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Old 03-24-2011, 01:12 PM   #271
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Originally Posted by 80sU2isBest View Post
What is wrong with thinking that someone is incorrect or that you know something that someone else doesn't?

You have never thought that you were correct about something while someone else was incorrect, and then tried to share your "knowledge" with someone? Never? You think it's wrong to do that?

You've done it repeatedly in this very thread, Phil.

But here's the thing, Phil and I say this with 100% honesty: I take no pleasure in being correct for the sake of being correct, as in "Yippee, I'm right, he's wrong. I'll win this argument, by gum".

My only motive and aim when I share the Gospel is so that people will hear the Gospel and maybe get saved.

By the way, I don't take "every opportunity" to preach to you. I've said it as a whole to the people reading this thread, because it is a vital part of my thoughts on Hell, which is the topic of this discussion.




You keep coming back to this "enlightened" thing. There is no "like me" involved. I don't want you to become a Christian because I am a Christian. I want you to become a Christian so that you can have eternal life with God. That's it. That's the only reason. I don't really care if you believe me. It is the 100% honest truth.
Here's the difference between you and I: I tell you that I'm not Christian, and you want to try and "help" me by making me Christian. You tell me you're not an atheist, and I don't care at all. I have no interest in trying to convert people. My best friends are Catholic, Lutheran, Jewish, etc. I don't talk about religion with them unless they bring it up, and even then it's just simply my viewpoint (like yesterday, my roommate said, "Do you believe you'll see your family members when you die?" to which I simply replied, "No").

Just because I'm atheist doesn't mean I feel the need to profess the "knowledge" I have. It doesn't make me feel any better than anyone else. I don't want to try and spread my awareness to others.

So, I dispute your claim that I've done it in this very thread. I'm not trying to convert anyone. I don't look upon you as being lost or "not saved."
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Old 03-24-2011, 01:19 PM   #272
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I have to say I feel that what's missing in the discussion between Phil and 80's is the practice of putting yourself in the other's shoes--especially with Phil. 80's tone has been nothing but gentle almost apologetic (though I grant that his actual words may not seem so gentle) whereas Phil seems to feel increasingly free reign to post in a more vitriolic manner, as if the wrongness of 80's positions makes it acceptable for him to "knock him around" a bit verbally.

I'd suggest, Phil, that whether you agree with the position or not, put yourself in 80's shoes. Imagine that you really believe that people can be "lost" and suffer for eternity. What kind of person would you be if you believed that sincerely and then shrugged your shoulders and said "Oh well, I don't want to be preachy or anything. . .let 'em fry. . ."? You're judging 80s views about "the lost" based on YOUR perspective, not his, which strikes me as deeply unfair.

Implicit in this is a slightly different issue, though one that is certainly connected to the topic of hell, which is the appropriateness of what Christans call evangelism or "witnessing."
I disagree. I know exactly where he's coming from. And it's, frankly, his kindness and politeness that I think is steering away from the real issue. 80s has been nothing but kind in this conversation. I'm sure he's a pleasant person in real life who sincerely means well and cares about others. That's not my issue here, though. I simply think the viewpoint is condescending, no matter how much kindness and sincerity is behind it.

I think you guys need to understand that even when I was a Christian, I was quite uncomfortable with talking about it. I have always found religion to be a personal thing. I don't like questioning others' views. It's not politics. There is not really a right and wrong when it comes to belief; only when it comes to how you act on those beliefs.

We have Christian preachers on my campus every day, trying to spread the "word" of their respective congregations. There are certain non-believers who are inclined to go up and ask them questions in order to dispute them. There are non-believers who will disrupt the more volatile ones (the traveling types who hold up signs saying we're all going to Hell) with "counter preaching." I'm not at all that type. I've never once tried to challenge a Christian person on their beliefs or tried to preach my religious views.

I want everyone to keep religion to themselves, no matter their viewpoint.
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Old 03-24-2011, 01:25 PM   #273
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I read this on Yahoo this morning

By TOM BREEN, Associated Press

DURHAM, N.C. – When Chad Holtz lost his old belief in hell, he also lost his job.

The pastor of a rural United Methodist church in North Carolina wrote a note on his Facebook page supporting a new book by Rob Bell, a prominent young evangelical pastor and critic of the traditional view of hell as a place of eternal torment for billions of damned souls.

Two days later, Holtz was told complaints from church members prompted his dismissal from Marrow's Chapel in Henderson.

"I think justice comes and judgment will happen, but I don't think that means an eternity of torment," Holtz said. "But I can understand why people in my church aren't ready to leave that behind. It's something I'm still grappling with myself."

The debate over Bell's new book "Love Wins" has quickly spread across the evangelical precincts of the Internet, in part because of an eye-catching promotional video posted on YouTube.

Bell, the pastor of the 10,000-member Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids, Mich., lays out the premise of his book while the video cuts away to an artist's hand mixing oil paints and pastels and applying them to a blank canvas.

He describes going to a Christian art show where one of the pieces featured a quote by Mohandas Gandhi. Someone attached a note saying: "Reality check: He's in hell."

"Gandhi's in hell? He is? And someone knows this for sure?" Bell asks in the video.

In the book, Bell criticizes the belief that a select number of Christians will spend eternity in the bliss of heaven while everyone else is tormented forever in hell.

"This is misguided and toxic and ultimately subverts the contagious spread of Jesus' message of love, peace, forgiveness and joy that our world desperately needs to hear," he writes in the book.

For many traditional Christians, though, Bell's new book sounds a lot like the old theological position of universalism — a heresy for many churches, teaching that everyone, regardless of religious belief, will ultimately be saved by God. And that, they argue, dangerously misleads people about the reality of the Christian faith.

"I just felt like on every page he's trying to say 'It's OK,'" said Southern Baptist Seminary President Albert Mohler at a forum last week on Bell's book held at the Louisville institution. "And there's a sense in which we desperately want to say that. But the question becomes, on what basis can we say that?"

Bell argues that hell has assumed an outsize importance in Christian teaching, considering the word itself only appears in the New Testament about 12 times, by his count.

"For a 1st-century Jewish rabbi, where you go when you die wasn't the most pressing question," Bell told The Associated Press. "The question was how can you enter into the shalom and peace of God right now, this day."

Bell denies he's a universalist, and his exact beliefs on what happens to people after death are hard to pin down, but he argues that such speculation distracts people from an urgent point. In his telling, hell is something freely chosen that already exists on earth, in everything from war to abusive relationships.

The near-relish with which some Christians stress the torments of hell, Bell argues, keep many believers needlessly afraid of a loving God, and repel potential Christians who might otherwise be curious about the faith's teachings.

"The heart of the Christian story is that God is love," he said. "But when you hear the word 'Christian,' you don't necessarily think 'Oh, sure, those are the people who don't stop talking about God's love.' Some other things would come to mind."

About the only thing everyone agrees on is that this is not a new debate in Christianity. It stretches to antiquity, when Christianity was a persecuted sect in the Roman Empire, and the third century theologian Origen developed a theory that contemporary critics charged would mean that everyone, even the devil himself, would ultimately be saved. Church leaders eventually condemned ideas they attributed to Origen, but he has had a lasting influence across the Roman Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant traditions.

Those traditions often disagree, even internally, on what awaits souls after death. The Catholic Church, which has a formal process for identifying souls in heaven through canonization, pointedly refrains from saying that anyone is without a doubt in hell. Protestants reject the concept of purgatory, in which sins can be atoned for after death, but disagree on other questions. The lack of consensus is enabled partly by ambiguities in the Bible.

Evangelical opposition to Bell is exemplified in a succinct tweet from prominent evangelical pastor John Piper: "Farewell, Rob Bell."

Page Brooks, a professor at the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, thinks Bell errs in a conception of a loving God that leaves out the divine attributes of justice and holiness.

"It's love, but it's a just love," Brooks said. "God is love, but you have to understand you're a sinner and the only way to get around that is through Christ's sacrifice on the cross."

Making his new belief public is both liberating and a little frightening for Holtz, even though his doubts about traditional doctrines on damnation began long before he heard about Rob Bell's book.

A married Navy veteran with five children, Holtz spent years trying to reconcile his belief that Jesus Christ's death on the cross redeemed the entire world with the idea that millions of people — including millions who had never even heard of Jesus — were suffering forever in hell.

"We do these somersaults to justify the monster god we believe in," he said. "But confronting my own sinfulness, that's when things started to topple for me. Am I really going to be saved just because I believe something, when all these good people in the world aren't?"

Gray Southern, United Methodist district superintendent for the part of North Carolina that includes Henderson, declined to discuss Holtz's departure in detail, but said there was more to it than the online post about Rob Bell's book.

"That's between the church and him," Southern said.

Church members had also been unhappy with Internet posts about subjects like gay marriage and the mix of religion and patriotism, Holtz said, and the hell post was probably the last straw. Holtz and his family plan to move back to Tennessee, where he'll start a job and maybe plant a church.

"So long as we believe there's a dividing point in eternity, we're going to think in terms of us and them," he said. "But when you believe God has saved everyone, the point is, you're saved. Live like it."
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Old 03-24-2011, 02:41 PM   #274
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Originally Posted by maycocksean View Post
I have to say I feel that what's missing in the discussion between Phil and 80's is the practice of putting yourself in the other's shoes--especially with Phil. 80's tone has been nothing but gentle almost apologetic (though I grant that his actual words may not seem so gentle) whereas Phil seems to feel increasingly free reign to post in a more vitriolic manner, as if the wrongness of 80's positions makes it acceptable for him to "knock him around" a bit verbally.

I'd suggest, Phil, that whether you agree with the position or not, put yourself in 80's shoes. Imagine that you really believe that people can be "lost" and suffer for eternity. What kind of person would you be if you believed that sincerely and then shrugged your shoulders and said "Oh well, I don't want to be preachy or anything. . .let 'em fry. . ."? You're judging 80s views about "the lost" based on YOUR perspective, not his, which strikes me as deeply unfair.
Thank you so much for (1) understanding me and (2) standing in my defense. It means a whole heck of a lot to me.
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Old 03-24-2011, 02:50 PM   #275
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You're judging 80s views about "the lost" based on YOUR perspective, not his, which strikes me as deeply unfair.

okay, i know i wasn't asked, but ... one difference i'd suggest, though, is that it doesn't seem like these opposing views are on equal and opposite ground. 80s has (kindly and gently) made very specific claims rooted in textual evidence, it's all been very well-researched and coherently presented. however, it means very, very little to someone who does not work from the starting point that the Bible -- especially quoted in English -- holds any sort of authority as either the literal word of God or otherwise. it seems to me, and to many others, that it's extremely problematic -- from an intellectual standpoint -- to base such a specific worldview that entails enormous, eternal ramifications and responsibilities and consequences on a book written 2,000 years ago.

the specificity in here goes above and beyond a sense of something "out there" or broad notions of "God," so it seems to me that, at a minimum, there needs to be some appreciation of the fact that most people in the world do not believe what you do, that your beliefs are as culturally and historically influenced as anyone else's, and that there's an enormous burden of proof that rests on your shoulders in order for you to make such claims and to have them taken seriously, especially when those claims absolutely do make it appear as if you are in a privileged ("saved") position over others ("lost"), and especially when so much evidence is anecdotal and rooted in first-hand subjective experience. at a minimum, could we get an "i could be wrong, but ..." or "in my opinion ..."? a position of skepticism is much more intellectually defensible than is certitude about one's exclusive hold on the truth. to me, that's the opposite of faith, that's insecurity.
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Old 03-24-2011, 03:12 PM   #276
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Phil, Let me begin by saying that in this thread I have only discussed my faith as it relates to Hell. I can't espouse my views on hell without including my faith.

Also, let me remind me that I wasn't even witnessing to you on a one to one level.

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Just because I'm atheist doesn't mean I feel the need to profess the "knowledge" I have.
Now, back to this. I tell people about Christ as Savior because of the eternal ramifications. If Heaven and Hell do exist, and you must choose to have your sins forgiven in order to enter Heaven, then the stakes are very high indeed.

On the other hand, if God doesn't exist, what will it matter when I die? Nothing.

That's why you don't feel the need to profess the knowledge you have.

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It doesn't make me feel any better than anyone else.
Again, I do not feel better than anyone else that I am a Christian.

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So, I dispute your claim that I've done it in this very thread. I'm not trying to convert anyone. I don't look upon you as being lost or "not saved."
I wasn't talking about your atheism when I said that you tried to convince people they're wrong in this thread.

I was talking about how you were the one who brought up homosexuality in this thread (which has absolutely nothing to do with homosexuality) and then lambasted the fellow who disagreed with you and how you presented your case as if there was no chance on earth that you were wrong.

You see, you can be as strong and aggressive in your viewpoints as I can.

For the record, so that no one misunderstands me, I am not making any kind of point whatsoever about homosexuality. I am simply referring to it to illustrate my point to Phil.
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Old 03-24-2011, 03:16 PM   #277
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We have Christian preachers on my campus every day, trying to spread the "word" of their respective congregations. There are certain non-believers who are inclined to go up and ask them questions in order to dispute them. There are non-believers who will disrupt the more volatile ones (the traveling types who hold up signs saying we're all going to Hell) with "counter preaching." I'm not at all that type. I've never once tried to challenge a Christian person on their beliefs or tried to preach my religious views.

I want everyone to keep religion to themselves, no matter their viewpoint.
I've gotta ask. If you wish everyone to keep religion to themselves, no matter their viewpoint, why did you come to a thread entitled "Do you believe in hell" in the first place?
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Old 03-24-2011, 03:38 PM   #278
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Question for PFan and/or Irvine... (added emphasis mine)
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It's good to see some honesty about what people believe. For instance that nonbelievers will go to hell if they don't accept Jesus into their hearts. I don't take it personally because I know that I can act conscientiously without the carrot and stick of heaven and hell.
...do you guys agree with this? Because it does seem to me that the two of you are having a considerably more personalized reaction to 80s' views than A_W and others. Not saying that's "bad," and it may just be a matter of personality, but to me it does seem noteworthy that you guys appear to be responding emotionally to his certitude itself, rather than critiquing his reasoning.
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Old 03-24-2011, 03:40 PM   #279
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I disagree. I know exactly where he's coming from. . .
I want everyone to keep religion to themselves, no matter their viewpoint.

I'm not sure you do know where he's coming from, Phil. You're typing what he's saying as a mere viewpoint, which he happens to be elevating above all others. But from his perspective it is more than a viewpoint. . .it is a terrible reality that he believes the "lost" are facing. I mean, he was depressed for months thinking about all these people going to hell! Clearly, this is not, in his mind, a simple opinion on the order "Republicans are better than Democrats" or "The Libiyan air strikes are a bad idea."

It's as if you saw some one driving at 75 mph towards a bridge that's been knocked out. The driver of the car doesn't know what you know, so your frantic efforts to get him to stop the car before it goes over the bridge look merely silly to him. He might even go far as to say to you that you are being awfully pushy about your "viewpoint" that the bridge is out, and he prefers to go with what he knows to be true--that the bridge is right there where it's always been, thank you very much.

My point is that for one side of this discussion this is an intellectual debate, one that appears to be very poorly defended, and from the other is the genuine (not merely philosophical) belief that some people might indeed by lost for eternity.

This really is an argument over whether evangelism is appropriate or not. You clearly believe it is not appropriate which is fine. But you could at least see how a belief in hell could really put a fire under someone to evangelize.
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Old 03-24-2011, 03:47 PM   #280
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Here's the difference between you and I: I tell you that I'm not Christian, and you want to try and "help" me by making me Christian. You tell me you're not an atheist, and I don't care at all. I have no interest in trying to convert people.
While you are speaking only on behalf of yourself I wouldn't consider that the case for all atheists....a typical condescending quote from the new atheists website:

Tolerance of pervasive myth and superstition in modern society is not a virtue.
Religious fundamentalism has gone main stream and its toll on education, science, and social progress is disheartening.
Wake up people!! We are smart enough now to kill our invisible gods and oppressive beliefs.
It is the responsibility of the educated to educate the uneducated, lest we fall prey to the tyranny of ignorance.


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Just because I'm atheist doesn't mean I feel the need to profess the "knowledge" I have. It doesn't make me feel any better than anyone else. I don't want to try and spread my awareness to others.
You may not feel the need but this 'professing of knowledge' (considering recent vocal new atheists like Hitchens and Dawkins) is not just a trait reserved for believers.
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Old 03-24-2011, 03:49 PM   #281
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Question for PFan and/or Irvine... (added emphasis mine)

...do you guys agree with this? Because it does seem to me that the two of you are having a considerably more personalized reaction to 80s' views than A_W and others. Not saying that's "bad," and it may just be a matter of personality, but to me it does seem noteworthy that you guys appear to be responding emotionally to his certitude itself, rather than critiquing his reasoning.




can only speak for myself, but i thought i was just critiquing the reasoning itself in an unemotional way:

Quote:
however, it means very, very little to someone who does not work from the starting point that the Bible -- especially quoted in English -- holds any sort of authority as either the literal word of God or otherwise. it seems to me, and to many others, that it's extremely problematic -- from an intellectual standpoint -- to base such a specific worldview that entails enormous, eternal ramifications and responsibilities and consequences on a book written 2,000 years ago.
at the root of everything, though, i really cannot understand how someone can be so rigid in their faith. i mean ... it's faith. by definition, isn't it emotional, irrational, supernatural, and elastic? it seems to me that if someone goes into a depression about the eternal consequences of "the lost" then it's the faith that needs to be reexamined, not the individual who is having a very moral reaction to a teaching that is, as A_W has said, rather ghastly. this kind of faith appears abusive to me, and i suppose my emotional reaction -- though, again, i had thought i was being pretty intellectual -- comes from knowing people who have been abused by ghastly aspects of their faith.
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Old 03-24-2011, 03:58 PM   #282
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Phil, Let me begin by saying that in this thread I have only discussed my faith as it relates to Hell. I can't espouse my views on hell without including my faith.

Also, let me remind me that I wasn't even witnessing to you on a one to one level.

Now, back to this. I tell people about Christ as Savior because of the eternal ramifications. If Heaven and Hell do exist, and you must choose to have your sins forgiven in order to enter Heaven, then the stakes are very high indeed.

On the other hand, if God doesn't exist, what will it matter when I die? Nothing.

That's why you don't feel the need to profess the knowledge you have.

Again, I do not feel better than anyone else that I am a Christian.

I wasn't talking about your atheism when I said that you tried to convince people they're wrong in this thread.

I was talking about how you were the one who brought up homosexuality in this thread (which has absolutely nothing to do with homosexuality) and then lambasted the fellow who disagreed with you and how you presented your case as if there was no chance on earth that you were wrong.

You see, you can be as strong and aggressive in your viewpoints as I can.

For the record, so that no one misunderstands me, I am not making any kind of point whatsoever about homosexuality. I am simply referring to it to illustrate my point to Phil.
My point about homosexuality is rooted in fact: science. That's why I defend it so strongly. Flybabe stated that homosexuals made a choice, and that's factually not true. I'm not trying to defend it on religious grounds, because I think religion should be taken completely and totally out of it. I was trying to get flybabe to talk more in depth beyond simple statements like, "We all make mistakes," which don't do anyone any good.
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I've gotta ask. If you wish everyone to keep religion to themselves, no matter their viewpoint, why did you come to a thread entitled "Do you believe in hell" in the first place?
It's an anonymous message board. I'm not offended by this at all. Rather, I'm glad we're having a good discussion on this issue. I feel like this is a good forum for this because no one is hurt personally by it and when we're done we all move on with our lives.
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...do you guys agree with this? Because it does seem to me that the two of you are having a considerably more personalized reaction to 80s' views than A_W and others. Not saying that's "bad," and it may just be a matter of personality, but to me it does seem noteworthy that you guys appear to be responding emotionally to his certitude itself, rather than critiquing his reasoning.
No, I think most people are religious because they grew up that way. I don't see the carrot-and-stick thing that frequently. I think it's simpler than that.
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I'm not sure you do know where he's coming from, Phil. You're typing what he's saying as a mere viewpoint, which he happens to be elevating above all others. But from his perspective it is more than a viewpoint. . .it is a terrible reality that he believes the "lost" are facing. I mean, he was depressed for months thinking about all these people going to hell! Clearly, this is not, in his mind, a simple opinion on the order "Republicans are better than Democrats" or "The Libiyan air strikes are a bad idea."

It's as if you saw some one driving at 75 mph towards a bridge that's been knocked out. The driver of the car doesn't know what you know, so your frantic efforts to get him to stop the car before it goes over the bridge look merely silly to him. He might even go far as to say to you that you are being awfully pushy about your "viewpoint" that the bridge is out, and he prefers to go with what he knows to be true--that the bridge is right there where it's always been, thank you very much.

My point is that for one side of this discussion this is an intellectual debate, one that appears to be very poorly defended, and from the other is the genuine (not merely philosophical) belief that some people might indeed by lost for eternity.

This really is an argument over whether evangelism is appropriate or not. You clearly believe it is not appropriate which is fine. But you could at least see how a belief in hell could really put a fire under someone to evangelize.
Your entire post works only under the assumption that the bridge is out.
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Old 03-24-2011, 04:00 PM   #283
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You may not feel the need but this 'professing of knowledge' (considering recent vocal new atheists like Hitchens and Dawkins) is not just a trait reserved for believers.
But it's not inherent to an atheist viewpoint. Like I said earlier, I'm not the type to get in the face of religious people at all.

I'm not a part of an organization of atheism. Quite the opposite. I'm individualistic when it comes to religion. Which is the entire point.
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Old 03-24-2011, 04:01 PM   #284
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it seems to me that if someone goes into a depression about the eternal consequences of "the lost" then it's the faith that needs to be reexamined, not the individual who is having a very moral reaction to a teaching that is, as A_W has said, rather ghastly. this kind of faith appears abusive to me, and i suppose my emotional reaction -- though, again, i had thought i was being pretty intellectual -- comes from knowing people who have been abused by ghastly aspects of their faith.
OK. So you're bothered by the internalized guilt or grief of the believer and how that motivates them, rather or more than by their belief that others will go to hell unless they get saved?
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Old 03-24-2011, 04:05 PM   #285
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What if I said that I truly believed you guys needed to be "saved" from your religious leaders, and that I was doing it only because I have the knowledge about it and need to inform you, purely because I'm looking out for you guys?
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