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Where will you spend eternity?

Re: Where will you spend eternity?

Postby Bluegoat » 17 Jun 2009, 22:47

Tuke wrote:Of course the New Testament has much to say about self-righteousness and works (bribes). Our righteousness is no stairway to heaven, only Christ's righteousness. He alone is our propitiation.


I suppose I will open the can of worms... there is James, who seems often to be overlooked by Protestants - he hardly equates works with bribes. Rather, I would say he assures us that the spiritual and the material are indeed, one thing, much like the doctrine of the bodily resurrection of the dead and the recreation of the universe.
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Re: Where will you spend eternity?

Postby historyb » 18 Jun 2009, 05:13

I may not be understanding you, but James doesn't make the two things one. What he does is say that because of one thing the second thing naturally follows so that it can be said that we are not just justified by our faith but by what we do. I don't thinks works and bribes are the same thing though
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Re: Where will you spend eternity?

Postby Bluegoat » 18 Jun 2009, 10:45

historyb wrote:I may not be understanding you, but James doesn't make the two things one. What he does is say that because of one thing the second thing naturally follows so that it can be said that we are not just justified by our faith but by what we do. I don't thinks works and bribes are the same thing though


I think that what he is saying is that the attempt to separate works and faith is to try and create a kind of dualism. In a way we can say that the body and soul are not the same thing - but as Christians it is clear that to be human is a matter of having both. Christ was God and man, a sacrament has a physical sign and a spiritual aspect. And in the same way, faith and works are parts of a whole.

There always seems to be a tendency, and I notice it more and more lately for some reason, to want to separate the spiritual and the material. But it seems to me that one of the fundamental truths of Christianity is that we cannot be duelists.
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Re: Where will you spend eternity?

Postby Kolbitar » 18 Jun 2009, 15:27

JRosemary wrote:And, yeah Kolbitar, I'd think that anyone who joins any religion only to 'get to heaven' (or some equivalent) might, indeed, need to get over themselves. :wink: (I also think such people are few and far between.)


I think that depends on how you understand "Heaven", which returns me to my earlier post...
The man who lives in contact with what he believes to be a living Church is a man always expecting to meet Plato and Shakespeare tomorrow at breakfast. He is always expecting to see some truth that he has never seen before. --Chesterton

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Re: Where will you spend eternity?

Postby Bulgakov » 18 Jun 2009, 17:22

The old testament does hint towards it.

Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise.
You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy!
For your dew is a dew of light,
and the earth will give birth to the dead.


Isaiah 26:19

Granted, this isn't as explicit as the Resurrection of Christ in 1 Corinthians 15, but to say that the Old Testament knows little of it simply won't work. Yes, the Torah doesn't mention resurrection per se (notwithstanding our Lord's powerful refutation of the Saducees), but as redemptive history unfolds, the Resurrection becomes more clear.

As St Augustine says, reading the Old Testament is like walking in a dark room. Reading the New Testament is like turning on the light in the room.
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Re: Where will you spend eternity?

Postby Tuke » 18 Jun 2009, 20:04

Bluegoat wrote:
Tuke wrote:Of course the New Testament has much to say about self-righteousness and works (bribes). Our righteousness is no stairway to heaven, only Christ's righteousness. He alone is our propitiation.
I suppose I will open the can of worms... there is James, who seems often to be overlooked by Protestants - he hardly equates works with bribes....
Agreed, nor does he contradict Paul. James' works are simply Paul's proof in 2 Corinthians 13:5. However, remember we are talking about eternity, not love and other fruits of the spirit. Rosemary was denying that God uses heaven as a bribe; I'm sorry if I confused the issue by equating our works with God's bribes. I believe there is a heaven to gain and a hell to shun, but it is not a bribe. No where does James say works are prerequisite for salvation. He says it is simply an indicator or reassurance that you are in the faith, in the Way, and on the right road.
"The 'great golden chain of Concord' has united the whole of Edmund Spenser's world.... Nothing is repressed; nothing is insubordinate. To read him is to grow in mental health." The Allegory Of Love (Faerie Queene)

2 Corinthians IV.17 The Weight of Glory
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Re: Where will you spend eternity?

Postby Tuke » 18 Jun 2009, 20:06

Bulgakov wrote:The old testament does hint towards it.
Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise.
You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy!
For your dew is a dew of light,
and the earth will give birth to the dead.
Isaiah 26:19
Daniel 12:2 builds upon Isaiah. In fact, if all thirteen of chapter 12's verses aren't about eternal life I'm greatly mistaken.
Here are a few more resurrection images from the Tanak:
Enoch's translation, he never died. Genesis 5:24
Elijah's translation, he never died. 2 Kings 2:11
A dead body was instantly resurrected after contacting Elisha's grave. Admittedly temporal, the event still speaks to me of eternal life. 2 Kings 13:21
"The 'great golden chain of Concord' has united the whole of Edmund Spenser's world.... Nothing is repressed; nothing is insubordinate. To read him is to grow in mental health." The Allegory Of Love (Faerie Queene)

2 Corinthians IV.17 The Weight of Glory
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Re: Where will you spend eternity?

Postby JRosemary » 18 Jun 2009, 21:23

Bulgakov wrote:As St Augustine says, reading the Old Testament is like walking in a dark room. Reading the New Testament is like turning on the light in the room.


:rolleyes: As a Jew, I obviously disagree with this statement. I don't hold the New Testament as authoritative--although I respect it as the sacred scripture of a sister religion. And I don't hold Augustine as an authority--though I can recognize his philosophical genius, however heavily he borrowed from Plato. But I really don't care for him. (Augustine, I mean--I rather like Plato.) He (Augustine again) wanted all Jews to be kept in abject, cruel, degrading conditions so that they could serve as a lesson to others on what happens to those who don't become Christians. (For all that philosophical genius, Augustine could be one vicious, nasty guy. Just take a look at The City of God, book 4, chapt. 34 & book 18, chap. 46.)

Look, it comes down to this: Christians have their own take on the Hebrew Bible--a take that, in many ways, is utterly different from Judaism's. In fact, not only do Christians interpret the Hebrew Bible differently than Jews do--they don't even ask the same questions that Jews do. Small wonder that Jews and Christians so rarely understand each other. We speak entirely different languages and often one tradition has little interest in what seems to be a burning issue to the other.

Bulgakov wrote:The old testament does hint towards it.


Again, there is no formal doctrine of the resurrection of the dead to be had in the Hebrew Bible. Judaism did by and by develop one, now and again using so-called 'hints' (which are often, imho, no such thing), plus, I believe, the Oral Law, and, possibly, foreign influences. (Although the idea of a bodily resurrection may have been a Jewish contribution to the whole afterlife idea--Judaism doesn't generally have any body/soul dualism.)

The Pharisees--that is, the forefathers of Rabbinic Judaism--had the notion in place by the New Testament era. Not everyone bought it then, and not everyone buys it now. The Sadducees--that is, the Kohanim and Levites who had, unfortunately, largely sold out to the Romans--held only the five Books of the Torah as authoritative and dismissed the Oral Law (which is now included in the Talmud). So when confronted with the notion of the resurrection of the dead, the Sadducees naturally shook their heads and decided that this was just some crazy idea of the Pharisees that had nothing to do with the Torah.

(I don't often agree with the Saduccees, but in this case I can almost see their point. But I don't waste my breath denying the resurrection of the dead, partly because it's not a significant issue to me and partly out of respect to the rabbis of old and the Talmud.)

Jesus seems either to have been a Pharisee or leaned heavily toward the Pharisees. So, yeah, he accepted the Oral Law and the resurrection of the dead. So do many Orthodox Jews today. But, again, not all.

Ultimately, the whole issue of personal immortality isn't of fundamental importance in Judaism. Of course Judaism has various teachings on it--but even the most ardent believers in the resurrection of the dead (or any other Jewish take on the issue) will still consider these 'backburner' questions.

Except in one very funny case. I've told this story here before, but it's worth repeating. A while back (a couple of decades ago, actually), a Jewish friend of mine was in Dublin. He went to the Orthodox synagogue there--where, incredibly, the rabbi preached a sermon on--you guessed it--personal immortality. My friend was astonished. He went up to the rabbi and said that in all his life, and in all his years as a traveler attending synagogues all over the United States and Europe, he had never heard any rabbi preach about the afterlife.

The rabbi smiled as he answered. "My dear sir, you're in Dublin. We're very Catholic Jews here." :lol:
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Re: Where will you spend eternity?

Postby Bulgakov » 18 Jun 2009, 23:23

JRosemary wrote:
Bulgakov wrote:As St Augustine says, reading the Old Testament is like walking in a dark room. Reading the New Testament is like turning on the light in the room.


:rolleyes: As a Jew, I obviously disagree with this statement. I don't hold the New Testament as authoritative--although I respect it as the sacred scripture of a sister religion. And I don't hold Augustine as an authority--though I can recognize his philosophical genius, however heavily he borrowed from Plato. But I really don't care for him. (Augustine, I mean--I rather like Plato.) He (Augustine again) wanted all Jews to be kept in abject, cruel, degrading conditions so that they could serve as a lesson to others on what happens to those who don't become Christians. (For all that philosophical genius, Augustine could be one vicious, nasty guy. Just take a look at The City of God, book 4, chapt. 34 & book 18, chap. 46.)

Look, it comes down to this: Christians have their own take on the Hebrew Bible--a take that, in many ways, is utterly different from Judaism's. In fact, not only do Christians interpret the Hebrew Bible differently than Jews do--they don't even ask the same questions that Jews do. Small wonder that Jews and Christians so rarely understand each other. We speak entirely different languages and often one tradition has little interest in what seems to be a burning issue to the other.

Bulgakov wrote:The old testament does hint towards it.


Again, there is no formal doctrine of the resurrection of the dead to be had in the Hebrew Bible. Judaism did by and by develop one, now and again using so-called 'hints' (which are often, imho, no such thing), plus, I believe, the Oral Law, and, possibly, foreign influences. (Although the idea of a bodily resurrection may have been a Jewish contribution to the whole afterlife idea--Judaism doesn't generally have any body/soul dualism.)

The Pharisees--that is, the forefathers of Rabbinic Judaism--had the notion in place by the New Testament era. Not everyone bought it then, and not everyone buys it now. The Sadducees--that is, the Kohanim and Levites who had, unfortunately, largely sold out to the Romans--held only the five Books of the Torah as authoritative and dismissed the Oral Law (which is now included in the Talmud). So when confronted with the notion of the resurrection of the dead, the Sadducees naturally shook their heads and decided that this was just some crazy idea of the Pharisees that had nothing to do with the Torah.

(I don't often agree with the Saduccees, but in this case I can almost see their point. But I don't waste my breath denying the resurrection of the dead, partly because it's not a significant issue to me and partly out of respect to the rabbis of old and the Talmud.)

Jesus seems either to have been a Pharisee or leaned heavily toward the Pharisees. So, yeah, he accepted the Oral Law and the resurrection of the dead. So do many Orthodox Jews today. But, again, not all.

Ultimately, the whole issue of personal immortality isn't of fundamental importance in Judaism. Of course Judaism has various teachings on it--but even the most ardent believers in the resurrection of the dead (or any other Jewish take on the issue) will still consider these 'backburner' questions.

Except in one very funny case. I've told this story here before, but it's worth repeating. A while back (a couple of decades ago, actually), a Jewish friend of mine was in Dublin. He went to the Orthodox synagogue there--where, incredibly, the rabbi preached a sermon on--you guessed it--personal immortality. My friend was astonished. He went up to the rabbi and said that in all his life, and in all his years as a traveler attending synagogues all over the United States and Europe, he had never heard any rabbi preach about the afterlife.

The rabbi smiled as he answered. "My dear sir, you're in Dublin. We're very Catholic Jews here." :lol:


I know you don't accept Augustine and the New Testament as authorities. That wasn't why I quoted them. Okay, so the Oral Tradition doesn't include the Resurrection as a doctrine. Fair enough. You still didn't deal with the verses in Isaiah and Daniel.
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Re: Where will you spend eternity?

Postby JRosemary » 19 Jun 2009, 01:10

Bugalkov wrote:Okay, so the Oral Tradition doesn't include the Resurrection as a doctrine. Fair enough. You still didn't deal with the verses in Isaiah and Daniel.


You must have misread me. I never said that the Oral Law doesn't include the resurrection of the dead as a doctrine. I said there's no formal doctrine in the Tanak (Hebrew Bible.) The Torah has only casual references to shades in Sheol (who can't be numbered among the living) and the rest of the Tanak has either Sheol, ambiguous passages, or the rare passages that suggest an afterlife but don't add up to a full-fledged doctrine. Here's how I put it in my last post:

JRosemary wrote: Again, there is no formal doctrine of the resurrection of the dead to be had in the Hebrew Bible. Judaism did by and by develop one, now and again using so-called 'hints' (which are often, imho, no such thing), plus, I believe, the Oral Law, and, possibly, foreign influences. (Although the idea of a bodily resurrection may have been a Jewish contribution to the whole afterlife idea--Judaism doesn't generally have any body/soul dualism.)


The Oral Law is written down in the Talmud--and the Talmud (as I mentioned earlier) does explicitly refer to the [bodily] resurrection of the dead. The Oral Law was around for a long time before it was written down as part of the Talmud--if you try to date what ideas came about when as far as the Oral Law goes, all I can do is wish you luck. Most scholars think that a systematic view of the aferlife like the notion of the resurrection of the dead came into Judaism quite late; not too long before the Christian era, in fact. But there are many Orthodox or Orthodox-leaning Jews who will tell you that God gave the Oral Law to Moses, whole and complete, at Sinai with the Torah (also whole and complete.)

Re Isaiah & Daniel: I have no desire to get into a proof-texting argument with you. That's especially true of Isaiah, which is highly poetic. On top of that, the grammar of that verse is quite confusing. Again, you're dealing with poetry, not a straightforward narrative. The Hebrew Study Bible, for example, translates that verse as:

Oh, let Your dead revive!
Let corpses arise!
Awake and shout for joy,
You who dwell in the dust!--
For Your dew is like the dew on fresh growth;
You make the land of the shades come to life.


Is this a reference to some kind of afterlife? I think it's ambiguous. True, it's not a clear cut metaphor for national renewal, like Ezekiel's dry bones. Many people, however, take it as Isaiah's poetic vindication of the poor and downtrodden, likening them to the dead.

I think you've got a clearer case in Daniel. It certainly reads (in Hebrew and English) like a straightforward conviction of an afterlife and judgment (not a full-fledged doctrine of the resurrection of the dead, as we understand the teaching now, but it's certainly something that those so minded can draw from, as Maimonides did.) In fact, as the Hebrew Study Bible points out, Daniel is the only place in the entire Tanak (Hebrew Bible) that unambiguously refers to life after death.

I wouldn't use it as a proof text, though. (Maimonides does, but I wouldn't! :tongue:) There are plenty of verses that seem to explicitly deny life after death--including, ironically, Isaiah 38: 18-19, and Job's conviction that "man lies down never to arise." Both of these acknowledge only Sheol--and Sheol is not a place of the living. (Quite the opposite.)

That's why, in my opinion, it's bootless to go through the Hebrew Bible looking for proof-texts. The balance of the Tanak is simply uninterested in the hereafter--the rest has either a shadowy notion of the dead shades in Sheol or poetically ambiguous passages. Daniel is an exception. The author of that verse apparently did believe in some notion of life after death and judgment. But why should we give Daniel more weight than the rest of the Tanak?

To me, the Hebrew Bible seems curiously unconcerned about any systematic notion of life after death. That's one of the reasons I don't concern myself with the question. I'd rather focus on what I can do here and now, and leave any afterlife (or lack thereof) in God's hands. I give HaShem a great deal of unsolicited advice on how to run the world on any given day--but on this issue, I'm willing to assume that He knows what He's about. :wink:
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Re: Where will you spend eternity?

Postby wondawomen » 22 Jun 2009, 13:31

I'm back from a trip to Texas. While in the airport, I found a quote for this discussion." I envy my dad his faith. I envy all people who have someone to beseech, who know where they're going, who sleep under the fluffy white comforter of belief."
This is from"The Middle Place" by Kelly Corrigan. She does not profess to be a Christian but her father is her mentor and is a devout catholic. I am so fortunate to have that fluffy white comforter of belief. Now I have to put this on facebook. Love Ya :toothy-grin:
We love, because He first loved us.1John4:19 NASB
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Re: Where will you spend eternity?

Postby timoconnor » 28 Jun 2009, 18:40

I believe the bible teaches (in orginal greek) that the stubborn to God eventually pay for all their sins 'to the last penny' in hell and then are saved along with all the creation - So we all eventually spend the endless future of eternity together with God - in full happiness and God shares the full riches of His grace with us all...
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Re: Where will you spend eternity?

Postby Tuke » 28 Jun 2009, 21:38

timoconnor wrote:I believe the bible teaches ...
I believe not. Can you identify the verses you have in mind?
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Re: Where will you spend eternity?

Postby deadwhitemale » 29 Jun 2009, 05:35

wondawomen wrote:I'm back from a trip to Texas. While in the airport, I found a quote for this discussion." I envy my dad his faith. I envy all people who have someone to beseech, who know where they're going, who sleep under the fluffy white comforter of belief."
This is from"The Middle Place" by Kelly Corrigan. She does not profess to be a Christian but her father is her mentor and is a devout catholic. I am so fortunate to have that fluffy white comforter of belief. Now I have to put this on facebook. Love Ya :toothy-grin:


I think I could still be called a believer in some sense -- at least I can't quite shake the sense that there's something to it all --but I sleep under no "fluffy white comforter" of belief. When I can sleep at all I toss and turn and sweat like someone in a fever, and I have bad dreams.

I don't know where I'm going. I am often actually afraid to beseech. As I have mentioned before, I tend to get the exact opposite (in spades) of whatever I pray for.

I have had many debates and arguments (some of them a bit heated) with people who insist that believers only believe because they want to believe, because their belief(s) comfort them. My belief does not comfort me. How's that line in one of Paul's epistles go? "The demons also believe, and tremble."

Correction: that was James 2:19:

"Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble."

I know full well that I am not a good guy, or not anymore. I think I started out to be, or at least started out wanting to be (or maybe just assuming that I was), but something went wrong, miscarried. People say, "Repent." But how? I seem powerless. I believe powerlessness is at least as corrupting as power. Maybe more so. I started out with all these ideas and plans for all the good I was going to do. And I had knowledge -- I knew what I was to do. But I had not the power to do it. Knowledge is NOT power, no matter who said different. Now I just wait (possibly for something that will never hapen), and rot, with no purpose.

Of Tolkien's characters, right now I find it easiest to relate to Hurin Thalion, "changed and broken by long slow torments" (as the Mouth of Sauron threatened Frodo would be). Ah, I think this is it:

" And so he shall endure the slow torment of years, as long and slow as our arts in the Great tower can make it. He will never be released, unless maybe when he is broken so he may come back to you, and you shall see what you have done." -- Tolkien, The Return of the King, "The Black Gate Opens"

' Húrin still would not surrender, and was placed high on the peaks of Thangorodrim, either chained or magically immobilized in a seat. Through the power of Morgoth, he could see and hear from the seat all the evils that later befell his son Túrin and second daughter Nienor, who was born while he was a captive. But he saw only those things that Morgoth wished to reveal, lessening their good deeds and casting shadow on the counsels of Thingol and the Haladin. Húrin was thus embittered even more by the way his children, both under the spells of Glaurung, came to get married and later commit suicide.

After twenty eight years of imprisonment and the death of his children, Húrin was released by Morgoth. "He had grown grim to look upon: his hair and beard were white and long, but there was a fell light in his eyes. He walked unbowed, and yet carried a great black staff; but he was girt with a sword."[2] He was brought to his old homelands in Hithlum, but the Easterlings living there at first did not recognize him and later feared him, believing he served their evil lord Morgoth. The House of Hador had been destroyed, and those who remained as slaves or outlaws held him in suspicion and fear.' (Wikipedia)


Looking for a moment that'll never happen
Living in the gap between past and future
Take away the stone and the timber
And a little piece of rope won't hold it together -- Kate Bush, "Love and Anger" (c. 1989?)


The land where I shall never be
The love that I shall never see" -- C.S. Lewis, "Spirits in Bondage" (circa 1919?)


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Re: Where will you spend eternity?

Postby Amanda » 03 Jul 2009, 03:03

wondawomen wrote: I am so fortunate to have that fluffy white comforter of belief. Love Ya :toothy-grin:


This makes me think of a sermon a pastor gave at our church. He said that one thing many Christians should think about is the "warm and fuzzies". Faith is not about feeling good and happy all the time like Oprah would like everyone to be. Its about following God's word and doing what is right. I am new to faith and can't quote scripture like many of you. But one plus to being new and learning is my faith. The more I read and research and listen the more I know I don't know. Which is why I put my faith in God. He will reveal what we need to know when we need to know it.

Even if what we learn doesn't give us the warm and fuzzies or if it doesn't answer all of our questions doesn't mean that there is now heaven or hell, or even no God. From the little I have read and understand He knows all and has a plan for us all.

So my purpose for this response really is to warn wondawoman, you have a very good point but be careful with your comforter. You never know when you'll have to defend it.
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