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I appreciate the respect in which this man writes looking for
a real answer to a genuine conflict in his mind.
From an agnostic ...
First and foremost, although I am what you would term an "agnostic", I
truly hold your position as a religious leader in the highest regard. I
also empathize your responsiblity to answer for the unforseen misdeeds
of your fellow clergy, however distant. I would ask that you respect my
choice to remain a non-christian. This is not an opportunity for
conversion... merely for conversation. Thank you in advance.
I have two questions for you. The first I have been asking for years,
and received unsatisfactory to downright insulting answers. I
desperately need the relationship between an all-loving creator and
eternal torture in hell to be resolved. I find it to be a serious mistep
in logic for a supposedly logical creator... as well as a morally
reprehensable topic for the church to defend. It is my personal belief
that there is no hell. However, the church has yet to sufficiently "take
the stand" on this grevious issue to defend it.
I will refer to Cotten Mather's infamous speeches during the Salem witch
Trials where he expounds upon newborn infants quite literally roasting
in ovens for all eternity. I will also refer to a pastor I met in Texas
who, from the pulpit (which is a position of authority), told men, women
and children that the unsaved will burn, and it is the priviledge of the
saved to look upon and "rejoice". Would you please clear this up for me?
Thank you in advance.
My second question is far more obscure, although I imagine you have
encountered it. On the subject of exorcisms... what exactly is the
point? From an atheistic standpoint, I suppose medical science will one
day come up with some strange and rediculous reason why the biologicals
manifest themselves that way... but if I am to believe in the paranormal
(which I do, to an extent), I would still ask what the overall
acheivement of the demons is supposed to be.
If your God is real, then they have effectively lost the war, regardless
of what battles they win. Even in the oft touted light of "they just
wanna take as many as they can to hell with them", it is still
rediculously stupid for demons to use this tactic. A possessed person
offers living proof of the paranormal, if not spiritual plane...
wouldn't you want your opponents and victims to remain ignorant, and
thus, susceptible? The possessed are also highly visible, which means
they will inevitably attract the attention of exorcists... thus foiling
the ploy; even moreso when the exorcist (and thereafore God) is found to
be victorious. I would also assume that the possessed would gain
"diplomatic immunity" from hell, since they are not to blame for their
I look forward to your answers (and hopefully) a long, fullfilling
discussion. Thank you once again,
Our Answer ...
Thank you for writing
TTAP. I appreciate your respect and the way in which
you posed your questions. Honestly (I hate to admit it)
I've been treated with more respect by agnostics and
Wiccans than by many "Christians" sometimes.
Since we are dialoguing, I trust you
will allow me to lay down a few pre-suppositions that
will have bearing in the discussion.
Not everyone who says they are a
Christian really is a Christian
Not everyone who is a Christian has
everything doctrinal correct; therefore
Not everyone who claims to speak for
God actually does
Christians are not perfect - although
real Christians have a desire put in them via the Spirit
of God to see their lives change for the better.
Christianity is not a set of doctrines and rules, but
rather a living relationship with the creator. Those
who approach Christianity from a "legalistic" point of
view are often harsh, critical and dogmatic (I apologize
for those who claim to speak for God, but do not). Those
who approach Christianity correctly realize that the
relationship with the creator is what God Himself is
God created man in His own image as a
"triune being", Body soul and spirit. The soul, which is
the real you, has two interfaces: ; the body, which
interfaces with the physical world around us though our
five senses and a spirit that interfaces with the
spiritual realm - be it God or occultic. Realizing that
there are 3 distinct parts to man sometimes makes it
easier to see the holistic point of view of
I usually agree with many points the
agnostics, atheists and wiccans make about Christianity
- which surprises them. However, that same group
usually uses extreme people and events to make their
point, assuming that because they claim to speak for God
they must actually do so. Not a valid assumption. For
instance I usually get hit with the "what about the
crusades" question. Good point, what about them? GOD
did not tell anyone to go kill others in the name of
Christianity. So those that did where flat wrong. What
about the Spanish Inquisition where they tortured and
killed Christians in the name of the Church? Bingo!
Not God. Frankly the Catholic Church is not a
representation of the true message of the gospel. So
using them as an example is like saying Sarah Palin is a
good representative of the Democratic party.
Okay, let's address your questions.
First I do not believe that babies go
to hell. The message of salvation requires a conscious,
voluntary decision On the part of the person who wants
to have their sins forgiven. So until a child at least
reaches an age where they no right from wrong and have
the chance to hear the message they are protected.
There is no certain "age of accountability" as some
would teach, but rather as each person comes to the
point of realizing their own self-will and sin.
The reality of hell from a Christian
viewpoint demonstrates the absolute balance in the
character and nature of God. Some go to one extreme and
preach God as the harsh condemning God that wants to
throw everyone in hell. Others go to the other extreme
and preach the "God is love message" to the exclusion of
Human nature has a hard time
reconciling these two views of God and so tends to chose
one over the other. Legalistic religionists tend to the
judgmental God and others, like yourself pick the loving
God. However God is NOT bi-polar, nor schizophrenic.
He does not have multiple personalities or mood swings.
He is one all encompassing, balanced nature of
righteousness and love. In fact you could not have a
perfect god without both. Righteousness makes God good,
love makes him approachable. Men have a hard time
reconciling this, but real Christians do not.
Ever hear of "tough love"? Why does
a parent tell a child not to play in the street or not
to play with matches? It is not because they love
them? Why did God tell us not to do certain things? Is
it not because he loves us and knows that certain things
would not be good for us? We can look at the 10
commandments as God being a killjoy and limiting our
personal liberties, or we can turn it around and see
that the 10 commandments are a protection for you and
me. Would you want to be stolen from? Do you want your
spouse to commit adultery? Is it a good idea for
children to learn patience, obedience and respect and
hold their own self-centeredness in check? There is a
place for those who have not learned this; it is called
Could you imagine what the world
would be like if God where not perfectly righteous? If
God did not care what His creation did? The cornerstone
of civilized society is the 10 commandments. A basic
sense of right and wrong and how to interact with
others. This was God imparting to his creation the
sense of who and what his own nature and being really
Now on the other hand, a righteous
God, without love, would have to harsh and judgmental.
If righteousness is the standard and God really gave
that to us, then it only seems logical that he have some
sort of system to hold us accountable. Else it would be
like making a law and ignoring violators. We've all
been incensed when some judge lets a criminal go free.
Our own sense of righteousness or morality is violated.
God could not be righteous without holding us
accountable. The minute he let some sin go, he would
cease to be God, as He has revealed himself. God would
cease to be just if He ignored sin and his perfection
would be disproved in a heart beat.
The fact that the God has revealed
himself as a "God of Love" (actually the Bible says "God
IS love" - or the personification of love) is perfectly
in balance and harmony with God's revelation of His
righteousness. True righteousness - without love - if
it were possible- would not be a good thing. As
witnessed in the workings of those who approach
Christianity from the legalistic viewpoint. In fact
God's perfection not only requires perfect
righteousness, it requires perfect love. Once again man
has a hard time combining these concepts because it is
much easier to swing one way or the other - to have a
set of rules to live by, or to have no rules at all.
Relationship requires much more effort than the other
ways, which is why so many people miss the entire point
So we have a quandary - which leads
to your question about hell: A righteous God can not
ignore sin and a loving God wants the best for His
creation. Isn't that the real issue? Since God is not
bi-polar what is the answer?
God cannot ignore sin, but neither
does he want his creation to be lost forever. So He
created plan by which he could maintain both his
righteousness and his love without violating either.
Only a perfect God could do this.
The answer lies in the gospel message
which tells us that God sent His Son Jesus Christ to
become a sacrifice for sin. While I realize you don't
recognize the Bible as YOUR authority in spiritual
matters, I do need to give you a couple of verses to
make my point, because this is what God says about the
issue an since you are trying to figure out where we are
coming from you need to know the source is the Bible not
my opinion. Here is the Gospel in a nutshell:
Everyone has sinned and fallen short
of God's standards Romans 3:10, 23
The wages of sin is death (physical
and spiritual (separation from God forever in hell)
However the GIFT of God is eternal
life through Jesus Christ (Romans 6:23)
God loves us and does not want us to
be separated from him for eternity - but rather wants a
RELATIONSHIP with us for all eternity John 3:16
Jesus, as a manifestation of God in
the flesh lived a sinless life and therefore was not
subject to the death penalty instituted for sin. Jesus
said, "no man takes my life from me, but I lay it down."
Jesus said, "no greater love has any
man than he lay down his life for a friend." and "I lay
my life down for you." John 15:13
Jesus did die historically on a Roman
Cross - but not for his sins, but rather the sins of the
world - II Corinthians 5:21
God raised Jesus form the dead as
"proof of eternal life" and victory over the power of
sin, death, the grave and hell. Christianity is not
just a religion or a philosophy, it is new life imparted
by God into a person's being - as demonstrated by the
resurrection of Christ.
God said, "If you believe in your
heart and confess with your mouth that God has raised
Jesus form the dead you shall be saved." Romans 10:8-13
So we see that sinful man has an
option of avoiding hell. God calls salvation a "free
gift" from God, but that gift must be acknowledged,
accepted and used. It is not automatic but the Bible
says this, "how will we escape if we neglect SO GREAT A
SALVATION?" Hebrews 2:3
The only problem is that God, who
offers love, forgiveness and relationship has also
limited the manner in which man can come to him. He
MUST deal with the issue of sin and does so by offering
forgiveness - unearned and unmerited - through the
sacrifice of Christ. Is God unjust to present
stipulations? He did not have to offer a way at all.
The problem is that man does not want to deal with the
issue of sin or admit his need of a savior. AND THIS is
what sends a person to hell - not God who has done
everything He can to stop people from going hell. Man's
own rebellion, intellect, pride and arrogance are what
condemns him. God has no choice but to deal with sin in
a righteous manner after he has offered a better
solution. Hell is the last resort of a loving,
righteous God - not the first choice. The Bible tells
us "hell was created for the devil and his angels," not
man. But men who follow in that rebellion of Satan will
follow him also to hell, in spite of God's best efforts
to keep him out.
RE: Question two - demons in people:
There are really two answers to your
question. The first is "why does Satan, et el demons,
bother? What do demons get out of inhabiting people?
The Bible tells us Satan (originally
named LUCIFER or the Light bearing one) was the highest
of three arch angels and was the "covering angel" over
God's throne. It also tells us that musical instruments
were built into Satan's very being and this has led some
to theorize that Lucifer was the choir director of
heaven, leading all angelic creation in the worship and
adoration of God. The Bible goes on to tell us the
Lucifer became lifted up in pride and self-will and
jealous of that worship shown to God and wanted to be
like God and usurp that worship for himself. Lucifer
said, "I will exalt my throne... I will be like the Most
High." Isaiah 14:14-18 In his rebellion he was cast down
and some believe he led 1/3 of the angels under his
direction with him in that rebellion (although 1/3 is
speculative). The angels- turned demons came from
somewhere and there are a lot of them.
Now we find in the story of Genesis
that Satan (formerly Lucifer) wanted to impart that same
rebellion into man - God' greatest creation. This for
two reasons: 1. Satan wanted someone to worship him; 2.
He knew God's righteousness and justice, if he could get
man to rebel in the same way he had done, God would have
to judge men as he was judged and cast out of God's
presence. Getting man to rebel took care of both
points. If you are familiar with the Genesis story you
will note that Satan's argument against god was that
"God knows that the day you eat of that tree you will BE
LIKE GOD..." In other words the exact same principle
was being conditioned in the lie - "God does not want
you to be like him and he is holding out on you." Note
the point - become like God, which was the fulcrum of
Now there is one other pertinent
issue here. Satan obviously hates God. And God is not
"gettable." So Satan goes after the thing god loves the
most - his created humanity. Think of this in two
ways. What would hurt a loving parent the most? A kid
that rebels and hates them after they have sacrificed
for their well being. And have you ever seen a movie
where they are trying to get information out of someone
and they refuse so they grab the guys wife and say,
"tell us or we'll kill her instead?" The point is the
same. You hurt God by hurting the object of his love.
Getting some to hate God and by destroying the lives of
others is the only means Satan has of retaliation
And finally, why do demons inhabit
Demons do not have physical bodies.
Your definition as "biologicals" is not correct. They
are spirit beings. Like angels they can manifest
themselves in visible form from time to time, but they
are not physical beings. It is believed through
observation and practical experience that demons have a
nature corresponding to a particular sin i.e. Lust,
murder, idolatry, perversion, etc. Since sin is a
"fleshly" thing, in order for them to manifest their
nature they need a human body to do so. Else they have
no real expression and it would be somewhat akin to an
addict going through withdrawals wanting more dope.
They crave the expression of their nature and seek to
gain entrance to humans to have a release. This drives
them to inhabit people.
Demonic spirits can not just "hop in
a person." There has to be an open door of invitation.
Those doors are created in several ways: 1. Occult
practice, 2. Continued willful sin, 3. Extreme Fear, 4.
Extreme traumatic experiences, 5. Overt rebellion, 6.
False religious experiences, 6. Curses passed down
through the generations, 7. Drug and alcohol abuse, 8.
sexual perversion. more.
Your idea that demonized people
should therefore automatically excused for their
actions is shown to be a false concept since the person
demonized had to repeatedly violate some of God's
prohibitions in the first place. Remember, God gave us
the commandments to PROTECT us from just this problem.
When we ignore the warnings we end up suffering the
consequences - not something God intended, but something
He tried to keep us from. Does that make God a mean God
because he didn't want us demonized? On the contrary.
Concerning your thought that Satan
would be better off hiding: The above explains that
-demons are driven to express themselves. Additionally
Satan's plan is not to hide, but rather to condition men
to acceptance of the occult. Remember the 800-physic
craze a few years ago? You put a worm on a hook to make
the fish think he is getting some good and beneficial to
himself. The same principle works for Satan. What
better way of creating open doors and causing
destruction that to conditions men to accept the occult,
but deny the existence of Satan. The best of both
Satan and his demonic horde have lost
the battle. Relation 12"12- says:
war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought
with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought,
but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them
in heaven any longer.
the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old,
called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole
world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were
cast out with him.
Then I heard
a loud voice saying in heaven, "Now salvation, and
strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of
His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren,
who accused them before our God day and night, has been
And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by
the word of their testimony, and they did not love their
lives to the death.
Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them!
Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea!
For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath,
because he knows that he has a short time."
Satan's wrath at
being kicked out of heaven and ultimately condemned to
hell fuels his rage and his desire to to hurt God and
destroy men. While the simple thought, "Satan wants to
take as many people with him to hell," is true - it is
not an adequate explanation, which causes people like
you to question it. I trust I have provide a more
thorough answer to your question.
Well Jordan, this has been somewhat
lengthy, but I trust it is a more plausible answer than
you are used to. If so it will have been worth my time.
I invite you to write back any time
with whatever might be on your heart. However I do want
to ask one simple consideration from you. I do not have
the time nor the inclination to debate for debate's
sake. If you are truly interested in why I believe what
I believe I would be glad to dialog. If you goal is to
dissuade me from my beliefs, it will be a futile time
for both of us. I have a living relationship with the
creator and no philosophy or doctrine can supersede
that. If you simply want an intellectual argument, it to
is not worth the time and effort since neither of us
will gain from it. Keep in mind I am NOT accusing you
of any of these thoughts, just laying out the ground
work for meaningful exchange. Oh and in exchange I
promise not to condemn you or to badger you about
becoming a Christian. DEAL?