Re: Brimstone Insurance Co. calling

Date: Tue Sep 05 2000 - 11:30:10 EDT

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    I greatly appreciate all your responses and insight on this. I think
    what this most exposes is the profound gap that lies between the
    vast beyond and our own existence. Insisting that science tell
    theology what ultimately *is*, and how we might arrive at such an
    understanding seem truly presumptuous in this context.

    Dave Siemens wrote:
    I know that there are a number of folk who have adopted universalism or
    annihilationism because they do not like the notion of hell. I do not
    find these within scripture without a wrenching of language and refusal
    to face some passages.

    I certainly would not advocate some universal religion.
    Indeed, it would be vast stretch to say for example that
    Buddhism and Christianity are the same (or similar).

    For example, I tend to see the notion of Christ and
    salvation as setting us free from the endless cycle of
    Karma. The notion of submitting to karma would be akin
    to saying "I can do it on my own God". Inevitably I
    will sin, and the next time around, I'll probably
    become a roach, or a snail or some other disgusting
    creature. (Yes, yes, the biologists will all scold
    me for demeaning the cockroach because they have endured
    several major extinctions and have survived about 350 million
    yrs. That does not grant them special privileges to enter
    my house.)

    There are serious problematical issues about invoking a karma
    cycle in the first place, but Buddhists usually appeal to an
    oscillating universe model and recently quantum entanglement
    (although that seems like a real stretch). Anyway,in the
    end, such debates can't go very far since they are essentially
    untestable. Faith then all that is left.

    The major similarity would be in the universality of
    spiritualness in the human race. There are a number of
    Chinese words and Japanese words that carry very powerful
    spiritual concepts with them. Because of that, the bible
    is usually translated and some of these words which also
    carry a meaning in Buddhist thought are used to describe
    similar concepts from the Bible. Translators are careful
    about that, but these are the words the language has, and
    they can't work around that easily. It does somewhat color
    the meaning, but it also can offer deeper insights so it
    goes both ways. Anyway, English also colors the NT Greek and
    the OT Hebrew and Aramaic. Nevertheless, English does contain
    spiritual words which had their pagen origins in Latin etc.

    But I find problems with some of the traditional
    statements about hell, and with some alternatives. First, there is no way
    that "outer darkness" and "burning with fire and brimstone" can be
    literally true of the same place. Also the latter is directed as evil
    spirits, which are not likely to be afflicted by physical flame. So the
    language must the figurative, though there is then the problem of how it
    is to be understood. Second, aion and aionion may refer to limited
    periods, but the compounded "ages of ages" is more than a little tough to
    reduce. Third, I believe that the creator intended human beings for
    unending life. Fourth, "God is love."

    The bible devotes very little to the subject. I would take that
    to mean that it is more concerned with guiding us in the life we
    still have, rather than any future life. In fact, perhaps this is
    also why the 10 commandments forbid us from making images of heaven
    or hell (Ex 20:4). It is more likely to get the wrong perspective
    of what salvation is about.

    Hmm, heaven without beer, that's *got* to be real hell. <grin>

    By Grace alone do we proceed,

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