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Hell and Forgiveness - Page 2

post #21 of 42
Quote:
I think hell is a state of being separated from God by choice. It's not that we are sentenced to punishment, it's that when people choose ourselves over God, so God gives them their wish--to be alone.
I think I have heard this stated as God validating a person's choice eternally.

It is a very interesting, and very difficult subject.

Here and now, there are many people who hate the self-righteous, and who wholeheartedly believe in the rehabilitation of even the worst perps. Yet somehow that applying in eternity is abhorrent to many.
post #22 of 42
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Originally Posted by starlein26 View Post
So, one topic that I want to disuss is that of hell and god's forgiveness. IF god is so loving and forgiving, why oh why is there hell?????? Shouldn't he forgive ALL? I'm seriously confused by this segment of religion and the inherent conflict there...
Because God is also Perfectly Just. Our sense of justice is flawed so understanding his can be difficult.

God's forgiveness is available to all of us.
post #23 of 42
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Originally Posted by mamabadger View Post
My beliefs differ a bit from the Catholic ones presented here. The traditional Orthodox teaching is that Heaven and Hell are the same place. After we die, there is only one place we can be, and that is with God, who is the ultimate reality. For someone who loves God, or loves the goodness that God embodies, or is willing to accept God once he is faced with the fact of His existence, the presence of God is joyful. That person is "in Heaven."
If another person hates God, or despises or rejects God, for that person God's presence is torment, and that person is "in Hell." That is why Christ says "the kingdom of Heaven is within you."

Our church represents the afterlife with an image of a river of fire. The fire represents the love of God, which is continuous and inescapable. Some of the people in or near the river perceive the fire as warming and blissful. Others find it a torment, and God allows them to move as far from it as possible, to lessen their suffering - since we do not believe that God punishes.

According to this interpretation, the reason we repent is not to gain God's forgiveness and escape His supposed wrath and punishment, but to make ourselves capable of accepting God once we go to meet Him. We repent to change ourselves, not to change God.

I have never in my life heard this type of interpretation and it is very interesting to me! I never even thought that presence of God can somehow be a torment for people, I always thought that being in the presence of God automatically means being in Heaven. It's very interesting to me. How do you expain this Biblically?
post #24 of 42
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Originally Posted by starlein26 View Post
So, then, what's the point of repentance?
Just because he is capable doesn't mean we will. He can do everything;he doesn't have to do anything.

Christ said to repent. Christ said on the day of judgment there will be those who thought they knew him well but he will say "depart from me I never knew you".

also we repent because it is right. Because God has called us to. because God wants his best for us and that starts with knowing his will (which he makes pretty clear in the law), where we fall short and doing better. it is about growth. about taking on the likeness of God. Being his child. If we go on sinning without repentance we either don't know much of God or are so arrogant and hard hearted and full or ourselves that we think we know better than him.
post #25 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by mamabadger View Post
My beliefs differ a bit from the Catholic ones presented here. The traditional Orthodox teaching is that Heaven and Hell are the same place. After we die, there is only one place we can be, and that is with God, who is the ultimate reality. For someone who loves God, or loves the goodness that God embodies, or is willing to accept God once he is faced with the fact of His existence, the presence of God is joyful. That person is "in Heaven."
If another person hates God, or despises or rejects God, for that person God's presence is torment, and that person is "in Hell." That is why Christ says "the kingdom of Heaven is within you."

Our church represents the afterlife with an image of a river of fire. The fire represents the love of God, which is continuous and inescapable. Some of the people in or near the river perceive the fire as warming and blissful. Others find it a torment, and God allows them to move as far from it as possible, to lessen their suffering - since we do not believe that God punishes.

According to this interpretation, the reason we repent is not to gain God's forgiveness and escape His supposed wrath and punishment, but to make ourselves capable of accepting God once we go to meet Him. We repent to change ourselves, not to change God.
Wow. That's absolutely fascinating. I read a Sufi account of heaven and hell some time ago that was almost identical and it really made an impression on me. Can you share some sources with me about this? Also, does the Orthodox Church have purgatory as a doctrine?
post #26 of 42
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Originally Posted by ChasingPeace View Post
Can you share some sources with me about this? Also, does the Orthodox Church have purgatory as a doctrine?
There is no Purgatory in Orthodox doctrine; that is a uniquely Catholic belief.
As for sources, one is an article by an Orthodox doctor named Kalomiros, called The River of Fire: A reply to the questions: (1) Is God really good? (2) Did God create hell?
http://www.orthodoxpress.org/parish/river_of_fire.htm

Quote:
I never even thought that presence of God can somehow be a torment for people, I always thought that being in the presence of God automatically means being in Heaven. It's very interesting to me. How do you expain this Biblically?
I do not explain it biblically. The afterlife, and many other beliefs, were all discussed, written about, and acted on by Christians well before the New Testament was written. They could not be based on the (NT)Bible because it did not exist yet. This is a very short answer to a huge question, but I do not want to derail the discussion too much.
I suppose you could look at indirect references, like John 12:32 "Jesus will draw all mankind unto Himself" or 1st Corinthians 15:22 "as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive" and similar things, but maybe the best is 1st John 4:8 "God is love." The other alternative we have is a Hell which was created by God as a separate place designed specifically for the purpose of sending people who offended Him so they could be tortured forever. How do we reconcile that with "God is love"?
post #27 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by mamabadger View Post
There is no Purgatory in Orthodox doctrine; that is a uniquely Catholic belief.
As for sources, one is an article by an Orthodox doctor named Kalomiros, called The River of Fire: A reply to the questions: (1) Is God really good? (2) Did God create hell?
http://www.orthodoxpress.org/parish/river_of_fire.htm

I do not explain it biblically. The afterlife, and many other beliefs, were all discussed, written about, and acted on by Christians well before the New Testament was written. They could not be based on the (NT)Bible because it did not exist yet. This is a very short answer to a huge question, but I do not want to derail the discussion too much.
I suppose you could look at indirect references, like John 12:32 "Jesus will draw all mankind unto Himself" or 1st Corinthians 15:22 "as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive" and similar things, but maybe the best is 1st John 4:8 "God is love." The other alternative we have is a Hell which was created by God as a separate place designed specifically for the purpose of sending people who offended Him so they could be tortured forever. How do we reconcile that with "God is love"?
Not sure. Hell is an idea that I struggle with every day. I guess I can only try to see it from a common Christian perspective, but I still don't know if it's accurate or correct.

I have a Christian friend and her non-Christian relative had died for few seconds and then the doctors brought him back to life. We often hear these type of stories about people seeing the tunnel and the light and pearly gates. But this time, this guy saw some truly horrific things. He couldn't expain it, but all he said that he felt horrible torment and physical pain. Whether or not it was just a dream or his illusion, I don't think we will ever know. But it also could be that he did actually visit a place that nobody would like to be in after they die.
post #28 of 42
I believe in the concept of reincarnation and the natural order of cause and effect. No one is ever punished but they do reap the natural consequences of their actions by experiencing the results of their creation. In God there is only unconditional love. Everything that has ever happened here both good and bad were ultimately created by us both individually and collectively. I do not believe what the bible says regarding God's wrath nor do I believe there was ever a flood caused by God. In the afterlife a person can experience a Hell of their own creation with teeth gnashing demons or some other type of self inflicted torment but they can also get out by acknowledging they do not have to be there and once they are embraced by the light they realize that the Hell they experienced was of their own creation. Howard Storm experienced this in his near death experience though he had a different interpretation of it. Every living being is perfect at the core of their being. As humans we experience being the false self which include the ego and passions of the mind but this is all about experiencing. The soul in its true state experiences none of these.
post #29 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by mamabadger View Post
My beliefs differ a bit from the Catholic ones presented here. The traditional Orthodox teaching is that Heaven and Hell are the same place. After we die, there is only one place we can be, and that is with God, who is the ultimate reality. For someone who loves God, or loves the goodness that God embodies, or is willing to accept God once he is faced with the fact of His existence, the presence of God is joyful. That person is "in Heaven."
If another person hates God, or despises or rejects God, for that person God's presence is torment, and that person is "in Hell." That is why Christ says "the kingdom of Heaven is within you."

Our church represents the afterlife with an image of a river of fire. The fire represents the love of God, which is continuous and inescapable. Some of the people in or near the river perceive the fire as warming and blissful. Others find it a torment, and God allows them to move as far from it as possible, to lessen their suffering - since we do not believe that God punishes.

According to this interpretation, the reason we repent is not to gain God's forgiveness and escape His supposed wrath and punishment, but to make ourselves capable of accepting God once we go to meet Him. We repent to change ourselves, not to change God.
Hmmm...again OC is speaking to me. Thank you for posting this...the imagery is beautiful. And although this perspective is more Orthodox than RC, it fits in perfectly with writings of the mystic saints that many of our RC parishes are named after...
post #30 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChasingPeace View Post
I think hell is a state of being separated from God by choice.
This is mostly what we believe, but Hell is not a literal place, but a state of mind. A "place" of being separate, of not understanding that we are all one and all connected.
post #31 of 42
A non-christian perspective...

I personally do not believe in a literal heaven or hell... I believe that you continue to live your life over and over. The choices you make in living it makes it either pleasant or not. I have held this belief my entire life because of dreams that I had as a child and recently my DH read some work that scientists have done that theoretically could show that there are actually many more dimensions in space than we thought and that this could be a possibility. Anyway, this is not from any doctrine, just my own personal meditations.

I am also a Universalist in that I believe that ALL are entitled to forgiveness. Yes, even the rapists and murders. I believe that we are only as strong as the weakest among us (in body, spirit, whatever) and that it should be our purposes as humans to save these people who commit crimes (or could become the ones that do) by spending more money educating ALL people, making sure that EVERYONE has access to the resources they need and rehabilitating those that commit the crimes.
post #32 of 42
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my DH read some work that scientists have done that theoretically could show that there are actually many more dimensions in space than we thought and that this could be a possibility
Couldn't that make heaven and hell a possibility too, then?

I am conservative Christian, but I believe all people *do* have access to forgiveness. The difference I guess is, I don't believe it's automatic, or that punishment in the human realm of things is out of order.
post #33 of 42
I also do not believe that the traditional "dead people go to either heaven or hell" concept is correct.
Not being dead, I could be wrong.
But, I am not dying to find out right now.

The Orthodox view presented here is quite interesting.
I find there are many Orthodox concepts that are quite good.

It is my understanding that according to the Bible, after death, all people go to Hades which is divided into two regions - the pleasant part which is called Paradise- spoken of when the story of Lazarus is told as Abraham's boosom and the unpleasant part which is separated from the pleasant part.
Those who are saved will enjoy the pleasant part and the rest will not.

However, that is not the end.

There will be a final judgement and then all beleivers will be part of the New Jerusalem and those who reject the Lord after being given many chances to accept Him, will be thrown into the lake of fire.

It is not a matter of behavior as some have already stated. To God, sin is sin and someone who sins a bunch of small sins is not any better than a murderer.
But, He forgives all of us.
And when we are in the New Jerusalem with Him we will be in oneness with Him and there will be no sin.

Here is a set of articles about the New Jerusalem and the concept of heaven.
I like the history of heaven chapter because it shows how the current concept of "heaven" has been influenced throughout history.
http://www.affcrit.com/archives/ac_00_02.html
post #34 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by cappuccinosmom View Post
Couldn't that make heaven and hell a possibility too, then?

I am conservative Christian, but I believe all people *do* have access to forgiveness. The difference I guess is, I don't believe it's automatic, or that punishment in the human realm of things is out of order.
i didn't say that it didn't make it possible. i was more suprised to see something i have believed since i was a small child (that seemed ridiculous or impossible) could be possible. i just don't believe in literal hell or heaven as actual places people go. for the same reason other people do... i just believe it because it is what my heart tells me is the truth
post #35 of 42
So why does God need people to ask forgiveness and repent? Why is he insecure and jealous? Why does the creator of everything care so much about the minutia of daily living among people?
post #36 of 42
I believe we were created to worship. to love. to live in communion with God. sin in our life separates us from all that. the only way to get rid of sin is to repent (repenting is more than saying we are sorry, it is more than asking for forgiveness. repentance is all of that plus tackling sin head on and defeating it).

My children do stupid stuff all the time. I don't even begin to hold it against them. they are kids. kids do stupid stuff. I don't need them to apologize. I don't need for them to even change. but I want better for them. i want them to be good people with good lives and continuing on in stupidity separates them from that. i want us to have a good relationship. but lack of trust and lack of fellowship hurts that. when they recognize they have made bad choices, when they ask me to forgive them, when the make right their wrongs, when they change and grow, it makes me glad, not for what it has done for me but for what it has done for them.
post #37 of 42
Ok, I think I see what you are saying. So, then, maybe following God would be the same as doing things that create harmony and peace in the world. And, like someone else said, maybe hell would be the bad feelings that come from disharmony.

I guess I just don't understand why people can't change their ways without doing it on behalf of God. Maybe my issue is with the personification of God.
post #38 of 42
I guess it doesn't make sense if you don't believe in God or don't believe he created us with a purpose or has any plans for us, or that we ruined anything by sinning,
post #39 of 42
Quote:
Originally Posted by lilyka View Post
I believe we were created to worship. to love. to live in communion with God. sin in our life separates us from all that. the only way to get rid of sin is to repent (repenting is more than saying we are sorry, it is more than asking for forgiveness. repentance is all of that plus tackling sin head on and defeating it).
I really like this... this is kinda what I was trying to say... except that I don't know if I believe in a personified creator or not... I am more of a humanist/universalist. But I definately agree that the person has to want to be forgiven in order for it to happen or live their life differently the next time they are reborn... Otherwise they would find themselves in continually disharmony. And if someone doesn't care that they are in "sin" I guess forgiveness wouldn't matter to them either.
post #40 of 42
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Originally Posted by ms. pacman View Post
I guess I just don't understand why people can't change their ways without doing it on behalf of God.
The most significant reason for changing my ways is because of long term effects of changing or not changing. I will be more motivated to change my diet if it will affect my health for many years to come; I will learn to control my temper if it will affect my family life over a long period. If the effect is not only on my life on earth, but my permanent life after death, I should find even more reason to take these changes seriously. If God is not part of the picture, nothing I do will affect me for more than a few decades at most.
Quote:
Maybe my issue is with the personification of God.
If God is not a person, then what is God? An inanimate object?
Human beings are persons. They have a mind, feelings, the ability to think and imagine, an independent will. If God is something else, an unthinking force or energy or what have you, that would make human beings superior to God by any criterion we can imagine. It would also make us completely unrelated to God, which is an essential part of at least Jewish and Christian theology.
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