Discussion in 'Belief and Spirituality' started by Ahanu, Jul 4, 2012.
Yep, that's the way I read it.
I'm tracking with you guys....except hell and heaven are in the same place.... we all are existing in what we believe to be reality, illusion, metaphor, hell, or heaven...our choice.
Again, great questions. If people wanted to harmonize these various books in the Bible to make it "the word of God," all they would have to do is say Sheol is where the dead go before the final judgement. Christ ministered to these spirits in Sheol upon his descent after death. Since all have heard the word of God, all know God's truth about the afterlife. I'll explain more in a reply to the last question.
Personally? No. Some of it may contain a close rendering of what he said.
In the New Testament, the equivalent to Sheol would be Hades. See Acts 2.25-28:
“For David says concerning him [Christ], ‘I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken; therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; my flesh also will dwell in hope. For you will not abandon my soul to Hades, or let your Holy One see corruption. You have made known to me the paths of life; you will make me full of gladness with your presence.’”
This contains a reference to Psalms 16.8-11, so we have established that Sheol is the equivalent of Hades. Now read Luke 16.19-31. Hades is a place of comfort and a place of torment, so it is described as two realms with a "great gulf" in-between (Luke 16.26).
Christ descended into Hades after death (Ephesians 4.9). As a little kid in the Southern Baptist Church, I would listen to the preacher deliver the second-chance view, meaning Jesus' resurrected body went to Hades to preach the gospel to the dead--those dead before his first coming. After the resurrection, those in Paradise went with Jesus to heaven. Furthermore, the scripture says: "Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death" (Revelation 20.14). This means Hades isn't forever; it will be abolished after the resurrection of all flesh. Then heathens roast in the Lake of Fire!!!
Note: Lake of Fire = Hell
So, if I understand you correctly, compassion would not exist without hell on Earth?
Sure it would. When someone we love loses a family member for example. We feel compassion because we were designed to experience it. Hell exists (in part) so humanity might muster up enough compassion and resolve to actually make a difference in the recipients life. Hell is not required. It is merely a reality for some. We need to conquer and help others overcome it.
Hi, Thomas, you've written another great reply.
Jesus, according to Matthew, talks about "everlasting punishment," so a cessation of being would negate the awareness of punishment, no?
Hi Ahanu —
I have always had something of ask 'issue' with the idea of 'eternal punishment.'
If, as the doctrine suggests, one cannot change nor repent — that the soul is shaped and set (as marked by the case of the rich man and the beggar, Luke 16) then what is the point of punishment? And if directed towards no good end (and punishment is not itself a good) ... then it's bad.
But comments by Pope benedict XVI in his encyclical Spe Salvi offers another perspective:
Okay. How would you convince a fellow Christian using the Bible? For example, assume I'm a Baptist Christian. I quote the following verse: "And these (goats) will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous (sheep) into eternal life" (Matthew 25.46).
As an annihilationists, you believe that, because the sinner's soul ceases to exist, the sinner's state of non-existence for eternity is an act of punishment. What caused this state of non-existence for the sinner? If I'm reading your words correctly, it is Christ himself; you quote the following words: "Some recent theologians are of the opinion that the fire which both burns and saves is Christ himself, the Judge and Saviour. The encounter with him is the decisive act of judgement." The problem with your view is this: eternal punishment can't be defined as an eternal state of non-existence, for one would have to be conscious to actually experience the punishment of Christ. An author named Gomes says: "The mere fact that the wicked are said to experience punishment proves two inescapable facts by the nature of the case: the existence of the one punished, and the conscious experience of the punishment. If either of these two are lacking, then punishment is not occurring."
Annihilation is a one-time event, so how can the extinction of consciousness be read in Matthew 25.46, which asserts eternal punishment? Does not the same adjective (eternal) used to modify punishment also modify "life" and "God?" Why should a Christian believe the cessation of consciousness qualifies as eternal punishment? I don't think you really tackled this question in your last post, or maybe I just missed it.
That would be the second death--the lake of fire mentioned in the book of Revelation.
Regarding resurrection of judgment: John 5
24 “I assure you: Anyone who hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not come under judgment but has passed from death to life.
25 “I assure you: An hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. 26 For just as the Father has life in Himself, so also He has granted to the Son to have life in Himself. 27 And He has granted Him the right to pass judgment, because He is the Son of Man. 28 Do not be amazed at this, because a time is coming when all who are in the graves will hear His voice 29 and come out—those who have done good things, to the resurrection of life, but those who have done wicked things, to the resurrection of judgment.
30 “I can do nothing on My own. I judge only as I hear, and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.
A guilty conscience (resurrection of judgment) can be hell--renunciation and forgiveness (resurrection of life) is the cure. (Compare Romans 2 and Hebrews 10)
Notice how baptism symbolizing an act of renunciation is also referred to as a "petition for a clean conscience?" (1 Peter 3:21)
Hell is not required, so hell is a sort of scaffold for humanity to help others. According to you, if you take away the scaffold, humanity still experiences compassion. I think hell, defined as a state of suffering or loss of well-being on Earth, can be looked at as a prerequisite for a higher level of compassion.
As for hell after death, the issue seems unresolvable. It relies on so many shots in the dark. Assuming an intelligent being called God does exist, the universe would be a sham without life after death, because a life after death resolves the problem of suffering. Even senseless suffering, such as an accidental death through wrecking a motorcycle, reminds us of our mortal bodies and the imperfections of this world. My assumption is that our purpose is to rid the world of imperfections. For example, perhaps robotic, self-driving motorcycles could help prevent accidental wrecks that result in senseless death. This senseless death would act as a mini-scaffold in a purpose-driven world. Again, this assumes all suffering has a purpose and that all beings have a purpose. The old everything-has-a-reason mindset.
Now enter hell. Hell would have to account for the enviornmental factors, parental factors, and biological factors a person experienced while living. To me, this alone makes the choice argument suspect. I don't truly have free will. I didn't choose to be born, nor did I choose my skin color. If free will does exist, free will constrains what we can and can't do. Free will appears to have a ceiling.
Free will reaches into the moral realm too. For example, psychopaths can't just choose empathy; many just lack empathy because of the way their brains are wired--all conditions God allowed to exist in the first place, making God share some of the responsibility. How much choice did Eric Harris have in the Columbine High School massacre? We know Harris was a psychopath. Does God share some of that responsibility since he allows psychological flaws to exist in this universe? Furthermore, Harris killed innocent people. A just God would account for all of these things so that, in the end, it all works out for a higher good in this life or the next life.
Hi Ahanu —
I would suggest she or he try and 'put on the mind of Christ', the mind of its author and inspiration, and, an impossible as it might be, but nevertheless useful as an exercise, just for a moment, 'put off' their human mind?
Christ said,"Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do." Luke 23:34.
In Matthew: "Go then and learn what this meaneth, I will have mercy and not sacrifice. For I am not come to call the just, but sinners." Matthew 9:13.
And St Paul, who seemed to have got the point: "What will you? shall I come to you with a rod; or in charity, and in the spirit of meekness?" 1 Corinthians 4:21.
It seems to me man is free to reject the love of God if he so chooses, but that refusal is an act of human willing, not a sign of the Divine Will, rather it is evident that the will of God is that not one soul be lost.
I think in this respect Wil is right in quoting Elbert Hubbard: "we are punished by our sins, not for them."
That is not to say that the punishment is purely an imaginary state, something in the mind with no objective reality. Quite the reverse. It's a statement of what is, objectively, and in reality, the case. Separation from the Source of Infinite Love, and Infinite Being, is a very real possibility; if not, then the whole enterprise is a complete nonsense in the worst possible taste.
I would remind you that this is a Parable which opens: "Then shall the kingdom of heaven be like to ten virgins, who taking their lamps went out to meet the bridegroom and the bride. And five of them were foolish, and five wise." Matthew 25:1-2.
Does that mean that in His prophecy Our Lord is stating absolutely that half the human race will be told "Amen I say to you, I know you not." (v12)?
If that is the case, if half the totality of humanity is pre-destined to perdition, then nothing you nor I nor anyone else does in this life will alter that a jot.
Then God does not love His creature.
In John Our Lord says: "Peace be to you. As the Father hath sent me, I also send you. When he had said this, he breathed on them; and he said to them: Receive ye the Holy Ghost. Whose sins you shall forgive, they are forgiven them; and whose sins you shall retain, they are retained." John 20"21-23.
Now if that be so, then I would be bloody careful about 'whose sin I shall retain', because if God thought that way, then He wouldn't have sent His Son into the world in the first place.
And I would be very bloody careful about on whom I pass judgement, for a number of reasons, not the least: "Judge not, that you may not be judged" Matthew 7:1.
I would remind myself that:"You judge according to the flesh: I judge not any man" John 8:15, and ...
"And if any man hear my words, and keep them not, I do not judge him: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world." John 12:47.
So I read that Christ came to save the world from the peril of perdition, not to condemn, but to warn.
We however seem hell-bent (if you'll excuse the pun) on consigning souls to the pit.
And where is the Love and Peace of Chist, that "surpasseth all understanding" (cf
Philippians 4:7 and Ephesians 3:19), in that? Seems to me that such a heart is full of spite, not love, and loves the judgement, not justice.
I know that's a line I take, but I'm not dogmatic about it.
No, it's a consequence, it's not a punishment, it's an inevitability ... it is the 'justice', if you like, of natural law.
What I am saying is, to separate oneself from the source of life, the source of being, the source of existence, is to cut oneself off from the source. Like cutting oneself off from the source of oxygen. You're not punished by the elements for not breathing, but you will die if you keep it up.
So, philosophically at least, to cut oneself off means to cease to live, to be, to exist. I don't see how a soul in hell can be an experiential mode of non-existence.
And I suggest God wants people to love Him because they love the idea of Him, not because they're terrified of the idea of what might happen if they don't love Him?
No, it's the rejection of Christ, not Christ's rejection of the sinner.
"Therefore judge not before the time; until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts; and then shall every man have praise from God." 1 Corinthians 4:5.
Have you ever embarrassed yourself? I mean really, deeply? I'm not saying you have, I don't think I have (unless it's buried somewhere in my own 'Pandora's Box' subconscious).
But supposing it's like that? Supposing the heat and flame and whatever is that crimson flush of blood to the face? Suppose that pit is just me wishing the ground might open, right here, right now, and swallow me up? Supposing its not demons with pitchforks, but with placards saying 'Thomas crapped his pants at school' or 'Ahanu (fill in the blank)' ... I think you get my point.
You don't think it's pain enough? Then you ain't been embarrassed yet. Not properly.
It's that kind of fire. It's that kind of pain. It's that kind of (self)punishment. Maybe? Who knows? But that ... for eternity? God have mercy on my soul!
And He ... He is standing there saying "I forgive you" and "Come to me" and every nice thing in the book and, well, that only makes it worse, doesn't it?
It does ... if you won't let go.
The first thing to mention is the Eternal is not a measure of temporal duration.
Yes ... which is why I'm suggesting 'the punishment of Christ' is misunderstood.
Christ healed throughout His ministry, but He didn't punish anyone. He got very apocalyptic in His language about the inevitable if one didn't change one's ways, but nowhere does He say "I'm coming back and I'm gonna kick some butt" ... in fact in the opening of this chapter in Matthew we've discussed, it says He came back, and the unwise virgins missed the boat.
That the sinner was sent away not for what they did to Him, but for what they did, or rather did not do, to their neighbour-in-Him. Because that bit of Him-in-them (the sinner) would have been crying out to share the food, the cloak, the comfort, the shelter ...
How long is eternity? And the question is flawed, because eternity cannot be measured in those terms. The eternal is not infinite duration — it may well be in respect to the finite — but not, we speculate, in and of itself.
The second is that the guttering soul will be conscious of its passage from existence to non-existence, and however brief that moment might be, it will be eternally, in the eternal ...
Because there is no time in the eternal, so no 'one-time events'.
Why indeed? Because it's true? The problem is, most people don't think in abstract terms. In fact many might say, "OK. If after death, nothing, then what the hey, I won't know about it, so I'm going for broke right now."
Acording to the Christian John Piper, the Bible tells us people don't choose hell, and since this is the case, God throws people into hell against their will:
"Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire" (Revelation 20.15)
"And if your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell . . ." (Mark 9.47)
"They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth" (Mattheew 13.42)
I want to show you how I think Christians here would respond to the idea that people choose hell. John Piper's view of hell seems to be the majority view in my area.
I'll try to come back to respond to the rest with more John Piper thought. I need to see how Piper reconciles God's love with his view of hell.
Does Hell accept gays? Piper will need to know this This guy really takes the cake with some of his teachings.
quite seemingly panentheistic of you both....and I find myself in agreeance...
a lot of interesting stuff there brother....
Really? Well keep that to yourself! If word gets out that Pope Benedict XVI is a panentheist, then that will cause a fuss!
Hi Ahanu —
Tough. I can only sympathise.
I think hell is a state of mind like heaven can be.
The earth is God's work station (the potters wheel) and we (the clay) are being fashioned into vessels. Hell might be said to be the transition period between a lump of clay and finished vessel. The more we learn to love, and the more we understand about life, and the more God shapes our character with his spirit, the less suffering we endure. However, I think we will continue to experience growing pangs until we are completely mature, or until we are made complete as vessels of God's love and compassion.
I believe in reincarnation, so death isn't a bad thing. Death is merely a new beginning, thus it is nothing to fear. I myself cannot imagine a creator who would create humanity only to send some people to a never ending place of punishment for not measuring up. I believe we are simply being educated and fashioned through life experience into that which God created us to be, and as a collective whole.
One day and perhaps through many births, we will have developed the character and skills necessary to reach and maintain the kingdom Jesus spoke of. Life is our school. It's how we educate ourselves and develop wisdom. We do this though life experience, trial and error.
I believe we are here to learn compassion and how to love. I believe we are also here to learn how to live in harmony with the natural laws that govern our existence. Learning to love (a spiritual necessity) coupled with life (reality) will inevitably lead us to the kingdom as a people.
We are in this life together. There is little doubt about this. We are likewise only as strong as our weakest link. Surely this is why Paul suggests that we esteem the shapeless/unformed parts of the body as more honorable than those which have already taken form. Doing so will help ensure that we have the same care one towards the other, none being rejected as if they are not needed. We are clay in the potters hand after all, and those who have not yet taken the form of a vessel are in greater need than those who have. All humanity is needed in order to fulfill our destiny as one body.
I agree. However, life is structured in a manner that ultimately leads humanity to seek a more pleasant reality. We all have lessons we need to learn collectively and individually, but these lessons sometimes come at the expense of the more vulnerable among us. Life isn't fair for many people, which is one reason I think we need to come to a clear understanding of our purpose in life. We have our seat of emotion (spiritual) which enables us to feel. We likewise have our intellect, which helps us understand reality. Both our seat of emotion and our intellect enables us to grow and develop as a collective whole.
Hell is certainly a reality that humanity faces. The severity of suffering differs from person to person. Suffering is a stepping stone, an educator meant to help us desire higher achievement. We all have choices, but as you stated ... free will has its limits. I for one believe God is in control. To me God is the "All". God is the potter, and we are vessels in the "potter's" hand. Life on earth is the potters wheel.
I'm one who hopes that we will all one day look at our lives and say it was ALL worth it. Perhaps it will be the day we die and look back at how we grew and what we learned from our hardships, and from our shortcomings/mistakes. I think we will return to earth to further our education, to further our development as vessels. If I were a betting man, I'd say our memories will be wiped clean ... a system restore if you will, yet we will retain the wisdom we learned in our previous life.
We will no doubt experience more suffering and more unpleasantries, but we will continue to learn, grow, and develop until we reach a monumental achievement together. This is my hope: My hope is that humanity will realize paradise on earth as a united people. As far as I can tell, the change must start with each individual. It can be no other way. God develops us into vessels of his love through life. Love further refines us into who we were created to be.
In the end, life can be heaven or it can be hell. God is surely shaping all of us, but we often resist his hand. This only increases our suffering. To me, there is no heaven until everyone has been properly shaped into vessels, until we have all gained a proper education, and until we've learned to apply what we know in our daily lives. It comes down to learning how to love and waking up to our reality. To me, it's about realizing our God given potential.
The reason for hell? I think hell (transition period) and suffering exists as a stepping stone for a greater collective reality. As far as I can tell, it is our destiny to have turned hell inside out, and to create a heaven on earth together.
The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.
2 Peter 3:9
Its simple really. He didn't create us to perish and the solution is right there.
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