Monday, January 09, 2006

Hellfire: The Lynchpin of Christianity

And if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck. If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched. Everyone will be salted with fire. --Jesus Christ

Many Christians are extremely offended if they are accused of believing that people are going to burn forever in hell. "I'm a true Christian," they say, "I would never believe that God would do such a cruel thing."

Some even go so far as to reject the concept of Hell altogether. They are not like those Christian fundamentalists, and You are "just as bad as them" for suggesting such a thing.

What we have is a case of a christian doing a BIG Christian no-no by using their own worldly moral judgement--something that, of course, people cannot have for themselves. Morality is put into our hearts by God.

I say, if you don't believe in hell, you're not really a Christian.

What does one need, minimally, to be a Christian? Without specific recommendations from individual sects, one must believe in and follow Jesus Christ. In other words, one must believe Jesus is the Christ. That means one must believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God (and/or is God) and died to be the Savior--the Christian, through this belief, is saved. Salvation is the act of delivering one from sin.

That definition seems to beg one big, fat muthuh of a question:

Delivered from sin for what? Saved from what? Saved from Original Sin, or all the bad things we do of course. But why do we need to be delivered from the bad things we do?


If the only answer to this is "we are saved from death," we need to examine just exactly one believes about death itself. Some who reject hell as a bad place to go will answer "eternal separation from god." But, either eternal separation is a punishment all atheists are going through right now--which is certainly no punishement, or this "eternal separation" is something of a Twilight Zone Hell. Remember the first episode of the Twilight Zone, "Where is Everybody?" A man wakes up in a town that is normal in every way, except that there are no people? He goes insane within a half-hour. Well. That's kind of cruel. God makes all non-believers live in insanity for eternity.

In one of my earlier shows, I quoted a young man's idea about what "eternal separation from god" was. He said that it was like your worst pain in your life, only multiplied a hundred times. Twilight Zone Hell. You believe in hell.

Some who say we are saved from death believe that death is lying or floating in the dark for eternity, doing nothing.. Well, that's not death. Any conscious person (ignoring the fact that consciousness requires eating and getting rid of waste, etc) would go insane after awhile. Twilight Zone Hell.

Supposing a Christian really knows what death is. In that case, they are saved form nothing, becasue death is nothing. Again, they can only be saved from my fate, which would be ridiculous. Why would someone have to endure three days of torture on a cross to save people from a life like mine? I've had a great life--much better as an atheist than as a believer, by the way. Did Jesus endure the crown of thorns to save people from being overweight with a minor dental problem? If so, why are there so many fat, toothless Christians (and so many dead ones, too)?

To be a nice, fair, moderate, non-violence Christian, you are going to have to reject one of the main tenets of Christianity. Without salvation, there is no need for a Jesus. Without Jesus, well, you ain't no Christian.

Some Christians have managed to ask themselves the question: "If believe God is good and omnibenevolent, how can I possibly believe in Hell?" Maybe those Christians ought to look at what Jesus said in the above quote as well and ask themselves: "if I have decided that the concept of eternal torture is immoral, why do I worship someone that said it was?"

Now to do away with Original Sin.


breakerslion said...

Nice picture. Caption:

"He's not just the son of god, he's also a very tacky table lamp!"

Jim Jordan said...

Hello, Alleee
I invite you to look again at Christ's words. What He is saying is merely a re-affirmation of a logical truth; only God is everlasting, and we'd be better off cutting out our lustful eye (a mere piece of meat) than giving up our future life with God. If you had a cancer tumor on your index finger, would you say, "I need my index finger. I'd rather die than cut it off!" Or would you submit to the operation?
The truth is we are here because of God's grace. Hell is the result of the reality that He will not recognize the false self that clings to us; the ego, libido, the desire for an alcohol buzz, etc. Were we to hang onto this "wreckage", we will punish ourselves by not experiencing God's acceptance/recognition. The analogy is best made with a work crew that bought tickets for a Lotto drawing. If one employee opts out saying "I don't believe in Lotto", and the crew's numbers are selected that night, that person is left out of the Lotto jackpot. One might say that that person is living a kind of Hell. Now imagine if the Prize was forever, and you will understand why it is better to carve your eye out if you can't control your lust.
Over 4 years ago, I had an experience that convinced me that God was real. I can't explain it or shake it away. What I felt was an intense feeling of peace, contentment, joy, love, all wrapped into one. It filled me from side to side. Looking back, I realize that there was no desire for sex, no desire for a drink, no, in fact, it was as if those desires did not exist in those precious few minutes. (
What I felt was the presence of the true God and what He showed me was the true Jim, my true self, the one that God created, not the one with the excess baggage (libido, temper, Scotch-loving).
You ask what we are saved from (Delivered from sin for what? Saved from what? Saved from Original Sin, or all the bad things we do of course. But why do we need to be delivered from the bad things we do?) Well, the truth is the separation due to this false self between us and God is removed when we accept Christ's generous offer.
Last, here is the problem that Jesus referred to: the false self, not recognized by God, taking over the person will result in unresolved guilt, fear, remorse, etc. There never was a literal "fiery Hell" but a spiritual Hell.
Neither God nor Christ regales in "torture". God is love, not torture. The Bible says that God suffers to see any of His children suffer. Those who embrace sin and call it fun are torturing themselves all on their own, now and forever.
A person who is a Christian because they are afraid of going to Hell is no Christian. God's rewards are enough. The threat of Hell is for control freaks like Pat Robertson, who is hell bound.

And I hope you are not hell bound. Are you submitting any articles to the God or Not carnival? Would love to read them. Keep me posted.

Hellbound Alleee said...

Jim; you say there is no fiery hell but a spiritual hell? And that God does not torture?

So that must mean that spiritual hell is not so bad. Is spiritual hell eternal or not? Isn't living in spiritual hell for eternity torture? Perhaps worse torture than the mere burning and parasitic diseases that Jesus relishes in? You believe in Twilight Zone hell: more sophisticated torture, but torture nonetheless, and all the more evil. Your God is even worse than Pat Robertson's.

PS: I am quite confused at your claim that God suffers when children suffer. Your God is not then the God of the bible that I read. The God of the bible is "the lord God omnipotent" who killed countless children in many chapters, with his angel of death. Did it hurt him nmore than it hurt them? If so, I wish they had mentioned that in the bible. I am glad you believe in a nicer god, one that is not part of christian belief: but I am having trouble understanding how your hell is better than any other hell.

Francois Tremblay said...

Hey Jim, you disgusting anti-materialist, so your pocket messiah saved you from... unresolved guilt, fear, remorse ?


Jim Jordan said...

Alleee, you missed the point. The person who doesn't believe in God is stepping into the Twilight Zone voluntarily. We are agents of free will, kind of like God but infinitely smaller. What we are denying ourselves is an understanding of reality, of knowing the way things really are. God is not the result of an opinion but is a fact or not of reality.God's a yes or no question. If God exists, He is the default owner, being the creator, of everything, including those babies.
On your other point, consider the following; were you to drink and drive and wrap your car around a pole, would you consider the rehab, the endless days trying to walk again, as torture? Of course you would. Now, who would you blame? Would you seek someone or some new way of thinking to "save you from the bad things you do"?

You have to admit that ultimately the truth is not found based on any debate but on reality, on what is or is not so.
The Bible is replete with allegories and illustrations that drive important points home i.e. you don't have to pluck your eye out. By the way, I used to think exactly as you do, but the deeper I dug into the Bible the more I realized all my arguments were based on misinterpretations. These days I even teach a Bible study class.

Francois, what's up with the fat guy? Is that you?

Hellbound Alleee said...

On your other point, consider the following; were you to drink and drive and wrap your car around a pole, would you consider the rehab, the endless days trying to walk again, as torture? Of course you would. Now, who would you blame? Would you seek someone or some new way of thinking to "save you from the bad things you do"?

That is a very bad analogy that has nothing to do with what I was saying, and seems like an avoidance of my original point. For your question: no. That's ridiculous. That's not torture. Therefore your point is moot. If you think that trying to heal oneself after an injury is anywhere close to twilight zone hell for eternity, you have no imagination, and cannot begin to imagine what eternity is supposed to be.

The reality you speak of is one we refer to as "the cartoon universe." In this cartoon universe, this evil God who kills thousands of innocent people in his stories, created a hell, then created the rule that says "if you don't believe, then you are going to suffer for eternity," as an eternity of despair, despondency and insanity, or an eternity of pain and disease, as Jesus is quoted to say. This God is not bound by any law. This God creates the laws. However, we like to think that this God's "hands are tied" and he has no other choice but to watch us suffer for eternity. Then we can turn around and pretend this is some kind of choice.

But we know is real reality, if someone points a gun at us and says "love me or I kill you," that the someone is an insecure psychopath. We know that it is no choice at all. We preserve ourselves, or cease to be. No one is to be judged for it, therefore there is no morality in it. But it's funny, because a tiny moment of gunshot pain and then no existence is a far, far better fate, eternally so, in fact, than an eternity of suffering. So are three years in Auschwitz. And that, by comparison to Hell is no choice either. (I am tempted to say "how dare you?"--really quite offensive, what you're suggesting.)

And that's why plucking an eye out, literally is much better than hell. And you claim it's not torture. Where is your imagination? (Busy making up a religion that exists nowhere in your scriptures.)

Hellbound Alleee said...

And furthermore: no "allegory" is valuable that teaches anti-values such as the worthlessness of the world, generational curses, racism, the evils of pleasure, the ownership of human beings and the ceasing of independant thought and reason.

The bible doesn't say what you wish it did.

Jim Jordan said...

Hi, here is my point-by-point response:
--Actually, God doesn't say "love me or I'll kill you" but that God is love (1 John 4:16, KJV). Love is what sets us apart from material things. Rational spiritualists say that the mind and the brain cannot be separated therefore there can be no soul. No soul equals no love, but there is love anyway. But why does the brain store emotion? Why do we have a data storage system filled with worthless memories of grief, hope, or love? To believe in God is to believe in love. As a Christian, I accept love as my guide and try my best to live by it (see 1 Cor 13). That is why I'm very easy to get along with.
--You seem to be anti-theist more than you are atheist. It appears that you feel that the biblical God is cruel, and therefore likely to be a fabrication (as I once thought). Understanding God's motives fully is impossible. It would be akin to an ant being able to read "Lolita". It would be foolish to pass judgment on the creator of the universe based on an interpretation of the Bible that is, pardon the expression, cartoonish.
--I am not "anti-materialist" as Francois so articulately said, but I place my relationship to God in first position. God (i,e, my search for God) influences my opinion towards material things more than those things influence how I see God.
--Whatever Hell is, it's always bad. You must understand the distinction between assurance and uncertainty. A Christian feels an assurance of Heaven through their commitment to Jesus Christ (God, love, etc.). Hell is a rejection of love. Whether there is fire and brimstone in Hell, I don't know, and I hope I never have to find out. FYI, Revelation 20:13 describes a "judgment for things they have done." Your complaint regarding punishment for a semantic shortfall, like being an atheist, may be moot.
--The bad things we do hurt us.
--Ultimately, I am short on evidence showing Hell to be a reality, and you are short on evidence showing that there is nothing after death. Only faith could push someone to one belief or the other.

We do agree that religion is often used as a tool to oppress others. The Bible tells dozens of stories on how humans get it wrong almost without exception. Did you know that Eve thought that Cain, her firstborn, was the Messiah God promised? (Gen 4:1) We wasted no time in misinterpreting God's words.
Last, should I take a bullet and find that there's nothing after death, then what have I lost? My faith that was a product of brain matter nonetheless helped me to enjoy my life and help others in the process through my business and my church and within my family. I suppose you could say I'll rest in peace, whether I know it or not.
Take care.

Hellbound Alleee said...

God, the Almighty Wife-Beater, does say "love me or I'll send you to hell" because Jesus says exactly who goes to hell: basically everyone (like me) but a very few. It's in the bible. Even if the bible says "god is love" (although I have not seen that yet. If it did, it is also that God is hate, death, evil, beauty and frogs), his love, "agape" is not a pure love. Agape is the love between a master and his slave. That is perverted love.

I am anti theist, not more than atheist, for that means nothing. I don't believe in any Gods, and I know that belief is destructive. Especially the destructive beliefs of this bible that are right in front of the faces of everyone in your bible study group. One of the destructive beliefs is the belief in hell, that this Love God created. It is the belief that eternal torment is just, for finite crimes. That is not just. That is evil. And you have not provided one justification for this evil belief you have.

As far as evidence about death, all we have is evidence of something called death. We have all the medical and physical evidence we need to show that people, animals, and plants die. We know what makes people move. It's called metabolism. I've seen a dead person. I've seen her container burned. She is no more.

If I were required to believe everything for which I have not disproven, then you are now required to believe in all the gods of Hinduism, Islam, and any other magical creature anyone has ever thought of or has yet thought of. Yet you do not. Seems you have no justification for this. Basically, your ignorance of biology is no excuse for making bad arguments.

It's fine--go ahead and believe in your evil god, and believe that injustice is justice. But you have only proven what I was pointing out in my post. Christians cannot pretend that their beliefs are any nicer or gentler than the hellfire and brimstone beliefs when they believe in eternal horrors created by the god they call "love."

breakerslion said...

The phrase, "God is Love" actually predates Christianity and is part of a religion other than Judaism. I don't remember if it was Tyrian or Mesopotamian, Assyrian, or other. It is a very old concept, first uttered by someone experiencing religious ecstacy, no doubt. I hope it was good for him.

Dave said...


A couple quick things.

The verses which say "God is love" can be found in 1 John 4:8, 4:16.

The death spoken of in the Bible is not a physical death, but a spiritual death.

Man, for someone who argues against Christianity, you sure don't know your facts. These are just a few of your errors that I see. I think it would do you good to do a little academic research before you go out flapping your jaws.