I realize and I can see…Suicide is Painless

What, committing suicide makes you immune to criticism? Suicide has become fashionable. Enough.

A young man, not of my flock, asked to see me. That was his question: “Do you think he is going to hell?” “What do you think?” I replied. “It’s logical,” he answered. The pain is in his eyes was intense. He had lost his best friend. – John Hobbins (here and here)

Traditionally, suicide has been seen as the unrepentant sin. It was rarely spoke of and if so, only in hushed and somber tones. I was taught first that the death of a person, regardless of suicide, was a somber tone and to never speak ill of the dead. I was also taught that suicides went straight to hell – and it is often characterized as such in popular media.

A decade ago now, I was in a Religion in Society (Sociology) Class arguing the point that we are born with  instincts – sin – against the professor who said that we are born rather with the ability to adapt and that no instincts were natural. My point was the self-preservation instinct which humans tend to have. His counter was suicide. Not to be out done, my return was that suicide is often self-preservation. When the person sees no way out, when he or she is in such desperation as to have the devil in their mind win, when the world is black, and no hope remains, the only method of escaping is suicide.

I think it would do us well to examine the story of Ricky Rodriguez. You can watch the story here. Fashionable? Hardly.

There are times in which I think that in the suicide of a young man, it would have been more fashionable if community pastors had done their job – and in reaching out, they might have very well saved a life instead of doing their ‘job’ and allowing a teenager to become a judge of a soul.

I often wonder if people actually read the bible:

But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value. If the work survives, that builder will receive a reward. But if the work is burned up, the builder will suffer great loss. The builder will be saved, but like someone barely escaping through a wall of flames. (1Co 3:13-15 NLT)

Note that it speaks of works, not of life. Note as well, that it leaves Christ as the judge.

Is it the job of anyone to declare that a suicide is in hell? I have no issue in calling a sin a sin – I believe that sins are real and that sometimes, you have to call such things as such, but can we then use that duty to undermine what God might have done unbeknown to us? Is there Scripture to prove that first a suicide sends people to hell and second that we are allowed to say who is in hell or not?

Regarding suicide, I am reminded on a story from early Christian history. Not baring that her and her daughters were about to be raped, she and her daughters committed suicide:

A certain holy person,— in soul admirable for virtue, in body a woman—who was illustrious beyond all in Antioch for wealth and family and reputation, had brought up in the principles of religion her two daughters, who were now in the freshness and bloom of life. Since great envy was excited on their account, every means was used to find them in their concealment; and when it was ascertained that they were away, they were summoned deceitfully to Antioch. Thus they were caught in the nets of the soldiers. When the woman saw herself and her daughters thus helpless, and knew the things terrible to speak of that men would do to them—and the most unbearable of all terrible things, the threatened violation of their chastity, — she exhorted herself and the maidens that they ought not to submit even to hear of this. For, she said, that to surrender their souls to the slavery of demons was worse than all deaths and destruction; and she set before them the only deliverance from all these things—escape to Christ.

They then listened to her advice. And after arranging their garments suitably, they went aside from the middle of the road, having requested of the guards a little time for retirement, and cast themselves into a river which was flowing by. (Eccl History VIII.12)

Surely, then, it is ‘logical’ that this woman and her daughters are visiting with the Rich Man right now with no hope granted to them from Augustine on and assumed only before him.

I do not believe in euthanasia or that suicide is a viable option for the sane, temporary or otherwise; I do not believe that anyone should say it is logical for someone to be in hell not knowing the conditions of the person or being God himself.

I believe that human life is important – and it is our job not to condemn people to hell, but to keep them from going there.

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48 Replies to “I realize and I can see…Suicide is Painless”

  1. An acquaintance of mine committed suicide recently, so this post is particularly timely.

    Christians are ambivalent, at best, about mental illnesses including depression. Religious leaders are empowered to provide “counseling”, regardless of whether or not they have any credible training or education in social work or psychology. As a result, far too often the advice given to those suffering with very real, very dangerous conditions is to pray more/harder and to love Jesus more. For the person with depression, this only exacerbates feelings of inadequacy and further validates their irrationally low view of themselves.

    This is an abhorrent situation that must be remedied immediately, or more and more people will be given the sad notion that suicide is their only option.

  2. May I share a post with you that originally prompted me to start http://www.christianmentalhealth.org.uk, after a dear Christian friend who suffered from Schizophrenia, hung himself, this is not a theological exposition, but just some sharing of heart, written early 2009:-

    Can’t sleep for some reason and it is now 5.22 am and I’m not normally up this early but it is lovely to hear the birds singing their praises. Uh oh now the rain

    A brother in the Lord called Justin (36 yrs old) who suffered from Schizophrenia hung himself towards the end of last year.

    His suicide was completely out of the blue and was done with efficient and methodical aforethought.

    I didn’t really understand the meaning of the word ‘shock’ until I received the news of his untimely death.

    Justin had been assessed by a psychiatric ‘crises team’ a couple of days prior to his suicide and was deemed as ‘no threat to himself’. Boy they got that one wrong. Do I blame the psychiatric teams…no! It took us all by surprise.

    I had a ‘black and white’ theology or doctrine on suicide. I simply believed that those that took their own lives, in effect committed murder on themselves, consequently this didn’t bode well for them in the eternal judgement.

    Like so many of the things we believe, when forced to evaluate them in the light of ‘real’ life, personal events, things are harder to define in terms of black and white.

    There does seem to be something instrically wrong with suicide, but couldn’t the same be said for ‘death’ itself.

    What about the scripture that says something like

    ‘Those that hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life’.

    ‘Jesus wept’ is one of the shortest verses in the Bible and he wept over the death of a friend.

    Now my Christian friend with Schizophrenia, was without doubt one of the most tormented souls I have ever met. He was also one of the most spiritually insightful and discerning soul I had ever met.

    This was such an irony, he had spiritual gifts that were unparralled but it was almost as if this came at a price.

    This may sound strange but Justin did not murder himself, he was murdered by dark forces that just tormented him without mercy and convinced him with lies that suicide was the thing to do.

    I miss him and from that moment on I really realised how evil Satan and his demons really are. I know that sounds silly, but it bought home to me with such force the utter futility and badness of demonic spirits.

    Yes I do believe that Justin did have something wrong with the way his brain functioned, but my goodness did the forces of darkness exploit this.

    The Christian community did all they could to support Justin and I will leave it to your imagination how this all impacted on the church. I would say that Christians in general are not equipped very well to deal with mental illness, but then who is?

    Justin simply had no idea how much he was loved and if …..too late for ifs.

    I wish he had talked to someone first, but I really do believe he is in a better place in the arms of Jesus free from torment at last!

    {….}

    It wasn’t easy writing that one. I was still on my own on the forum when I first wrote it.

    Yes you have to be so vigilent and on your guard and continually keep casting down those thoughts that raise up in our minds. I am also still here by the grace of God…literally.

    I’m going to be honest here, I was one of those who had been taught that those that committed suicide were seperated from God eternally. But when that dear lovely Christian brother who suffered from schizophrenia, killed himself towards the end of last year ‘out of the blue’ I just found that I could not believe that he was not in the arms of Jesus.

    So I really looked into the scriptures and just couldn’t find anything to substantiate the claim that he was not with Jesus.

    He was so ‘sold out’ for Jesus and spent his life in suffering and torment and his spiritual insight was amazing, because he was filled with the Spirit.

    It is amazing how many so called ‘teachings’ we go around with, that have no real scriptual basis…it can be shocking.

    …’nothing can seperate us from the Love of Jesus’…including death itself. He will not lose one.

    One of the inspirations to set up the this website was the death of Justin. I want those that are suffering so terribly to know that they are not alone, and I don’t want anyone to commit suicide, simply because of those left behind…but certainly not because I think it is some kind of ‘unforgivable sin’.

    I believe Jesus knows the end of our lives from the beginning and knows that some will take their own lives and that certainly does not stop Him loving them and drawing them to himself before that event, so that they can be with him FREE from suffering and torment FOREVER.

    On a lighter note it makes me smile when you say Having an unhealthy interest in him (Devil) is not good…I remember a funny incident with a friend (Schizophrenic) in a bakers and he had his ‘eye’ on a certain cake…whilst he waited in the line, a woman in front of him, bought that very cake and in all seriousness he turned around and said ‘that was the devil that was’

  3. “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me ” (Ps. 23:4)

  4. I tried to commit suicide. I was trying to escape the mess my life was becoming. The stigma attached to suicide made me feel like the Steve Carrell character in Little Miss Sunshine – everyone thinks there is something wrong with you and that you are a loser.

    Suicide still crossed my mind when I was homeless and living on the streets, though I doubt I could have done it knowing how sick I was when I had tried before.

    Psychologists, psychiatrists, counsellors and my doctor couldn’t help me. I don’t think I wanted their help. I wanted to work it all out myself … but couldn’t.

    One day I got the answer I was looking for. Jesus. Suddenly my mind was less foggy. I felt I had something to live for. God has forgiven me for my sins. I believe I will go to Heaven.

    And I no longer feel stigmatised.

  5. Thanks for posting on this subject, Joel. It is a very important one. I have dealt with at length here:

    http://ancienthebrewpoetry.typepad.com/ancient_hebrew_poetry/2008/01/war-and-peace-i.html

    It’s an example of a suicide that is tragic but understandable, undertaken by a believer in full possession of his faculties.

    I think you are wrong to suggest that the young man I quoted in another instance was making an unwarranted deduction. He lived it this way. His best friend, in order to make a statement about the meaning of his breakup with a girlfriend, took his life. The young man felt that to be an extraordinary betrayal, an act of selfishness on his friend’s part. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn’t. But I find it easy to see his point of view.

    Cutting in particular has become fashionable in my neck of the woods. At the high school level, usually it is a way of not committing suicide while telling the world that that is the way
    you feel. At the college level, there is however more follow through. In state university settings, stigmatization is on the wane. Make no mistake: without stigmatization, the suicide rate increases. That’s why it’s important to frame the issue carefully.

  6. Interesting question, Joel. What do you think? I thought it was a well-established teaching, both in the Old and New Testaments, that there is a place for shaming and shunning when it comes to certain sins of a public nature.

    Now maybe you are right. But if so, the Bible is dead wrong on this issue.

    Or perhaps there is a third way you have in mind. I’d love to hear you out on this one. If you choose to do so, please interact with the relevant Bible passages, rather than pretend they don’t exist (a typical ploy of post-evangelicals).

    1. Taking it a bit far, don’t you think? I mean, if I am correct in saying that instead of telling everyone that they are going to hell if they suicide, then the bible is wrong?

      Love the coy little insult game, John.

  7. No, Joel, that’s not what I said. You would have known better if you followed the link I gave you:

    http://ancienthebrewpoetry.typepad.com/ancient_hebrew_poetry/2008/01/war-and-peace-i.html

    I did say that I thought it was a well-established teaching, both in the Old and New Testaments, that there is a place for shaming and shunning when it comes to certain sins of a public nature. But if you wish to take a pass on the topic, that’s fine with me.

    1. In hopes of continuing the conversation from the previous post on this topic in which someone alludes that suicide means guilt:

      http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/325/7377/1374

      “Overall, there is enough evidence to suggest that some forms of non-fictional newspaper and television coverage of suicide are associated with a statistically significant excess of suicide; the impact appears to be strongest among young people. Nevertheless, the majority of suicides are not reported in the media; when the decision is taken to inform the public about a suicide, it usually involves a particular person, method or place. Suicide is often newsworthy and the media have the right to report it. However, the suicides most likely to attract the attention of the media are those that depart from usual patterns. In fact, it is striking that cases presented in the media are almost invariably atypical and uncommon, and to represent them as typical further perpetuates misinformation about suicide. Clinicians and researchers acknowledge that it is not news coverage of suicide per se, but certain types of news coverage, that increase suicidal behaviour in vulnerable populations. Conversely, certain types of coverage may help to prevent imitation of the suicidal behaviour. Nevertheless, there is always the possibility that publicity about suicide might make the idea of suicide seem “normal”. Repeated and continual coverage of suicide tends to induce and promote suicidal preoccupations, particularly among adolescents and young adults.”

      http://suicideandmentalhealthassociationinternational.org/preventionmedia.html

      1. Precisely: it’s certain types of news coverage, that increase suicidal behaviour in vulnerable people – copy cat they’re called. And “repeated and continual coverage of suicide tends to induce and promote suicidal preoccupations, particularly among adolescents and young adults”. It’s tragic, and widely recognised to be true.

    2. Actually, John that is what you said. I’ve said that we should tell people that they are going to hell if they suicide. You said, ‘Now maybe you are right. But if so, the Bible is dead wrong on this issue.’

      Seems to me that that is exactly what you said.

      Seems to me that stigmatizing homosexuals (note that I refer to the person) has lead to an increased suicide rate. If your interpretation of the Scriptures, today, is correct, then the bible is false.

      John, I didn’t see you as wanting to really discuss anything serious with the little comment you made about ‘post-evangelicals.’

  8. Suicide is an act that has been alternately honored and abhorred throughout history. It is absolutely not a topic that should be openly dogmatized by warring doctrinalists.

    People who commit suicide as a result of severe depression, whether they themselves are Christians or not, are casualties of the church that for eons taught mental illness as demon-possession. Globally, we are not as far removed from this mindset as we pretend. Mental illness is the most nebulous of stigmatized human conditions and the church is unequipped to deal with any of them. Disability, sexual orientation, even basic intellectual doubt are all lumped together and treated with the patronizing “Pray harder” prescription that has failed so many individuals whose potential will now never be realized.

    On the basis of religion alone, pastors are empowered to provide “counseling”, regardless of whether they are trained/licensed to do so. This practice must end. However well-meaning, pastors are required to skew their counsel along the doctrinal lines of whichever sect pays their salary–no matter the damage that such emotional carbetbaggery causes.

    I have experienced this travesty first-hand and the spiritual fall-out nearly drove me directly from pulpit to suicide. When I acknowledged my same-sex attractions, the first place I went for guidance and counsel were those Christian leaders who set themselves up as blessed with divine wisdom. Each one could give only variations on a false theme: “If you pray hard enough and love God enough, these demonic feelings will go away.” What is an earnest believer to do with that kind of information? This former believer set out with life-or-death sincerity to become the best possible Christian (in the least superficial of senses). I prayed with Job-like fervency, listened exclusively to Christian music, read and took deeply to heart the passages of the Bible, and upon exhausting every ounce of what was a very real faith found that nothing about my desires had changed. Based on the earlier counsel from a reasonably broad swath of teachers, preachers, and “counselors”, it was clear that I lacked the ability to love deeply enough, to pray honestly enough, or believe strongly enough to overpower the “demons” I was told had beset me. Few can fathom how devastating this was.

    [Please don’t be confused; I understand the difference between faith and works and the scriptural admonishments related to each.]

    Hearing over and over that those who choose suicide spend an eternity in Hell served only to further destroy not just my self esteem, but my overall sense of self as a devout Christian and young man. Talk like that did not dissuade me from contemplating suicide, it simply made me feel far worse.

    Suicide is a nigh-incomprehensible tragedy on all sides. Christians need to worry more about what happens to a person while they’re living than when they die.

    1. Robert said: “People who commit suicide as a result of severe depression, whether they themselves are Christians or not, are casualties of the church that for eons taught mental illness as demon-possession.”

      On what basis of fact do you hold the Christian churches generally responsible for all the acts of suicides in the world that are caused by depression?

      Some of the recent teenage suicides reported in Australia have been because of depression caused by bullying at school – at both state-run and Catholic schools.

      Depression TV Commercial – youthbeyondblue.com

      1. That’s a totally fair question.

        Inasmuch as religion has (for good or ill) historically set societal mores, the church’s inability to effectively address mental illness resulted in a paradox unacceptable to the spiritual imperium, which used the scriptural story of Legion and the swine as both broadsword and Oz-ian curtain.

        From Mental Illness Stigma: Myths and Misunderstandings by Marcia Purse,

        no discussion of mental illness stigma would be complete without looking at certain religion-related opinions about mental illness. In The Seven Principalities of Hell, if you search for “Pan”, you will find the author blaming all mental illness, and depression by name, on a “Demon of the Mind.” Symptoms of Demon Possession (from The Demon Possession Handbook by J.F. Cogan) lists four symptoms which could, depending on interpretation, lead to someone suffering from Bipolar Disorder being labeled as “possessed.”

        Encountering this kind of belief can be extremely agitating to a Christian holding a more moderate viewpoint or to a non-Christian and would be at least as counterproductive as was my boss’s “kick her in the butt” attitude was for me. To someone who belonged to a congregation holding these extreme beliefs, it could be extremely dangerous.

        An exhaustive essay on the topic can be found at http://www.mentalhealthstigma.com/historyonics.html .

        My contention is that the mental illness as demon-possession myth was fabricated by early religions (earlier even than Christianity) and was allowed to flourish unchecked during the Middle Ages. Even today, mental health advocacy organizations like the National Alliance of the Mentally Ill (NAMI) spend inordinate amounts of already-scarce resources to fight stigmas began eons ago by people who simply couldn’t accept that they didn’t have all the answers.

  9. Suicide is even more tragic for Christians, Jews and Muslims. While a non believer will grieve but be assured the suffering is finally over, the grieving of the religious is unimaginable: they will be tormented over the prospect that their suffering loved one might continue to suffer for eternity. All things considered it is incomprehensible that a report of suicide was ever handled in such an appalling way by a religious pastor as the appalling post I read.

  10. It was the secular newspaper that did the main damage. However, in this case, a blogger – who also happens to be a pastor – picked up a story and without reading anything else on the topic, just posted the news into his blog. So far so good. This could happen to anyone.

    However, as a pastor he saw fit to attribute what happened to “sin.” This seemed appropriate to him. Further, when I tried to comment he censored the comment. That doesn’t make sense.

    The story itself is convoluted and not well explained in any one news article. No one will ever know officially exactly what happened since the case will not be brought to court now.

    It seems okay to me to cut and paste a story from the news. It is not okay to attribute motive when one does not know the facts. It is not okay to shut down comments or not respond to a discussion of the facts.

    I regret the intense scrutiny of this case, but I think anyone, if they saw a story on the blogs, and they knew that there were crucial facts that had not been posted, and they saw that “sin” was attributed as a motive, – I think anyone who was an acquaintance of the family would want to respond.

    1. not to mention the broader consequences of such appalling (pastoral?) blogging behaviour. I assumed that the sort of information about suicide on the mental health website was widely recognised, especially, but of course not only, by people who were responsible for the well being of others. I wonder now if some people, and people who are responsible for the well being of others, actually don’t know or have avoided or ignored these realities.

  11. This is a great topic, but I feel as if the topic and the people affected are demeaned if the purpose is to pile on Jim West or anyone else who happens to say what suicide often (not always) is in practice: a terrible sin.

    In order to understand this, one has to have an Augustinian understanding of the roots of sin – and if you don’t like Augustine, find someone else with the same degree of insight (happy hunting). Augustine asked: why do people kill? Why do they commit adultery? He answered: out of love. Surely he is right. The worst sins, the ones that kill and maim others, physically and/or psychologically, rather often are grounded in obsessive loves. Think John Brown. Think Osama bin Laden. Anyone ever read a good biography of John F. Kennedy? The way that sin and sickness and love and loyalty and disloyalty formed a tightly woven fabric in his life is amazing. Better yet: read a good biography of Eleanor Roosevelt. Note that it is not about being a victim in life. It’s what you do with that, what you make of it. The people who get things done are those who sublimate the horrors they have witnessed, and/or endured, and/or perpetrated. In a sense, it is only people like this that God can use. That’s why God chose Moses (a murderer), David (you name it, he did it), and Paul (another murderer).

    I am an average person in every way, except that I am a pastor, which means I’ve seen a little bit more than most people do. I agree with Robert for sure that suicide is a nigh-incomprehensible tragedy on all sides.

    A suicide I had to deal with recently involved a stunningly well-loved top executive with a beautiful wife and kids. He killed himself with one shot to the head in the prime of his life. He was very active in church, with lots of siblings, a tremendously loving context. But he had a deep-rooted psychological problem: *he could never measure up,* in his book or in the imagined book of his father. Despite all of the evidence to the contrary, he deemed himself a failure. His father raised all his 8 kids, boys and girls, with the highest expectations. My goodness, his father raised a whole town of kids singlehandedly; he ran a factory in which he gave work to anyone who was willing to work donkey-hard, including his own boys, whom he made work twice as hard. They all became, to a woman and a man, incredibly successful, incredibly driven, incredibly joyous people. Music welded the whole family together, and still does.

    So why did this man kill himself? I’m convinced he did it to hurt his father, who had hurt him so hard so long and made him what he was in the process, something everyone honored and praised, but he knew the cost. No one else did. He did it to hurt his father, and guess what? He succeeded. He ruined the last years of his father, and was more than willing to end his own life if that it is what it took to get the job done.

    Is this not a story of sin? Is this not a story of love gone awry? This is the stuff of life. The Greeks knew it. The Bible knows it. That it is not permitted to talk of suicide in these terms, but only in terms of a spotless victim, a sort of psycho-social whole offering to our demented consciences (read Girard if you don’t believe me), is nothing more and nothing less than a tribute to how hopelessly we seek to run away from the truth about ourselves.

    1. John,

      Augustine didn’t start the Church, nor was he the first theologian or the last. While I find him admirable, I would prefer Cassian and the East on such things. If you are basing your arguments on him, then I find them rather weak.

      You speak of this recent suicide as if you know for sure what this man was going through and suddenly, are you are able to pronounce sin upon him and the conclusion of the matter. Don’t you think you are overstepping your bounds just a wee bit?

      Further, we find examples, as I noted, in the early church in which suicide was seen and upheld as a means to an end. Plus, we can find suicide in the bible – Samson for one.

          1. Not to diminish my previous posts, but I have to point this out.

            God & Jesus are the same “person”. God sent himself to Earth to die at the hands of people He created.

            Jesus committed suicide.

          2. Robert, in all seriousness, I am not sure I would claim that God committed suicide, although Christ willingly surrendered to death.

            All, Robert is a dear friend of mine, so if you see him and I trading jabs, they are only in real jest.

          3. This is true. Loathe as we are to admit it, we’re long-time friends. 🙂

            With that said, technically, Jesus totally committed suicide. Colorful adjectives don’t change the mechanics of the act, which is, unequivocally, suicide.

            http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/suicide

            **************************

            In other news, I’m truly interested in hearing responses to my earlier (more serious) post.

      1. Yes, you’re right, Joel. We won’t know anything for sure until the man comes round. In the meantime, however, we need to call things as we see them. I was interested in describing what it’s like for someone to be injured to the core by the suicide of someone they love. Maybe in your eschatology people won’t have to answer for the harm they do. In my eschatology, they will. Like Paul says somewhere, we will pass through fire. If you don’t believe in these things, that’s fine, too. But then, fess up and ask the Bishop to change your label from “very conservative” to “liberal.”

        It would be interesting to hear more about what the East has to say about sin, and suicide as a sin. You know as well as I do that the East saw and sees suicide as the gravest of sins. This sums up it accurately:

        Mortal sins for eastern Christians are: heresy, schism, blasphemy, apostasy, witchery, despair, suicide, fornication, adultery, unnatural carnal sins, incest, drunkenness, sacrilege, murder, theft, robbery, and every cruel and brutal injury. Only one of this sins—suicide—cannot be healed by repentance.

          1. Well, that’s the thing, Robert, in trying to constantly box people in – you begin to box people out real fast.

          2. The mere fact that a goodly portion of Christendom considers “despair” to be a mortal sin validates with great efficiency my position that Christians perpetuate criminally dangerous stigmas related to mental health/depression that costs people their lives.

            I’m boxing no one in. I’m pointing out uncomfortable truths about faith and the damage that can be done when religion is wielded by the untrained.

            I have articulated a position, supported it with evidence, and received corroboration from at least one other commenter. That’s called “winning”, for whatever that’s worth.

          3. Robert – I wasn’t speaking of you as boxing.

            Further, the Eastern position should be examined within the light of the East, not our failing West. And, I am not going to defend their position. Further, a ‘goodly portion of Christiandom’ believe that women are to be kept in subjection to their husbands, among other vile things, but that doesn’t make that goodly number correct. And of course, I could speak about doctrinal matters as well, but I will not.

            Now, I do agree that some forms of Christianity, perhaps the abuse of Christianity, the misuse thereof, have created stigma’s etc…

            And, Robert, I always win.

        1. John, you take things to a rather personal level quickly. You assume that you are right and if I disagree with you, then I am wrong. Further, you, as is your habit, assume you know what I believe and then building your arguments based only on your assumptions, you find yourself right. Amazingly circular. I don’t believe you are right, John. Doesn’t make me liberal.

          What Paul said was that the work of the person will be judged by fire – not the life, the work. I note that your exegesis rarely finds the end:

          Because of God’s grace to me, I have laid the foundation like an expert builder. Now others are building on it. But whoever is building on this foundation must be very careful. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have– Jesus Christ. Anyone who builds on that foundation may use a variety of materials– gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay, or straw. But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value. If the work survives, that builder will receive a reward. But if the work is burned up, the builder will suffer great loss. The builder will be saved, but like someone barely escaping through a wall of flames. (1Co 3:10-15 NLT)

          While you seem to think that it is the person who will pass through the fire (which is an expression, as you should know, regarding Molech), the Scriptures say that it is the work of the person, and if in the End, the work is burned, the builder will be saved. While you seem to only look to the punishment of the person, Paul looked to the salvation. Seems to me, that ignoring Scripture would make you rather Liberal.

          Considering that I was referring to the East over Augustine on such ideas as Sin, such as original sin, etc…

  12. LOL, Joel. I know you want me to assume that I am wrong, but it doesn’t work that way. Thanks for the fun discussion. I enjoy being labeled a liberal, especially for a comment like the one I made.

    I didn’t realize the “liberal” label hurts your feelings. Oh the stigma!

    On the one hand, you talk of the Christian West as a dying entity. That’s a nice dig at everyone from Catholics to Anglicans to Protestants. On the other, you lionize the East, but you yourself have not chosen to become Orthodox. Or have you?

    Your silence on the Eastern Christian stance on suicide is eloquent.

    1. Wow, John.

      Never, has anyone, taken so little, and made some much out of it.

      I take it that instead of having a rational and reasonable discussion, you like to label and, well, use purposed misinformation against your opponents. That’s not honest, John, and that is the stigma which you have.

      1. “fun” discussion? “Discussion”? Is sarcasm ‘fun’? I would have thought rather than assuming you’re wrong, allow for the possibility that you just might be wrong. And also not assume what “type” of person the other person is and thinks.

  13. I emailed a pastor I know and asked him if Jesus committed suicide. His response is:

    – It would seem to me that suicide by definition is an act of selfishness whereas Jesus’ sacrifice was an act of selflessness – If you call it suicide you would also have to say that all soldiers that willingly gave their lives for others also commit suicide. –

      1. Steph is right. The myth of suicide as selfishness was created by those who focused more on their own pain rather than trying to understand the pain of the deceased. Suicidal individuals have come to a place emotionally where they feel that by removing themselves from the world, those around them would be much better off. Which is, by definition, unselfishness in a twisted extreme.

        One can never fully grasp the emotional darkness of suicide until you’ve been to the brink yourself.

        1. and I find it distressing that the discussion of how to handle it can be described as ‘fun’ by people (person) here who fails to take it’s seriously, and take seriously the consequence of his response to it.

          1. When people refer to Augustine first, as their basis, and not the Gospel. I can quote from Augustine – not as a founding source, or the first great theologian, but when I believe he is correct, and his words are so much more better than mine.

            I don’t deny that Augustine had his good points, and indeed, he had many, but too often, we align ourselves publicly with one theologian or another – I am of Paul, or I am of Appollos – treating them as schools of philosophy instead of trying to get to the root of the original writers.

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