"WHAT ABOUT THOSE WHO HAVE NEVER HEARD?"
A Sermon By: JAMES KENNEDY,
A Critique By: L. Ray Smith
Oct. 1, 2000
Dear Dr. Kennedy:
From you sermon brochure "What about those who have never heard?" you evidently mean, "... those who have never heard of Christ?" (Page 1). Page 2: "Do you mean to tell me you believe that God is going to condemn somebody for simply not believing in a Jesus Christ he never heard of. Why, that is monstrous." You then say: "This is the ignorance defense."
Before critiquing your sermon on this subject, let me give you the Scriptural answer to What about those who have never heard? Answer: They will HEAR. Sermon over. Proof:
Let me add, that this "acclaiming" is the same "acclaiming" our Lord used when He said:
The connotation is always a willful acclimation. For this to happen, ALL must hear.
This verse plainly says that every creature in heaven, on the earth, and under the earth, will one day, "acclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord." But you say this is a "difficulty question." You say that many people feel it is an "extremely difficult question." Dr. Kennedy, it's theologians like you, who make this relatively simple question seem extremely difficult.
You also create a giant problem when you substitute a little catchall phrase, "The ignorance defense" in place of the real issue, which is, "What about those who never heard about Christ." You might suggest that that is "The ignorance defense." I'm suggesting that it is a smoke screen to divert your listeners' attention from the real issue: Complete ignorance of Jesus Christ.
By the next paragraph you drop the matter of "never having heard of JESUS CHRIST," as the ignorance defense and you interject this: "Ignorance of the law is no excuse."
Whoa! Back up a
minute. "So the ignorance defense will not work." You just got through
telling us on page 2 that: "... Not believing in a Jesus Christ he
never heard of... This IS the ignorance defense." But for the next
nine pages you tell us that: "ignorance of the law," "not believing
something," "ignorance of God," "ignorance of lying,' "ignorance
of wrong doing," etc., constitute the ignorance defense that will not
Your unscrupulous literary practices, Dr. Kennedy, reminds me of the illegal flimflam sales tactic of "bait and switch."
There is no clear line of reasoning or coherency in the above arguments. Why didn't you stick to your original premise? These tactics might score a B+ on a junior high school debate team, but they fall flat on their face in the light of Scripture and mature logic. And your constant substitution of "straw men" arguments in place of the obvious and real issue at hand is bewildering.
Page 3: "Of course the presupposition
of that objection ['What about those who have never heard -- those who
have never heard of Christ?' p. 1] is the idea that these people are
completely ignorant, and therefore it would not be right to condemn them for
something they didn't know about.
I think we both know why you tried to skillfully switch "God" for "Jesus Christ." If you had stayed consistent with your sermon premise you would have asked: "Are any people completely ignorant of JESUS CHRIST?" And, of course, the answer would have to be "YES!" And your sermon would be dead in the water by page three. Your scholarship is deceitful.
"What about those who have never heard -- those who have never heard of Christ?" This is a good topic for a sermon. "What about ..." is a little ambiguous, however. Maybe that's why your sermon is ambiguous. The similarity with which you answer this question and politicians answer questions is remarkable. You both avoid directness like the plague.
Billions of people are knowledgeable of billions of things: They are also ignorant of billions of things. So what? These ignorance arguments of yours are but distractions and smoke screens. Your listeners want to know: "What about those who have never heard of Christ?" Here is meat for a real sermon, Dr. Kennedy.
Well, "what about" those who never heard of Christ?
Most people won't need to plead the "ignorance defense," because God is going to do away with the "ignorance" part:
No "ignorance defense' here, Dr. Kennedy.
Very interesting Scripture. Not likely you will ever hear a sermon on these verses. Notice: God's people, Israel, are dead in their graves. They are not alive in Heaven. They are not alive in Hell. When God brings them out of their graves, they "live." That means they were "dead". "And ye shall know that I am the LORD." They didn't know that when they died and went into their graves.
Are these people returning from life in Heaven, to death in the grave, to life in their own land, and for the first time "knowing" who the Lord is, and for the first time having God's Spirit?
Are these people returning from life in Hell, to death in the grave, to life in their own land, and for the first time "knowing" who the Lord is, and for the first time having God's Spirit?
I do believe, Dr. Kennedy, that I have just presented a theological problem of gigantic proportions. According to Christian theology, it doesn't make sense that God would take people to Heaven, who never knew God, and didn't have God's spirit. On the other hand, according to Christian theology, it doesn't make sense that God would take people from Hell, and give them His spirit and a possession of land. And God further says:
According to Christian theology, do these people come back from Hell, or from Heaven? And according to your theology, why are these resurrected dead people coming back to "possess the land?"
As long as you teach that: man has an immortal soul, death is really life at a different location, hades is a place of suffering, Christians go to Heaven when they die, Christ is not the Saviour of the whole world, Satan is more cunning than God, and will win by a sizable margin, man has a "free will" which is more powerful than God's will, we are under the law that Paul says we are not under, we are not solely saved by grace, as there are things that can disqualify one from salvation, etc., etc., you will never be able to explain Ezekiel Chapter 37. God clearly tell us that it is His will to save everyone:
"... Our Saviour, God, Who wills [this is the very "will" of The Almighty Creator God] that all mankind [not some or a few, but all mankind] be saved ["saved," not condemned to eternity in Hell fire] and come to a realization [that's "knowledge," a dispelling of "ignorance"] of the truth" [part of which is the truth that God planned from the beginning to save all mankind through the Sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ] .
By ignoring the teachings of these verses, Dr. Kennedy, you accuse God of:
I don't know if you are a father or not, Dr. Kennedy; I am. I had two children. My youngest died at age seven. My oldest is married to a Doctor. And I have since adopted a third, who is always on the Principal's Honor Roll, and is usually picked "Student of the Year." I have done my best in loving and teaching them. Suppose you and I had the good fortune of having ten children. And suppose that nine of our ten children ended up in prison with life sentences for various crimes. Would you consider yourself a successful father? I personally wouldn't. I would spend the rest of my life trying to determine where I went wrong, not they.
Yet you, Dr. Kennedy, portray our Wise and Loving Heavenly Father as a monster Who has failed to educate and train most of His children. According to you it is "not incumbent" upon Him to save his children from eternal condemnation. If God wants to torture his children [what sane father would do such a thing to his children?] for all eternity, that's His prerogative. Such evil characterization of our Heavenly Father is blasphemy.
If you had a child, Dr. Kennedy, who never became a believer, and God gave you the honor of sentencing your child for his unforgiven sins, what would your judgment be? Would you sentence your own child to an eternity of torture in the flames of Hell? And does that mean you also approve of human torture, and "cruel and unusual punishment" for relatively minor crimes such as "lying" or "stealing chickens by night"? (pp 6-7).
Yesterday, one from your ministry called me and asked if I would pledge one hundred dollars or more to your campaign against homosexuality in the media. I declined. Although I realize that this is a growing sin in the world today, I do not believe that God is calling me to fight homosexuality in the media. This sin is described in Rom. 1:26-27. If one reads down a few verses one fines other sins that are equally disturbing. And I do not believe that I am going out on a limb when I say that I can clearly see traces of these evils in sermons like this.
I will let my readers decide: Rom. 1:28-32:
These "closet" sins also need exposing.
It is you, Dr. Kennedy, that are suggesting that these billions of unbelievers will use all of these contrived ignorance defenses mentioned above, not they. Why, pray tell, would they plead ignorance to things that cannot save them? They would plead ignorance (and rightly so) to the one and only thing that can save them -- a knowledge of JESUS CHRIST, their only possible Savior!
Do you think that all of your listeners are so hypnotized by your rhetoric that by the end of your sermon they have forgotten the original premise: "What about those who have never heard of Christ?"
You quote only six Scriptural references in your attempt to prove that God will not save most of humanity. And, ironically, not even one of the Scriptures you quote has any reference to the final destiny of anyone.
The last Scripture you cited was Mark 16:15: "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature."
But you then paraphrased the next verse, Mark 16:16 by saying: "Those who believe shall be saved, and those who do not will be everlastingly condemned." (Emphasis mine). Dr. Kennedy, let's read Mark 16:16 together:
Where do you see the word "everlastingly" in that verse? You tried to make it sound like your statement was a quote from the Bible. The word "everlastingly" is not in this verse. The fact is that this word is not found in any properly translated verse in the entirely of the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures. Besides, being "condemned" is not a final or eternal judgment. Have you not read that our own Lord was "condemned?" Matt. 20:18:
Nowhere in the Scriptures is "condemnation," eternal.
Furthermore, the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures had no word that meant, "eternal," "forever," or "everlasting," or any word meaning "endless time." So you grossly err by inserting such an uninspired word into the translation. I go into greater detail proving this in John Hagee's portion of the enclosed booklet. This is a provable fact of history and etymology. This one marvelous fact alone exposes much of the depraved theology of modern Christendom.
Page 2: "Well, dear friends, what about our frequent boast of our own legal system wherein we say, "Ignorance of the law is no excuse'"? What about it, Dr. Kennedy? Is a slogan in the English language, grounds for condemning billions of people to an eternity of torture who have never even heard the name "Jesus Christ?" How easily you dispose of billions of brothers and sisters with your almost casual approach to their eternal damnation.
Your nonchalant, trigger happy attitude toward an eternity of suffering for billions of fellow human beings reminds me of that TV advertisement where several cowboys are gathered around a campfire. One of them reads from the label of an unfamiliar brand of salsa presented to them by the cook: "Made in New York City ," and another immediately yells: "GET A ROPE"!
And what mercy would you show to a liar from India and a chicken thief from the South Pacific. Hanging is too good for them. You would sentence them to eternity in Hell (pp. 6-7).
Ignorance of the law may not be an excuse, but it is nonetheless, a reason why some break a law. Ignorance of the law may cost you a $10 fine or a $10,000 fine: Ten days in jail or ten years in jail. But never a lifetime of inhumane torture in some subterranean dungeon, and certainly not eternity in hell fire! This is not just "cruel and unusual punishment;" this is the depth of Satanic depravity. Talk about "apples with oranges," you're comparing "atoms with galaxies"!
Page 2 again: "The truth of the matter is [it tickles me when people who write this kind of material use the word "truth"], God does take into consideration ignorance. We don't." What do you mean: "We don't?" Maybe you, Dr. Kennedy, don't. I do. My parents did. All people of character do. I can tell you from personal experience that police officers do. And Judges often take into consideration the fact that a person may have violated a law in ignorance.
But how does your statement that, "... God does take into consideration ignorance," actually function, seeing that you conclude your sermon by showing that those who sin in ignorance are nonetheless doomed to Hell?
Here's your statement: "Let me say that contrary to our law, God does take into consideration what one knows and what one does not know. Those who have received much, much will be required, the Scriptures says."
Dr. Kennedy, it is becoming very apparent why you many times just allude to Scripture, quote only a portion of a verse, or just paraphrase a small portion. I am sure you realize that most of your listeners will not take the time to actually look up every Scripture alluded to in your sermon and read it in its entirety. I believe it is important, however, for us to do just that. Here's the section of Scripture you alluded to above:
Two categories: Those who "know the will of the lord." And those who "do not know."
Notice that those who "know the will of the lord" and "do not make ready," (verse 47) "Will have many lashes." Dr. Kennedy, if these ones are to be cast into Hell for eternity, their lashes would not be "many," but "innumerable or unending." God knows the different between "many" (Luke 12:47), and "innumerable" (Heb. 11:12).
Notice that any, "... Who does not know, yet does what deserves blows, shall have "FEW lashes." Yes, the true God does takes into consideration the fact that they "didn't know his lord's will," and therefore requires only a few lashes, because even in ignorance they did some things that deserve chastisement.
But how does God take into consideration this fact of ignorance? Did the unfaithful servants in this parable know God's will? No! God says of them: "who does NOT know" (Verse 48). How then, according to your theology, does God "take into consideration" what this group of people "does NOT know?"
Dr. Kennedy, can you honestly look your listeners in the eyes and tell them that you believe that what our Lord Jesus Christ meant by taking into consideration their ignorance, and thus administering only a "few lashes," was that they will be burned with fire in Hell for all eternity without water and without mercy? If eternity in the flames of Hell equals a "few lashes," what pray tell do you have in mind for truly evil criminals? Maybe, a thousand eternities in Hell? On one hand your teaching is utterly silly, and on the other hand it is hideously evil.
Page 7: "So we have the light of creation, and we have the light of conscience, and God has given that much light to every single person who has ever lived on this earth."
Not true. You are forgetting about huge categories of people who have lived and never even saw the stars or creation. Many people have been born blind. Many people are mentally retarded. And what about babies who die in their infancy? What about little boys and little girls. Are all these burning in your fabled eternal Hell of fire, Dr. Kennedy?
The Scripture says: "For God's indignation is being revealed from heaven on all the irreverence and injustice of men who are retaining the truth in injustice, because that which is known of God is apparent among them, for God manifests it to them. For His invisible attributes are descried from the creation of the world, being apprehended by His achievements, besides His imperceptible power and divinity, for them to be defenseless, because, knowing God, not as God do they glorify or thank Him ..." (Rom. 1:18-21).
You conclude from this Scripture that: "So we see that in the Bible in numbers of places we are told that God has revealed Himself to all mankind in the light of creation" p. 4. "Everywhere around the world when people look up at the night sky and see the vast multitude of stars twinkling in the black velvet, they realize that these were not created by any man . . . All over the world people looking at the creation have come to believe in God ..." P. 4.
In what God, Dr. Kennedy? In the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, or the sun god, the snake god, or the god of the dead?
Are you trying to tell us, Dr. Kennedy, that all mankind, (every human that has ever lived), be it Australia, Africa, Asia, Europe, or the Americas and the islands of the seas, have at least once in their life, gone out on a starry night and said: "I do perceive that these stars testify to the one and only true Creator God. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I believe that I will worship this God in spirit and in truth. And surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life"? Or rather haven't many of them said: "Let us take our children (or our enemies) and cut their hearts out of their bodies while they are still beating and present them to the great god of the Sun, Moon and Stars"? Much archaeological evidence testifies to the later.
Let's look at chapter one of Romans again. There was a time when men acknowledged God by His marvelous achievements (Rom. 1:20). But, as they "held back the truth in injustice" (Ver. 18), and "knowing God, not as God do they glorify or thank Him" (Ver. 21), and "were made vain in their reasonings" (Ver. 21), and "darkened was their unintelligent heart" (Ver. 21), and "Alleging themselves to be wise, they are made stupid" (Ver. 22), it brought about some major changes.
These are hardly the quality of minds and understanding needed to make a rational decision regarding salvation. God has a plan (now there's a revelation for theologians) for humanity which includes many strong lessons. However, we have more than ample Scriptural testimony that God will save all His children from whatever situations they may temporarily find themselves. In order to "save" someone, one must first be "lost." God is very logical.
No, Dr. Kennedy, the aboriginals of all lands do not have a true knowledge of, neither do they worship, "... the true God and Creator that exists and so clearly manifests Himself in the twinkling stars at night ..." Page 8. The heavens declare God's glory, but not all recognize the heavens as such. The Scriptures also declare much about God, but how many really believe what it says? I have set forth declarations of God in these letters to you, Dr. Kennedy, and you deny them, just as heathens often deny the declarations of the heavens! They worship what they believe to be true gods -- rain gods, animal gods, sun god, etc., but not the true God and Creator. But let's be completely honest here. Even if they did worship the true Creator God, your theology still sends them all to Hell because, although they have a God, they have no Savior for their sins.
YOUR "IGNORANCE DEFENSE"
Page 8: "He cannot cry that he is ignorant because he knows full well that he has done wrong."
Actually there is some merit to the "ignorance defense," Dr. Kennedy, even when one "knows that he has done wrong." Let us notice how God dealt with this problem in Israel:
This last Scripture is most informative. Paul [formerly Saul] was not any ordinary sinner. God's spirit inspired Paul to say that he was the "foremost" of sinners. The very worst the world has ever seen. God converted Saul in the time it takes for lightning to flash (Acts 9:3-5). There is a specific reason why God chose to convert and save the world's greatest sinner. Notice:
God didn't do this just once, and maybe in the wild blue yonder He might do it again. No. This is now a "pattern." This will be duplicated countless times from here on. As God can save the worst sinner the world has ever known, in an instant, He can likewise save anyone He wants, anytime He wishes. Did Paul suggest that he was shown mercy because he had an "ignorance defense?" He sure did, although he didn't have to personally present it:
Now, the supreme example of God's mercy to the "ignorant."
Imagine that, the very ones who CRUCIFIED THE SON OF GOD, are now forgiven (they were fully forgiven even before Christ expired on the tree), while people in India who tell a lie (p. 6), will burn in the fires of Hell for all eternity, without as much mercy as a drop of water! And notice one thing more: These evil-minded cowards didn't even need to use the "ignorance defense." First of all, they have no defense:
So, yes, they knew Christ came from God, but they didn't really comprehend what they were doing when they killed Him. Jesus forgave and asked His Father to forgive the very ones responsible for His crucifixion. And our Lord did this completely gratuitously without even asking them for their defense, or their permission. Your theology, Dr. Kennedy, does not portray the true God of the Scriptures.
Dr. Kennedy, Paul didn't use or even try to use an "ignorance defense." Neither did Christ's murderers use an "ignorance defense." We are all "defenseless." We are all "sinners." That's why our Lord Jesus Christ died for us (not in our "place or stead" as you suggest, but rather "FOR" us -- giant different). Christ's sacrifice paid the penalty for ALL sin. We don't need a "defense" or a "defense attorney:" We have Jesus Christ, the Savior of the whole world, and especially believers, now (I Tim.4:10). No one can "win friends and influence people" like our Lord:
The Christian Clergy just can't comprehend this verse. The grace of God overwhelms. Many clergymen fear that people will use grace for a license to sin if they teach it. The reality of it is, that people stop sinning because the grace of God overwhelms them. Grace is power!
One more extremely profound verse in Romans one. If only great theologians would believe it. Unfortunately, they don't. Not totally. Okay, here it is:
Right here is where thousands of clergymen and theologians lie. In their teaching of this verse, they always insert the word "some," or "a few," between the words "save" and "sinners." I will make this so simple a five-year-old can understand it.
You say, Dr. Kennedy, that "There is not a person in this room, in this country or in this world who has not many times done that which he or she knew to be wrong. . . We have sinned and we know we have sinned" p. 8. "Prayer: Heavenly Father, I pray that your Spirit will give us a clear vision of the plight of the lost -- those who are on their way to ETERNAL PERDITION, to DAMNATION FOREVER ..." p. 14. In other words ALL are sinners, and billions upon billions are on their way to eternal torture in the fires of Hell.
Okay, Dr. Kennedy, here it comes. Here's the good news. Here's what you and most of Christendom are utterly failing to teach and are utterly denying. Here is the Gospel of Jesus Christ:
All have sinned. All are sinning. All will sin. The whole world is composed of SINNERS. But:
Christ came to save the WHOLE WORLD!
Your sermon denies I Tim. 1:15. You even mock those who would trust God to save all His sinning children. You disgrace the Sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ. You even mock your own clergymen who would dare to have enough "unseared conscience," or at least a measure of "natural affection" to question the Christian doctrine of eternal torment for ignorant unbelievers.
Do you ever listen to yourself, Dr. Kennedy? Pages 12-13: "Now there are Christians, even, in addition to the skeptics and atheists of all kinds, who would like to say, "You mean to tell me that God is going to condemn someone for simply not believing in a Jesus he never heard of ... ' There are even Christians who will make the same objection. They won't express it in such a saw-toothed fashion, but nevertheless, the same objection has been heard. I heard it expressed at the World Congress on Evangelism in Berlin by a noted Christian minister. Why would Christians say a thing like that?"
Wow! Why would even ... even Christians say a thing like that? Maybe, Dr. Kennedy, because there are some who haven't seared their conscience as yet and still have at least a flicker of "natural affection" in them. And just maybe there are some people out there who have a true love and concern for the welfare of all humanity, and not just themselves.
Your answer as to why even Christians question such a fate for those who have never heard of Christ is as follows: "Well, to get the answer to that question, as with so many other moral questions, all you need to do is just remember that we are sinful, fallen creatures. It is easier to simply declare that all people who are ignorant of the Gospel are going to go to Heaven." That is a ridiculous answer, Dr. Kennedy. Most sincere people who ask this question are not doing so because they are to lazy to contribute to the spreading of the Gospel. You insinuate that this question is stupid and especially stupid for a Christian to ask.
You say: "But if we can simply declare that since they are ignorant, they are going to go to Heaven because of that ignorance, and we certainly wouldn't want to enlighten them ... And that takes care of that" (Emphasis mine).
Dr. Kennedy, no one is suggesting that anyone is going to Heaven because of their ignorance. Why do you say that? Heaven doesn't even enter into this question. The question is why would a loving God send anyone to an eternity of torture for never having heard of his only possible Savior? This is a perfectly legitimate question. But, it is you, Dr. Kennedy, who haven't a clue to the true and Scriptural answer.
Why don't you ask that "noted Christian minister" from Berlin (ask ME), if he questions this hideous Christian doctrine because he is too lazy to teach the Gospel, as you suggest?
The whole world is composed of sinners. Christ came to save sinners. Christ will save the WHOLE WORLD. You can deny it all you want, Dr. Kennedy. Your sermon, your teaching, your theology, stands utterly condemned by I Tim. 1:15.
Page 9: "If you are a criminal and have been apprehended and hauled before this judge, you will not be happy to have a just judge. You would like one that would fudge a bit, and maybe wink and let you off for a little payment later on. But the Judge of all the earth must do rightly." This almost sounds like a clever argument, Dr. Kennedy. However, let's examine it a little closer and see that it is but another smoke screen
According to your own analogy, Dr. Kennedy, here is how this "just judging" of yours would actually operate: A man is found guilty of a crime witnessed by three police officers. In court, the man confesses and is sentenced to a $700,000 fine and life imprisonment in solitary confinement with no chance of parole. His crime? Failure to heed a sign that read: DO NOT WALK ON THE GRASS. How many sane people would consider this "just judging?"
Your teaching is sick. The "just judgment" that you claim your judge will meet out to those not knowing the saving power of Christ's Sacrifice will be trillions, and trillions and trillions of quadrillions of times more severe and insane than life imprisonment for "walking on the grass." So your "analogy defense" won't work, Dr. Kennedy.
I'll use your own words, Dr. Kennedy. If there really was a "hanging judge" in our judicial system so evil as to sentence a man to life in solitary confinement for walking on the grass, "I guarantee you there would be a huge outcry" (p. 11).
Page 8: "Anyone who simply worships the true God and Creator ... If that person would simply ["simply?" Nobody's ever done it yet] live according to the dictates [you mean works?] of his own conscience, he would be saved and would enter into Heaven." Let's have a couple of Scripture verses on that statement, Dr. Kennedy.
Your statement is untrue and unscriptural:
It is not our "evil" deeds that are as "filthy rags" to God, but our "righteousness" (Isa. 64:6).
Page 9: "We will not be judged about what we don't know ..." Dr. Kennedy, you constantly fail to distinguish between what is relative and what is absolute. What is temporary, and what is permanent. What is God's plan from His goal. The process from the conclusion. Your statement is false. God does judge regarding things that men are ignorant of. God, in fact, destroys His own people because of their ignorance:
These destructions and captivities are, however, only temporary preludes to their permanent salvation.
Being "destroyed" is not permanent. Destroyed and lost are virtually synonymous in the Scriptures. What is it that God does with or for destroyed people? He SAVES THEM. It would take twenty pages just to quote the verses showing that this is what God does. He is a "Saviour." He saves people. It matters not one iota that they die before He saves them. It is appointed unto all men once to die. Death is no barrier to salvation (Rom. 8:38). Every barrier concocted to prevent God from saving all humanity, is a humanly devised barrier. They are but inventions of depraved theologians. They are not Scriptural. Not one. I defy anyone to show me a properly translated verse that proves God will not save all of His Children!
I take considerable space in the enclosed booklet proving that the Greek word, aion, means a long period of time as an "age" or an "eon." It never means endless time, or eternity.
No honest scholarship can prove that aion means everlasting, eternity, or endless time. That most of humanity will suffer eternally in a place called Hell, is a Satanic lie. Once you read this booklet, Dr. Kennedy, you will ever be accountable for its contents. The God-given explanations of hades & aion, are quite simple. And with that understanding comes the total demise of your "Hell is Fair" doctrine.
Page 10: "... It is not incumbent upon God to extend it [the light of the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ] to anyone." Dr. Kennedy, is it "incumbent" upon God to send most of His Children to an eternal Hell?
Page 10: "All may come and find mercy at the hands of Christ." Now grammar never was my forte, however, I do remember learning the difference between "may" and "can." The word "may" denotes permission, while the word "can" denotes ability. So you say "All may come ... " Of what value is it to those who have never heard, to have "permission" to come to Christ, when in reality, they don't have the "ability" to come, seeing they don't know were to come or to whom they should come? Dr. Kennedy, go to a hospital of paraplegic children, and give them all PERMISSION to walk. That's mockery.
Page 10: You quote Matt. 20:15, "Is it not [right] lawful for me to do what I will with mine own?" You quote this verse to suggest that Christ is allowed to hold back what is His from anyone He wants to. First of all let us recognize that this is not Christ speaking in the first person as you imply, but rather Christ is giving a parable. Second, the context is not one of holding back what is His, but rather of giving too much for what would be deemed fair. The servant who works only one hour is given equal pay to the one who works all day in the heat.
This is by no means one of your greater blunders, Dr. Kennedy, but I do have to marvel at your little subtleties. Christ is showing in this parable that He is moving away from the keeping of law and works to be saved. As His teaching toward grace comes into focus, no works are required for justification and salvation (Gal. 2:16).
Next you say: "Grace is not owed to anyone. Otherwise, it very simply is not grace; it is debt. "Therefore hath he [God] mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he wills, He hardenth' (Rom. 9:18). Therefore, the light of Christ is not extended to everyone ..." Wrong!
Again, Dr. Kennedy, let's read Romans 9:18 in the whole context of its setting, and we will see that the final destination of those "hardened" is not eternal torture in the flames of Hell, but rather salvation in the Family of God. Notice:
Pharaoh was hardened as a dark backdrop for the display of God's power and glory. Some protest to God's operations (Vers. 19-21). God is the Master Potter and has a right to make vessels adapted for destruction, so that He can display His mercy on others (Vers. 22-24).
God is now calling sons out of the nations, while Israel [the hardened ones] "stumble on the stumbling stone" (Vers. 25-33). Paul's heart is set on their salvation, however (Rom. 10:1-2). "Everyone, whoever should be invoking the name of the Lord, shall be saved" (Ver. 13). Paul says, however, that this is not possible unless they "believe," "from one heralding," who is "commissioned" (Vers. 14-16). But Isaiah asks: "Lord, who believes our tidings?" (Ver. 16). Obviously not "hardened Israel." So God says: "I became disclosed to those who are not inquiring of Me" [the Gentiles] (Ver. 20).
Paul then says:
That is unthinkable to Paul. So he quickly assures us that:
Of course God foreknew everything that is happening in the history of Israel from their beginning. Although Israel as a nation has been hardened, and become "a stubborn and contradicting people" (Ver. 21), nonetheless, even in Paul's day God called a "... remnant according to the choice of grace" (Ver. 5). However,
Why does God harden Israel and callous them? So that He can torture them in fire for all eternity? Ridiculous. Paul answers his own question:
God uses evil FOR GOOD! Israel's hardened and calloused heart is preparing them for salvation! They will be so jealous when they see what God has done for the Gentiles.
Paul summarizes this whole process by stating:
And then what happens?
This is all temporary. Being "hardened" back in Chapter 9:18 is not an eternal judgment. Temporarily, for a grand purpose,
Notice that Israel is God's "enemy." What did Christ teach us regarding our "enemies?"
God our Father is not a hypocrite. Do you have the audacity, Dr. Kennedy, to tell us that Almighty God is going to torture in Hell fire for eternity, His "BELOVED"?
Here is exactly how this scenario plays itself out:
It is very clear, Dr. Kennedy, the ones that are "hardened" in Romans 9:18 are not forever rejected by God as you teach, but are rather the very ones that God "saves" in Romans 11:26).
Page 11: "The folly of the idea that there is an "ignorance defense', and the fallacy of it [don't knock it too badly, Dr. Kennedy, it appears that this "ignorance" defense is one of your inventions, which, of course, will never be used in the first place], can be seen if we apply a little logic to it. For example, turn the tape of the world's history backward. Today there are 2 billion plus professing Christians. Go back 2,000 years and there were none. So if we go backward, we find that nobody knew the Gospel; therefore the offer of mercy had not yet been offered to anyone at all." (Emphasis mine) Not true, Dr. Kennedy. Notice the following:
Comment: How could "ALL of the families of the earth be blessed" if most of them are (according to you) in Hell? Is it possible to be blessed in Hell?
And let's not forget one of the finest men who has ever lived, Joseph. This is just the book of Genesis. What of Moses, Elijah, and the seven thousand who wouldn't bow their knee to Baal, and all the Holy prophets?
King David is clearly promised salvation and a place of high rulership in the Kingdom of God, long before Christ is sacrificed (Jer. 30:9).
Thousands of saints in the Hebrew Scriptures knew God, walked with God, received mercy from God, were blessed by God, and, yes, some were even promised a future life with God. Dr. Kennedy, you can run your "tape of history" backwards, forwards, or even sideways if you want, your argument is still spurious.
Page 11 again: "In that case, if it is merely true that to be ignorant of the Gospel is sufficient to allow you admission into Heaven ..." Who has said: "Ignorance of the Gospel will allow you admission into Heaven?" Who? Who has purposed such a thing? The objection by many is rather, "Why would God send people to an eternal Hell before having opportunity to hear the Gospel?" Well the truth is, God will remove all ignorance of every kind and therefore, "ignorance" does not enter into the equation of salvation at all.
God "wills" [and I might add is fully able] to bring all into a knowledge of truth and salvation. For further Scriptural proof see: I Tim. 2:3-6, John 12:32, Phil. 2:10-11, I Cor. 15:22, Rom. 5:19, I Tim. 2:5-6, Col. 1:20, I Tim. 4:10-11, John 3:17, I Tim. 1:9, II Cor. 5:14, I John 2:2, II Cor.. 5:18-19, and the enclosed booklet, Exposing Those Who Contradict.
Page 11: "He [Jesus Christ] came into a world that was saved and has succeeded in sending millions or billions to Hell." You make this statement "tongue-in-cheek," obviously not agreeing with it. The word you take issue with is the word "saved." You don't believe that everyone in ignorance before Christ came was "saved." Okay, let's reverse it and see if you or anyone else thinks this revised version brings glory to God:
He [Jesus Christ] came into a world that was NOT saved and has [subsequently] succeeded in sending millions or billions [MORE] to Hell."
No matter how one views it or how one says it, bad theology is still bad theology.
I read this next statement to a few of my friends. One of them thought I was jesting with him and that I had made it up. I assured them I didn't make it up: It is right there in your sermon, word for word. Page ten:
"Therefore, the light of Christ is NOT extended [Webster's, to offer?] To everyone [the whole world?], but IS to be offered [Webster's, extended?] to the whole world [everyone?]." Emphasis mine.
Give us a break, Dr. Kennedy. You insult the intelligence of your listeners. What kind of double-talking, contradictory, unscriptural, nonsense, is that statement?
Page 10 again: "And thus we see the exclusivity of the Gospel, but also its inclusiveness as well." (Emphasis mine). Maybe you see it, Dr. Kennedy -- I don't. Besides, how can something be "exclusive" and "inclusive" at the same time? Do you really believe God's Word teaches contradictions? Nothing can be both hot and cold at the same time. What fellowship has light with darkness? "Exclusive" and "inclusive" are not synonyms, Dr. Kennedy.
Read I Tim. 4:10 very carefully:
Salvation (through the Gospel of Jesus Christ), is especially for believers, now, but nowhere do the Scriptures speak of salvation being "exclusive" whereby billions will never be saved at a future time (I Cor. 15:28).
This verse does not say: "... We rely on the living God, Who is the Savior of all believers, especially believers." No, "mankind" and "believers" are two different groups of people.
This verse is plain: "... We rely on the living God, Who is [is, not hopefully, possibly, or maybe] the Savior of all [all, not some or a few] mankind [mankind who are not believers, contrasted with ...] especially believers."
This verse tells us of two groups, and God is the Savior of both groups:
Now notice verse 11:
One Who is the Savior of "all," is One who "saves ALL" I hope this isn't too hard for anyone.
Therefore the God Who IS the Savior of ALL, WILL SAVE ALL! You don't actually "charge and teach" that God is the Savior of all mankind, do you, Dr. Kennedy? No, of course not. That's why you contrive these unscriptural sermons.
Your next few statements overwhelm me; completely overwhelm me:
"... No one is kept out because of his race or color, because of his social status, because of his education or lack of it. EVERYONE is invited to come. There is NO DIFFERENCE: ALL may come and find mercy at the hand of Christ." (Emphasis Mine).
Okay, then explain: "... EVERYONE [of these billions of heathens that have NEVER heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ] IS invited to come." How is it possible for everyone to be "invited to come" by never hearing the Gospel that invites them "to come"?
Notice your contradictory statement again:
"EVERYONE is invited to come."... But "The light of Christ is NOT extended to EVERYONE"
Both statements cannot be true, Dr. Kennedy.
You say: "... No one is kept out because of his race or color, because of his social status, because of his education or lack of it." (Emphasis mine) But, according to your own statements, if one is a black man of little education and low social status in Africa, who has never heard the Gospel, he WILL BE KEPT OUT! If one is a yellow-skinned woman of little education and low social status from China, who has never heard the Gospel, she WILL BE KEPT OUT!
Your arguments are so silly. We could say that no one is kept out because he has bad breath. No one is kept out because he can't carry a tune. No one is kept out because he doesn't like asparagus. This reasoning is silly nonsense, Dr. Kennedy. But according to you, Dr. Kennedy, everyone is kept out for not having heard the Gospel. Not hearing the Gospel is not a sin. Not of omission or commission.
Out of one side of your mouth you say:
Out of the other side of your mouth you say:
I believe, Dr. Kennedy, that when most people see your statements clearly presented, they will conclude that you contradict yourself and the Scriptures, often and badly.
Page 11: "So the idea that God owes to everyone some offer of mercy is totally foreign from ["to?'] the Bible." What about "the idea" that God gives willfully and graciously, without a thought of "owing"? Where do you come up with all these deceitful little statements and arguments, Dr. Kennedy?
Of course, God doesn't "owe" [as a debt] anything to anyone. What do you think you prove by such a foolish statement? Although God "owes" no one anything, He, nonetheless, will ultimately give generously and gratuitously His ALL, to EVERYONE. Absolutely no human being who has ever lived will be left out.
Here's proof positive:
These Scriptures are profound. These are the grand themes and truly wise things we should be teaching. When we see what God has done and what God will yet do, we need not concern ourselves with liars and chicken thieves. God will judge them and save them. Not even all of Christendom combined can screw up God's marvelous plan for all humanity. God does far, far more than merely give "some offer of mercy," as you suggest. God becomes ALL [all that God is and has to give] in ALL [all humanity, all in earth and all in heaven] (Col. 1:20).
Not only will all the "lost" be "saved," but being lost is a Scriptural prerequisite to receiving mercy in the first place: "For GOD locks up ALL together in stubbornness, that [or, in order that] He should be MERCIFUL to ALL [Webster's, all, adj. 2. every one]" (ROM. 11:32). No, Dr. Kennedy, God doesn't "owe everyone some offer of mercy," but He does give it to every one, despite sermons like yours to the contrary.
Not all people are depraved and vile. And those who are can be changed quickly when God desires. Most are just ordinary sinners like the rest of us. Not one of us can hold a candle to the sins of the Apostle Paul (I Tim. 1:15). And not all people commit adultery and steal chickens by night, to use your argument. What about pregnant women, teenagers, and little children, Dr. Kennedy? What sense or redeeming value is there in torturing such for eternity?
You emphasize man's conscience. I would hasten to remind you of another gift that God has given us called "natural affection." After listening to sermons like this, one can see how accurately Paul prophosied of our day when many would be "... without natural affection ..." (Rom. 1:31).
Our society is so callused that they accept the spoon-fed heresy of the day as if it were nothing to be questioned. As far as heresy goes, Paul had to deal with such things as to whether or not the resurrection was already past. Whether circumcision is required for gentiles. Whether it is right to eat meat offered to idols. I don't believe in Paul's wildest nightmares (if indeed he ever had nightmares), he ever thought that the institutionalized church of the end time would be teaching the world that God is the savior of only a few and the rest He will torture in some fabled Hell of fire. Paul might say, "No." "No!" "NO one would ever be deceived into believing such a hideous, unspeakable, Satanic lie!" I'm afraid it's true, Paul, they believe it by the millions and even the billions. And the self-appointed Pharisees that teach it often gloat themselves in it.
Page 10: "But because God extends it [salvation] to some does not mean He must extend it to any other. He must be just. He doesn't have to be gracious or merciful to any guilty sinner, any more than we would rejoice if the governor, having released one criminal in Florida should decide that next week he is going to empty the prisons in the state of Florida and you will be living with all of these murderers and rapists and child molesters and all of the rest. They are going to be dumped right into society. I guarantee you there would be a huge outcry." (Emphasis mine).
You do err, Dr. Kennedy, not knowing God or His plan. Actually, God "must" extend salvation to "any other" [and "all"] because His Word has already declared it: "For even as, in Adam, all are dying, THUS ALSO, in Christ, shall all [it's the same "all" that die in Adam] be vivified" [Gk. Zoopoieo, Giving life beyond the reach of death, conferring immortality. Greek-English Keyword Concordance p. 320] (I Cor. 15:22). And God does not lie (Titus 1:2).
Page 10 again: "He doesn't have to be gracious or merciful to any guilty sinner, any more than we would rejoice ..." This sentence structure is incoherent.
Regardless, here is your problem. You obviously have contempt for these prisoners, as you call them "guilty" sinners who would pollute our society if pardoned.. But you see, Dr. Kennedy, God IS gracious and merciful to sinners. That's His nature:
And when God's goodness and graciousness overwhelms sinners, guess what? They repent (Rom. 2:4). They don't pollute!
It is hard to believe you would use such a derogative analogy with reference to God saving sinners. Are you saying that the analogy of the governor of Florida emptying all of the state prisons of their criminals represents the Great Governor of the Universe being gracious and merciful to all the guilty sinners? If that's your analogy, how dare you degrade God's gracious dealings with His children in such a manner? And if that is not the parallel, then what is? When God graciously grants someone salvation, they do not go into society killing, stealing, and molesting little children. How is God's operation of saving His sinning children analogous to dumping hardened criminals back into society? Your analogies are inappropriate.
I believe that maybe your hypocrisy is showing just a little, Dr. Kennedy. You apparently will tolerate a governor pardoning one criminal, just as long as he doesn't pardon all the criminals in all the prisons. So if your analogy stands, then you likewise will tolerate God saving a few "guilty sinners," just as long as He doesn't ever save them all.
Dr. Kennedy, you don't need to use analogies. The Scriptures are clear without analogies. Besides, your analogies are "straw men." Your straw men analogies merely beg the issue and cause confusion. I don't believe for one minute that you use these ridiculous straw men analogies to clarify the subject: I believe you use them as camouflage nets to hide the truth behind.
If you believe that our Heavenly Father is not going to extend His gracious salvation to millions and millions of pregnant women, teenagers, and little boys and little girls, but rather is going to torment them in the flames of Hell for ever, why not just come right out and say so. I noticed how conspicuously absent from your sermon was any mention of little children going to the flames of an eternal Hell. Was that by oversight, or by design?
I seriously have to question how a man with nearly a dozen college degrees could possibly have such inept scholarship as this sermon testifies. Good scholarship could never produce the contradictory, illogical, unscriptural, hodgepodge of nonsense in this sermon. I can't believe that a man of your education and intellectual status is capable of scholarship this bad. I think here is the answer. When someone tries to present a falsehood as truth, of necessity, he has to use bad scholarship, contradictions, exaggerations, straw men analogies, etc.
I am sure you would have preferred to use good scholarship, appropriate analogies, honest logic, and tons of Scriptural proof. But you couldn't. Because none of those things would ever substantiate your sinister sermon. The computer axiom is most appropriate to your sermon, Dr. Kennedy: "Garbage in; garbage out."
Why else would someone waste a whole sermon using foolish analogies and arguments to show that people "sin." That people (all people everywhere) sin, is a given. There is no debate or argument here. It's like wasting nine pages trying to convince us that water is wet. No sane person denies it. You have taught us nothing. God created all mankind, and men sin (with a brain, with knowledge, with conscience), it doesn't matter; they ALL SIN.
Don't pride yourself, Dr. Kennedy, on kicking a dent in a "mole hill," when the real issue here is "Mt. Everest."
What people want to know is: "Since only God can save all sinners, will He?" God says "YES" many times in the Scriptures. You say "NO" and have not one properly translated Scripture to defend you. Not one. How deep into apostasy we have come (II These. 2:3) when a religion that claims to be followers of Jesus Christ, teaches on thousands of TV station around the world, that God is going to torture most of His children in fire for all eternity, and yet has not even one Scripture to defend such hideous heresy! It's unbelievable.
Page 13. You relay a number of items in a fictitious story, one of which is: "... About the fact that His disciples betrayed Him ..." Why didn't God kill the disciples right then and there, and send them all to Hell? There was a billion times more cause to send Christ's disciples to Hell after betraying Him, than there is cause for sending billions to Hell who not only didn't "betray" Christ, but never even heard of Him! So the disciples not only witnessed, heard, and experienced three and one-half years with our Lord, but they then betrayed Him. Still they are saved and the ignorant heathens are condemned to eternity in fire. It doesn't equate, Dr. Kennedy; it doesn't equate. I believe that you haven't a clue as to what you are talking about.
Page 14: "He [Christ] told them to go, and based upon what He had accomplished, proclaim to the world that those who trust in Him will not perish but have everlasting life."
The question is then posed: "But ... but Lord, what if they don't do that? What if they don't go and tell the world of what you have done? What is your backup program?"
You answer thus: "And Christ said, "I have none'"
"The responsibility rests with US." (Emphasis mine).
Admittedly your sermons tells us that billions have already gone to Hell, not hearing the Gospel. Christ's first program failed, He has no backup program, and you suggest that what ever few might be salvaged from this disaster depends on "us" (man). The remaining salvation of the world is dependent upon us reaching them with the Gospel. You are saying, in effect, that God's hands are tied. I am almost speechless. And that doesn't happen too often. You say: "And the responsibility rests with us." P. 13. I'll bet you can't give us a Scripture verse on that, Dr. Kennedy.
For one thing, I know for a fact, that the word "responsibility" does not appear in the Scriptures. Not even in the King James, not even once. Maybe the "obligation rests with us?" No. That word isn't used in the Bible either. Maybe these words aren't in the Bible because your teaching isn't in the Bible.
Here is what God's Word does say:
And you turn around and tell us that God, Himself, puts HIS trust in men ["us"] to accomplish the most awesome undertaking in the history of the Universe, the very salvation of the world. Dr. Kennedy, God does not put His trust in men ["us"] to save the world.
And the ones you fail to reach will automatically go to Hell for all eternity. I can only hope that your ministers aren't driving on recalled tires. Imagine a young African woman musing in Hell: "If it wasn't for that missionary's flat fire, I would have heard the Gospel and could right now be sipping cold lemonade in Heaven." Nonsense.
When you say that reaching the world is up to "us," are you not euphemistically saying that the salvation of the world is up to "us?" I certainly don't mean me "us", but rather you "us." I know that God didn't commission me to save the world, although He may use me to teach a few. Even if the "us" is the weakest link in the chain of salvation, it becomes just as necessary as any other link, seeing that it's failure causes the whole chain to fail and billions upon billions of wonderful human beings are lost to your fabled Hell.
It comes down to this: If you reach an ignorant heathen with the Gospel, he can be saved. If you fail to reach an ignorant heathen with the Gospel, he can't be saved. Since you have conveniently left God out of this scenario completely, ("'What is your backup program?' And Christ said, "I have none.' The responsibility rests with us." p. 14), it is the "you" part of "us" who really becomes the "savior" of the present day world. In putting oneself in a spiritual station this lofty, it's easy to see how someone could become a legend in his own mind.
The more I examine the doctrines of Christendom, the more I am struck by the similarity in arguments used by evolutionists and theologians alike. They both devise clever little erudite arguments, peppered with slogans of the trade. The evolutionists quote discoveries in science to support their arguments, even if those scientific discoveries totally contradict their ridiculous arguments. And the theologians quote the Bible even if many Scriptural declarations totally contradict their ridiculous doctrines.
THE GOSPEL OF CHRISTENDOM
The "Gospel" means "Good News." Imagine taking your gospel to some back village in China and telling them the following:
"Greetings brothers! We are here with truly good news. You have always been taught that your family members are with your ancient ancestors. Well that is true, however, they are not happy. No, they are actually in great pain and suffering. They are, in fact, suffering by having their flesh burned with fire. They suffer every second. They have no rest, no peace, no hope, and no food or water. The pain is so great that it would kill them, except that they are already dead. We realize how being dead and alive at the same time is a little difficult to explain. It requires a Doctor of Divinity degree to fully comprehend.
Anyway, the god that we represent and worship, is the very god who is torturing your beloved family members and ancestors. This is the same god that is going to torture most of the human race with fire. Our god likes burning helpless women and little children with fire. Of course, there is no purpose or redeeming value to it, it's just great fun.
When we get to Heaven, we will be able to watch their suffering as long as we want. I suspect it will be the number spectator sport this side of Heaven. Now, watching little heathen babies not yet weaned off their mother's milk, popping like burned bacon strips in a white hot skillet, might not seem like fun at first, but if god enjoys it, I guess we can sear our consciences until we too enjoy it.
We are here to tell you about this god of Christendom. Our god loves you, as long as you love him back before you die. You see, that's the down side of god. No one knows why, but if you should die before you love him, his love for you turns to hatred. Therefore, it is paramount that you should worship this god of Christendom or he will burn you with fire for all eternity."
Or maybe you would save this portion of the Good News until you have indoctrinated them a little further.
THE JUSTICE AND FAIRNESS OF HELL
The following trial and judgment is based on the teachings of the world's leading clergymen and theologians.
A theoretical Judgment Day for a young African girl named Suba, who died at age seventeen while giving birth to her first child:
I seriously question how you personally would react and feel about the conclusion of your teaching on this subject if it were you and your family who just happened to be born in one of those unfortunate nations where the Gospel never reached.
After being burned and tortured by fire for millions and billions and trillions of millennia, might not even you, Dr. Kennedy, reconsider your "Hell is FAIR" doctrine, while contemplating the ENDLESS succession of oncoming centuries of hopelessness, total despair, pain (constant mind-boggling pain), and the never-ending screams of your children and grandchildren?!
"... for ever, and for ever, and for ever ... and it's JUSTICE," shouts Pastor Hague, and "HELL IS FAIR," shouts Dr. Kennedy, and "Neither one of you knows "what in Hell' he talking about," shouts Ray Smith (Emphasis his).
It is unconscionable to think that either we or God could be happy with most of our friends, neighbors, relatives, and ancestors (God's children), suffering in nightmarish torture for eternity. Can't we realize that true blessings come only from blessing others?
You started your sermon by reading a dozen or so verses from Romans the first chapter. You ended short of reading verse 32. In your closing prayer, you say: "Heavenly Father, I pray that your Spirit will give us a clear vision of the plight of the lost -- those who are on their way to ETERNAL PERDITION to DAMNATION FOREVER ..." (Emphasis mine). First let me say: "Nice prayer." Second, let's go back to Romans the first chapter and read what God tells us is the penalty for all the sins contained in this chapter and compare it to your, "... eternal perdition, to damnation forever ..." Romans 1:32:
The word "death" never has and never will mean: "life in eternal perdition in damnation forever." Check any dictionary you prefer.
And it is this very penalty of "death" that God will ultimately abolish.
God's theology is not difficult or contradictory. God's plan for all humanity is marvelous beyond words to describe.
Your sermon is a farce.
If Congress would propose legislature regulating religious liberties in America that is written in the same lose, deceitful, contrived abandonment as the language used in this sermon, it would be you, Dr. Kennedy who would be the first to shout its profligacy from the rooftop.
L. Ray Smith