Another conversation: Going deep with Tom Usher and Noah Anthony Russell

[Light edits throughout] Noah Anthony Russell:

Tom, I'm coming to you about this issue because I know you're a Christian who is more about God's love than most.

So, I've got this thing in my head. First I must ask you a question.

There is a train heading to a bridge, you're a train enthusiast. You see that 5 construction workers are on the bridge fixing it, and they will surely die if you don't do anything. The only thing you have time to do is pull a lever that will divert the train's direction onto and other track, but you know on this other track there is a homeless person, who lives on it since it's not been used for several years now. So, you have these two options. You can do nothing, let 5 construction workers get run over, OR you can pull the lever save 5 people and have one person die.

What would you do? What would Jesus do in your opinion?

Noah Anthony Russell:

Ultimately the question is are you morally responsible if you don't pull the lever for the deaths of the construction workers? Because you're definitely responsible for the death of the homeless man if you do pull it.

If a Man is brutally beating a woman and your only two options are killing the man or letting him beat the woman to death. Would you be responsible for the woman's death if you did nothing?

Tom Usher:

This approach is typically used by Libertarians and atheists but also others of the mind that sacrificing some for more others is morally justified and that not sacrificing the few is immoral.

It doesn't work that way. You don't kill.

If you study the matter, you discover that those of that persuasion are more sociopathic in general and often have been abused in one form or another but have not overcome.

You will also find that they take on causes only after they have suffered directly, such as losing a child to a particular disease. They lack sympathy, empathy, compassion, and the love you mentioned beforehand.

As for Jesus, he wouldn't find himself in those circumstances. My faith likely wouldn't find me there either, but I don't look for temptation.

Regardless, I wouldn't kill. I won't choose to sacrifice even a bankster.

You see, the idea of the homeless one is a trick of the mind suggesting he is more expendable; but he is not.

If I were transported to the time when the Romans led Christians to the lions, I wouldn't fight the Romans with that sword we talked about before. Do you remember? The sword of truth is the only sword to use. It is the word, not that material that the atheists can use to take men's lives.

Do you see?

This is why I'm opposed to human-on-human punishment. I'm for accountability though.

Are you putting questions to me that you've been confronted with on account of your studies?

Noah Anthony Russell:

Yeah, I thought about the idea that the "homeless" part might be biased, but decided that you'd see that. I have to say I AGREE WITH YOU, but I know some strong Christians who really believe and think otherwise. They usually say that sometimes you have to choose the lesser of two evils... And I'm thinking, but doesn't God make it so there always is a good option? This is what I believe. I don't think you always much choose between the lesser of two evils. Which would mean that not pulling the lever isn't evil, not sin right?

And yes this is from my philosophy professor. I decided long ago I thought not doing anything was right, but I'll get to why I get a bit conflicted by it at times.

So God, he knows all. He knows we humans will sin, and he has the power to stop it, but he doesn't. This is exactly like God is standing by the trolley and watching it go down and does nothing. I believe that is why it is the right thing because God cannot sin and so God would take that option, but that is exactly what he does. He is everywhere, omnipresent. He is in the very room hopeless children are being raped and murdered, and he does nothing. People think this is cruel in general, but it is the person doing the sin who is responsible, not God.

I have this feeling that someone who knows and has the powers to stop bad should. It's like a physical reaction that makes me think God should also stop it. It's a conflicting feeling.

Tom Usher:

Well, Noah, you're getting into deep spiritual matters.

Satan is the god of this world. You've heard that before. What does it mean? What does it do? How does that mess things up? How are we tested by it and why?

Knowledge, real knowledge, is the answer. I'm talking about the knowledge that comes after (or returns to us after) the knowledge of good and evil on the level of Adam and Eve. We're going through to learn, really learn, firsthand, in reality. This is reality -- part of it.

The real knowledge is the complete knowledge of good, the complete valuation of it so much that we join God in becoming un-temptable.

I know there are things in the Bible that run contrary to this, but there's more in the unfolding and revelatory process that supports it by far.

God is far better than the Old Testament Bible says he is, as in better than the impression most people have of God: based upon a superficial reading, if that. God is perfect, but people can't grasp that. I don't have their problem.

Look at the impression many atheists have of God. Look at what the Gnostic say about God. They hate the Old Testament God so much that they say he's the Demiurge, self deluded into thinking incorrectly that he is God.

I understand why they think that way. I know why it's wrong though.

Jesus accepts Abraham and Moses, etc. Think about it.

Who was in the burning bush? Do angels learn?

Noah Anthony Russell:

I know God is perfect. People say God killed thousands and millions of humans and is evil, but were all deserving of death and punishment? He has every right to take any human being at any time he wishes from this world for it is what we deserve. People don't understand how God can kill while still being perfect. We have an obligation as humans not to kill each other, but God has no such obligation he is our creator the one who judges us and can take our life without a second thought. I understand that God is good and perfect and that to those who don't know this, he will appear evil and cruel.

My feelings of confliction are due to me applying human obligations upon God, which he does not actually have.

I thank God and pray for wisdom and knowledge to match that of Solomon. I hope to get there.

I just dislike any conflicting feelings. It's hard to understand and sort out what is human and what is not, to be able to look at yourself through another objective person's eyes. It's a skill... in a way.

Tom Usher:

Noah,

I certainly understand being conflicted. Consider the following, which I believe will help you immensely:

As Christians, we have the word "kill" that means more than one thing. We cannot divorce death from the various connotations of "killing."

For us, death is by Satan. Life is by God. When the flesh dies or is killed, the ghost goes to Satan or to God, depending. It "lives" or it "dies" even though it is immortal.

This is extremely semantical. I have yet to meet the person who has spoken this language with me, even though I've spoken it towards many others.

Also, consider that God is not the tempter. Satan is.

Now, if there were no knowledge in us of the darkness we have come to loathe, we would still be ignorant of the light.

This may sound Hindu-like, but it is not. It is dualistic though. Where it is different is in that once we have gone through the trials and tribulation set before by Satan (not God) to ensnare us as his own, we can, again, join God not only knowing the difference between good and evil but also having that particular life Jesus defined to us for our edification, salvation, and redemption.

To attain this, we must profess but also act accordingly. Faith without works truly is dead, hence the Christian Commons -- although love was, and remains, the prime-mover.

When wrath takes man, Satan is taking him. God takes those who don't fall to it.

Let me know if this is clear.

Peace to you, my young friend and brother.

Tom

Noah Anthony Russell:

Faith without works is dead because faith produces works. So, if no works are produced, then the faith is not real. That's how I think of that.

Satan is not the only one who tempts, but mankind is also part of it. Man can cause men to stumble and fall into darkness just Like Satan is actively trying to do.

I think all that you said is clear. I have a question for you though. Do you believe that the human soul is punished infinitely for finite deeds?

Tom Usher:

I agree with how you think about faith without works.

As for Satan tempting, he works within humans to tempt others. No one is outside the two camps.

Jesus said the punishment lasts until it's paid. How much is owed? How much more sinning goes on during the punishment?

Noah Anthony Russell:

I think Revelation, chapter 20, verses 13 and 14, shows that you are punished for your deeds. Then, the Second Death happens, which means after you have been punished for your deeds, you are spiritually dead. Wouldn't it be cruel of God to infinitely punish people for finite deeds? So it would make sense that sinners eventually are non-existent because their very existence is a sin and sin cannot forever persist even in punishment, right? What do you think?

Noah Anthony Russell:

It's not like that view is necessary for salvation, but I think it does make sense. Would like your opinion on it.

Also are you sure all evil of humans is Satan? I mean the bible says that human hearts are corrupt. It is humans who are also evil by nature. Satan works to tempt and destroy us further, but humans by themselves are sinful apart from Satan. Satan was the tempter, he caused mankind to sin and become corrupt. But after which we were corrupt in ourselves and then Satan just facilitates sin through are now natural corruption, right?

Tom Usher:

Noah, there are spiritual dead people walking around right now as atheists and lip-service Christians, etc. Everyone is spiritually dead until born again in the spirit (the particular spirit; not the evil spirit).

After what is owed is paid, the soul is released.

The Hindus believe in annihilation. Jesus doesn't teach that in that way. He teaches separation. He teaches that there is an impassable gap.

There are levels of Heaven and Hell. Some souls apparently languish below the Highest Heaven forever, never truly free of some degree of evil/sin.

The paradox is that they always have the option but are incapable of exercising it. Aristotle can't grasp it. Jesus was/is amaze why he can't. So am I. I'm amazed at myself that my spirit is willing but my flesh is weak.

Yes, I'm sure that the evil in humanity is the spirit of Satan.

I do not subscribe to that all human babies are inherently evil. I subscribe to that they are misled as they grow up, if we can rightly even call it that.

"Original Sin," per se, is a doctrine that does not jibe with the full context of Jesus's message and deeds.

The prophecy is that we will not be punished for the iniquity of our fathers.

Being born in the flesh is not falling in and of itself. Jesus was born a full human being. Was he therefore fallen?

He did go through the perfection process right here but not to say that the Gnostics are correct that all flesh is evil.

He ascended in the flesh. He is alive right now in the flesh: in us but also in himself.

We are not Muslims.

God can make, and has made, flesh clean and immortal. Believe it!

The limits are removed. The soul can be spirit and flesh and just spirit.

God can manifest how God wants. We join God if we merit it, if we become trustworthy.

What are you doing with all of this? Are you writing a paper for school? Are you interviewing me? It's okay if you are.

Tom Usher:

"...it would make sense that sinners eventually are non-existent because their very existence is a sin and sin cannot forever persist even in punishment...."

Deep, Noah. Profound question/point.

The difference lies in the answer to the question: "What is existence?" What is real?

You see, this is why the name of my Church contains the term "Real."

Evil is false. It is fake. Again, this is highly semantical.

You'll get more of this sort of talk from the Eastern Orthodox than from Protestants.

Noah:

Not for school and not really interviewing you either. I'm just constantly thinking about things, and so I ask anyone who believes in Christ what he or she thinks. I find it a smart way to learn: to learn what others know then trust it but verify it for oneself.

I'm always asking others, but I never believe what they say unless I find it approved and verified through God's word. It's the safest route. The problem is that the word is not necessarily as straight forward as I'd like sometimes. I sometimes wish it had yes and no answers; but I have eternity to figure these things out, which is good.

Here is an article that I have believed in for a long time. Though it's not perfect, you'll get the general idea: [Noah posted an article to his Facebook Notes; but I'll point to the public article so everyone may readily read it.] "Death Discussions Part 7: The Hot Topic of Hell," by Steve Wohlberg. White Horse Media. 2009?.

Here's the whole series. It took me a bit to find it all.

· Death Discussions Part 7: The Hot Topic of Hell

· Death Discussions Part 8: The Hot Topic of Hell

· Death Discussions Part 9: The Hot Topic of Hell

· Death Discussions Part 10: The Hot Topic of Hell

· Death Discussions Part 11: The Hot Topic of Hell

· Death Discussions Part 12: The Hot Topic of Hell

· Death Discussions Part 13: The Hot Topic of Hell

Tom:

It's a somewhat interesting article as a study in prosaic technicalities, meaning it's a less developed semantical (poetic) understanding than what I've been sharing with you.

The annihilation "proof" is not there. He's reading it in. The going out of existence aspect doesn't jibe with receiving fewer stripes for lesser accumulated errors and then being released.

He's very literal. He doesn't allow for varying connotations within different contexts. It makes for being very sure in his mind about these things, but he doesn't know every detail on the level he's suggesting is the only way of viewing each aspect and event.

I can see why you like the article. However, I find his reading to be technical rather than profoundly enlightening. He's very Aristotelian concerning highly spiritual terms. Afterall, Jerusalem is Egypt and Sodom. Now, Aristotle would probably understand the figurativeness and not get caught saying that's impossible.

Going out of existence in the way he saying is confusing not existing on the same plane of existence, in the same context, as the New Earth. The gap will be so great that evil won't be there, but that doesn't mean there won't be other mansions that are eternal habitations, abodes, dwellings, as Jesus called them. To abide is to be. Being is not nonexistence. It is not having been annihilated. That life with Satan isn't the life with God. It's the false life of sin. Jesus didn't teach that in a "parable," per se, either.

I hope I'm not throwing too much at you, but I just don't box in everything the way Steve Wohlberg does and don't find it necessary to even try. I find it stifling.

The evil die and their flesh gives up their ghosts too.

You will note that concerning Lazarus, he glosses over Hades as the place of hot torment while earlier, he had said Hades wasn't that place.

Steve is conjuring up all sorts of rationalizations for obtaining what he wants -- that his family member's souls go out of existence rather than experience pain and suffering eternally. If you'll recall, I asked you what people owe though. They may not make it to the Highest Heaven, but that doesn't mean they won't get out of worse pain and suffering and rise a bit and then again and again and maybe fall again and all out side the New Heaven and New Earth.

God's universe is not completely revealed to us yet. We can't be arrogant thinking we see it all. Steve doesn't see it all. I'm not saying he thinks he does, but he writes as if he does.

I must say that when he starts going on in such a literal way about the various points in the story of Lazarus, it doesn't appeal to me at all.

I know you know me fairly well in terms of my style, so you aren't taking offense at my sayings here.

It would take many, many hours to go through the whole thing and show how nearly everything he's said can easily be explained via other interpretations.

Steve is picking and choosing conveniently for him to get to where he, Steve, wants to be about his relatives' souls. He's very literal with some things and very figurative and fictional about others (parables). Look, Jesus said to the person next to him on a cross that he would be in paradise that very day with Jesus, but Jesus went to Hades that day. What would that do, blow Steve's mind? I've seen various explanations that paradise isn't Heaven, but frankly, I find trying to force the literal, Aristotelian logic (and often not even very well thought out at that), onto the scriptures and Holy Spirit and all spirituality is just retarding of the spirit.

He thinks being without root or branch means annihilation of the soul. The real root and real branch are/is God and Jesus. They just don't have any part in God and Jesus. They won't be in the Highest. They are cut off -- on the other side of the gap. It doesn't prove annihilation. It doesn't prove what will happen to their souls for ever or in terms of every specific detail/event or the like.

Look Noah, what the Hell would be the point of punishing those you are going to put out of their misery? Is it just releasing them from Satan into nothingness? Why do they go through any punishment at all in the hereafter? It would be pointless, and I don't find anything God does to be pointless. That's the whole point! There's just more going on than Steve can read into scripture. No offense to him, but he needs to expand his mind and grasp the deeper love than his immediate concern over what would clearly send him packing from God – eternal punishment of Steve's relatives; but Satan does the punishing anyway, not God. God's way purges and heals. There's a difference.

Maybe all souls finally get out of Satan's grip but not all get to the Highest. Maybe Satan is essence of evil and is purged. Who's his prophet? That one stays with him.

Ezekiel says there will be a new ornate temple. Peter says the Earth will melt. Paul says we'll be caught up in the air. John says the whole Earth doesn't burn and also, we'll live in a new gigantic temple. Jesus says souls go into the bottomless pit, outer darkness, and the lake of fire. A literalist will give up. An atheist will say, told you so. The softhearted will see the way. The contexts are all different even while they are all referring to the same general things. You can't apply strict-constructionist Aristotelianism to it and come out with any understanding at all. All you'll end up with is confusion, increasing frustration, and finally failure. Reconcile it all. It's the only way.

Understand that not every prophet was given the same awareness. Jesus said that himself. He told them that the ancients would have loved to hear what his disciples were hearing. He also said greater things were yet to be revealed.

The logic of Spock on Star Trek isn't going to get anyone there.

What matters more than all this stuff Steve wrote is what we are doing with our faith. Are we feeding his lambs and sheep in the flesh and in the spirit and doing all the other things together? I don't see anyone doing it anywhere. Do you? I think only one person has ever even said he might someday need to have a Christian Commons to which to go. A couple of others have said it's great, but then they never showed up again. Everyone else has put it down, including dozens of so-called Christians. Most have said it's asking too much or that I'm evil because I'm anti-homosexuality.

This one's title is actually frighteningly blanket: "The Immortal Soul Doctrine is The Devil's Door to Spiritualism." Noah did not link to that one. The reason it strikes me so is given above and below.

Steve's whole concept hinges on this statement:

The story of the rich man and Lazarus was "a parable" (compare Luke 16:19 with Luke 19:11, 12), not an actual account, for how else can you explain Lazarus ascending into "Abraham's bosom"?

Now, I have real problems/issues with Steve's way of thinking about Jesus's words. It's so straitjacketed that it's difficult to know where to begin to untie the knots. First, one must have in mind all of Jesus's metaphorical, synonymous language before one can say with certainty what can or can't happen. Look, where was Jonah? Was he in the belly of a wale, or was he dead, as Jesus died in the flesh on the cross? With that in mind, what is it to be in the bosom of Abraham? Is it to be physically in his bosom or is it to be there spiritually? The answer is clear to me that it is first not understood. Then it is understood as perhaps spiritual. Then it is finally understood to be both, on certain levels and within certain and overarching contexts. Jesus said he is the bread. (Note: Jesus didn't say it in parable form.) Is Steve going to reject it because Steve knows Jesus is not the bread the atheists eat? I hope not. Yet, Jesus is most certainly the bread -- the most real bread there is.

As you should be able to begin to see here, Steve is only speaking the revelation of Jesus Christ in part and is precluding further understanding.

I'm not saying with that, that he is precluded from ending up seeing this about his own position. I have found very few people so far who are willing to amend their positions though to allow for learning what we don't yet know. I'm open to it, but I'm no "spiritualist" in the sense Steve has used the label in his article.

Look, Jesus said of living people, "Let the dead bury their dead." If we take Steve's approach, those people can't die in the flesh because they are already dead; but they are dead in the spirit. They died in the spirit when exactly? Well, they must be reborn to actually begin living again. Were they born dead because they were born of the seed of the proverbial Adam and Eve? In a sense, they were. In a sense, we all have been born that way. In that sense, there is original sin. In that sense, we are born into a fallen condition. The flesh itself though is not inherently evil. Babies are not sinners just for existing, else Jesus was sinning just for coming here. The flesh is just weak due to a weak spirit and weak faith.

Satan doesn't explain all of this. Jesus will though.

Noah:

Ha ha, no you could never offend me. Honestly someone could be going on cursing Jesus and God, and I would not be offended but rather pitying them for their sin and ignorance. If anything, maybe a little righteous wrath for God; but anger has never been natural to me in particular unless it some extreme case; but either way, what you believe will not offend because I know we both agree on the core of salvation and that both of what we believe to be will be proven right or wrong when we are made perfect.

Yeah, I'm very much so on the more literal side of the bible interpretation. I like science and history to be straightforward and quick to answer. That's why what he says makes sense to me cause I think of the bible using same terms with little variation in meaning. I've seen that when you believe in a less literal bible, it is easier for people to misinterpret the bible and fit it to themselves: to justify their sins and mislead others. I find that God has to make the bible clear-cut or it is nearly useless. Why would he give us something that is so symbolic that Humans will easily misinterpret it in so many ways? Anyways since I do.

And Steve may very well be just trying to justify his family going to Hell, but I can tell you I am not. I actually have never even had a family death, well not who I knew. I am fortunate in that no one I've ever cared for or loved or been close to has ever died. So, I am by no means trying to believe that dead relatives won't burn up forever. In fact I've read every verse in the bible that even refers to hell. I've read every verse in the concordance and more: Hell Shiol, and the lake of fire; and I find that what Steve has put forth to match up and fit logically.

You ask why would God punish humans then make them go into non-existence? You say there is no point; but tell me, what is the point of constant, eternal punishment? It obviously doesn't correct them, for they will never not be punished. There is no point to that. All it does is allow for evil to exist eternally. It allows pain, suffering, for finite deeds. It does not correct, or teach, for it persists eternally. I find that pointless. I think the purpose of punishment then for them to become nothing, a purging. They are purged then annihilated. One could apply that to either interpretation. I, as you, find nothing God does to be pointless; but I acknowledge that sometimes we can't know the point of something till He reveals it to us.

Have you ever thought that the eternal-punishment interpretation might very well have spawned from the Catholic Church in order to scare people (just an idea with no evidence though)? They held on to purgatory, which meant that hell was not forever in their eyes, in order to get money. Yet, they always talked about Hell being forever. You'd expect such contradiction in their teachings though cause they tried to scare people.

And you say that Steve is trying to rationalize that his family and friends don't suffer eternally, but what if he's like me and has a justice complex. I've always been about what is fair as a child, and I just feel that to punish people infinitely for finite deeds is not fair, not justice. You don't get anything out of punishing finite deeds eternally.

I know some of what he says isn't necessarily what I believe, but the core of the article makes a lot of sense I think.

And I think you can't take the bible 100% literally just like you can't take American English 100% literally. "What's up dude?" A foreigner would look straight to the sky if he took it literally. The bible does have symbolism; but in order for the bible to work, it must generally be literal. Otherwise, it is far to open for misinterpretation. Anything someone claims is a "contradiction" in the bible is really, in truth, misinterpretation: usually a between the literal and symbolic, but quite often between the literal of today and the literal of back then.

And the softhearted does find the truth. The person who believes and prays for knowledge will be granted such. The one who does not let frustration get to him but persists on reading will eventually stumble upon the passage that clears it all up. When I pray, I pray for knowledge and the wisdom to use it. At many a time, one will bump into that which seems contradictory; but those who know God will persist and discover.

One of the hardest lessons I've learned is that God-Logic doesn't always coincide with my humanly logic. Maybe it's cause it's utterly different, or maybe it's due to knowledge gaps -- probably both; but I persist, and you do too. I can't wait to see with perfected eyes all that has been! and all that will be!

And that's funny you say that. I've been called Spock before for my supposedly robotic logic. I'm less robotic than people think, but my mind does work well with anything logic. I'm in the process of ever forming my logic to God's.

And we all need a commons. We all need fellowship: A group of brothers and sisters who believe. You see your part of my commons:] I can come and talk to you. We may not agree on every detail, but that doesn't matter. You're someone I will be standing next to in the next life, and that's what matters. We are friends eternal, and that is a comfort. That is one of the reasons we need a commons, a fellowship, brothers and sisters. We have each other to fall back onto. True Christians don't realize how important that is. There is one truth. Jesus is the truth and the way to the truth.

Tom:

Noah, you choke me up. [I don't mean laughing.]

Let me answer sort of point-by-point. You're getting much of what I'm saying, but I can see that you're missing the core of it.

I think of the bible using same terms with little variation in meaning. I've seen that when you believe in a less literal bible, it is easier for people to misinterpret the bible and fit it to themselves: to justify their sins and mislead others. I find that God has to make the bible clear-cut or it is nearly useless. Why would he give us something that is so symbolic that Humans will easily misinterpret it in so many ways?

Jesus deliberately taught in parables so those who were too hard-hearted and who would refuse to repent of it would not comprehend. That flies in the face of your position. He was not "clear-cut" in their very-literal eyes or in the eyes of his closest followers, who required Jesus interpret for them. Even still, people who read the interpretations don't necessarily get them.

I've read every verse in the bible that even refers to hell. I've read every verse in the concordance and more: Hell Shiol, and the lake of fire; and I find that what Steve has put forth to match up and fit logically.

However, that's not how to understand the full-context meanings of the terms. You don't just read the terms and perhaps some commentary on them. You read the whole Bible and view the terms within that whole light at once.

Did you rush through my previous reply? You don't appear to suffer from any extremely short-attention span, but are you slowing down enough to see where it's not possible to agree with Steve's main premises based even upon his own approach?

You ask why would God punish humans then make them go into non-existence? You say there is no point; but tell me, what is the point of constant, eternal punishment?

Throughout, I thought I was being clear enough that you would see I'm suggesting that people/souls are not held in such a position but rather given opportunities to move, change. In addition, we need to be clear that punishment is absolutely relative. Living here on Earth is always punishing, so far, even for Jesus. Hell in the extreme would be, is, worse/the worst. Heaven in the highest would be, is, better/best. What falls between is infinite. Paradox? Yes. True? Yes. Reconcilable? Yes. So long as one exists, one has opportunity. When does God give up on anyone? God has forever to bring souls around – to heal all – to find every lost soul and, through righteousness, bring them to him.

And you say that Steve is trying to rationalize that his family and friends don't suffer eternally, but what if he's like me and has a justice complex.

He said so.

It's interesting that you brought up the Roman Catholics because one of their saints held your position and was sainted for it.

And we all need a commons. We all need fellowship: A group of brothers and sisters who believe. You see your part of my commons:] I can come and talk to you. We may not agree on every detail, but that doesn't matter. You're someone I will be standing next to in the next life, and that's what matters. We are friends eternal, and that is a comfort. That is one of the reasons we need a commons, a fellowship, brothers and sisters. We have each other to fall back onto. True Christians don't realize how important that is. There is one truth. Jesus is the truth and the way to the truth.

Yes, however, I'm speaking specifically of the Christian Commons Project where Christians do what the first Christians did and more. They come together in the Holy Spirit to do what Jesus said to do for both flesh and spirit: feed the lambs and sheep. I'm not getting anyone to agree on that and to do it, where I believe that if there are so many true Christians out there, I should have been inundated with help and people who will go on with it even after I've left this mortal coil.

Noah:

To comment on your post, I have read the whole bible, more than once I might add; and I will be re-reading it until the day I die and can ask Jesus himself to teach me. So, I do look at things in context of the entirety of the bible to the best of my ability. I think I just got what you meant, but I must clarify.

So, reading on you suggests that all who will be punished will be given the chance and ability to 'move' and 'change,' as you put it, which sounds like purgatory. You're saying that all, even after this life, have a chance to move and change and go to heaven? Also, in your above post, you stated that Satan does the punishing, but the bible is clear that Satan will be punished.

Tom:

Yes, I knew you'd read the Bible. My point was only that you should take the whole thing in one big picture and know you attempt to do that.

Don't get me wrong, Noah. I'm not suggesting that I grasp the whole thing in every detail. I'm confident to say that I don't think you think I am claiming otherwise, but I just want to say it here anyway.

"Purgatory" is a loaded term. It's RC dogma. I don't mean that Purgatory, per se. I'm simply saying that there is no way, even from a perfect "reading" of the Bible, to know from God's perspective all about everything that happens after people die and/or the whole of humanity becomes extinct on this plane of existence if that is even going to happen.

What is the generation or regeneration that will be the New Heaven and New Earth afterall? What is a plane of existence from God's full perspective?

I also pointed out that Jesus expressly said that some people will receive more punishment than will others before they will be released. I don't for a minute believe Jesus meant before they are annihilated in the Hindu sense, which is the sense in which Steve Wohlberg used it.

A new thought just now: Jesus said all will be forgiven except for those who blaspheme the Holy Spirit. They won't be forgiven in this age or the next (but what about the one after that?).

Are we already in the "next age" relative to when Jesus walked this Earth? In some ways, we are certainly in another age. Then which age is the one after this one relative to the next one after Jesus's time?

If they will be forgiven, how can it be that they will be then annihilated? You love justice. There would be no justice in it.

I only raise these things by way of expanding the possible frames of reference and not to suggest that we should take it all in some hard, literalists, strict-constructionist, legalistic letter-only sense.

Who were those who left their graves and wandered about Jerusalem upon Jesus's death on the cross? Were they alive or dead or sleepwalking, etc.?

I do not believe the people were suffering from mass hallucinations. Neither do I believe that the Gospel writer lied or that he was informed by liars about what the people experienced.

I believe the Holy Spirit is telling me what to say here.

Let us open up the scriptures together rather than closing them down.

Hang in there with me.

Tom:

As for Satan being punisher and punished, there's no novelty in it.

I should add that the purgatory to which I am referring is absent any Pope's power over it. In RC dogma, a Pope may forgive and release others from the state or condition; whereas, others (you, I) cannot. I don't grant Popes such elevated status. They don't have keys we/I don't have.

Tom:

Roman Catholic view:

How can we help the souls being purified in purgatory?

Because of the communion of saints, the faithful who are still pilgrims on earth are able to help the souls in purgatory by offering prayers in suffrage for them, especially the Eucharistic sacrifice. They also help them by almsgiving, indulgences, and works of penance.

So, it's more than just the Popes; but Popes can simply speak them out of purgatory (historically anyway).

Noah:

What I meant by purgatory was merely the concept that one can still be saved after life on earth by his/her own will, as in after Jesus has come and died that a Human can reject him in his earthly life and still be saved after his earthly body is dead.

I, like you, don't believe any human being has any special power that any other does not have. Anyone with faith can move a mountain if it be in God's will.

And, no human can understand everything in the bible in its entirety. We are not yet capable of such.

Those who left their graves upon Jesus's death were, in my opinion, "asleep.'' They are those who had faith in God before their human deaths. Though they could also have been those before Noah's time as well: those stored away. I'm not particularly sure.

There are no verses in the bible that say, or even support, that Satan punishes though or at least not that I can recall?

Mhmm, I agree that we should open the scriptures, though we do both acknowledge that a lot of what we speak of isn't necessarily clearcut in the scriptures, I'm sure. God must be the mind's guide.

Tom:

I want to clarify that the RC saint I referred to wasn't in the annihilation camp but in the "everyone will be forgiven" camp. The reason for the clarification now is because I brought up that there are various concepts of Purgatory out there.

Let me raise the issue of death. Death is Satan. There is to be no more death. There is to be no more sin. Death and sin will be annihilated. Is the flesh, per se, sin; is the evil spirit sin; or are they both sin in some cases? Jesus said that we know beings by their fruits (results). If they are constantly sinning and ultimately producing evil results, are they evil or are they possessed by it or both?

Beings can go from being children of Satan to children of God. That's spiritual and has a direct bearing upon the flesh.

When death and sin are gone, does there have to be annihilation of life? Is conscious existence always life? It's not always the light. It's only a kind of life. Relative to the Highest Heaven, it's so lacking in the light that Jesus said it's darkness and dead already -- never even really alive, never even really real.

I'm speaking this way to you not to answer every question but to say that it cannot be said from here by us right now that all will be annihilated rather than finally purged and saved. Also, there are way too many parts of scripture that remove the certainty to which Steve Wohlberg wants to believe he's entitled.

I believe that we fear the idea of leaving this flesh and finding ourselves in a deeper hole. I believe that, that is why many atheists want to be atheists and anti-spiritual. They want to be annihilated immediately upon the death of the flesh. They want to be blacked out for eternity rather then that this "life" be something for which one has responsibilities beyond it and will be held to account after leaving it.

At the same time, I believe that the Fundamentalist mind will not like the "escape" clauses. They will rather want a certain standard now and to be done with it after leaving here. If we allow for Purgatory, then humans here and now will be given the wrong idea about having to do all of the things here and now.

I understand the motive but perceive that Purgatory is no nice place to visit, far, far from it. No one should forestall doing what is required here and now by Jesus and rather assure himself or herself that there's always the "second chance" of Purgatory. Purgatory in my mind is a level of Hell and all who are there, or will yet be there, will not be subject to uniform pain and suffering at the hands of evil demons (torturing spirits).

So, yes, I lean to that there is Purgatory for all the reasons I've mentioned. I trust Jesus that his message includes that those of lesser sins receive fewer stripes because they "owe" less before they are forgiven and released from that lower state. I am not saying that they are necessarily then immediately lifted to be next to God.

Now, about Satan and punishment, Satan is the one who inflicted Job. It wasn't God. All of the demons that Jesus exorcized where Satan's and working for Satan, not God's angels working for God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

Satan is the destroyer of worlds. God is the creator-savior of worlds.

Many people who believe they are Christians are confused about this.

The confusion stems from a misunderstanding concerning which spirit we are of. Jesus told them not to call down the wrath. The wrath is not God but evil. Even before Jesus came and clarified more, the ancients before him said that the spirit repented. Think about that. After Jesus though, we know that God never has to repent because we know that God is never tempted to wrath.

The "God" of wrath is what the Gnostics call Yahveh. Jesus, however, has taught us that, that wrath is not our Yahveh, not our Elohim.

Jesus was/is in a "war" for our hearts, minds, and souls. The "Jews" who refused to accept his Good News (both words being highly operative) were unwilling to accept that they needed to come to a higher understanding that includes that the old ideas about right from wrong and Yahveh's real character were shortsighted and would fail. They murdered him over it.

Moses was not as enlightened as Jesus! Moses was and is behind Jesus. All of the prophets are behind Jesus. Satan is behind (lower than; less enlightened than) Jesus.

If Jesus said to them that calling down the wrath is of another spirit, then he was referring to earlier prophets who called it down, that they were not enlightened enough to not do that, regardless of how much cause they had to be extremely offended by all of the evil around them.

We are not to call down the wrath, and we are not to cave into being the wrath. Those who believe in being the wrath are misguided by Satan and do not have sufficient understanding to lead or properly interpret, period! If they don't like it, then they should change. If they can't do that, they'll remain fallen and will not be in the resurrection of the just but will suffer the second death, as Paul called it.

After that, it is said that Satan will still be released and test but finally be vanquished.

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  • Tom Usher

    About Tom Usher

    Employment: 2008 - present, website developer and writer. 2015 - present, insurance broker. Education: Arizona State University, Bachelor of Science in Political Science. City University of Seattle, graduate studies in Public Administration. Volunteerism: 2007 - present, president of the Real Liberal Christian Church and Christian Commons Project.
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