Tartarus control

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The Ace of Spades, a non-believer himself, has a post wondering why non-believers get offended at the fact that believers think they're going to Hell, and it includes this perceptive passage:

Most Christians who get heat for this don't offer the statement "You're going to Hell" of their own volition. What usually happens is that non-believers begin badgering them -- "You can't possibly believe I'm going to Hell!" -- which Christians initially attempt to deflect away. Because they do in fact wish to be polite, and don't want to hurt someone's feelings.

But if you keep badgering a committed Christian this way, your are forcing him to choose between 1) Being polite and 2) Expressly repudiating his religion.

At some point the deflections stop working and this becomes a very easy call.

I knew a fundamentalist Christian in high school, and he was always troubled by the compromises he had to make as he navigated the world among nonbelievers. On one hand, he didn't want to hurt anyone's feelings and wanted to fit in, as anyone does. On the other hand, he believed the Bible compelled him to "witness" and "testify" as much as possible; he was always troubled that he was choosing the easy, non-Christly way of keeping his beliefs hidden.

Most practicing Christians are similarly conflicted. They don't want to hurt feelings or cause conflict or even just make themselves look "weird" among nonbelievers; but however they navigate their way through these rocky shoals, there's one thing they can't do: Deny the divinity of Christ.

And if you keep badgering them, they will, at some point, tell you those hateful words: "Yes, since you don't believe in Christ, you're going to Hell. Christ said he was the only way into Heaven, and I'm inclined to believe him."

So why doesn't everyone who's so terribly bothered by this stop badgering these people? Stop asking. I can tell what they'll say; in fact, I just did.

There's your answer: Yes, you're going to the Hell you don't believe exists.

Satisfied? Good. So you don't have to ask anymore, jaw hanging in disbelief, eyes welling up with angry tears.

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W. Author Profile Page said:

Is there a link to the story? (Left it out -- fixed now -- Ed.)

Then you have Christians who don't believe in hell, such as Carlton Pearson and Christian Scientists. Are they believers? Non-believers? Tweeners?

The mind reels ...

Dan Paden said:

W, if you didn't already know that most Christians consider universalists (Pearson) and Christian Scientists to be either heretics or cultists or both, I'm privileged to be the first to so inform you.

Pamela said:

People have mistakenly stated that the core beliefs of Carlton Pearson is that he no longer believes in hell. That is bad enough since the Bible clearly states there is a place where satan, demons and those that do not come to faith in Christ will end up. Dateline did a big disservice when they presented him as a suffering preacher that lost everything because 'he no longer believed in hell'. That was NOT why he lost everything.

The main issue with his teachings is dealing with who is saved/born again and who is not. This is where the danger of his teachings comes in. In a portion of Scripture it states that you must believe that Christ died and rose again from the dead. This is where he stops. Another verse states that if you confess your sins that He is able and just to forgive you of your sins and cleanse you from all unrighteousness. He will not mention this one or most verses in the Bible that clearly deal with the lost condition on mankind. He does this because he believes that no one is lost. Many people that do not know about the Lord know enough to know that you must confess Christ before your sins are forgiven. However many religious people and some unlearned Christians are believing that mess.

People can debate what the eternal punishment is for not accepting Christ. That in itself is not what the problem is with the teachings of Carlton Pearson. The fact that he is saying that people do not have to confess their sins, or that they have need of his sacrifice to cleanse them of sin, to be forgiven. I boldly state that he has turned from the faith. When one reads and listen to his teachings one quickly sees that he has turned from the plain simple gospel, that is, we need to acknowledge our need for Him and his sacrifice to cleanse us from sin. He refuses to even mention sin most of the time. Yes the price was paid for it when Christ died and rose from the dead. HOWEVER one must confess their sin and need for His sacrifice to be forgiven of their sin. It is pretty clear.

I attended his church, Higher Dimensions, for almost 12 years. When he taught the truth you saw the fruit in his life and in the church. When he started slipping in the garbage the church began to suffer greatly in many ways. He started saying that 'everyone's saved, they just don't know it' every now and then during the services. Later on he started saying from time to time that the sin of homosexuality was not sin. I quit attending there in 1996, two years before he completely switched his teachings in 1998. This is when the big exodus began. My cousin and her husband left at that time. One of the pastors started a new work with 1000 people that quit attending Higher Dimensions. It was 2000 before most people in Christian circles knew about it. The city as a whole began to hear about it when he ran for mayor in 2002. It also went nationwide at that time.

The Bible does not say to my knowledge that one must believe in eternal damnation in hell to be saved. It does say that in order for our sins to be forgiven we must confess them to have them forgiven. Carlton has said many times publicly that one does not have to confess their sins because they are already saved. He is in grave danger if he does not turn back. The Bible talks in Hebrews 11:4-6 about those that have experienced the Holy Spirit in its fullness, implying mature believers, when they turn away and believe in false doctrine that it is impossible for them to be renewed to repentance. Again we must confess our sins to have them forgiven. I do not know where that line is but I know that he is in great danger. His teachings are giving people false hope that they are saved when they are not. I know that many people are praying for him. One minister at the church I currently attend also attended Higher Dimensions. Every week at the end of her service she prays for him to see the deception he is preaching and correct it. I pray for God's mercy on him. However he must make the choice to come back. God will not force him to change. We have a free will and He will let us hang ourselves if we insist on going our own way. I pray that he will come back to the faith.

One of my close friends came to know the Lord under his ministry in the mid 70s. Yes she understood that she needed to confess her sins and accept Christ. She is so befuddled over this. So am I.

A said:

Sorry, just have a hard time believing that our Buddhist relatives, who were born into that religion, and whose extended family and ancestors have practiced that religion for hundreds and thousands of years, and who are good hearted, kind, honest, hardworking, moral, ethical and tolerant human beings, are going to burn in some defined hell because they were born from the womb of a woman of certain faith and knew no different.

The Bugle said:

Pamela, I honor your zeal but, respectfully, disagree with you or anyone's literal, fundamentalist interpretation of an ancient story. A story that was passed down word of mouth for hundreds of years only to be copied differently from one scribe to the next until the invention of the printing press. You can't even stay on point with this blog - it was about the conflict of believers vs. non-believers.

Non-believers think that believers ESPECIALLY the literal ones, believe in Unicorns or the Devil. Most think Jesus was a great figure who should be emulated. But few think this man that preached "love thy neighbor" would EVER create a hell to burn your soul in - or anyone elses for that matter.

We are at war with Islamic Fundamentalists abroad. Not sure we need to have a Christian Fundamentalist war here.

Practice love, not hate.

Dan Paden said:

A story that was passed down word of mouth for hundreds of years only to be copied differently from one scribe to the next until the invention of the printing press.

Hmmm--just in passing, do you not notice the inherent self-contradiction in this statement? Notably that scribes do not copy from one another by "word of mouth"? Perhaps the sentence was poorly framed?

The statement is wildly inaccurate as it stands, though, and reveals a lack of study. As a corrective and a means to prevent future public self-embarrassments, a person might start with Bruce's The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable?. It is brief but valuable. More in-depth material can be found in Metzger's The Text of the New Testament, a frequently use d textbook on the subject.

I am sorry to have to report that textual criticism has been consistent for quite a number of decades now, and there is no reason to believe that the New Testament has ever not included the doctrine of a very real Hell which we would dearly love to see everyone stay out of. If you choose not to believe in it, fine, but there is no reason in the text not to believe in it.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on February 16, 2007 12:16 PM.

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