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Skybreaker
06-27-2007, 09:41 AM
Hi, all!

I believe we all have got our "Achilles"-spots and hard times when it comes to explaining specific Bible passages or verses to non-believers. Why not overcome them together in this forum?

So, what do you find most "disturbing" in the Bible?

Richard Amiel McGough
06-27-2007, 11:02 AM
Hi, all!

I believe we all have got our "Achilles"-spots and hard times when it comes to explaining specific Bible passages or verses to non-believers. Why not overcome them together in this forum?

So, what do you find most "disturbing" in the Bible?
Hi Skybreaker!

Now that's a good question! It's in the style that I really enjoy. For example, I've always thought that if two people were going to engage in a debate, they should each be required to state what they think are the two best arguments for the other side. That would show if they cared about truth or not.

Now on to your question. Here is a passage I think everyone finds quite disturbing:

Psalm 137:9 Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.

But far be it from me to post a stumbling block without trying to help people over it. Thus, we must look at the context of this "disturbing verse."

Psalm 137:7-9 Remember, O LORD, the children of Edom in the day of Jerusalem; who said, Rase it, rase it, even to the foundation thereof 8 O daughter of Babylon, who art to be destroyed; happy shall he be, that rewardeth thee as thou hast served us. 9 Happy shall he be, that taketh and dasheth thy little ones against the stones.

OK - now we are starting to get the "bigger picture." This Psalm begins as a lamentation for being taken away captive by the Babylonians. It then turns into a call to God for vengeance - a prayer that He would treat them as they had treated His people. And what had the Babylonians done to Jerusalem? Just read the Book of Lamentations, and you will see wholesale slaughter, rape, and murder of children.

So its not nice? Neither is the reality of sin and death, which is the picture painted in the blood, sweat and tears of Jerusalem. Here is how I put it in my description of the Book of Lamentations called The Fullness of Divine Retribution from Aleph to Tav (http://www.biblewheel.com/Wheel/Spokes/Gimel_Retribution.asp) (reproduced from the Bible Wheel book, page 157), where I began with a discussion of the Gimel (Spoke 3) KeyWord gamal:


The Book of Lamentations exemplifies the negative meaning of gamal as the full recompense, complete repayment, and total retribution given in accordance with one's actions. It is the saddest book in existence, which Baxter rightly called "a cloudburst of grief, a river of tears, a sea of sobs." It portrays the spiritual effects of sin, painted with an historical brush dipped in blood and tears, with death, destruction, pain, and sorrow amplified beyond all measure. Its words can scarcely be taken in before the heart breaks first with the knowledge that this represents the punishment Christ Himself bore for our sins, and then with awesome fear of the God who promises to recompense (gamal) every soul according as his works deserve. This is the savour of death spoken of in 2 Corinthians above (BW book pg pg 154 (http://www.biblewheel.com/forum/../Wheel/Spokes/Gimel_Offerings.asp#savour)). Lamentations records the utter desolation of Jerusalem and the exile of the survivors into the lands of the Gentiles. It explicitly states that their punishment was due to their own sin:


Jerusalem hath grievously sinned; therefore she is removed: all that honoured her despise her, because they have seen her nakedness (http://www.biblewheel.com/forum/../InnerWheels/Genesis/Genesis03.asp): yea, she sigheth, and turneth backward. ... The LORD is righteous; for I have rebelled against his commandment: hear, I pray you, all people, and behold my sorrow: my virgins and my young men are gone into captivity (galah). Lamentations 1:8f (Spoke 3, Cycle 2)God does not do anything half-way. He inspired the first four chapters of Lamentations as an alphabetic acrostic to represent the fullness and completeness of His Divine retribution from Aleph to Tav.Remember ... the Bible is not a "nice" book. It is a True Book, revealed from the Lord God Almighty, Creator of All, who likens Himself to a "consuming fire."

RAM

David
06-27-2007, 03:13 PM
This is easy for me. I hope my answer isn't too serious or grim for the purposes of the thread, but I feel I need to be honest and heartfelt:


(Matt 25:41) Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.

The entire concept of hell as described in the Gospels and Revelation I'd say is more than just an Achilles' heel for me. Naturally, it's extremely difficult to explain to nonbelievers and they always ask. And why shouldn't they? The threat of eternal damnation is not very pretty and you can't tie a pretty ribbon on it and sell it. What do you say? Do you try to brush it under the rug and point out the beautiful loving parts of God's promise? That's honestly like proposing by saying, "I will love you and cherish you forever and make you the happiest person ever ... oh by the way if you leave me, I'll maim you, disfigure you, stalk you, and you'll never have a moment's peace again." How does one ever truly feel love after hearing such threats?

My Mother and I have been studying the Bible for a few years. She's been a devout Christian her whole life. It shocked me when she said she has trouble believing in the Bible because of hell being prepared as an eternal punishment for nonbelievers. She knows many good nonbelievers, that's all.

Speaking only for myself, I don't base my beliefs on what's pleasant. I base them on what seems correct. The Bible seems correct to me. I asked God for the truth, and he showed me. Honestly, I'd love to find out my interpretation of hell has always been wrong and that nobody will be punished eternally for sin during their life. Because I feel in my heart of hearts that it's unjust and a disproportionate response. It makes me doubt God when I read that he's good. I don't mind God being kind of tough and jealous, but hell is way overboard for me.

Also, I don't like the notion that Jesus will forgive me just because I believe in him. I know many nonbelievers who are vastly better people than myself. I would prefer to think of myself as being referred to in the passage:


(James 2:19) You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

I'm that guy who's shuddering because I don't think forgiveness is coming my way. There, I got it off my chest! :mad: Again, I hope my post isn't too discouraging or a stumbling block to others. I'm just trying to show the viewpoint of a believer who can't see why he should spread the Word. Spread it to people who have better hearts than myself? My conscience tells me that's arrogance. Oh well, I pray my post can be made useful rather than harmful!

Skybreaker
06-27-2007, 04:50 PM
Thanks, guys. I agree with both of you.

The wages of sin is hell ; living an eternal life with pain in the lake of fire. The only way out of hell is through Jesus only. And of course, you have to decide what to believe in before you die.

I guess Jesus will have some revealing explaining to do soon. However, I am sure He`s got everything sorted out perfectly and in order, but it`s very hard for us human beings down here on earth to try and explain this to our fellow citizens in order to save them. I feel very limited and the "hell-part" of the Bible is definately one of the toughest nuts to crack.

Could it be that we, through numerous (mis)-translations and (mis)-transliterations have grown a wrong understanding of the words "hell", "eternal", "lake of fire" and perhaps even "heaven" ?

But then again - if there is no hell, what should Jesus save us from? Jesus is a liar if there is no hell.

Other than that, I feel very happy and lucky to be alive today, and yes - I feel exactly the way David writes. I fear that I`ll end up as one of the miserables in the crowd which Jesus says "I do not know you" to.

What about you, Richard? How do you manage your "christian consciousness"?

Richard Amiel McGough
06-27-2007, 06:26 PM
This is easy for me. I hope my answer isn't too serious or grim for the purposes of the thread, but I feel I need to be honest and heartfelt:

(Matt 25:41) Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.The entire concept of hell as described in the Gospels and Revelation I'd say is more than just an Achilles' heel for me. Naturally, it's extremely difficult to explain to nonbelievers and they always ask. And why shouldn't they? The threat of eternal damnation is not very pretty and you can't tie a pretty ribbon on it and sell it. What do you say? Do you try to brush it under the rug and point out the beautiful loving parts of God's promise? That's honestly like proposing by saying, "I will love you and cherish you forever and make you the happiest person ever ... oh by the way if you leave me, I'll maim you, disfigure you, stalk you, and you'll never have a moment's peace again." How does one ever truly feel love after hearing such threats?

Hi David,

Your questions and comments are certainly of the more serious variety, and since we are in the "Fun and Games" forum, I guess they probably are out of place. But that's not your fault - it was Skybreaker who started us thinking about the serious questions! He did the same thing to me - just look at my answer in the previous post. I got kinda serious too.

I share your "Achilles' Heel" - the issue of hell and how it has been preached and taught in pop Christianity has disturbed my soul since I first began believing. It has brought me to sobbing tears at more difficult times in my life. And I have never been satisfied with the "mainstream" answers. (They always seem so superficial).

The obvious absurdity of the "I love you so much I'll torture you forever if you don't love me back" deserves its own thread. I really think this idea needs to be hashed out in the Theology forum. I'll start a thread there if you or Skybreaker don't beat me to it.


My Mother and I have been studying the Bible for a few years. She's been a devout Christian her whole life. It shocked me when she said she has trouble believing in the Bible because of hell being prepared as an eternal punishment for nonbelievers. She knows many good nonbelievers, that's all.

Speaking only for myself, I don't base my beliefs on what's pleasant. I base them on what seems correct. The Bible seems correct to me. I asked God for the truth, and he showed me. Honestly, I'd love to find out my interpretation of hell has always been wrong and that nobody will be punished eternally for sin during their life. Because I feel in my heart of hearts that it's unjust and a disproportionate response. It makes me doubt God when I read that he's good. I don't mind God being kind of tough and jealous, but hell is way overboard for me.
Me too. Eternal torment may well be a doctrine of demons. It certainly has distressed my soul. It is fraught with endless intellectual, emotional, moral, and hermeneutical problems, just to name a few. It seems to make a mockery of any normal meaning of the word "justice" and it seems to make God look like a monster. But on the other hand, it has been taught as Gospel Truth by many of the great Christian teachers throughout most of the history of the Church. So there is no easy answer. We will need to dig deep into this teaching, and see if it is founded on rock or sand.


Also, I don't like the notion that Jesus will forgive me just because I believe in him. I know many nonbelievers who are vastly better people than myself.
That's an interesting confession. It sounds like you don't really "get" the idea of righteousness through faith. Jesus doesn't forgive you just because you believe in him in a cold intellectual sort of way. The word "believe" is better translated as "actively trusting in" - and that's what those demons you cited from James most definitely were NOT doing!


I would prefer to think of myself as being referred to in the passage:


(James 2:19) You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.I'm that guy who's shuddering because I don't think forgiveness is coming my way. There, I got it off my chest! :mad: Again, I hope my post isn't too discouraging or a stumbling block to others. I'm just trying to show the viewpoint of a believer who can't see why he should spread the Word. Spread it to people who have better hearts than myself? My conscience tells me that's arrogance. Oh well, I pray my post can be made useful rather than harmful!
Stumbling block? No way! You are opening doors for a thousand brothers and sisters whose hearts are burdened with the same questions, doubts, and fears! I applaud your honesty. It is a true service to us all. Thank you!

Talk more soon!

Richard

Richard Amiel McGough
06-27-2007, 06:55 PM
Thanks, guys. I agree with both of you.

The wages of sin is hell ; living an eternal life with pain in the lake of fire. The only way out of hell is through Jesus only. And of course, you have to decide what to believe in before you die.
Hey now! :eek: I didn't say nuttin bout no "living an eternal life with pain in the lake of fire!" That oxymoronic abomination is actually one of my pet peeves. The Bible calls the lake of fire "the second death" and Jesus said that God could destroy both body and soul in hell, so there ain't no "eternal life" in hell. Note also that the verse you cited says the "wages of sin is death" not "hell." (Rom 6:23). If we're gonna talk about this topic, we are going to have to be very careful with the accuracy of our language. The topic of the "pit" is filled with many "pitfalls" if you get my drift.

I'm definitely gonna have to get a thread in the Theology section going on this topic.


I guess Jesus will have some revealing explaining to do soon.
Amen! I'm looking forward to that! :woohoo:


However, I am sure He`s got everything sorted out perfectly and in order, but it`s very hard for us human beings down here on earth to try and explain this to our fellow citizens in order to save them. I feel very limited and the "hell-part" of the Bible is definately one of the toughest nuts to crack.

Could it be that we, through numerous (mis)-translations and (mis)-transliterations have grown a wrong understanding of the words "hell", "eternal", "lake of fire" and perhaps even "heaven" ?
Getting warm .... warmer .... hot ... hotter .... (in a good sort of way, not hot like in hell flames!)


But then again - if there is no hell, what should Jesus save us from? Jesus is a liar if there is no hell.
How about the idea that Jesus saved us from Eternal Death? I can think of a few verses that might apply ... ever hear of this one?

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Or how about this one?

Romans 8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

Or this one:

John 17:3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

Or this one?

John 5:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

Or this one:

1 Corinthians 15:54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.

Somebody gotta stop me!

http://www.biblewheel.com/forum/images/smilies/brick.gif


Thanks, I need that.



Other than that, I feel very happy and lucky to be alive today, and yes - I feel exactly the way David writes. I fear that I`ll end up as one of the miserables in the crowd which Jesus says "I do not know you" to.

What about you, Richard? How do you manage your "christian consciousness"?
That's a really good question Skybreaker. I manage pretty fine when I'm not contemplating the doctrine of eternal spanking.

I'll work on a serious response and get back to you soon,

Richard

David
06-27-2007, 08:31 PM
Thanks for the helpful thoughts, Skybreaker and Richard! It's nice to see that I'm not too far out on a limb struggling with that one. So thanks for sharing a bit of the burden. :)

btw, Richard, your example of Psalm 137:9 is one of those classics that well prepared skeptics usually have handy in their bag of tricks!