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Lets talk about hell. - Page 2

post #21 of 157
Quote:
Originally Posted by cappuccinosmom View Post
As to the parental analogy---As a parent I will love my children always. However, I will not force them to live with me or talk to me if they hate me, curse me, and express a strong desire to have nothing to do with me. I would be sad for their choice, but it would be their choice. And I would welcome them home with open arms should they choose to stop hating me and renew contact. I view God as the ultimate loving father...respecting a person's choice, providing an ample and gracious way to come "home", and forgiving all once that child does choose to come home. The parable of the prodigal son comes to mind. The *son* chose to take his inheritance, waste it, and end up in a miserable pig stye. But when he came back, his father didn't begrudge him anything. He threw a party. :
Exactly! I wasn't saying that I would force my children to live with me if (when they were old enough to choose) they decided they hated me and wanted nothing to do with me. But I would never consider that it was too late for them to come back.

Of course, my frail human body will eventually expire, so I can't guarantee that I'd still be here if it took them 40 or 50 years to come around -- but God has power over death and the grave, so He'll never be "expired."
post #22 of 157
Quote:
Originally Posted by cappuccinosmom View Post
I believe Hell is eternity in the abscence of God. How exactly that will work I don't know. We only have descriptions in human language, which is inadequate for both heaven and hell.

I believe it must exist for two reasons.
1. God is just. Heaven and hell are eternal validations of each person's choice. Jesus satisfied both the need for justice and for grace, and because God is just and merciful, I believe that he gives every single person the choice, even if they were born in some remote Asian village and never heard of Jesus, or if they were born before the time of Christ.

2. Heaven for someone who rejected/hated God would be hellish anyway. If you think the idea of the God of the Christian Bible is repugnant (patriarchal, mysogynistic, hateful, wicked, however you view him), wouldn't you feel terrible finding yourself in Heaven with Him?

As to how there can be rejoicing in heaven while there are those in hell....when we are with God finally, we will be unbound from human perspectives and understand his purpose and his justice and his grace wholly.

As to the parental analogy---As a parent I will love my children always. However, I will not force them to live with me or talk to me if they hate me, curse me, and express a strong desire to have nothing to do with me. I would be sad for their choice, but it would be their choice. And I would welcome them home with open arms should they choose to stop hating me and renew contact. I view God as the ultimate loving father...respecting a person's choice, providing an ample and gracious way to come "home", and forgiving all once that child does choose to come home. The parable of the prodigal son comes to mind. The *son* chose to take his inheritance, waste it, and end up in a miserable pig stye. But when he came back, his father didn't begrudge him anything. He threw a party. :
Pretty good explanation of what I believe.
post #23 of 157
This is a little convuluted, but here goes:

I believe that God is love- a force both transcendent and imminent.

I think that hell is a state of mind, largely of a person's own choosing, in existing without God, without love.

And yes, I think hell is real. To me, states of mind are very real.
post #24 of 157
Quote:
Originally Posted by Adele_Mommy View Post
Here is my view:

There is no hell. It is a concept created by humans to control people through fear, and to satisfy a human need for a particular idea of justice that is really just rationalized vengeance.
I agree, though I have a slightly different take on the bolded part.

I think the concept of Heaven/Hell is a psychological comfort for the fact that bad things happen to good people, and the bad in the world never seem to get their just desserts. I think the idea that there is no fundamental justice in the world is really hard to take, especially when you are on the receiving end of the injustice.

Hence Heaven and Hell. Payback time.
post #25 of 157
Quote:
I think the concept of Heaven/Hell is a psychological comfort for the fact that bad things happen to good people, and the bad in the world never seem to get their just desserts. I think the idea that there is no fundamental justice in the world is really hard to take, especially when you are on the receiving end of the injustice.

Hence Heaven and Hell. Payback time.
That makes sense but the Christian view kind of messes with it.

I don't believe in Hell because I want all the people who have hurt me to suffer for eternity. I would prefer that they all know Jesus and spend eternity in Heaven with him and me. In Christian beliefs, Jesus takes the penalty we all deserve, according to justice.
Likewise, I don't feel I "deserve" heaven more than any other human. The only way to deserve perfection for eternity would be to be perfect. I'm definitely not perfect.

So for me it's not about payback or reward.
post #26 of 157
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post #27 of 157
Quote:
Originally Posted by Adele_Mommy View Post
Here is my view:

There is no hell. It is a concept created by humans to control people through fear, and to satisfy a human need for a particular idea of justice that is really just rationalized vengeance.
Quote:
Originally Posted by siobhang View Post
I think the concept of Heaven/Hell is a psychological comfort for the fact that bad things happen to good people, and the bad in the world never seem to get their just desserts. I think the idea that there is no fundamental justice in the world is really hard to take, especially when you are on the receiving end of the injustice.

Hence Heaven and Hell. Payback time.
I agree with these.

I also believe the concept of 'fire and brimstone' hell originated from the pre-scientific reality that 'way down there' is this molten 'lake' of fire, evidenced through volcanos and other such discoveries. It's wayyy too coincidental that volcanos and other seismic activities carry a distinct sulfuric (brimstone) smell and that traditionally, hell has been 'under' the ground.
post #28 of 157
Quote:
Originally Posted by cappuccinosmom View Post
That makes sense but the Christian view kind of messes with it.
this is interesting, let me parse out the logic and let me know what you think.

Quote:
Originally Posted by cappuccinosmom View Post
I don't believe in Hell because I want all the people who have hurt me to suffer for eternity. I would prefer that they all know Jesus and spend eternity in Heaven with him and me. In Christian beliefs, Jesus takes the penalty we all deserve, according to justice.
But only for Christians, right? So if you don't believe in Jesus, then he doesn't take the penalty for your sins and you end up in Hell (please let me know if this is not part of your religious beliefs - it was part of the Christian tradition my grandmother tried to instill in me that not Christian = Hell).

So in this case, Hell is actually a negative consequence for not having the right beliefs/relationship with God, rather than a punishment for not behaving right.

Of course, if I am accurate, Christian belief is that if one truly accepts God and Jesus, then one's behavior will naturally follow a more righteous path - and that by following Christ more closely, kind and ethical behavior will be the outcome.

So if murderers accept Christ (and therefore are eligible for Heaven), part of the sign of the acceptance is that they will both stop killing people and truly repent for their sins. And that if they DON'T stop killing or repent for their sins they have not truly accepted Christ (even if they say they have), and therefore would be not eligible for Heaven.

Quote:
Likewise, I don't feel I "deserve" heaven more than any other human. The only way to deserve perfection for eternity would be to be perfect. I'm definitely not perfect.

So for me it's not about payback or reward.
Who goes to Heaven though? Everyone? People who lived ethical and righteous lives, regardless of religious beliefs? OR just people who believe in Christ?

Heaven is a nice place, right? Certainly more pleasant than Hell?

I guess my question is, if Heaven isn't a reward and Hell isn't a punishment, why even have the concept at all?

Why divided the dead into two, where some go one place that is, by definition, pretty fabulous, and some go the other place, which is, by definition, a never ending pit of despair? What rationale is there for the division other than "right" vs. "wrong"?

You can put a layer of "people aren't judged by their behavior but by their relationship with God" on the rationale but since it is presumed that "close with God" = righteous behavior, really isn't it cloaking a judgment?

I am not trying to be offensive or disparaging; I am just trying to parse out the logic of it all.
post #29 of 157
Quote:
Originally Posted by siobhang View Post
But only for Christians, right? So if you don't believe in Jesus, then he doesn't take the penalty for your sins and you end up in Hell (please let me know if this is not part of your religious beliefs - it was part of the Christian tradition my grandmother tried to instill in me that not Christian = Hell).
Technically, Christians believe Jesus died for all mankind...
(http://www.tentmaker.org/Dew/Dew5/D5...ralProofs.html)

Again...technically.

Quote:
Originally Posted by siobhang View Post
So in this case, Hell is actually a negative consequence for not having the right beliefs/relationship with God, rather than a punishment for not behaving right. Of course, if I am accurate, Christian belief is that if one truly accepts God and Jesus, then one's behavior will naturally follow a more righteous path - and that by following Christ more closely, kind and ethical behavior will be the outcome.
No. Christians believe that hell is a real place of eternal suffering as a result of a rejection of Christ's status as Son of God and savior of mankind.

Quote:
Originally Posted by siobhang View Post
So if murderers accept Christ (and therefore are eligible for Heaven), part of the sign of the acceptance is that they will both stop killing people and truly repent for their sins. And that if they DON'T stop killing or repent for their sins they have not truly accepted Christ (even if they say they have), and therefore would be not eligible for Heaven.
This is where it gets sticky. Some Christians believe once you've accepted Jesus into your heart (born again, as it were) and declare Christ your eternal savior, you are destined for heaven. Period. Some Christians believe if you EVER break one of the ten commandments you are doomed to hell. Some Christians believe a deathbed confession is all it takes to redeem oneself and 'join the club' heading for their celestial home. There's no one clear answer for that one, and one of the MANY reasons basic logic prevented me from adhering to this belief system any longer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by siobhang View Post
Who goes to Heaven though? Everyone? People who lived ethical and righteous lives, regardless of religious beliefs? OR just people who believe in Christ? Heaven is a nice place, right? Certainly more pleasant than Hell? I guess my question is, if Heaven isn't a reward and Hell isn't a punishment, why even have the concept at all?
Christians believe (although I'm oversimplifying) that heaven is the eternal reward for accepting Christ on this earth. To Christians, heaven IS a reward, and hell IS a punishment. I'm not saying it's logical...but it's still the belief system.

Quote:
Originally Posted by siobhang View Post
Why divided the dead into two, where some go one place that is, by definition, pretty fabulous, and some go the other place, which is, by definition, a never ending pit of despair? What rationale is there for the division other than "right" vs. "wrong"? You can put a layer of "people aren't judged by their behavior but by their relationship with God" on the rationale but since it is presumed that "close with God" = righteous behavior, really isn't it cloaking a judgment?
But that's where the logic messes up. The bible isn't clear because of conflicting messages on this exact issue.

Quote:
Originally Posted by siobhang View Post
I am not trying to be offensive or disparaging; I am just trying to parse out the logic of it all.
Good luck with that
post #30 of 157
siobhang--I want to reply but need to wait until I have time to write some thoughtful answers. I'm headed for bed at the moment.

I'll try tomorrow.
post #31 of 157
This is really an interesting discussion.

I just wanted to comment on two points, so far.
Quote:
Originally Posted by siobhang View Post
I guess my question is, if Heaven isn't a reward and Hell isn't a punishment, why even have the concept at all?
A concept is an idea of something formed by mentally combining all its characteristics or particulars. Heaven or Hell to Christians is not a "concept" but a reality. At least to all the Christians I know.

It is a Biblical fact. With hundreds of references to Heaven and dozens to hell, it is not a "concept" but a Biblical fact. So, Christians did not "dream" up the idea (not saying you said this, just making a point) to "scare" people into a religion. It is just a part of what being a Christian is, as much as Jesus is.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Theoretica View Post
Christians believe (although I'm oversimplifying) that heaven is the eternal reward for accepting Christ on this earth. To Christians, heaven IS a reward, and hell IS a punishment. I'm not saying it's logical...but it's still the belief system.
Again, for me and the Christians I know, Heaven is NOT a reward. It is God's place of residence. His home. Although the Bible does discuss a "reward" it is NEVER "Heaven". It is mentioned that our reward would be IN Heaven. Not going to Heaven. Going to be in the presence of God is all that I could ask for. Entering into His home just to be with Him is more than I deserve. But it is no reward. He desires us all to be there. And He is grieved when people choose to turn away from Him.

Yet, as we live our lives for His glory, we can store up treasures or rewards IN Heaven. But I have always thought of those as "perks", not payment. It is just an extra "something" that is given to us a the end of the day (as it were). But not something that is sought after.

Because it will be awesome to just BE with my Father when I am no longer here.

And as for Hell, well, that is not a punishment exactly. It is a consequence. I don't find punishment and consequence to necessarily be the same thing, although I guess you could almost see it that way. But, as a Christian, I have no desire for ANYONE to go to Hell.

Not to mention that "Hell" is not a permenant place, it is more of a "waiting room" until the judgement where all mankind will be judged by the Righteous Judge. At that time, all those found guilty will be cast into the Lake of Fire, as will Hell. (Rev. 20:14)

Anyways, I just thought I would add that.
post #32 of 157
I need to be offline for most of the weekend, but I just wanted to thank y'all for your explanations. Very interesting discussion.
post #33 of 157
Well, to go by the dude in Stop & Shop, if I don't 'take Jesus into my heart right now' I'm doomed to 'fire and brimstone, ma'am, fire and brimstone.'

:

Anyway.

Actually, according to what I've learned, after death the soul returns to G-d. As G-d is absolute justice and absolute love, if the soul was righteous in this life, then that proximity to G-d is heaven. If the soul was evil, that proximity is hell -- unbearable to have chosen evil in the presence of Absolute Good.

But we also believe that a soul will have an opportunity to do 'tikkun' (repair/make right) by going back to this world to try again.

:

Sounds right to me.
post #34 of 157
I'm not religious, so I don't believe in hell. But I am fascinated by the many different concepts of it and why people believe in it.

It's my understanding that in Judaism the concept of hell was not popular until the period between the testaments (Maccabean, right?). It was called Gehenom and it was a valley near Jerusalem where rubbish was burned.

Within Christianity there are many different concepts as to what hell is. Some believe it is absence from God. Since God is the source of goodness, hell would be full of all things awful. Some believe it is annihilation (i.e. you cease to exist). Some believe it is actually the same place Christians go, but since the unbeliever doesn't want to be with God, it is hellish to with him. Some believe it is a place created by God to punish unbelievers.

Besides all that there is also the debate as to whether it is an actual, physical place or whether it is in some other spiritual dimension (there is the same debate about heaven). So, some believe it is an actual place where you burn forever but are never consumed. Others see it as eternal torment of the soul, but does not take up physical space in the universe. Some see it as eternal, others see the possibility of only being there a while then making way to heaven (as in purgatory, or being "refined").

There are many more variations, but most Christians fall into one of these basic camps.

For me personally, the idea that God is the ultimate good but would eternally punish humans for not believing in Christ just doesn't make sense. Never ending punishment and torture?? That's just sadistic and evil. I mean evil on a whole new level. Think of the history's worst humans: Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot etc. Well, in comparison to eternal torture, those guys seem downright humane. At least their torturing and killing was finite. God's punishment would never cease. What loving parent would send his/her child to such a horrid fate?

So this version of God is either the ultimate source of good AND evil, and I contend is MORE evil than good. Or, this version of God doesn't exist. I prefer to believe this version of God doesn't exist.

I'm also very curious to know what other religions concepts of hell are.
post #35 of 157
Quote:
For me personally, the idea that God is the ultimate good but would eternally punish humans for not believing in Christ just doesn't make sense. Never ending punishment and torture?? That's just sadistic and evil. I mean evil on a whole new level. Think of the history's worst humans: Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot etc. Well, in comparison to eternal torture, those guys seem downright humane. At least their torturing and killing was finite. God's punishment would never cease. What loving parent would send his/her child to such a horrid fate?
I actually find some Christian beliefs on this subject awful as well. The predestination argument--before your existence even, you are forordained for eternal reward or eternal punishment--that sounds cruel to me.

However, as Jenny explained and I tried to explain, even though we might believe it is a very unhappy place to be, it's a matter of human choice where to go, not God's arbitrary, senseless decisions. I would not send my children to spend years in a dungeon. However, if they left my home, murdered someone, and ended up in that moldy, dark, miserable place after a fair trial, then I could not accept a finger pointed at me saying "You! You cruel, wicked parent! How could you send me here?!" Even if I were the judge that sentenced them according to the law. To give them lenience because I loved them and they were my child would be the height of injustice and unfairness.

In the case of heaven/hell from the Christian perspective, the amazing thing is that there is someone waiting to take that judgement on himself. In my perspective, heaven is not a reward for being good or righteous-er than others. It is my home, where I will live with my Father/God. But because just like everyone else, I've made choices that led me *away* from heaven, I would end up away from God were it not for the intercession of Christ on my behalf. And again, that intercession is not because I'm better than anyone else. It is available and free for the asking. I believe God would like for everyone to spend eternity with him. But forcing those who don't want him to spend eternity in his presence would be hellish for them, and hardly a mark of mercy
post #36 of 157
Quote:
Originally Posted by Adele_Mommy View Post
Here is my view:

There is no hell. It is a concept created by humans to control people through fear, and to satisfy a human need for a particular idea of justice that is really just rationalized vengeance.
Same here.

But I'll elaborate a bit, in that I think most religious beliefs in general are based on a psychological need for comfort.

At any rate, I'm one of the "others," so the Biblical hell doesn't apply to me.
post #37 of 157
Quote:
Originally Posted by Theoretica View Post
This is where it gets sticky. Some Christians believe once you've accepted Jesus into your heart (born again, as it were) and declare Christ your eternal savior, you are destined for heaven. Period. Some Christians believe if you EVER break one of the ten commandments you are doomed to hell. Some Christians believe a deathbed confession is all it takes to redeem oneself and 'join the club' heading for their celestial home. There's no one clear answer for that one, and one of the MANY reasons basic logic prevented me from adhering to this belief system any longer.
I am curious what denomination believes this. None that I know, because the Bible makes it clear that no one can keep the law.
post #38 of 157
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kidzaplenty View Post
This is really an interesting discussion.

I just wanted to comment on two points, so far.

A concept is an idea of something formed by mentally combining all its characteristics or particulars. Heaven or Hell to Christians is not a "concept" but a reality. At least to all the Christians I know.

It is a Biblical fact. With hundreds of references to Heaven and dozens to hell, it is not a "concept" but a Biblical fact. So, Christians did not "dream" up the idea (not saying you said this, just making a point) to "scare" people into a religion. It is just a part of what being a Christian is, as much as Jesus is.


Again, for me and the Christians I know, Heaven is NOT a reward. It is God's place of residence. His home. Although the Bible does discuss a "reward" it is NEVER "Heaven". It is mentioned that our reward would be IN Heaven. Not going to Heaven. Going to be in the presence of God is all that I could ask for. Entering into His home just to be with Him is more than I deserve. But it is no reward. He desires us all to be there. And He is grieved when people choose to turn away from Him.

Yet, as we live our lives for His glory, we can store up treasures or rewards IN Heaven. But I have always thought of those as "perks", not payment. It is just an extra "something" that is given to us a the end of the day (as it were). But not something that is sought after.

Because it will be awesome to just BE with my Father when I am no longer here.

And as for Hell, well, that is not a punishment exactly. It is a consequence. I don't find punishment and consequence to necessarily be the same thing, although I guess you could almost see it that way. But, as a Christian, I have no desire for ANYONE to go to Hell.

Not to mention that "Hell" is not a permenant place, it is more of a "waiting room" until the judgement where all mankind will be judged by the Righteous Judge. At that time, all those found guilty will be cast into the Lake of Fire, as will Hell. (Rev. 20:14)

Anyways, I just thought I would add that.
I want to clarify that when I said that the purpose of Hell/Heaven as a concept is to fulfill a need for justice, I don't mean that people who believe in a literal hell today do so because they personally want to see specific individuals punished or suffer. I mean that is what I believe caused the origin of the concept as part of Christian theology. I understand that if you believe hell actually exists in reality then there would be no need to find an explanation for the existence of the concept - the idea of hell would simply exist because hell itself exists. However, there is no evidence whatsoever that a literal hell really exists. And the idea of hell as a real place existing is implausible at best and completely irrational in many ways, however the concept of hell existing to meet emotional needs makes perfect sense (at least to me).

I will go ahead and state that the Bible is not evidence, but furthermore, the scriptural argument for the existence of a literal hell is weak. As you mention yourself, the lake of fire is not a place for eternal suffering but actually consumes souls (of the wicked or non-believers or non-selected or whatever) so the real punishment (or consequence) is being denied immortality (which I will agree could be described as a natural consequence of faith rather than a reward, but surely you would not argue that it is not intended to be a positive motivator?). Other mentions of a place "below" or "down" where souls go after death usually are references to an Old Testament concept of the afterlife and all souls went there not just evil, non-believers, etc. Some of Jesus' parables mention hell, but these are parables - stories intended to teach a lesson. The listener is no more expected to interpret them as accurate descriptions of reality than someone hearing one of Aesop's fables is supposed to conclude that there actually exist animals that talk.

There is no unified, comprehensive, description of hell in the Bible. When people talk about hell as an actual place, the images that come to mind are more likely to come (indirectly) from Dante's Inferno or Puritan sermons such as "Sinners in the Hands of An Angry God", which are themselves imaginative interpretations of isolated biblical references.
post #39 of 157
Quote:
Originally Posted by cappuccinosmom View Post
I actually find some Christian beliefs on this subject awful as well. The predestination argument--before your existence even, you are forordained for eternal reward or eternal punishment--that sounds cruel to me.

However, as Jenny explained and I tried to explain, even though we might believe it is a very unhappy place to be, it's a matter of human choice where to go, not God's arbitrary, senseless decisions. I would not send my children to spend years in a dungeon. However, if they left my home, murdered someone, and ended up in that moldy, dark, miserable place after a fair trial, then I could not accept a finger pointed at me saying "You! You cruel, wicked parent! How could you send me here?!" Even if I were the judge that sentenced them according to the law. To give them lenience because I loved them and they were my child would be the height of injustice and unfairness.

In the case of heaven/hell from the Christian perspective, the amazing thing is that there is someone waiting to take that judgement on himself. In my perspective, heaven is not a reward for being good or righteous-er than others. It is my home, where I will live with my Father/God. But because just like everyone else, I've made choices that led me *away* from heaven, I would end up away from God were it not for the intercession of Christ on my behalf. And again, that intercession is not because I'm better than anyone else. It is available and free for the asking. I believe God would like for everyone to spend eternity with him. But forcing those who don't want him to spend eternity in his presence would be hellish for them, and hardly a mark of mercy
Taking your dungeon analogy a step further, I have to point out that No, it wouldnt be your fault if your kid did some bad things and ended up in a dungeon because you didn't CREATE that dungeon.

But if we are to believe that God is the ultimate creator of everything...then hell was created by....Him. So it would be, in my opinion, akin to creating a little punishment box for my child, to put him into if he did not follow my "commandments". Hence, the dungeon, created by me, would be my fault. If I create the rules, the rewards and the punishment, and am the ultimate boss...everything in the game is my creation and my fault.

I've always been fascinated by religion. I used to wonder if people who didnt know about christianity were doomed to hell as "unbelievers." I still wonder that, but now it's irrelevent in my mind. lol

Just wanted to expound on that... not trying to just jump in a start quoting. It just fascinates me. I love this thread.
post #40 of 157
Another thing about the dungeon-analogy: even people who get life-sentences for murder, aren't imprisoned for "eternity."
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