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Fear Of Eternal Conscious Torture

The Rhino

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I'm new to this forum and to progressive Christianity. In fact I have considered myself many things over the years, including a liberal Christian. But I never seemed to get anywhere or find anyone with similar views perhaps as few consider themselves as liberal Christians, due to negative connotations, but I had no idea of the more positive progressive Christian label.


In honesty I don't even know if I am a progressive Christian by use of the 8 points. I struggle with point 2, but through fear more than anything else.


Recently I've been struggling immensely with my faith, not faith itself, but the fear that my version of faith is wrong. I'm plagued by thoughts that I may be headed for hell, as are 99% of people I know if fundamentalist Christians are correct. I should announce that the root of this problem is OCD for which I am reviving treatment. But with this issue I am unable to bring myself to simply dispel my thoughts as "just thoughts". I have various fears of hell. A few examples are that I don't think a loving god is conducive with hell. That I am not entirely sure that I understand why believing in Jesus and his death is necessary for my forgiveness. I don't know that I can feel regret for all my "sins" as I feel some of them were what I beloved and in some cases still believe were the most loving thing I could do. For example I had sex with my wife many times before marriage and though I understand the benefits of being with one partner only in life, I feel it was a wonderful part of our relationship. I also have the fear that I may have been possessed by a demon. I realise that this may sound silly. But many fundamentalists believe in demons and I have seen many so called exorcisms, could they all be fake? Even my pastor believes in possession but says it is a rare occurrence. I don't feel possessed I should add, but rather am afraid that one could be lying dormant in me, or acting in a way I cannot detect. I realise that this may sound crazy to rational people, but IMO this subject we know so little about, what if the fundies are right!! If we take the bible and interpret it literally it certainly is possible.


There are a number of bible verses, that confound me when fundamentalists produce their arguments for being fundamentalists. I forget which they are but remember the gist of each one: beware false teachers, they may appear as angels of light but be in league with satan, you can tell who's a false teacher because they wont use scripture- that's progressive Christians in their eyes. No one comes to God except through me- why does god require us to believe in a story from 2000 years ago in order to escape eternal torture? We all deserve hell but gods mercy allows us to be saved if we accept Christ's sacrifice- why must we believe in that to accept it?? Different religions are attributed to being satanic in nature. I've even read that some people think meditation let's in evil spirits! Which is awful because its one of the only things that gives me respite from my anxiety and guilt attacks.


I have had bible verses that support these claims and if they are right this is terrifying news! Firstly that people exist who think this is love. And secondly that God could actually be like this! To say it freaks me out is an understatement. My therapy is supposed to be that I don't give these thoughts any time, that I don't fuse thought to feelings. But in this case I can't bring myself to do this, as I'd rather regret a few years of hell in OCD (which i know could be my life) than an eternity in literal hell.


This I'm sure is the reason why the church has done this. I'm the prime example of being scared into faith.


I understand that many Christians say god doesn't send people to hell, that he gives them the choice to go themselves. Surely this could only stand though if free will remained after death? I know I have done things that I truly regret and often hate myself for, I am sorry to God and have even begged Jesus's forgiveness. But it is hard to this honestly when you only have a set of books to base your understanding on.


I don't know, I know I'm rambling, but there are so many contrasting views on such an important subject. So if nothing else could you please give me advice on

1: What you believe the afterlife entails and why?

2: how you cope with guilt over sin and fear of hell?

3: do you let the fear of hell or guilt of sin overtly effect your religious views and/or your actions ?

4: how do you reconcile yourself against such confident fundamentalists such as Mark Driscol? (I don't like the guy, but his confidence that I'm likely going to hell scares the pants off me).

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It seems like your conscience is waking up to itself and leading you away from Fundamental untruths. No God of love is going to send you to an eternal Hell just because you don't follow 'the rules' the fundies tell you you have too. I mean really, would you treat your beloved child like that? No, of course not.


Unfortunately many fundies don't even understand the collection of books they are quoting from. They seem to think the completed bible just dropped down from heaven one day and whallah, there be the Word of God. When in fact the bible is generations and generations of people trying to understand the world and how it works. Personally, I think sometimes some of the various authors hit on some universal truths, and sometimes they are racist, sexist, fear-mongers. After all, they ate just human beings trying to understand life.


I encourage you to read and learn about the composition of the bible, about when it was declared THE word of God, and most importantly, listen to your heart for the truth, not men!


Once I was lost, then I was saved, but I questioned the price, and now I am free!




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Welcome to the forum Rhino,


Thanks for sharing your personal plight.


Just a quick response concerning your questions.....


1. To me the present is enough. I don't think fundamentals really know what the afterlife entails. They are just repeating what they have been taught. As is recorded Jesus said and i believe is true "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."


2. I believe i exist and was created as i am and that my creator accepts me as i am. If i am doing the best i can then why should i let guilt reign in my life and what do i have to fear from a loving God? You are here by the grace of God and you will continue in that grace.


3. No


4. No need to reconcile myself with anyone elses view. All we can do is operate in the light we have been given by God. Pray for Mark Driscol. He can't help himself and is at the present operating in the light that he is allowing which is clouded by the premises of man and the church system rather than the spirit of God that is in and through all.



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Thank you, I have read a lot on the construction of the bible after that last few days, and found this site through watching John Spongs interesting teachings. In truth I've been quite up on philosophical ideas behind the mysteries of the universe, and have done extensive (obsessive) reasurch sporadically (when my ocd is at its worst) for the last 10 years.


I guess it is really the fear that I struggle with, IF I'm wrong ill spend an awfully long time (forever) regretting it.


I read a similar topic on the forum a few pages back on the debate forum about the afterlife. In it the guy was worried about his wife dying, and hoping that there was an afterlife for her sake. I understand how he felt, however in my current state of mind I would gladly take anihilation upon death than even risking eternal torment. A related huge fear I have is that of having children and bringing them into a universe where hell, if it exists as the fundamental's put it across, is a real danger. Would it not be fairer to simply not bring children into such a gamble? This would of course cause my wife to hate me, but it seems terribly irresponsible at times. Sort of like going all in, in a poker game, but its not your money your using, it's your spouses... Or your children...

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I know that fear well, Rhino. I have been there before. What helped me (apart from this forum) was reading the likes of Spong, Bart Erhman, Marcus Borg, Phil Gulley, and learning a different way to view Jesus and the bible.


There is no hell, and there is no God that would send a single precious child of his to such a place. There isn't even an understanding of hell until the Greeks introduced such thinking maybe a 100 years before Jesus. It's a man-made creation, you have nothing to fear.

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And yet others believe there is a Hell... surely it is more
accurate to say that we truly do not know, even if we cannot perceive
that there should/could be, what do we base this on? Our superior
intelligence? Surely this cannot be a fair test, as God created us
all individually. As well as this, there are a lot of Fundamentalists
that am sure are intelligent. I guess what I am trying to say is; it
is still a gamble.


However, I can console myself with the notion that I cannot
hoodwink God. If I think having no children will get me off the hook
will prevent me from seeing them burn in hell is again not assured.
Their souls could already be waiting for birth, and could be sent to
this earth regardless but to another family. And if God is vengeful
it could be that my refusal to have children could land me in exactly
the same position. Or perhaps I am just saying this to make myself feel better


I hate being fallible sometimes

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It is most accurate to say that truly we do not know. How possibly can anybody knows what happens to our consciousness when our body ceases to function?


What I personally base a non-belief in Hell on is what to me, seems the absolute ridiculousness of such a concept. Of course, that didn't immediately help me when I was in a place that I sense you are in now. What did help was my continuing questioning and weighing up of the concept of Hell against that of a loving, compassionate, father. It just doesn't fit no matter how cold and harsh fundamentalists want to be about the subject.


What also helped was reading and learning that views on God evolved throughout the bible. This to me demonstrated that at best the bible is made up of varying views of God as particular individuals interpreted God to be, at those times. Hell itself, when the word is translated properly, doesn't even come into Israel's culture until about 100BCE. It simply wasn't on the radar until around Jesus' time, and that's thanks to the Greeks who introduced this line of thinking.


If there was a test for heaven/hell, I am certain it would be based upon a person's heart and not their doctrinal beliefs, regardless of what fundies will tell you. You have a good heart and compassion, Rhino. How could God do anything but love you.




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Just as an aside, today I said goodbye to my father-in-law of sixteen years, a true compassionate soul. Whilst he never believed what evangelical Christianity said he needed too in order to escape an eternal torture, he would be the last person I would ever expect to see punished by a Hell-believing God. There is no justice in such a place. That's why I can't accept it as a truth.




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I'm truly sorry for your loss Paul.


I think it hits on another reason why I cannot accept the place either. Out of self sacrifice for what I believe is right.


My brother is Gay, he makes mistakes and often expects things to go his way without trial, but I love him. I know that if I tried to change the bits I disagree with (selfishness) or the bits I don't (being gay) he would not change. Certainly not by sharing the bible with him. This is what confuses me about Christians who preach the bible to non-believers. As if it will change people's minds... I think for the most part it alienates people.


What did Jesus do with sinners? He washed their feet, he was a servant to them. And that is how he was the King of Kings. Because he held everyone up, weather they repented or not. In my line of work I help people and they attack me. I don't ever judge them (I try not to at least) but try to show them a better way, or if they are not ready to accept that way I minimise the damage that they will do by caring for them (I'm a special needs care home manager). I don't love them per say but I care for them unconditionally.


I love my Gay brother, and I will help him through this hard time he's going through until he can work his own way through it. After all, you can't force growth. I love my atheist half brother, my Christian mother, agnostic father, Methodist wife, my friends with tattoos my friend who had a child out of wedlock, the list goes on and on. I love them all, i love them for who they are. And I will continue to love and to help them, why should i worship a God who wants to send some or all of those i love to hell? Why would I want him to send anyone there? Even rapists and serial killers have suffered pain and loss, and virtually everyone on this planet is loved by someone.


I heard a Christian woman say once that it would be ok if their loved ones ended up in eternal torment because they would be so happy in heaven. That seems awfully selfish to me.


I hope your father in law finds peace and that you do too. You certainly have both helped me.

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It seems to me, there is no God like that to understand. If people are taught and believe not what they reason or discover for themselves but rather by blindly accept traditions they are taught, there will be nothing to understand. Faith to me is not blind acceptance of tradition but rather that which comes from questioning , reason , and an individual journey led by trust in that which sustains us (God) until we come to realize for our self through the manifestations in our life that which is known yet not visibly seen.



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The Rhino,


As another newcomer here, thanks for sharing.


I am sad that you are distressed with the way you feel about yourself, your past and your future, but hope that your questions will do you a huge amount of good, and as you come through this allow you to see the world with a spring in your step and perhaps help others to joy that can come through liberation from this horrible guilt and fear under which you have submitted yourself.



"1: What you believe the afterlife entails and why?"

Personally I believe when I die, I rot. This requires me to make the most of life on earth. As an ex fundamentalist christian, this did not liberate me into sin, but made me more loving of my fellow humans. I did not see them as conversion fodder, I did not bring an agenda to everything, but could simply weigh up using logic what I thought was the best decision. If I do something kind, I'm not doing it for god, but because I think it is right based on reason, or because it just feels good.


"2: how you cope with guilt over sin and fear of hell?"

I don't believe in it. I think doing so would waste away the precious years I have on earth.

"3: do you let the fear of hell or guilt of sin overtly effect your religious views and/or your actions ?"

Nope. Liberated from all the hate and mind chains.


"4: how do you reconcile yourself against such confident fundamentalists such as Mark Driscol? (I don't like the guy, but his confidence that I'm likely going to hell scares the pants off me)."

He can be as confident as he likes, doesn't make him right, I think his morals are corrupt and his world view is distorted. He may as well believe in fairies at the bottom of the garden, to me that is how I assess the evidence. It sounds like I have little respect for his views, that is because he has little respect for mine.


I'm not trying to talk you into atheism, but for me it is liberating. I don't have to inherit the immoral views of a literalist interpretation of the bible and I have every defence and more against evangelical, charismatic or pentocostal apologetics and hysterics, fake signs and wonders and all the associated garbage.


I'm here to learn more respect for more moderate religious views. I've given a counterpoint to faith above, I hope it is not aggressive, it is not meant to be!

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I'd like to share a story I once read that went something like this:


A woman was bathing her two young boys when she was suddenly overcome by the fear that if these boys didn't grow up to accept that Jesus died for them on the cross, then they would be condemned to an eternal Hell. The woman cried out to God to take her instead, let her go to Hell instead of her two boys and instead guarantee them life in Heaven.


God answered "How much more do you think my love for you is, that if you are prepared to go to an eternal Hell for your children, how much more protective would I be of my children".


It resonated with me mainly because I have kids, and to see them in pain or suffering very much makes you realise how you would do anything to relieve them. If I was given the choice between them suffering or me suffering, I would choose me every time. Maybe you feel like that about somebody in your life?


The point is, us sinful, lowdown, hopeless humans often have enough love to sacrifice ourselves for others and to take the pain of others, and I don't imagine any of us would like to see somebody suffer billions and billions of years of torment, especially our children and loved ones. How much more must God be prepared to love, sacrifice, and suffer for all eternity rather than see us in pain if that is the case! Such a God, prepared to allow their child to spend an eternity suffering, would not be fit to be a parent, let alone a God.

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  • 1 month later...

Ironically there is a movie coming out about this very topic.




as on most topics Christianity can not decide on this subject either .
I have not seen the movie yet but the website pointed me to a resource
a book actually
Shades of Sheol: Death and Afterlife in the Old Testament


The movie is about Christian Theology and Universalism but this book goes
even further back to Judaism and their conflicting views on the after


I am providing these links as alternative views because I am not a
Christian and so I do not accept Hell or the Bible. This being the case I can not argue for Theology on either side. But I can point out that not all Christians or Jews believe in a literal Hell.


I am a Buddhist and I follow the teachings of Buddha Socrates and Jesus but I do not think
any of them taught what religion teaches. But that is just me.


As far as demons are concerned not being a Christian I can not accept Demons or
Devils. But as a Buddhist I also follow the Shaman path because the
Buddhist path I follow has its roots in Shamanism. I mention this because
even if Christianity isn't true it doesn't mean you are crazy to worry about possession.

Shamanism being the oldest religion understood dream work and negative energy beings.


But the Christians got their idea of a devil from the
Persians specifically I think. Hell is a mistranslation of Sheol which
simply means Earth or Underworld depending on whether you follow the
Annihilation interpretation which is why I mentioned the book.


I also was attacked in my dreams by negative forces that my Christian
upbringing led me to believe might be demons. I knew that religion was
misleading but I had no other way of understanding what was going on
until I encountered Shaman teachings. Apparently the shamans knew or
what they call Inorganic Beings and not all of these being are nice.
Some feed on fear.


So I had to learn to find love because the more real
love became to me the less fear had power over me.Then I had to face
these beings. That is a whole nother story. But I will share it with you
if you are interested.


The main thing I learned is that these beings
can not have power over us that we do not give them.


Any religion Buddhism Christian etc will teach you that. But as said before
every religion teaches contradictory things. So it may help if you
learn to meditate and learn you are not your thoughts. Your thoughts can
not control you if you realize that you are the gap between your
thoughts and not the actual thoughts themselves. To do this you must
reconnect to the Source that most call God .


Again I could tell you my
story on that if you are interested.


I am simply writing this to let you know that you are not alone and that I have been through a lot of
what you are going through. So I will leave my post here. And wait to
see if I have helped you or if I can help you further. I can not do the
work for you but I can be there for you as a friend.

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