Tag Archives: hell

Marketing the Gospel

I think part of the reason the Church isn’t spreading in America like in other places of the world is the lack of good marketing. The Church is in the business of saving people. That’s the product. As disciples, it is our job to sell that. It costs them nothing to buy it, but it costs everything. What I mean is this: It’s free. There is no monetary cost to being a Christian. Some will tell you that you have to tithe and what not, but your time is an offering as well. And that’s what I mean by it costs everything: it’s about giving up your life. No longer living for yourself and what you want to do, but living for God and what He wants for you.

I think we do a terrible job, as Christians, expressing this point. Too often we talk about being saved from Hell. But what about being saved in this world? I look at this recent Adrian Peterson situation with his two year old son being beaten and killed. No matter what his relationship was with the kid, the publicity is good because it highlights an issue with abuse. When I was first reading the story, it made me sick to my stomach. What can a two year old do to make an adult male so mad that he beats his head in? A kid that can’t defend himself at all. There is no answer. But this is just a minor glimpse at the evil present in this world. Christianity offers something no other belief system can offer: a hope that there is justice and reconciliation. Punishing the man that did this won’t bring the kid back. Yes, justice can be served in a sense, but it still doesn’t feel like it fixes the situation. Christianity says that God will fix it. Maybe not right now, but at the end, He will.

We need to do a better job of getting this point across. Being saved from Hell and God’s wrath isn’t what makes Christianity worth living for. Living for God and recognizing His power and Will and Sovereignty is. One of our ministers said something the other day that hit me: When you look at the Grand Canyon, a mountain range, a sunset, and recognize God’s glory and power and majesty and beauty, that’s great. But humans are the pinnacle of His creation. Those things are fantastic, but God values us so, so much more. We need to feel the same way about our fellow humans. And this means expressing to them the hope that Christianity offers here and now, not just in some distant future after death.

The thing is, this should be easy. With all of the evil and sin that are in this world, it shouldn’t be hard to open people’s eyes up to that fact and introduce them to the solution. But we don’t for some reason. I think part of the reason is that the Church doesn’t end up valuing its own expertise within it. You have business people who market stuff for a living. Why not use them? We don’t let people who can’t sing lead worship. So why would we let people who don’t know how to market be in charge of outreach? We utilize the expertise of a minister who went to Bible College, but not the guy with the MBA.

Advertisements

Lack of “Child abuse” is why there is a trend to deny Hell. So spank your kids… for God

This may seem crazy at first, but let me explain. By “child abuse” in the title, I simply mean good, old-fashioned child rearing. You know, that crazy one that actually involved punishing bad behavior? Yeah, that. But how in the world would this play into people becoming unorthodox? Let’s take a look…

Psychologists and the like today tend to say that spanking a child is bad and can lead to them being abusive when they are older and mal-developed. I tend to disagree, but I’m no expert I guess. Apparently looking around at behavior exhibited by Gen Y that wasn’t reared what I call properly compared to that of the behavior of Gen X and prior isn’t enough to show these “experts” that they are wrong and that if anything it leads to children being defiant, stuck up SOBs. Yeah, I said it. 50 years ago, no kid would have ever dreamed of calling his mother an inappropriate name because he knew mom would slap him in the face, make him eat soap, and then wait til dad got home, and that was worse. Now, not only is it not uncommon, but I’m surprised if I go to the mall or grocery and I DON’T see it happen. But for some reason the parent takes it in stride and simply gives them a verbal warning, followed by more name calling and back talking from the child, and yet another verbal warning ensues. Effective, eh? Not really. Now that is just one example, and while I don’t have any hard and fast studies to quote here, I reckon that crime in the teen age group as well as behavior and grades in school have dropped as well, and while there may be more than one factor for these, I would bet quite a bit that how children are raised has affected this.

But where does orthodoxy and belief in Hell come in? How about right here. What the child ends up believing is that punishment is evil, and that a parent should never hit a child, and if they do, that’s abuse, and EVIL. What this leads to is the belief that God surely couldn’t punish people if He loves them, right? That’s evil and unloving, and God is supposed to be benevolent and all loving. So while the problem of evil doesn’t concern us quite as much, because this is within the Christian camp and they affirm God exists, and whereas in the problem of evil, we know evil exists and can’t simply deny that to get around the problem, here, we don’t have “evidence” of Hell. Teaching that punishment, that justice, is evil is ludicrous. Its almost as if we are taught that only the REALLY bad people deserve punishment. So murderers and rapists and terrorists, right? But the idea of justice isn’t just that great people get great things and horrendous people get horrendous things, but that decent people get decent things, not so great people get not so great things, etc. You get what you deserve, you reap what you show, you get out what you put in. And this is across the board, and not just for extremes. Otherwise the petty thief shouldn’t be punished because he’s not THAT bad.

This is the world infiltrating Christianity. Let me explain a bit more. In Christianity, a little sin is a big sin. One sin, and you are no longer perfect. It doesn’t matter whether you raped and murdered a child, or whether you disobeyed your parents when they asked you to help clean the dishes. They both separate you from God. That’s the nature of sin. This is not to say that the degree of sin is unimportant in the end, because I think it is since God is perfectly just. But just as a petty thief gets punished some, and a murderer gets punished more, hopefully in a somewhat proportional manner, I would think something along those lines would occur when it comes to sin as well, though I do not have the knowledge to say how it actually works, but I trust that it does. But either way, there is in fact punishment even for menial sins if they are not repented of. Its one and done in God’s eyes if you are outside of Christ. Christ is the only second chance.

And we can also play up emotions to make people think that Hell surely doesn’t exist. Rob Bell likes to do this, he asks if we really think God won’t win in the end, that He won’t get what He wants. Its easy to think that of course He will, He is God. But what Bell doesn’t tell you is that God doesn’t want sin now, or ever, and by giving us free will, He already has relinquished getting completely what He wants because He wants us to choose. And if I choose and God doesn’t, that argument fails.

Certainly nobody likes the idea of Hell and nobody wishes it upon another. But I don’t like that fire causes pain, or that gas costs $4 a gallon, or tests in school, or etc., but that doesn’t mean that that is not the case and that I am better off acting as if they are not the case, because all that would get me would be burned, in prison, and flunked. And in the case of Hell, its eternal, and not something I can possibly fix. Jesus/God said it was real, and that is enough for me. I don’t have to go there to believe in it. So by teaching kids that they should not be punished for bad behavior in the home, that they should not be punished in school, that things should be changed so that they can succeed, they start to think that that is how the world is. It isn’t. God doesn’t change for me. I change for Him. Hell isn’t designed for me and He doesn’t want me there, but I get to choose. If I don’t change, well…

Proper child rearing, therefore, not only leads to better behavior and more respect of others, it will lead to more orthodox beliefs in things like Hell and justice. So spank your kids… for God. It will do them good.


Great discussion: Check it out!

If you want to join in on a great discussion, and in turn make following the posts where we already have multiple topics even more convoluted and difficult to keep track of, check it out over at Current Events in Light of the Kingdom of God-Dialogue with Michael (re: Heaven and Hell). The original post was here:A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom-Everyone Is Going to Heaven. So check it out and join this discussion.

These are both blogs by Mike Gantt, cool guy, has a great name(like me), and always gives a good discussion and thought provoking posts.


Hell, what is this place? Heaven, does everyone go?

There are multiple words that get translated as “hell” in the Bible. Sheol in the Old Testament, and Hades, Tartarus, and Gehenna in the New. Sheol does not have any clear meaning as the Hell as we know it today, but more like the Greek Hades, which was where all went where they died. Hades and Tartarus seem to be used in similar ways, but we get the idea that there is a divide somewhere in it, such as the story of Lazarus and the rich man, where the rich man is in torment and asks for a Lazarus to dip his finger in some water and touch his tongue, but Lazarus cannot due to the great chasm between them. This is commonly seen not as Hell proper, however. Rather, there is usually a distinction made between where the dead go when they die and the Heaven and Hell that come about after the Final Judgment and mass resurrection of all people. Gehenna seems the most strict of the terms. It seems to get its roots from the valley of Hinnon, which was outside the city of Jerusalem and was often on fire due to the garbage and waste that was there. Moloch and child sacrifice, and evil in general was associated both directly and indirectly with it. But the use of the word in the NT seems to have a more symbolic and figurative meaning than referencing the actual place, so a simple translation does not seem to fit.

So Hell proper seems mostly to come from a select few passages in the Bible where Gehenna is used, or where eternal damnation is mentioned, and then a few instances in Revelation, though I will not mention those here due to the nature of the book that is so hard to interpret. The main “proof texts” for Hell as eternal punishment are Matt. 25:41, Matt. 25:46, Jude 7, which actually don’t even have the word Hell in them, but merely speak of eternal torment or punishment. In Matt. 3:12, Matt. 5:22, Matt. 18:8-9, Gehenna is used in conjunction with sin and the punishment for that sin, so in conjunction with the other passages mentioned, the doctrine of Hell is established.

So what does that mean about Heaven? Well, we clearly see that in Hades in the Lazarus and the rich man story, that there is a divide between the righteous and the unrighteous. [On a side note here, the doctrine of imputed righteousness(often associated with Reformed Theology and Protestantism) or infused righteousness(often associated with Catholic Theology) has to be mentioned, since Christians do not claim to be righteous of their own accord, but that as forgiven people, are given the righteousness of Christ.] And if there is a divide in Hades between the righteous and unrighteous, and we combine this with the idea that some will receive eternal torment, it would make sense to say that these people will be the unrighteous. The other option would be to say that there is some sort of purgatory, or that Hell is like purgatory, insofar as Hell would be finite according to the punishment fit for one’s sins. While this may be the more likable idea, since then all would be saved and this seems more just than eternal punishment, it seems impossible to me to get this out of the Bible, especially given that we know that some will in fact be punished in an eternal manner with “the devil and his angels.” To me, this seems impossible to get around. I will concede that some passages are ambiguous about Heaven and who gets there, but these passages hat talk of eternal punishment are impossible to coincide with the idea that everyone could get into heaven, because if that were the case, then surely this would not have been said in the first place.

Laying out some of the alternatives for Hell:

Annihilationism: God destroys the souls of the wicked so they do not have to suffer eternal torment in Hell. To me, this sounds a lot like euthanasia. The purpose of this idea is that God prevents eternal suffering by taking one out of existence entirely. But is that really a better option? It seems that if one is abhorrent, the other would be as well.

Universalism: There are basically two types of universalism. Contingent and necessary. Necessary is more problematic in that it says that it is impossible for anybody to go to Hell, which would seem to fly in the face of a just God, and it also implies that no matter what one does in their life on earth, it has no affect on their afterlife.

Contingent universalism seems to be the nicest view. That while it is possible for some to go to Hell, none in fact do. The problem here seems minor, but ends up with the same problem that it was trying to solve, mainly, that God would not send anyone to Hell due to His goodness. What the universalist wants to say is that God can’t send people to Hell, that He won’t has no affect on His ability to, and it is His ability to that they have to object to.

Second chance: Many views here, but the main point is that while some go to Hell it is finite. Problem here: the passages listed earlier mention eternal Hell, and this is not compatible with that.

For some interesting comments regarding Hell and Heaven and the problems with annihilationism and universalism check out http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/heaven-hell/#1.1

The objective or goal here is to have an internally consistent doctrine of Heaven, Hell, and God. In my opinion, the traditional view that Hell is eternal, some people will go there, Heaven is eternal and Good, but both only come about after the Final Judgment and mass resurrection of both good and bad, and that before then, we all go to Hades but that the righteous are with God in a good realm, while the wicked are separated in some manner from the righteous. I would go as far as saying that for an infinitely good God, that in order to maintain that attribute, He cannot be in the presence of any sin or unrighteousness, which is why forgiveness and imputed/infused righteousness is necessary for salvation and entrance into heaven. And those only come about after repentance and wanting to be forgiven. It is not that forgiveness apart from wanting to be forgiven is like rape by any means, but rather that it is a two way street, the main aspect being repentance and recognition that we are sinful and need to be better, and the sincere effort to improve and try to be good. This would allow for some non-Christians who recognize that they fall short of being perfect, yet strive anyways, and honestly seek truth to get a pass. Now, not being God, I do not say who fits in this category and who doesn’t. If someone is agnostic or atheistic and is 100% honest and pure in his seeking, then they may get in since God can see into out hearts and our thoughts. I do believe more certainly that this allows minimally for those who have never encountered the Gospel to begin with to get in if they fit into this category.