Tuesday, February 14, 2006

I have been thinking a lot

I have been in some heavy thought recently on a number of issues. I am reading a very interesting book that is discussing how the mainstream definition and doctrine of hell has been developed. It has asked a few very interesting questions and has me really wanting to dive deep into the hell question.

Why is the Old Testament silent on the issue of hell? It only mentions a place of the dead, but that was for both good and bad people.

When Jesus spoke about hell. What was his thoughts about it? Cause He certainly used it to make a point to the people he was speaking to and if these people grew up with Old Testament teaching, where "hell" is never mentioned. Who taught them about hell, becuase they sure did have an understanding of what Jesus was talking about?

Why does it seem like God at the end of time under the version of hell i grew up learning about seems more like he would be brought up on war crimes and feels more like Hitler than Jesus? (maybe a little blunt, but from the outside looking in it seems this way)

I was also intrigued by the following quote:

"The Pharisees used hell to threaten sinners and other undesirables and mark them as the exculded out-group, hated by God. Their rhetorical use of hell made clear that God's righteousness was severe and merciless toward the undeserving. Jesus turned their rhetoric upside down and inside out and used hell to threaten those who excluded sinners and other undesirables, showing that God's kingdom welcomes the undeserving, that for God, there was no out-group... a lot of christians today use hell to threaten all non-Christians and put them in the excluded out-group, and you can decide which pattern that conforms to most."

You may ask why has this been consuming my thoughts. I would have to say becuase I think it has a lot to do with how we talk about the Good News. The Gospel has been focused on getting buts in heaven and the purpose of God's forgiveness is to get buts in heaven. We always ask people, "When did you came into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ." I never asked myself why Jesus never asked that question.

I think our doctrine of hell is very tied with our doctrine of salvation, which is crucial to helping a world be reconciled to God through Christ.

I will probably be hung for this or maybe not, but I am on a journey to ask questions and look for answers, but not quick easy ones. I have read a lot up to know and have been very intrigued by the similarities to our doctrine of the after life and those from the era of Mesopotamian, Egyptian thought and Zoroastrians.

I learn, think and process in community better than alone, so if you are interested in this topic. I would love to read and dialogue with you and think about how this affects us saving our world and being a blessing to them.


pableezy said...

fear of punishment is a motivation for some, while not for others. they respond to positivity.

desire for joy and peace is a motivation for some, while not for others. they respond to negativity.

the way i see it, there is a distiction in the next life between heaven and hell, but that's about all i know. the symbolism is hard to decipher so i stick to what i know for sure. god brings those that have faith in Jesus to one, and the rest go to the other spot. incredibly vague? yes. but i'm okay with not understading beyond that.

i try to focus people on the person of christ and the philosphy of love. hopefully, people are attracted to the beauty and truth found in love, and that will draw them to Jesus, not a fear of punishment.

questions about this matter are good and healthy. i would love to hear more myself. but be prepared to not get solid answers, just because the symbilism is so thick that we can only really conjecture. we can learn more, but probably not all.

my $0.02.

espionage96 said...

I have to admit that I'm not totally knowledgable on this subject but I am very interested in it. I have read about the Zoroaster history, and find it fascinating the parallels between our thought of heaven and hell, and god and the devil.

I wish you well on your journey. But as Pablo said "be prepared to not get solid answers." But do not be deterred. You may discover things that may become your convictions.

steve w said...

I accept what the Bible says. For example (4 examples):

Jesus -
Mat 8:12; Mat 22:13; Mat 25:30

apostle John -
Rev 20:14-15

I've been criticized for not preaching more about hell, but I've probably preached as much about it as Jesus and the apostles did.

I think many (most?) Americans are influenced by Dante's Divine Comedy without realizing it. I think it has seeped into our cultural notions, and we inherited these views from previous generations. There's no doubt Dante influenced Hollywood, and Hollywood has influenced America.

Jeremy Del Rio said...

That's a scary headline!