Skip to comments.How Hitler and Judas could end up in heaven
Posted on 06/04/2014 6:52:46 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
In certain schools of Christian thought, hell is not everlasting, but a more painful form of purgatory.
M any Christians presume that hell is a place where brutally painful punishments are inflicted on evildoers for an indefinite, and perhaps infinite, amount of time in the afterlife. Think of a medieval torture chamber with no exit or fire extinguishers.
But this, as I argued in a recent column, makes no theological sense. If morality is good, then doing the right thing must be its own reward and doing the wrong thing must be its own punishment. To think that a sinner deserves extra, externally imposed suffering presumes that morality isn't good and that those who commit evil deeds benefit from their actions which is another way of saying that those who do the right thing are fools.
The more theologically sound position is to hold that hell is a state of being, whether in this life or the next, in which we confront our own self-imposed alienation from what is truly good from God, in other words. This educative punishment can be extremely painful, but the pain flows intrinsically from knowledge of our own immoral acts. It isn't inflicted on us by some external tormenter.
That, at any rate, was my argument.
Let's just say that my readers weren't universally appreciative of it. A fair number of them apparently want very much to believe that a fairly large number of people are going to be made to suffer egregiously in hell for their bad behavior in life.
I suspect that these same readers, and perhaps many more, will be equally adamant that I'm wrong to follow the implications of my argument a few steps further to assert that Christians have reason to believe that the punishments of hell, whatever they may be, are temporary for all.
That's right: I think it's likely that if there is an afterlife, everyone even Judas, even Hitler eventually ends up in heaven.
Now, I'm perfectly willing to concede that several Gospel passages seem to describe an eternity of damnation for at least some people in the afterlife (Matthew 7:13-14, 25:31-46; Mark 9:45-48; Luke 16:23; John 3:36). Though I'd also like to point out that only in one verse (Matthew 25:46) does Jesus speak of something that could plausibly be translated as "eternal punishment," and in words (aeonios kolasis) that could perhaps more accurately be rendered as "eternal correction."
Then there are those contrary passages that seem to imply that God wants everyone and perhaps even all of creation to enjoy salvation (Romans 5:18, 11:33-36; 1 Corinthians 15:22, 28; Philippians 2:10-11; Colossians 1:19-20; 2 Peter 3:9; Revelation 21:4).
This tension not to say contradiction has led some thinkers to dismiss or argue away the implications of the latter passages. Of all the church fathers, Tertullian may have gone furthest in this direction, writing at length and in gory detail about the endless sufferings inflicted on sinners in hell, and even suggesting that observing these torments is an important source of the bliss that accompanies salvation in heaven.
The problem with this position is that it seems to be a form of what Friedrich Nietzsche called "Christian malice": A psychological malady in which the stringent self-denial that Christianity demands of its adherents leads them to feel intense resentment for those who are insufficiently ascetic. Nietzsche delighted in showing how this dynamic can turn Christians from preachers of love into hateful fanatics out to inflict suffering on anyone who dares to enjoy life.
Not all Christians have confirmed Nietzsche's critique as perfectly as Tertullian. Others have been driven by theological reflection to move in the opposite direction to speculate that all people might eventually enjoy salvation in heaven, no matter how awful their worldly sins may have been.
Origen in the 3rd century and Hans Urs von Balthasar in the 20th both affirmed versions of universal salvation. Yet I find the most compelling variation in the writings of the 4th-century theologian Gregory of Nyssa a major figure in the history of Christianity, though one more widely revered today by the Eastern Orthodox than by the Western churches.
Gregory maintained that hell resembles something like what Catholics have traditionally called purgatory: A place of sometimes excruciatingly painful purgation of sins in preparation for heaven. The pain is not externally inflicted as punishment, but follows directly from the process of purification as the soul progresses toward a perhaps never fully realized union with divine perfection. Gregory describes this process as a "constant progression" or "stretching forth" (epektasis) of oneself toward an ever greater embrace of and merger with God in the fullness of eternity a transmutation of what is sinful, fallen, and finite into the transcendent beauty of the infinite.
Hell, in this view, would be the state of agonizing struggle to break free from sin, to renounce our moral mistakes, to habituate ourselves to the good, to become ever more like God. Eastern Orthodox theologians (and, interestingly, Mormons, who hold similar views) call it a process of divination or sanctification (theosis) that follows directly from the doctrine of God's incarnation in Jesus Christ. It is a formula found in the writings of Clement of Alexandria, Athanasius, and other ancient theologians: God became a human being so that human beings might become like God.
All human beings.
One imagines that this would be a long, painful process rendered longer and more painful for those who have fallen furthest from God during their lives. They are the ones for whom the afterlife is truly hellish like a climb up a peak far, far higher than Mount Everest with little prior preparation or training, no expensive gear, and no Sherpas to help carry the load. But there would eventually be progress toward God, even for the climber who starts out in the worst possible shape, and from the lowest possible point in the valley below.
And at least there would be no dungeon pointlessly presided over by satanic, whip-wielding sadists.
....That's right: I think it's likely that if there is an afterlife, everyone even Judas, even Hitler eventually ends up in heaven.
I already posted about the Greek. The semantic range of an English word is what it is, but only the original languages are significant for exegeting scripture.
I believe the Bible clearly teaches Hell is forever.
Actually, it teaches that hell is temporary and is itself thrown into the lake of fire. And the lake of fire is to the “second death” what being a lampstand is to being a church in revelation.
It is a euphemism, typical of the language of Revelation. The clear message that you can get from it is that those that are not saved are removed from revelence to the rest of us. It is finished.
Good reading here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_conditionalism
Further, those who reject Jesus Christ and die in their sins will join him there forever ("where the worm dieth not and fires are not quenched.")
Some will try to twist this and similar scriptures and perform all manner of "logic" and creative reinterpreting of words to conclude that once the fuel (the dead) is consumed the fires will end. No verse of scripture is of private interpretation. That is why we use the Bible to clarify itself on this matter. Those tossed in the LOF will suffer ENDLESS torment. We see this from Revelation 14 for those who take the mark of the beast. (BTW this in not their exclusive punishedment, the punishment for all)
9And 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, 10The 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: 11And 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. (Revelation 14:9-11)
And we see that hell is NOT "separation from God" as some teach. The Lamb (Jesus Christ) is there in LOF. We learn from a correctly translated 2 Thessalonians 1:9 that "everlasting destruction" comes "from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his power." The Lord is the source of the destruction.
It is a “seperation from God” like it or not.
I’m a Christian first, always. The Bible tells me I can’t make deals with the devil to try to gain victory, but I must trust ONLY in the Lord as the source of victory.
And it makes perfect sense. When you make a deal with the devil, you don’t get success, you get burned.
Since the Bible commands me thus, I have no communion with the servants of Satan, I don’t care what they call themselves.
Conservatism as I knew it years ago was an illusion.
So-called conservatives either knowingly or unknowingly are just pushing towards new world order from a different direction than the left.
The proof is in the pudding - conservative / Republican politicans are selling out Christians as fast as they can.
No political leaders in American today at the Federal level want a Christian America. They all want a pluralistic America.
Once America became pluralistic, it was no longer a Christian nation.
Nowhere in the Bible does Jesus Christ say that it’s acceptable to him to accept the promotion of not believing in Jesus Christ.
Christ made it crystal clear - a man is either with him or against him.
Being a Christian nation does NOT mean forced conversions. Like the type of ancient Israel, strangers (non-Christians) certainly can live in a Christian nation. They would be subject to civil laws, they would not be under the authority of a church. The civil laws in a Christian nation would be compatible with the Bible, for example, pre-meditated murder would require the death penalty, no exceptions. The tough one to stomach for many people would be that they would have to not insult God publicly, i.e., commit blasphemy. They could be as athiest as they want, they just could not promote anti-Christ rejection of God.
Most any nation you visit, you need to live by THEIR laws. If the nation you VISIT as a stranger says it’s illegal to insult what they hold dear, then the visitor is well advised to just keep their mouth shut when they feel like publicly insulting what the nation they are living in holds dear.
But we don’t live in a Christian nation nowadays, we live in a pluralistic nation.
So our nation is headed towards either a) covenanting with God and Christian revival or b) God’s judgement.
You may note that I quoted Revelation in GREEK. Yes, I know that the Bible was not written in English!
Aside from this, see my previous post.
I would think some people get eternal punishment out of Divine justice. While God’s mercy is without limit God is also just and there are many references in scripture about a Divine judgement when the good will be rewarded and the evil ones punished. I can’t help but to think that Hitler was harshly judged for the evil he did. You also have to consider that Satan is a force of evil who seeks to take souls from God. I believe that the 9/11 hijackers were seduced by Satan and convinced that mass murder was an act of religious piety that would be pleasing to God. I am sure that they found that was not the case.
And BTW, what is a “correctly translated 2 Thessalonians 1:9” mean anyways?
So, do the words tormented forever and ever mean what it says, or should it be understood symbolically? if so, why?
There are many clear meanings one can glean from the writings in Revelation, but once one sees the churches as literal lampstands, they may be missing the deeper point of the scripture.
The deep point regarding the fate of the lost is that they do not receive eternal life in the presence of God, hence they are removed from the saved, and they will regret their choice.
To suggest that a person who reached the age of accountability, and was never taught about Christ before dying, is going to spend literal “time without end” in conscious torture does not fit with the personality of the God of the bible. Even in the OT time before Christ, if he was not pleased, people were simply destroyed, not tortured. Torturing is what despots do.
And remember, according to the bible the road is narrow, meaning most people will not be saved, meaning the fate of the lost is the default condition for most of humanity. It implies that God continues to allow people to be born by the billions, knowing full well that most of them will not be saved. And if the eternal suffering message is true, this makes Him kinda creepy and sadistic.
Sorry, it just does. But that is not the personality of the God of the bible in all his dealings with man. His wrath means death. I would that nobody comes to Jesus just because they are scared to death of what happens if they don’t. Rather, my God gives us a fair choice. Eternal life with him or the ecclesiastes life of “eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of your labor, and then you die.” The fate of animals and the pure natural man.
In this article, for example, Linker completely ignores what Jesus Christ and Christian scripture says repeatedly about life after death and who may enter Heaven and who may not. There will be a separation of wheat from chaff, of goats from sheep, and the weeds will burn for eternity.
That’s the debate. And you can find scripture to support both positions: 1) whether sinners are punished for a while, then destroyed utterly or 2) sinners burn in hellfire for eternity.
There is even debate about whether the translations have got the idea of eternity correct: is it a few aeons or is it really eternity.
And of course, there are debates about some sinners going to hellfire for eternity and others getting erased.
Some scripture to think about:
Isa 66:24 And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh.
Mat 3:11 I 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 3:12 Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.
Mark 9:43 And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched:
Mark 9:44 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.
Mark 9:45 And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched:
Mark 9:46 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.
Mark 9:47 And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire:
Mark 9:48 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.
And there’s always this:
“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”
So, why is the rich man conscious and in torment, needing Lazarus to come and cool his tongue?
This is insanely “not smart”, the whole discussion, right ?
I mean, really...
Does it make sense to profess a faith based on the Bible, then...
instead of studying the Bible to learn about that faith...
people start making up their own doctrine...
discussing how they might SURVIVE HELL ?
So (how idiotic is this) we’re implying that maybe it will be fine if we go to hell.
Maybe we can go to purgatory and then graduate to heaven.
Is purgatory taught in the Bible ? Sorry folks, it’s not.
But we certainly can spend the rest of our natural lives posting on the internet arguing that wicked reprobates might go to heaven.
Ain’t that smart ? And a great use of time, as well.
Never mind that in many places in Scripture we are specifically, clearly told on no uncertain terms that Christians continuing in our former sins prior to our conversion - will definitely mean we do NOT inherit the Kingdom of heaven.
This is not all aimed at you, cuban leaf, I’m just ranting in agreement with you.
I can’t resist adding that Martin Luther himself included the inherent immortality of the soul as one of the components of the “Roman dunghill of decretals”!
That is a first step, but is not sufficient on its own.
"You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe--and tremble!" (James 2:19)
So while believing in God is a necessary prerequisite, merely believing in God does not mean you are saved. You must still repent and accept the sacrificial death of Christ as atonement for your sins, and make Him Lord of your life.
I posted up-thread about this passage, see 16 and 25.
Revelation 20:11-15 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
Jesus talked plenty of hell and eternal torment.
Eternal means eternal......