Mar 19, 2012 at 9:55 am #1287433
This is an earnest question/call for debate. I have no agenda to convince anyone one way or the other.
I was raised as a Christian, said prayers at meal time growing up, went to church some, was baptized, went through confirmation as a Methodist, etc. I am a pretty practical person and have read the bible once all the way through, the New Testament 2 times. I used to be involved in a men's bible study group where we read the Bible and other leadership/Christian oriented books and discussed them. It was during those meetings that I really became aware of the fact that the Bible states the following two simple facts…
(No1) In order to go to heaven you must believe and accept Jesus Christ as your savior, that he is the son of God, and that he died on the cross for your sins.
(No2) Hell is a real place and that it is a place of infinite torture and suffering.
So if you take those simple facts and do the basic math…there are about 7 billion people on the face of the earth, roughly 33% of them would categorize themselves as "Christian" in a survey…that is 2.3 billion people. If you are generous and assume 50% or those that categorize themselves as 'Christian' truly accept Jesus Christ as their savior and that he died for their sins, that leaves 1.15 billion people out of 7 billion people. (A liberal estimate in my opinion).
That means that AT BEST 16% of the human population is going to heaven. The other 84% are burning in eternal hell and damnation. That means you have to believe Jeffery Dahmer (big time saved Christian in prison) is living in eternal bliss in heaven and Ghandi (not a Christian) is burning in eternal hell.
The other aspect to this argument that is suspect is if the best God can do is design a system whereby 84% (or more) of his beloved children burn in eternal hell, then you must assume evil/the devil are more capable and powerful than God…which does not mesh with what the bible says.
I am earnestly curious to hear arguments against this. As I thought about this over the past several years I have been surprised both that I had never heard this argument nor was I able to find much discussion of it. If you Google variations of 'Do all Jewish people go to hell' it is discussed in regards to Jews but never in regards to the world population argument, at least that I could find.Mar 19, 2012 at 10:07 am #1855936
@asciibaronLocale: Mid Atlantic
there are no gods, just people with questions and greedy people who will exploit those with questions.
my church is the wilderness at twilight. my religion is self reliance. my faith is in myself and the goodness of others.Mar 19, 2012 at 10:09 am #1855937
@owareLocale: Steptoe Butte
Rob Bell does an exploration of this in his book "Love Wins". I think you would like
the read, agree or not with him.Mar 19, 2012 at 10:25 am #1855947
I am Catholic. My church interprets that scripture passage by cautioning that we need to take into account the purpose, place and time when Jesus made his statement. He was talking to a Jewish audience. The great debate was the way of the Law versus the way of Jesus. Jesus was preaching that the Law was not an end to itself, and that He was the fulfillment of the Law. He was the way!
It should be noted that in both the Gospels and the various letters and books that comprise the New Testament bible — the sacred author took pains to compare/contrast between the Law and Jesus as the way. The emphasis was always on explaining the way of Jesus — and the dead end of the Law (because it was fulfilled by Jesus' redemption). There was really no mention other religions being complete dead end's as well!! The focus was on Jesus being the way to salvation. Obviously, as believers, we have faith in the way of Jesus as being the best that works. Believers of other faiths are similarly confident of their own paths.
Given the above, and given that God Himself is love — He is most unlikely to condemn everyone to hell who isn't a Christian (for all different reasons). That makes no sense.Mar 19, 2012 at 10:27 am #1855951
My wife says it best, and her and I have had this conversation a few times before.
Basically, I think that is crap, too. An all-loving God isn't going to condemn most of his creation to hell for being born into a different belief system.
So, here is the gist of what my wife says: God will manifest himself to be what people need him to be in order for them to better themselves, improve their lives, live as upstanding citizens of humanity, and care for one another. If that means he takes the form of Buddha for Buddhists, God for Christians, or Allah for Muslims, then that is what he is for them. Many religions claim they have the one true god, but that is impossible. Should we be so daft as to claim superiority over other peoples because we pretend to KNOW absolutely 100% our god is the right one?
Remember, God did not create any religion. Humans created religion along with all the ills–and good–that come with it. Most of the time we're preaching and fighting not in the name of God, but in our misconstrued and obtuse conception of what we think religion is.
"What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet"Mar 19, 2012 at 10:33 am #1855956Mar 19, 2012 at 10:34 am #1855957
Ok – I will bite. A little. I try not to discuss religion much on the 'net.
Don't forget, the best God could do was create Eden where there was no burning in eternal hell or even death for that matter. His was a system where no one spent eternity away from Him. Our own free will ruined that scenario. The scenario that we, not God, created would send 100% of us to hell. I think it truly shows how great God is that he would give us a ANOTHER path to avoid eternal damnation when hell is something we have so easily earned. What have we done to earn another chance?
To answer your 2nd question – All it takes is one sin to keep someone from heaven. Think of the best, most kind hearted person you know – Ghandi, etc. Per the Bible, that person will not go to heaven without Jesus. If Dahmer was truly saved, he will got to heaven. God is love, but he is also wrath. Sodom and Gomorrah are examples.
If the devil were truly more powerful than God, he would not be sentenced to reign in hell for eternity. God is the one who banished him there.
RyanMar 19, 2012 at 10:36 am #1855958
Ben – my wife is Catholic and believes basically the same thing you said or a variation of it. My problem with that is that I have read the bible and I don't see that written anywhere. What I do see is it specifically stating that what is being said applies to all human beings universally and without question. It seems like if God/Jesus had meant it only to apply to Jews, he would have stated such. I don't see it so I can only take this as theory until proven otherwise.Mar 19, 2012 at 10:38 am #1855961
David – Thank you for the book suggestion. I just put it on my checkout list at the library. Thank you I will read it.Mar 19, 2012 at 10:47 am #1855964
Given the prevalence of the many religions of the day… the absence of any saying that all those other religions were nothing but dead ends should be saying something to us as well. The emphasis only on the Law as a dead end should be equally telling. Putting the two together…
Jesus made the very strong statement only to the Jews — and I believe it was His way to get them to realize that the Law has been fulfilled, and now, they must follow him the rest of the way. The Law can only get them so far… and not far enough to reach salvation.
But the above aside, the most telling to me is this: God is love. What does love do?Mar 19, 2012 at 10:50 am #1855967
"What does love do?"
Love Hurts – Boudleaux BryantMar 19, 2012 at 10:52 am #1855968
@asciibaronLocale: Mid Atlantic
love can break your heart.Mar 19, 2012 at 10:57 am #1855973
"Given the prevalence of the many religions of the day… the absence of any saying that all those other religions were nothing but dead ends should be saying something to us as well. The emphasis only on the Law as a dead end should be equally telling. Putting the two together…"
Ben makes a good point. I think it's also important to note, TyTy, that you're asking the question from a strictly christian perspective, not from an overall 'religious' perspective. As Travis' wife says so well, god presents to believers in the way they can best 'see' and understand. If you look at your question from a much broader 'religious' perspective, then your math comes up with a very different calculation. Just using one book is a false starting point.Mar 19, 2012 at 11:02 am #1855979
@owareLocale: Steptoe Butte
Lewis, an atheist who came to Christianity through reason, describes hell as being
"locked from the inside".Mar 19, 2012 at 11:02 am #1855980Mar 19, 2012 at 11:07 am #1855983
I love CS Lewis' writings. The Screwtape Letters was an exceptionally inventive way to get his point across, and I believe quite unique, at least at the time. Mere Christianity is a wonderful read as well. I also remember discovering The Chronicles of Narnia in my 20s, and going through all the books twice, catching more with each reading.Mar 19, 2012 at 11:13 am #1855988
Religious conversations and debates very often go too fast and end up being unproductive.
You will notice that all the religious people have already begun to forward assumptions without substantiating them. I call on anyone that is forwarding the premise that a god exists, there is only one god, and this god is Jesus to back up and support your claims.
Start with the first step:
1. How are we to know that a god exists?
1a. Please be specific. If what you are using to substantiate the answer you give to this question is indistinguishable from imagination, there is literally no reason to believe you that I am aware of. For example, if I told you that while backpacking here in Sweden I ran into an elf that has magical powers like invisibility, would you believe me? Why or why not? What would it take for you to believe such a claim?
Until we can resolve this first step, I don't see how we can go on to other assumptions, unless of course we accept them as a given, for the sake of argument or otherwise.
Also, please make your intentions clear so the debate does not get muddled. For example, if you are a Christian, please be clear about this and don't argue from positions outside of your belief system. All too often will Christians argue like they are deists, for example. If you believe in a specific god (i.e. Jesus), that is a specific claim that you need to support. You can't have your cake and eat it too, either Jesus is the one true god, or he is not, so don't defend the premise of a deistic god that you obviously don't actually believe in.Mar 19, 2012 at 11:18 am #1855990
The topic is more specific: it is about Christianity and what it teaches about salvation / condemnation of believers vs. non believers. I think you have a separate agenda in wishing to talk about whether God even exists or not. Please feel free to start a new thread — so folks can post their thoughts on a much wider topic.Mar 19, 2012 at 11:19 am #1855991Mar 19, 2012 at 11:27 am #1856001
I am well aware that it is specific. I question the assumptions that the OP rests on, i.e. that a god exists to begin with, and that this god is Jesus.
I don't see why I ought to start a new thread, and submit that my post is perfectly relevant to the topic at hand. Before you can talk about salvation through Jesus, you have to prove that Jesus is the one true god.Mar 19, 2012 at 11:28 am #1856002
Yes, Cesar I ask that you please stick to the original question. I am really curious to hear others opinions as it relates to Christianity and the points I have raised. If you start a thread about the existence of God we can discuss that and I will post my beliefs regarding that, but for this thread I really want to hear what people think about this topic.Mar 19, 2012 at 11:29 am #1856003
OP has already spoken out. This is Ty Ty's thread, and I'm sure Cesar will respect it.Mar 19, 2012 at 11:31 am #1856004
Anything outside of time and space, by definition, does not exist. If you are suggesting that your god exists outside of time and space yet somehow exists in a so-called spiritual realm, you are only making things more difficult for yourself, as this begs many questions.
For example, if I told you that I have a perfect argument that absolutely disproves the Christian god, but it exists in a magic book outside of materialism in a spiritual library outside of time and space… would you believe me? Why or why not?Mar 19, 2012 at 11:31 am #1856005
Why be so rude?Mar 19, 2012 at 11:37 am #1856007
I'm interested in seeing your topic continued. I mentioned the near absence of any condemnation of other religions in the Bible. And that stands in such contrast to the continued emphasis that the Law is limited and cannot lead to salvation.
Jesus was never shy at pointing people away from ways and means that didn't/wouldn't/couoldn't work. But all the times that he spoke in public squares… he never once condemned any non-Jewish religion. And the one time he spoke about his way as being the only way — that was to a Jewish audience — presumably trying really hard to get them to move beyond the Law!
All the above, plus the fact that God is love, just don't sum up to 'all non Christians will go straight to hell' — as some Christians like to say.
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