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Tag: Heaven

Telling Non-Christian Mother That Dead Child is in Heaven is Not Helpful

baby's birth

Excerpt from Alternet article by Priscilla Blossom titled My Child Is Not in Heaven: Your Religion Only Makes My Grief Harder:

When I tell people about the death of my infant daughter, they often respond that she is in heaven. They tell me that she is an angel now. They tell me that she’s with God. But as an atheist, these words have never brought me any comfort.

My daughter was born three years ago. I went into pre-term labor at 22 weeks gestation, and try as they might, the doctors could not keep her here with us. Her short life, just eight hours long, has marked my life and my husband’s life deeply. Margaret Hope (or Maggie, as we refer to her) continues to exist with us in her own way, but this persistence has absolutely nothing to do with god or Jesus or angels or any other specific afterworld. This is what works for us as parents. It’s what works for about two percent of the U.S. population who currently identify as atheists, and for about 20 percent who are agnostic or unaffiliated with any particular set of beliefs.

Being an atheist in a believer’s world can be difficult at times, especially when some of the more fervently religious are close family or friends. It’s even more daunting when faced with grief and death. Christians believe that when we die, we either go to heaven or hell. Many, of course, believe babies go to heaven because they are, well, babies. When our daughter died, my husband requested to have our baby baptized, fearing in some way for her soul, a remnant of his Catholic upbringing. There was no time for a traditional baptism while she was alive but her NICU doctor performed the rite for her while we held her in our arms for the first time, our tiny, frail, lifeless daughter whose eyes never even got a chance to see. It felt bizarre to me, but I allowed it because my husband was suffering and it seemed to bring him some comfort. Later, as reality hit harder, he would lose all faith as I had done…

…Those around us did their best to offer words of comfort, but after a while, I became tired and even resentful of the comments about my daughter needing to go be with Jesus. Worse still, I isolated myself so I wouldn’t need to hear their “comforting” words because all they did was make me feel worse. Like so many other non-believers, I cannot wrap my head around the idea that there is some supreme being that allows these sorts of things to happen, commands them to happen. Being a bereaved parent is hard enough, but being one when you don’t believe in god is something else altogether…

…Agnostics and atheists understand why people have faith. We understand it brings them comfort. At times, I wish I could believe that my daughter is watching over me right now while enjoying a beautiful and eternal afterlife. But that’s just not what I believe. Instead, I imagine her in all sorts of places. Maybe her energy shot out into the stars. Perhaps some molecule of her is dancing around on Jupiter. Other times, I think about much of her remaining in my heart, as science tells us part of every child’s DNA remains forever with her mother, a fact that does bring me great peace.

Maggie’s physical remains are in a plastic, white box, swaddled in her hospital baby blanket, and placed inside my bedroom closet, still waiting for the day I am willing to part with them. I really don’t know what happened to her soul, if such things even exist. And while it may comfort you to say to me that my daughter is in heaven, it does absolutely nothing for me or for the countless others who don’t subscribe to your brand of faith — and that is okay.

You can read the entire article here. Priscilla Blossom’s blog can be found here.

 

Songs of Sacrilege: Spirit in the Sky by Gareth Gates

This is the thirty-ninth installment in the Songs of Sacrilege series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a song that is irreverent towards religion, makes fun of religion, pokes fun at sincerely held religious beliefs, or challenges the firmly held religious beliefs of others, please send me an email.

Today’s Song of Sacrilege is Spirit in the Sky by Gareth Gates, an English singer-songwriter.

Video Link

Lyrics

When I die and they lay me to rest
Gonna go to the place that’s the best
When I lay me down to die
Goin’ up to the spirit in the sky
Goin’ up to the spirit in the sky
That’s where I’m gonna go when I die
When I die and they lay me to rest
I’m gonna go to the place that’s the best.

Prepare yourself you know it’s a must
Gotta have a friend in Jesus
So you know that when you die
He’s gonna recommend you
To the spirit in the sky
Goin’ up to the spirit in the sky
That’s where I’m gonna go when I die
When I die and they lay me to rest
I’m gonna go to the place that’s the best.

Never been a sinner I never sinned
I got a friend in Jesus
So you know that when I die
He’s gonna set me up with
The spirit in the sky
Oh set me up with the spirit in the sky
That’s where I’m gonna go when I die
When I die and they lay me to rest
I’m gonna go to the place that’s the best
Oh

Set me up to the Spirit in the Sky
That’s where I’m gonna go when I die
When I die and they lay me to rest
I’m gonna go to the place that’s the best
Goin’ on up to the Spirit in the Sky
That’s where I’m gonna go when I die
When I die and they lay me to rest
I’m gonna go to the place that’s the best
Go to the place that’s the best
Go to the place that’s the best
Go to the place that’s the best.

It’s in the Bible: Who Won’t be in Heaven

stairway to heaven

Evangelicals believe the Bible is the inspired, inerrant Word of God. It is not a truth, it is THE truth. Who created the universe? The Bible has the answer. Who is God? The Bible has the answer. What is sin? The Bible has the answer. What happens after we die? The Bible has the answer. Is there a heaven and a hell? The Bible has the answer. What must a person do to be forgiven by God and delivered from sin? The Bible has the answer. As the old junior church classic goes:

The B-i-b-l-e, yes that’s the book for me

I stand alone on the Word of God

The B-i-b-l-e

BIBLE

If every person who has ever lived, past present and future, ends up after death in either heaven or hell, it’s very important for us to know exactly what God’s Word has to say on the matter. Are there certain sins that will keep a person out of heaven and guarantee them a bunk in hell with Christopher Hitchens? (Read Christopher Hitchens is in Hell.)  It’s at this point that many Evangelicals begin to play dumb, suggesting that it is up to God to judge someone. But wait a minute, isn’t the Bible the Word of God? Aren’t its words so clear that even a child can understand them? If the most important decision people will ever make is to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior, shouldn’t the prospective Christians be able to go to the Bible and find out exactly what sins keep a person out of heaven?

Well, the Evangelical says…really it’s only the sin of unbelief that sends a person to hell. Really? Is that what the inspired, inerrant, authoritative Word of God says? Shouldn’t everything, especially those issues that have eternal import, be judged by the Holy Bible? Surely God is clear on this matter, yes?

Many Evangelicals genuinely want to be thought of as nice people. They want to be respected and thought well of. So, when confronted with those who reject Jesus and live in a way that is contrary to the teachings of the Bible, they often refuse to say, as Jesus didexcept ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Many of the people who once called me pastor or preacher have a hard time believing and saying, Bruce Gerencser, you are headed for hell. They cannot fathom that the man who once preached to them the unsearchable riches of Christ and pointed them to the Jesus and his saving grace is now an atheist headed for hell. Some even go so far as to say that I am still a Christian.

The Bible has several lists of sins that will keep a person out of heaven and earn them a lifetime room in hell. Let’s take a look at what GOD says about the matter.

Revelation 21:8

But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

This passage says the following people will go to hell after they die:

  • Fearful (cowardly)
  • Unbelieving
  • Abominable
  • Murderers
  • Whoremongers (sexually immoral)
  • Sorcerers (magic)
  • Idolaters
  • Liars

1 Corinthians 6:9,10

 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

This passage says the following people will go to hell after they die:

  • Unrighteous
  • Fornicators
  • Idolaters
  • Adulterers
  • Effeminate
  • Abusers of themselves with mankind
  • Thieves
  • Covetous
  • Drunkards
  • Revilers
  • Extortioners

Galatians 5:19-21

 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,  envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

This passage says the following sins will guarantee a person a bunk in hell after they die:

  • Adultery
  • Fornication
  • Uncleanness
  • Lasciviousness (wantonness, sensuality)
  • Idolatry
  • Witchcraft (drug use)
  • Hatred
  • Variance (quarrelsome, contentious)
  • Emulations (envy, jealousy)
  • Wrath
  • Strife
  • Seditions (dissension, division)
  • Heresies
  • Envyings
  • Murders
  • Drunkenness
  • Revellings (partying, rioting)
  • And such like (covering anything else we later make a sin)

Ephesians 5:5

For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

This passage says the following people will go to hell after they die:

  • Whoremonger
  • Unclean person (impure, lewd, demonic)
  • Covetous man who is an idolater

Romans 1:26-32

For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:and likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

This passage deals with those whom God has given over to a reprobate mind. Most Evangelicals believe a reprobate is a person who cannot be saved, a person whom God has turned his back on. The reprobate, thanks to a hard heart, is guaranteed a bunk in hell.  What sins are the mark of a reprobate:

  • Vile affections (homosexuality)
  • Filled with unrightousness
  • Fornication
  • Wickedness
  • Covetousness
  • Maliciousness
  • Envy
  • Murder
  • Debate
  • Deceit

They are whisperers, backbiters, and haters of God, who are:

  • Despiteful
  • Proud
  • Boasters
  • Inventors of evil things
  • Disobedient to parents
  • Without understanding
  • Covenantbreakers
  • Without natural affection
  • Implacable
  • Unmerciful

Reprobates not only do these things, they take pleasure in doing so. They sin with gusto!

The Bible is quite clear about who won’t be in heaven. Evangelicals don’t need to play dumb or stammer. All they need to do is point people to these verses. God has spoken! And why they are at it, they might want to re-read these passages. If we take God at his word, it seems quite clear that there will be NO Evangelicals in heaven. Think about all the Christians you know and the people you once attended church with. Think of the men who were once your pastor. Think about your Christian family. Aren’t all of them mentioned in one of these five Scripture passages?

Besides, the Bible says in 1 John 3:8,9:

He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.

The next time you come in contact with an Evangelical zealot, ask them if they have sinned. If they say YES, then quote the Good Book, telling them that:

  • Anyone who commits sins is of the devil
  • Whoever is born of God does not commit sin

If they have sinned then that means they are of the devil, are not a child of God, and are headed to hell like the rest of us unwashed, uncircumcised Philistines.

Just remember, it’s in the B-i-b-l-e.

Notes

Evangelicals have all kinds of explanations and justifications for why these verses don’t mean what say. Be prepared to be taken on a wild goose chase, with discussions meant to explain away or obfuscate the clear, unadulterated meaning of the Bible.

Evangelical preoccupation with sex?  As you can see from these verses, it started with a single man named Paul some 1,900 years ago.

112116

Dear Evangelical: Tell Me the Truth, Am I Headed for Hell?

hell

Bruce: Five years ago, 152 Pakistanis were killed in a plane crash.

Evangelical: I hope they all knew the Lord.

Bruce: Why does that matter?

Evangelical: Well, if they didn’t know the Lord they probably went to hell.

Bruce: Probably?

Evangelical: Well…some of them might have trusted Jesus just before they died. I don’t know their hearts. God is the judge.

Bruce: It is likely the plane passengers were Muslim. Most likely the last word on their lips was ALLAH. Do Muslims go to heaven when they die?

Evangelical: Only if they believe in Jesus.

Bruce: Muslims do not believe Jesus is the way, truth and life.They do not believe salvation is found in Jesus Christ. So, did the Muslim plane passengers go to hell when they died?

Evangelical: I am not their judge. It’s between them and God.

A lot of Evangelicals are increasingly uncomfortable with what the Bible says about hell. According to inspired, inerrant Word of God,  all non-Christians go to hell when they die. They will be tormented day and night for eternity. All Muslims, Buddhists, agnostics, and atheists will burn forever because of their rejection of Jesus Christ. Many Evangelicals even add Catholics, liberal Protestants, and universalists to the thou shalt burn list.

Let me remind readers what the Bible says about hell (collated from several Christian websites):

  • A place of weeping and gnashing of teeth – “And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 25:30).
  • A place of darkness – “Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 22:13).
  • A place of torment – “And in hell he lifted up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom” (Luke 16:23).
  • A place of sorrow – “The sorrows of hell compassed me about; the snares of death prevented me;” (2 Samuel 22:6).
  • A place of everlasting destruction – “Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;” (II Thessalonians 1:9).
  • A place where humans are tormented with fire and brimstone – “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8).
  • A place where fire is not quenched – “Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:44).
  • A bottomless pit – “And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit” (Revelation 9:2).
  • A place of no rest – “And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name” (Revelation 14:11).
  • A lake of fire – “And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death” (Revelation 20:14).
  • A place of hopeless of unsatisfied desires – “And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame ” (Luke 16:24). The rich man wanted water but could not get any.

The Bible, as interpreted through the lens of Evangelicalism, is very clear on the matter of hell and why people end up there after they die. Even those who have never heard about Jesus Christ will burn in hell forever. It’s their fault for not knowing, even though no one ever told them about Jesus.  According to the Calvinist, before God created the first human he decided where each of us would bunk when we die. The elect go to heaven, the non-elect go to hell.

According to the Evangelical score card, the overwhelming majority of people, past, present, and future, end up in hell when they die. This is God’s righteous judgment of those who did not repent of their sins and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Wait a minute, what about the people who lived before the birth of Christ?  Where did they go when they died? Let the explaining and theological gymnastics begin.

Yet, when it comes right down to it, when confronted face to face with someone such as I — a person who once professed Christ, who once preached the gospel of Christ — many Evangelicals have a hard time telling me I’m headed for hell. They convince themselves that I am just confused or backslidden. They are certain the Holy Spirit will straighten me out and in no time I will be back preaching at First Baptist Church of Somewhere.

For some people, particularly those who are Christian friends or former parishioners, the notion of Bruce Gerencser going to hell is quite preposterous. A few of my friends have told me they find my defection from Christianity quite unsettling. If I can fall away then anyone can fall away. If I am headed for hell, will they be next?

I’ve attended many funerals over the years. I have only been to one funeral where the preacher had guts enough to say that the deceased went to hell. In every other instance some anecdotal story was told to give the living the impression that the deceased was now in heaven with all his dead loved ones (please read Dear Pastor, Do You Believe in Hell?). No matter how vile or evil the person was, he went to heaven when he died. People can live most of their lives as  atheists, but because they asked Jesus into their heart as a child, they go to heaven when they die. What a sweet deal, right?

Do you believe the Bible is the Word of God? Do you believe it is truth? Do you believe that salvation is found only in Jesus Christ? Do you believe Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life?  If so, it’s time for you to be honest about what you believe. It’s time to speak the truth. It’s time to own what the Bible says.

If what the Bible says about salvation, heaven, and hell is true, then these claims are also true:

  • All Muslims are headed for hell
  • All Buddhists are headed for hell
  • All agnostics are headed for hell
  • All atheists are headed for hell
  • All who have not trusted Jesus Christ as their personal savior are headed for hell
  • All who reject the truth claims of the Bible are headed for hell
  • All Catholics are headed for hell
  • All liberal Protestants are headed for hell
  • All universalists are headed for hell
  • All homosexuals are headed for hell
  • Bruce, YOU are headed for hell

If you are not willing to consign to hell most of the billions of people who have lived on this earth, then it is time for you to stop saying you believe the Bible is truth; that you believe that Jesus is the only way of salvation. Just remember, once you admit that you only really believe certain parts of the Bible, you have started down a slippery slope that could lead you to where I am today. Then you too will be headed for hell, just like me.

I write this post as a challenge to my Christian readers, friends, and former parishioners. What do you really believe? Do you really think I’m headed for hell? Do you really believe God will fit me with a special fireproof body so he can torture me for eternity? Don’t try to evade the question by saying things like, I don’t know your heart or only God knows for sure. If one can know from the Bible what salvation is, then certainly it seems people should be able to know if they don’t have it. And if they don’t have salvation, they are certainly going to hell.

010117

Dear Evangelical, If The Christian Gospel is True

sharing the gospel

Dear Evangelical,

I have some questions for you.

  • Do you believe the Bible is the Word of God?
  • Do you believe the Bible is true?
  • Do you believe that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life?
  • Do you believe salvation is found in Jesus alone?
  • Do you believe a person must put their faith and trust in Jesus to be saved?
  • Do you believe a person must put their faith and trust in Jesus to go to heaven after they die?
  • Do you believe the unsaved/non-Christian/unbeliever will go to hell when they die?
  • Do you believe death could happen at any moment?
  • Do you believe this life is preparation for the life to come?
  • Do you believe the church has the obligation to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every person?
  • Do you believe you can tell what a person believes is important by how they spend their time and how they spend their money?

Pretty straightforward questions. Not much room to wiggle, debate or excuse.

Most Evangelicals would say yes to most, if not all, of these questions.

Now, if I  really believed that hell was real, death was certain, and Jesus was the only hope for humanity, I would spend every waking hour telling this to others. I would live simply and spend my money  on making sure this message got out to the world. I would not waste one moment of my time with the frivolous things of this world, using that time to witness to others.

Surely, if what Evangelicals say they believe is true, the message JESUS SAVES is the most important message ever given to humanity.

Easter is the Christian proclamation that Jesus, the son of God, died on the cross for our sin and on the third day rose again from the dead conquering death and hell. Truly there is VICTORY IN JESUS.

And all the people said, Amen.

So, explain something to me. Be honest.

Why is it most that  Evangelicals LIVE like what I wrote above is a complete falsehood?

Most Evangelicals never share their faith with anyone.

Many churches go years without adding one new convert to their membership.

Most Evangelicals live, behave, and die just like their non-Christian neighbors, family, and friends.

It seems that Evangelicals don’t really believe what they are preaching.

I am not pointing a finger at you.

I am just asking for you to be honest.

If Jesus is the answer to all life’s questions.

If Jesus satisfies every longing a soul has.

If Jesus will clean up and change  sinners.

If hell is real.

If heaven is real.

If death is certain.

Why do you live like none of this is true?

How many people did you share the gospel with last week? Last month? Last year? Since you have been a Christian?

How about your pastor? For all his talk about the gospel, how many people has he personally witnessed to this week? Last month? Last year? Since he entered the ministry?

How many new members have joined  your church because they were witnessed to by a member of your church? (transfers from other churches don’t count)

How many new convert baptisms took place at your church last year?

My point in this little exercise is this: talk is cheap.

You want others to become a Christian.

You want others to follow Jesus.

Why should they?

If you don’t really believe the gospel, why should you expect anyone else to?

Here is my take on that matter.

Religion is a personal matter.

Even though the Bible says it is not, you live like it is, so you must believe it is.

Since it is a personal matter, each of us should be free to worship or not worship.

One thing we all agree on..

We all are going to die.

Let’s agree to leave the afterlife to the afterlife.

I am willing to settle up with God after I die.

Life would be so much better for everyone if each of us had the liberty to live life freely without being evangelized or coerced into making a religious profession. (and let’s be honest, a lot of the evangelistic techniques used by Evangelicals is coercion.)

This does not mean we can’t talk about religion. This doesn’t mean we can’t talk about the Bible.

But, let’s talk as fellow citizens of earth. Let’s talk as people who have in common humanity.

If we do this, you are relieved of the burden of witnessing and I am relieved of being an evangelistic target.

Let’s just be you and me.

Bruce Gerencser