Saturday, February 03, 2007

'To Hell With It All' - Commentaty on Hell?

"And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him! Luke 12:4-5" (Bible)

"This teaching is hard to accept but after some serious thought and prayer it makes sense to me. And I am not just focusing on the requirements and warnings of the faith, I have found a better realization of the blessings also." (Ken)

"A man holds a gun to his wife's head and says, "Say you love me or I will shoot you." What could it possibly mean for her to say she loves him? Is that love? A god holds the fires of hell beneath humanity and says, "Love and believe in me or you will spend eternity in the fire." What could it possibly mean for humanity to love that god? Is that love? I neither love that god nor believe in him. He never existed except in our own masochistic thinking." (John)

Oh the fires of hell are raging for this topic...does hell exist and if so, why? What is your take on the 'hell' that is mentioned quite a bit in the gospels - how do you deal with interpreting things like 'gehenna' and 'brimstone'? Inquiring minds want to know - and some even want avoid it.


BrotherKen said...

Can there be a heaven without a hell? Some think of hell as an everlasting torture and others say it is simply separation from God. Myself, from what I can understand, we will either be eternally with God or or eternally dead. Our God has many attributes and His ways are mysterious, all I can know for sure is that I hope to grow in my understanding of who God is and what my purpose is.

hineini said...

I'm with John on this one. Hell is silly and its cruel.

"Can there be a heaven without a hell?"(brotherken)

Not saying that there is a heaven either but that this is even a question seems to me to attest to a very small, limiting understanding of God, like God couldn't have one or none or both. It would be nice if God was beyond paradoxes, or better, maybe in paradoxes. But I agree with you in this brotherken, that we'll never be sure of God and that our only hope is in hope.

My Garden said...

The truth that we would be eternally without God is something that is emotionally painful to think about, and the interpretation of what hell is or what it isn't is not the part that gets me at the end of the day, it is the part where I would eternally be without God...hmmm...the hell part is definitely a deterrent in areas of life when temptation seems to raise its head to do things that are not the best, and if I thought about it, the reality of hell does help deter me when temptation tries to get the better of me, although I have to admit it has not always kept me from making mistakes, but it does help me to be repentant and to return to what I know I should do...again...I focus on being without at the end of the day...perhaps I just have a different view

Jim Jordan said...

The point of the Scripture that society quoted was that the prince of darkness can't hurt us eternally but rejecting God will hurt us eternally.

God doesn't force us (Gen 32:22-32, Joshua 24:15 etc.) but He is the only game in Heaven. That makes sense because He is, after all, AWESOME. Do we then fear the awesome God or the sucky Satan?

If you look at the Scripture in an emotional way, you may conclude that God is a meaniehead, as my daughter would say. But the meaning of this Word is that we fear God (respect is a better word) because He is Life and the opposite of life is death. We do not have to fear death if we fear Him. That should make sense.

John Shuck said...

If someone can only stop dealing drugs or murdering their neighbor because they believe in eternal hell, then by all means, keep believing it. However, for the rest of us who wish to grow up, then a belief in eternal lollipops or eternal spankings keeps us in an infantile state.

Here is a question to ponder:
If there is no heaven and no hell (or no afterlife at all for that matter), would there be any reason to be a Christian?

In my opinion, if you can answer yes to the above question, you are on the road to maturity.

the_burning_bush said...

Suppose a woman secretly longed for a man. The man made a great effort to start a relationship, and the woman pretended like she didn't care.

Eventually the man said, well, your choice is your choice. And he moved far away.

The woman continued going through the motions of life: working, hanging out with her friends, but a deep sorrow came over her and she did not understand it.

Suppose this sorrow became so great that she spent her time weeping and gnashing her teeth and she could no longer go through the "motions of life".

Would it be because the man was cruel or because her love was evil and duplicitous? Wouldn't you say this woman was not fit to ever know love?

John Shuck said...

Ummm, no. Many people might go through life regretting chances at love. Some people are able to find others to love. That guy is not the only fish in the pond.

The god who sends people to hell for making the "wrong" choice would do just as well to find another god. That god wasn't worthy of love in the first place.

the_burning_bush said...

"Many people might go through life regretting chances at love. Some people are able to find others to love."

In the human world this is true: they could find another to love.

But what if eternity stripped such a person of all inner moderation and the regret became infinite?

Are you not then positing hell and the fullness of its horror?

SocietyVs said...

Hell of a good question BB!

John Shuck said...

Hi BB,

"But what if eternity stripped such a person of all inner moderation and the regret became infinite?"

I am not exactly sure what you mean here. In my view if there is heaven or hell, we experience both in this life. There is no reason to postulate an eternity. What happens after I die is likely what happened before I was born. I have no consciousness of it.

So, this life, each day of it is to be treasured. It is amazing and unlikely that we even exist.

No matter how poetically we may describe hell or heaven, we have no need of it at all. We invented it. We can dismiss it.

So, love others today. Open your eyes. See what is happening. Observe your life because it will change. And that is ok, too.


the_burning_bush said...
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the_burning_bush said...

Sometimes a person can feel one way, and later a different way. Tired one hour and awake the next. A person can be inclined to marry one day and then marry someone else another day. They might profess their respect to their parents one day, and curse them the next.

Desires come and go, but occasionally you hear someone say against all common sense or without recognition that they infinitely desire something.

I look at people like that and say to myself, "There is no earthly explanation for that."

This world -as you attest- is passing away, but the desire to live righteously has no end inside of those who hunger and thirst after it.

If you listened to eternity you would understand the need to posit it. If you do not listen to eternity you do not understand the need to refer to it.

SocietyVs said...

My only concern with hell is quite a simple one (mainly because I am simple):

If I can forgive a lot of people the fate of a literal 'hell' - can God also? It's just that I can forgive a lot of people once I get to know them and even to deal with their short-falls - is it right that me a 'mere human being' can do this and God cannot? What is the requirement to get into a 'literal hell'? That's another question that gets glazed over quite a lot also.

John Shuck said...


I first want to commend you for the way you are moderating this blog. You are succeeding at getting people to open up and keeping the conversation going post by post.

In regards to hell or perhaps more generally, "the ethics of God" I think you hit on an important point. You wrote:

"If I can forgive a lot of people the fate of a literal 'hell' - can God also?"

God should at least be as ethical as us! More precisely, the God to whom we attribute these characteristics should be at least as ethical as human beings. This, should rule out hell altogether.

the_burning_bush said...
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the_burning_bush said...

Human beings are desperately wicked. We are white-washed tombs at best, full of dead men's bones.

If someone were to look at a white-washed tomb and say, "God should be more like that," I would be speachless.

Who can search the thoughts of God? Who can advise Him on His ways? Are you going to cry out into heaven and tell Him what to do? Listen carefully: God is not constrained by any human bureacracy.

God doesn't need policy charts or a board of directors because unlike humans He does as He sees best.

GraceHead said...

Eighteen reasons why in a single verse?

by Trent

Luke 13:1-5 (NIV)
Repent or Perish
Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered, "Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all [likewise] perish."

Not one person or two, but eighteen had a city tower crumble and fall on them. It was unanimous; all died. This was Jesus' illustration of judgement of unrepentence. The strange thing is why there was not a single man out of all eighteen that consciously moaning in agony.

Could Jesus have found an illustration of unending torment? I suppose He could have, if he wanted to support the modern interpretation of "perish."

Church-goers have all heard that to perish does not mean die, it means staying alive while in misery and discomfort ... like burning alive but not being consumed, just feeling the heat in agony. But, "perish" from a biblical standpoint has always meant one thing - death ... not ongoing, but final and complete death.

In this passage Jesus gives us eighteen reasons to believe the truth, becuase eighteen people were caught under the tower, but not a single one of them was in unending couscious torment and agony. In fact, eighteen out of eighteen were snuffed out.

So if unrepentence is your thing, and unbelief suits you ... I am not here to change your mind ... I'm just here to explain what lies ahead.

Wide is the road that leads to [torment?]
No ... it has always been ...
Wide is the road that leads to destruction.

SocietyVs said...

"Who can search the thoughts of God? Who can advise Him on His ways?" (BB)

I knew this was going to come up as a defense at some point. I don't think it holds much weight since we are all human beings looking at the same book for some deep questions - yet we all search that book for the intention of Jesus' teachings - about God. I think we all are searching for the 'mind of God' on this issue, if one is wrong then all are wrong - including Calvin, Luther, Athanasius, etc - all they did was 'search' for the anwers too. Yet they also took a stand on this issue based on scripture and nothing more. Not saying I know all about God or His 'ways' but I do know about the human experience - and our ways. I think the questions about hell are fairly valid and need to be asked - to pastors even (our church teachers). Unless they know the 'ways of God' better than us - then we should not ask.

I am leaning towards Graceheads take on the scenario more and more of late as I read the teachings in Matthew and elsewhere. It does seem Jesus does mean 'perish' in a lot of his teachings - as in 'die off'. But that is in on way solidifed in my opinion since there are other things/teachings that seem to stand in the way of 'some of this interpretation'. But I do like his take in the narrow road scripture - well done.