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Old 06-17-2010, 08:49 AM
 
Location: Germany
1,647 posts, read 1,709,256 times
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I think few people can honestly and from deep heart say that they consider everlasting torment to be a just punishment for an average person; I think few people on the other hand might shudder to think that people like Hitler or Stalin will spend endless ages in hell; when I say hell in this context, I mean a place of everlasting suffering and torment, though this was not the original meaning of the term “hell”.

In mainstream belief most people seem to believe only utterly wicked persons go to hell that actually deserve it in their opinion, such as Hitler e.g.; I can imagine that many people prefer such a belief even over a universalist or restorationist belief; throughout my summary I will employ the later term to prevent confusions with Unitarian Universalism or something like “New Age universalism” of any kind.

The thought that one’s enemies and the villains of human history will suffer such doom might be appealing to many – even if they call themselves Christians, as long as oneself; and the common people, friends, workmates family members are hardly in danger of such doom. This is a rather comfortable belief in hell that causes no sleepless nights or too much sorrow; and is as I think the most widespread view held, this might explain why the doctrine of hell was popular in past ages and still seems to be in many societies.

Quote:
“How shall I admire, how laugh, how rejoice, how exult, when I behold so many proud monarchs groaning in the lowest abyss of darkness; so many magistrates liquefying in fiercer flames than they ever kindled against the Christians; so many sages philosophers blushing in red-hot fires with their deluded pupils; so many tragedians more tuneful in the expression of their own sufferings; so many dancers tripping more nimbly from anguish than ever before from applause.”
These were the words of Tertullian, a Latin speaking 2nd century “Christian” apologist from Carthage in Africa, the same theological school Augustine belonged to; that had the major influence in indorsing the doctrine of everlasting torment.

Maybe the belief in hell is vanishing, not because people do not any longer want their enemies to burn hereafter, but because they no more believe in an afterlife at all.

I will however address the more fundamentalist belief, that everybody who dies as unbeliever or with a wrong belief is doomed to everlasting torment.

This would include among others:

Teenagers, if not even children
The Jews killed in the Holocaust
Sincere and pious members of other religions, Jews, Hindus, Muslims
Poor men from 3rd world countries that never or only slightly heard of Christ
Victims of murder, rape, slavery, people who maybe suffered all their life long

It is hard to bear the thought that such people shall suffer evermore without relief and that a just God, I do not say an even loving God, would inflict such punishment.

When contributing my thoughts to this issue in a German forum, a guy made this reply that I translated into English:

Quote:
Spoken honestly, I get sick at the thought that an abused girl has to spend eternity in paradise with her tormentor. Even if he regrets bitterly, would God not have to totally turn her, that she would be anywise able to pardon him?
I will now give an example from my own personal background, it is not a made up story but what actually happened and made me investigating this issue, it is something very personal and I loved the person very much of whom I will write now:

I am German and living there, I am 24 years old now; at the age of 19 I got to know a 16 year old girl via internet. She later told me, that she has been sexually abused as a child, that she has been suicidal since the age of 8, that she took part in a Black Mass at the age of 14 and that she suffered terrible nightmares since then (and already before). She was not able to sleep a single night; I think it’s fair to say that she suffered all her life long. Her fate almost broke my heart. If she had committed suicide according to Evangelical doctrine she would have doubtlessly ended in hell where she suffered never-ending torment. This thought was unbearable to me.

If eternal hell were true, hell would be full of teenagers like her and people who had a similarly miserable life, which suffered all their life long and continue to suffer for all eternity. If this were true, there would be no hope for any kind of justice at all.

People often say that rapists for example deserve hell, but when they say so, they are not aware of the fact, that victims of rape often become suicidal and get psychical illnesses, they often become bitter and depressed. Most of them would go the hell together with their tormentors if hell were true.

Dear reader can you live with the thought that a raped 15 years old girl will go to hell and suffer for all eternity?

While I do not believe in hell, I do indeed believe that rapists suffer great divine vengeance. But divine justice primarily should restore the victims rather than to take revenge on perpetrators.

I do indeed believe that God has to change the victims of rape e.g. to heal their souls and make them being able to forgive their tormentors. Divine justice is able to achieve what human justice is unable to achieve, to reconcile victims and perpetrators with each other and to restore destroyed lives. Men can punish a murderer but they cannot restore the victim of murder, God can.

This should refute all arguments that divine justice makes the existence of an endless hell necessary to serve up justice for victims of violence because in many cases the victims would share the doom of the perpetrators. What’s worse that an abused girl has to spend eternity in hell with her tormentor - or that she has to spend eternity in paradise with him after they are reconciled both with God and each other?

Many people consider it offensive that even Hitler will ultimately be saved, but what’s the alternative? - Most of his victims were (unbelieving) Jews, communists, gays; they would be doomed to hell alike with Hitler according to Evangelical doctrine – can anybody believe this, does it not turn God in the devil of devils?

Nobody deserves paradise, so nobody can complain in paradise that Hitler will also be there, he will have suffered enough for his crimes when he will eventually be there.

More violence and suffering does not heal the victims of violence, only forgiveness and reconciliation can restore them. In my opinion true justice as one expects from God is only possible if all men are saved and everything what men have done to each other is judged.

Restorationists do not claim that all men simply go to heaven when they die, neither do I believe so.

I think everybody has to admit that the idea that any rational being has to suffer forevermore, no matter what he has done is horrible. I think we all once were ill or sad and I think everybody shudders at the thought that he will experience the worst moment of his live forevermore. I think nobody wishes this even his worst enemy.

Now where I think I have shown the unthinkable and horrible implications of that doctrine I turn to the bible.

It is often argued God’s holiness and justness demands such kind of punishment. As already shown I fail to see how holiness demands such kind of vengeance.

Scripture says the believers shall be holy, as God is holy. Torture, which is to torment others, is no godly punishment, nowhere in the Torah or elsewhere in the bible are believers told to torment anybody.

Leviticus 19:2

Speak to all the congregation of the children of Israel and say to them, You shall be holy; for I the LORD your God am holy.

1 Peter 1:16

Because it is written, Be you holy, even as I am holy.


Proverbs 12:10

A righteous man is concerned for the life of his beast; but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel.

Matthew 12:7

But if you only knew what it means, I want mercy and not sacrifice, you would not condemn those who are blameless.

Luke 6:36

Be therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.

Matthew 5:44-48

But I say to you, Love your enemies; bless those cursing you, do well to those hating you; and pray for those abusing and persecuting you, so that you may become sons of your Father in Heaven. Because He causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and unjust. For if you love those loving you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax-collectors do the same? And if you only greet your brothers, what exceptional thing do you do? Do not the tax-collectors do so? Therefore, you be perfect even as your Father in Heaven is perfect.

Matthew 18:21.22

Then coming up to Him, Peter said, Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Until seven times? Jesus said to him, I do not say to you, Until seven times, but, Until seventy times seven.

Cruelty, even against beasts, mercilessness and unforgiveness is unholy according to the bible. Now if all these things are unholy, but the holy people shall be merciful, even to beasts; and love their enemies and shall forgive more than seventy times how does this fit to the claim, that the most Holy One is forced to be the most cruel, the most merciless and most unforgiving entity in the whole universe, because His offended infinite holiness forces Him to inflict infinite conscious punishment on offenders?

Annihilation would be an everlasting punishment as well, but no, it is no punishment at all, as some people claim, when it is not conscious suffering; – is there the slightest love and mercy in this doctrine? However, are all these claims rational or more important, scriptural?

When the saints shall forgive more than 70 times, why should infinite holiness not make infinite forgiveness possible rather than infinite vengeance and retribution? Is everlasting torment not cruel and merciless? At least according to a human sense for justice it is; shall mortal man be more just as God? Shall a man be more pure than his maker? (Job 4:17), wouldn't it be unforgiving, not to forgive forevermore in all eternity? And is it something a perfect father would do, not to mention the question if it is love?

Ezekiel 18:32 says:

For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies, says the LORD God; wherefore repent and live.

If God has no pleasure in the death of the wicked, why should He keep them alive only to suffer everlasting torment, the bible does not teach the immortality of men's soul or spirit, so if there would any human suffer everlastingly, then only because it's God will and intention that they do so, but it isn't God's will (1Tim 2:4).
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Old 06-17-2010, 09:25 AM
 
Location: SC Foothills
8,830 posts, read 9,753,636 times
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Very nice and thought out post, Sven. I agree with all of it.
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Old 06-17-2010, 09:48 AM
 
6,221 posts, read 6,408,892 times
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Yes, great post Sven. Thankyou for sharing...
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Old 06-17-2010, 10:02 AM
 
Location: Seattle, Washington
8,435 posts, read 8,392,881 times
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Wonderful! The moral dilemma of this doctrine is astounding as I have witnessed in my own life.
Why would someone have faith in such a god of conscious human torture? What a waste of faith!
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Old 06-17-2010, 12:05 PM
 
Location: Cleveland, Ohio
3,381 posts, read 3,383,010 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by svenM View Post
Maybe the belief in hell is vanishing, not because people do not any longer want their enemies to burn hereafter, but because they no more believe in an afterlife at all.



I do indeed believe that God has to change the victims of rape e.g. to heal their souls and make them being able to forgive their tormentors.

More violence and suffering does not heal the victims of violence, only forgiveness and reconciliation can restore them. In my opinion true justice as one expects from God is only possible if all men are saved and everything what men have done to each other is judged.
I agree with your first paragraph above, and, you are exactly right on the rest of your post.

Who in their right mind would think more violence and suffering would heal victims of violence. Isn't that what God would have to do to most of this planet if ETers are right? Increase the suffering of those who are already suffering?

People around the globe don't even know what true love is! Not even close. WHEN are they going to understand? Here? On this planet? I don't think so.

LOVE is the only thing that can change a soul. Fear can make us do the right thing, but it is LOVE that makes us WANT to do the right thing. We love our enemies and love those who persecute us, because we SEE and UNDERSTAND the LOVE that conquers ALL!

We are imitating our father when we do these things. We are being made in his image, NOT the image of the beast.

I do believe that LOVING one's enemies and doing GOOD to those that harm us is one of the most DIFFICULT things to do on this earth. Darn near impossible, sometimes. But, LOVE is the ONLY thing that God is interested in. Without LOVE we are nothing.

The LOVE chapter: I Corinthians 13

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.

If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.

If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.

For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears.

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.

Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
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Old 06-18-2010, 12:38 PM
 
Location: missouri
1,179 posts, read 1,177,049 times
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Then I will waste my faith. The foundation of all this, a moral or/and reasonable structure really is meaningless except to the group who holds it (this fills this ubiquitous argument, and I trust no one's faith or feelings). Other groups differ, as do societies, etc, as they have different sense for the moral and rational. One can just as easily build a structure to support the opposite, an in between, etc. The question I have is besides your gut feeling in your structures based on the foggy moral and rational foundations that are unexplained, how can you verify this? Well, not wasting one's faith is evidently the answer.
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Old 06-18-2010, 05:55 PM
 
5,500 posts, read 4,418,503 times
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There is a time frame for finite creation...US. Seven days or seven thousand years (Psalm 90:4)...then "God's Divine Will" is realized. That ALL creation be drawn to his love...and that everything he made was "GOOD". Only then would the fallen angels be eternally separated from The Almighty. They witnessed CREATION...except when they themselves were created, therefore believed they were EQUAL to GOD and rejected his love/dominion on the heavens and on the earth.

No eternal hell for us finite beings, except for being refined by his fire...imho

"OUR FATHER WHO ART IN HEAVEN, HALLOWED BE THY NAME...
THY Will BE DONE ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN"

Blessings...
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Old 06-18-2010, 06:04 PM
 
Location: Cleveland, Ohio
3,381 posts, read 3,383,010 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ans57 View Post
There is a time frame for finite creation...US. Seven days or seven thousand years (Psalm 90:4)...then "God's Divine Will" is realized. That ALL creation be drawn to his love...and that everything he made was "GOOD". Only then would the fallen angels be eternally separated from The Almighty. They witnessed CREATION...except when they themselves were created, therefore believed they were EQUAL to GOD and rejected his love/dominion on the heavens and on the earth.

No eternal hell for us finite beings, except for being refined by his fire...imho

"OUR FATHER WHO ART IN HEAVEN, HALLOWED BE THY NAME...
THY Will BE DONE ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN"

Blessings...
God is reconciling things in HEAVEN and earth.......
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Old 06-18-2010, 10:07 PM
 
Location: missouri
1,179 posts, read 1,177,049 times
Reputation: 151
Mush-nothing said, nothing convincing, just gut feel
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Old 06-19-2010, 12:36 AM
 
Location: Nashville, TN
2,031 posts, read 2,687,893 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by allen antrim View Post
Mush-nothing said, nothing convincing, just gut feel
As usual
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