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Who goes to heaven?

Discussion in 'Alley of Dangerous Angles' started by Harbourboy, May 3, 2005.

  1. Harbourboy

    Harbourboy Take thy form from off my door! Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    [​IMG] I don't want to offend anyone but I'm just trying to fill some gaps in my meagre theological knowledge. I'd like to know, in your belief, or in the opinion of your religion, which of the following sorts of people would go to heaven and which would go to hell:

    1) A priest who has done good things in his life
    2) A priest who has done good things, but also molested some children
    3) A warrior in a jungle tribe who has never heard of God
    4) Someone living in a western country who has heard of God, but doesn't believe in him, and who has mostly been good but has committed a few sins like sex outside of marriage
    5) A murderer who admits his sins and repents
    6) An adulterer who admits his sins and repents

    I'm sure the discussion on the topic will be more enlightening than the actual answers but these are the sorts of examples that I sometimes struggle with when thinking about this stuff.
     
  2. Apeman Gems: 25/31
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    The only definate answer to your question is: Not a single person on this earth knows. Anyone claiming otherwise is speculating at best.

    It's a moot point anyway, until the moment one dies that is.
     
  3. Arifirh Gems: 10/31
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    In Christianity at least, no matter what your sins, as long as you truly repent and actually want to be forgiven, all's well that ends well. God's theoretically infinitely forgiving, but hell does exist. It's up to you in the end; if you turn away from God, that's where you finish up - it's all a matter of free will. The greater the sin, I'm guessing, the greater personal strength needed to confess all and genuinely repent. ("...but men feared to come into the light for fear their sins would be revealed." Somewhere in John.) So repeated, shameless sin won't be appreciated.

    As for those who honestly believe they're doing the right thing, but are badly misguided - presumably all is explained to them when they're resurrected from their imperfect bodies and they can repent then, before being judged.

    People who haven't heard of God - that's where it gets tricky. Some sects of Christianity think if you don't know Jesus' teachings, tough luck; evangelists haven't been doing their job, and you're a pagan - not welcome. Others (most?) believe that in the end you're judged according to exactly what degree you've led your life in a Christian manner, knowing or not. Perhaps how reverentially you've treated your ancestral spirits, or how well you've followed your own conscience. Marks for effort, in other words. Again, it could well all be explained when you get up there. ("Here's a small pamphlet on Christian Ethics. Please present your response in written form in 30 minutes. No pressure.")

    In short, Love God or Go Straight to Hell (Do Not Collect Enlightenment.)


    (Yay, triple figures :D )
     
  4. Harbourboy

    Harbourboy Take thy form from off my door! Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    Yeah, but I'm interested in what people believe.

    Rhetorical - interesting thoughts. So you might not be damned just because you didn't believe in God?
     
  5. Tassadar Gems: 23/31
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    I'll be going to hell then...
     
  6. Harbourboy

    Harbourboy Take thy form from off my door! Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    Tassadar - luckily you already live in Godzone.
     
  7. Arifirh Gems: 10/31
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    Well, Jesus was pretty emphatic about an active "coming to faith" in John's gospel, and fairly harshly attacked all the Jews, among others, who refused to believe him. (But the Jewish teachers particularly in John, because of the readership the gospel was aimed at, i.e. convertees recently kicked out of the synagogues for declaring their faith in Jesus).
    The importance placed on evangelism and teaching/conversion of others as a part of faithful discipleship seems to suggest that without at least some knowledge of Christianity, you don't have much of a chance... This doesn't sit well with most liberal/conservative Christians, though (me included.) I don't like the thought that if you were born in the wrong place and brought up a faithful Hindu/Sikh/Muslim you're excluded by the "I am your God" clause... That doesn't seem terribly universalist.
    This leads into my fuzzy "all religions=one god" theory which I'm sure will sort itself out when I'm dead (or not, as the case may be), but doesn't lend itself well to English without sounding a bit like 'Christianity's right, everyone else was nearly there. Good effort, though.' It's less simplistic than that, really. But essentially, if you'll allow the differences between the Catholics/Protestants/Baptists/Methodists, it's not too much of a struggle to include on some level the rest of the major religions if you ignore some of the fairly big theological leaps. (Holy Trinity not being much like "Allah is one" or the diverse Hindu pantheon) As I said, fuzzy :)

    But then you can allow e.g. tribal guy's ancestral guardians (Back to the original question!) to be analogous to God... and it's from roughly this point all my ideas stop making sense when put into language. But I think you can see where I'm going...

    So some sort of faith is necessary, I think, otherwise you're just an atheist/agnostic. And agnostics, while by far the most sensible of all, nevertheless lack conviction.
     
  8. Mr Writer Gems: 8/31
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    Isn't the Islamic way, when you die, Allah weighs up all your actions against there intentions and if good > bad then you get eternal happiness, if bad > good your screwed. I think not believing in him is like a million point head start for bad. (In laymans terms)
     
  9. Shrikant

    Shrikant Swords! Not words! Veteran

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    You are born . . . You do your stuff . . . You die.

    Your actions are measured and if found to be good, you join god.
    If not, repeat the whole cycle again.

    Yes, there is hell. And we are living in it.
     
  10. chevalier

    chevalier Knight of Everfull Chalice ★ SPS Account Holder Veteran

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    In Christianity, all sins can be forgiven if repented. Doesn't work for the sin of being unrepentant... unless it's repented.

    In Christianity, there are venial and mortal sins. Mortal ones can put you in hell if not repented. For a mortal sin, you need grave matter, full knowledge and full consent. The ordinary way of dealing with repentance for those is confession (not believed by most Protestants), although perfect contrition works if one isn't intending to go around confessing. Not like you would like to bet your last money on whether your contrition was perfect (for the love of God who has been offended) or not. When you take the effort to confess, imperfect contrition (realising what you did was wrong and wanting to fix it, even for mere fear of hell, fear of loss of heaven, heinousness of guilt, whatever such motive) is sufficient, so long as you do realise it was wrong and you do wish to repent.

    When you die... who knows? God only knows what's in the heart of people and we can only take guesses, not like we really should. In the process of declaring a saint (Protestants don't do this), it is declared that the person is in heaven, but there is no process for finding out and announcing that someone is in hell.

    Still, lack of sins doesn't make one saved. Not like it often happens that a human doesn't commit a single mortal sin over the whole life (just a couple maybe in the whole history, not counting children). People are saved by grace through faith and works. God's grace is where it begins and ends. After all, it's not like we deserve anything from God. Faith is needed for salvation, but this doesn't mean that those who never heard of God are unsaved if they can't be faulted for their ignorance. Who knows, maybe they acknowledge a supernatural omnipotent omniscient loving creator, somewhere deep in their hearts? And works aren't irrelevant. Things you have done matter, if sins or good deeds. Still, it's not like on your deathbed the lack of opportunity to fix things is going make it bad luck for you, or the lack of any more opportunity to do anything good. As faith alone isn't worth a lot if kept out of touch with someone's decisions, neither does any amount of good deeds give you a pass for merely doing it. Grace is the closest of the three to doing the job alone, but still, it doesn't mean that it will be forced on those who reject it or don't respond.

    There is no maths about good works and sins, either. Having done lots of good things doesn't give you any right to do little evils. However, even big evils don't negate the little good things you did before if you repent and restore the bond with God broken by mortal sin.

    Between the examples you mentioned, those who repent seem to have more chance than those who don't and those who are ignorant through no fault seem to have more chance than those who made a more active rejection. But only God knows the hearts of men.

    We don't know why priest #1 did the good things and of what motives. We don't know if priest #2 was a filthy pervert or if he was sick or hugely tempted by the devil, let alone if he eventually repented. We don't know what warrior #3 did with his moral life and spirituality, how he treated his fellow man. We don't know what level of knowledge or willingness person #4 had in his sins. We don't know how sincere persons #5 and #6 were in repenting and if those sins were the only mortal ones they had. We simply can't know.

    Personally, I would bet on people who really love God, even if they have sinned a lot in their lives. Those love much are forgiven much and God is infinitely merciful. He stops short of forcing the mercy on the unwilling (which wouldn't exactly be merciful). He surely doesn't set traps and isn't looking out for sinners to put in hell. What it takes is to find the voice of God and respond. Respond to the grace and return the love. As what you do to the weakest and most defenceless of humans you do as if you did it to God, that love hardly seems possible without loving the fellow man. Here's Chapter 13 of 1 Corinthians:

    That's what love is. What Jesus said was even simpler: love God all you can and your fellow man like yourself. Ultimately, it's all about love.

    I know this is a clumsy attempt at an explanation, but I hope it helps.

    [ May 04, 2005, 01:27: Message edited by: chevalier ]
     
  11. Oaz Gems: 29/31
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    Some seem to say: everyone gets there, but some faster.
     
  12. Harbourboy

    Harbourboy Take thy form from off my door! Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    Hmm, I think I understood Rhetorical's answer better than Chevalier's. I'm not quite sure what you mean by 'grace', which seems to be a critical criterion in your belief.
     
  13. Rallymama Gems: 31/31
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    Judaism is all about what you DO, not what you believe. There's evena rabbinical teaching to the effect that God would prefer that mankind forgets Him, so long as we continue to keep His commandments, rather than the other way round. He gave us free will, after all, and it's how we apply that free will in making our lives and the lives of those we touch and the whole world a better place that matters.

    That's the idea behind the concept of tikkun olam - "fixing the world." God deliberately rested before Creation was perfect so that mankind - who was made in His image, and for whom the highest calling is to imitate God through our own creativity - would have something to do, to strive for.

    Judaism does not believe in original sin. Your fate is in your own hands.

    The Talmud teaches that each person will be asked four questions at the final judgement:
    1) Did you conduct your business affaris honestly?
    2) Did you set aside regular time for Torah study? (Interpreted for the modern world as "Did you take time to grow intellectually and spiritually throught your life?"
    3) Did you ensure continuity of the world by having children? (IOW, Did you understand that there's more to this life than yourself?)
    4) Do you look forward to the world's redemption? (Back to tikkun olam - Did you do anything to make the world a better place?")

    Taken largely from here
     
  14. Nakia

    Nakia The night is mine Distinguished Member ★ SPS Account Holder Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) BoM XenForo Migration Contributor [2015] (for helping support the migration to new forum software!)

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    I like that philosophy, Rally. I have a hard time with the 'you must believe ...(fill in the dots)...'. IIRC it was James who said something to the effect that faith without works is dead. But he didn't write very much and gets ignored. Personally I can believe in Purgatory a lot more easily than Hell.
     
  15. chevalier

    chevalier Knight of Everfull Chalice ★ SPS Account Holder Veteran

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    I believe that no one ever goes to hell without getting a chance to believe. God would never punish people without guilt. Even if we consider hell to be something else than punishment, I still don't think our God would ever put someone in there just because missionaries didn't make it. Actually, my belief is more that you need to reject your chance to end up there. Like to consider your sins to be greater than God's infinite mercy and to decide that there's no salvation for you. Or to be unrepentant for your sins despite knowing them to be evil acts.
     
  16. Bion Gems: 21/31
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    @Chev: how do you reconcile the role of the church with the individual relationship one has with God? I.e., if only God knows what's in someone's heart, who's to say whether professing the credo, and even convincing oneself that that is the case, actually counts as sincere belief and not self-deception? Or that someone who never consciously admits to faith might have a more, say, subconscious relationship with God? Yet the New Testament and most Christian theology strongly emphasizes the importance of Christians coming together as a community through the church; while this has obvious advantages, in terms of education, fellowship, and even in protecting the community, it also brings certain group dynamics into play, such as the need to belong in a group, which can potentially have a negative impact on a personal relationship with God. A community as a whole cannot be "saved" except individually; yet how does this reconcile with the bride/bridegroom metaphor between God and the church?

    @Rally: IIRC, original sin was a Judaic concept and Orthodox Judaism still holds to a concept of original sin. Conservative and Reform Judaism have replaced the language of loss (expulsion from the garden, etc) with an idea that people were meant by God to (metaphorically) leave the garden in order to be able to express their free will...
     
  17. chevalier

    chevalier Knight of Everfull Chalice ★ SPS Account Holder Veteran

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    There is always a link between the Church and salvation. This is what they meant in Dominus Iesus. But this doesn't mean that unbelievers are unsaved. You are correct in saying that only God knows the hearts of men and individual churchmen don't. But Jesus Himself said that where two or more gathered in His name, He was among them. That's the purpose of the Church. That and spreading grace among everything. The Church helps you build the relationship with God. As Jesus said what you did to the smallest of people you did to Him, the relationship with other humans is relevant. He also told us to take and eat his Body and take and drink His Blood, hence the Eucharist. He entrusted the mission of the Church and the binding and loosing into the hands of Peter, hence the Church until the present day. Does it mean all religions are equal and none is necessary? No. It means that God can save you outside the Church but the Church is the normal way. Rejecting the Church and trying to get a direct "red line" with God is not the way to strive for salvation.

    The bride/groom metaphor is that the Church is the (physically) weaker, receptive partner in the loving relationship with God. However, the Bible does stress that the wife and husband are equal, so Jesus probably meant that as well. He loved the Church (his people) so much that He gave His life for them. He countlessly forgives all the adulteries (turning away from Him) and returns the mortals to His graces, giving them gifts of grace coming from His infinite love. Well, I don't want to be preaching but you get the idea. I hope. Humans are social beings. There aren't many things like totally private matters. Faith is surely not a totally private matter.
     
  18. Rallymama Gems: 31/31
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    @Bion: The text I cited above explicitly stated that original sin is not a Jewish notion. Additionally, I found this:
    The source of the quote has more to say about the dual nature of mankind, see here . This site comes primarily from an Orthodox viewpoint.

    Here's some basic reading about the Jewish view of the afterlife. Note the idea that "the righteous of all nations have a share in [the afterlife]."
     
  19. Misantrophe Gems: 5/31
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    @ Mr Writer
    i'm Moslem but not a religious one so i might be wrong but as far as i know you have to suffer for all of your sins even if your good>>bad. but if your intentions are good Allah might forgive you for your sins.
     
  20. Harbourboy

    Harbourboy Take thy form from off my door! Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!)

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    Hmm, this is all very interesting. I didin't think it was going to be so complicated.

    Yeah, but what if it's not a very good chance? For example, if the missionary wasn't very believable or didn't provide a persuasive enough argument.
     
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