So, what's with the religious threads?

elder999

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So, I got an email. Asked if I was against religion, or something. Fact is, with all the posts I make about the subject, I can see someone thinking that. There was the "Mormon Racist Doctrine" thread, and the Nation of Islam" thread. There's the promised and yet to materialize"Hindu Caste System" thread, and the quite rancorous "Roots of Christianity/Judaism and Scarifice" thread. A quick perusal of other threads, started by other people, reveals that I'm not the only one, or, at least, that the subject can tend to go toward religion in a variety of other subjects, like abortion, or gun conrtol, or even martial arts. Let me say now, that while I recognize that the subjects I've posted on may just rattle some people's cages a little too much, I don't do it for titillation-or to point any fingers at any one faith.

Some of you here probably remember Kimpatsu/Tony Kehoe. I was his downright nemesis on the subject over on e-Budo, for the longest time. Fact is ,I’m not against religion .I’m all in favor of it, right down to the Latin root of the word, relegare: to regulate. Religion can provide an excellent way for a person to provide order for their life. I do have a lifelong fascination with the subject, though, and don’t post about it lightly, or just to rile people up. I want everyone to look a little deeper at what they-and other people-are doing, and why.

In the end, I suppose that I just wish people could personalize their religion. It would be nice if they could live their religious principles in their own lives, and leave others alone. I generally keep my religious principles to myself-I keep my beliefs and practices to myself, and don’t impose them upon anyone. In fact, I usually discourage people’s interest in participating in them, until it’s pretty clear that they’re sincere.

It would be nice if other people could live their religious principles in their own lives, and leave other people’s lives alone. If abortion is against your religion, don’t have one. If being gay is against your religion, be heterosexual(or change religions-I think that one is probably a little easier :lol: ) I have a question, though: Why should the rest of us be expected to abide by others religious beliefs? When certain U.S. citizens try to impose their religious will upon the greater populace legislatively, how is that any different than the stated goal of radical Islam, except for the methods used?

Shall I give you all an example of someone’s religious intrusion into my life, as well as my own irreverent response? One day at the plaza in Santa Fe, I was approached by a young woman from a fundamentalist Christian cult, headquartered in the area.. This young woman thrust a pamphlet into my hand and asked if I knew Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.

I still had some time to kill before my friend was due for lunch, so I asked her What do you mean by that?. She gave me a lovely canned response, where 2,000 years of Christian theology and tradition were condensed down into a two-minute spiel. I asked her where she got that information, and she told me that it was from the Bible. I asked her how we could be sure that the Bible is relevant for today. She was appalled, and told me that the Bible is the eternal, unchanging Word of God. She further stated that the Bible is as true today as when God wrote it (sic).

I asked, "All of it?" She enthusiastically replied, "Yes!"

I said, "Well, then, I need to ask you a personal question".

"Sure", she replied. I said, "O. K., here goes; are you having your period right now?" (As a side note, I'm cursed a sense of smell that rivals Hannibal Lecter’s, if not some dogs. She was.)

She gasped, rightly shocked and taken aback. She didn’t know what to say. I told her that the reason I had to ask is because in the Book of Leviticus, it states that when a woman begins her period, she is unclean; anything or anyone she touches also becomes unclean. According to the Bible, when a woman is having her period, she must put herself apart from the rest of the community, so that no one or no possessions become polluted by her uncleanliness. I told her that since her hand had brushed against mine, I had to know if she had made me unclean, and if I needed to go and purify myself according to the eternal and unchanging Word of God. Because, after all, it is as true and relevant today as when God wrote it. The poor young woman just stared at me.

I said to her, "Look, I know you’re searching for God, longing for communion with the Creator. You are a worthy person, a spark of God in a human body. You’re not unclean, or sinful, or in need of redemption by the shed blood of anyone. You are a bright, shining expression of God, Who, after all, is love. There is no room in your life for anyone or anything which fails to support who you are as a woman of spiritual power and as a servant of the Light."

She stared one more minute, and asked, "Who are you?" I told her, with as much compassion as I could muster, "I’m someone who’s seen where you are, in regards to religion all my life,. I’ve been beaten on, and seen others beaten down, using the Bible and religion as weapons." I then told her, "I predict you’ll enjoy God more if you focus more on God, and leave religion alone". I reminded her (and myself) that we don’t need holy books, or ministers, or meetings, or anything outside ourselves, to know God. God lives in our hearts. It is part of our birthright, simply because we are here. Our relationship with God is totally independent of anyone else or anything else. No one can take that away from us. Only we can surrender our power and authority.

Citing the Book of Leviticus, talk show hostess Dr. Laura (world class nit!) condemned homosexuality. An open letter to her on the Internet asks her advice on the following:

"Dr. Laura, my uncle blasphemes. Is it necessary to get the whole town together to stone him (Lev. 24:10-16), or could we just burn him to death as a private family affair?" and

"Dr. Laura, my male friends trim the hair around their temples, even though Lev. 19:27 forbids it. How should they die?" and

"Dr. Laura, my neighbor works on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 states that he must be put to death. Am I obligated to kill him myself, or should this be a neighborhood improvement project?" and finally,

"Dr. Laura, I am selling my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. She is 18 and just started college. Is her new master morally obligated to pay for her education?"

Enough said? The book was written by men, and for men-thousands of years ago. It's not the unchanging word of God-it's a guideline that has to change with the times, just as every other Holy Book has to, because we've changed. In spite of the somewhat barbaric laws that they live under, Saudis have as much in common with Arabs of 700 years ago as today's Christians do with a medieval serf. We can't live under all of the same rules, nor should we expect anyone else to.

"Well," some of you might ask, if you haven't fallen asleep yet, "which rules do we follow? We can't just pick and choose, can we? That would be anarchy."

On the other hand,Jesus didn't say anything about homosexuality, and a host of other things-and it's fairly likely that Paul didn't either.

Jesus does say this in the bible, though, and I think it's more important than John 3:16:

Matthew 22:35-39
Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying," Master, which is the great commandment in the law?"Jesus said unto him," Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."

Others have put forth this Golden Rule, the true, unchanging word of God, in many different ways:

Fan Chi asked about humaneness. The Master said: ‘It is to love others.’Confucius

Hatred does not cease by hatred, but only by love; this is the eternal rule. The thought manifests as the word; The word manifests as the deed; The deed develops into habit; And habit hardens into character. So watch the thought and its ways with care, And let it spring from love Born out of concern for all beings.
Buddha (563 BC - 483 BC)

One word frees us of all the weight and pain of life: That word is love.
Sophocles (496 BC - 406 BC)

As for the non-Jewish world, I think that most of "Christianity" has done a fairly poor job of this.

There is a Law that man should love his neighbor as himself. In a few hundred years it should be as natural to mankind as breathing or the upright gait; but if he does not learn it he must perish. --- Alfred Adler, 1870

According to Robert Barclay in his Apology for the Quakers, the Bible is "only a declaration of the fountain and not the fountain itself." This is a powerful and uplifting statement. This view allows for the possibility of learning from other people and being able to grow without having to defeat differences between your own views and those held by others. We all have pieces of the fountain and will do well to share and learn. In the teachings of Jesus Christ we find an extremely clear declaration of this fountain which is best expressed in the word love.

It can quite easily be argued that the notion of love represented in the scriptures is the only verifiable universal truth that we know of. Yet with all the arguing and violence surrounding such notions as the devil, hell and predestination and issues such as national, racial, sexual and gender supremacy ,the "simple" message of Jesus to "love your neighbor as yourself", seems to be thrown to the side as secondary.

When Jesus says "let those who have ears hear", it is clear throughout history that the Church, many religious leaders and other Christian organizations do not have ears that "hear" and have either twisted or outright ignored the essential message of Jesus Christ. Same could be said for Islam, when you get right down to it, though there are those who will argue otherwise.

Fact is, I think we’d all be better off if people could live by the 11th Commandment: Mind your own business

Sooner or later, truth is compulsory Stuart Wilde
 

Ray

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Shall I give you all an example of someones religious intrusion into my life, as well as my own irreverent response? One day at the plaza in Santa Fe, I was approached by a young woman from a fundamentalist Christian cult, headquartered in the area.. This young woman thrust a pamphlet into my hand and asked if I knew Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.
It may be a "religious" intrusion. But we're intruded upon all the time and all over the place, not just by religious people but by many people with anything to sell (sales telephone calls, door-knockers, people sticking advertisments in our hand much like the cultist did to you).

You're inquiries into religion have always been polite. and your comments have been enlightening and well thought through.

I also wish more people would "mind their own business" and not just religious people. Unfortunately, it's probably a constitutional right to "not mind our own business."
 

JadecloudAlchemist

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From your posts I never thought you were against religion.

In my interpretation of what you are saying was to show another side of religion. To me there is two sides to the story and I think you are providing the one that most people do not know or discuss.

I remember Tony Kehoe from E-budo he certainly like to argue alot.
 

morph4me

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In the end, I suppose that I just wish people could personalize their religion. It would be nice if they could live their religious principles in their own lives, and leave others alone. I generally keep my religious principles to myself-I keep my beliefs and practices to myself, and dont impose them upon anyone. In fact, I usually discourage peoples interest in participating in them, until its pretty clear that theyre sincere.

This attitude would do more for world peace than any religion ever has, or will.
 

Gordon Nore

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Splendid post, Aaron.

I appreciate your comments on personalizing ones own beliefs. I think there is a growing trend of people not even having their own beliefs. Culturally, I think we're at the place where so many people need to check witht their guru to determine their own beliefs, whether that guru is Dr Phil (America's Baptist Pope), Dr Laura (who, well, is just mean), Hannity, Coombs, Limbaugh, Stern, any of a number of prominent evangelists, politicians or personality.

I guess people feel safer saying, "We believe," instead of "I believe." The more believers one can find in agreement, the more secure one feels.
 

Ramirez

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I am an atheist although I support religious freedom.

To tell the truth though I enjoy getting under the skin of the fundamentalist/homophobes and so on (Gordon and Aaron will know who I am talking about...)

I recall one thread on a poster put forth the statement that certain Christian religions are not what Christ deemed as Christianity.

A statement of such breath taking arrogance I couldn't believe it, but there are quite a few people who say the know the "correct" way to practice religion...I can't even get my head around that.

BTW: Tony Kehoe was funny as hell, I had his private e-mail before a computer crash, I'll have to e-mail the lad and see how he is doing. He was actually pretty gracious guy personally Aaron
 
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elder999

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BTW: Tony Kehoe was funny as hell, I had his private e-mail before a computer crash, I'll have to e-mail the lad and see how he is doing. He was actually pretty gracious guy personally Aaron

Oh, I know-I enjoyed his wit immensely. He just tended to let certain things wrap around his axle a little too tightly.....:lol:
 

Ramirez

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Oh, I know-I enjoyed his wit immensely. He just tended to let certain things wrap around his axle a little too tightly.....:lol:

I think I saw him posting on Richard Dawkins' site...go figure.

BTW: was he banned here too?
 

Ramirez

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Dudes been banned everywhere. Don't think he lasted very long here at all, and it was before my time.......

He was even banned on a rationalist/atheist board that I belong to with nary a religious person in sight. That takes some doing.
 

thardey

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First, I agree with everybody here, I've never gotten the impression that you are against religion, -- in fact, I believe you have such a deep respect for spiritual beliefs that you refuse to simply accept what is out there and insist on testing and questioning it for yourself.

Second, you're absolutely right about the "Greatest Commandment" -- it is even more important that John 3:16, because "God so loved the world" is interpreted in light of "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." For the purpose of sending "His one and only son" was so that we would be able to understand and enter into His love for us, and "We love him, because he first loved us."

7Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.


13We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. 16And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.


God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. 17In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. 18There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.


19We love because he first loved us. 20If anyone says, I love God, yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. 21And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother. (1 John 4:7-21)

In fact, for Christianity, the only real commandment is to Love, in actions and in truth. The only true transgression (to apply the word "sin" as a verb is not appropriate.) is in not loving others.

But, it's not simple.

It can quite easily be argued that the notion of love represented in the scriptures is the only verifiable universal truth that we know of. Yet with all the arguing and violence surrounding such notions as the devil, hell and predestination and issues such as national, racial, sexual and gender supremacy ,the "simple" message of Jesus to "love your neighbor as yourself", seems to be thrown to the side as secondary.

Let's start with predestination. If I truly love my "brother" and yet he doesn't see or want any type of relationship with God, whom I do love, not in a "religious" way, but in a personal way, and if I know that God loves him, would it not be loving to do what I can to reconcile them? Yet, I can't force a relationship. Let's say the reason he doesn't want anything to do with God is because of a misunderstanding about him. Now, do I continue to press him for his own good, intruding into his life, perhaps annoying him, in order to try to correct his misunderstanding?

If it was my sister, and she was mad at my mother, and they weren't talking because someone said something untrue that my mother did, woudn't it by my place as the brother to tell her the truth, to restore that relationship? If my sister were to refuse to listen, it would break my heart, and I would gently, continue to try and restore this relationship.

But, at what point do I give up? With many people and God, you can't push too far. There is a point where you have to leave them alone, even if it breaks your heart. However, there is the small comfort that God is in charge, and he knows what's going to happen, and he's all-powerful, so untimately, we can turn such things over to him, and relax.

Now, say I have another brother who is working with me to restore this relationship, but he doens't believe in predestination. He may never be able to relax and let God work, because he believes that it is up to us. However, in pushing things, he may be making things worse. Now, what do I do? I see him pushing too hard, and he thinks I'm not pushing hard enough. In Love, we are now trying to figure out how best to love our brother, and it will probably cause a fight. Done right, it becomes a healthy fight, and we learn how to work together -- all of us. However, if you add a healthy dose of insecurity to the situation, it's likely to blow up.

So you may say "Leave it alone" and then you don't fight. True. But, what if there is the slightest chance that there is a hell? I'm not talking about Dante's inferno, but any sort of eternal life apart from what is intended. Even being separated from certain loved ones for eternity. Can we just sit by and take that chance? The Bible clearly talks about some sort of punishment after death, so we can't just ignore it as some kind of myth. We just don't know exactly what it does represent. So, if there is a Hell, or "Lake of Fire" or whatever, it would not be loving to just pack their bags for them without some kind of warning. If there isn't a Hell, then sure, let's just eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.

Of course the whole idea of Hell, or specifically, the Lake of Fire, is there to punish Satan. It wasn't "designed" for us, but for him. So, it would follow that if there is a Hell, there is a Satan, for there would be no reason for hell without a Satan to put in it. "Satan" means accuser (one of the meanings). Satan's desire is the opposite of Love, he wants to separate us from God and each other. He is the essence of "empty religion."

Unfortunately there is no "neutral ground."
He who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters (Matthew 12:30).

That means that if you aren't with God, you are with Satan, and you will be with him for eternity. He doen't have good reservations.

So you see, "Loving" others is not always so simple. Different situations require different approaches, not "religious" ones.

I will grant that the racial, sexual, and national supremacy is nothing more than unscrupulous leaders manipulating people's love in order to gain power, so I refuse to defend that. End of story. Nor will I defend Dr. Laura, or Dr. Phill, or whoever.

But the reason that so many "Christians" end up fighting is that they are trying to figure out what love looks like. They forget, and end up just plain fighting.

Fortunately, we do have an example of what love looks like, and it did require a sacrifice. "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends (John 5:13)." With Jesus dying "For us" we have an example of what love is like, and how we should treat each other.

Love isn't so simple. And we're all out trying to figure out how to apply it. Somtimes it requires us to mind our own business, sometimes it requires us to extend an invitation. Sometime it requires us to correct misunderstandings. Sometimes it requires us to do nothing, and let God do something.

This reply is a good example -- I could sit by and say "kudos" but I see some misunderstanding. I'm not attacking, I'm offering my perspective in respect. I am not "Minding my own business." In fact, I suspect that you may enjoy the give-and-take, rather than just a sycophantic reply. Most of you know me well enough to know that I'm not out to beat anybody into submission, but to present my own perspective. But, in love for others who are not "minding their own business" I would like to put in a word to defend them, and perhaps illustrate why they struggle with this stuff.
 

Ramirez

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So you may say "Leave it alone" and then you don't fight. True. But, what if there is the slightest chance that there is a hell? I'm not talking about Dante's inferno, but any sort of eternal life apart from what is intended. Even being separated from certain loved ones for eternity. Can we just sit by and take that chance? The Bible clearly talks about some sort of punishment after death, so we can't just ignore it as some kind of myth. We just don't know exactly what it does represent. So, if there is a Hell, or "Lake of Fire" or whatever, it would not be loving to just pack their bags for them without some kind of warning. If there isn't a Hell, then sure, let's just eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.

That sounds like some form of Pascal's wager..ie. although you can't prove God through reason there is nothing to lose by believing.

Well in fact I argue there is almost no organized religion that doesn't require some investment of time, money, resources and even at times free will.

And sometimes the requirements are more than just a bit inconvenient , sometimes there is deadly and dangerous consequences.

There is a host of examples, % of salary as with the Mormons and Jehovah's witnesses, refusal to take life saving blood transfusions..even for a sick child that has no say in the matter, and of course Wahibism and all that entails.
 

Flying Crane

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But, what if there is the slightest chance that there is a hell? I'm not talking about Dante's inferno, but any sort of eternal life apart from what is intended. Even being separated from certain loved ones for eternity. Can we just sit by and take that chance? The Bible clearly talks about some sort of punishment after death, so we can't just ignore it as some kind of myth.

There may or may not be a hell, I don't know. But the fact that it is discussed in the bible is not, for me, persuasive.

There is a lot of truth and wisdom in the bible, but there is also a lot of garbage and a lot that can be lumped in with other cultural mythologies.

Citing the bible as a source for fact is simply not convincing for me.
 

thardey

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It was not intended to persuade people that there is a Hell. That's a whole other issue.

What I wrote presupposes that the person described ("I") already believes in "traditional" Christianity as is usually practiced in the U.S. (Including Latter-day-saints' "Outer darkness" which still doens't sound pleasant.But excepting Jehovah's Witnesses, and other "annihilationist" belief systems.)

It is not like Pascal's Wager, which is intended to persuade others to believe. If you are a "Follower" of Jesus, the only source material we have is the Bible. If you take the Bible's word that Jesus' life was miraculous, and that Jesus taught about some type of punishment after death (Luke 16:19-21 - The parable of the rich man and Lazarus.) then it has to be taken into consideration.

If you are not a follower of Jesus, as recorded in the gospels, then that argument would carry no weight.

I personally don't like Pascal's wager, both because of the inconveniences that religion can cause, and because of Paul's own words: "And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men (1 Corinthians 15:17-19.)

My point being that a person like myself, who does believe in some form of hell, is facing a difficult situation when I have to reconcile the command to "Love your neighbor" and even "Love your enemies" with the idea that "Love" is minding your own business.

In fact, the idea of dragging people into the church by scaring them with hell is something that I fight. It's wrong, it's counterproductive, it's illogical, and it starts the relationship with God from a destructive position. However, that is something else that Christians fight about. Some would say I am "unloving" because I am not out slinging fire and brimstone. That I am being too "soft."

But it would also make me a hypocrite to sit here and say that "minding my own business" will solve all the problems.

I believe that being honest about my beliefs, keeping those beliefs personal and real, and treating others with respect will go a lot farther.

If someone doesn't want me to talk about spiritual things with them, I respect their wishes, and let them be. If they want to disagree, but discuss, I respect their intelligence through the disagreement. But I also respect them enough to believe that they can handle it. What I ask for in return is a mutual respect.

This girl that Elder talked about probably went home, thought hard about what he said, and is a little better grounded in her personal beliefs. That can't be a bad thing, right? Elder was able to enlighten her about other ideas, challenging her, and having a story to bring up here to stimulate conversation. That's a good thing, as well. At what point should this episode not have occured?

She was trying to act on her beliefs, she got feedback, and hopefully took it to heart. Elder acted on his beliefs and experience, got feedback, and hopefully grew from that as well. If she had just minded her own business, then this good thing (as I see it) would not have happened.

You see, the reason I can discuss these things without getting too much negative feedback (in fact here I can't remember getting any) is because I have been in that girl's position, a long time ago, and people like Elder respectfully point things out and asked questions, which then strengthened my personal faith. I have only had one person ever tell me to "mind my own business" and that was a "pre-emptive" strike when he saw me walking down the street with a Bible in my hand. He didn't need to say anything, I could tell from his lack of eye contact he didn't want to talk to me anyway.

It's like martial arts. When you first start out, you are taught specific "rules" for your system. Stances have to be just so, timing, balance, etc. Then you put pads on and start to spar. Inexperience and insecurity make you overreact, and perhaps lose control. As you gain more experience, you relax, you learn that the "rules" don't alway apply, and you gain confidence. But you have to go through that stage of near-panic first.

That's part of Christianity. If you truly believe it, you have to act a certain way. When people begin to "spar" in Christianity, they are insecure, and they overreact and offend people. But they will get over it, and learn confidence, and then offend less people.

You can't fault Christians for not acting like Christians, then fault them for learning to act like Christians. It's like rejecting Karate out of hand because you once saw a purple belt that got his butt kicked in sparring.
 

The Last Legionary

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Any time you bring up religion, people become worried that their invisible friend might not be as cool as everyone elses, so they periodically have to explain how great theirs is usually by slaughtering as many others as they can. Other times, they need to blame someone else for their own malfunctions an phobias, so this invisible master is a convenient scapegoat. They of course look down their noses at those who have visible friends, since rocks and trees and cats aren't "special" enough.

I like the Spagetti Monster because he's meatballs above the rest.
 

Gordon Nore

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As long as I have to look myself in the mirror in morning, look my wife and son in the eye at night, I'm personally not terribly worried about Hell. That is not to say that it doesn't exist -- I have no idea. I do know that I have the power to make my world on earth a living Hell for myself and those around. I also have the power to make the world a little more pleasant for myself and others. I strive for the latter.

Somebody asked me once what I meant when I said I was agnostic. It was a Hell of a good question -- he was really asking if I was sitting on the fence, hedging my bets just in case. In saying that I am agnostic, I'm saying that I don't know and therefore have nothing to offer in the debate about whether God exists.

In my disdain for being proselytized, I am guilty of forgetting many faithful people of all religions who understand that eleventh commandment and who are able show their faith in every aspect in their lives without telling anyone anything.

Aaron,

Not once did I assume you were against religion. Rather, I thought you were uncommonly informed on the subject, with a scholarly knack for placing ancient documents in the historical context. We've all become accustomed to people telling us stuff that's in the any of the good books that ain't even in there.
 
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elder999

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Thanks for all the thoughtful replies, especially thardey's, but I'm going to have to address some of it.

So you may say "Leave it alone" and then you don't fight. True. But, what if there is the slightest chance that there is a hell? I'm not talking about Dante's inferno, but any sort of eternal life apart from what is intended. Even being separated from certain loved ones for eternity. Can we just sit by and take that chance? The Bible clearly talks about some sort of punishment after death, so we can't just ignore it as some kind of myth. We just don't know exactly what it does represent. So, if there is a Hell, or "Lake of Fire" or whatever, it would not be loving to just pack their bags for them without some kind of warning. If there isn't a Hell, then sure, let's just eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.

Of course the whole idea of Hell, or specifically, the Lake of Fire, is there to punish Satan. It wasn't "designed" for us, but for him. So, it would follow that if there is a Hell, there is a Satan, for there would be no reason for hell without a Satan to put in it. "Satan" means accuser (one of the meanings). Satan's desire is the opposite of Love, he wants to separate us from God and each other. He is the essence of "empty religion."

Unfortunately there is no "neutral ground."


That means that if you aren't with God, you are with Satan, and you will be with him for eternity. He doen't have good reservations.

This notion of "hell," which is an interesting word in itself, if one examines the Anglo-Saxon roots of it, is somewhat erroneous.

In the Bible four words are translated"Hell": the Hebrew word sheol, in the original Old testament; its equivalent, the Greek word hades, in the Septuagint; and in the New Testament, hades, Gehenna and Tartarus.

The Hebrew Old Testament, some three hundred years before the Christian era, was translated into Greek, but of the sixty-four instances where Sheol occurs in the Hebrew, it is rendered Hades in the Greek sixty times, so that either word is the equivalent of the other. But neither of these words is ever used in the Bible to signify punishment after death, nor should the word Hell ever be used as the rendering of Sheol or Hades for neither word denotes post-mortem torment. According to the Old Testament the words Sheol and Hades primarily signify only the place, or state of the dead. The character of those who went there did not affect their situation in Sheol, for all went into the same state. The word cannot be translated by the term Hell, for that would make Jacob expect to go to a place of torment, and prove that the Savior of the world, David, Jonah, etc., were once sufferers in the prison-house of the damned. In every instance in the Old Testament, the word "grave" might be substituted for the term hell, either in a literal or figurative sense.

The word being a proper name should always have been left untranslated. Had it been carried into the Greek Septuagint, and thence into the English, untranslated, Sheol, a world of misconception would have been avoided, for when it is rendered Hades, all the materialism of the heathen mythology is suggested to the mind, and when rendered Hell, the medieval monstrosities of a Christianity corrupted by heathen adulterations is suggested. Had the word been permitted to travel untranslated, no one would give to it the meaning now so often applied to it. Sheol, primarily and literally, the grave, or death, secondarily and figuratively the political, social, moral or spiritual consequences of wickedness in the present world, is the precise force of the term, wherever found.

Sheol occurs exactly sixty-four times and is translated "hell" thirty-two times, pit three times, and "grave" twenty-nine times

Not one of the sixty-four passages containing the only word rendered Hell in the entire Old Testament, teaches any such thought as is commonly supposed to be contained in the English word Hell. It should have stood the proper name of the realm of death, Sheol.

The word Hades occurs but eleven times in the New Testament, and is translated Hell ten times, and grave once. The word is from a, not, and eulo, to see, and means concealed, invisible. It has exactly the same meaning as Sheol, literally the grave, or death, and figuratively destruction, downfall, calamity, or punishment in this world, with no intimation whatever of torment or punishment beyond the grave

The Greek Septuagint, which our Jesus probably used when he read or quoted from the Old Testament, gives Hades as the exact equivalent of the Hebrew Sheol, and when Jesus, or his apostles, use the word, they must mean the same as it meant in the Old Testament. When Hades is used in the New Testament, we must understand it just as we do (Sheol or Hades) in the Old Testament: the realm of death, the grave.

When we mix the language of the Bible, both Old and New Testament, with pagan mythology though, we get very Homeric notions of an afterlife of torment for the wicked-such was not the case for Hebrews and early Christians, and was not their intent. I'm pretty sure the notion of "hell" was an invention of the clergy to better control the masses.

I'm also sure that a loving God has no intention of any of us spending an eternity in torment. I'd stake my soul on it.

In fact, I am. :lfao:


This reply is a good example -- I could sit by and say "kudos" but I see some misunderstanding. I'm not attacking, I'm offering my perspective in respect. I am not "Minding my own business." In fact, I suspect that you may enjoy the give-and-take, rather than just a sycophantic reply. Most of you know me well enough to know that I'm not out to beat anybody into submission, but to present my own perspective. But, in love for others who are not "minding their own business" I would like to put in a word to defend them, and perhaps illustrate why they struggle with this stuff.

And thanks again for your reply, and your words of wisdom about the nature of "love." I'm also all too aware of the obligation to "spread the good news," and understand how people might be expressing their love by prostletyzing. However, I don't always agree with it-I tend to think that such people should consider their obligation fulfilled when they receive a simple No, thank you. Some do, and some push even harder. They have a problem with that 11th commandment I was talking about. :lol:

Funny story: I've mentioned that my dad was an Episcopal priest. For years (and years, and years) he took great delight in meeting the missionary of the week on the front porch-whether they were Jehovah's Witnesses or Mormons-with his Bible in his hand, and proceeding to show them exactly how theologically F.O.S. they were;that's how he put it-dad may have worn a collar, but he was in the Navy, and a prison chaplain. :lol: .This usually lasted a little more than a half-hour, then they'd go away, only to return in another weekend or two, either with fresh armament in the form of scripture, or with a more scholarly accomplice-until one day, dad came in off the porch, handed me the Bible and said, Your turn, son-they're here for you, now.... and went off laughing to watch TV. The doorbell rang, I went to the door, and there stood three of the prettiest Jehovah's Witnesses I'd ever seen-all around my age......well, they left after about a half-hour, but they gave me an idea, and I spent the next couple of years....well, nevermind that. :lfao:

Later, I developed more obnoxious methods of repelling the prostletyzers, but my wife taught me a lesson about this. Some kids came to the door, asked Do you think world peace can be brought about by governments?, and she said No. That can only come from our Heavenly Father. The kids said exactly, left their pamphlets, and went back to their car. Whole thing took about twenty seconds. :lfao:

Anyway, while I'm now normally more tolerant of such people, I'm even more tolerant of those who take the hint, and move along......though I'm now more than willing to answer them the way my wife does-she wins the porch prostletyzer repelling competition hands down!
 
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