Is it true or myth? Literal or not? This is an important question as it still affects us thousands of years later in culture wars over science, history and religion. It figures into patriarchal society and the reduced status of women. It is the affirmation that all humans are sinful and need a savior. So this is no unimportant question.
“They say that God watches out for children, drunks and fools. Simply put, this means I stand a two-thirds better chance for divine intervention in my life than most other people. ”―Lenny Castellaneta, No One's Even Bleeding
We were all taught a pernicious habit for knowing God which is to look outward and evaluate what is true and who is right by information and reason. Some were taught to include a gut feeling assumed always to be spirit. But because everyone has different reasoning skills and access to only certain information over the centuries, not to mention how our “gut” feeling could just be pizza or fear, it is not surprising we have division, arguments and tens of thousands of perspectives and opinions upon which people determine their eternal destiny or the reality of God.
Recently I had a dream in which I was sitting at a table with a man who looked at me and said, “maybe you can help me, though I doubt it because I’ve asked pastors and they can’t help”. He said, “I can’t get my son to eat what I feed him!”
I actually saw before I sat down that he was being rough about that with his son. So I asked him, “do you love your son or do you want to control him?”
He got angry and said, “no child of mine is going to make my name look bad!”
So I said, “you are saying that your reputation is more important to you than your child?” To which he got even angrier.
When I woke up I thought about the God of the OT. Let’s think about this for a few minutes.
That is a great question. It is one I’ve been trying to figure out myself, lol. A number of years ago my wife and I both sensed major transitions coming in our lives and yet we had no idea at the time how major they were. Since then we have resigned from the church we planted and pastored for 12 years and our beliefs keep transitioning dramatically since then too. I’m so thankful for the freedom to explore without the burden of a system to try to control our journey. That doesn’t mean it has been easy. On the contrary it has been slow, painful and exhilarating at the same time!
Absurd question right? Everyone knows that if anyone went to heaven then it was Billy. Well, not everyone. Apparently there are so many ways to heaven that in someone's scheme he was "in" because he is one of those rare evangelists who lived without having a sexual scandal mark his ministry. For others, he was "out" because heaven is limited to their group.
My denomination and culture taught me certain ideas about the invisible world. It was filled with evil spirits, demons, and devils where a king of darkness named Satan lived. After many years of doing "spiritual warfare" I began to see things differently. Here are just a few "crazy" ideas I used to believe about satan, the devil and demons. Have you ever thought about this?
A vast number of things that we have attributed to "demonic" activity simply aren't. For instance, we suppose that if cabinet doors swing open and things fall off the walls or plates jump off shelves... it must be a demon in the house. Yet, the truth is we never find these things associated with demons anywhere in the Bible.
Things that go bump in the night. Slithering or flailing people doing extraordinary things or knowing things that couldn't be known by natural means. Houses inhabited by demons that cause cabinets to open or things to fall off the walls. Have you experienced any of these kind of things? Not surprisingly many people would say yes.
Do demons exist? Are they fallen angels? Evil spirits? Do people in seances hear their dead mother speaking or is it just demons?
If demons are real, then where do they come from? There is actually no origin story to demons as they are never called fallen angels in the Bible.
Of course Jesus wasn't a Christian technically since he was/is the Christ. Do we see any signs that he was instituting a new religion called Christianity though? Let's check out some common "church" beliefs and see if Jesus ministry aligned with them.
Did Jesus demand that his followers adhere to a set of beliefs about his birth narrative in order to follow or know him? No. The gospel of Mark which is considered the oldest gospel doesn't even mention it.
Did Jesus require that his disciples believe in hell? No, the Old Testament scriptures never spoke of hell, and Jesus only warned his generation of "hell" on earth... Gehenna, the valley of Hinnom where hundreds of thousands of bodies would be cast and eaten by worms after the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70. Here are numerous articles demonstrating Jesus never taught on HELL.
The New Jerusalem, a quasi natural-spiritual city that will float down out of the heavens above at the end of the world? A city that is made out of gems and silver and streets of gold?
Well, can I encourage you to rethink that just a bit? Of course there is a heaven if we are talking about "in his presence is fullness of joy and at his right hand are pleasures evermore" (Ps. 16:11). But the New Jerusalem was never about going to heaven. It was simply a synonym for how everyone would belong to the community of the presence of God on earth.
Is it really appointed unto a man once to die and then the judgment? Let me ask you a question. How many times did Lazarus die? Unless you believe he is physically alive today then you know that Lazarus died and was raised from the dead, but then some years later he died a natural death again. He died twice. Plus, what about all those thousands of people in our day who were clinically dead for some time and then came back?
So maybe, just maybe this verse has been used out of context.
Breaking soul ties. We did it. We tried it. It didn't work. Then we shoved our heads in a hole in the wall waiting to figure out what's next. Ok, maybe not, but it did leave us stranded trying to figure out the next religious technique.
But as somewhat of a spiritual scientist who digs deeper, I wondered why there was usually temporary relief but no permanent changes. Here is what I discovered.
What is the Lake of Fire? It is assumed that the Lake of Fire is a place of eternal torment, or hell. That is the standard modern definition in most churches in America. But is that true?
I think I can show scripturally and logically that the Lake of Fire is a symbol for the fires that destroyed Jerusalem in AD 70.