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      12-23-2014, 07:42 PM   #45
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Originally Posted by Devious21 View Post
When you say it is "unknowable", in your mind you're still answering the question "Does god exist?". But that's not what we're asking. Read my quote above.

We are asking "Do you believe in a God?". I'm not asking if you have knowledge about the origins of the universe, I'm asking about knowledge of what's in your own head. That should not be unknowable unless you do not know yourself (i.e. are extremely confused).

It's like if I asked "Do you collect stamps?" and instead, you're trying to answer "Should we collect stamps?". You may not hold a position of the latter but you should damn well know the answer to the former.
Sure. But one reason I keep posting is that you still don't get my answer. Nor did the cartoon you posted.

I believe, deeply, that the only data based belief, is that it could go either way. Not a wishy washy agnostic, not a confused agnostic, a fundamentalist agnostic, one who fervently believes that taking a position either way is a faith based decision, one I don't feel internal pressure to make. My intellect and my faith allow me to hold the belief that it could go either way. Kind of a wave/particle duality thing.

An intellectual term for this is cognitive dissonance, the idea that a person can hold two contradictory ideas in his mind. It is associated with some discomfort, and that forces some people one way or the other. Others of us choose to live with the discomfort, as simply another part of life, which is often uncomfortable to everyone.

A few relevant quotes:

"The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function."

F. Scott Fitzgerald

That one puts some people down, as do, in the opposite way, many discussions of cognitive dissonance, and I'm not all that fond of it. A better one.

"Everything about me is a contradiction, and so is everything about everybody else. We are made out of oppositions; we live between two poles. There's a philistine and an aesthete in all of us, and a murderer and a saint. You don't reconcile the poles. You just recognize them."

Orson Welles

Perhaps my favorite.

"Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes."

Walt Whitman

To paraphrase that great American, Howard the Duck. Agnostic. And proud of it. As I mentioned above, I have some good company. And some enemies I'm comfortable with, also.

"Contradictions do not exist. Whenever you think you are facing a contradiction, check your premises. You will find that one of them is wrong."

Ayn Rand

Here's one more relevant piece of data, added to the ones above. Science says clearly we are the stuff of exploding stars, blown out into space, and then brought together by gravity in this most extraordinary place in the most extraordinary and fortunate way. Even a devout atheist, who believes this is all a random result of physics, should shake his head in wonder at that fact. The sheer unlikeliness of it (a major part part of that unlikeliness being the (very low) probability of the formation of a universe that creates stars) makes things like evolution very easy to accept. But it's still not proof of God.

I'd take an even money bet on the true answer, defined as whether the universe is a random result of physics, or something more. As good a position as any. Some agnostics would give odds, one way or another.

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      12-23-2014, 10:30 PM   #46
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Originally Posted by 128Convertibleguy View Post
Sure. But one reason I keep posting is that you still don't get my answer. Nor did the cartoon you posted.

I believe, deeply, that the only data based belief, is that it could go either way. Not a wishy washy agnostic, not a confused agnostic, a fundamentalist agnostic, one who fervently believes that taking a position either way is a faith based decision, one I don't feel internal pressure to make. My intellect and my faith allow me to hold the belief that it could go either way. Kind of a wave/particle duality thing.

An intellectual term for this is cognitive dissonance
Okay a few things.

The idea that it could "go either way" is not cognitive dissonance. There are no conflicting beliefs. If you believed that both "God exists" and "No God Exists" those would be conflicting beliefs. I believe what you're trying to say is that you don't believe either proposition "A God exists" or "No God Exists". There is no conflict there and there is no cognitive dissonance there.

Again, we are addressing your belief and not the claim. We are trying to determine whether or not you personally are convinced by the claim "A God Exists". Let me point to something besides God so we can un-muddy the waters.

Let's say I have a gumball machine. Inside the machine are a certain number of gumballs. No one except the person who filled it has knowledge of how many are in there.

Let's say me and you are looking at the machine and I make the claim "There are an even number of gumballs in there...". Do you believe me? Maybe you trust me and think I have some Rainman-like ability. But maybe you don't. If I ask you if you believe me and your answer is anything other than "yes", you don't believe.

Let's say someone on your other side approaches you and says "No, there's an odd number of gumballs in there...". Do you believe him? If he doesn't seem to have any more information than the first guy, you may not believe him either.

HERE IS WHERE THE CONFUSION LIES

Rejecting both claims is NOT cognitive dissonance. You may not have sufficient evidence to accept either claim as true. Disbelieving a claim doesn't mean you automatically accept the opposite claim as true

If a jury finds a defendant "Not Guilty", it doesn't mean they're convinced he's "Innocent". Those are two different claims.

They did not have enough information to determine the defendant was guilty. If the defendant went back on trial and we had to instead determine the defendant's innocence (opposite of the US legal system), we may not have enough information to determine they were innocent either.

THESE ARE TWO SEPARATE CLAIMS

When it comes to God, Theists have proposed that the answer is Odd. This is the claim we are addressing. Atheists did not define a God into existence just to claim he doesn't exist. We are all responding to the claim "A God exists" and not "No God Exists". Various Theists have proposed claims for a higher power. The question is ARE YOU CONVINCED BY ANY OF THEM. If the answer is YES to ANY of them, then you are a Theist.

If you don't believe them for whatever reason, you're an Atheist. You can call it Weak Atheist, Agnostic Atheist, or simply that you don't believe in any God. But that's the truth. You don't have an active belief in a God.

That DOES NOT MEAN YOU ACCEPT THAT SEPARATE CLAIM "No Gods Exist". That is a completely separate claim and doesn't make a whole lot of sense. A strict Atheist who makes that claim either has to be directing the claim at a specific deity (which is a waste of time because Theists can easily redefine it if it causes conflict) or the Atheist (person who doesn't believe in gods) is now defining the God or category of God they are attempting to claim doesn't exist. This is the position many people like to Strawman as Atheism because it's much easier for them to dismiss.

Disbelief has no Burden of Proof. The only way it would, would be to shift the burden and that is a logical fallacy.
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      12-24-2014, 12:38 PM   #47
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Originally Posted by Devious21 View Post
The idea that it could "go either way" is not cognitive dissonance. There are no conflicting beliefs. If you believed that both "God exists" and "No God Exists" those would be conflicting beliefs. I believe what you're trying to say is that you don't believe either proposition "A God exists" or "No God Exists". There is no conflict there and there is no cognitive dissonance there.
Disagree.

I believe both are entirely possible alternatives. Simple enough.

Now, given the above, ask yourself I am closer to believing both or disbelieving both? That also seems to be quite simple. If you believe either of two things are very possible (say 50%, for the sake of argument), you surely don't "disbelieve both".

It sure feels like cognitive dissonance to me. I can't make up my mind about it. I have come to terms with that, and even, as my posts make clear, embrace it.

And, further, I respect people with both opinions, that the universe is an accident of physics and that it is something else. Since I believe both are possibilities I believe either person could be correct. Once again, "disbelieving both" is not very descriptive of that position. "Believing both" may not be fully correct, but it's a lot closer to the truth.

Both strong atheists and religious fundamentalists have one thing in common, as far as I'm concerned. They both are absolutely certain about a proposition for which there clearly is inadequate evidence. They claim their opponents are wrong, many even ridicule them. And, they do so in the face of some suspicious facts. I call that faith.

It would be fair to say I disbelieve in a personal God, one who cares especially about humans. Both the universe and the hypothetical God are just too big for that. But maybe, if they're of equal size... Still unlikely.

I forgot one of my more famous compatriots. Bill Nye, the science guy.

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      12-24-2014, 03:46 PM   #48
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Originally Posted by 128Convertibleguy View Post
Disagree.

I believe both are entirely possible alternatives. Simple enough.
That fact that you made this comment worries me because no where did I discuss what's possible or impossible. I'm discussing belief, which deals with what you accept as true. Not what you accept as possible.

I don't believe ghosts or an afterlife are an impossibility. I simply don't accept that they are true. Again, you're confusing "I don't believe" for "I'm certain it cannot exist".

This is why I made the gumball and courtroom analogy. If I don't believe someone's guilty, it doesn't mean I KNOW they're innocent.

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Originally Posted by 128Convertibleguy View Post
If you believe either of two things are very possible (say 50%, for the sake of argument), you surely don't "disbelieve both"
If you don't have sufficient justification to believe either claim, then I don't understand why you wouldn't disbelieve both.

You say "either of the two things'. Those two things should be "belief or disbelief" but you're still attempting to address multiple claims. If I ask you if you believe the defendant is guilty and you say "he might be guilty or he might be innocent, I DON'T KNOW". This tells me three important things:
  1. You're addressing innocence for some reason when I didn't ask you to
  2. If you don't know then you most likely don't actively believe. What you're really saying is "I don't actively believe either claim, so I don't ultimately know if he did it or not".
  3. This answers my question that you don't believe he's Guilty. You also don't necessarily believe he's innocent.

If you accepted the claim, "A God Exists" and also accept the claim "No Gods Exists" those are immediately conflicting beliefs. Just as being convinced the number of gumballs is both odd and even simultaneously. That's not the same as not being sufficiently convinced to believe you know that there's either an odd or even number of gumballs in the machine.

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Originally Posted by 128Convertibleguy View Post
It sure feels like cognitive dissonance to me. I can't make up my mind about it. I have come to terms with that, and even, as my posts make clear, embrace it.
Cognitive Dissonance has nothing to do with believing contradictory things are both possible. That's not even a contradiction. It's "having beliefs or taking actions that conflict with existing beliefs". Not "having a hard time making up your mind".

If anything, I think you're simply experiencing a confusion in how belief works (which is understandable since it's not a popular subject). You're having a crisis of epistemology not of psychology.

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Originally Posted by 128Convertibleguy View Post
Both strong atheists and religious fundamentalists have one thing in common, as far as I'm concerned. They both are absolutely certain about a proposition for which there clearly is inadequate evidence. They claim their opponents are wrong, many even ridicule them. And, they do so in the face of some suspicious facts. I call that faith.
I agree. The difference is, that has no impact on my ability to believe or disbelieve a claim. My belief or disbelief of a claim is purely based on whether there is sufficient justification to accept it as true. If not, I don't believe.

You seem to be basing your belief or disbelief on what groups you do or do not want to be associated with. You look at the worst of both groups and decide you don't want to be associated with either and therefore, can choose to neither belief nor disbelieve (which isn't logically possible). You then hold up famous people who you do want to be associated with. You seem to address belief from the position of how you will be perceived as opposed to whether the claim has sufficiently convinced you that it's true.

For a minute, leave all that behind. Simply address the claim (and ONLY THIS CLAIM) at face value. Do you accept it's true that a God exists?
  • I'm not asking if you think a God is possible.
  • I'm not asking if you think a God is impossible.
  • I'm not asking if you think it's more likely that we live in a universe with no gods

I'm asking you if you actively believe that any God is true. If you don't, that doesn't mean you think there is absolutely no possibility of one. If simply means you haven't been convinced by any of the existing claims for one. You can always change your mind if you are introduced to more data. Absolutes are for the closed minded.

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Originally Posted by 128Convertibleguy View Post
It would be fair to say I disbelieve in a personal God, one who cares especially about humans. Both the universe and the hypothetical God are just too big for that. But maybe, if they're of equal size... Still unlikely.
Is there any definition of God you do accept as true? If not, going through ones you don't is a bit of a pointless exercise.
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      12-24-2014, 04:05 PM   #49
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For clarity, here's what Cognitive Dissonance looks like.

Let's say Matt accepts the following:
  • Premise: The bible is true
  • Premise: The bible tells me homosexuality is a sin
  • Premise: People who sin are immoral
  • Conclusion: Homosexuals are immoral people
Now let's say Matt goes to college and meets a guy named Jeff. They become friends. Jeff seems very kind, helps people and seems to be a very moral person. He sees Jeff as a great guy. He seems a lot like Matt's father, who he holds in high regard.

Now let's say Matt finds out Jeff is gay. He now has two conflicting beliefs.
  1. Jeff is a gay man who seems to be a very moral person
  2. People who are Gay are immoral
This will create Cognitive Dissonance. Matt will experience this until he these two beliefs are compatible in some way.

He might choose one of these possible solutions:
  • Jeff thinks he's gay but he's not. Someone has confused him and he's a victim who needs help.
  • Jeff's a sinner but we are all sinners. He has problems but so do I.
  • Gay people must not ALL be immoral, just some of them.

Once he finds a solution that allows him to hold both beliefs without conflict, the dissonance will cease.





Is it possible this is the Cognitive Dissonance you're facing?
  • P1: If I'm not convinced a God exists, then I must be convinced "No Gods exist".
  • P2: I'm not convinced "No Gods Exists"
  • Conclusion: I must be convinced "God Exists"
  • P1: If I'm not convinced "No Gods exist" then I must be convinced "God exists"
  • P2: I not convinced "God exists"
  • Conclusion: I must be convinced "No God Exists"

Holding those two conclusions would lead to actual Cognitive Dissonance and If so, I can tell you the fallacy in both arguments is the first premise. Those arguments are both valid but they are not sound (since premise 1 is false).
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      12-24-2014, 05:05 PM   #50
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Originally Posted by Devious21 View Post
I'm asking you if you actively believe that any God is true.
I actively believe a higher power than any we know of which created the universe (perhaps many universes) is a real possibility. As discussed above, it would be misrepresenting a carefully considered position to say that means I don't believe God is true. That would imply that I think people who do believe in God are wrong. Etc.

I'm not facing the cognitive dissonance dilemma you set out, since I have no need to be convinced of either position. I'm quite comfortable with uncertainty.

My whole point is that this is not a question I believe has a yes (I believe) or no (I don't believe) answer, for me. I view both positions to be consistent with all data based science (although some specific religious views are not). I have no reason to disbelieve either. No reason to take sides.

Once again, a good analogy is the question whether an electron is a wave or a particle. There is no simple answer.

To you, I won't answer the question. To me, I've given a very clear answer. One of us is wrong, both of us are a bit frustrated. Our audience (from the view count I believe we have one) can decide who is right for themselves. We've reached an impasse. Should I not reply to a further post, it's not a sign of disrespect, it's a sign I think I could do little that wouldn't be (even more) repetitious. You've been a joy to have this discussion with, and I've learned my position is not as clear to others as I thought it was.

Merry Christmas and a good New Year.

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      12-24-2014, 05:29 PM   #51
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Originally Posted by 128Convertibleguy View Post
it would be misrepresenting a carefully considered position to say that means I don't believe God is true. That would imply that I think people who do believe in God are wrong. Etc.
If you didn't accept my claim that the number of gumballs as odd, it doesn't mean you think the number of gumballs is even. It means you don't accept my claim as true, meaning you don't believe it's met a sufficient Burden of Proof to accept as truth. It does NOT mean you think I am wrong. It means you're not convinced by me.

Ask yourself this. Does a baby believe in God? Is that making some kind of statement that he thinks or knows God doesn't exist? Babies non-belief in God is considered Implicit Atheism. They don't believe(have not been convinced it's true) because they haven't been introduced to the concept. Explicit Atheism is being introduced to the concept and yet still not being convinced it's true.

Disbelief is the default position. Claims have the Burden of Proof. Until they meet it, you do not believe or are not convinced.

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Originally Posted by 128Convertibleguy View Post
My whole point is that this is not a question I believe has a yes (I believe) or no (I don't believe) answer, for me. I view both positions to be consistent with all data based science (although some specific religious views are not). I have no reason to disbelieve either. No reason to take sides.
My point is that logic disagrees with you. What's the compromise between A and Not A?

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Originally Posted by 128Convertibleguy View Post
Once again, a good analogy is the question whether an electron is a wave or a particle. There is no simple answer.
And again, that is because you are attempting to answer the ultimate question "Is there a God?" (which both me and you I think are safe to answer "I don't know") and not "Do you have belief in a God?".

I've attempted to explain that these are fundamentally different questions.


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Originally Posted by 128Convertibleguy View Post
To me, I've given a very clear answer. One of us is wrong, both of us are a bit frustrated.

Our audience (from the view count I believe we have one) can decide who is right for themselves. We've reached an impasse. Should I not reply to a further post, it's not a sign of disrespect, it's a sign I think I could do little that wouldn't be (even more) repetitious. You've been a joy to have this discussion with, and I've learned my position is not as clear as I thought it was.

Merry Christmas and a good New Year (sincere).
Same to you. If I've come off as frustrated, I didn't mean to appear that way. I've also appreciated our discussion.

Happy Holidays.
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      12-28-2014, 06:44 AM   #52
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I've read through the comments gentlemen, and if I could just contribute please.

I think we are losing sight of the original topic. The thread reads "how to get to heaven", so doesn't that assume that there's a God to start with?
Anyway, as a Christian, I believe what the bible tells me, that God does love me and despite of all the crap in this world, promises me that He will never leave me, and that I can know Him personally!!
No other religion says that

Also, I often hear "gee Jeff is a 'good' person, he'll go to heaven surely". Well The bible tells me that not one person is 'good', only God, and that we are born out of sync with a holy and perfect God...sin sucks, but it is a direct consequence of our free will that God has given us.

There is no true love without free will, that is vital God gives us the free will to love Him or reject Him. Without free will we are robots. So basically, my 'good deeds' don't get me to heaven. It's by accepting Gods free gift of forgiveness that gets you to heaven friends...GRACE!!! You know the one, John 3:16 "for God so loved the world, He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not die but have eternal life"

This is what differentiates all other religions that have a "god", as they are all based on Works... They can never know their god and are constantly striving to earn brownie points, but if they stuff up, look out because there's a thunderbolt of lightening coming your way!

Anyway, this is how I know I'm going to heaven, and i have a peace that passes all human understanding knowing that my whole purpose is to love, honour and obey Him. There are times that I'll stray, get ticked of with Him, ache to understand why things happen the way they do, but His promises never let me down.

There's your sermon for the day gents
Healthy stuff to discuss these things respectfully!! Thoughts?
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      12-28-2014, 02:26 PM   #53
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I've read through the comments gentlemen, and if I could just contribute please.

I think we are losing sight of the original topic. The thread reads "how to get to heaven",
That question is answered in the link within the first post. The site says "How to get to Heaven: Read Free Ebook".

So just have to read that Ebook and you're all set. Heaven sounds like a book club.
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      12-28-2014, 06:22 PM   #54
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      12-29-2014, 09:30 AM   #55
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Originally Posted by pfitz911 View Post
I've read through the comments gentlemen, and if I could just contribute please.

I think we are losing sight of the original topic. The thread reads "how to get to heaven", so doesn't that assume that there's a God to start with?
Anyway, as a Christian, I believe what the bible tells me, that God does love me and despite of all the crap in this world, promises me that He will never leave me, and that I can know Him personally!!
No other religion says that

Also, I often hear "gee Jeff is a 'good' person, he'll go to heaven surely". Well The bible tells me that not one person is 'good', only God, and that we are born out of sync with a holy and perfect God...sin sucks, but it is a direct consequence of our free will that God has given us.

There is no true love without free will, that is vital God gives us the free will to love Him or reject Him. Without free will we are robots. So basically, my 'good deeds' don't get me to heaven. It's by accepting Gods free gift of forgiveness that gets you to heaven friends...GRACE!!! You know the one, John 3:16 "for God so loved the world, He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not die but have eternal life"

This is what differentiates all other religions that have a "god", as they are all based on Works... They can never know their god and are constantly striving to earn brownie points, but if they stuff up, look out because there's a thunderbolt of lightening coming your way!

Anyway, this is how I know I'm going to heaven, and i have a peace that passes all human understanding knowing that my whole purpose is to love, honour and obey Him. There are times that I'll stray, get ticked of with Him, ache to understand why things happen the way they do, but His promises never let me down.

There's your sermon for the day gents
Healthy stuff to discuss these things respectfully!! Thoughts?
Thoughts. While I respect your beliefs, I cannot adopt them. My intellect tells me that a God large enough to create this magnificent and inconceivably large universe, does not really care about the manner in which we quite insignificant beings worship them. They may well care about our actions, how well we treat everything they created, both animate and inanimate, but they're far above worrying about what we think about them.

I resonate more with the idea of a Universalist God, if one exists. Our sins in this life are dealt with in this life. Everyone is saved. No exceptions. That's a concept that may be hard to get ones mind around, but it's also a concept worthy of a loving God that had the power to creat the Universe we know.

I also like better those religions that are more accepting than Christianity of the validity of other beliefs. Many Asian religions incorporate the idea of "many paths up one mountain". To me, the key to eliminating the devastating religious strife the world has seen for thousands of years is, simply not to place your religious beliefs on a pedestal above all others. Then it's a done deal. Otherwise, you can be guaranteed that the other guy will be thinking you'd be better off if you adopted their religion, also.

The bottom line is that, to me, the concept of embracing "religious pluralism", is at the very heart of what the Founding Fathers desired in their new country. Not simply tolerating other religions, but placing them all on an equal footing.

I recognize your faith, but there is no possibility of my adopting it, as my Christian friends understand. It conflicts both with my intellect, and my values.

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      12-29-2014, 10:08 AM   #56
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Originally Posted by 128Convertibleguy View Post
Thoughts. While I respect your beliefs, I cannot adopt them.
That's the thing about this individual who calls himself 128Convertibleguy, he is always focused on himself and his personal beliefs in these threads. Just so you know Mr. 128, the poster you are responding to wasn't asking you to accept his beliefs.


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Originally Posted by 128Convertibleguy View Post
I resonate more with the idea of a Universalist God, if one exists. Our sins in this life are dealt with in this life. Everyone is "saved". No exceptions. That's a concept that may be hard to get one's mind around, but it's also a concept worthy of a loving God that created the Universe we know.
I'm fairly sure I'm not going to like where this exchange will lead, but I'll bite anyway.

1) How many religions actually believe that everyone is "saved" regardless of their morality or actions? I can't think of any, though I'm not saying that there aren't any. My point is, most religions have a concept of good vs. evil and demonstrate of the concept of an afterlife that rewards the good and punishes the evil. If you think about the historical context from which most religions arose, these kind of moral guidelines were heavily needed (genocide, war, famine, inequality, ect. were rampant during those eras, much more so than today). If you want to say that you believe in the "everybody is saved' concept, fine, but I don't know what "universalist' religion you are referring to.

2) So if you think everyone should be "saved" does that include people like Hitler?


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Originally Posted by 128Convertibleguy View Post
I also like better the attitude of other religions that are more accepting than Christianity of other beliefs. Many Asian religions incorporate the idea of "many paths up one mountain". To me, the key to avoiding the devastating religious strife the world has seen for thousands of years is, simply not to place your religious beliefs on a pedestal above all others.
Christianity, especially in its present form, is one of the most accepting and tolerant religions in the world. If you want to discuss things like the Crusades, Inquisition, ect., I concede, as will any realist historian, that its institutions have been corrupted and misused in the past. But I attribute those wrongs to the people who perpetrated those acts, not to the religion itself. The teachings of Christianity espouse:
- turning the other cheek
-loving thy neighbor
-mingling with and helping the beggars and lepers of society

Those, among other Judeo-Christian principles, were focused on creating harmony among people, which was a novel concept at the time the religion's birth. The actions taken by some Christians after the death of Jesus may have contrasted significantly with these teachings, but again those actions/behaviors should not be confused with the principles and moral code that Christianity actually espoused.

Also to suggest that Asian culture was much more accepting and tolerant of religious diversity is laughable. There has been nothing but war and strife in Asia since the age of antiquity, and religious persecution was not at all a foreign concept to that area of the world. There were many a Chinese general, who were considered good, devout, Taoists, who slaughtered countless civilians during the dynastic and civil strife that racked pre-communist China. I don't know how you can consider that a more "accepting" belief system than Christianity which had similar issues.

As for Christianity placing itself on a pedastal, that is a misstatement. Every religion thinks it has found what it has defined as their optimal belief system. That's why it is a religion to begin with. Buddhism outlines its preferred beliefs, as does Christianity, Taoism, Hinduism, Islam, ect. So in that sense, every religion puts itself on a pedastal, though I think that is the wrong way to phrase it.

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Originally Posted by 128Convertibleguy View Post
I recognize your faith, but there is no possibility of my adopting it, as my Christian friends understand.
Again dude, the poster you are responding to wasn't asking you to adopt his beliefs, he was simply stating his own. Have fun and enjoy your belief system. No one is trying to take that away from you.

Last edited by Dalko43; 12-29-2014 at 10:43 AM.
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      12-29-2014, 03:45 PM   #57
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Originally Posted by Dalko43 View Post
How many religions actually believe that everyone is "saved" regardless of their morality or actions? I can't think of any, though I'm not saying that there aren't any. My point is, most religions have a concept of good vs. evil and demonstrate of the concept of an afterlife that rewards the good and punishes the evil. If you think about the historical context from which most religions arose, these kind of moral guidelines were heavily needed (genocide, war, famine, inequality, ect. were rampant during those eras, much more so than today). If you want to say that you believe in the "everybody is saved' concept, fine, but I don't know what "universalist' religion you are referring to.
Pure universalism was a fairly large denomination in the early US. Wikipedia <Universalist Church of America> for details. Famous Universalists include Benjamin Rush, Ethan Allen, Clara Barton, Horace Greeley, and Olympia Brown, the first woman ordained as a minister in America.

"The Universalist Church of America was a Christian Universalist religious denomination in the United States (plus affiliated churches in other parts of the world). Known from 1866 as the Universalist General Convention, the name was changed to the Universalist Church of America in 1942. In 1961, it consolidated with the American Unitarian Association to form the Unitarian Universalist Association.

The defining theology of Universalism is universal salvation; Universalists believe that the God of love would not create a person knowing that that person would be destined for eternal damnation. They concluded that all people must be destined for salvation. Some early Universalists, known as Restorationists and led by Paul Dean, believed that after death there is a period of reprobation in Hell preceding salvation. Other Universalists, notably Hosea Ballou, denied the existence of Hell entirely."

Also, many other religions have existed with universalist beliefs as a part of their belief system. Wikipedia <Universalism> for info.

Early Christianity was universalist. Until the Council of Nicea in 325 AD. More recently, Rob Bell, an influential Christian minister, decided to accept universalist views as compatible with Christianity, and even desirable.

"Bell's book "Love Wins" caused a major controversy within the evangelical community. The controversy was the subject of a Time Magazine cover story and a featured article in the New York Times. In the book, Bell states that "It's been clearly communicated to many that this belief (in hell as conscious, eternal torment) is a central truth of the Christian faith and to reject it is, in essence, to reject Jesus. This is misguided and toxic and ultimately subverts the contagious spread of Jesus' message of love, peace, forgiveness and joy that our world desperately needs to hear."

The book.

http://www.amazon.com/Love-Wins-Abou.../dp/B004IWR3CE

"Bell's vision of Christianity is inclusive, as he argues against some traditional ideas--for instance, hell as eternal punishment reserved for non-Christians--in favor of a God whose love and forgiveness is all encompassing."

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Originally Posted by Dalko43 View Post
So if you think everyone should be "saved" does that include people like Hitler?
That's what "no exceptions" was meant to head off. As I said, a hard concept for many to wrap their brains around. Perhaps it's easier if stated as "God gives everyone a second chance."

Last edited by 128Convertibleguy; 12-29-2014 at 04:33 PM.
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      12-30-2014, 10:12 AM   #58
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Originally Posted by 128Convertibleguy View Post
Pure universalism was a fairly large denomination in the early US. Wikipedia <Universalist Church of America> for details. Famous Universalists include Benjamin Rush, Ethan Allen, Clara Barton, Horace Greeley, and Olympia Brown, the first woman ordained as a minister in America.

"The Universalist Church of America was a Christian Universalist religious denomination in the United States (plus affiliated churches in other parts of the world). Known from 1866 as the Universalist General Convention, the name was changed to the Universalist Church of America in 1942. In 1961, it consolidated with the American Unitarian Association to form the Unitarian Universalist Association.

The defining theology of Universalism is universal salvation; Universalists believe that the God of love would not create a person knowing that that person would be destined for eternal damnation. They concluded that all people must be destined for salvation. Some early Universalists, known as Restorationists and led by Paul Dean, believed that after death there is a period of reprobation in Hell preceding salvation. Other Universalists, notably Hosea Ballou, denied the existence of Hell entirely."

Also, many other religions have existed with universalist beliefs as a part of their belief system. Wikipedia <Universalism> for info.
Like I said earlier, I wasn't claiming that no one held these universalist beliefs. I was saying that nearly all religions have a concept of good vs evil and punishment for those that are evil according to their standards.

Islam has Jahannam
Hinduism and Buddhism have Naraka
Christianity has Hell

As you have pointed out, even some Universalists believe in hell, though it is a temporary state.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 128Convertibleguy View Post
Early Christianity was universalist. Until the Council of Nicea in 325 AD.
The early Christian church was not universalist:

Revelation 21:8
But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars--their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur . This is the second death."

Matthew 25:46
"Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.


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Originally Posted by 128Convertibleguy View Post
That's what "no exceptions" was meant to head off. As I said, a hard concept for many to wrap their brains around. Perhaps it's easier if stated as "God gives everyone a second chance."
Even if you don't believe the Bible and mainstream Judeo-Christian philosophy in general, you must at least be able to comprehend their basic tenets:

God does give everyone a second chance. As indicated by the story/parable of Adam and Eve, God empowered mankind with freewill and the ability to decide his own fate. Every second of every day that a person lives, they make decisions about how they live their lives. In that sense, people get numerous "second chances."

The latter part of Hitler's life was full of violence, hate, and atrocities. He had just as many second chances as anyone else to stop what he was doing and seek forgiveness. The traditional Christian view of Hell/Damnation is not, as you would suggest, that people are deprived of their second chances and forced into an eternity of suffering. It is viewed, especially in the current times, as a separation from God because of a person's choice to live an immoral life.

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      12-30-2014, 10:29 AM   #59
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Originally Posted by Dalko43 View Post
The early Christian church was not universalist:

Revelation 21:8
But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars--their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur . This is the second death."

Matthew 25:46
"Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.
Your Bible knowledge is excellent, but your history is wrong, just as it was when you said you did not know of any church with universalist beliefs. One can find many historical sources for the following, here's one with clarity and a nice diagram showing the breadth of the influence of universalist beliefs on many religions.

"The Patristic Era

The early church from the time of the Apostles until the 4th century was primarily a Universalist church. Most of the church fathers during this period believed that all people will be saved. Over time, alternative doctrines about the fate of sinners grew more popular, such as annihilationism and eternal conscious torment. These doctrines were often held by Christians who could not read the New Testament in the original Greek language in which it was written, and who interpreted the Bible through the lens of barbaric forms of paganism. It is noteworthy that Irenaeus the Bishop of Lyons wrote a lengthy book called Against Heresies in the late 2nd century, which never once mentioned universal salvation as a heretical belief. This is because for the first few centuries of Christian history, Universalism prevailed as the mainstream understanding of the Gospel."

Note that, at the time, few Christians, including many priests, had ever seen a proper Bible, much less been able to read one.

http://www.christianuniversalist.org...-universalism/

As stated above, the Council of Nicea, 325 AD, was the first time that eternal damnation for essentially all non-Christians was adopted as the mainstream position of the Christian hierarchy. The motivation to use that threat to spread the faith is obvious.

The site above reminded me of yet another Christian church with very strong universalist views, the Unity Church.

"The Unity Church does not conceive hell to be a place of eternal torment in which people are eternally punished with fire because of their beliefs and/or actions during life. It is not a place to go to after death. Rather it is a state of consciousness to be suffered here on earth. Charles Fillmore wrote: "One does not have to die in order to go to hell, any more than one has to die to get to heaven. Both are states of mind and conditions, which people experience as a direct outworking of their thoughts, beliefs, words, and acts. If one's mental processes are out of harmony with the law of man's [sic] being, they result in trouble and sorrow; mental as well as bodily anguish overtakes one, and this is hell".

Finally, I could cite many Bible passages that have been used by Christian universalists to support Christianity as fundamentally universalist. But trading Bible quotes to support one position or another is a most useless form of argument, they are often used by all sides to support contradictory positions. The following bit of doggerel is more useful.

"When I arrived at heaven’s gate I saw faces I never thought I’d see
And every face showed shocked surprise, not one expected me. "

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      12-30-2014, 10:35 AM   #60
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The reason priests are available on the death bed, and give the anointing of the sick is to give that person, right to their dying breathe, a chance to repent their sins and be saved. They have that choice right to the very end, with God offering his love and forgiveness with open arms all the way thru life.
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      12-30-2014, 11:06 AM   #61
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Originally Posted by 128Convertibleguy View Post
Your Bible knowledge is excellent, but your history is wrong, just as it was when you said you did not know of any church with universalist beliefs. One can find many sources for the following, here's one with a nice diagram showing the breadth of the influence of universalist beliefs on many religions.

"The Patristic Era

The early church from the time of the Apostles until the 4th century was primarily a Universalist church. Most of the church fathers during this period believed that all people will be saved. Over time, alternative doctrines about the fate of sinners grew more popular, such as annihilationism and eternal conscious torment. These doctrines were often held by Christians who could not read the New Testament in the original Greek language in which it was written, and who interpreted the Bible through the lens of barbaric forms of paganism. It is noteworthy that Irenaeus the Bishop of Lyons wrote a lengthy book called Against Heresies in the late 2nd century, which never once mentioned universal salvation as a heretical belief. This is because for the first few centuries of Christian history, Universalism prevailed as the mainstream understanding of the Gospel."

Note that, at the time, few Christians had ever seen a proper Bible, much less been able to read one.

http://www.christianuniversalist.org...-universalism/

As stated above, the Council of Nicea, 325AD, was the first time that eternal damnation for essentially all non-Christians became the mainstream of Christian belief.

The site above reminded me of yet another church with very strong universalist views, the Unity Church.

"The Unity Church does not conceive hell to be a place of eternal torment in which people are eternally punished with fire because of their beliefs and/or actions during life. It is not a place to go to after death. Rather it is a state of consciousness to be suffered here on earth. Charles Fillmore wrote: "One does not have to die in order to go to hell, any more than one has to die to get to heaven. Both are states of mind and conditions, which people experience as a direct outworking of their thoughts, beliefs, words, and acts. If one's mental processes are out of harmony with the law of man's [sic] being, they result in trouble and sorrow; mental as well as bodily anguish overtakes one, and this is hell".
1) I think you need to provide better evidence and research than simply providing a link to an universalist website.

2) Due to a lack of organized doctrine, there was a plethora of differing views in the early Christian church, which is why certain councils (Nicea) were convened to streamline and organize the religion. Local religious clergy had a lot of leeway on how and what kind of doctrine they would espouse. Hence, there were some early Christians who had views/ideologies that were similar to universalism, though not exactly the same. But to say that was a majority view, especially without concrete evidence, is foolish on your part.

3) What little doctrine there was for the early Christian church, was based on the Bible/scripture. The Bible pretty clearly states what Hell is and how it works. There is some debate by theologians even today on whether or not the "fire and brimestone" descriptions are meant to be taken literally, but there is very little debate on whether there was a Hell and whether or not it was eternal. The Bible is pretty clear on those aspects.

Wikipedia is not at all the best site for this kind of stuff, but its good starting point for someone like you who obviously prefers to throw around biased sources as "credible evidence."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History...d_Christianity

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      12-30-2014, 11:25 AM   #62
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Originally Posted by Dalko43 View Post
There is some debate by theologians even today on whether or not the "fire and brimestone" descriptions are meant to be taken literally, but there is very little debate on whether there was a Hell and whether or not it was eternal. The Bible is pretty clear on those aspects.
Once again, your faith is clear, but your historical knowledge about this topic is lacking. Historically, and even today, a great many Christian Universalists disagree with you about the clarity of the Bible. The debates about this are not "little", and, as I said, the Bible can, and has, frequently been quoted in support of Christianity as fundamentally universalist.

Here's a Lutheran Minister on the topic.

"There has always been a strain of Christian thought favoring it. Augustine of Hippo, who dismissed it thoroughly, admitted there were many entirely loyal to the Scriptures who denied “endless torment” for the damned. Even while still dismissing universal salvation, Augustine nonetheless cautioned Christians against judging the spiritual state of those as yet outside Christianity."

"There is in fact a whole body of early Christian literature, quotes and sermons and scraps of sermons, from theologians and bishops from both the ante-Nicene and post-Nicene periods disputing an eternal hell. Theophilus of Antioch, Irenaeus of Lyons, Eusebius of Caesarea, Gregory of Nyssa, Jerome, Ambrose of Milan (though perhaps more ambiguously than some). These and others I could name never gave up the notion that the universal work of Christ made hell superfluous come the apocatastasis , the restoration."

http://www.firstthings.com/web-exclu...3/universalism

The real bottom line is that, contrary to what you originally said ("How many religions actually believe that everyone is "saved" regardless of their morality or actions? I can't think of any"), any number of Christian churches and ministers have been, and now are, universalist. It's a religious option, considered valid by many. Which was my original, and main, point.

I understand it does not represent your beliefs.

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      12-30-2014, 11:57 AM   #63
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Originally Posted by 128Convertibleguy View Post
Once again, your faith is clear, but your historical knowledge about this topic is lacking. Historically, and even today, a great many Christian Universalists disagree with you about the clarity of the Bible. The debates about this are not "little", and, as I said, the Bible can, and has, frequently been quoted in support of Christianity as fundamentally universalist.

Here's a Lutheran Minister on the topic.

"There has always been a strain of Christian thought favoring it. Augustine of Hippo, who dismissed it thoroughly, admitted there were many entirely loyal to the Scriptures who denied “endless torment” for the damned. Even while still dismissing universal salvation, Augustine nonetheless cautioned Christians against judging the spiritual state of those as yet outside Christianity."

"There is in fact a whole body of early Christian literature, quotes and sermons and scraps of sermons, from theologians and bishops from both the ante-Nicene and post-Nicene periods disputing an eternal hell. Theophilus of Antioch, Irenaeus of Lyons, Eusebius of Caesarea, Gregory of Nyssa, Jerome, Ambrose of Milan (though perhaps more ambiguously than some). These and others I could name never gave up the notion that the universal work of Christ made hell superfluous come the apocatastasis , the restoration."

http://www.firstthings.com/web-exclu...3/universalism

But the real bottom line is that, contrary to what you originally said, any number of Christian churches and ministers have been, and now are, universalist. It's a religious option, considered valid by many. Which was my original, and main, point.

I understand it does not represent your beliefs.
This is quickly becoming pointless, because all you are doing is quoting other people's views, people who seem to be proponents of universalism.

I provided concrete sources (the Bible excerpts) which demonstrated the early Christian views on Hell. FYI the Bible was written well before the council of Nicea and was the only thing that was considered doctrine in pre-Nicene Creed Christianity, just in case you are confusing your dates. The Bible, I agree, is vague on a lot of topics, but in regards to the eternity of Hell there is little left to speculate on. I provided Bible excerpts which demonstrated this. Where are your Bible excerpts?

I provided a link to many sources (wikipedia) which showed that there were a plethora (that means multitude) of differing views and religious beliefs in the early Christian church following the death of Christ. Universalism was not a belief held by the majority of early Christians, rather there were aspects of Universalism that were held by a minority of early Christians, and they had plenty of different views on that subject amongst themselves.

I have yet to see you post an actual historical reference which proves your claim that universalism was a widely held belief in the early Christian church.

If you can do that, then maybe you and I can determine which one of us has a better grasp of history.

Edit: Instead of regurgitating other peoples' views, why don't you dig up some excerpts from the Bible that support your points. That would lend much more credibility to your argument.

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      12-30-2014, 12:13 PM   #64
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Originally Posted by 128Convertibleguy View Post
I understand it does not represent your beliefs.
Also, just to clarify. I'm not here trying to proselytize anyone and bring them into my belief system. Nor am I even claiming that I share all of these beliefs that I have been referencing.

I am saying that there is clear evidence there was predominant doctrine that most Christians have adhered to since the founding of their religion. Universalism is a splinter group from mainstream Christianity, and ultimately holds certain views that are in the minority.

There is nothing wrong with their church or their beliefs. I'm just stating the way things are.

You 128Convertibleguy have tendency of propagating revisionist narratives on this section of the forum, present posts included.
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      12-30-2014, 12:29 PM   #65
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Edit: Instead of regurgitating other peoples' views, why don't you dig up some excerpts from the Bible that support your points. That would lend much more credibility to your argument.
Since you insist, here's a small sample. As I said, this debate is not "little", there are a great many Christian authoriies who support universalism.

"Contrary to what many would suppose, universalism, understood as above, receives strong scriptural support in the New Testament. Indeed, I judge the support strong enough that if I had to choose between universalism and anti-universalism as the "position of Scripture," I'd pick universalism as the fairly clear winner. But more on that later. For now, here's three passages which support universalism.

I Corinthians 15:22. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.

Note the "all."

Colossians 1:20. 19 For in him [Christ] all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

Note again the "all." Show me someone burning in hell, and I'll show you someone who's not yet been reconciled to God. So, show me someone who's under divine punishment forever, or who is simply annihilated, and I'll show you someone who's never reconciled to God through Christ, and thus someone who gives the lie to this passage.

Romans 5:18 : 18 Then as one man's trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one man's act of righteousness leads to acquittal and life for all men.

For whom will Christ's act of righteousness lead to acquittal and life? Answer: " all men." Show me someone who never enjoys acquittal and life, and I'll show someone for whom Christ's act of righteousness didn't lead to acquittal and life, and thus someone who gives the lie to this verse."

More here.

http://www.tentmaker.org/articles/un...-derose.html#2.

Some more.

"Love Worketh no ill". Rom. 13:10 This is a very forcible argument. God's nature is the very essence of benevolence, and benevolence cannot be the origin of endless evil. If love worketh no ill, God can work no ill, and, therefore, God cannot be the author of endless evil. [this is the basic argument of Rob Bell, a very influential Christian minister]

"Thou hast given him power over all flesh, THAT HE SHOULD GIVE ETERNAL LIFE TO AS MANY AS THOU HAST GIVEN HIM." John 17:2 This plainly evinces, that it was God's design, in giving Christ dominion over all flesh, that they should all enjoy eternal life.

1 Tim. 2:6 "But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he, by the grace of God, SHOULD TASTE DEATH FOR EVERY MAN." Heb. 2:9 "And he is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the SINS OF THE WHOLE WORLD." 1 John 2:2 Here are three expressions: 1st, "ALL"; 2nd, "EVERY MAN"; 3rd, "THE WHOLE WORLD". It seems as though the sacred writers took the utmost care to guard against being misunderstood in this important particular.

This, to me is quite fundamental.

"As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked". (Ezek. 33:11) Death, and sin, and pain, may exist for a time, but if God has no pleasure in them of themselves, they are not the end at which he aims, but the means by which he accomplishes that end. The end in which God rests as his PLEASURE, DESIGN, or purpose, must be essentially benevolent, because he is essentially a benevolent God. Neither death, nor sin, no pain, can be his ULTIMATE plan or pleasure. They are the means by which his holy and righteous designs are carried into effect.

I'll not play this game, of debating whose views on religion are Biblically correct, farther. The Bible can be interpreted to support many views. You may think our personal views on whether the Bible supports universal salvation or eternal hell for all who simply don't believe the correct dogma, are more convincing than the views of wise men who have been studying this for years, I don't.

Universal salvation is hardly a fringe viewpoint, it is a principle held by many Christians, past and present. Who quote the Bible to support it, just as you quote the Bible to support your view.

I too am not trying to promote my position, merely stating historical fact. Since I'm completely uncertain as to whether or not a higher power exists, I can hardly be certain that universal salvation exists. I merely think that, if an awesome higher power that created the universe exists, I would think that universal salvation would be more his style, rather than eternal damnation for people who simply don't believe the "right" things. Such pettiness would be far below them.

Let me ask you two questions. If a non-Christian leads an unquestionably moral life, bestowing many kindnesses on other people and doing major good works, do you think that, if they do not accept Christ as their divine Savior, but simply as a good man, and the Bible as simply a good book (lower case), rather than the inerrant word of God, they are subject to eternal torment? Is the Dalai Lama damned to Hell?

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      12-30-2014, 01:00 PM   #66
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128, don't go away. I enjoy reading this, even if I have a differing opinion/interpretation (aka free will)

My recollections, from a Roman Catholic background:
Jesus was the sacrificial lamb that was sacrificed to open the door to heaven. Before him no one who died ever made it. They weren't cast into hell, but still without the sacrifice of obedience to the death on the cross, that door was closed. Hence why it was via Jesus that all were saved. But equally, the path the heaven leads directly thru Jesus, and acknowledging him as the Son. Without that, no ticket. So the path is AVAILABLE to all (Jews and Gentiles) but you must use your free will and choose to accept Jesus as your savior to make that journey.
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