A Curious Girl

The musings of a girl who is curious in both senses of the word. Life, God, and York. Oh, did I say York? I meant Bradford!

Monday, November 07, 2005


Still feeling weird. Every time I think I've found a solution to my Hell angst I end up angsting again.

Actually, reading the Bible I'm convinced that salvation is a lot more complicated than some people would have us believe. I went to a party last night and we ended up debating Hell. There was a guy who agreed with me that Hell isn't scriptural (hopefully more on this later, but in short 'eternal torment' is an idea adapted from ancient pagan religions to scare people into behaving). I've been reading more of the Old Testament and feeling surprisingly cheered despite all the anger and lamenting. In Ezekiel it says that God takes no pleasure from the death of the wicked. I'm also comforted by the story of the tax collector and the Pharisee - the Pharisee revels in his righteousness and the tax collector says, "God have mercy on me, a sinner." The tax collector goes home justified. I feel this simple truth is one we Christians often neglect - that we have all done wrong, and that God honours a simple humble confession. I've been extremely proud lately, deciding I know exactly what's best and projecting my idea of truth onto God instead of asking him to project his truth onto me. And yet I think we put too much emphasis on doctrine and not enough on attitude. I believe and trust that God is compassionate - that he wants to heal us, that he longs for us to turn from destructiveness much more than he longs for us to learn the right Bible verses and go to the right meetings.

I don't really know everything - in fact, as usual, I find I know very little - but I'm cheered by Yancey's What's so Amazing about Grace?. I think we Christians (or me, at least, feel free to add your name here :) )often forget about grace. Jesus said the most important commandments were to love God and love other people (enemies included!) so, although he knows I'm in a mess about specific theology, I hope at least that he can accept me as I am, attempting, at least, to dedicate myself to what I believe is good and loving, and attempting to trust him! Through all this angsting, I'm simply reminded that I'm not perfect. So I simply throw up my hands and tell God so, and since he's God, he can do what he likes :)

I dunno. I actually feel that the more I read, the less I understand. But I do at least get the feeling that God would rather I be messy and loving rather than sound, sensible, knowledgeable... and not loving at all. He can enlighten me in his own time, and I can try and serve him as best I can now. Since I can't be perfect, I'll have to settle for being honest :)

"For when perfect comes, the imperfect disappears... I know in part, but then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known."



  • At 5:04 pm , Blogger Dr Moose said...

    Sorry, I've not commented for a while. Wish I had the time for a detailed (attempt) at a response, but life won't allow me the privelege. So these are instant thoughts, not considered ones...

    I can think of several things though. Firstly I think you are certainly right about issues of simplicity of faith as well as grace. The demand upon us the love God with all that we are, can be and all that we have, along with loving others as we would wish to be loved, is something that we all fail on - Christian or no.

    I think it's fair to say that we (especially evangelicals, and I'm not sure if I am one anymore, or at least a rather washy-washy one) are in danger of constantly reducing faith to doctrine at the expense of simplicity of practice. We are in danger of giving a set of intellectual principles and then proclaiming that we rather than God know what the conditions for salvation (and don't forget that's as much about wholeness as heaven and hell).

    I'm still not totally sure about hell, in detail. I know some who believe it but believe it to be empty, and others who argue the case for annihilationism - that the faithless just cease to exist. (For a contemporary Evangelical engagement try "The Nature of Hell", published by the Evangelical Alliance in 2000. Then you really will be confused!) Maybe we could all do with a little more grappling with the writings of the Early Church Fathers - theologians, saints and philosophers whose musings have shaped our faith (eg the content of the creeds, and far, far more) to see what they have contributed?

    Maybe I should stop this rambling quote on a positive point, not a negative one. Don't think about hell. Think about heaven - surely the offer of the life eternal that Jesus offers is about spending eternity in the presence of God. That should be a far bigger incentive to faith, not a fear of God's absence.


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