the fact that we all have concepts of the same person.

 

I would also argue that the Latter-day Saint understanding of God's nature is the same as that of first and second temple Jews as well as primitive Christians, who were monolatrist and believed that God was corporeal.  First, the Bible seems to make that case in Genesis 3:8:

and also Genesis 5:1-3:

and also Genesis 11:7:

and there are many more references in the Bible that give that impression.

 

We can also see that by around the third century, after Christianity had been Platonized by those with an affinity for Greek Philosophy, that the idea of God being corporeal was being lost:

 

 

I used many of these same verses in a debate to demonstrate the contradictions within christianity and it's spiritual outlooks. God is all present versus god is not all present. And the surrounding implications. 

 

But more to the point, the gods of Genesis are the Elohim, which, you know and accept through Mormon theology. Smith seemed to have discovered the issue of the Elohim being "plural" and concocted his theological views based on the plural "gods" of Genesis 1. But this was in the early 19th century long before the issue was developed much further by textual critics, archaeologists, and later theologians.

 

As it turns out, the "gods" of Genesis 1 that seem like corporeal beings with bodies, who are technically finite as we've discussed, and not omnipresent, are the Elohim 'pantheon of gods' which were of the ancient polytheistic, pre-monotheistic evolution variety. 

 

 

The issue here seems pretty cut and dry. 

 

The Elohim were a polytheistic pantheon of gods, not different than the Greek and Roman pantheons. And just like the mythical gods of the Greek and Roman pantheons, the gods were greatly "personified." They were given in literary terms as those who were like human beings but stretched out to a superior status. The earth was a flat, round disk with layers of "heavens" over the top. These Elohim pantheon gods lived up there above the earth in a fixed location. The garden was down here. They created man in "their own image and likeness" basically to tend to a garden. They could come down to the garden.

 

This is mythology. It's ancient near eastern polytheistic creation myth. 

 

No doubt it's metaphor. Because it's not remotely possible that any of this is literally true - not the Elohim, not the creation story, not any of it. And certainly nothing Joseph Smith had to add to the old myths during the early 19th century, if I may be so bold as to say. I'm sure that you've tangled with SDA's and all sorts of christians from other denominations. 

 

What is your experience tangling with ex christians from those denominations?

 

Not run of the mill life long atheists with no real experience as believing christians. I'm talking about Adventists, Baptists, Church of Christ, Methodists, and even former LDS folks who put their fingers on the BS and come at this completely differently than denominational christians do. This is a different lot here and you're experience will be a tough one. I hope you're up to the challenge because we consider it good sporting fun to challenge claims around here. It's for sport, don't take it too personal. Ultimately we'd like to see people wake up and realize that they've been duped and possibly make a correction in life for the better. But of course most people are set in their ways and that seldom happens in real time. 

 

But it does happen. We have had people lurk around for years and change due to thinking these things through at their own pace and coming to realizations. And then letting everyone know at some point that they had been lurking and did go through various transformations of awareness and of belief, or lack thereof, after following many discussions like this one. 

 

 

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On 5/23/2021 at 9:59 AM, midniterider said:

Yes, that's kinda my take on reality. We and everything is God. It's pantheist, non-dualist, Zen, advaita.

That's an interesting idea, but I can't agree because that would mean that evil is also part God.

 

 

On 5/23/2021 at 9:59 AM, midniterider said:

John 4:24: God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.

The Bible also says that God is light (1 John 1:5), God is love (1 James 4:16), God is a sun and shield (Psalms 84:11), which are metaphors, so I think John 4:24 is also metaphorical.

 

 

On 5/23/2021 at 9:59 AM, midniterider said:

1 Tim 6:16: God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see.

John 1:18  No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and[a] is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known. [...]

1 Tim 1:17: Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Can you see God if he's elsewhere in the universe?  We've never seen an exoplanet before, but we know they exist.  While we can't know for certain that God exists without either being God, seeing him, or seeing evidence of his presence (which I actually think abounds), that doesn't mean he doesn't exist.  Also, I'd argue that at least by Stephen's time, at least one mortal man had seen God (Acts 7:56):

Quote

And [Stephen] said: "Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God."

 

 

On 5/23/2021 at 9:59 AM, midniterider said:

Ps 139:7+ Where can I go from your Spirit?    Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

I believe that's either a reference to the Holy Spirit, which is noncorporeal, or, if taken at face value means that God's spirit emanates beyond the bounds of his body, which I find equally plausible.  I don't, however, think it's evidence of non-corporeality (assuming of course one accepts the Bible as an authority as I do).

 

 

On 5/23/2021 at 4:14 PM, Chikirin said:

Chimps are 98% genetically the same as people. If people go to hell, shouldn't chimps go to hell too? Imagine a lake of fire filled with chimps. It's too absurd. So it should be just as absurd for there to be a lake of fire for people.

That's an interesting question.  I'd say that chimps are 98% genetically the same as the bodies of people, but that humans are not simply a body.

 

 

On 5/23/2021 at 5:28 PM, DarkBishop said:

It is easy for me to see why Hell developed into a lake of fire myth. By the time this part of the myth came into being they had already been influenced heavily by Greek mythology and other mainstream philosophical and religious beliefs on the after life. Before this "according to Bart Ehrmanns book Heaven and Hell" The Jewish people had already started believing in a system of punishment for those that had not followed Gods law like the Jewish people had. Jesus story of the rich man in hell is a prime example. Jesus didn't come up with that. It had been circulating for years before Jesus' time. We don't see it in the Bible because the books that reflected these beliefs weren't included in the canonical version of the Bible.

     They had seen the suffering of the Persian and Babylonian occupations, and were now under the hand of the Roman empire. It didn't seem fair to people that they would suffer at the hand of these people while they lived in the lap of luxury. So they began to developed beliefs that these unholy pagans would be severely punished after life. Couple that with the Hades myth of the underworld and volcanic activity. Literally seeing molten lava flowing like water from beneath the earth, and TAHDAH!!! A lake that Burneth with unquenchable fire burning eternal souls for eternity is born. 

     Not to mention it is a fine way to get people to do what you want them to do. Just make them believe they will be punished eternally after death and ya got some pretty obedient citizens. 

I think much of what you're indicating is correct.  I have come to a similar conclusion myself regarding the evolution of the monolatrist Israelite religion into the Judaism and Christianity of today: that they evolved into distinct religions from their source as a result of contact with outside cultures.  However, the Jews at least by Isaiah's day (c. 700 BC) definitely believed that the wicked were tormented in Sheol as can be found in Isaiah 14.  Of course, some people (not me) think Isaiah was written after the Jewish captivity was over, but that still would have been long before the Greek conquest of the Persian Empire.

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On 5/23/2021 at 7:19 PM, Joshpantera said:

I was given the idea that those who are not saved will get thrown in the lake of fire along with the devil, death, and the grave. But then it's over. It doesn't go on burning forever. They just get stomped out. 

That is essentially what I was told by a Seventh Day Adventist regarding their concept of Hell.

 

On 5/23/2021 at 7:19 PM, Joshpantera said:

We were raised thinking that we were perfectly normal and the Mormons and JW's were bat shit crazy and the rest of christianity are a bunch of pagan sun worshipers following the devil along to worship the sun every Sun-day.

HAHAHA!  I used to be a Baptist and we thought the Seventh Day Adventists, Jehovah's Witnesses, and Latter-day Saints were deluded by Satanic influence and trapped in a cult that would drag them down into Hell if they didn't REPENT!!!!  😂  Now I have no doubt that each denomination are Christians (provided the individual acts like one), only with different understandings.  While I think their eternal progression is somewhat aggravated by not having as much of the truth, now I am not terrified for their salvation.

 

On 5/23/2021 at 7:19 PM, Joshpantera said:

How very convenient! One true church that somehow got everything right while everyone else got it completely wrong. The elite of the very elite. 

Given human beings are deeply flawed, there is no church on this planet that is without its flaws.

 

 

On 5/23/2021 at 7:19 PM, Joshpantera said:

Unless it clicks in the cult members mind, they won't get it at all. How very convenient all of this is. You just happen to be of the select few who really understand the bible and can properly interpret it without error. A little TOO convenient if you strap your thinking cap on a little tighter. And the truth is, in each case, that not only are none of these groups without error or capable of perfect interpretation, but they're all extremely out of whack as they try and pick and choose their way through scripture and apologize away whatever doesn't gel with their particular choice of focus.

Other than possibly the JWs (and I really can't say), I don't think most non-traditional Christians are in a "cult", because that's a bit of an abusive term that brings with it loaded imagery of being prevented from interacting with general society, being sheltered from ideas that are adverse to a charismatic leader's teachings, being financially or sexually extorted or facing excommunication, and being shunned from one's family if one leaves the belief system behind.  I don't think that describes most non-traditional Christian denominations.

 

Now let's assume for a moment that the Bible is true (as I of course believe the original signatures to be).  God called prophets in the past.  Why wouldn't he do so today?  There's nothing in the Bible that says those days are over.  If he still does, then those who have the benefit of direct inspiration from God would be in a position of proper interpretation.  From context, I am gathering that you used to be a Seventh-day Adventist, and if I recall correctly, their denomination believes that Ellen White was a prophet, so at least they've got that one attribute about their church that seems aligned with the scriptures.  Most other Christian denominations don't have that going for them.

 

Having said that, the problem is, how do you identify who's actually a prophet?  Did she bear good "fruit" as Jesus said a true prophet should?  Did she make prophecies that undeniably came true close to when she made them, as Moses seems to indicate a true prophet should?  I have no idea, but it's an interesting enough thought that I might just look into it.  Now, to to my understanding, Seventh-day Adventists seem to be in disharmony with Paul's teachings regarding food and the Sabbath in Colossians 2:16-17, which given how integral they are to their beliefs, it makes me question White's validity:

Quote

Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days, which are a shadow of things to come. But the body is of Christ.

And unlike real cults, like wokism, they're not harming me with their worship practices either, so I am content in having friendly relations with them.

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On 5/23/2021 at 7:42 PM, Joshpantera said:

As it turns out, the "gods" of Genesis 1 that seem like corporeal beings with bodies, who are technically finite as we've discussed, and not omnipresent, are the Elohim 'pantheon of gods' which were of the ancient polytheistic, pre-monotheistic evolution variety. 

 

The issue here seems pretty cut and dry. 

 

The Elohim were a polytheistic pantheon of gods, not different than the Greek and Roman pantheons. And just like the mythical gods of the Greek and Roman pantheons, the gods were greatly "personified." They were given in literary terms as those who were like human beings but stretched out to a superior status. The earth was a flat, round disk with layers of "heavens" over the top. These Elohim pantheon gods lived up there above the earth in a fixed location. The garden was down here. They created man in "their own image and likeness" basically to tend to a garden. They could come down to the garden.

What's funny is the video teaches almost exactly what I believe (other than the conclusion at the end).  Out of context, yes, so it seems bizarre and backward, but let me explain.

  1. I believe that God (El/Elyon) is the most high God.  The father of all of us.
  2. I believe that Jesus is Yahweh/Jehovah.  He seems to have made that claim himself in the exchange in John 8:48-59, and he is referred to as "Son of the Most High God" a few times in the Gospels (Luke 1:32, Mark 5:7).

When I was still a Baptist, I myself had a bit of a faith crisis when I read Psalm 82 in the KJV:

Quote

God presides in the divine assembly; He renders judgment among the gods[...] I have said, ‘You are gods; you are all sons of the Most High.

 

This was compounded when I read Deuteronomy 32:8 from the Dead Sea Scrolls instead of the Masoretic Text, which you can find in the ESV:

Quote

When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance, when he divided mankind, he fixed the borders of the peoples according to the number of the sons of God.
But the LORD’s portion is his people, Jacob his allotted heritage.

 

I of course knew that "The Lord" is a translation of the name "Yahweh" and this verse seemed to me to be an indication that the "Most High" was higher than Yahweh and was bestowing upon him stewardship of a people, else why would he need to give Israel to himself?

 

This, along with encountering Jehovah's Witness doctrine years in the past precipitated in me losing faith in Christianity.  I even stated to myself that Jesus wasn't my savior.  Those were dark times.  Call it fantasy if you like, but eventually I had an absolutely terrifying dream where I was in darkness being tormented by demons and in it, I called out to Jesus to save me.  He then pulled me into the light.  From that point forward, I had no idea how to handle the verses in the Bible that seemed like an expression of monolatry, but I knew that I belonged to Jesus.  I'm sure sharing that story could result in mockery, and if that's what people want to do, it's up to them.

 

Years later, I discovered the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and recognized that what I knew of the scriptures was not in disharmony with the nature of God.  So I disagree with the conclusion in the video where the narrator states that because ancient Judaism gave birth to modern Christianity (and Islam), and because, in his view, ancient Judaism evolved from polytheism (which he described as a "bad roots"), then modern Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are all false.  I disagree for a few reasons:

  1. His statement is an genetic fallacy.  To defend the traditional Christian perspective, it's possible that monotheism was the original belief system, and that that ancient Judaism had become corrupted by contact with polytheistic cultures (as the Israelites had left Egypt when they became their own nation), and that over time, that corruption was worked out through the arrival of a succession of many prophets and Christ himself.
  2. My own belief is that the ancient Judaism's monolatry doesn't represent bad roots at all.  The lesser deities described in the Bible are sons of God who were entrusted with temporary stewardship of various nations.  They were either beings who had ascended after death (which I don't believe), or beings who hadn't yet taken on human form.  When Christ took human form and died for mankind's salvation, because his will is perfectly aligned with his Father's (John 17:21), their kingdom is slowly expanding from the descendants of Jacob to include all of humankind that are adopted by Christ through faith.  This seems to concur with Psalm 82:8:
Quote

Arise, o God, judge the earth: for thou shalt inherit all nations.

And also with 1 Corinthians 8:5:

Quote

For though there be [many] that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many), but to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.

 

Now, I do want to note that I noticed a few possible false statements in the video.

  1. The narrator indicated that in Psalm 29:1 that the verse is correctly translated "Ascribe Yahweh, O sons of El, ascribe to Yahweh glory and strength".  While I agree that it's a probable translation, the word that would be translated "of El" is not present in the Masoretic Text and verse 1 did not survive in the Dead Sea Scrolls.  Thus, "of El" has to be inferred.  Another possible translation that would support the traditional Christian belief system would be "Ascribe Yahweh, O sons of man, ascribe to Yahweh glory and strength".
  2. The narrator likewise translated Psalm 89:6 as "For who in the skies can be compared with Yahweh?  Who among the sons of El is like Yahweh?"  Again, I agree with this translation, but "of El" has to be inferred from context.  Given these beings being described are heavenly in nature, sons "of El" is the most probable inference.

 

On 5/23/2021 at 7:42 PM, Joshpantera said:

I'm sure that you've tangled with SDA's and all sorts of christians from other denominations. [...] What is your experience tangling with ex christians from those denominations? [...] Not run of the mill life long atheists with no real experience as believing christians.

I don't like to think of having a discussion with people of differing beliefs as "tangling", but to be honest, having conversations with many Evangelical-types is generally laborious because most that are interested in having the conversation with me at least do so coming from the premise that those who don't believe as they do are defective and need to be shouted at in anger until they see "the light".  What's funny is most of these people that I've encountered have only a superficial understanding of the Bible, so I have to watch what I say to them for fear that I might actually destroy their faith, which is the last thing I want.

 

Now, it isn't always the case that talking with Evangelicals that know I am a Latter-day Saint is unpleasant.  Some Evangelicals I've met are delightful people and like having conversations comparing beliefs.

 

The few conversations I've had with atheists give me the impression that of the ones I've spoken with, they're less happy overall with life, but are generally more capable of having a reasonable, respectful conversation than Evangelicals are (though some atheists I've encountered are quite hostile and condescending once they know I've a believer in a higher power).

 

On 5/23/2021 at 7:42 PM, Joshpantera said:

This is a different lot here and you're experience will be a tough one. I hope you're up to the challenge because we consider it good sporting fun to challenge claims around here. It's for sport, don't take it too personal.

I've not run into many that are former Christians, so these conversations so far have actually been "good sporting fun" for me as well. 😂

 

Something that I find the most fun is being called an "Authentic Christian Believer".  It's an accurate description, but it's something most Christians would never attribute to me out of prejudice.

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