On the idea of hell, salvation, future life, etc. — C.S. Lewis has been quite instructive for me, especially his fiction such as “The Great Divorce” or his “Science Fiction Trilogy”. If you want to enlarge your God, read Lewis’ fiction. Also, for me, when people suggest “reading your Bible”, they are assuming usually that every genre found within there is literal, that they can pick and choose what they’d like to use, and that words attributed to the movements of A God are able to be understood with the human mind — something that God never implies to be true. LOL. (the books of Proverbs and Job come to mind). Also, sadly, when people claim there is a hell, they usually think this means for other people, whereas the scary thing is, if you want to believe in hell, Jesus claims it will be for those people who claimed to be “Christians” but didn’t take care of the “least of the least” (and he is not talking about giving a drink of water to a fetus, I’m afraid). I have found as someone who has long been a part of the Christianity of our times, that trying to actually get to the belief system that Jesus came not only to follow (Judaism) but to reshape (Repent and Follow Me) is very helpful with ideas about the afterlife. If I am forced to say what I actually believe — I think the Bible implies that most human beings will simply return to the dust from which we were created. I think, as Lewis does, that most of us choose daily whether we want to “go to heaven”, by the way we live into Christ’s words “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”. The more I actually believe in YHWH, and the more I actually learn who Jesus is (alive and present now) and what he says he wants in the present reality of this earth, the more that the thought of dying to self without the hope of Christ’s resurrection to new life, terrifies me. Because our cheap grace has implied that “salvation from hell” is the goal, whereas being reborn to a brand new humanity is what Jesus came to give us. It is only by knowing God and seeing that Jesus came to change the world, not take us to heaven, that we can know what it truly means to long to be with Them in Eternity — new heaven, new earth.
Bottom line — thanks for posting this. It is good to think and “discuss” and “come together”. This is our calling really, to learn more and seek more constructively. Thanks for the willingness to be vulnerable here. Shalom. Jane