heaven

Belief in an afterlife did not emerge until nearly the end of the writing of the Hebrew Bible

Did the ancient Hebrews believe there was a heaven and hell? Most likely not.

Most biblical scholars say they did not (this coincides with the fact that the Sadducees during the period of Jesus, which included all the Jewish temple priests, did not believe in a Resurrection).

Marcus Borg writes:

“For a long time now, mainstream biblical and theological scholarship has recognized that the belief in an afterlife did not emerge until nearly the end of the writing of the Hebrew Bible. The first unambiguous reference occurs in the last chapter of Daniel, seen by most scholars as the latest document of the Hebrew Bible, written around 165 BCE. Though the authors of the Psalms and other books often pray for deliverance from death, there is no clear affirmation of an afterlife until Daniel.This means that for all the previous centuries of the biblical period, people in ancient Israel didn’t believe in life after death. To state the obvious, “going to heaven” could not have been their motive for taking God seriously.”borg marcus

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How can you be perfectly happy knowing your loved ones are being tortured in hell/

How can you be perfectly happy in Heaven if you know that some of your family and friends, whom you love very dearly, are being eternally tormented by the flames of hell?

how can you be happy in heaven

(This is a very weighty topic, and it may help you to watch this video of a Jordanian Pilot being burned by ISIS, and gauge your reaction towards a stranger feeling just seconds of hell, before answering hastily and carelessly
http://video.foxnews.com/v/4030583977001/ ).

 

OPTION 1

You will be so enthralled by the tantalizing pleasure of being with God, that you will stop caring about the suffering of others. The enjoyment gained from being with God will completely annul the sorrow and empathy for your family/friends who are lingering in incomprehensible anguish.

(The downside of this theory is that it seems to be centered wholly on selfishness, you ignore the suffering of others because you are enjoying something amazing; an idea antithetical to the Christian ideal.)

 

OPTION 2

You will become so enraptured by God, and so moved by the desire for his interests that you will actually rejoice as you see the torture of sinners who did not obey God, even if those people are your own children, parents, wife, or husband. Seeing what you believe is justice which honors God, will give you more happiness than seeing your family members saved from infernal torment.

(The downside of this theory, which indeed was held by many Protestants in the 15th-19th centuries, is that it appeals to our senses as downright cruel and frightening. It also exhibits the action of betrayal, an action that is not noble, in that one “betrays” his love for his earthly family, and instead rejoices at their painful and never-ending agony.)

 

OPTION 3

Some part of your mind will be erased and you will no longer retain any memories of your loved ones and family members; their very existence will be wiped from your mind.

(The downside of this theory is that it appears to make humans playthings for God, who brain-wipes them against their will, in some sense making them slaves/robots).

 

OPTION 4

Your mind will be “reprogrammed” and all the emotion and feelings that you now have towards earthly loved ones will extracted, and then redirected towards members of your heavenly family. Simply put, God will take away your feelings towards your loved ones.

(The downside of this theory is that it appears to make humans playthings for God, who brain-wipes them against their will, in some sense making them slaves/robots).

What is more frightening – infinite torture for most people or finite existence for all?

hell_forever_and_ever (1)

Which of these two options* is more frightening and shows a universe with “no purpose for existence” to most people?

A. Traditional Orthodoxy – The vast majority of the human race (Matthew 7:13-14) will have lived their lives only to end up being tortured in fire for all eternity. Regardless of their begging, they cannot be liberated from the most painful, excruciating, horrendous torment imaginable. This is their only destiny… to scream and wither in dreadful pain, forever… and ever.

B. Ontological Naturalism – All of the human race will have lived their lives, enjoying finite pleasures and finite meaning, but will ultimately cease to exist, and trillions of years (instead of most burning in hell) everyone will have passed into oblivion.

If you had the choice, would you rather allow:

(a) where you personally can be in heaven while many billions of people, who had hopes/dreams/ambitions and existential yearnings like you, spend forever in infinite agony? Or would you rather
(b) save those billions from burning forever, by ending eternal life for everyone who exists, robbing heaven from a minority, including yourself?

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*Note this question is merely a thought experiment to get us to think about two dichotomous choices we often juxtapose. This experiment doesn’t prove anything, nor does it reflect the only choices we have.

Why would Jesus ascend “upwards” into the sky?

Where would he go? Past the clouds and into space? Past the moon, Jupiter, Saturn? Since a rocket flying up takes you into one direction of the universe, is heaven in one direction because Jesus flew up into one direction?

If heaven is not “up above” but in a different dimension towards which one can teleport, why would Jesus create such a misconception by flying up above the atmosphere, only to magically disappear and teleport to that different dimension? Isn’t that a little deceptive?

Or perhaps this was a way for prescientific people, who believed heaven was literally above the clouds (Job 22:14/Isaiah 40:22/Amos 9:6) to write the story of Jesus?