"You just might as well get a gun, shoot your wife, shoot your kids, and then kill yourself!"
My dad had been in a denominational Church system for nine years, and he was studying End Time Prophecy very deeply – just weeks away from receiving his preacher's license. However, the more he studied his Bible, the more he wasn't satisfied with their doctrinal teachings and beliefs anymore, and it was bothering him very badly. He felt as if the answers that he was receiving (not just on End Time teachings – which was his favorite subject at the time – but, of all their foundational beliefs) just wasn't what God was trying to say through His Written Word. Right or wrong, he couldn't shake the feeling.
Not too long afterward, down at the docks, where he was working, unloading cargo from ships at the Port of Houston in the late 1960's, he was told (by some of his own Church congregants, who were also working down there) not to talk to one of the workers about doctrine (who actually attended a different Church and denomination than they), because his beliefs were not only strange, but were nothing more than heretical. But, instead of scaring him, it only piqued his curiosity. Already, in the past several months or so he not only was having trouble accepting the teachings of his own Church, but he began to believe things contrary to them; but, secretly. So, with a burning desire, he sat down at lunch with this man, and immediately struck up a conversation. But, instead of a "hello, how are you?", he immediately started in with doctrinal questions. To his great surprise, the answers that quickly came from this man had actually matched what dad was already beginning to see himself.
"Well, if he got those correct," dad said to himself, "then he may know more!" After other questions, and after only a few days, he marched right down to his Church leaders and said to them: "I'd like to ask you a few deep, doctrinal questions. If you answer satisfactorily, I'll be happy to continue coming here; but, if not, I'll have to leave this Church."
Their answers to his questions? "We don't know; but, we are sure that we'll know by and by."
With that, he left . . . Just afterward, the head pastor came to my parents’ home, trying to talk dad out of leaving; and, especially warning him not to attend that heretic's Church. Warning him that if he does not change his mind, he's only destroying his whole family. Dad humbly answered that he had to follow what he thought was God's leading. So, with that answer, the pastor stood up, pointed at dad with an accusing finger, and said, with all the passion he could muster: "You just might as well get a gun, shoot your wife, shoot your kids, and then kill yourself!" After which, he left.
My mother, not as convinced on this move as my dad, threw her hands up into the air, screaming out: "We're doomed! We're doomed!" Then, she left out of the living room and went into her bedroom . . . Lowering his eyes downward, dad began to cry bitterly, while saying: "I really thought I heard from God..."
Certainly, later on, after they began to visit this new Church a few times, my parents both became convinced that dad really did hear from God; and, mother, now completely accepting of this idea, began to write new, very spiritual songs – a talent that God only gave her after they had left their former denomination – showing her, in my own opinion, that she had made the right move.
This is not saying, though, that their former Church was terrible; but, we do believe that God can move us mysteriously away from one place to another for reasons we may not understand. In fact, years and years after all these events, and during my own later teen years and early twenties, when they would speak of their former pastor from their first denomination, they would speak of only good things about him and his Church, knowing full well that the man was merely frustrated when he blasted dad with such anger, because he really thought they were cursed and doomed. They held no grudges.
The story now picks up with what I had already expressed on the back cover of this book (and, of which I’ve repeated herein, just before this Introduction) – that is, the very first thing that this supposed "heretic" said to my parents, after they formally announced to him that they'll be coming to his Church from then on, was: "There's no devil! There's no hell! And, there's no Santa Clause!"
"Well, now, wait just a moment!" my dad yelled back to him. "You can take away the devil from me, you can even take away hell, but don't take away my Santa Clause!"
Of course, he was kidding . . . Well, about Santa Clause.
Only a couple of years later, by 1972, when I was a year old, we began to attend this man's new Church (which dad, along with many others, helped to build from the ground up); and my dad, a few years after that, became his assistant pastor. Of course, this "new" concept for my parents (that is, this belief that there's no literal devil or hell) was starting to be preached in this brand new Church building, for the former Church that dad first came to, after his nine year stay in his first denomination, did not teach that the devil and hell were "metaphorical," and they believed that people who thought such things were wrong. But, even so, and before my parents ever made this major move from their first Church, the man who would become our new pastor (who was not the pastor of this other Church) had already believed these teachings to be just metaphorical, despite his own Church leaders' contrary beliefs. So, just as soon as this new Church was built, and he being the lead pastor of it, he certainly made sure that this teaching was well spoken of within.
* * * *
This was but a short history of how my family began to believe in this controversial teaching – that is, about the devil and hell being metaphorically understood instead of being an actual, living Being; or of an actual place which lies at a natural location – especially at the center of the earth. Certainly, as one must understand, dad didn't just accept this teaching blindly. As I have already pointed out, he was a deep studier of the Word, and he became convinced by his own endeavors therein . . . Of course (and, again, as I had pointed out on the back of this book), this is not going to be a book about my own Church history, nor of my parent's; but, the main reason for this brief exercise is three-fold. Firstly, I wanted to show the reading audience that this is a belief that wasn't gained overnight, nor of only a year of study on my part; or, that this is merely a random thought of my own that I've been experimenting and toying with lately. No. But, this teaching has been a part of me since at least 1979 when my dad first informed me of it. He first told me this at the age of eight – after I had attended the Salvation Army for a small while, and right after my two troop teachers surrounded me and scared me with the story about how the devil/satan/lucifer was thrown out of Heaven for being a bad-boy; and, how that he and his demonic cronies are in the center of the earth just waiting for new people to come down so that they can be tortured for eternity . . . So, naturally, since I began to actually study my own Bible back in 1986, when I was 15 years of age (not just read – but, actually studied it), I would certainly visit and revisit that subject many, many times.
Secondly, I wanted to show that this belief is not a revelation of my own – though, many things that I write about in a lot of my books, I feel, were given to me by God and not by man – as I had explained in the Introduction to my already published book: "In the Beginning: it was spiritual from the very start." Of which statement comes not from arrogance, but of which I'm sincerely saying that many subjects I cover I've never heard spoken on before I myself began to dig extremely deep into my own Bible studies, and started to see things within (opening up to me, really, in 1996), that I never heard man say . . . However, that’s not saying that nobody else knows of these teachings; I’m just saying that I never heard them spoken on before.
Finally, and thirdly, I also wanted to show how that some folks can overreact toward others who see things differently in the scriptures than they. Of which reactions (from Church leaders on down) I hit upon in another of my already published book in this Series, called: "The Church and the Five-Fold Ministry: Should we put our trust in man?" To which, therein, I had addressed the pros and cons of folks who have different doctrinal views; and, of which, I'm not going to repeat herein because that's really not our current subject. But, certainly, I'll be covering issues in this book that could certainly cause some contentions. Of such contentions, however, I really am not seeking! My goal is to try and express my views in as friendly and reasonable manner as possible. So, having said this, I ask the reader to give me a chance to explain my views; and, I promise that one of my endeavors therewith is in not trying to insult anyone's intelligence during the process. And, not only, but bearing in mind of what I've already expressed in my "Important Message from the Author" section at the beginning pages of this book, in that we all can make mistakes at times, and to try and have patience with one another, if at all possible, in our doctrinal endeavors and pursuits.
Therefore, the basic teachings on the devil and hell (as is explained in the pages to come), were taught to me by my dad. Later on, through my own studies, God certainly gave me more; so, and therefore, what's spelled out herein, in the following pages, are from my own years of studying for the benefit of others rather than just trying to prove that I'm right and everyone else is wrong.
* * * *
On a quick side-note, please know that the reading of the Explanatory Notes, at the end of each chapter, is of extreme importance to the understanding of this book; for, without them, my thoughts cannot be complete. Certainly, they were added in as “side-notes” to the main topic; but, though only side-notes, and bits of extra information for completeness and thoroughness, they, again, are just as important as the main text within the chapters themselves. Therefore, without them, one cannot see my entire take on this deep subject. Perhaps when finding a Note reference within the actual chapters (for example: *1), save your place, then quickly advance to that Note for further detail; or, you can just read them after the chapter has been finished. I suggest the former suggestion, though, so that one will not forget why the Explanatory Note was needed initially.
Now, go on and enjoy my book 😊
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