WOW. There is so much to unpack here. Guys this actually fills me with delight. (I’m going to organize my response, so it’s more clear.)
Thank you both Derek Cummins and Nature of the beat for furthering the discussion!!! Truly fascinating to watch both of you go back and forth. I very much appreciate it. May I add some wood to the fire, then?
Nature of the beat you are on point with why I disagree with the teachings of the Bible. Saying that these things are not clear from the Bible, for example, is correct but what you do with that piece of information is something I would not recommend.
I believe that the fact that “it is not clear” is a clear suggestion to dismissing the text. I’ll get back to that towards the end.
A Response to Derek
Derek Cummins, on the other hand, you seem to be an evangelical in the classical sense, who accepts the Christian scholarly work on this.
One thing to remember is that it is important to be skeptical of the obvious bias that one encounters in this field.
To answer your questions, for a second here Derek. I do believe in the historical man that we now call Jesus. There must have been someone for a number of reasons. One example being that Paul says that he knows Jesus’ brother, James. But there are many. Secondly, I do not find the gospel accounts reliable. Mainly due to contradictions between texts, the fact that they were written anywhere from 30–100 years after Jesus’ death.
You are right to say that this is a complicated discussion. We do have accept certain premises to be true in order to even have this discussion. Divinity is simply the one that I find unlikely.
The gospel accounts, however, are not reliable. That is why Nature of the beat made his jump from Francis Schaeffer, J. I. Packer, and the likes to a more liberal interpretation of the Bible. Packer and other scholars have to give the text a tremendous benefit of the doubt in order to agree with the conclusions.
To give you one example. Today in the court, an eyewitness testimony does not amount to any amount of credible evidence. The fact that eyewitness testimony led to martyrdom does not actually suggest much other than devotion to a charismatic leader of some sort. That is a recurring thing throughout history and happens even today (think Colonia Dignidad).
I would only like to suggest that we should look to scholars to what they teach on this, just to make sure that we don’t put our own opinions ahead of professionals.
And if we are to look to scholarly work, for the most part, it is done by Christians, so it is obviously biased.
A Response to Nature (Such a Producer Username)
Nature of the beat I understand your main objection that few people actually taught about the hell concept (as we currently teach it) in the Bible.
The Jews did not have it whatsoever, there was more of an annihilation that they were expecting, if my memory serves me correctly. Jews were unlikely to convert to Christianity mainly because of this doctrine.
Jesus, as you said, believes in this gehenna concept, among other things. The idea of a burning lake, however does not seem to appear until Revelations.
Paul similarly almost didn’t touch on hell at all, except for speaking about the rapture, and the “rewards”/ “punishments” that people receive after death.
It seems like our modern day understanding of hell is taken from the early church, Dante, & Milton.
All in all, I see very similar paths between us. I just find your conclusion very interesting. I don’t know why exactly you prefer a liberal interpretation of the Bible (or artistic, whichever we would call it), instead of just dismissing it.
As you think a lot and are obviously well-read on the topic, you’ll definitely come to the same conclusion as me in due time.
Derek Cummins I recommend you checking out this scholar. He did a recent interview on the Waking Up podcast with Sam Harris. I found him very calm, and reasonable. He’s also very obviously a good source to cite on this topic. He was a believer throughout his master’s and PhD and then he found that the teaching of the Bible is unfortunately misleading for many reasons.
Here’s the link. You can also watch it on Spotify, Google Play, & Itunes.
You’re obviously open to debate, so I look forward to hearing from you.
Once again, thanks so much!