The Party We’ll Have in Hell

(Evangelical trigger warning: heresy, blasphemy.)

I remember the precise moment I stopped believing in hell.

Over a decade ago I was at a Christmas dinner party in the home of a gay couple. From the outside it looked like any holiday gathering: a warm, beautifully decorated room filled with people laughing and telling stories in the glow of the tree, while the silky voice of Johnny Mathis wafted through the air along with the heavenly smells from a well-used kitchen.

Most of the guests that night happened to identify as LGBTQ, which hadn’t really occurred to me, until as I smiled and surveyed the room a sickening thought rudely interrupted: “Many Christians believe that these beautiful people are all going to hell. For no other reason than their sexual orientation, every one of them are doomed to spend eternity beyond this life in perpetual torment at the hands of a God who apparently made and loves them.” And as a Christian and a pastor, I was supposed to believe and preach this too. It simply no longer rang true for me. I couldn’t reconcile this with the character of a loving Creator.

And after that moment I began taking note of the vast multitudes I’d also been taught were similarly condemned:

My Jewish friends from the gym.
The Muslim couple down the street from our home.
The gay couple I’d once worked for in college.
My atheist friends from high school.
My non-Born Again classmates from childhood.
Every non-Christian who ever lived.
Thousands of authors, musicians, philosophers, and thinkers who’d inspired me. 

Gandhi and Buddha and every one from their faith traditions.
An estimated 67 percent of the people on the planet right now.

Lots of good people are in hell—

This is the mindset of millions of Christians I know, who contend that you can be loving, decent, generous, compassionate, and forgiving—and God will still punish you with eternal damnation if you don’t pray the right prayer to Jesus. In other words, they truly believe and teach that God doesn’t care as much about whether or not you are a good person, as about the prayer you pray. They will tell you without hesitation and with complete conviction—that what you believe means more than what you do.

Moreover (the line of thinking continues), you can give God a little lip service and answer an altar call and get out of jail free, regardless of how much of a monster you are in this life moving forward. All the time Jesus spent telling people to love their neighbors as themselves, to care for the poor, to forgive their enemies, to stop hoarding wealth and power, to live serving others—these moments were all ultimately inconsequential. Accept Jesus into your heart or else. That whole love people thing is merely a suggestion, it isn’t a deal breaker.

Put bluntly and simply, there are Christians (even some well-known evangelists) walking the planet today, who actually believe that Donald Trump will be in Heaven one day but that Mahatma Gandhi, Albert Einstein, and Ellen Degeneres won’t. I simply can’t abide such thinking any longer, and if that makes me a heretic then so be it. I’m hoping God will forgive me.

I recently stumbled upon a cable TV preacher in the middle of trying to close the deal with unconvinced members of his audience before the next commercial break, and without flinching he pitched a familiar proposal: “God wants to bless you with unconditional Grace. All you need to do is repent and to ask for it.”

If God’s love is truly unconditional, why should it require anything—even someone asking for it? if it necessitates a guilt induced prayer to kick in, it certainly all feels fairly conditional. If God loves us unconditionally, shouldn’t belovedness be our default setting?

Over the course of my life I’ve met or known of so many brilliant, funny, giving, caring people, who for thousands of different reasons can’t or won’t declare themselves Christians, and the idea that God condemns them simply for that fact, feels far more human than divine to me now. It seems more like the mind of people who are determined to exclude and judge and shame. Hell doesn’t feel like the logical construction of a God who is Love—but a guy who is angry.

There are few things that get Christian leaders as excited as forecasting damnation for other people. It rallies their bases, gives them a common enemy to rail against (gays, Muslims, Atheists, etc.), and leverages the fear that we all have that God may be out to squash us. It’s also big religious business, which doesn’t hurt. And there’s a trickle-down judgmentalism that reaches the pews too, allowing ordinary people to believe themselves safe from prosecution because they’ve said the magic words, and to simultaneously feel superior to those they can condemn from a distance based on any number of perceived things that disqualify them from Heaven: their sexual activity, their faith perspective, their political affiliations.

A couple of weeks ago when I shared this earlier blog post about being resigned to my own eternal punishment, I received replies from people all over the world; those from every walk of life, every life stage, of every religious tradition and color and orientation, who all expressed a similar sentiment: I’ll see you there!

And that’s the recurring thought I often have now, as I cross paths with people who I once believed were condemned, as well as those who confidently almost joyfully condemn them: If Heaven is supposedly filled with such petty, self-righteous, hypocrites, it doesn’t sound all that much like Heaven to me—and if so many beautiful, life-giving souls are surely bound for Hell, it seems like it’ll be a great time. 

I received a gift at that Christmas party nearly fifteen years ago that was beneath the tree. I found myself freed up to see people as they were; for their inherent worth and equally flawed beauty; none deserving of eternal torment and each one like me—doing the very best that could to be decent and loving and kind, and to treat people well. We’re all trying to do life well. I believe God sees that; that our hearts do matter, that our body of work is consequential, that God’s love is unconditional, that we are already beloved.

I’m well aware that many professed Christians believe that my doubts about the existence of hell all but guarantee that I’ll spend eternity there, and I’m sure that with great pride or pity many will comment below as such. But from the looks of it I’ll be in good company in my hot-and-humid afterlife, and I won’t have to look far to find loving humanity when I get there.

To quote one of my favorite humanist singers, the great Frank Turner:

And we’re definitely going to hell—but we’ll have all the best stories to tell.

Other posts you may want to check out:

No Christian, We Don’t Deserve Hell (And We Probably Needn’t Worry About it)

When Your Heart Gets Out Of Hell (Finding A Fear-Less Faith)

Is Nana Really Burning In Hell Right Now?

 

639 thoughts on “The Party We’ll Have in Hell

  1. Loved your story..Hell is the place of refinement …our refinement …whenever I go through a trial I feel that burn. However, there is a second death, a final punishment for those who did evil and refused to change. Who those people are…God only knows.

    • Hell is the place of refinement …

      Revelation 20:10 says the following…And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

      The Bible never mentions a release or refinement for anyone who is ever cast into this place. Once your in, your in. And yes, I know what it says about Satan being bound up for a thousand years and is then released. But I ask you this, was he refined when he got out? The answer is no as we see in Revelation 20:8 … And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog, and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea.

      Satan was not refined when he got out the first time and as far was we know, was never released a second time, refined or not.

      • There is evidence that John, the author of Revelations, was living on a volcanic island, with chemical vapors–which induced hallucinations. So Revelations is just a bad drug trip.

        • I got this answer about whether or not John was hallucinating

          “It seems that way, but if you study Jewish language and culture at the time, and Roman history, you can see that he is using images that are a kind of code. His readers would know what he was referring to (they were Jewish) but if his writings fell into Roman hands, they would just think it was the ravings of a lunatic. Since he was exiled on Patmos, he had to be very careful, since everything he wrote would be examined carefully to see if he was stirring up trouble for Rome.”

          Seems plausible. The point is there is no evidence he was under any. influence .

        • Dear Kate GC:

          Actually, I believe the Revelation is counter-imperial theology in the form of a ‘Kingdom of God’ manifesto.

          Blessings!

            • Dear Ventura:

              If you believe I am a false prophet, by all means, please — state your case!

              May I volunteer more perspective which may help you make your case against me?

              John’s introductory reference to ‘him who is and was and is to come’ [Re 1:4] references the verb ‘to be’ in present, past and future tense. ‘Hayah’ [Hebrew verb, ‘to be’] in Ex 3:14 is an imperfect. The Hebrew imperfect tense makes no reference to time. That is why some translations render Ex 3:14 ‘I am who I am’ and others have it, ‘I will be whom I will be.’ Both are technically correct because the Heb. imperfect tense doesn’t reference time. What has this to do with Re 1:4? Just this!

              John’s address from the One who is and was and will be is actually a reference to Yahweh’s sacred Name. So as you assess my orthodoxy/heresy quotient, please consider that I regard the book of Revelation largely as an exposition of God’s Holy Name.

              Secondly, please consider also my conviction that there is very little in Revelation which cannot be summed in the first three petitions of the prayer Jesus taught.

              Hallowed be your Name.
              Your Kingdom come.
              Your will be done.

              John lived in a world where God’s Name was NOT hallowed, his kingdom was not desired, and his will was not done.

              I think that is important for establishing the theological perspective from which the Revelation is read.

              As you assess my orthodoxy/heresy quotient, please consider also that I regard the Revelation largely as an exposition of the meaning/shape/coming of God’s kingdom.

              I realize that this isn’t nearly as gratifying for those with nothing better to do than to declare by fiat that today’s newspaper headlines are better expositors of John’s vision report, the Revelation, than YHWH’s Name or the prayer Jesus taught us.

              But then, this does seem to be at least to provide a stable theological system from which to read the Revelation.

              Could that be the problem — that this makes Revelation too sane, normal and accessible to the reader? If one is really into esoteric knowledge, that must be quite a ‘kick in the head…’

              So if I am a false prophet, how would you know it? What light can you on this?

              Blessings!

              • .Paul said that the ‘physical spoke of the spiritual’ so often passages about actual physical events have deeper meaning.
                When we look at the book of Revelation ch 1 verse 1 gives us the clue and key to understanding the rest. It is the ‘revelation of Jesus Christ’ yes on the surface we can see that historically Rev was John’s version in figurative language of the ‘olivet discourse’ describing the events of AD 70 and afterwards.
                So Rev is primarily about the death resurrection, ascension and seating (at rest) of Christ (and us together with Him) and how that affects us in conforming us to the image of the son! All of Rev is good news! not doom and gloom. All those things that are in us that are not Christ-like which are couched in figurative language, the beast, dragon, antichrist, Babylon (yes those are all within us!) are being cast down, thrown out cast into the lake of fire (the love of God) This is done by the process of Christ ‘rising’ ‘ascending’ and growing in us until all that is not Christ like is ‘cast out’ However it is not by effort or trying to be ‘Christ-like’ It is Him (our Father) who works in us to conform us to the likeness of Hid son, by rest and receiving.
                I noticed for the 1st time today that in 2 Thess 1 (a passage that the doom merchants say is a soon to be fulfilled passage about the ‘end of the world) verse 10 says that when Jesus ‘comes’ it is within a people! So the ‘return of Christ is in and through us! So yes a literal fulfillment in AD 70, but a spiritual fulfillment within us.
                That also are what the passages about being ‘caught up’ with the Lord are about, not people being sucked out their clothes! but a process within us whereby we are ‘catching up with’ the Lord ! In other words becoming more like Him.
                So cheer up! Rev isn’t about scary soon to come events, it’s about you becoming more like Christ! The one thing we can be certain of is that none of Rev is referring any any actual real events in our future

                • “What is the relation of [contemplation] to action? Simply this. He who attempts to act and do things for others or for the world without deepening his own self-understanding, freedom, integrity, and capacity to love, will not have anything to give others. He will communicate to them nothing but the contagion of his own obsessions, his aggressiveness, his ego-centered ambitions, his delusions about ends and means, his doctrinaire prejudices and ideas. There is nothing more tragic in the modern world than the misuse of power and action.” —THOMAS MERTON

                • Thank you, I have always thought that if you spend so much time on Rev and the endtimes you miss the here and now. I just find that if you follow the two commandments whatever happens you’ll be ok. Pay attention to now, not the what ifs, which somehow turn out to generally never happen and what happens your not prepared for. That was what I told my children, according to them, a million times. Being present in the moment is the most important thing. Peace.

                  • You made me laugh. And also think deeply for a moment, because you said to Follow the TWO Commandments! Sometimes it is helpful to really think about the basics. Of course, I choose thou shalt not bear false witness and thou shalt not kill. Hopefully these two alone will improve the world. (Don’t lie about your property or respect and don’t kill another human’s happiness).

                    • “The two commandments”! Ha. I think she meant “Love God” and “Love your neighbor as yourself,” but your choices work.

                      I actually think those “two” commandments are three, although they are usually described as two. “Love God,” “love your neighbor,” and “love yourself.” We often miss that third one.

                • Dear Martin:

                  My own take on the Revelation differs somewhat, but it is difficult to say how much since I agree with much that you do say.

                  I think that to a significant degree, the Revelation is a timeless standard by which the church can assess her degree of conformity to God in Christ, or to the world/beast/antichrist/etc.

                  As I see it, our penchant for empire [Babylon], wars [antichrist] as supported by the religious community [false prophet/beast worship] reveals the apostasy of those outstanding patriotic Americanist ‘Christians.’

                  But I live with hope also that the church will remember who she is, and to whom she belongs. When she breaks with the powers of this age, she will experience her Lord’s blessing; but she will also experience all the retribution described by the book against the faithful church.

                  Blessings!

        • I have been thinking the same thing about the author of Revelation for decades! It is still said in more thinking circles that that book was included in the NT at the council of Nicea only after much controversy …… we were told it was written as coded messages to the churches under Roman oppression. In any case, it never made sense to me that the reward for those who believed the proper things about salvation would be a wonderful heaven….while their family and friends who did not would suffer forever unless you have amnesia when you enter that wonderful place and can’t remember your past . Cheer up folks… if God is Love…you are understood by your Creator.

        • Sally Jane, one of the things that fascinates me most about the Book of the Revelation is how long it took the Church meeting in Council to decide that it had to be part of the canon of the Christian Scriptures after all. It was the last text so approved. Were one to read the primary source of that meeting, the “minutes of the meeting” so to speak, one would see that they never considered it to be a book about the future, but a book about the past.

          Their thinking was that the Romans had destroyed Israel for ignoring Jesus just as the Assyrians and the Babylonians destroyed Judah and Israel for ignoring God’s words to them back in their day.

          It’s not until something like the mid-1800’s that the nonsense about the end times came along.

          Charles knows more about this and I don’t feel that well.

          One secondary source is von Campenhausen’s Firmation fo the Christian Bible. Primary source, the “minutes of the meeting” are in the collection of the Post-Nicene Fathers.

          • It’s not end times nonsense. Think about what was prophesied- One world government. One currency. The entire world witnessing the ascension of the 2 witnesses (think smart phones and tablets).

            What John prophesied was unheard of about 100 years ago and it’s coming to fruition.

            • 2 witnesses

              Wikileaks and Social Media i.e. internet searches are revealed….will bite everyone in the ass when all their secrets are revealed… and they cannot control it

              yeah I see that

              One world government- check
              gospel preached everywhere- check
              people going to and fro -check
              knowledge is multiplied- check

              time to get off the grid?

            • Oh dear Lord, a conspiracy theorist among us.

              Arthur Curry, the Roman Empire was one world was one world goverment at the time. Certainly of the then known world.

              To read into it smartphones and tablets is the stuff of conspiracy theorists.

              It is not a book foretelling the future, it is a book telling is the fate of Israel when she ignored yet another prophet from God and yes, along with being the on of God, Jesus functioned as a prophet during His incarnation.

              • You must have gone to the Brian McLaren School of Heresy.

                My comment about smart phones and tablets is in regards to how the entire world will see the ascension of the 2 witnesses. How could someone in East Lansing, MI witness what’s happening in Israel? Look at all the streaming options available for people.

                The 7 year peace treaty never happened. The sole world ruler who resurrected never happened. The “Babylon” prophesied has not been established.

            • Dear Arthur Curry:

              Personally, I was never able to find the references to ‘one-world government’ or ‘one-world currency.’

              Blessings!

              • You can go ahead and believe we are in the ‘end times’ if you want (even using the phrase end times shows ignorance because that phrase is no where in the Bible it talks of the ‘time of the end’ of the old covenent and law)

                Please however don’t try and use the NT to prove it! The ‘last days’ referred to in the NT and the ‘time of the end’ being described was the end of the old covenant and law of Moses which happened in AD 70 when the temple was destroyed. Without exception every mention of the ‘last days’ and ‘time of the end’ was about AD 70 To put the ‘last days’ as anything other than 2000 years ago, is to call Jesus Paul Peter John and every other NT author liars and false prophets! They absolutely 100% believed the ‘end of the age’ and the ‘return of Christ’ (as they understood it not how 21c mindsets interpret it) happened in AD 70.

                So that begs the question if the ‘end of the age’ described in the NT was AD 70 the what are we in the ‘last days’ of now! (hint not the end of the world the Bible has not a single word to say on that issue! the Jews only saw time in terms of ‘ages’ )

                ps extra free bonus to start you off the ‘two witnesses’ were the law and the prophets….testifying about Jesus. and the mark of the beast was fulfilled before AD 68 read some history for goodness sake!

                • Dear Anonymous:

                  The lines at the bottom of our respective posts make it look as if you are replying to mine.

                  But if you are, I don’t see how your post relates to mine. Unless you correct me, I’ll assume you’re referencing a post by someone else, and that the forum did something weird. Wouldn’t be the first time someone was surprised by where their post landed.

                  Blessings!

                  • Hi sorry i pressed send before I put my name I was replying to someone who was saying the ‘end times’ were yet to come not sure who it was!

                    • Dear Martin:

                      Thanks for the laugh. I can’t recall the number of times I’ve found myself gawking at what the forum posted and questioning my own sanity afterward! LOL!

                      Be blessed!

            • Dear Arthur Curry:

              Re: one-world government and world currency.

              Where does Scripture discuss this?
              Where do you see it today?
              Where are smart phones and tablets referenced in Scripture?

              The Revelation has existed for many centuries. On what ground do you say that what he discussed was ‘unheard of about 100 years ago?’

              Blessings!

              • I, and many other Christians, do not believe in the literal interpretation of Revelations. I believe it to be a symbolic book with coded messages to the persecuted Christians of the Roman Empire at that time. I would have rather had the Gospel of Thomas and the Gospel of Judas than Revelations because Revelations doesn’t really fit in the New Testament as compared to the other books.

                • Dear Robin:

                  Myself, I have no problem with the inclusion of the Revelation in the canon. But John’s vision report did in fact create a symbolic world, and it must be handled as an apocalypse. Revelation is also an epistle and a prophecy. All three genres must be respected.

                  I tend to think that the ‘literal’ school of interpretation would be more accurate to tell us that it doesn’t HAVE an hermeneutic, and that it simply makes up the ‘rules’ on the fly.

                  Blessings!

              • Arthur, the problem with “prophesies” is that they’re always so vague that you can literally plug and play them at any point in human history. It’s not an actual prophesy if i, or someone else, can sit here and take a prophesy and “prove” that said prophecy applies at all times at any point in human history.

                Then there is the fact that Jesus said that those who claim to know when the End Times will be are false prophets.

      • The Book of Revelation is apocalyptic, therefore symbolic in its writing and interpretation. It was written when the Antichrist (Emperor Nero) was systemically persecuting Christians (accused of setting Rome on fire [hellish don’t you think?]). The dispensationalist literalist method of interpreting John’s vision is a late development in the interpretation of this mysterious book, and ignores the historical context in which it arose.

        • Very good point Rich, as well as having a historic context, it is also the Revelation of Jesus Christ, John was shown in symbolic visions what was achieved through the cross and resurrection and what effect it has on us in destroying our old false Adamic identity and ‘revealing’ our true identity within us! The book of Rev is being played out within each one of us in our mindset our awareness. So as well as a historic fulfillment in AD 66-70 it is also on going. The one thing it is not is telling us about any actual events in our present or future!

          • Dear Martin:

            ‘The book of Rev is being played out within each one of us in our mindset our awareness.’

            That is one of the most interesting takes on the Revelation I’ve met. Richard Bauckham has described the apocalypse as a means to refurbish our imaginative response to the world to coincide with God’s Kingdom purposes.

            You’ve stated that less technically and with more clarity. Thank you. Well done!

      • Nowhere in the bible does it say that we humans are going to hell. The hell described in the bible was a place for those of the Fallen. Only when the bible was to be preached to the masses did the Roman Catholic Church start teaching that people who didn’t obey gods’ commands and commandments, etc., were going to hell. It was a form of crowd control instigated by the church and not anything Jesus taught.

      • Read ‘Hell, a final word’ by Edward Fudge. It is the top most respected and biblically based view of hell that differs from the present evangelical view. It has sound logic and sound scripture.

        For example, only in that one verse you quoted about Satan, the beast and the false prophet is the concept of ‘forever and ever torture’. For all verses in revelation about regular humans the lake of fire is referred to as the ‘second death’ without the wording of eternal torture.

        Also, read “Then they will go forth and look on the corpses of the men who have transgressed against me, for their worm will not die and the fire will not be quenched and they will be an abhorrence to all mankind.” Isaiah 66:24 (italics added) except that this verses is about dead bodies, not eternally tortured bodies or souls. Fire thaybdies not die does not have to mean ‘burning torture forever’ – a living thing suffers for moments and is burned up completely in an eternal fire – .

      • 1st of all I know God is real & I have a personal connection with “him”. I experienced it physically & had a mental change during a prayer one night. Once his spirit was inside me I can no longer doubt his existence. But I also don’t believe all the things that men wrote down in a book that people take as facts. I know they were supposedly inspired by God but who told us that. The men that say they were inspired. The Bible has a lot of good information that is helpful in living a good life but so does a lot of other books written by people

        • The same thing happened to me a few times, Jeff. I gave up the girlfriend that everyone wanted me to marry (friends, family, church, and fraternity brothers) and married the one that I was “guided by the spirit” instead. As a result my ex-girlfriend has a disabled step-daughter that needs her and I have adopted a son that now calls my family, and only my family, as his. I shutter to think what would have happened to her step-daughter and my son if I and my ex-girlfriend actually got married. The “spirit” knew better than we did. The “spirit” keeps me safe and guides my actions now, independent of anything else and it used to be my physical guide as I drove around, always telling me where true north was. I can’t explain it and I don’t question it.

    • Many Lies, Much deception surrounds our communities today , as no one wants to admit there is a consequence for something they do. or that there is right and wrong.
      Heaven reward for loving, accepting, turning, following god, making a choice to deny ungodly lust, passion, pleasure, pursuits and seek after a almighty God and Truth
      Hell a reward / Consequence for Rebellion, wrong choices, lust, passion not pleasing to a righteous God. and Rebellion away from God, Hatred toward God, His laws, His Commands, His judgments
      So if we /I , YOU dont like it I just take what i like , throw out the rest , fit it into my life how ever I can , and tell God to get stuffed , I make my own god , my own way, my own will , Rebellion
      This is exactly how people in general tell God they Hate Him.
      Not like i see it , but in fine tuned guides that make man god , worldly idols god, other religeons god.
      The world out there if filled with so many , so much and many, many way s to heaven .
      does this even make sense .
      How can there be a god it this mess.
      The Truth is if , and i use the word loosely IF there is a True God and History Backs me up , There IS, then there is good reason for HIM God to Be Jealous of all the other False Gods, Religions , False Idols out there.
      It is no wonder there is so much calamity and destruction , Mankind when selfish is evil all the day long. and seeks his own way, his own god, his own rebellion to serve his flesh. and desires

    • I have had these very thoughts for just as long if not longer. My father was a Southern Baptist minister my whole life and my mother especially was the biggest hypocrite I’d ever met in my life. Growing up I felt my father and mother put us kids last and my mother and the church first. I have people watched as long as I was able to understand. I can show you almost as fast as someone can open their mouth what is BS and what is truth. My best friends have turned out to be non-Christians, who could care a less if I was Christian and did not judge me at all. They came from all paths of life. As an adult and my siblings told me things about my father, I learned my father was not happy being in his life. And he too was a hypocrite. He actually had homosexual feelings from a young man. But because of his upbringing never would allow himself to be who he wanted to be. He told my mom and she that against him. He did apologize to us when we grew up for how he raised us where as my did not. She felt she raised us well. My father was a very depressed man and tried to kill himself and was never the same after that. My mom told me he had a stroke because I was only 18. I learned about it when I was in my 30’s. He feared he’d go to hell. Shame his family and my mom. He wanted to die still after that and lived a shell of a life. With a woman who used it against him when needed. How Christian is that? I also know my father loved Jesus. So I can’t imagine him going to Hell. And as much as I resent my mother I still can’t imagine her going to hell. I saw an article about Huckabee the other day, that if Graham did not do something the way he wanted he was going to tell people he was gay. What kind of Christain man does that? That was my thought. Not that OH Graham might be gay. I don’t care if he is or not. Not my business. Sorry for the long post. It just seems this exact thing as again been on my mind.

  2. I don’t know what saddens me more- the fact that John’s view on hell/gospel are heretical or that people agree with him.

    • It saddens me that you feel the need to hide who you really are and comment negatively..instead of actually understanding what John is trying to get across to you…

      • I think John is trying to say there is no Hell and I think Anonymous understands that. What’s your last name Lissie? If you don’t post it, you’re hiding just as much as Anonymous. I don’t blame you for that. I think it’s wise. But I also think it’s lame to criticize those who choose to guard their privacy.

        • This made me laugh, “Joe Catholic,” berating Lissie for not posting her last name, when you appear to use an alias.

          • It shouldn’t make you laugh because I said she was wise to not post it. I was “berating” her because she was criticizing “anonymous.”

          • Beth Rogers, you will find that the person posting this week, at least, as Joe Catholic, has had more aliases, disguises, and pseudonyms than anyone else here.

            He demonstrates that he is the single biggest hypocrite here when he calls someone out for practising his own special form of hypocrisy.

            That sums up everything we need to know about the person posting this week as Joe Catholic. And at least as one of the Anonymous.

    • It saddens me that you, Anonymous, hide behind your mirror of self-righteousness and condemn Johnʻs openly embraced truth. The day you have the courage to actually embrace love over Hellish thinking is the day you will be free to shout from the mountain top that you are “Free at last! Thank God Almighty I am free at last!” In the meantime I embrace you with love for who you are and patiently wait for you.

      Love this piece, John.

      • It amazes me that people like Joe Catholic and leslie m. are called haters yet you are the epitome of hate on this blog and you and nobody else cares.

        Perhaps if I hated conservatives too I would be embraced and not held accountability for acting like the jerk that you are.

        • He’s called women posters “bitches” more than once and nobody said a peep because the “bitches” were conservative.

          Yes you would be embraced if you hated conservatives and you could cuss at us and abuse us and they would pat you on the back for it, while they called us “haters.”

          • You don’t seem like a hater to me and I appreciate the comments above. Like you (and a few others here) I’m also conservative theologically.

            Why in the world would I want to use my real name here?

            • I don’t think it’s smart to use a real name where so many kooks tend to aggregate. Also, I tend to share things I wouldn’t want people I know to see, so that’s another good reason to be anonymous. But I wish you would pick a name to use because it’s difficult sometimes to determine who is who among the “anonymouses.”

              • And again Joe Catholic (this week) of multiple names is misrepresenting the issue as if the complaint is wanting anyone to “use a real name”, and that is dishonest. Not to mention his hypocrisy in complaining about someone else’s name used! I do not want you here at all so I certainly do not want to know who you are.

                How is anyone to know they are talking to the same anonymous person in a conversation with 5 or 7 anonymous comments and replies? It is just tedious and boorish and yes, you can all be as tedious (changing names) and boorish (conversing without any entity chosen) as you want to be.

                But even Joe Catholic (and his alter egos) realizes that “it’s difficult sometimes to determine who is who among the “anonymouses.”

                • I don’t have any “alter egos.” But you’ve apparently joined the tinfoil hat club so any time I insist I don’t post concurrently under different names will give you reason to be sure I’m lying.

                  But we are in agreement about using a name consistently and it is confusing to see many “anonymous” posts that are obviously from different posters. I think they should choose a name and stick with it (unless like me they choose to change it at times, and announce that change, as I do).

                  I rejoice that we have found more common ground.

                  • Oh sure Joe Catholic (this week) because you did not post as both “Joe Catholic” and “A Catholic Perspective” the other day when you “switched” again? Is that the story you are sticking to George Washington?

                    • Oh, those are not the only names he’s used in recent months. Also
                      Benny,
                      Joe Catholic,
                      Lone Catholic,
                      Let everyone be born,
                      Everyone has a right to birth,
                      anonymous,
                      Wayne,
                      Gloriamarie Amalfitano,
                      Gloriamarie Amalfartso,
                      A Catholic Perspective,
                      Bud Maunch,
                      La vida es como una sombra QUE pasa,
                      
Lionel Hutz,
                      R J Grayson,
                      Gordon Nicely,
                      pj,
                      Uber Doofus,
                      The Right to Life,
                      Miss Ogi Nist,
                      Tom Cottone,
                      James T Kirk,
                      Mr.Spock,
                      Kim Jong-un,
                      Monsters Are Due on JP Street,
                      Ted,
                      Victor Stone,
                      AJ Ravinsky,
                      Pdiddle53,
                      Charles,
                      Patrick,
                      Sebastian

                    • No I did not “switch” with any attempt to deceive. Isn’t that obvious to anyone not wearing that foil hat? The avatar stayed the same. My computer still automatically fills in “a catholic perspective” sometimes and I forget to check it.

                      But you’re doing some mighty fine detective work. Going forward I will be sure not to underestimate how clever you are.

                    • I am curious Joe which are the real identities on that list?

                      I would like to know how far off Gloriamarie is .

                      is it more than 10?

                      I know of at least two she is definitely wrong about.

              • I kind of like the name, ‘Anonymous’. I know at least 3 people here use it. I can hear their distinct voice come thru.

                As for me, as I’ve said before, I was forced to use my real name here! … by gloriamarie & charles , & Episcopal Church Leader david allen. they outed me, posting my real name, my home town, and even my neighborhood location. plus a string of slanderous accusations against me. wow. and they talked about me amongst themselves for weeks. this was after i asked them not to, because my whole family had been stalked (for real), and and also 3 family members had been assaulted by our stalker. [And then I got lectured by others here , on how I shouldn’t be posting at all, if I’m so afraid of being located.]

                Why is using a Nom de plume such an affront? (no reply.)

                I used a perfectly good name as my pen name: ‘Paul’. You’d think the Progressives wouldn’t have such an issue with that. But it freaked them out. So intolerant, and gender biased!

                • leslie m, I am no fan, that is clear, but if that story is true as you have presented it, that behavior was wrong and not something I would condone or defend UNLESS you were doing something similar to someone else.

                  The ONLY issue with a screen name is consistency of conversation and too many “Anonymous” people is confusing and harder to follow. No one should be shamed or doxed into using their “real name” or even any part of it. That is just plain wrong, unless like I said it was in meeting that same behavior from someone else.

                  I am sorry that happened to you, and I mean that.

                  • Sandi, her story is true. The blog is rather hypocritical and lopsided when it comes to abusive writing and animosity. It favours the liberals.

                    The conservatives and moderates are open season.

                    I have to admit I was upset with leslie for awhile because she triggered a bad memory. I got over it and think I have a thinker skin now and trying to keep a soft heart.

                    This is what happens when we tread all over people with our words.

                    • I am sorry that happened and it was wrong. I do not need to know “who” someone is to argue their POV, and doxing anyone is wrong! I don’t stalk people and I am no fan of anyone who would. I have been on the receiving end.

                • First off Leslie, I am not an Episcopal Church leader. I am a volunteer editor on an Episcopal blog that has no connection to the Episcopal Church other than our primary topic and that we attent Episcopal parishes. I am originally from the Anglican Church of Mexico, but now live in the US.

                  I’m big on folks posting under their real names, not hiding under fake names so that they can post pot shots and then hide in the shaddows. So when you claimed to be Paul, I pointed out that you were actually Leslie. No gender bias involved.

                  I’m not aware of the other claims in your comment. Partly because when the haters settle in and the arguing starts, I am quickly bored and abandon the thread.

                  • Hello David. Welcome to the forum. I’m glad that you will contribute to the feed and maybe we will learn something important from you.

                    I do not use my full name since I am out as bisexual here but still somewhat in the closet. Being LGBTQ in a red state isn’t fun. I also will not post anything that I would not say face to face and I believe in respect for everything

                    • Hi Robin. I’ve been around for quite awhile, I just rarely post and usually just as David Allen.

                      I just wanted to post under my full Mexican name and birth state in response to Leslie.

              • “Also, I tend to share things I wouldn’t want people I know to see, so that’s another good reason to be anonymous.”

                The people will still see the things you share, Joe Catholic. They just won’t know you (whoever you are) posted them. Why are you afraid of being honest about who you are?

                • For the sake of the discussion I might to share something about a member of my family that they would not want to see publicly posted.

                  Maybe I would want to share something personal that I would want to keep private and not broadcasted to my neighbors. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s not dishonest.

                  I confess my sins to a priest under the strictest of confidences. I don’t have to wear a sign listing them.

                  Why are you not using your full name?

    • When you back it up with historical fact, lessons learned from past events , and research to see what is and is not truth . then your convinced of Truth
      God is a Jealous God and will have NO other , NOT one, NO one to replace Him .
      If his judgement s thru out history show so many , so much and so wide spread.
      It show s that god waits for repentance, but still judges rebellion. The Self God

    • I am so disgusted by this man! His words tickle people’s ears. I could give all kinds of Scripture verses but John would discount them as the word of God means nothing to him. Hey if you don’t like what you read in God’s word make up your own God. He does not want truth, his god is the Father of all lies. What really made me angry was when he mocked GOD by saying people said ” the magic words to be saved.” Readers beware, false teacher here.

      • If that’s how you feel, Kay Blakeslee, then don’t bother to read his stuff. It’s merely his opinion. You don’t have to agree.

        But you don’t get to be rude about it, as you have done.

        And, actually, he was right on about that evangelical/magical formula which they claim must be said before anyone can possibly be saved.

        • Gloriamarie, Thank you, my sentiments exactly. By the way, how is your flu. Hope your feeling better. Peace and Love,

          • Thank you, Kathleen B. Been wondering if I really am ill. I have several flu-like symptoms but no fever. No cough, no blowing the nose perpetually, but a great weariness. Then I realized that tomorrow is April 4, the twelve-month anniversary of the death of my precious, sweet Pip who I miss so very much. I wonder if I am heartsick with grief?

            Physical symptoms of grief include sighing, headaches, loss of appetite, difficulty sleeping, weakness, fatigue, feelings of heaviness, aches, pains, and other stress-related ailments.

            So yeah, I guess I am heartsick with grief.

            • Yes but they are very real and if your not careful can bring on the real thing. Take care of yourself, actually baby yourself. Grief is a bitch, isn’t it. Peace and Love,

      • If G-d can be mocked so easily as with doubt on what the church says and not praying a certain amounts of Our Fathers and Hail Marys, that sounds more like Zeus. I need a bigger and more complex G-d than that, a G-d that can guide me in directions of the Spirit, even if it violates man’s or the church rules. The Holy Spirit is something you feel is right and just know it is showing a path for you to follow. It is something I can’t rationally explain.

      • While I believe salvation is more involved than what is around here mockingly referred to as the “magic prayer,” these people are using what they know and believe for the good of others. They’re hardly the type of people to be categorized as being giddy about others going to Hell, or they wouldn’t bother trying to save anyone.

        John P and his followers read and proclaim the Scriptures in a way that is “convenient” for them and those they choose to ingratiate.

        You’re exactly right though that he “tickles” ears. He tells people what they want to hear instead of what they need to hear.

      • K.B. — a knife in our hearts, when John P (& others here) joke about what a great party there will be in Hell, with all the uber-hip people that think like he does.

        I’m looking forward to the Marriage Super of the Lamb! [Taking a pass on that ‘party’ that pastor John is hosting.]

      • Settle down there Kay. You can’t be upset with someone for having their own perspective on things, even if it’s about your precious religion. I know you think that your version of truth is the only one and that anything other than your version of truth is blasphemy to the Holy spirit, but that’s just not the case. It’s all a matter of perspective. I personally know that I’m not going to hell because hell doesn’t exist. Now you on the other hand, I’m guessing you do believe in hell and you probably have a real fear that unless you follow the scripture and accept Jesus into your heart, you could end up there. I feel bad for people who are trapped in a religious world view and never feel the need to think for yourself, question what you’ve been told and learn new things outside of what you’ve been taught. That sounds like hell to me.

    • John is a satanist. He was seduced by a spirit while attending Prince concerts. At first he fought it off but then gave in to Satan. He is a very sick guy and he is bringing many poor souls to hell with him. Everything John says can be found in the satanic Bible. He is the protoypical devil in disguise. Clean cut ,smiley, love,love, love! But all he says are lies. All opposite the bibles teachings. No Hell, Jesus is not the only way, Gay is not a sin etc etc ect. Johnny Sidari(his stage name from the 80’s when he was a rock singer) Pavo-nitz is a rebellious little man angry with GOD. He does like God’s rules so he has made up his own God that likes HIS rules! John knows full well that his new God is SATAN. He is not lost and confused. He knows exactly what he is doing. http://johnpavlovitz.com/2016/04/21/14752/

      • You better run Demayo, that “satanist” who wants us to live as Jesus taught might be catching and it could kill a right-winger to be infected with the love of Jesus.

  3. You put into words what I think and how I feel – but struggle to express without wanting to get incredibly worked up and irate! Thank you. This is exactly how I feel.

    • If that’s how you feel, Melany Bartok, then don’t bother to read his stuff. It’s merely his opinion. You don’t have to agree.

        • With whom do you think she was agreeing? The way the comment thread looked, I thought she was agreeing with Kay Blakeslee.

          If I made a mistake, I apologize to all.

          • It’s always tough to know whom to wallop when you’re not sure they’re agreeing with you and John or with some pseudo-enemy who disagrees with you John.

            • … but Gloriamarie always gives it the o’l college try. 50/50 chance. I admire her spunk! No moss growing under her feet.

  4. I want to believe in a real Hell and that bad people go there.

    I do not believe that the Bible is the inerrant “word of God” though much of it clearly is, or at least divinely inspired. There were simply too many human, power conscious people in involved in it.

    I do not see that a loving God could create the majesty of the universe, the glory of the earth and then send so many to the fire of hell for their sexuality, or an abortion, or adultery, or their religious choice not being Christian. This makes no rational sense to me and seems much more of a petty man-made construct.

    God wants us all to be good and do good which is the command. ANYONE can be good and do good, not just Christians.

    Sure, I could be wrong, and will indeed “burn in hell” and I am OK with that if that is how God plays it. But I will not be convicted for damning people to hell for having a different religion or for their sexuality.

    • Well if you’re going to line up and be one of JP’s sheep, you’re going to have to accept the idea that you’ll also be in the company of Donald Trump, Adolf Hitler, all the evil right-wingers who want fetuses to live and children to die, and me. We’re all going to be one big happy family. All that scary stuff about sin and hell that Jesus said was just a little trick to get us to share our toys.

      • Joe Catholic (this week), I am “lining up” to be one of Jesus’ sheep. Who else will be in the count is up to and on them.

        • It doesn’t matter anymore. Your new leader says there is no Hell. Be a goat if that would be more fun. You’re going to be in Heaven (or not in Hell) anyway.

          • If it doesn’t matter anymore… does that mean you’ll be leaving? Sayonara, Joe-chan. Ki o tsukete! Mata ne! ^_^

          • Awww, look at little Joe Catholic getting all whiny. I don’t have a “new leader”. My leader is still the one I came in here with and I don’t even need him filtered through church dogma like you do. I never want to be a goat when God starts sorting. You go right ahead.

            • Why would God “sort”? To what end?

              If you believe there is a Hell then have the guts to oppose the “prophetic voice” here, at least in this instance, though persecution is likely to follow.

              • Joe Catholic, I am starting to think you are a little slow and maybe I should ignore you as I do some others here.

                I have stated my believe in Hell, my choice to believe in Hell and why in more than one post. I do not know how much more clear I can be. Let me try one last time. I believe in Hell and I believe those who use the word of God and the teachings of Jesus to condemn anyone to it based on their sexual orientation, choosing an abortion, gender identity, religious belief or refusal to conform as desired will be there.

                The scripture for the sorting has already been cited above by Kate GC (Matthew 25:31-46). How that will shake out, again I do not know as I am not privy to all God thinks or all Jesus ever said.

                I think if I can take the persecution you and others offer, I can handle anyone else who chooses to do so.

                • I’m not persecuting you. I’m just lonely and looking for a friend.

                  Thank you for your clarification about Hell. We at least have some common ground then.

                • Here’s the thing, Sandi, the reason Joe Catholic for this week hounds you is because you don’t say what he wants you to say in the way he wants you to say it. Nuance is lost on him.

          • a goat, Joe? Lets see who Jesus described as goats:

            “But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. Before him all the nations will be gathered, and he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will tell those on his right hand, ‘Come, blessed of my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry, and you gave me food to eat. I was thirsty, and you gave me drink. I was a stranger, and you took me in. I was naked, and you clothed me. I was sick, and you visited me. I was in prison, and you came to me.’

            “Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry, and feed you; or thirsty, and give you a drink? When did we see you as a stranger, and take you in; or naked, and clothe you? When did we see you sick, or in prison, and come to you?’

            “The King will answer them, ‘Most certainly I tell you, because you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ Then he will say also to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire which is prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry, and you didn’t give me food to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me no drink; I was a stranger, and you didn’t take me in; naked, and you didn’t clothe me; sick, and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’

            “Then they will also answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and didn’t help you?’

            “Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Most certainly I tell you, because you didn’t do it to one of the least of these, you didn’t do it to me.’ These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”}

            Hm…who best fits the description of the “goats” in that passage….

            Who indeed….

            • Hi James this is probably the most misinterpreted parables in scripture ! The context of it is that Jesus has just been describing the coming terrible events of AD 70 in Mt 24. Then in Mt 25 Jesus gives a series of parables to illustrate the narrative. The parable is about AD 70 and nothing to do with any salvation/condemnation issue after death. The theme of the parable is the transfer of the kingdom from unbelieving Israel (goats) to believing gentiles and Jews (the sheep.) This is the physical meaning. At a deeper level the parable is about what happens when the Lord ‘comes to us’ He burns up our carnal thinking our false identity in Adam (the goats) and encourages our identity in Jesus (the sheep) which has led to fruit being produced….

            • Of course Jesus was saying that Democrats are sheep and Republicans are goats and are all going to Hell. Maybe you’ll be given your own golden pitch fork as a reward for being a pro-choice Liberal and will have the honor and pleasure of prodding the damned Republicans to their doom at the bottom of the abyss.

              • Let’s make an eternity bet Joe Catholic? He will be as “rewarded” for being pro-choice as you will be for being anti-abortion no matter what. You look for me to tell me how all that judging and forcing works out. Deal?

    • I do not see that a loving God could create the majesty of the universe, the glory of the earth and then send so many to the fire of hell for their sexuality, or an abortion, or adultery, or their religious choice not being Christian. This makes no rational sense to me and seems much more of a petty man-made construct.

      God doesn’t send anyone to hell. It’s your choice to accept or reject the gift of salvation. God lets you choose who you want to serve but doesn’t let you choose the consequences of that one choice. What makes no rational sense is that anyone would freely choose hell over God.

      • What of the child born in Tibet, the baby in Alepo killed by our bombs. God condemns entire regions of the world because the words of Jesus are not spoken there, yet the behavior Jesus wants from us is? That seems a human judgement and ego.

        • Wendy…great point, but let me ask you this. Are you judging the person who didn’t go and tell the world of Jesus or are you judging God for his actions? I’m assuming that you are not a missionary or someone who has any inclination to go half-way around the world and give up your current life to speak one word about Jesus and what is offered to us through him. It’s much easier to judge God for his actions than blame ourselves for our lack of action, isn’t it?

      • “God lets you choose who you want to serve but doesn’t let you choose the consequences of that one choice.”
        Then the choosing is not really a choice. Sort of like my letting you choose between the all-expenses paid 2 week long cruise and being run over by a bus. But no matter what you choose, you get run over by the bus.

          • You can choose a ready guide
            In some celestial voice
            If you choose not to decide
            You still have made a choice

            You can choose from phantom fears
            And kindness that can kill
            I will choose a path that’s clear
            I will choose free will

            Rush – Freewill Lyrics

            Sorry, I could not resist.

            • Here’s one for a lot of people here…

              Quick to judge, quick to anger,
              Slow to understand,
              Ignorance and prejudice
              And fear walk hand in hand. ..

                • Umm… Did you really just go there? That’s gross. Eww. I think I just threw up a little in my mouth.

                  The lyrics were Witch Hunt by Rush. Here’s the full lyric:

                  The night is black
                  Without a moon
                  The air is thick and still
                  The vigilantes gather on
                  The lonely torch lit hill

                  Features distorted in the flickering light
                  The faces are twisted and grotesque
                  Silent and stern in the sweltering night
                  The mob moves like demons possessed
                  Quiet in conscience, calm in their right
                  Confident their ways are best

                  The righteous rise
                  With burning eyes
                  Of hatred and ill-will
                  Madmen fed on fear and lies
                  To beat and burn and kill

                  They say there are strangers who threaten us
                  In our immigrants and infidels
                  They say there is strangeness too dangerous
                  In our theaters and bookstore shelves
                  That those who know what’s best for us
                  Must rise and save us from ourselves

                  Quick to judge
                  Quick to anger
                  Slow to understand
                  Ignorance and prejudice
                  And fear walk hand in hand…

                    • I have read The Hobbit, I was a huge Tolkien fan when I was young (my first second grade book report was on The Two Towers, actually). However, typically when a guy asks a girl “guess what’s in my pocket”, it’s pretty gross.

                    • OK, I should have thought of that. But they way you posed your post, it reminded me of a riddle from the Hobbit.

                      Anyway, so without peeking, what was Gollum’s answer when Bilbo said, “What have I got in my pocket?” (Which of course was not meant to be a riddle but was Bilbo thinking out loud).

                    • I haven’t read that in 30 years, but if I remember correctly, he said “Not fair”, or something similar.

                    • He hesitated a long time and did complain about it being not fair, but his ultimate answer was “string or nothing.”

                      I’ve read it about a dozen times.

                    • I was going to reread Nabokov’s “Lolita” next weekend, but I may have to read some Tolkien now. Funny story, I did a third grade book report on that one. THAT raised some eyebrows! LOL!

            • By the way, I’ve now spent the entire afternoon in my office, listening to Rush (and singing along badly!). I made it through Permanent Waves, Moving Pictures, and half of Power Windows before it was time to go. LOL

      • Here is one reason.

        If upon entering the gates of Heaven one sees that heaven is absent of billions of people who are in Hell, because they didn’t accept Jesus as the Savior even though they led just as moral and good of a life as any of those who did make it into to heaven., then the only possible choice someone with any sense of morality, justice, and loving-kindness would be to tell God you’d rather go to hell to help provide comfort to the billions of people who are suffering because of God’s rejection.

        • To quote Ed: God doesn’t send anyone to hell. It’s your choice to accept or reject the gift of salvation. God lets you choose who you want to serve but doesn’t let you choose the consequences of that one choice. What makes no rational sense is that anyone would freely choose hell over God.

          So Hitler is in heaven and Ghandi is in hell? Does that sound moral or just to you?

          After all..Hitler was a Christian and Ghandi wasn’t.

    • Sandi S.

      Jesus didn’t say that ‘bad’ people go to Hell and ‘good’ people go to Heaven.

      He said that Un-believers go to Hell, and Believers go to Heaven.

      Obviously we are free to believe what Jesus said, and/or we are free to disagree with Jesus. Those are your only choices.

      I already know that Progressives disagree with this scenario.

      • Matthew 25:31-46:
        31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
        34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
        37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
        40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
        41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 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.’
        44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
        45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
        46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
        Please note that there is no checking of church ID.

        • P.S. He said, and I quote, “the righteous to eternal life.”.
          No mention of just what religion they are following me–for as you do those (6) tasks for the least, you have done it for me. It’s all about being loving.

          • Righteousness is by Faith. (i.e., Abraham).

            We are not Righteous on our own merit.

            By faith and through Jesus’ grace, we are seen as pure, and then the Father sees his Son in us.

            • Again. the scripture plainly says righteousness is not just by faith (i.e., Abraham):

              “21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? 22 Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? 23 And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.”[d] And he was called the friend of God. 24 You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.”

              • Abraham’s faith was proved by his actions, not because of them. God tested his faith by telling him to kill his son and he would have done it had God not stopped him. That could only point to true faith. Faith untested is no faith at all.

            • And, “faith without works is dead.

              All this pointless bickering! Look everyone — it’s much more simple than all of this wasted time spent trying to determine “who’s in” and “who’s out”.

              Jesus made it quite clear:
              Love God and love our neighbor as ourselves. That’s *doing* love for each other, *not* judging them.

              • You are correct TC, that is the overarching theme and it is repeated over and over and over and over, so maybe God meant for us to “get it”.

                • Hi Sandi, I meant to reply to the whole thread! Sorry if it seemed that I was only responding to you (and you *do* get it! 🙂

                  Thanks!

        • Ephesians 2:8-9 makes it clear we are saved by grace through faith not by works lest any man boast.

          Also, Isaiah 64:6 states our good works are like filthy rags (i.e. feminine products).

          If we’re saved by “being good” how do we know what’s good enough?

              • Oh so you only want to know if we have to do our homework? You can say that after all those conversations with God I suppose.

              • Again, I am no Biblical scholar so I will just leave this here:

                https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=James+2%3A14-26&version=NKJV

                James 2:14-26New King James Version (NKJV)

                Faith Without Works Is Dead
                14 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

                18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your[a] works, and I will show you my faith by my[b] works. 19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! 20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?[c] 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? 22 Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? 23 And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.”[d] And he was called the friend of God. 24 You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.

                25 Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way?

                26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

                  • You poor deluded man Joe Catholic (this week), all it means is that the Catholic doctrine is in line with scripture, it has nothing to do with “me”.

                • Sandi. What works did the thief on the cross perform? I guess his faith was dead. Which now makes Jesus a liar. But Jesus cannot lie. So I guess it is true… Faith in Jesus saves.

                  • Way to try and be cute Anonymous. The thief on the cross had the blessing of “direct intercession” from Jesus Christ (as did others), the rest of us do not have that option.

                    • What Anonymous Joe Catholic overlooks is that the thief recognized compassion when he saw it. Given that was the ony work he could possibly have performed, I guess it counted. Or are you going to contradict Jesus?

                    • What my friend Gloriamarie amazingly still does not understand, is that I am in total agreement the faith and works concept and would not post against that.

              • Well, that’s not what the New Testament says. In fact, the NT says the exact opposite.

                James 2:14-26English Standard Version (ESV)

                Faith Without Works Is Dead
                14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good[a] is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

                18 But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! 20 Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? 21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. 24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. 25 And in the same way was not also Rahab the prostitute justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by another way? 26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.

      • Well, you got me there leslie m. I do not know all Jesus said or what God will do so I do not judge who is going to Hell or Heaven.

        • If by ‘hell’ you mean a place of never ending fiery torture, Jesus didn’t mention it at all as He didn’t believe such a place existed (because it doesn’t) Jesus had a lot to say about ‘Gehenna’ the valley outside Jerusalem where trash was burned and where in AD 70 corpses were burned in the 100’s of thousands! All Jesus references to ‘hell’ mistranslated from Gehenna are referring to AD 70. Jesus was very concerned that people would be ‘saved’ from this terrible event! In the end those ‘unbelievers’ who refused to listen to Jesus were indeed burned in the fires of Gehenna. A lot of understanding about the Bible can simply be cleared up by understanding the language like the original audience did! For example the words translated eternal and eternity doesn’t mean for ever! Eternal in the Bible refers to ‘ages’ which have a beginning and end.

          • Martin, I have no doubt you are correct. I admit my ignorance and lack of scholarship on the Bible and the language, the authors, the messages and the “truth” which is why I do not use it as a weapon to condemn, exclude or harm anyone.

            • You might want to become familiar with the Bible because at some point you will be judged by it accordingly. There are decisions you are going to have to make and making them wisely will only help you.

              • Well thank you Edward, I simply had never thought of such a novel idea. I likely never would have. Your advice is just dripping with human kindness and concern. That could not be more clear.

              • But what I sense is that it is your, and I will repeat your interpretation that you believe we will all be judged by. No matter that there are many interpretations out there. Why not let us worry about our own soul and you just worry about your own. That would be a good day.

                • We should each worry about our own soul, but when a self-professed “pastor” leads people astray on something so basic and important, he should be called out for it.

                  • And I respect that that is your, and once again I say your opinion, what I take issue with is that you don’t respect my opinion. That I might have some validity in how I see things. So there is no way that I will converse with someone who will not respect my opinion. I doubt that you have spoken directly to Jesus or God so you could be sort of wrong. You don’t know I could be right. You would not attend a church that believed differently than you and stand up and tell all the congregants that they are wrong so how do you get to do that here. Just because it’s the internet. I don’t believe in your dogma but I would die for your right to it. I wish you would give the rest of us the same respect. I realize that people who don’t know my family history can’t know how passionate I am about religious freedom but I was brought up to believe that that meant not that you can inflict your views on everyone else only that you can have your views regardless of what others believe or not believe. I fought this when I was in grade school and am still fighting this. All we ask is respect and quit trying to legislate your religion.

                  • I do not want my religion “legislated.”

                    No I would not go into another church and preach against what they are preaching. I would not harass and harangue people who I know believe differently than I do about religion. I would share my faith if they are receptive and what to know about it.

                    I think JP’s idea of Christianity is totally off-the-wall. His “theology” bears little resemblance to Christianity. But if all he was doing was preaching that and his followers wanted that, I wouldn’t bother posting here.

                    What I resent is that he doesn’t stop there. He attacks other Christians and gets everybody else worked up to attack them as well. His “religion” then has deteriorated into casting stones at other Christians, namely those who are more “traditional” and who tend to be conservative politically.

                    His attacks are so unfair and based on such distorted caricatures of other Christians, that I feel a need to speak up about it. And in the process, in being questioned by others or attacked by others about my faith, I end up sharing what I believe. I’m just stating it. I’m not forcing it on others. I know that’s not possible. And I’m not doing anything much different than anyone else who preaches their own beliefs.

                    So the Pastor doesn’t believe in Hell. No surprise there. It’s a logical position for him to take since so many damnable sins are now preached as virtues. But again, it’s not just a belief that’s stated, it’s also an attack and mockery of those who don’t believe as he does. And he has loyal followers who pile on.

                    I’m just one voice against that.

                    I “resist.”

                    • Your scare quotes only reveal two things: you are ignorant of the ordination process outside the Catholic Church and you don’t recognize the ordination of any minister except those in the Catholic Church. As far as you are concerned the only real pastors are RCC priests and those of other Christian groups are fakes. That’s what your scare quotes mean.

                    • Joe Catholic, you destroy your own arguments. You already admitted you voted for Trump mainly because you think he will bring about a “legislated” end to abortion. So there or here you fibbed.

                      You “would not go into another church and preach against what they are preaching”. You “would not harass and harangue people who… believe differently” but you sure do not mind doing both here.

                      Under no circumstances can your posts be characterized as just you sharing your faith and you force it whether anyone is “receptive” or begs you to stop!

                      If his “idea of Christianity is totally off-the-wall” take yourself away from it instead of wallowing like we are “receptive” to your message.

                      His “theology” is his to share on his blog and any other forum he chooses.
                      He is your host and you are a terrible guest.

                      One of you insists he is preaching and teaching but now, when it is convenient, he is doing neither because this is not a church. HOOEY!

                      What I resent is that you won’t stop condemning our host or those of us who dare to agree with anything he says.

                      Where exactly do you stop?

                      You also attack other Christians and all but assure them they are not.

                      And you will stir up any friends you can find too.
                      It is your religion that “has deteriorated into casting stones at other Christians” too and you know it. That makes you a hypocrite.

                      His attacks are not unfair when he speaks to those who agree with him and see the same thing. You just don’t like it.

                      What you feel is your hubris. You want to dominate this blog and since you cannot get to him, you deliberately get to us and make discussion without you impossible.

                      This is not your blog, we do not care what you consider your mission here to be.

                    • “since so many damnable sins are now preached as virtues.”

                      Congratulations Joe – you’ve just described the modern conservative Christian republican.

                      People call themselves Christians or claim to have morals or a soul yet they support oppressing women and minorities, declaring war on the poor and blindly supporting the corporate agenda. Trump is trying to install a fascist regime and his only goals are power and money. Tell me, how is that even remotely Christian? Jesus would NEVER be a Republican.

                  • Joe, the “scare quotes” don’t make his pastoral care any less reliable.

                    Perhaps we should call you a self-professed, so-called “Catholic”… after all, we have nothing to show that you are, or ever were, a Catholic.

                    See how that feels? Not good, right?

                    The scare quotes don’t ever bring greater understanding — only accusations and division. Let’s try to listen to each other, even if we disagree. Let’s stop throwing around vain attempts to discredit one another and discuss issues, not ad hominem insinuations.

                    Thanks.

                    • Thank you, I appreciate your comment. You said it much better than I could. We all want to be heard, not yelled at not yelling. Peace…..

                    • It’s hard to resist because I’ve never seen someone be so UNpastoral. Anyway, I could have left that out. Maybe I should have. Still, it was a drop in the bucket of “ad hominism” around here. Are you going to confront it wherever and whenever you see it?

              • Dear Edward:

                I had the strange idea that it was not a book but the person of Jesus Christ [Ac 17:31].

                Moreover, I also had the equally strange idea that at issue was not our life ‘decisions’ but a living relationship with God in Jesus Christ.

                Blessings!

          • Martin, you make a very valid point about “understanding the language like the original audience did”. To that end, is there a translation that you prefer to read or could recommend?

            • Hi Sandi I would say the passion translation and the Mirror Bible are the most accurate to the original intention of the author’s I read those together with Young’s literal translation, although that was written in the 1800’s so can sound a bit archaic!

              The NASB is quite good in conjunction with Young’s

              • Thank you Martin, I will explore some of those. I just ordered three more books by Adam Hamilton (because I love what he says and how he says it) hoping they can shed more light on my own discernment.

                Today I ordered: “Making Sense of the Bible: Rediscovering the Power of Scripture Today”, “When Christians Get It Wrong” because I loved his “Half-Truths”, and “Why?: Making Sense of God’s Will”.

                I like writers that help me understand the Bible more fully. Adam Hamilton is no radical but he is love and light and he is kind and good IMO.

                • I would say 3 ‘must read’ books for those exploring these issues are ‘Raising Hell’ by Julie Ferwanda ( who used to be a Bible belt ‘hellfire’ preacher ) ‘Her gates will never shut’ and ‘A more Christ like God’ by Brad Jersak I would also highly recommend listening to Dr Kay Fairchild on you tube, her series on ‘no penal subtitution’ and ‘divine conspirancy’ are brilliant.

                  By the way I’m not a ‘flake’ I’ve been a Christian 40 years and am a ‘pastor’ although I hate being called one!

      • Odd that someone so bad with words is playing word games but Christopher Freeman, Hell is something God created and chooses when he judges us. We can makes choices that lead us there, or we can think we have been forgiven for them, but in the end, God sorts us out. God makes that very clear. He is coming to judge.

    • If there is no Hell, then some very serious editing of the New Testament is in order. But I don’t suppose ripping out uncomfortable sections of the Bible is anything new or poses any problems for progressives.

      • As a Catholic I’m really surprised that you think anyone would go to Hell. Catholics give everyone a second chance in the non-Biblical Purgatory. After a person dies they get a second chance to accept Christ . Seeing how they are already dead it would take an idiot to choose Hell. You guys also believed after Christ was crucified that he descended into Hell to preach to the people in Hell. They all got a get of Hell free card. So even if there is a Hell, it is empty.

        • Purgatory is not a “second chance.” The idea of Purgatory is that many of those who do make it to Heaven are not entirely ready because they still have self-love and attachments due to their sins, and this must be purged before entering Heaven. An analogy might be a peasant invited to dine with the King. He might need a lot of sprucing up before he’s ready to be in royal company.

          Purgatory is a part of Heaven.

          The “hell” of “descending into hell” is not the same hell as that of eternal separation from God. That hell referred to in the creed was where the righteous souls were.

        • Hell was reserved for the rebellion of satan and 1/3 of the angels cast out of heaven. Rebellion the key word
          Hatred of Godliness, Hatred of Gods Laws.
          YOU Must only have one (1) God and Come to the Father (Holy God) Thru a mediator ( Sinless offering who died for all of mankind’s sin. )(Jesus Christ) , and a relationship which you depend on God for your all , who gives the holy spirit to give peace in a troubled world

        • The Bible is clear Only God Knows and Only God is the one who Judges the soul .
          But Make no mistake if your not sure, YOU better look for your self. Others cannot make a way for you or anyone else. God know the heart, God knows the mind, will, emotions, of his people.
          One what you can tell is the bible gives clear direction as to the process.
          It is totally up to you .
          confess your sin to God alone, Repent, Change, Turn your life towards Gods ways daily, It is a Lifelong Journey, Job. Time are tough , we fail, constantly . But God who has your best in mind will make a way of escape , if your seeking his will and asking your father in heaven.
          Remember we ,you, I, am unholy, sinful, corrupt mankind and only the Blood shed on the cross of calvary ( jesus christ Blood can interceed for you , me, I, us, all there is no exceptions .
          When you are a true child of God you have a conscience which is affected by sin, disobedience, rebellion. You fall, you get up , you make mistakes, you change ,
          God is at work to rebuild people

      • Oh Joe Catholic (this week), as if it is “anything new or poses any problems” for conservatives? Good one! You do have a sense of humor!

      • ” ripping out uncomfortable sections of the Bible is anything new or poses any problems for…” Catholics as well.
        Matthew 7:1-5
        “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
        3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

        • Since we are on the wholeness of the bible
          let us judge ourselves, actions, motives, But the bible does call for you to judge to see if your in right standing and in a place where you have the right to judge, Never does it say not to judge, just in the proper perspective . Never Ego, Never Pride, Never Boastfulness, Never to show what you know, Never let the things of this life take away the Holiness of God. There is an order of respect in all god does. since No one is righteous , including me, you, them , others . This negates my arrogance of pride of life.
          I , You , we are not better, holier than anyone else.

        • I totally agree Kate. I have tried hard to be more loving, more caring, more kind, more compassionate, more sensitive, more empathetic, and have more faith in people. This is difficult and sometimes I fail. I keep trying to take the board out of my eyes each and every day. I just wish more people did the same.

    • Caitlyn.

      In Pastor John’s teaching of no Judgement for Unbelievers -then Jesus’ atonement is moot. The whole Cross & Resurrection was a sham. And Jesus’ teachings go out the window too, because he lied about being the propitiation for Man’s sin.

      • Interesting choice of words leslie m, when you read something on a website do you consider it to be that person’s “teaching” or just an expression of their opinion? Having an opinion on what Jesus meant or meant for us to do is not necessarily “teaching” and it is absolutely not saying “Jesus’ atonement is moot. The whole Cross & Resurrection was a sham. And Jesus’ teachings go out the window too, because he lied about being the propitiation for Man’s sin” in any case. Maybe you know all that is in God’s intention, and maybe you don’t.

        • I’d say the issue is that leslie m is unable to distinguish “teaching” from “an opinion piece”, which is the definition of a blog. So apparently she thinks opinions have authority when all they are is someone’s ideas and she is free to agree or disagree with the opinion. But for some reason, she chooses to elevate John’s opinions into “teaching.” Which makes no sense at all. A cognitive dissonance, in fact.

        • John is a pastor. Of course these are his teachings. Hes a Leader in the Chuch. He gives sermons often and writes books about his teachings. People follow his teachings. People look to him for answers. He ministers to many. He brimgs his teachings whetever he goes.

  5. John, I am a Lutheran (ELCA) pastor, and it’s good to know that I won’t be the only clergy there. Concerning the fundamentalists I know, I can only quote Mark Twain: “Heaven for the climate; hell for the company.”

  6. My sentiments exactly. I am pleased to not be the outsider anymore on this. I was brought up in the church but I guess I was fortunate not to have been infected by the judgmental bug. I also had people along the way who weren’t lock steppers and told me to think for myself and then told me they don’t buy all of this hell thing either. So there, I think I will have more in common with those in hell. And Caitlyn Anne, I’ll bring the hor devours. Peace,

    .

    • Then Christ came to save us from what?

      What did he mean by “The wages of sin is death?”

      Jesus said: “And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire…where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’ For everyone will be salted with fire.”

      It’s not a “judgmental bug” to desire to avoid hell. Do you think the words of Jesus in the Bible and elsewhere where hell is mentioned are to be ignored?

      • Yeah cause SOOOOOO many Christians are cutting off their hands to prevent them from sinning…guess they will be in hell too.

        • I think you are capable of some deeper thinking that that. Sin can lead one to hell, and the goal of avoiding it and attaining Heaven is worthy of taking extreme measures.

          Are you now of the belief that there is no Hell because John said so and because his followers are parroting him?

          That would mean of course that the most evil men would be in your world as well. How do you work that out?

          • Joe Catholic, I work that out as I will not be in hell. You might want to work on some of those “extreme measures” yourself. My heart does not condemn or punish. God knows this already.

            • I condemn no one either. I can’t say who will go to Hell. I can’t say that JP will go to Hell because he’s a heretic, either. He’s really at a point though where he should be honest and no longer claim to be a “Christian” pastor because what he preaches bears little resemblance to Christianity.

              If you are a believer in the theology of the blog host, then of course you will not be in Hell.

              • The irony is so rich with you Joe Catholic that you should charge for the show. “I condemn no one”… “he’s a heretic”….”he should be honest and no longer claim to be a “Christian” pastor”… “what he preaches bears little resemblance to Christianity”. WOW, good thing you don’t condemn anyone! You cannot make this stuff up if you try!

                • You’re playing word games. I don’t “condemn” in the sense that I say someone will be in Hell. There is no way I can know that. But I can say that JP does not preach Christianity. Saying that doesn’t mean I’m condemning him to the Hell he denies exists.

                • It is astounding to me that most condemnatory voice on this blog is Joe Catholic (this week).

                  What is ironic is that I can predict, Sandi, what his reaction will be to what you’ve written.

                  He’ll tell you that you play word games because he never uses the words “condemn” or “damned to hell for all eternity” that he never condemns.

                  Except what else is all that judgement he heaps on people, all his tongue-lashings? They are condemnations because we don’t agree with his party line.

                  One thing I am seeing over and over on this blog are the number of people on the right who demonstrate a cognitive distortion when they assert their interpretation of their experience as fact while ignoring the objective evidence offered by others.

                  Since when does the interpretation of a personal experience trump the objective evidence of the many?

              • While you might not condem unbelievers to hell or Christians that don’t tow the conservative Christian line, there are millions of Christians who have no problem with telling whole groups of people that they are going to burn in hell. There favorite of course is gays even though there are millions of Christians are gay.

                The ABC is but one example.

                • So, JOe, when are you and your fellow conservative “Christians” going to declare yourself no longer Christians?

                  Because God knows your party’s politics and your love of Trump puts you at direct odds against Jesus’ teachings.

                  The heresay is strong with you conservatives

          • No one believes that there isn’t a he’ll just because John says there is none. Stop calling people sheep. People have come to that conclusion on their own. They read John’s blog because they have many of the same beliefs that he shares.

      • Joe every post you write just shows how ignorant you are of Bible language and thought. There is not a single verse in scripture not even one to support the concept of a never ending fiery torture chamber (don’t bother sending all the Bible verses mentioning ‘hell’ I know them all and none of them mean ECT) None of the words translated as ‘hell’ mean a never ending fiery torture chamber. The word ‘hell’ didn’t even exist in English until 7 centuries after the NT was written so none of the original words translated as ‘hell’ could possibly mean our English notion of ‘hell’ As for salvation, again salvation is never presented in the NT as salvation from ‘hell’ (as none of the apostles believed in such a place!) Salvation is always presented as salvation from sin and death (ourselves in other words) never once from hell. A gospel based on salvation from hell is a false gospel and ‘no gospel at all’ according to Paul. Who didn’t mention ‘hell’ once in either his teaching or pastoral letters and said any other gospel than the one he preached was false! All the quotes from Jesus you mention were to those still under the old covenant about the requirements under that covenant (and the ‘hell’ was gehenna fulfilled in AD 70!) But even if there was a fiery torture chamber it still wouldn’t last for ever because the word eternal means ‘age enduring’ or ‘age to age’ and the Bible teaches that the ‘ages’ are tome constrained and will come to an end! After that everything will be summed up in Christ including every human that ever lived! You will meeting Hitler Stalin etc in heaven because by the time you meet them the love of God (that we know in the Bible as the lake of fire) will have transformed them into the lovely little boys that Father always intended them to be! God is a far better saviour than even our wildest dreams could imagine!

        • Jesus said that His blood remitted (removed obliterated) all sin from all of humanity and God had no record of any of man’s wrongdoing. That has been wiped out too, so what ‘sin’ is sending us to ‘hell’ John?

        • Those are your personal conclusions based upon the Bible you have courtesy of the Catholic Church and your own thinking.

          I’m looking at this in the proper context, and 2,000 years of Church teaching. I’m by no means a Bible scholar as that’s far above my pay grade, but it seems obvious to me that even the “sola scriptura” person can conclude that there is an eternal Hell, and most have come to that conclusion.

          I do believe that the most evil person could end up in Heaven. If in his final moments Hitler repented of his sins, I believe he will be in Heaven. But if he hardened his heart against God and refused his love and forgiveness, his fate is set for eternity, as it was for the fallen angels.

          • A few things to say here, firstly you and i know )or you should know if you’re posting on here) that the words translated as ‘eternal’ or ‘eternity’ mean never ending or for ever! Eternal means ‘age enduring’ or ‘age to age’ and ages are time contrained and come to an end! The only things that last for ever are mercy and love everything else ends. Secondly there is not one single verse in scripture to support the existence of a fiery torture chamber Jesus and the apostles certainly didn’t believe in such a place ! Thirdly there is no verse that says that the salvation process cannot continue after physical death!

            • Again, I defer to 2,000 years of Church doctrine and theologians and not to one man using our book who is taking passages out of context and taking the bible out of the context of the Church.

              Besides that, all the mainstream sola sciptura based churches believe in an eternal heaven and and eternal hell (meaning always–forever).

              Hell is not a “firely torture chamber” btw. That’s your imagery, not that of the church. It is a separation from God. Imagery like that has been used by artists to convey a sense of the pain of Hell, but that’s not what it is and it’s not taught that that’s what it is.

              People choose Hell. CS Lewis said it well: “The gates of Hell are locked on the inside.”

              • Oh sure Joe Catholic (this week), because there could be no reason, no reason at all for your “Church doctrine and theologians” to agree on the best face for their religion in their interpretations, translation and definitions. None at all.

                For your sake, I hope you never open your eyes, I do not think you could handle it.

                • Either he is unaware or he misrepresents Catholic theologians. They are as uniform in their theology as he would suggest. And if he wants proof, tell him to google it and educate himself.

        • Thank You Martin! Some years ago when I was going through one of my tests and lessons, what I was shown that they all go UP, not Down below so that they can be go there to be healed, exactly what you just said is what I was shown how it works. Thanks again.

      • From our self, selfish, self center, passion of lust, pleasure centers desire to get, have, acquire all we can . that lust of things, passions, pleasures that lead to a snare of death.
        Jesus Came to set man Free from himself.

      • Dear Joe Catholic:

        Reformed theologians have cited Mt 1:21 to prove that Jesus’ atonement is particular — limited to those who believe. I had the impression that Rome disagreed. But it does say that ‘he will save his people from their sins.’

        Blessings!

  7. This reminds me of my Dad. My left-leaning, theologically progressive parents retired to a small seniors’ development in a “Bible Belt” community. My dad got so tired of his cranky, unkind, born-again neighbour nagging him about being saved, that one day my dad blurted out, “If you’re going to be in heaven, I hope I do go to hell.”

  8. It seems to me that consigning people to hell is above my pay grade. I am content to accept the responsibility of making myself the best Christian I can, and to let God make the decisions about who goes where.

    I’ll bring Chardonnay and homemade cheese straws. It will be a fabulous party!

    • Salvation is about judging yourself with the same righteous standard that God will use on judgment day and seeing where you stand in the presence of a Holy God. Most people cannot do this on their own as they will downplay the severity of their faults and excuse themselves or call God’s goodness into question to justify their stance.

  9. I don’t remember my childhood beliefs, but certainly, for as long as I have been thinking critically, I haven’t believed in hell. I find myself in good company. I describe myself as a Pelagian heretic. This is what he believed about hell, “Pelagius argued that the doctrine that humans went to hell for doing what they could not avoid (sin) was tantamount to the Manichean belief in fatalism and predestination, and took away all of mankind’s free will.”

    • Pelagius’ syllogism is based on a false premise. Humans CAN avoid sin and they can repent of sins they committed. Does your church preach that there is no Hell? What is salvation all about then? Don’t you have to do some very heavy editing of the Bible to avoid the concept of Hell? Or do you not accept the Bible as the inspired Word of God.

      • I was raised in the Presbyterian Church and never heard a word about hellfire and damnation. I was taught that the Bible is a beautiful book, full of inspiration and comfort, not something to be used to beat others over the head. Never once was I told that it was “the inspired word of God”.

        I thank God I didn’t have to go through the brainwashing that’s prevalent today. I see the fundamentalist movement as an abomination and pure blasphemy. These people have no right to call themselves Christians…if you’re going to call yourself a Christian, then act like one. Go back and read that Bible you seem to love so much and hold over peoples’ head and learn what real Christianity is all about.

        Today, I consider myself an agnostic…some days I believe and some days I don’t. But I’m still searching for true faith and won’t stop until the day I die. Thank you, John Pavlovitz, for helping me on my journey.

      • Actually – if you believe the Bible when it says, “IF a man says he is WITHOUT sin, then the truth is not in him,” then no, one cannot avoid sin.
        Hell isn’t a place.
        It’s a state of being.
        And more religious expose people to that sate of being – than deliver people from it.
        The problem of believing the Bible as the inherent word of God – is sort of like trying to tack down what someone means when they say “French Revolution.”
        You’re simply stuck asking, “Which one?”

    • If there is no Hell, then there is no Heaven. (which makes the bible one big lie.) So the choice is –is the bible true? is the bible a lie?

      • That is one heck of a jump you made. It’s kinda like saying that if I don’t believe that the moon is made out of cheese, then mice don’t exist.

        The Bible is a collection of poetry, legends, law, ritual, eye-witness accounts, history, and some bumbling about trying to figure out the science of life. While not everything in the Bible is factual, there are facts in the Bible. While not everything is the truth at the level required in a court of law, the Bible shows us the way to truth. It is a lot more nuanced than just choose A or B without recognising that C through Z exist.

        • Patricia, I’ve always thought that when Jesus says “the kingdom of Heaven is at hand” He is telling us that it is right here right now, not some distant geographical place we will find after death.

          Hell is more of a medieval notion than a Biblical one. The closest the NT gets to it is gehenna, which was the nasty landfill outside of Jerusalem where the trash and sewage went. Living without God is like living in gehenna. And the mummers of the medieval morality plays dramatized it and it became one of those deeply embedded cultural icons such as Friday the Thirteenth being an unlucky day. When all it really was was the day the Roman Catholic Church slaughtered the Knights Templars to rob them of their wealth. Apparently that was quite unsettling to Europe.

          • What’s Baptism for then?

            In other words, Christ just came to make life on earth a little nicer? There are no eternal consequences for what we do? You and Donald Trump will be best friends in Heaven? No punishment for him for starving children and raping women?

      • Leslie. Heaven can exist without Hell. The Bible becomes a lie only when PEOPLE misuse it and fail to understand what is going on within it. The creation story in Genesis is not a record of history. It is a parable. When you decide the creation story was actual history, you turn the Bible into a lie. However, the Bible is not the liar. You are—and so is everyone else who rejects facts in order to cling desperately to a false understanding of scripture.

        • You cling to a false understanding of scripture. Genesis is history and (as usual) you make asinine comments about it being a parable without any validity.

  10. You are a breath of fresh air, heretical or not. I’ve thought these same exact thoughts since I was a small child. I never understand why a loving God would send his children to a lake of fire to burn for eternity. Our pastor scared me and scarred me and made me run from the Christian faith. Thank you for this!

  11. John, could you comment or write about the Calvinist principle of Election? Of all the teachings in my Southern Baptist upbringing, this one seemed the most confusing and capricious – adding to the concept of hell the idea that only certain people would ever be “called” to accept Christ and to receive salvation. Would love your thoughts. Thank you.

    • All of humanity was included in the death resurrection of Christ and have already been reconciled. This was done before time began, all of humanity was put into Christ. This is objective truth for all humanity.

      We do get to chose when we agree with what has been done for us and live in the good of it ( called repenting and believiing in the Bible) but everyone will, willingly and joyfully believe in the end. The love of God is so good no one will be able to resist it for ever , who would want to! Better to experience it as oyung as possible but physical death is not the ‘cut off’ point!

  12. I’ve often thought the same. I’ve often wondered if the Bible was designed as a tool to manipulate our minds and beliefs by the hierarchy to keep people in check.

    It’s so difficult to argue with true believers. Realized that when a discussion with one turned out the answer, “He got it from the fishes’ mouths.” That was the point I thought, “Wow, I cannot have a a reasonable discourse with this person.” Have never completely understood how people take what’s written in the Bible as fact and they don’t seem to understand that it’s their opinion that it’s fact, that their faith makes it fact, but that doesn’t make it so.

    I fear we’ll always have the majority of humankind mired in tradition and culture, unwilling to depart from their conventional thinking instead of working toward elevating concepts that could improve the human condition.

    You know how many who call themselves Christians I see actually physically ministering toward improving the lives of the poor and needy, the afflicted, the sick? Not a hell of a lot, that’s how many. But I see a crapload willing to jump on the condemnation wagon of hate and intolerance, because obviously…

    The whole thing is very disturbing. We can be better than this. I know we can.

    • The only thing I would add to that is, I once had a man tell me the proof for every word in the Bible was that Jesus used it to quote from. Peace.

        • That’s taking “sola scriptura” to the extreme.

          ———————————————————–
          The Christian faith existed and flourished for years before the first book of the New Testament was written. The books of the New Testament were composed decades after Christ ascended into heaven, and it took centuries for there to be general agreement among Christians as to which books comprised the New Testament.

          How do you know what constitutes the New Testament canon? How do you know for certain that these 27 books here in your New Testament are in fact inspired and should be in the New Testament? And how do you know for certain that maybe some inspired books have been left out of the canon? Again who decided?

          The Catholic Church did. A study of early Christian history shows that there was a considerable disagreement among Christians until the issue of the canon was finally settled. Some early Christians said the Book of Revelation didn’t belong in the canon. Others said Pope Clement’s Epistle to the Corinthians (written circa A.D. 80) and The Shepherd, an early second-century allegory written by a Christian writer named Hermas did belong in the New Testament. How do you handle that?

          The fact is, the Holy Spirit guided the Catholic Church to recognize and determine the canon of the New and Old Testaments in the year 382 at the Council of Rome, under Pope Damasus I. This decision was ratified again at the councils of Hippo (393) and Carthage (397 & 419). All christians wether Catholic or Protestant, accept exactly the same books of the New Testament that Pope Damasus decreed were canonical and no others.

          https://discovercatholic.wordpress.com/11-2/where-did-we-get-the-bible/

          • Anything that’s called a council is manmade. Like the council at Nicaea, when Constantinople (newly Christian) worked out the system of uniting all the Christian sects into one homogeneous group, establishing the Apostle’s Creed (not from Jesus) and which books of the Bible to keep or throw out (the Apocrypha). It was a POLITICAL move, not a religious one and everything decided in it was decided for political expediency.

    • That is entirely too true Viviana! Those who do evil under the rubric of religious conviction think it absolves them.

        • I know… Progressive Christians make such a huge fuss about other’s behavior, when they themselves say it doesnt matter what you believe. [Many people make up their own standards of behavior & their own convictions, and Progressives agree with that.]

          Problem is, in Reality, there is a Truth (not many truths).

              • What a shame it is that people are so hooked on the Reformation version of Christianity that they don’t look to the origins of Christianity and the first century.

                Were they to read the primary sources for themselves (which are readily available free on the internet or from booksellers) they would see that the stuff they condemn as “emergent” or “progressive” is far more like the Early Church then is the version of the church they know.

                Nothing new is emerging or progressing, only being rediscovered.

                Ask any Church Historian who knows the Early Church history.

                • The emergent movement consisting of false teachers like Brian McLaren, Doug Pagitt, Tony Jones, or even Rob Bell is (or was) heretical. It’s essentially liberal theology 2.0.

                  • You only reveal your ignorance of the writers of the Early Church. Please read all thirty volumes of the ante, Nicene, and Post-Nicene Fathers and then maybe you’ll have an informed opinion instead of spewing someone else’s prejudices.

                    • Considering your my misinterpretations of the Bible, I’m not going to believe your understanding of church history.

                      The emergents deconstruct God’s Word and promote a false gospel.

                      Oh by the way, Justin Martyr and other church fathers did correctly interpret the atonement.

                      If you’re going to study church history then please be honest and not pick and choose according to your liberal ideology. That’s dishonest.

                • I don’t romanticize the ‘early church’. They had just as much troubles & false teaching or even more than some churches do today.

            • You mean like the progressives who helped bring an end to slavery and segregation against those conservative Christians who used the Bible to justify both?

  13. Pastor John: Sincere thanks for all the things you write about tolerance, about being human, about the truth that God has many faces. I agree that we re all “trying to do life well” and really appreciate that thought. Thank you also for capitalizing Atheist in the same way as Christian or Muslim – we are here and we are not bad people. In fact, I agree with most everything you write, including the importance of the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth and probably differ very little from how you appar to live your life. I follow you on my Facebook page and regularly share your writings with my Friends. Your tolerance, empathy, compassion, and true humanity are amazing!

  14. If God is three in one, than God is also Jesus. If God is Love, than Jesus is Love. If the only way to heaven is through Christ Jesus (Love), then it logically follows that LOVE is the pathway to heaven. Therefore it can be argued in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me [Love],” the door is simply and beautifully open to all who LOVE as Jesus loved. And, as our failure to do so is inevitable because we are by nature sinful, the forgiveness of Christ, with his vast understanding of our humanness, saves us….that is, if there is actually a heaven besides that which we create for ourselves here on earth through our loving actions.

    • Jesus loved us so much, that he provided a way out of eternal Death.

      One needs only to be in agreement with Jesus. ‘I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father, except thru me.”

      It’s not about how much we ‘love’. Otherwise, it would turn into a contest. Eternal Life with Jesus is a Gift. When one accepts a Gift, there is no ‘work’ involved. You just open your arms, and say, ‘Thank you.’

      • My point was not to question grace, but to put forth the concept that “except thru me” is more about the concept of that when we live in Love we come to the Father. Jesus=Love. Heaven occurs when Love prevails — even here on Earth. This way of interpreting this scripture allows for those of other faiths, or even no faith, to find “heaven”.

        • trish. respectfully, i disagree. Love does not prevail in this World, and it never will. (a quick look around, will tell you this.)

          It’s His love that we look at, not our own. We fall short. He does not fall short.

          These other people that have different faiths, it’s good to ask them about their beliefs of Heaven or Hell. I wouldn’t assume anything about others’ destinies.

  15. I think we will all be very surprised by who is in heaven but at the same time will celebrate their presence; for then, we will see them with God’s eyes.

  16. Sometimes, John, one has to take a deep breath to understand what you truly know and feel as you write these posts. (Actually no one does except you)
    It isn’t at necessary to say things such as; “I simply can’t abide such thinking any longer, and if that makes me a heretic then so be it. I’m hoping God will forgive me.” What do you mean by hoping God will forgive? That nearly refutes the rest of your post. That is part of the dualism that is so wrong about the “christian church”.

    There is only one forgiveness; that which we say to ourselves about ourselves. God isn’t in the business of blessing or cursing anyone or forgiving. God simply is the Energy, Power and Presence in the Universe, the Spirit which allows us to sense the world around us. It is that Power of which we are integral and we do the best we can regardless what others think or say.
    We never have to worry or think twice about the eternal Being that we are which is simply a Spiritual Being temporarily appearing in physical form. We are not sent anywhere after this physical life but continue as the Spiritual being/god that we eternally are.
    The only heaven or hell ever experienced is that which we decide to live in moment to moment and that isn’t a a place at all but a state of mind at that moment.

  17. I was born and raised (and still am) Unitarian Universalist. Which, as you may or may not know, is not specifically Unitarian or Universalist, as such, these days. But over the years I have concluded that while I have no specific belief on Unitarianism (vs Trinitarianism), I’m definitely a Universalist (believe in the salvation of all people, regardless of, well, anything). That is, if God exists in the way that is approached by many religions, and if there is a heaven/after-life at all. I’ve generally concluded that I don’t know those things, and I’m generally good with not knowing. Some days what I believe leans more one way, and some days another.

    But in any case, I find that the biggest issue people have with this, is the idea that people who have done bad things may not get their “deserved” punishment. The idea that Hitler, for example, might make it to heaven (ignoring, of course, that many people basically believe that, if he believed in Jesus, he’s going to get there anyway) bothers many people. But I have to think that a heaven would offer clarity and awareness of what we had done in/with our lives. Wouldn’t someone like Hitler getting to heaven and having a more complete understanding of the atrocities he committed, and having to be with that understanding for eternity, be a hell of its own sort? Without a loving God actually condemning anyone to a physical hell.

    Of course, as a lapsed Catholic friend told me when I said I believed in universal salvation, “isn’t that convenient for you!”

    • LOL Amy! A “lapsed Catholic” saying “isn’t that convenient for you!” is my laugh of the day! The people who believe you can “confess” sins to a priest, do some “penance” prayers and you are forgiven, mocking anyone else’s path to salvation is too rich!

      • I grew up Catholic as well, which had a lot to do with feeling guilty for who I was. What’s funny is, having known a lot of Catholics, they all smoked, drank, and cursed like sailors, and firmly believed that as long as they sat in a little booth and told the priest, and performed their penance, it was all good. Some even slept around, did drugs, and committed far more heinous acts, and all could be forgiven every Sunday. Except, of course, being LGBTQ.

        Per the tenets of Catholicism, I could molest a child, rape a woman, steal a car, crash that car into a crowd of people, shoot those in the crowd that survived, rob a bank, and celebrate with a bottle of vodka at my safe house, and as long as I sit in a little booth and tell the priest all about it (and perform penance), it’s fine! If you’re like me, however, regardless of how you live your life, it’s off to the sulfur pits with you!

        I just can’t buy that.

        • Yes you could do all kinds of horrible things and then confess and be forgiven, but the person who does such evil is very unlikely to go to Confession, and having been raised Catholic and being a practicing Catholic would be very unlikely do do that.

          Most of us are struggling with the “little” things. But sometimes it’s a big thing like adultery, and it’s not as if the Catholic goes around cheating knowing he can go to Confession and then go out and do it again. There is no forgiveness for someone who does not along with having contrition, make an amendment to avoid the sin in the future.

          Some Catholics in their youth do sadly go far astray and are poor moral examples, but that’s not how all of them are. I remember thinking the same thing about Catholics when I was young and well before I became a Catholic, but I understand now that there are some Catholics who don’t really follow their faith. They take the name but don’t strive to live it. And then again there are others who fall into sin, get hurt, learn from the experience, and do become good examples.

          • You obviously didn’t grow up around organized crime like I did. (It’s actually not that organized…)

            I grew up just outside Chicago, home of some of the largest organized crime “families” in the world. Every last one of these groups firmly believed that, because of their faith, no matter what they did, be it racketeering, selling drugs, theft, gambling, or even murder, their ticket to a wonderful afterlife was still punched as long as they confessed to their priest.

            The same holds true in the street gang culture that has become so pervasive. They have no problem wearing crosses around their necks and not believing they’re going to hell, because as long as they confess their sins before dying, it’s all good. I grew up in the middle of all that, and knew a lot of gang members in my youth. To a person, that’s what they believe.

            • I grew up on the east coast, but I can attest to what you say. I also had friends who were Catholic who would say when they did something wrong, Not to worry, I’ll just go to confession and it will be ok. Then the next week the same thing. It was a tad confusing for me who was brought up to believe in personal responsibility, that it was not enough to confess you needed to make things better and not do it again. Peace..

              • You are correct. Those Catholics were wrong. It is not enough to confess to receive absolution in confession. They must also make reparations as much as they possibly can and must make a firm amendment that they will not repeat the sin.

            • Verifying what you’re saying–which is why it was a HUGE thing when the Pope excommunicated all of the Mafia!! (Because he knew that it was/is not right for them to be evil 6 days of the week and then go to Mass and Confession to get the black x’es off their slate.

            • Caitlyn. As you know, God judges the heart. If one has a repentant heart, it’s unlikely they would continue in sin.

              It’s safe to say the Mafia types are unrepentant. (which is the only unforgivable sin.)

              • leslie m. – the unforgiveable sin is reversing right and wrong, claiming something that is good (such as healing) is evil, and vice-versa. That is a blasphemy against the Holy Spirit.

                • A modern day example is the evil agenda of the GOP paraded as “good” and the people who accept their word over and above God’s.

                  • Not willing to prescribe a definition of evil or good to GOP or Dems agendas. That’s a stretch. I think it’s safe to say there are good and bad tenants of each, but good vs. evil ehhhh, maybe not so much. Understand where you’re coming from though.

                    • Not saying there is bad stuff in the Dem agenda, just saying there is nothing good in the GOP agenda. All designed gto bring death to the poor, children, the elderly.

                      And then there is Trump’s proposed budget…

                    • Thanks Sgt Rock. Even though I am a liberal I am tired of blaming the GOP. I blame Trump. And there is good and bad in both parties.

                    • GA- Any organization (in this case the Democrats) that supports the unnecessary murder of the innocent is evil.

                      If you benefit from Obamacare then good. Glad someone does. However, your support of it is because it benefits you and you obviously don’t care that the same people that passed the bill also support abortion.

                      You talk a good game about the “least of these” but always deflect the issue when confronted by Joe Catholic. You are a hypocrite.

                  • Do you think it’s possible then that there will be a special hell created for Trump and those who voted for him?

                  • I respect your opinion on this, even though I disagree with it. The circumstances around the unpardonable sin where the priests prescribing Jesus’ works to Satan. Thus, a house divided against itself cannot stand, Satan cannot cast out Satan and so forth and so forth. That is what I base my opinion on. It’s fine to disagree with it, but I’ve made up my mind about that subject. And, thanks Sally. I wish liberals and conservatives were less hostile toward one another.

        • Same here, Caitlyn. That kind of thinking in my Catholic Church messed with my head for 35 years. I identified as straight and buried everything else to survive. I came to terms with being Bi a year ago. It doesn’t change my relationships with people. The things coming out did is freedom to not have a “macho” front, be able to be gentle and fragile, and to renegotiate the marriage vow to forsake all others to include men as well for me.

          • I know how you feel there. I put on an “über-macho” façade for years until I walked into college. For the first time, I felt like I could just be myself. I was also fortunate enough to have a roommate my freshman year who was sympathetic, which made it easier. By my junior year, I was living off-campus with several friends, and I had been on HRT for a couple years, so life was pretty simple by then.

            • I’m glad you were able to become yourself in college. Unfortunately I was not. I was still in survival mode to block out my sister leave home because she was dating women, and the suicide of my would-be boyfriend, and the death threats written in the bathroom stalls against a guy trying to start up a Gay and Lesbian group in college.

              • I’m so sorry that your experience was so different from mine. 🙁 I know that I was very, very lucky, it could have gone much worse. What helped me was that my appearance was always rather feminine to the point that, when I walked in, my roommate was wondering if the dorms were co-ed. So, it was pretty easy for me. I knew other people who had it much more difficult, and I always reached out to them when I could.

                I also benefitted from having a therapist that was more than willing to help me with HRT, and a sympathetic school counselor that helped me with things like name change.

          • I’m asking this out of curiosity and I don’t mean to be insulting, but why would being “bi” be such a challenge? How is it more of a challenge for you than for me in that I am “bi” in the sense that I could be attracted to more than one woman, but I have to deny them.

            Why couldn’t you just find a woman to marry and deny all others the same way heterosexuals must do?

              • You mean he gets to have a wife AND a husband?

                So what if he would be missing something? Maybe I’m missing something by not being intimate with the neighbor lady. Too bad for me. We don’t get everything we want.

                He could still have intimacy and still be in good standing with the Church. He could have raised a family and could have denied his attraction to men, as heterosexuals must deny their attractions to others. Not that big of a deal as I see it, but I would like to know his perspective.

            • It mostly means “playing straight” to my Catholic Church, knowing I am damned because gay people are . It means watching your same sex crush being in trouble and not being able to do anything about it. It means hearing homophobic insults aggressive boys and men and pretending to not be affected because I don’t want any broken bones today. It means not dating or even having BFFs from the same sex because I didn’t want them in danger because of me. It means having to hide my tears. It means I have to put up a front and be a “real man”. It means I can’t be me because “they” will treat me like a target. It means “playing straight” so I don’t have death threats on the bathroom stall unlike the openly gay guy on campus. It means I had to police my speech, and say things that I didn’t believe, to not give anyone clues. It means being defensive and/or scared at inappropriate times. It meant that I “played straight” to keep my family’s acceptance because my older sister was driven out of my family for being a lesbian. It meant “living a lie”.

              • What you are describing is Hell and I am so sorry that a bunch of self righteous idiots have put you there. I just would like you to know that not everyone who claims to follow Jesus is like that. Peace and Love,

              • I mean no iffense, Robin, but I couldn’t live like that anymore. I was who I was, and I was going to live my truth, consequences be damned. I’m much more mentally and physically healthy now.

                • As have I about a year ago. I find myself better able to deal with people’s reactions to it. I no longer have to lie. It is not something I volunteer but I no longer have to hide either. I try to make share what I have learned to others in hopes that they won’t feel alone.

                    • Thanks Caitlyn. Trying to explain it is like trying to explain color to a blind man. I wanted to experience a male and female BFF emotional friendship as opposed to “male bonding” or anything sexual in high school and college. Some males don’t get that; they conflate intimacy with sex. I prefer females, which I have I dated and married, but I can be attracted to sensitive, less masculine men. It is certainly something I can’t change.

                  • Robin you relate your struggle and I am sorry that family and community can be so entrenched with the Christian Right as to hurt and estrange over any sexuality issue, but this pain has been felt by millions over the centuries. Many were killed or lived in fear of it. Fake marriages to have a semblance of normal acceptance and heartache as they are told even God would reject them. It shames me for all of those so ignorant and willing to hurt over dogma. I am sorry for your hurt. I am happy that some of that horrid thinking is changing. But I know damage has been done.

                    If there is a Hell, it is full past overflowing already!

                  • I still don’t get it Robin. You say you are “bi”. Doesn’t that mean you could love a woman as much as a you could a man? What would be wrong with marrying a woman and denying you male attraction?

                    • By “denying” I don’t mean pretending you don’t have it. I mean denying yourself that option, the same as heterosexuals do when they marry. All other options are then off the table.

                    • Are you really that dense, Joe Catholic?

                      I know this is probably a bad analogy, but say there were only kinds of fruit in the world and most people only liked one and committed to only one. What if you were the rare person in the world who liked both fruits but society would punish you if you indulged in both. Could you really give up peaches forever so you could have oranges? Wouldn’t you always carve peaches and long to be yourself so you could have both?

                      Robin, if that analogy was insulting to you, please understand I mean no insult. I am merely a straight woman who has only desired men but I am trying to put myself in someone other’s shoes.

                    • I need to buy some peaches and figure out something to cook with them… I wonder if they’re good sautéed with pork…

                    • Well, i’ve done pears sautéed in reduced brandy over pork, and apples and onions sautéed in reduced rum over both steak and pork, and those were tasty, but I wonder if peaches would have too much sugar and be better grilled… hmm…

                    • Definitely grilled, esp if you like blackened like my fella does. He is one of those burn it guys. He likes is toast charred.

                    • No offense taken. It is difficult to explain. It means that a very close and intimate, but not sexual, relationship with a male is somehow not allowed. I will be judged harshly for who I am intimate with, again not sexual. Joe Catholic’ s solution is what I did but I have the stress of not letting “that side of me” show. I could not have allow my “manhood” to be questioned without a plausible excuse do there would be quite a bit of posturing all the time, pretending to be the usual geek male instead of someone more like Fred Rogers. Now it is a choice to present myself differently or not, it is no longer a matter of survival. Times have changed.

                    • Thank you for the analogy Gloriamarie, but the next question would be whether that means that in his case he should have a wife and a husband. Would that be Christian too? Does that open up the door then for group marriages?

              • {{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{{Robin}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}}

                I am so very sorry that you have experienced such torture.

      • How does the Catholic way (which was given to the Apostles and their Successors by Christ) “mock” someone else’s beliefs? How am I mocking you when I go to Confession?

        • Because every sin past present and future has already been forgiven and doesn’t exist to God. The word confess means to come into agreement with forgiveness, but every human sin has already been wiped from the slate whether you ‘confess’ or not.

          • That’s your interpretation based on your “sola scriptura” foundation, but how does my belief and practice “mock” you, especially since I have no such intention?

            ———————————————————-
            Are all of our sins—past, present, and future—forgiven once and for all when we become Christians? Not according to the Bible or the early Church Fathers. Scripture nowhere states that our future sins are forgiven; instead, it teaches us to pray, “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matt. 6:12).

            The means by which God forgives sins after baptism is confession: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just, and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Minor or venial sins can be confessed directly to God, but for grave or mortal sins, which crush the spiritual life out of the soul, God has instituted a different means for obtaining forgiveness—the sacrament known popularly as confession, penance, or reconciliation.

            This sacrament is rooted in the mission God gave to Christ in his capacity as the Son of man on earth to go and forgive sins (cf. Matt. 9:6). Thus, the crowds who witnessed this new power “glorified God, who had given such authority to men” (Matt. 9:8; note the plural “men”). After his resurrection, Jesus passed on his mission to forgive sins to his ministers, telling them, “As the Father has sent me, even so I send you. . . . Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (John 20:21–23).

            https://www.catholic.com/tract/confession

            • All human sin past present and future of all mankind not just believers forgiven wiped from the record gone for good! That was done through the cross not any sacrament! The word confess means to ‘agree with’ so confession is simply coming into agreement that all sin has gone. It’s not the confession that forgives sin, it’s forgiven confession, sacrament or not!

              • That’s how you see it, but not how I see it as a Catholic, and that I don’t see it your way doesn’t mean I’m mocking you when I go to Confession.

          • Martin.

            Confess means: ‘to be in agreement with’ (God’s word).

            Confessing our sin regularly is just a way to stay accountable.

            ‘Confess your sin to one another, pray for one another that you may be healed. The effective fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much ” james5.16.

            It also keeps us humble. The only position that God can use us.

  18. I believe that our Creator, in his infinite intelligence and goodness, gives us a period of reflection (if you will) when we pass from earth into eternity…where we will see the good and the bad we have done in our lives, and the consequences to all we encountered. This, then, is the Hell we experience. To see all the little and BIG hurts we caused and to experience an atonement (at-one-ment) for them. We will also see all the sweet little things we have done (a smile or good word costs us nothing) and to see how both of these will affect our future with the Creator (I call Him Grandfather). IF there is a Hell….then I will take my lumps with the rest of mankind…since there have been none without sin, other than Jesus, and IF there is a Hell, Heaven must be a lonely place. I do not believe it is so.

    • Gma. –in the bible it says that Believers receive crowns for our good works performed in God’s Name. And those crowns we collect, will then be laid at Jesus’ feet upon entering His Eternal Kingdom. [Some will have more crowns to lay at his feet than others.] But the number of crowns you have, is not relevant to entering the Kingdom. I think God will show us our life and a review of it. But it won’t be for judgement. Just instruction, and finishing off the work He has done in us. It’s gonna hurt, bad. God is merciful.

        • Robin, I believe we are told to give in such a way that even our left hand doesn’t know what our right hand is doing. It is to be that spontaneous, generous, secret. Which doesn’t include getting a tax deduction.

          • A tax deduction doesn’t cancel out the gift. Only a small percentage of it. Jesus did say that that person who does those good deeds in secret would be rewarded openly, so let’s not pick on Leslie for something Jesus said.

            • How about just giving help because it is the right thing to do. Why do you have to get something for it. Tax deductions, salvation whatever, just do it because you are doing to the least, just for that reason alone. Why does it have to be this damn two way street. Just take care of people when they need help, period.

              • Agreed. I have never thought about a reward when doing a good deed (and believe it or not, I’m not as evil as you think I am and have done good deeds). I’m just saying that Jesus didn’t hold back the idea of a “reward.”

            • “A tax deduction doesn’t cancel out the gift” you say Joe Catholic (this week), but how is that exactly tied to scripture? You are sure a stickler for other issues… Looks like hypocrisy to me.

              • Getting a “tax deduction” for a giving a gift only means that the value of the gift was not taxed, so if someone were in a 25% tax bracket and gave a $1,000 donation, he saved $250 in taxes. He still gave away $750. That he received a tax deduction doesn’t diminish the fact that he was generous. He could have kept the $750 for himself.

                Otherwise I don’t know what the heck you’re saying.

                • Why not just give the gift or donation, and just feel good about helping someone? Isn’t that reward enough? Why do people like you have to always get something in return? That’s… kind of crappy, actually.

                  • People “like me” don’t look for anything in return. I’ve never thought about a reward or anything when I gave or did a good deed. It just came from a natural desire.

                    • And yet, you were the one harping on and on about tax deductions and why you deserve them. One post, you’re saying why you deserve tax deductions for donations, the next post you’re saying you don’t care. You’re a walking contradiction.

                  • I wasn’t harping on why I deserve a tax deduction. I was posting against someone saying that somehow a gift is tainted if there is a tax deduction. It’s not. I think this person thinks that a tax deduction means they break even or make a profit. They don’t. They’re still being generous and the tax deduction allows for greater generosity.

                    Anyway, personally whenever I’ve done a good deed it was out of sense of gratitude and just wanting to do good. I never thought about a “reward.”

                • Oh yeah Joe Catholic (this week), the ever popular “I don’t know what the heck you’re saying” deflection but you are all over anyone else who won’t answer your query for backup proof of their point.

                  I said where is that “justification” in the scripture lesson on giving?

                  • I still don’t get it. Is this about the tax deduction?

                    Someone needs $100. Oh yeah, I get a tax deduction, so I save $25. Now there’s $25 more I can donate.

                    A tax deduction isn’t a “reward.”

        • Often believers hearts are overflowing with love, and good works come from that.

          Other times, we don’t really ‘feel’ like doing something for someone in need, & act anyway.

          God doesn’t care one way or another. (he knows we are weak, and accepts us, faults and all.)

          • Wow leslie m, look at you revealing, “God doesn’t care one way or another”? Really? Not the message I got. Who knew?

  19. Thank you for your willingness to take on the “Religious Hierarchy”.
    I was raised in a strict Lutheran tradition in rural America, but had the good fortune of attending a religious college for my first two years. I was required to take classes in Old and New Testament where I learned that what I was taught growing up, was not the same as what I learned in my classes. This led me to investigate other belief systems and I was eventually able to develop a belief that feels right for me. I now believe in reincarnation and hell is not even an issue to deal with.
    My mother in her later years told me that she was sorry that I went to college.

  20. If God’s love is truly unconditional, why should it require anything—even someone asking for it?

    We do not ask for it, God makes it available, to everyone. It is offered to everyone (unconditional), but it is not automatically applied to everyones account. Why not? Because salvation is a gift based upon true sacrificial love. It requires verification from the receiver that it will be cherished because it cost God everything. It is cherished by the faithful because they believe God and what he says about man and to man through His book.

    Salvation is a gift, but even gifts are refused sometimes. Gifts are refused if the receiver thinks it has no value. Gifts are refused when the receiver doesn’t trust the giver.

    We are saved by grace, through faith, in Christ Jesus alone. Saving grace is available to everyone, but will only be accounted to the faithful according to God’s prescribed manner. Everything happens according to God’s direction, timing and will.

    • Edward. thanks for your post.

      I think some people reject the Gift Jesus offers, because they will not admit that they are wrong. It’s humiliating!! [especially for those who love the world.]

      [I remember it well, what I thought of Believers. I thought they were idiots, ignorant, and un-educated. I thought the bible was half true. I thought Jesus was a good philosopher. I thought I’d be reincarnated as a higher being. ]

      But one fine day, all my efforts to be good came to naught. ‘I’m sorry.. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.” –was all I could say. In an instant, God the Forgiver, swooped me up.

  21. John,

    Having been through the steps already myself, it looks to me like you’re progressing through the mental process of coming to understand that religion is man-made. Of course hell is not real. No more than heaven is real or original sin is a thing. When you pull on the thread, the whole sweater unravels. Keep pulling. Intellectual and emotional freedom await.

  22. As a child raised in the church I never understood how the “pagan babies” for whom we collected our pennies could be punished for lack of baptism (Limbo didn’t seem fair either), or a majority of the inhabitants of the earth were doomed simply by having the unfortunate luck of not being born into a Catholic family. At the very least there were those years of suffering in purgatory for even the righteous. What sort of a loving God does that to his children? Later as an adult, I listened to protestant pastors explain that, sorry, if you didn’t say the magic prayer you were off the salvation train, and quite possibly if you questioned that and dabbled in “universalism” you may not have a seat either. Call me a heretic: my Father’s grace is much bigger than anything a mean, small human mind can conjure about eternal damnation. Heaven and hell are right here, right now. It’s your choice, and he is always there to offer a loving hand if you happen to find yourself a fiery pit of your own making…or one that wasn’t. Who would suggest that chemotherapy, starvation, torture, depression – I could go on and on – aren’t hell? What better word would describe those situations? His love isn’t dependent on what you do or who you are or circumstances out of your control. It simply is. I keep saying to friends who have reached this same place as I in my understanding of his limitless grace: so many Christians love their judgment and they love their hell, and they will fight tooth and nail to hold on to those ideas. And I guess if it works for them, so be it. I pray for their peace. Thank you, John, for being part of a movement based on love, not fear, and for words which are always a blessing.

    • I don’t “love” the idea of Hell any more than I love the idea of dying. But I have to face those realities. Wanting Hell to not exist or saying that it doesn’t exist or attempting to mold God using our own selfish ideas of “compassion” doesn’t change reality.

    • –the bible says [Romans 1] that from Nature alone, one can tell that there is a Creator God. So, mankind everywhere ‘ is without excuse.’ God goes on to say, that if you continue to worship created things, He will give you your hearts desire, and blind you to the Truth. (O-bummer!)

      If you worship Nature (which includes Self) you are the Devil’s child. (aka pagan).
      If you worship God, you are God’s child.

      It makes sense that God the Creator would be nonplussed by people that worship His created things, [of which mankind is a created thing.]

      It’s fair that God expects his greatest creation, Mankind, to worship Him, and no other. (Would your parents love it if you called someone else ‘Mom’ & ‘Dad’?)

      I already know that Progressive Christians disagree with above. Conservative Christians are in agreement with the book of Romans.

      • Roll on the floor funny leslie m. You should think about stand-up with that killer last line and all that baloney in between.

  23. I love John’s writing, and love the interchange of ideas. What I don’t like or appreciate is people trying to one up each other and attempt to “be right.” John shared his ideas; we comment. Done.
    I am a Catholic. I believe there is good and evil in the world. Just look around you. I don’t think you have to give up on the notion of hell just because you feel a “religion” has the idea that various people will or will not go there. I know many beautiful souls that don’t fit the Christian mold. God loves them too! Maybe it is the judgemental religious beliefs you don’t agree with or believe in, not the notion of hell.

    • According to the Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals, all Roman Catholics are going to spend eternity in Hell. I have never met a fundie who has any respect at all for the Catholic faith—-which is a blot on all fundies—along with all their other blots.

        • Those that say that just don’t understand. Their ignorance can be overlooked. I used to think Catholics worshiped statues.

        • Robin. Joe is the only bad Catholic assh*le I have ever met. My Catholic friends here in the Knoxville area are much nicer people than Joe—and we get along just fine.

          • Charles, it is never the *sshats in the church because there are few and far between, it is the others that “struggle” with the issue. The conditional acceptance crap is worse than out and out rejection. At least with rejection I know where I stand with them. Why be at a church if the leadership itself is nowhere near “getting it”? I’m too tired to fight this battle. I would rather save the energy for a battle to help someone else.

              • What good are sacraments with love? What good is church without acceptance? Are we not all sinners and therefore equal in the eyes of Jesus? I have given up believing in mortal sin versus venial sin. Sin is sin, a sickness and cancer to the soul.

                There should be more to church than doing the same thing every Sunday. I need a church that is open and serving the community, a part from Mass. There is a lot wrong in the world and I don’t see it getting better for a little while.

                If you are fine with Masses and being in lock step with the conservative and tradition based Church teachings and rules, that is fine for you. As for me, I grew tired of them and wanted to seek out more from Christianity. If it is heresy, so be it.

                • Amen 4 Robin, there is a lot more to religion and faith than the sacraments and ritual of services. If there is not love, forgiveness, equality and patience in your heart, all the sacraments in the world will not put it there. If you lack compassion, empathy, and do not do more than just “attend services” you are missing the whole point IMHO.

                  Even something as simple as what we try to do here is important. It always matters that people feel like they are not alone, like they are valued and appreciated for themselves, that they can BE themselves. We do good here. While the trolls do their thing, social media is still a vital connection for finding friends, support and welcome.

                • It’s not really an either/or thing, but I suppose the bottom line is that you don’t believe what the Church says about Holy Communion being the real Body of Christ. If you did, I don’t think you would turn your back on that, regardless of your feelings about those around you.

                  Unless you are in a remote area of the country, there are many different Catholic Churches you can attend and many groups within them which serve the community. You have lots of choices.

                  • I do like you Joe, steadfast and a compass to the “true North” of Catholic Doctrine. I stopped find Jesus in my Catholic Church, in spite of the sacraments which are to bring us closer to Jesus. Whenever the Church draws a line Jesus will always be outside with those on the outside, especially true for my friends. Then it was my divorce to prevent me and our son from legal entanglements from her drug abuse and then her death. I then remarried to a divorced, Christian-Druid woman friend that I knew since childhood so marriage in the Church was impossible. I still miss the music and the grand Masses for Easter and Midnight Christmas, but if I cannot bring along any one of my friends I won’t attend.

                    • You are in a situation then, where you couldn’t receive Communion at this time. But you’re always welcome to attend and so are your friends. Nobody gets checked at the door concerning their beliefs or sins. Nobody is going to worry about your sins or the sins of your friends. They’ve got their own sins to worry about.

                      Anyway, I hope you understand I have not meant to be critical but encouraging. My own adult children have left the faith and that makes me very sad because although I made a lot of mistakes, giving them the faith was the best thing I did and the thing I wish I could have been given when I was growing up. I don’t like to see people turn their backs on such a treasure.

                    • The fact that people are ‘worrying about their sins’ tells me they have no understanding of the gospel or the love of the Father. We are meant to living in a state of rest and bliss not worry.

  24. Yup. This is what mostly got me out of fundamentalism when I was a young adult. I had befriended a family at the church I went to, and it was extremely clear to me that the husband was abusing his wife and perhaps children, while professing to be a bible-believing Christian on his way to heaven. And I had friends who weren’t Christian, who were amazing, loving people, and I realized I didn’t want to have anything to do with a God who would be like fundamentalists suggest.

    More recently, a good friend of mine and evangelical biblical scholar makes it pretty clear that the biblical evidence for hell (that is, a place of eternal torment) is rather thin, and in fact, if you really examine it closely, verse by verse, the only people that get sent to hell are hypocritical believers.

    It’s so striking and saddening to me that a concept with rather thin biblical evidence is so primary for orthodox Christianity, but the core teachings of Jesus, things he said over and over, are virtually ignored.

    • And yet Jesus did speak about Hell.

      1033 We cannot be united with God unless we freely choose to love him. But we cannot love God if we sin gravely against him, against our neighbor or against ourselves: “He who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.”612 Our Lord warns us that we shall be separated from him if we fail to meet the serious needs of the poor and the little ones who are his brethren.613 To die in mortal sin without repenting and accepting God’s merciful love means remaining separated from him for ever by our own free choice. This state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed is called “hell.”

      1034 Jesus often speaks of “Gehenna” of “the unquenchable fire” reserved for those who to the end of their lives refuse to believe and be converted, where both soul and body can be lost.614 Jesus solemnly proclaims that he “will send his angels, and they will gather . . . all evil doers, and throw them into the furnace of fire,”615 and that he will pronounce the condemnation: “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire!”616

      http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p123a12.htm

      • Joe Catholic, you do know that not everyone here is Catholic so why push Catholic doctrine? Are you too lazy to offer the actual scripture that backs what you claim?

        • There is some scripture in there. But why not push Catholic doctrine? You push yours. Everyone else is pushing theirs.

          Do you think Jesus didn’t speak of Hell?

          • Joe Catholic, when I quote “my doctrine” it is the Bible and when I quote Jesus, it is from the Bible not filtered dogma. Hope that clears it up.

            • No it doesn’t because you have your own agenda and your own interpretation. You’re preaching your own doctrine.

              • Now I know you are not bright, Joe Catholic. Responding to a blog post is not preaching. Defending my opinions and beliefs is not preaching either. I do not have my own doctrine. That is not how doctrine works.

  25. As usual, you succinctly stated what is so prevalent today, ‘radical’ prejudice and that can never be considered ‘Christian’ in any sense. I totally agree with all you said, thinking of one of my dearest friends and his partner of nearly 25 years, and how he has exemplified compassion, kindness and goodness for me. The idea of people, simply because they don’t ‘believe’ or have different lifestyles, being sentenced to hell because of it is just abhorrent. Thank you always be being a voice.

  26. If there is no hell, then why is John P and others so judgmental if it all doesn’t matter in the end? If they are proposing that there is a standard of measure to be kept in order to make it to heaven, then why don’t they still believe in hell? Why do they hold to this standard if it is without consequence?

    {Playing the devil’s advocate…} So what if we don’t love others, God will (have to) forgive us, because there is no hell. So what if we aren’t nice to our neighbors, God will also forgive that as well. So what if there is suffering or poverty or injustices, because God is obligated to use His mercy and grace on everyone no matter what they have done or how they behave because if he made me then he must love me or else he is not good at all.

    Don’t be fooled by John P and his crony followers. There is a God we must answer to for our iniquities and He alone has the remedy (salvation) for our condition (sin).

    • Edward, as I said above, I want to believe in a real Hell and that bad people go there.

      I may yet be one of them, but I will not be convicted for damning people to hell for having a different religion, for their sexual orientation, gender identity or some of the very judgmental pronouncements of what will “earn” someone hell that the Christian Right insists on.

      I think that us “cronies” all seem to have studied the Bible and organized religion on our own and are adults fully capable of discerning fact and truth, but I would never urge ANYONE to base their faith or bet their souls on something any person says or thinks. Not Reverend Pavlovitz, not Reverend Graham, not Reverend Osteen, not any proselytizer here either.

      • Sandi…Then where do you get what you see as truth and why do you see it as truth?

        I want to believe in a real Hell and that bad people go there.

        How many people do you qualify as “bad”? The Bible says in Romans 3:23 … For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God

        God says everyone is “bad”. Do you agree with him? If not, who’s version of the truth do you want to go with and who’s version will God use in the end of all things? Who are you putting your money on when its all said and done?

        • Edward, you are still (and deliberately) missing my point.

          I “get” what I see as truth from studying the Bible and reading pastors like Adam Hamilton, John Pavlovitz, and Sister Joan Chittister (among others) to help me discern the truth.

          But again, my point is that I DO NOT “qualify” who is bad or who is good in relation to who is going to Hell or Heaven.

          Certainly I agree that all of us sin, I do not agree that all of us are bad. When I am in doubt, I go with the most loving version as truth because love is the biggest, most often repeated command of the Gospels.

          As I have said many, many times, I am betting my soul on the love of Jesus. The love he taught us to have for God and the love he told us to give to those in need.

            • Edward, I just prefer more modern voices. The Bible is a heavy lift in language, syntax etc so I look to modern voices outside of that and church doctrine. I have read several of John Wesley’s sermons and I have to applaud the stamina of that congregation.

              • Personally, I think it is pointless to read much that is a result of the Reformation.

                For modern writers I prefer those of the catholic wing of Anglicanism and some Orthodox writers such as Ware, Callender.

            • Because they were fundies Edward. The Bible instructs us to be careful who we allow to be our teachers. I could ask you the same thing—dumbass. Why don’t you read the books put out by faculty at the great schools of Divinity like Oxford, Harvard, Duke, and Vanderbilt? I’ll tell you why. It is because you disdain facts and academic learning—as most fundies do—and choose instead to lick the boots of ignorant men for your spiritual nourishment. Garbage in—garbage out Eddie.

        • Ed, I have a question for you.

          Do you really think, just for example, Ghandi deserves to be in hell alongside Hitler?

          Or as Hitler said he was a Christian..do you really think Hitler deserves to be in heaven while Ghandi is in hell?

          • James…It doesn’t matter what I think about where they deserve to be, that’s not mine to say. What’s done is done. What only matters is that I trust God put them where they themselves decided to be and will use that same criteria on me as well.

            • “God put them where they themselves decided to be ?”

              Gosh Edward you lost me! How twisted is that ?

              God doesn’t have any power to rescue people from themselves?

              Now I know…not to listen to you 🙁

              • Figured that out didja? Edward has been here for several years. He spends a lot of time in his graphics studio on the drawing board. He comes up with ideas, tries them out here, falls flat on his face, and goes back to the drawing board to try again. I am just wondering if he will ever figure out the fact that his Christian fundamentalist belief system has its roots in 19th century American revivalism west of the Appalachians and that the people who were reviving were nothing more than stupid, backwoods hillbillies who had little to zero education—and many could not even write their own names. If you ask me, those are damned awful theological roots for anything that deserves a reasonable hearing in a Christian faith that was already fully developed elsewhere in the world for 1,900 years.

              • Sure he has the power to rescue people from themselves and that’s probably why a lot of suffering is permitted or many of us would be ego-maniacs, but he doesn’t interfere with free will. If you’re determined to hate God and not be humble and contrite, you can choose to separate yourself from him and be in Hell. As CS Lewis said, “The gates to Hell are locked on the INSIDE.”

                • Joe, yes it is about free will, I agree.

                  God chooses not to interfere with our free will however, God gives us many opportunities to choose love and peace– instead of hate and fighting.

              • Gosh Edward you lost me! How twisted is that ?

                Then why are you judging something you don’t understand?

                God doesn’t have any power to rescue people from themselves?

                He does, it was the crucifixion of Christ. The lifeboat is there, some just choose not to get in.

                Now I know…not to listen to you

                That’s your choice as well.

                • Edward, your comments are confusing and your subsequent comment does not help me to view you as a credible source.

                  “What’s done is done. What only matters is that I trust God put them where they themselves decided to be and will use that same criteria on me as well.”

                  I trust Jesus is a Good Shepard who goes out and finds his lost sheep, even if they made the decision to wander off.

                  • Edward, your comments are confusing and your subsequent comment does not help me to view you as a credible source.

                    YOU SAID: “What’s done is done. What only matters is that I trust God put them where they themselves decided to be and will use that same criteria on me as well.”

                    However, I trust Jesus is a Good Shepard who goes out and finds his lost sheep, even if they made the decision to wander off.

            • That’s funny Edward. When I visited fundie forums nearly 20 years ago, you would have been hard-pressed to find a single fundie who would not openly point a finger at a person and say: “You are definitely going to Hell.” I rarely see fundies doing that these days. What was the great event in the insane little world of Fundiedom that made you back off from that? Did Pat Robertson receive a telegram from “Own Hah” and red it to the world on The 700 Club?

              • But David, it does not matter what millions of other Christians say. It only matters what is true. God does not work like they think. God is not small like them. God is not cruel like them. God is not stupid like them. God is not going to do their bidding.

              • And yet, Ed, you continue to say where millions of people will end up because you don’t care to think through what the Bible..a human written book..is saying.

                And in the process you strip God of any and all morality and justice

          • –By God’s standards, Hitler and Gandhi were both bad people. Only God knows if they bent their knee ( I hope they did) and accepted what Jesus had to offer. (pretty sure Gandhi denounced Jesus’ divinity).

            • Ghandi reportedly said.

              I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.

              How exactly was Gahndi a bad person?

    • Ed. God has the option of 100 percent mercy for everyone. Never forget that!!! It is his call—and his call alone. And He is really big on forgiveness—forgiving those who know not what they do and those that do know hat bad things they are doing.

      • God has the option of 100 percent mercy for everyone.

        Does he? Even if it contradicts with his mandate for justice? So you are saying that God can excuse evil, and should, if he wants to? Why should he? To appease your sense of justice? Where does that leave those who really need justice?

        You are correct in that God would rather forgive than judge and that is a very good thing, but to those who won’t repent, he must judge, because his holiness demands it. Once again it comes down to our decision on what we leave God to deal with.

        • In Zac 7:9 we find God’s definition of ‘justice’ or ‘judgement’ He says true justice is to show mercy and kindness. So God’s way of doing judgement is through mercy and forgiveness. Look at Jesus He judged His murderers by asking the Father to forgive them, without any repentance on their part. To make God’s forgiveness and mercy conditional on repentance means it then ceases to be forgiveness because forgiveness is a free gift without conditions.

          By saying God ‘must judge’ you are putting a power above God , you are saying God has to bow to justice. Holiness doesn’t demand anything ‘holiness’ simply means other than it has no connection with any particular moral behaviour or code.

          Paul says that God has given over some to disobedience (non repentance if you like) why? so He can punish them no! the verse goes on to say…in order that He might have mercy on them all (all the disobedient!)

          It’s not that God would rather forgive than judge it’s that God’s judgement is forgiveness. The other thing is God has no record of any of man’s wrong doing so what exactly is He judging?

  27. Mr. Pavlovitz,

    I enjoy most of your writings on a pretty regular basis. It is clear to me that you are a busy person, but if you find the time, I would recommend a book for you to read. No axe to grind, nor point to make with it. Just an enjoyable yarn with a surprisingly exuberant discussion of religious beliefs and the possibilities and responsibilities of life as a human being with a soul. Robert Heinlein’s Job: A Comedy of Justice. I found, and find, it fun, funny and thought provoking. And thankfully, not too serious. Best thing about it? Love is the driving force of the story.

  28. Honestly – I am ambivalent about Hell.

    As a fundamentalist Baptist, I would have daily nightmares about the place for years until I couldn’t be a part of that belief system any more (coincidentally, I was also dealing with the affects of severe parental abuse – many long years of extremely painful therapy). I realized that there was a good deal of abuse, as well, in the fundamentalist Baptist church.

    I never felt at home in non-denominational groups such as Calvary Chapel/Vineyard…I did go through RCIA in 1999, mostly because there has been a respect for the intellect in many areas of Roman Catholicism (absolutely loved those bright and mischievous Jesuits at Loyola Marymount, where I got a Master’s in Theology in 2008). However, truth be told, I find a good deal of the same sort of fundamentalism in certain aspects of Roman Catholicism, and my ‘inner Protestant’ really has trouble with other aspects such as certain Marian devotions, the Rosary, and the amazing contortions surrounding annulments.

    The thief crucified with Jesus who realized his sin was told “today you shall be with me in Paradise (NOTE: Jesus said “Paradise” and NOT “Purgatory”) – and this thief didn’t have the opportunity to make up for his past life – he recognized Who Jesus was, and expressed his faith.

    Yet, the horrible, heinous crimes committed against various parts of humanity (The Holocaust, Armenian Genocide, the Khmer Rouge, the Middle Passage of American slavery and other foul deeds done to many and to few) would demand that there be some sort of retributive justice – I do think there is such a place as Hell, connected in Scripture with the fires of the trash dumps of Gehenna and the utter darkness of Tartarus – but I think we need to be very, very ,very (did I say, ‘very’) careful about whom we casually consign to such a place – I am troubled when I hear the speculation that ‘so-and-so-celebrity is in Hell because he/she was gay/promiscuous/drug-addicted/not-a-Christian’….there could be “fine, upstanding, pillars-of-society” people in Hell because of the hatred in their hearts for their fellow humankind, and there could be the most upstart, radical, misbehaving people in Heaven because of the love for their fellow humans.

    One of the most striking and emotional parts of Scripture is the woman who brought the expensive ointment (in another place, we are told that it is Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus) and anointed Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair. She is criticized, scorned and mocked by the ‘respectable’ religious people, Jesus basically tells them that they need to pull up on His homegirl, to back off, that she was forgiven much because she loved much.

    I think when she looked in His eyes, she saw ultimate love, mercy, forgiveness, forbearance, and that is what all of us need for ourselves and to try to show to others.

    Is there a Hell? I tend to think so, but it is a place of the complete absence of love, a place where Hate is consigned for eternity.

      • Sally Jane, I pretty much gave up worrying about heaven and hell after I read The Great Divorce by C S Lewis.

        • There has to be justice. The Great Divorce does not deal with the atrocities done on this earth rather the things people cannot let go of. A better question than “is there a hell ? ”

          would be ” Is there evil ? “.

          How does God deal with evil ?

          • I think it’s a given that there is evil. Human beings created it.

            Does there have to be justice? I sincerely question if we human beings can tell the difference between justice and revenge.

            The message I took from the Great Divorce is that people can choose to live in the Presence or they can choose to live in the absence. To those who chose the Presence, it is as if they have always been in heaven. For those who choose the absence, it is as if they were always in hell.

            If there must be justice, I should think an eternity of the absence would be enough. I can think of nothing worse than being without God.

            One thing that also struck me in the Great Divorces is that there were those who clearly thought they were on God’s side quite clearly weren’t. That certainly made me challenge my presuppositions.

            • I accept some of what you said but for those who were tortured and killed in 601 military hospital and all the thing Yattwood listed above. I wonder how they feel about it. Is this not why God says “Vengence is mine”. ? Because only God can avenge a crime in good measure.

              I can tell you I have resisted taking revenge on those who have harmed me because I await God’s justice. And if God Is merciful to my accusers and abusers I know he will give me the grace to understand.

              • “Is this not why God says “Vengence is mine”. ? Because only God can avenge a crime in good measure.”

                Yes. Also, I think what God might think is a good measure may not satisfy our human desires, possibly even our sinful desire to make others pay for what they did to us.

                We can imagine all sorts of things that might seem good in our eyes, but ultimately so many of those things aren’t good. I think that’s one of the reasons Judges is in the Hebrew Scriptures. People did what was good in their own eyes and look how that turned out.

                Ultimately, I can’t think of anything worse for someone that they be without God for eternity.

                • I think God’s justice will be an end to suffering for all humans. There is no evidence he will torture people for eternity. At least that is all I can cope with.

                  I try not to dwell on this kind of thing.

                  • I doubt anyone is or has been tortured for all eternity. That kind of madness can only come from human brains. If we say there is an after-life, then surely there is no end for the opportunities to receive God’s mercy.

                    While i am unable to imagine anything worse than the absence of God for eternity, I doubt it has ever come to that.

                    • Well I don’t know the specifics however based on my understanding of the scripture, the words of Jesus, the OT and NT… all of us will face God and give an account. Some to everlasting life and some to …(fill in the blank)

              • God is defending his exclusive right to bestow vengeance in Paul’s words. That does not mean God will decide to do vengeance. Vengeance per se is not the point in that verse. God is merely standing up and saying:

                “Paul. I am God—and you are not God. So do not take out vengeance against the person who wronged you.”

    • “The thief crucified with Jesus who realized his sin was told “today you shall be with me in Paradise (NOTE: Jesus said “Paradise” and NOT “Purgatory”) ”

      That doesn’t disprove the Catholic concept of Purgatory. Christ being God can choose to make exceptions if he so pleases, hanging on a cross would be a form of “purgatory” on earth.

      I went through RCIA too. I struggled a little at first with the Marian devotions, but soon learned to pray the Rosary and have been praying it every day for more than twenty years. It’s totally optional, however.

      My stumbling block and fascination was with Holy Communion being the actual Body and Blood of Christ. Once I came to believe that, everything else fell into place.

    • Living in USA, I don’t think people realize what exactly life would be like if God were to take his hand off of everything, and everybody. (although, we are inching closer & closer). If you could imagine that, that is what Hell is / will be like.

      Kinda like that movie, ‘Its a Wonderful Life’, where George Bailey gets a glimpse of what Bedford Falls would have been like if had never been born (not good).

  29. John,
    It’s really a sorry, sad, state of affairs when people become giddy at the thought of someone else being ‘bound for hell.’ I grew up a fundi-baptist. I was abused for 17 years. I may have not experienced the gnashing of teeth but I experienced the flames that wouldn’t consume me.
    And when I hear a story of some young person having been beaten, raped, rescued, or found dead – from a congregation of ‘true god fearing folk’, I know – they too – had either been made unwilling Martyrs or Confessors of their faith(s). And I know that they’ve been to hell already.
    Not only do I not believe in a literal hell – i don’t believe it simply for the pleasure of robbing from these kinds of people their misguided sense of entitlement when it comes to God as well as their backwards view of justice which stems from nothing more than plain old bigotry and malice.

  30. John, I think about the sales tactic BOGO (Buy One Get One Free). You don’t really get it for free for you have to buy something as a condition. It is just built into the purchase price. It sounds good, and you feel good getting a good bargain.

    In Christianity, we say GOBO. We say that God’s love and grace are unconditional, a free gift. It gets people in the door. But, and note the “but,” we tell people what they have to do to get what is freely given. Usually, they are belief and relational expectations. We tell them they are getting something free from God, but what we are really doing is selling the “gift.”

    Hell is a control factor. It is the same sales tactic that says, “Buy this while supplies last!” or there is a limitation on the offer. By the way, research clumps punishment and rewards together as control factors because the motivation for both is extrinsic. People will do most anything to avoid punishment, but they will also do most anything for the reward.

    Control factors are the means to control people, what they do, how they are to relate and to achieve other social agendas. It is why some may believe that religion is a sociological, political, or economic design to control the masses. The designers of these control theologies do not believe that people will act “Christian” on their own without some pressure. Even more sinister is that the authors of these control theologies have political and economic agendas. Sadly, church history showed this to be true at times. War, in the name of God, is common. We use God to tickle the ears of church goers for political votes. The church is a 3 trillion dollar business and new businesses are constantly cropping up to tap into that economic well.

    I am not saying I don’t believe in hell. I like the movie, “What Dreams May Come.” It is a phenomenological movie that promotes the thought that our mind or spirit will create the reality of the afterlife, and so, depending on who we are, we can become trapped in our own fears, selfishness, greed, anger, guilt, etc. Likewise, our spirit may create the beauty, love, compassion, kindness, creativity, etc inherent in all of us. Strange how the movie ends. It gives hope that nobody is permanently stuck. Self-sacrificial love can bring anyone back from hell. Reminds me of what Christ did and still does for us.

  31. Just as God Gave second , third, Last minuite warnings and waited for as long as possible in the distruction of sodom and Gommorrah so he is doing now.
    YOU say why, He says Sin, Rebellion, hatred of God
    YOU say what , He listed out in the writing all thru out history of events which destroyed nations, cultures, people of the past.
    YOU say Not me someone else’s sin.
    NO God Says NO one is with out excuse. or exempt.
    God Loves all Mankind , But is Just,and Holy
    He is not willing that any should perish , so he waits patiently.
    YOU say notme , But the scriptures are real clear , if you cared to read, find out , look them up. check them out .
    You are a victim of what lie you believe , Check it out , See what I say , Prove me wrong, go read, find out , check it out.
    God is not Stupid, and will punish sin. Unholy sin. He God is no respector of men.
    YOU reap what you sow, later than you sow, and definitely more than you sow.
    even if it is wrong belief. or love of sin. or love of money, or lust of flesh.
    God is Holy and Just
    Remember the people of sodom and gommorah were warned, told, given many chances and they Still Chose wrong
    They Made their own choice, they were responsible for their own death, destruction calamity.
    Don’t Blame other Christians for not being perfect so you can find other faults, Judge with holy scriptures so you can encourage to do what is right , holy , just , Godly

    • It doesn’t say anywhere in scripture that God is Holy or just as essence of His being God is love. Holiness and justice flow like everything else out of His love! In Zach 7:9 God defines true compassion as ‘showing mercy and compassion’ So God’s way of justice is forgiveness and mercy. The scriptures say that God punished sin once and for all, killed it removed it from all of mankind and God had no record of any of man’s sin anyway so there is nothing left for God to judge! Even Sodom and Gomarrah’s fortunes will be restored according to the ‘Holy Scriptures!’

      • Maybe you need to google it see if it say s it in a different bible.
        Every bible i have and i have at least 12 versions, 5 different religions and many commentary.s
        It says it all over the new testament. and old
        Instead of me trying to convince you.
        Lets have you spend time asking God to reveal this and show scriptures where this is that way the relationship truly YOU and God , Not me forwarding my beliefs.
        God is Holy and cannot dwell with mankind because of the garden of Eden , sin. born into every man, woman, child. not what you do, but what we, I , you, us are.

  32. John P, thank you and see you there.

    This is a blog about loving our neighbors as ourselves and there are Entirely Too Many voices in the comments who are eager to find any reason at all to withold their love and Heaven from theose they consider unworthy.

    I had no idea it was up to human beings to decide who is saved and who is not.

    Paul writes that there are those who have never heard of the Law and yet live as though the Law was engraved upon their hearts and God counts it as righteousness.

    Have you ever stopped to wonder what Law that was? Certainly couldn’t have been the detailed Levitical law or the complicated kosher laws. No, it had to be they live as though they had engraved upon their hearts the Two Great Commandments which Jesus tells us sums up all the Law and all the Prophets.

    There are Entirely Too Many people in the comments whose knee-jerk reaction is to dislike what John P writes here because they hate their reflections in his mirror. Please, just read it again. See the love that is being offered to you.

    • So you’re in agreement with JP’s prophetic proclamation that there is no Hell?

      Is disbelief in Hell an option in the Episcopal faith?

      How do you feel about spending an eternity with the Cheeto?

    • I love you all or i would not care if you heard the truth , Just like Jonah and the whale of Nineveh i would just go seek out all i could get from the world .
      God got a hold of my life years ago after being an atheist , I made a commitment in my 20’s after the desert storm , to God if he was real i wanted the truth and wanted no religion, no clubs, not lies, deceptions , false gimmicks to keep me coming back.
      When You have been in Hell on Earth and Reality is no Reality , then what s left. There has to be a loving GOD or man would have destroyed himself years ago. God hold Back Man
      Been to hundreds of churches.
      Yu Se God is Real, and he , only he can Heal, Truly Love you, Truly meet that need. NO Man, NO woman, NO thing will ever satisfy wholly.
      Now I give an answer to all who ask concerning the Hope ( Jesus Christ) that is with in me. No Compromise.

      • Ah!!! You received a serious brain injury as a war wound when you were a soldier in Operation Desert Storm. It scrambled your brain like scrambled eggs on Sunday morning—and that explains your posts. Why didn’t just come out and say so at first?

        Okay everyone. Christopher is one of the “least of these,” so be nice to him. He is doing the best he can.

  33. I have said it before and will say it again. If Hell did not exist, Christian fundamentalists and conservative evangelicals would feel compelled to create one simply because they need a place to send all the people who disagree with them and their religious beliefs.

    • Hi, Charles
      In yesterday’s post comments you said something to the effect that
      people have abandoned half of what Jesus said and did? Which people? Can you elaborate on maybe three things of the half that Jesus said and did that these people have abandoned?

        • Especially when the answer to Joe’s question is self-evident upon five minutes reflection of his own.

          • Gloriamarie Amalfitano,

            Please don’t be like Charles and make bold claims without providing substantive sources or evidence. You say you’re a church historian–it seems like you would want to share your knowledge. Please answer the question I’ve posed to you three times now:

            May I ask if you would be so kind as to list maybe three elements of Early Church writings that John also believes and that the Reformers threw out?

        • Okay. If you’re worried about being proven wrong, I understand your reticence to provide something substantive. And apparently you’re convinced that I’m Joe and not Patrick. Enjoy your strange fantasy.

          • Believe me. I will. If you want to know what John Pavlovitz believes, why are you asking us? He has never issued a statement of his beliefs to me or Gloriamarie. It is pretty damned stupid to be asking us when all you have to do is go straight to Pavlovitz and ask him.

            Send me an e-mail message at tcbkjbbrown@comcast.net and I can put you in direct touch with him.

            • I’m asking YOU not John about something YOU wrote in a comment, and I’m asking Gloriamarie about something she wrote. I know what John thinks. I’m curious about what you and she think.

            • Well, it’s as I suspected — two copious commenters who merely parrot talking points. And when pressed for sources and evidence …

              Crickets.

              • P.S. Quit telling lies. You have no knowledge of what John Pavlovitz believes. John has never released a list of I BELIEVE items that sets forth his complete theological perspective. All you have are your own personally derived assumptions about what he believes. So go F*ck yourself Joe.

                • All one need do is read John’s words and listen to his voice on podcasts; He says what he believes without listing them. Don’t pretend you don’t know what he believes.

                  • No. I don’t know what he believes as a complete picture Maybe you could get him to release a list. You know—like on every fundie blog and website I have ever see:

                    WE BELIEVE:

                    1.

                    2.

                    3.

                    P.S. I do not come to this blog because I believe all the same things John believes—although I do agree with his writings on particular subjects quite often.

    • If no hell , then no heaven , then man will , would destroy himself for his own passion, lust, pleasure, per suit.
      God holds back mankind from himself.
      God waits for all to repent, come back , he seeks man out to follow the way, the truth, the life , and fulfill his prophecy of old.

  34. I so very much wish today of all t=days that to computer were not an arcane gnosis whose secrets have not been vouchsafed unto me because I saw two wonderful cartoons I so very much want to share with everyone here. Just as Caitlyn Anne shared that wonderful meme yesterday. Or was it the day before? I have the flu, I don’t remember.

    Anyway I don’t know how to share them here. Although they are on my hard drive. Anyway omne is Jesus taking a selfie and the other is Jesus looking into a mirror. To me both seems pertinent to this discussion>

    But they are posted in my FB group, Celebrate What Christians Have in Common.
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/1409874399270377/

    If you want to look.

    I don’t know what Joe Catholic is finding to fuss about… After as a Catholic he doesn’t believe in reciting the magic formula prayer. This blog is talking to people who do.

  35. Oh John….it’s only when one speaks prophetically that this amount of response is evident. Thanks for your courage…and faithfulness.