The Instigator
AmericanDeist
Con (against)
Losing
6 Points
The Contender
ministerdarrell
Pro (for)
Winning
8 Points

Do Christians Go To Heaven When They Die?

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 3 votes the winner is...
ministerdarrell
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/9/2017 Category: Religion
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,726 times Debate No: 99754
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (41)
Votes (3)

 

AmericanDeist

Con

I'd like an intellectual debate about the final destination for Christians. The traditional belief is that they go to Heaven. However, I believe differently and will use the Bible to support my claim. The Pro needs to defend the belief about going to Heaven.

This debate will be 4 rounds long:
Round 1 = acceptance
Round 2 = stating your belief and using supporting Scripture
Round 3 = rebuttals
Round 4= rebuttals and summary

Note: I am an ordained minister with a Th.D. from seminary. That is not bragging, just an upfront statement so you know what you are getting into.

Thanks!
ministerdarrell

Pro

The Bible clearly teaches that when we die we go to one of two places, depending on whether or not we trust in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of our sins. Luke 23:42 records what Jesus said to the person who was crucified next to him about what would happen after he died: Then he said to Jesus, "Lord, remember me when You come into your kingdom. And Jesus said to him, Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise. Jesus said Today... not sometime in the future. The apostle Paul expressed confidence that when he died He would be with Jesus Christ in heaven. In his letter to the Philippian church he explained, If I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor; yet what I shall choose I cannot tell. For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. (Philippians 1:21-24) Another example is found in the book of Acts where Stephen is stoned to death for preaching the gospel: And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. (Acts 7:59) Notice how Stephen said receive my spirit... When our physical body dies, we enter a temporary period where our spirit and body are separated. While our dead body, or cremated ashes, are in the grave, our spirit is alive with God in heaven. The book of Hebrews indicates this when it refers to people in heaven as the spirits of just men made perfect. (Hebrews 12:23) So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord. (2 Corinthians 5:6-8)
Debate Round No. 1
AmericanDeist

Con

Since this is round 2, I will state my position and beliefs according to the outline I presented. I will save the rebuttals for round 3 and 4.

I do not believe that Christians (or anyone) go to Heaven when they die because the Bible NEVER makes that claim. I see you have already used Luke 23:43, and that was expected. I will address that in the next round.

For starters, it helps to understand the Koine Greek (KG), which was the language of the NT. English did not exist at the time. What we read today has been translated, transliterated, and formatted across multiple languages, all with the loss of cultural idioms from 2,000 years ago. The term heaven in KG is ouranos. That term has 3 distinct meanings, and has to be understood in context:

Heaven - the dwelling place of God
Heaven - the universe/cosmos
Heaven - the sky

That same term is found throughout the Bible, but all 3 contexts are used. Unfortunately, the 1611 KJV of the Bible butchered some of those translations and set a bad precedent with regard to the terms. Protestants often start with the KJV, and I am sure many of us grew up learning verses from that translation. Sadly, the KJV is not the most accurate translation out there. The Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS) were not found until the mid 20th century, some ~440 years after the 1611 KJV was written. Heck, archaeology did not exist at the time of the 1611 KJV. The translators had very few textual resources. When in doubt, they copied the Latin Vulgate of the RCC.

The biggest problem with traditional Christianity is the Book of Revelation. In chapter 20:11-15, it talks about the dead being raised and judged before God. Here are those verses:

[NASB]
Rev. 20:11 - Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. The earth and the heavens fled from his presence, and there was no place for them.

Here the term heavens (ouranos) is not talking about God's dwelling place. It is talking about the Earth and the sky above. They are done away with, because in the very next chapter God creates the new Earth and sky. The golden city of New Jerusalem comes down from the heavens [sky].

Rev. 20:12 - And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.

In this verse, the dead, regardless of their stature in life, are judged. Not judged when they die, but judged during this moment of resurrection. Quite literally, Judgment Day. So where were they up until this point in time, if not already in Heaven? The very next verse gives us that answer.

Rev. 20:13 - The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done.

All that died up until Judgment Day, are raised up. They are raised from the seas. They are raised up from their graves. That is what Hades refers to via the Greek; the dwelling place of the dead. The same concept can be found in the Hebrew of the Old Testament, when it refers to sheol. Death (dying) and Hades (graves) will give up the dead to resurrection and judgment. Simply put, when we die we go to the grave and await the resurrection and judgment.

There is another verse that supports this concept in Revelation. Ecclesiastes 9:5 which states "For the living know they will die; but the dead do not know anything, nor have they any longer a reward, for their memory is forgotten." The dead know nothing...not even the passage of time.

Rev. 20:14 - Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death.

Death (physically dying) and Hades (grave) are thrown into the lake of fire. This is symbolic for destruction, for we learn in the next chapter that in paradise there will be no more dying, and thus no more graves. Fire consumes. It destroys. The lake of fire in Greek is called Gehenna, and that is a symbolic reference to the burning that took place in the Valley of Gehinnom outside of Jerusalem.

That nasty 1611 KJV took Hades, Gehenna, Tartarus and Sheol and lumped them erroneously into one meaning: Hell; a place of eternal burning and torment.

Rev. 20:15 - Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.

This is going to be the kicker! People don't go to Hell for eternal torment. They get tossed into the lake of fire and are DESTROYED forever. This follows the same principle as above with regard to the destruction of dying and graves. Even 2 Thessalonians 1:9 talks about the destruction of non believers. "They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might." Being tossed into Hell (lake of fire) is not an eternal punishment of torture, it is destruction and being out of the presence of God in paradise! That is what is meant by punishment.

The concept of Hell as a place of eternal torment for those who are not saved, is simply not biblical. It was a control mechanism used by the Church. There was a GOOD reason why the Roman Catholic Church did not want the Bible translated out of Latin; only the clergy could read it by that time as it was a dead language. They literally held the keys to Heaven, and with it a LOT of power and influence. Remember learning about the Crusades? "Take up this quest and you'll be absolved of your sins!"

The only 3 beings that are thrown into Hell to be tormented forever are the devil (Greek = deceiver), the beast and the false prophet. You'll find that in Revelation 20:10.

So where do Christians go if they pass Judgement Day? Paradise on New Earth, which is found in Revelation 21.

21:1 - Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea.
21:2 - And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.
21:3 - And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them,
21:4 - and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away."

So what does all of this mean? The reason why I made the debate in the first pace, and what I teach in the ministry: we don't go to Heaven when we die, we go to the grave. After the resurrection and judgment, those who are granted life will go on to paradise on New Earth, with New Jerusalem being the golden, capital city.

Oh, and did you catch that New Earth will have no more seas (oceans)? That means that either this planet has a major overhaul, or it is another planet entirely (which is most likely, since the earth/sky were done away with on Judgment Day).

Straight out of the Bible. I'll stop there and wait for any rebuttals.
ministerdarrell

Pro

Consistent with New Testament teaching concerning "final things," the phrase "new heavens and new earth" stands for the saved environment, following the Judgment Day; this environment is more commonly called "heaven" (Mt. 6:19-20).

John wrote, "And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth are passed away; and the sea is no more" (Rev. 21:1). The expression "heaven and earth" stands for a place of existence " our familiar environment, i.e., land and sky. But what John saw was not the first heaven and earth. It was gone. So, he describes, in symbolic fashion, the place of the realm of the saved, where they shall reign "for ever and ever" " not a mere 1,000 years.

This environment of the saved is simply heaven. Paul wrote that our citizenship is in heaven (Phil. 3:20). The apostle also said that we have one hope, and that our hope is in heaven (Eph. 4:4; Col. 1:5).

In every respect, heaven will be characterized by newness. It is a place never before inhabited by Christians. It is the first time the saved, in a glorified state, will be in the very presence of God " face to face (cf. 1 Jn. 3:2; Rev. 22:4). This new state, where sin and death are no more, will be the eternal abode of the saved when the Lord returns, and the living are caught up with the redeemed of all ages to be with the Lord forever (cf. 1 Thes. 4:13-18).
So I agree with you although I believe it is safe to say that the new earth whether here or there is still worthy of the title '"Heaven" a place where God is.
Debate Round No. 2
AmericanDeist

Con

I'll start off my rebuttal by addressing your usage of Luke 23:43 - "And Jesus said to him, Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise."

The problem with reading it in English is that you assume the translators got it right. In the above translation, yes it would appear that Jesus told him that they would be in paradise that day. But there's a problem...Koine Greek does not use punctuation marks. There are no commas. That verse could be written another way in English and be correct: "And Jesus said to him, Assuredly, I say to you today, you will be with Me in Paradise." The comma was moved after 'today' which then puts the verse in future tense. This translation, or rather this punctuation, makes the verse line up with everything I said in round 2 about Judgment Day.

Oh, and did you notice that Jesus said Paradise, not Heaven? Paradise is New Earth, per Revelation 21, as we previously went over as well.

When Paul was writing his letters, and in the case you pointed out to Philippi in Philippians 1:21-24, he never once said that upon death he would go to Heaven. What he was telling them was that he would rather be absent the flesh knowing the reward that awaits him on that glorious day. The same theme is repeated in 2 Corinthians 5:8 where it says "we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord." What I have heard so many people say over the years about that last verse is a misquote. They say "...is to be at home with the Lord."

In Acts 7:59, he does indeed cry out "receive my spirit." What is not stated is when that spirit will be received. It is merely the last words of a dying man.

In Hebrews 12:23, which contextual version of ouranos is it talking about? Enrolled in heaven does not mean present in heaven. My son is enrolled at school, but he could miss a day because he is sick. All it means is that those names are in the Book of Life that Revelation 20 talks about. Isn't it amazing that everything keeps pointing back to Rev. 20 and 21?

When quoting the Gospels and the Book of Acts, bear in mind that those authors were anonymous, 3rd parties that were not eyewitnesses to Jesus. They are writing decades after the fact. You can check me on that by looking at the preface of each book in your Bible (if it has one) and look at the section of authorship. If that is not an option, here are some wiki links (scroll down to author):

Matthew: https://en.wikipedia.org...
Mark: https://en.wikipedia.org...
Luke: https://en.wikipedia.org...
John: https://en.wikipedia.org...

"New heavens" does not mean God has multiple mansions up in the sky or out in the cosmos. In the context that the Greek uses it in what you referenced, it means sky, not skies. The heavens, the sky above. Again, we are back to the sky and earth theme. That is in sync with what the people back then could visibly see while standing on the earth. They did not have telescopes. They saw land, water, and when looking up, the sky. You can't use a modern lens when looking at 2,000 year old writings.

The environment of Rev. 21:1 is not narrowed down to heaven. It very clearly states new heaven [sky] and new earth. Again, the mindset of a 1st century AD writer, using Koine Greek. We live on earth, not up in the sky. So shall we live on new earth, not in the new sky. That same chapter of Rev. 21 talks about New Jerusalem even coming down from the heavens [sky] and being on earth.

As to your final statement of "So I agree with you although I believe it is safe to say that the new earth whether here or there is still worthy of the title '"Heaven" a place where God is." would be more accurately referred to as Paradise, which is the term that Jesus used on the cross. That way you don't mistranslate the Koine Greek ouranos.

Old habits are hard to break, even if the habit had an erroneous beginning (KJV).
ministerdarrell

Pro

I agree with your choice in the usage of "Paradise" the new earth. We theologian get into serious debate over who , what and where Heaven or paradise may be. Like the thief on the cross I just want to be there. Thank you for your biblical analysis.
Debate Round No. 3
AmericanDeist

Con

Well, there's nothing to rebuttal from round 3 so I guess that's it then. Thanks for the debate.

As for my summary, I believe I have clearly demonstrated that Christians do not go to Heaven when they die, they go to the grave, await judgment, and then move on to paradise on New Earth. All of this is supported by those biblical verses that I quoted and used within proper context.

For those that don't like the concept of not going to Heaven immediately upon death, keep in mind that the Bible says the dead know nothing at all. So for those that die, the resurrection and judgment will seem instantaneous even though eons could pass by, because the dead will not feel the passage of time. The end result is the same, but with the correct location given based on accurate biblical interpretation.
ministerdarrell

Pro

I am very happy that you have won this so-called argument. The bigger issue is that you out of love, present the gospel message of Jesus Christ. I joined this first of all for the fun of it and also to learn and hopefully advance the word of God. I do not believe that God is please when we debate his word to prove whether we are right or not. What does this say to the unsaved community. I also attended school and have a Doctorates degree. It means nothing if I cannot effectively minister the Gospel which leads a man to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. I am never looking for the accolade of believing that I have won some silly debate with a Christian like yourself. Once again thank you for the experience and may God continue to bless you in your ministry.
Dr. Darrell
Debate Round No. 4
41 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by AmericanDeist 1 year ago
AmericanDeist
Admittance is the first step to recovery.
Posted by YYW 1 year ago
YYW
I am just the worst person ever
Posted by dsjpk5 1 year ago
dsjpk5
This is one of the weirdest debates of recent memory. Lots of drama.
Posted by AmericanDeist 1 year ago
AmericanDeist
This website is a joke. You vote how you feel, but then someone gets their panties in a wad, reports a vote they don't like, and the Mods can remove it. Then you have those like YYW that don't care that the opposition conceded the debate, they are going to vote bomb anyway just because they want their belief to win. Go do a Google search for debate.org reviews. The first site that talks about it has several people pointing fingers at YYW and saying how that person is just a troll and bully, and has driven DDO to the pits. I tend to agree.
Posted by whiteflame 1 year ago
whiteflame
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>Reported vote: JonHouser// Mod action: Removed<

1 points to Con (Conduct). Reasons for voting decision: While I disagree with Con's stance, I cannot give the win to Pro. Although it was not included in the debate, I believe that Jesus Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus gives a very clear picture of what happens after death. Con may be right that these two are "in the grave", and not "in Heaven". But they are not in the same place. They are separated by a "Great Gulf", with one in paradise and the other in torment, and the world was still going on because the rich man wanted to send a message back to his still living relatives. We can be fairly certain, therefore, that those who are "in Christ" will be in paradise from the moment they die until the Judgement.

[*Reason for removal*] The voter does not explain his decision to award conduct. The voter appears to award points based on arguments given, but the analysis given appears to chiefly come from the voter"s own knowledge rather than what was actually discussed in the debate.
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Posted by whiteflame 1 year ago
whiteflame
Yes, the fact that I made a minor mistake in posting where you chose to award points makes the entirety of my moderation stupid and terrible. I go through quite a few of these a night, and I am not perfect.
Posted by YYW 1 year ago
YYW
Whiteflame's astonishing incompetence continues. I did not give 7 points to CON. I gave 5 points to con. Three for arguments and two for sources. I did not award a conduct point.

This is why vote moderation in general, and whiteflame in particular, is a joke of a mod.
Posted by whiteflame 1 year ago
whiteflame
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>Reported vote: YYW// Mod action: NOT Removed<

5 points to Con. Reasons for voting decision: Objective win for PRO who cited correctly to verses in Philippians, Ephesians, and Colossians as to the eternal destiny of Christians upon their death. The cited verses speak clearly to the fact that Christians go to heaven, and disprove the alternative claim as would have been required to be proven by CON to win. Because CON failed conclusively to prove that Christians did not go to heaven when they die, CON must lose the debate. CON failed to provide clear and decisive authority, in particular, which contradicted PRO's explanation of what heaven is, and spoke only of "other events" which took place which had no relationship to the topic at hand. In fact, the authority CON cited directly supported PRO, which militates towards his loss. CON failed to provide evidence that "new earth," to which he claims paradise refers, was not heaven, as he was required to do to prove this claim that Christians do not go to heaven when they die. Sources to PRO because CON cited contrary authority.

[*Reason for non-removal*] The voter examines specific arguments from both debaters and make a decision on that basis. That is sufficient. Contrary to the report, this is neither a vote bomb (i.e. he has not awarded an excess of points without justification), nor is the voter required to exhaustively analyze every argument made by both debaters.
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Posted by YYW 1 year ago
YYW
I see that now.... was on my phone earlier.
Posted by AmericanDeist 1 year ago
AmericanDeist
@YYW

That wasn't me. I stopped feeding the troll hours ago.
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by YYW 1 year ago
YYW
AmericanDeistministerdarrellTied
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Total points awarded:05 
Reasons for voting decision: Objective win for PRO who cited correctly to verses in Philippians, Ephesians, and Colossians as to the eternal destiny of Christians upon their death. The cited verses speak clearly to the fact that Christians go to heaven, and disprove the alternative claim as would have been required to be proven by CON to win. Because CON failed conclusively to prove that Christians did not go to heaven when they die, CON must lose the debate. CON failed to provide clear and decisive authority, in particular, which contradicted PRO's explanation of what heaven is, and spoke only of "other events" which took place which had no relationship to the topic at hand. In fact, the authority CON cited directly supported PRO, which militates towards his loss. CON failed to provide evidence that "new earth," to which he claims paradise refers, was not heaven, as he was required to do to prove this claim that Christians do not go to heaven when they die. Sources to PRO because CON cited contrary authority.
Vote Placed by squonk 1 year ago
squonk
AmericanDeistministerdarrellTied
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: Reason for decision in the comments.
Vote Placed by zmikecuber 1 year ago
zmikecuber
AmericanDeistministerdarrellTied
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Total points awarded:33 
Reasons for voting decision: Testing