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Doctrine in dialogue format



The Parsonage


I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled?.

Have you ever wondered what the life of a minister is like? Well wonder no longer, because it's time for The Parsonagewhere you will experience a day in the life of Reverend Leopold and his wife Ermintrude Bach, patriarch of the perish.

In today's episode we find Pastor Leo making the rounds, visiting those in his parish. Listen:

"Good morning Mrs Philistine, Mr Philistine. I see I caught you at an inopportune time. But I wonder if I might have a word with you. It shouldn't take but a few moments."

"Certainly Pastor Leo. We're just organizing this overstuffed garage. It's amazing how many things a family can accumulate over the years. Please, have a chair. Would you like a glass of lemonade?"

"No thank you sister Philistine. I'm just fine thank you. What I would like to ask you, and as I'm asking everyone in the parish, is what your concept of hell is, that is to say, do you believe in hell?"

"You certainly have a way of tossing zingers at us Pastor Leo. Hell? I hadn't really stopped to think about it before. But yeah, I would say I believe in hell. I mean I never heard of there not being a hell, so I suppose it's real. How about you Marge? Do you believe in hell?"

"There have been times I thought this was hell, that is, this life. Yes, I believe in hell. I don't know if hell is like they show in pictures and in books or not, but I think I believe in hell. I guess when I stop to think about it, it doesn't make any sense to me. I mean I can't picture a loving God burning people forever, but if He says He does, then I guess He does. Am I making sense Pastor Leo?"

"Yes you are sister Philistine. Your understanding of hell is just about the same as everybody else's it seems to me. Hell is hard to define. We see it clearly in our minds until we stop to analyze it. Well, thank you, I'll let you get back to your work now and I'll continue my rounds. Have a nice day the two of you."

"Good morning sister Beadle. Enjoying the morning sun I see out here on the veranda. I'm glad to see your making good use of the sunshine we've been experiencing lately."

"Nonsense Leo. I'm not out here lollygagging like some kind of commoner. I'm studying those Plebes, trying to figure out how they can get away with being such slobs and yet no one does anything about them. So what is it this time? You don't come out this way without a reason. So tell me what your after and be off with you."

"Thank you sister Beadle. Yes, I do have a reason for my visit. May I sit here in this chair while we talk?"

"If you must then go ahead. Just don't make yourself too comfortable. Now, what is it your after?"

"I'm making my rounds asking people of the parish what they think of hell. Do you believe in hell sister Beadle? And if so, what is your perception of hell?"

"Certainly I believe in hell. Hell is the place God is going to send all those creatures that are worthless and causing trouble in this life. It's a just reward for the slovenly and the ne'er-do-wells. And if God doesn't send those Plebes to burn forever there just isn't any justice in this world."

"I see. Well, thank you for your response sister Beadle. I won't inconvenience you any longer. Have a nice day."

"Good morning Lanslo, Honeysuckle. I see the two of you are busy as usual creating a work of art. That appears to be the beginning of a child's gym set if I'm not mistaken."

"You hit it on the head Rev. That's just what it is all right. Not all I'd like it to be, but it ought'a do till somethin' better comes along."

"May I get you a glass of something to wet your pallet Pastor Leo? Maybe a glass of tea? And do sit down and stay a while. We always enjoy your company."

"Well thank you Honeysuckle, and yes, a glass of tea would be much appreciated. About this gym set, I suspect the two of you are a bit old to be playing on swings and climbing on monkey bars. May I ask what you plan on doing with this creation of yours?"

"Sure Rev. It's for that new family on the other side a' town, you know, the new folks with all the kids. The little woman an' me fig're they can use somethin' to keep the young'ns out from under foot if you know what I mean. Just a little somethin' t' help get rid a' some a' the junk layin' around the place. You know how it is."

"Yes I do. Things do tend to pile up over the years."

"Here's your tea Pastor Leo. And if I recall correctly you take just one spoon of sugar. If it's not to your taste, I'll get you another glass."

"This is perfect. Thank you Honeysuckle. If I may I'd like to get to the question I have for you so I can visit as many in the parish today as I am able. I'm taking a survey to see what people think of when they hear the word hell. That is to say, what do you think hell is, and do you believe there is in fact a hell as described in the Bible?"

"For myself I can't see it Rev. I know it's a livin' fact 'cause God said so. But for God ta' burn folks forever, makes no sense ta' me at all. I fig're there's ta' be a doin' away with this here body of ours for those what don't take on the Spirit if you know what I mean. God said ta' dust we'll return, an' that's what I think hell is. An' I think hell is the fires in this here life what we're supposed ta' go through to refine those who want ta' stay with Him, the Lord I mean. I reckon I didn't tell it as clear as I see's it, but maybe you got the drift of my meaning. The part what gets me Rev is how folks what believes in hell, I mean the fire burnin' everybody up like in pictures, can sit back in some easy chair an' not do all they can to keep from goin' to that place. Makes me wonder if they really believes what they say's they believes, if you know what I mean."

"I believe I do Lanslo. It is difficult to explain. As much as I've researched the subject I don't think I could have explained it any better. What about you Honeysuckle? What is your view on the subject?"

"I would have to go along with what Lanslo said Pastor Leo. I too think that for the Christian we are being refined here on earth as we go through the trials of life. Most of us avoid those fires, those trials intended to mold us and to shape us into the vessels God wants us to be. God said He will purify us as gold is purified to be suitable for His mansion, that is, His presence. This is what I believe Jesus and the Apostles endured. And this is what I imagine the Hebrew children experienced in the wilderness, and that they rejected, murmuring as the Bible calls it. I'm sure I didn't make myself clear. It's as you say, a very complex and difficult concept to understand. We really don't have a vivid picture of hell any more than we do of Heaven. I suspect God planned it that way so we will have to fall upon Him for understanding. That's my suspicion anyway."

"I do believe He did just that Honeysuckle. Well, thank you for your time. I'll be seeing you in church Sunday. Have a nice day."

1Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts. 2But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner's fire, and like fullers' soap: 3And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness. 4Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the LORD, as in the days of old, and as in former years. (Mal 3:)

49I am come to send fire on the earth; and what will I, if it be already kindled? (Luke 12:)

10And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 11I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: (Mat 3:)

8And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the LORD, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein. 9And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God. (Zech 13:)

20But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. 21If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work. (2Tim 2:)




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