5 Great Fears Believers Should Never Have

We mentioned before that many believers today are driven by fear—especially in very theologically conservative groups. This includes the fear of God, the fear of hell, the fear of making a mistake, the fear of being wrong, and the fear of being rejected by God and the church.

Fortunately for me, and many other formerly-fearful believers, we have learned that these fears are misguided; they spring from serious misunderstandings about the character of God; and a proper understanding of God causes them to evaporate.

fear-pixabay

Image credit – Pixabay

There is No Need to Fear God

Many believers think God is harsh and vindictive—always ready to catch us and punish us when we mess up. But Jesus tells us a different story–that God loves us deeply. And Jesus demonstrates God’s love for us in his own teaching and example. So there is no need to be in fear of God as we discussed more fully last time.

There is No Need to Fear Hell

Those who think God is easily angered, harsh, and vindictive also think God punishes us in eternal burning hell if we don’t make the grade. Who wants to risk that? I certainly don’t. But the Bible does not teach such a thing; rather, some believers have collected a number of unrelated passages and forced them together to create a place of eternal conscious torture featuring fire, darkness, and gnashing teeth.

The passages themselves do not support this understanding. Some Bibles translate three different words as ‘hell’. The first two are ‘Sheol’ in the Old Testament, which simply means death or the grave, and ‘Hades’ in the New Testament, which means the same thing; no punishment is implied in either case.

The third term sometimes translated ‘hell’ (as in the KJV) is ‘Gehenna‘, an Old Testament image Jesus sometimes uses; but it does NOT indicate eternal torment in burning fire. Another problem with the idea of eternal punishment in ‘hell’ is that it is contrary to the character of the Father who loves us so deeply.

If you have a fear of ‘hell’, or know someone who does, you might check out our resources on hell page. There is no need to fear hell.

There is No Need to Fear Making a Mistake

Because they think God is easily upset with us when we mess up, many believers are insecure in their relationship with God and think that if they violate any of God’s ‘rules’ God might send them to burning ‘hell’ forever, as mentioned above. Their response to this fear is legalism: trying to discover all God’s rules and making sure not to cross them. In practice most of these groups have general lists of ‘sins’ they teach that God will punish us for.

These believers see God as very picky and thin-skinned. Anything can set him off so that we are always in danger. This idea of sin is usually coupled with the harmful belief that God sent Jesus to die on the cross in our place to pay for our ‘sins’. These two beliefs re-enforce each other and are both sadly misguided. Jesus was killed because he confronted Jewish and Roman society. Significant things did happen at Jesus’ death, but by far the most important is that he rose from the dead and established eternal life for us.

As we follow Jesus we should follow his teaching and example, but we all make mistakes. However, they are not fatal to our relationship with God. In fact, we will continue to grow as followers of Jesus until our last breath. There is no need to fear making a mistake.

There is No Need to Fear Being Wrong

Because they think God is picky and thin-skinned, many believers fear they might be wrong about some religious doctrine and be punished forever for it. Detailed doctrinal beliefs are considered essential, and woe to the person who strays from them! Believers are warned to never doubt the beliefs they have been taught or they will be led astray from the true faith and burn in hell.

But Jesus did not load us down with detailed doctrines we must believe and defend; his emphasis was on loving God and people and living in the kingdom of God. Of course, we want to be as accurate as we can about such matters but there is no need to fear being wrong on doctrine; we are all mistaken about something.

There is No Need to Fear being Ostracized by God

Finally, because they think God is easily angered and focuses on religious rules and ‘correct’ beliefs, many believers fear that they will mess up in some way and that God and the church will ostracize them; and they don’t want to be alienated from God and the church.

But let me say this strongly: the Father loves each us and wishes to heal us of our brokenness and bring us peace, love, and reconciliation; the Father is not interested in abandoning us when we mess up. There is no need to fear being ostracized by God.

Now being ostracized by the church is another matter; if we change the way we follow Jesus, the local church might very well disfellowship us. That is on them, not on us; and there is little we can do about it. However, other churches are ready to embrace us as we follow Jesus together.

Let me leave you with a saying of Jesus from John 14:

My peace I give you…Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

So follow Jesus and do not be afraid about anything.

Articles in this series: Do Not Fear

Dealing with the Fear of Doubt and of Questioning Religious Beliefs We have been Taught
Believers Should Never Have a Fear of God
5 Great Fears Believers Should Never Have

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This entry was posted in alienation, doubt, faith, fear, God, hell, legalism and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

93 Responses to 5 Great Fears Believers Should Never Have

  1. Marc and Ann says:

    Loving Jesus without fear! How I would love for many believers to find this kind of relationship with him!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. tonycutty says:

    I sometimes wonder if part of the problem is that in the same way that the Pharisees of today don’t trust others to have a relationship with Jesus, so they also don’t trust themselves to have that relationship with Him either, and therefore they miss out on so much freedom. They have an endless loop of fear, both for themselves (if not only they ‘get it wrong’ but also they let others ‘get it wrong’) and (misguidedly, for it’s none of their business) for others.

    Liked by 1 person

    • tonycutty says:

      …what a way to live….

      Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Tony, I think you are very much on target here and have discovered some of the elements of conservative religious dynamics. And all along they could have peace, security, and love in their relationship with God–and not have to worry about the relationships of others to God.

      As you say, ‘What a way to live…’

      Liked by 1 person

  3. wlburnettejr says:

    Hi, you state “This idea of sin is usually coupled with the harmful belief that God sent Jesus to die on the cross in our place to pay for our ‘sins’.” Is this something you have written on previously? If not, would you please expound on this? Where do we find scripture to dispute this belief?

    Liked by 1 person

    • wlburnettejr says:

      What about Romans 4:25 and 5:8, Ephesians 5:2, among other verses that seem to say that Jesus’ death was sacrificial…?

      Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      WLBurnette,

      You mention three specific passages, and I agree with each of them; but they do not add up to the theory of penal substitution that many believers teach today. In fact, substitution was not a significant theory until a thousand years after Jesus, and penal substitution was the idea of John Calvin who is very late I history.

      Reading your passages in the light of Calvin’s penal substitution does, in fact, cause us to think in those terms, but this does not seem to be the intention of the biblical writers. Paul did us a great service by trying to explain what happened at the crucifixion, but he used a number of terms, phrases, and metaphors to talk about it; and he was not establishing an official doctrine. It took Calvin to focus on Paul’s statements (and others) to develop what I consider a harmful, misguided theory of penal substitution.

      I do address this in several article–especially this one. Let me know what you think:
      https://jesuswithoutbaggage.wordpress.com/2016/02/29/how-substitutionary-atonement-fails/

      Like

    • I am not sure that anywhere in Scripture disputes this belief.? I have found very convincing evidence that the cause of His death was not to pacify a demanding, punishing God “for our sins”……evidence within the writings of author Antonio Sebastian, writings based upon his ten years of intensive research into the actual places, people, conditions etc at that time – and above all, based on the true words of Jesus, why they were said, to whom and when…especially in “The Last Letters of Jesus”, and “The True Sayings of Jesus” (Amazon etc.)

      Liked by 2 people

      • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

        Noel, I am not familiar with the writings of Antonio Sebastian. But it seems as though his research resulted in a sound conclusion: “very convincing evidence that the cause of His death was not to pacify a demanding, punishing God “for our sins”……” Thanks for sharing this.

        Paul had a penchant for looking at important issues (like the death of Jesus) from all sorts of angles in order to examine their impact, but he was not trying to establish doctrine in these cases. And often his imagery on a subject was inconsistent with others he used, so that they could not be pressed into forming a ‘doctrine’. Think of the many metaphors he used to describe the church (another important issue): a house, a grafted plant, the bride of Christ. Illustrative but not doctrinal.

        We owe Paul a real debt for his insights; he suggested a great many things, but he did not go around establishing eternal doctrines.

        Liked by 2 people

        • tonycutty says:

          Tim, have you read ‘the last emails of Jesus’? Not a lot in that book…. 😉

          Liked by 1 person

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            Tony, I have not. What should we know about it?

            Liked by 1 person

          • tonycutty says:

            Sorry, Tim, I was being sarcastic. Any document entitled ‘The Last [letters][sayings][testimony] of [insert religious figure] is usually suspect…I was therefore wondering if Jesus had sent any ‘last emails’ as well as having written His ‘last sayings’. It’s unlikely, as they didn’t have the Internet back then 😉

            Liked by 1 person

          • noelenesanderson says:

            tonycutty, Hi. “…..last letters etc., suspect?”

            I wonder whether you have examined “The Last Letters of Jesus” – by author Antonio Sebastian, following ten years of intensive RESEARCH into the actual history of the Jews, places, incidents and conditions etc around the time of the crucifixion of Jesus. I would love your response to this book if you were to have time and interest to read some of it. (on Amazon, with a Review there.) ….

            Liked by 1 person

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            You got me! I thought you were referring so a book title. It’s a funny idea, somebody ought to pick it up and run with it–maybe you!

            Liked by 2 people

          • tonycutty says:

            Hi Noel – thank you for the recommendation. No, I have not read the book, and am unlikely to in the near future as I am currently reading really sound theology stuff by people like N.T. Wright, C. S. Lewis, T. Chastain and others. One day I might well have a look, though; I will put it on my ‘Teventually’ list.

            Why the capitalistaiton of RESEARCH, btw? The word carries reasonable enough weight without having to be shouted 😉 I myself am a researcher into so many thngs: theology, astrophysics/astronomy, and professionally in medical research pharmaceutical analysis (I have had several papers published)…so I am aware of the importance of research, or should I say RESEARCH 😉

            I said ‘suspect’, btw, because I don’t now if Jesus would have had time to write any letters. He was obviously literate – a rare thing in those days – but I think He was a bit busy. Unlike me, who just sits here typing while I should be out helping others 😉

            Bless you for your recommendation, though – it will certainly go on my ‘eventually’ list.

            Cheers

            Liked by 1 person

          • Chas says:

            Tony, I note that you are involved in research related to medicine and pharmaceuticals, I have had the impression for some time that research in these areas is largely under the dominance of the pharmaceutical companies, who have a vested interest in selling their products. Have you any views on that?

            Liked by 1 person

          • tonycutty says:

            Hi Chas and thanks for your question. Well, the place I work is owned by the UK’s National Health Service, and we are not directly in competition with big companies. My medical research ended some 21 years ago and was at a University, funded yes by commercial companies but mainly with the intention of developing new novel products and ensuring the safety of existing products. My current pharmaceutical research is not even remotely related to product development, though; my current research is more about developing methods for analysis of various chemical compounds. These will, eventually, be used in products, but my research is far removed from the front-line, as it were. It’s all to do with product safety as I am mainly involved with testing the raw materials that go into the products and making sure they are safe to use. Research is a BIG field!

            I do have some views, though, on Big Pharma, mainly that someone has to do the research and someone has to pay for it. Companies then have to recoup their investment somehow; it is an unfortunate fact of life that they have shareholders to please so of course they have a vested interest in selling their products. I wish life was as simple as people inventing amazing new drugs just for the love of humanity, but real research, especially for companies producing *reputable* products, is expensive because you have to pay some very, very clever people to do it. And then there’s all the regulation, the inspections, the audits, the stability studies (how do you know when a drug expires and is no longer safe to use? You have to keep testing it every three months for five years and see when it goes ‘off’) and so many other overheads you wouldn’t believe it. Admittedly, some drugs do literally grow on trees, or at least in plants. But the use of such things is totally hit-and-miss, unregulated, potentially unsafe and usually run by quacks who are more concerned with the phase of the moon than actual science 😉

            Those are my views, of course, and not necessarily those of anyone else in the NHS as far as I know.

            I hope that goes some way towards answering your question, Chas 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

          • noelenesanderson says:

            Tony Cutty, Hi,
            Replying to your comment of ‘March 2, 4.54 am:-
            I guess I capitalized the word research, because I wanted to emphasize that the book “The Last Letters of Jesus” (Antonio Sebastian), was not just a person’s ideas about its topic – but was the result of ten solid years of intensive ,yes, you are right, research!! Research into the actual historical details. Certainly it is presented as an historical novel – absorbing, with continual word-pictures presenting themselves. But to get to the point.. the Letters which are presented at intervals, are letters ‘written’, mainly, between Jesus (Yeshua) and his father Josef. Josef did not agree with nor approve of, his son’s view of God – and considered Yeshua too kind and ‘soft’. I have not actually checked with the author as to whether there were records of the letters, or whether the author wrote them to coincide with the historical details of the time.
            I won’t “go on” – just to say that the research and records represented by the book confirmed – for me at least,- my lifelong non=acceptance of the “dying for my sins” doctrine of the church, as Jesus deliberately chose His physical death by insisting on God as the true God of Love and Life, and not the false god of violent and destructive practices and death..

            ….

            Liked by 1 person

          • tonycutty says:

            I understand. Thanks for clarifying that 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            Tony, I really enjoyed your description of your work and your thoughts on the drug industry. I feel that I know a lot more about you. Thanks!

            Liked by 1 person

          • tonycutty says:

            Hehe cool…yes, I tend not to write too much about my profession but if I do, it all comes out in a rush 😉

            Liked by 1 person

  4. wlburnettejr says:

    You make some interesting points- I read that post and the one preceding it, and the one following it. I didn’t know the history of those doctrines and appreciate your presenting it. However, I’m left wondering, if the proof texts you mention don’t argue for a sacrificial type atonement or justification what do you think the writers were trying to say by using that type of language?

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      WLB, you are right that a number of NT authors refer to a sacrificial atonement; but I do not think this suggests penal substitution. I also think it was natural for them to talk of sacrificial atonement as they cast about for images and metaphors to help understand what Jesus does for us, because it was familiar terminology formerly used of temple sacrifice.

      Jesus’ death was not really like the temple sacrifice, though, as the writer of Hebrews makes clear–it did not function like temple sacrifice and was far superior to temple sacrifice. It is true that Jesus genuinely sacrificed his life when he could have easily avoided it, but it was not at all like the temple sacrifice although the familiar imagery was useful.

      Another disparity to note when trying to compare temple sacrifice to the penal atonement theory is that the animal considered to take the sins of the people onto itself was not even killed–it was released into the wilderness alive. So while the terminology of sacrifice is useful in the case of Jesus’ death, it does not work like temple sacrifice or like penal substitution.

      Liked by 1 person

      • tonycutty says:

        In fact I think that the achievements of Jesus on the Cross and in fact the Person of Jesus Himself are so mind-blowingly vast that we need many metaphors just to try to keep up. For example, Jesus is at the same time the ‘Lamb slain before the creation of the world’, ‘…my beloved Son’, the ‘Victor’, ‘King’, ‘Messiah’ and of course many others… but none of these pictures taken in isolation really works by itself; we need the whole picture – or at least, as much of it as can be seen. I don’t discard the ‘sacrifice’ idea entirely, but I hold it in tension with all the other picturess too. I am fully aware that if we major on the PSA theory it makes Father look like a right old ogre, which He’s not, and this is why the ‘sacrificial atonement’ idea should maybe be held onto, but loosely and as part of the ‘bigger picture’, than as a central doctrine. That’s my current thinking on it, anyway…

        Liked by 1 person

        • tonycutty says:

          Oops, looks like I’ve already expounded this idea below. Feel free to delete 😉

          Like

        • Anthony Paul says:

          “Jesus is at the same time the ‘Lamb slain before the creation of the world’, ‘…my beloved Son’, the ‘Victor’, ‘King’, ‘Messiah’ and of course many others… but none of these pictures taken in isolation really works by itself; we need the whole picture – or at least, as much of it as can be seen.”

          This is a really great point… As I have pointed out several times in this blog, I do personally believe Christ’s death to be one of atonement; but it is not quite that simple… and Tony’s statement says that very well. If we fully understood what actually happened at Christ’s crucifixion — the passion and death of The God-Man — I believe that it would blow our minds as the greatest act of love this world will ever experience.

          Liked by 2 people

        • Chas says:

          One thing sometimes overlooked is that, by going to a death that he could have avoided, Jesus showed his love for God, by obeying Him, hence following the first commandment: ‘Love God with all your being.’

          Liked by 2 people

  5. All these fears, so common within Christianity, being the result of the misunderstandings, misrepresentations and illusory stories which have been passed down from the time of Jesus, even until today. Tragic, and contradictory to the actual WORDS, LIFE and ACTIONS of Jesus Himself. All else, all debate, is, I think, superfluous and often misleading.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Many forget that the Christian era was introduced by the words, “Fear not” when the angel appeared to the shepherds at Jesus birth.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. sheila0405 says:

    I’ve watched some videos by Rabbi Tobias, a conservative man who believes the Hebrew Bible is entirely the Word of God. Even he disputes this idea that God is a vengeful God who is out to get us. Rabbi Tobias believes the big sin of the Hebrew nation was her failure to model the perfect love of God, most especially by taking care of the widow & the orphan. The rabbi says the exile was severe because God wanted to teach Israel the importance of giving generously so that the poor could be cared for. God took away their land for a time to make up for the lack of giving that was due. The rabbi believes that only apostasy will separate a person from God. He didn’t mention hell in any of the videos I watched. But Rabbi Tobias stresses how much God loves us, and that we should delight in God.

    Fear is a poor motivator. It drains the soul of joy, period. It’s a terrible method of control over others. That certainly is not the message I find in the NT about Jesus.

    Liked by 2 people

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Sheila, I am not familiar with Rabbi Tobias, but based on what you report he seems to have some very interesting and reasonable thoughts. By the way, I really like your final comment: “Fear is a poor motivator. It drains the soul of joy, period. It’s a terrible method of control over others. That certainly is not the message I find in the NT about Jesus.”

      I cannot agree more!

      Like

  8. Chas says:

    In an attempt to avoid the later ideas that might confuse, I looked back at the Gospels to see what the writers themselves believed. This is what could be seen. In the same way as the writers of the Old Testament were trying to make sense of the things that they observed and what they thought about God, the writers of the New Testament were trying to make sense of what they had heard about someone whom it was claimed was the son of God, who had been tried and executed by the Jewish religious authorities. Two concepts can be seen, one of education, which leads to a turning back from old sinful ways – the way of love. This is shown by phrases such as ‘repentance for the remission of sins’, ‘salvation through forgiveness of their sins’ and ‘repentance for the forgiveness of sins’. The other concept is that of punishment, to deter people who want to rebel against this and resist correction – the way of fear. This is shown by phrases such as ‘he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire’, ‘it is better for you to enter life with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell’, ‘fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell’ and ‘go, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire that has been prepared for the devil and his angels…then they will go away to eternal punishment.’ What is surprising is that that there are few references to any idea of sacrifice. Matthew has ‘The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many’, but this does not appear in the other Synoptic Gospels. Did this idea of sacrifice come almost exclusively from Paul?

    Liked by 1 person

    • tonycutty says:

      I think of all these things as metaphors, of pictures that together point to a thing greater than we can imagine. So, Christ is the Lamb. He is the Victor. He is the Lion of Judah. He was slain since the creation of the world. He is the returning King. He is the One Who is before all things an in Whom all things hold together. So the sacrifice is another facet of what Christ did. I’m kind-of paraphrasing Tom Wright in this (currently reading his ‘surprised by hope’) but I hope it comes across ok.

      Liked by 1 person

      • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

        Well said, Tony! Many believers do not appreciate the role of metaphor in the NT writers, and instead they try to push metaphor and imagery into ‘revealed doctrines’. I gotta read Surprised by Hope; I think I already have it in my library.

        Like

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Chas, I very much agree with your statement: “In the same way as the writers of the Old Testament were trying to make sense of the things that they observed and what they thought about God, the writers of the New Testament were trying to make sense of what they had heard about someone whom it was claimed was the son of God, who had been tried and executed by the Jewish religious authorities.”

      I think there is one significant difference–while the Old Testament writers were writing about something they really did not know much about (God), the New Testament writers had some significant basis for what they wrote–Jesus actually taught and lived among his original followers and those followers spent the rest of their lives telling others about him.

      Of course Jesus clearly taught and demonstrated key information about the Father and the principles which should serve as the basis of the lives of his followers, but he did not provide much detail or clarity on many issues the believers had to try to work out for themselves later. As you say so clearly, “the writers of the New Testament were trying to make sense of what they had heard.”–things Jesus did not bother to explain.

      I think you are right on target in saying that two approaches were involved– the way of love and the way of fear (the law). And I think some fear-based believers also focused on Jesus’ warnings and hyperbolic language in a way that increased the fear.

      In preparation for an article, I once compiled all the NT passages in the NIV that included the word ‘sacrifice’ in terms of Jesus’ work. Here they are:

      * God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. Romans 3

      * Just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5

      * He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. 1 John 2

      * This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 1 John 4

      These few references to sacrifice bring up imagery from ritual temple sacrifice in Jerusalem, even mentioning the temple term ‘atonement’. It is certainly not clear to me that they are suggesting anything other than an allusion to Jewish ritual, even though many believers today emphasize this atoning sacrifice as the key to understanding the dynamics of Jesus’ accomplishment for us in his death on the cross.

      However, the writer of Hebrews carries the theme of Jesus as sacrifice well beyond the simple allusions of the previous writers. He compares Jesus’ work on the cross to temple ritual and sacrifice in a more detailed way primarily to demonstrate the superiority of Jesus’ work over and against the temple sacrifice–not that Jesus was a sacrifice.

      Here are some of his statements:

      * Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. Hebrews 7

      * But he has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. Hebrews 9

      * In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. Hebrews 9

      These writers had the task of trying to make Jesus’ work more understandable in terms familiar to the new believers and new churches. I agree with you completely that it is quite surprising to look back and see that that there are so few references to any idea of sacrifice–and that there are none in the gospels. Chas, thank you for sharing your reflection; I think it is of great importance to realize this.

      Like

      • Steve says:

        There seems to be this tendency to separate ‘the cross’ from all the other stuff Jesus accomplished. He didn’t just ‘die on the cross’; he showed the truth about himself, forgave sins, reconciled everything to himself, gave us his spirit, showed us what it looked like to be in his kingdom, etc… He did a lot of stuff!

        Yes, the cross was the ‘showcase event’ but everything that came before it wasn’t just some kind of great overture. It would seem to me that EVERYTHING Jesus did worked in unison and was ‘soteriological’.

        Liked by 2 people

        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          Steve, I agree. I think the most significant elements of the story of Jesus are his teachings, his example, and his resurrection. And yet, as you point out, the cross seems to be the central event in the minds of many people.

          His crucifixion was startling, cruel, and very discouraging to his followers, and I think we learn a lot about Jesus in his death experience; but the most important thing is that it made way for Jesus’ resurrection, which was a game-changer for sure.

          Liked by 1 person

          • noelenesanderson says:

            In my experience, most Christians and churches spend more time thinking and talking about the cross, and their idea that “He died for ME” …which seems to me quite self-centered, and not focused toward His main messages.   Why would I want this Master soul to die,  to “save” me from responsibility for my “sins” – my wayward thoughts, words and actions??!!   In my humble opinion, other explanations actually make logical sense….agendas of the Romans, plus hatred by the particular Jewish sect, the Judeans, who tried to force Jesus (Yeshua) and his Israeli Jewish followers, to adopt the violent cult of blood-sacrifice..

            Which leaves us with questions as to how we then become nearer to God and His nature, what do we have to do?  etc.   This is where I think re-incarnation (mentioned in the Bible, by the way) comes into our journey…..

            Liked by 1 person

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            Noel, I agree that there is way too much emphasis on ‘He died for me’ with its understanding of a penal substitution scenario. You posed the question well: “Why would I want this Master soul to die, to “save” me from responsibility for my ‘sins'” Excellent question.

            Your introduction of reincarnation caught me totally by surprise, as this is not typically a Christian belief. I am somewhat familiar with reincarnation from Hindu, Buddhist, and American perspectives. I would be interested in your take from a Christian one, including identification of the biblical reference you mentioned.

            Liked by 1 person

      • Chas says:

        Tim, your studies seem to confirm that the idea of sacrifice came mostly from the various epistles. One place in all four Gospels where it is usually taught as showing sacrifice was the Last Supper, but when this is examined, it seems to be more imagery than a serious suggestion of sacrifice:
        While they were eating, Jesus took bread and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take it; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “This is the covenant in my blood. Drink from this, all of you. I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until I drink it in the kingdom of God.”
        In Exodus 12, the blood of a lamb without defect was to be smeared onto the posts and lintel of the door and the lamb itself was to be eaten, along with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. The blood was to be a sign to Yahweh to pass over that house and not kill the firstborn sons, and in the future ceremonies of the Passover, only unleavened bread was to be eaten. Anybody eating leavened bread was to be excluded from Israel, so the unleavened bread represented the need for sin to be eliminated.
        The imagery of the blood in the Passover described in the Gospels therefore seems to show eternal life for those who chose it, and the unleavened bread seems to show the purity from sin of Jesus and those who chose to turn away from harmful ways. If it had been intended that the focus was on the sacrifice of Jesus it would have seemed more appropriate to use the meat of the lamb taken at the Passover meal as his body.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Anthony Paul says:

          Chas, I must disagree with your point that “If it had been intended that the focus was on the sacrifice of Jesus it would have seemed more appropriate to use the meat of the lamb taken at the Passover meal as his body.”

          Consistency at least requires us to read the Scriptures within the context of what has been said from the beginning and not on what we understand of a culture from our point in time… The Blood is exactly what sacrifice is all about within the cultural context of the time… in Leviticus 17 we read, “For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.” (LEV 17:11)

          According to Levitical rites the high priest would take the blood of the sacrificial animal and sprinkle it on the altar and this, not the eating of the meat, would cleanse the sinner of his sins.

          Liked by 1 person

    • noelenesanderson says:

      I have certainly understood that it was Paul who introduced the idea of the vicarious atonement.
      Just one point if I may? I think many people -Christian and non-Christian? have thought that there is the Jewish Nation – one people. However I found it very interesting, studying books by Antonio Sebastian following his 10 years’ intensive research, that there were the TWO groups of Jews – Northern Israeli Jews, Jesus (Yeshua) and His followers; and the Southern Judean Jews, whose hatred that Jesus rejected their blood-sacrifice cult as totally opposite to the Way of Life of the true G-D, contributed in large part (plus Romans’ agenda etc) towards the killing of Jesus….

      Liked by 1 person

      • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

        Hi Noel, I have not read Sebastian so I am not sure what he means by there being two groups of Jews. This is true geographically as there were Jews in Judea and Jews in Galilee farther north, but they were from the same stock–they were all Jews who returned from the Babylonian captivity–not old Israelites.

        The Jews of Galilee (including Jesus) were attached to the Temple in Jerusalem and followed the various feasts just like the Southern Jews. The two groups were under different governments (appointed by Rome), but they were the same people.

        Can you share how Sebastian sees the two groups as distinct from each other beyond the fact of geography?

        Liked by 1 person

        • noelenesanderson says:

          Yes, Tim, I can just put it as I have understood from Antonio Sebastian’s writings and historical research:- In his historical novel, “The Last Letters of Jesus”, (Amazon etc.)., based on his twenty years’ intensive research into the actual history, he reveals…
          That the two groups of Jews were:- in the North, the Northern ‘Israeli’ Jews, including, at that time, Jesus and His followers, who looked to the true God of Love…
          In the South, the Judean Jews, who practiced the blood-sacrifice cult, – the familiar slaughtering of innocent animals to ‘pacify’ God for sins. THIS was the unalterable difference between the two groups.
          It seems the Judeans had fought for several hundred years, trying to force the Northern Jews and then Jesus (Jewish name, Yeshua), to “unify” the Jewish nation and make it one nation, by adopting that same cult. When Jesus confronted them in the Temple and accused them of going completely against the Way of God, with their violence and following the way of death, rather than the Way of the true God – of Love and compassion and Life; and turned over the tables of the ones taking payment for the sacrifice, they hated Him for that; and were after His blood, as it were. That caused Jesus to realise that He had to choose to lose His physical life, or deny God. Plus the agenda of the Romans etc.
          The major message I get from the research is the confirming idea that Jesus did not die to “Save me/us from sins” (He already told us what to do to be ‘saved’ – i.e. ‘Go, and sin no more….’…make recompense, etc), but He died for other reasons. So He was not only ‘obeying’ God; it was even stronger than that:- He was deliberately making His Own choice to serve the true God of Love and compassion for all, including the animals – the compassionate God for all creation…

          Oh.. ..I guess I have repeated, partly, my earlier comment!

          Liked by 1 person

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            Thanks, Noel. Don’t worry about repetition; repetition often enhances clarity. It sounds like this might be an interesting novel. However, it seems as though Sebastian is confusing the Jews who returned from Babylon and settled in Galilee to the north with the remnants of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, who in New Testament times were called Samaritans.

            But I am not sure. It still sounds like an interesting novel. Thanks!

            Like

          • noelenesanderson says:

            Oh, good – I have re-f\discovered your post – below –
            I can just give Sebastian’s current blog-site:-
            thejesusofhistory,com If you scroll to Blog; there are at least two blogs – his stance relevant to the topic!…..Feb.16: “There’s more than One Kind of Jew”……..and on another interesting topic recent on your site, March 3:- “Did the Jesus of History Believe in Sacrifice?” Cheers.

            Liked by 1 person

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            Noel, I read the two Sebastian articles you recommended. I think he has many aspects of Jewish history correct, but I think some is very questionable. What was the main point you wanted to make about Sebastian?

            Liked by 1 person

          • noelenesanderson says:

            Tim, “What was the main point you wanted to make about Sebastian?”
            I guess I have been impressed that Antonio Sebastian’s writings have brought to light something I had never heard of during all the many years of my being unable to accept what the major message was in churches I have been associated with, that we are all born inveterate sinners, who can’t do anything about it ourselves, but only through Jesus having “died for our sins” – with all the emotion and ?self-centredness associated with that belief; (He died for ME!!)
            Then I discovered at my late age, from Sebastian’s writings, an alternative explanation – that there were two groups of Jews and that a major factor in Jesus having been crucified, was the hatred occasioned by His refusing to join the blood-sacrifice cult, and His powerfully exhorting them to follow the true God of Love and Life, not the god of Violence and Death (As a vegetarian for 47 years, it was important to me that the hundreds of years of conflict between the two groups because of that issue, were an explanation for the hatred and for the killing of Jesus) – and in fact a message, now, for the world of today – that the following of Jesus’ God of love, peace, compassion etc., rather than the violence and blood-thirstiness of killing other creatures (and further of course, other people) would solve the major causes of damage and destruction, starvation, destruction of habitat, misuse of land which could be used for growing food, diminishing water-supply etc on this earth. (The conflict between the two groups was a valid reason for Jesus to be killed (plus Roman agenda etc)), This issue also relates to Jesus approach to Sacrifice….He absolutely denounced it. It is not of the Nature of God, in any way.
            Enough of that. Again, no need for more of your precious time to be spent on it! Thank you.

            Like

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            Noel, if I understand correctly what you mean about the two groups of Jews in Sebastian’s work then I must say that he is mistaken. The history of the area during the few hundred years leading up to Jesus is well known–in great detail. And it does not match what I understand Sebastian to say about the ‘two groups of Jews”.

            Like

  9. Jan says:

    Thank you for the interesting read. This article may be an interesting addition on the origin of the belief in a “hell” in Judaism, Christianity and Zoro-Astrianism: https://www.academia.edu/3590677/Was_There_Zoroastrian_Influence_on_the_Judeo-Christian_Hell

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Hi Jan, thanks for the link. I read part of the article and will read the rest later. In my first semester of college (1969) I did a paper on Zoroastrianism and the thing that grabbed me most was their belief in hell. Later on, I came to suspect highly that it was contact with Zoroastrianism during the captivity that influenced the development of the idea of punishment in hell among Jews in the period just before the time of Jesus.

      I recommend your link to anyone who is interested in the topic.

      Like

  10. Anthony Paul says:

    Having been accused by conservative Christians of being a universalist in my beliefs, I am certainly far from preaching the doctrinal lines about Christianity. However, I would simply like to state that when it comes to Christ’s death on the cross I do not fear nor abhor the thought of His shed blood being a sacrificial offering for the atonement of my sins… in fact, I welcome it for both personal reasons (i.e., I am a sinner) and also the fact that it is this one central fact that makes Christianity different from all other religions. It is the only belief system which reveals to us a God who demands perfection from His creation and then sets out to make that happen in the form of the one Perfect Person, Jesus, who was obedient unto death. To see that Jesus’s death was anything but an execution, one need go no farther than Jesus’s prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane: “Father, remove this cup from me… but not My will but thine be done.”

    At the last supper, Jesus tells His disciples that His body will be broken for many just as He breaks the bread before them to eat; the wine is His blood to be shed for many. In talking to Pilate, Jesus tells him that no one takes His life from Him but He gives it willingly. Paul himself tells us that without Jesus’s death and resurrection there could be no hope of salvation.

    These are just several thumbnail views of the sacrificial nature of Christ’s death… we won’t even talk about the significance of the Levitical rights within the OT which are seen by many as a type of the death of Christ in the form of The Lamb whose innocent blood washes away our sin. And can we ignore the Prophet, Isaiah — “By His stripes we are healed”.

    I know that it isn’t PC today to talk about personal sin and it is each person’s prerogative to either acknowledge it or disavow it as they choose. But the fact remains that there is something terribly wrong with this world in which we live and this theme has been a matter of some concern to all manner of writers, both atheists and religious from Aldous Huxley and Dostoevsky to C.S. Lewis and so many others. To deny that the world finds itself in some serious trouble is folly, IMO; but it would take a very special person living in their own kind of fantasyland to stand up and say that he or she has not in some way contributed to the decline we see around us. Lest I should give offense to others I would like to quote something Paul wrote to Timothy back in the day as I believe that it applies to me as well: “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners — of whom I am the worst.”

    Peace.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Anthony, thank you for expressing your thoughts on the significance of the death of Jesus. You did a good job of marshaling various passages from the Bible in support of your view.

      I know that many believers will say, ‘Of course that is the way it is’; but you are probably not surprised that I do not subscribe to those views if I understand them correctly. I read the passages a bit differently. Thanks for sharing this with us; varying perspectives need to be heard.

      Like

      • Anthony Paul says:

        Yes, Tim, I do believe that you understand my view on this subject correctly and I also understand from several of your own posts that our views differ in this regard. As many who have participated in this discussion seem much closer to your view than my own, I felt compelled to at least put this out there as both a point of discussion and as a personal statement of faith.

        I thank you most sincerely for your kind and insightful comments; but if I may speak now as one believer to another, my feeling is that what puts a smile on Our God’s face more than the presentation of a good logical argument in any discussion is the gentle manner with which two brothers deal with each other when they disagree. I know that you have spent many years studying and learning how to reconcile your experiences of life with what you know about The Creator… this makes you wise. But I suspect that you were a good man long before you gained the wisdom of your years.

        Peace to you, brother.

        Liked by 3 people

        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          Anthony, I don’t know about my being wise. I do try to follow consistently what I understand to be the teaching and example of Jesus–not always successfully, of course.

          I am very pleased to be thought of as a ‘good man’. But keep in mind that I began as a fundamentalist–a fervent one. I thought I was doing good (according to my fundamentalist understanding) but that included a lot of judgmentalism, condescension, and promoting a lot of harmful religious baggage. I am so thankful people can change.

          Like

          • Anthony Paul says:

            Tim: To some extent you and I have traveled down the same road from Evangelical Christianity to where we are today. But we do share one very important and fundamental difference, and that is in how we read and interpret words written in Scripture over many hundreds of years. I just want to say that this is not so much your problem as it is mine because I now find myself in a kind of Christian nether world… I cannot count myself among those who hold a conservative view of Scriptures nor am I one among the many who hold a more liberal interpretation.

            As one who has done some studying of The Word myself, I find that I have some major problems with several aspects of Evangelicalism or even just mainstream Christianity when it comes to viewing God as vengeful and angry. But none of this affects what I consider to be most basic to my beliefs and also to what makes Christ and Christianity different from and far above any other world religion… i.e., its doctrine of Soteriology. Much of what Jesus said about Himself centers on the fact that He claimed to be The Son of God —come to save sinners — which many of us today as well as the religious leaders of His time understood to mean that He was in fact equal to God. To paraphrase C.S. Lewis, this would either make Jesus The Divinity He claimed to be… or a lunatic… but to simply say that He was a good man who came simply to show us how to live a better life is just not a logical option.

            Much is said today about God being the essence of “Love”… and he is all of that. But I also believe that He is much more than that as well… I feel that my job is to read, study, and pray in such a way as to allow The Spirit speak to me about the true nature of God and about the unique relationship which we share both now and throughout eternity. This is a journey which involves my intellect, my emotions, and my free will and so I realize that while the road is wide open to me I also face many shortcomings because I am human.

            In the meantime, I believe that we are all on the same journey but one which takes us by different paths… I am quite certain that when all is finally revealed we will all arrive safely, joyfully together… home at last.

            Liked by 1 person

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            Well said, Anthony!

            I don’t think it odd that your thoughts do not align with either conservative or liberal views. The fact is there is a lot of ambiguity about the Bible. In fact, I do not consider myself a ‘liberal’ but rather theologically progressive in comparison with conservative perspectives. There is a LOT of liberalism to the left of my understandings.

            I agree with you that Jesus is the unique representative of God (son of God) and is much more than just a teacher to tell us how to live a better life. I think Jesus is significant in a number of ways. You mentioned Lewis’ famous passage, which has been defined by some conservatives, Josh McDowell I believe, as ‘Lord, Liar, or Lunatic.”

            Though I do believe Jesus is Lord, and is not a liar or lunatic, I don’t think the concept is valid because it assumes only three possibilities; there are at least three others–1) Jesus could have been mistaken about himself, 2) the gospel writers might have influenced certain passages with their own beliefs, or 3) we misunderstand what Jesus (and/or the gospel writers) meant regarding his identity and relationship with God. So I don’t think Lewis’ claim is without difficulty (btw, Lewis is perhaps my favorite author).

            So I agree that Jesus is Lord (without being totally definitive on what that means) and that he is much more than a teacher of love and peace. I think, at the very least, he is the agent of our eternal life through his own resurrection.

            I love your conclusion and totally embrace it: “I am quite certain that when all is finally revealed we will all arrive safely, joyfully together… home at last.” Well said!

            Like

          • Chas says:

            Tim, there is also a fourth alternative, that Jesus never actually said that he was the Son of God.

            Liked by 1 person

  11. noelenesanderson says:

    jesuswithoutbaggage: Sir, As there was no ‘Reply’ button under your reply to me, regarding re-incarnation, I will comment here…..!
    Agreed, it is not a Christian stance. I can’t quote the reference chapter and verse, offhand, but it was an occasion when Jesus was talking with the disciples about One who had been on earth before, and had been misunderstood and misused, but that he had come again. Then they understood He was referring to John the Baptist.
    A less convincing argument perhaps was when Jesus asked “Whom do men say that I am” and the reply, “Some say you are Elisha come again,… etc – apparently an accepted fact in that time, tho’ admittedly could be just the belief of the people..
    The reason I have studied the possibility quite closely is that it answers so many puzzling questions – esp. that if Jesus did not “die for our sins”, then how and when do we ‘make recompense’? An alternative is that God (having granted free-will and the ability to choose), patiently gives every soul the time needed in which to learn and change and grow spiritually, as the result of the law of cause-and-effect upon our actions, thoughts, words…..our gradual insight as we journey – the goal always being (consciously or not) moving nearer to harmony with the nature of the Great Spirit, GOD. Realising that we are inextricably ‘attached’, linked, a part of God, as creations, off-shoots if you like, of God, SPIRIT. Some souls would take many, many lifetimes in the process.
    What other explanation than re-incarnation is there for a child of three sitting down and playing Beethoven perfectly?? Where and when did s/he learn that to that extent? Or those we call “old souls” who seem to understand and know so much they must have “been here before”?
    Is G-D not big enough for these things to be true? Are we really limited in our progress by 70 or 100 short years of life and experience on this planet?? I’d better stop there! Have written, some time ago, an ‘essay’ making a lot of points. Comments would be welcome…..

    Liked by 1 person

    • noelenesanderson says:

      P.S. I am NOT talking about the commonly-held idea re re-incarnation, that we might come back as animal souls!!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Anthony Paul says:

      Noel:

      I would like to recommend the book, Children Who Remember Previous Lives — A Question of Reincarnation, by Ian Stevenson, M.D. The book gets scientifically bogged down sometime but it is considered a seminal work by a man who has devoted a lifetime to scientifically studying reports of children remembering previous life experiences.

      For others who have an equally scientific bent toward studying reports of near death experiences and their after affects on the subjects who experience them, may I suggest reading Irreducible Mind — Toward A Psychology For The 21st Century by Edward F. Kelly et. al. These books make for interesting reading because they do not deny any of the basic premises of Christian Doctrine but they offer some startling new ways of looking at our lives as a long journey of learning and discovery which does not end when we shed this mortal shell. What has caught my attention most of all is the fact that people who have had NDE’s have come to see the after-life as a place of love, peace, and a further discovery of who we are both as individuals and as part of the Larger Oneness which we call God.

      There seems to be a fundamental movement in Psychology today away from the study of mere behaviorism toward the examination of real life experiences which people have had since at least the time of Plato and probably before. It suggests that human consciousness is more than a function of the cranial cortex… that the human brain, in fact, acts as a reducing valve and that our consciousness transcends the brain’s ability to function as an organ for the transmission neuron impulses.

      Liked by 2 people

      • noelenesanderson says:

        Anthony, Thank you for your informative comments, and your recommendations. Those points would reinforce the concept of the after-life, and reincarnation as true of our long journey towards the ultimate goal, wouldn’t they.
        …”…part of the Larger Oneness which we call God..” I love that; G-d really is un-nameable, I think. The Great Spirit is another description I favour. I’ll try to find time to look at those books. Thanks again.
        When my mother passed-over, I was wide awake on the evening after members of the family had arrived and having had cups of tea with each! I wondered to myself, ‘How is Mum?’ I feel I was given a glimpse….she was in a white gown, beautiful light around her and beyond, and seated beside her was a woman as though to move on beside her. Next day a photo’ of her mother, whom I had never met, confirmed who the older lady was… There is much that we can learn…always!!

        Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Noel, you are right about the reply button. Each level of reply is further indented so that, if not restricted, the replies can become only a word or two per line, which is unattractive and difficult to read. So I have chosen the number of columns allowed.

      The two solutions to replying is to scroll up to the last reply button and click it so that your comment goes to the bottom of the column OR start a new column to the left as you did. People do both; sometimes I do either one depending on the situation.

      By the way, you can call me Tim if you wish.

      While I certainly cannot discount the possibility of reincarnation, it doesn’t seem to me to be consistent with what Jesus tells us. But who knows? I do understand the passage you mention to mean that John the Baptist came ‘in the spirit’ of Elijah rather than being a reincarnation of Elijah. But, as I say, to me it is more speculation than anything.

      I think the supports you present are suggestive but easily open to other explanations. But if it turns our that reincarnation is a reality I am fine with that; I am just not convinced at this point. Feel free to offer further observations.

      Liked by 1 person

      • noelenesanderson says:

        Hi, Tim, I am trying to think of words of Jesus, which might preclude the concept of reincarnation. ? ( As I’ve said earlier, I used to get almost 100% in Scripture exams – but that has not made me a consistent, serious Bible student!) Regards.

        Liked by 1 person

        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          Noel, I don’t think Jesus addressed reincarnation at all. Nor do I think the Bible anywhere addresses it. Of course that does not mean reincarnation isn’t the case, but it does not seem consistent with Jesus’ idea of the kingdom of God and eternal afterlife. But, as I said, I don’t think the concept of reincarnation comes up in the Bible.

          Liked by 1 person

      • noelenesanderson says:

        Well, thank you Tim! Greetings.
        I will just offer comments by two authors…Donald Offwood; and “The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus The Christ”. The latter as you no doubt know, claims to be from the Akashic Records, and a “complete record of the “lost” eighteen years so strangely silent in the New Testament; a period spent travelling and learning from the masters, seers and wise-men in the temples and schools of Tibet, Egypt, India, Persia and Greece..”

        From The Aquarian Gospel version:- Chapter 37, vs 9 – 15, where Jesus is visiting Lahore…
        ” 9: One day Ajainin sat with Jesus in the temple porch; a band of wandering singers and musicians paused before the court to sing and play.
        10: Their music was rich and delicate, and Jesus said, Among the high-bred people of the land we hear no sweeter music than that these uncouth children of the wilderness bring here to us.
        11: From whence this talent and this power? In one short life they surely could not gain such grace of voice, such knowledge of the laws of harmony and tone..
        !2: Men call them prodigies. There are no prodigies. All things result from natural law.. 13: These people are not young. A thousand years would not suffice to give them such divine expressiveness, and such purity of voice and touch.
        14: Ten thousand years ago these people mastered harmony…….
        15: And they have come again to learn still other lessons…”…..

        And, if you are still with me!….from “Reincarnation and Christianity”…
        “Reincarnation was accepted by the early church, but it came to an unfortunate end in Christian teaching at the Fifth Ecumenical Council held in Constantinople in A. D. 553. Dr Leslie Weatherhead (“highly respected theologian of City Temple, London”) argues that it was voted out of the Christian Faith by three votes to two!….
        Earlier, at the First Council of Nicaea in A. D. 325, Arius was commanded by the Bishop of Alexandria to quit his beliefs on reincarnation or be declared a heretic, and his writings were ordered destroyed.
        And in A. D. 543, Emperor Justinian wrote a letter from Rome to the Patriarch of Constantinople denouncing Origen (who had been teaching reincarnation) as a pernicious heretic.
        Decrees pronounced at the Fifth Ecumenical Council A. D. 553, (under the presidency of the Patriarch of Constantinople, Constantine, with Emperor Justinian controlling proceedings), brought an end to reincarnation in Christianity…”
        Those two sources speak the most powerfully that I have encountered….true or not!?
        Thanks.

        .

        Liked by 1 person

        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          Noel, to begin with I consider the speculation that Jesus visited India during his youth to be misguided; there has been considerable discussion about this theory and the evidence offered by its proponents is extremely weak and based on spurious (made up) ‘facts’.

          On the issue of reincarnation, I am sure there were believers here and there in the early church who did believe in reincarnation because reincarnation was a current belief among some people in the surrounding culture. But I don’t think reincarnation every had a significant place in Church history.

          If I had unlimited time, I would enjoy pursuing this thought, because I would like to pursue everything! However, my reading and research priorities are such that I am unable to spend time on this topic. It lies well outside my areas of focus.

          If you feel convinced that reincarnation fits in with following Jesus, then go for it. But that does not represent my position.

          Liked by 1 person

          • noelenesanderson says:

            Thank you Tim, for your response. We each have our search to conduct. That is fine. I will continue to examine and consider this and other concepts, endeavouring to see whether they fit in with the view of God which I have at this, or any stage, (of course never claiming to have the ultimate truth re the matter!) I appreciate that you have spent an amount of time on the topic! Thanks.

            Liked by 1 person

    • Chas says:

      The text from Malachi says that Elijah would be sent before the coming of the great and dreadful day of Yahweh. It doesn’t say anything about another prophet or Son of God to follow him. There are claims in scripture that the messiah would have gone up to heaven and come down again. These do not refer to reincarnation.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Charlotte Robertson says:

        Hi all, I have always understood that the disciples said ‘Elijah’, as he was not seen to have died and was not buried. Same with Moses.

        Liked by 1 person

      • noelenesanderson says:

        CHAS…..and also, Charlotte, Hi. Thank you for your comments. on my post. So, if you, as Bible scholars to a greater extent than I, see a different interpretation, then I certainly cannot argue with your view.
        I would say that I do not see the entire Bible as necessarily the exact Word of God. Written by so many people at such different times; each may have had their own interpretation or even agenda.
        I find many views from other sources, which, to me, actually do ‘ring true’ as representing the likeliest interpretation of what G-D is; what Jesus said and meant; the interpretation of what He said; and the representation of the true God of Love, etc. and all the qualities which distinguish God from humans, who sometimes express less than that which God is!!
        We were given Free Will – to choose and learn accordingly, and grow spiritually over time, towards the ultimate goal of unity with the Spirit of our Source, God – (i.e., to me, the GREAT SPIRIT beyond and within ALL Life.) So, is this one life enough to accomplish that, for most of us? Is this all there is? Can we completely change any wayward thoughts, words, habits etc and achieve that ultimate unity in a short 70-100 years or less, given the many challenges and experiences needed?
        I’m suggesting that even ‘tho’ Christianity (the only religion which does not ?) does not accept the concept of returning as a person expressing mind and spirit within a different body (vehicle) each time, learning more and more of truth and purpose and service, – and often, it is thought, among the same group of people – souls – in varying relationships with them, for learning, – and even if it is not in the Bible, that, I’m sorry, does not, as far as I am concerned, preclude the concept from being the truth for humans, and the way of our destiny to full expression of God’s ways, and therefore unity with God. I will never claim that I have got everything right, in any discussion. I am feeling my way according to ‘evidence’. Nothing is static! Regards.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Chas says:

          noel. the problem with the view that some of the bible is the Word of God and some may not be is that it raises the question of which is which, and whether we should believe the one and reject the other.
          The early church(es) spent a great deal of time arguing about the nature of Jesus: Arius, Coptic vs Eastern vs Western church, because of what is in the Bible. Almost all divisions that have occurred in the churches have arisen from different interpretations of what is in the bible.
          It is easier to accept that God as allowed the bible to be as it is and that He can show us what He wants us to receive when we read it. He allowed all these divisions to take place to achieve His purposes. That is why He allowed these words of men to be thought of as His Words, to achieve His purposes.

          Liked by 1 person

          • noelenesanderson says:

            Chas, Yes, I agree that the difficulty is as you describe it.
            I would think that there are probably more rifts caused by this debate than by any other discussion between and among members of church congregations, Which passages are true, and which are old stories from earlier times e.g. Babylonian.
            Is Paul’s ‘Vicarious atonement” theme and his vision from God on the road to Damascus the reality – or was that because he had epilepsy and it is now known that epileptics do sometimes have visions of God talking to them? (I cannot agree with the Jesus-as-blood-sacrifice-for-my-sins doctrine. I must take responsibility myself, and make recompense and reform wherever I can!)
            I would have to say that for me – this is just my impressions of course – too much reading of the Bible just confuses, and I feel I need to keep it simple…..holding up each issue on the news, or in my life, and sensing/asking myself what Jesus would have said or done, – according to His actual words, teachings and actions. Recognising how valid and valuable is every good and true and compassionate deed reported on – they are all uniting us more, and leading all in the same direction. (Noticeable how many more people are showing forgiveness and understanding of those who have harmed them or their family….) The offenders will surely learn the hard way -by cause-and-effect…Eventually all that will be complete, hopefully, and conflict and war and greed will end. IMHO, the victims of any attack must ask themselves whether anything in their lifestyle, approach and actions was any part of the cause of the attack – an especially vital question, internationally.
            I think the distinction between what is right and wrong, is becoming more and more clear these days; the choice becomes clear!
            Also, there’s the wish and ‘effort’ to remember to be ‘mindful’, keep in the present, and try to really sense the link, the connection, between me as spirit, and That Greater Creative Spirit – that One we call G-D, Hashem, etc, and of Which/Whom we are each – all of us – humans, animals, all of creation, a part.
            I guess what I’m trying to say is that all that is enough of a challenge for me!! (I am trying to think of any challenge, the solution for which would not be covered by the measure:- compassion, patience, justice, sharing…) !!

            Liked by 1 person

  12. Ben Masters says:

    This may/may not be germane here, but it’s a question I wanted to ask (and I hope I don’t sound silly): can an insistence that one needs to believe in the End Times, rapture and tribulation (by which I mean that they must agree with what the preacher says) in order to be Godly/avoid hell be a form of legalism, especially if you’re told that if you go to a church/listen to a preacher that does not preach and teach those things, you’re going to a false church and you’re not Godly?

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Ben, I don’t claim to have all the answers but in this case I feel quite confident: dispensationalism, along with its end times prophecies, rapture and tribulation, and the rest of its structure is completely invalid and untrue. In fact, this belief did not even appear until 1830.

      So ‘No!’ Accepting or believing this stuff is not essential; instead it is very harmful. I would not be concerned with the threats and warnings of those who insist on these beliefs. Here is a little something I wrote earlier on the subject:

      https://jesuswithoutbaggage.wordpress.com/2014/03/10/final-thoughts-on-the-book-of-revelation-as-apocalyptic-literature/

      Like

      • Ben Masters says:

        “I consider dispensationalism to be one of the seven major religious baggage issues. Understanding the book of Revelation as end-time prophecy distracts many believers from living a balanced Christian life today by focusing on the antichrist, mark of the beast, rapture, and eternal state tomorrow.

        Sometimes end-times fervor becomes the overriding concern of their lives.”

        First, thanks for your response on my comment here– saw it earlier (as well as the page you linked within that response), and I agree immensely.

        Secondly, the above is something I also desired to address, this from that page you linked. Why is this? Because that is another reason why I have been and was unable lately to enjoy very much of many of the DVD releases of television series (many of them whole-hog, meaning the series as a whole) that I purchased from Amazon and elsewhere– not only for the perceived immorality (my conscience wrongly seeing sin where there is none, possibly due to preaching), but also because if I’m enjoying one of these, and then God comes back as the rapture/End Times preachers would have me believe, I oftentimes fear lately that He will leave me to the tribulation as punishment for not being “ready” (basically sort of a religious form of musical chairs; the music ends, and if you don’t have a seat, you lose; that’s how I remember it explained). Would you see this the same way?

        Liked by 1 person

        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          Ben, I grew up a fundamentalist, a legalist, and a dispensationalist. When I was 17, I questioned our prohibition against going to movie theaters and decided the prohibition was not valid. Sometime later I actually attended a theater and saw a delightful story of a boy who spent a winter alone in a forest.

          The movie was lovely; but even though I was certain I was doing nothing wrong, the entire time I was there I felt that Jesus was coming back for the rapture and I would be (you guessed it) Left Behind for the tribulation! This was not because I felt guilty but because I was taught this scenario throughout my life.

          I stayed and finished the movie. Sometimes you just have to tell your ‘conscience’ what to do.

          Liked by 1 person

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