Thursday, September 22, 2011

What Does it Mean to be Destroyed?

Let me go back to my story of why I left my church. (if you are just coming in, you may want to start with the first post and work your way up. It will make more sense)  So, I found I now believed that God would save the entire human race somehow, and that none of my Christian friends or the leaders in my church could believe this.  One leader did email me back though, to let me know he had changed his mind...he now believed in 'annihilation'.  He made sure to point out that this would happen "after they had been punished for exactly as long as they deserved". 

Let me ask you a question.  If you had a dog that had rabies and hurt your other dogs, and you knew you couldn't rehabilitate him...would you take him out back, beat the holy crap out of him, and then shoot him?  What would be the point?  "Because justice would demand it."  Really?  Aren't you the owner of the dog, and can't you decide not to beat him, but just mercifully put him out of his misery? And where's the justice in beating a dog that has rabies and couldn't help himself?  "People choose to sin, they don't have rabies".  As much as people want to judge other people for the sins they 'willingly' commit, it's curious how when it comes to themselves they'll cling to the apostle Paul's description of the human condition:

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do... I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. (Romans 7:15-20)

Sounds a little like rabies to me.  Is the best God can do is forgive a few of us for having rabies and destroy the rest?  So, back to my original question...what does it mean to be destroyed?  One of the scriptures this same leader immediately quoted when refuting the idea that God will save everyone is this one:

Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matthew 10:28)

What a terrifying scripture, right?  But look a little closer.  First, Jesus is confirming that God is able to destroy a soul in hell.  And I think it's also significant that the spirit is not mentioned.  Most Christians believe we are spirit, soul and body. (May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this. 1 Thessalonians 5)  So, what happens to the spirit after the soul is destroyed?  But anyway, the best part of this scripture is what Jesus says right after it:

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

First Jesus tell his disciples (not unbelievers) to fear God because He can destroy them in hell.  Then in the next sentence he tells them not to be afraid, because they are of immense value to God.  Huh?  If the first sentence is supposed to be a threat, (you better follow me well, because God will destroy you if you don't) the following sentences seem odd, don't they?  How can we fear someone, and not be afraid of them?  Maybe the 'fear' he means is understanding authority.  Understand, God is in control, not men who think they are because they can kill your body.  God is the real authority, because He can destroy your soul.  But if he immediately tempers this with, "don't be afraid, you are valuable"...then how can being destroyed be such a bad thing?  How can I say "Understand that God has the power to destroy your soul, but don't be afraid of him because He loves you more than anything".  But...if my soul is something connected to, but somehow apart from my spirit, and it is diseased and deformed...wouldn't I want it destroyed?  Wouldn't I want my spirit to be freed from such a soul?