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dogmafree
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Date Posted:02/07/2007 3:12 PMCopy HTML

As a Christian, I expect you have a belief in a model of what awaits those who have died outside of a Christian faith. Can I assume that you believe they have no future with God? Maybe judgement and a hell of sorts?Sooner or later in life, you will find that someone you know dies that was not a Christian. Perhaps those close to that person are also close to you. How do you reconcile your beliefs and act toward the bereaved? Very often, in their grief, they will make all sorts of comments about their hopes of the deceased going to heaven, at peace etc.Do you remain silent? Make comforting general comments (avoiding the issue) without challenging their thought? Do you try to offer some sort of consolation based upon your faith? How do you manage that?I'd hazard a guess that most of you would respect their space and not make any comments that would upset the bereaved. Or would you brazenly tell them that you're afraid Bill is NOT going to heaven, but will have a fiery future in the other place. After all, that is the TRUTH according to your beliefs (is it not)?! Are you being truly faithful to your bible based beliefs to allow folk to remain in a state of ignorance or error in this regard?And perhaps a more pertinent question..... what if the person who died is very close to you (maybe a spouse or child)? Do you still maintain your beliefs without question? Or do you hope or think that it is different to what you have believed?How do YOU reconcile your professed beliefs in these circumstances?Dog.
"for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so" Shakespeare (Hamlet, Act 2, Scene 2)
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Re:How do you (as a Christian) deal with the bereaved?

Date Posted:02/07/2007 5:57 PMCopy HTML

Ian,

Despite the fact that you neglected to actually offer any answers yourself to the questions raised, I'll try to provide an honest answer to your counter-questions.....

But firstly, I will openly acknowledge that "yes" my questions do have an intent (at least partially) to challenge the beliefs that Christians profess to uphold. Such is the nature of this forum, that we are reassessing many of the belief systems that we have prescribed to. So I make no apology for this.

Folk are free to post a response or not (if it is too uncomfortable for them). They may reject my questions if they wish, or contemplate them within their own mind. No arms twisted here!

Your response does have an unfamiliar note to it Ian! Do I detect a slightly angry tone behind your words? Anyway, here goes......

In matters of the heart, it can be very difficult to predict or know exactly how I would respond. I guess it would depend on all the circumstances of the people involved and my relationship with those people. What I would hope to offer is genuine (in a word) EMPATHY. I would hope to offer the comfort of showing that the life of the deceased person was valued, and that they were loved. To show respect for all concerned. Maybe a warm hug, a sincere sharing of my sentiments of care for the deceased (either written or spoken). Sometimes, words are insufficient and just 'being there' is comfort in itself.

It is unlikely for those people to ask me directly for my determination of what destiny the person who has died may have. But if they were to, I would hope to have integrity enough to answer honesty (honestly I don't know) but perhaps to look for some comforting thoughts to offer, along the lines of "I feel he/she is at rest now, no more pain etc". That may be ambiguous, but is as honestly as I can answer your question, Ian. I don't believe I would seek to impose any model of my own upon them. Rather, I would hope to be sensitive to their feelings, and respectful of their beliefs (whatever they may be).

Quote[I wonder, how many times have you personally had to sit, grieve and mourn with the bereaved? With the family of a suicide? The parents of a SIDS baby? The children of an elderly person who had suffered dementia for years? ]

Whilst in the RF some years ago, there were two couples in the fellowship whose babies died from SIDS. I'll be totally honest here. I was pathetically useless. I didn't know how to act or what to say, and I avoided the parents. I'm quite ashamed of that!

But then, there have been in more recent years, several cases as you've described. I feel I have acted very much more honorably in those occasions. My Dad died a few years ago. Dad was never a religious man, and never professed any christian beliefs. The last moments I had with Dad were among the most meaningful and beautiful that I have known. I am completely at peace with Dad's passing, and treasure my memories of him. A lot of christian rhetoric was included in the funeral which perhaps was inappropriate, but it didn't bother me. It meant something to others so I can live with that.

I also have attended the funerals of a number of RFers since leaving the fellowship, out of respect for those people, and listened intently to the words offered in the service, as well as a good mate of mine who was a christian (not RF) that died a few years ago.

Most pertinently though, I learned about 7 years ago of the death of two of my dearest and closest friends. I couldn't possibly describe here what they meant to me, but they both had taken unfortunate paths in their lives whilst I was immersed in the RF. Their names were Bruce and Monique.

Bruce died at age 42, of a suicidal lethal injection of heroine. Bruce had been in and out of gaol, and had drug problems, and to recount his life to anybody, they would say that he was simply a 'loser'. I learned the news a few months after his death when I rang his mum to see how he was going. I made a point of writing a most sincere and heart-felt letter to his parents. There was no talk about his final destiny. Just my own perspective on Bruce's charming and wonderful qualities that I genuinely remember. At a time where there were perhaps very few who could offer a positive side to his memory, I felt compelled to do so. I also followed the letter up with a visit. I spoke to his mum, and shared just what Bruce meant in my life, despite our different paths over the years. It was a most meaningful time of sharing and grieving. I told her too, that I felt she was the epitome of a mother's love, as I saw how much an outcast Bruce was from society, but knew how Bruce appreciated his mother's unfailing love.

At about the same time, I learned that Monique had died a couple of years before. Again, a heroine overdose. I had not seen her since 1983, but Monique had been my greatest love and had always been close to my heart. Similarly, I made contact with her family and we shared our feelings around her life and death. I arranged an afternoon where I met her sister and brother. We exchanged photos, and they filled me in with the incredibly tragic story of her life since we had parted company. Monique had spiraled into darker and darker lifestyles until it killed her. Again, I was able to grieve together with her siblings, and share the love and memories that we had for her, and I penned my feelings for them as well.

Isn't that what is important? Having empathy and being WITH our fellow man? Valuing what is known?

So, those are some of my experiences and thoughts.

I ask you now, what of yours?


Dog.

"for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so" Shakespeare (Hamlet, Act 2, Scene 2)
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Re:How do you (as a Christian) deal with the bereaved?

Date Posted:02/07/2007 6:45 PMCopy HTML

To those that may read this thread, I'd like to offer an explanation as to the reason for posting it...

Essentially the thought arose as a spin-off from other discussions where various models of an 'after-life' have been floated. In this context, it got me thinking about the large amount of speculative and wishful thinking that often comes up when someone dies. Also, I have heard just recently of increasing number of folk who choose to have non-religious themes for their own funerals. It does seem that the religious assume they have a traditional monopoly at the event of a funeral, with many people that have little or no bible based beliefs being buried amidst a lot of christian ceremony.

I see enormous amounts of hypocrisy on these occasions. Much of this could be said to be justifiable as bereaved folk should be respected, but I feel it is interesting to consider these things.

It may be seen as a cheap shot, using this sensitive topic as a vehicle to challenge one's beliefs, but the thing is, it is precisely these sort of times that can polarize our most intrinsic core beliefs. An exporation of the subject is therefor valuable (IMO). It can be too easy to float through life saying you believe this or that. But it isn't until something rocks your emotional world, that your faith is really put to the test. So, I sincerely hope that you will allow yourself the opportunity to delve into these thoughts!


Dog.
"for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so" Shakespeare (Hamlet, Act 2, Scene 2)
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Re:How do you (as a Christian) deal with the bereaved?

Date Posted:03/07/2007 11:01 AMCopy HTML

[I have been asked the 'searching' questions by people bereaved by the loss of those who were very close to them. Parents of dead children. Spouses. Children themselves. I've had Christians ask me what has become of their non-Christian loved-ones. I've had non-Christians ask me the same question. My response really doesn't differ all that much. I share with them the nature of the God whom I know and serve. How he 'stoops' towards us, how he longs to have a close relationship, and is thoroughly interested in, each and every one of us, individually. I share with them that he feels and shares their grief and loss. I also share with them the message of hope. That God alone will sit as judge at the end of time, and that he sees the heart and not just the external circumstances. But most important of all, I grieve with them concerning their loss.]

Ian, I thank you for the parapraph repeated here in which you answered my questions. I thank you NOT for the analysis of my commentrary, with your skillful way of 'turning the tables'. Nevertheless, I fully expected the same from you. If I couldn't stand the heat, well I would have not entered the kitchen in the first place.

It is interesting that you say you would offer comfort in a very similar manner, whether or not the deceased and/or abbreaved were professing christians. Almost alludes to an ultimate reconciliation type theme!

No doubt you will throw this back at me as my misunderstanding of the meta-narrative or some such s#!t, BUT many would have the impression that one of the main themes in the bible is the DIFFERENCE between those who accept Jesus and those who don't. Jesus spoke of bringing a SWORD etc. He that believes has eternal life, he that believes not is damned, etc. etc. etc. These kind of judgements are clearly apparent in scripture. Is it any wonder that most folk associate the bible with these themes? The bible supports them for god's sake! Splitting straws between good/bad, of god or not, those with or without the H/S etc. whether you want to focus on a supposedly benevolent god who offers hope aside, it remains that the bible is chocoblock full of us & them scenarios. And after all, you do suggest that god does sit as a final judge. So, I can't see how you can assume to wriggle out of the fact that the bible makes a difference as central theme.

Sure, you say christians are called not to judge or speculate, but promote a god of reconciliation and he's the judge. That sounds nice, doesn't it?! Yet the bible is supposed to declare his standards by which folk are to be judged. If someone passes away, having clearly never made any profession of a christian belief, it would appear to seal their fate as being on their way to a judgement that ain't great (whether or not you subscribe to hell scenes and the likes). If that isn't the case, well what was it all about??? It makes a farce of the whole deal!

Ian, you inferred that a lot of this has sprung from my own crisis of faith. Yes & no. That's NOT what this is all about. Yet yes, whilst spending years in the RF doing my utmost to uphold a faith in the belief system I professed to, there were fractures in it all along. I was going along with all sorts of stuff that just went against the grain of what I could stomach or trust in my heart. All around me I saw (and was guilty of) great hypocrisy as I said one thing yet doubted them within myself. And yes, when I learned of the death of Bruce and Monique and a number of other personal issues, I did go through my own crisis and a reassessment of by beliefs. My conclusion was that the bible models of life/death/judgement etc are utterly absurd and make no sense at all. If god's purpose was reconciliation and to offer hope (not fear) he has made an appallingly poor job of it. That probably comes back to the ambiguity issue that I have previously raised.

I reject your assertions that my responses to your questions are inconsistent. What they were is honest. I reject your assertions that my understanding of the bible's themes are due to a revivalist slant, misconstruing its true meanings. It isn't ME that invented stories of fire & brimstone, hell and damnation. They are bible concepts.

So, how can you talk to people about a loving benevolent god who offers hope in the future, when the person who has died was never a christian? Especially when the bible paints a very different picture in many places, and there has been absolutely no evidence of a manifest god in their life. Why should they have any such hope, when god never formed a relationship with him/her in their lifetime, but rather was completely passive?

Dog.
"for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so" Shakespeare (Hamlet, Act 2, Scene 2)
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Re:How do you (as a Christian) deal with the bereaved?

Date Posted:03/07/2007 12:56 PMCopy HTML

This is an interesting 'conversation'

SOTT, you are upholding the 'images' of the bible as the truth. (In this case we are talking about the bible message that non believers will not be saved, but will go to hell when they die.)

So, I just want to get this clear; when you are comforting relatives of non christians who die, what 'hope' are you offering?

You'd have to be honest and say something like " I know Fred wasnt' a believer when he died, and according to the bible he won't be going to a good place. However, don't be upset because we 'hope' that God will have mercy on Fred. Lets 'hope' for every relative or loved one. Perhaps God didn't mean he /she will burn in hell. Lets 'hope' so. But remember its nothing to do with me, I'm not the judge. I can only tell you waht the bible says and then 'hope' its not true"

Some hope
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Re:How do you (as a Christian) deal with the bereaved?

Date Posted:03/07/2007 1:27 PMCopy HTML


So that's your interpretation of matters, huh?


Yes, I assumed that you follow the bible message that unbelievers will go to hell? If you don't, thats different. As a universalist, you can offer hope - eventually all will ocme to God (after some punishment, but not an eternity, apparently)

You never fail to impress, Big Girl

Good sarcastic put down there, SOTT
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Re:How do you (as a Christian) deal with the bereaved?

Date Posted:03/07/2007 1:47 PMCopy HTML

Reply to : SOTT1
I am talking as a person who is not a revivalist. My view points are shared by non churched, non christian people.
Please talk plainly.
Do you believe that people who do not accept Jesus, and are not christians will go to hell?
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Re:How do you (as a Christian) deal with the bereaved?

Date Posted:03/07/2007 2:08 PMCopy HTML


Hi Sott,
I said "My viewpoints are shared by non churched, non christian people."

You replied : So?

So...lots of non christians have these questions. Please don't get defensive....I'm just interested in how you reconcile your beliefs when it comes to self professed non christians who have died.


I'm not their judge. I don't know their hearts. But do you, BG, presume to the contrary?

Why do you say that, Ian? Why would I judge - I am not professing any belief about what happens when they die. I don't know. But your job is to preach the Bibles message.

Regards, big girl
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Re:How do you (as a Christian) deal with the bereaved?

Date Posted:03/07/2007 2:41 PMCopy HTML

Ian's quote [I believe that people who failed during their lives to enter into saving relationships with God through Jesus Christ, are destined for an eternity totally separated from him, devoid of the joy and benefit that eternity with Christ brings. Further, I also believe that it's not my 'call' or 'place' to presume to know who such people are at their deaths. I'm not their judge. I don't know their hearts. But do you, BG, presume to the contrary? ]

So what of a 2 year old child that is killed in an accident? What of the indigenous Australian a few hundred years ago that never heard as much as a whisper about JC? What of an unfortunate person born with some disability that prevented them from ever being in a position to comprehend their immediate world, let alone the mental gymnastics of appeasing a god or needing salvation?

Let alone the countless multitudes that earnesly dedicated their lives to a christian life, but didn't 'get it right' as a result of the apparently misinformed churches they were brought up in?

How bloody convenient it is, to declare that god is the only judge and you don't have to concern yourself with such judgement. Sounds somewhat akin to Pilate washing his hands as he hands JC over to his accusers and executioners!

To believe in this eternal separation from god b/s is mind-boggling! If it were true, to do so is to be complicit in an unfair and unjust system of judgement.

Firstly, how can an ETERNAL punishment (separation, whatever) be justified for apparent sins or failings within the context of a finite lifetime?

Secondly, how could a judgement reserved for god alone to execute be justified when the standards or laws by which they are to be judges are as ambiguous as they are? Apparently ignorance is no excuse, and you may be judged 'guilty' whether or not the rules were ever presented!

Thirdly, your statement [A 'hope' that is built on the ineffable justice of God] is utterly hard to believe given his track record in the bible;

If someone had the misfortune to be born an Egyptian, or a lot of other nationalities other than the 'chosen' well tough titties if you got second best! Swallowed up by the released red sea? Huh, think nothing of it!

Go out and kill all those canaanites and the others. Kill women and kids, they are guilty of not being one of you, so they have to go!

Abraham, your son is good meat to use to make a point. I think I'll have a little game with you, to see if you're dinkum. Never mind if it traumatises you, and spins your son out big-time. Its all for a good cause!

Never mind that all you mothers' babies are being taken and slaughtered. Its good news really. Look here's my son. Ain't he great. What ya crying for? Stop that!

The god of the bible and justice are mutually exclusive!


Dog.
"for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so" Shakespeare (Hamlet, Act 2, Scene 2)
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Re:How do you (as a Christian) deal with the bereaved?

Date Posted:03/07/2007 2:49 PMCopy HTML

Reply to : SOTT1


Well, here's the 'rub': your posts have presented the assumption that people who haven't made a profession of Christian belief during their lives, must automatically be excluded from the same on point of death.

No, you have made a wrong assumption on my assumption, I presume.

My assumption is that most non professing christians do not call out to Jesus in sudden belief just before they die. I am happy to be dissuaded from this assumption. Sott, I am not in a battle with you, as I've said.

If people have death bed conversions, thats different, a whole different conversation.

big girl
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Re:How do you (as a Christian) deal with the bereaved?

Date Posted:03/07/2007 3:22 PMCopy HTML

BOTH! Tyranny of that magnitude is utterly offensive!

It therefor is my conclusion that this tyrant is a fictional character.


Dog.
"for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so" Shakespeare (Hamlet, Act 2, Scene 2)
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Re:How do you (as a Christian) deal with the bereaved?

Date Posted:03/07/2007 6:02 PMCopy HTML

Reply to : SOTT1



"So what of a 2 year old child that is killed in an accident? What of the indigenous Australian a few hundred years ago that never heard as much as a whisper about JC? What of an unfortunate person born with some disability that prevented them from ever being in a position to comprehend their immediate world, let alone the mental gymnastics of appeasing a god or needing salvation?"

No doubt you've ascertained via my previous posts on this thread, along with HEAPS of my other posts elsewhere, that I understand 'salvation' to involve a conscious decision? Ergo...




Ergo... what? I need things spelt out layman style (and I honestly don't mind being spoken to as if I'm a ten year old). If salvation is a conscious decision, then are the 2yr old, and ind-Australian and the disabled who weren't able to make decisions going to fade into eternal separation? Or did their inability to consciously reject the jesus they never heard about get them a free ticket into heaven? I know you're not da judge on these things and you will leave it to the super perfect magic judge in the sky, but I'm also curiously throwing out the big questions to the sounding discussion board.

And bringing this back to Revival, ('cause I never really forget that even though this board is a great place for me to bounce ideas and talk 'god', its audience is predominantly the Revivalists who are questioning and hopefully deciding to leave their overly controlling churches) aren't the conscious decision making - Jesus accepting - Revivalists pretty much 'ok', except for the fact that they tie in random verbal linguistics alongside their conscious decision?

Did the honest decisions I make as either a Revivalist, or a Baptist, to take on Jesus' teaching start a binding contract, or do my current fence-sitting notions of god non-existing negate the salvation I was gracefully given? If I die today in my inability to accept the Gospel as gospel, while living out my years, in this brief moment in time, do I have a good chance on missing out on eternal bliss to come? If that's true then so be it, I suppose, I am given a chance to see if I'll follow blindly or continue to ponder. This angry, jealous god sounds a tad emotive to me and even tested one's faith by asking him to stab his child to death. I find it hard to relate to that.

There is a part of me, a tiny flicker of flame, that believes god is real and that he wrote us a book, but then that's how I was brought up to believe, so of course that mixture of faith and doubt plays out as much as it ever has. Do I have to study for years to try and work out why this god, who is in three parts, one of which is a son, had to let part of himself die very temporarily so that everyone who acknowledged his soon resurrection from the dead, and lived their life according to his moral laws would get the lucky door prize of immortality? The rest, die... just after sheepishly (or goatishly) staring at the floor in front of an enormous 'throne', or get eternally separated, whichever comes first.
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Re:How do you (as a Christian) deal with the bereaved?

Date Posted:04/07/2007 11:44 AMCopy HTML

Reply to : SOTT1




I wouldn't think so. After all, didn't Jesus say words to the effect of: "...suffer the little children to come to me...", and, "...unless one has the faith of a child..."?




Ok, so kids are okay until they reach a certain age of understanding? Depending on how smart or well educated they are... or until they see a boob as something more interesting other than a feeding utensil. It does seem that the missionaries should have left many tribal people go their own way before damning them with a choice that could go the wrong way. It just seems that sharing the good news gospel and it's life-threatening decicion process puts them in a worse position than before, eternally speaking.



Nope. And for several reasons. You see, Revivalists have the Word of God before them, so they are without excuse. It's often the case that the 'Jesus' Revivalists 'accept' isn't the Jesus who is presented in glory in Scripture.




Everyone has their own version of Jesus I expect unless they all study under the same mentor...? I think I used to do the best I could with the information and gospel I had as a Revivalist. I doubt such an effort would cut me off from the great judge who knew my heart and perepheral stuff. But of course I agree, the Revivalist follow a bastardised interpretation of scripture that gives them less quality of life than what could be achieved (from my perspective).



Well, what do you think? Does your life, your priorities, the emphases that you place on things reflect the fact of a saving relationship between you and Jesus Christ? Or were the 'decisions' that you made like last week's rain, wonderful at the time, but now a distant memory?




I'm still a wonderful guy and I hold value with many bible morals. My interpretation of them differs to others, but from my way of thinking, I'm in for a bit of a spanking and then a pat on the back when jesus marks my paper. I'm hoping he uses some sort of favourable bell curve.



If it comes down to following 'blindly', as you put it, then the Jesus of Scripture is apparently no more real to you than are the characters in Grimm's fairytales. What does that suggest about 'relationship'?




I've knocked on his door numerous times in my life, but his silence suggests to me that he isn't interested in a relationship, or I'm not his 'type', or he's not there in the sense of an entity who can read my thoughts and communicate back to me in a way that is condusive to a relationship.



It might help you to think of it this way: the very same God tested his own faith through the Incarnation. Who gave more, who risked more, and who stood to lose more eh?




That's confusing. As far as I know, God has a unique trick of being able to tell the future. He knew Jesus would go through with it and he knew he'd be up and running around a few days later. But, are you saying that God knew the outcome but Jesus didn't? Ahhh, well you see, I've never thought of it that way. But didn't Jesus say to the thief they'd both be skipping around in paradise? I dunno. I'd kill my son if I knew he'd rise again next week and would somehow save 12 billion people from death because of it... well at least the small part of the 12 billion who tipped their hat to the act and read and acted on the book I would write about it. Yeah, I'd do that, as I said, I'm a wonderful guy.



To be honest, I haven't seen very much in your postings that presents an indication of any belief, 'flicker' or otherwise. Perhaps you're simply deluding yourself that such is the case?




The Moth Delusion? You have a flicker detector? I've got a few more layers and faces than the one read between the lines here though. Yep, I've a flicker of belief, believe it or not. and Yes I know I have a distinct lack of faith, I'll admit to that. Not even sure I know how to aquire it.
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Re:How do you (as a Christian) deal with the bereaved?

Date Posted:04/07/2007 4:50 PMCopy HTML

Reply to : SOTT1



Reply to : MothandRust Moth,Given your responses, above, I guess you'll just have to work things out for yourself.Blessings,Ian




Sigh, ok... well, fair enough, what do I want for nothing eh? Can't expect all the answers to be given freely in easy to swallow bite-sized pieces from an expert, can I? I shouldn't really prompt you in becoming a Christian apologist for every musing that flutters between my years. Some questions can't be answered and others are best chewed over until they lose their taste and novelty. I'll continue to mull over it all and see if any sense comes my way. I appreciate your input so far and still have to admit that your brand of Christianity makes much more sense than any I've explored before.

I guess I could ask for faith, but then I'd have to ask for faith 'in faith' and therein lies the conundrum. Perhaps I could ask for just a little mustard seed faith so it would be easier to get more later. Sounds like an addict looking for a hit, but I ramble again.
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Re:How do you (as a Christian) deal with the bereaved?

Date Posted:05/07/2007 7:08 AMCopy HTML

Hi guys

Yes, I assumed that you follow the bible message that unbelievers will go to hell? If you don't, thats different. As a universalist, you can offer hope - eventually all will ocme to God (after some punishment, but not an eternity, apparently)

Sorry i have to announce my ignorance

"Whats a universalist " ??????

Love Chris

 

 

 

Hav

 

 

 

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Re:How do you (as a Christian) deal with the bereaved?

Date Posted:05/07/2007 7:34 AMCopy HTML

Reply to : chris7

Hi Chris,

http://www.tentmaker.org/index.html

this website has heaps of resources and scriptures to show that God will ultimately save all mankind.
RCI prophesies
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