The Fear of Hell, Good Debaters, and the Name of God: Mailbag April 22, 2016

For this week’s readers’ mailbag I have chosen three unusually unrelated questions, one on whether we should be afraid of going to hell, one on how I prepare for public debates, and one on how we got the name Jehovah from the Hebrew name of God, YHWH.   This shows just how wide ranging your questions can be on this blog!   If you one you would like me to address in the future, let me know.

 

QUESTION:

What would you say to someone ...

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Heaven and Hell, Part One

As I have been discussing the topic of resurrection in early Christianity, a number of readers have asked about a related issue, namely, where the Christian teaching of heaven and hell came from.   For most Christians, the afterlife seems to be the ongoing existence of the soul.  But for the earliest Christians, the afterlife involved the resurrection precisely of the *body*.  How did that change, and why?

I discussed this issue some years back in my book Jesus Interrupted, and what ...

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The Invention of Heaven and Hell

QUESTION:

If I were to ask the average mainstream Sunday morning Christian why they are a Christian I would probably get an answer (other than to meet friends in church) such as this, “To be saved and go to heaven when I die.” When I look at the obituaries in the newspaper, I so often see a statement assuring me that “Mable is with Jesus now,” and was advised by a bumper sticker yesterday, “Heaven or Hell: It’s Your ...

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