I have seen people lose faith because of well-meaning Christians who “spoke the truth” but forgot “in love.” There is a time and a place for everything. There is a time to comfort the grieving, and a time to teach doctrine. Do you tell your wife her new skirt makes her legs look fat? Timing is everything, my brother. Sometimes, it’s better to say “I don’t know” than to crush another’s spirit in the name of truth. The truth can wait until the right time. It is patient, like love.
Agreed ,again scripture …
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
Frankly , I’m no good at preaching hellfire and damnation at people , I find it distasteful .
My nephew recently lost his first child , he called and asked several questions , very distraught.
" Is my baby going to hell " and " why did God take away my child " …
It was scripture that came to me in that moment …
" Suffer the children to come unto me and forbid them not " …and …“Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.” …
It gave him comfort and peace , his faith remains solid …
I don’t know if you will find too many scriptures that say they won’t be in hell for eternity. Again, it is more of the entire narrative of God’s love that preaches against this. But comfort comes from the great comforter, not in our explanation of the unknown. Show the love of God to them, let them see God in you and be comforted in Him.
I would say they them that I don’t think so personally, here is why…I would then be able to preach the gospel to them, or if they know it, put emphasis on the narrative as a whole, not a few key verses.
I would also say to ignore that rude remark, it sounds like it comes from pride of "knowing the answers’ rather than in love and compassion.
And you should have an answer ready for your hope, when asked. One, I don’t think a mourning widow asks you that. Two, the hope you have and certainty of the eternal location is another.
You can’t lead anyone astray by telling them the hope you have, the love you have for others comes from God, Jesus lived on this earth to show us the way, ultimately leading to His death. He is now alive and His spirit lives inside us to help us.
It depends on your view of eschatology. Perhaps you already know these views; however, I will give them in case he would like to hear them.
- It’s a place of eternal fire and torment.
- There is no torturous fire in this spiritual realm. It is a place of darkness and lacks the presence of God.
- Annihilation is another view. The spirits of all the dead return to their bodies. The Last Judgment takes place. The just live forever in heaven on the new earth, the unsaved are cast in the Lake of Fire and body and spirit are consumed ( Matthew 10:28). Some Messianic Jews also accept this.
- The unsaved are giving a second chance. They will admit they were wrong about Jesus. Everyone will go to heaven. This is similar to Messianic Judaism. Regular Jews do not have Christ; however, their interpretation is similar. These come from the book 100 Tough Questions about God and the Bible by Stephan M. Miller, BA, MRE. No relation to me.
Let me take a moment to say thank you ALL for your insights and perspectives on this subject ,and to the mods for allowing this topic so much room .
I too find the idea of annihilation to be more sound , it’s nice to see the variations of faiths represented here in biologos to carry similar perspectives.
Ultimately , that God is not wasteful or sadistic , but in the least , surgical in judgement.
Good advice. I guess the problem in this case, is that knowing what “truth” is, is nebulous as the Bible is not clear on the subject, and scriptural support can be made for various views. Perhaps that is purposeful.
You may want to order the book " Conditional Immortality: Biblical Proof of Annihilation in Hell" from Amazon. It was written by a Messianic Jewish Rabbi by the name of Douglas Barry. I just wanted to add this information. The Protestant Translator William Tyndale accepted this view.
Oh, I wanted to mention something about two forms of Judaism: Reform and Conservative. They believe that Hell is the nearly the same as Roman Catholic purgatory. The souls (Greek Philosophy definition) go to Gan Eden (Garden of Eden or heaven) after a year, I believe. I just thought you would be interested. If there are any Jewish people here, you are welcome to respond to this.
Are you a minister, my friend?
I have a calling
Even in the first century, the number of people saved was debated. Some rabbis maintained that “all Israelites have a share in the world to come,” while others said that “the world to come” was created by God only for a select few. John Stott is one prominent evangelical theologian who believed in annihilation after a finite period of punishment.
My personal view is still under development (so don’t quote me), but it’s along these lines:
- The human being is not composed of body + soul. Rather, we are a “complex unity,” in the words of J.R. Middleton. (See his blog post Paul on the “Soul”—Not What You Might Think)
- “The man” does not receive a soul/spirit from God in Genesis 2.7. Rather, the passage merely teaches that we, like the animals, are made of earth and owe our lives (breath) to God, our Creator. (See Middleton, Humans Created Mortal, with the Possibility of Eternal Life)
- When Jesus breathes on the disciples and says, “Receive the Holy Spirit,” in John 20, he is deliberately re-enacting Gen. 2.7. As Jesus explained to Nicodemus in chapter 3 of that same gospel, “I tell you the solemn truth, unless a person is born from above, he cannot see the kingdom of God… What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must all be born from above.’" Our spiritual birth occurs when the Holy Spirit indwells our body.
- Jesus and the NT also refer to the new birth using metaphors of what was dead coming to life. Examples: “the one who hears my message and believes the one who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned, but has crossed over from death to life,” “We know that we have crossed over from death to life because we love our fellow Christians. The one who does not love remains in death,” “Let the dead bury their own dead … you go and proclaim the kingdom of God,” etc. The person without the Spirit of God is mere flesh and blood, which cannot inherit the kingdom of God. (Just as we won’t see our pets in “heaven,” but you don’t have to tell that truth to a 4-yr-old! Perhaps that’s why it is ambiguous, Phil. The entire human race is not spiritually mature enough to handle the truth!)
- There is (probably) no intermediate state, where our souls are “in heaven” with Jesus and our bodies are in the grave. Wright and Middleton somewhat disagree on this point, with Wright in favor of some kind of conscious existence after death but before the resurrection, and Middleton in favor of something resembling unconsciousness during sleep. Simply, we close our eyes in death, and open them to the resurrection. (See Middleton’s blog post, What about the Intermediate State in 2 Corinthians 5:6-8?)
- When the last trumpet sounds, those who died in Christ rise, and those who are living are changed. (This is likely what is meant by the “first resurrection” in Rev. 20.)
- Afterward, “the dead,” great and the small, are seen standing before the throne for judgment. (This is likely the “second resurrection.”) Notice that it is “the dead” who are “judged by what was written in the books, according to their deeds.” It is my opinion that the only people being judged are those who did not participate in the first resurrection. They were “dead” even when they were living, from Jesus’ perspective. (John 5.24 again: “whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.”)
- Finally, “the second death—the lake of fire.” Personally, I am more and more coming to think that this is a true second death, or annihilation.
Since I quote our friend @JRM extensively, perhaps I should offer him the chance to correct me if I have misstated his views.
EDIT: Final thought: if you believe that the human being is composed of body + immortal soul/spirit, then you cannot escape the concept of eternal conscious existence in hell, however you choose to conceive of hell. That something immortal should cease to exist is a contradiction.
Do only humans have souls/how were humans ensouled in an evolutionary process?
Fine scholar. Jay is a fine scholar too. Don’t belittle yourself, Friend.
I assume you mean Middleton… I’m simply a reporter. A fancified mockingbird, if you will.
Replying to edit: Thank you, but all the hard work in the original languages was done by others. At best, I hope to harvest what they have sowed, but we shall all rejoice together in the end.
instantaneous resurrection or intermediate body? 2 Corinthians 5:1-10?
See point #5 above. Follow the link to Middleton’s blog post on that passage. He spells it out pretty clearly.
I have read Dr. Middleton and I must say that he and I do not totally agree. I see one of three things here: dichotomy, instantaneous resurrection supported by Dr. Juergen Moltmann and Dr. Thomas Long of Emory University School of Divinity, or intermediate body that is eternal and covers our spirits to the Second Advent. The intermediate body and the spirit will reunite with the body in the grave causing the transformation of the body in the grave. I will not write any more about dichotomy since you already know that. You probably understand the intermediate body. I will approach Dr. Moltmann’s view and that of Dr. Long. We must remember that time and eternity are not the same. Therefore, what appears as future to us may be already in existence for the dead. Please read Colossians 3: 1-4. Dr. Long wrote a book called " A Company Them With Singing: The Christian Funeral. I would encourage you to purchase this book from Amazon and read pages 52-55. I believe you will enjoy this. It is both theology and science. When my father died April 16 1985, I was with him and my mother. I looked at his eyes and I said: My God, daddy is dying. His eyes had rolled back in his head. The nurse was young and too afraid the yell " for help; therefore, I went on the intercom and called for help. I wrote my father’s funeral; however, I did not deliver it. The Rev. Scott Goode delivered the sermon. He knew my beliefs at the time and he praised the sermon I wrote. I used 2 Corinthians 4: 18 through 2 Corinthians 5:10. At the end of my sermon, Scott said: It is my belief that Charles Miller, aged 56 years, has today a new body. Scott believed as I did at the time that time and eternity were not the same. If you have an NIV, please read Colossians 3:1-4. Notice it says that those in Christ are hidden with Him. And where is Jesus, he is in heaven; therefore, they too are there if we accept Moltmann’s and Long’s view. I no longer accept this position now that I believe in a body to be resurrected and a spirit living in heaven till then. The United Methodist Church holds the view of the instantaneous resurrection. I am now going to rest since I feel ill. God bless. Charles Edward Miller, Jr.
Good thoughts. I pray you are feeling better when you wake. The period between death and the resurrection should be called the “indeterminate state,” not the intermediate state. We make our best judgment based upon the limited information God has given us in the scriptures, but I have the feeling none of us will really know until we try “the great event.”
A song of ascents. Of David.
1 My heart is not proud, Lord,
my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
or things too wonderful for me.
2 But I have calmed and quieted myself,
I am like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child I am content.
3 Israel, put your hope in the Lord
both now and forevermore.
Outside of the Scriptures, does anyone think that Near Death Experiences should be part of our discussion (NDEs)? There’s a lot in the Wikipedia entry:
Seems about as murky as…