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Post by crys » Mon Oct 03, 2005 9:39 pm

so what is everyones thoughts on the ideas that the lake of fire and other such things are really only a metaphor and that hell is not really burning for all of eternity

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Post by Deborah » Mon Oct 03, 2005 10:30 pm

Much of the bible is a metaphor.
That is put in a way that we silly children of god are suppose to be able to grasp but still have trouble grasping!
Church tradition tells us that when John, son of Zebadee and brother of James was an old man, his disciples would carry him to church in their arms.
He would simply say, “Little children, love one another”
After a time his disciples wearied at always hearing these same words and asked “Master why do you always say this?
He replied, “it is the Lords command, and if done, it is enough”

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Post by Judah » Mon Oct 03, 2005 11:35 pm

Crys, you might like to read this sermon called Why Would a Loving God Send People to Hell? from the Redland Baptist Church in Rockville, MD.

I include a clip of it that deals with the language of hell, and it refers to the arguments of some reputable Christian apologist authors. The sermon will also help respond to your question on another thread about God supposedly taking revenge by sending people to hell.

Here is the clip, but do read the whole thing.
Now, most conservative theologians believe as I do that this is all figurative language. The Bible is not saying that Hell is literally a place of fire and brimstone. And, I believe this for three reasons:

a. First of all, the Bible is full of symbolic language.
In Strobel's book Dr. Moreland, a conservative scholar, says, In Hebrews 12:29 God is called a consuming fire. Yet nobody thinks God is a cosmic Bunsen burner.

Using the flame imagery is a way of saying He's a God of Judgement. On the night of His arrest Jesus ate the Passover meal with His disciples. He held up the bread and said, This is My body. Then He took the cup and referring to its contents said, This is My blood. Now, Jesus did not mean that the bread and the wine were His literal blood but rather that they were symbolic of the fact that His body was about to be nailed to a cross where He would shed His precious blood for the sins of the world. In John's gospel it is recorded that Jesus described Himself as, ...the True Vine and as the Bread of Life but that does not mean he was actually a plant or a loaf of bread. The book of Revelation says that when Christ returns He is going to have a big sword coming out of His mouth. But nobody thinks that this means our Lord will be unable to speak without choking on it's blade. No, the figure of the sword stands for the word of God in judgment. And in a similar fashion, the descriptions of hell as a place of fire are also symbolic of a horror that would be infinitely worse than a place filled with brimstone and constant flames.

b. We also know the word pictures in Scripture that describe Hell as a place of fire are symbolic because they make no sense.
For example, Hell can't be a place of utter darkness if it is a place of constantly burning flames because the flames of course would shed light.

c. And then...a third reason I believe these words are symbols is that they referred to real places in and around Israel in the time of Christ.
One word in the New Testament that is used for Hell is, Gehenna and it alluded to to the Valley of Gehenna outside the southeast walls of Jerusalem. This had been a place of worship for the heathen god Molech, which included burning babies alive. Because of their cries it was known as the Valley of Lamentation,...which is what Gehenna literally means. II Kings 23:10 tells us that this horrible practice was abolished by King Josiah, after which the place came to be used by Jewish people as the city dump, a place for garbage disposal, including the refuse of the city, the bodies of animals, and even the bodies of criminals who had no one to give them a burial. A fire was kept going there continually for sanitary purposes. So, the Valley of Gehenna came to be used as a symbol of the awful reality of Hell.

In Mark 9:48 when Jesus described Hell as a place where worms constantly eat people's flesh, He was referring to the place outside the temple where the blood and fat from the thousands of animals that were sacrificed each day would gather in a pool. In this horrible place worms were constantly ingesting all that rotting flesh. And in using this metaphor Jesus was saying hell is worse than that disgusting place outside the city walls.

When the Bible talks about Hell being a place of darkness it is saying that it is a place of hopelessness. Try to imagine what that would be like. I mean if you have ever experienced an attack of anxiety or depression you can always tell yourself that this feeling of dark despair will pass. You can tell yourself to hang on because it will end and things will look better. But in Hell, that tactic would not work because the anxiety, the hopeless despair, will not end. It is a place of constant darkness in this sense.

Now, please don't get me wrong here. I'm not saying that I believe Hell to be LESS horrible than a lake of fire. No, I'm saying that Hell is much WORSE than that.

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Post by AttentionKMartShoppers » Tue Oct 04, 2005 10:33 am

Well fire is used as a metaphor for judgement. For example, God says He's a consuming flame, but nobody thinks God is attached to the end of a cosmic bunsen burner. When Jesus returns, He'll be wreathed in flames...and, how could the flames be literal? Hell is dark.
"My actions prove that God takes care of idiots."

He occasionally stumbled over the truth, but hastily picked himself up and hurried on as if nothing had happened.
- On Stanley Baldwin

-Winston Churchill

An atheist can't find God for the same reason a criminal can't find a police officer.

You need to start asking out girls so that you can get used to the rejections.

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