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How Should We Interpret the Bible on Sin and Eternal Punishment?

Profesco

gone gently
Let's all celebrate the christening of the very first Tangent Topic discussion officially entering full-fledged debatehood! Starting as an offshoot about the Bible's directions on homosexuality as a sin punishable by death and how the relevant passages might be alternately interpreted, this has become a good case of some intelligent and meaningful literary criticism.

Rather than try to explicate further and interupt the discussion from the Tangent Topic, I'll just quote the last couple of content-heavy posts there to start this thread off.


TheFightingPikachu said:
First, I must sincerely apologize for waiting so long to get back on the forums. Indeed, I thought this tangent topic would surely be finished after my two-week absence! In any case, I think, JDavidC, hat your most recent response did a lot to simplify my response. So here I go:


1. Regarding Homosexuality:
I'm not going to be able to guarantee that I can find unbiased sources, so I'll try to find several:
http://www.lionking.org/~kovu/bible/section05.html - mentions 'toevah' to mean ritually unclean, not 'abomination'.
Be careful, the meaning of the word may change with context. If you want to quote passages as examples, you have to provide an analysis of the examples, and state how 'toevah' appears. I'm having trouble finding where 'toevah' appears in those passages you quoted (and in any case, technically, it is not my job to search for evidence to support your claim), so I'm afraid you will have to provide links to actual translations to back up your claims that those passages are good examples.
First, just to clarify, I never said that homosexuals "are abominations." I believe the actions are the abominations, and some of your "brain bleach" comments tend to suggest you have some idea what I'm talking about. There is a big difference between hating actions and hating people, and I constantly seek to preserve that distinction.

Also, before anything else, I'd like to return to an earlier discussion. That website with the Christopher Hitchens quote was dead wrong about the King James translators changing this word. I checked the Bishop's Bible of 1568 and in it Leviticus 18:22 says, "Thou shalt not lye with mankynde as with womankynde, for it is abhomination." Furthermore, even the late 1300s translation made by John Wycliffe and his followers renders this verse, "Thou schalt not be medlid with a man bi letcherie of womman, for it is abhomynacioun." Thus whoever put up that page was incorrect, they really didn't take their own advice about asserting things without evidence. Whoever wrote that knows that there are people who distrust monarchy and authority, so feels he or she can get away with such slander.

Now, when I cite examples and don't happen to link to them, that's not me requiring you to search for evidence to support my claim. It would be if I said, "I know there are passages which refute that definition," but since I know you have enough resources right in front of you, my citations provide much more information than that. The real problem is that for my prime example I made a typographical error. I meant Proverbs 16:12, so for that I must apologize. Take a look:

"It is an abomination for kings to commit wickedness, For a throne is established by righteousness."

In this verse, the word "abomination" is used to translate the same Hebrew word used in Leviticus. Just try swapping the word out for the definitions in the links you've mentioned:

"It is [ritual uncleanness] for kings to commit wickedness, For a throne is established by righteousness."

"It is [a cultural taboo] for kings to commit wickedness, For a throne is established by righteousness."

It doesn't work, because that's not how the word was used. The word means "abomination," and modern conspiracy theories don't provide anywhere near enough evidence to refute the definition known to be correct by linguistic scholars.

That's just about the heart of the problem here. If you want to show that something has a different definition than most scholars believe, you still need to show scholarly sources. I have no idea of the qualifications of the person who runs that "Lion King" website, but they cited no sources on that page (unless you count their passing reference to Boswell, who, as I've said before, was not a linguistic scholar). Basically, I need to see some Hebrew or Greek linguistic source for these claims, not some person on the internet who says so.


2. Regarding eternal punishment:
There may very well be a 'Hell', if it is defined as a separate dimension with lots of fire (and it may not be of the destructive/torturous kind, there may well be a purifying nature in there), where Satan and his demonic angel buddies are holed up, yet it need not be a place of ETERNAL punishment/torture. I am not going to deny the possibility of Hell altogether. It may well be a prison for its current occupants, and it may well serve much the same purpose as human prisons are supposed to serve.
Can you show me anywhere in the Bible where any statement is made about hell to the effect that it could be for purifying? I seriously don't see that, and even if a few did seem like that, using a few passages to contradict the many clear ones is an unsound interpretive method.

Since you have several times allowed for the possibility of there being a place of temporary punishment, I need to point out something crucial. In objecting to the biblical teaching about hell, skeptics sometimes say things like, "I couldn't send anyone to hell for a minute!" Since you seem to be saying this, do you think God sending everybody to temporary hell gets you out of this difficulty?

In fact, I'd say it puts you in a much worse difficulty regarding God's moral character. If hell exists as a place of temporary punishment, and people get out when they stop rebelling against God, isn't God still trying to get something out of them? What do we call it when a person inflicts pain on another until they give in to what that person wants?


3. Finale:
The literal interpretation of Jesus Christ dying to pay for sins just falls apart utterly, as that in no way absolves people of their sins. People who do so still have to be put through correcctive punishment and to pay for ALL of their sins. The thought of 'believing' in someone else to take your place for something that YOU deserve is nonsensical. My brain just can't understand the reason for Jesus Christ dying on the cross if it was a literal payment of sin debt, and that's because the reason is contradictory under that interpretation. This begs the question, what is the REAL reason Jesus Christ was crucified and killed? Was it 'troll logic' for people who would not work under proper logic? It's the only alternative that could make sense to me.
First, the teaching that Jesus Christ died as a substitute does not fall apart utterly. Just think of someone paying the bail for someone in jail.

Second...do you hear what you're saying? You really believe one of the fundamentals of the faith is "troll logic"? What would you have said if I'd defended the existence of an eternal hell as an instance of troll logic? I say this with no malice, but once you make a statement like that, your view hardly puts up a fight. It kicks its own butt.
JDavidC said:
I've been away from this for far too long, my apologies.

Respectfully, when the Bible plainly says "Thou shalt not" its not an instance of some random person today making up new rules. The Bible quite plainly condemns certain actions. Its not just a matter of personal interpretation.
The problem is, figuring out precisely, down to the last detail, what the actions are, and, in some cases, to which people those actions are condemned. I view the Bible as one of two things. A. A historical document, and B. A prophetical document. It's the best way of viewing the book, without trying to go along with common assumptions about the Bible, beyond the basic one about it being written by prophets inspired by God. I have to take into account what is happening in the world when God applies his laws to people, and to the state of society/culture for those people.

Concerning eternal punishment, I can't think of a single denomination anywhere that rejects the doctrine of eternal punishment.
What I'm thinking of may not be a denomination, but it is this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_universalism . The question is, which denomination, or group, is right? I could go into detail about Universalism if needed to (and an epic length post with my Theory of God if you're really not convinced).

Concerning whether or not the Bible has been "changed incorrectly (whether accidentally or maliciously)"; again, I'd have to ask you to provide an example. Respectfully, you haven't been able to so far. In absence of an example of such an error, I'd have to believe that the Bible doesn't contain one.
I'll provide a transciption error, and a fallacious error by the author of 1 Kings.

First, the transcription error.
2 Chronicles - 2:22 http://bible.cc/2_chronicles/22-2.htm - You will note, that in some cases, Ahaziah's age was listed as 22 (the correct age), yet for some reason, in some of the translations, you will see it listed as 42 (the transcription error I was talking about).
In 2 Kings - 8:26 , this does not happen: http://bible.cc/2_kings/8-26.htm .

Next, an equivocation fallacy. What do I mean by this sort of fallacy? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equivocation
I am going to show a part of the Bible where the term 'reign' is used in two senses, in the same verse.
15 In the twenty-seventh year of Asa king of Judah, Zimri reigned in Tirzah seven days. The army was encamped near Gibbethon, a Philistine town.
16 When the Israelites in the camp heard that Zimri had plotted against the king and murdered him, they proclaimed Omri, the commander of the army, king over Israel that very day there in the camp.

17 Then Omri and all the Israelites with him withdrew from Gibbethon and laid siege to Tirzah.
18 When Zimri saw that the city was taken, he went into the citadel of the royal palace and set the palace on fire around him. So he died, 19 because of the sins he had committed, doing evil in the eyes of the Lord and following the ways of Jeroboam and committing the same sin Jeroboam had caused Israel to commit.

20 As for the other events of Zimri’s reign, and the rebellion he carried out, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Israel?
21 Then the people of Israel were split into two factions; half supported Tibni son of Ginath for king, and the other half supported Omri.
22 But Omri’s followers proved stronger than those of Tibni son of Ginath. So Tibni died and Omri became king.
23 In the thirty-first year of Asa king of Judah, Omri became king of Israel, and he reigned twelve years, six of them in Tirzah.

24 He bought the hill of Samaria from Shemer for two talents[a] of silver and built a city on the hill, calling it Samaria, after Shemer, the name of the former owner of the hill.
25 But Omri did evil in the eyes of the Lord and sinned more than all those before him.
26 He followed completely the ways of Jeroboam son of Nebat, committing the same sin Jeroboam had caused Israel to commit, so that they aroused the anger of the Lord, the God of Israel, by their worthless idols.
27 As for the other events of Omri’s reign, what he did and the things he achieved, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Israel?
28 Omri rested with his ancestors and was buried in Samaria. And Ahab his son succeeded him as king.
29 In the thirty-eighth year of Asa king of Judah, Ahab son of Omri became king of Israel, and he reigned in Samaria over Israel twenty-two years.
OK, the first italic part is year 27 of Asa's reign, when Omri becomes (disputed) king.
The emboldened part is when he becomes the undisputed king.
The second italic part puts his death in the 38th year of Asa, whiich is close enough to 12 years (bear in mind that there would be rounding going on here, so being off by one is acceptable).

Now, there are two problems. The first one is minor, but the author says Omri becomes king twice, but at least it is easy enough to see that the sense of the word is different each time. However, the author messes things up by doing this again with an equivocation fallacy, right here:

Verse 23 of the above said:
In the thirty-first year of Asa king of Judah, Omri became king of Israel, and he reigned twelve years, six of them in Tirzah.
This is an error. When he started his reign as undisputed king, it was 4 years into his actual reign as king, disputed or not; he lived only 8 more years after that, so he could not have reigned twelve years as undisputed king. However, if you take into account when he first became king, disputed or not, THEN the twelve years makes sense. The problem is, the author used reign in two ways, one starting with the reign, and the other with the undisputed reign, leading to apparent contradictions, when the actual problem is equivocation, the word reign being used in multiple senses in one sentence. When Omri became king of Israel, his reign would start at THAT time, not 4 years before, yet that is what seems to have happened, because there was a disputed section, it would have been correct to say his UNDISPUTED reign started in the 31st year of Asa being king, and he reigned for EIGHT years after that. His TOTAL time reigning as king was indeed 12 years, but that verse I pointed out was poorly written, and made it seem like a contradiction was in the Bible.

The point of this is to show that the prophets that wrote the Bible are NOT perfect, they make mistakes. The ONE time that they should be expected to be perfect in every way, is when they are prophesying. There, the slightest mistake will see them swiftly branded as a false prophet. i.e. God's prophets may have written the Bible, but they were fallible human beings nonetheless, outside of prophesies from God. I want to dispel the myth that everything in the Bible is supposed to be 100% perfect. A lot of history would be rather difficult to record. e.g. There's a 'contradiction' where 2 different prophets view a census at 2 different times, and the 2nd prophet there is viewing an updated census, even though this does not seem to be explicitly mentioned.

And finally concerning whether or not the Bible condemns the act of homosexuality; I've already addressed this, but there really are no other ways to interpret those various scriptures. You have to do hermeneutical backflips to make them mean anything else than what they plainly mean and have been interpreted to mean by millions of people throughout thousands of years.
I would argue that in many cases, it does condemn it, but between heterosexual people. However, some people have a different nature, or programming, in their brain, that they can't explain (I know about this first hand, but I don't want to talk about it). I don't see why someone would actually WANT to choose homosexuality over heterosexuality if they were given a choice. Furthermore, just because millions of people interpreted things in a specific way, it does not mean they're right. However, that very same argument can also be applied to me.

I'll get to TFP's post later.
 
Look at me! I got the first post...sorta!

i've been away from this for far too long, my apologies.
I'll get to tfp's post later.
No problem on either of these counts. Sometimes, I don't go on to the Forums for more than a week, so I understand.



The point of this is to show that the prophets that wrote the bible are not perfect, they make mistakes. The one time that they should be expected to be perfect in every way, is when they are prophesying. There, the slightest mistake will see them swiftly branded as a false prophet. I.e. God's prophets may have written the bible, but they were fallible human beings nonetheless, outside of prophesies from god. I want to dispel the myth that everything in the bible is supposed to be 100% perfect. A lot of history would be rather difficult to record. E.g. There's a 'contradiction' where 2 different prophets view a census at 2 different times, and the 2nd prophet there is viewing an updated census, even though this does not seem to be explicitly mentioned.
Continuing with my preferred approach of embracing the difficulties in the Bible, I'd like to point out that numerous prophetic statements in the Bible, even statements of Jesus, seem like they failed to come true.

Such a distinction between prophetic utterances and non-prophetic Scripture is not going to help your case for homosexual actions being okay, nor for universalism, I'm afraid.


I would argue that in many cases, it does condemn it, but between heterosexual people. However, some people have a different nature, or programming, in their brain, that they can't explain (i know about this first hand, but i don't want to talk about it). I don't see why someone would actually want to choose homosexuality over heterosexuality if they were given a choice. Furthermore, just because millions of people interpreted things in a specific way, it does not mean they're right. However, that very same argument can also be applied to me.
Where does the Bible say that homosexual actions are condemned only for people who aren't homosexual?

Basically, your statement here opens you up to the charge of special pleading. There is no lexical warrant for the exception "If you're homosexual, homosexual actions are fine." Like I have said before, there is a reason the "don't go against your own nature" interpretation of Romans chapter one is so widely--and uncritically--promoted in pro-gay literature.




i'm innately curious. I don't understand how someone can use anything in the bible against homosexuality. If my understanding is correct, anyways.

I think it would be pointless for these people to quote the book of leviticus, or any other old law seen in the bible. It's the fact that the book of leveticus is based off of olden laws that people had to follow before jesus christ came to earth. The reason the laws of the old testament exist is because they had to be followed to atone for adam and eve's original sin in the garden of eden, that's how people had to prove to themselves to get into heaven. It was how they appeased that original sin itself.

According to christian theology, when jesus died on the cross it was so everybody's sins could be removed. Everybody would be forgiven, nobody has to uphold to the old laws anymore as long as they repented and accepted the lord jesus christ as their savior. It's why he said "it is finished" when he died on the cross. It's why christians don't have to be circumcised anymore. It's why we no longer sacrifice sheep, or go through any of the other laws set out in the book of leviticus.

When people quote the book of leviticus, or any of the older laws, as guidelines we have to follow while on earth, they are contradicting their own religious ideals. What they're basically saying is that the plan that god had set out, which was jesus dying on the cross and becoming the ultimate "lamb" that took everyone's sins, isn't good enough. Therefor he would have died in vain because we're still upholding the laws seen in the old testament.

So i'm just confused as to why people can bring that up in a debate as something proper, if it supposedly violates their own principals. Even as far as the religious side goes, as long as they repent for their sins and accept jesus christ, shouldn't it be fine?
Quite simply, it is unnecessary to rely exclusively on Leviticus in order to show that the Bible prohibits homosexual actions. The New Testament, in a number of places (i.e., Romans 1, I Corinthians 6:9), makes it clear that such actions are prohibited.

what i just don't get about this is how it was decided which laws were kept and which weren't, because to me it kind of just sounds like arbitrary pick-and-choosing. Who decided which laws remained and were swept under a rug, when, why, and what if not everybody agreed? Did it nullify all the bits about laws regarding slaves immediately? If the slavery-related laws weren't removed immediately, when were they removed? If they were only removed within the past few hundred years to keep up with modern society, why doesn't that mean we can just say "hey, we're making all kinds of recent changes to the laws we follow, let's make some more modern changes and take out the bit about homosexuality being a sin"? Also, is there a single thing in the new testament that's been nullified, too?

As a disclaimer, i don't mean to specifically pick on christianity. As i said, i'm jewish, and my family does literally pick and choose which laws we follow, and i think it's equally as silly and arbitrary. Were north america mostly jewish, we'd be picking at my religion instead.
Well Psychic, I can answer that along with the previous post.

Christians who are careful need not claim that everything in the Old Testament is gone. However, since the Mosaic Law was a nation's legal code, plenty of aspects of it could not possibly carry over to the church. Israel was allowed to execute people for crimes. The church is not (at most, it can only excommunicate someone). So when people ask me, "Why don't you go out and stone gays?" I can tell them it's because I'm not a judicial authority.

Basically, it wasn't a process of "let's see, what stays and what goes?" Circumcision was the sign of God's covenant with Abraham and his descendants; before becoming a convert to Judaism, one would need to join the Jewish nation, which included circumcision. Since the church was to include people of all nations, people no longer had to be circumcised; they didn't have to become Jews in order to be saved.

Similarly, Jesus was the final sacrifice. There was no need to offer another because that had already been done.

Laws allowing slavery were common in all cultures. The Mosaic Law didn't up and say, "Hey, I have an idea! Why don't you all go get slaves?" Instead, that was considered normal at that time and place. And slaves were not confined to one ethnic group, as in modern American slavery. In any case, the New Testament didn't abolish slavery since it was legal in the Roman Empire, and obeying the law of the land was important to early Christians (insofar as is possible without compromising God's commands). Even when people outlawed slavery in Britain and America, that didn't change what the Bible said. If the Old and New Testaments said "You have to own slaves. It's non-optional.", well then we'd have a case where we can't obey the law of the land. But the Bible never required people to own slaves, otherwise the poor would have been hosed.

Regarding whether any New Testament teachings have been nullified, it is possible that some things don't have the same kind of cultural context that they did then. The only thing I can think of that sorta fits this general idea is that...well, if you've heard the Lord's Prayer, you'll know that one line goes something like, "Give us this day our daily bread." In that time, people were more likely to need God to provide. I cannot think of a time in my life when I didn't know whether I'd have food for the day. Now, when my family prays, we do something similar in thanking God for the food he has already provided.
 

JDavidC

Banned
Continuing with my preferred approach of embracing the difficulties in the Bible, I'd like to point out that numerous prophetic statements in the Bible, even statements of Jesus, seem like they failed to come true.

Such a distinction between prophetic utterances and non-prophetic Scripture is not going to help your case for homosexual actions being okay, nor for universalism, I'm afraid.
The point was that, when the authors are NOT prophesying, they are still fallible humans, capable of making mistakes when writing down what they have been inspired to write down. I am not going to dispute that things such as Romans 1 actually happened. I'm just trying to test assumptions about the Bible to see if they're true. This is the reason why I have some unorthodox views. I really need to be skeptical, otherwise I'm doomed.

Where does the Bible say that homosexual actions are condemned only for people who aren't homosexual?
Well, let's put it this way. Natural can be defined in 2 ways. What is natural for a normal member of the species, or what fits the nature of a specific member of that species. Now...

Romans 1:26 NET Bible said:
1:26 For this reason God gave them over to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged the natural sexual relations for unnatural ones, 54 1:27 and likewise the men also abandoned natural relations with women 55 and were inflamed in their passions 56 for one another. Men 57 committed shameless acts with men and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.
The word natural, or some variation thereof, is used FOUR times in that sentence, and furthermore, they gave up EXISTING relationships, rather than simply choosing a non-standard one. They gave up a natural relationship, and went for relationships that would be definitely be unnatural to them, and unnatural to normal members of the human race. Furthermore, this also means they'd be committing mass adultery, so much for the 7th commandment. Committing adultery is very plainly condemned, most explicitly, in the 7th commandment, no room for alternative interpretation there.

Basically, your statement here opens you up to the charge of special pleading. There is no lexical warrant for the exception "If you're homosexual, homosexual actions are fine." Like I have said before, there is a reason the "don't go against your own nature" interpretation of Romans chapter one is so widely--and uncritically--promoted in pro-gay literature.
I don't see how it is special pleading. My argument takes on the actual problem, not divert away from it. The mainstream interpretation simply falls apart when compared with the reality of people with a homosexual nature programmed in (why do I say that? Simple, I can't see people simply CHOOSING homosexuality if there brain was wired for heterosexuality, when they know the dangers of homosexual relationships). There is an alternative that I can see, and that is why I use Sherlock Holmes logic and go for it. Furthermore, even if most people agree with something, it is still an argument from majority, something that cannot have a 100% probability of being true by itself.

Let's take a look at this:
1 Corinthians 6:9 NET Bible said:
Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! The sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, passive homosexual partners, 5 practicing homosexuals,
Other versions use terms such as effeminate, and abusers of themselves with men, etc. As it stands in English versions of the Bible, homosexuality IS condemned without exception, so I tried going to the Greek to see if there was any possibility of mistranslation via misinterpretation. The only interpretations I could find that cast doubt on the bolded parts, in the Greek text, are males committing lewdness for the first part (no mention of homosexuality), and a man lying with a man as a woman (which I went over previously). It's really hard to say, at this point, that homosexuality is not being condemned.

However, something feels fundamentally wrong with this, did the authors not think about exceptions (remember, I'm applying 1 Thessalonians 5:21 to these verses, rather than cherry picking) when writing this stuff up? Here is what is wrong, IMO. There are people who are programmed to be homosexual, and it may not be possible for them to 'switch' their sexual orientation. As a result, they are doomed to feel like sinners, and be subjected to ridicule and hatred from 'Christians' who believe otherwise. The Westboro Baptist Church (and I use the term 'Church' very loosely here) is a prime example of this. Therefore, I must conclude, something is faulty about what the (at least English) Bible is plainly saying. I've already shown, in a previous thread, that at least 1 author is vulnerable to committing at least 1 fallacy when NOT prophesying. There may well be more mistakes as well, leading to misinterpretations. Furthermore, considering people may say things differently in different cultures, things may get lost in cultural 'translation', not just actual translation. All I can say is, either the Bible is wrong, or the original text in the Bible is different, and I would need the help of a scholar that is skilled with Greek to the point where a Greek person would be skilled (as a first language) to sort the matter out once and for all.

I'll go more into eternal punishment later, but I'll just say that eternal punishment cannot possibly fit any crime, except one that keeps getting committed FOREVER, which I doubt will ever happen, it wouldn't make sense for God to allow any evil to continue forever, nor to allow punishment to continue forever with no chance of the person being punished being given the option for redemption. It does not make sense when I apply 1 Thessalonians 5:21 to it, at ALL. If God's love is so great that the Bible says God IS love, then this just goes into the realm of fantasy, as far as I'm concerned.

http://www.otkenyer.hu/halsall/lgbh-cortim.html - I think help has arrived for me after all. I hate to say this, but the entire document is my argument here, focus on specific greek words translated into a form that is in the English alphabet (but still 'Greek'), and what is said about their translation and meaning. However, I should point out the possible bias that may exist in this source, I'll need to check further.
http://www.religioustolerance.org/hom_bibc1.htm - I don't know whether this source is biased, but there is something VERY interesting. Either the term homosexual is incorrectly used, or it is people who actually engage in homosexual relationships (probably of the sexual kind), rather than simply homosexual people, who are at fault. This could actually make sense! It would certainly be better than saying all people who have a homosexual orientation are sinners just because of their orientation.
 
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Zevn

Lost in Translation
I was out tonight, and someone I haven't gone out with much was talking at the table to someone I don't know at all.

person A was telling person B that they would never let their faith lead them to hatred, and since homosexuality is not something that's chosen, to hate the sin is to hate the sinner. They said that God must have made them that way, and nothing's wrong with it.
__

Zevn's hope for humanity +1.
__

Oh, and he said that it's easy to tell which words are injected by people; that the messages of love, sharing, empathy, compassion, and acceptance were God's.
 
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Sadib

Time Lord Victorious
person A was telling person B that they would never let their faith lead them to hatred, and since homosexuality is not something that's chosen, to hate the sin is to hate the sinner. They said that God must have made them that way, and nothing's wrong with it.
Does that make God a sinner if he makes gay people?
 

darkjigglypuff

Borderline Troll
I think we should interpret the bible for what it actually is: An outdated, unchanging book written by a handful of poorly educated men who either though they heard God talk to them, or were trying to mass-manipulate people with one of he most successful ploys in history. It's a barbaric collection of texts written by primitives that has been used to exercise control through fear and obedience.

Now in it's dying years people still cling to this ancient, obviously failing moral system, and frantically scream for its oppression to continue, for fear that if they do not enforce this doctrine, they will be tortured by an all-loving deity who apparently wrote a vague, difficult to interpret book through a variety of fallible human beings.

The very fact that it condemns people as sinners for factors they cannot control is an obvious failing, and one that shows in extreme obviousness that the bible is a crude tool for controlling the masses of the faithful.
 
I was out tonight, and someone I haven't gone out with much was talking at the table to someone I don't know at all.

person A was telling person B that they would never let their faith lead them to hatred, and since homosexuality is not something that's chosen, to hate the sin is to hate the sinner.
The Bible said:
Proverbs 8:13 ESV
The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate.

Psalm 101:3 ESV / 15
I will not set before my eyes anything that is worthless. I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me.


Psalm 97:10 ESV / 14 helpful votes
O you who love the Lord, hate evil! He preserves the lives of his saints; he delivers them from the hand of the wicked.

Proverbs 6:16-19 ESV
There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.
I'm not your friend's judge, but the Bible clearly condones hatred of the things that it deems to be sin. Also, I don't at all follow the logic of "since homosexuality isn't something that's chosen, to hate sin is to hate the sinner". As I see it, regardless of the reason people do things their actions are quite easy to disassociate from themselves. We usually aren't as simple as what we do.
They said that God must have made them that way, and nothing's wrong with it.
Whether or not homosexuality is 100% genetic is still debated. However, even if it is, I can't see how that could justify the act from a Biblical standpoint. There is evidence that everything from murder, to rape, to pedophilia may have a genetic basis, but no one would argue that a genetic leaning toward those acts would justify them Biblically.
Oh, and he said that it's easy to tell which words are injected by people; that the messages of love, sharing, empathy, compassion, and acceptance were God's.
No offense to you or your friend, but that's a completely baseless and arbitrary method of determining what's divine and what's man made. How does your friend know that only the nicey-nice parts are from the God of the Bible? How could he know?
Does that make God a sinner if he makes gay people?
>___>

JDavidC said:
The problem is, figuring out precisely, down to the last detail, what the actions are, and, in some cases, to which people those actions are condemned. I view the Bible as one of two things. A. A historical document, and B. A prophetical document. It's the best way of viewing the book, without trying to go along with common assumptions about the Bible, beyond the basic one about it being written by prophets inspired by God. I have to take into account what is happening in the world when God applies his laws to people, and to the state of society/culture for those people.
The thing is though, even with looking at the Bible as a historical and prophetical document, even with taking into account relevant events and culture, "Thou shalt not lie with a man as with a woman" is still a plain and simple scripture that has been interpreted the exact same way for thousands upon thousands of years by who knows how many people. I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you're just over-analyzing this very simple scripture.
JDavidC said:
What I'm thinking of may not be a denomination, but it is this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_universalism . The question is, which denomination, or group, is right? I could go into detail about Universalism if needed to (and an epic length post with my Theory of God if you're really not convinced).
Oh, universalists definitely do exist, but they are not a denomination in the sense that Lutherans or Catholics or Presbyterians, etc, are an organized denomination. At least not to my knowledge. I know of pretty much all the churches within a 25 mile radius of where I live (at least going west, St. Louis is crazily populated) and know people from many of them. One of the first things I do when I meet people is ask about their religious positions, where they go to church, etc. I don't know of a single universalist congregation anywhere around here. Its a tiny minority. Now, I personally adhere to a minority doctrine myself, so don't think that I'm saying that just because an idea is held by a minority it can't be true, but there has to be a reason why its a minority and not a majority position. The reason universalism is held by such a tiny minority is because it is clearly, and I do mean c l e a r l y unbiblical. There is literally no basis for it anywhere in the Bible. That's why I pointed out that literally no major denomination supports it.
JDavidC said:
I'll provide a transciption error, and a fallacious error by the author of 1 Kings.

First, the transcription error.
2 Chronicles - 2:22 http://bible.cc/2_chronicles/22-2.htm - You will note, that in some cases, Ahaziah's age was listed as 22 (the correct age), yet for some reason, in some of the translations, you will see it listed as 42 (the transcription error I was talking about).
In 2 Kings - 8:26 , this does not happen: http://bible.cc/2_kings/8-26.htm .
Lol, at first I was like, ummmmmm... there is no 2 Chron 2:22, but then I followed your link and LO AND BEHOLD! D: YOU MADE A TYPO!!!!

But that's actually a great thing because it makes explaining this much easier.

It is an undeniable fact that the King James Version, as well as several other versions of the Bible have printed the completely, admittedly erroneous assertion that Ahaziah was 42. However, the fact that he was, in fact, 22 and not 42 is not proof that the author of 2 Chron was mistaken. As has been widely understood for hundreds upon hundreds of years now, a typo was made at some point. But you have no proof, nor does anyone else, that the typo, or the error if you will, was made by the author of 2 Chron. In fact, if you'll scroll down a bit on the page you linked to, you'll find several authors addressing this inconsistency, several of which are from hundreds of years ago. There's one nice piece that shows how simple it would have been for a scribe to mistake the hebrew lettering for 22 as 42. As they point out, there are plenty of ancient texts that we know about that say 22 and not 42. Because of this, its more likely that the error was a matter of someone copying it down wrong somewhere along the line in history, not the original author getting it wrong in the first place. Now, if you or anyone else could produce an ancient copy of the original text showing the number 42 instead of 22, sure the author had it wrong. But without such evidence, and with what sure seems to be a reasonable explanation available, I'm gonna side with the apologists.

This kind of reminds me of when I first started to read through the King James Bible. I can't for the life of me remember what the typo was, but there was this persistent typo, I think it was every great once in a while they would spell the word "the" as "teh" and it made me lol so hard because that was a running joke my buddies and I made during highschool (when trying to act stupid we'd misspell the word "the"). But because the King James Version of the Bible contains that typo, does that mean that the original author's misspelled the word "the"? No. They didn't even pen their texts in English. They had no idea what the English letters "t", "h", and "e" together meant. English wasn't even around then.

The point is, I completely, wholeheartedly, freely admit that typos have occurred during the thousands of years between the penning of the original texts of the Bible and the printings of translations from copies of copies of copies of copies that we hold in our hands today. I do not believe the King James Version of the Bible is without flaws. It clearly does have flaws. I've seen them myself. I don't believe the NASB (my favorite version) is without flaws either. I've seen some of them too. But I've never seen one shred of proof that the original texts themselves had flaws. No one has been able to hold up an original text, nor a near-that-period text that plainly shows an error. Proving that somewhere along the line mistakes were made does not prove that the original text was a mistake.
JDavidC said:
Next, an equivocation fallacy. What do I mean by this sort of fallacy? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equivocation
I am going to show a part of the Bible where the term 'reign' is used in two senses, in the same verse.
Spoiler:- 1 Kings:15-29 New International Version:
Show Spoiler
OK, the first italic part is year 27 of Asa's reign, when Omri becomes (disputed) king.
The emboldened part is when he becomes the undisputed king.
The second italic part puts his death in the 38th year of Asa, whiich is close enough to 12 years (bear in mind that there would be rounding going on here, so being off by one is acceptable).

Now, there are two problems. The first one is minor, but the author says Omri becomes king twice, but at least it is easy enough to see that the sense of the word is different each time. However, the author messes things up by doing this again with an equivocation fallacy, right here:

Originally Posted by Verse 23 of the above
In the thirty-first year of Asa king of Judah, Omri became king of Israel, and he reigned twelve years, six of them in Tirzah.
This is an error. When he started his reign as undisputed king, it was 4 years into his actual reign as king, disputed or not; he lived only 8 more years after that, so he could not have reigned twelve years as undisputed king. However, if you take into account when he first became king, disputed or not, THEN the twelve years makes sense. The problem is, the author used reign in two ways, one starting with the reign, and the other with the undisputed reign, leading to apparent contradictions, when the actual problem is equivocation, the word reign being used in multiple senses in one sentence. When Omri became king of Israel, his reign would start at THAT time, not 4 years before, yet that is what seems to have happened, because there was a disputed section, it would have been correct to say his UNDISPUTED reign started in the 31st year of Asa being king, and he reigned for EIGHT years after that. His TOTAL time reigning as king was indeed 12 years, but that verse I pointed out was poorly written, and made it seem like a contradiction was in the Bible.
I am totally not sure what you're getting at here. Omri reigned over Israel for 12 years. Whether disputed or not, he was the guy in charge. People payed taxes to him. He wrote the laws. He was the king. He reigned for that time period. Tons of people think that Bush Jr shouldn't have, or didn't actually legally, win his second election for president. They dispute the results. But the fact is, he was the president during that term, disputed or not. He was the boss. He reigned. Why should you, no offense, but little old you, be able to tell an ancient author what he should have written? What makes you the chief editor of the Bible? For me and millions of others, we don't see a problem with him using the word "reign" instead of "disputedly reigned". Whether or not it was disputed, the words of that verse are correct, he did reign for 12 years. This is no example of a Biblical author making a mistake.
JDavidC said:
I would argue that in many cases, it does condemn it, but between heterosexual people.
You'd have to show me some kind of proof, from the Bible, that its just between heterosexual people. I've never once seen an addendum or tag to a Biblical condemnation of homosexuality saying "Oh, and this is just for straight people." It just says "no homo period".
JDavidC said:
However, some people have a different nature, or programming, in their brain, that they can't explain (I know about this first hand, but I don't want to talk about it). I don't see why someone would actually WANT to choose homosexuality over heterosexuality if they were given a choice.
Meh. See the above comment to Zevn concerning the possible genetic root of homosexuality.

TL;DR
Respectfully, you've once again brought up red herrings. I've asked you for examples of Biblical authors making mistakes and you again brought me examples of other things, a transcription error, and your personal decision that the author should have written something else. Respectfully man, those aren't examples of Biblical mistakes. If you're going to continue to allege that the Bible contains mistakes, you're going to have to produce.
 
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JDavidC

Banned
Typo said:
NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

OK, TL;DR summary of what I posted about homosexuality. There seem to be alternatives. The Bible seemed to be condemning people who were homosexual, whether or not they engaged in homosexual acts. That was what I was struggling with. I can understand it if the Bible only condemns actual acts of sex that humans, as a species, simply were not designed for (for obvious medical reasons). That's a possible conclusion I reached when I posted the 2nd link. So, that takes care of the homosexuality issue and the intense analysis, I believe. I would also support people who wanted to change their orientation to heterosexual. I saw you posted some examples of this in a previous thread?

The point about Omri's reign, it's more an error that is confusing, but NOT a contradiction that invalidates things completely. The author said that Omri started to reign, and then reigned 12 years in total, without making it clear that the word 'reign' is being used in two different senses. People would think, OK, 12 years reign, starting from the 31st year of Asa ruling, but then Omri dies in the 38th year of Asa, and then confusion springs up. Using the word in multiple senses means that there is more being said than is actually written, and that is what causes confusion, and technically, an equivocation fallacy. I should point out, this by no means actually invalidates the statement that Omri reigned for 12 years, with the first 4 being a civil war scenario. As for mistakes, are you looking for nothing less than clear-cut contradictions? I'll need to know what you are looking for, so I can figure out whether or not such mistakes exist, or whether I should drop the issue.

Regarding Universalism, here is how I think it works. First, terms such as 'eternal' may refer to indefinite periods of time (again, going back to Hebrew/Greek here). Now, I am not going to say that God did NOT create Hell, nor am I going to say that Hell does NOT exist. What I AM saying is that people who aren't fit to enter the Kingdom of Heaven will be left outside (maybe some going to Hell) for punishment, but the harsh sort of corrective punishment, where the ONLY escape is to genuinely repent. Now, it can seem odd that eventually everyone would get into the Kingdom of Heaven. How would this happen, especially with God NOT interfering with free will? Well, people left outside will go through great suffering, they would get to keep trying various aspects of life, and failing if it isn't what God recommends. Eventually, worst case scenario, they'd try everything except what God recommends, and find it simply does not work for them. So, they give God's way a try, and things start working. Naturally, God will have planned everything for each individual doing these things, and help people find out the truth about him and his ways. These people will eventually start removing specks/planks of wood from their eyes as a result, with help as needed from God, and realise they messed up big time. Naturally, they will seek repentance, and God will have a way planned for them to pay for what they did. Once that is done, and they are fully reformed, then they would be fit to be transferred to the Kingdom of Heaven. Does this make any sense?
 
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Zevn

Lost in Translation
No more arbitrary than choosing to take an old book that's passed through many hands literally; One that defies the absolute laws of nature, asks you to believe in a murderous deity who holds humanity to a higher standard than itself, and belittles the value of women at every turn.
__

1) Why does God only reveal himself ~100k years after man has been walking the Earth?
b. Do you think all of those people preceding it are in hell?

2) If it was okay to reveal himself then, without ramifications to free will, why not do it now and answer all of these questions for us?

3) How can people call terrible events "part of God's plan" and then proceed to claim God doesn't interfere with free will?
__
 
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Pesky Persian

Caffeine Queen
There is evidence that everything from murder, to rape, to pedophilia may have a genetic basis, but no one would argue that a genetic leaning toward those acts would justify them Biblically.
I'd honestly really like to see the evidence for this. Other than the idea that some people are naturally more aggressive, I've honestly never heard anyone say that there's a genetic basis for this so I'm genuinely interested in reading your sources. Also, murder, rape, and pedophilia (in the form of grooming) were quite common in the days of the Old Testament and were even occasionally the social norm. However, I don't think any of these things, regardless of their potential genetic basis, can be compared to homosexuality. There is considerable physical and/or emotional harm involved in murder, rape, pedophilia. It's clearly logical (even outside of a Biblical standpoint) that these things are not okay. Two consenting adults who happen to be of the same sex loving each other harms no one. It makes no logical sense to me why anyone (including God) would condemn two people who genuinely love each other. The only logical reason I could see would be that they can't get married and sex out of wedlock is considered a sin. Condemning the love of two mature human beings makes absolutely no sense to me.

No offense to you or your friend, but that's a completely baseless and arbitrary method of determining what's divine and what's man made. How does your friend know that only the nicey-nice parts are from the God of the Bible? How could he know?
I don't know about it as a method of determining what parts of the Bible are from God and what is man's own ideas, but I don't see it as a baseless way of how to view certain issues from a spiritual standpoint. There really is no way to determine what parts of the Bible are truly from God and what parts are simply men writing what their faith has inspired them to. However, I have to say that I agree with Zevn's acquaintance. The foundations of the religion are supposed to in a loving, compassionate, forgiving God. Eternal damnation does not fit into the idea of a loving, compassionate, (and above all) forgiving God at all. Eternal damnation for loving someone makes even less sense. Do these ideas have direct, literal Biblical basis? No, perhaps not. They are, however, a logical conclusion based on what we as believers know of God.
 
The point was that, when the authors are NOT prophesying, they are still fallible humans, capable of making mistakes when writing down what they have been inspired to write down. I am not going to dispute that things such as Romans 1 actually happened. I'm just trying to test assumptions about the Bible to see if they're true. This is the reason why I have some unorthodox views. I really need to be skeptical, otherwise I'm doomed.
Your last sentence is almost the first rule of critical thinking--a praiseworthy exposition of I Thessalonians 5:21--yet you have failed to apply it to your own view. Take a quick look:


It's really hard to say, at this point, that homosexuality is not being condemned.
This is a completely reasonable thing to say, but then you follow it up with this:

However, something feels fundamentally wrong with this, did the authors not think about exceptions (remember, I'm applying 1 Thessalonians 5:21 to these verses, rather than cherry picking) when writing this stuff up? Here is what is wrong, IMO. There are people who are programmed to be homosexual, and it may not be possible for them to 'switch' their sexual orientation. As a result, they are doomed to feel like sinners, and be subjected to ridicule and hatred from 'Christians' who believe otherwise. The Westboro Baptist Church (and I use the term 'Church' very loosely here) is a prime example of this. Therefore, I must conclude, something is faulty about what the (at least English) Bible is plainly saying. I've already shown, in a previous thread, that at least 1 author is vulnerable to committing at least 1 fallacy when NOT prophesying. There may well be more mistakes as well, leading to misinterpretations. Furthermore, considering people may say things differently in different cultures, things may get lost in cultural 'translation', not just actual translation. All I can say is, either the Bible is wrong, or the original text in the Bible is different, and I would need the help of a scholar that is skilled with Greek to the point where a Greek person would be skilled (as a first language) to sort the matter out once and for all.
The real issue is that your view of these biblical commands is formed entirely by what you believe to be true about homosexuality. The idea of "sexual orientation" is a modern concept. And research like Simon La Vey's hypothalamus study or Pillard and Bailey's Twin study are only a few decades old. The "born gay" idea is not anywhere near as well supported as many pro-gay people make it out to be. Many of the people supporting these results refuse to credit the possibility that upbringing plays a part in shaping one's preferences, the possibility that sometimes seriously bad experiences may start pushing people in that direction. And in debates I've constantly seen a tendency to dismiss the possibility of someone choosing their sexual orientation.

This quote (and the surrounding conversation) explain what I mean:

Now wait a second here. Honestly straight people have periods of being homosexual sometimes. Like I said, after puberty and during mid-life hormone loss are two times in someone's life they're especially likely to waver. So straight people can experiment with being gay, but gay people are neurologically unable to be straight? Am I the only one who finds this one-way street idea a little suspicious?

Parenthetical discussion about translation, Greek, and stuff:
---
To dispel any doubt, I cite the list of works cited in the NET Bible. Simply put, the NET Bible is the translation that has provided a massive amount of information to help people understand the text and show people the issues of manuscript and translation--just look at their notes!

I should also add that ancient Greek is no longer spoken today. Though modern Greek is similar, finding someone who spoke the common Greek used in the New Testament would be impossible today.
---

Here's what I'm going to say about I Corinthians 6:9. You mentioned a website that puts forth the possibility that the sin is engaging in homosexual relationships. Well...I don't mean to be overly snarky...but that's kinda what I've been saying all along. Some translations of that verse use "sodomites," "males who lie (sexually) with males," or, as in the NET Bible, "practicing homosexuals." But since, as I mentioned, sexual orientation is a modern concept, using the term "homosexual" as in some translations is not wrong. All three of the renderings I mentioned are almost undoubtedly better.

I should say first of all that the religious tolerance page is using (fallacious) judgmental language by calling that passage a "clobber passage." Nobody calls passages against murder "clobber passages." Nobody calls passages against racism "clobber passages."

But in any case, there was one claim in particular that really needs busting:

Religious Tolerance said:
Although "homosexual" is a very common translation, it is almost certain to be inaccurate:

  • If Paul wanted to refer to homosexual behavior, he would have used the word "paiderasste." That was the standard Greek term at the time for sexual behavior between males.
  • The second term is "arsenokoitai" in Greek. The exact meaning of this word is lost. It seems to have been a term created by Paul for this verse. "Arsen" means "man" in Greek. So there is no way that "arsenokoitai" could refer to both male and female homosexuals. It seems that the English translators gave in to the temptation to widen Paul's condemnation to include lesbians as well as gay males.
First, from what I have heard, the word they mention was used of men who have sex with boys. This, if I recall correctly, is still called "pederasty."


Second, I heave heard multiple alternatives argued by pro-gay people. There are a lot of different "Paul should have used this word" arguments going around. It's too late tonight, but if you want me to, I may be able to dig up a link to a modern Greek dictionary website showing that arsenokoites has to do with homosexual actions still, in modern Greek. That cannot be explained on the basis of modern English translators imposing their views on the text. When you combine it with the fact that this word is a compound word made from the words for "man" and "sex" you can see that when hey say the meaning has been lost, they are just plain unwilling to acknowledge what is right in front of their eyes.


I'll go more into eternal punishment later, but I'll just say that eternal punishment cannot possibly fit any crime, except one that keeps getting committed FOREVER, which I doubt will ever happen, it wouldn't make sense for God to allow any evil to continue forever, nor to allow punishment to continue forever with no chance of the person being punished being given the option for redemption. It does not make sense when I apply 1 Thessalonians 5:21 to it, at ALL. If God's love is so great that the Bible says God IS love, then this just goes into the realm of fantasy, as far as I'm concerned.
God is more than just love, and that's where your application of I Thessalonians 5:21 is uneven. Remember, God has to deal with people's wrongdoings. It is non-optional. We can even see this in discussions of the Problem of Evil; some skeptics ask questions like "why doesn't God stop all the evil?" You see what I mean? What kind of love would it be if God just affirmed everybody and refused to tell them, "No. You cannot write your own rules."

And--yep--in that we can see a glimpse of several sins that can be committed continually, forever: Refusing to believe one has committed wrong. Hating truth. Trying to be God. Indeed, some biblical statements seem to indicate that these things are almost a part of the definition of sin.


I'd like to add, your explanation failed to take into account something I said previously:
Since you have several times allowed for the possibility of there being a place of temporary punishment, I need to point out something crucial. In objecting to the biblical teaching about hell, skeptics sometimes say things like, "I couldn't send anyone to hell for a minute!" Since you seem to be saying this, do you think God sending everybody to temporary hell gets you out of this difficulty?

In fact, I'd say it puts you in a much worse difficulty regarding God's moral character. If hell exists as a place of temporary punishment, and people get out when they stop rebelling against God, isn't God still trying to get something out of them? What do we call it when a person inflicts pain on another until they give in to what that person wants?
 
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sizida

CoconutIsTheAnswer
Since the Bible is made by humans, I don't really believe everything it said.

It is like for the usage of terrifying the people and make them self believe that someone is watching them whatever they done.

How to interpret? Well it is dependent on the person perceives it. There is no right or wrong. If you truly believe yours is more right. That is not what the Bible trying to bring the message across.
 

JDavidC

Banned
Well, the 2nd link I posted a while back got me the alternative that seems to make more sense, maybe I got too caught up in the wrong interpretation being used by some people (merely having the wrong orientation being a sin, rather than actual sex humans are not designed for). In my reply to mattj, I was effectively saying this renders a large amount of my arguments moot if it's true, perhaps I should have made that clearer. I'm surprised that this alternative was sitting in front of me and I didn't even see it! I don't have to particularly like it or not like it, it just has to make sense when applying skepticism. This explanation feels like the most probable, so I'll run with it.

God is more than just love, and that's where your application of I Thessalonians 5:21 is uneven. Remember, God has to deal with people's wrongdoings. It is non-optional. We can even see this in discussions of the Problem of Evil; some skeptics ask questions like "why doesn't God stop all the evil?" You see what I mean? What kind of love would it be if God just affirmed everybody and refused to tell them, "No. You cannot write your own rules."
Well, there is some kind of master plan (that cannot be understood, and involves the answers to philosophical questions such as what is right and wrong), for dealing with evil, meaning it can't simply be blown up; doing so would mess with free will. Perhaps I didn't mention this previously, but every single person would have to be subjected to judgment for their sins, with God taking over personally after death, and such judgment may result in decades, centuries, or maybe even millenia of punishment to correct the individual (again, without interfering with free will; and I mean no mind control or whatever), but not torture. I don't believe in a God that would NOT harshly punish extreme evil. That isn't love, that's just a sick desire to watch people keep inflicting suffering on others. The problem I have with is literally eternal punishment in Hell from which there never can be no escape, and they are tortured forever. That's what universalism says does not happen. Regarding the nature of Hell itself, there would almost certainly be fire, but I don't believe it's a place of actual torture, but more of a very harsh prison (which is supposed to be likened to Hell anyway, where you have a harsh, unpleasant, but not intolerable existence, if done properly). If some really evil person NEEDS to go there, God will send them there, and the jail sentence could be a very long one. I'm just saying, no torture, no infinite jail sentences, is my point behind universalism. In other words, there's both a harsh side to God against evil, and a loving side in his aim to correct every single sinner.

To answer your last question, one possibility IS to send everyone to a temporary prison sentence in Hell (albeit, insanely long ones for some people), and Hell works the way prisons on Earth are supposed to work. Correctional facilities, heavy on punishment, heavy on making people pay for their sins are my idea of how prisons should work. That's what I see Hell as. I do NOT see it as a place of eternal torture. Also, in Revelation, there is a passage about death and Hell being thrown into the lake of fire (although 'Hell' in this case may refer to Hades/Sheol/The Underworld, I doubt I'm as well versed in the Bible as you, TFP). Having Hell as a prison DOES get me out of the difficulty, but without negating the harsh 'cruel to be kind' punishment God will visit upon every sinner that needs a stay in Hell. People only get out once they serve their prison sentence. They can try staying in there, if they like, and not do what God says is the right way to live, and God can leave them alone until they try things his way (this is how God would avoid imposing his will directly via mind control or whatever, on their will). I'm not necessarily saying that EVERY sinner goes to Hell either, but that they will be cut off from the Kingdom of Heaven unless they are *willing* to repent, and go through with the repentance. God won't force repentance out of them, and they can choose to stay outside as long as they want/need.
 
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Malanu

Est sularus oth mith
The Biblical idea of Hel is no different than any other number of ever afters in religions. They are the stories used to teach the punishment for not living the good life according to the present religion. Or as I like to say it's the Boogieman that we scare our children with to keep them in bed at night. Before Christianity and the bible just look at the myth's there were about the after life. These were the heavens and hels for religions before Christians came along
 

Hox

Banned
please. this is the same god that killed every citizen and animal in jericho, got pissed at a fig tree and killed it, opened up a giant whole in the ground swallowing up a bunch of levites... gay pride parades have been held in jerusalem, the 'holy city' for years. if he had such an issue with the gays oh no im p sure he would have blew up the earth by now
 

SBaby

Dungeon Master
I am just going to say it right now. Discussing the Bible, or ANY religion is very dangerous territory. This topic has a 99.9998 percent chance of eventually devolving into a flame war, because of the sheer diversity of religious views out there.

Anyway, in answering the topic at hand, I would say it is up to the person reading it as to how they want to interpret it.
 
We should interpret the Bible on this issue as we should pretty much any issue.

The Bible is a historically inaccurate politically motivated text whose moral framework is built around a set of principles thousands of years old.

The notion of anyone incurring eternal punishment for relatively minor things is absurd.
 

Auraninja

Try to understand.
Treat the Bible as a flawed book that people created in different generations with different agendas.

I believe in rationalization in the natural world. For what is spiritual and not apparent, I believe that our senses are deceptive and we would have to use intuitive to understand it. You simply can't just "read" a bible to understand the spiritual world.

In debates though, the bible does not have the advantage of credited peer review.
 
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