Post 1: What Did Jesus Teach (about hell)?

Scot McKnightThe traditional view of hell rests on four pillars: that the OT says nothing; that the Jewish view at the time of Jesus was one of eternal conscious punishment; that Jesus’ view was thoroughly Jewish; and that the NT authors follow Jesus. Edward Fudge, in Hell: A Final Word , subjects each of these to examination in a readable, accessible format. The first pillar is wobbly; the OT does speak about the “end” of the wicked and the idea is one of a “consuming” fire (not tormenting fire). The second? Wobblier. There were three views: a consuming fire, a purifying fire, and a tormenting fire. Third? Today we sketch Fudge’s short chps on what Jesus taught, and I shall sketch his sketch.

1. Gehenna, Jesus’ typical term, is a trope for the place of destruction/fire south of Jerusalem. It cannot be proven to have been the dump in the 1st Century.

2. What happens there? The wicked are destroyed, they perish there. Matt 10:28: “fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell/Gehenna.” The issue is if “destroy” means “destroy” or “preserve forever in a destroying state.”  Fudge thinks traditionalists ruin the meanings of words on this one: destroy means destroy, not preserve forever. Had he meant preserve forever he could have said it that way. He then lists eleven uses of “destroy” in the NT and shows that each means “destroy”: why not in Matt 10:28? [Matt. 8:25; 12:14; 16:25; 21:41; 22:7; 26:52; 27:20; John 11:50; Acts 5:37; 1 Cor. 10:9-10; Jude 5, 11.]

3. Gnashing of teeth means anger, not pain. Cf. Acts 7:52-54.

4. Eternal punishment fits with other uses of “Eternal” as an adjective: salvation (Heb. 5:6), redemption (9:1), judgment (6:2), punishment (Matt. 25:46), destruction (2 Thess. 1:9). Big conclusions: the term refers to something in the Age to Come, it is endless and it refers to the result of an action. An action leads to something being permanent: one is not redeemed forever, one is redeemed and then lives forever; one is not judged forever, one is judged and then has consequences forever. [I sense a technicality here that is not as tight as Fudge says it, but there’s a good observation here.] Eternal punishment refers to eternal capital punishment. The second death. 2 Thess. 1:9 says it is “eternal destruction” so that eternal punishment is eternal destruction —  and eternal fire refers to fire that destroys forever.

5. Rich man and Lazarus: it’s a parable; Fudge sees Jewish folklore at work here; it’s Hades not Gehenna; this parable says nothing about hell; it’s not literal; it aims to motivate Jesus’ contemporaries to care for the poor with the threat of irreversible consequences. [There are negations here that are not necessary, but in the main I agree with much of what Fudge says in this section.]


65 thoughts on “Post 1: What Did Jesus Teach (about hell)?

  1. The dead where brought out of town where their corpses were burned so that they could not infect the living. Sheol is the name of that place where the fire had to be kept lighting because at any time there could be an infection going round.

    When they die people come in a state like before their birth, where they do not know anything, can not feel anything, and can not do anything.
    By death people have paid for their sins and there would not have to be any other penalty, so there is no reason to have any place for torture after death.

  2. ” When they die people come in a state like before their birth, where they do not know anything, can not feel anything, and can not do anything. ”

    That sounds more like an atheist belief.Like being snuffed out.

  3. It’s actually a biblical idea. It was not until late BC that the concept of living on after death became part of Jewish thought.

  4. Greg, everlasting salvation was a Jewish concept according to Isaiah.

    Isaiah 45
    15 Truly You are God, who hide Yourself, O God of Israel, the Savior!
    16 They shall be ashamed And also disgraced, all of them; They shall go in confusion together, Who are makers of idols.
    17 But Israel shall be saved by the LORD With an everlasting salvation; You shall not be ashamed or disgraced Forever and ever.

    Isaiah 60
    14 Also the sons of those who afflicted you Shall come bowing to you, And all those who despised you shall fall prostrate at the soles of your feet; And they shall call you The City of the LORD, Zion of the Holy One of Israel.
    15 “Whereas you have been forsaken and hated, So that no one went through you, I will make you an eternal excellence, A joy of many generations.
    16 You shall drink the milk of the Gentiles, And milk the breast of kings; You shall know that I, the LORD, am your Savior And your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.
    17 “Instead of bronze I will bring gold, Instead of iron I will bring silver, Instead of wood, bronze, And instead of stones, iron. I will also make your officers peace, And your magistrates righteousness.
    18 Violence shall no longer be heard in your land, Neither wasting nor destruction within your borders; But you shall call your walls Salvation, And your gates Praise.
    19 “The sun shall no longer be your light by day, Nor for brightness shall the moon give light to you; But the LORD will be to you an everlasting light, And your God your glory.
    20 Your sun shall no longer go down, Nor shall your moon withdraw itself; For the LORD will be your everlasting light, And the days of your mourning shall be ended.
    21 Also your people shall all be righteous; They shall inherit the land forever, The branch of My planting, The work of My hands, That I may be glorified.
    22 A little one shall become a thousand, And a small one a strong nation. I, the LORD, will hasten it in its time.”

    Which is comparable to Revelation 21
    22 But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.
    23 The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light.
    24 And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it.
    25 Its gates shall not be shut at all by day (there shall be no night there).
    26 And they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it.
    27 But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

    The very concept of salvation implies that people are being saved from something to something. Redeemed from something to something. Delivered from something to something.

    That is why we need a Saviour. A Redeemer. A Deliverer.

    All of these were Jewish concepts, hence the desire for the Messiah, the Christ.

    Isaiah 61
    7 Instead of your shame you shall have double honor, And instead of confusion they shall rejoice in their portion. Therefore in their land they shall possess double; Everlasting joy shall be theirs.
    8 “For I, the LORD, love justice; I hate robbery for burnt offering; I will direct their work in truth, And will make with them an everlasting covenant.

    This is the chapter which begins…

    1 “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me, Because the LORD has anointed Me To preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives, And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
    2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn,
    3 To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.”

  5. And, of course, the Daniel prophecies:

    Daniel 12
    12:1 ¶ “At that time Michael shall stand up, The great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; And there shall be a time of trouble, Such as never was since there was a nation, Even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, Every one who is found written in the book.
    2 And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, Some to everlasting life, Some to shame and everlasting contempt.
    3 Those who are wise shall shine Like the brightness of the firmament, And those who turn many to righteousness Like the stars forever and ever.

    Again, reflected in Revelation.

  6. You notice that Daniel mentions that many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.

    So they sleep after they have died and gone to the grave.

    Just as Jesus said people slept and were not annihilated at death.

    Were it so that when people die, as Christadelphians claimed, and Greg believes, they become as they were before they were born, then Lazarus completely bucked the trend by being dead for four days, and then coming back to life.

    Jesus said he was sleeping and that he would raise him up to life. He had to explain this for his disciples because they didn’t understand that this meant that Lazarus was dead, but that his soul slept, so that God could be glorified by the great miracle Jesus performed by raising him from the dead.

    And then there was Jairus’ daughter who was also dead, but raised by Jesus.

    And then there was the widow of Nain’s son, who was in the coffin being carried by the pall-bearers when Jesus cam and he was raised from the dead.

    So Daniel certainly understood the concept of life after death, when he spoke of those who were sleeping in the dust of the earth would awake.

  7. Isaiah 26
    19 Your dead shall live; Together with my dead body they shall arise. Awake and sing, you who dwell in dust; For your dew is like the dew of herbs, And the earth shall cast out the dead.
    20 Come, my people, enter your chambers, And shut your doors behind you; Hide yourself, as it were, for a little moment, Until the indignation is past.
    21 For behold, the LORD comes out of His place To punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity; The earth will also disclose her blood, And will no more cover her slain.

    Again, this is reflected in Revelation, but Isaiah certainly sees the dead living.

    ‘Awake and sing you who dwell in the dust!”

    The hiding of God’s people is another indication of the catching up of the Church, although Isaiah did no see the Church, which was a mystery to him, but he saw what he would have considered to be Israel being hidden in their messiah, Christ, until God’s wrath, or here, punishment, was poured out on the remaining inhabitants of the earth, those who deny Christ, for the blood of the martyrs.

    You see, Revelation is everywhere disclosed in the Old Testament, which is why it is such a spectacular conclusion to the Book.

    Clearly the afterlife was a Biblical concept, even if it wasn’t considered by Greg to be a Jewish concept.

  8. Even Job sees himself in the afterlife.

    Job 26
    25* For I know that my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth;
    26* And after my skin is destroyed, this I know, That in my flesh I shall see God,
    27* Whom I shall see for myself, And my eyes shall behold, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!

    And he sees the sword.

    28* If you should say, ‘How shall we persecute him?’ –Since the root of the matter is found in me,
    29* Be afraid of the sword for yourselves; For wrath brings the punishment of the sword, That you may know there is a judgment.”

    And Hosea foresees the end of Death and the Grave.

    Hosea 13
    14 “I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death. O Death, I will be your plagues! O Grave, I will be your destruction! Pity is hidden from My eyes.

  9. I guess those scriptures alone take out your rejection of the afterlife, the Revelation and judgment in one mighty sweep of God’s Word!

  10. Steve you’re a moron! I never rejected the afterlife…many biblical writer however do. The books you site, when were they written? Oh that’s right during or after the Babylonian captivity…late BC…SNAP!

  11. @Greg

    “The books you site, when were they written? Oh that’s right during or after the Babylonian captivity…late BC…SNAP!”

    Wrong. Job is believed to have been the first book in the Old Testament written, dated to be around the age of the Patriarchs. SNAP!

  12. Greg,
    I never rejected the afterlife

    Really? You seemed to be agreeing with the Christadelphians, but wasn’t Isaiah written 600 years BC. If 600 years is late BC then why is it an issue? And Job?

    You claimed annihilation was a Biblical belief. It isn’t.

  13. You’re not a real Christian unless your Jesus is a warrior who enjoys slaughtering His enemies and eternally torturing His own creation.

    I couldn’t do it.

    Maybe that make me more moral than Steve’s god.

  14. Christadelphians says:
    ” When they die people come in a state like before their birth, where they do not know anything, can not feel anything, and can not do anything. ”

    EYES says:
    That sounds more like an atheist belief. Like being snuffed out.

    Greg The Explorer says:
    It’s actually a biblical idea. It was not until late BC that the concept of living on after death became part of Jewish thought.

    EYES says:
    The only way that one can go into ‘a state like before their birth’ is if they have a time machine.
    Perhaps Greg has a spare Delorean sitting in his garage. Greg, while you are travelling to and fro in the Delorean, could you bring me back from the future, one of those ‘COOL’ hoverboards. And BTW can you check out what really happens to John Wayne.
    John Wayne’s not dead – he’s frozen! And when we find a cure for cancer, we’re gonna thaw out the Duke and he’s gonna be pretty pissed off. You know why? You ever taken a cold shower? Well, multiply that by 15 million times. That’s how pissed off the Duke’s gonna be.

  15. ” The issue is if “destroy” means “destroy” or “preserve forever in a destroying state.” Fudge thinks traditionalists ruin the meanings of words on this one: destroy means destroy, not preserve forever. Had he meant preserve forever he could have said it that way. ”

    It depends on what one is implying, In his spiel.
    Here comes a call for discernment, that which comes from God and is by faith in Jesus Christ. That’s why i have put my faith in Christ Jesus, so that i may be justified by faith in Christ, and not by observing the law, because by observing the law, no one will be justified.

  16. “Wrong. Job is believed to have been the first book in the Old Testament written, dated to be around the age of the Patriarchs. SNAP!”

    Wrong! Modern scholarship dates the work between the 6th and 4th century BC.


  17. “but wasn’t Isaiah written 600 years BC”

    Parts were.

    “Tradition ascribes authorship of the book to Isaiah son of Amoz, but for over a hundred years scholars have seen it as a compilation of writings from three different periods. The first, termed Proto-Isaiah (chapters 1–39), contains the words of the 8th-century BCE prophet with 7th-century BCE expansions; the second, Deutero-Isaiah (chapters 40–55), is the work of a 6th-century BCE author writing near the end of the Babylonian captivity; and the third, the poetic Trito-Isaiah (chapters 56–66), was composed in Jerusalem shortly after the return from exile, probably by multiple authors.”

    Isaiah 24-27 is known as the Little Apocalypse and are usually thought to be the work of an author who lived long after Isaiah.

  18. This essay describes a common liberal interpretation of the beliefs of the ancient Hebrews concerning life after death. A conservative interpretation is explained elsewhere on this web site.

    Judaism before 623 BCE. The ancient Israelites originally followed a polytheistic religion; their beliefs were identical to other Semitic peoples. The dead were believed to have led type of shadowy existence under the earth, without energy, and separated from God. People worshipped both their ancestors in the underworld and many Sky Gods in heaven.
    Judaism from 623 to 586 BCE: from the introduction of monotheism to the Babylonian captivity. Belief in the gods of the underworld and ancestor worship ended. Polytheistic belief was abandoned. Yahweh alone is worshiped. They continued to believe that the dead lead a shadowy, totally isolated existence under the earth in Sheol, cut off from their relatives and from God.
    Judaism from 586 to 332 BCE: from the Babylonian captivity to the Greek invasion: Zoroastrian religious ideas are incorporated into the Jewish beliefs about Sheol. The faithful dead are viewed as being resurrected, to live a second life in a cleansed Jerusalem for 500 years. Then, they die, are annihilated, and are no more.
    Judaism during and after the Greek occupation. All the dead will be resurrected. They will be judged by God and sent either to an eternal reward or never-ending punishment. The Christian religion, having been founded by Jews, continued much of this belief system.

    Beliefs in Israel, up to 623 BCE:

    Centuries ago, scholars coined the term “Semitic” to refer to a group of civilizations in the Middle East which originally shared a similar language, culture and religion. These included the Assyrians, Babylonians, Canaanites, Hebrews, Phoenicians, etc. Prior to the official introduction of monotheism in ancient Israel by King Josiah in 623 BCE, Jewish beliefs about their Gods, the universe, and life after death appear to have paralleled closely those of the other Semitic cultures. The people interacted with the many “sky gods” in heaven and the “infernal deities” in the underworld:

    The universe was conceived as consisting of 4 layers: a more or less flat earth floating on water, large caverns under the earth, a sky in the form of a dome over earth, and a heaven above the dome. Multiple “sky gods” resided in heaven. A set of infernal deities lived under the earth, ruled over by a deity named “Mot”.
    At a person’s death, their soul went to live underneath the earth, in a place called Sheol, or “the Pit” or “Earth.” (A person’s “soul” was believed to represent both their body and spirit).
    Various English Bible version translate the Hebrew word “Sheol” as Grave, Hell or Pit; some leave it as Sheol.
    Some of the dead became minor deities in Sheol. Their descendents who placed regular offerings of food and water on their tombs would reap blessings from these gods. Those who ignored their ancestors would be ignored or even harmed as punishment.
    The dead who received regular offerings from their descendents occupied the upper levels of Sheol, where life was easier. Those who were not remembered sank lower in the depths of the Pit. Those who had been improperly buried were sent to the lowest, most unpleasant area.
    The people worshiped multiple sky gods in public rituals. They also communicated with the gods of the netherworld in private, family rituals in which their ancestors were venerated.
    The dead could also be accessed through necromancy. 1 Samuel 28:7-20 describes how King Saul persuaded a medium at Endor to contact the spirit of the deceased Samuel in order to predict the future.
    If some favor was to be asked of the gods by the entire nation or community, the the priests conducted a public ritual. Adequate rain to grow the crops, or victory over neighboring tribes were common examples. If a favor for a family or an individual was sought, then a private ritual was conducted, to seek support from some of the inhabitants of Sheol. A long life and many children were common examples.
    The dead of all nations and all walks of life were sent to Sheol. There was no judgment day. All individuals ended up in Sheol after death – both those who had led a righteous and those who were evil while on earth. See Genesis 42:38 and Numbers 16:30-33.
    They believed that the inhabitants of Sheol were abandoned forever:
    A Psalm for the Sons of Korah petitions God to save the writer from his expected death. “…my life draws near To Sheol. I am reckoned among those who go down to the Pit; I am a man who has no strength, like one forsaken among the dead, like the slain that lie in the grave, like those whom thou dost remember no more, for they are cutoff from thy hand.” Psalms 88:3-5
    “You [God] restored me to health and let me live…In your love you kept me from the pit of destruction…For…those who go down to the pit cannot hope for your faithfulness.” Isaiah 38:16-18. (NIV)
    Since the plight of the dead was so discouraging, ancient Israelites believed that God rewarded a righteous man with a long life and many offspring. This is mentioned frequently in the Hebrew Scriptures, including Psalms 127:3-5.
    The ancient Hebrews had no concept of heaven. The dead who had led the most righteous lives were not taken to be with God after death. (Enoch and Elijah were exceptions. They were directly taken up to heaven to be with God. They never died; they never went to Sheol). See Genesis 5:24.
    Most writers of the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) portrayed Sheol as a grim place. Its inhabitants were seen as living a type of shadowy existence for all eternity. It was dark. “The dead existed without thought, strength, or even consciousness.” 1
    Sheol is not at all related to the Christian Hell. There is no unending torture of humans there; just a ghostly existence. In its original form, there was a great deal of interaction between people living on earth and the inhabitants of Sheol. (Hence the parable of Lazarus where the rich man wants to warn his family).

  19. You’ve quoted from this group before, Bones. They are not even Christians. Zennists and Zoroastrians. Of course they push the concept that Judaism came from their cultic strains.

    Why are you so keen to promote anything which opposes evangelical theology? What is your objection to Biblical truth?

    Can we stick to the Bible? It makes sense to do so, don’t you think?

  20. You know that Jake Elliott used to do the same thing as you have just done, Bones, and Greg has done.

    He would come against one of his pet hate movements to declare it cultic or heretical, and produce as evidence some whacky web site which was so far from Christian orthodoxy that it became embarrassing to even point out the gross errors they displayed.

    When it was pointed out to him, his fan-club would pounce for spoiling his fun then go ahead and support his notions of the infallibility of cultists and heathens over the truth clearly evident in the Bible.

    You talk about ‘modern scholarship’ as if it knows everything, and yet most of what you have produced as modern scholarship involves liberal exegesis which is based on theoretical propositions which require a vivid imagination and the understanding of an unbeliever to make any kind of sense. Some of your modern scholarship experts have even been closer to Buddhism than scripture, or nearer to archaeology than theology.

    I don’t trust anything written by an unbeliever.

    The reason you have mythologised so much of scripture is your constant courtship of humanistic philosophers who want to analyse the Bible and its people and God through natural minds and scientific means without an ounce of faith, or any understanding or connection with the Spirit of Christ.

    I challenge you to spend a month or two solely reading the New Testament with a clear mind and an open heart. Then dig into the Old Testament alongside it for a while, asking the Holy Spirit to lead you into all truth.

    I don’t mean to sound patronising with this, and I am sure you are a seeker after truth rather than a deliberate obfuscater of the light of the Word, but these appeals to human knowledge concern me,not for myself, because I’m sold out to the Word of God as it is, but for anyone who is genuinely seeking God.

  21. @Bones

    “Wrong! Modern scholarship dates the work between the 6th and 4th century BC.”

    Oh, “modern” scholarship, huh? You mean the same scholarship that says that the New Testement books were written on the 4th Centuray AD by people that had never met Jesusthe same scholarship that you and Greg keep quoting to support your humanistic, liberal, Christless theology? Oh yes, they are all so correct, aren’t they?

  22. I don’t trust anything written by non believers

    Why? Becuse all bin believers are liars?

    You don’t trust non believer teachers?

    Non believer doctors?

    Steve, there is an ethic among the academy to pursue truth wherever it leads.

    Personally I don’t trust anything written by Pentecostals.

  23. Sorry, Greg, I should have qualified that especially for you. I thought, contextually with what I wrote, it was clear. I don’t trust non-believers with doctrine or theology.

  24. “Jake Elliott used to […] come against one of his pet hate movements to declare it cultic or heretical […]”

    It appears as though you’re having trouble letting go there, Steve.

    A case of finding it difficult to kick against the goads, perhaps?

  25. I think Jake let go, Z. He spat the dummy when he was outed. Can’t think why.

    It’s true that he ingloriously failed, and still fails, to grasp what a gnostic cult actually is, or what he actually believes that is in anyway orthodox. Maybe, being unimpeachably orthodox, you could tell him what a universalist is so he avoids using their posts as evidence.

  26. I understand Steve why a site called religious tolerance would be anathema to you.

    They did have an alternative conservative view.

  27. Are all modern biblical scholars unbelievers?st

    NT Wright was a bishop before going on an academic board.

    Most academics are involved in seminaries and training clergy.

    Most have dedicated their lives to studying the Bible.

    Nearly all haven’t paid for a fake doctorate.

    btw would you trust what a Jew says about the Bible?

  28. There are a lot of fine evangelical scholars who disagree with the idea of God as an eternal torturer and support.




    John Stott
    John Wenham
    Michael Green[71]
    Philip Hughes
    Roger Forster

    New Zealand:

    Dr. Glenn Peoples

    North American:

    Clark Pinnock
    Edward Fudge
    Greg Boyd
    Harold Camping
    Homer Hailey
    E. Earle Ellis
    Ben Witherington III (scholar/ theologian)


    Others have remained “agnostic”, not taking a stand on the issue of hell. The two listed are also British:

    F. F. Bruce, who described himself as “agnostic” on this issue
    N. T. Wright rejects eternal torment, universalism, and apparently also annihilation; but believes those who reject God will become dehumanized, and no longer be in the image of God[72]

  29. Overview:

    Before making use of anything on this website, please read copyright and legal notices in a separate essay.

    The following is probably more than you ever wanted to know about us and our website. However, we want to explain our “agenda” in promoting religious tolerance and to help you understand how this website was written.

    It is important for us to be open with our beliefs and positions on various matters. You need this information in order to judge the credibility of our writing.

    Our thoughts about religion:

    Religion is a unique force in society. It motivates individuals to do both good and evil. Historically, it has promoted:

    An end to slavery, racial integration, equal rights for women, and equal rights for gays and lesbians. It has motivated individuals to create massive support services for the poor, the sick, the hurting, and the broken.

    Conversely, it has been used to justify slavery, racial segregation, oppression of women, discrimination against homosexuals, transgender persons and transsexuals, genocides, exterminations of minorities, and other horrendous evils.
    Religion motivates some to dedicate their lives to help the poor and needy. (e.g. Gandhi, Albert Schweitzer, Mother Teresa.) It drives others to exterminate as many “heretics” as they can. Over the past two decades we have seen religiously-motivated mass murders and genocides in Bosnia, East Timor, Indonesia, India, Kosovo, the Middle East, Northern Ireland, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tibet, the 9/11 attacks on New York City and Washington DC, etc.

    Religion has the capability to generate unselfish love in some people, and vicious, raw hatred in others. The goal of every caring person should be to somehow change religions so that they maximize the former and minimize the latter. This is not a simple task, because most faith groups are extremely resistant to change. We feel that the key is religious tolerance.

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    Follow their own religious beliefs, as long as they do not harm others;
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    Why we have so much information on Christianity Some readers are surprised at our wealth of essays on Christianity in comparison to many fewer essays each on Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Wicca, etc. This is because about 75% of Americans and Canadians identify themselves as Christian. The next largest religions are Islam and Judaism with about 1% apiece. When the remaining organized religions are lumped together, they total only about 2%. There are about 20 Christians for every single follower of a non-Christian organized religion. This motivates us to cover Christianity in much greater depth. Visitors who want more detailed information on another religions can use the hyperlinks in our essays to transfer to web sites that concentrate only in that one religion.
    Some conservative Christians might have difficulty understanding the above information because they often define the term “Christian” very restrictively to mean only a born-again person — one who has repented of their sins and trusted Jesus as Lord and Savior. About 35% of Americans are born-again. This website uses a more inclusive definition — the one used by pollsters and census offices. We accept as Christian any person or any group who sincerely identifies themselves to be Christian.

    Why we have so much information on Wicca and a few other religions: We deal with these faith traditions in great detail because of the high level of religious intolerance, disinformation, assault, and even lynching experienced by Neopagans and others who go public with their religion. This is largely the legacy of centuries of misinformation, starting during the “burning times” when the Catholic and Protestant churches mounted campaigns of mass killings of non-Christians.

  30. Bones,
    They did have an alternative conservative view.

    Alternative is the right word:

    OCRT Statement of Belief:

    We are a multi-faith group. As of late-2012, we consist of one Atheist, Agnostic, Christian, Wiccan and Zen Buddhist. Thus, the OCRT staff lack agreement on almost all theological matters, such as belief in a supreme being, the nature of God, interpretation of the Bible and other holy texts, whether life after death exists, what form the afterlife may take, etc.

    They must be experts on theology, then!

    Does the Bible actually teach ‘tolerance’? I thought the way was narrow and we would be persecuted and endure suffering.

    I think tolerance is more of a politically correct term for indecision about what we represent.

    I don’t see anywhere where we tolerate sin.

    The whole point of the gospel is to love sinners as God does, but tell them they need to be saved from their sin, and that Jesus has made the way clear for them if they repent, that is, turn from their wicked ways to righteousness through faith in Jesus.

    I think the gospel is about change not tolerance.

    The terms you’re looking for are ‘long-suffering’, ‘mercy’, ‘grace’ and ‘love’.

  31. Greg,

    I appreciate your testimony. It is wonderful.

    I do not appreciate your constant need to demolish Biblical orthodoxy with evolutionary, myth-accusing, scripture denying liberal takes on theology.

    The latter doesn’t match the former.

    We all need to separate ourselves off for a term to reestablish connections with a world-free theology. Even Jesus went away for seasons.

    Having a visitation, even from Jesus, doesn’t equate to complete theological infallibility.

  32. Z,
    A case of finding it difficult to kick against the goads, perhaps?

    I was more thinking of finding it easy kicking against the goats.

  33. So Steve admits he hates tolerance eg

    Follow their own religious beliefs, as long as they do not harm others;
    Enjoy freedom of religious belief, speech and assembly, without discrimination or oppression.
    Change their religion if they wish, and
    Make non-harassing, non-manipulative and non-coercive attempts to convert others.

    Jesus was against that.

  34. If you mean you find it helpful to tolerate sin, Bones, I guess you’ll have a great time letting sinners go to eternal separation.

    Do think there are any consequences to sin, or is everyone’s sin taken care of whether they repent or not?

    Should we tolerate idolatry?

    Should we tolerate rape?

    Should we tolerate the murder of innocent young?

    Should we tolerate abortion?

    Should we tolerate pedophilia?

    Didn’t Jesus say something along the lines of hatred being akin to murder, and lusting on a woman akin to adultery?

    Was he being tolerant, or upping the stakes of what is acceptable for a follower?

  35. Should we tolerate Catholics?

    Should we tolerate Muslims?

    Should we tolerate Calvinists?

    Should we tolerate Pentecostals?

    Should we tolerate c3?

    Should we tolerate Hillsong?

    Should we tolerate rich televangelists?

    Should we tolerate the poor and beaten down?

    Should we tolerate blacks?

    Should we tolerate women preachers?

    Should we tolerate gays?

    I see your point though.

    Last thing we want is freedom of religion.

    That might threaten your brand of Christianity which is so fearful of others.

    You don’t see the irony that your belief system is closer to fundamentalist Islam and sharia law.

  36. Steve – you cant be serious.

    If you were around in Paul’s day you’d be in the crowd heckling him:

    Paul : “… But the greatest of these is love …”
    Steve : ” So should be love sin then? Should we love murder? Should we love Satan? Jesus said we should hate all these things didn’t He?”
    Paul : ” Steve, you’re an arsenoponos”

  37. “…eternal separation.”

    How quaint. We know that hell is such a hideous concept that we have to try and sanitise it.

    Doesn’t gel with the God of love.

  38. Why are you discussing hell, Bones, when it is long established that it is the wrong interpretation of tartarus, gehenna and hades?

    You should be in politics, honestly, because you are one of the greatest spin merchants I’ve come across, apart from, perhaps Zorro, who is a serious rival.

    The way you twist what people say to confirm to your warped image of them is quite spectacular.

    As I have said before, your argument seems to be with God, and not with those who hold to a Biblical understanding.

    To compensate for your refusal to accept that God is The Judge as well as the Almighty, you have, at various times, rejected scripture that is plainly before you, you have denied entire Books of the Bible, and you have dug deep for ‘modern scholarship’ which confirms your resistance to truth.

    God is Love. There is no doubt about that, but do you think that in His love He will, eternally, permit sin to be in His presence, anymore than you would permit a pedophile to be alone in a room with your children for any length of time.

    Would you?

    Would you tolerate such a thing, Bones? No, I don’t think so.

    You would remove the pedophile form their presence. You would guard them form sin as much as you possibly can. You would reject and eject all and any possibility for sin to enter their lives if it is at all within your capability to do so.

    Then, why would God permit sin to continue in His Presence when He has gone to such great lengths to provide a way for people to be redeemed from it?

    God is Love. Agreed. Love that makes a way for us to repent, be forgiven, cleansed and set apart for eternal life with Him in glory, in a place where sin cannot reside, nor sinners enter.

    God is also a Consuming Fire.

    Vengeance belongs to God alone.

    God is a Jealous God, zealous for Hs people. Sin is a pollutant. It will, ultimately be removed, and those who remain in sin will go with it to the the place where sin will be contained forever, where the tempter will be contained forever, where it cannot touch God’s people or affect them anymore.

    You notice how you bent my words into a political weapon for your own use. You really can be a piece of work.

    You claim tolerance, but fail to tolerate believers.

  39. Again, Bones, what I have said, if you would take the time to notice, is that tolerance is the wrong term.

    I placed before you the more apt alternatives of long-suffering, mercy, grace and love.

    You, and wazza, rejected this and jumped on my suspicion of the word ‘tolerance’ because it suits your attitude to continually display intolerance towards what I say.

    The wages of sin is death. God’s wrath is over those who sin.

    Tolerance implies putting up with sin and allowing it to continue unchecked.

    Long-suffering says ‘here is the truth, you need to repent, accept Jesus and walk in the Spirit’, but continues to love and offer grace despite the rejection of those who refuse to hear or comply.

    Mercy withholds the due wages of sin which is death until such time as all must come to a conclusion, but giving people as much opportunity as possible to repent, accept Christ and live in the Spirit.

    Grace offers a free pardon through the cross and resurrection of Jesus even though not one single person deserves it.

    Love supplies Grace, Mercy and Long-suffering even though he world is sinful, giving the Church time to preach the gospel and help bring as many into God’s arms as possible whilst His Long-suffering is applied.

  40. wazza spoke of Paul. Here’s some solid doctirne for both wazza and Bones to consider in regard to God’s attitude to sin.

    Romans 5
    16 And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification.
    17 For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.)
    18 Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life.
    19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.
    20 Moreover the law entered that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace abounded much more,
    21 so that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
    6:1 ¶ What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?
    2 Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?
    3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?
    4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
    5 For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection,
    6 knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.
    7 For he who has died has been freed from sin.
    8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him,
    9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him.
    10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.
    11 Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
    12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts.
    13 And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.
    14 For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
    15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not!
    16 Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?
    17 But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered.
    18 And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.
    19 I speak in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness.
    20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.
    21 What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death.
    22 But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life.
    23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

    I suggest you read Paul again, especially Romans, to find out what God actually does think of sin, and rediscover the grace He displays towards His creation.

  41. Let’s break down Bone’s intolerant lies:

    So Steve admits he hates tolerance

    No! I did not. What I actually said was: ‘I think tolerance is more of a politically correct term for indecision about what we represent.’

    I went on to outline why I thought ‘tolerance’ as the wrong term for a Christian to use, and that the better terms were ‘long-suffering’, ‘mercy’, ‘grace’ and ‘love’, which I have since qualified as emphasis.

    Nobody here tolerates everything. to claim it would be a lie. I gave a list of things which few here would tolerate, but Bones then gave his own version, which was outlandishly deceptive, and which I profoundly reject.

    What you are, in effect, saying is that Christians should tolerate sin and never identify it as such, which is preposterous, since, as I have shown form Romans, we are warned not to return to sin despite God’s grace, which, in turn, means we should not encourage non-christians to continue in sin, since sin results in death – eternal separation from God.

    So the idea or concept of tolerance sounds great, but, in fact, works against the mandate God has given s to make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

    Are you proposing that we baptise people who have not received Christ, who continue in their sin? Or should we let them know that, now that their lives have been handed over to Christ, who bought them with a price, they should ‘sin no more’, as Jesus told the woman caught in adultery?

    He dd not condone her sin, nor did he tolerate it. He agreed that the punishment due to her was death, but that he forgave her. He did not then say that she could continue in her sin. He told her to repent from it.

    Last thing we want is freedom of religion. That might threaten your brand of Christianity which is so fearful of others.

    Freedom of religion. What do you man by this. Freedom to worship idols. Freedom to bow down to other gods? False doctrine, dogma or prophecy?

    How is Christianity threatened?

    Well according to Jesus it is threatened by the leaven of the Pharisees, in other words, false doctrine, dogma and prophecy.

    Fearful of others?

    Really? In what way? My whole purpose is to take the gospel anywhere and everywhere the Lord requires me to. How does this speak of fear?

    Rather, I fear God if I do not take the gospel. As Paul said, ‘Woe to me if i do not preach the gospel.”

    No, your own accusation tells me that you display fear of man by allowing them to continue in idolatry which leads to eternal damnation without telling them the truth of the gospel. That is the end result of your kind of tolerance.

    Your reticence to rock their idol-worshipping world with the truth betrays an empty heart.

  42. Bones,
    I hope you’re getting through the flood alert OK. I’m not sure if you’re affected, but I hope your home and family are safe.

  43. This arrived in my inbox today. Talk about timing!



    This MISQUOTED passage is the perfect example of how we AUTOMATICALLY jump to the conclusion that death and destruction is from God.

    First, the word “God” is nowhere in either of these passages.

    “And I say unto you my friends , Be not afraid of them that kill the body , and after that have no more that they can do . But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear : Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell ; yea , I say unto you , Fear him.” Luke 12:4-5.

    “And fear not them which kill the body , but are not able to kill the soul : but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matthew 10:28.

    And yet, people seem to always presume it is God to whom these passages are referring. Yet, I submit that once we take a deep breath and consult the Holy Spirit, we will see that these verses are obviously talking about Satan and NOT God.

    SATAN is the one whose destructions we are to have a healthy fear of being “killed by,” as Jude 9 warns. SATAN is the one who “destroys the flesh of men.” 1 Corinthians 5:5; John 10:10. SATAN is the one who has “the power of death.” Hebrews 2:14. Repeat this ten times: SATAN HAS THE POWER OF DEATH, NOT GOD!

    Satan is the one who kills both body and soul, NOT God. Jesus saved us from Satan’s ability to kill our bodies and destroy our souls in Hell. He gave us the keys to the kingdom. The connection between Satan and Hell is long established in Church history.

    Hell “is an intermediate place or state of the soul between death and final judgment.” Encyclopedia of Early Christianity, edited by Everett Ferguson, p. 417 (Garland). However, Hell is much more than just the abode of the dead. Satan rules in Hell. Hell is the symbolic capital city of Satan’s kingdom of darkness and death.

    “I will build my church; and the gates of hell (Hades) shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Matt. 16:18-19. These verses obviously link “Hell” with “Satan’s kingdom.” Moreover, we are empowered to bind this Satanic kingdom with our keys of authority so that men will be loosed from the grip of the devil. Renowned scholar W. Manson renders “gates of hades” in this passage as “Satan-Hades.” (Jesus and the Christian [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1967], p.83).

    In short, Satan is Hell personified, and Hell is Satan objectified.

    Many ancient Jewish and early Christian writers link closely the concepts of Satan and Hell. (Testament of Reuben 4:6-7; Matt. 16:18-19; 1 Cor. 15:24-27; Rev. 20:7-10, 13-14.) The term “gates of Hades” implies that it is some kind of demonic power center because in the ancient world the rulers and military leaders lived at the city gate where important military decisions were made. If Jesus preached the good news of the kingdom of Heaven, then perhaps Satan’s message was the bad news of the kingdom of Hades.

    The demonic opposite of being “in Christ” is being “in Hades.” God operates in three blessed areas: faith, hope and love. Satan operates in three cursed areas: lies, fear and death. Satan used lies to deceive Adam to fall, thereby allowing fear and death to enter the world. From that time, Satan ruled this earth (1 Jn. 5:19) through our fear by the power of death. His power center of death is Hell. However, Hell is far more than just Satan’s military base of operations. It also houses the biggest POW (prisoner of war) camp of all time. Billions and billions of lost souls are enslaved here and brutally abused and tortured by their satanic warden and demonic prison guards.

    “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” Heb. 2:14-15.

    Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil (1 Jn. 3:8) by taking the keys of death and Hades away from Satan. “I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell (Hades) and of death.” Rev. 1:18. Not only did Jesus remove death and Hades from all those who are “in Him” (i.e. covenant unity through His indwelling Divine Nature), Christ also provided His perfect love to abide in us to cast out all unrighteous fear out of our lives so that the devil would truly have no place in us (1 Jn. 4:18).

    Any unrenewed soul, whether disembodied or not, can be trapped in Hell on some level. Any mental stronghold of evil is Hades. Wicked emotion is Hell. Lust is Hell. Impatience is Hell. Fear is Hell. Any soul separated from the spirit of God experiences Hell on some level. However, once the body dies, the disembodied soul fully shackles itself to Satan’s POW Camp which exists on some barren level of being not visible to the human eye.

    Many of the ancient Greco-Roman world actually believed the disembodied fallen souls of men became demons used by Satan as low level pawns. Whereas “principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness of this world and spiritual wickedness in high places” (Eph. 6:12) all refer to higher level angelic powers which rebelled with Satan against God, this view would equate the lower level demons of Satan to be the fallen souls of men. So too would ghosts, apparitions and hauntings all fit under this heading. See The Unseen World, edited by Anthony N. S. Lane, Chapter 5 (Tyndall House). Although this is somewhat speculative, it is indeed a chilling notion – – that Satan converts fallen souls into some sort of demonic conscripts.

    However, the clear point to be gleaned from all this is that Hell is the destiny for lost souls, and that Satan is in control of it. Whereas the dust of the earth is the abode of death for the fallen physical body, Hades is the death dimension in which fallen souls are imprisoned. It was into this dimension of devils that Jesus’ “soul” descended – – for three days. Acts 2. We must see Hades as Satan’s stronghold where all His cosmic powers, allies and slaves are headquartered. And, as the original passages cited at the beginning indicate, this is a realm we should be most wary of as we cleave to the goodness of our God.

    The bottom line is that Satan, NOT God, is the one Jesus is warning us about in Matthew 10:28 and Luke 12:4-5. We need to stop presuming of God the things that are clearly of Satan.

  44. Roundhouse,
    Satan is the one who kills both body and soul

    Well that is a nonsense. Satan can no more destroy the soul than you can fly by flapping your arms.

    Jesus is clearly talking of the Father, and this is one f the most potent passages in scripture.

    Luke 12:1-5
    He began to say to His disciples first of all, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, nor hidden that will not be known.

    Therefore whatever you have spoken in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have spoken in the ear in inner rooms will be proclaimed on the housetops.

    And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell [Gehenna]; yes, I say to you, fear Him!”

    Jesus is talking to his disciples. He is giving instruction about their coming ministry. He is letting them know they are to be aware of the false teaching of the lawyers, and not be afraid of persecution for the gospel’s sake.

    He is admonishing his disciples that they should fear God rather than man. Satan doesn’t enter into this conversation.

    Some of the disciples would ultimately be martyred for their message, and he was reminding them that persecution would be a part of their lives as they preached the gospel.

    To say that it is Satan who kills the soul and casts into Gehenna is to say that Satan’s kingdom is divided against itself. He doesn’t seek to kill the soul but to capture the soul.

    It is God who casts into Gehenna, not Satan, otherwise you are saying that Satan has power over Gehenna. Yet Jesus destroyed the one who had the power of death, who is the devil.

    Hebrews 2:14-15
    Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

    The ones who have the power to kill the body are people. The One who has power to ruin the body and the soul is God.

    Jesus took the devil’s power over death, which was through the law, not through any power to kill that the devil had, it was sin through the law which rendered people separated from God and ruined eternally.

    The devil had power of attorney over death because he was the accuser, the prosecution lawyer, who used the law against people and pronounced judgment over them through the law.

    But when Jesus fulfilled the law, he removed the power of the law from the devil. He stripped him of all power.

    Colossians 2:13-15
    And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us.

    And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.

    And finally, for now, we are admonished not to fear the devil, but to resist him, and he will flee. We do this by submitting to God, humbling ourselves under His mighty power.

    The only One we fear with holy reverence and awe is God.

  45. @Steve

    “Jesus is clearly talking of the Father, and this is one f the most potent passages in scripture.”

    Oh, really? So what you’re saying is that God kills, then casts them into the fire? Lets break that passage in Luke down, shall we? Firstly, you say that we should fear God? Now, we can usually ascribe the definition of the word “fear” throughout the bible as meaning “reverential awe” but the context of this passage is actually stating that we should be AFRAID of the one who can send you to hell. Does that make sense? Do you really think that Jesus wants us to be afraid of the father? Absolutely not! We also know that Satan was the murderer from the beginning, and that death is in his hands. Can God use death? No! The New Testament is VERY clear on this. The devil is the only one who uses death. So God cannot kill anyone, ever. Therefore, He cannot be the one described in Luke.

    You also mention that Satan has been defeated (copy/paste isn’t working on my ipad, so I can’t actually pâtés your quote). Of course he has. When we are born again, we no longer have his nature, but the nature of the father. Satans power over us believers has been nullified. Yet, in this world, there is still death, sin, destruction and misery. Does that sound like satan has lost all his power? Not at all. He has been disarmed, and the keys to hell and death have been taken off him, so that those who believe in Jesus and come into relationship with Him will not “taste death” but live with Him for eternity. Those who reject Jesus still have the nature of their father, the devil, and they will suffer the consequences of this nature. And the consequences are that their accuser, the devil, holds the power to condemn them

  46. No! I didn’t say that God kills. I said he has the power to kill both the body and the soul.

    The devil does not have this power.

    Death is the result of sin. It is the wages of sin. The devil did not declare this. God did.

    The devil doesn’t make spiritual laws. He usurps them. he accuses by them. But he doesn’t make them. Nor does he uphold them.

    The devil is not featured in this passage.

    Only men who persecute and God are mentioned.

    Of course we should fear God with a godly reverence.

    Acts 9:31
    Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied.

    Fear: phobos, ‘far, dread, terror’.

    Psalms 111:10
    The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; A good understanding have all those who do His commandments. His praise endures forever.

    Fear: yir’ah ‘fear, terror, fearing, respect, reverence’.

    We should certainly not fear satan. Jesus overpowered him at the cross and resurrection. We resist the devil by submitting the God.

    And we should not fear men, not for the gospel’s sake.

  47. Some adolescents, when they are unable to keep up with the conversation, or feel left out, will resort to distractions which interrupt the flow of dialogue to gain everyone’s attention.

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