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Archive for August, 2021

By Mike Edwards

My fellow blogger recently posted on this subject Is It Our Duty to Convert Others? After reading I wanted to share some thoughts that came to mind about God-followers/Jesus lovers/Christians trying to convert others.

The Bible doesn’t say about evangelism what you may think

Jeff Banman shared some thoughts about the Apostle Paul, who is known as the primary evangelist/starter of Christianity after the death and resurrection of Jesus: Wise Evangelism | Jesus Creed |  Paul’s emphasis wasn’t as much going out and preaching the gospel but living out Jesus’ ways that can attract others to reasons behind our ways. There don’t have to be forced but natural conversations if others are interested.  Relax and simply be loving!

Does the Bible really require certain beliefs to be saved and go to Heaven?

When Jesus was asked by a religious expert how to have eternal life, He simply said to love God and your neighbor (Lk.10:25-37). Jesus’ focus wasn’t on quantity of life after death but about a life worth living here on earth. Jeremy Myers says it best: “When Scripture teaches about being saved from sin, it is not referring to escaping hell and going to heaven when we die, but to the deliverance from the devastating and destructive consequences of sin in this life.”  See here.

But few what to talk about God

Some may avoid spiritual discussions because they are only interested in pursuing a self-centered life. This isn’t most of my friends. One reason many avoid spiritual discussions is because they can smell a hidden agenda a mile away. It’s wrong to engage in friendships with others for the purpose of converting them to believe as you do, without advising upfront your agenda. I have huge regrets about some of my past actions. Parents or bosses inspire because of who they are.

What does evangelism look like in my life? 

In my twenties I felt that I had to convert others to accept Jesus as their Savior or go to Hell. Turns out the traditional understanding of Hell isn’t biblical in my opinion. See here.  Wouldn’t we be shouting “FIRE” from the rooftop if we believed Hell was real? Then, I begin to accept that God draws others to God, and I stand ready to share. When conversations take a natural tilt toward spiritual matters, I see if others want to discuss the influence God has had in my life.

God through their influence has made me a better man, husband, father, and friend or at least better than if on my own. If others see something in my life they desire in their life, I can’t wait to share what God can do in our lives. The only outward thing I may do is at the end of my email is a list of my blogs and books written. I view as an invitation to others who may desire spiritual conversations, and they think I may be safe.

Confession

Honestly, I would be lying if I said God conversations are often. They are rare. It is why I started blogging, so I had some way to discuss thoughts about God. People know I am into God because I am often asked to say the prayer at gatherings, despite not being a church guy. (I pray they don’t burn in hell of course). Actually, I just have a conversation with God in front of others out loud. I consider myself now open-minded and non-confrontational when it comes to God. Say something racist is another matter! Still such conversations are few and far between with those I know.

Relax!

Each has to decide how they think best to share their relationship with God with others. I am convinced there is a Creator who desires a loving relationship with each of their creations. But I respect those who aren’t convinced or have doubts a Creator really exists. That doesn’t make me more moral. Conversations should be natural and mutual. We don’t have to convert people. We don’t have to feel guilty because we aren’t convincing others about God and their love for them.  God can take care of themself!

MikeEdwardsprofilepic125

Mike Edwards has been writing for Done with Religion for some time and has been a great addition to the site. Mike also has his own site where he writes that can be found at What God May Really Be Like  He can be contacted by email at: medwar2@gmail.com

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by Jim Gordon

Growing up in the organized church, I was taught that we actually had enemies within the religious world and that certain groups of people were to be avoided. I do not think this was done openly but very subliminally; it was just something you picked up on over the years in the Christian religion.

I can say this because I spent well over fifty years in the organized Christian church and I know how I used to feel. Fortunately, not everyone in the church system feels this way, but it does seem to be a pretty normal way of thought for those of us who grew up in it.

In the church system I often found people felt that if you attend a certain denomination all the other denominations did not quite measure up. Fortunately, this does not happen in every church organization, but it does seem to be the norm more often than not.

Another thing we felt was that if you are a Christian then those outside of Christianity are to be avoided. Of course, we were to make sure to act like a friend so we can witness to them and try to convert them to Christianity. I think this is really a sneaky and unkind way to treat others. I know for a fact that friendship with ulterior motives can be very disheartening.

I also found that inside the Christian religion atheists are considered to be the enemy of our faith. We were told it is best for us to stay far away from them so that doubt does not creep into our own way of thinking.

People of other religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism. Confucianism, Gnosticism, Judaism, Islam or a host of other religions were considered confused and wrong in their beliefs. Nothing measured up except our way of Christianity. We were the enlightened ones, everyone else was mistaken.

Fortunately, I and many others no longer think this way. For me, I believe Jesus came to show the love of God to all people and he accepted and respected everyone. If you attend a church or if you are walking with God outside the walls of religion, hating or discriminating against anyone is not what God wants and is not at all Christ-like.

We need to remember that Christianity is just a religion created by men. Jesus did not come to start a religion and he is not the head of the Christian religion. Jesus came to show us what God may really be like , a God of love. Jesus loved and respected people no matter who they were or what they believed.

No matter what religion people choose to follow, it does not completely describe who they are. Each of us is a person who basically wants the same things and same goals in life. We all want to be happy, to be loved and accepted and to live a good life. We all go about it in different ways but the basics are the same.

Being outside the walls of religion, I have come to see people as people no matter the label or religion. I have come to know many people of all beliefs and ways of life and have found them to be good friends. We all have our different backgrounds and beliefs, but we are all basically the same.

Rather than judge and condemn others who do not see things the way we do, it is time we do what Jesus said to do. Love God and love others. We are not here to judge, condemn and try to force people into accepting things the way we see them. The Holy Spirit will draw, convict and change people if that is what is needed. We are only called to be loving and kind to all we meet.

Loving others does not always mean we agree, but we can show the love of God and be respectful even in our differences. Look past the labels and the different religions to see the human being who is not an enemy, but who was created in the image of God and who is loved by God just as much as anyone else.

Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: jimgordon731@gmail.com

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by Mike Edwards

Believing God exists or doesn’t exist requires faith, but it seems intuitive a loving Creator would love the way we were seemingly created to love.  Thus, we can examine what a loving God is like though our moral intuitions or consciences. Christians may argue we should trust “biblical truths” about God, but differing interpretations exist for many moral issues. See here.  Also, we can’t prove if biblical writers always understood God perfectly. We aren’t always certain how to best love, but we know that we or a Creator ought to love others as we want to be loved.

A loving God can’t be a God of chance!

A loving God wouldn’t only let Christians into heaven when the majority of people born into this world died without knowledge of Jesus the Christ. Besides, one’s religion or rebellion against a certain religion is often based on the family born into whether it is Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, etc. No human or spiritual parent brings children into the world requiring that one’s eternal destination is based on circumstances out of one’s control. 

A freedom creating God wouldn’t act like a terrorist who seek to control one’s religion

Terrorists believe you must be of a certain religion or be killed. If our Creator believed this way, why hasn’t an all-powerful God controlled evil here on earth by dashing to pieces those who don’t accept God’s ways? A supposed infallible Book wouldn’t be so dangerous if extremists admitted literature is subject to interpretation, thus their interpretation could be wrong. It seems a good God would be more concerned about good or harmful beliefs than one’s religion.

And many scholars believe the Bible teaches all people get into Heaven

If we are going to use the Bible as our defense to claim God only accepts Christians, we must recognize passages such as: “For as in Adam all died, so in Christ all will be made alive” (I Cor. 15:22). Bible scholars who respect the authority of Scriptures interpret this and other verses to mean only those who have never died are excluded from heaven. Since all have died, no one is necessarily excluded. The Bible teaches forgiveness is unlimited (i.e. Mt. 18:21-22), so is God’s deadline limited when one takes their last breathe here on earth?

And the Bible doesn’t necessarily rule out decisions after death

John 5:25 says that the dead will hear the voice of God and those who hear will live. Romans 14:11-12 says: “It is written: As surely as I live, says the Lord, “every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God.” So then, we will all give an account of ourselves to God.” Why couldn’t some make a decision at Judgment? I Peter 3:18-20 speaks of Jesus preaching to those in Noah’s day who were disobedient. Preaching is normally for the opportunity to respond.  The Bible isn’t decisive what happens after death, but the possibility of eternal decisions after death doesn’t diminish the blessings of changing here on earth.

Jesus didn’t refer to his followers as Christians 

Jesus simply asked people to follow Him.  Jesus seemed more concerned with living a caring life than what one believed. A universal desire to treat others like we want to be treated hints God communicates to us all. Jesus’ message has been exemplified by many great leaders such as Gandhi. We seem to know in our heart Jesus’ main message – love others like we want to be loved.

Hell’s non-existence requires rethinking the afterlife for all religions

Hell’s supposed existence is why many insist one must believe in Jesus to avoid such a destination. It turns out Jesus or the Bible says nothing about the traditional understanding of Hell. See here. Why would a loving God torture anyone forever since such pain serves no lasting purpose? Humans wouldn’t even create a place like Hell for their worst enemies! Such a place may be only imagined because of one’s interpretation of a Book. God can’t be a hellish, sadistic, torturer.

God cannot be the god of terrorists or extremists  

Terrorists believe you must be of a certain religion or be killed. A loving God knows true love and lasting convictions are obtained when chosen freely than forced. A Book would not be so dangerous if extremists acknowledged their interpretation cannot be proclaimed as “certainty” in God’s name. No human or spiritual parent brings children into the world requiring that one’s eternal destination is based on circumstances out of one’s control.  God must not be accused of requiring all must convert to Christianity to be accepted by God or get into heaven.

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Mike Edwards has been writing for Done with Religion for some time and has been a great addition to the site. Mike also has his own site where he writes that can be found at What God May Really Be Like  He can be contacted by email at: medwar2@gmail.com

 

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by Jim Gordon

It is hard to believe we need to even ask this question. Women deserve equal treatment and equal rights just like any other human being. It is hard to believe that only a few years ago women could not vote, hold certain jobs or do many day-to-day things that men were doing. Women were to have their place in the family, and they were not to step outside that role.

As we look back over history, we see women have always struggled. They were looked upon as property back in biblical days and had no say in anything. Even today in some middle eastern countries, women are treated as property rather than as human beings.

Speaking of biblical times, it seems to me at least Jesus treated women on an equal basis with men. We often read that he spoke with women, respected and cared for women and had many friends that were women. That was unheard of in those times. We read of many women who supported Jesus and were part of his ministry. Yet today it is still common for women to be rejected for ministry such as being pastors or church leaders.

So often, especially in religious circles, women are treated as second class citizens and as being unequal with men. They are supposed to wear certain kinds of clothes, they are supposed to stay in the home and raise kids or only work certain kinds of jobs. Fortunately, things have been changing but there is still a long way to go.

It is sad to hear of women being abused by their husbands. This should not be. Husbands are told to love their wife as they love their own body. Husbands and wives, or any marriage partner, should be treated as equals and with love and respect. For those who are abused, I feel it is best they leave the situation and move on. Even though the bible talks about divorce, I do not believe God intends for women to stay in abusive relationships.

I remember growing up and getting my first job. I was amazed when I learned that I got paid a certain amount for my job, but later found out that a woman doing the same job got less pay. I could not figure out why that was the case.

In the years I worked as a firefighter, I saw more fairness and equal treatment than I did in my first job or within the church. The position of firefighter received a certain pay and it was the same if the position was filled by a man, a woman, someone who was black or white, gay or straight. And as firefighters we gave the same equal service to all human beings no matter who they were.

I hear complaints about women’s lib, equal rights and feminism from time to time and it makes me mad. Why do so many of us men think women are not as capable as us? I believe women are just as smart, strong, capable and able to do anything they desire. I believe what a person does in life depends on their qualities, training, capabilities and desires and not on whether they are male or female.

I believe all human beings have the same ability to accomplish the desires God put within them. Men and women have differences in that it takes both to create a new life, yet other than that, we are all basically the same and are deserving of equal treatment, equal rights and equal pay.

In Galatians 3:28 it is mentioned that there is neither male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. This is not to take away the importance of men or women, but to say we are all human beings, equally important and loved by God.

I pray that we come to fully accept and appreciate women as equal human beings. It is time discrimination and unfair treatment of women, or any human being comes to an end. It is time we realize that women, as well as all people, are loved and accepted by God and we all are to love one another.

Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: jimgordon731@gmail.com

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by Mike Edwards

Believing God exists or doesn’t exist requires faith, but it seems intuitive a loving Creator would love the way we were created to love. We can examine what a loving God is like through our moral intuitions, our consciences. Christians may argue we should trust “biblical truths” about God, but differing interpretations exist for many moral issues. See here.  Also, we can’t prove if biblical writers always understood God perfectly. We aren’t always certain how to best love, but we know that we or a Creator ought to love others as we want to be loved.

It may be presumptuous to be writing about women since I am of the opposite gender. I am more sensitive because I married a strong woman, have two daughters, and saw as a counselor how men in marriage powered over their wives often because of biblical understandings. Views on gender roles effects directly half of the human population. It’s a big deal!

What would you think about women if the Bible or Koran didn’t exist?

Most would agree it is immoral to favor one based on the color of their skin. Intuitively, to favor men over women for particular roles seems sexist or bigotry. I am not sure why any fair-minded person would think women can’t fulfill the same roles as men unless believing a Book about God teaches otherwise. Many more Christians and Muslims wouldn’t deny women equality unless mandated in the name of God according to some Book. Women can obviously feel disrespected and confused why a supposedly loving God would choose according to gender than gifts. Men, walk in their shoes!   

What did the main writer of the New Testament really believe? 

Jesus gives no hint that he thought roles were determined according to gender than gifts. Jesus was quite inclusion. I doubt the Apostle Paul, the main writer of the New Testament other than the gospels, was bias against women. See here.  The most qualified or gifted should surely lead a company. Why not in church? Men in authority over women whether in public, private, or church life is conducive for abuse at the hands of men. Let’s choose the least harmful biblical interpretation. Galatians 3:28 may be God’s ideal: “There is neither Jew or Gentile, neither slave or free, neither male nor female, for you all are one in Christ Jesus (Gal. 3:28).” 

What are the consequences of women unequally submissive in marriage?

Best friends, in marriage or other dyad relationships, don’t require a leader. Men often assume loving leadership means making final decisions in impasses. I have never had a marriage issue in 39 years that cannot be solved creatively without one partner making all such decisions. Same between friends. Decisions can be shared or made according to one’s gifts. Men in authority over women can encourage dominance on the man’s part and dependence on the woman’s part, which can be conducive for domestic abuse. Men, including myself, given an inch often take a mile!

God, women, and men! 

In many countries a Book is used to suggest God condones women not having the same rights as men to vote, drive, or dress how they want. WHAT! God surely believes in roles determined according to gifts not gender whether it be at home, the office, or in worship. Let’s stand on the side that is potentially less abusive to half of God’s creations. It could be argued many men don’t abuse their leadership. The temptation to abuse or stifle one’s gifts is best removed. I removed spanking as an option as a father because of the impulse to react harmfully and not consider creative alternatives. No, my kids didn’t all end up in jail! Common moral sense isn’t the enemy!

MikeEdwardsprofilepic125

Mike Edwards has been writing for Done with Religion for some time and has been a great addition to the site. Mike also has his own site where he writes that can be found at What God May Really Be Like  He can be contacted by email at: medwar2@gmail.com

 

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by Jim Gordon

As followers of Christ, I feel we should be able to accept and love everyone. No matter what we believe, what our faith or doctrine is, no matter our religion, nationality, sexual preference or color, we should try to see each other as Jesus sees us. This is a type of love we cannot do on our own. It is only possible by the love of God within us.

We want to love, accept and care for people. It is only natural that we will not always agree, but we want to look past those areas of difference and love each other in Christ. This seems to be the way that others will come to see the love of God; not through condemning and bashing one another nor in trying to prove we are right and everyone else is wrong. Love does not mean seeing eye-to-eye, it does not mean we agree or even like some of the things people do. It does mean we look past the differences and we love and respect each other as Christ loves us.

We all have different opinions, views and interpretations of things. We all come from different backgrounds and beliefs. Yet, no matter if we are LGBTQ/straight, Christian/atheist, Republican/Democrat, American/foreign, white/black, male/female or whatever label people put on us, the fact is we are all human beings. We all deserve to be treated with respect and be accepted. Each of us should be able to live our life and make our own choices without being judged and condemned by others. We should be able to discuss our differences respectfully, and none of us should try to force our views and choices on others.

If we could look past the labels we wear and see each other as people who overall want the same things. We all want to be happy, to find love, be healthy and enjoy life. If we could do that, I think showing godly love to one another would be easier, even in our differences.

We need to look past the labels and see each other as human beings who have feelings, and who want share love and friendship. We want to be people who can get to know one another, learn from one another, share thoughts and ideas and accept each other as being created in the image of God.

We are all different, we all wear different labels, yet we are all the same. We are all human beings created in the image of God. Let us each try to focus on the common goal of loving God and loving one another.

Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: jimgordon731@gmail.com

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by Mike Edwards

Believing God exists or doesn’t exist requires faith, but it seems intuitive a loving Creator would love the way we were created to love. We can examine what a loving God is like though our moral intuitions, our consciences. Christians may argue we should trust “biblical truths” about God, but differing interpretations exist for many moral issues. See here. Also, we can’t prove if biblical writers always understood God perfectly. We aren’t always certain how to best love, but we know that we or a Creator ought to love others as we want to be loved.

What does the Bible really say about God and gays? 

Leviticus (18:22, 20:13) list unnatural male same sex activities as an abomination. Unnatural in OT times could be sex not for procreation. We can’t be sure what activity the writers had in mind. Are lesbians safe because nothing is said about same sex women activities? The OT also lists as abominations lying lips, arrogance, etc. Are straights screwed? The word “homosexual” doesn’t appear in some English translations before 1946.  In passages such as I Cor.6:9-10 and I Tim. 1:10 the translation often wasn’t homosexuals” but “boy molesters.” Big difference! And the passage says wrongdoers don’t inherit the kingdom of God. I guess we are all screwed! 

Many growing up in church only condemn gays out of devotion to the God of the Bible. Let’s assume it could be proven God controlled pens and minds of the writers so every word in the Bible came from God. The truth is literature requires interpretation, even if ever word written, edited, or translated was inspired by God. We mustn’t claim our interpretations are infallible when being wrong has tremendous consequences. Scholars, who accept Scriptures as authoritative, don’t agree the Bible condemns same-gender loving relationships. See here.

Why would anyone choose to be gay? 

How could a loving God possibly condemn gays when they can no more choose who they are attracted to than straights can? If you are a straight man, don’t you naturally have to fight not looking at naked women than men? Ask gays their battle! Who chooses to be gay when one has to hide their sexuality because of bigotry and hostility? The mental health damage is tremendous!

Parents often only condemn their gay children because of a supposed correct interpretation of a Book. It is impossible to feel loved and accepted when someone says “I love you but I hate your sin.” But we tell alcoholics we hate their sin! Hating homosexual sex is only loving if homosexual sex is sinful. Hating alcoholic behavior is loving because alcohol abuse really is harmful. A parent need not reject a gay child according to the Bible.

What do our moral intuitions, consciences tell us about God and gays?

My moral intuitions tell me that God is not bias against females, people of color, or gays. Shouldn’t we choose the least harmful view? We don’t know why one has feelings for the same sex or opposite sex. If you think there is a .0001% possibility that science proves sexual orientation isn’t a choice, why would we judge? It’s a myth that sexual choices are always the result of some trauma or rebellion in our lives. I am convinced the Bible is silent on monogamous same sex relationships, while supporting relationships that show love and concern for one another.

MikeEdwardsprofilepic125

Mike Edwards has been writing for Done with Religion for some time and has been a great addition to the site. Mike also has his own site where he writes that can be found at What God May Really Be Like  He can be contacted by email at: medwar2@gmail.com

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by Jim Gordon

Growing up in church, we were always told it was our job to go out and convert others to our faith. We were often threatened with the statement, if we do not convert others their blood will be on our hands.

Looking back on it, is this really what God expects of us? Is it our job as followers of Christ to convert the unsaved? Are we to force our views and beliefs on others so that they might come to God?

Today, my answer would be a definite no. It is our job to follow Christ and love others, and the Holy Spirit’s job to convict and lead people to the Father.

We cannot convert others; we cannot make them come to Christ by forcing our views and beliefs on them. Only the Holy Spirit can convict the world of sin and lead them to repentance.

Jesus said in 1 John 3:23 – ‘And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us’. Apart from that, we have nothing more to do than to be available to Him and allow the Spirit to work and love through us.

Also, we are told in 1 Peter 3:15 – ‘But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear’. To me, this says we are to live a life of love and service to others so that they will notice a difference in our lives. When they ask, we should be ready to tell them that it is the love of God within us.

We are called to make disciples, but disciples would be those who already have a relationship with Christ. The dictionary describes a disciple as a professed follower of Christ. We are to be there to encourage and help one another into maturity in their walk following Jesus. This is done by regular fellowship (read more about fellowship here) and getting to know one another so that we can encourage, build up, and lead by example.

We are also told to go into all the world and preach the gospel. The gospel being the good news that God loves us, has provided freedom from our sinful nature and has restored fellowship with us. Again, this is done by loving God and loving others on a daily basis. It is showing God’s love by example. It is not by being judgmental, pointing fingers, using guilt and other means that are sometimes used to try to force others to accept Christ.

When we show the love of God to others and accept them as they are, people will be drawn to Christ through love rather than by using condemning and threatening ways. This does not mean we have to agree with everyone or say you can live anyway you want with no consequences, but we can show the love of Christ to non-believers and accept them without expecting them to change and start acting like we think they should. God accepted us as we were before we came to Him, we should do the same.

Share the good news of God’s love to those you meet by loving them. Encourage and make disciples out of those who have come to Christ by loving them. Stop trying to force salvation on non-believers out of obligation, guilt and condemnation. Just love them. Love is the answer. God is love.

Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: jimgordon731@gmail.com

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by Mike Edwards

Believing God exists or doesn’t exist requires faith, but it seems intuitive a loving Creator would love the way we were created to love. We can examine what a loving God is like though our moral intuitions, our consciences. Christians may argue we should trust “biblical truths” about God, but differing interpretations exist for many moral issues. See here.  Also, we can’t prove if biblical writers always understood God perfectly. We aren’t always certain how to best love, but we know that we or a Creator ought to love others as we want to be loved. 

The Bible says nothing about Hell as a consequence for decisions here on earth 

God only warned Adam and Eve about death, not Hell, if eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Noah, who was warned of a global destructive flood, was silent on Hell as a consequence for behaviors here on earth. So were the OT prophets. The Hebrew word Sheol in the Old Testament, translated into the English word Hell, was used to describe a place of darkness occupied by the dead regardless of beliefs, not a torture chamber for unbelievers. Job, an extremely righteous man in God’s eyes, desired to go there to escape his tremendous suffering (10:21-22). Recent Bible translations simply translate Sheol as “Sheol.”

The Greek word Gehenna is translated into the English world Hell. Gehenna is the name of a valley outside Jerusalem. In ancient times children were sacrificed in fire at Gehenna and the valley was known as a burial ground. Jesus refers to Gehenna to describe the suffering and devastation that come from doing evil. Many scholars consider Gehenna a metaphor to describe the destruction an evil life leads to, not a fiery place where sinners go for never-ending punishment. Gehenna is best translated Gehenna just as Mount Everest is best translated Mount Everest.

The main writer of NT makes no mention of Hell

The main writer of the NT, other than the Gospels, was the Apostle Paul. Paul never mentioned Hell. Hell is not mentioned in Acts which is the main book in Bible describing the beginning of the Christian movement and evangelism.

But the Book of Revelation speaks of a Lake of Fire!

Fire in the Bible is used more metaphorically than a literal fire where people are tortured forever after death. The Book of Revelation is the only place Lake of Fire is mentioned, but if dragons with seven heads are considered figuratively why wouldn’t the Lake of Fire be a metaphor? Revelation only suggests believers and unbelievers will face some kind of judgment after death.

Hell makes no moral sense to God or humans

A loving God couldn’t possibly torture anyone forever since such pain serves no lasting purpose. Humans wouldn’t even create such a place for their worst enemies. Hitler was condemned for torturing millions of Jews for a brief time; God is said to torture billions not briefly but forever. A moral God can’t be a hellish, sadistic, torturer!

Besides, humans much less God are fully aware beliefs are influenced by opportunities, role models, or misinformation. It is suspect an impartial, moral God determines our destiny based on beliefs while living a brief time on earth. If we humans really believed Hell made moral sense, we would never cease from warning our friends to repent to escape Hell. The only reason to think a loving God would create such as a place as Hell would be if we believed a Book taught such a horrific thing.

What is God saving us from if not Hell?  

When Jesus was asked by a religious expert how to have eternal life, He simply said to love God and your neighbor (Lk.10:25-37). Jesus’ focus wasn’t on quantity of life after death but about a life worth living here on earth. Jeremy Myers says it best: “When Scripture teaches about being saved from sin, it is not referring to escaping hell and going to heaven when we die, but to the deliverance from the devastating and destructive consequences of sin in this life.”

The word “heaven” appears the most in the Gospel of Matthew. The Kingdom of Heaven isn’t a place to go after life on earth. Jesus sought to bring heavenly love to earth – “on earth as in heaven.” Jesus said nothing about dropping to your knees to avoid Hell to go to Heaven after death. Paul mentions Heaven twice in Romans, yet says nothing about Jesus dying so we can go to Heaven (Rm. 1:18, 10:6).

What about justice?

Punishment doesn’t bring back a victim’s robbed memories of the future due to the murder of a loved one. Real justice is understanding your victim’s pain and accepting the harmfulness of your actions. After death God may bring to memory every action of betrayal and how it felt to their victims. The cleansing and educative effect may take longer for some than others. Humans like God may forgive their enemies if they truly regret their actions and seek forgiveness. Justice from a fair, merciful God is possible despite people being given a second chance after death.

Don’t people need the fear of God to change?

Fear only leads to trying to avoid getting caught. God’s continual encouragement and mercy, not the fear of Hell or gloomy uncertainty of God’s favor, is our necessary nourishment for lasting changes of the heart.  Fear doesn’t produce relationships worth having. One may argue if certain beliefs aren’t required for Heaven, people will do whatever the hell they want on earth. How real is faith if only to avoid Hell? Genuine changes result when knowing you are deeply loved by a parent or God empowering you to reflect such love to others.

MikeEdwardsprofilepic125

Mike Edwards has been writing for Done with Religion for some time and has been a great addition to the site. Mike also has his own site where he writes that can be found at What God May Really Be Like  He can be contacted by email at: medwar2@gmail.com

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