Tag Archives: doubt

Do I Believe in a Literal Hell? (A belief wrapped in a confession)

This is a question I’ve been contemplating for years, and it was easy to say ‘yes’ at first. After all, the Bible said it, I believed it, that settled, at least for a while.  But then, along the way, something happened: I began to wrestle with doubt; I let a few questions seep in; and, oddly, over time, my certainty was replaced by an assurance in the unknown.

I began to walk by faith rather than by text.

Scripture is wonderful for knowledge, for instruction, for conviction, for correction, and for training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16).  But I don’t put my faith in just text.  My faith is in God, and in the whispers and movement of the Holy Spirit. I don’t believe that faith, nor God, can be placed in boxes. They aren’t that small. They’re vast and limitless. They are oceans:  deep and wide, wild and restless.

So, here I am today, re-examining the question once again: Do I believe in a literal hell?
Well…yes, yes I do.
But here’s the rub: what exactly do we mean when we say, “hell”?
Do I believe in “hell” as some fire and brimstone, eternal torture chamber?
No, not really.
Not anymore.  Let me explain… Continue reading Do I Believe in a Literal Hell? (A belief wrapped in a confession)

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An Update….

I recently read over a page draft for something I once called “Going a Little Deeper”. These were articles I’d written that, at the time, explained in more detail my thoughts and beliefs on such heady content as Hell, Salvation, Church, Doubt, and even scriptural verses like John 14:6.
Man, I was an arrogant little bastard! (Full disclosure: I still can be!)
I set out to look over these “Going a Little Deeper” posts to try and update how I viewed some of these admittedly hot button topics, but, I couldn’t. Not that I still cling to these values that I once held so dear and so pridefully. Not that I don’t. It’s just that, along the way, especially lately, I’ve learned quite a few more truths about myself than I have in Truth of any grand spiritual or scriptural kind.
In fact, one of the things I’ve come to learn is this: The deeper my faith becomes, the less I seem to know. Or maybe, more accurately, the less I feel certain of.
I heard an interesting Atheistic summarization of the Christian argument the other day: “So, I either believe in the God of the Bible, and in Jesus, or I’m going to burn in Hell?” they said. “Some choice.”
Exactly! Some choice!
We Christians have boiled down our faith to a simple issue of certainty—you’re either in or you’re out. And we feel comfortable having that be our main, and often only, evangelical calling card. In fact, that’s all Christianity has become to the too-vast majority of us: A get out of Hell free card.
We feel okay with that of course because we’re in!
And Jesus? We’ve reduced Him to playing the bit part of door man, or maybe “gate” or “good shepherd” to keep it biblical. If only we could read a few verses later into that metaphorical story (John 10 if you’re interested) when Jesus also says, “I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.”
Who are these “other sheep”? And, what will “my voice” sound like…to them?
That’s another thing I’ve come to learn: Faith is messy.
Faith is not tidy. Faith is anything but certain. “Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” And neither confidence nor assurance equate to certainty.
I’m currently reading over quite a few of these posts that I’ve written over the past several years, some posted, some not. So far, many of these I’ve decided to leave up—as much for myself as for anyone else. These 400+ posts are an ongoing chronicle of my faith journey; signposts and off-ramps and potholes and switchbacks that I’ve encountered along the way. It’s been a great journey. It’s been an ugly journey. But, it’s been my journey.
And, surprise, surprise, I’m not the same man, husband, father, Christ-follower, that I was six months ago, let alone six years. Even more, I have no idea who/where I’ll be six months or six years from now!
One last thing I’ve come to learn: In whatever I write, I’ll likely contradict myself at some point. And that’s okay. I’m in good company. So does the Bible—and it’s inerrant!

How is this, in ANY way, Making America Great?

We are creating a nation of “us” vs. “them”; of leftist elites and conservative Bible-thumpers; of West Coast liberals and the common man of the “fly over” states; of those who “resist” and those who hold to the “clenched fist of truth”.
Whoever the “they” is… (Look no further than this latest NRA ad.)

We are creating a nation whose government is telling its citizens to distrust the media, ALL media (except one), those entrusted to being the watchdogs of our society, the 4th estate.

And the touchstone of it all this is this man. THIS man. Our president. A man who thinks tweets like this are okay, funny and, I suppose, necessary, all while simultaneously holding the highest position of our nation.

Continue reading How is this, in ANY way, Making America Great?

Today’s a cookie day

Today’s a struggle, and I thought long and hard about whether or not to even put this post out here. Sometimes I write because I feel it’s something I want to say. Sometimes I write what I believe needs to be said. Then there are those times that I write just for myself.

It’s a cheap form of therapy and, even as I hit the “publish” button, I wonder if today isn’t one of those days.

Obviously, I decided to put it out there.

And I decided to air this not because I was searching for some sort of confirmation, or even some sort of sympathy or encouragement. Not really.

I did it because, when it comes down to it, I know I can’t be alone. I’m not the only one who feels, or has ever felt, this way.

This is a “me, too” post, because today’s a day I’m really struggling with faith.

Today is one of those days where I can understand those who feel that religion is just an opiate for the masses.

Today is one of those days where I can see that a belief in something beyond myself is a necessary part of existence for a species blessed (or cursed) with a higher consciousness; if we don’t believe in a “something more out there” what’s the point of our existence at all?

Today is a day that I see the argument of those who believe that faith and religion are panaceas for the poor, the marginalized, the “less than” of the world; those who’ve realized that they will possibly, probably, never make it in life, at least to the extent the world’s advertising would have us believe is possible; or, to the extent of those we choose to compare ourselves to, always coming up short because there is always someone on the other side of the someone we’re emulating.

Maybe it’s because the bootstraps we’re supposed to pick ourselves up by just aren’t long enough. Or we’re wearing the wrong boots altogether. The poor, the marginalized, the widows and orphans, we need our brass ring, too. Even if it’s something we have to wait for some fine day, when this life is o’er.

Today is a day I get all that.

And there’s one thing this kind of a funk makes me realize (maybe this is even where my hope is, at least for today): having a faith in something beyond ourselves is not an upward trajectory. It is not a slow climb up a long mountain. It is not even the constant unveiling of truth upon truth.

Sometimes—most times—faith is a roller coaster. Sometimes we’re at a peak. Sometimes we’re in a valley (and the transition can be swift). Sometimes there are twists and turns. Sometimes there are brief moments of respite.

Sometimes the goal is to reach the end, wide-eyed and winded, excited to find out what’s next.

And, sometimes it’s all we can do to reach the end without losing our cookies.

Today just happens to be a cookie day.