Comfortable with hell

Discussion in 'Belief and Spirituality' started by Zenda71, Mar 26, 2010.

  1. ἔρως-φιλία-ἀγάπη

    ἔρως-φιλία-ἀγάπη Member

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    1 Corinthians 3
    13his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work. 14If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. 15If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.

    Revelation 20
    12The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.

    The purpose of the parable of the rich man and Lazarus is not to show that there is an eternal hell. It is to, just as the last verse of it says, proclaim that: "If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead." Besides that, a parable is merely a story that isn't necessarily true, like a fable. But just for fun, I searched up which word is used for "hell" in verse 23, and it is "sheol," understood to be the place where all souls go until the return of Christ and judgment.
     
  2. shawn

    shawn Well-Known Member

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    The gov't of Canada wrote that Louis Riel was a traitor and that is why he was hanged.
    People believed them as , well, they were the gov't after all and therefore have credibility.
    But it was all a lie.
    Certain powerful political groups had conspired together first to oppose the rebellion (as they called it), then to kill or punish the leaders, and then lie to the rest of the world about the facts.
    They finally changed their position and told the truth in the 1990's which was over a hundred years later.
    Big deal, it means nothing for the people who were oppressed and died for this treachery.
    But the point of this anecdote is that anyone in a position of power can write whatever they want and the average people will believe it.
    Very much like the doctrine of hell which is another load of crap altogether.
     
  3. Saltmeister

    Saltmeister The Dangerous Dinner

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    I do not believe there is a literal, absolute, objective or common hell. Like Dogbrain said, I consider it more to be a condition than a place. Hell is a literary construct. It is a label with a negative connotation. It is something to explore and contemplate (like God), not something to be defined.

    That is the effect in many Christian communities and churches, but I do not believe that that was the original intention behind the concept. I believe it was used as a motivational concept, not a method of intimidation. I realise that intimidation is a form of negative motivation and I do not mean that kind of motivation, but the kind that involves an honest and realistic reflection by the individual on his/her own attitudes and behaviours without any established rules or imposed standards. Each individual will decide for themselves what is appropriate. It was a gentle request to people to reflect on their lives, not to demonise, condemn and vilify what they were doing.

    Being judged according to the works you have done does not mean that you are subjected to an objective standard, but allows for the possibility that what makes you different as a person, as an individual will be taken into account, rather than one rule for everybody.

    Hell has no definition. First and foremost, it is a literary construct. Secondarily, you can make it into whatever you like. You could deny its existence. I can understand why people hate the idea of hell. People are repelled by the possibility of something as painful and distressing as that described in Christianity. Some may even think it ridiculous and pointless to contemplate.

    But if you want to get a taste of hell, why don't you just go to Africa or some impoverished slum? I think the truth is that we have always been in a position to experience hell. Hell has always been around. Hell can be conquered, but many people choose to avoid it in this lifetime. They never conquer it as a result. Luke 17:33 says that whoever tries to preserve his life will lose it and whoever loses his life will gain it. Maybe there is some truth to that. Face hell now or suffer the consequences of facing it later. Tragedy and adversity makes you stronger.

    There is injustice, persecution and oppression in this world. Injustice used to be punished. Improvements in technology and the quality of life in developed countries have given many of us the idea that hard labour (maybe with physical beatings) is no longer necessary. Maybe it isn't. Maybe spending the rest of your life in jail is bad enough.

    A justice system was set up to punish people for crime and injustice. Could hell not be God's instrument of punishment? Could it not be a way for God to catch criminals and evildoers who escape established earthly and human authorities? Is it God saying, "If you don't get caught by the justice systems of this world, you will be caught by me?"

    Maybe that was what the God of the Tanakh meant when He said, "the wicked say there is no God and keep doing evil." I think by denying hell, many of you are also denying the possibility of a cosmic justice system that catches the bad guys even if the humans couldn't hunt them down. So maybe you got away with ripping off millions of people but maybe you can't escape God.

    Obviously most people are not so bad to have to be pursued by a God for doing malign things. But if you live in Africa or some impoverished slum and you are betrayed and ripped off, your father killed by thugs and no reason was given, I think you'd think differently.

    If Africa is hell, if an impoverished slum is hell, God could banish a person to an Africa-like reality or an impoverished slum for an indefinite amount of time. This would be like the Immigration Department of a developed country deporting you.

    This might be a fit punishment for the people responsible for the American housing crisis, for baiting Americans into taking home loans they could never pay off because they didn't have a job. Can you think of any other examples of injustice in this world? The slave trade? Sweat shops? Labour exploitation? Wrongful eviction from homes?

    However, I do not believe that Jesus was joking.:) Hell as something painful and distressing was supposed to be something to contemplate, not a story or joke to be thrown at someone as something that could happen but was unlikely to happen because God was too nice.

    When you cross the road, you should look both ways, lest you be hit by a car, truck or bus. The driver could be very alert or responsive, but if they're drunk or distracted, you cannot rely on them being able to stop. I could joke about the risk of being hit by a bus and getting killed, but when parents and teachers warn kids to look out for oncoming vehicles when crossing the road, it is no joke.
     
  4. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    Hi everybody!

    I am quite comfortable with the idea of hell. But there are three non-mainstream ideas I believe.

    Hell is temporary, not eternal.

    I have to earn my way out of hell; getting out of hell is not a gift that someone bestows upon me.

    Hell is not punishment, it is a condition I create for myself. For example, I believe that when a tobacco addict dies, his or her desire for tobacco still exsists. (Why should it go away just because the person has died? It doesn't). I believe it actually increases after death (the person no longer has a dense physical body which will muddle his or her desires.) But he or she has no way to now satisfy his or her increased addiction. This is true hell.
     
  5. c0de

    c0de Vassal

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    It is clearly written in the Quran that people in hell will stay there "until Allah pleases"
    i.e. Not for Eternity

    There is even a hadith (attributed to Umar ra, AFAIR) that says that the
    longest period anyone will spend in hell is the time equivillent to 80 human years.
    Another says that a time will come when hell will be as a reaped farm field
    (no one will be left in it).

    As for the idea that anyone who does not accept islam is automatically sent to hell,
    the jury is out on that one, and only God can issue a verdict on it. Personally, I think
    only those who were in active/passive opposition to God's basic moral commandments
    (i.e. transgressors, muslim or not) will be sent to hell (to be reformed).



    -----

    With that said:

    Hell can be both a mental state and a physical reality.
    The two are not mutually exclusive.

    Many people experience it as a mental state in this life.
    Others will experience it as a physical reality in the next.
     
  6. Nick the Pilot

    Nick the Pilot Well-Known Member

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    MW, do you think hell is forever?
     
  7. Nicholas Weeks

    Nicholas Weeks Bodhicitta

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    Being comfortable with karma & its effects, since such are just, I am content with heaven, hell and anything else.
     
  8. Allogenes

    Allogenes Member

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    I do not adhere to such a belief and so cannot speak for myself, but from what I have heard and read, the history of Christian thought on the subject reflects a sort of dialogue or dialectic among discomforts... At some level I think most people, regardless of what their tradition actually says, have a feeling that if there is any afterlife at all, the good should be rewarded there and the evil punished. But this leads to anxiety - how can I know if I have been good enough? Is something I did bad enough to get me in real trouble? So most faith traditions try to comfort their followers, assuring them of God's grace, or the possibility of repentance, or whatever language each tradition uses. But this leads to the reflection: if even a wretch like me can be sure of being saved no matter what mistakes I have made or crimes I have committed, why should I think that anyone else is not saved?
    Calvin took the bull by the horns and asserted that just as God has irrevocably saved all true Christians, chosen them all by name before they were even created, He has likewise chosen everyone else for damnation - every one, by name, before they were created. This was actually a great comfort to some; others find the idea monstrous. The equal and opposite reaction to it, Universalism, agrees with Calvin that salvation is a free, unearned and undeserved gift of God, but draws the conclusion that everyone receives the gift in the end, and there is no Hell. But this also leads to consequences that many find uncomfortable - the prospect of meeting Hitler in Heaven is actually unsettling to many, and anyway most of us most of the time don't feel so wretchedly incompetent that we want our choices in life to amount to nothing... so most mainstream Western churches nowadays seem to say that God respects our free will, and so will allow us to reject His loving kindness and choose Hell for ourselves... so there has to be a Hell, but we are permitted to hope that few (or no) people actually end up there.
    It goes without saying that Scriptural passages can be found both to support and to refute each of the above options...
     
  9. ἔρως-φιλία-ἀγάπη

    ἔρως-φιλία-ἀγάπη Member

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    What a great system of "justice." What have we done; in what ways have we destroyed God, putting our twisted systems, thoughts, behaviours, and instincts into his own?
     
  10. Zenda71

    Zenda71 Well-Known Member

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    Well, I stopped checking this thread months ago and look what happened! :)

    Thanks for the replies. For me, hell is a temporary state and the term "hell" is a convenient short-hand for that state of intense suffering. I don't think it's something that only happens after a sentient being dies.
     
  11. Paladin

    Paladin Purchased Bewilderment

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    See what happens when we are left without adult supervision? :p
     

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