Want a handy little trick for discussing theology with Christians? Ask them what the Bible says about the topic you’re discussing.
Yesterday I was chatting with one of the street preachers here in Toronto, and he asked me what I disagreed with when it came to what they were teaching. I explained that one of the biggest differences is in how I define some of the words from the King James Version of the Bible that they were including in their sermons. When he asked what I meant, I basically explained that I defined certain words they were using the way the KJV defined them. Of course, all Christians assume they’re defining words the way the Bible does, and he believed he did too, but he had his eyes (at least somewhat) opened after asking me to elaborate.
I began by asking him what he thought heaven was. Of course, he gave a vague answer about it being the place where Jesus is, since almost no Christian has that concept nailed down in their minds, so I then asked him what the Bible says heaven is. He didn’t really have a good answer to that, and so I pointed him to all the passages telling us that heaven is simply a reference to the sky and to outer space (as well as to the place where Jesus is, of course, somewhere out there in outer space). Now, I’m not going to go into all the details about heaven in this post, since I’ve already written about it in my “Heaven isn’t what you think it is” article, so please go read that if you aren’t familiar with what the Bible says heaven is. But the point is, he had no arguments about this because he didn’t have any Scripture to refute the definitions I pointed out the Bible uses for the word.
I also pointed out that hell is a very figurative word in the KJV, and that it has different meanings depending on which passage you’re reading. He actually agreed with me on that one, which was good, but if this is news to you, check out my ”What the Hinnom?” and ”What is death?” articles.
What I think really got to him, though, was when I asked him what the Bible says terms such as ”for ever” and “everlasting” mean. He, of course, assumed they meant “without end,” or ”never ending,” and so I think he was quite shocked to discover that this isn’t the case at all, and that they actually have definitions which include both a beginning and an end, as I demonstrated by showing him some of the many examples of this in the KJV (which you can see for yourself in my “How long did “for ever” last in Bible times?” article, if this isn’t a fact you’re already aware of).
After showing him that reading these various words consistently throughout the Bible results in extremely different theological conclusions from what he’d previously been taught, he realized he couldn’t dispute any of the points I’d made, and asked if he could bring someone else from the group to try to argue about it. I wasn’t in the arguing mood at the time, though, so I decided to leave it at that. I did give him a card with a link to this website on it, though, so hopefully he’ll read it and learn more about what the Bible actually says certain words and concepts mean when you read it consistently all the way through.