Jehovah`s Witness/Addition to answer Luke 16
I appreciate DW's explanation to the questioner regarding Luke 16, however I felt it was a bit inadequate in helping the questioner understand more about what the Baptist minister really believes.
I am copying DW's response below with my own comments in bold.
Hi mate, thanks for writing.
Before I start just a small correction the chapter you are thinking of is in Luke 16, not that it overly matters. I just wanted to point it out to you. DW is correct, it is Luke 16, not 15
<<<<<<<<<<<<<<As I read it I thought that this really does sound like the hellfire teaching. I know you don't believe it but this sure does sound like the hellfire teaching taught by the churches>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
OK my friend let me clear up your confusion. You have to understand that this section of scripture is where they made the whole thing up from. They read it and said "oh the bible teaches hellfire" they didn't think of hellfire and then find this verse after. So it will sound exactly like they teach it. Sort of, but not really. Luke 16 is just one piece of the puzzle, and it certainly does not describe the belief in its entirety.
So here's the thing when we read it. In fact let's look at it now.
19 "There was a rich man who used to dress in purple and linen, enjoying himself day after day with magnificence. 20 But a beggar named Laz′a·rus used to be put at his gate, covered with ulcers 21 and desiring to be filled with the things dropping from the table of the rich man. Yes, even the dogs would come and lick his ulcers. 22 Now in the course of time, the beggar died and was carried off by the angels to Abraham’s side.
“Also, the rich man died and was buried. 23 And in the Grave he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and he saw Abraham from afar and Laz′a·rus by his side. 24 So he called and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Laz′a·rus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this blazing fire.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you had your fill of good things in your lifetime, but Laz′a·rus for his part received bad things. Now, however, he is being comforted here, but you are in anguish. 26 And besides all these things, a great chasm has been fixed between us and you, so that those who want to go over from here to you cannot, neither may people cross over from there to us" This is the RNWT, yes?
So we read it and at this point we have two choices
1) It's teaching hellfire Sort of, but not really
2)It means something else Typical JW set-up to say it means one thing that they don't agree with, or by default it means what they believe it means. Considering #1 doesn't fully address an accurate meaning of what the Baptist minister believes, it's easy to make it sound like these are your only two choices, so your only recourse is to go with what they say.
So what we need to do to find out is analyze it in the light of other scriptures and of course logic, let's start with the logical side first. Human logic used ahead. Remember, though, that God's thoughts are not the same as human thoughts.
So let's go through the account and see what we notice within it
Now kind of the first thing I notice is that he seems to be having a pretty reasonable conversation from someone that's in terrible anguish. He seems to be comprehending what he can see and what's happening ,formulating his words well and all that sort of stuff. Now let me tell you I broke my foot a few years ago and was in total agony I couldn't have a reasonable conversation with anybody, that was just with a broken foot so for me a man in anguish in a flaming fire logically has got no chance to converse like this. Human logic trying to make the parable implausible
The second thing is threefold the rich man is in a blazing fire there's a giant chasm between him and Lazarus and he wants Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool his tongue. Now here's what I see with this.
Firstly what is a drop of water gonna do in hellfire it's gonna evaporate before it even reaches him. If it was me I'd firstly be begging to get taken out of there and failing that I'd be asking for at the very least a bucket of water. Again, human logic trying to make the parable implausible
Secondly why does he just want his tongue cooled down what about the rest of him that part also make no sense and third, just how long are this fellas arms to reach all the way across that chasm to give him that drop of water? Nowhere in this account do I see that he asked inspector gadget really?
to get the water so he could send his "go go gadget arm" all the way across that chasm. That makes no sense at all To me, this is a really disrespectful way to discuss scripture
So just looking at this account logically it has all the hall marks of symbolism rather than being literal. ALL parables have a hallmark of symbolism as opposed to being literal, however, EVERY parable uses real characters and scenarios to provide for the symbolism. This is what makes parables unique. People understood them because the reality of the scenario was something the people could identify with. I have a hard time suggesting that this parable is somehow different in construction than every other parable Jesus used.
Now here's another point to keep in mind, the rich man speaks to God from hellfire right? Yet some, maybe all (i'm not sure on that)members of Christendom don't believe you can talk or pray to God from hellfire. So they also need to explain that away. You'll have to ask that minister that first before you use it,though.
Actually, the Baptist minister believes that Gehenna is really the eternal hellfire, and that Luke 16 is a description of Sheol, or the common grave. There are two modes of thought within Christendom regarding "Abraham's bosom". The Talmud uses it as a figure for heaven, and thus some suggest Abraham's bosom is heaven. The other thought is that it was a place in Sheol for the righteous until after Jesus ascended into heaven and "led captive a host of captives" (Eph. 4:8) into heaven. Either way, the unrighteous remain in the described hotbed of Luke 16 awaiting eternal judgment.
DW, did the rich man talk to God or Abraham? Or do you see these two as one and the same
Now the next point is this. There is two other chapters in the scriptures that record this time of Jesus ministry and the conversation he had that day Matt 19 and Mark 10 and neither of them even mention this account. So if this was such an important doctrine as hellfire is in Christendom it seems that the other two accounts or one at the very least anyway would mention it right?? All three of them mention this What exactly is the prescribed number of times that the Bible has to mention something for it to be true? There are a HUGE amount of things in the Gospels that are only brought up once by only one of the writers. I would strongly hesitate to believe that JW's also believe those things to be false.
"18 Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and whoever marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery"
9 "I say to you that whoever divorces his wife, except on the grounds of sexual immorality, and marries another commits adultery"
11 He said to them: “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her, 12 and if ever a woman after divorcing her husband marries another, she commits adultery"
So it looks like Christendom should be putting more emphasis on the subject of divorce I agree
and forget hellfire altogether. I disagree.
Now lets look through some other arguments and briefly summarize
God is love,we don't even need the scriptures for that look at creation why do we see in colour ,why is nature so beautiful, why doesn't all food taste the same all these things are unnecessary for life, all these things are unnecessary to provide people unless you're a God of love.
Yet we're expected to believe that he tortures his children or even people for that matter forever in a blazing fire and then to add to it he gets the devil, his enemy and the one responsible for leading them astray in the first place to punish them for him!! Would you do that to your kids? Torture them for being disobedient? and/or the child that lead them astray would you use to punish them? If not why not? Isaiah 55:8 "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways." It doesn't really matter what you would do or how you feel.
That would make us sick in the head. It's inbuilt in us that, that sort of behaviour is disgusting, that's how we are created to think like that. Yet we're expected to believe that God created us with that wrong thinking and really the torturers and sadists of the world are the ones closer to God's way of thinking!! Wow, is that a misapplication of belief!
I'm sorry to go off on a tangent but that filthy accusation on my Father boils my blood!!
OK let's move on, brief scriptures and brief questions for you too answer for yourself.
John 3: 13" Moreover, no man has ascended into heaven" Which lends itself toward the second mode of thought regarding the Luke 16 description of Sheol.
So how is Lazarus in heaven here then?? Because I subscribe to the second mode above, I do not believe that he is in heaven.
Gen 3: 19 "For dust you are and to dust you will return" Yep, your body certainly sees decay.
When people die they go to dust. No mention of going to hellfire here, is there? Not there, but in other places...
Hosea 13: 14 From the power of the Grave I will redeem them;
From death I will recover them.
Where are your stings, O Death?
Where is your destructiveness, O Grave With the Messiah's victory over death, he was the firstfruits of a great harvest to come. Paul uses this text in 1 Cor. 15:55 to celebrate the future resurrection of the church.
John 5:28 Do not be amazed at this, for the hour is coming in which all those in the memorial tombs will hear his voice and come out" Yep, keep reading..."those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment" Is there anyone here NOT resurrected? This goes along with Rev. 20:13 "And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, EVERY ONE OF THEM according to their deeds." Of course at this point, there is no need for death or Hades, so they are thrown into the lake of fire (Gehenna)?
If Death is a place of eternal torment how are people gonna be redeemed from it? If DW is referring to Hosea 13...death is temporary and redemption comes with the resurrection of the righteous to life."
Why is the expression "memorial tombs" and not "hell fire"? Because ALL who are dead will be resurrected to either life or judgment.
Rev 21:4" And he will wipe out every tear from their eyes, and death will be no more"
How can death be no more if it's eternal? Sometimes the Bible refers to "death" as "separation from God". That is eternal.
Rev 20:14 And death and the Grave were hurled into the lake of fire"
How can a lake of fire be thrown into a lake of fire and for what purpose? Sheol (Hades) and Gehenna are not the same thing.
That's just a handful I could do this all day.
Now one final point. Jesus always told stories, used illustrations used parables this was no exception it was a parable a story . Logic and of course scripture dictates that fact to us as we've seen.
Now if you want to know what the parable means follow up, as that is a different subject entirely.