Saturday, May 24, 2014

Preaching hell is 'hate speech'

The police are investigating Attleborough Baptist Church in Norfolk for an apparent 'hate' crime by displaying this poster. There had been just one complaint. You can read the full story HERE.

Unusually, His Grace has nothing at all to add.

Except to say that had he been the minister in charge of this church, he'd have refused to take down the poster and told the police to go to hell.

He'd have then invited the complainant in for a nice cup of tea, and given him a brief lesson on the origins, significance and importance of religious liberty.


Blogger Dreadnaught said...

Talk about abandoning all reason!

24 May 2014 at 10:30  
Blogger Len said...

ALL warning posters, all traffic,
signs must be removed!.
Because they might cause distress fear and trepidation...

How totally absurd is this Political Correctness taken to extreme limits.

24 May 2014 at 11:24  
Blogger Ditari said...

DN, you're completely missing the point.

24 May 2014 at 11:49  
Blogger Preacher said...

What's the problem? A warning sign is a warning sign. You accept it or reject it, 'simples'. The problems start when the person responsible for erecting the signs fails to display them.

I must admit though that many of our churches today are content to be non combatants in the spiritual war that we are engaged in.

Whitefield, the Wesleys & the rest always spoke this message in an attempt to save souls. they were men of conviction, compassion & love.

I hope one day that this lad doesn't regret not heeding the warning. If he attends a church, they must have bad or no teaching. Perhaps he should join this one

Pastor, don't put this sign back up. Order a BIGGER one with the same message.

24 May 2014 at 11:54  
Blogger Nick said...

I'm trying to work out who is more daft: Mr Gladwin for his Christian illiteracy or the Norfolk Police for treating this as "hate crime".

As Len says, this opens the door to Police investigations on all kinds of warnings. "Smoking can kill" on cigarette packets, for example. Most of us could also probably take the NHS to the cleaners for all its hateful health warnings.

I also can't help wondering why someone who doesn't believe in God would be troubled by such a poster. Surely, any self-confident atheist would easily shrug off any suggestion of hell and not feel the need to go whimpering to the Police.

24 May 2014 at 11:57  
Blogger Inspector General in Ordinary said...

Thankfully, we are not usually subjected to the considered viewpoint of twenty year old pricks like Gladwin or where would we be, what !

Any Christian lawyers out there ? An opportunity here to sue the police for harassment and to collect a Chief Constable's head along the way. Don’t you think ?

Meanwhile, send for Len. A most appropriate fare for his sandwich board, and if he does get to spend a night in police custody, pending the aforementioned purge of the higher ranks, that will be for the Inspector nothing short of a magnificent bonus...

Tally ho !

24 May 2014 at 12:07  
Blogger Lucy Mullen said...

There is loads of real "hate speech" (horrible phrase but it's what's being discussed) hurled at Christians every day. When I saw "Christians need exterminating" posted up on a discussion page, and a pre-moderated one, did I phone the police to waste their time? No, and I doubt whether they would have acted anyway, but harassing Christian preachers seems to be all the rage for an evil subset of the police.

I think the poster is ill advised, but those same flames representing hellfire are all many pop videos that celebrate the dark side, so logically maybe Lady Gaga and Madonna should therefore be arrested for all their red, black, flames, human body altars, and such imagery, or perhaps they are too big?

Consistency would be a nice thing.

24 May 2014 at 12:20  
Blogger Lucy Mullen said...

Oh I forgot to mention that I reported the offending post and it was after having been up for a few hours, removed.

24 May 2014 at 12:22  
Blogger The Explorer said...

It's official: God is guilty of hate crime.

Will there be a Court of Appeal after the Last Judgement? Those human rights lawyers won't give up without a fight.

24 May 2014 at 12:33  
Blogger Owl said...

"Unusually, His Grace has nothing at all to add"

Perfectly put.

Even the idiots must soon realise that they are idiots.

24 May 2014 at 12:38  
Blogger Albert said...

Where's the hate in it?

24 May 2014 at 12:42  
Blogger The Explorer said...

Nick @ 11:57

Interesting point about Mr Gladwin's illiteracy. It depends on who/what he's been reading.

Biblically illiterate, certainly, but lots of the C of E hierarchy would probably agree with him. You know the sort of stuff: if God exists (open question) and if there's an after life (even more open question) then everyone will eventually go to Heaven, Summerland, Nirvana or whatever else you want to call it.

The one certainty for such types is the non-existence of Hell.

24 May 2014 at 12:43  
Blogger The Explorer said...

Albert @ 12:42

The hate in it is the implication that there will not be equal opportunities in the next life.

24 May 2014 at 12:44  
Blogger Albert said...

Actually, Explorer, I think the hate is in the complainant and in the police!

24 May 2014 at 12:46  
Blogger The Explorer said...


Quite so. I was giving the viewpoint of the complainant; not my own.

24 May 2014 at 12:48  
Blogger Albert said...

Don't worry, Explorer, I didn't think you were!

24 May 2014 at 12:48  
Blogger David Hussell said...

I agree with His Grace 100% .

Personally I think the poster makes an excellent point, but whether it works effectively, as an evangelical tool is another question, in our insecure post-modern society.

However free speech is vital and must be defended.

The Bible says what it says. I have seen the valley of "gahena" running south from Jerusalem, and it must have looked quite a sight, with the smoke rising from the spontaneous combustion of the city's discarded rubbish, on a hot summer's day. Jesus used that local image, an exemplification, for a reason, and I see no purpose in diluting it to vanishing point.

This "I'm determined to take offence" is pathetic - what a whimpering, weak complaint !

As Owl says, surely soon the idiots must see just how weak and foolish they look.

The police have lost the plot - big time. Have they nothing better to do ?

Although a serious point, you have to laugh at this situation. Have an entertaining Saturday !

24 May 2014 at 12:56  
Blogger David Hussell said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

24 May 2014 at 12:56  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

The hate is found in the implicit denial of man as a self-created autonomous being. Hell is a judgment. Who has the right to punish the god of all the universe? Who would tell him that his act of self-creation is worthy of punishment?


24 May 2014 at 13:00  
Blogger David Hussell said...

Albert @ 12.46

"I think the hate is in the complainant and the police!"

Quite so ! There's the intolerance - of other peoples' ideas, suggestions and beliefs - can't have that in our diverse society you know - Christians ! Shock, and horror !

24 May 2014 at 13:00  
Blogger Lucy Mullen said...

@ Owl

"Even the idiots must soon realise that they are idiots."

If only.

That implies that they are capable of thought and not just unexamined lolling on a perceived bandwagon.

I suspect that what is more likely is that it will go higher up the food chain until it reaches the desk of someone capable of thinking who will sigh wearily and squash it, possibly to the chagrin of the guy who started all the stupidity and thought he was onto a winner 'cos the church is intolerant, ennit?

24 May 2014 at 13:06  
Blogger carl jacobs said...

Btw, if you think of these charges in terms of blasphemy and heresy against the new religion of autonomous man, then they become perfectly comprehensible. Religious liberty is more and more being defined in terms of the ritual and liturgy - things that may be hermetically sealed behind a church door. But there is increasing resistance to religion being brought out of the church - either in message or in action.

Well, unless you are perceived as being willing to slap a clip in an AK47. Then you are given wide berth.


24 May 2014 at 13:26  
Blogger Shadrach said...

Lucy, Should I be included in your list of fire eaters?

This wet behind the ears twerp said; 'It is my basic understanding that Christianity is inclusive and loving in nature'

This poster is not hateful, IT IS LOVING. Yes Master Gladwin, 'The message being displayed outside of the church could not be further from the often uttered phrase ‘love thy neighbour’
If you love LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOUR' you will warn them of the coming danger. No one should see the harm, rather the potential good.

I have just finished reading 'Christians in the Firing Line' by Dr Richard Scott and published by Christian Concern. Full of accounts whereby Christians have ended up being persecuted when they have made a stand for their faith.

I am very disappointed that this Pastor took it down but at 69 I can understand he may not have the wherewithal to fight against it.

It is time we all stand up for our faith and not be brow beaten by anybody.

24 May 2014 at 13:50  
Blogger seanrobsville said...

Evangelical Christianity in conflict with Cameron's Thought Police.

Stupidity versus Idiocy.

24 May 2014 at 14:22  
Blogger Ditari said...

Nope, good versus evil.

24 May 2014 at 14:30  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

How come the police take something like that so seriously instead of telling Mr Gladwin to "get a life" when they seem to ignore calls about property or other anti-social crime, such as when I rang to get someone to arrest the youths repeatedly jumping from some garages onto the roofs of some parked cars?

We believe in freedom of speech and religion in the UK (well, most of us anyway *ahem*) and we ought to collectively stand up for it. One of my local vicars regularly used to send letters to the local newspaper telling everyone that Muslims and homosexuals would burn in hell for all eternity. People just pointed and laughed at him back then.

24 May 2014 at 15:40  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

24 May 2014 at 15:40  
Blogger The Explorer said...

Robert Gladwin felt the sign misrepresented the Christian injunction to "love thy neighbour".

Christianity, in other words, is the commemoration of a nice guy who died who told people to be nice to one another. (Although quite why he should have been put to death for such a benign and innocuous message is a bit of a puzzle.)

24 May 2014 at 15:41  
Blogger David Hussell said...

Some just brilliant posts on this thread today. All are worthwhile and several have made me laugh but the two I've enjoyed the most are from,

Carl Jacobs @ 13.26 - last paragraph especially, and

Explorer @ 15.41, again last paragraph blows the "nice Jesus" bit out of the water, whilst the earlier "no equal opportunities in the afterlife" had me falling off my perch !

Thanks all.

24 May 2014 at 16:11  
Blogger john in cheshire said...

Are these policemen and women making these arrests on their own initiative, or is there a directive coming down from higher up in the force that requires them to persecute Christians? Are there no Christians in the police forces around the country?

24 May 2014 at 16:16  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Citizen's Advice have a webpage about hate incidents.

"[The police and Crown Prosecution Service] say something is a hate incident if the victim or anyone else think it was motivated by hostility or prejudice based on one of the following things:


This means that if you believe something is a hate incident it should be recorded as such by the person you are reporting it to. Anyone can be the victim of a hate incident. For example, you may have been targeted because someone thought you were gay even though you’re not, or because you have a disabled child."


"Hate incidents can take many forms. Here are examples of hate incidents:

•displaying or circulating discriminatory literature or posters"


"When hate incidents become criminal offences they are known as hate crimes. A criminal offence is something which breaks the law of the land."


"If you’ve experienced a hate incident or crime you can report it to the police. You can also report a hate incident or crime even if it wasn’t directed at you. For example, you could be a friend, neighbour, family member, support worker or simply a passer-by."


"You may be unsure whether the incident is a criminal offence, or you may think it’s not serious enough to be reported. However, if you are distressed and want something done about what happened, it’s always best to report it. Although, the police can only charge and prosecute someone when the law has been broken, there are other things the police can do to help you deal with incident."

I suppose this "victim-oriented" approach has come about because of the MacPherson report regarding Stephen Lawrence.

24 May 2014 at 16:37  
Blogger Lucy Mullen said...

Perhaps Robert Gladwin should move on to his local bookshop where he can have a field day protesting anything critical of anyone.

Start with the Professors of History who hate anyone else having a different opinion on their area, move onto Dante, as his "Inferno" isn't too nice about all sorts of people, then to Milton as "Paradise Lost" implies some people go to a nasty place for their misdeeds, protest about Grahame Greene, all that stuff about mortal sin, tear out that great soaring monologue at the end of "Dr. Faustus", devastate the literature section, demolish much of the art section, protest any reference to animals eating each other in the nature section. As for Alan Clarke's diaries call the fire brigade as they consigned many to the flames of hell in THIS life, as do many books in the biography section. As for the crime section, oh horror of horrors...

Come to think of it I suspect that he would find a bookshop a highly alien environment full of contentious, puzzling, and difficult ideas. And all in public where anyone (PANIC) may see them and feel offended, deeply, and unstintingly, by them. Best just to set fire to the lot, and sing an anodyne inclusive ditty on his way home.

24 May 2014 at 16:56  
Blogger David Hussell said...

Lucy Mullen @ 16.56

Excellent ! Shows what madness this law represents.

Maybe I should start a log of the number of times I'm subjected to rude comments when defending Christian ideas - could we clog up the entire system? Seriously though perhaps we Christians ought to turn the tables, exposing these laws to ridicule, by pressing the "I'm offended button?". Makes one think - or do we manfully (womanfully?) take it on the chin in true Brit style ? There's a debating point, maybe ?

24 May 2014 at 17:44  
Blogger Lucy Mullen said...

@ David

As hate, especially as defined in this weedy way, is ubiquitous, because unfortunately we are all fallen and inadequate, it would be awfully easy to clog up the system now, wouldn't it?

A bit mischievous I guess, but quite fun!

And morally defensible as it might make people a bit more careful about drafting silly laws, or rather not. There was not much wrong with free speech but do not incite violence against others, nor refuse housing or work for irrelevant reasons law, nor cause someone loss through libel or slander. Law should be based upon solid losses and threat to life not around hurt feelings even if they are mine!!

However it would be wrong to cause unnecessary suffering, so one would have to be pretty careful I guess.

But argumentum ad absurdum takes one firmly into the sphere of massive censorship. Always interesting to take arguments to their logical conclusions!!

24 May 2014 at 17:55  
Blogger Dreadnaught said...

Whatever happened to the offence of wasting police time I wonder?

24 May 2014 at 18:38  
Blogger The Explorer said...

In his essay 'It's This Bad' Theodore Dalrymple records that his wife reported a bunch of yobs setting fire to the contents of a skip near parked cars.

The police refused to attend, but eventually recorded the crime and gave her a reference number.

Fifteen minutes later, however, someone more senior rang to upbraid her for wasting police time.

Elsewhere, Dalrymple records his complaint to his local council about the used condoms (condoms supplied by said council) thrown into his garden by underage prostitutes, or their clients.

The Council's response was that the condoms protected the underage girls from infection.

It's where we're at.

24 May 2014 at 19:12  
Blogger Albert said...

I think Lucy has hit the nail on the head. It's not that the Baptists were guilty of hate, but that the complainant and the police are guilty of hate and cultural illiteracy. What if the poster had said "he who does not believe will be condemned"? Does quoting Jesus amount to hate-speech?

24 May 2014 at 19:32  
Blogger Albert said...


The Council's response was that the condoms protected the underage girls from infection.

No they don't, they protect their clients from infection and responsibility.

24 May 2014 at 19:33  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

I daresay no crime has been committed and so no arrest or charge will follow. It's been recorded as a hate incident simply because some berk has complained.

24 May 2014 at 20:44  
Blogger IanCad said...

"-----he'd have refused to take down the poster and told the police to go to hell."

I have no doubt that you would do exactly that YG.
You have quite a track record.

There are no winners here.

A police force rendered useless by PC squealers.
A young man who one day may grow up.
A sad preacher who is far too meek.

Thanks DanJO @ 16:37. I had no idea it was that bad.

24 May 2014 at 21:11  
Blogger Rambling Steve Appleseed said...

In my future fantasy Kindle novel 'Darwin's Adders: A Chronicle of Pagan England 2089' I envisage the bible being outlawed as hate speech under the Freedom from All Religious Terror (FART) Act..

24 May 2014 at 21:19  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you want to vote on whether or not the church should have taken down this poster go to

and scroll down the page. Vote currently stands at 52% in favour of making the church remove the poster but HG's legions of readers and communicants might overturn this if they felt so inclined.

24 May 2014 at 21:35  
Blogger David Hussell said...

Reflecting on this I find it difficult to believe that the police want to investigate this sort of ridiculous non-crime, or am I being naive ? But given by the number of incidents occurring, across the forces, there must be something that makes them feel that they must do so, perhaps ?

Society is gripped by confusion regarding what is right and reasonable, about the nature of faiths, doubts, claims and counter claims regarding truth, about the nature of free speech and democracy itself, I conjecture.

What I find so utterly bizarre is that here we are in a country with a House of Lord's that starts each days business with Christian prayers, with a visibly, self declared Christian monarch, with an established Church and with our landscapes and townscapes littered with church buildings and chapels of all persuasions and with ample visible evidence of Christian activity past and present, yet somehow laws exist that act so as to prevent recognised priests and ministers of religion from declaring what the religion's foundational documents, The Bible says. It is, it strikes me occasionally, as an exceedingly confusing, bizarre state of affairs.

Truly we have become a deeply confused society ill at ease with it's past beliefs, unsure of the present or future, lacking clear supporting axioms, and seemingly fearful of our own shadow. Everything is therefore disputed and disputable and we, the majority of us on this blog find ourselves, with many fellow believers out there, regarded as members of a shrinking, perhaps deluded, stubborn residue. Yet in Africa and booming China, not to mention S.America, all the economically developing active areas, Christianity is booming !

It is no wonder that there are such frictions between the west and Russia, which having been crucified for 70 years on the cross of atheist Marxism is now, slowly and surely experiencing a strong resurgence of its indigenous Orthodox faith- the two power elites are doomed to be out of synch. When we were nominally still Christian, they were aggressively atheist; now they return bruised and battered to the faith of their ancestors, whilst we flirt, hesitantly, unconvincingly, with, with, what ? - secular confusion ? We journey through an uniquely confused age I maintain. Thank God for our faith.
Good night all.

24 May 2014 at 21:45  
Blogger William Lewis said...

"The 20-year-old, who lives near the church, said: "I was just astounded really.

"We live in the 21st century and they have put that message - that non-Christians will burn in hell - up to try and scare people into joining their mentality."

It's quite clearly a crime against modernity. Open and shut case.

24 May 2014 at 22:09  
Blogger Albert said...

Thank you David H for an extremely thoughtful reflection.

24 May 2014 at 22:13  
Blogger Shadrach said...

Jay Bee,
It's now at 54% for not taking it down. Good result.

Would someone send this to David Cameron and ask how this fits with his message to Christians to be more Evangelistic? Or is it only to be nice to everyone?

24 May 2014 at 22:22  
Blogger Lucy Mullen said...

I think our society is confused between ethics and law. Whilst the law can practically deal with the worst ethical offences there is absolutely no way that it can or should deal with even the majority. Everyday people insult each other, hair gets pulled, feelings get hurt, biscuits, biros and minor office stationery gets pinched. When the police are heavily stretched it makes no sense whatever for them to be threatening kids for picking daffodils, or this kind of nonsense.

And what if the vicar had posted up that saying of Jesus that says anyone who calls anyone else "fool" shall be liable to the fires of hell. That is me and just about everyone else. Is it hate speech? If it is about making people feel awkward and inadequate yes. If you take into account the motive of making us be kinder to each other and purer souls, no.

It would be a bit silly if 99% of the population called it hate speech because they had once done it, not only because it misses that we all need grace and mercy, but also because it is too thin-skinned, too pretending to a perfection that we don't have as human beings, and makes no room for the paradox that it is both critical and yet softhearted.

24 May 2014 at 22:24  
Blogger David Kavanagh said...

Hmmm, this seems to me to be the traditional Christian message, so why the fuss? This isn't anything new for 2,000 years of Christianity.I know Christians see me as a 'hell bound' sinner for not believing their religion. But so what? The only power such ideas have over me is if I actually believed this idea (which I don't because that would mean my first wife, my son and my niece were currently being tortured in this Christian 'hell', something which I can't believe a just and good God would permit, but I digress).

Unless and until there are laws of forcible conversion in this country, I am free to be offended. Or not.

As for this non Christian, I respect your belief, but you'd have to kill me before this son of Israel, goes to baptismal font and denies, "Hear Israel The L-rd our G-d. The L-rd alone".

24 May 2014 at 22:40  
Blogger Mrs Proudie of Barchester said...

Goodness! I have just read in The Jupiter than the famous London music hall comedian, Guiseppe Giglio, has taken offence at Her Majesty's words, 'We are not amused.' He complained to Scotland Yard, who are obliged to enforce the anti-Puritan laws of the Cavalier Parliament making mirth obligatory. Consequently, Her Majesty is in the klink, awaiting her own pleasure. What a strange world we live in to be sure...

24 May 2014 at 22:47  
Blogger The Explorer said...

The modern world says everyone's a winner.

Christ's words about hell are a denial of this modern truth.

There are two ways of responding.

1. Christ didn't really say those things; in which case, he's still an acceptable religious icon for that warm fuzzy moment.

2. Christ actually DID say those things; in which case, he's a heretic who must be silenced.

24 May 2014 at 23:03  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


It is encouraging to hear that the Mirror Poll has now swung in favour of free speech.

How many would have bothered to look at this “wayside pulpit” I wonder. A few dozen passers by maybe. Thanks to the thin skin of the complainant, the dedication of our pc PC's and the wonders of the internet the poster has now been seen by thousands.

God moves in mysterious ways......

24 May 2014 at 23:05  
Blogger Manfarang said...

10 Ye that love the Lord, hate evil: he preserveth the souls of his saints; he delivereth them out of the hand of the wicked.

11 Light is sown for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart.

12 Rejoice in the Lord, ye righteous; and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.

25 May 2014 at 07:15  
Blogger dav phi said...

Itis surely preferable to warn people that there are consequences to their choices than to promise them virgins and paradise as a reward for evil.

25 May 2014 at 07:54  
Blogger The Explorer said...

2 + 2 = 4 was known to the ancient Greeks.

Are we still going to believe such stuff in this day and age, if modernity is the criterion for determining truth?

25 May 2014 at 07:58  
Blogger David Hussell said...

The Explorer @ 07.58

"if modernity is the criterion for determining truth?"

Modernity in the philosophical sense, or the newspaper "modern" sense, or what ?

What tools does modernity use to discover truth ? The scientific method ?

Can science which investigates nature explore that which is believed to be supernatural ?

25 May 2014 at 09:07  
Blogger grumpyoldcl said...

This is the age when every subject needs to be a sound-bite. There is no intelligent debate anymore.

Clearly the Jesus this young man, and his generation, was thinking about was the Jesus of Luke 16: 14 to 31 (not)

25 May 2014 at 09:08  
Blogger The Explorer said...

David H:

'Modern' as opposed to 'ancient'.

The young man in question suggests that Hell cannot be true because it is an old concept. But 2 + 2 = 4 is an old concept as well. Thus the truth of a concept need not depend solely on its age (outside an obvious field like space research: the mistake is taking space research as the model for everything else).

It's the sort of territory in which David Hockney must be a greater artist than Titian because he was born later.

Or the postmodern idea that truth depends on the majority opinion of a particular community. Thus, the way to determine whether or not Hell exists is to take a vote on it. (The original advocates of Postmodernism were probably thinking in terms of moral issues, but the concept has spread now in the popular mind as the way to determine everything.)

25 May 2014 at 09:25  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

I expect a similar sign could be put outside the local mosque, alluding to the fires of Jahannam and meaning Allah when talking about god. I don't suppose many of us would bother about a sign like that, filing it merely as Muslim guff, and I don't suppose Mr Gladwin would have dared complain. I daresay the police would have sent a community relations officer around to tiptoe around the issue in case it upset them too.

25 May 2014 at 09:54  
Blogger The Explorer said...


I have always respected your clarity and integrity.

Your 09:54 post contains good examples of both.

25 May 2014 at 10:11  
Blogger William Lewis said...

David K

"I know Christians see me as a 'hell bound' sinner for not believing their religion."

Hell is where those who have rejected God and His ways fulfill their aims. The judge of this will be Jesus Christ who said "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me". This is not an invitation to join or believe a religion, but it is an invitation and therefore needs a response. Anyone who proclaims that so-and-so is destined for hell is taking Christ's place.

25 May 2014 at 10:16  
Blogger IanCad said...

David Kavanagh @ 22:40 wrote:

"---that would mean my first wife, my son and my niece were currently being tortured in this Christian 'hell', something which I can't believe a just and good God would permit---"

The vile, pagan doctrine of an ever burning eternal hell is entirely unbiblical and rejected by many Christians. Most notably the CofE.

That many denominations still peddle such profitable slander about our Creator is evidence of their misunderstanding of the sciptures.
How many souls have been lost due to this wretched superstition we will only know in the hereafter.

David, let me address he last paragraph of your post. Namely, the Shema, or, at least the first lines of it - Deuteronomy 6:4.

There is debate among Christians as to whether, implicit in these reverent words, is evidence for the Trinity.
More particularly, the uses of the words - "Yachid" and "Echad" - the former signifying wholeness and the other, compound or of parts.

25 May 2014 at 11:11  
Blogger The Explorer said...

Ian C @ 11:11

I query your use of "entirely unbiblical". To give just three examples:

"their worm shall not die nor their fire be quenched" (Isaiah 66:24)

"go from my sight to the eternal fire that is prepared for the devil and his angels". (Matthew 25:41).

The various references to the Lake of Fire in 'Revelation'.

That the 'fire' is merely metaphorical, that eternal punishment' means extinction, that the fate of the unevangelised is unknown by us: these are valid issues for debate.

But unbiblical?

25 May 2014 at 12:47  
Blogger David Hussell said...

The Explorer @ 09.25

OK, a looser use of the term, but acceptable for that purpose. I only ask because the term "modern" is now being used, confusingly, in different ways.

As to your opinion on how unthinking it is to attribute extra "goodness", or validity to new things, as opposed to "old " things, and with each "new" succeeding idea outstripping the previous, older ones, I support what you say 110 %. I do believe that advertising did much to spread this nonsense, into popular culture, indoctrinating people to go out, borrow money and buy the latest model, the extra good "new" model or fashion. The Ralph Nader built in obsolescence concept uncovered it in the car industry, for example. And now it has spread into the world of ideas and morality ! Incredible, truly.

25 May 2014 at 13:11  
Blogger David Kavanagh said...


I can't see the issue here- Christianity is clearly a religion and to convert to it from another faith clearly involves a change. How can you be a Muslim, say, & a Christian? How can you be a faithful Jew and be a Christian?

25 May 2014 at 13:51  
Blogger David Kavanagh said...


OK,I get that you have a different view. I guess this is what happens when one speaks generally about a faith of 2 billion people! But as a general rule, I've met Christians who do say there is a form of hell- whether it be a literal place of damnation, pitchforks etc -or something less 'dramatic' as a 'cutting off from God' in someway.

25 May 2014 at 13:55  
Blogger David Kavanagh said...


I do get that Christians see the similarities between New Testament and Old, but the difference in interpretation are extremely different between our faiths. For example we both celebrate Pentecost, called Shavuot, but to Christians this is an entirely different festival to the one we celebrate. Like wise there is the Jewish concept called 'ruach ha-kodesh', which Christians see as pertaining to the third person of the trinity, which of course we do not.

Regarding the Shema,I do get the different ways of writing this from the Hebrew, but in the context of what I was saying, those lines have often been said by those Jews who refused to convert to either the cross or the crescent & were killed as a result, so I was expressing my strength of feeling there. To a Jew- not of course to a Christian- worshiping a corporeal figure such as Jesus (a man and a god) is idolatry, which is why I could never be a Christian (among other reasons).

25 May 2014 at 14:12  
Blogger William Lewis said...


"I can't see the issue here- Christianity is clearly a religion and to convert to it from another faith clearly involves a change. How can you be a Muslim, say, & a Christian? How can you be a faithful Jew and be a Christian?"

You cannot covert to Christianity and remain a Muslim or a faithful Jew, but the issue I was trying to highlight is that salvation does not come from conversion to Christianity, but from our relationship with the living God, which is available via His Son. Now there is also clearly a special relationship between the Jews and the living God, the soteriological consequences of which are beyond my knowlege or understanding, but no one can proclaim the destination of anyone else's soul.

25 May 2014 at 14:36  
Blogger IanCad said...

The Explorer @ 12:47

To promote the belief in an eternally burning hell is to advocate for one of Satan's greatest deceptions.

Right up there with "---Ye shall not surely die." Genesis 3:4.

Isaiah 66:24 is the most quoted proof text used to promote the theory.
The verse, and indeed, the whole chapter, is a comparison between the judgements and blessings God visits on the unjust and the righteous.

This is getting tough to make brief so excuse the grapeshot approach.

The terms -Everlasting, Unquechable and Forever have to be understood in reference to their purpose. Or until their objectives were met.

Jonah in the whale Forever. it was three days.

Unquenchable. Until all was burned up.

Everlasting. "And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal." (Matthew 25:46)
"And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death." Rev.20:14.

No one will be alive and burning in hell. We will be with Christ or dead.

Hell is embeded deep in our culture. Art, literature, our speech. It has made good people seem like monsters.

The godly Jonathan Edwards had this to say:

"The view of the misery of the damned will double the ardour of the love and gratitude of the saints of heaven."

John Wesley must have been feeling peevish when he wrote thus:

"The wicked will gnaw their tongues for anguish and pain; they will curse God and look upwards. There the dogs of hell, pride, malice, revenge, rage, horror, despair, continually devout them."

And Isaac Watts was most certainly not surveying the wondrous cross when this little ditty sprang to his mind:

"What bliss will fill the ransomed souls,
When they in glory dwell,
To see the sinner as he rolls,
In quenchless fires of hell"

25 May 2014 at 14:39  
Blogger Len said...

Hell seems to be a reality .Jesus spoke of it.

On an American troopship, the soldiers crowded around their chaplain, asking, "Do you believe in hell?" "I do not", replied the chaplain. "Well, then, will you please resign, for if there is no hell, we do not need you, and if there is a hell, we do not wish to be led astray.

25 May 2014 at 16:50  
Blogger The Explorer said...

Ian C:

"Go from me to the fire that is prepared for the devil and his angels."

Did Satan deceive Christ, given Matthew 25:41?

25 May 2014 at 16:58  
Blogger Albert said...


"And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal." (Matthew 25:46)

The terms -Everlasting, Unquechable and Forever have to be understood in reference to their purpose. Or until their objectives were met.

Here it is in Greek:

καὶ ἀπελεύσονται οὗτοι εἰς κόλασιν αἰώνιον οἱ δὲ δίκαιοι εἰς ζωὴν αἰώνιον

The same word "everlasting/eternal" is used twice to qualify both the punishment and reward. Now unless there is some grammatical reason why the meaning should change in the middle of the sentence, it would appear that Jesus regards the punishment as being just as αἰώνιον as the reward.

Do you therefore think the reward will come to an end?

25 May 2014 at 17:09  
Blogger Len said...

C. S. Lewis wrote, "There is no doctrine I would more willingly remove from Christianity than [hell], if it lay in my power…"

But Christians must treat Hell as a reality because Jesus spoke of it.

25 May 2014 at 17:13  
Blogger Albert said...


By the same token, the reference to Jonah does not work. Here it is:

I went down to the land
whose bars closed upon me for ever;
yet thou didst bring up my life from the Pit,
O LORD my God.

The point seems clear enough: the bars closed over him for ever, and would have remained so, had not God raised him up. This is quite different from God making something last for ever, for then, who is there that will change what he has done?

25 May 2014 at 17:15  
Blogger The Explorer said...

Albert @ 17:09

There's a similar sort of issue with, "I tell you this today you will be with me in Paradise."

Assert soul sleep, and you have to force the punctuation: "I tell you this today. You will be with me in Paradise."

But that jars against the natural reading, and against Christ in 'Matthew': "you have been told... but I tell you this..."

25 May 2014 at 17:24  
Blogger Rambling Steve Appleseed said...

Just re-read CSLewis' book 'The Problem of Pain' which includes a chapter on hell.

He wrote that he wished he could get rid of the doctrine but could not see how to. He also addressed the problem in The Great Divorce, Pilgrim's Regress, The Ladt Battle ( wonder if Disney will film that Narnia story) and in the 2nd and 3rd of his Planetary trilogy. Almost forgot The Screwtape Letters

Christianity's best loved thinker and writer concluded that hard as the doctrine seemed, if we have eternal spirits, and are sick with sin but will not take the medicine offered us, we would end up going somewhere other than the glorious wedding feast of the Lamb in the heavenly Jerusalem.

There is only one such place, the outer darkness where God the source of all goodness and light is not.

I have often thought that it would have been better if God had not gone ahead with the creation rather than even one finally impenitent sinner gone to hell(see Genesis 6:5-6).

However, I am not God (see Book of Job especially 38:-40).

Its a dreadful subject to contemplate but denial never was a very helpful strategy. Like C S Lewis I hate the subject but know myself to be unfit for God's presence unless I am transformed.

The regard I have for Jesus's words compels me to flee this awful possibility, flee to the foot of the cross where I sm persuaded a remedy for my sin is to be found.

25 May 2014 at 17:36  
Blogger David Hussell said...

Is there a Hell and if so what's it like ?

Like many other Christians I wish there wasn't, but Jesus talked about it, so it will not go away, just because we don't like it. So what's it like ?

As I mentioned earlier Jesus pointed to the Jerusalem city tip - rubbish being just thrown into the gahenna (sp?) valley on the southern outskirts of the old city. Fires broke out spontaneously in summer - not a pretty sight. But there you have it. Today it is well cared for looks beautiful !

Like a number of conservative Anglicans at the protestant end, I would like to believe that it is a place of separation from God, rather than torture, as God wishes to live with those who are happy to do his will. CS Lewis captures this in 'The Great Divorce". So you are in Hell because you choose not to live with God, and obey him, a self imposed condition. This appeals to my 20/21 st C mind, but is this right ? Only God knows and as the whole thing is so unpleasant I prefer not to think too much about it, but trust in God and move onto other areas of our faith.
Like Job I became aware, after making mistakes, that ultimately, I SHOULD always accept God's wisdom and not put my "wisdom" before his. Not being more certain about this is, for me, rather unsatisfying, spiritually and intellectually, but it is the best I can manage on this earthly side of reality.

25 May 2014 at 17:38  
Blogger Albert said...

I don't get all this wishing hell does not exist. Of course, I will that no one goes there - and I'm in good company (1 Tim.2.4). But if people cling to what is evil, should I be sorry that justice is done? Are we so caught up in a non-Christian utilitarianism that we will not accept, as good, the justice that is the will of God?

25 May 2014 at 18:40  
Blogger IanCad said...

The Explorer

Christ is talking of his second coming in this parable.
Again, see Rev. 20:14.

Your later comment re. the thief on the cross would seem to suggest an immediate transfer to heaven - where Christ would not be. Even Moses and King David didn't get that.

Albert Let's see, what was it last time? Three hundred and fifty and counting? I almost dread to reply!

OK! No, the meaning does not change and punishment and reward are both permanent.
In the one unto death and the other to life.

Jonah, as foreshadowing Christ's three days in the grave left his old man there and came up new.
He was not there forever but until God acted. As the account was, obviously, written after his adventure it would seem to further confirm that our understanding of the word should be according to the context.

Len, RSA
Other than Screwtape I must admit that I have read nothing of Lewis apart from a passage here and there.
Despite his undoubted credentials he cannot be regarded as canonical. For, if we were, the same honour would have to be granted to John Stott who holds a different view on the subject of hell.

Let me end by stating that the fear of eternal torture in hell has served to fill the coffers of the church like nothing else. Too much money in it to change.

25 May 2014 at 19:02  
Blogger Sister Tiberia said...

I seem to recall (I'm sure Albert will correct me on this) an earlier debate on this subject, where someone states that the Roman Catholic Church has never definitively named anyone as being in Hell. That Hell exists is an article of faith, but it would be gravest presumption for us to say that a certain person is, or is not in it, that privilege is God's alone.

On the other hand, we have named a lot of people as firmly in Heaven. Start at the top of the Communion of Saints and work down :)

25 May 2014 at 19:08  
Blogger The Explorer said...

Ian Cad @ 19:02

I agree the parable is about the Second Coming. And with the Second Coming comes the Last Judgement, and the condemned following Satan into the Lake of Fire (which I interpret as figurative, but nonetheless a reality as an ongoing situation).

I do believe that the penitent thief received immediate transfer to Paradise (the temporary Heaven that will be renewed after the Second Coming, since I believe that judgement occurs immediately after death. (I believe we are saved through faith in Christ, but I accept we will be at different stages of completeness, depending on how fully we have allowed the Holy Spirit to renew us; so I believe in some sort of purgatorial process in Heaven.)

I think Moses got the same treatment. At the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:4) Christ spoke with Moses and Elijah. Both would appear to have been wide awake.

25 May 2014 at 19:29  
Blogger Albert said...


No, the meaning does not change and punishment and reward are both permanent.
In the one unto death and the other to life.

How do you know the punishment is everlasting death?

He was not there forever but until God acted.

Indeed, so if God acts to put someone in hell for ever, where is the power that will deliver from God's hand?

25 May 2014 at 19:34  
Blogger Len said...

There are a lot of things which I wish didn`t exist but if scripture reveals them as truth I can and must accept them.

I think the Roman Catholic idea of springing people out of purgatory(for a price)is one of the most unscrupulous cons ever invented.

25 May 2014 at 19:35  
Blogger David Kavanagh said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

25 May 2014 at 19:37  
Blogger David Kavanagh said...


I appreciate this, but the reality is different, when you chat to those who evangelise those of us who are not Christian. I guess we need to agree to disagree here.

25 May 2014 at 19:39  
Blogger IanCad said...

The Explorer

It is my understanding that at the Second Coming the righteous -both those who are alive and those in the grave - will rise to meet the Lord in the air.
The wicked will be destroyed by the brightness of his coming. They will remain until the second death at the end of the millenium.

I'm having a little difficulty with your Purgatory Lite.
"It is appointed to man to die once and after that the judgement" Hebrews 9:27

Albert asked: "How do you know the punishment is everlasting death?"

We will live with Christ or we will be of those of whom it is said: " and they have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten," Ecclesiastes 9:5.
That would seem to me to be dead - forever.

25 May 2014 at 20:23  
Blogger Albert said...


I think the Ecclesiastes reference is unpersuasive. After all, the text is referring to the dead per se. This is simply an OT view of life (or lack thereof) after death, which was thought to apply to everyone. In any case, one never knows with Ecclesiastes whether he is proposing a view or setting one up for discussion or rejection.

What of the passages which say the everlasting punishment is everlasting fire? You've got to admit, surely, that if (per impossible) the traditional teaching is wrong, it was an easy mistake to make.

25 May 2014 at 20:38  
Blogger Rambling Steve Appleseed said...


I never said that Lewis was canonical. Nor did he, quite the reverse.

What I meant to say was that he devoted a significant amount of his highly trained, well informed,,logical and lucid thought to thinking and writing about this most dreadful matter and has left readers some helpful reflections.

Well I find them helpful anyway.

We certainly won't resolve the issue of eternal judgment by expressing strong feelings about what we would prefer to be the case.

Just saying that CSL reflected and wrote a lot about hell which people can read if they like, or not. The Great Divorce and Screwtape are probably the richest sources.

25 May 2014 at 20:40  
Blogger The Explorer said...

Ian C @ 20:23

We have differing views about the Millennium, but I don't want to go there!

I can see the case for soul sleep (Tyndale argued for it), but I have problems with it because of the Lazarus parable, and the Transfiguration episode.

That said, you and I both agree that those who demand their freedom from God will be granted their request: whatever the form that takes. (Although he does not fully persuade me, I think Stott makes the case for Annihilationism effectively).

That makes you and me closer to one another doctrinally than either of us is to a Universalist. I can see how Annihilationism could be true; but Universalism, I reject outright.

25 May 2014 at 20:56  
Blogger Thomas Keningley said...

I loathe this country.

25 May 2014 at 21:15  
Blogger DanJ0 said...

Travel widely, Thomas. You'll learn to love this country soon enough.

25 May 2014 at 21:24  
Blogger Che Yeoh said...

I've always thought that Pascal's Wager is the creed of a coward, but the police shouldn't have been called out for this. What an utter waste of time.

25 May 2014 at 21:34  
Blogger Albert said...


You're beginning to sound like St Monica. God bless you!

25 May 2014 at 21:47  
Blogger Albert said...


I think Pascal's Wager is designed to show that even scoundrels are irrational not to be believe in God.

25 May 2014 at 21:48  
Blogger Che Yeoh said...

I have no compunction threatening scoundrels with Hell, but I have a problem doing it with atheists. Being an atheist does not mean that you are a scoundrel; conversely being a scoundrel does not mean you are an atheist. The devil believes in God for example. If belief in God is simply based on fear of Hell, then you will end up worshipping whatever god you are most afraid of. That is not the same as loving or respecting them.

25 May 2014 at 22:22  
Blogger Hannah said...

What a thread!

25 May 2014 at 22:40  
Blogger Hannah said...

Hi Che,

But that's the issue with Christianity. You get into heaven, not because of the right or wrong you've done in this life, but because you follow Jesus. So how is that a just system?Good atheists or Hindus or Jews or Muslims are destined for hell (however it is described), but the asshole Christian 'born again believer' isn't. I know RC's have a slightly different take on this, but Protestants clearly say 'good works' don't get you into heaven.Only Jesus does. Doesn't that worry your sense of fair play or morality?

25 May 2014 at 22:46  
Blogger Albert said...


I didn't say that an atheist was a scoundrel (and for that matter I didn't say I agree with the argument) I said that the argument aims to show that even a scoundrel should believe in God.

If belief in God is simply based on fear of Hell, then you will end up worshipping whatever god you are most afraid of

That does not mean to say that there is no sense of believing for fear of hell. Jesus himself makes such warnings, but as scripture also says, perfect love cast out fear.

25 May 2014 at 23:18  
Blogger Albert said...


Far be it from me to defend Protestantism, but you make it sound as if the Protestant doctrine is unfair. I really cannot see that it is. Under Protestantism, those in hell end up there because of their sins. It's a justice thing. Believe in Jesus and your sins are forgiven. Don't believe in Jesus and you go to hell on account of your sins. What's the issue? Would you be happier if God did not forgive anyone? You could hardly accuse God of injustice on that scheme, but it would be less merciful.

the asshole Christian 'born again believer' isn't

The point would be that we are all assholes.

25 May 2014 at 23:21  
Blogger carl jacobs said...


1. Your works aren't good in the eyes of God because they proceed from an evil heart.

2. The evil you do is not balanced by the "good" you do, anymore than a murderer's crime is mitigated by contributions to charity.

3. There are no good Hindus or Jews or Atheists or Christians for that matter. You don't get to heaven just by following Jesus. There is a prior event that makes it possible. The evil that men do was punished on the cross. It was not overlooked. It was born by another. That is the center of the Gospel. Christ died for sinners. He died for my sin as if He had committed my sin. That is how the justice of God was satisfied.

Your desire to see your relatives as good is understandable. But it is also wrong. The truth is not dependent upon your desire to believe your loved ones are in a right relationship with God. A right relationship with God is established only through Christ.

As it is written "If you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins."


25 May 2014 at 23:52  
Blogger Happy Jack said...

The Roman Catholic Church still holds as doctrine "outside the Church there is no salvation".

The theological basis for this doctrine is that Jesus established the one Church; and the Church serves as the means by which the graces won by Christ are communicated to believers.
However, it also teaches that the doctrine does not mean that everyone who is not visibly within the Church is necessarily damned. They might be spiritual members of Christ's body.

What the factors might be that avoids damnation and how one can be in spiritual union with Christ outside the Catholic Church and receive His gifts, is a complex matter and hotly debated within the Church.

No Christian believes this:

"You get into heaven, not because of the right or wrong you've done in this life, but because you follow Jesus."

As Albert pointed out all Catholics also believe we need to be regenerated/reborn from above.

If accepted, This free offer of rebirth, won by Jesus, leads to a union with Christ. We do not "follow him" so much as attain to become like Him by understanding Him and God's will and, through grace, living this.

Reject Him, culpably and wilfully, and damnation awaits whether your a 'god' or 'bad' person. Period. Not knowing Him through no fault of your own, yet live a life in conformity with His will and salvation is possible - although some believe highly improbable. Again there is room for theological differences here.

26 May 2014 at 00:25  
Blogger Che Yeoh said...

Hannah, I agree with you; what a thread! Do you ever wish you hadn’t started something , especially about Pascal’s Wager? Anyway as the man said, I’ve started so I’ll finish. Forgive me if it gets too convoluted..
Let me start with an analogy. Suppose you are someone who is musical and you want to learn the violin. There are a number of ways you can go about it. You might opt to get private lessons from a music teacher and have a lesson every week. If you do that then you will probably become a good player. You could maybe buy a book and read up on technique, in which case you’ll get a certain distance but when it gets hard, there will be no one there to encourage you. Or you could just buy the instrument and learn it by yourself without books in which case there will be no guide to point out if your technique goes wrong.
Of course, essential to all three is practice. If you don’t practise the instrument you will never be able to play it, whether you go for lessons, or a book or just try yourself. And what drives the desire to practise is the desire to create the sound of the music soaring; practice is not an end in itself.
As it is with music, so it is with virtue, heaven and God. It is not simply obeying a set of rules or joining a club. It is an act of love . It is actually falling in love with God that drives the desire for union with Him, which is heaven. And that can happen whether you are an atheist, Muslim, Jew or Hindu, because we all bear God’s mark and have a homing instinct that leads us to the practice of virtue and religion to find Him. So to answer your question; yes, there’s people from all these groups in heaven; I believe that as a Catholic.
So why practice a religion? Why in particular should you follow Jesus? What is so special about Him?
For the same reason that you would buy a book or go to a teacher for lessons to play the violin. It is possible to get to heaven without these things, but it is much more difficult. The practice of virtue is the discipline of love and love does not exist by itself – it is something always done with others. Noone gets to heaven on their own . And you need to be following the right teacher – that is, Jesus.
What makes Jesus distinct from others and why you won’t get to heaven without him is because while other gods are noted for their power, Jesus is the only god who gave up his power. He is the only god who knows what it is to be limited, to be powerless and to suffer. He is the only one who gave tuppence about us. And while I respect other religions and they list the rules of virtue as we do, I feel that ultimately I would run into a brick wall, because I would not know whether the god I worshipped loved me or not. Virtue without love is ultimately pointless. (Protestants are correct on that when they say that good works are not sufficient; RCs don’t disagree with them on this). And heaven is pointless if you do not love the god that resides there. That is why Pascal’s Wager is so wrongheaded and ultimately cowardly.
Like all humanity, I know what suffering is. And I cannot, will not, worship a god that does not understand this. As such, I will not get to heaven without Jesus for He lives where that God lives and He is the door. That is heaven for me.

26 May 2014 at 02:04  
Blogger Hannah said...

Hi Albert,

It isn't the idea of divine reward or punishment I have a problem with,but it is the mechanism via which this is achieved in Christianity; not through anything you've particularly done or not in life, but via Jesus.

Hi Carl,

Yes, your post sums up one of the key difference between Christianity and Judaism, namely the nature of humanity and its automatic evilness. And, yes of course I'd reject the Christian notion of non Christians not going to heaven.

Hi Happy Jack,

Yeah, I've read you enough to understand the RC view. BTW, using a term like 'follow him' in a blog post comments thread is much easier to write as a shorthand than 'so much as attain to become like Him by understanding Him and God's will and, through grace, living this'.

26 May 2014 at 08:36  
Blogger Hannah said...

Hi Che,

Thanks for that contribution. My own religion does not require you to follow or convert to it, which is why we don't missionize others, in order to enter heaven.


"Protestants are correct on that when they say that good works are not sufficient; RCs don’t disagree with them on this"

I though that they did. We've had one or two bunfights on this matter here on this blog.

26 May 2014 at 08:48  
Blogger Albert said...


And heaven is pointless if you do not love the god that resides there. That is why Pascal’s Wager is so wrongheaded and ultimately cowardly.

What about this:

There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.

2 And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things?

3 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.

4 Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem?

5 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.

Or the parable of the rich man and Lazarus? In each case, Jesus is proposing the possibility of punishment, in the hope that people will repent to avoid the punishment. Sure, it's the lowest form of conversion, but it is hard to see how one can reject it as an idea, given that it is commended by Jesus. He knows of course, that once someone turns to him - even if it is out of a desire for self-preservation (which is a good desire, implanted by God) - he can than bring to fruition his love in them. But when you are dealing with sinners, you have to begin somewhere.

26 May 2014 at 09:42  
Blogger Albert said...


"Protestants are correct on that when they say that good works are not sufficient; RCs don’t disagree with them on this"

I though that they did.

Che is correct, good works are insufficient, by themselves for salvation, without faith and grace. It might be clearer to say that there are no genuinely good works without grace, though.

It isn't the idea of divine reward or punishment I have a problem with,but it is the mechanism via which this is achieved in Christianity

Well, as we are seeing, your attack is directed at Protestants not Catholics. But I still can't see the issue. Do you think it is unjust? What's the problem?

26 May 2014 at 09:45  
Blogger Hannah said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

26 May 2014 at 10:30  
Blogger Hannah said...

Hi Albert,

Yes I do think it unjust. If there was a divine judgement based upon how one acted in life, with appropriate reward or punishment that can come across as a just system. What is not just, to my mind, is that only those who follow/worship Jesus or however HJ describes it, obtain a form of divine reward /be in heaven/have your sins forgiven, but not because of anything that a person has done right or wrong in this world.

I do, of course, understand that from the Christian perspective it is impossible for anyone to be good or to do good, because of 'original' sin, which I am thinking is Carl's point above. If you don't believe in original sin, then of course the perspective is changed.

One of my other issues- related to the mechanism of forgiveness/entry into heaven- is the very need to have a brutal human/god blood sacrifice in the form of Jesus for God to forgive human sins or to enter into heaven. God had the capacity or will to forgive sins prior to Jesus, without a blood sacrifice and certainly not a human/god one.

I'd see myself as not attacking Christianity, in the sense I have no desire to convert anyone to my faith, but merely an explanation as to some of the reasons as to why I'm not a Christian.

26 May 2014 at 10:34  
Blogger Albert said...


Don't worry, I don't see you as attacking anyone.

I don't think the Protestant view needs original sin to make sense at this point. All it needs is that each person is a sinner, and therefore deserving of punishment. If that is so, and God freely chooses to forgive some, how is that unjust? If you see a lot of beggars and you give to some but not all, are you unjust? Are you committing a sin, which you would not be committing if you gave to none?

If salvation genuinely rests on what we have done - and only on that - then there would be no salvation. So my question is whether you would prefer that?

As for the forgiveness and the cross thing, this needs careful thought. As God is unchanging, he does not literally forgive us as a result of the cross. What I mean is that the cross does not change God's mind about anything. What it does is change us. "God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself" is what scripture says, it is not that God is reconciled to the world. The cross works, fundamentally I think because it is about the one thing that is the genuine antidote to evil, namely, love.

26 May 2014 at 10:36  
Blogger Len said...

We Christians should be very wary of the terminology that Roman Catholics use.They pay lip service to Grace and suchlike but with an entirely different interpretation.
You cannot get saved unless you join the Roman club(in their opinion at least)
Grace is only dispensed through the Roman Church as they have assumed total control over their. subjects.
In fact unless you swallow all Roman Catholic theology without question they will throw you out and condemn you to hell.
Roman Catholicism is a form of Christianity but encapsulated in a system which controls and dominates and threatens anyone who opposes it.
One good thing is I don`t think they are allowed to burn people like me anymore?. (Although I suspect the desire is still there!.)

26 May 2014 at 10:40  
Blogger Albert said...


They pay lip service to Grace and suchlike but with an entirely different interpretation.

Different from what? It's you guys that changed the meaning (following some pretty corrupting Medieval philosophy).

You cannot get saved unless you join the Roman club(in their opinion at least)

Mean to say that all non-Catholics go to hell? I wonder which Catechism you are reading.

26 May 2014 at 10:47  
Blogger Hannah said...

Hi Albert,

"I don't think the Protestant view needs original sin to make sense at this point".

OK, but then you go onto say

"All it needs is that each person is a sinner, and therefore deserving of punishment".

Have I misunderstood here, but I would ask :

why is each person a sinner and deserving of punishment? Isn't that in part a result of 'original sin', because no matter what a person does, that person is automatically a sinner the moment they come into this world?

I think you are also misunderstanding my objections to God forgiving or punishing people. I have no issue with that concept, it is who and how God has the capacity to forgive or punish.

I've got to go now. This has been a stimulating discussion.

26 May 2014 at 11:13  
Blogger Len said...

I am going by what the Catholic Church teaches albert(26 May 2014 10:47) what are you going on ?.

26 May 2014 at 12:18  
Blogger Len said...

I ca only conclude from comments made about Catholicism by Catholics that they follow a system similar to Islam where the last statement made by the Pope cancels all other statements and becomes the one to be obeyed by all adherents to Catholicism?.
Some Catholics also seem to following the practice of Taqiyya?.
I could go one further and suggest as some have that Islam is a Catholic creation that got out of hand.. but.... I won`t do that!.

26 May 2014 at 12:26  
Blogger Albert said...


It's called development of doctrine. Previous statements cannot be cancelled if they are dogma, however, it is always possible to deepen our understanding of any element of the faith. Good grief Len! Can't you see that all kinds of Christianity include developments of doctrine, and that the idea of develop is inherent in the very nature of Christianity?

26 May 2014 at 13:05  
Blogger Harry-ca-Nab said...

The Police will, of course, now arrest all imams, close all mosques and arrest all Islamic protestors

26 May 2014 at 14:17  
Blogger Len said...

Albert I don`t see the gospel as a 'progressive' thing.
I believe God means what He says and says what He means.

"The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever."(Isaiah 40:8)

26 May 2014 at 17:25  
Blogger Albert said...


I believe God means what He says and says what He means.

So do I! What's that got to do with anything?

I don`t see the gospel as a 'progressive' thing.

I'm talking about historical fact - that is, how God's revelation actually works in the world. If your vision of Christianity contradicts that, then so much the worse for your vision of Christianity.

26 May 2014 at 19:21  
Blogger Rambling Steve Appleseed said...


CSLewis acknowledged himself to be an asshole, as do I.

In his reflection on heaven and hell 'The Great Divorce' he imagines a conversation between the spirits of a 'decent' man who faces hell and a murderer who was saved due to final penitence.

'I don't want any bleeding charity, I just want my rights' says the decent man.

The murderer says 'if I were you, I'd ask for the Bleeding Charity.'

The Bleeding Charity refers to the Messiah of Isaiah 53 who was bruised for our iniquities and became the sacrifice that made us whole. As Psul wrote, this is sacrilege to the Jews and insanity to the Greeks, (and 'barking mad/cosmic child abuse' to Dawkins) but to those who are being saved 'the power of God and the wisdom of God.' 1 Corinthians chapter 1.

Yes its counter intuitive and offensive. As was Isaac's substitutionary ram and the Passover lamb in Egypt. This is the Christian Gospel and although I cannot compel it on others, as an asshole I cling to it myself.

Kind regards

26 May 2014 at 21:15  
Blogger Che Yeoh said...

Hi Albert, Hannah,

In answer to your points;
Albert, the excerpts from the tower at Siloam and the story of Lazarus are dealing with people who were behaving selfishly; their behaviour was reprehensible. I have no problems preaching hellfire to people who behave badly and know that they are doing so. However, this poster is threatening unbelievers with hellfire if they don’t join up, who may or may not be leading a good life. What kind of argument is this with people? It is not enough for God to be powerful; He has to be worthy of respect. That’s what the whole Adam and Eve business was about in the Garden of Eden. The devil tricked them into taking the apple because he said that the only reason God didn’t want them to take it was because it would make them equal to Him and He didn’t want challenged. It was to answer that lie that Christ came, gave up His power and died; something that the devil would never do. As you correctly said, Jesus’ death was for our benefit, not God’s and it provides an answer to the question of suffering, which I think is the main obstacle to faith for many. Jesus is the only God that turned up to be there with us in that and Christianity is the only faith that has an answer to this.

Hannah, with regard to grace and good works, as I said, RCs don’t disagree on the fundamental point that good works are not sufficient. What we disagree on is whether or not forgiveness was instituted as a sacrament; that is, that you have to go to confession for serious sin and you are expected as a condition of absolution to put right as far as possible, the wrong that you have done. Protestants do not regard confession as a sacrament; RCs do. But we agree on the fundamental point about the grace of God. Remember that there is a condition attached to that; that we have to forgive others. It’s not all motherhood and apple pie.

I’m not really wanting to go on much longer and this is a complex thread, but with regard to Heaven and Hell, I think that as you mature in faith, you start to pay more attention to the idea that they are not simply places, but states. And therein may lie the answer to your initial question Hannah, about who goes to heaven. Heaven is union with God; hell is being divorced from God. Good works springing from a sincere heart brings you closer; bad works done from malice move you further away. There is a discipline and art to virtue, which is what religion is for, but both are means to an end and both are prompted by love of God. In our old Catechism it used to say, ‘God made me to know him, to love him, to serve him in this world and to be happy with him in the next.’ This is the progression of faith, but it starts off with knowing who God is. And that is why Jesus is essential, because he showed us what God looks like.

26 May 2014 at 22:29  
Blogger Adrian said...

Hell is a lie. And it's not a harmless lie. If it was harmless, no-one would bother to put up a poster about it.

26 May 2014 at 22:53  
Blogger The Explorer said...

Adrian @ 22:53

Who, in your view, invented the lie, and for what reason?

26 May 2014 at 23:10  
Blogger IanCad said...

Albert @ 20:38

Time is a robber and I should have paid more attention. You're right; In the context of the afterlife -or afterdeath - this verse does not add much to the discussion. It was for the present, as you said.

Maybe I should have instead quoted John 3:16.

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him SHOULD NOT PERISH, but have everlasting life."

27 May 2014 at 09:05  
Blogger Len said...

The only 'lie' going on here is that Hell does not exist.

27 May 2014 at 09:30  
Blogger Len said...

What does the Bible say about Hell?.

the lie that Hell does not exist is just another satanic deception.

27 May 2014 at 09:39  
Blogger The Explorer said...

Hell is a 'lie' because:

1. Like the myth of Heaven it is a mechanism for economic control? (Marxism)

2. Death terminates us? (Naturalism)

3. Everyone goes to Summerland? (Universalism)

4. The unredeemed are terminated? (Annihilationism)

In my understanding there are, in any case, two 'hells':

a. the temporary one this side of the Last Judgement (as in the Lazarus parable).

b. the Lake of Fire that follows the Last Judgement.

27 May 2014 at 11:24  
Blogger IanCad said...

Wow! I had no idea that you were such a strong supporter of the Barbeque Brigade Len.

It is another of Satan's slanders against our merciful God and the altogether lovely Jesus.

Pagan and Hellenistic at its core. Profitable and controlling in its exercise. It has corrupted and perverted the work of the church throughout the centuries.

Countless souls have been lost to Christ by this bloodthirsty , primitive, cultish superstition that is today promoted by so many wretched false shepherds. Mostly in the Protestant denominations I'm ashamed to say.

The relish and joy with which they contemplate the suffering of the lost surely has to hide some deep-seated psychosis.

Whether a lusting for revenge, vindication, or even, at base, some kind of sexual depravity; Something dosen't smell right.

27 May 2014 at 12:05  
Blogger Len said...

IanCad ,I am a supporter of the Word of God..
If you do not believe the Bible verses I have given you I suggest you tear them out of your Bible and throw them away...and anything else you don`t agree with.

27 May 2014 at 16:35  
Blogger Len said...

If we reject certain aspects which we find unacceptable in the Bible then we become in danger of making God into a god made in our image.
The Bible is a totally honest record of God and His dealings with Humanity.No parts are 'glossed over'. We have murders incest intrigue betrayals all faithfully recorded.The Bible is very Politically incorrect. I find some things in the Bible hard to accept but who are we to question God and His motives?.

27 May 2014 at 16:57  
Blogger IanCad said...

Quite a list there Len.

One hundred and one if I counted correctly.
And all, may I say, are the inspired Word of God.
Wonderful words that give us the hope that one day we may join the legions in Heaven.

Meanwhile we struggle down here. Truth and error on every hand dished out by all and sundry. We must be wise and pray for discernment. I'm sure we both do that.

Let me comment on the first passage; Rev 21:8.

It refers to the second death. There is no suggestion therein that the wicked survive that.

I know I've harped on about the words Eternal, Forever, Unquenchable etc. and have stated that they must be considered both as being, in some cases, definite, but, more generally better understood if the suffix "Until" is applied according to context or commonsense.

The verse from Jude 1:7, a little further down - number twenty five - illustrates this.
The flames of Sodom and Gommorah have long ago ceased.
The KJV reads a little differently:
"Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire."

Of course, the parable of Dives and Lazarus, (Luke 19:19-31) has been mentioned several times.

It is exactly that - a parable - addressed to the Jews, and, to be understood by them. To use it as a means of supporting Hell falls flat.

Will the wicked and just cohabit? Of course not!
The word is "Hell" except in this instance,is not a place of torment. It means the grave.
The phrase "Abraham's Bosom" does not indicate a literal place but was a common term among the Jews of the time. Meaning roughly, to be in favour with the Sanhedrin.

Also, if taken literally, it would contradict the promise that our rewards are given after Christ"s second coming. (Matthew 25:31,32) In addition, it would further, give legs to the false notion that when we die we go straight to Heaven. (Rev 22:12) Or, the other place.

The high road to Spiritualism.
I'll stop now.

27 May 2014 at 18:39  
Blogger Anthony Joseph said...

Presumably it's possible to believe there is a God but no hell?

I personally do find the doctrine of hell offensive and wrong. It comes across as a threat of violence against people who do not share the same beliefs. Of course it is a hateful message, but I'm free to ignore it or laugh at it as I wish. No such poster is going to draw me into the church that displays it though.

29 May 2014 at 07:12  
Blogger The Explorer said...

Anthony Joseph:

It's certainly possible; just as it's possible to believe that London is in Scotland.

The issue with Christianity is that Christianity claims to be in possession of a revelation: in which case it is constrained by revealed data (eg that God is triune). Hell is part of that data.

If Christianity is not a revelation then it can be modified at will or - in my view - abandoned altogether.

29 May 2014 at 09:17  
Blogger IanCad said...

"Presumably it's possible to believe there is a God but no hell?"

Wrote Anthony Joseph.

What an indictment is contained in those few words!

That Christian leaders, slaves to tradition, continue to perpetuate such a devilish myth must surely be held against them in the world to come.

They claim that the chains of darkness and superstition have been long cast off yet continue to bind themselves in this grossest of errors. Still cleaving to the teachings of Augustine and Thomas Aquinas Protestantism has advanced but hardly at all. The great light of the Gospel has been distorted, dishonoured and debased by those fans of the flames.

Even you Anthony are a victim. Implicit in your question is a suspicion that perhaps, somewere, sometime, something terrible may happen.

It may. You shall live with Christ in the heavens or you will die.

The imagery of Hell is ingrained in our culture. Whether religious or not, the influence of Art - think medieval pornography. Brimstone preachers offering a way out - for a price. Literature - Dante. All have their corrosive effects working against the love,mercy and promises of our just and loving God.

All to slowly the profitable heresy is retreating. Eyes are being opened, souls are being saved. Fear replaced by love for the author of The great Law of Liberty which is our guide.

Aquinas and Augustine; A couple more quotes:

"In order that the happiness of the saints may be more delightful to them and that they may render more copious thanks to God for it, they are allowed to see perfectly the sufferings of the damned.So that they may be urged the more to praise God.---"
Summa Theologica (Third Part)

"They who shall enter into the joy of the Lord shall know what is going on outside in the outer darkness. . .The saints'. . . knowledge, which shall be great, shall keep them acquainted. . .with the eternal sufferings of the lost."
The City of God. (Book 20)

"For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind."
2 Timothy 1:7

29 May 2014 at 13:07  
Blogger Anthony Joseph said...

It's possible to believe in a God.. and not be a Christian. That is what I'm getting at. So the statement on the poster could do with some modification. Perhaps a bit of small print at the bottom ;-)

29 May 2014 at 14:28  
Blogger IanCad said...


No need for the small print, it was outside what was obviously a Christian church.

Billions worship and believe in idols and dead gods, and, in their way, could be considered religious,

We Christians worship the living God.
The God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob.


29 May 2014 at 16:05  
Blogger The Explorer said...

Anthony Joseph @ 14:28

Of course you can believe in a god and not be a Christian. The Aztecs believed in a god (or more than one) and they weren't Christian. Their god demanded a daily human sacrifice.

The problem with the poster is that it is claiming, by implication, that the Christian God is real, and other gods are not.

29 May 2014 at 17:04  
Blogger Anthony Joseph said...

I do wonder what the point of those posters is though. They seem to be aimed at atheists but I cannot imagine any atheist reading that and thinking "good point. Better start believing in God"... What exact purpose are they supposed to serve?

29 May 2014 at 18:57  

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