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NC Pastor Loses Congregation for Refuting Hell


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This takes care of the 'how could God let good people go to hell' problem with religion (which is one of mine).

Bell, the pastor of the 10,000-member Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids, Mich., criticizes the belief that a select number of Christians will spend eternity in the bliss of heaven while everyone else is tormented forever in hell. "This is misguided and toxic and ultimately subverts the contagious spread of Jesus' message of love, peace, forgiveness and joy that our world desperately needs to hear," Bell writes in his book.

Is that a new feature, the auto link to the source? Or is that Fox helping me out?

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Ummm . . . but, isn't that one of those fundamental beliefs of Christianity? Deeds alone can not get you in to heaven. Its by faith in Christ alone.

One of the beliefs I've never understood and couldn't ever believe was really true. As an example used in the article, how would it be that any God who wasn't a monster could punish the millions of people who have never even heard of Christ (the ones the missionaries are saving). It's almost nonsensical, to me, to think that I would even want to worship something that was so fundamentally unfair.

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Ummm . . . but, isn't that one of those fundamental beliefs of Christianity? Deeds alone can not get you in to heaven. Its by faith in Christ alone.

That is one interpretation, one that is firmly held by many Christians who are Bible textualists. But the view is not universal.

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Ummm . . . but, isn't that one of those fundamental beliefs of Christianity? Deeds alone can not get you in to heaven. Its by faith in Christ alone.

As a practicing Roman Catholic, I don't believe you are right. Catholicism teaches that heaven is open to everyone, regardless of belief. The way to heaven is to accept "Love" into your life. God is often equated with Love, as being one in the same, or as Love being an expression of God. The more you Love, the closer to God and to Heaven that you are.

It is also accurate tha while Hell exists, it is most likely that not a single person ends up there. The idea for RC's is that in order to make it to hell, you have to reject God, i.e. reject LOVE, in all aspects of your life entirely. No one does this. The hyperbolic example is that even Hitler loved some of those around him. By loving those people, he participated in accepting God into his life.

We, RC's, also have purgatory which basically says that some people accept God into their lives more often and do a better job of it through their life. Therefore, less time is spent in purgatory and quicker access to heaven results. :)

I think this Pastor was right on, IMO.

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My understanding of that is that it very well be impossible to truly know and acknowledge the Messiah and not be a good person. If you are a true person of faith then shouldn't your acts be good and Godly? Merely saying I believe is not believing.

To my mind, someone who's never heard of Jesus, but has acted with kindness and generosity all of their lives knows the heart of Jesus and thus would be let through whereas, a person who goes to Church every Sunday, quotes scripture, and believes that Jesus is the Messiah, but lives his life in a cold and selfish manner very well could be heading the other way. Mind you, I'm not a Christian and not even particularly learned in my own religion.

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Ummm . . . but, isn't that one of those fundamental beliefs of Christianity? Deeds alone can not get you in to heaven. Its by faith in Christ alone.

That's a tenet of Southern Baptists. Southern Baptists believe that grace alone gets you into Heaven and that grace - once received - cannot be lost. I get a little lost in the weeds at that point to be honest. But I do not that in the strictest Southern Baptist interpretation if Pol Pot - one second before his death - opens his heart to Christ and really truly accepts him as savior - he goes to Heaven.

Catholics and some other Christian sects do believe that deeds can get you into Heaven. And they get a little fuzzy on the death bed conversion thing.

The most interesting part of this debate is how little mention of Heaven and Hell is in the Bible.

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i was once told of the possible existence of "The gospels of Mary" <magdelaine... sp>, where Christ supposedly told her that Everyone goes to heaven because all are forgiven.

i have had a hard time reconciling Christianity for the very reasons this pastor has given. in fact, it was a prime motivator in me finding my true beliefs in Buddhism.

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I actually agree with this man's premise, and as a baptized Seventh-day Adventist, I do not believe in a "hell" like many other types of Christians do. My picture of God is not one of a God who eagerly sends those he created to be eternally tormented. I believe that picture of God (the one of Him sending people to hell, the one of Him sending people who didn't have a chance to hear about Him to hell, the one of Him sending innocent babies who died before hearing the story of Christ to hell) is a fallacy and has done more to harm the true picture of God's character and turn people away from Christ than actually bring people to Christ...

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That's a tenet of Southern Baptists. Southern Baptists believe that grace alone gets you into Heaven and that grace - once received - cannot be lost. I get a little lost in the weeds at that point to be honest. But I do not that in the strictest Southern Baptist interpretation if Pol Pot - one second before his death - opens his heart to Christ and really truly accepts him as savior - he goes to Heaven.

Catholics and some other Christian sects do believe that deeds can get you into Heaven. And they get a little fuzzy on the death bed conversion thing.

The most interesting part of this debate is how little mention of Heaven and Hell is in the Bible.

That part is not exactly right in regards to Catholics. Catholics teach that you "cannot earn your way into heaven." Doing good deeds' date=' etc., does not "get you in." The way to heaven is to "accept God's love." By doing good deeds, you may become more accepting of God into your life, but it does not earn you a spot at the table, so to speak.

An addendum to that that may help:

God loves every person, no matter what. Whether that person loves God back or not. In that regard, God wants everyone in Heaven. So, there really is nothing to earn, or prove. The only variable in the equation is us, as people. We choose if we accept our spot in heaven by choosing whether - and to what degree - we are going to accept God into our lives.

---------- Post added March-24th-2011 at 02:18 PM ----------

i was once told of the possible existence of "The gospels of Mary" <magdelaine... sp>, where Christ supposedly told her that Everyone goes to heaven because all are forgiven.

i have had a hard time reconciling Christianity for the very reasons this pastor has given. in fact, it was a prime motivator in me finding my true beliefs in Buddhism.

There are many "gospels" written by people other than Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. They are collectively referred to as the Gnostic Gospels. They were examined by the Catholic Church and found to not be as reliable, or as important, or as worthy in some way, then the Four we all knkow. At least, that's how the Catholic Church dealt with them. I can't speak for all Christianity.

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That part is not exactly right in regards to Catholics. Catholics teach that you "cannot earn your way into heaven." Doing good deeds, etc., does not "get you in." The way to heaven is to "accept God's love." By doing good deeds, you may become more accepting of God into your life, but it does not earn you a spot at the table, so to speak.

That's true. I was a little overbroad. In Catholicism and some sects of mainline Protestantism, works alone do not get you into Heaven but neither does faith alone. The principal is essentially that faith comes first but that works are the hallmark of faith. I guess you can also say that works will lead to faith but that may or may not be so.

Still, it would be hard - within those faiths - to argue that someone can claim to a "Christian" while showing no example of works.

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That part is not exactly right in regards to Catholics. Catholics teach that you "cannot earn your way into heaven." Doing good deeds, etc., does not "get you in." The way to heaven is to "accept God's love." By doing good deeds, you may become more accepting of God into your life, but it does not earn you a spot at the table, so to speak.
I took the word "deeds" to refer to practicing the sacraments. I that instance he is somewhat correct.
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There are many "gospels" written by people other than Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. They are collectively referred to as the Gnostic Gospels. They were examined by the Catholic Church and found to not be as reliable, or as important, or as worthy in some way, then the Four we all knkow. At least, that's how the Catholic Church dealt with them. I can't speak for all Christianity.

The gnostic Bibles are fascinating. At different times, they have been deemed as truthful but not inspired. As neither truthful nor inspired. And as heresies. I've read a few of them. It's usually pretty hard to fit them into the tapestry of Christianity as it has been presented for two thousand years.

It's also hard to fit some of the New Testament into that Tapestry.

Here is where I always got myself into trouble in Sunday School.

John 21: 22-25

22 Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” 23 Because of this, the rumor spread among the believers that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he would not die; he only said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?”

24 This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true.

25 Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.

What are these other things? Why are they not documented?

---------- Post added March-24th-2011 at 01:29 PM ----------

I took the word "deeds" to refer to practicing the sacraments. I that instance he is somewhat correct.

No, that is not what I meant.

The sacraments are duties.

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Ummm . . . but, isn't that one of those fundamental beliefs of Christianity? Deeds alone can not get you in to heaven. Its by faith in Christ alone.

The issue is the "eternal torment" in Hell, there is a long belief in Christianity that is called annihilation where the souls are not tormented but are destroyed. This guy basically offended his conservative congregation. What's more is this pastor is apparently not guaranteed an appointment which probably means he's a Local Pastor and is either going through seminary now or going through course of study. But, the removal of him by the District Superintendent would NOT have come because of a single post on facebook, that is the only way he gets removed from that church as the church itself does not have the authority to fire the pastor.

*edit...he was a "Student Local Pastor" meaning he was not guaranteed an appointment and yes can still only be removed by the District Superintendent.

http://www.shaneraynor.com/2011/03/the-chad-holtz-controversy/

BTW, Southern Baptist Seminary President Albert Mohler is one of the furthest things from a moderate Christian theologian, in fact he has taken Southern Baptist Seminary so far to the Right an purged anyone who didn't agree with the hyper-conservative theology and 5 point Calvinism that he wants taught. It is so bad around here that the folks who graduated pre-Mohler now say, "I graduated from Southern BEFORE the change."

Here's the key to this situation.

Gray Southern, United Methodist district superintendent for the part of North Carolina that includes Henderson, declined to discuss Holtz's departure in detail, but said there was more to it than the online post about Rob Bell's book.

"That's between the church and him," Southern said.

Church members had also been unhappy with Internet posts about subjects like gay marriage and the mix of religion and patriotism, Holtz said, and the hell post was probably the last straw. Holtz and his family plan to move back to Tennessee, where he'll start a job and maybe plant a church.

---------- Post added March-24th-2011 at 02:44 PM ----------

the concept of hell and Jesus' teachings of loving your enemy and turning the other cheek don't seem to vibe well together

It does when you take into account the Justice of God, I'm still not convinced either way on the annihilation vs. eternal torment idea on Hell. I only understand it as a total separation from God which could be torment, or annihilation either way it's not a sticking point in salvation for me.

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Here is where I always got myself into trouble in Sunday School.

John 21: 22-25

What are these other things? Why are they not documented?.

Perhaps because they are not important,or essential?

Lord knows we have enough legalism and interpretations from what we have generally accepted as Gospel.

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I'm discussing "works."

Works are - in the broadest sense - "charity." They are also volunteering for church duties. Being in the choir would be a "work."

The grace and works argument is foolish because the answer is plainly both and furthermore God will not be placed in a box by any man. I would caution the description of works as charity though because of how we tend to use the word commonly. Works are choices you make in everyday life and as you'll see in the first example below they can be tests put before you.

Example of works argument:

Matthew 25:41-43 “Then he will say to those on his left' date=' ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’[/quote']

Notice that this does not question faith at all but only works. They are being judged on what they did when confronted by someone in need - I doubt they faced this test on a time and date of their own choosing.

The argument for faith:

Ephesians 2:8-9

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.

Works have been set out for you by God and it is your faith in Him that prepares you for them. Thus works are viewed as a product of faith. Fruit of the tree, if you like.

The argument for both:

James 2:18-20

But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder. You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless

Here we see that works are again required but the emphasis is on actions.

You also have the argument for irresistible grace

Romans 9:15-16

“I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion"

At this point we fall off the standard completely. God tells us that he is free to act as He will without having to answer to humanity at all.

The way I square all of this is this: The likely scenario is that a person will be required to have both works and faith. We will all be tested (and let's face it we've all ran into someone in need at some point in life and made choices). God is not however bound by this standard and is free to act independently.

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Works are the fruit of faith.

http://asvbible.com/james/2.htm

"What doth it profit, my brethren, if a man say he hath faith, but have not works? can that faith save him? 15If a brother or sister be naked and in lack of daily food, 16and one of you say unto them, Go in peace, be ye warmed and filled; and yet ye give them not the things needful to the body; what doth it profit? 17Even so faith, if it have not works, is dead in itself"

http://www.catholic2christian.com/faith-without-works-is-dead.html

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