MARTIN ANSWERS THE
Refuting the doctrine of eternal torment
No. I do abhor the doctrine of eternal torment and the mistranslated Bibles that appear to teach it, but I do not abhor people (see pg. 100 of my book, How to Quit Church Without Quitting God)
Anybody can look at a Young’s or Strong’s
concordance and see the thousands (over 20,000 in fact) of inconsistencies
of the King James Version. I am not impressed with the scholarship of the
three translating heroes you mention when I can see with my own eyes that,
for instance, they translated 14 different Greek words with the same
English word "depart," or that they took the same Greek
word (aion, for instance), and translated it with six different
English words—some with opposite meanings—or that their version contains
a bona fide contradiction (compare Rev. 11:15 with 1 Cor. 15:25). I would be
much more impressed if Larry, Curly and Moe had translated with an actual
system (the KJV translators had no system), and I could verify with
my own eyes that their final product made sense.
I do read some Greek. I have a Concordant Greek Text (a Greek text restored from uncial manuscripts and their ancient editors with the variant readings in the super linear), which includes an ultraliteral English translation in the sub linear. It is based on the Weymouth Resultant Greek Text, which consolidates the best readings from the Codex Sinaiticus, Codex Vaticanus and Codex Alexandrinus, the three oldest manuscripts existent. (The KJV translators, I should mention here, had access to only 8 manuscripts, none predating the tenth century.) I have studied many Greek courses, but do not have a signed certificate from any of them that I could impress you with; I pick this from this, that from that. My favorite is The Greek Elements by A.E. Knoch, but I also like Summers’ Essentials of New Testament Greek. I have three other helpful volumes from the likes of Reinecker, Cartledge, and Hanna.
What do you mean? Why are you being so mean? The English language is corrupt, which is why God did not choose English to reveal Himself. There are hundreds of identically-spelled words in English that have different meanings. And if you don’t believe that, I’ll wind my watch in the wind and swat your bat with my bat. The Greek and Hebrew languages (to which I was referring) are another story. Yet even in these languages we must distinguish between meaning and usage. Each Greek word in the divine vocabulary has only one meaning, though the usage may vary. (I trust you understand the important difference between meaning and usage; a plane that lands at the airport, the plane that the carpenter uses, and the plane tree are different usages of a word that has the same basic meaning: flat or level as a surface—an airplane has flat undersides to its wings, the carpenter makes things flat with the plane, and the plane tree has large, flat leaves.) Find me two Greek words in the divine vocabulary that mean exactly the same thing. Then find me one Greek word in the divine vocabulary that has two different meanings (don’t confuse meaning with usage!) I will tell you whether you are right or wrong.
You missed my point. Eternal torment is unreceivable by normal people. People have to be brainwashed to receive it. Certainly I agree with you that the rejection of a truth has no bearing on whether or not truth is truth. You’re a perfect example of that: You don’t believe that Jesus Christ will save everyone, but that does not change the fact that He will.
Yes, I believe in eternal life, but the Bible does not speak of such, with this term. Jesus never did promise "eternal life" to his followers, but rather "eonian life." (He used the Greek adjective aionion. We have a nearly perfect English equivalent, a near transliteration, which is "eonian," having to do with eons, which are periods of time.) Is this to say that I do not believe I will live forever? It does not. But if I want to prove that I live forever, I cannot do so with the adjective aionion, but with the noun athanasia (literally UN-DEATH), found in 1 Cor. 15:53 and translated "immortality." This verse says that our mortal bodies must "put on immortality." Immortal people can’t die—thus, they live forever. Again, all aionion proves is that one lives for the eons. Not everyone has eonian life (not everyone is chosen or called), but everyone has eternal life (based solely on Jesus' blood shed on their behalf at Calvary).
Yes, I believe in a new heaven and a new earth to come. I got this information in Revelation, chapter 21. No, I do not believe in a "purgatory place" for unbelievers. Upon death (which I hope you believe to be the cessation of consciousness), the souls, bodies, and spirits of believers and unbelievers alike go to the same place: the soul returns to the unseen (Gr. "hades," Hb. "sheol," literally UN-PERCEIVED, Ps. 16:10), the body returns to the ground (Gen. 3:17-19), and the spirit returns to God (Eccl. 12:1-7). I hope you understand that there is no consciousness (that is, no soul), apart from the joining of the spirit with a body (See Gen. 2:7). If you do believe this, then you are rare, indeed. Hardly anyone believes that death is death these days, content rather to believe Satan’s first lie: "You shall not surely die."
Yes, I believe that someday we will be enjoying our heavenly existence with the likes of Herod, Hitler, Arafat, perhaps even Mother Theresa. But these people will be changed, just as we were changed. I don’t know if you’ve ever read what I’m about to write, but here goes: "In the grace of God I am what I am." Paul said that in 1 Cor. 15:10. If not for the grace of God, you and I would have been Hitlers or Herods. Were you once a sinner? I’m guessing probably so. God changed you. Well, I was once a sinner, too, and God changed me, even though I still sin sometimes. Why do you mention Herod, Hitler and Arafat? Why didn’t you just go to the world-champion sinner? The greatest sinner of all time was the apostle Paul when he was Saul (see 1 Tim. 1:15). What you should have asked, then, was: "Do you believe that eventually we will be enjoying our heavenly existence with that rotten Pharisee Saul?" Yes, I do, because God miraculously turned him into that man of God, Paul.
God’s name is Jehovah (literally, "will-being-was"). His title is El (literally "placer"). I’m not getting your point with this question.
If you appreciated the difference between the evangels of the Circumcision and the Uncircumcision (Gal. 2:7), you would not ask this question. Yes, Jesus said that many are called and few are chosen—for the thousand-year kingdom. Certainly, not all are chosen for that kingdom, not even eventually. I was not speaking of the thousand-year kingdom where you quote me, but rather of the vivification of all mankind (1 Cor. 15:23), which occurs long after the thousand-year kingdom has run its course. Interesting to note that, in the evangel of the Uncircumcision (Paul calls it "my evangel"), believers are chosen first, then called. (Romans 8:30.) By the way, this is not my doctrine of salvation, it’s Paul’s (as he received it from Christ—see 1 Tim. 2: 6, 1 Cor. 15:22-23, Romans 5:18-18, 1 Tim. 4:10)
An Israelite would lose his soul, that is, he would forfeit the pleasures of the thousand-year kingdom. (Remember, when Jesus was on earth He was commissioned only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel; Mt. 15:24.) It was certainly a big deal to an Israelite to miss out on that kingdom. True, he would still be part of "all in all," but that would not be an immediate consolation to an Israelite whose hopes and dreams were centered on that thousand-year kingdom.
Jesus gave His soul as a ransom for many (Mt. 20:28)—speaking of the thousand-year kingdom—yet "He is giving Himself a correspondent Ransom for all" (1 Tim. 2:6). Your major stumbling block throughout this letter, Steve, is that you are confusing what Christ did and said concerning the thousand-year kingdom (the Israelite kingdom, when that nation will shepherd all the other nations), with what He will do with all mankind at the end of the ages. If you had this key, many of your questions would answer themselves.
John 3:36 means just what it says; "He that believeth not shall not see life." That used to be you, didn’t it? Or did you always believe? Maybe you’ve always been a believer. Maybe you were never an unbeliever—ever. Wow. You’re lucky. Most of us aren’t that blessed. We were once unbelievers and were not seeing life. But then God gave us belief and we saw life. God will eventually give belief to everyone, in the ages to come. He has to, or He cannot become all in all (1 Cor. 15:28).
What is there to explain here? It’s a scene of terrible judgment. Is it the
end? Not hardly. The proper translation of verse 3 is, "…and her smoke
is ascending for the eons of the eons." Your KJV reads "forever and
ever" which is an absurd translation of the Greek aionas ton aionon,
a translation which ignores both the plural of aion and the
genitive case, "of the." (As for the Greek connective kai—"and"—it
is nowhere in this passage). This is a scene of judgment. It is not the
end, because after the eons run their course, God becomes all in all. This
happens at the consummation (1 Cor. 15:22-28).
The Rich Man and Lazarus is a parable. Jesus begins teaching a five-part parable in Luke 15:3, which includes (in chapter 16), the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus. The purpose of the five-part parable is not to teach what happens to a person after death, but to teach the Pharisees not to look down upon the publicans. Why did Jesus speak in these terms? Because He did not speak to the people apart from parables (Mt. 13:34-35). If you are using this passage to teach what happens to an unbeliever after death, you are murdering the context and missing the whole point of a parable. I have much more to say on this subject in my next book, Martin Zender Goes to Hell.
People believe through the heralding. This is your first ridiculous question. It’s like asking, "What is the purpose of inviting everyone to the party if it’s God’s intention that everyone accept the invitation to the party?"
Yes, I have three Scripture passages that work together toward this end. First verse: Ephesians 2:8- "For in grace, through faith, are you saved, and this is not out of you." Salvation comes through faith, but it has to be given by God. This leads to the second verse: Romans 12:3 "God grants to each the measure of faith." Putting these together, we arrive at the conclusion that salvation comes through faith, and only God can give it. My third verse is 1 Timothy 4:10: "God is the Savior of all mankind." And so, in order to be the Savior of all mankind, He has to save all mankind. And since salvation comes through faith, He has to give faith to all mankind.
Why are you so impressed with
"multiplied millions?" You are judging by sight, not by faith, nor
by the Word of God. If there is eternal punishment for unbelievers, then
will I be humanly responsible for the fate of those who follow my teachings?
This is your second ridiculous question, assuming you think that such a
scenario could be possible. God is responsible for the fate of
humanity, not me. He laid the burden of saving the world and its inhabitants
upon His Son, not upon Martin Zender. The evangel I teach is one of grace
and redemption to sinners based on the blood of Christ shed at Calvary. The
second bizarre aspect of this question is the assumption that anyone who
adheres to the gospel of grace (the gospel I teach) would be eternally
punished. You’ve got punishment on the brain, Steve.
You are asking me a lot of questions, so you shouldn’t mind it if I ask you but two: 1) Are you really pursuing truth—or do you wish only to uphold the traditions of your church? 2) Are you willing to change your viewpoint in the face of facts—or are facts a threat to your system of theology?
Absolutely not. It was in the Catholic church that I heard of "another Jesus," "another spirit," and "another gospel." It is after I came out of that man-made institution and began studying Scripture on my own that I became acquainted with the truth Jesus, the true spirit, and the true gospel.
I have a saving faith, because I believe in Jesus Christ. Certainly demons—and Satan himself— will be given the gift of belief some day, for they, too, must be reconciled to God through the blood of the cross. What is so fantastic about that? All that came from God must return to God (Romans 11:36). Jesus Christ did not shed his blood on Calvary for mankind only, but for all creation (Rom. 8:20-21). We know that there are "spiritual forces of wickedness among the celestials" (Eph. 6:12). Do not they also need reconciled to God? Colossians 1:16-20 proves that all creation, "whether those on the earth or those in the heavens," (Satan is in the heavens now) will be "reconciled to God through the blood of [Jesus Christ]," in whom I believe.
This ridiculous question is related to your other one. Why didn’t you just ask, "Why did Paul put himself through such physical and emotional pain to preach that God is the Savior of all mankind (for this was Paul’s gospel, see 1 Tim. 4:10), if eventually all will be saved?" That all will be saved is the gospel! Apparently, you think that Paul preached the false gospel that your church preaches, that human beings must exercise sufficient will power to be saved. Not at all. Paul based salvation on Christ, not on the will power of humanity. Paul based salvation on the blood of the cross, not on man’s ability or inability to appropriate that work. The cross saved. And yet it appears you believe that the cross did not save, but rather only provided human beings with an opportunity to save themselves by believing. It does matter whether or not a person believes in this lifetime; it is a matter of eonian life and eonian death. But this belief comes from God, not the human, otherwise we have salvation by human will power. Paul wished that all would believe in this lifetime. And yet he did not know who God had set ahead of time for eonian life (Acts 13:48). I guarantee you that those who were chosen beforehand for eonian life, would be called to it in this lifetime (Romans 8:30) and given the faith to believe (Romans 12:3, Phil. 1:29).
I don’t get the impression, Steve, that you are actually seeking knowledge from me by your questions. I wish that were the case. If it is the case and I have misread your intentions, please forgive me. But it seems to me that you are hoping to trap me, to get me to scratch my head and throw up my hands at the impossibility of ever answering such questions as yours—as if I have never seen them before. But I have seen them before. Lots of times. I’m not saying these questions aren’t good. Your questions (except for two) are good, and yet they are easily answered by 1) recognizing the difference between the thousand-year kingdom and God’s plans for humanity at the consummation of the eons 2) translating the Greek aion and its adjective aionion correctly, and 3) rightly distinguishing God’s processes (his judgments) from His goals (salvation).