Thomas, I actually was in debate, throwing out another point of view, on a different and seperate diary of mine. And this was just from that debate. And through that discussion, I shared this:
I am not condemning scripture. And I know I am not a scholar of scripture. I am a child in faith.
How many things in the bible have been changed through translation? This is why sometimes I have a hard time reading the whole bible and claiming it to be the absolute word of God, from beginning to end, because WHAT CAME FROM GOD, AND WHAT CAME FROM MAN, through accidental or deliberate error? I know that the true bible came from God, but it’s like a game of telephone. It is repeated and repeated, through language to language, changes made to easily understand it better, then changed more from those translations, until what it ends up being is completely different from what it was originally. I do not believe the bible to be a lie, understand. It is a book of our history, of Jesus, a guide to our way to live. I try to read it every day, and seek guidance from it. But there are definite additions and discrepencies to the word of God.
Yes, I believe that Jesus died on the cross to save us. I believe that those of us with faith will be saved and will join Him in Heaven. It says this multiple times in the bible, and I believe it to be true. I do believe in some sort of hell for those that live their lives in grotesque sinful ways without abandon, and hate against God our father. But I cannot believe that someone who is truly good but raised in a different faith will end up burning in hell. And is hell that? I don’t know. Maybe hell, as some people put it, is simply seperation from God. And for those of us who know Him, that IS hell. But what of the person who was already seperated from Him? And then, what of those that honor God, but do not know Jesus? And what of those men and women of the past who lived and died, never once hearing the name of Jesus? And what about babies who die? Are they saved? Do they know Jesus? We don’t know. But if they don’t, are they damned?
I just can’t believe that God would severely punish someone for being born into a situation where their religion is different from Christianity, and to even think otherwise would be considered sinful to them. How many different religions are there out there that condemn other religions entirely, and to think differently would condemn them to death? If we would never think to change our belief in Jesus Christ lest we be sent to hell, how are we to expect those of other faiths to risk damnation through what they’ve been taught in their lifelong religion to be sinful, and certain to send them to perjury? God placed people in the families they are in, the faiths they are in, the customs they are in. And then he kills them forever for where he placed them? Yes, there is such thing as conversion, but it is too scary for many people to even consider. And some never had the chance.
I share Jesus, whenever I get the chance. I do not hide my faith, and I live by it. But I do not condemn. I live as an unashamed Christian, but I do not shove it down people’s throat. My faith is my life, and I talk about it with passion. I hope that there are people who have seen my witness and know Jesus through my life. But I don’t hope this for their salvation, I hope this so that they know the joy and peace I feel in my life every day. I am able to handle anything thrown my way because Jesus is there to guide me. Pain, hatred, condemnation, all of it is handled through my Lord. And I want that for others. I think that is the best reason to know Jesus, not for fear of damnation. Through love, faith becomes real.
And to this, a friend put it so eloquently:
“*sigh* this is a tough one.
I can see both sides of the arguments.
I guess we all have to hedge our bets somehow.
It does make me wonder though, did God foresee that these people would be hard of heart and not accept Jesus as their Saviour?
I have to believe that he is just and merciful and I will not judge anyone. We will not be the ones who decides who goes to heaven or hell. That is God’s decision. So I’ll leave that one with him and concentrate on my faith and getting my life in order :)”
It is perfectly plausible that non-believers are sent to some sort of hell. And I agree that it must break God’s heart for people to deny His and/or His son’s existance. But it also is so very hard to understand, and to accept from a loving God who creates our existance in the first place.