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Hell No, Anne Wont Go!

Started by RussCarroll, 04/08/2011 03:36AM
Posted 04/08/2011 03:36AM | Edited 04/08/2011 08:24AM Opening Post
Jim,

I really don't feel good at all about the discussion of Hell on this forum yesterday, and here is why: a correct or incorrect view of Hell's existence is not a requirement to becoming a Christian. I can now see how unproductive a discussion of its existence is, particularly in a mixed group like this with a very broad range of spiritual beliefs.

This is a close call for me, but I do not see in scripture the need to get this right in terms of being a follower of Christ. What matters is how you personally handle the message of Jesus and how you respond to it.

I would boil His message down to the following as it is personally what compelled me to become a follower of Jesus: I am not God, Jesus is, controlling my own life has led me down the wrong path, I reject my own ways and accept Christ's ways, I want a new beginning and a real chance to follow Christ. Please forgive my many, many screw-ups that have hurt so many people and help me to not add to this list ever again.

This is how it all started for me. No concept of Heaven or Hell. No analysis of who was or wasn't with God. Just a simple and heartfelt desire to follow after Jesus. At the time, I was not even certain who Jesus was, I only knew that the powerful message of the love that He had for me overcame me and cause a lifetime commitment to Him.

If you have experienced this epiphany and the idea of Anne Frank burning in Hell is an obstacle for you in being obedient to Jesus simple commands, then I say don't believe it. To be a disciple of Christ, one needs to follow His commands: "If you love Me, obey my commandments". This is what the greatest commandment is. He did not say "If you love Me, be really, really smart and have all the answers". In fact, the people He was PISSED at knew and believed the truth intellectually! Their actions were completely contrary to loving god (parable of the two sons) and loving others (the parable of the good Samaritan).

For me, the concept of Hell holds only one reality: I don't want anyone to experience it. This motivates me to want to be a better (more obedient) Christian so that my family and friends will see the power of Christ in my own life and desire to follow Him. That's it. I can see that discussing Hell is counterproductive.

Russ



Posted 04/08/2011 05:35AM #1
Russ Carroll said:

Jim,

I really don't feel good at all about the discussion of Hell on this forum yesterday, and here is why: a correct or incorrect view of Hell's existence is not a requirement to becoming a Christian. I can now see how unproductive a discussion of its existence is, particularly in a mixed group like this with a very broad range of spiritual beliefs.

This is a close call for me, but I do not see in scripture the need to get this right in terms of being a follower of Christ. What matters is how you personally handle the message of Jesus and how you respond to it.

I would boil His message down to this as it is personally what compelled me to become a follower of Jesus: I am not God, Jesus is, controlling my own life has led me the wrong way, I reject my own ways and accept Christ's ways, I want a new beginning and a real chance to follow Christ. Please forgive my many, many screw-ups that have hurt so many people and help me to not add to this list ever again.

This is how it all started for me. No concept of Heaven or Hell. No analysis of who was or wasn't with God. Just a simple and heartfelt desire to follow after Jesus. At the time, I was not even certain who Jesus was, I only knew that the powerful message of the love that He had for me overcame me and cause a lifetime commitment to Him.

If you have experienced this epiphany and the idea of Anne Frank burning in Hell is an obstacle for you in being obedient to Jesus simple commands, then I say don't believe it. To be a disciple of Christ, one needs to follow His commands: "If you love Me, obey my commandments". This is what the greatest commandment is. He did not say "If you love Me, be really, really smart and have all the answers". In fact, the people He was PISSED at knew and believed the truth intellectually! There actions were completely contrary to loving god (parable of the two sons) and loving others (the parable of the good Samaritan).

For me, the concept of Hell holds only one reality: I don't want anyone to experience it. This motivates me to want to be a better (more obedient) Christian so that my family and friends will see the power of Christ in my own life and desire to follow Him. That's it. I can see that discussing Hell is counterproductive.

Russ




That all sounds great and reasonable (for a believer), but you end with a sentence that undermines your whole thesis: "the concept of Hell holds only one reality: I don't want anyone to experience it. This motivates me to want to be a better (more obedient) Christian" So, be an obedient follower of Jesus, be reasonable about your beliefs, but don't forget, you'll burn in hell if you don't obey! Whaaaat?

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Posted 04/08/2011 07:09AM | Edited 04/08/2011 07:16AM #2
Russ Carroll said:

Jim,

I really don't feel good at all about the discussion of Hell on this forum yesterday, and here is why: a correct or incorrect view of Hell's existence is not a requirement to becoming a Christian. I can now see how unproductive a discussion of its existence is, particularly in a mixed group like this with a very broad range of spiritual beliefs.

This is a close call for me, but I do not see in scripture the need to get this right in terms of being a follower of Christ. What matters is how you personally handle the message of Jesus and how you respond to it.

I would boil His message down to this as it is personally what compelled me to become a follower of Jesus: I am not God, Jesus is, controlling my own life has led me the wrong way, I reject my own ways and accept Christ's ways, I want a new beginning and a real chance to follow Christ. Please forgive my many, many screw-ups that have hurt so many people and help me to not add to this list ever again.

This is how it all started for me. No concept of Heaven or Hell. No analysis of who was or wasn't with God. Just a simple and heartfelt desire to follow after Jesus. At the time, I was not even certain who Jesus was, I only knew that the powerful message of the love that He had for me overcame me and cause a lifetime commitment to Him.

If you have experienced this epiphany and the idea of Anne Frank burning in Hell is an obstacle for you in being obedient to Jesus simple commands, then I say don't believe it. To be a disciple of Christ, one needs to follow His commands: "If you love Me, obey my commandments". This is what the greatest commandment is. He did not say "If you love Me, be really, really smart and have all the answers". In fact, the people He was PISSED at knew and believed the truth intellectually! There actions were completely contrary to loving god (parable of the two sons) and loving others (the parable of the good Samaritan).

For me, the concept of Hell holds only one reality: I don't want anyone to experience it. This motivates me to want to be a better (more obedient) Christian so that my family and friends will see the power of Christ in my own life and desire to follow Him. That's it. I can see that discussing Hell is counterproductive.

Russ




Thanks for the follow up Russ. I do appreciate it. Feel good about it too - I certainly found it to be a useful discussion.

As my final point, I think that It is fair to say that your position is very introspective and personal. You have expressed your thoughts regarding hell in the context of your own Christianity, your own Christian conversion, your own family etc. I think that your post quoted above is very reasonable in this context - the context being a discussion among Christians. The way I might phrase an observation about your collection of posts yesterday is this: Russ is on the path of Christianity. This is the path that God placed before him. This path involves certain obligations and Russ is doing his best to stay on the path.

Here is the punch line from my perspective though; (my whole reason for bringing up Anne Frank which has not much to do with inter-Christian discussion...) In my view, your path is clearly the path for Russ, but not necessarily the path for everyone else.

My problem with the more exclusionary aspects of Doug's Calvinist philosophy or even more liberal but still John 3:16 - centric belief systems is really a problem with organized religion - not a problem with God, Jesus or the Bible. I think that John 3:16 is certainly the path for you, but when Doug says that it is also the one and only path for Anne Frank, Gandhi, or the righteous man who never even heard of Jesus I think that this goes way too far and eviscerates the concept of a just God.

Calvin had no use for a just God. This is reflected in Doug's writing, "some vessels are made to be broken..." I reject that philosophy.

Clyde points out - rather persuasively - that John 3:16 and the Pauline writings are inconsistent with Jesus’ other teachings and his Jewish heritage. I'm OK with that too. John 3:16 and Paul's stuff may actually be later add-ons and nonetheless still define the proper path for you and Doug or me and other Christians. I'm defining Christians as people who are called to the Christian path, whether it is based entirely on the unembellished "authentic" teaching of Christ or not. Even so, to extrapolate this path to Anne Frank as her one and only chance is too unjust to make any sense. If there is a God and if he provides salvation, he can certainly tailor a message/path to each of us. It's not like God is unaware of his audience's circumstances.

You note that the issue of whether or not hell exists is not critical for a Christian. OK. Good point. Most of my writing on this topic is simply an expansion of the (in my view) unrelated thesis that a just God provides a legitimate path for everyone, whether they've heard of Jesus or not. It is our differences in motivation and perspective that cause frustration. I'm talking about the possibility of multiple paths and you are talking about our own path.

Jim