dsweeney wrote:Are you saying then that the non-Christian population of the world are damned Fly ? My late mother was a devout Roman Catholic and we used to talk about such things. As a non-practicing Catholic I asked her was I damned. She said no. Any mother would say that of course but what she was getting at was that trying to do good, trying to help others is part of it as well. "By your deeds shall you be known".
I totally respect and envy your experience Fly but I have heard people of the Muslim faith say similar things. Surely the culture we are brought up in will influence any "event" with our spiritual side ?
I'm not a theologian by any means, nor am I an expert on the Bible. In fact, I avoid reading it very often because much of what I come across in it is antagonistic to my faith. I do not accept, at this point, anyway, that every word in the Bible represents the authentic word of God. Based on my very limited knowledge of the history involved, what's in the Bible only made it there in the first place because some committee of people hundreds of years ago decided it should be included, even as they decided that other writings should not because those were too controversial or didn't satisfy their own fallible criteria for inclusion (there is no Gospel of Mary Magdeline because she was female, for example.) Considering some of the things done by or with the blessing of the paramount Christian "authorities" through the years (the Crusades, Inquisition, imprisonment of Galileo immediately come to mind), I am in no way willing to cede to those entities the power to determine my concept of Christianity or the authentic word of God.
Consequently my particular brand of Christianity is very individual and is formed on the basis of what instinctively seems to resonate with my experiences and with the direct words, deeds, and teachings of Christ (which is why the 4 Gospels are the books of the Bible I rate paramount.) The crux of those teachings is the Sermon on the Mount, and the accounts of it are corroborated across the gospels, making it especially immune to human fallibility in recordation or translation.
I attend no church, subscribe to no particular denominational creeds or aggregate of beliefs. I have asked the Holy Spirit to guide me each and every day of my life, and it's a prayer that I renew nightly. For that reason, I listen intently to my "inner voice", as it were, not because I think it's mine but because I do believe Christ when he said that the Holy Spirit will live within anyone who asks for it.
All of this makes me uncomfortable rendering opinions on the fate of people who do not believe in Christ. I'll leave that to those who purport to be true theologians.
I can only say that the exact nature of Christ's promise often seems overlooked to me in the talk of redemption. Christ didn't speak much of damnation, and, when he did, it seemed to refer to eternal death. Rather He spoke of offering redemption from death
, of giving everlasting life to those that believe in Him.
"I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man cometh unto the father but by me."
"He that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live."
"And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day."
Other passages, though not Christ quotes, say similarly:
"For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."
"For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life."
So, as I see it, the direct teachings of and about Jesus speak not about damnation as Hell or any affirmatively negative experience but about a choice between eternal life and eternal death. I don't conceive of eternal death as anything bad. To me, it's the cut to black at the end of the Sopranos without the understanding that you cut to black and that you're viewing black once' it's there.
Your consciousness simply ceases to exist.
In many ways, I find this far more attractive than the idea of eternal life, and so it's not a fate I would fear on behalf of non believers in Christ. It's just that, after the experience I had, eternal death is no longer an option for me.
P.S. - When I find the time, I will be splitting this topic into others, so if anyone returns here and can't find something next week, look around and pay attention to redirects.