Losing hell

by Richard on March 24, 2011

Chad Holtz :: What I lost losing hell

{ 87 comments… read them below or add one }


Kim 03.24.11 at 7:21 am

Let’s pray this domino hits the next one in conservative evangelical circles: homophobia.


Richard 03.24.11 at 8:05 am

Amen to that.


Stephen Norris 03.24.11 at 9:41 am

I presume you mean ‘the conservative evangelical belief that gay sex is contrary to following Jesus’ is homophobic? Nice.


PamBG 03.24.11 at 12:21 pm

Chad Holtz’s post has got it right.

I only just got Bell’s book and, in an ideal world, I’d like to be able to read it in the next few days (it’s quite short) and post a review on it. Not sure I’m going to be able to do that, though.

In glancing through the book, though, I was reminded why I don’t believe in the scenario “Everyone who does not believe ‘correct’ Christian doctrine about Jesus is going to hell”. And that’s the implied argument in all these scenarios that it is “love” that is the worldly thing that our souls are inclined to do when God is not present in our lives and, in contrast, we need to learn from God’s holy law and Holy Spirit how to seek punitive justice, how to exclude people and how to fear. Which is clearly Popycock.


Kim 03.24.11 at 1:39 pm

“Everyone who does not believe ‘correct’ Christian doctrine about Jesus is going to hell”

Bingo, Pam. Justification by intellectual works. What an odd notion that we are saved by getting something “right” in our heads. And don’t worry about the review. It’s already been done by the world and his wife. (I’m starting my copy today, BTW.)


Doug 03.24.11 at 2:31 pm

No one is excluding anyone in the belief in hell. People choose to reject Christ to face hell for eternal death for that choice. While on earth until we die we have every opportunity to repent, accept Christ (heart, soul and mind) in giving ones life over to the Lordship of Christ for eternal life. As you can see it is beyond “getting something right in the mind” for there are people who may even believe like I do who never accepted Christ with heart, soul and mind. The mind is a terrible thing to waste if one doesn’t give their heart and soul conjunction with the mind over to Christ.

Everyone, the belief that homosexual acts are sin is not homophobia, its the rejection outright of the people who commit those acts with the attitude that no amount of repentence or change the rejection that is homophobia (aka Romans 1, 1 Cor 6, etc., etc.)


Doug 03.24.11 at 3:39 pm

I take issue that theology is based on the number of times a subject matter is brought up in Scripture. Theology is not based on the number of times something is talked about but on what is specifically said therein alone. That is where Rob Bell has an improper hermeneutic if we can call his “ideas” as even having a hermeneutic at all.


Steve 03.24.11 at 4:32 pm

Here’s a question for you. Where precisely in the scriptures does it say that if you don’t make some sort of conscious assent for Christ before you die, that you are condemned for eternity to be in hell? You can’t use Lazarus and Dives, since 1) it’s a parable and the nature of hell was not the point and 2) neither one made any sort of conscious assent in the parable.


Doug 03.24.11 at 4:45 pm

Steve, I CAN use Lazarus, the nature of hell was one of MANY points of the parable. Even in the message of Christ on this

The passage of Jesus saying “Depart from Me I never knew you.” Matthew 8:12

“Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from Me, you cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.” Matthew 25:41

in conjunction with: “If you deny Me I will deny you before My Father in heaven. If you accept Me I will accept you before My Father in heaven.” (paraphrase) of Matthew 10:33


Doug 03.24.11 at 4:47 pm

Matthew 22:13, Matthew 24:51, Luke 13:28 and Rev 20 the entire chapter.


Doug 03.24.11 at 4:49 pm

“Its appointed unto man once to die and after this the judgement.” Heb. 9:27


Earl 03.24.11 at 5:30 pm

Hum… losing hell? Really? Little bit like the rich man… lives thoughtlessly until he suddenly must confront the consequences of his carelessness. In his worst nightmares he likely never imagined he’d ever have to face torment on such a scale. Brings to mind ill-prepared bridesmaids who don’t bring enough oil for their lamps. Excuses to the contrary offered even in appeal to love will be of no more use than earnest prayer offered from the backside of the hinges of hell.


Paul F. 03.24.11 at 7:15 pm

The title and cover art of the UK version is crummy compared to the U.S. Suckers.


Kim 03.24.11 at 7:40 pm

Just out of interest, any hot tips, guys, on who we may expect to be roasting? Or, with Dante, is it freezing? Are you boys infernal warming deniers? Anyway, any information on the climate of hell would be useful so some of us will at least know which clothes to pack. But back to the population…

I guess Hitler is a dead cert, right? And Saddam (DH is always comparing Saddam to Hitler). Buddha and Muhammad, I guess? And - the classic test case - Ghandi, right? I mean, he didn’t take Jesus as his personal Lord and Saviour, did he? And what about unconverted Jews? Our friend Avraham, for instance. I guess his politics, with which I know you guys are sympathetic, won’t be enough to get him past the Pearly Gates (in addition to his doctrine being wrong, that’d be works). And I’ve got several gay friends who are Christians. I suspect they’ve got no chance either (the sodomites - and, as so-called believers, sodomites without excuse, right?). And my dad - he was an atheist. So he’s in the deep stuff for sure, right?

And oh, topically, today is the 31st anniversary of Oscar Romero’s assassination. Any thoughts on the eternal whereabouts of the famous archbishop murdered with an American-made bullet while he was saying Mass? Does being a Catholic, ipso facto, condemn him (the “whore of Babylon” and all that), or are you guys liberal conservative evangelicals? But then you probably consider Romero to be a communist, and I don’t suppose you’re that liberal. I could go on…

But maybe you don’t want to name names. But if you can name one - say, Hitler (or Saddam) - you must at least have an opinion about some of the other folk I’ve mentioned. And the logic is pretty straightforward. If, for example, “those who deny me” (one of DH’s favourite texts) will go to hell, and Mr. (or Mrs.) X denies him, then Mr. (or Mrs.) X will go to hell, right? And please, don’t be reticent out of courtesy, not wanting to upset us. Really, nobody at Connexions will be upset. Indeed, you’ll be doing us a favour. So we can get our heads straight and change our ways. So come on, out with it…


Doug 03.24.11 at 8:57 pm

Kim, well, many of these people might have had a “death bed conversion from one’s heart” others did not. All we know is that Scripture is clear as Earl, myself and others have stated. So here we go:

If and only if, Hitler, Saddam, Buddha, Muhammed, Ghandi, Romero, your gay friends, atheist’s, or any of us, etc., etc., etc. have not at anytime in their physical lifetime ever accepted Christ as their Savior then Scripture is clear. So do I know that these people have made/or not made that decision heart, soul and mind? no but we know for sure that if they didn’t it is clear and if they did that too is clear as well. I might also add that if a person only makes a decision of Belief in Christ in one’s mind without giving ones heart, soul and mind then that too is clear as well.

All of these people, while still alive, still have the opportunity to still accept Christ until they physically die and that goes for all of the above people listed who are at this moment physically still alive. So Kim, all is not lost and God’s Grace is waiting for people to come to the knowledge heart, soul and mind to Him.

“If you confess with your mouth and Believe the Lord Jesus and Believe in your heart that God has risen from the dead you shall be saved.”


Kim 03.24.11 at 10:56 pm

Thanks for your honesty, Doug.


PamBG 03.24.11 at 11:01 pm

Oscar Romero is in hell because he tried to protect the people against an American-backed right-wing dictator which means he was a communist which means he hated God.


PamBG 03.24.11 at 11:06 pm

And don’t worry about the review. It’s already been done by the world and his wife.

I’m going to enjoy doing it. No one has to read the review who doesn’t want to.


Earl 03.25.11 at 12:34 am

Who to expect? Well… There are always the usual suspects. But those who make up that unhappy number will be there as a consequence of their failure to meet God’s standard of righteousness. Rich man, poor man, beggar man or thief… all will stand or fall based on their relationship to Jesus Christ. It doe not matter what might be our opinion of them. They may be thought to be the seeming human personification of evil marching the world toward apocalyptic destruction or if they may be lauded as the leader of a social movement leading a nation in non-violent revolt against foreign oppression. Homosexuals will face the same bar of divine justice that is faced by heterosexuals and anyone else including atheist both professing and practical. Pastors both celebrated and obscure will face that bar along with those who occupy pews and choir lofts. One and all will stand before the Judge of all the world. And He will do what is right. It is a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Knowing the judgment of God we seek to persuade men to follow Christ. We become all things to all men that we might save some.


Kim 03.25.11 at 7:20 am

Way to equivocate, Earl, with your recorded announcement.


PamBG 03.25.11 at 10:11 am

If you’ve been following his blog, Chad has been “fired” from his pastorate on account of the post you linked to, Richard.

I don’t know whether that means his appointment has been curtailed or whether he’s been removed from the roster. Bad popular theology wins yet again. Another reason the church needs good theology.


Tony Buglass 03.25.11 at 10:22 am

Doug: “That is where Rob Bell has an improper hermeneutic if we can call his “ideas” as even having a hermeneutic at all.”

Oh, he does have a hermeutic, and a theology which he has thought through and developed over many years. The fact that it is not one with which you can agree doesn’t mean it isn’t a hermeutic, it just means that the two of you can’t agree on the conclusions it brings. And that means either - or both - of you could be dead wrong. Whether that matters is really another question. Both of you are proclaiming Christ, and I have no doubt God will be able to use both of you in different places to connect with different people.

However, I have a big problem with a great deal of this, and it’s best summed up by the connection or otherwise between heart and head. I sense far too much “justification by THE faith” and not enough “justification by faith” - far too much trusting in correct doctrine, and not enough trust in Christ. What do you say to the person who has been grievously wounded by involvement with the Church, for example the woman who was abused and raped by a priest in her childhood, who is utterly unable to accept anything of ‘official’ Christianity, and yet deep in her heart is responding in love to the Beyond (which she can’t bring herself to call ‘God’ or ‘Christ’) and living in the light and love which it brings? Do you insist she has to say the right words in order to escape judgement? How do you know what is really going on in the heart of people like Ghandi, who responded to the Divine in the terms they had been given, and were deeply unimpressed by what they were shown of Christianity? I’m glad that God is my judge, and not you and your like.

I also have a deep problem with the confusion of ‘judgment’ and ‘hell’ - I have no difficulty with the concept that some have put themselves beyond grace and salvation, but the idea that God requires infinite suffering as a penalty for finite sin, is abhorrent and unChristian. You wouldn’t seek such a penalty, would you? So why do you think God would?


Kim 03.25.11 at 11:57 am

DH have a “hermeneutic”? He ignores the nature of the Bible as a library of books with a multitude of genres, the social location of its texts, their historical reception and mediation, the importance of ideology-critique - and that’s just for starters. He napalms us with verses and “facts”. That’s not a hermeneutic, that’s a handicap.


Doug 03.25.11 at 3:19 pm

Tony, I think that is where you and I disagree. Sin is not finite, sin is infinite and as such “The wages of sin is death but life is a gift of God.”

With regard to Ghandi, did you read my statement? I mentioned that I don’t know if Ghandi had a “deathbed conversion”. You are correct God is the judge and Scripture states, “If you deny Me I will deny you before My Father in heaven.” I agree there is not enough Trust in Christ for one needs to place their trust in Christ for Salvation and Eternal Life.

With regard to the woman in your example, I believe strongly that those who seek Him will find Him and to those who knock the door will be opened. Remember Scripture states “Without Faith it is impossible to please God.”

As you can see this isn’t a “doctrine thing” but a Faith thing. A Faith in Christ and His death and resurrection is necessary for Salvation and eternal life. Scripture is very clear on that. Rob Bell’s hermenuetic rejects all of the Scriptures which state all of the many places which contradict his views. His theology “picks and chooses” verses which clearly state views oposite of himself. I would venture to say that his views is not even theology. He never addresses in any way Scripturally the verses that I have mentioned.

“If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and Believe in your heart that God has risen from the dead you shall be saved. For with the heart man Believes unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto Salvation.” Rom. 10:9-10

“He that Believes and is Baptised shall be saved; but he that Believeth not shall be damned.” Mark 16:16 (The words of Jesus)

“Neither is there Salvation in any other: for there is no other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be Saved.” Avts 4:12

“For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are Saved it is the power of God.” 1 Cor 1:18


Doug 03.25.11 at 3:22 pm

Thank God that Biblical theology wins out over “popular theology”.


Kim 03.25.11 at 4:35 pm

I mentioned that I don’t know if Ghandi had a “deathbed conversion”.

Give us a break. Ghandi was assassinated, shot three times at point-blank range and dying within hours. I think it’s fair to say a “deathbed conversion” is a stretch - and for the additional reason that contemplating whether or not to become a Christian was simply not part of Ghandi’s spiritual agenda. So let’s for the sake of argument assume that there was no “deathbed conversion”. Then Ghandi would be in hell, right?

BTW, conversely, if Hitler turned to Christ while he was taking the cyanide, he’d be in heaven, right?

Forgive me, folks, for being an idiot for even asking!


Kim 03.25.11 at 4:50 pm

BTW, have you heard that Screwtape, as Satan’s earthly spokesman, is taking Bell to court on two counts, libel and lost earnings?


PamBG 03.25.11 at 4:52 pm

Thank God that Biblical theology wins out over “popular theology”.

The problem is that Biblical theology doesn’t “win out” over popular theology as witnessed by all the people who seem to think that belief in the proposition “We know for sure that all non-Christians are going to hell” is the same as belief in “Jesus is Lord”. Ben Witherington recently wrote a series of posts on the biblical view(s) on hell which are worth reading.


Tony Buglass 03.25.11 at 5:52 pm

Doug: “Rob Bell’s hermenuetic rejects all of the Scriptures which state all of the many places which contradict his views. His theology “picks and chooses” verses which clearly state views opposite of himself. ”

At least he can probably spell hermeneutic…

No, he doesn’t cherry-pick scripture any more than any other evangelical. A text without a context is a pretext, and most of the texts you’ve thrown at us have been utterly devoid 0f context. You cherry-pick and prooftext with the best of them.

You have failed completely to understand what I said about folk like Gandhi. You have come back again to the idea of a ‘deathbed conversion’ which presumably means saying “I accept Christ” or the like - I was trying to say that some things are deeper than words, go beyond words, and words are only a handle on them. Gandhi saw the light through the filter of his Hindu culture, was unable to see why Christianity was better because of the utter failure of Christians to be Christlike, but was nevertheless responding in his heart to the God whom we know in Christ. Unless you can demonstrate other wise, I will continue to believe that God somehow is able to make himself known way beyond your fundamentalist limits.

As I said earlier, this is far too much about “justification by THE faith” - unless you can demonstrate some degree of doctrinal orthodoxy, you’re on your way to hell. Fortunately, the God who came to us in Jesus is more ‘liberal’ and accepting than that - he knows what is in the heart, regardless of whether it can be verbalised in the orthodox way.


Doug 03.25.11 at 5:55 pm

Kim, there is no “break” to be given. I was only being generous as to the lack of knowledge of “peoples hearts” as to whether a person made that decision or not. All we know is what Scripture says on the subject. Whether or not a person has made a decision for Christ or not no one knows only God knows. We can “get an idea” by “ones fruit” but one must be very careful for we are human.

Kim, do you know for sure that the last few days before his assasination that being a Christian was not part of Ghandi’s Spiritual agenda? We know based on statements before that but one doesn’t know the heart during the “secret times” of people whether good or bad. Don’t we?

Kim, I must refer to the story of the thief on the cross with regard to “deathbed conversion”.

““NOT knowing for sure that all non-Christians are going to hell” is unbiblical and is popular. That is what I referring to.

Did I ever say that belief in hell is the same as believing Jesus is Lord? no So why conjecture that to my view as I have mentioned. I’m only mentioning as I have described what is Biblical, hell and who is in hell is Biblical and Jesus is Lord is Biblical as well.

“Salvation in the end is not just a matter of being forced to recognize the truth — it’s about positively embracing and trusting that truth. And there are apparently some who will never ever do that. To them God says “if you insist, have it your way”.

Some of what Ben writes I disagree with but this that I quoted from him I totally agree with.


Doug 03.25.11 at 6:04 pm

and Tony Faith in Christ alone is the only way for Salvation and worshipping of any “false gods” is the rejection of Christ alone for Salvation. “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.” Again, do you know for sure that in the last period of time of Ghandi’s life that he did not accept Christ? I know his comments earlier than that that you reference. So Tony do you know the answer and have the proof of Ghandi in the lasts days before his assasination oneway or the other?


Paul F. 03.25.11 at 6:18 pm


Pretty much everyone here is a Christian. Many of us are even pastors. That means we have Bibles, and we read them quite often. Many of us have been to seminary and can recite portions of Romans by heart.

I mention this because you quote passages like Rom. 10:9 way too much. By now you’ve well exceeded your use-Rom 10:9-for-a-knock-down-proof-text quota. Please, for everyone’s sake, stop rattling off Bible verses to us like we’re all heathens.

Regarding Rob Bell’s views you seem quite condemnatory. I assume you bought and read his book cover to cover before you passed judgment on his theology. Am I correct?


Paul F. 03.25.11 at 6:27 pm

Tony Jones helps explain what is my only real disagreement with Love Wins:

“…Rob’s commitment to total human freedom, even after death, seems thoroughgoing.

This is called “rational actor theory” by social theorists, and it posits that human beings are free and conscious actors who independently determine their behavior. Notre Dame sociologist, Christian Smith, for example, subscribes to a version of this theory (see his books, Moral Believing Animals and What Is a Person?).

I am not. I subscribe to a type of post-Marxist theory called “post-structuralism.” We are, each of us, bound up in structures and super-structures of sociality that determine and even dictate a large percentage of our behavior. In fact, much of our lives are spent in the self-deluded state that we’re choosing what we do. We don’t actually have much freedom at all, and our choices in life are strikingly limited.”



Kim 03.25.11 at 7:22 pm

Way to go, Paul. There are far too many Arminians around here! Their theologically inadequate accounts of freedom are, despite the banal but embedded secular Arminianism of capitalist libertarianism, with its shibboleth of choice, being further undermined (as you observe) by social theory - and also by neuroscience.


Doug 03.25.11 at 7:38 pm

Kim, I’m not Arminian I’m CalviMinian. With regard to the Bible Verses I quote, the fact is these views do NOT go in line with the views of Rob Bell and the like on the subject matters that have been discussed. I have mentioned way more passages than the Rom. 10:9 passage and the fact remains that the views you all have stated do not fall in line with what Scripture states in the passages I have mentioned. One can look at the passages around the ones I mentioned and see that is beyond just a “proof-text”. With regard to Rob Bell’s book (analogy) does a banker need to look at a counterfeit to know it is a counterfeit? no they study the real thing so much so that when they see a counterfeit they can recognize it. “Study to show yourself approved a workman never be ashamed.”

With regard to choosing to accept Christ AFTER death. Scripture is very clear on the subject there as well “It is appointed unto man once to die and after this the judgement.”


Doug 03.25.11 at 7:43 pm

Moral Believing Animals and What Is a Person?

Well that is clear, humans aren’t animals because humans have no soul while humans do.

Sounds like these books are a total waste of time.


Doug 03.25.11 at 7:43 pm

(typo) Well that is clear, humans aren’t animals because humans have a soul while animals do not.


Mendip Nomad 03.25.11 at 8:20 pm

Doug, are you suggesting that there are no animals in heaven/the new earth? I mean, I know cats are agents of the devil (I know this because I own two of the adorable things), but dogs are man’s best friend, surely they deserve a place alongside us in the life that is to come! :)

But, seriously, where in scripture do you get that animals have no soul? Francis thought it worth preaching to the birds, while the Bible is full of imagery of the whole of creation praising God.

Oh, and when it comes to animals and morals - there are great apes, such as some chimpanzees, gorillas and orangutans who have higher IQs than some humans. Are you suggesting that humans develop a soul alongside their IQ, or that humans with souls but not the IQ level that enables them to accede to any moral, such as that which is involved in having faith in Christ, have souls that are doomed to eternal damnation because they were simply incapable of moral thought? On many major ethical and theological issues around us today quoting chapter and verse will only get you so far, and often it’s not very far at all! For example, in a world where we have the “living death” of alzheimers at what point does your opportunity for a deathbed conversion come? When you physically die, or when your mental facalties are no longer capable of making such a commitment of heart, soul and mind?


Tony Buglass 03.25.11 at 9:20 pm

“…humans aren’t animals because humans have a soul while animals do not.”

Not biblical. That’s at best a medieval idea, derived from Greek philosophy rather than biblical understanding. The word usually translated ’soul’ is the Hebrew ‘nephesh’, which means the whole person. It is translated ’soul’ because the Greek LXX generally rendered it ‘psyche’, which allowed the Hellenistic Church Fathers to interpret it according to their Greek philosophical dualism. The biblical worldview is predominantly Hebraic, not Greek, and it does not believe in a separate soul. And the Bible says nothing at all about the place of animals in heaven or afterlife. You can’t be dogmatic about it either way.


Doug 03.25.11 at 9:29 pm

Tony, Scripture in the NT is Greek and if it means “soul” then what I say is clearly correct. Also look at Genesis 1, in the creation one can clearly see the difference between animals and humans, one being a soul and the other not. So humans having a soul is not biblical. Can’t be dogmatic about that.

The NT doesn’t do away with the OT but clarifys the OT and as such gives more detail into what the afterlife is and the nuances therein.

What happens to animals in the afterlife might not be mentioned but it is clear that animals have no soul. The biblical worldview is that they were not seperate, then why does Scripture state love the Lord with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind? Obviously people can in their mind believe something without having their heart believe it. That clearly is a “seperation”. I will saythat at the resurrection there will be a “glorified body” that is both physical and soul combined. Jesus at His resurrection was that way. However, I see no reason why there can’t be a dogmatic way to see this when Scripture is clear on this.


Tony Buglass 03.25.11 at 9:35 pm

“Faith in Christ alone is the only way for Salvation and worshipping of any “false gods” is the rejection of Christ alone for Salvation.”

Which rather begs the question - do such false gods exist? I know the ideas exist, but do the deities themselves exist? Isa.44 suggests not - to translate the Hebrew properly really requires my local North-eastern Geordie dialect to get the right amount of utter dismissal: “they’re a load of little nowts” The false ideas can get in the way of trust in the true God, I’ll grant you, but what happens when real faith is evident, even among those who do not know the true God by name?

There is one source of Light, and that is God. If by the life of a person it is evident that hey are heading towards the light, even if they have not heard the gospel or the name of Jesus, then they are not ‘trusting in false gods’ but seeking the true God. If you wish to argue that they have to affirm the name of Jesus and acknowledge God by name, then I repeat what I said earlier: you are talking about justification by orthodoxy not justification by faith.

” Again, do you know for sure that in the last period of time of Ghandi’s life that he did not accept Christ?”

Knowing what I do about Gandhi and his experience of Christianity and Christians, I’d say that was vanishingly improbable. But neither you nor I can know what was in his heart, what spiritual experience he was articulating by the words he he had learned from his tradition. I can say that his tradition of bakhtivedanta is nearer to Christian faith than any other religious tradition I know: it is to serve God by loving him, and thus by loving those whom God loves -pretty close to the heart of the teachings of Jesus, yes?

What disturbs me most about this issue is the dogmatic certainty which you have that you know not only what was in the heart of another person, but what is in the heart of God. No, the scriptures do not give you such clarity of vision - especially since it has become evident from many of our conversations that your understanding of them is at best superficial. It would be far better if you were able to leave a bit more to God. I think he will surprise you.


Doug 03.25.11 at 9:58 pm

Mendip, just because animals do not have a soul doesn’t mean that they are not “pleasing to God” or are able to “praisde God”. With regard to animals, I don’t know if they will be in heaven or not but the soul thing is where there is an issue. I do not believe they will face “eternal damnation” but just die physically and that is it, thereby not adding or taking away what Scripture says or doesn’t say on the subject.

With regard to Alzheimers patients. I know many of them who still have the mind of a child and one who with that mind accepts Christ with heart, soul and mind can still have conversion. So no longer capable is the answer.


Stephen Norris 03.25.11 at 10:00 pm

Kim - nice. Ministerial.


Doug 03.25.11 at 10:18 pm

Just because “fales gods” don’t exist doesn’t mean that people can’t worship them and as such be placing “other gods before Me”.

“I can say that his tradition of bakhtivedanta is nearer to Christian faith than any other religious tradition I know: it is to serve God by loving him, and thus by loving those whom God loves -pretty close to the heart of the teachings of Jesus, yes?” Just because something in your mind might appear to be “close to what Jesus taught” doesn’t mean that it is. Even the demons believe and tremble. Even satan can be deceptive and make things appear to be close to something when it is not.

Tony, there is a clear difference between faith and Faith. Also just because a person at a moment in time is “seeking God” doesn’t mean that they will ultimately find God or find the real God. They may find god but not find God.

All I know if and only if Ghandi rejected Christ all the way to the point of his physical death then yes Scripture is clear he will not be in heaven. However, I still find it presumptious for you to say that Ghandi never did that. However, it would be presumptious for me to say he didn’t. All we know is what happens when people do give their heart, soul and mind to Christ and what happens when those do not. The rest is giving it to God but Scripture is clear and has made it evident on these to a point as I have described. As you can see I have made it clear I do NOT know the heart of people. However, I do know what happens if one does give their life to Christ and what happens to those who do not. If a person says they have or have not then Scripture says “By their fruit you shall know them”. So who knows maybe Ghandi di give his life to Christ. His statemenst say otherwise but I’m not being presumptious.

“you are talking about justification by orthodoxy not justification by faith.” No you are totally incorrect because without Faith in Christ there is no remiscion (spelling) of sins.

Tony, I do leave it to God and His Word is very clear on these subjects.


Kim 03.25.11 at 10:43 pm

DH’s heaven looks to me like hell. It looks rather barren, colourless, creatureless, apart from some born-again monads. You’d never know God has bigger plans: the reconciliation of ta panta, a new creation. As for an eschatological zoology of the Garden City, check out Revelation 5:11-14.


Paul F. 03.25.11 at 11:59 pm

“Also just because a person at a moment in time is “seeking God” doesn’t mean that they will ultimately find God or find the real God. They may find god but not find God.”

So even if you never had the chance of knowing there was a boat, you miss the boat?

If God saves less than 50% of those whom he created — and it is far less than that if you follow Doug’s line of thinking — didn’t he kinda blow it?

And if it is explicit, conscious faith in the name of Jesus that “gets you in”, aren’t all pre-Christ Israelites screwed?


PamBG 03.26.11 at 12:58 am

Good news! God hates you because you’re not on his team. Now if you would just respond to his hatred of you by accepting his awesome love and grace, God will love you.

I couldn’t figure that message out as a kid and I can’t figure it out now. My mind always stopped at the hate bit.


John Meunier 03.26.11 at 1:08 am

Tony Jones helps explain what is my only real disagreement with Love Wins:

Thank you for sharing this Paul. I now understand better some of Tony Jones’ strong anti-institutionalism. I was not aware post-Marxist theory informed his Christianity so much.


Tony Buglass 03.26.11 at 9:53 am

“Tony, there is a clear difference between faith and Faith.”

So what is this, if it isn’t “talking about justification by orthodoxy not justification by faith.”? How do you define the difference? By referring to the object of the faith as defined by orthodox doctrine - hence your comment ” without Faith in Christ there is no remission (corrected spelling) of sins.” I don’t disagree with the doctrinal statement: I know that it is through Christ that God dealt with our sins, and that salvation comes through him. That is my (orthodox) faith - but I am also aware of the limitations of language when we’re discussing the things of the heart and the things of the Spirit. Sometimes I think it’s far better to leave it to God, and not attempt to define too closely what we think might have been going on inside someone.


Tony Buglass 03.26.11 at 12:16 pm

“Scripture in the NT is Greek and if it means “soul” then what I say is clearly correct. ”

How much Greek have you done, Doug? Any Hebrew? How many languages do you speak or read? How much experience at translating? I bet as far as the scriptures go, you’ve looked up words which ave been transliterated for you. I did French and German at school, and that taught me that you never really get the feel of a text unless you have some idea of the original languages; even a good translation is no closer to the original than a good photograph is of the real thing.

That is why, when I became a Christian and heard the call to preach, I determined to study Greek and Hebrew. I have translated and studied lots of parts of he Bible over the last 30 years, and my postgrad research depended on reading the appropriate bits in the original languages. On that basis, I reiterate what I said before: the Greek of the NT is Greek with a Hebrew mind. It is a world away from the thought-world of classical Greek, and very different from what the Early Church Fathers made of it when they read it as a Greek philosophical text. When we read words like ’soul’ we are not hearing what the original writers meant because we have had our texts overlaid with centuries of translation and tradition. It’s like looking at an old master which has been covered with a few coats of varnish, which have changed the colours. Again: the Bible does not teach that humans have an immortal soul. If you want to use the word in English, it teaches that we ARE a soul, which is an indivisible psychosomatic unity. That is why the biblical hope of life after death is couched in terms of resurrection, because the idea of a disembodied soul is nonsense to the semitic mind, by contrast with Greek ideas, which were dualist, and understood the ‘real person’ to be the immortal soul which was liberated from the body at death. It was this mindset which increasingly coloured the thinking of the Fathers for the next few centuries. Notice, too, the way in which the NT expectation of the End gradually shifts away from the centre, to be replaced by a belief in ‘eternal bliss’ with some vague belief in a second coming at some point in the far future; this was in part due to the experience of the delay in the Parousia, and in part due to the shift from a Semitic eschatological worldview to a Greek transcendent worldview.

You come to the scriptures as a modern Western Christian. Unless you have developed a critical awareness of your culture which is unusual among modern people, or spent time studying the original languages and the history of the thinking expressed in them, you really are not in a position to be so dogmatic about the words the Bible uses and their meanings.


PamBG 03.26.11 at 12:16 pm

The way I tend to put it is that we are saved by the life, death and resurrection of Christ, not by the Christian religion. Doug, what you usually sound to me to be saying is that we are saved by the Christian religion and that the life, death and resurrection of Christ are ineffective outside the particular kind of Christian religion that you embrace, along with the particular doctrinal ideas that you embrace. Which is also what I believe “popular religion” to be.


tortoise 03.26.11 at 1:50 pm

“Tony, there is a clear difference between faith and Faith.”

Care to give us chapter and verse on that, Doug?

[Here's a hint: the Bible knows nothing of the upper-case/lower-case distinction. The original manuscripts of the New Testament were written in entirely upper-case Greek script, no punctuation, no spaces between words even, nada.]


Mendip Nomad 03.26.11 at 2:13 pm

I’ll add to tortoise’s comment by mentioning that Hebrew has no upper/lower case distinction, and again such things as punctuation are non-existent. Indeed, there were no vowel sounds until the Masoretes got hold of the manuscripts and added pointing. Which is why YHWH is used for God’s name since we don’t actually know how it was pronounced since the word athonai was always used instead so the Masoretes never pointed it - a word we translate as Lord (except in the Jerusalem Bible, where they use Yahweh, which we think is how it may have been pronounced but we can’t be certain).


Kim 03.26.11 at 4:28 pm

I use to know a girl named Faith. E.E. Cummings had a daughter but her name wasn’t faith (it was Nancy).


Doug 03.29.11 at 5:27 pm

Tortoise, it says “Without Faith it is impossible to please God.” In conjunction with “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.”

Tortoise, you missed the passages reference to Faith entirely if you don’t recognize the other passages which clarify the faith vs. Faith dichotomy. faith in false gods vs. Faith in the One True God. Scripture is very clear on this one.

PamBG, it is Faith in Christ’s death and resurrection that Saves. Christ makes Salvation available “To them that receive to them He gave them power to become Sons of God.”

Tony, I DO leave it to God and Scripture states what is needed for one to obtain eternal life as Scripture states. It isn’t what I think but what Scripture states that is the issue.

PamBG, God doesn’t hate anyone even those who choose hell and eternal death. People choose to go there by their lack of Faith not by God’s hatred.


Doug 03.29.11 at 5:28 pm

Paul F., no God didn’t blow it. God rather have a love where people choose to love Him as opposed to robots with no choice at all which is clearly not true love.


Doug 03.29.11 at 5:30 pm

Paul F., God didn’t blow nothing we blew it by sinning in the first place making it necessary for Christ to die and rise again for the opportunity to obtain eternal life. The fact of the matter is without Christs death and resurrection it would have been perfectly just of God to destroy everything but He loved us hense the opportunity for us by Faith to receive eternal life. With regard to pre-Israelites it was the Faith in the coming Messiah that was the issue and or Faith in the one true God.


Tony Buglass 03.29.11 at 5:39 pm

“Tony, I DO leave it to God and Scripture states what is needed for one to obtain eternal life as Scripture states. It isn’t what I think but what Scripture states that is the issue.”

I agree. Where we have a problem is that you don’t always see what scripture states, but make confident assertions based on what you THINK scripture states. Hence my comment about the word ’soul’ - you’re very clear on what ’soul’ means, but you simply fail to see that your understanding of it is skewed by the influence of Greek thought for centuries on the way people have used the word. What the original writers had in mind is simply not what you’re reading them to say.


Doug 03.29.11 at 6:28 pm

Well Tony, I see no point in Scripture to “over unite” the concept of soul as you suggest when Scripture mentions “Love the Lord your God with all your soul, with all your heart and with all your mind.” Are you suggesting that all people who believe something in their mind also believe it in their soul? Heck, even the rich young ruler when asking Jesus “what must I do to enter the Kingdom?” Believed in his mind but didn’t believe Christ with his heart and soul.

That is the amazing thing about Jesus. He clarified the whole concept of this as mentioned above.


Kim 03.29.11 at 6:33 pm

[Stage direction: Tony shakes head, then bangs it on keyboard.]


Paul F. 03.29.11 at 8:00 pm

So, yes or no, Doug: stillbirths and the aborted — are they eternal toast? Wouldn’t you say Scripture is very clear on the matter?


Doug 03.29.11 at 8:18 pm

Paul F., those are very clear as well. They are born with the inability to make the choices laid out in Scripture and as such are in heaven. “Suffer the little children to come unto me.”


MendipNomad 03.29.11 at 10:18 pm

Doug, it works like this: since heart, mind and soul are one, holistic person the Hebraic mindset would not be able to comprehend of a faith that was not completely holistic - suggest to them that someone could have faith of mind and heart but not soul and, once they’d got around the idea of separating the three, they’d simply say it wasn’t legitimate faith. In other words, the argument would be that you can’t have a faith just of the heart or the mind - it has to be of all three or it isn’t faith.
Oh, and please don’t capitilise in the middle of sentences where there aren’t any - either in the original (because there aren’t any capitals anywhere in the original Hebrew, and there aren’t any lower case in the original Greek) or in any reputable English translation I’m aware of.
Furthermore, why are we hung up on faith, or even Faith? Even the greatest Apostle in the early Church, Paul, acknowledged that love is greater than faith - and my understanding (my more learned co-commenters will no doubt correct any errors) is that Paul is using the word agape in that context, rather than philos or eros (all three Greek words can be translated ‘love’, all actually have different meanings, which all goes to show that actually understanding what the Bible says and means is a little trickier than simply quoting parts of it in English).


Tony Buglass 03.29.11 at 10:37 pm

(Tony lifts bruised and battered head from keyboard)

Let’s try again.
Doug, you obviously don’t read Hebrew. I suspect from your lack of response to my earlier question that you’re a monoglot - you speak only one language. Fair enough - so are lots of people. You’re certainly a better economist than I am (Grade 6 O-level Maths, 1970) - that’s your skill. Well, languages and translation have been an interest of mine for the best part of 40 years, ever since I discovered I could do it. French, German, Greek and Hebrew - I don’t claim any great expertise, but I am capable, and my university examiners thought so, too.

Right. Nephesh. It does NOT mean soul. That’s the first step. The Greek mind is NOT the same as the Hebrew mind. So when it translates nephesh into psyche (properly psuche, but let’s not get bogged down in the transliteration of upsilon), it changes the colour of the concept, for want of a better way of explaining what happens in translation into a different language family. So, when the Greek-speaking writers of the Gospels record the words of Jesus quoting the Shema in the Greek LXX version (Did he? Or did he do it in Hebrew? Or in the Aramaic of the Targums?) you think that is evidence for the Greek dualistic distinction of body, soul and spirit? You want us to take that text as a literal anthropology? You don’t think it could be rhetorical? You know - picking up the old Hebrew of “heart, soul and strength” ((Deut.6:4, NIV - I’ll look up the Hebrew for you if you really want, it isn’t difficult) as a way of saying “you love God with every fibre of your being”? You reckon?

Look, it’s quite simple: you and I are essentially in the same team, playing the same game: we want people to catch real scriptural Christian faith - yes? Put it there, pal! (extends hand for a high five or handshake, whichever is most culturally relevant) But if we’re going to do that, you really have to learn that some of us have spent a.lifetime studying the scriptures, in their original languages, and that means we’ve spotted stuff you can’t see. And you have to learn to listen and learn.

Bottom line: I’m not an academic, doing this for the sake of being prissy and right. I’m a preacher. And I promise you, I can be a real hard-line hot-gospel Spirit-filled preacher,as the occasion demands. More to the point, I’m an intelligent biblical preacher, who just wants to get the real truth of the gospel across to people. So don’t waste my time with fundamentalist obscurantist crap that gets in the way of the real gospel.


Paul F. 03.30.11 at 12:23 am

“Surely I was sinful at birth,
sinful from the time my mother conceived me.”

Psalm 51:5

God’s Word is very clear, Doug. Them babies are bad. They gonna roast!


Doug 03.30.11 at 4:42 pm

Paul F., while you were born sinful that doesn’t mean (due to being part of the Old Covenent) that what I said is not correct.

Tony, you were doing fine until the latest sentence. You may think it is “fundamentalist” however I still believe that Jesus when saying “heart, soul and mind” means exactly what He says and not some rhetorical issue. Look at the parable of the rich ruler and Lazarus, it is clearly talking about what I have talked about. Jesus was stating the “paradigm” shift. Jesus was also clarifying how the New Covenent clarifies the Old Covenent.

You say this:
“you think that is evidence for the Greek dualistic distinction of body, soul and spirit?”
My answer yes.


Tony Buglass 03.30.11 at 5:49 pm

“I still believe that Jesus when saying “heart, soul and mind” means exactly what He says”
He said it in Aramaic. Not as you have read it, in English. Doesn’t mean the same.

““you think that is evidence for the Greek dualistic distinction of body, soul and spirit?”
My answer yes.”
Not in the NT. It’s evidence for your following the later generations’ eisegesis - reading a foreign worldview into the text.

Wrong, in both cases.


Doug 03.30.11 at 6:00 pm

Tony, that is your opinion.


Mendip Nomad 03.30.11 at 7:02 pm

Doug, it’s not just Tony’s opinion, it’s the opinion of a vast range of theologians and biblical scholars, both academics and preachers/ministers. That’s what gets me with these arguments you put forward, you seem to think that we’re making this stuff up out of thin air, which we’re not - I have a whole host of tutors in my current studies, from conservative to liberal, from evangelical to sacramental, from reformed, through anglican, to catholic. I’m pretty sure all of them would take Tony’s view on the issue of reading the English meaning without taking into account the move from Aramaic, Hebrew or spoken Greek, to written Greek (the quality of which varies considerably throughout the NT), to English.


Doug 03.30.11 at 8:56 pm

I hear you but there are many theologians who believe otherwise as well and from all brands as well. For the sake of people understand my “true view” being that how I phrased it could easily get misunderstood: I believe there is definiately a connection between mind, soul and body but at the same time there is some measure of seperation and I believe if they were “more connected” than as I described on this post #70 then Scripture wouold have not mentioned “mind, heart and soul”. One needs to know that people were not educated and I don’t believe they wouold have understood the seperation “mind, heart and soul” as being rhetorical. I believe there is something deeper maybe not to the level I “overstated earlier” but not to the level as Tony has described as well.

Does that make the view more sense as compared to before? I think I might have been “misunderstood” and it is no ones fault but myself but hopefully this helps.


Paul F. 03.30.11 at 9:05 pm

As you certainly know by now, Mendip, this is why having a conversation with Doug about theology is utterly fruitless. He always concludes with “well that is your opinion. I’ve got mine” when he is confronted by someone with far superior knowledge of the Bible than him.

Imagine having your doctor run some tests to see what’s wrong with you, and then when he takes the results and makes solid conclusions that you don’t like, you tell him to f— off and storm out of the hospital, because somehow you know more about medicine than he does. It’s a fitting analogy.


Doug 03.30.11 at 9:53 pm

Paul F., I only mention that in that there are just as many people with as much knowledge of the Bible as Tony and others who have a totally different view. To suggest just because Tony with self-angandisement as being of “superior Bible knowledge” doesn’t mean that the view he states is correct or “more superior”.

I believe the analogy doesn’t fit. It is more like if a person has a heart condition and has got his analysis from his heart doctor. The guy with the heart condition happens to know a stomach doctor who out of nowhere talks about the heart, looks at the guy and makes judgements totally different than the heart doctor said about the guy. The guy with the heart condition responds, “Who are you stomch doctor to tell me my condition when the heart doctor told me something different?” That is a better analogy. I understand that I’m not a “scholar” hense the “condition” and my “condition” “solving” is based on knowledge of what scholars who are experts in my condition. If I go to somebody else who may be an expert somewhere else yet a scholar then one is going to get a wrong view.


Kim 03.30.11 at 10:49 pm

Even in English, when I say X is a “good soul”, or even has a “kind heart”, I am not referring to ghosts in the machine. A fortiori in Hebrew thought. But as per Paul F.’s first paragraph at #71 … DH is just plain ignorant on this one - that’s why it is impossible to persuade, let alone defeat, him in argument. Ignorance is an impregnable defence. Sincerity only garnishes the ramparts.


Doug 03.30.11 at 11:08 pm

Kim, I guess I see a difference in that many people “believe” something but not to the level of Faith in that Believe. “Even the demons believe and trembe.” It seems people can have a “head knowledge” but don’t believe it in their heart or soul. So while I agree there is a level of contection there seems to be a disconnect in the mind/heart issue we have discussed. So Kim, are you now going to start saying “X is a good mind”? or a “kind mind”? see how ridiculous that is and how there is while a level of connection a level of disconnect (and no I’m not saying there are ghosts in a machine)


Kim 03.31.11 at 7:29 am

There is no “disconnect”. There are distinctions to be made, of course; one might speak of aspects of the human being. But the fact of the matter is that in Hebrew thought one is an ensouled body or an embodied soul, not a body with a soul or a soul with a body. Ontologically, in Hebrew thought, the human being is a unity, she is not made up of discrete entities. That is the point the rest of us are trying to make. Perhaps we could make it stronger by pointing out that the Fourth Council of Constantinople (869-70) actually condemned a tripartite anthropology as a Christian heresy.

[Jeez - what a way to greet the day!]


Pam 03.31.11 at 7:38 am

Why not greet the day with a smile Kim.
We recently spent some time in Hobart, Tasmania and ate a couple of times at a vegetarian restaurant called “burgers got soul” with various burgers named after biblical events. My favourite: Original Sin. Yummy. (I might add that neither of us are vegetarians).


Richard 03.31.11 at 8:00 am

So what goes in an Original Sin burger?


Pam 03.31.11 at 8:34 am

Unusual sort of sauce

They are the only ingredients I recall. :)


Richard 03.31.11 at 8:37 am

Bean sprouts? Or brussels sprouts?


Pam 03.31.11 at 8:58 am

You have to know everything don’t you.

Cannot tolerate brussels sprouts.


Richard 03.31.11 at 9:27 am

I’m dead nosey, it’s true. But this could be important: next time I’m in Hobart it will be nice to know that I’ve got one meal sorted out. ;)
I asked because when you said “sprouts” I immediately thought of the small-leaved brassica and then wondered if you can get them in Oz.


Tony Buglass 03.31.11 at 10:20 am

“Tony, that is your opinion.”

No, it’s an educated interpretation. And as MN has noted, one which would be shared by those who know the languages.

“I believe if they were “more connected” than as I described on this post #70 then Scripture wouold have not mentioned “mind, heart and soul”. ”

Again - scripture doesn’t mention them. That’s an English translation of a Greek translation of a Hebrew idiom referring back to the Shema (Deut.6:4), the prayer recited daily by Jews, which refers to “b’kol-l’babeka we-b’kol-naphsheka we’b'kol-m’odheka” (my transliteration of the Hebrew MT), which means “with all your heart, with all your self, and with all your strength.” That’s my translation. Most English versions translate ‘naphsheka’ as ‘your soul’ because they’re following the tradition set by the KJV, which follows the tradition of the Vulgate, which follows the Septuagint, because “psyche = soul” was the nearest word the Greeks had, even though it didn’t come with the same mental furniture.

Now, if you want to argue that all I’m giving you is my opinion, go right ahead. If you really want to prove my opinion wrong, I suggest you do a bit of digging, and demonstrate why - evidence, please, not assertion. Empty assertions prove nothing. Or, if you reckon other scholars would take a different view, please quote one. Just one will do. See if you can find one.


Doug 03.31.11 at 4:34 pm

Animals have no souls as evident by the scholars and references as such from God’s Word:

Eternity of hell thus eternity of the soul from scholars and references as such:

With regard to the nature of God C.S. Lewis and my view match:


Doug 03.31.11 at 4:44 pm


Tony Buglass 04.01.11 at 5:31 pm

OK, Doug, I’ve had a browse. At least these are people who have grappled with the languages, and that’s helpful. But it seems to me hat they’ve started with a theological agenda, and gone looking for proof (which is the editorial function of that website, isn’t it?), rather than asking the open question “What did they mean when they used these words?” For example, one writer (Bert Thompson) points out that nephesh is variously translated “life, breath, self, soul” - he then goes to translate it in order to justify the argument he is making; so he renders Gen.35:18 “as her soul (nephesh) was departing (for she died)” - should not nephesh in that context mean “life” or breath”? Isn’t rendering it ’soul’ presupposing the philosophy which is to be imposed upon the text? He certainly intends to, as he prefaces his quote by saying it refers to “the portion of a person that is immortal and thus never dies” - so what of the Hebrew understanding of Sheol, which is explicitly the place of the dead? Not Hell, or Hades, as places of judgement, but the place of the dead.

Similarly, having argued in another article that nephesh means ’soul’ so animals are separate from humans in not having souls (your first reference), the same writer in the above argument says “the word soul is used to denote the form of life that man possesses in common with animals and that ceases to exist at death” - in Gen.1:20 nephesh “is assigned to fish, birds, and creeping things” and “the soul in these passages does not refer to anything peculiar to the constitution of man. It signifies, as its usage denotes, and the lexicons affirm, any creature that breathes.” His words, not mine.

I’m sorry - this is confused and inconsistent, and doesn’t actually address the real meaning of the words. That isn’t my opinion, it’s the clear meaning of the writings you have cited.



Doug 04.01.11 at 5:42 pm

Well, to answer the Sheol, Hades, hell issue; one only needs to look at the parable of Lazarus and the rich ruler. It seems to me that Jesus was clarifying the understanding of the afterlife in the looking at Sheol, Hades, Paradise, etc. Heck, Jesus even said to the thief on the cross “Today you will be with Me in Paradise.” If there was this “Hewbrew understanding of afterlife” and that were the truth, then wouldn’t Jesus explain it different than utlizing what the thief’s afterlife would be so soon after the thief’s physical death?

I think that in conjunction with the url’s referenced show emphatically that Christ clarified the Hebrew understanding of the afterlife to what it actually is. That is not that the Hebrew understanding was totally wrong only that it was a partial understanding and the NT understanding is “more full of an understanding” as compared to that.


Tony Buglass 04.02.11 at 12:17 am

Well, clearly the NT understanding develops the OT - it’s predicated by the experience and event of resurrection, which does change things a bit! But it also reinforces the fact that the Hebrew view and Greek views are different. The Hebrew view of life after death leads to resurrection, the Greek view leads to immortality of the human soul. The event of the resurrection proves that the Hebrew view is fundamentally right.

The real heart of the problem is that the two languages actually embrace different philosophies. That’s the way it is with language and culture, and that’s the incarnational medium through which revelation happens. From our perspective as modern Westerners, we have inherited a biblical text which was written with a Hebrew mind, translated into Greek and interpreted by the Fathers in Greek philosophical ways (because it was in Greek), overlaid with Latin philosophy by the Catholic tradition in which we stand, and then developed further by translation and transmission in the modern age. So trying to figure out what Jesus actually meant is a bit more than quoting texts, it really needs a bit of ‘unpeeling’ of layers of understanding to get back to the original.

And the bottom line, as far as I’m concerned, isn’t even language and culture, but a historical event: Jesus was raised from the dead. The resurrection body proves to me that the Greeks had got it wrong.

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