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A Question Of Hell (One Minister Questions Its Existence)
ABC News ^ | July 8, 2007

Posted on 07/10/2007 5:10:24 PM PDT by NYer

Recent years have provided plenty of church scandals, but an unlikely one has occurred in the Bible belt. A prominent Tulsa, Okla., minister was scandalized not by sex or embezzlement, but by his belief in hell.

When Carlton Pearson began wondering if modern believers still need a medieval pit of fire, it cost him his congregation. Watch "Hell: Our Fear and Fascination" Friday on a special "20/20" at 10 p.m. EDT

He shared pulpits with Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson. He counseled presidents at the White House. And after the Oklahoma City bombing, he was called to lead the grieving in prayer.

Throughout his rise, Pearson preached the fundamentals: Everyone is born a sinner. Everyone is going to hell, unless they accept Jesus Christ as Lord.

"Thank God I don't have to go to hell even though I deserve hell," Pearson preached. "But Jesus vicariously substituted for me -- took on death, hell and the grave -- and I have victory today."

But through the years, as he as he studied the ancient Greek and Hebrew scriptures, Pearson developed a crisis of faith.

"I couldn't reconcile a God whose mercy endures forever and this torture chamber that's customized for unbelievers," he said. "You can't be happy. And how can you really love a god who's torturing your grandmother?"

The more he studied, the more he saw the Bible not as the literal word of God, but a book by men about God, with primitive men prone to mistranslations, political agendas and human emotions.

And one night, as he watched ABC News' Peter Jennings report on the parade of suffering in Rwanda, he had a revelation. He questioned how a God who calls himself loving could let people suffer so badly and then suck them into Hell.

"That's when I thought I heard an inner voice say, 'Is that what you think we're doing?'" he said.

Pearson believed God was telling him there was Hell on earth.

"The bitter torment of the idea of an angry, visceral, distant, stoic, harsh, unrelenting, unforgiving, intolerant God is Hell," he said. "It's pagan. It's superstitious. And if you trace its history, it goes way back to where men feared the gods because something happened in life that caused frustration."

Pearson said people who believe in Hell create it forthemselves and others.

"People who believe in devils and demons become that in consciousness and they act it out," he added.


TOPICS: Apologetics; Catholic; Evangelical Christian; Theology
KEYWORDS: carltonpearson; christian; fundamentalist; gaychurch; gehenna; hades; hell; homosexualagenda

1 posted on 07/10/2007 5:10:26 PM PDT by NYer
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To: Lady In Blue; Salvation; narses; SMEDLEYBUTLER; redhead; Notwithstanding; nickcarraway; Romulus; ...
Pearson said people who believe in Hell create it forthemselves and others.

Scripture is most clear on this topic. Yes, there is a hell!


Luke
Chapter 16
19
12 "There was a rich man 13 who dressed in purple garments and fine linen and dined sumptuously each day.
20
And lying at his door was a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores,
21
who would gladly have eaten his fill of the scraps that fell from the rich man's table. Dogs even used to come and lick his sores.
22
When the poor man died, he was carried away by angels to the bosom of Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried,
23
and from the netherworld, 14 where he was in torment, he raised his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side.
24
And he cried out, 'Father Abraham, have pity on me. Send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am suffering torment in these flames.'
25
Abraham replied, 'My child, remember that you received what was good during your lifetime while Lazarus likewise received what was bad; but now he is comforted here, whereas you are tormented.
26
Moreover, between us and you a great chasm is established to prevent anyone from crossing who might wish to go from our side to yours or from your side to ours.'
27
He said, 'Then I beg you, father, send him to my father's house,
28
for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they too come to this place of torment.'
29
But Abraham replied, 'They have Moses and the prophets. Let them listen to them.'

2 posted on 07/10/2007 5:13:49 PM PDT by NYer ("Where the bishop is present, there is the Catholic Church" - Ignatius of Antioch)
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To: NYer

Psalm 36: 2-10

Sin speaks to the sinner
in the depths of his heart.
There is no fear of God
before his eyes.

He so flatters himself in his mind
that he knows not his guilt.
In his mouth are mischief and deceit.
All wisdom is gone.

He plots the defeat of goodness
as he lies on his bed.
He has set his foot on evil ways,
he clings to what is evil.

Your love, Lord, reaches to heaven;
your truth to the skies.
Your justice is like God’s mountain,
your judgements like the deep.

To both man and beast you give protection.
O Lord, how precious is your love.
My God, the sons of men
find refuge in the shelter of your wings.

They feast on the riches of your house;
they drink from the stream of your delight.
In you is the source of life
and in your light we see light.


3 posted on 07/10/2007 5:15:14 PM PDT by johniegrad
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To: NYer

“Pearson said people who believe in Hell create it for themselves and others.”

C’est ca l’enfer, c’est les autres!


4 posted on 07/10/2007 5:27:19 PM PDT by Ozone34
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To: johniegrad
Psalm 141:1-4

O Lord, to you I call; hasten to me;
hearken to my voice when I call upon you.

Let my prayer come like incense before you;
the lifting up of my hands, like the evening sacrifice.

O Lord, set a watch before my mouth;
a guard at the door of my lips.

Let not my heart incline to the evil
of engaging in deeds of wickedness.

With men who are evildoers;
and let me not partake of their dainties.

5 posted on 07/10/2007 5:34:18 PM PDT by NYer ("Where the bishop is present, there is the Catholic Church" - Ignatius of Antioch)
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To: Ozone34
C’est ca l’enfer, c’est les autres!

Pas du tout! Ca existe et c'est la realite

6 posted on 07/10/2007 5:36:54 PM PDT by NYer ("Where the bishop is present, there is the Catholic Church" - Ignatius of Antioch)
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To: NYer
"I couldn't reconcile a God whose mercy endures forever and this torture chamber that's customized for unbelievers," he said. "You can't be happy. And how can you really love a god who's torturing your grandmother?"

Just another arrogant prick trying to deceive. God doesn't "torture" those which CHOOSE him.

God allows one to CHOOSE to be separated from him! The people who CHOOSE this separation are aware of the circumstances as well the consequences.

7 posted on 07/10/2007 5:37:47 PM PDT by sirchtruth (No one has the RIGHT not to be offended...)
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To: NYer

Unfortunately for the good Rev., he will someday understand the Biblical concept of Hell. Hope that understanding comes before he leaves this earth.

Prayers up for this man.


8 posted on 07/10/2007 5:38:50 PM PDT by doc1019 (Fred Thompson '08)
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To: NYer
"As Sodom and Gomorrha, and the neighbouring cities, in like manner, having given themselves to fornication, and going after other flesh, were made an example, suffering the punishment of eternal fire." Jude 1:7

hell

9 posted on 07/10/2007 5:39:34 PM PDT by A.A. Cunningham
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To: NYer

If you DON’T believe in Hell, you will....


10 posted on 07/10/2007 5:42:04 PM PDT by azhenfud (The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.)
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To: NYer
"Their foot shall slide in due time (Jonathan Edwards, "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God")

22 “For as the new heavens and the new earth that I make shall remain before me, says the LORD, so shall your offspring and your name remain.

23 From new moon to new moon, and from Sabbath to Sabbath, all flesh shall come to worship before me, declares the LORD.

24 “And they shall go out and look on the dead bodies of the men who have rebelled against me. For their worm shall not die, their fire shall not be quenched, and they shall be an abhorrence to all flesh.”

11 posted on 07/10/2007 5:42:55 PM PDT by Lee N. Field
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To: NYer
The Early Church Fathers on Hell - Catholic/Orthodox Caucus
12 posted on 07/10/2007 5:54:48 PM PDT by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: NYer
"I couldn't reconcile a God whose mercy endures forever and this torture chamber that's customized for unbelievers," he said. "You can't be happy. And how can you really love a god who's torturing your grandmother?"

Personally, I don't really see how it's possible to reconcile the concept of an all-powerful, all-loving, life-creating God with the traditional concept of hell (=conscious eternal torment).

Or, to put it another way, I simply can't seem to work out any way that the traditional concept of hell makes a hell of a lot of sense.

13 posted on 07/10/2007 6:14:54 PM PDT by Luke Skyfreeper
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To: azhenfud

“If I knew God I’d be Him.”


14 posted on 07/10/2007 6:20:02 PM PDT by onedoug
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To: NYer

15 posted on 07/10/2007 8:03:08 PM PDT by B-Chan (Catholic. Monarchist. Texan. Any questions?)
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To: NYer; Ozone34

C’est l’Infer, c’est Subterranee Democratíque.


16 posted on 07/10/2007 8:04:57 PM PDT by B-Chan (Catholic. Monarchist. Texan. Any questions?)
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To: Luke Skyfreeper

It’s important to remember that God doesn’t send people to Hell. To go to hell, one has to want to go there — to say, like Lucifer, “Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven”.


17 posted on 07/10/2007 8:06:52 PM PDT by B-Chan (Catholic. Monarchist. Texan. Any questions?)
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To: B-Chan
It’s important to remember that God doesn’t send people to Hell. To go to hell, one has to want to go there — to say, like Lucifer, “Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven”.

A couple of questions.

Who, according to your doctrine, created hell? And for what purpose?

What is the mechanism by which people arrive in hell? You claim that God doesn't send people to hell. Is there a mechanism, completely independent of God, whereby people die and simply slide into hell, unless they are rescued by God?

Finally, let's take for granted that a person's winding up in hell is due to his or her choices. But who created that person? Is God then powerless to avoid creating people who are going to end up in hell? And if he is not powerless to avoid creating people who are going to end up in hell, then why does he create them?

Finally, is God all-powerful? If he is, then why is he apparently not able to change the fate of the condemned to something far more humane; like annihilation? If he is not able to control whether people burn in unbelievably painful, excruciating, screaming torment forever and ever without end, then he is not all-powerful. If he is able to do something about this and does not, then it would certainly appear that he is as evil as the worst demon from hell, because he chooses to inflict upon people (or at least, to allow the inflicting upon people) the most hideous of eternal, unending torments.

Or could it be that there is something wrong with the doctrine?

18 posted on 07/10/2007 8:59:39 PM PDT by Luke Skyfreeper
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To: NYer

People who believe in “no consequences” aren’t likely to behave according to God’s laws, or even try very hard.

Believing that Christ died for our sins is NOT a free pass to do what we want. It is an obligation to do what God wants.


19 posted on 07/10/2007 9:08:13 PM PDT by G Larry (Only strict constructionists on the Supreme Court!)
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To: NYer

“When Carlton Pearson...(big snip)...
He shared pulpits with Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson. He counseled
presidents at the White House. And after the Oklahoma City bombing,
he was called to lead the grieving in prayer.

Ah, I thought this guy sounded familiar.
He had a big church in Tulsa area, but then lost it due to some scandal
(can’t rememeber what it was).

He’s ridden the gay-friendly church gimmick back to the big-time in
liberal church circles.
I think I saw him on a TV news program sometimes in the last few years.

http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/article.aspx?articleID=070418_1_A9_spanc01606


20 posted on 07/10/2007 9:10:21 PM PDT by VOA
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To: NYer

Whoever put “fundamentalist” in the KEYWORDS either doesn’t know who
Carlton Pearson is today.

Or was thinking he was still fundamentalist Christian...which he
is NOT!


21 posted on 07/10/2007 9:12:43 PM PDT by VOA
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To: Luke Skyfreeper

Perhaps those who love God experience love, those who hate God experience it as torment.

God being the same, the experience determined by the individuals will and intent.


22 posted on 07/11/2007 12:58:49 AM PDT by D-fendr
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To: Luke Skyfreeper
Personally, I don't really see how it's possible to reconcile the concept of an all-powerful, all-loving, life-creating God with the traditional concept of hell (=conscious eternal torment).

The eternal nature of hell is stressed in the New Testament. For example, in Mark 9:47–48 Jesus warns us, "[I]t is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, where the worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched." And in Revelation 14:11, we read: "And the smoke of their torment goes up for ever and ever; and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name."

Hell is not just a theoretical possibility. Jesus warns us that real people go there. He says, "Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few" (Matt. 7:13–14).

23 posted on 07/11/2007 6:10:52 AM PDT by NYer ("Where the bishop is present, there is the Catholic Church" - Ignatius of Antioch)
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To: Luke Skyfreeper
Who, according to your doctrine, created hell? And for what purpose?

Hell is not a created "place". God, who is total goodness and love, and created ALL things, could not conceivably create a "place" of evil. Not geographically speaking. So, God did not create hell.

And for what purpose?

God's purpose was that all would enjoy eternal heaven. Since man tends to give God the finger and do whatever he wants, most of us won't be enjoying the beatific vision in the afterlife.

What is the mechanism by which people arrive in hell? You claim that God doesn't send people to hell. Is there a mechanism, completely independent of God, whereby people die and simply slide into hell, unless they are rescued by God?

Repeating, hell is not a "place" in the sense of, "it's down the hall and to the left". Hell is the condition of the soul who, because of its irreparable evil deeds and disposition, agonizes in the presence of God's radiant, burning love. The condemned soul recognizes its own total failure in doing the will of God, and burns in agony over those who are enjoying eternal joy, and in regret over its own folly. This soul, by its own condition, is eternally blocked from the warmth of God's love. Therefore, God does not "send" anyone to hell. The choices we make here determine our response to God at our judgment.

Finally, let's take for granted that a person's winding up in hell is due to his or her choices. But who created that person? Is God then powerless to avoid creating people who are going to end up in hell? And if he is not powerless to avoid creating people who are going to end up in hell, then why does he create them?

Creation was God's total act of self-giving (love). This total act of self-giving would be worthless if it did not grant to the receiver of that love the free will to accept or reject. Would you prefer to be loved by your spouse/girlfriend by your own manipulation, or by her own free will? Love can never be "imposed" on anyone who does not want it, and thus, man had the choice of either directing his love back to the One who created him, or directing that love to the one created - and worse, to the first who rejected the love of God, Satan. Man lived in total happiness and assent with God's will. But through his own misplaced pride, wished instead to become his own god.

This Original Sin has eternal consequence, since it did eternal harm to man's relationship with God. Therefore, this condition of sin passes from generation to generation. Mankind was doomed to eternal separation from God - that is - until eternal reparation could be made for the sin of Adam. And the only one who could bring the scales of eternal justice back to par is the One who is not guilty of that Original Sin, who is God, Jesus Christ. Only the atonement of the "spotless Lamb" could rectify in eternity this break with God. Now that "it is accomplished", Jesus is the eternal sacrifice whom each man or woman who is in sin (that's all of us) can offer to the Father in appeasement of our sins. Those who refuse this mercy, those who continue to choose to be their own gods - for a perceived good or an intended evil - will suffer the pain of that eternal separation which they choose to retain by not participating in the offering of the Son's sacrifice to the Father.

Thus, "hell" - the eternal pain of sin - exists totally at man's assent, not God's. The soul is eternal. It can't be "annihilated" because it was created in a place where time does not exist.

If he is not able to control whether people burn in unbelievably painful, excruciating, screaming torment forever and ever without end, then he is not all-powerful.

God's total act of self-giving including giving man power to choose his end. Is a robotic, puppet-like existence any more worthy of having?

If he is able to do something about this and does not, then it would certainly appear that he is as evil as the worst demon from hell, because he chooses to inflict upon people (or at least, to allow the inflicting upon people) the most hideous of eternal, unending torments.

He DID do something. He sacrificed His ONLY SON! If you or anyone else freely choose to reject that, then why is God to blame? If someone rejects this ultimate act of self-sacrifice, who's the evil one? It seems to me He's given mankind an incredible "Get out of Jail Free" card. It's up to you and I to play it. What's wrong or unjust about that?

24 posted on 07/11/2007 6:37:03 AM PDT by Rutles4Ever (Ubi Petrus, ibi ecclesia, et ubi ecclesia vita eterna)
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To: D-fendr; NYer; Rutles4Ever
Decent enough responses, on the whole. One brief and reasonable (and reflective of something Lewis once wrote), one dodging the problem entirely, and one that took a serious stab at answering some hard questions.

I do note this:

One person didn't attempt to address the questions, which says to me that he or she doesn't know a way to work it out, either.

And the two who did answer, answered with something that does not sound quite exactly like the traditional conception of hell.

Someone earlier in the thread quoted the tale of the rich man and Lazarus.

I can't really think, offhand, of another of Jesus' stories, that people take literally. In other words, they don't read the story of the sower, or the story of the ten talents, or the story of the virgins, or the story of the owner of the vineyard who sent his son as a messenger, and believe that Jesus is telling a literal story that literally and historically happened, with literal and historical people. Generally, they're parables.

Yet most people seem to take the Lazarus story as literal and historical. Perhaps it's because he used a specific name: "Lazarus."

Interestingly, whoever contributed to the wikipedia article on Sheol thinks the story of Lazarus and the rich man refers to a temporary place where the righteous are comforted and the unrighteous are tormented while awaiting the final judgment. This story, then, wouldn't actually refer to the idea of an eternal hell, but to something temporary:

By the first century, Jews had come to believe that those in sheol awaited the resurrection either in comfort (in the bosom of Abraham) or in torment. This belief is reflected in Jesus' story of Lazarus and Dives.

Like just about anything theological, it quickly gets complicated. But as far as I can see, I haven't been able to find a way to really reconcile the idea of an all-powerful, all-loving, all-merciful, life-creating God with an unending, permanent, no-possible-way-out, "you're damned and damned forever," conscious eternal torment kind of hell.

25 posted on 07/11/2007 9:07:27 AM PDT by Luke Skyfreeper
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To: Luke Skyfreeper
Like just about anything theological, it quickly gets complicated. But as far as I can see, I haven't been able to find a way to really reconcile the idea of an all-powerful, all-loving, all-merciful, life-creating God with an unending, permanent, no-possible-way-out, "you're damned and damned forever," conscious eternal torment kind of hell.

Time gets in the way. If you were an angel in eternity and fell from grace, that was your one shot. At least in this life we have what time we're allotted to mend our ways. Once you cross over to eternity, that's it. That's the nature of time vs. eternity. I would count myself lucky to be in a position to do something about it.

The torment isn't inflicted by God. The torment is a result of the condition of the soul. If you have an allergy to peanuts and you eat peanuts, your body will have a reaction. It's not the peanuts that are poisonous, but your body, for whatever reason, can't stand its composition. The unrepentant soul that refuses the mercy of God suffers the total loss of good, and so, can't stand the presence of God. It's the worst pain imaginable. Total darkness. Not God's fault, since He gave us everything we need to save us from ourselves. If you or I choose not to accept His mercy out of pride or selfishness or what-have-you, then we get what we deserve, no? I mean, how much easier can it get, and what, exactly, does God OWE us in the first place?

26 posted on 07/11/2007 9:55:37 AM PDT by Rutles4Ever (Ubi Petrus, ibi ecclesia, et ubi ecclesia vita eterna)
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To: NYer

Good grief. Some tubehead buckles and decides to go with the flow of cultural opinion, and that’s breaking news.

I’d rather think the opposite would be the case. But then, that’s not in sync with the media narrative (defecting Christians, defecting Republicans, whatever).


27 posted on 07/11/2007 9:58:38 AM PDT by BibChr ("...behold, they have rejected the word of the LORD, so what wisdom is in them?" [Jer. 8:9])
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To: Luke Skyfreeper

I’d recommend the chapter on hell by in C.S. Lewis’ book The Problem of Pain, I think it would answer your questions.


28 posted on 07/11/2007 10:02:07 AM PDT by Truthsearcher
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To: Luke Skyfreeper
Put it another way: Salt does not sting. Salt is properly a wonderful spice and preservative. But to the open wound, salt is the enemy. No one says, "salt is evil - let's get rid of all the salt in the world because to the wounded, it brings great pain." Salt, in and of itself, causes no pain whatsoever. The body perceives pain when it is in a condition not to receive it.

Similarly, God does not torment. God is love. But to the unrepentant soul, goodness and love (God) are its torment. Ever hear the phrase, "kill 'em with kindness?" Try showing love to your enemies and watch what happens - they will either recognize their error and make amends and have great happiness with you, or they will suffer greatly by your charity.

29 posted on 07/11/2007 10:05:53 AM PDT by Rutles4Ever (Ubi Petrus, ibi ecclesia, et ubi ecclesia vita eterna)
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To: NYer
23 Minutes in Hell
 
See larger image
 
Book Description
What is hell like, and how does one avoid an eternity of torment? Bill Wiese shares his unforgettable experience during which God allowed him to see and feel the agony people endure in hell.

Wiese's visit to the devil's lair lasted just twenty-three minutes, but he returned from this with vivid details etched in his memory. He records an accurate account of his experience in this book, presenting more than three hundred scriptures that verify the horrors he endured and observed.

From the Author
"Even if you don't believe my story, you should believe these Bible verses and avoid hell just the same. To me, it doesn't matter what causes you to understand the truth as long as it sinks in. My sincere hope is that this book is the closest you will ever come to experiencing hell for yourself," Wiese writes.

See all Editorial Reviews


30 posted on 07/11/2007 10:31:54 AM PDT by AnnaZ (I keep 2 magnums in my desk.One's a gun and I keep it loaded.Other's a bottle and it keeps me loaded)
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To: NYer

Not much different than what Mormonism teaches.......


31 posted on 07/11/2007 10:37:10 AM PDT by Osage Orange (“To call illegal aliens, undocumented workers, is like calling drug dealers unlicensed pharmacists.”)
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To: johniegrad
Your love, Lord, reaches to heaven;
your truth to the skies.
Your justice is like God’s mountain,
your judgements like the deep.

This has been turned into one of my favorite worship songs. Third Day does an excellent version. Here's one rendition on Youtube. The original vid.

32 posted on 07/11/2007 10:38:55 AM PDT by AnnaZ (I keep 2 magnums in my desk.One's a gun and I keep it loaded.Other's a bottle and it keeps me loaded)
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To: NYer

No Hell? Heresy! The next thing you know, he’ll be denying the existence of Limbo, Heaven, and Purgatory! Or a firmament which divideth the waters which are under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament (hence: the source of rain)?

On a more-serious note: Can anyone tell me why God doesn’t simply ANNIHILATE those imprisoned in Hell, rather than allowing them to suffer eternal torment? And couldn’t a soul in Hell repent and receive forgiveness? Why should God, like a cosmic croupier, say “rien ne va plus” at the moment of death, and not acknowledge any subsequent realizations or regrets?


33 posted on 07/11/2007 10:56:26 AM PDT by alexander_busek
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