Hell is a barrier to faith

The concept of hell was another key blocker with 25% stating that the idea of a loving God who allowed people to go to hell, stopped them from engaging with Christianity. 

http://www.visionnetwork.org.nz/discipleship-and-evangelism/995-research-shows-barriers-to-faith.html

We need to challenge the tradition view of hell:

“Sometimes when the text says something that goes against our moral conscience, our conscience is mistaken and we need to rethink issues. Sometimes however our conscience, which is created by God, is alerting us to the fact we have misread the text. Christian apologists need to be faithful both to the text, but they also must take seriously the intellectual objections people raise. Our conscience is fallible and but so are our theological traditions. Anhilationism, I think, shows some promise as a way of doing both. ” from 2011 CIANZ conference talk by Matthew Flannagan. 

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The Unfinished Business of the Reformation

Make no mistake about why the traditional hell of unending torment “has been so widely abandoned,” and why that abandonment increases with every passing day. This abandonment is not due to lack of conviction; it is not based on lack of will. It isnot a result of Enlightenment presuppositions or of postmodern principles. Rejection of unending torment does not represent the replacement of reason by elevated emotion or result from the substitution of pragmatism for theology. Such charges are straw men, red herrings, whistles in the graveyard. Last Things (eschatology), the unfinished business of the Reformation, is back on the agenda, and Holy Scripture is the highest standard and the operative rule.

Whatever the value of Tradition, whatever the respect due to Confessions and to Creeds, all of that combined is no fit trade-off for fresh, honest, prayerful, earnest Bible study–no holds barred, windows fully open, sunshine streaming in. When the authority, reputation, and glory of God are at stake, nothing less will suffice. 

Quoted from a recent GracEmail By Edward Fudge

 

Amen! Amen! Amen!

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You can check out more about Annihiliationism and why you should abandon the traditional view of hell on the Afterlife website. 

 

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Questioning Hell?

http://hellboundthemovie.com/?p=736

 … Jackson Baer, a youth pastor who was fired last spring because he doesn’t believe in the traditional Western view of hell as eternal, conscious torment.

Jackson Baer is a universalist not a conditionalist. I wonder if he would have been fired if he had believed in conditional immortality? Perhaps he would have been. You might like to read the comments on the post because there is a discussion about conditional immortality. 

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What Does It Mean For Us?

I agree with Scott Higgins the doctrine of hell  has profound implications for us.

see  http://scottjhiggins.com/?p=826 

First, it throws the focus of the future on redemption rather than suffering….

 

I agree with John Wenham when he says that

“Unending torment speaks to me of sadism, not justice. It is a doctrine I do not know how to preach without neglecting the loveliness and glory of God…I believe that endless torment is a hideous and unscriptural doctrine which has been a terrible burden on the mind of the church for many centuries and a terrible blot on her presentation of the gospel.”

The future will not be a torture chamber to which the bulk of humankind are consigned by their Creator. No, we proclaim a God who invites people to a glorious future without having to threaten them with an eternity of unspeakable suffering. And on this basis judgement can actually make sense to people – a renewed world means people who are reconciled to God and to each other. If you are willing to embrace this you will be welcomed into the new world; if not you forfeit the opportunity to participate.

You may like to read the rest or explore more about  annihilationism at the afterlife.co.nz website.

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A Better Place

 Here is an extract from A Better Place  from the Latest From Death to Life Magazine published by the Conditional Immortality Association.

“The world needs honest Christians. It needs people who do not hide behind fairy tales, and deny the existence of death.  It needs people who will tell them that death is real, but that Jesus is real too.  The world needs hope that extends beyond the cemetery.  Believers can offer that hope, but we have to do so with integrity. It is wrong to say that death is a friend when the Bible calls it an enemy.15  It is wrong to imply that the blessed hope is a better place at death when the Bible says Christ’s second coming is the blessed hope.16

When the Thessalonians wanted to know about their loved ones who had fallen asleep in death, Paul told them not to “grieve as others do who have no hope”.17 His instructions for them to teach each other were as follows:

“For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.  Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.  Therefore encourage one another with these words.  ”18

That is all the encouragement we need.  Our hope is not in some mythical place that believers supposedly go when they die.  Our hope is Jesus. He will not forget us. Death is real, but so is he.”

Check out more of the magazine on the Afterlife Website

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How Christians Talk About Death

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One of the simplest descriptions of death given in all of Scripture comes from Jesus as he explains his plans to go to Bethany to raise Lazarus.  He tells his disciples “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him” (John 11:11).
Sleep is the most widely used metaphor for death in the Bible.
Some Christians talk about death using language that the Bible never uses, and Jesus never endorsed. Here are some examples….

Jesus came to the tomb of his friend that day to give us all a visual demonstration of the resurrection at the last day.  His friend had fallen asleep and he purposely waited until that happened. Some Christians talk about death using language that the Bible never uses, and Jesus never endorsed…  Jesus shouted his friend’s name. “Lazarus, come out.”  He didn’t say “come down” because his friend had not gone anywhere.  He had simply fallen asleep.  The shout from Jesus is all it took to wake him. Someday, you and I will fall asleep. Do not fear. All it will take is a shout from our friend, Jesus, to wake us up again.

Read the whole article on the article on Afterlife’s  Conditional Immortality website. 

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Review of Erasing Hell by Francis Chan and Preston Sprinkle

The title is a bit misleading – since the authors have no intention of actually erasing hell – or letting their readers forget it.  Instead, the title speaks to the almost universal reluctance that modern humanity has of even thinking about the possibility of divine punishment.  Most of us “would love to erase hell from the pages of Scripture” , but the references to final punishment are there, nonetheless.

Read the full review of Erasing Hell

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