Dialogues with Various at “Why I No Longer Believe” About Everyone Going to Heaven and the Truth of Jesus

“ToonForever” describes himself as a “former conservative evangelical Christian.”  In this post, he asserts that hell would be cruel and unusual punishment.  Of course, as Christianity as historically defined hell I agree with him.  The biblical definition of hell, however, refers to things that happen in this life on this earth.  After that, everyone goes to heaven.

My part of this exchange begins at this point.

Dialogue with James, aka Annoyed Pinoy (re: Second Coming)

James (Annoyed Pinoy) and I have been having a conversation about the Trinity.  At this point in the conversation, James raised the ideas of human afterlife and the Second Coming of Christ.  This post will be dedicated to having that conversation about the Second Coming (or, as James called it, the “apocatastasis,” meaning roughly, “the restoration” as in Acts 3:21).  [To follow our other conversation which is about the afterlife (or as James describes the topic “universalism”) see this post.]

James:  Btw, someday we can discuss the issue of universalism/apocatastasis.

Mike:  That everyone is going to heaven is tied to the fact that the Second Coming was fait accompli in the late 1st Century AD.  If the Second Coming has yet to occur, then no one is ascending into heaven and everyone is still descending to Sheol (Hades) as taught in the Old Testament.  For more on the Second Coming see

Jesus Christ Has Already Come Again (one page)

Whatever Became of Jesus Christ? (a book – it’s the biblical case for the accomplished Second Coming)

James:  What your version of it is. Whether it includes a time of purging/purification of and from sin or not.

The time of purging from sin is right now.  We should be repenting before God daily – living lives of repentance.  He is holy, and He means to make us so as well.  We can only be cleansed as we look to the Lamb of God continuously and live for His glory.

I hope you will read this one page:  Practicing the Presence of Christ.  Or even this one page: It’s a Salvation of the Soul…Not Circumstances.

It’s your turn, James, whenever you’re ready.

Dialogue with James, aka Annoyed Pinoy (re: Afterlife; i.e., Heaven or Something Else?)

James (Annoyed Pinoy) and I have been having a conversation about the Trinity.  At this point in the conversation, James raised the ideas of human afterlife and the Second Coming of Christ.  This post will be dedicated to having that conversation about human afterlife (or, as James referred to the topic, “universalism, ” meaning roughly, everyone goes to heaven).   [To follow our other conversation which is about the Second Coming (or, as James called the topic, the “apocatastasis,” meaning roughly, “the restoration” of all things as in Acts 3:21) see this post.]

James:  Btw, someday we can discuss the issue of universalism/apocatastasis.

Mike:  Okay.  This post will be for the universalism conversation, if and as you decide to continue it.  And this other post will be for the apocatastasis conversation.

James:  The issue isn’t as important to me as the doctrine of the Trinity since I believe that one is less likely to go to hell if she believed in the Trinity even though she mistakenly also believe in some form of universalism (as serious as the error is). In comparison to someone who believed in eternal punishment, yet denied the doctrine of the Trinity. The issue of the Trinity is much more essential. I’m not saying that only those who believe in both doctrines (Trinity and eternal punishment) can get to heaven. Since perfect doctrine isn’t what saves anyone. Rather it is Christ who, by His Grace, leads people into exercising saving faith in Him.

Mike:  You have six sentences in this section.  The sixth was your best.  In fact, you should strike the first five and start anew with the sixth.  Going to heaven when we die is the ultimate salvation of this life, but Christ means to “save” us all through this life – every hour of every day of it if we will allow Him.  Saving faith is that which redeems us from our sinful ways and strengthens us to live for His glory and the good of those around us.

James:  I’m only saying that those who don’t believe in both doctrines are in jeopardy of not being saved. Let me say that I haven’t always held to eternal punishment. I used to hold to annihilationism (the best work in defense of it would be Edward Fudge’s “The Fire That Consumes”).

Mike:  There is no annihilation.  We are all going to heaven, though we won’t all land in the same place there.  Those who walk closest to God here will walk closest to Him there.  This is what Jesus had to tell the mother of James and John when she sought for them a shortcut.

Living for Christ is what matters.  Whole-hearted repentance is the only appropriate response for what He has done for us.  Living righteously is what causes His light to shine through us (Daniel 12:3).  Blessed are those who are humble, contrite of spirit, and who tremble at His word (Isaiah 66:2).

Everyone Is Going to Heaven (one page)

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

Summary of the book The Biblical Case for Everyone Going to Heaven (one page)

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

It’s your turn, James, whenever you’re ready.

Answers for “articulett” at “Debunking Christianity” – 4

[I have posted some interactions with “articulett” which began on this post of Debunking Christianity.  The previous such post can be found here.]

“articulett” made the following statement in this comment.

“But now I am much more interested in what is true.  I don’t want to be fooling myself.”

I love this quote.  It describes exactly how I feel about my own search.  It is the motive that got me where I am, and I’m certainly not going to abandon it now.

While there may be many things about which “articulett” and I disagree, this motivation is not one of them.

Answers for “articulett” at “Debunking Christianity” – 3

[This exchange stems from interaction I have been having with “articulette” at this post on the website Debunking Christianity.  (I also answered “articulett” in this previous post, and this one before that.)  Someone had made the point that Jesus couldn’t be as moral as we can be today because He did not know what we know.  That led to my question, which “articulett” then answered with a long list.  I’ve broken down that list so as to answer item by item.]

Mike Gantt:  What do we know today that Jesus didn’t?

articulett:  Germ theory.  Genetics.

Mike Gantt:  I don’t see how knowing these subjects would improve one’s morality.  On the contrary, I’d say you hope that those who study these fields are moral people.  Either good or evil can be done with such knowledge.  And indeed both good and evil have been done with them.

articulett:  There’s no such thing as witches.

Mike Gantt:  I’ve heard different definitions of witches.  And there are people who claim to be witches today.  I don’t recall Jesus speaking on the subject, so I wouldn’t count it important per se.  The important thing is to be moral.

articulett:  Slavery is wrong.

Mike Gantt:  I don’t consider anyone who didn’t speak out against slavery before the Industrial Revolution as immoral.  If so, we’d be calling many of history’s great people immoral.  Besides, I don’t think we ought to pat ourselves too hard on the back for eliminating slavery.  Mankind has seemed pretty opportunistic about the subject, not generally shedding the practice until machines were around to do the work.

Even though Jesus did not explicitly teach against slavery, however, He did teach the mindset that eventually saw morality and compassion in its abandonment.  And you can see that mindset already at work in the short letter of Philemon written by Paul, and echoed ever so briefly in 1 Corinthians 7:21.

articulett:  Women aren’t property.

Mike Gantt:  I’ve read the gospels and can’t find anything Jesus said that would lead me to believe that He thought women were property.  On the contrary, you can see Him showing women a level of respect which did not normally seem to be accorded to them in that age.

articulett:  Computer languages.

Mike Gantt:  As with germ theory and genetics, I don’t see how knowing computer languages puts you in a better position to be moral, but I do see how the morality of a computer programmer affects whether his work is good or evil.

articulett:  The fact that the father determines the sex of the offspring.

Mike Gantt:  Indeed His Father did determine His sex.

articulett:  That DNA tests we’ve developed today could have shown who his real father was.

Mike Gantt:  He already knew who His real Father was.  And, besides, no one could have located the Father in order to administer the test anyway.

articulett:  That fig trees can’t produce figs out of season.

Mike Gantt:  It is an unusual story, but I see no reason to assume from it that Jesus was ignorant of the seasons.  On the contrary, His teachings are filled with references to planting, harvesting, seasons, and such.

articulett:  That it’s culty to ask people to give away their possessions and “hate” their family to follow you.

Mike Gantt:  If you’re merely a human being, yes…but not if you’re God.

articulett:  That people cannot be their own son. 

Mike Gantt:  His situation was a unique one, I’ll grant you that.

articulett:  That allowing “thou shall not suffer a witch to live” to be in your holy book can incite witch hunts with horrific results.

Mike Gantt:  On the contrary, He was quite aware that the word of God could be corrupted by human beings.  He warned about this on multiple occasions, and nowhere more forcefully that in His denunciation of the Pharisees (Matthew 23).

articulett:  That discrepancies in biblical interpretation would lead to holy wars.

Mike Gantt:  How can you imagine that He didn’t know this?  He obviously knew that “discrepancies in biblical interpretation would lead to” His own death by crucifixion.

articulett:  That humans did not descend from two people… we descended from apes… there were no “first two people”.

Mike Gantt: Given that evolution is a theory, and that, in the history of science, theories can be displaced by new theories, you might want to withhold judgment on that one for a bit longer.

articulett:  That death isn’t really a sacrifice if you are just going to start your “happily ever after” in some other realm.

Mike Gantt:  If you know your scriptures, you know that Jesus sweated blood while praying for deliverance from death the night before the crucifixion so maybe the one going through sacrificial death doesn’t see as quite the cakewalk that you do.

articulett:  I could go on and on and on…

Mike Gantt:  So could I.

Science as a field of study did not exist in the time of Christ.  Morals, however, have always existed…though they’ve only been practiced to varying degrees.  I have no problem with someone suggesting that Jesus’ mind was not occupied by some of the scientific knowledge that occupies ours.  However, for any human being in the 21st Century to assert that he or she possesses more moral knowledge than Jesus (and by that I mean a higher degree of morality), all I can say is that I would like to see the record of that life laid alongside the  gospels for purposes of comparison.

The Morality of Jesus in Feeding the Multitude

When some people hear the story of how Jesus fed a multitude with five barley loaves and two fish, they stumble at the supernatural aspect.  However, I have always been just as impressed with the morality seen in this story as I have been the miraculous.  Let us count the ways:

1. Jesus was willing to have compassion on others and go out of His way to help them.  Do you provide food to people in such situations or are you more focused on when and where you’re going to have your own lunch?

2. Jesus was willing to give up what was His in order to make sure others were fed.  Those loaves and fishes were going to be Jesus’ own source of sustenance.  He was giving that up.

3. Jesus was giving away the sustenance of His followers, too.  How many leaders do you know who are willing to deprive their staffs in order to meet the needs of others?  More pointedly, how many leaders could keep their staffs around if they did such things?

4. Jesus did not ask for anything in return from the crowd.  He did not use the gift to get some return favor from them.  He gave to the crowd without any thought of receiving from the crowd.

5. Jesus did not try to capitalize on the fame that would have come from His gift.  In fact, He spoke rather forcefully about God’s requirements of people – to the point that many of the disciples withdrew and stopped following Him (John 6:66).

6.  Jesus took no credit for the provision but rather gave the credit to God.  He was as humble afterward as He had been before.

Human leaders just do not act this selflessly.  Even the best of them have egos that must be stroked, passions of some kind that must be filled.  It is just not normal to see that much power wielded in such a humble and selfless way.  The moral dimension of this story is as rare in human experience as the miraculous dimension.

Answers for “articulett” at “Debunking Christianity” – 2

[This exchange stems from interaction I have been having with “articulette” at the website Debunking Christianity.  I answered “articulett” in a previous post as well.]

articulett:  I think that’s the Jesus in your head– not the Jesus in the bible… 

Mike Gantt:  The only Jesus in my head is the one that got there from my reading the Bible.

articulett:  Why do you suppose Jesus didn’t command against Slavery? Torture? Pedophilia Sexism? Why would he instead focus on “thought crimes” like coveting?

Mike Gantt:  “Thought crimes” is a term that applies when humans try to control thoughts of other humans.  It is an inappropriate term for describing our thoughts before God.  So, let me use the term “sinful thoughts.”

The reason Jesus focuses on sinful thoughts is that this is the starting point from which all the evils you list come.  To deal with sin at its roots is the only effective way to eliminate it.

articulett:  Why would he not teach people useful scientific things– like “wash your hands frequently and your beloved children will be less likely to die from childhood diseases?” Or “the male determines the sex of the child, so quit punishing women for not having sons?” Or “Don’t blame rape victims for rape or force them to marry their accuser as the bible advises” or “There is no such thing as witches… “treat all humans the way you wanted to be treated– even the ones that are female or different races or different religions or that you think might be possessed or witches or demonic.” 

Mike Gantt:  Lay the moral code you just gave alongside the Sermon on the Mount and compare the two.  You really think your version of morality is superior to His?

articulett:  The Jesus of the bible endorsed slavery… he did not treat women as equals… he encourages men to hate their families and follow him… and if he is also the god of the old testament (as monotheism requires) then he is horrific. He advised people to “dash the little ones upon the rocks”! He commands all sorts of murder and commits all sorts of murder himself.

Mike Gantt:  You are just reciting a list of contrived grievances, put together for the sake of making a case against faith in Christ.  You are talking about Jesus the way Jesus talks about Satan.  Do you really think Jesus is evil?

articulett:  I think you may be a nice guy Mike and you are projecting your niceness onto Jesus. But if you discriminate against homosexuals or non believers or those of differing faiths, then I don’t think I’d think you were so nice.  If you try to disrupt the teaching of science with creationist obfuscation, then I would rescind my compliment.  

Mike Gantt:  I am not projecting my niceness onto Jesus.  I am trying to put myself in a position each day so that He can project His niceness onto me.  Although I am a long way from perfection, I am also a long way from where I used to be.

articulett:  I think you are more moral than Jesus, because if Jesus existed, he doesn’t any more. The only thing we can know about him is in the bible and, as Bart Ehrman discovered, much of it was not in the very earliest writings. Some stuff that was in the earliest writings were left out.  The gospels conflict. I think you’ve trained yourself to see Jesus through your belief that he is divine.  

Mike Gantt:  I know something about the lives of Jesus of Nazareth and of Bart Ehrman.  Faced with a choice, I know who I would trust with my life.

articulett:  What do you think is the most divine thing Jesus did or said. Is it something that you would expect from an omnipotent omniscient omnibenevolent being? 

Mike Gantt:  The most divine thing I think Jesus ever did is not something I would have expected from an omnipotent, omnisicent, omnibenevolent being:  He died for my sins on a cross of cruel rejection.  And not for mine only but for those of the whole world.

Answers for “Zach” of “Debunking Christianity” – 2

[This response is to a comment made by “Zach” at this point on a post at Debunking Christianity.  (I answered Zach in a previous post as well.)]

Zach:  If you think there is one central message to the bible than you are the one denying the obvious and you have exposed you personal bias and laziness. Study more about the numerous interpretations of the bible than come back to me. 

Mike Gantt:  The central message of the Bible is Jesus Christ.  See John 5:39.  See also Luke 24:27 and 44.  And John 1:45.  All other messages of the Bible are subordinate to this truth and supportive of it as well.

It took me many years of study to fully realize this…but you and others don’t have to take so long.