Answers for B_R_Deadite99

These answers are to questions posted by “B_R_Deadite99” at Debunking Christianity.

If we live our lives in an ethical manner, as skeptics tend to do, why should we worry about how close we *might* live to your god *if* you’re right?

There is nothing for you to worry about.  If you don’t want to live close to God, however, you are denying yourself a marvelous privilege.  I can’t imagine you would not want to do so if you were in your right mind.

Why should we concern ourselves with hypothetical situations and actually build up our lives around a question of “what if?”?

I am not proposing to you a hypothetical situation.  I am telling you about reality.  The question is, “How long do you want to keep denying it?”

What if you’re wrong and we all get reincarnated after we die?  Or go across the River Styx to the Underworld?  Or merely cease to be?

It’s not a question of whether I’m wrong – it’s a question of whether that carpenter from Galilee was wrong.

No one knows what happens after you die, and the best we can do is guess.

That was true until Jesus of Nazareth was raised from the grave and told us differently.

And if you’re correct, Mike, I won’t hang my head with shame IF i go to your magical world when I die–I’ll stride in and demand all of those great old retro games I couldn’t acquire in life (after I get to know my late grandpa better).

You won’t be the one writing the script for that outcome.

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8 Responses to Answers for B_R_Deadite99

  1. ToonForever says:

    *I am not proposing to you a hypothetical situation. I am telling you about reality. The question is, “How long do you want to keep denying it?”*

    What the… Reality? What proof do you have of this reality? You keep making statements without an ounce of substantiation. What on earth do you know about this reality? How can you possibly know anything about it?

  2. Mike Gantt says:

    I know two things:

    1. I know what a human being can learn from existing on this planet. In that regard, I can know the same kinds of things you can know.

    2. I know what i read in the Old and New Testaments – the documents produced by ancient Israel (every nation has its documents). It is these that tell me about Jesus Christ.

    The first tells me about a certain amount of reality. The second tells me about reality that I can’t experience through my own physical senses or that I can’t be entirely sure about through my own intuition. I’m still learning from both.

  3. jason says:

    Mike,

    First, how do you do? Its a pleasure to make your acquaintance.

    Over at Debunking Christianity you stated: “Because we are all going to heaven, we need to prepare for that experience.” By the term “all” in the context in which you used it I’m assuming you mean all of humanity without exception and not just believers in Christ. I’m familiar with the concept of universalism but not familiar with exactly where it is scripturally supported. If you would be so kind as to provide a link or passage. I ask because it would be very dangerous to support such a view if it in fact were not true. I’m sure you can see why without explanation.

    Thank you for you time and consideration.
    Jason

  4. Mike Gantt says:

    Jason,

    I do indeed mean every human being without exception.

    I do not, however, enjoy using the term “universalism” because it carries with it a lot of baggage. My focus is Jesus Christ. He is the one who is taking everyone to heaven. I did not come to this conclusion by listening to universalists. I came to it by reading the Bible and paying attention to the Lord Jesus. I would never presume to say that everyone is going to heaven unless I had found the Bible to be teaching this. Here is the biblically-based support that you seek:

    Everyone Is Going to Heaven (one page)

    The Biblical Case for Everyone Going to Heaven (a book)

    Summary of the Book (one page)

    Essays on the Implications of Everyone Going to Heaven (21 essays in all)

  5. jason says:

    Mike,

    Thanks for responding.

    I’ve read through your first link and I look forward to reading your second. I’m sure in that one, there are detailed arguments and scriptural passages that support your case of universalism. ( I apologize for using that term which you don’t believe properly describes your position but you’ll forgive me for using it here and in the future for the sake of brevity and clarity.) If I could, I’d like to offer rebuttals on the three points that you use to make the case for universalism. Again, I’m sure that in the book link you provided, your case is more structured and better supported but these are just a few points that you might consider.

    You stated in reason one for universalism: The first reason we have for believing that everyone is going to heaven are the promises made in the Bible. For example, we’re told there would be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked. Well, Jesus was deemed the only truly righteous human ever to have lived (at least the only one who met God’s standard – that is, perfection). Therefore, He is “the righteous” that gets resurrected and the rest of us are “the wicked.”

    I agree that scripture supports the idea of universal resurrection (righteous and wicked, both) however, I think you’re conflating the separate ideas of righteousness and being without sin. It is true that Christ was both righteous and sinless but scripture points to many men that are described as also being righteous in the sight of God. Job, Moses, and Noah for example are all described as being righteous men although they were also assuredly sinners. You also state: “…and that He died not just for the sins of believers but for those of the whole world.” This is true but you leave out the crucial crux of that sacrifice – that those that believe in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. Now, what does scripture mean by perish? Is it referring to physically perishing? We would have to say no because believers can and do die. We would then have to say that it must be a spiritual perishing – but this is at odds with universalism. Food for thought.

    You second reason is basically summed up in this quote: “can you imagine Him consigning people to an eternity of fiery torment?” This is just an argument from incredulity. Imagining for a moment that I was without access to evidence to the contrary, I could not imagine the truth of a lot of things about our physical reality. Doesn’t matter; they’re true nonetheless. And that’s just this world that I can interact with and observe. How much more unbelievable are the truths of the things that we can’t readily observe?! Let’s look at it another way. Can you imagine Him consigning Lucifer and his fellow fallen angels to the lake of fire? Angels are after all created beings with free will whom He loves. Scripture is exceedingly clear, however, that the lake of fire was created specifically for them and they will be consigned there. (Matt 25:41)

    Your third reason is grounded in misunderstanding I believe. You state: “…there’s now nowhere else for folks to go but heaven.” Also: “There is no more Sheol; there is only heaven for those who die.” There are two terms that are used in scripture. The first, you correctly identify as Sheol in Hebrew, translated the place of the dead. In the Greek, its called Hades. Its the second term, though, that is the one we should be concerned with – the lake of fire.You’re correct – Sheol will be done away with. Why? there’s no need for it anymore because there is no more death or dying. How exactly is it done away with, though? Well, scripture tells us – its cast into this lake of fire prepared for the Devil and his angels. (Rev 20:14) Immediately following that passage is the emergence of the new earth. Notice, there’s no mention of this lake of fire being similarly done away with. Its a permanent place separate from the new earth just as Sheol previously was a separate place from the old earth.

    Apologies for the longish post but I appreciate your time in considering these objections to your position. I eagerly await your thoughts on them.

    Jason

  6. Mike Gantt says:

    Jason,

    Thanks for your thoughtful reply. Regarding your three points:

    1. Yes, the Bible talks about both righteous and wicked people. We humans are like the stars that vary in glory – with some of us shining more brightly than others, and some so dim that we’re better described as black holes. Yet when the Sun of Righteousness rises (speaking of Jesus the Messiah from Malachi 4:2, of course) all the stars fade away. His light outshines us all – put together! Therefore, whenever we are talking about the identity of the righteous and the wicked there is one understanding when the concept is applied to the human race excluding Jesus and another understanding when the concept is applied to the human race including Jesus.

    As to your use of John 3:16 to limit the benefit of 1 John 2:2, this is a common mistake.  By this I mean the mistake of taking verses that speak of the kingdom of God in this life and apply them to the afterlife.  Indeed, as you say, the perishing in John 3:16 is a spiritual perishing.  But spiritual perishing is not something that happens at the end of this physical life, it is something that is occurring right now.  People are either experiencing the eternal life of walking with Jesus (that is, the kingdom of God) or else they are perishing (living in darkness, apart from the glory of His constant presence).  The central theme of Jesus’ teaching was the kingdom of God.  All the distinctions He makes between life and death, inside and outside the kingdom, blessing and wrath – are applicable to this life.  Do not make the mistake of all those who take Jesus’ teaching and make it all apply to afterlife, thus limiting its benefit to us in this life.  We are to obey Jesus now.  Later will take care of itself.

    2.  I take your point that just because something is intuitive doesn’t mean it’s true, and just because it’s counter-intuitive doesn’t mean it isn’t true.  My argument, however, goes deeper than that.  I’m not asking you to imagine in a vacuum what God might do.  Rather, I’m saying, considering all you’ve learned about Jesus including the way He’s commanded us to live, and including His teachings on forgiveness (70 X 7 and all that), can you imagine Him cutting off the opportunity for forgiveness forever?  If so, He wouldn’t be practicing what He preached, and that’s not the Jesus I know.  If there’s one thing that distinguishes Jesus from every other human being I’ve met, read about, or heard about, it’s that He practices what He preaches.

    As for Satan and his angels, I don’t know what to say about them.  They are not human beings and I therefore can’t identify with their experience.  I suppose their culpability for sin might be much greater than ours.  There are a variety of possible answers.  Fortunately, we do not have to figure out their salvation – we only have to discern our own.

    3.  It’s good to see you are familiar with the term Sheol (Hades).  You are aware then that the Old Testament taught that it was the destination of all who died, below the earth.  This will help you getting at the truth scripturally.  The new earth is already here and the lake of fire is all around – don’t you notice the “weeping and gnashing of teeth” in the world?  (You could also call it “spiritual perishing.”)  We are living in the day of the Lord.   The Second Coming was accomplished in the late 1st Century AD just when Jesus and His apostles prophesied it would be.  (For more on this from other authors, see Babinski and Stark Correctly Describe the New Testament Timeline for the Second Coming of Christ.)

    If you don’t believe that the Second Coming has already occurred, then you must believe that Sheol (Hades) is still the destination of the dead.  And, if so, that no one has gone to heaven except Jesus alone (John 3:13).  Better to believe that Jesus was not wrong about the timing of His Second Coming.

    Thank you for the opportunity to respond to your objections.  You are right that the book to which I gave you the link will  take great care in laying out in logical order the scriptural case for what I am proclaiming about everyone going to heaven.  I hope you will seriously consider it.  Once you’ve digested the biblical case, the essays will help you in thinking through the implications.

    On the other hand, you don’t need to read anything I have written.  If you study the Bible with an open heart before God, asking Him whether or not this is true, He will show you in the Scriptures that this is the truth.

  7. jason says:

    Mike,

    Thanks for your response.

    “As to your use of John 3:16 to limit the benefit of 1 John 2:2, this is a common mistake. By this I mean the mistake of taking verses that speak of the kingdom of God in this life and apply them to the afterlife.” Well, of course I apply John 3:16 to the afterlife. The verse contains the phrase “everlasting life” which is to say life without end. Well, we know that our lives in the here and now are certainly not without end. The verse cannot logically be talking to that life. It must therefore follow that the verse speaks to a life that is yet to come. There is a condition for this new eternal life, however, just as there are conditions for us to maintain this life. Its very clearly stated. Whosoever believes in Him. If that belief wasn’t absolutely necessary why include it? The verse could still retain its full meaning in the context of universalism this way: God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that all should not perish but have everlasting life. Forget for a moment about the condition (believing in Christ). The very word whosoever (or whomever in modern English) itself makes it conditional. Notice: not all but whom ever does this.

    “I’m not asking you to imagine in a vacuum what God might do. Rather, I’m saying, considering all you’ve learned about Jesus including the way He’s commanded us to live, and including His teachings on forgiveness (70 X 7 and all that), can you imagine Him cutting off the opportunity for forgiveness forever?” I hate to do this but it seems appropriate here. I’m going to attempt to answer your question by posing one of my own. Considering all you’ve learned about Jesus, etc..can you imagine Him allowing the tortured suffering of even one human being? Again, our inability to comprehend His divine and perfect will matters not one bit. His will is that all should come to know Christ and in mercy He’s stayed His judgment to allow that to take place but His mercy is neither at odds nor supersedes His righteousness and justice.

    “The new earth is already here and the lake of fire is all around – don’t you notice the “weeping and gnashing of teeth” in the world?” Well, lets examine that. In Revelation 20 when the new earth is made there are certain conditions that coincide with that event. First, is the passing away of the old earth. I’m not sure that that’s happened. Maybe you could clarify why you believe that it has. Also, New Jerusalem is established on the new earth. God now dwells personally on earth and is available to his creation directly. There will be no more mourning, crying, or death. Sorry, Mike, I just don’t think this is the new earth. Certainly, at least, none of those coinciding conditions have taken place. Perhaps you can point out where I in error on this?

    “If you don’t believe that the Second Coming has already occurred, then you must believe that Sheol (Hades) is still the destination of the dead.” I do with exceptions. “And, if so, that no one has gone to heaven except Jesus alone.” I do not. There are many but I will provide you with the most obvious example of this. The story of the two men crucified with Christ. Luke 23:32-43. I would agree, though, that none have set foot upon what most would consider “heaven”. The new earth is where the resurrected in Christ and God Himself will eternally dwell together. It has not been made yet but its foundations if you will are being laid as we speak.

    Can I ask you if you’ve considered being mistaken about your position on this? Normally, Christians will disagree on minor doctrinal issues but I probably don’t have to tell you this can be a dangerous viewpoint if mistaken. What need is there of Christ or even God for that matter if all come into His kingdom regardless of belief? Men are now free to do as they please for there is no consequence or judgment for disobedience or even complete disavowal of Christ’s sovereignty over their lives.

    I urge your consideration.

  8. Mike Gantt says:

    Jason,

    You seem knowledgeable about the Scriptures.  Rather than prolonging a back-and-forth here, let me ask you to continue with the links above. I’m sure there will be many points of agreement as you read along. Where you find disagreement, there will opportunity for you to express it at that point and for me to answer at that point. That is, each chapter has a comment section for interaction.  It’s not as if you have to read the entire book before you can question or challenge.  Here, however – operating at 100,000 feet – I’m afraid we’re at risk of falling into a “dueling verses” exchange on the points you’ve raised.  For one thing, you will see that everyone going to heaven does not at all imply the suspension of judgment.  On the contrary, judgment is upon us.  Everything we do matters.  But again, I’m probably getting ahead of the discussion.

    As for your question about whether or not I’ve considered the possibility of error – of course!  What reasonable person wouldn’t when one finds in Scripture something that is not commonly taught by those who profess faith in Scripture?  I’ve studied and prayed and made certain of my conviction before expressing it.  I can tell you that I’ve counted the cost of proclaiming these things about Christ, and have decided to pay it.  I can also tell you that the way of Christ is not broad, for that way leads to destruction.  Rather, the path that leads to life is narrow and few are those who find it.  If we profess only those truths about Christ that find the approval of Christians then our gospel will be as weak and watered down as theirs.  Tradition has a powerful grip and we see how it kept many in New Testament days from seeing Jesus as He truly was.  The most important thing that any of us as human beings can do is repent daily before Jesus Christ and live in the light of the purifying fire of His eyes.  That is, we should not just repent once – rather, we should lead lives of repentance.  To Him be the glory!

    Mike

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