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Still Waters

People Who Believe Hell Are Less Happy

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Fire, brimstone, eternal suffering - hell is not a pleasant concept. But research has pointed to the societal benefits of a belief in supernatural punishment, including higher economic growth in developing countries and less crime.

But there are also drawbacks, even in this life. A new study links believing in hell, and perhaps even thinking about it, with lower levels of happiness and satisfaction in life.

http://www.livescien...-happiness.html

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well yeah, what a downer it must be to have that on your mind. the constant indirect threat every minute you're alive.

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Well, well,... who'd have thought that thinking of eternal damnation would put you on a downer. Not me!

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Been to hell, Wasn't impressed. Dundee wasn't much better either.

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Fire, brimstone, eternal suffering - hell is not a pleasant concept. But research has pointed to the societal benefits of a belief in supernatural punishment, including higher economic growth in developing countries and less crime.

But there are also drawbacks, even in this life. A new study links believing in hell, and perhaps even thinking about it, with lower levels of happiness and satisfaction in life.

http://www.livescien...-happiness.html

I figured this out before I went to school.

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Damning others to Hell on the other hand sure seems to make some folk downright giddy.

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I feel the way that many of us Christians look at hell is flawed; both in the present and especially throughout history. If one believes in a God that is the source of all life; then to deliberately move away from that source is to move away from life. As a Christian I don't believe hell is a place of torture and brimstone; but rather nonbeing. I see hell as cessation.

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Damning others to Hell on the other hand sure seems to make some folk downright giddy.

Tertullian, the architect behind Trinity.

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well yeah. If you are decent person, the thought of people being tortured eternally is not such a good thought. Especially if you beleieve that you could end up there or be forced to live under an entity that would create such a place for eternity. I'm not sure which is worse.

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I watched a great documentary not long ago that left me convinced the Hell of the Bible wasn't at all the fire and brimstone pit that the Catholic had encouraged

Note that the Catholic church has changed their opinion and "officially" says that Hell is the absence of God.

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Note that the Catholic church has changed their opinion and "officially" says that Hell is the absence of God.

At the General Audience of Wednesday, 28 July 1999, the Holy Father reflected on hell as the definitive rejection of God. In his catechesis, the Pope said that care should be taken to interpret correctly the images of hell in Sacred Scripture, and explained that "hell is the ultimate consequence of sin itself... Rather than a place, hell indicates the state of those who freely and definitively separate themselves from God, the source of all life and joy".

your right

fullywired

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They just don't know about the party, that is why they're depressed.

I think the depressed outlook of hell is from the hole guilt trip laid on by the message of ancestral sin (orginal sin), so you must do as the Book or I say or you burn, because God loves you. :huh: No matter what you do, you can not right the wrongs of history. The Roman's murdered thousands of people for sport. Best we can do is not repeat it and learn from it. ... and dance... and drum... and plant flowers...

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I feel the way that many of us Christians look at hell is flawed; both in the present and especially throughout history. If one believes in a God that is the source of all life; then to deliberately move away from that source is to move away from life. As a Christian I don't believe hell is a place of torture and brimstone; but rather nonbeing. I see hell as cessation.

I don't know about cessation but it is definitely in my view a separation from all that is life affirming.

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I don't know about cessation but it is definitely in my view a separation from all that is life affirming.

What does that actually mean though? I've heard variations of this before, that hell isn't a place or torture but merely the absence of god's grace. What does that actually entail? Is it a place? Is it a feeling that you are condemned to while in the same place as those who are with god and feel joy? I mean, from my perspective if it's merely the absence of god, then it wouldn't be much different than Earth.

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What does that actually mean though? I've heard variations of this before, that hell isn't a place or torture but merely the absence of god's grace. What does that actually entail? Is it a place? Is it a feeling that you are condemned to while in the same place as those who are with god and feel joy? I mean, from my perspective if it's merely the absence of god, then it wouldn't be much different than Earth.

Good point. What it means is definitely a good subject of debate. Some of my own thoughts on it are:

It is said that God is everywhere and all things come from and are created by God. It is also said that all that is done is by God's will.

Finally, we are asked by Christ to realise that "the Kingdom of Heaven is within us". That is the key - absence is not related to a separation in any physical sense, or that can be measured by space / distance.

Absence is lack of conscious awareness of God here and now, We can be "intellectually" aware that God is present aka: we believe this to be so but to be consciously aware of the presence is a realization that it is a factual proximity - an insurmountable truth.

So yes, earth has often been described as "hell" given that the sentient beings on it do not have a conscious awareness of God's presence, only belief and faith that it is there.

On a more basic level - if we feel we are alone and there is no hope, no saving grace, we fulfill within us the nature of hell itself - there is no recognition of God or even a sense of purpose in existence at the deepest level when despair of this particular nature overcomes people.

Edit to add:

Basically conscious awareness of God is joy because knowing the eternity of one's soul and the power of creation dissolves all fears and attachments to past, present and future - which are temporary movements by comparison. Suffering is the lack of conscious awareness and by extension is manifest in our level of attachment to the past, present and future psychologically.

Edited by libstaK
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I don't know about cessation but it is definitely in my view a separation from all that is life affirming.

I enjoyed reading your posts. Allow me to elaborate on my original point.

My view on hell largely comes from the writings of St Athanasius in his De Incarnatione. He sees sin and subsequently hell as a movement towards non-being and the cessation of existence. Essentially, the universe was created ex-nihilo, out of nothing and thus all contingent beings are sustained by the Creator. He treats existence as a gift, but by sin we move away from that gift towards the original state, non-being or non -existence. This then is hell. We move from life to death. Thus, our natural death in this life is a reflection of what Revelation calls the "second death", which is eternal non-being.

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I was always told when I was practicing Christianity that hell was on earth, and our lives here were considered 'hell', proportionate to how close we were with God. The farther away from God, the more 'hellish' your existence, because you were living outside the glory of God.

The concept of an actual hell never made much sense to me. You have a God that's supposed to be merciful, who gives us a very brief life and then condems you to an eternity of suffering if you do x, y, or z. It just never added up for me personally.

Seems like if you really believed that condemnation to such a place was possible that would color everything in your life.

A no brainer, to me, that it would make you more depressed.

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I was always told when I was practicing Christianity that hell was on earth, and our lives here were considered 'hell', proportionate to how close we were with God. The farther away from God, the more 'hellish' your existence, because you were living outside the glory of God.

The concept of an actual hell never made much sense to me. You have a God that's supposed to be merciful, who gives us a very brief life and then condems you to an eternity of suffering if you do x, y, or z. It just never added up for me personally.

Seems like if you really believed that condemnation to such a place was possible that would color everything in your life.

A no brainer, to me, that it would make you more depressed.

I can relate to that feeling. When I was an atheist the idea of a hell seemed absurd to me. Indeed, why would a loving God create only to destroy His creations because they didn't follow some supposed directive.

As such, hell has always been a bit of an intellectual struggle for me; and I've had to study opposing views of theology and even comparative religion to grasp the concept and reconcile it with my own views. If I may, let me share some thoughts that have aided me personally. I will approach the problem of hell on two fronts.

First, I think some of the most erroneous views of hell and Christianity stem from the Reformation. I could point to the 14th century and Dante's Inferno, who gave us the most visceral portrait of hell; but while some would disagree with me, I will excuse Roman Catholics from 'blame' because they have a fully developed theology of Purgatory, which is a concept we also find in other religions such as Islam and even Tibetan Buddhism (the Bardo state as described in the Tibetan Book of the Dead is eerily similar to Purgatory). Simply put, an in-between state or halfway house, if you will, that exists for purification and cleansing is a lot easier to digest. But if we go to the Reformation and the Institutes of John Calvin; there is where I find my theological red flag....the idea of predestination or predeterminism. John Calvin believed that from all eternity God declared that there were two classes of humanity; the elect and the reprobate. The elect would enjoy eternal salvation while the reprobate would burn in hellfire. And what is his reasoning for this? And I quote "it was in his good pleasure" to do so. Really? It was in God's "good pleasure" to save some and damn others? I find those two words to be the most awful in the entire 2,000 year history of Christianity. Awake2Chaos, here is our tyrannical God clearly defined. And is it any wonder that the denominations who would later embrace various forms of Calvinism are also the ones who are the most outspoken about hell? If you ask me, this is just rotten theology and it has sadly wounded a lot of people and rightly turned a lot of people away from Christianity. Who would want to love a God like this? I wouldn't either!

Yet before we close the book on it, we have to look at the contrasting Arminian theology. I hold to Arminianism; I am a Methodist and our founder John Wesley was an outspoken defender of Arminian theology. Wesley and Arminians emphasize the fact that humanity was created with free will. We were created with the capacity for choice.Because God loves us and values us, He wants us to choose to love Him. Things are not predetermined. As I said in my earlier posts, we can either choose to move closer to God or further away from Him. Thus, we have Heaven or Hell. We create Heaven or Hell for ourselves; God does not force us into either position; for if He did, it wouldn't be true love; it would be determinism and humanity would be nothing more than God's wind-up toy. If you ever get a chance, you should read a book by C.S. Lewis called the Great Divorce. It might change your view on how Christians (should) view hell.

In it, he argues that there are no souls in hell crying out for mercy or release because they are suffering some sort of horrific torment; but rather they are there because it is their desire. Their desire has been carried out into eternity; hence if they desired separation from God they have eternal separation from God. They are there not because God forced them there, but because they want to be there. Similarly, he argues that we will 'meet a lot of people in Heaven that we wouldn't expect to.' By this he means that we will likely see people in Heaven who practice other religions, even atheists and agnostics....but GOOD people. Good people will be in Heaven because by doing good, whether intentionally or unintentionally, they are moving closer to God. Some fundamentalists would balk at this; but it is Biblical. Paul says the Law is written on the human heart. It all boils down to choice.

Second, let me address the last part of your post; that belief in hell and/or condemnation would shape our lives and make us more depressed. There is truth to this. As you and I are both aware, there are a lot of churches that erroneously preach a gospel of guilt. They morally beat their followers into submission. This is wrong and I hope that more Christian leaders in the future will work to put a stop to it. I know if I am ever in the position, I most certainly will...

But we have to consider another side of this very same coin. Ours is a world that is suffering and there are innumerable wrongs that have never been righted in this life, nor will they be. I think of all those who have been subjected to the most grievous of sins; murder, torture, rape...the list of horrors could go on forever. Think of Jews who were marched into gas chambers. Think of the ethnic cleansing in Rwanda. Countless peoples have suffered all manner of atrocities throughout history, and what did they do? They cried out for justice. A family cries out for justice over the murder of their son or daughter, but the killer walks free. Many Nazi war criminals escaped justice. But that yearning for justice, for all the wrongs of this world remains deep in us....so I say on the other hand; is it WRONG to desire a God who dispenses righteous judgment? So while a God of judgment can be twisted to make us miserable; at the same time, believing in a God who is just actually GIVES US HOPE. We can be content in knowing that those who may escape justice in this life will not escape it in eternity. Christ will separate the sheep from the goats based on their activity, based on their movement in this world and in this life. This tragic, fallen world demands a God of justice; thus I see nothing wrong with hoping for a righteous judgment. I know I wouldn't want to meet Hitler in Heaven!!

Edited by Marcus Aurelius
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Yet before we close the book on it, we have to look at the contrasting Arminian theology. I hold to Arminianism; I am a Methodist and our founder John Wesley was an outspoken defender of Arminian theology. Wesley and Arminians emphasize the fact that humanity was created with free will. We were created with the capacity for choice.Because God loves us and values us, He wants us to choose to love Him. Things are not predetermined. As I said in my earlier posts, we can either choose to move closer to God or further away from Him. Thus, we have Heaven or Hell. We create Heaven or Hell for ourselves; God does not force us into either position; for if He did, it wouldn't be true love; it would be determinism and humanity would be nothing more than God's wind-up toy. If you ever get a chance, you should read a book by C.S. Lewis called the Great Divorce. It might change your view on how Christians (should) view hell.

In it, he argues that there are no souls in hell crying out for mercy or release because they are suffering some sort of horrific torment; but rather they are there because it is their desire. Their desire has been carried out into eternity; hence if they desired separation from God they have eternal separation from God. They are there not because God forced them there, but because they want to be there. Similarly, he argues that we will 'meet a lot of people in Heaven that we wouldn't expect to.' By this he means that we will likely see people in Heaven who practice other religions, even atheists and agnostics....but GOOD people. Good people will be in Heaven because by doing good, whether intentionally or unintentionally, they are moving closer to God. Some fundamentalists would balk at this; but it is Biblical. Paul says the Law is written on the human heart. It all boils down to choice.

This is very poignant - particularly the matter of GOOD people. Right to the last breath we cannot know if a person is good or filled with earthly desires - what is within his heart is between him and God, I would not be at all surprised to find atheists in heaven, nor believers in a state of hell or suffering. If you give someone free will and choice then you give then the right to discover and learn what they may be capable of doing so in life. A person in a remote village of Africa may not ever hear of God or Jesus, yet their heart can be filled with compassion and goodness that is pure and true - they may do more good amongst those in their sphere of influence than we can hope to begin to do amongst cities of millions.

I know I wouldn't want to meet Hitler in Heaven!!

If he was there it would not be the murderer you would meet - it would be a redeemed and repentant soul that would not harm so much as a blade of grass - of course, in the matter of justice he would have to receive forgiveness from so many millions, it may remain unlikely and none would judge those that cry for justice, it is their lot and right not others.

Thank you for your kind words earlier - I also enjoy your posts, they are very informative. :)

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I can relate to that feeling. When I was an atheist the idea of a hell seemed absurd to me. Indeed, why would a loving God create only to destroy His creations because they didn't follow some supposed directive.

As such, hell has always been a bit of an intellectual struggle for me; and I've had to study opposing views of theology and even comparative religion to grasp the concept and reconcile it with my own views. If I may, let me share some thoughts that have aided me personally. I will approach the problem of hell on two fronts.

First, I think some of the most erroneous views of hell and Christianity stem from the Reformation. I could point to the 14th century and Dante's Inferno, who gave us the most visceral portrait of hell; but while some would disagree with me, I will excuse Roman Catholics from 'blame' because they have a fully developed theology of Purgatory, which is a concept we also find in other religions such as Islam and even Tibetan Buddhism (the Bardo state as described in the Tibetan Book of the Dead is eerily similar to Purgatory). Simply put, an in-between state or halfway house, if you will, that exists for purification and cleansing is a lot easier to digest. But if we go to the Reformation and the Institutes of John Calvin; there is where I find my theological red flag....the idea of predestination or predeterminism. John Calvin believed that from all eternity God declared that there were two classes of humanity; the elect and the reprobate. The elect would enjoy eternal salvation while the reprobate would burn in hellfire. And what is his reasoning for this? And I quote "it was in his good pleasure" to do so. Really? It was in God's "good pleasure" to save some and damn others? I find those two words to be the most awful in the entire 2,000 year history of Christianity. Awake2Chaos, here is our tyrannical God clearly defined. And is it any wonder that the denominations who would later embrace various forms of Calvinism are also the ones who are the most outspoken about hell? If you ask me, this is just rotten theology and it has sadly wounded a lot of people and rightly turned a lot of people away from Christianity. Who would want to love a God like this? I wouldn't either!

Yet before we close the book on it, we have to look at the contrasting Arminian theology. I hold to Arminianism; I am a Methodist and our founder John Wesley was an outspoken defender of Arminian theology. Wesley and Arminians emphasize the fact that humanity was created with free will. We were created with the capacity for choice.Because God loves us and values us, He wants us to choose to love Him. Things are not predetermined. As I said in my earlier posts, we can either choose to move closer to God or further away from Him. Thus, we have Heaven or Hell. We create Heaven or Hell for ourselves; God does not force us into either position; for if He did, it wouldn't be true love; it would be determinism and humanity would be nothing more than God's wind-up toy. If you ever get a chance, you should read a book by C.S. Lewis called the Great Divorce. It might change your view on how Christians (should) view hell.

In it, he argues that there are no souls in hell crying out for mercy or release because they are suffering some sort of horrific torment; but rather they are there because it is their desire. Their desire has been carried out into eternity; hence if they desired separation from God they have eternal separation from God. They are there not because God forced them there, but because they want to be there. Similarly, he argues that we will 'meet a lot of people in Heaven that we wouldn't expect to.' By this he means that we will likely see people in Heaven who practice other religions, even atheists and agnostics....but GOOD people. Good people will be in Heaven because by doing good, whether intentionally or unintentionally, they are moving closer to God. Some fundamentalists would balk at this; but it is Biblical. Paul says the Law is written on the human heart. It all boils down to choice.

Second, let me address the last part of your post; that belief in hell and/or condemnation would shape our lives and make us more depressed. There is truth to this. As you and I are both aware, there are a lot of churches that erroneously preach a gospel of guilt. They morally beat their followers into submission. This is wrong and I hope that more Christian leaders in the future will work to put a stop to it. I know if I am ever in the position, I most certainly will...

But we have to consider another side of this very same coin. Ours is a world that is suffering and there are innumerable wrongs that have never been righted in this life, nor will they be. I think of all those who have been subjected to the most grievous of sins; murder, torture, rape...the list of horrors could go on forever. Think of Jews who were marched into gas chambers. Think of the ethnic cleansing in Rwanda. Countless peoples have suffered all manner of atrocities throughout history, and what did they do? They cried out for justice. A family cries out for justice over the murder of their son or daughter, but the killer walks free. Many Nazi war criminals escaped justice. But that yearning for justice, for all the wrongs of this world remains deep in us....so I say on the other hand; is it WRONG to desire a God who dispenses righteous judgment? So while a God of judgment can be twisted to make us miserable; at the same time, believing in a God who is just actually GIVES US HOPE. We can be content in knowing that those who may escape justice in this life will not escape it in eternity. Christ will separate the sheep from the goats based on their activity, based on their movement in this world and in this life. This tragic, fallen world demands a God of justice; thus I see nothing wrong with hoping for a righteous judgment. I know I wouldn't want to meet Hitler in Heaven!!

Very interesting. So let me ask you this:

If we have free will, and the ability to chose, then how is it that God is all-knowing? Is it still free will if he already knows what your choice will be?

As far as hell is concerned, I'll share something I've picked up from a few dead folks over the last few years. There have been a few who have told me about a 'Place of Waiting.' From what they show me, there are souls there that are are waiting for something...the impression I get is the end of this world, physically. It's not a punishment, but more of a limbo. The first time I was shown, it definitely reminded me of biblical Purgatory. But in all my contact, I have never had a soul describe hell. (And this description of the Place of Waiting comes from the dead that aren't there, so it leads me to believe that once you pass, you become aware of a whole other world (like the layering of realities), and you don't necessarily have to have first hand experience to be privy to it.) Hell seems to be a state of being; souls that haven't moved on, and linger in the in-between.

Anyway, I find the basic tennets of Christianity very comforting (i.e. tolerance, love) but the unfortunate thing is that many Christians I have met don't neccessarily follow those concepts. I have one friend, a Hungarian, who I would consider a true Christian. He loves me and accepts me the way I am, and doesn't try to 'save' me. I wish I could say that I've met more like him.

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If he was there it would not be the murderer you would meet - it would be a redeemed and repentant soul that would not harm so much as a blade of grass - of course, in the matter of justice he would have to receive forgiveness from so many millions, it may remain unlikely and none would judge those that cry for justice, it is their lot and right not others.

I think this is a good view to have. Muslims tend to hold to this view, that everyone will eventually be saved and redeemed. They see the 'suffering' of hell as being qualitative rather than quantitative; that it is a purification. It makes a lot of sense!

Very interesting. So let me ask you this:

If we have free will, and the ability to chose, then how is it that God is all-knowing? Is it still free will if he already knows what your choice will be?

This is a good question and a difficult one to answer in writing; but please allow me to attempt it. Forgive me in advance if it is unsatisfactory; for some reason I find this question easier to answer in actual discussion as opposed to writing it.

Foreknowledge is not the same as foreordaining events. We view time as a succession of events, we have past, present and future. God however, exists outside of this linear time; He exists in eternity. Indeed, He is the author of time. Theologians have called the eternal state as being one of 'an eternal present moment'; that is to say God sees the past, present and future simultaneously. For God, there is no before or after, there is only the present moment. Thus, God knows all things that are actually existing, but in addition to this, He knows all things possible. His knowledge is a simultaneous intuition.

To remove this from a theological discourse and put it in plain english; let's take as an example a street race. There are cars A, B and C. Now He knows all the events leading up to the race, and He knows the race itself. He sees that car A will win the race; but He also simultaneously sees the possible outcomes of car B and C winning the race. He sees the outcome and the possible outcomes. But the difference between foreknowledge and foreordaining is this: with foreknowledge He sees that car A will win the race; but winning the race is truly up to the skill of the driver. God has not caused, influenced or determined the outcome in any way. By contrast, if God was foreordaining the race it's not up to the skill of the driver, he or she merely thinks it is. The course of events is predetermined. Driver A will win because this is God's will.

As you can see the latter view makes no sense because it reduces God to a puppet master pulling all the strings and it reduces mankind to His wind up toy or machine. As a Wesleyan Christian I see that view as nonsensical because it reduces the point of the Cross; the very core of our faith, to nothing more than a cosmic dog and pony show. To the Calvinist I would ask...why bother? If everything is already predetermined who will be elect and who will be reprobate; why suffer the Cross to supposedly redeem humanity? Why create time itself? All of it becomes an illusion. It truly makes no sense to me.

As far as hell is concerned, I'll share something I've picked up from a few dead folks over the last few years. There have been a few who have told me about a 'Place of Waiting.' From what they show me, there are souls there that are are waiting for something...the impression I get is the end of this world, physically. It's not a punishment, but more of a limbo. The first time I was shown, it definitely reminded me of biblical Purgatory. But in all my contact, I have never had a soul describe hell.

Can you elaborate on this for me? How have you picked up things from dead people? Do you possess some sort of psychic ability or do you investigate the paranormal? Please note that I'm not asking this in a cynical or even skeptical tone. I'm just curious to hear more about these experiences and HOW you actually experience(d) them. I've been investigating the paranormal for close to ten years now, I've been to some of the 'most haunted' locations in the country and I have had quite a few personal experiences and picked up some very striking evidence along the way; so this subject is of keen interest to me.....

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What about the people like me that believe that both heaven and hell are just part of the normal living experience? My stillbirth was hell. My son, my spouse, my garden, my yard, my siblings are all heaven to me.

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*snip

Can you elaborate on this for me? How have you picked up things from dead people? Do you possess some sort of psychic ability or do you investigate the paranormal? Please note that I'm not asking this in a cynical or even skeptical tone. I'm just curious to hear more about these experiences and HOW you actually experience(d) them. I've been investigating the paranormal for close to ten years now, I've been to some of the 'most haunted' locations in the country and I have had quite a few personal experiences and picked up some very striking evidence along the way; so this subject is of keen interest to me.....

I guess the closest term would be clairvoyance; if someone who's passed reaches out to me, we can connect and they can give me information. Usually it comes across as images and phrases. So, when I go into a haunted location (we do some investigating in the warmer months here) if anyone there wants to convey something to me, my mind 'lights up'; first it will start with a picture, then another, then words come through. Like watching a movie with broken sub-titles. My grandmother was one of the deceased that told me about the Place of Waiting. There were 2 other gentlmen at the local fort that I frequent that talked about the same place.

Sometimes they will give an emotion after they show me something; The fort we go to has seen a lot of war; it was used as a hosptial during the Civil War. I had a solider come to me and show me the encampment, with all the tents and people milling about, then a saw, and then he said, "My legs are gone now." That was his way of saying this is where I'm from, this is what happened to me. He also gave me this sense of loss and pain. (But who would be happy about losing their legs?)

Occasionally I can lay hands on an object and pick up things from the object (like a headstone). I believe they call that psychometry? It's been a while since I have read up on it.

And thank you for the explination on free will, I have never heard it presented like that before. Very interesting way to look at it.

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I guess the closest term would be clairvoyance; if someone who's passed reaches out to me, we can connect and they can give me information. Usually it comes across as images and phrases. So, when I go into a haunted location (we do some investigating in the warmer months here) if anyone there wants to convey something to me, my mind 'lights up'; first it will start with a picture, then another, then words come through. Like watching a movie with broken sub-titles. My grandmother was one of the deceased that told me about the Place of Waiting. There were 2 other gentlmen at the local fort that I frequent that talked about the same place.

Sometimes they will give an emotion after they show me something; The fort we go to has seen a lot of war; it was used as a hosptial during the Civil War. I had a solider come to me and show me the encampment, with all the tents and people milling about, then a saw, and then he said, "My legs are gone now." That was his way of saying this is where I'm from, this is what happened to me. He also gave me this sense of loss and pain. (But who would be happy about losing their legs?)

Occasionally I can lay hands on an object and pick up things from the object (like a headstone). I believe they call that psychometry? It's been a while since I have read up on it.

And thank you for the explination on free will, I have never heard it presented like that before. Very interesting way to look at it.

Interesting, interesting. It sounds like you have quite an ability. I've always been a bit wary of psychics, but that is because there are so many frauds out there. It disgusts me how they use grief to make a profit. But I certainly acknowledge that some people really do possess psychic ability. I'm sure experiences such as this have helped to shape your beliefs? It seems only natural that it would. I've had personal experiences with the paranormal and ghosts in my investigations; I've heard disembodied voices when I'm the only person in the room, I've captured visual and auditory evidence...but nothing like what you describe. I clearly do not have any psychic ability LOL. The only close thing I have to it would be that I frequently have lucid dreams and I've also had a number of prophetic dreams that came true. Other than that, my third eye is mostly closed!

I find your description of the Place of Waiting to be quite intriguing. Tibetan Buddhists believe in a Bardo state, a place of waiting in between incarnations. Muslims believe that the dead are raised in spirit but exist in a sort of limbo, often at their own graves, waiting for the end of time. And of course Catholics have purgatory. This is to say nothing of examples we find in ancient mythology. This is why I tend towards some sort of belief in a Purgatory.

Tibetan Buddhists also have an interesting explanation for ghosts, that, as a paranormal investigator I am inclined to agree with. In the Tibetan Book of the Dead, it talks about Hungry Ghosts; those who have strong attachments and desires end up becoming bound to this plane because of those attachments and desires. And like Catholics, they believe in strong rituals and prayers to prevent this from happening and preventing a soul from becoming trapped in the Bardo.

Thanks for the vote of confidence, I sincerely appreciate it. I'm studying to become a pastor so this means a lot to me! I respect people's views so I want to be real, not come off as sounding preachy..

Edited by Marcus Aurelius

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To the Calvinist I would ask...why bother? If everything is already predetermined who will be elect and who will be reprobate; why suffer the Cross to supposedly redeem humanity? Why create time itself? All of it becomes an illusion. It truly makes no sense to me.

Hi Marcus,

As a Calvinist (in the broadest sense of the term - it's not unfair to say that I also believe in the power of free will, despite the fact that I believe God has chosen the Elect) I'd say the answer revolves around WHY we were created. Ultimately, the universe, us in it, and humanity are designed to glorify God (biblically speaking, at least - non-Christians will naturally disagree with this statement). Our very existence is a testament to God's glory. So with that in mind, those who turn to God (and who in turn were called as the Elect by God) should live to glorify God. Jesus lived and died to glorify God. Through Jesus' death are the Elect saved.

It may at first sound contradictory that we should "choose" to glorify God, if God has already predestined us. How can we choose? This is why I'm not a strict Calvinist, because I cannot ignore the places in the Bible where we are called to choose God. But neither can I ignore the places where the Bible says that God called us (and if we are called, can a mere man or woman resist the will of God)?

I think my views are best described in the following video (an excerpt from the first Lord of the Rings film). You can watch the whole of it if you like, but the part I'm thinking of starts at the 1:50 time stamp:

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Frodo tells Gandalf that he wishes that the Ring had never come to him, and Gandalf's reply is, in my opinion, profound. He replies "so do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All you have to do is decide what to do with the time that is given to you". And then in the very next sentence, he continues with "Bilbo was meant to find the Ring, in which you also were meant to have it. And that is an encouraging thought". In two sentences Gandalf's advocated both predestination and free will, and it made complete sense within its context. I see salvation the same way. We have choices to make, and these are important things that we do freely by choice. But at the same time, these things are meant to happen, and we can get comfort and encouragement in knowing that God has it all planned out. I have faith that in a realm outside of Time/Space that predestination and free will can and does exist together, hand-in-hand.

I'm curious if I can ask a question in return of you? What are your thoughts on Romans 9:10-24? How do you understand this passage as it stands in regards to God's sovereign will and our free choice?

Edited by Paranoid Android
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