Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Open Thread: The Doctrine of Hell

Hey guys, I want y'all to just let it all out. What do you like or not like about the Doctrine of Hell? Is it consistant with the concept of an all loving and merciful God? Is it not actually torture, but just a separation from God? Is it a choice for non-believers to go to Hell? Is it something else entirely? Are you offended when someone tells you that you deserve to be torured in an unimaginable way, forever? Theists, atheists, anybody, I want to know what you think. No rules.

58 comments:

PersonalFailure said...

Being told I'm going to suffer forever in hell is offensive, even if I don't believe in hell. Hello, you're telling me that you think I deserve eternal torture. Not nice.

As a concept, the slacktivist disproved hell using hitler. basically, the harm that humans can do, no matter how much harm that is, is ultimately finite. eventually, the pain caused by the Nazis will fade away. Hell is infinite. Therefore, infinite punishment for finite crimes is at best immoral.

You certainly can't reconcile that to a loving god. Especially when that infinite punishment is being meted out simply for not believing exactly the right way.

GCT said...

At least the OT god left you alone after you died. Jesus, who was supposedly the Prince of Peace and died for our sins, introduced the concept of a god that would torture you after death - actually this was attributed to Jesus, but we don't actually know what he said if he existed.

This is, by far, the most life dis-affirming and inhumane religious rhetoric that I know of - that we are all born guilty and worthy of eternal torment/torture, and that an all-loving god is ready, willing, and able to inflict such punishment on most of humanity.

Lorena said...

The Good

It has inspired interesting works of art and literature, like Dante's Divine Comedy, for instance. I also like the metaphoric meaning it provides when writing about horrible stuff.

The bad

That it isn't true, yet it is used to terrorize the naive. I dislike that Christians use it as a gun on people's head to convince them of God's love.

The ugly

In the third world, were unsanitary conditions and poverty are rampant, many who aren't "born-again" are said to be heading to hell.

Yet lots of well-off folks in developed nations whose life is so good as to make it possible to fathom a God of love are said to be going to heaven. Now, that's ugly.

The Rambling Taoist said...

I don't believe in hell as a specific place; more a state of mind. Unlike PF, I'm not offended in the least if someone suggests I'm going there. It's just their [misguided] opinion.

Mark Morrison said...

In the late 1980s, TV commercials in the U.S. asked, "What goes through the mind of a driver who is not wearing a seat belt in a head- n collision?" Then they showed a crash dummy having its head crushed by a steering wheel in a collision, and said, "The steering wheel!" Those were scare tactics, but no one complained because they were legitimate scare tactics. That’s what happens in a head-on collision if you are foolish enough to not put on a seat belt. To warn of hell is fearful, but it is absolutely legitimate, because the Bible says that it is a fearful thing for a sinner to fall into the hands of the living God.

Is Hell offensive? Yes it is, and it should be.

yunshui said...

I sort of agree with Mark (up to a point!). Hell is basically the Christian meme's ultimate deterrant. A religion which screams, "BELIEVE OR BURN!!!" is likely to win more adherents than one which claims, "well, you know, it would be nice if you joined in, but there's no real repercussiions if you don't..." As a result, the successful religious idea will be the one with the most horrible afterlife - and, with the hegemony of Christianity / Islam, we can see that principle in action. Even Taoism adopted a Hell (ten of them, IIRC - I dare say Rambling Taoist can fill in more details) as a prosletising tool at one point.

Just because it's scary doesn't make it real, though. I nearly shit myself the first time I watche the original Ring, but I don't expect a freaky Japanese girl in sore need of a haircut to clamber out of my telly any time soon.

Robert Madewell said...

A point I'd like to make is that using your seatbelt because you're afraid of injury isn't the same as being a christian because you're afraid of hell. They're both scare tactics for sure, but most christians would say that the second scenario doesn't do you any good.

I know that Mark Morrison, Ray Comfort, and Kenny Madewell would all claim that you can't get into heaven by pretending to be christian to avoid hell. What annoys me is that they'll use hell as a scare tactic, anyways. Even when they believe that it'll do you no good.

jason said...

does anyone here find injustice in, lets say, a life sentence imposed on a young man that is a convicted murderer and rapist?

GCT said...

What does that have to do with anything?

Anonymous said...

It,s a fearfull thing for a sinner to fall into the hands of god.
Christians belive they have the debate advantage inserting gods into all discussions as a given, having the advantage of the other debater off balance before they even start. Laws set in stone. Gods just are, end of discussion.
I know gods are real and we start here.
Their beliefs, gods, holly books,religions, each individual knowing the true god as no other.
If this little planet were as make shift as religion makes it out to be the universe would not exist.
Imagine the confusion, gods debating which one will rule, or maybe all of them. Where to put heavon and hell, even where gods reside. The gods deciding what kind of universe and how big it should be, should it start out from a singularity or just be infinite or finite having allways existed.
ibex

jason said...

gct,

it has to do with crime and the punishment of crime. so what say you - is it justice in your mind?

Mark Morrison said...

yunshui said,

A religion which screams, "BELIEVE OR BURN!!!" is likely to win more adherents than one which claims, "well, you know, it would be nice if you joined in, but there's no real repercussiions if you don't..." As a result, the successful religious idea will be the one with the most horrible afterlife - and, with the hegemony of Christianity / Islam, we can see that principle in action.

I have to disagree with you here. Look at Joel Osteen this clip is from his web site.We believe that your best days are ahead. God has great plans for you and we want to be there to help encourage you along the way. When you sign up, we'll send you a free gift, 30 Thoughts for Victorious Living, along with other inspiring resources. Let us know who you are and how we can contact you today!

Joel has had a lot of success with his be "a better you message". As has many other false teachers. But we must share the truth with you no matter how much it hurts. Mark Morrison

Mark Morrison said...

Robert Madewell said...
A point I'd like to make is that using your seatbelt because you're afraid of injury isn't the same as being a christian because you're afraid of hell. They're both scare tactics for sure, but most christians would say that the second scenario doesn't do you any good.

Robert, so your saying that we shouldn't warn people of danger ahead? I don't use Hell to beat people over the head but I would be irresponsible if I didn't tell you the truth.Mark Morrison

Mark Morrison said...

Robert said,

I know that Mark Morrison, Ray Comfort, and Kenny Madewell would all claim that you can't get into heaven by pretending to be christian to avoid hell. What annoys me is that they'll use hell as a scare tactic, anyways. Even when they believe that it'll do you no good.

You can't get in through the back door. Sorry it just doesn't work that way.

John 3:36
He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

GCT said...

Jason,
"it has to do with crime and the punishment of crime. so what say you - is it justice in your mind?"

Then you'll have to explain how eternal punishment of torture/torment is just. Comparing our criminal system, which does not convict on the basis of thought crime, nominally tries to rehabilitate, and is finite in length as well as does not engage in torture to a system whereby you are tortured eternally for finite crimes, has no hope of redemption or rehabilitation, convicts on the basis of thought crimes, is not based on actual morality (again, one can be moral but believe the wrong thing and go to hell), is all of our destiny by virtue of being born (unless some being decides to take pity on us) and is hidden from us until it is too late to decide is absurd in the least.

GCT said...

Mark,
You can dress it up in nice, fancy clothes, but the underlying idea of hell is an implicit threat. god is saying, "Do my bidding or be tortured for eternity." This makes him no better than the worst tyrant that humanity has ever produced.

Mark Morrison said...

GCT said...
Mark,
You can dress it up in nice, fancy clothes, but the underlying idea of hell is an implicit threat. God is saying, "Do my bidding or be tortured for eternity." This makes him no better than the worst tyrant that humanity has ever produced.

What bidding does Jesus ask for eternal life? What great task must you do to be saved? Repent and turn from your wicked ways.Simply accept Him as the Lord of your life. But you don't want to because you enjoy your sin. Your offended because your told it's wrong to do these wicked things. You are using man's standard of what is good to judge yourself. Yes you may be good by man's standard. But God will not judge you by man's standard.

ethinethin said...

You are using man's standard of what is good to judge yourself. Yes you may be good by man's standard. But God will not judge you by man's standard.You're right. God will judge you by bronze age standards.

I am constantly reminded of the supreme stupidity of the concept of what is "sinful" and what isn't and the idea of original sin.

While all humans have the capability for evil (see: Milgram experiment), this is not due to some mythological fall from grace. In fact, accepting the story of Adam, Eve, the snake, and the tree shows how infantile the Abrahamic religions are.

God is all powerful and all knowing. He creates people and puts them in a place of peace and joy. He also puts a particular tree there and tells them not to eat from it. He also puts a snake in the garden to tempt them.

Since God is all knowing, couldn't it be argued that these actions are tantamount to setting up a series of dominoes, with the complete knowledge that once the series is set up, they'll just be knocked down?

I have asked theists questions like this but I usually get the argument from ignorance. You know the one. We are far too small to understand God's will and questioning it is blasphemy (a one way ticket to hell).

But there is good news. God sent himself to earth, and had a baby, and that baby was himself, and that baby grew up to teach about love, and then he had that himself killed, and then it took a few centuries of people dying and going to hell before it really caught on. Even today there are billions of people who will go to hell because they reject the story or have never heard it, but that's all part of God's plan. God's so great, isn't he?

Mark Morrison said...

ethinethin,

Why not stop crying God it's all your fault. Take the blame for your own actions. You have freedom of choice.

Laurie said...

Fuckin' Jesus, Robert, you can attract 'em, can't you? Nice to see, though, that a few loonies are brave enough to come to your blog and announce their utter stupidity. Mark Morrison, et. al., get over it. There's no hell, there's no heaven, there's no man in the sky with the big ledger ticking off your sins. It's all bullshit. Move along, now, the world is waiting for drongos like you to drag yourselves out of the slime.

Mark Morrison said...

Laurie said,

There's no hell, there's no heaven, there's no man in the sky with the big ledger ticking off your sins.

God has shown Himself in all of creation. Now go stand in the middle of the road and don't believe in trucks and see what happens. It doesn't matter if you don't believe in God because He will still be your judge.

The Rambling Taoist said...

Mark,

Just for the sake of discussion, what would you do if, when you die, your soul goes up to that big courtroom in the sky and you find that no one is sitting in the judge's chair?

Your beliefs are based on faith, not [directly] knowing. So, what do you think you might do or think if, what you have believed your whole life, turns out to be untrue? What if the judge turns out to be Allah or Zeus?

GCT said...

Mark,
Jesus asks us to believe in a fairy tale, to apologize for being human and being born, and holds us to impossible standards.

Are you of the type that thinks that everyone who believes goes to heaven and the rest go to hell? Or, do you believe in works? Is belief something that people can choose or does god have to intervene in order to change our hearts?

I see numerous problems with either interpretation. If it's simply a matter of belief, then it's an implicit threat for sure. Believe in me or be tortured, and we're back to the tyrant. Further, he's juding us on thought crime, whether we believe or not, and he's not judging us on a basis of our morality but on how well we can discern the "facts" of the world and come to the conclusion that he wants. IOW, if I'm too stupid to figure out that god is the author of the world, this would constitute an offense that is worthy of eternal suffering. Again, god doesn't come out smelling too good here.

Let's say that we can't choose to believe and god must change our hearts; well then we all go to hell unless god capriciously comes down and forces us to believe and go to heaven.

There aren't any good solutions here. Throw in the fact that free will is incompatible with an omni-max god and it all goes downhill much faster.

Anonymous said...

Mark,
Having conversations with god what variations (degrees ) to sin does god inflict in hell? Will Hitler suffer more then say someone that has sex outside of marriage, just kills one person, ten, violates chridren, or does he punish more for unbelievers? Is the eternal banishment to hell equal in suffering?
ibex

GCT said...

I wonder if Hitler is even in hell, since Hitler believed in god. Meanwhile, a pacifist like Gandhi did not believe in this particular god and would therefore have gone to hell.

Robert Madewell said...

Guys, remember that Jeffrey Dahmer is in heaven. He "got say-yuved" a week before he was killed by another inmate.

Mark said, "You are using man's standard of what is good to judge yourself. Yes you may be good by man's standard. But God will not judge you by man's standard."
.
Isn't that nice of him! His ways are so much higher than ours, so he's going to judge us by standards that we can't understand. Good for him! I hope he chokes on the smoke from my burning soul.

Mark Morrison said...

The Rambling Taoist said...
Mark,

Just for the sake of discussion, what would you do if, when you die, your soul goes up to that big courtroom in the sky and you find that no one is sitting in the judge's chair?

Your beliefs are based on faith, not [directly] knowing. So, what do you think you might do or think if, what you have believed your whole life, turns out to be untrue? What if the judge turns out to be Allah or Zeus?

Aren't your beliefs based on the faith that their is no God? Of course they are it is just hard for some atheist to admit it takes faith to be an atheist.

Mark Morrison said...

GCT said...
Mark,
Jesus asks us to believe in a fairy tale, to apologize for being human and being born, and holds us to impossible standards.

To be able to keep His Holy law is impossible, that is why He sent His Son to die for you! Are you of the type that thinks that everyone who believes goes to heaven and the rest go to hell? Or, do you believe in works? Is belief something that people can choose or does god have to intervene in order to change our hearts?

Romans 11:6
And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace
Ephesians 2:9
Not of works, lest any man should boast.
I see numerous problems with either interpretation. If it's simply a matter of belief, then it's an implicit threat for sure.

John 3:17-18
For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.


Believe in me or be tortured, and we're back to the tyrant. Further, he's juding us on thought crime, whether we believe or not, and he's not judging us on a basis of our morality but on how well we can discern the "facts" of the world and come to the conclusion that he wants. IOW, if I'm too stupid to figure out that god is the author of the world, this would constitute an offense that is worthy of eternal suffering. Again, god doesn't come out smelling too good here.

1 Corinthians 2:14
But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.



Let's say that we can't choose to believe and god must change our hearts; well then we all go to hell unless god capriciously comes down and forces us to believe and go to heaven.

2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
next ?

Mark Morrison said...

Robert Madewell said...
Guys, remember that Jeffrey Dahmer is in heaven. He "got say-yuved" a week before he was killed by another inmate.

Sure it's possible. But you just don't think it's fair do you. You want him punished for the horrible things he did right? What about the things that you have done in your life? Shouldn't you be punished for those things as well? Do you see your own double standard?

Mark Morrison said...

GCT said...
I wonder if Hitler is even in hell, since Hitler believed in god. Meanwhile, a pacifist like Gandhi did not believe in this particular god and would therefore have gone to hell.

There was no indication that hitler believed in the God of the Bible. If you have proof show it.

The Rambling Taoist said...

Mark,
Would you like to try to answer my question now? (Good sidestep, though).

Mark Morrison said...

The Rambling Taoist said...
Mark,
Would you like to try to answer my question now? (Good sidestep, though).

All right a question for a question. You said,
Just for the sake of discussion, what would you do if, when you die, your soul goes up to that big courtroom in the sky and you find that no one is sitting in the judge's chair?

I wouldn't have to say anything would I? If there were no God there would be no judgement. But since that's not the case I'll live my Life according to His Word.Your beliefs are based on faith, not [directly] knowing. So, what do you think you might do or think if, what you have believed your whole life, turns out to be untrue? What if the judge turns out to be Allah or Zeus?

If I faced Allah or Zeus I would take my punishment and go.I live my life with no regrets meaning I don't worry that I'm missing out by not living in sin. Do I still sin? Of course, but I try not to wallow in the mud so to speak. Now I ask you what will you do if when you die you have to face God? Also I would like your response to my question about faith for an Atheist.

Mark Morrison said...

Robert,

How about a new topic.

What would you do if when you die you have to face God?

The Rambling Taoist said...

Mark,

Fair enough. My answer is similar to yours. If there is a God, then I'll have to face my judgment day.

That said, I personally think it's the epitome of selfishness to believe in God just in case he does exist. The base motivation would to cover one's arse. If God existed, he'd see right through that and all of us, you included, would be damned for all time.

Now to your second question. For starters, I don't consider myself an atheist. I believe (ooh, that points to faith) in a nebulous something called Tao. I do not believe in a personified being, particularly the Christian God who is beset with almost every petty human emotion (envy, jealousy, slothfulness, pride, egotism, etc.).

Everything that we "know" or believe is based on faith because we truly can't comprehend the world. When a person says the 1 + 1 equals 2, they express their faith that general mathematical properties are true.

GCT said...

Mark,
"Aren't your beliefs based on the faith that their is no God?"

No. Where did you get the notion that a rejection of your faith is an example of faith on my part?

"To be able to keep His Holy law is impossible, that is why He sent His Son to die for you!"

Holding us to impossible standards is unjust.

I asked you bunch of questions, and you non-answered by inserting Bible quotes that can be interpretted many different ways. Care to actually address those questions? I also raised concerns, which you handled in the same way. Care to address those concerns? You seem to be holding to grace alone as the road to heaven, meaning that god is saying that one must obey or not receive grace and therefore go to hell. This is tyranical and threatening. Furthermore, we are being punished for being born human (how is it just to punish me for the "sins" of my forebears?) and in a state of bound for hell by default - how loving. On top of that we are being judged on hell well we are able to discern a factual matter, not a matter of morality or anything else. It seems that our eternal souls depend on how well we can perform on a pop quiz, and not only that, but we have to discern evidence that isn't there as god is hiding himself away from us and answer against what we see via faith instead of the reasoning abilities that god supposedly gave us.

And, I suppose that you contend this is all OK, because god sent himself down to perform a human sacrifice on himself in order to convince himself to allow himself to forgive us for the "sins" that he placed upon us. In reality, since god has placed these sins on us, it is simply his duty to not torture us for being what he created. It's like if he told a puppy not to get on the couch, then placed the puppy on the couch so that he can get furiously angry at it and burn it for disobeying him. This is what you are defending.

"Sure it's possible. But you just don't think it's fair do you. You want him punished for the horrible things he did right? What about the things that you have done in your life? Shouldn't you be punished for those things as well? Do you see your own double standard?"

It's ludicrous, unfair, and certainly not just, i.e. the system that god has put in place. One who is immoral ends up heaven for having the correct factual beliefs, while others who are moral are eternally tortured. There's no double standard there. I have done nothing in my life to merit eternal torment, nor has any other human that has ever existed!

"There was no indication that hitler believed in the God of the Bible. If you have proof show it."

Read Mein Kampf.

Robert Madewell said...

Mark said, "What about the things that you have done in your life? Shouldn't you be punished for those things as well? Do you see your own double standard?"
.
I've never killed someone and eat him afterwards.

RickLannoye said...

The doctrine of Hell is not only ridiculous, but abusive. Though most Christians doubt it exists (even the shrill Evangelicals in that they frequently fall back on some version of Pascal's wager: "if there is no Hell, I lose nothing, but if there is...."), the fear that it might exist is enough to manipulate them. If anyone is interested, I have written extensively on this topic. You can download an ecopy of my latest book HELL? NO! WHY YOU CAN BE CERTAIN THERE'S NO SUCH PLACE AS HELL (not to worry, there's no cost, no tricks, no ads, etc.) from my website: ricklannoye.com

Anonymous said...

g thing about the doctrine of hell is the way alot of modern christians use this to justify threir supposed pardon od sins saying that they can forgive but God is going to make you pay.I beleive in God and Jesus Christ with all my heart, but I beleive that the message of the church should be the love of Christ and not their repackaged anger and resentment . It should also be noted that In the book of Genesis Adam and Eve are told not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil or they" will surely die." Also in the book of Romans we are told that the wages of sin are death. The truth is this God loves each and everyone of us in this moment just the way we are. God is love When Jesus was here on the earth as he was dying at the hands of his enemies he prayed that they be forgiven because they did not know what they were doing.

Dancan said...

Hell and Eternal torment is not biblical at all...
I would advice you to read through the article 'Final Judgment and Eternal Torment at http://www.soundoctrines.blogspot.com/

Rick Lannoye said...

For Dancan...

Well, that depends a lot on what is meant by "biblical." If by this term we mean any statement that made it's way into the modern Christian Old and New Testament canons, then one could say "Hell is biblical," in that there are some parts of the modern Christian Bible that describe what is commonly referred to as Hell. But there are three far more important points, in my view: If there's a God, would this God have made a Hell, and put anyone in it. I argue absolutely not. Secondly, did the historical Jesus believe in Hell, and preach that God would put people there? I argue that he did not. After researching this issue for almost 2 decades, I've concluded that Jesus rejected the idea of Hell, and that his core message--that we should, in keeping with God's desires, care for the needy and relieve the suffering of others, a message that is completely inconsistent with the idea that this same God could turn right around and inflict unimaginable suffer on billons of people, largely for no fault of their own. However, later Christian scribes added to or changed Jesus' words to make it seem as if he had believed and preached the doctrine of Hell.

Carey said...

Good day. I have read through pretty much all of this blog and I would like to start by saying that I deserve to go to Hell, I also believe that every person ever born deserves to as well. I'll try to show how this is reasonable. To start I will make a safe assumption that everyone that reads this has at one point in their life told a lie. One lie told = deserving eternal punishment. If I told a lie to my 12 year old daughter, she would be upset with me but she has no authority to punish me for it. If I lied to my wife, depending on the severity of the lie I could be on the couch or kicked out of the house. Lie to a police officer and you could be charged with obstruction of justice, lie to the judge - purgery, lie to the government and you can be charged with treason. Each higher level of authority that a crime is committed against brings a higher charge and sentence. Because God said 'You shall not lie', telling a lie is a sin against Him. God is an Eternal,infinite, righteous, holy being and therefore a crime against Him deserves an Eternal, infinte punishment.
Now lets be realistic here, we all have told more than 1 lie, we've told thousands. Not to metion things we've taken that were not ours, the times we dishonored our parents or coveted our neighbors things or committed adultery (fornication) or taken God's name in vain. God could send us all to Hell and He would be JUSTIFIED in so doing.
However God has always and will always extend MERCY to humanity. Every human regardless of where they are has enough evidence in nature and in their own consciences to know that there is a God, that He is personal, relational and good. Yet people love their pride and their sin more than Him, even though He is the most amiable being. He gives every person life, breath and everything good in their lives yet we turn our backs to Him and worship ourselves or countless other gods made by man.
We are all 'dead men walking'. We all die once and then comes judgment. The good news is that God in His mercy has bore the punishment for sin upon Himself. It took and Eternal, Infinate payment for our sin against an Eternal, Infinte God. Why this way? To display the glory of His infinite mercy and grace!! Could He have done it by pure power? yes. Could He have just made it so nothing bad ever happened? Yes. Why didn't he? Because He allowed things to happen and steered the course of history that would most display His Goodness, His Mercy, His Justice, His beauty, His Love. He paid the highest cost possible for the beings He made.
He offers salvation freely to all who would turn to Him. Not to run from Hell but to run to the Creator of all that is beautiful. To run to Jesus, the giver and sustainer of life. The greatest Treasure. God offers you Himself and all that Good and wonderful. His Justice has been satisfied through Jesus, only He was worthy to be the Lamb of God who shed His blood for the sins of the world. Only those who reject Him or try some other way will face God's Justice. Not because He is a tyrant or a big meaning but because He is good and Just and will not allow evil to go without seeing justice. All sin will be dealt with, either on the Cross or in Hell. God will be glorified for His Mercy or for His Justice. Give your heart to Him for no one knows when their last breath will be.

God Bless and may you run to Him and not harden your heart any longer!

Rick Lannoye said...

Carey,

Two things here. One is this idea that causing others to feel pain is somehow the solution to whatever pains they may have caused others. This idea is sometimes called "justice," but really, it's just REVENGE. It's barbaric and solves nothing.

But the concept you're alluding to by saying you deserve Hell (and by implication, so does all the rest of us), is even worse! The eye for an eye type of revenge, at least, had some limit to it, but going to Hell for whatever limited amount of hurts caused to others, is to repay an infinite amount of eye losses for an eye!

What's sad here is how the real message of Jesus is so totally lost here. What he, repeatedly tried to say, was that the solution was FORGIVENESS and putting a STOP to SUFFERING, not being the CAUSE of more, and certainly not the cause of INFINITE more pain.

Please download my book, "Hell? No! Why You Can Be Certain There's No Such Place As Hell," for free, from my website: www.ricklannoye.com. I think it will really help you understand what the real gospel, the real "good news" is.

Carey said...

Rick,
Sorry it has taken me a while to reply to your comment. To start I would like to say that the administration of justice, by a righteous judge, is not revenge. An eye for an eye, as laid out in Scripture, is not a formula for revenge but instructions for rulers, governments and judges in the administration of justice. It is saying to them that the punishment must fit the crime. When a justice system loses this, wickedness increases. Crime rates rise, prisons overflow, courts get backed up, the public begins to fear for their safety etc. Kind of sounds like North America.
Now a human justice system deals with crimes committed against finite beings and therefore has finite punishment. Even when a life is taken and capital punishment administered, it only deals with this life and not eternity. Crimes committed against an Eternal, Infinite being however, are a different story. Jonathan Edwards shows how Hell is not only reasonable but just in the following excerpt from his writing on the Justice of God.
“If we consider the infinite evil and heinousness of sin in general, it is not unjust in God to inflict what punishment is deserved; because the very notion of deserving any punishment is, that it may be justly inflicted. A deserved punishment and a just punishment are the same thing. To say that one deserves such a punishment, and yet to say that he does not justly deserve it, is a contradiction; and if he justly deserves it, then it may be justly inflicted.
Every crime or fault deserves a greater or less punishment, in proportion as the crime itself is greater or less. If any fault deserves punishment, then so much the greater the fault, so much the greater is the punishment deserved. The faulty nature of any thing is the formal ground and reason of its desert of punishment; and therefore the more any thing hath of this nature, the more punishment it deserves. And therefore the terribleness of the degree of punishment, let it never be so terrible, is no argument against the justice of it, if the proportion does but hold between the heinousness of the crime and the dreadfulness of the punishment; so that if there be any such thing as a fault infinitely heinous, it will follow that it is just to inflict a punishment for it that is infinitely dreadful.
A crime is more or less heinous, according as we are under greater or less obligations to the contrary. This is self-evident; because it is herein that the criminalness or faultiness of any thing consists, that it is contrary to what we are obliged or bound to, or what ought to be in us. So the faultiness of one being hating another, is in proportion to his obligation to love him. The crime of one being despising and casting contempt on another, is proportionably more or less heinous, as he was under greater or less obligations to honour him. The fault of disobeying another, is greater or less, as any one is under greater or less obligations to obey him. And therefore if there be any being that we are under infinite obligations to love, and honour, and obey, the contrary towards him must be infinitely faulty.
continued...

Carey said...

Sorry for the multiple posts

Our obligation to love, honour, and obey any being, is in proportion to his loveliness, honourableness, and authority; for that is the very meaning of the words. When we say any one is very lovely, it is the same as to say, that he is one very much to be loved. Or if we say such a one is more honourable than another, the meaning of the words is, that he is one that we are more obliged to honour. If we say any one has great authority over us, it is the same as to say, that he has great right to our subjection and obedience.
But God is a being infinitely lovely, because he hath infinite excellency and beauty. To have infinite excellency and beauty, is the same thing as to have infinite loveliness. He is a being of infinite greatness, majesty, and glory; and therefore he is infinitely honourable. He is infinitely exalted above the greatest potentates of the earth, and highest angels in heaven; and therefore he is infinitely more honourable than they. His authority over us is infinite; and the ground of his right to our obedience is infinitely strong; for he is infinitely worthy to be obeyed himself, and we have an absolute, universal, and infinite dependence upon him.
So that sin against God, being a violation of infinite obligations, must be a crime infinitely heinous, and so deserving of infinite punishment.- Nothing is more agreeable to the common sense of mankind, than that sins committed against any one, must be proportionably heinous to the dignity of the being offended and abused; as it is also agreeable to the word of God, I Samuel 2:25. "If one man sin against another, the judge shall judge him;" (i.e. shall judge him, and inflict a finite punishment, such as finite judges can inflict;) "but if a man sin against the Lord, who shall entreat for him?" This was the aggravation of sin that made Joseph afraid of it. Genesis 39:9. "How shall I commit this great wickedness, and sin against God?" This was the aggravation of David's sin, in comparison of which he esteemed all others as nothing, because they were infinitely exceeded by it. Psalm 51:4. "Against thee, thee only have I sinned."-The eternity of the punishment of ungodly men renders it infinite: and it renders it no more than infinite; and therefore renders no more than proportionable to the heinousness of what they are guilty of.”

Carey said...

This discourse shows that God is justified in sending a sinner to Hell over just one sin against Him. However, as I stated before there is none that have committed just one sin against Him, but we are all guilty of a countless number of sins. If you look into God’s Law, the 10 commandments you would see your own guilt. Paul taught in Romans that the Law makes ‘sin exceedingly sinful’, it is a ‘schoolmaster’ that leads us to Christ. Has God always been first in your life? If not, then anything that was ranked higher than Him was and idol to you. Imagine the dishonor towards God in placing part of His creation before Him! Have you ever taken His name in vain? Do you rest in Him, Trust Him for everything? Ever dishonor your parents? Have you ever hated anyone? Hate is murder in God’s eyes. How about adultery? Jesus said if you look with lust, you are guilty of adultery in your heart. Have you taken anything that was not yours? Told any lies? Or coveted your neighbor’s things? Rick, how about writing a book and calling God a liar? God, in His word, has clearly laid out the teaching and reality of Hell. A place made for Satan, his minions and all people who follow in his rebellion against God.
Now, the reality of Hell is one thing, but God’s mercy is another. Jesus, the Son of God, did not become a man to sweep sin under the rug and forgive everyone. He came to bear the wrath of God, which we all deserve, defeat sin and death, which we were unable to do and OFFER salvation to all who will repent towards God and trust in Him. That is the good news. Is Hell real? Yes. Will those who die in their sin go there? Yes. Is this God’s desire? No. God has always and will always act towards mankind in MERCY, however, those who reject that mercy will receive what is just. No one will receive a worse punishment than what is deserved and no one will receive less than deserved.
I pray this will help you to see that Hell is reasonable and that you will run to the Savior who shed His blood for the remission of sins. I also pray that you do not run to Him out of a fear of Hell, even though there should be fear, but out of great admiration and love for how great God is. For His excellency, majesty and beauty. Run to Him for how breathtakingly amazing He is. Instead of pouring His wrath out on all mankind for their rebellion He took that wrath upon Himself!! “Amazing grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me” He offers eternal life to those who trust in Him. ‘The just shall live by faith”.

Rick Lannoye said...

I'm familiar with the justification for Hell on the basis of God's infinite nature. I address this flawed rationale at length in my book "Hell? No! Why You Can Be Certain There's No Such Place As Hell," which you can still download for free from my website: ricklannoye.com. But allow me to just briefly explain why this idea fails so miserably to justify people going to Hell.

Just for the sake of argument, let's say that you're correct about God supposedly having such a holy nature that he is required to infinitely torture anyone for committing the slightest wrong, that he is bound to an Eternal Touchiness. Now, if the rest of his nature is pure evil, well, this would be something to expect (though one would then have to wonder how such a thing as goodness ever came about, since God, being the source of all things, had no good in him).

But if he does have at least some good in him, then we must ask why that goodness did not prevent him from creating people in the first place. God, being all knowing, would have to have known in advance that were he to create people and give them a free will, that some, at least, would sin against him. He, in turn, being oh so holy, would be required to hurt them forever in the worst way. So the only right thing to do, as required by his goodness, would be to not set up such a situation. Otherwise, he becomes the author of all evil, and all the pain that would follow in Hell!

As to the idea that an eye for an eye is needed to prevent chaos and unlimited crime is just an excuse to justify cruelty and perpetuate what is indeed REVENGE. Just because you get the government to hurt someone who has hurt you, makes no difference in the principle at work. The problem is that revenge only leads to counter revenge, an endless cycle of hurt. You do nothing but reinforce the same mentality that is at work in the criminal's mind, "If I have more power than another, it's OK for me to use that greater power to hurt others for my selfish gain."

It's horrifically short sighted though.

The only real hope for reducing crime is to instill morality as the most sensible way to live in peace and harmony, so that people refrain from hurting others because they understand that the best way to live in this world is for all of us to agree not to hurt each other.

The idea that God has some "holy" need to hurt people far, far beyond whatever they supposedly did to him (which is itself ludicrous, in that God cannot be hurt by anyone), is merely an expansion of what human dictators and rulers have done, and some still do, in order to terrorize their subjects into submission. This view of God was made in man's image.

Ironically, Jesus had a whole new way of viewing God, as compassionate and forgiving. He said the cycle of clubbing each other back and forth was not doing any good, so we should forgive and learn from our mistakes instead.

Yes, we will probably need to put some people in custody when they do bad things to others, but the purpose should be to reform them, not to get some useless revenge.

Carey said...

Rick,

Just for the sake of argument, let’s say that a man was brutally raping and murdering children. Is it right to say that those things are evil and he would deserve just punishment? If you could possibly say no, imagine it was your own children? Or should he say sorry and he won’t do it again then be set free? If he was to stand before a good judge, this man should lose his life. Not as ‘revenge’ but justice.
Now I am certain that most criminals will try to convince you that they do not deserve to be punished for their crimes, just the same as men try to convince one another that Hell is unreasonable. Where these men are mistaken is in the goodness of God. Not only is Hell reasonable because of God’s Infinite and Eternal Nature but because of His goodness, His moral perfection. He is so good that not only will murderers and rapists be punished but so will all thieves, liars, adulterers, idolaters, those who dishonor their parents, blasphemers etc. etc.
God’s justice is perfect in every way. There will be no unjust punishment, God is not ‘Eternally touchy’ but He is completely in control at all times. He sees every secret sin as well as all done in the open.

As for God creating, knowing that those whom He created as moral agents would rebel against Him and commit wicked and evil things is answered throughout His word. God created all things to display His glory. Before the foundation of the world was laid, God knew that men would sin and rebel against Him. He could have chosen not to ever create but instead He created with a magnificent plan that will be praised for all of Eternity. With longsuffering and patience God endures the indignity and disgrace displayed towards Him by His creation. Day by day He still continues to pour out His goodness upon a rebellious and stiff necked people. He gives life, breath, family, friends, food, beautiful sunsets, rainbows, mountains and so much more to those who hate Him. What great love he displays. However God has set a day in which He will judge these people and He will be glorified for His goodness that He had poured out on His enemies and for His final Justice that is passed.

But greater still will be His glory that was displayed through His Son on the cross. You talk about reforming criminals; God has the greatest reformation plan going. God has issued a pardon, open to all people. The hard part is, most people will not let go of their pride. Criminals who will not acknowledge their crime or their guilt can not be reformed, period. God has offered forgiveness, complete JUSTIFICATION to all who will acknowledge their crimes and their guilt. Not only that but as a good judge He did not brush the crime under the carpet but paid for the crimes Himself. Completely innocent, He paid the criminals debt. To all those who repent and trust in Him God will give a new heart, a heart that will desire to serve and love others. A heart that will no longer be enslaved to sin and wickedness but will seek what is right and true. God allowed men to sin so that He could display His Love, mercy and Grace through His Son Jesus on the cross at Calvary. He will be glorified and praised for saving wretched criminals by His grace and for bringing Justice upon those who reject the pardon. God is not responsible for the evil that men commit nor is He responsible if they reject His offer.

Rick Lannoye said...

Oh boy! Well, let me share another illustration from my book that might help show why this logic of "God being so infinite, any sin against him merits infinite pain lasting for an infinity"!

What would you say about a man who was bitten by an ant (which can actually hurt him a little), and then he reacted by taking the ant and putting a match to it! Wouldn't you say that there's something seriously wrong with the MAN?

What if he said, "Oh, well I am such a far greater and more intelligent being. Therefore, when the ant bites me, his punishment should be far worse than if he merely bit another ant."

Would you buy that for a moment?

I sure hope not!

No, if a man is, indeed, far greater in intelligence, then he would be ALL THAT MORE UNDERSTANDING! The last thing he'd do is TORTURE THE ANT.

Rick Lannoye said...

It's interesting that you should bring up the topic of mercy. Once more, I go into great detail about this in my book "Hell? No! Why You Can Be Certain There's No Such Place As Hell," which is still available at my website as a free ecopy--www.ricklannoye.com. But let me just share a bit more:

Jesus' message was, indeed, that God is merciful, full of mercy.

Again and again, he tried to say that God was not condemning, not cruel, not one to CAUSE suffering, but wished to RELIEVE it.

What's so very ironic, though, is how Evangelical Christianity has turned his message on its head! Jesus specifically said, quoting the prophet Hosea, that God does NOT desire sacrifice, but mercy.
And yet, Evangelicals insist that God did demand the ultimate sacrifice, of blood. That every little bitty sin HAD TO BE PAID FOR by the death of an innocent being.

This is just the opposite of the Evangelical doctrine that says "forgiveness" can only be had by because Jesus PAID for sin. First of all, if he had to PAY, it's NOT forgiveness! If God demanded blood PAYMENT, then he got paid. Forgiveness means he says, "THERE IS NO NEED FOR PAYMENT."

Actually, Jesus said the opposite, that God JUST FORGIVES, PERIOD! All he asks is that we own up to our mistakes, and do what we can to not repeat them.

He completely rejected this notion of an eye for an eye, an endless cycle of people and gods hurting each other, back and forth, getting back at each other, making each other pay, pay, pay.

Don't think so? Simply read all the sermons in the Book of Acts. NOT ONCE is it mentioned that Jesus' death was somehow a payment for the sins of man. Hmmmm. Wouldn't that have been a good time, the first several sermons at the outset of Christianity, to explain what the core message of Jesus was? And yet, NOTHING about a human blood sacrifice. No, but a LOT about God's mercy.

No, a God who is FULL of mercy doesn't torture, not for a minute, and certainly not for eternity. If that were so, then he would wish us to be like him, full of rage, cruelty and vindictive.

Rick Lannoye said...

Once again, to justify Hell, eternal torture, of the worst possible pain, on the basis of our reaction to some of the worst things people do to others, entirely misses the point!

The core message of Jesus was that when people do bad things, yes, we should be horrified by that--murder, rape, killing kids, etc. But the thing that causes us to be horrified by those wrongdoings should also be what causes us to be horrified by doing something a LOT WORSE, such as torturing people with fire, for an eternity!

The problems with the idea that "certain people deserve to be tortured for the tortures they've committed" are many. First, someone would have to perform the counter torture! That person then becomes no different than the one who first committed the first evil! Now factor in an eternity! Even if you accept the primitive idea of an eye for an eye, at some point, every ounce of pain committed would be equally suffered. Then what? According to Evangelical doctrine, that person would then be subject to far, far, infinitely far more pain than what he caused. Even the primitive notion of "justice" is violated in that the punishment no longer fits the crime!

No, Jesus saw through this hideous cycle of pain, and said, "It just needs to stop."

Carey said...

Hi Rick,
Well let’s go back a couple of posts first, back to your illustration.
“What would you say about a man who was bitten by an ant (which can actually hurt him a little), and then he reacted by taking the ant and putting a match to it! Wouldn't you say that there's something seriously wrong with the MAN?
What if he said, "Oh, well I am such a far greater and more intelligent being. Therefore, when the ant bites me, his punishment should be far worse than if he merely bit another ant."
Totally agree with you there Rick, however I see no resemblance in this situation as to our relationship to God. God’s Justice in no way resembles the statement of the man towards the ant.
First of all, God made us; to us the ant is just another part of God’s creation. (Personally, I swat mosquito’s all the time simply because they bite me and I step on ants because they destroy my lawn.) God created us as morally responsible creatures, He sustains our life and every need that is met is given by Him. We were created to be in a relationship with Him, to glorify Him and to enjoy Him forever. We were also created to be good stewards of His creation and to relate with other people.
Now instead of relating with God, we let our pride and selfishness rule. As God, our maker, He knows how we should live and what is best for us. Also as our creator, our subjection to Him should be a given. I have already dealt with our sin against God, which is all sin, whether directly against Him or indirectly against His creation, He is just in our punishment. However you seem concerned by this illustration that God is not concerned about our sin against other people, which is strongly mistaken. Six of God’s Ten commandments deal with our vertical sin against one another. ‘You shall honor your mother and father’. Anyone who has dishonored their parents will be judged by God for that sin against their parents. ‘You shall not murder’. God values human life, each and every one of them. He values it so much that to murder someone would cost you your own life! God even values the lives of unborn children. If someone caused a pregnant woman to miscarry that was considered murder to God. How about all of the murders committed through abortion today? God will bring Justice for all the innocent blood that has been shed for the sake of choice! God also sees the heart, we are to love our neighbors but Jesus said that if you have unjust anger towards someone you are in danger of being judged as a murderer. Matthew 5:22-23 and John in his epistle said that if you hate your brother you are a murderer as well. Ever have unjust anger or hate someone? ‘You shall not commit adultery’ God values human relationships, especially marriage. He set up His law to protect it and Jesus went even further to say that if you lust after a woman you are guilty of committing adultery.
That’s just a few examples of God’s concern for humanity. We all have sinned against God and against men. God doesn’t torture people because they merely bit Him, unrepentant sinners will be punished for the innumerable sins that the commit against God and man. The bible says ‘But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God,’ Romans 5:2

Carey said...

God’s desire is not to ‘torture’ people because He’s so smart and we’re just not. He desires Justice and Mercy. He desires Righteousness and Truth. He has paid the sin debt for all who will turn to Him and for those who do not they will be Judged by the very One who has done so much for them. Here are Jesus own words “And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death” Revelation 21:6-8
Jesus warned of Hell numerous times through the Gospels. He is the only Way for peace with God and He offers Living water to all who thirst!

Carey said...

Let’s move on. Yes, Jesus taught clearly of God’s mercy but He also taught of God’s Righteousness and Justice. To deny that is to throw out a large portion of the New Testament.
As for Jesus’ quote of Hosea you should maybe read it in context. Jesus was eating with tax collectors and sinners and the self righteous religious people were questioning His disciples on it. Jesus did not come to save those who think they’re good enough already. He came to save those who see their sin, repent towards God and trust in Him for salvation. The religious people of this text had distorted the truth of God’s mercy through faith and had made a standard that kept ‘sinners’ out of God’s kingdom. As for the verse in Hosea, the nation of Israel was living in gross immorality. They were worshiping idols, ignoring Justice, neglecting the poor and the widows and much more. Yet during this they continued to offer sacrifices to God out of religious duty instead of an act of worship. Sacrifices in the Old Testament were a covering for sin, a foreshadow of Christ to come. However God did not desire them from hearts that were far from Him. Instead of turning to Him and bringing His mercy to His people they dealt treacherously with Him and wickedly with one another.
As for the shedding of blood for the remission of sin, that doctrine is clear throughout all of scripture. From the first blood shed at the fall of man, Gen 1:21, throughout the life of the Patriarchs, and the history of the nation Israel God has required the shedding of blood for the covering of sin. Nevertheless, Scripture is also clear that the blood of animals was a symbol pointing to Jesus who, as John said, was the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
Out of time today but I have much more to say. The book of Romans and the book of Hebrews has much more to say on all this. Then you will be getting the Truth from the source instead of me.

Rick Lannoye said...

So, "just because God made us, it's Ok for him to do as he pleases, to cause us as much pain as he wishes, and for no particular reason other than he just wants to."

Again, that might be a good description of the way a Cosmic Monster, or a Satan might act, but it would be impossible for a deity who has any goodness in him to allow himself to be the cause of so much suffering.

If there's a Hell, then a good God would be forever in pain, in that his love would cause him to be infinitely empathetic with the pain even just one soul was suffering.

Rick Lannoye said...

Well, of course, if your belief were to be correct, God MUST HAVE wanted to torture billions of people for an eternity.

He would have known, in advance, what the outcome would be were he to have created people and put the vast majority of them in a position where they would be condemned for what their one ancestor did...and then he chose to go ahead with the plan anyway.

He would also have known, in advance, that most people would never even know who Jesus was before they were born, lived and died, only to wake up in a Hell they never heard of! And yet, he went ahead with his plan anyway.

Moreover, it would be God who keeps the flames of Hell on full blast all the while he's having a great time with the few who believed in Heaven. He could just turn the flames off, and stop being the DIRECT CAUSE of their horrific pain but, plainly, he must not mind inflicting so much pain on so many people for so very long...according to the belief you say is the truth.

Sorry, but this whole concept is just plain ludicrous, particularly when its tied to Jesus who was quite upset with his disciples for even suggesting that he torture a village of people for a few horrific minutes until they were dead, even though, they had REJECTED him!

I don't believe there is a devil, but I must say, if there were a Satan whose goal is to deceive believers into thinking God is like him, then he's done a great job!

Rick Lannoye said...

Oh, of course, killing innocent animals and people to allegedly appease gods was very commonplace, so naturally, it appears in many parts of the bible.

But the mistake you're making is that all those sad passages were somehow "pointing to Jesus."

Again, RE-READ what Jesus actually said in the gospels. RE-READ the first several sermons in Acts. NOWHERE does Jesus say, "my bloody death will somehow make God happy, and not want to torture people for eternity, because it will somehow 'pay' for what they (or Adam) did."

If Jesus really agreed with all this killing and his own murder/suicide, don't you think he would have mentioned it?

If the disciples, having just received the Holy Spirit, and finally understanding Jesus clearly, went out to proclaim his message, don't you think that would have been a good time to explain that his blood somehow served to appease the wrath of God?

But they never said anything of the like!

No, it was LATER, when people who just couldn't let go of this hideous notion that God is some kind of Cosmic Hannible Lector, who REWORKED Jesus message and his tragic murder into somehow being God's plan all along.

troubadore9 said...

I am an atheist but even I know that,according to scripture, every person who dies goes into the ground awaiting the Day of Judgement.

Then we are supposed to be judged for our beliefs,actions,words and deeds.If we don't measure up then we will be cast into the lake if Fire where we will be consumed along with death to never exist again in any way.

This Second Death is it.Those few who pass muster will be allowed to frolic in Heaven.The Bible is quite clear that not all who say they are going to meet the Lord will actually do so.

Rick Lannoye said...

The Christian hierarchy has often been guilty of presenting and promoting the Bible as if it were a united, single volumn, THE Word of God, as if handed to us directly by some angel or like the 10 Commandments to Moses.

But the reality is that the Bible is anything BUT a unified message! Even Jesus, as quoted in the gospels, which are part of the Bible, did not agree with much of what was in the Old Testament.

So, to say, "The Scripture says...." is rarely definitive and you can almost always find other parts of the Bible that would say just the opposite of what The Scripture says...."

But supposedly, a Christian is one who believes that Jesus was THE Word or Expression of God, meaning that his words, his interpretations and the message of his actions ought to be the standard by which everything else is measured. Sadly, what's happened to much of Christianity, and Evangelicalism in particular, is that obsure parts of the Bible which post-date Jesus by decades at least, if not hundreds of years, some of which were interpolations, are used to reduct and reinterpret his core message about God and the afterlife so as to render it unrecognizable!

But the good news is that there is enough of his core message still left in the gospels that an objective reader can still find it.

Please, check out my book in which I explain all of this and a lot more: Hell? No! Why You Can Be Certain There's No Such Place As Hell, (for anyone interested, you can get a free ecopy of Did Jesus Believe in Hell?, one of the most compelling chapters in my book at www.thereisnohell.com).