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#1 of 42 Old 12-21-2007, 03:20 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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...

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#2 of 42 Old 12-21-2007, 03:52 PM
 
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In our beliefs, there is Hell because God has given us a choice. He is loving and forgiving, and every single person has the opportunity to choose forgiveness, which is freely given and (in Christianity) paid for by Jesus.
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#3 of 42 Old 12-21-2007, 03:56 PM
 
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Not an expert but isn't hell reserved for those that haven't made penance and truly repented? It's not like there is no chance for redemption.
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#4 of 42 Old 12-21-2007, 04:06 PM
 
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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...

Hell is for unrepentant sinners - that's all.

God does forgive all - but you have to be humble enough to confess and ask for His forgiveness for the sins you have committed.

If you don't have the humility to do that, you would merit Hell.

I don't see any injustice in God not forgiving those who are unrepentant. It is true justice that those who are not sorry for their transgressions should be punished for them.

Wouldn't you want someone who had harmed your child to be punished for it, if they were not at all sorry for doing so?
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#5 of 42 Old 12-21-2007, 04:07 PM
 
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God's love and forgiveness are only two of His attributes--justice and wrath are two others. One doesn't hear so much about them (when's the last time you saw 'God is Wrath' on a bumper sticker?), but there they are.

As God is non-contingent and humanity is contingent, He doesn't 'owe us' anything--love, forgiveness, freedom from hell. To say that He 'should' forgive everyone is to hold Him to a moral standard outside Himself, which is logically nonsensical (God defines morality through His character, He doesn't hold to a standard of morality external to Himself). So there's no logical conflict in 'God is loving yet sends people to hell', merely an emotional one.

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#6 of 42 Old 12-21-2007, 04:26 PM
 
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That is certainly true that people forget or gloss over the part of Jesus's message that isn't the "luv" and warm fuzzy part.

Here is a relevant quote from the Bible:

"Do not think that I came to send peace upon earth: I came not to send peace, but the sword. For I came to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And as a man's enemies shall be they of his own household." Matthew 10:34-36/DRV


And here is the commentary on the passage:

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35 "I came to set a man at variance"... Not that this was the end or design of the coming of our Saviour; but that his coming and his doctrine would have this effect, by reason of the obstinate resistance that many would make, and of their persecuting all such as should adhere to him.
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#7 of 42 Old 12-21-2007, 04:32 PM
 
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Well those passages are talking about how people would have to decide to follow Jesus or not and the associated family issues that would happen as a result for those who had family that chose not to follow. Literal swords are not what was meant.

This was the reading of the week awhile back and I well remember the homily on this topic and had discussed it with my pastor.
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#8 of 42 Old 12-21-2007, 04:49 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hell is for unrepentant sinners - that's all.

God does forgive all - but you have to be humble enough to confess and ask for His forgiveness for the sins you have committed.

If you don't have the humility to do that, you would merit Hell.

I don't see any injustice in God not forgiving those who are unrepentant. It is true justice that those who are not sorry for their transgressions should be punished for them.

Wouldn't you want someone who had harmed your child to be punished for it, if they were not at all sorry for doing so?
So by this logic, a murdering pedophile who asks for god's forgiveness in a humble way goes to heaven but a person like me, who simply denies god's existence, while preserving the life and integrity of others, goes to hell? Am I following this logic correctly?


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God's love and forgiveness are only two of His attributes--justice and wrath are two others. One doesn't hear so much about them (when's the last time you saw 'God is Wrath' on a bumper sticker?), but there they are.

As God is non-contingent and humanity is contingent, He doesn't 'owe us' anything--love, forgiveness, freedom from hell. To say that He 'should' forgive everyone is to hold Him to a moral standard outside Himself, which is logically nonsensical (God defines morality through His character, He doesn't hold to a standard of morality external to Himself). So there's no logical conflict in 'God is loving yet sends people to hell', merely an emotional one.
So god is entitled to justice and wrath but his "creations" aren't? Didn't god create all? Am I wrong about that?

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#9 of 42 Old 12-21-2007, 04:49 PM
 
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Well those passages are talking about how people would have to decide to follow Jesus or not and the associated family issues that would happen as a result for those who had family that chose not to follow. Literal swords are not what was meant.
God has historically brought plenty of literal "swords" to the world, e.g. the Flood, the Pharaoh first-borns, etc. and I'm sure there will be plenty more to come for the world in the Chastisement.
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#10 of 42 Old 12-21-2007, 04:55 PM
 
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So by this logic, a murdering pedophile who asks for god's forgiveness in a humble way goes to heaven but a person like me, who simply denies god's existence, while preserving the life and integrity of others, goes to hell? Am I following this logic correctly?

Sort of.

THe murdering pedophile who confessed and had contrition for his crime/sin would be forgiven and would go to Heaven, but likely with a pitstop in Purgatory first.

There is no sin that God will not forgive.

The Church would say one who denies God's very existence would most likely be condemned because that would fall into the category of a 'mortal' sin.

Mortal sins are the only ones that send you to Hell - mortal meaning it must be of grave matter (denying God's existence is very grave), you must have sufficient relflection (one would have had plenty of time to reflect upon this) and you have to have full consent of your will (i.e. you weren't being 'forced' to hold that belief).

But, if one realized the error and confessed and were sorry for it, God would forgive them.
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#11 of 42 Old 12-21-2007, 05:22 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Sort of.

THe murdering pedophile who confessed and had contrition for his crime/sin would be forgiven and would go to Heaven, but likely with a pitstop in Purgatory first.

There is no sin that God will not forgive.

The Church would say one who denies God's very existence would most likely be condemned because that would fall into the category of a 'mortal' sin.

Mortal sins are the only ones that send you to Hell - mortal meaning it must be of grave matter (denying God's existence is very grave), you must have sufficient relflection (one would have had plenty of time to reflect upon this) and you have to have full consent of your will (i.e. you weren't being 'forced' to hold that belief).

But, if one realized the error and confessed and were sorry for it, God would forgive them.
Why do you think god would rather you spend eternity in heaven with someone who might have murdered an raped your child (but has asked for forgiveness) but send me to hell?

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#12 of 42 Old 12-21-2007, 05:55 PM
 
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Why do you think god would rather you spend eternity in heaven with someone who might have murdered an raped your child (but has asked for forgiveness) but send me to hell?
Well, God holds a very special love for repentant sinners vs. the souls who were always "just" or faithful. Perhaps that is because He recognizes how difficult it is to get out of the grip of the devil and repent from a life of sin? I don't know.

Here's a good Scripture passage on that subject:

"What think you? If a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them should go astray: doth he not leave the ninety-nine in the mountains, and go to seek that which is gone astray? And if it so be that he find it: Amen I say to you, he rejoiceth more for that, than for the ninety-nine that went not astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father, who is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish." Matthew 18:12-14/DRV

The souls who are in Heaven do not care at all what the sins were of their companions there during their lives on earth. At the General Judgment at the end of time, all private sins will be revealed to all people, (i.e. I'll see yours, you'll see mine). But for those who are in Heaven, they would look at it in a sense of, "Praise God! You responded to God's grace and overcame!" rather than a sense of horror at what you had done back on earth. In other words, I guess you could say you'd be happy that the murdering pedophile repented, if that makes sense.

Also, God would condemn someone who did not acknowledge His Sovreignty and Authority as their Creator as a most serious crime, as that is in itself the very First Commandment, and so therefore a more serious offense than the murdering pedophile's violation of the Fourth Commandment.
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#13 of 42 Old 12-21-2007, 05:58 PM
 
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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. Also, while we know there is a hell, we don't know if anyone is there.
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#14 of 42 Old 12-21-2007, 06:05 PM
 
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Also, while we know there is a hell, we don't know if anyone is there.
This is not true.

While the Church does not speak officially on those in Hell, as it does on the canonized Saints in Heaven, there are several Church sanctioned and Church approved visions of Hell and the souls there that have been given to many canonized Saints.

Just to name a few:

Blessed Jacinta and Blessed Francisco in the Apparitions of Our Lady at Fatima
St. John Bosco (read here)
St. Leonard of Port Maurice (read here)
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#15 of 42 Old 12-21-2007, 06:11 PM
 
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So god is entitled to justice and wrath but his "creations" aren't? Didn't god create all? Am I wrong about that?
Huh? Not sure what you're asking. Yes, God created all things. And humans are allowed to exercise justice and wrath in the correct circumstances, although obviously not to the same extent that God is.

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#16 of 42 Old 12-21-2007, 10:09 PM
 
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Repentance is more than asking for forgiveness. It is also about turning from your sin and seriously seeking Gods heart and Gods will. God is perfectly capable of forgiving everyone everything regardless of repentence and gathering them all to himself. he is after all God. Also all the sorries in the world don't mean you will be going to heaven. I can continue sinning and continue confessing and saying I am sorry till I am blue but that doesn't mean I know anything of God or have shown any love of him.

and this is just a little aside to what starlein26, and my personal opinion, I don't claim to speak for God. . . . I think it is far better to sincerly lack faith (as opposed to just not caring if there is a God or not) and live in a way that honors God than to claim to know God (and even worse to really know Him) and continue to sin without shame or fear.

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#17 of 42 Old 12-21-2007, 11:06 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Well, God holds a very special love for repentant sinners vs. the souls who were always "just" or faithful. Perhaps that is because He recognizes how difficult it is to get out of the grip of the devil and repent from a life of sin? I don't know.


Also, God would condemn someone who did not acknowledge His Sovreignty and Authority as their Creator as a most serious crime, as that is in itself the very First Commandment, and so therefore a more serious offense than the murdering pedophile's violation of the Fourth Commandment.
Well, it sounds like your heaven will be interesting. Hopefully the repentant sinners don't change their minds again...

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#18 of 42 Old 12-21-2007, 11:16 PM - Thread Starter
 
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God is perfectly capable of forgiving everyone everything regardless of repentence and gathering them all to himself. he is after all God.

So, then, what's the point of repentance?

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#19 of 42 Old 12-21-2007, 11:25 PM
 
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There is a very interesting fiction book by C S Lewis called "The Great Divorce". His vision is that people who are in hell even given a chance to be in Heaven will not want it or recognize it as one. God does not send people to Hell, God choses people He wants with Him in Heaven. It's people's own choice to be in Hell when they deny God.
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#20 of 42 Old 12-22-2007, 01:44 AM
 
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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.
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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.
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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.
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#23 of 42 Old 12-22-2007, 04:55 PM
 
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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?
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#24 of 42 Old 12-22-2007, 07:48 PM
 
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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.

The truest answer to violence is love. The truest answer to death is life. The only prevention for violence is for the heart to have no violence within it.  We cannot prevent evil through any system devised by mankind. But we can grapple with evil and defeat it, but only with love—real love.

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#25 of 42 Old 12-22-2007, 08:39 PM
 
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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?
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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

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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"?
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#27 of 42 Old 12-23-2007, 12:37 AM
 
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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.
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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.
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#29 of 42 Old 12-30-2007, 08:29 PM
 
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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.
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...
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#30 of 42 Old 12-30-2007, 08:45 PM
 
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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.

Third generation WOHM. I work by choice.
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