Careers: Religion/Swedenborg

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QUESTION: Hi Joel
Does the Bible states that all non Christian will go to hell?
Are you familiar with Swedenborg? Do you believe what he wrote was real and that all religion leads to Heaven?
Thank you
Calvin

ANSWER: Hi, Calvin, Happy New Year!
You ask an interesting question.  It is less about the Bible as it is about Christian theology.  "Hell" has been understood in many ways.  To some, as the Jehovah's Witnesses, it is the grave.  To ancient Jews, it was "sheol," or the underworld.  Hell and heaven can be interpreted many ways, and the traditional Christian idea is based upon a pre-modern worldview, so it is more like a dungeon or torture chamber.  Contemporary theologians likely have a very different view of hell and may even reject it entirely.  Hell could be about injustice or oppression than an actual place.
    Christians believe that anyone who does not accept Christ as savior or his atonement will go to hell.  Man is a sinner and faces judgment.  He is, in fact, worthy of death; thus, Christ died for him, dying the death that he deserved.  Accepting Christ's sacrifice makes us clean and holy before God, it makes us His people.  Those who have not heard the gospel do not go to hell.  This is why Christians support missions, to "win the world for Christ."
   The Christian Universalists had a different view.  They believed that because of Christ's atonement, all people will be saved.  In the cross, God saved all humankind (whether or not they understand or believe it--it is His gift).  I am a Universalist and this is my view--we are people of God, sustained by His grace.  We may be a murderer, thief, or outlaw, but we are still a person of God.  A person may commit a crime, but he/she is still his/her parents child and subject to all that that entails.  We may sin, but we are persons of God.  We need to realize that and its potentials.  Churches preach too much on sin.  They thrive on guilt and fear.  Realize, first, that we are people of God.
  One must choose for one's self the validity of Swedenborg's claims.  He was a scientist.  He didn't do his religious writing until middle age.  As I thought of your question, it struck me that Swedenborg is much like Helen Schucman, who conveyed A COURSE IN MIRACLES.  She, too, was a scientist, a professor of medical psychology at Columbia.  Swedenborg--through meditation, I think--conversed with angels.  His writings remind me of the contemporary medium Patrick Mathews.  In his book NEVER SAY GOOD-BYE, he echoes many of Swedenborg's ideas.  Heaven, they say, is a place, but more a state of mind.  Hell is, too.  We create heaven or hell.  
    I might direct you to the book IN THE HANDS OF A HAPPY GOD by Howard Dorgan.  It is a study of the Universalist Primitive Baptists.  In it is a paper by Charles Nickel, which explains their views.  I think he says that when you die, you put aside the "old self" and come "alive" in a "new self." The "old self" is what sins, the "new self" is of God.  Universalist Primitive Baptists believe that "hell" is on earth.
    I might also suggest Carleton Pearson's book THE GOD OF INCLUSION.  He is a former Pentecostal who accepted Universalism.  He said that no one goes to hell.  His second book was GOD IS NOT A CHRISTIAN.   Joel

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hi Joel
Happy new year.
I heard of the Primitive Baptist Universalist and
I like their idea that Hell is life on earth.
I know you have a good solid ground on theology. Do you believe that Universalims is stated in the Bible? Do all religion lead to Salvation? Who do you think goes to Hell and what will it be like?
Thank you
Calvin

Answer
I think universalism is in the Bible because the gospel is open to all
 In the Old Testament, it says that all nations will come to the mountain of God
To me, this says that God's plan is directed to all peoples.  Universalism says that all will be saved.  What if some do not accept? I look at it like this:  salvation, as a gift,is offered to evryone, which isn't contingent on them understanding or accepting it.  It is offered.  It is theirs. Is God able to save all humankind? We trust that God will be reconciled with all people.  The Passover sacrifice was for all Jews.  Christ's sacrifice was for all people
Think of it as grace.  All are included in God's grace, regardless of what you have done.  We are all people of God, in His image, whether we live up to it or not.  The potential is still there.

Joel

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Joel Bjorling

Expertise

I can answer questions regarding careers in ministry, religious education, and counseling, with a particular interest in lay ministry.

Experience

MATS, McCormick Theological Seminary Ordained minister Former United Methodist lay speaker Former Boy Scout chaplain Interest in lay ministry opportunities: speaking, education, lay religious orders.

Publications
I am a specialist in the field of alternative religions and have published five references guides on various groups.

Education/Credentials
BA, Oral Roberts University, Behavioral Sciences MATS, McCormick Theological Seminary

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