Category Archives: Others’ stuff

Hell’s Illusion – Part 6

This entry is part 6 of 6 in the series Hell's Illusion

Here is the final episode of Dr. Don Keathley’s groundbreaking series aimed at debunking the Evangelical Church’s doctrine of Hell as a post-death place of conscious, fiery torment for ever and ever. (The first part of the series is here, in case you missed it; I heartily recommend listening to these talks in sequence, as each one builds on the knowledge we gain from the previous talks).

The freedom you will gain from watching this series – freedom from fear, from condemnation, from sadness and despair – is immeasurable. Feel the weight lift off you! Feel the despair simply drain away! These are words of freedom 😀

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Hell’s Illusion – Part 5

This entry is part 5 of 6 in the series Hell's Illusion

In this penultimate episode in his classic series teaching about the catastrophically erroneous doctrine of ‘Hell’ as taught by the Evangelical church, Dr. Don Keathley hammers another nail into the coffin of the Hell doctrine by discussing seven logical impossibilities that the doctrine has going for it. (The first part of the series is here, in case you missed it; I heartily recommend listening to these talks in sequence, as each one builds on the knowledge we gain from the previous talks).

Being a professional scientist, this logical approach argued from the Bible, which exposes the contradictions in the Bible that would have to be exploited were the Hell doctrine to be true, really appeals to me. This is my favourite episode so far in the series!

Take it away, Don:

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Hell’s Illusion – Part 4

This entry is part 4 of 6 in the series Hell's Illusion

Continuing Don Keathley’s brilliant series debunking the myth of Hell as an everlasting consctious torture chamber overseen by God (why are we even having this conversation?!), here is Episode 4 in which Don explains the Church’s use of three further ‘pillars’ which prop up the doctrine: Hell-fire (Gehenna-fire), Destruction, and the concept of ‘free will’. The first part of the series is here, in case you missed it; I heartily recommend listening to these talks in sequence, as each one builds on the knowledge we gain from the previous talks.

Over to Don:

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Hell’s Illusion – Part 3

This entry is part 3 of 6 in the series Hell's Illusion

I’m continuing today with the best series I have ever seen on the idea of debunking the long-standing, but completely wrong, doctrine of Hell – that is, eternal conscious torment after death.

In this talk, Dr. Don Keathley takes on the first ‘pillar’ of the Evangelical doctrine of Hell by explaining the misuse (probably deliberate) of the Greek  word ‘Aion’, (translated into English in the Bible as ‘Eternal/everlasting’), by the historical Church. Probably in order to keep people under their control, of course!

Ok, it’s a 50 minute talk but it would be 50 minutes well spent 😀 . I certainly never regretted watching it…

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Hell’s Illusion – Part 2

This entry is part 2 of 6 in the series Hell's Illusion

Today, we continue with Dr. Don Keathley’s series on ‘Hell’s Illusion’. (The first part is here, in case you missed it; I heartily recommend listening to these talks in sequence, as each one builds on the knowledge we gain from the previous talks).

Personally, I have always wondered why, given two contradictory Bible verses, or indeed two contradictory doctrines that are both based on Bible verses, why so many mainline Evangelical Christians will default to the Bad News side of things, rather than the Good News. After all, the word ‘Gospel’ actually means ‘good news’! I’ve expressed this concern before in my blog.

Of course, the main example that springs to mind is that of the doctrine of Hell. Rather than believe the Good News that so many are realising in these days, that there IS no eternal conscious torment after death, these people still would rather believe the Bad News, and hold on tight to that awful doctrine, rather than let go and float free of it.

And I think that the reason why they default to the bad news is because that’s all they have ever known. Think about it. They simply know of no other system. If you take away the bad news that they have believed all this time, then their worry will be this: what else in their secure, all-worked-out system have they got wrong too?

As we saw in the last talk in this series, just about all the denominations in Western Evangelical Christianity are essentially based on one or the other of the two belief streams known as Calvinism or Arminianism; most Evangelical belief systems are therefore based on one of these two streams (not both; they are mutually exclusive). Despite their major differences, however, both of these streams rely on the doctrine of Hell to work properly. Therefore, to disbelieve in Hell is to take away one of the central pillars of the belief systems of Evangelical Christianity, and in fact if this pillar is taken away, the whole lot collapses for want of a better doctrine to hold the whole thing up. It’s all they have ever known, and the entire edifice depends on it.

And actually that’s not a bad thing, because it helps us realise that if a doctrine depends for its survival on something other than Christ, then it needs to go.

So, here’s the second in the series of talks by Dr. Don Keathley, in which he examines the four words from the Hebrew and the Greek Scriptures  which have been erroneously translated into the single ‘English’ word ‘Hell’ (although actually the word is Norse in origin):

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Hell’s Illusion – Part 1

This entry is part 1 of 6 in the series Hell's Illusion

My regular readers will know that I do not believe in the idea of Hell; the place where the wicked/unbelievers/anyone that you don’t like will burn for ever in eternal fire. I just don’t believe in it at all, for many reasons: a non-exhaustive list being personal; theological; experiential; and also at a deeper level that is between me and Jesus (sorry!) I do believe that bad people can create a hell on earth for others, and for themselves too, and that that’s what Jesus was talking about in the Bible passages where He supposedly is talking about Hell. But that’s nowhere near the same thing; not even close.

I would love to be able to collect all my thoughts and ideas on the subject. I have done so to some degree in the past, with some blog articles and with my ‘Hell Resource Page’ (accessible via the ‘Resources’ tab in the menu on each page of my blog). But when there are teachers around of the calibre of American pastor and excellent Bible teacher Dr. Don Keathley, then the teaching and resource is right there and so why not share it?

Many of my friends, both online and in real life, agree with me that this is some of the best teaching debunking Hell that there is. And I will therefore be sharing one video every three days, to give you time to digest each message before the next one. Alternatively, if you just can’t wait, the talks are freely available on YouTube 😀   But I do recommend that you listen to them in order!

So,  here is the first episode in Don’s series of six talks, shared here with his enthusiastic permission. In this talk, Don begins by explaining how the doctrine of Hell has historically become the lynch-pin of modern Evangelical doctrine.

The talks do represent a fair amount of investment in terms of time; each talk is about 40-50 minutes long. But if you can at all make the time to listen to these excellent videos, they will transform your life. They have certainly helped me, becuase they have confirmed that I am not the only person in the faith that is thinking along these exact same lines!

Over to Don:

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Three Years

This entry is part 37 of 37 in the series Fiona

Today, it is three years since my love and soul-mate Fiona passed into the Presence of her Lord.

I so miss the feisty, spirited, funny, gentle, talented, generous, gorgeous, wise and above all deeply loving lady that she was.

We have kept her memory very much alive, in so many ways, the chief of which is that we recall the things that she did that were kind, funny and generous, when we are reminded of her by doing those things ourselves. And that’s significant because it means that in a lot of ways we are continuing to be Fiona to ourselves and to others.

We will say things like, ‘Mum would have found that hilarious’, or ‘I think Mum would have done it like this’. And then we laugh about it. And we are sure that ‘that was what Mum would have wanted’ 😀 Because she was that kind of person.

I still dream about her often. I still see little signs of her around the house: pictures, of course, but also little things that she made or set up that had her figurative ‘fingerprints’ all over them. Processes she set in place that we still use. I still see myself doing things that I learned from her, either directly or by ‘absorption’. I still see her attitudes in things I do.

What a privilege! What an intimate, close-up way of remembering a life so precious! So much of what she was to us is still with us…but the house still lacks the light of her presence. The gap she has left is still immense. And yet, I know beyond a shadow of doubt that I will see her again. Even though I may have to wait some decades, and of course I am not ‘wishing my life away’, still I know that she is there ready to welcome me, alongside Jesus, into that glorious Place where she now is. What a day that will be! 😀

On the first anniversary of Fe’s loss, I posted on here a track of my talented daughter Ellie singing the lovely song ‘Fly to Jesus. Fe would have been so proud of her. Well this year she would have been even more proud of her, because just a couple of weeks ago, Ellie put on prerelease her first ever EP, Autumn. Ellie has created this EP in the face of a debilitating illness, putting in work on it whenever she has been able, and now the finished product is out there and soon to become available. I am so proud of her and, like I said, I know her Mum would have been too!

The album is due to be released on 9th November, and all profits from sales will be going to Rowcroft Hospice, the place where Fiona was looked after in her final days on this earth. Rowcroft do such incredible work with cancer patients during their illnesses, with their families, and with end-of-life care.

Here is the link, then, to Ellie’s EP album – Autumn, on Amazon (and it’s also available on places like Spotify and iTunes too). And there are preview clips too.

Four songs written and performed by one of the most talented young musicians I have ever known – and that’s not just parental bias, you know! 😉 But yes, again, Fiona would have been so proud of her! Click the album cover graphic below to go to the Amazon UK prerelease page (on 9th November, it will become the sales page):

She has also released one of the songs, 365, later today as a single. If you listen to this, you will need a big box of tissues…

Here’s the YouTube video:

…and it too can be purchased on Amazon, as a single:

Fiona, you would have been sooooo proud of our Ellie! 😀


Edit: I have just looked at the previous post in the series, ‘In So Many Ways…‘. It’s almost identical in content to this one (apart from the plug for Ellie’s EP!). I find that interesting because to me it suggests that what we have left, after losing Fiona, is reasonably constant in its occurrence and its quality. In other words, these little habits I describe in this piece, I also noted in the previous one. So to me that means that our lasting legacy from Fiona is already in place and established. And that’s good news.

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What Grace Looks Like

And the grace of our Lord overflowed to me, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. – 1Tim1:14
And here’s what that looks like:

Brilliant. Although as an Aspie, I don’t like ‘mess’, I can cope with Grace spilling out and just getting everywhere. That’s what it’s for!

The Bible is full of references to God’s huge, vast generosity. It speaks of,

“Come, all you who are thirsty,
    come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
    come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
    without money and without cost”

– Is 55:1

Romans 5:5 says, “…God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us”

Or even Jesus’s water-to-wine trick in John 2, where He made between 120 and 180 gallons of the strongest wine He could make and gave it to the wedding guests (Jn 2:10). Generosity exemplified, through Jesus.

Ephesians 1:7: “ In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us”.

Or in 1 John 1:3 –

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!”

An old preacher friend of mine once described the word ‘lavished’ as how children spread Nutella on their toast. You want to know what ‘lavished’ looks like? Here you go:

Or even better, this one:

That’s the way to do it; nice and thick. Faaaaar too much more than necessary, but still it’s absolutely essential to do it that way. Why skimp on it? 😀

I could go on. God is unreasonably, unfairly generous. And that’s the way that God does things. He lavishes, pours out, drenches with, His goodness, His Spirit, and His Grace. He doesn’t skimp on things like that; He doesn’t skimp on anything. All we need to do is just to be

Don’t let anyone ever tell you otherwise!


Pouring out of Grace picture from Phil Drysdale, and used with his kind permission.

I should also add that the caption for the picture was this:

“I don’t care how much you screw up. Where sin abounds (whatever your definition of sin) grace abounds all the more!

“God isn’t running out of patience, love, grace, faith etc. For you. God believes in you and loves you and there ain’t nothing you can do about that”.

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À la Carte

Another haul of wise and/or funny sayings. Bon appetit!


It is the love of God that draws out the inherent goodness of humanity, not the goodness of humanity the draws out the love of God.
– Jeff Turner

I don’t work for Jesus. He act through me. That’s the whole difference
– Frank Tværåli-myren

The problem is, many of the people in need of saving are in churches. And at least part of what they need saving from is the idea that God sees the world in the same way that they do
– Barbara Brown Taylor

If anyone calls you a heretic, chances are that they haven’t taken the time to think about whether or not what you say is true
– Stephen Morris

There can be no salvation from something if the thing we need saving from causes the only qualified Savior to squeamishly tuck tail and run away. If sin had the power to separate man from God, God would lack the power to separate man from sin. Therefore, the only possibility for salvation is that God must be able to salvifically sit right there with us in fellowship, even in our darkest moments and biggest messes.
– Jeff Turner

Imagine there is no eternal hell awaiting anyone after death.
And now imagine you have to make a case for why Jesus is worth following.
If you have nothing left to say without the threat of unending punishment, you have missed something important.
– Zach Christensen

I have always believed that people who claim to be Christian but put me down for what I feel and believe are doing nothing but trying their damnedest to be the Holy Spirit in my life. I’m not supposed to be Her in my own life let alone someone else’s
– Kenn Burroughs

“…pride cannot rise to levity or levitation. Pride is the downward drag of all things into an easy solemnity. One “settles down” into a sort of selfish seriousness; but one has to rise to a gay self-forgetfulness. A man “falls” into a brown study; he reaches up at a blue sky. Seriousness is not a virtue. It would be a heresy, but a much more sensible heresy, to say that seriousness is a vice. It is really a natural trend or lapse into taking one’s self gravely, because it is the easiest thing to do. It is much easier to write a good Times leading article than a good joke in Punch. For solemnity flows out of men naturally; but laughter is a leap. It is easy to be heavy: hard to be light. Satan fell by the force of gravity.”
– G.K. Chesterton

Don’t bore your friends with your troubles. Tell them to your enemies who will be delighted to hear about them.
– Fortune cookie

But at the centre of my walk is Jesus; He never changes, and He’s constant. My understanding of Him, however, is not constant, else how can I ever learn more about Him?
– Me

“Unless you have the power to harness the wind and direct where it blows, don’t assume you get to determine where and among whom the Holy Spirit is at work. If your theology sets limits on the Spirit, it’s not theology, it’s ideology
– Tom Fuerst

We come to God as we can, not as we can’t
– Joy Welford

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The Bottomless Pit

There are people, and this is especially common amongst controlling types, (who actually depend on this mechanism for their control), who ration their approval towards their victims.

People who look up to them try anxiously to please them, to appease them and to win their approval. But the problem is that this resource of commitment, devotion and being anxious to please is wasted on these people because they do not value it except only as a means of measuring how much those unfortunate people are trying to suck up to them. It’s like throwing your attentions into a bottomless pit. I know people like this and they use these tools deliberately as a means of control – the tacit or overt withholding or dispensing of approval – in order to make others do their bidding. Being Aspergic, of course, this sort of manipulation goes straight over my head, and it’s only by examining a situation really carefully and logically that it becomes clear to me. But it’s true nonetheless; there really are people who behave like this. No doubt you too will know someone like that.

I had been thinking along these lines for some time when, true to form, I found something where another believer echoes similar thoughts. In this case, it was the brilliant Jeff Turner, whose thoughts on this complement mine nicely – partially because they’re not identical! – recently shared a short piece which clicked with me immediately. Here it is:

“I dare say that there are thousands reading this who live for the opinions of people whose approval they will never get. When it comes to fundamentalist types, as wonderful of people as they might be, some of them just aren’t budging. They’re fearful, terrified, and have convinced themselves of the rightness of their beliefs, though they were blindly received, and remain both untested and unexamined. Maybe you’ve become a pariah to them; a heretic, unsaved, or some other epithet they render powerless through endless repetition. They may be parents, children, old friends, former pastors or leaders, or something else entirely, but whatever the case, you living your life seeking their approval, and refusing to move on until you get it, is a fruitless endeavor. Some people will never approve of you because some people refuse to think and move forward themselves. I’m not saying cut these people out of your life, but, please, for your own wellbeing, cut yourself free of them. They know that they hold you in bondage by withholding approval. Do not let such ones be in control of a life you fought very hard to have”.

This is excellent advice on all counts. I love how Jeff can so concisely express these things and yet be so easily readable. I do tend to ramble, myself 😉

It also occurred to me that people who ration their approval, like those we have talked about above, are usually those who also believe that God is impossible to please in exactly the same way and for exactly the same reasons. They believe (although they would not describe it in so mamy words) that god holds them too on the whim of his own approval. And they project that on to their congregations and that’s how they control them. As Jeff says in his book, Saints in the arms of a Happy God, “…In our Western traditions God is often presented as being cold, austere, distant and judgmental. We imagine Him surrounded by dark clouds, with a scowl sprawled across his angry mug…He’s very eager to be pleased, but, unfortunately, extremely difficult to please….the God that a large percentage of us imagine and pay homage to is disgruntled, disappointed, and disapproving”. And this is spot on. Many, many believers have been taught that this is the normal way of things, and that this is the way God is.

But He’s really not. The Kingdom of God is supposed to reflect the character of its King, and if the Kingdom of God is supposed to be ‘righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit’ (Rom 14:17), then it follows that these will be at least some of the attributes of God’s character too. If that’s the case, then those who lead by the underhand techniques we have been talking about here are not really displaying many of those attributes, if we’re honest! And as I have said before, these people do not represent God, nor do they carry His authority.

No, God is full of joy, laughter and goodness, whereas Religion is full of grey people who think everything has to be really serious all the time. They think you can’t have any fun in case you fall into ‘sin’.

Maybe it’s like in Job 1:5, where the old guy makes a sacrifice for his children after they have been partying, ‘just in case’ they have ‘sinned’:

“When a period of feasting had run its course, Job would make arrangements for them to be purified. Early in the morning he would sacrifice a burnt offering for each of them, thinking, “Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” This was Job’s regular custom”.

But God isn’t all serious like this. God Himself laughs for the sheer joy of all He has created, and all He has planned, and is supremely happy and joyful. He loves to delight and surprise us, and He rejoices with us when we too are delighted. God likes you, just as you are.

And therefore I believe in a happy God. Do you?

 

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