Friday, February 28, 2014

Is God/Jesus Too Judgmental?

Dear Readers,

I have struggled from time to time with parts of the Bible where God takes vengeance on people. Like the time that God destroyed all the people, save Noah and his family, in the flood. Or the times that David and Joshua, at God’s command, killed everyone of the enemy force, sometimes even women and children.

And Jesus, although thought of as the bearer of a new, more peaceful approach, talked a number of times about people being sent to hell. In Revelation 21:8 John had a vision of Jesus saying, “But cowards, unbelievers, the corrupt, murderers, the immoral, those who practice witchcraft, idol worshipers, and all liars—their fate is in the fiery lake of burning sulfur.”

There’s a lot of talk these days about sexual orientation, atheism, abortion, and the origin of the universe, and people with religious beliefs being bullies or haters if they do not go along with certain standards. There is much pressure put to bear on people to conform, in the name of civil rights.

But I think there is a much deeper issue in play here. It is where people end up. If the Bible is true there is no amount of campaigning to make people conform to a certain standard that will thwart it.

My goal with this blog post is not to condemn anyone, and it’s my sincere desire to love everyone, as Jesus commanded. My conformation to a standard set by a group of people is not the main issue at stake here. Rather it is where people go at the end of their lives...not to mention what they experience here on earth. (“Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:10)

We can argue until the cows come home about whose standards are right, and what is God’s will. I only know that I have seen a fairly large number of family members and friends die in my sixty year lifespan, and it is hugely evident that life on this earth is finite.

This finiteness leads me to trying, to the best of my ability, to encourage as many family members and friends as possible, regardless of the orientation or cause they might have, to end up in an eternity with a God that loves them infinitely more than I ever will.

See you next time,


Monday, February 10, 2014

Is Hell for Real?

Dear Readers,
I just watched the Creation Science versus Evolution debate. Ken Ham, the founder of the Creation Science Museum in the Cincinnati, Northern Kentucky area squared off against Bill Nye, longtime PBS television show host known as “Bill Nye, The Science Guy”.


I could expound on my feelings about the pros and cons of the debate, but I feel there is a more important issue at hand. Bill Nye questioned a number of times how could people be so led astray to follow the non-scientific, backward ways of creationism. But toward the end of the debate he brought up crux of the matter. It is the following: How can a loving God condemn well-meaning people to an eternity in hell?  

I’ve struggled with that question as well. It seems a paradox that such a good man as Jesus could ever send anyone to hell with fire and eternal torment. Isn’t the mission of Jesus to bring joy and harmony to the universe?  

Well, when we read the Bible Jesus didn’t circle around the edges of the topic of hell. He went right to the heart of the matter. I counted eleven times in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke where Jesus mentioned the word “hell”. Several other times he mentioned terms like “eternal punishment”.  

Jesus indicated how serious the issue of hell is in Matthew 5:29-30 where he told us to “pluck” out our right eye, or “cut” off our right hand if either of them causes us to sin, “for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.”  

Wow! What a statement! Let’s take a deep breath and actually think about what he said. He meant that our entire life is in the balance, and we have a choice to make. It would be a gruesome sight to see a person pluck out their eyeball or cut off their hand. But it would be much better than ending up in a real hell.  

See you next time,