Many Bible literalists reject the near-death experience (NDE) because it does not agree with their literal interpretation of the Bible. Concepts found in NDEs, such as reincarnation, universal salvation, the humanity of Jesus, and the temporary nature of hell, are contradictions to the Bible literalists’ interpretation of the Bible, despite the fact that these doctrines were orthodox Christian doctrines, such as reincarnation in the Bible, before the organized Church was even formed. However, this website affirms again and again that these NDE concepts actually do agree with the Bible, but only in a more deeper spiritual interpretation of it. The following information is my own personal opinion about Bible literalism. Having been a Bible literalist for many years, I feel I am qualified to describe the very serious problems with having a Bible literalist mindset.
1. An NDE Reveals the Truth About the Bible
During Rev. Howard Storm‘s NDE, he was able to ask Jesus and his guides questions about the Bible. Here the excerpt:
“When the review was finished they asked: ‘Do you want to ask any questions?’ and I had a million questions. I asked, for example, ‘What about the Bible?’ They responded: ‘What about it?’ I asked if it was true, and they said it was. Asking them why it was that when I tried to read it, all I saw were contradictions, they took me back to my life’s review again something that I had overlooked. They showed me, for the few times I had opened the Bible, that I had read it with the idea of finding contradictions and problems. I was trying to prove to myself that it wasn’t worth reading. I observed to them that the Bible wasn’t clear to me. It didn’t make sense. They told me that it contained spiritual truth, and that I had to read it spiritually in order to understand it. It should be read prayerfully. My friends informed me that it was not like other books. They also told me, and I later found out this was true, that when you read it prayerfully, it talks to you. It reveals itself to you. And you don’t have to work at it anymore.” (Rev. Howard Storm)
Rev. Howard Storm’s revelation about the Bible is certainly amazing. It reveals several things:
a. The Bible is a book that is true and worthy of belief. This is not to say that a literal interpretation makes it infallible.
b. The apparent contradictions found in the Bible arise from not interpreting the Bible in a spiritual manner. This implies that a literal interpretation can lead to problems.
c. By reading the Bible spiritually and prayerfully, the Holy Spirit can guide the reader into spiritual truth.
2. Severe Problems With a Literal Interpretation of the Bible
From these facts, another conclusion may be drawn. While there exists severe problems with a literal interpretation (as you will discover below), this does not mean the Bible is not worth studying. We mustn’t throw out the “baby” with the “bath water.” These problems of giving the Bible a literal interpretation only show that it is the men who wrote the Bible who are fallible, not the Spirit of God. It can then be assumed that having these severe problems of literal interpretation were meant to exist in the Bible – perhaps because there exists a spiritual and/or symbolic meaning behind the literal problems.
For example, the Book of Revelation has severe and catastrophic errors when interpreting it literally. However, when interpreted spiritually, this account may be spiritually true and not literally true. In fact, the same symbols in Revelation can be found in the dream symbolism of the Book of Daniel. This suggests the Book of Revelation is actually a dream or series of dreams which must be interpreted symbolically. Edgar Cayce unlocked the symbolic and spiritual meaning of the Book of Revelation.
Jesus rebuked the religious leaders of his day for taking a strictly literal, conservative view of the Hebrew Bible. They created an entire system of man-made rules and regulations around their literal interpretation of scriptures. Because they rejected Jesus’ liberal interpretation of scripture, their theology was in question, so they had Jesus killed. Today, there are a large number of religious leaders and followers who are making the same mistake. For the last two thousand years of church history, literalism help fan the flames of Inquisitions, crusades, and all kinds of disputes over man-made dogma, such as: works versus faith, trinity versus oneness, eternal security versus no security, baptism versus tongues, and predestination versus free will, just to name a few.
My purpose in pointing out the serious flaws of Bible literalism is to show that the gospel of Christ is much simpler than many Christians believe. The simple message of Jesus doesn’t involve any interpretation nor all the rules and traditions that go along with it. The message of Jesus is love – unconditional love (Luke 10:25-28). The teachings of Jesus are not about religious dogma. A close examination of the Sermon on the Mount shows that the centerpiece of Jesus’ teachings was love for your neighbor and your enemy. His gospel message is as simple and as profound as love. Love is also the message of the vast majority of near-death experience accounts.
3. Extremely Shocking and Disturbing Literal Bible Verses
Word of Caution: If you are a Bible literalist who believes all knowledge of God is limited to the Bible, then you may find the rest of the material on this web page extremely shocking and disturbing. It is not my purpose to shock anyone or save anyone’s soul. My only purpose is to provide strong reasons why a strict, literal interpretation of an infallible Bible is wrong and dangerous. Believing in a literal, infallible, God-limiting Bible creates major problems including the rejection by many Christians of the Jesus of NDEs and NDEs in general.
Some literalists have become so extreme that they practically have elevated the Bible to heights that border on biblio-idolatry. This is no trivial matter either. Multitudes of people throughout history have been slaughtered for not believing in the orthodox view of the Bible. The problem is that there are many serious difficulties with believing in a literal interpretation of the Bible. Here are some links to web pages that list these serious difficulties:
|Bible errors||Bible contradictions||Bible atrocities|
|Bible absurdities||Bible injustices||Bible intolerance|
|Bible and women||Bible and gays||Bible and family|
|Bible and sex||Bible and porn||Bible prophecy|
|Good Bible verses||Bible skeptic site|
The following Bible verses have the greatest problems with them that I am aware of. These problems are great enough that I believe most rational people would conclude by these verses alone that there are devastating problems with a literal interpretation of the Bible.
a. Bible Errors
As many intelligent people know, the Bible is not a science book. It is not a doctoral dissertation on the astrophysical origins of the cosmos. But many people throughout history believed it to be. Some believe the Bible to be perfect and without error. After all, even the Bible itself suggests this to be the case:
“All scripture is God-breathed ” (2 Timothy 3:16)
But at the time Paul wrote this, scripture did not yet include the New Testament. Because of this, people who limit divine revelation to the Bible, should throw out the entire New Testament because it was added into canon many years after the death of Christ.
The idea of an errorless Bible does not fit the truth. The following examples show beyond a shadow of a doubt that there are sound reasons why an errorless Bible is itself an error.
Bible error #1: The Earth was formed out of water and by water.
“But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the Earth was formed out of water and by water.” (2 Peter 3:5)
The above verse is in error because the geographical evidence shows the Earth was formed from molten lava. For those who believe the Bible to be a greater authority than science, need to choose which is the greater revelation of God: the Bible or the universe. The Bible needed the help of fallible men to be created. God did not need the help of men to create the universe.
Bible error #2: The Earth is thousands of years old.
“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the Earth So God created man in his own image And there was evening, and there was morning the sixth day.” (Genesis 1:1-31)
These verses of the Genesis creation are false. The Bible states that Adam was created on the sixth day. It is derived that approximately four thousand years transpired between Adam and Jesus. This would mean the universe is approximately 6,000 years old. But this is impossible for a number of reasons. Perhaps the simplest to understand is that the light we see from stars have been traveling for billions of years. This proves the universe to be much older than 6,000 years; in fact, it proves the universe is billions of years old.
Bible error #3: Noah’s ark contained 2 of all living creatures on Earth.
“You are to bring into the ark two of all living creatures, male and female, to keep them alive with you.” (Genesis 6:19)
An ark containing two of all living creatures is a physical impossibility. Noah’s ark was 300 cubits by 50 cubits by 30 cubits in size according to Genesis 6:15. A cubit was approximately 18 inches, yielding a volume (if perfectly rectangular, the most voluminous possible shape of three unequal dimensions) of 1,518,750 cubic feet. Into this volume, Noah supposedly fit two of each of the 22,100 species of animals on Earth plus the food to keep all of them alive for a month. But it would be impossible to fit such a tremendous amount of animals and food in such a relatively tiny volume of that dimension. There are also other reasons why the flood and the ark story is a myth.
b. Bible Contradictions
Not only are there errors in the Bible, there are also severe contradictions. These contradictions exist because the Bible was written by fallible men. The following verses are the most problematic contradictions that I know of.
Bible contradiction #1: How are we saved?
We are saved by faith alone: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)
We are NOT saved by faith alone: “You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.” (James 2:24)
Both concepts cannot be true. Paul created a theology of salvation by faith alone. The Jerusalem apostles, who came into conflict with Paul on occasions, knew Jesus and his teachings much better than Paul. They continued Jesus’ teachings of salvation through good works with faith playing a secondary role. The question to be answered is, “Who do you trust more? Jesus or Paul?” Nevertheless, NDE accounts generally show that we are already saved!
Bible contradiction #2: Is God a sinner?
God is jealous: “For the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.” (Exodus 34:14)
Jealousy is a sin: “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious … jealousy” (Galatians 5:19-20)
If jealousy is a sin, and God is jealous, then the only conclusion we can draw is that God is a sinner. The two scripture verses above flat out contradict each other. This absurd conclusion makes God out to be less than perfect. The same can also be said of the notion of a “God of wrath” because Jesus taught that wrath is a sin.
Bible contradiction #3: Has anyone ever seen God?
Nobody has seen God but Jesus: “No one has ever seen God …” (John 1:18)
Abraham saw God: “When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, ‘I am God Almighty; walk before me and be blameless.'” (Genesis 17:1)
Jacob saw God: “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.” (Genesis 32:30)
The leaders of Israel saw God: “But God did not raise his hand against these leaders of the Israelites; they saw God, and they ate and drank.” (Exodus 24:11)
There are several Bible verses which state that nobody has ever seen God. But there are also several Bible verses which describes a large number of people who saw God.
Bible contradiction #4: Does God love or hate sinners?
God loves sinners: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son …” (John 3:16)
God hates sinners: “You are not a God who takes pleasure in evil; with you the wicked cannot dwell. The arrogant cannot stand in your presence; you hate all who do wrong.” (Psalm 5:4-5)
The Bible is filled with references to how God hates the wicked. The problem with this is that the Bible also says that “no one is righteous” and everyone is a sinner. The idea that God hates this world of sinners is a contradiction to John 3:16. And even if God loves some people and hates others, this would make God out to be a respecter of persons and his love conditional.
In some parts of the Bible, an incorrect portrayal of a love/hate relationship between God and humanity is described. For example, in the beginning, God was pleased to create man. Then, man fell from favor with God. God expresses a regret in creating man to begin with but God allows them to be fruitful and multiply. Then one day, God decided to destroy everyone on Earth except for relatively a few people. God’s hatred for sin and sinners leads God to actually destroy practically everyone and everything on Earth. God then becomes a tribal deity to a small group of Hebrews with God chooses only to save. But God commits horrible atrocities upon them and their neighbors because of their human failings. Later, Jesus came along teaching how much God loves everyone unconditionally. God has Jesus killed as a human sacrifice and a ransom to pay to someone holding humanity hostage. The Christian Church teaches that God is no respecter of persons despite the strong partiality he has shown to Jews and those who accept the Jewish Messiah. At the end of the Bible, God is shown having a vast multitude of humanity cast headlong into the fire of hell to burn in eternal damnation. These descriptions of God, when taken literally, is certainly schizophrenic to say the least. It demonstrates how an infallible Bible can lead to absurdities.
c. Ridiculous Bible Verses
Besides all the errors and contradictions in the Bible, there are also a great number of Bible verses that are utterly ridiculous. A ridiculous Bible means a ridiculous God if you take the literal and infallible view. The following verses are some of the most ridiculous verses I know of.
(1) Ridiculous Bible verses concerning women
Women are inferior to men: “A man is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man.” (1 Corinthians 11:7)
Women are weaker than men: “Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner” (1 Peter 3:7)
Women should be silent in church: “As in all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in the churches.” (1 Corinthians 14:34)
Women must not have authority over men: “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man.” (1 Timothy 2:12-14)
Women are saved through bearing children: “But women will be saved through childbearing.” (1 Timothy 2:15)
Women must cut their hair off if they don’t cover it: “If a woman does not cover her head, she should have her hair cut off.” (1 Corinthian 11:6)
It should be obvious to anyone that Paul is not expressing God’s view of women. Paul is obviously expressing his own bizarre bias against women. The men who wrote the Bible often reflected a degrading view of women, homosexuals, slaves, and Jews among others. If these views actually represent the views of God, then this falsely makes God a bigot and a respecter of persons. For this reason, an infallible Bible cannot be true.
(2) Ridiculous verses concerning the nature of “God”
The sight of crap turns God away: “Cover up your excrement so that God will not turn away from you.” (Deuteronomy 23:12-14)
A burning bull carcass is a pleasing odor to God: “The priest is to burn all of the bull on the altar. It is a burnt offering, an offering made by fire, an aroma pleasing to the Lord.” (Leviticus 1:9)
God awoke like a man from a drunken stupor: Then the Lord awoke as from sleep, as a man wakes from the stupor of wine. (Psalm 78:65)
A man struggled with and overcame God: “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome.” (Genesis 32:24-28)
God searched the animal kingdom for a partner for Adam: “So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field. But for Adam no suitable helper was found.” (Genesis 2:20)
Abraham ate pancakes with God: “The Lord appeared to Abraham near the great trees … So Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah. “Quick,” he said, “get three seahs of fine flour and knead it and bake some bread.” … While they ate, he stood near them under a tree.” (Genesis 18:1-8)
God threatened to force disobedient people into having adulterous sex: “This is what the Lord says: “Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will lie with your wives in broad daylight.” (2 Samuel 12:11)
God killed a man for failing to get his brother’s wife pregnant: “He spilled his semen on the ground. What he did was wicked in the Lord’s sight; so he put him to death also.” (Genesis 38:9-10)
All Bible verses that represent God as having ridiculous human-like flaws are not only false, they are highly dishonoring to God. For this reason, it is the idea of an infallible Bible that is ridiculous.
d. Comparing the New Testament God with the Old Testament God
Throughout history, people have noticed a great difference between the personality of God in the Old Testament (OT) and the personality of God in the New Testament (NT). These differences are so striking that a Christian sect called the Marcionites, the sect of Christian who developed the first version of the New Testament, believed the God of the Old Testament was a Satanic personality. A close comparison of the description of God by Jesus and the description of God in the Old Testament will demonstrate why they believed this.
God of Jesus: “God is love.” (1 John 4:16)
God of Moses: “Kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man” (Numbers 31:17)
God of Jesus: “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me.” (Mark 9:37)
God of Moses: “Put to death men and women, children and infants” (1 Samuel 15:2-3)
God of Jesus: “Love does no harm to its neighbor” (Romans 13:10)
God of Moses: “He totally destroyed all who breathed, just as the Lord, the God of Israel, had commanded.” (Joshua 10:40)
God of Jesus: “[The devil] was a murderer from the beginning.” (John 8:44)
God of Moses: “Slaughter old men, young men and maidens, women and children” (Ezekiel 9:6)
God of Jesus: “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)
God of Moses: “Like a lion I will devour them.” (Hosea 13:8)
God of Jesus: “Anyone who does not love his brother [is of the devil].” (1 John 3:10)
God of Moses: “Go back and forth killing your brother and friend and neighbor” (Exodus 32:27)
God of Jesus: “[The devil] is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44)
God of Moses: “Put a lying spirit in the mouths of all these prophets of yours.” (1 Kings 22:23)
God of Jesus: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.” (John 10:10)
God of Moses: “Pursue, kill and completely destroy them.” (Jeremiah 50:21)
God of Jesus: “He who does what is sinful is of the devil” (1 John 3:8)
God of Moses: “Do not leave alive anything that breathes” (Deuteronomy 20:16)
God of Jesus: “God so loved the world..” (John 3:16)
God of Moses: “I will wipe humankind … from the face of the Earth.” (Genesis 6:7)
God of Jesus: “Love your enemies” (Luke 6:27-28)
God of Moses: “Treat the Midianites as enemies and kill them.” (Numbers 25:16-17)
God of Jesus: “For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone” (James 1:13)
God of Moses: “[He] tempted Abraham” (Genesis 22:1)
Comparing certain descriptions of God in the Old Testament with certain descriptions of God of the New Testament is like comparing Charles Manson to Jesus. As seen in the Bible verses above, some of the Old Testament descriptions of God have a number of characteristics that certainly appear to be satanic. Of course, many descriptions of God in the Old Testament portray a God of love; but the ridiculous Bible verses which portray God as a satanic figure shows how some writers of the Old Testament were merely creating God in their own image.
NDE testimonies agree with the teachings of Jesus about a God of unconditional divine love. This love is merciful, non-judgmental, compassionate, and unlimited in forgiveness.
e. The Bizarre Nature of Some Biblical Descriptions of God
Any serious study of the Bible reveals that there are some descriptions of God in the Bible that show God as having very serious personality problems. These personality problems show how some writers of the Bible, particularly the Old Testament, viewed God more in human terms than divine. The following verses show why.
Word of Warning: The following Bible verses are graphic and portray a God that mass-murders innocent babies, dashes babies to pieces, rips open pregnant women, has children become human sacrifices, has wild animals devour children, has parents cannibalize their children, orders the genocide entire nations, causes abortions and orders people to kill their brothers and neighbors, just to name a few. These verses have the potential to cause serious psychological and emotional damage to young children should they read them. I strongly recommend that adults refrain from allowing children to read the following Bible verses. This website is not responsible for any psychological damage that may occur to children who reads the Bible. Viewer discretion is strongly advised.
“God” slaughtered innocent babies because of Pharaoh’s stubbornness: “At midnight the Lord struck down all the firstborn in Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh, who sat on the throne, to the firstborn of the prisoner, who was in the dungeon, and the firstborn of all the livestock as well. (Exodus 12:29)
“God” had babies dashed to pieces and pregnant women ripped open: “The people of Samaria must bear their guilt, because they have rebelled against their God. They will fall by the sword; their little ones will be dashed to the ground, their pregnant women ripped open.” (Hosea 13:16)
“God” wanted children to be murdered as human sacrifices: “I let them become defiled through their gifts – the sacrifice of every firstborn – that I might fill them with horror so they would know that I am the Lord. (Ezekiel 20:26)
“God” threatened to have innocent children be devoured by wild animals: I will send wild animals against you, and they will rob you of your children, destroy your cattle and make you so few in number that your roads will be deserted. (Leviticus 26:22)
“God” threatened to have children cannibalized: “If in spite of this you still do not listen to me but continue to be hostile toward me, then in my anger I will be hostile toward you, and I myself will punish you for your sins seven times over. You will eat the flesh of your sons and the flesh of your daughters. (Leviticus 26:27-29)
“God” ordered the genocide of women, children and babies: “Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys. (1 Samuel 15:2-3)
“God” aborted fetuses and murdered children in answer to the prophet Hosea’s prayer: “Give them, O Lord what will you give them? Give them wombs that miscarry …. Ephraim is blighted, their root is withered, they yield no fruit. Even if they bear children, I will slay their cherished offspring.” (Hosea 9:14-16)
“God” murdered a baby because of David’s adultery: “Then David said to Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the Lord.’ Nathan replied, ‘The Lord has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. But because by doing this you have made the enemies of the Lord show utter contempt, the son born to you will die.'” (2 Samuel 12:13-14)
“God” ordered people to kill their brothers, friends and neighbors: “Then he said to them, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Each man strap a sword to his side. Go back and forth through the camp from one end to the other, each killing his brother and friend and neighbor.'” (Exodus 32:27)
People who accuse me of taking these Bible verses out of context, must state the context which justifies “God” to slaughter a multitude of innocent babies and children. Such obviously false portrayals of God is highly dishonoring to God. The murder of children at Columbine caused a tremendous national outcry for justice. The slaughter of 50 grade school children in England several years ago caused a worldwide outcry. Shouldn’t the horrible atrocities attributed to so-called “God” cause the same reaction? Shouldn’t we abandon the idea of believing in an infallible Biblical interpretation of scripture?
f. The Gospel of Blood Versus the Gospel of Love
The early followers of Jesus believed that the traditional Jewish sacrifices were no longer necessary so they proclaimed that Jesus was the sacrifice to end all sacrifices. They believed that the murder of Jesus was a ransom which God paid to free humanity held hostage by Satan. This made good sense in those days; but now, thousands of years later, it’s pure nonsense to most people. Jesus himself was against such sacrifices (Mark 12:32-34) (Matthew 12:6-7). Suppose you were God and you had your son tortured and killed as a human sacrifice in order to be pleased and satisfied. Would you really be pleased with this? Or suppose you required people to cut the throats of thousands of innocent animals and let them bleed to death in order to be satisfied? Would you be satisfied with your behavior? Wouldn’t you instead be horrified?
There are many reasons why the death of Jesus resulted in a greater good; but the idea of appeasing an angry God to release hostages through a human sacrifice of innocent people and animals should be seen to be utterly ridiculous to everyone.
Question: But isn’t Christianity based on animal and human sacrifice?
Answer: It depends on which brand of Christianity you are referring to. If you are referring to literalist fundamental Christianity, then the answer is “yes.” The early orthodox Church of Rome held a distorted view of salvation by continuing to teach the false Hebrew concept that God craves the blood of human sacrifice. Because of this, the Church of Rome felt obligated to kill those who didn’t accept this interpretation. This doctrine of salvation, by human sacrifice, is believed to this day by a majority of Christians.
Question: Why did God need animal and human sacrifices as described in the Old Testament?
Answer: Some writers of the Hebrew Bible believed that God was a tribal deity – a national god. Cults that were based on animal and human sacrifices existed throughout the world at that time as it did in early Hebrew culture. At the center of these ancient cults was the idea of the blood sacrifice to angry gods – the innocent for the guilty. They did this because they thought it would appease them. Scholars of ancient religions have discovered that the early Hebrews incorporated many of their religious concepts from the tribal cults living around them. A God of infinite love, mercy and forgiveness was completely unheard of in those days. Today, the idea that God needs animal or human sacrifices to forgive people is repulsive to the intelligent mind and compassionate heart. Perhaps one of the reasons why Jesus came to the Earth was to stop the barbaric ritualistic slaughter of thousands of animals. It is barbaric and incredibly unjust to punish the innocent for the guilty. Jesus revealed that God is not interested in sacrifices.
Question: Didn’t Jesus have himself tortured and killed to pay a ransom to free hostages?
Answer: If you take a literal interpretation of an infallible Bible then the answer is “yes.” But common sense should tell us that appeasing a God who demands blood sacrifices is hardly worth worshiping.
The religious concept of humanity being held hostage by someone who desires a ransom in the form of the blood of a human sacrifice doesn’t make any sense either. Who is holding us hostage? God? Satan? Who held the world hostage and threatened the world with eternal torture unless a ransom of blood be paid? Such behavior would be very twisted for a God of infinite forgiveness, mercy and love. But, suppose it was God holding everyone hostage. This would lead to the absurd situation where God turned Jesus over to the devil so that the devil could kill Jesus in order for God to have a ransom to Himself. After all, the Bible does say that God gave Jesus over to evil men to have him killed:
“This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross.” (Acts 2:23-24)
If the “gospel of blood” is true, then God had Jesus killed only to satisfy Himself. But if this is the case, why couldn’t God just forgive everyone and forget?
Let’s suppose it was a devil holding the world hostage. This is not any better. It would lead to another absurd situation where God turned Jesus over to the devil to be killed in order to pay the devil’s ransom and set people free. But no matter who held humanity hostage or who paid the ransom, it all failed miserably because a literal interpretation of the Bible describes God throwing the vast majority of humanity into hell. Isn’t such a view of God highly dishonoring? For this reason, the God who appears in NDEs is closer to the God revealed by Jesus than the “God” defined by literalists.
Question: If people don’t know about this ransom will God have them burn forever in hell?
Answer: Yes, according to literalists. This has always been a thorny problem for literalists to explain. How does one justify a God of love throwing the vast majority of the human race into eternal torment when they were never given an opportunity by God Himself to hear the gospel?
Suppose God does not hold such people accountable and allows them into heaven. Then this would create another absurd situation where it would be better to never know the gospel and be guaranteed a place in heaven, than to know the gospel and face the possibility of going to hell. It would be very bizarre if this was God’s plan of redemption. It would also be very bizarre for people to believe that this plan of redemption is true.
The concept that God loves and saves only those who know about and gives mental and verbal assent to God is extremely ludicrous at best and dangerous at worst. Its corresponding concept that God hates and damns those who do not know about or give mental and verbal assent to God is also extremely ludicrous at best and dangerous at worst. Even if we assume that God loves everyone, including those whom “God” has thrown into hell, then this would be a very strange way for God to express his love for everyone. It is also a very strange thing for people to believe. Such absurdities lead to erroneous ideas of God demanding people to “love me or I will fry you.”
If it is God’s will that everyone go to heaven (1 Timothy 2:3-4) and nobody can thwart God’s will (Job 42:2, Daniel 4:35), but everyone does not go to heaven (Revelation 21:8), then the literalist has to explain why God isn’t powerful enough to save everyone. If God isn’t powerful enough to save everyone, then this contradicts other Bible verses that state God is all powerful and wills to save everyone. This contradiction cannot be explained using a literal interpretation of these scriptures.
It should be common sense that a God of infinite love would never allow even one soul to be eternally tormented in hell. The twisted dogma of eternal damnation was derived from a literal interpretation of the highly symbolic parables of Jesus and the dream symbolism of the Book of Revelation (see also Daniel’s dream). For this reason, a literal interpretation of an infallible Bible has to be wrong – even dangerous. A serious study of NDE reports clearly reveal that scriptures should be interpreted in a spiritual manner rather than a literal interpretation.
Question: Didn’t Jesus want to die? He said he laid down his life on his own. He said no one takes it from him. It sounds like Jesus committed suicide.
Answer: Yes, Jesus voluntarily had himself killed. Literalists, however, wiggle around this issue and generally do not consider it suicide. Some literalists describe Jesus’ work on the cross by using the allegory of a soldier falling on a grenade to save his buddies. But this analogy falls short because according to this analogy, it would be God who threw the grenade in the first place. And this is not the only problem literalists face. Many literalists limit God to Jesus. The analogy would then mean that it was Jesus who threw the grenade at people and fell on it to save them. It would also mean that Jesus was the one who slaughtered all the innocent children in the Old Testament. Such absurdities prove an infallible Bible to be ridiculous.
Question: Then why would God want Jesus to take his own life then?
Answer: Central to Christian doctrine is the human sacrifice of Jesus. The gospels state that Jesus believed his mission from God was to go to the cross. It states that Jesus volunteered to be a human sacrifice to pay a ransom to free humanity from being hostages to Satan. In Jesus’ day, it was believed that animal sacrifices were necessary for the forgiveness of sins. This made good sense to first century people, but to the modern mind it seems utterly ridiculous. The idea that God would need human and animal sacrifices to be appeased is repulsive and barbaric to many people. Also, killing the innocent for the transgressions of the guilty seems incredibly unjust. However, a much deeper spiritual interpretation of these crude symbols can be found. There are more realistic and spiritual reasons why Jesus wanted to die and have himself killed. The “hostage and ransom” theme surrounding Christ’s execution is also a powerful archetype. The following list contains the important reasons gleaned from near-death accounts, the Bible, and mystical teachings of Christianity:
(1) The human sacrifice of Jesus was a sublime way to symbolize and emphasize the major point of Jesus’ teachings which is to practice unconditional love through self-sacrifice, self-deprecation, and self-denial by crucifying your lower beastly nature of humanity: self-gratification, self-indulgence, self-centeredness, self-righteousness, self-importance, self-condemnation, selfishness, and humanity’s constant clamoring for SELF (i.e., the ego, the “false god”, the “devil”).
(2) Through the human sacrifice of Jesus, his teachings proliferated drew worldwide attention. The incredible injustice of his execution combined with his life-changing teachings made Jesus one of the greatest martyrs the world has ever known.
(3) Through his sacrifice, Jesus demonstrated that his testimony is highly credible because of his willingness to die such an extremely horrible execution for the sake of his testimony and teachings. A liar would not suffer this much and die for the sake of a lie. A lunatic would not be able to say the profound that Jesus said; nor would a lunatic be as stable as Jesus was. The only option left for us is that Jesus was who he said he was. There is no other option.
(4) Through his life and death, Jesus fulfilled a large number of Hebrew prophecies which drew a large number of Jews to his cause to build the foundation of his church.
(5) Through his death, Jesus was able to return to heaven in order to continue his ministry at a later time. His return to Earth from heaven would satisfy a large number of prophecies demonstrating him to be the Hebrew Messiah and a great teacher for the world. Should his return be spiritual instead of literal, it may represent the so-called “Christ Consciousness” ruling the collective consciousness of humanity.
(6) Through his death, Jesus was able to visit his disciples in spirit. Their testimony of Jesus’ ability to overcome death provided the world with strong circumstantial evidence for life after death. His visitations with his disciples in spirit are remarkably similar to modern reports of after-death visitations.
(7) Through his death, Jesus was better able to serve humanity through the outpouring ministry of the Christ Consciousness (i.e., Holy Spirit) which Jesus taught about and manifested in his life. The outpouring of the Christ Consciousness resulted in the spreading of his teachings throughout the world.
(8) In a sense, the bloody horror of what happened to Jesus had a similar affect as the bloody horror of the September 11 terrorist attacks. It was seared into the very global consciousness of the world – especially Americans. Like the Phoenix rising from the ashes, it inspired a chain-reaction of God-like actions from heroes demonstrating what is best within humanity. It also brought to Americans a unity of heart and mind unknown since Pearl Harbor and demonstrated how such a wonderful good can overcome a horrible tragedy. The same can probably be said about the horror of having such a beautiful person as Jesus be unjustly slaughtered.
(9) Near-death experiencer Arthur Yensen once stated that Jesus also came to stop the age-old practice of slaughtering innocent animals as scapegoats for human beings in the name of God. I certainly have to agree with Mr. Yensen. Killing animals for nourishment is one thing, but killing them for the purpose of removing the guilt of people’s misdeeds is infantile and abhorrent in my opinion. Spiritually mature people pay their own debts and seek the forgiveness of those they offended. Blaming a devil for your shortcomings and having an innocent one killed to pay your debts is for the spiritually immature.
(10) Near-death experiencer Betty Eadie mentioned the following as a reason for Jesus’ death: “Life on Earth is our opportunity to learn unconditional love as Jesus taught it, to serve and sacrifice personal welfare in behalf of others. Part of Jesus’ mission was to die for us … ours is to live as he did.” (Betty Eadie)
I am sure there are other reasons for the human sacrifice of Jesus. It is very easy for the horror of the tragedy to be so strong as to “blind” us from the subtler and deeper ramifications of Christ’s crucifixion. For thousands of years, the human sacrifice motif has dominated the more spiritual reasons for Christ’s death in a manner that has helped to proliferate these same spiritual influences.