The whole idea of hell is a complicated one. It’s also very important, and I would encourage readers to work through the material in this post and read the scriptures to which I have added links.
There is first of all difficulty in defining what hell is. Conservative Protestants generally consider it to be a place, while Catholic, Orthodox, and Anglican theologian typically define hell as a state of separation from God. The influential King James Version of the Bible translates three different biblical terms – Hades, Gehenna, and Tartarus – as “hell”, masking shades of meaning in each term.
The basic premise, outlined by Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew, Continue reading “What kind of God would punish people in hell forever?”
I find that one’s answer to this important question predicts a lot of how the rest of one’s thinking takes shape.
One group says yes, the Bible is inerrant, right down to the last detail, including the literal six-day creation. This position is usually maintained either through exaggerated claims about archaeology and prophecy, or on the fear that compromise on that point leads down a slippery slope.
A second approach is to say Continue reading “Is the Bible completely without error?”
No. Christianity is clear that God is love, and doesn’t hate any of His children. Anyone claiming to the contrary is badly misrepresenting the Christian faith. Such voices get far more attention than they deserve, and I won’t dignify any of them with a link.
The more significant controversy is whether gay relationships are by their nature sinful, or not. Christian social conservatives use biblical arguments to attack homosexual behavior rather than gay people. They are typically careful to remind people to “love the sinner, hate the sin”. For some, this maxim might just be lip service to cover up a prejudice to which the biblical passages provide convenient support. There is no good reason, however, to believe that all or even a majority fit that description. Just as it is possible to “love the sinner, hate the sin”, it is possible to disagree with someone’s argument, but give their sincerity the benefit of the doubt.
Other Christians interpret the same scriptures much differently. Continue reading “Does God hate gays?”
Many of them probably did. Clearly, throughout all of the Christian centuries, we find many examples of individuals or groups thinking that the “end is near”. The clear teaching of the New Testament is that each Christian should be prepared for the end to come at any time.
There is one passage in the Gospels that might seem to suggest that Jesus predicted that the world would end within the lifetime of the first disciples. Some skeptics point out that the world is still here, and claim this as evidence that Jesus was a false prophet.
The verse in question is “truly I tell you, this generation will Continue reading “Did early Christians expect the end of the world in their own lifetime?”