Sunday, 25 May 2014

Heaven, hell and my right to be offended

Via the Daily Mail, a Baptist Church in Norfolk,  this poster was took down after a single complaint and is being investigated by the police for possible ' hate 'crimes :

A pastor at Attleborough Baptist Church in Nuneaton, Norfolk, was spoken to by police after this poster appeared on the church's notice board

The reason for this offence : 
"Mr Gladwin said he was 'astounded' when he spotted the poster by chance as he was walking home. He said: 'I was just astounded really. We live in the 21st century and they have put that message - that non-Christians will burn in hell - up to try and scare people into joining their mentality.'" 
My view? 

Hmmm, this seems to me to be the traditional Christian message, so why the fuss? This isn't anything new for 2,000 years of Christianity, namely that humanity is in nature essentially evil or sinful because of the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden (original sin) as well as the sins we commit during life, therefore God sent his son to be a blood sacrifice so that anyone who believes in him won't take the punishment for these sins and therefore not go to hell, but heaven. Furthermore Christians are told by their founder to go and convert people. Jesus was a free gift, but you have to accept this free gift it seems, to enter into heaven. This is how every single Christian I know understands the basic nature of their faith and I get Christians see me as a 'hell bound' sinner for not believing their religion & even worse for doing everything I've been able to do,  such as putting the counter case to Christianity according to the Bible, as a response to  them trying to convert my family members who've encountered this missionary work . 

But  as for the claims of hell? So what? 

The only power such ideas have over me is if I actually believed this idea (which I don't because that would mean many of my dear relatives and friends who have died non Christians were currently being tortured in this Christian 'hell', something which I can't believe a just and good God would permit, but I digress).  I personally cannot see the justice in someone entering a heaven simply of the basis of knowing Jesus; you could be an utter prick and evil person, but still get in by that criteria (my brother's words, not mine btw). In Jewish thought, we have a wide variety of views, including reincarnation, but I do behold to an after life and a place of spiritual cleansing before we go to this place, which is referred to as 'Gan Eden'. I also believe that non Jews have a place in the world to come. Not by belief , but by action. This seems more logical or at least just. 

Getting back to the poster, unless and until there are laws of forcible conversion in this country, I am free to be offended. Or not. As for this non Christian, I respect your belief, but you'd have to kill me before this son of Israel, goes to baptismal font and denies,

"Hear O Israel The L-rd our G-d. The L-rd alone".


  1. Hi David,

    I agree with this article you've written. I think the concept of 'hell' -both intellectually and emotionally- was one of the reasons why I couldn't accept Christianity. I never get why Protestant Evangelical Christianity thinks "faith and good works" as they call it, are such a wicked idea.

  2. Bible and Truth25 May 2014 at 10:12

    Romans 3:23 (NIV) for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God

    No one is righteous. Better is not enough. God demands 100% holiness. No one can achieve that. Therefore, we need the Blood of Jesus Christ. Only in Jesus, can we have salvation.

    Romans 5:12 (NIV) Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned—

    We are all doomed to go to Hell whether we like it or not, whether we are better than others or not. Jesus died for us so that by believing in his death and resurrection, we may be saved.

    For this reason Christians are given the command to preach the Gospel to the whole world.

    Matthew 28:19-20 (NIV) 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

  3. Dominique Vasilkovsky25 May 2014 at 13:04

    I might be somewhat OTD, but I could never deny my Jewishness, which is what I'd be doing believing in Jesus.

  4. Atheist Shrugged25 May 2014 at 13:15

    Except anyone who doesn't make up the 0.2% of the world population is doubtless destined for whatever hell Jews believe in. And you guys want us to follow all these impossible rules and regulations? Utterly daft .

    “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”
    Richard Dawkins is right as ever!

  5. Gay Rights for Gays25 May 2014 at 13:27

    Orthodox Judaism treats gay people as bad as the Evangelicals!

  6. Why troll christian blogs then?

  7. I'd dispute that. I came across this excellent article by Rabbi Boteach. Pretty much sums up how I feel as well (not surprising as he reminds me of my first wife's faith, as a follower of Hasidic Chabad) :

  8. Atheist ,

    Incorrect. It is only Jews who are bound to follow Torah and the 613 Mitzvot. In Judaism we believe all nations have a portion in the world to come. It is only the very wicked who will be destroyed or prevented from reaching Gan Eden. Furthermore,the 7 basic laws of humanity (The laws of Noah) are what Jews believe apply to all humanity. Yes just 7 laws, none of which demand conversion to Judaism. The interpretation of these laws (say prohibition of idol worship ) is such that Christians are not excluded from Gan Eden. In the ultimate it is G-d's decision as to who goes to Gan Eden, not our own.

    As for your Dawkins. Isn't he increasingly heading toward Christianity? I've read he is now describing himself as a 'Christian Atheist'.

  9. I am aware of Christianity's view. I respect your right to say these things. I've also got a responsibility to defend my people against it.

  10. Dominique,

    Don't be so hard on yourself. You are a good Jew, you struggle like the rest of us. Together we try and follow Hashem better. Read the link I've given to atheist above. I hope that provides encouragement :)

  11. Except in the book of Jonah, God forgave people without them needing to become Jews or a blood sacrifice.

  12. We post where we want to do so. There are elements of truth in all religions, although for me the ultimate and final truth is the Torah.

  13. I honestly don't. I know. But do not understand. I think the cultural gulf is too wide. I honestly don't see why Christianity is so 'just', as it seems good people, not Christians will be damned, but bad Christians get a free pass. That isn't justice to me.

  14. Hi Dom,

    No, you keep Shabbos & the major festivals. Each bit at a time. None of us are perfect .We are hear to help out each other. Besides which you're a fierce defend of Israel and Jews. If that isn't a form of Kiddush HaShem, I don't know what is!

  15. I don't troll Christian blogs, I contribute to them and I hope in a positive way. It should be obvious I have no interest in converting people to my faith, but I enjoy chatting about G-d and how we can all learn, even among faiths. That doesn't take away the fact that for me Torah is the truth.

  16. HI David,

    Thanks for the link. I enjoyed reading it, especially -

    "I’m tired of a religion that makes us feel permanently inadequate, that focuses more on what we omit than what we observe, that makes us feel guilty for our spiritual failures rather than proud of our moral accomplishments.

    I’m tired of reading of religion existing to primarily condemn gays or obsess over abortion, rather than giving guidance to the living as to how they can be loving spouses and inspired parents.

    I’m weary of a religion that is more interested in condemning the infidel rather than loving our neighbor, that is more focused on God as punisher-in-chief rather than a fountain of life and blessing.

    In the coming year I want to see a Judaism that inspires gay men to put on tefilin and observe the Sabbath, rather than telling them that their sexuality bars them from any meaningful place in Jewish life.
    I want to see a Judaism that reaches out to Jewish men and women who have married outside the faith, exposing both them and their non-Jewish spouses to the beauty of our tradition with a view toward the non-Jewish partner, giving serious consideration to halachic conversion."

    That's how I feel too!

  17. David

    There aren't any good people. That's the problem. You have a weak view of sin and God's holiness. It's a comforting attractive view to man because it doesn't demand very much of man. God's standard isn't perfection under such thinking. It's adequacy. And no one gets a free pass. A fearsome price was paid for salvation.


  18. Bud this is Christianity all over, no surprise and no need to ban this picture. I agree we have the right to be offended and we have the right to dispute the claims of Christianity.

  19. "You have a weak view of sin and God's holiness"

    I wouldn't say that of Dave, to be honest. It'll be interesting to see what he says in reply.

  20. This is such a non story in many ways. Anyone who has looked into Christianity, that there is a heaven and a hell. Appreciate not all see this is a place of fire, but hell nonetheless exists in Christian teaching. Why get offended if you don't believe this truth? If I believed in Christianity then I'd be the one with the difficulty when it came to comforting non-Christians will loss. But thankfully that ain't my burden.

  21. Esther it would be... if it hadn't been for the seemingly overreaction of the authorities.

  22. Carl,

    "You have a weak view of sin and God's holiness. It's a comforting attractive view to man because it doesn't demand very much of man"

    Perhaps from a Christian perspective, I don't think so from my own Judaic one. I find this strange given that one of the key objections to Judaism - and this is the case Paul makes in his NT letters- that The Torah, what he refers to as 'the law' is objectionable in part because it was impossible to fulfill. In others words our religion, according to Paul, demanded TOO MUCH of a man, not TOO LITTLE.

  23. Hi David,

    To be fair I don't think that Paul put it quite like that; he simply said the law wasn't needed anymore because of Christianity. I think it was latter interpretations that led to the concept of 'moral' law as still applicable to Christians. But then the Spanish Inquisition used Paul's writings to attack 'Judaizers' when they were busy persecuting Jewish -Christians.

  24. Fair point. Hopefully they'll do bugger all about it. Just one of those PC stunts gone bad....


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