Skip to comments.Hell on Trial
Posted on 02/24/2014 5:17:08 PM PST by SoFloFreeper
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (18591930), the Scottish physician and author best known for his creation of the fictional detective Sherlock Holmes, once wrote, Hell, I may say has long dropped out of the thoughts of every reasonable man. He would get a lot of support for that statement today, and not only from those outside of the Christian church. The idea that untold billions of human beings, including many who would have seemed decent, law-abiding citizens, will spend eternity exposed to Gods unrelenting anger, is simply unacceptable to many people. Even some holding high ecclesiastical office have rejected the idea. John Robinson (19191983) the liberal bishop of Woolwich, whose book Honest to God reduced the Creator to the Ground of Being, said of the idea, [God] cannot endure that and he will not.
By far the most persistent attack on hell comes in the form of a question: how can a God of love send anyone to hell? The British philosopher and theologian John Hick (19222012) argued that hell was totally incompatible with the idea of God as infinite love. The argument here is perfectly straightforward: sending people to hell is not a loving thing to do, so a God of love could never do it. How do we answer that?
Gods love is beyond question, and 1 John 4:8 (God is love) confirms that love is an integral part of His very essence. Yet to isolate one of His attributes as a way of demolishing hell leaves us with a lopsided caricature of God. In fact, the dominant biblical attribute of God is not His love but His holiness; He is called by His holy name more than all other descriptions taken together. He has zero tolerance for sin. He is of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong (Hab. 1:13), a fundamental fact utterly ignored by todays permissive society. The question hells undertakers should be asking is, how can a God of holiness allow anyone into heaven? As all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23) and as nothing unclean will ever enter [heaven] (Rev. 21:27), they face a difficult task.
There is a sense in which God sends nobody to hell, but that people send themselves there. God has revealed his eternal power and divine nature ever since the creation of the world and all who reject this revelation are without excuse (Rom. 1:20). There is no law forbidding people to acknowledge Gods existence, power, holiness, love, and goodness, or to live in ways that honor him as God (v. 21). People have an optionand countless millions opt out of giving God His rightful place, not realizing that in doing so they are storing up wrath for the day when Gods righteous judgement will be revealed (2:5). J.I. Packer pinpoints this tragic truth: Nobody stands under the wrath of God save those who have chosen to do so. The essence of Gods action in wrath is to give men what they choose, in all its implications; nothing more, and equally nothing less. C.S. Lewis adds the chilling comment, I willingly believe that the damned are, in one sense, successful rebels to the end; that the doors of hell are locked on the inside.
Others reject the biblical picture of hell by saying that though God hates sin, He loves the sinner, and so could never condemn anyone to eternal punishment. But is this the case? I have traced thirty-three places in Scripture where Gods hatred is expressed. In twelve He is said to hate sinners actions (including the practice of false religion) but in the other twenty-one instances He is said to hate the sinner. One example covers all the others: we are told that [Gods] soul hates the wicked (Ps. 11:5).
Although God shows His love by pouring out His common grace on all peopleHe makes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust (Matt. 5:45)we dare not confuse this with the saving grace that enables sinners to see their desperate danger and to turn to God in repentance and faith. Those who see Gods love as eliminating hell are ignoring Gods justice and the fundamental fact that He will by no means clear the guilty (Ex. 34:7). As Packer says, It is not possible to argue that a God who is love cannot also be a God who condemns and punishes the disobedient.
Many reject biblical teaching on hell by claiming that condemning all unforgiven sinners to eternal punishment in hell violates the principle that a penalty should always fit the crime. How, they ask, can God punish a mere earthly lifetime of sin with suffering that lasts forever? Surely those who lead reasonably respectable lives will not be treated in the same way as mass murderers, rapists, child abusers, and the like? Both questions have straightforward answers. In the first case, time spent committing a crime is usually irrelevant in determining the sentence. For example, a violent, life-threatening assault may be over in less than a minute, but would less than a minute in jail be the right sentence for such a crime? In the second case, there are no little sins, because there is no little God to sin against.
The decisive issues are the nature of God and the nature of the sin, and every sin, without exception, is an offense against the majesty and authority of our Creator. What is more, even a highly respectable person has broken what Jesus called the most important of Gods commandmentsLove the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength (Mark 12:30)and is therefore guilty of committing the greatest sin. The Bible makes it clear that there are degrees of punishment in hellJesus spoke of those who would receive the greater condemnation (Mark 12:40)but no respectable sinner can take any comfort from this. Mans failure to give to God the glory due his name (Ps. 29:2) is an infinite evil deserving infinite punishment, and as in hell there is no opportunity or inclination to repent, Gods justice requires that it go on forever.
Yet another attempt to tweak the Bibles teaching on hell is the suggestion that when the Bible speaks of eternal punishment, it is the punishment that lasts forever, not the punishing; there comes a point at which God, in effect, says, Enough is enough, and ends the punishment by annihilating the sinner. But if annihilation is the goal of the suffering, what is the purpose of the suffering? This kind of scenario would condemn God as the supreme sadist. The suggestion also runs headlong into the Bibles clear teaching that those in hell have no rest day or night (Rev. 14:11). In his book The Fire That Consumes, the Adventist author Edward Fudge comes to the curious conclusion that although the wicked are not guaranteed rest during the day and have no certain hope that relief will come at night, this does not say within itself that the suffering lasts all day and all night. This sounds suspiciously like special pleading, to say the least.
All other ways of trying to limit the duration of hell collide with the simple fact that in a single breath Jesus spoke of those who will go away into eternal punishment while the righteous will go into eternal life. In both cases eternal translates the identical Greek wordaiōnios. Why would Jesus use the same word to describe the punishment of the lost and the life of the saved if He meant that only one would be endless? More than fifteen hundred years ago, Augustine wrote, To say that the life eternal shall be endless [but that] punishment eternal shall come to an end is the height of absurdity.
Nobody can think properly about the fearful reality of hell (let alone preach on it) and remain emotionally and psychologically unaffected. Yet hell is good news. It confirms that God is eternally sovereign, and that He has the last word about human destiny. It vindicates Gods character, showing that He is utterly holy and just. It guards the new creation against the possibility of ever again being invaded by Satan or infected by sin, and ensures that the new heavens and a new earth will be a home where righteousness dwells (2 Peter 3:13) and where Gods redeemed family will live in His glorious presence forever. It assures all the redeemed that in glory death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain, for the former things have passed away (Rev. 21:4).
It could even be said that the Bibles teaching on hell is good news for unconverted people. It alerts them to their appalling danger, and, in countless cases, leads sinners to seek the Savior and to find Him as He who delivers us from the wrath to come (1 Thess. 1:10).
I meant to post this Sunday, but forgot. :)
He who does not believe in Hell needs to move to Massghanistan.
People tend to create their own private hell right
here on earth. I’m over duality.
Hell exists, otherwise we wouldn’t have a devil named Baraq.
Infinite hell contradicts infinite love.
Finite hell, however, does not.
And finite can be a long, long, long time.
So does that mean you used to believe in it, but now you don't?
:: ducking and running ::
Unbelievers don’t understand the emotional pain the knowledge of God’s eternal wrath causes believers! We want others to know Christ and be saved to the uttermost! I’m slowly coming to accept that I must agree with God and respect any human’s choice to reject the Son. Still, we should plead with others to “be reconciled to God”.
:: ducking and running ::
Though a tree has it’s branches in heaven,
it has it’s roots in hell.
There being no duality, pluralism is untrue,
at least that is what the tree told me.
Do you think it was lying?
There being no duality, pluralism is untrue,
at least that is what the tree told me.
Do you think it was lying?
Talking trees always get into trouble.
Silent trees speak the truth with their roots and branches.
You're lucky your tree stuck to what it knows best.
The author may be confused.
“Gods unrelenting anger”??
Hell may be in fact, the individual’s conscious decision to turn his back on God.
that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;
Saved from nothingness?
“Infinite hell contradicts infinite love. Finite hell, however, does not.”
You have an unbalanced view of God if you only know of His love for He is also a God of wrath. The Scriptures do not teach God has infinite love for rebels. They do, however, teach of an eternal Hell.
Hell may properly be described as the complete absence of God, the source of all life, beauty, and fulfillment. Those who turn their backs on God will find that he will grant their wish and depart from them - eternally.
The place of Satan in hell is probably best told in Milton's Paradise Lost...Satan rejected God and Milton has him saying that he would rather rule in hell than serve in heaven.
Jesus talked about hell quite a bit. I imagine it is like a city run by democrats for 1000 years....
There is a hell but it is not forever. GOD is a GOD of mercy and he will not punish humans for all time. Those who do not accept him will be put to death from which there is no resurrection. There are many who say this is not supported with biblical passages but if you read revelation you will see that when John says talks about being thrown into the lake of fire he is referring to Satan and the angles who followed him. God does not change for man. He created man mortal, he created Satan and the angles who followed him as immortal. In the final judgment he will honor those creations. Any Man who does not accept GOD as the only GOD and warship him will be put to death (mortal) and Satan and his demons will face the judgment they were given when they rebelled against GOD, eternal damnation.
Sorry, don’t have time for “how many angels fit on the head of a pin” internet arguments anymore. Didn’t even have time to catch up on the pings from replies on the threads in question.
My Dad had a stroke on Valentine’s Day. Suddenly these “burning forever vs. annihilation” arguments seem small and insignificant.
Thanks for the provocation anyway.
I believe the teachings of an eternal hell are incorrect. I believe they are historical manipulations of genuine teachings for political purposes.
Infinite love is infinite - it has no equal, no opposite and nothing outside of itself. That's not an imbalanced understanding - infinity is not imbalanced. It is everything.
Not to mention that a human being simply cannot do enough wrong in any number of lifetimes, let alone one, to deserve infinite hell, under any system of law except that of a homicidal maniac. And God is not a homicidal maniac.
I don't think anything is lost in my understanding of justice. God is not mocked. Hell lasts as long as it has to, which I imagine is until the complete destruction of the spirit of evil on a person, no matter how long that takes.
How could a God of love continue a person's time in hell, once that spirit of evil in them had been destroyed by hell?
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none of us are “good” by ourselves or by anything we do. you don’ t win prizes for following the law - ie merely doing what is expected of you.
those God considers “good” are those covered in the perfection of their Savior Jesus. His righteousness is imputed/credited to us and we are able to be considered “good” by God’s standard, because of Christ.
nope it doesn’t.
for those that never wanted anything to do with God when alive on earth, and thought how terrible and awful it would be to live according to God’s design as put forth in Scripture,
being forced to live in heaven, like that, for all eternity, would be hell for those people.
God doesn’t force Himself on people. He knocks at the door to get them to receive Him, in a number of ways, but if they don’ t want to, and want to stay separate from God, He respects them enough as people, not to force them to be with Him. He would rather all come to Him but it’s their decision.
it wouldn’t be a free choice, and what kind of God would He be, then?
if anything, the existence of Hell proves God doesn’t force people to accept Him if they don’t want to.
Where is your Scriptural support for that view? You would be wise to believe the Word of God and not vain philosophy. If the Bible isn’t your authority you have a religion of your own making.
“Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.”
Also, where do you get the idea men stop sinning against God when they die? Do you suppose men in Hell suddenly love God with all their might? Do you believe God gives fallen men who have been cast into the pit a new nature free of sin?
But supposing men cannot sin in eternity, how long does it take a finite man to pay for a lifetime of crimes against an infinite being? Scripture suggests he can never pay that debt.
Depends on what you mean by heaven. Scripture is instruction for getting into heaven. It is not a description of heaven, except in the most general of terms. Shall the discipline last forever? Is there no release even in heaven? Or is heaven what pleases each person? Or is heaven he perfect collective, where everyone wants the same thing at all times?
Another question is whether it is possible to experience God's love and reject it. Or whether those who reject God, do so because they have never experienced it. It would seem that God's love is desireable over all other things. If that is true, then experiencing God's love should end the desire for anything else. If it doesn't, then God's love is somehow deficient in desireability, which is impossible.
But if people sin for lack of experiencing God's love, then who's fault is that? Shall God punish people forever because they never experienced God? In the alternative, shall God punish people forever because they found God's love deficient?
All of this becomes infinitely less important if hell is not infinite. If hell is not infinite, the focus shifts to the infinitude of God's love.
The same language is used for those who live with God eternally and those who die eternally.
Both experience their destinies for forever.
Seems like you’re not taking the Bible seriously.
Hope your Dad gets better.
Well, that certainly is a good biblical exegesis. < /sarcasm>
Which scripture? Which Bible? Do you think the differences between the various Christian Bibles is trivial? Are you willing to accept any Bible, from any denomination or translation, including Catholic and Protestant - it doesn't matter?
Of have you decided, upon your own personal contemplation, which Bible you believe is true, and which are false? And how is that not a religion of your own making? Because others agree with you? So the truth is subject to a vote?
We all stand alone before God. We do not do it as members of a church, or a congregation, or a family. We choose our beliefs, and we live them, and we are responsible for them. Even within the Bible you choose for yourself, which you believe is the standard foundation of religion, there is a history of people choosing this instead of that, throughout its history. Did they make their own religion, or were they inspired by God? If I choose this and not that, am I inspired by God? How would you know?
It always amazes me that people are not joyful over finding a path for themselves. No, it's never enough - it's always so important that others be wrong. And what are the accusations? The same as being carried out by the accusers themselves. Incredible.
Yes, it was, actually. Too bad it wasn't at a level you could appreciate.
>>I believe the teachings of an eternal hell are incorrect.
Existence is Hell.
Yes, I especially liked your specific textual references and Scriptural quotes, as well as the support you cited from the church fathers during the early centuries.
“It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me.” (John 6:45)
Believe as you will, I’ve been “taught of God” and I know there is only one way to salvation. Rather than forging your own path, you would be well-served to find that narrow way.
“Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (John 7:14)
You post as if we don’t have a reliable record of God’s Word. That’s far from true. I totally reject Catholicism. However, despite the subtle misinterpretations in their Bible, the narrow way of salvation is made plain in their text. Sadly, they reject it.
“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)
Why I Choose to Believe the Bible
Do you know the gospel?
The True Gospel
Well it's really a matter of understanding priorities, isn't it? I mean, to look at the entire Bible and consider every line of it perfectly equal to every other line, would mean that there would be no way to understand the relationship of the teachings to each other. That's why people study the Bible and don't just read it, so that they can understand relative importance, and there by interpret its applications to life. Right?
But fortunately, Jesus specifically told us the most important part of the Bible. The part against which every other part has to be compared, in order to understand meaning. The part which cannot ever be contradicted, because it is the root, the most important part, and the guide for all the other parts.
Specifically, in Matthew 22:37-40: "Jesus replied: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.
Could there be any greater gift in Bible study? Being told by the Savior Himself what is the greatest commandment, from which all law hangs? Against which ALL other teachings bow, and are secondary, and must serve by their interpretations (including, specifically "the church fathers during the early centuries")?
I, for one, choose not to defy Jesus' direct command in understanding His teachings. And I assumed that because you are apparently a Bible scholar, you would also be well aware of this fundamental and absolute basis for ALL interpretation, and that therefore I would not have to quote it.
But I often assume too much of others.
Life on Earth may be hellish a great deal of the time, but it is not hell. On Earth, you can still choose to help someone else, at the very least, even if you can no longer help yourself. And if nothing else is available, you can pray for people. And despite everything, love and goodness arise in the most unexpected times and places.
In hell the suffering is too intense for anything other than crying out to God in agony, if a person can even remember that. And there is no relief, and no break.
People have poor imaginations. It's quite a problem.
Well, you managed to get one scriptural text in a response that supports a non-Biblical POV.
Unfortunately for you, that quote by Christ does nothing to bolster your assertions regarding hell.
Maybe someday you’ll get serious regarding the Word of God.
And that truly is my hope.
Stuff your "true hope" and your brazen hypocrisy. Hope is for for people who reject the Word of God when it is presented to them. Or do you want to take the position that when Jesus said that that was the greatest commandment, He was mistaken? Who is not being "serious"? Or is that the phrase you use when people disagree with YOU? How annoying that must be, that they don't see that you ARE the Word of God.
Your trivialization and dismissal of the influence of what Jesus Himself named the greatest of all the commandments, and your inability to comprehend the influence of that fundamental definition on the rest of ALL of Biblical study, is a SERIOUS failing.
I "hope" you're actually speaking out of ignorance. Otherwise, some day you will discover to your horror that you will have hell to pay for your insolence in misleading Jesus' most precious teachings. What did He say about that? Oh yes: "whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
Ahh, an ad hominem attack. Looks like you’ve truly exhausted your evidence.
you forget that in heaven, we will be made perfect and we will no longer have a sin nature, we will not desire to do the things that we knew were wrong to enjoy while we were alive on earth as a sinner/saint. The struggles we have to fight our “old man” won’t occur because that part of us will be gone, and it will be an answer to our prayers and we will no longer have to fight against bad urges and desires.
as far as discipline goes there will be none because there won’t be a need for it. nobody who’s been cleansed and made perfect will need it because they will not have a sin nature anymore to be tempted and sin.
Given your posts you seem to have a very negative view on heaven and the afterlife. Maybe if you start out with the mindset/reference frame that God loves us, and is on our side, and give Him the benefit of the doubt, and you might as well as so far in your existence has He killed you? - instead of starting from a negative frame of reference focused on punishment and never-ending judgment (which is not what He’s all about), you might realize some different conclusions.
Matthew 22:37-40 is never exhausted.
And never deficient.
Jesus said so.
LOL. I argue that hell cannot be infinite, because God's love is infinite, and I "seem to have a very negative view on heaven and the afterlife"? And that is "starting from a negative frame of reference focused on punishment and never-ending judgment"? WTF? My entire position is exactly opposite of what you are talking about - specifically opposite.
LOL, whatever. Have your fun. After all, it's not like there are any spiritual reprecusions to creating FUD around God's love, right?
Go for it.
Let’s talk about infinite.
You are fixated about “infinite”. Infinite love.
God is a perfect person. As God He is infinite. In just about any way we would attempt to measure Him. Basically that’s why the term applies to Him in about all things, as He is immeasurable in so many ways. Love. Patience. Endurance. Mercy. Grace. Forgiveness. Strength. Power. Intelligence. Creating things out of nothing. Creating things that will live on forever from their point of existence. Self replicating life forms. Etc. The perfection of universal physical laws He devised the universe to work under. Infinite knowledge. Infinite existence across time, existing outside of time as He created time/space. Not bound by time and space. Not bound by His creation. Infinite wisdom. Infinite ability to sustain everything He made perfectly.
God is also a God who is perfectly just. Infinitely just. God set forth ONE RULE to Adam and Eve. An infinite God put forth one rule, an infinite rule. Do not do this one thing. A rule devised by an infinite God, is an infinite rule. Absolute. Perfect. Infinite.
Just one rule to live by. They broke that rule by their sinful behavior and breaking God’s infinite law.
When one breaks an infinite law, decreed by an infinite God, what is the logical result?
The logical result of breaking an infinite law is an infinite punishment. An infinite penalty. Breaking an infinite law brings upon the lawbreaker, an infinite penalty.
And God could have left it at that, and kicked them out of the garden and said when you two die, it’s over and you are separated from Me forever.
But He didn’t do that, did He? After an infinite, perfect and just God found His perfect and infinite law was broken, He did pass sentence, but immediately after that, He explained to them He would provide a way for them and their progeny to be able to be with Him, He would provide a Redeemer for them. A kinsmen Redeemer. This is the first reference to the Messiah, the Redeemer, the Christ. God would provide a way for every person to return to Him, if they so desired. The way would be there for everyone. Nobody has a harder time being saved than anyone else, it’s the same thing for everyone. No tougher requirements for some, no extra work for anyone, nobody can claim they earned any part of it. That’s the beauty of His solution. His way of salvation is a gift. You can’t earn it. It’s not possible.
It isn’t possible because a finite being breaking an infinite law, cannot on their own make things right. How does a finite being pay an infinite penalty? The finite being must pay that penalty forever because it’s an infinite penalty.
If God hadn’t provided a way out, a way of salvation and return to Him, I believe you could argue He would not be a loving God. But the solution He provided, HE ALSO PAID FOR by Jesus Christ living a perfect life, and offering that life on the cross for all of us. Scripture says the shedding of blood is required for atonement. Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, living the perfect life, shed His perfect blood voluntarily for all men, so that that if we believed in Him, His atoning, perfect blood sacrifice would satisfy God’s infinite justice, and pay for the infinite penalties of all of us.
The only other way we can pay is we pay our penalty ourselves. And if we don’t accept God’s solution, the one He planned so that we wouldn’t have to pay our infinite penalty ourselves, then He will let us pay it ourselves, forever. But if you don’t think that God is love, by putting forth a plan of salvation for us sinners whereby He Himself wound up paying the penalty for us, so that all we have to do is recognize it, recognize we need it, and accept His gift of salvation sincerely,
then there is nothing God can do to convince you He loves you.
Hell certainly is eternal
 And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand,
 The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:
 And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.
Those that want to imagine Hell out of existence need to read their Bible wayyy more.
Satan has been casting doubt on the truth of God’s Word since the garden. That’s his oldest tactic.