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Thanks and have a great day! ~Tim Chastain
I thoroughly enjoyed your article about the baggage. I came across your article when I asked Google: “what did the disciples leave new believers with once they left town”… I got to thinking HOW did new believers continue to grow or be mentored especially if there was no formed church or book or CD for them to continue to learn and have questions answered.. I was thinking in today’s culture (and probably back then as well) the peers that people formally hung out with ~would continue to draw them back into their negative environment and persuade them to participate in former activities that perhaps are not conducive to spiritual growth.. for an example a prostitute living on the streets, the friends they have on the streets are there only source of companionship.. therefore, they continue to hang out with the wrong people not knowing where else to turn.. we know that evil spirits try to return to their original home.. the concern is how to protect them and keep them growing, strengthening in their faith long after you are gone…. Obviously, continuing to pray for them after you’ve left them/their country… trusting that the Holy Spirit will guide them and lead new people into their path is what makes sense..* Is that what you do when you’ve met someone along your path and know that you’ll probably never see them again (perhaps you just met them in the airport)… led them to Christ or provided healing in some way… ? Wondering how you cope with leaving them … not knowing if they have a support system or not… and hoping that the evil one will not undo the good that you’ve done…
This is a good question, Christine.
I think that the general pattern was that new believers recognized their identity with Jesus and his disciples and tended to form communities of believers. There were those, like the eunuch on the way back to his country, that might not have had regular contact; but there was probably enough information shared in the initial contact to suffice for following Jesus.
Complex doctrines and legalistic rules were not essential. As the Jesus movement spread to other areas, perhaps the distant followers reconnected with the group. I believe that many of our churches today major in telling people how to think and act instead of sharing the good news of reconciliation and the importance of loving the Father, other people, and themselves.
For me, whether you call it annihilation, no eternal life, or hell, they intellectually seem all the same to me — they mean eternal separation from an all-loving and forgiving God. I have spent considerable time over the years studying Hebrew, the Old Testament, Midrash, Rabbinicism, the early Church, etc. and don’t come close to your or Rob Bell’s conclusions. Honestly, I think you’re playing with words.
Your blogs marginalize darkness, gnashing of teeth, etc., but if they ultimately represent separation from God’s care and provision, how is a non-believer comforted by that? When I consider your alternative, it makes me feel no better for a lost and dying world.
It seems that the same all-loving God you so heartily project has enough hardness in his heart to let people just dissolve into oblivion. Ultimately, there is judgement. It’s necessary to separate the wheat from the chaff. Suffice to say, I am quite content that He judges. I’m even more content that He gave me His Son as propitiation.
Personally, I’ve never lived the “Fundamentalist” theology and find the works-based part of it very disturbing, so I can’t relate to your experience. All I can say is that when I turned my life over to God’s grace my life changed; it had nothing to do with being afraid of going to hell…or annihilation…or whatever you want to call it. I just wonder, though, if the rich man was annihilated how could he see across the chasm?
Like I said, I read several of your blogs and I scratch my head about the conclusions. While others enthusiastically embrace your ideas, I find the theology disingenuous in that (I paraphrase) those who believe in hell might be surprised that they won’t be in the presence of the Lord, but only people who buy into your theology will be. Sounds like you are still a fundamentalist to me; just one who now prescribes to a different kind psychological intimidation.
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Mike, I respect your opinion and understand your reservations about annihilation. But, in my opinion, God will not annihilate people; if there are those who refuse eternal life with God, then God accepts their choice and does not provide them with eternal life. Annihilation is self-chosen.
Of course, this is speculative; but what I do not consider speculative is that there is no eternal punishment in a burning hell. I don’t see that the Bible teaches that.
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