Would An Eternity In Hell Even Be Fair? (The Problem of Proportionality)

Would An Eternity In Hell Even Be Fair? (The Problem of Proportionality) September 7, 2016

Scales of Justice symbol - legal law concept image.

So, you’re a sinner.

Just one sin lands you in that category. No matter how small or large of a transgression, that one, smallest sin, comes with it the penalty of an eternity of torment in hell.

One lie. One act of theft. One impure thought. Just one sin earns eternal torment.

Or, so that’s what they taught us.

The more and more I process the traditional view of hell, the more the premise of it all doesn’t even make sense.

When we consider matters of justice, we seem to have an instinctive understanding that consequences should be proportional to the offense. When consequences are meted proportionally, we sense fairness. When consequences dramatically exceed an offense, we instinctively recognize they are an unjust response to the offense.

We even find this lesson in the Bible– when Moses introduced the system of an eye-for-an-eye, he was putting a limit on retributive justice, and teaching that any punishment must be proportional to the offense.

Or, a modern day example: if a child were not taking school seriously and had poor grades, it would be considered fair and just to restrict some extracurricular activities until grades improved. However, if a parent were to respond to these poor grades by grounding them for the next four years, we’d see that as unjust and an overreaction, because the consequence would lack proportionality to the offense. Furthermore, such an action would show the parent was more concerned with punishing the child than actually helping them improve their grades (punitive justice instead of restorative justice).

Those who argue in favor of the traditional view of hell abandon this moral and biblical view of justice being proportional to the offense. Instead, to justify the doctrine of eternal conscious torment, they argue that justice must be proportional to the one offended. Since God is infinite and without end, the punishment for offending him must also be infinite and without end.

In Four Views on Hell, Denny Burk states it this way: “To sin against an infinitely glorious being is an infinitely heinous offense that is worthy of an infinitely heinous punishment.” (p.20)

In fact, to reject this idea that God needs to punish sin with eternal, everlasting torment, is something Burk says represents a “diminished” view of God and is evidence that we are failing to take sin and judgement seriously.

I, of course, couldn’t disagree more strongly.

Those of us who reject the idea of eternal conscious torment do take God and justice quite seriously– so serious in fact, that we recognize injustice when we see it.

We are made in the image and likeness of God. We are given a conscience from God. And that conscience bears witness to the reality that consequences for wrongdoing must be fair and proportional to the offense, not the one offended. For example, we punish murder on the basis of murder itself. The law does not say that the punishment for murdering a kind person should be more harsh than the punishment for murdering an unkind person.

This is also why we don’t burn people alive in town squares anymore. It’s why we find the idea of cutting off someone’s hands for stealing to be repulsive. It’s why we don’t cut off our kid’s tongues when they get caught lying to us.

It’s why we don’t do a lot of things: We know that true justice is always proportional to the offense

The view of eternal conscious torment is the ultimate case of justice lacking any degree of proportionality. Those who try to overcome the objection of proportionality are unable to do so on the basis of morality, ethics, or even Scripture, since even Scripture prescribes death, not hell, as the penalty for sin (see Genesis 2:17, Ezekiel 18:20, Romans 6:23).

One cannot show that it is morally good to torment someone in flames for billions and billions of years for a stolen piece of bread. One cannot show that it is ethical to torment someone for billions and billions of years for speaking a single lie. And certainly, one cannot make the case from Scripture unless they completely redefine the word death to mean something it doesn’t.

Thus, there is often this appeal to immediately remove God from moral or ethical standards of what our own conscience tells us is right or wrong. We become forced to say, “Yeah, that’s horrible, and I’d never do it to my kid because I love them, but it’s okay when God does it.”

The only way to skirt the issue of proportionality is to essentially dismiss the argument and make up things that are not found in Scripture. This is precisely what Burk does when he claims that God being an infinite being, must thus punish the smallest offense infinitely– the Bible doesn’t say that. It’s an argument from Anselm in the 12th Century, but not from the Bible.

We instinctively know that when punishment lacks proportionality, it is unjust– even the Bible teaches this! Thus, to affirm the traditional view of hell we have to find ways to assuage our dissonance in order to explain away something our conscience and biblical principles tell us is wrong, wrong, wrong.

Instead of trying to do ethical gymnastics to show that it is good and right for God to torment someone for eternity over a stolen slice of bread, we would be better off listening to our God-given consciences which tell us that punishment without proportionality is not justice at all.

(For the full archive on Hell, click here.)


unafraid 300Dr. Benjamin L. Corey is a public theologian and cultural anthropologist who is a two-time graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary with graduate degrees in the fields of Theology and International Culture, and holds a doctorate in Intercultural Studies from Fuller Theological Seminary. He is also the author of the new book, Unafraid: Moving Beyond Fear-Based Faith, which is available wherever good books are sold. www.Unafraid-book.com.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Iain Lovejoy

    “I also think Lewis thought people could change their mind in the afterlife but they just didn’t want to”
    If we say some will never change their mind, are we saying God ultimately lacks the power to talk them round, or are we saying that he ceases to love them and stops trying?

  • Eric Henson

    This has actually been a problem I have had for a long time. Only for me I take it even further. I cannot accept that an all loving God would allow for an eternity of suffering. No level of sin committed in a mortal lifetime justifies an eternity of torment. At some point enough is enough. Not just for the stealing a slice of bread level of sin, but the extreme cases. Even the Hitlers and Stalins of sin will eventually reach the point where the punishment and torment is just excessive.

  • The whole logic revolving around being “infinite” is just weird. It shows how much of our systematic theology is based on Greek philosophy and not on exegesis.

    Here’s a tip. Anytime your doctrinal position depends on math, the odds are good it’s not derived from biblical exegesis.

  • Jon-Michael Ivey

    I’m not sure that I entirely agree that the true justice must be proportional to the offense as opposed to the one offended.

    There is however a stronger case biblical speaking that the punishment should be INVERSELY proportional to the status of the one offended.

    Jesus taught that we will be judged based on how we treat the least of these.

    It would make far more sense to say that God’s infinite dignity means that crimes against Him must be punished, not infinitely, but infinitesimally.

    I could hardly imagine a least christian argument than when I heard by family’s church’s preacher’s kids use Anslem’s argument saying that it was only right that a person would be punished far more harshly for assaulting the President of the United States than for hitting a random child.

    This was in the same Sunday School class when they said that Universalism or the possibility of postmortem repentance was incompatible with Christianity because it would be unfair to those who suffered as Christians during this life to let some people enjoy a sinful life and accept Christ only once they knew the truth at the end. That of course seems to be the opposite of what Jesus taught in the Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard.

  • $136305622

    It is very fortunate in the West that we have the benefit of early (16th century) and modern (18th century) European Enlightenment philosophy that enables us to see past religious beliefs on justice and leads us to conclude that justice must be proportional to the infraction (aka, the punishment must suit the crime).

    I would disagree on one thing – I think there could definitely be circumstances where stealing a loaf of bread or lying should be punishable to the greatest extent!

    I was grateful to grow up Catholic because it is a faith that is so rules-based that any thinking individual immediately learns how unjust it is and quickly abandons it! I remember sitting there at age 8, when I received the sacrament of reconciliation, wondering how in the world it could make sense that if I missed mass one Sunday I would wind up in Hell right alongside someone who killed another person.

  • LuckyCharmWA

    I generally agree with your argument, but would point out that in the context of timeless eternity, the phrase “billions and billions of years” is actually meaningless. In a dimension without time, one nanosecond is exactly as “long” as a hundred billion years.

  • diamondsarentforever

    The concept of Hell is what kept me a Christian for many years. I felt that as long as I identified as a Christian, that’s what kept me safe compared to my other friends of different religions or atheist backgrounds. The most freedom I’ve felt in life is when I gave up being a Christian and I accepted myself and other people who who they were, not for what religion wanted them to be.

    Nobody needs to be saved from anything. If you make poor choices, there are consequences, and that’s between you and your own integrity and whoever you’ve hurt in the process. There’s a video floating around online of a young kid, probably 7 years old who gets baptized by a pastor and dunks himself because he’s bored with the long speech/prayer the pastor is giving. You really think this kid has any idea what the hell he’s doing? (no pun intended). Life is about constantly growing and renewing yourself. It’s a process. You don’t just “get saved” and that’s that. Some people fail, some succeed. But a truly loving God wouldn’t judge how badly you messed up, and would accept you anyway.

  • Iain Lovejoy

    Sorry, I wasn’t trying to pose some kind of deep or complicated philosophical conundrum, just trying to make a simple point: if you believe there are sinners who never repent you have to believe either that God’s infinite love and wisdom is incapable of changing their minds, even given eternity to do so, or that at some point he stops caring and gives up. I am a universalist because I can’t bring myself to believe either.

  • jeffnkr

    Isaiah 55:8-9
    For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

    EZEKIEL 33:11
    Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?

    I hate the thought of ANYONE AT ALL going to Hell, for all eternity. I wish that somehow, EVERYONE made it into Heaven. But people do not go to Hell for what they have done – they go to Hell for what they have NOT done. Peole are in Hell, or will be there, because they did not ask Jesus Christ to be their LORD and Savior. Also, no one has done just one sin, or just one kind of sin. We have all done things of many different kinds, and not just one.

    Regardless, I also believe that when we get to Heaven, we’ll see things from God’s perspective, and we’ll see that God DID do the BEST thing, in ALL circumstances. Let’s trust Him.

  • Iain Lovejoy

    There is an article on the scriptural basis for (and against) universalism over on this blog, if you are interested:
    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/unsystematictheology/2016/09/christian-universalism-or-eternal-judgment-the-bibles-pros-and-cons/
    “For if the evils he died for aren’t significant enough to warrant eternal punishment, perhaps the grace displayed on the cross isn’t significant enough to warrant eternal praise.”
    I read that in the article you linked to and I am completely unable to fathom what it actually means. It sort of seems to say that God has to torture some people eternally so that those he doesn’t are sufficiently grateful, but I am really hoping it doesn’t, because that would be sick.
    “Cheap grace” makes no sense, complaining that it should be more expensive even less so: “grace” means unmerited, unearned generosity and it is by definition free.

  • Jeanne Fox

    In his book, “3:16 The Numbers of Hope,” on page 82, Max Lucado contends, “A sinner ‘ s rebellion doesn’t warrant an eternity of suffering, does it? Isn’t God overreacting?

    A man once accused me of the same. Some years ago, when my daughters were small, we encountered an impatient shopper at a convenience store. My three girls were selecting pastries from the doughnut shelf. They weren’t moving fast enough for him, so he leaned over their shoulders and barked, ‘You kids hurry up. You’re Taking too long.’ I, an aisle away, overheard the derision and approached him. “Sir, those are my daughters. They didn’t deserve those words. You need to apologize to them.’

    He minimized the offense. ‘ I didn’t do anything that bad.’ My response? That verdict was not his to render. Those were my daughters he had hurt. Who was he to challenge my reaction? Who are we to challenge God’s? Only He knows the full story, the number of invitations the stubborn hearted have refused and the slander they’ve spewed.”

  • Ezekiel 33:11 is about dying, not going to Hell.

  • I do appreciate the part of the point that we never really know all the variables in these kinds of situations, so we need a measure of caution when we evaluate the “verdict” of others.

    But on the other hand, I’d say to Max that I’m not sure asking the man to apologize is comparable, because while some might agree or disagree that he owed the girls an apology, we could probably all agree that apologizing fits “the crime.” If Max had suggested that the man cover his tongue in honey and stick it down a fire ant hill and lay like that all night, the man might well have considered that an overreaction, and I think most would agree.

    In that vein, it’s truly difficult to imagine what mitigating factor might be out there that would make “torturing someone forever” seem like a fitting recompense.

  • It’s simple: Love wins.

  • caelin blevans

    god is perfect, and without sin right? and it is self-evident that a perfect entity, a perfect being can NOT be around sin. Hell, is not a punishment, not in the traditional sense, hell is the eternal separation from god, because we are born into sin, and live in sin there is no way we would ever be able to be with god in heaven, that is without jesus, then basic apologetics come into play, and i’m pretty sure you know the rest

  • Ron McPherson

    If God is all loving, all knowing, and all powerful (which I believe him to be all three), then how can there be eternal conscious torment? In every case I could see ECT if God possessed any 2 of the 3, but not all 3. For instance, He could be both all loving and all knowing, but POWERLESS to stop torture? Or He could be both all knowing and all powerful to stop the torture, but not all LOVING if he chooses not to. Or, he could be both all loving and all powerful, but not KNOWING to stop the ECT.

  • Iain Lovejoy

    “Life is about constantly growing and renewing yourself. It’s a process. You don’t just “get saved” and that’s that.”
    Couldn’t agree more. Not sure why this us an argument against Christianity, though, since most Christians would consider that faith is exactly that continuous journey towards God.
    “a truly loving God wouldn’t judge how badly you messed up, and would accept you anyway.”
    Pretty much Jesus’ message in a nutshell: that’s why it’s called the “good news”. We actually went right ahead and killed him, and you don’t mess up worse than that, but he just kept right on coming for us, as you say.
    Are you sure you’re not a Christian? By the sound of things you are a better one now than you ever were before you gave up being one. You sound a better one than I am.

  • This is kind of what I mean in the piece: the argument is essentially, “who are we to question what God does?” It’s an appeal to mystery, not theology or logic, all due respect to Mr. Lucado.

  • RonnyTX

    Agni:
    It’s simple: Love wins.

    Ronny to Agni:
    Amen Agni, amen! And God/Jesus Christ is love, pure love! :-)

  • I’m curious; if justice is proportional to the offense, what do we do with the idea of “a life for a life?” For instance, a serial killer murdered someone’s daughter, and now that someone wants him executed. I’m pretty firmly opposed to the death penalty, though I understand its appeal – but proportionality seems to say it is fair to end the murderer’s life. Where do you think proportionality fits in here?

  • Tim

    If God cannot be around sin, then what was Jesus doing with all those sinners he hung out with. How was he able to become sin on our behalf if God could not be around sin? Sorry; no way you can justify that line of thought biblically or logically.

  • God is around sin all the time. Is God with you? Do you sin?

    It isn’t self-evident that a morally perfect being can’t be around sin. Why would that necessarily be the case? If Jesus were morally perfect, how was he able to eat with sinners?

  • Warren

    But what if we turned that around? What if the shopper had said “I am the one they offended with their delays. Who are you to say my actions were unfair?”

    Your example only appears to work because it’s relying on common moral reasoning. We know that the shopper was being unfair, because no reasonable person would assume they meant any harm by their pastry shopping. Likewise, we know your response was fair, not because you say it was fair, but because verbal chastisement is a proportionate response. If you had instead drawn a gun and executed the shopper, then your argument would hold no weight: You may have been acting to redress a wrong, but that goes too far.

    You’ll note that none of this has anything to do with “the full story” that only you know. If one of your daughters had an obscure neurological disorder that caused her to suffer a fatal seizure when the stranger yelled at her, you still wouldn’t be justified in killing him, because no reasonable person would expect his actions to prove deadly.

    Hell completely ignores all this. If our alleged sins inflict infinite harm on some spiritual plane, we can’t be held responsible, because we have no way of observing said harm. Human justice recognizes mens rea and lack thereof; if divine justice does not, it’s not worthy of being called “justice.”

  • For me, I think there’s a difference that comes in what sort of punishment is equal to the crime and what sort of punishment is “best.”

    For the first category, equality and proportionality are really all there are to consider. If someone breaks my arm on purpose, breaking his arm is a proportional response and is “fair” in that sense. It’s equitable.

    But equitability may not be the only consideration in coming up with the best response.

    For instance, if your child punches another child in the nose, it may be equitable to invite that child over to your house to punch your kid in the nose, but other considerations are at work as well – you want your child not to use violence to get his way, you want him to learn how to deal with situations where he has wronged someone else – so having your child apologize to the other child and maybe offering something kind to do for him is a better choice.

    As a society (and whether this is done consistently or not is another story), there tends to be an awareness of not wanting to commit the very acts we have decided are crimes in the first place. So, if you burn someone else’s house down, the court will probably make you pay a lot of money to the person who lost their house as well as serving jail time and/or getting psychiatric help because of the antisocial nature of your crime. They would not round up some cops to burn your house down, because they would (rightly) recognize that this wouldn’t fix anything.

  • Realist1234

    Fair point, though one could apply the same argument for human suffering in the here and now – if God is all loving, all knowing and all powerful, why does He not stop all the suffering in the world? The quick answer is, we dont know. The longer answer is free will etc. In relation to hell, whilst I certainly have alot of time for the view that ‘hell’ does not mean eternal suffering, one could argue such suffering is self-imposed due to human free will, which God has chosen not to usurp. As such, can anyone ‘blame’ God for such suffering?

  • Realist1234

    You view actually supports the idea that ‘hell’ is not eternal suffering but rather annihilation. In ‘destroying’ both body and soul, God would be ending even the existence of sin, and would therefore never be ‘around’ it or its effects again. That is one of the reasons why I am moving towards an ‘annihilistic’ view.

  • Realist1234

    No not as simple as that.

  • Realist1234

    As Ive said before, I can appreciate the ‘annihilistic’ view and am moving in that direction, but in continuing to use ‘torturing’ does that not imply it is God who is ‘actively’ torturing people? But is that what the NT teaches?

  • Realist1234

    But that isnt what Jesus or His disciples believed and taught.

  • I don’t believe that’s what the NT teaches, but that’s what the traditional view of Hell comes down to. I don’t think you can ease the problem by pointing out that God isn’t actively doing the torturing – He’s just responsible for the decree that people must be tortured.

    In the Old Testament, there’s a story about Nebuchadnezzar ordering Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego thrown into a raging furnace because they would not bow to his statue. No one would make the argument that Nebuchadnezzar was a passive spectator because he didn’t light them on fire, himself, nor would anyone argue that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego “sent themselves to the furnace” because of their refusal. Nebuchadnezzar defined the circumstances under which someone would be thrown into a furnace and enforced them, and he was morally responsible for his decision.

  • That’s a good point and underscores the difficulty of the problem of evil.

    I think -a- difference is that Hell as traditionally defined is not just some feature of the natural world that people have to live with – it’s a place God created for punitive torment. There’s volition and purpose behind it – a purpose that serves no other purpose than punitive torment.

    But I think the free will defense isn’t a great way out of the problem of evil, either, so….

  • Guy Norred

    I think you really hit the nail on the head in your parenthetic reference to punitive justice and restorative justice. I am coming to believe more and more that restorative justice is at the center of the Gospel and that the focus on punishment is the great lie put forth to keep us from seeing it.

  • Guy Norred

    Perfection that falls apart at imperfection is a not uncommon but rather weak view of perfection. Perfection that transcends and transforms the imperfect is a much greater perfection.

  • I think life for a life is proportional, but that there is no human with the moral standing to carry out such a sentence. Also, while life for a life would be proportional, I believe that mercy triumphs over judgement.

  • Ron McPherson

    Good points. The one thing I would add though is the suffering here on earth is not unending which might be a strong enough distinction. Or maybe not lol

  • diamondsarentforever

    Well then, maybe I am. I would say that I am probably a better Christian/person by not being a Christian if that even makes sense.

    But my argument is that you don’t have to believe Jesus died on the cross for your sins to understand and implement those concepts in life. By all means you can be an atheist and come to a place of full acceptance of yourself and other people, and live a life that “honors God” according to Christian standards by the simple fact that if God is real and he created you, then you already have a sense of right and wrong and you will try to find your purpose. Most fundamental Christians draw a hard line and say “If you don’t accept Jesus, then you don’t have eternal life”. They think “accepting Jesus” is this external label that gets you the “ok” from God and they totally miss the point that God has already said “ok” to everyone, regardless of religion, race, sexuality, etc.

  • diamondsarentforever

    Yes, which makes me believe Jesus was more of a Universalist if anything. Jesus didn’t come to the world to bring a religion where only Christians get saved. Paul’s teachings are what I believe started the fundamentalist, extremist evangelical movements that scared people into religion out of ideas of Hell and judgment.

  • Dean

    There are three arguments that eventually moved me away from the traditional view of hell, they don’t come directly from the Bible but I think they strike at the heart of why ECT is probably not biblical, primarily because it clashes with the worldview presented by the Bible in very obvious ways:

    (1) In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth, and things were pretty good. In the end, you have billions and billions of people suffering eternal conscious torment. Well, can you say it was all worth it? This asymmetry in this biblical narrative is a very serious problem for ECT folks because apparently one of the side effects of God creating beings in his own image was to increase exponentially the amount of suffering in the universe for all of eternity. I don’t understand how that can be good news, that’s terrible news. I’m can never understand how Calvinists are so cavalier about this because what’s even worse than that state of affairs is that according them, this was the plan all along.

    (2) We are taught that man is created in God’s image and therefore, each person has infinite worth. This is one of the most precious gifts that the Christian tradition has imparted to our society in my opinion. We call this imago dei. Well, apparently at the end of the day, God doesn’t really have much appreciation even for imago dei, because he’s willing to throw people into the trash heap of the universe and let them suffer there for eternity. That just doesn’t make any sense, it really makes human beings more empathetic than God. What’s even crazier is the Calvinist response, which is when we get to Heaven and become as holy as God, then we’ll finally understand why people need to be tortured for eternity, but before then, our moral compass is broken. I’ve heard tons of Calvinist make this argument, which is essentially that empathy is something that needs to be purged from the Christian in heaven. I mean good lord, that is pretty much how every human genocide starts.

    (3) Finally, ECT glorifies divine violence (same with penal substitutionary atonement). It just seems incongruous to me that the Jesus whom we worship, whose ministry was characterized by radical non-violence, is also the same God who at the end of the day, is going to use infinite violence on the world as the “final solution”. So despite all his rhetoric about loving enemies and turning the other cheek, it turns out that divine love is insufficient to cure the problem of sin and violence in this world, only infinite divine violence can cure it. So basically, God’s judgment is simply the final stage of the sickness that is human violence, we started with just a stick, then a stone, a board with a nail in it, a knife, a bigger knife, a gun, a bigger gun, a machine gun, a bomb, a nuclear bomb, and then you have eternal fire and brimstone. The end. Is that really the direction of the biblical story arc? It just seems completely unfathomable.

    A lot of these ideas are from Robin Parry’s Evangelical Universalist for those who are interested.

  • Iain Lovejoy

    Couldn’t agree more: makes perfect sense to me.

  • Realist1234

    You might believe that but Im afraid youre wrong. Jesus probably spoke the most about ‘hell’ and judgement, as recorded in the Gospels. And Paul didnt write them.

    For example, “If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell.”
    “And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.”
    “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”

    None of these words come from Paul – they come from Jesus.

    And in many of the instances where Jesus uses the word ‘hell’ as a warning, He uses the word ‘Gehenna’ (as in the examples above).

    The word is found twelve times in the Greek New Testament. In eleven of these instances, it is Jesus himself who employs the term.

    Gehenna is a transliteration of an Old Testament Hebrew expression, “the valley of Hinnom,” which denoted a ravine on the southern side of Jerusalem. This valley was used by certain apostate Hebrews as a place where their children were offered into the fiery arms of the pagan god Molech (2 Chron. 28:3; 33:6). It was thus an area of suffering and weeping. When Josiah launched his reformation, this valley was regarded as a site of heinous abomination (2 Kgs. 23:10-14). It finally became the rubbish dump of Jerusalem where there was a continual burning of said rubbish (or garbage as Americans call it).

    Although Jesus was clearly employing hyperbole when He talked about plucking out your eye if it causes you to sin etc, at the very least His words show how He viewed the final destination of some people – an awful destination like Gehenna. Regardless of whether one believes ‘hell’ means actual annihilation/destruction of the person, or eternal ‘destruction’ (both are possible interpretations taking into account all of the NT teaching), it is clear that this destination is a very real possibility for some people, otherwise Jesus would not have issued any such warnings.

    So no, Jesus was not a universalist.

  • Realist1234

    Im not sure you should compare Nebuchadnezzar with God (!), but I take your point. Though I feel the need to say in this case Neb was the evil one trying to force people to bow down and worship false, unreal ‘gods’, not to mention himself, which the 3 faithful men refused to do – this is the opposite of a good God judging sinful people.

  • caelin blevans

    to respond to your first statement, is he? sure you could argue god is around sin all the time, but, the last recorded time he was on earth was more than 2000 years ago, and you could use the trinity for evidence, but, since we have accepted jesus into our hearts, (the perfect sacrifice for our sins) we are forgiven, aren’t we? our sin has been, “washed away”.
    But your second argument proves more an interesting point, jesus was not just fully god he was also fully man; but you used a word that i found interesting, one i did not use but is the crux of your argument, moral. not once did i say moral, morality, morals, i said perfect, morals, are inherently imperfect, i was referring rather to actions, not thoughts, or feelings.

  • caelin blevans

    yes you can, jesus was not only fully god, he was also, fully man. logically you are right, but, the holy trinity is biblical, and though there are many interpretations of the bible, would you agree that it is right on the subject of the trinity and that jesus was fully man?

  • caelin blevans

    would you explain please, i would like to talk about this more but you have gone over my head, what would help is explaining the connection of my statement to annihilation, and, how destroying both body and soul makes an eternal punishment eternal.

  • caelin blevans

    let’s start with this, if something is perfect, how can there be something better in the same manner? There can not be a greater perfection of anything if that thing in question is perfect. That is your first fallacy, the second one, is your interpretation of my response, rather than think god would ‘die’ if he were around sin, think of opposing sides, opposing sides wont come together, ever. especially if you think of it as good and evil, unless god were a magnet, he would not be with or near sin.

  • caelin blevans

    But each response to my comment has forgotten this, the original sin, god stood before adam and eve, both dead to sin, and they did not die, (as you will see a common trend of sinners in the presence of the lord) and though god did cast them out of eden, the reasoning was that so they would not eat of the tree of life as well. very few people other than adam and eve have ever been in the lords presence and lived, unless they were ritually clean.

  • caelin blevans

    But each response to my comment has forgotten this, the original sin, god stood before adam and eve, both dead to sin, and they did not die, (as you will see a common trend of sinners in the presence of the lord) and though god did cast them out of eden, the reasoning was that so they would not eat of the tree of life as well. Very few people other than adam and eve have ever been in the lords presence and lived, unless they were ritually clean.

  • caelin blevans

    but each response to my comment has forgotten this, the original sin, god stood before adam and eve, both dead to sin, and they did not die, (as you will see a common trend of sinners in the presence of the lord) and though god did cast them out of eden, the reasoning was that so they would not eat of the tree of life as well. Very few people other than adam and eve have ever been in the lords presence and lived, unless they were ritually clean.

  • Bones

    Jesus was a man.

    The Trinity is not in the Bible.

  • Bones

    Except Adam and Eve weren’t real.

    Do you think angels are still guarding the tree of life somewhere?

  • Bones

    So God created people to burn in hell forever.

    Sounds more like a psychopath.

    And the free will canard has been done to death and doesn’t excuse god from culpable responsibility in genocide
    As for the Evangelical meme that people send themselves to hell, that”s a crock of shite as well.

    Hell makes god worse than Hitler and Auschwitz. At least the Nazis eventally put people out of their misery.

    But not this God…….

    He created people (that he loved) to burn them forever…..a never ending concentration camp replete with gas furnace…

    There is something wrong with your theology.

  • Ron McPherson

    I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard hell fire and brimstone preachers say something like, “God created hell for the devil and his angels, not for humans. So if anyone goes to hell it isn’t because God sent them there; it’s because they themselves CHOSE to go there.” That never made any sense to me. Like who chooses to be scorched alive throughout eternity?

  • Bones

    The orthodox view the concept of hell not as punishment but as refinement in the presence of the Burning love of God.

    It isn’t a place.

  • Bones

    It”s a copout for their lazy theology…..and leftovers from medieval catholicism.

  • Ron McPherson

    After years of being imbedded in ECT teaching, I’ve moved to an annihilationist view in last several years mainly as a result of what I believe the scriptures to actually teach

  • Bones

    Adam and eve weren’t real……

    And the idea that God can’t stand sin stems from Jewish holiness and purity codes which Jesus railed against.

  • Bones

    That”s more humane of you…..

    But it doesn’t explain why God would create creatures (which he loves) knowing he”s going to snuff them out.

    Why not just openly reveal himself to every living human being?

  • Bones

    That’s true.

    The whole god can’t stand sin is Jewish holiness codes woven into the Bible.

    The same codes which Jesus stood against.

  • Realist1234

    You said God could not be around sin. But is God not everywhere, literally? Both on earth and the heavens, ie the whole universe, both physical and spiritual realms? As such, for ‘hell’ to exist, that would have to be part of reality with human souls, and for that matter satan and his minions, continuing to exist in their rebellious state, forever. Is it not perhaps more reasonable to think that ultimately God will annihilate out of existence all that is not ‘good’ – only that which is in harmony with Him will continue to exist. Otherwise there would always be part of His creation that is in rebellion against Him. But that does not seem to fit with His ‘renewing’ of all things, both the earth and the rest of creation, including the spiritual realm.

    Regarding your last point, if the consequences of judgement is annihilation out of existence, then by definition those consequences are eternal in nature. That individual will never come back into existence.

    Although I am not wholly convinced that the traditional view of ‘hell’ is wrong, I am moving towards annihilation and the eternal consequences of such. If that is correct, it still means everyone still faces judgement, and I have no doubt there will be ‘wailing and gnashing of teeth’ from those who see what they have lost by rejecting the Son of God. We are not at liberty to play down Jesus’ own warnings about ‘hell’. But I suspect their eternal destination is literal destruction from existence, and all rebellion, sin, evil and death will end.

  • Bones

    So love doesn’t win…..

    Jesus’s mission was a failure for the vast majority.

  • Ron McPherson

    Exactly, which calls to mind why ECT traditionalists don’t take Jesus at his word when he says only those who are in him have eternal life. You literally have to change the definition of death to make the ECT view work. Folks take as literal Jesus’ story about the rich man and Lazarus (or rather parts of it) but ignore his use of the word death in all other instances by redefining it.

  • Ron McPherson

    Yep great point. Wish I had a comeback and it’s something I continue to wrestle with. It’s just that Jesus is quoted as saying that perishing is the fate of those who believe not upon him. But other than that, I’m defenseless here lol. But I’m open to a hopeful universalism

  • Bones

    If that’s actually what Jesus said.

    Edit: and if perishing doesn’t relate to first century events.

  • Ron McPherson

    “and if perishing doesn’t relate to first century events.”

    Ya know, I had never thought of that. Hmm, interesting to chew on

  • caelin blevans

    You sound like you have spent a lot of time thinking about this, which is good, I am not saying that to discredit you, but in the idea of an annihilation judgement, you keep coming back to the term eternal, dying is a single event, and if god were to ‘erase’ your body and soul, what would there be to punish, you aren’t there, your soul isn’t there, you are gone, and maybe that is forever, but what is a punishment if the guilty enjoy it, or, don’t care?

  • caelin blevans

    obviously you don’t believe in god, but if the book, which we are basing our arguments was true, would my statement be false?

  • caelin blevans

    so tim is wrong? if jesus was a man, and tim’s argument is cruxed on the idea that jesus is god, then it doesn’t matter, his argument is invalid.

    and you are right the word trinity is never written in the bible, in any version, but here are four verses supporting the idea that the father, son, and holy ghost (or spirit) are one

    1 John 5:7 – For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.
    John 10:30 – I and [my] Father are one.
    Genesis 1:26 – And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…
    Matthew 28:19 – Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost

  • Seabeacon

    Of course not, but it scares people into the religion. Scaring people into it doesn’t keep adherents though.

  • James Quinn

    Jesus was God incarnate, and he hung out with drunks so much that the Bible says he had a public reputation of being an alcoholic.

  • Xanthorpe

    I’m afraid I can’t agree with the premise of this article for several reasons. One, the fact that we are “made” in the image of God does not put us on a level with God. By definition, the being that can and did create the universe and everything in it is so far above what we can conceive, it is impossible for us to have the standing – moral or otherwise – to suggest a particular facet of His being is not correct.

    Secondly, the presented assumption that God adheres to your definition of proportionality is based on (y)our desire for it to be so. A more realistic picture would be a lifelong walk toward a firing squad when capital punishment has been meted out to a defendant.

    All along the path toward the wall, in front of which the accused will stand and before which the riflemen await – there are an infinite number of doors from which God asks the accused to seek forgiveness for his offense. At ANY of these, if the accused says, “I’m sorry, God, please forgive me,” and is sincere in his plea, God opens that door and the accused walks out, a free man.

    Finally, Jesus. God knows that we are all flawed beings. We were not created that way, but we chose to become that way. Whether it’s the person who can somehow manage to make it through life with committing any “major” sins or the person who commits serial murder, we all fall short of the standard God set in the beginning, the line He drew in the sand of creation.

    The fact is, God knew that we would choose sin. He knew that Israel would vacillate in their walk with Him for thousands of years. He knew that, even with the powerful first-person testimony of the Apostles, the Gentiles (us) would fall, too. THAT is why He came to earth in the form of Jesus and died on the cross. Jesus gives us all a get out of jail free card. It is a card not to be used frivolously, but one that each of us can use when we reach the point in our life where we say, “Enough is enough. I can’t bear the thought of the punishment I deserve (regardless of our own misconception of proportionality). God, please forgive me.”

    Those who ultimately experience whatever torment a literal Hell entails will experience it because they alone chose not to accept God’s offer of forgiveness.

    It’s horrible to contemplate even one person having to experience that. And that’s why Jesus died, so they wouldn’t have to. The only catch is, we – each and every one of us – have to make a personal, destination-altering decision and receive God’s forgiveness. If we each do that, the mercy God shows us will be out of all proportion to our sin, just has you believe Hell is out of proportion to our sin.

    We can’t have it both ways. The Bible is clear on that. We have to choose. And as much as we modern humans hate the idea, our choice will have eternal consequences.

    X

  • Well, right. I’m not trying to say that Neb and God are in the same situation. What I am saying, though, is that in both cases, you have people who have set up a punishment situation, and just because neither are directly inflicting harm on the people being punished doesn’t make them not responsible for it.

  • Well, if you’re a Deist who believe God set things in motion and abandoned creation, then you could possibly argue that God can’t stand to be around sin. You could also say that the biblical narrative isn’t to be believed, and that would also help your argument.

    But the biblical narrative is that God comes down to talk with a rebellious Adam, meets Moses in a burning bush and on a mountain, is present with the Psalmist no matter where he goes, and is present with His people in the Holy Spirit. What the biblical narrative says nothing about is “accepting Jesus into our hearts.” That is nowhere in the Bible.

    I used the term “moral” because it’s God’s ethical perfection that’s at stake in the discussion. It’s not His ability to make a perfect souffle. If there’s another term you prefer, that’s fine. However, it doesn’t change the fact that Jesus was around sinners all the time, and the Holy Spirit is present in believers who sin and, at least according the Old Testament, also fills pagans for God’s own purposes.

    The idea that “a perfect being can’t be around sin” is a philosophical one. The biblical narrative neither declares nor demonstrates that.

  • Probably the same people who decide to be gay.

  • Even the phrase “eternal life” is literally “the life of the ages.” In Jesus’ personal eschatology, you either belong to the present evil age and perish with it, or you follow his path and enter into life that spans ages. The concepts involving eternities and transmigrations of souls and whatnot have Plato written all over them.

  • There’s a couple of small issues that keep your analogy from working smoothly, though.

    The first is that a firing squad is a one-time death thing. In order for your analogy to match, the firing squad needs to be replaced with a guy with a blowtorch and a doctor whose job it is to keep you alive for years and years – well beyond your normal lifespan – while the guy with the blowtorch burns your body and never, ever stops. You don’t even get to fall unconscious. Just burning constantly.

    The other issue is that this punishment – which goes well beyond capital punishment, I’d think – is meted out for any crime whatsoever. Or, if you believe in original sin, is meted out for simply being born.

  • You might check it out. You and I tend to track similarly on many issues, and like Bones, I think pretty much anything Jesus said (or the Gospel writers ascribe to him – however that all shakes out) about perishing or judgement or what comes next is referring to first century concerns.

    I sort of skew annihilationist myself, but it’s not so much annihilationism as that I believe death is the end for everyone, and it is God’s prerogative to raise from the dead and bring what He wants into a renewed creation. I find that the regular annihilationist sorts of positions are still operating out of an “afterlife-centric” kind of paradigm that I don’t really see in the New Testament scriptures.

  • Darach Conneely

    In the bible God seems to share this idea of punishment being proportional to the crime. Isaiah 40:2 “Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that her warfare is ended, that her iniquity is pardoned, that she has received from the LORD’s hand double for all her sins.” The 70 years exile in Babylon, rather than infinite conscious torment, was what God considered a just punishment for Jerusalem’s sin.

  • Ron McPherson

    Speaking of an “afterlife-centric,” I used to read the scriptures as if some “soteriological” meaning abided within practically every verse. But coming from a conservative evangelical background, that type of thinking had been ingrained in me.

  • RonnyTX

    Xanthorpe:
    It’s horrible to contemplate even one person having to experience that. And that’s why Jesus died, so they wouldn’t have to. The only catch is, we – each and every one of us – have to make a personal, destination-altering decision and receive God’s forgiveness. If we each do that, the mercy God shows us will be out of all proportion to our sin, just has you believe Hell is out of proportion to our sin.

    We can’t have it both ways. The Bible is clear on that. We have to choose. And as much as we modern humans hate the idea, our choice will have eternal consequences.

    Ronny to Xanthorpe:
    “4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,
    5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: 7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:4,10

    “20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. 21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming. 24 Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.
    25 For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. 27 For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. 28 And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.” 1 Corinthians 15:20,28

  • RonnyTX

    Seabeacon:
    Of course not, but it scares people into the religion. Scaring people into it doesn’t keep adherents though.

    Ronny to Seabeacon:
    I don’t doubt that, at all. And I don’t doubt that is why so many people who identify at atheist, tell that at one time, they were Christian. For they truly believe they were, after they were scared into believing what someone told them.

  • RonnyTX

    Bones to RonM:
    That”s more humane of you…..

    But it doesn’t explain why God would create creatures (which he loves) knowing he”s going to snuff them out.

    Why not just openly reveal himself to every living human being?

    Ronny to Bones:
    As I see it, that is exactly what God is going to do, before all is said and done. :-) So God will show each person their sin, as they’re in the presence of God who is holy. And that is the goodness of God, that brings us to repentance. :-) And then each person will be took on to faith in Jesus Christ and what he did for every last one of us, on the cross. Jesus Christ there, in the place of every last one of us, taking all of our sins upon himself. And thus, every last person from Adam on down, will be born of God, by way of Jesus Christ and the cross. :-)

  • RonnyTX

    RonM to Bones:
    Yep great point. Wish I had a comeback and it’s something I continue to wrestle with. It’s just that Jesus is quoted as saying that perishing is the fate of those who believe not upon him. But other than that, I’m defenseless here lol. But I’m open to a hopeful universalism

    Ronny to RonM:
    It’s good to hear, that you’re a hopeful universalist. :-) Before I became Christian universalist in belief, about 6 or 7 years ago, I was Calvinistic in belief. But I was only fully that, because I was brought up in a Calvinistic church, from the time I was born. So there I was taught by some people, that God chose to save only a few of us human beings, by way of
    Jesus Christ and the cross. I believed that, because I was taught it by some people; but God never taught me such. And when I believed such, it even became a hard matter to do such things as grocery shopping. For in the store, I would see people who were anywhere in age from babies to very old. And I had been taught, that the large part of them, would end up in a Jesus Christ created hell of eternal torment. :-( But then, like I say, around 6 or 7 years ago God showed me better. :-) And two of the webpages that have helped me a lot, are the following. Tentmaker.org and bestpossiblenews.com.

    P.S.
    Just checking my links and see that last one is no longer online. :-( Don’t know why? Just know it was a really good one!

  • Bones

    It is…..

    Same as the path of destruction Jesus refers to.

    Is Jesus referring to the violent resistance of the Romans State leading to real destruction as opposed to the path of non-violent resistance????

  • Alf Penner

    I agree with Corey that ECT is a disproportionate response to sin. I think the problem lies with the penal substitution theory of atonement, which is a poor model that came more than 1000 years after the early church. Many are returning to earlier held atonement theories.

    On another note, what I also find as a disproportionate response to sin is annihilationism: to be wiped from history for a single sin. Am I correct that Corey is an adherent to this theory? I am curious as to his rationale vis a vis the argument he presents in this article.

  • Bones

    Well according to the Jews, no.

    They have a totally different understanding of the Adam and Eve myth.

    Christians have applied so much nonsense to that story to render it meaningless.

  • Bones

    What the heck is that 1 John translation

    For there are three that testify: 8 [j]the Spirit and the water and the blood; and the three are [k]in agreement.

    That’s a pretty dishonest translation.

    Fourth century controversies about the nature of Jesus are irrelevant and show what happens when Christians habe nothing better to do than argue and condemn each other.

  • Seabeacon

    I spent 28 years as a Christian, 22 of them as a fundamentalist. Just going from fundamentalist to mainline, I was scared for 4-5 days that something bad was going to happen to me. After that, I was good until I got tired of making excuses for the Bible, so I left. That was a breeze and a relief. It’s sad that people have to use fear of hell as a selling point.

  • Bones

    Why do I need to be shown all my sins????

  • RonnyTX

    Bunnykiwi to Realist1234:
    Yes, which makes me believe Jesus was more of a Universalist if anything. Jesus didn’t come to the world to bring a religion where only Christians get saved. Paul’s teachings are what I believe started the fundamentalist, extremist evangelical movements that scared people into religion out of ideas of Hell and judgment.

    Ronny to Bunnykiwi:
    True, Jesus Christ did not come into the world, to condemn anyone;but instead, he came to seek and to save that which was lost. And well, that’s every last one of us. And he completely succeeded, at what he came to do. :-) For before all is wrapped up, everyone will have been born of God, by way of Jesus Christ and the cross. :-) Now as far as Paul the apostle, he never taught a hell of eternal torment.

  • Matthew

    How do Calvinists explain the following two things:

    1. That unbelievers also are highly capable of good deeds.

    2. That our human sense of justice often looks different than what some call biblical justice and what others call biblical injustice — e.g. hell

  • Jeanne Fox

    “a never ending concentration camp replete with a gas furnace.” In a Portals of Prayer article about Auschwitz , there was a prayer at the end about Jesus saving us “from the eternal death camp.”

  • Tim

    Er… Yes I do mainly agree with that theological position (I think; I do have some doubts about it. Bones makes a good point) But that only lends strength to my argument, rather than detracting from it. In other words, if Jesus was/ is God, then God directly hung out with sinners. You’ve even admitted that I’m logically right, so how does something that strengthens my argument somehow invalidate it?

  • diamondsarentforever

    If you believe the Bible is the inerrant word of God, then your arguments about Hell could be convincing. But biblical research and logic tells us that we should probably take what’s written in the Bible with a grain of salt. Quite hard to believe in a God of grace and compassion who loves “His children” but then lets them suffer in eternal torment. If your child sinned against you, hurt you, rejected you, would you say that eternal punishment is a fair sentence? Christians will say “God didn’t send you to Hell, you sent yourself.” Well, how morbid. I would hope that even if I did send myself to Hell, my loving Father’s grace would extend into the afterlife.

    The terms used for Hell in the Bible are borrowed from pagan and Greek mythology. The Gospels were written 70 years after Jesus’ death. The Bible was also written by men only for a particular audience at a particular time. You have to do some literary analysis of the Bible to actually appreciate it, like you would with any ancient text. I suggest reading anything by Peter Enns to challenge what you’ve probably believed your whole life about the Bible. He’s Christian with a PhD in theology from Princeton and fluent in Hebrew and Greek.

    You’ll have to find another argument other than “Because the Bible says so” regarding Hell. Similarly, you’ll have to defend yourself as to why you don’t believe Jews, Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, and atheists deserve eternal life, but even the worst of the worst “Christians” do. Which goes back to my point. If God actually cares about your heart and not what you externally claim to believe, then I am very confident you’ll see plenty of non-Christians in Heaven.

  • diamondsarentforever

    Then that would point to universal reconciliation, which makes the most sense, and Scripture even supports this on multiple occasions. All tongues will confess, all knees will bow. If universal reconciliation is real, then Hell is not. Or at least, Hell is not infinite. It is pretty morbid that some Christians are so gung-ho about proving that Hell exists. Because if it didn’t, then all the Evangelists out there wouldn’t have a purpose in life, now would they? Who could they save?

    The funny thing is, have you ever met a Christian who believes He’s not going to Heaven? Never. Christians LOVE to preach hell-fire, but ask them if they are going to Hell, or if their family is going to Hell, and they will defend their faith tooth and nail and say they’re saved.

    Paul might not have taught about eternal torment, but Paul’s teachings are very binary, hence the fundamental aspect. It’s very “Christians go to Heaven, unforgiven sinners go to Hell”.

  • Ron McPherson

    Plus the “get outta jail free” card theory speaks to the larger issue of equating Jesus’ offer of eternal life as the escaping of the unending flames of hell. It’s the mindset of ‘accept Jesus and you get to go to heaven when you die.’ I can’t count the number of times I personally presented the gospel this way over the years. I’m not discounting the importance of the afterlife but rather the fundamental mistake of reducing the gospel down to a way of escaping something. I can’t think of a single biblical instance where the flames of hell was used as a motivating factor for belief upon Jesus.

  • Realist1234

    I dont agree that the penal substitution theory of atonement is a ‘poor model’ as it seems to me to be taught in the NT. It doesnt encapsulate everything that happened at Calvary, but it explains much.

    I also think Ben is rather misleading in talking about a ‘single sin’, when he knows in reality that mankind continues to commit multiple sins, both individually and corporately. If Christianity is true and the God of Israel is the only God in existence, then the vast majority of people have no interest in Him, but follow others or themselves.

  • Guy Norred

    I actually do and have known Christians who are not certain they are going to Heaven. They are scared they may be wrong in some bit of thinking, may commit some sin and then not have an opportunity to ask forgiveness (or forget to do so), or that their initial (or even 100th) saving didn’t take for some reason. And all that defense of their faith you mention sounds like it is rooted in the same fear–that they may be going to Hell. All of this fear–that perfect love has not cast out–keeps their focus on themselves. This is the bad fruit of the teaching on ECT. And as to the evangelists spreading this message, I do believe that the vast majority of them are doing so with the best of intentions, but still as much from fear as from love. Not that we are not to preach the Gospel, but the Gospel is not that there is some secret code that can be broken to get us out of Hell, but, very simply, that we are loved–loved so completely that all our fears are illusions and that we can be free of them–so free of fear that we are free to love. It is said that Francis of Assisi said (though I have heard this is questioned, but who cares) that we are to preach the Gospel at all times, and if necessary we should use words. Do not take this to mean that I see myself as free of fear. I have a great many fears but I have faith I don’t need to. Nor am I constantly loving. If I am to focus on myself in some way, it is to be aware of this. I wonder if that is what Paul meant when he described himself as chief among sinners. I also understand that the often quoted words of Jesus to the woman caught in adultery could be translated “You don’t have to live this way” instead of “go and sin no more”. The more common translation is all about command where the other is all about joyful revelation.

  • Guy Norred

    ^^^^ very good point ^^^^

  • It is pretty interesting how many Christians’ faith is motivated by and depends on escaping eternal judgement. I honestly believe that if God appeared and announced to the world that nobody was going to Hell no matter what, 90% of Christians would drop out altogether. What’s left?

  • diamondsarentforever

    Yes I definitely agree with pretty much everything you said. I myself was one of those Christians who was constantly in fear of going to Hell (although on the surface I felt like I could say I was going to Heaven because I “accepted Jesus”). There is still that nagging fear inside of me, but it’s a lot quieter now, as I have pretty much rejected all Christian fundamentals I grew up with. You are correct in saying that it is a rather selfish obsession, to be worried about your eternal fate so much. The Evangelical message, although it might have good intentions, propagates fear and does not allow people to live in the present and to be content with their journey. Instead, it stresses so much on the importance of the afterlife and is so focused on “saving” others that nobody can even enjoy just living their life and enjoying what God already gave them.

    I like you interpretation of “Go and sin no more”. Many Christians think it’s this strict command to stop sinning, but it’s not at all. It’s Jesus simply saying, “you are free to live how you want, but here’s a better way where you will find more peace.”

  • Ron McPherson

    I’ve wondered the same thing. Great point! It’s ironic that untold numbers of Protestants affirm sola fide (of which I am one) but espouse this faith primarily to escape condemnation. Heck, it continues to be preached within the vast sphere of Christendom. In many ways this renders faith itself as a meritorious work, the very antithesis of what sparked the Reformation to begin with. Even Sproul once said something to the effect that we all have a little Pelagionism in us.

  • Guy Norred

    :-) Sounds like “have life and have it more abundantly”.

  • Did you have a point or counter-argument or anything to add?

  • What does that have to do with whether or not God can be around sin?

  • Can you show me an example of a sinner who died from being in the presence of the Lord? You indicated this was a common trend.

  • Xanthorpe

    I am probably much less “lettered” than many who are commenting here. However, to speak to one point raised in various responses, if Jesus died to save us, doesn’t that necessitate that He died to save us from something?

    Does the Gospel have much to offer a modern believer if you take away eternal life? Unless, of course, you subscribe to one of the many “health and wealth” preachers out there?

    If there is more than one path to an eternal relationship with God, then Jesus died for nothing.

    The Gospel message is that we have become separated from our Creator. The uncrossable chasm between us and God can only be navigated successfully if one receives that which Jesus died to give us (John 14:6).

    If one’s desire is to seek after God – I’ve heard the analogy that we all have a God-sized hole in our heart – then the Gospel gives us hope. To ignore a portion of the message Jesus Himself taught about the reality of Heaven and Hell is to present an incomplete Gospel.

    The Gospel – “good news” – is good for a variety of reasons, one of which is that Jesus gave us a means of escaping the torment He warned would come if we remain separated from God when our physical bodies die.

    Listen, I’m not an adherent of the “turn before you burn” school of delivering the Gospel message. However, the Bible is very clear that Hell is a real place and that absent the saving grace of Jesus Christ, that is where we are destined.

    It may not pass the modern proportionality test, but I chalk it up as one more thing we won’t really know about for sure until we inhabit eternity.

  • Xanthorpe

    It’s sad to think the temporal pleasures of this world are the sum total of our existence. That is truly a depressing thought.

    Religion and faith are not the same thing. Religion is merely the man-made trappings some use to either comfort, control or scare, to use your experience. We are all flawed beings and it’s sad that some of us turn away from God because of other people’s actions and/or words.

    I can go preach to a group of people, and if I’m good at it, I’ll convince some of them to follow me. But the promises I make to them will be hollow. Jesus said He would leave an advocate for us, what we call the Holy Spirit. If someone wants to follow Christ but does not receive that Spirit, the faith is in religion, not in Christ.

    I don’t have to fill a quota of witnessing or handing out tracts or praying or anything. Whatever I do as a result of my belief in Jesus is based on my gratitude to Him for taking the punishment that I deserved upon Himself. I mess up, I make mistakes, I get discouraged, I pray that this world would just be finished so we can get to eternity already. Then I recall that Jesus left us some things to do, chief of which is to love God, love the people God created and to “make disciples of all nations, etc.”

    All I can do is keep going and keep the faith.

    X

  • RonnyTX

    PhilL to RonM:
    It is pretty interesting how many Christians’ faith is motivated by and depends on escaping eternal judgement. I honestly believe that if God appeared and announced to the world that nobody was going to Hell no matter what, 90% of Christians would drop out altogether. What’s left?

    Ronny to PhilL:
    The great love of God/Jesus Christ, for us all. :-) And that proven by Jesus Christ on the cross, there taking all of our sins, upon himself.

  • Seabeacon

    Why? The world is amazing! People are spiritual, but that’s better than a religion because we are not limited by dogma. I still like Jesus, like I like Buddha. Great teachers.

  • RonnyTX

    Seabeacon to Ronny:
    I spent 28 years as a Christian, 22 of them as a fundamentalist. Just going from fundamentalist to mainline, I was scared for 4-5 days that something bad was going to happen to me. After that, I was good until I got tired of making excuses for the Bible, so I left. That was a breeze and a relief. It’s sad that people have to use fear of hell as a selling point.

    Ronny to Seabeacon:
    You’re right, it is sad that some people have to use fear of hell, as a selling point. And I think of Luke chapter 2, where the angel told the shepherds, that the birth of Jesus Christ was good news and that for all people. And then also in scripture, Jesus Christ tells us he came to seek and to save that which was lost and well, that’s every last one of us. Now the Calvinist side, that I used to be in, it says that Jesus Christ didn’t come to save every person; but only a few. The Arminian/freewill side says Jesus Christ came to save everyone; but he can’t do, what he came to do. He can try;but then vast numbers of people will still end up in hell. What I believe now, is that no only did Jesus Christ come to save us all; but that he has completely and 100% succeeded, in what he came to do. :-) So, before all is said and done, every one from Adam on down, will be born of God, by way of the goodness of God bringing us to repentance and on to faith in Jesus Christ and the cross. :-) Then, as the old song so well says,”When we all, get to heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be. When we all see Jesus, we’ll sing and shout the victory!” :-)

  • Ron McPherson

    “…if Jesus died to save us, doesn’t that necessitate that He died to save us from something?”

    Absolutely. I think the problem arises when the MO of salvation is presented primarily as an escape from hellfire. It ignores the abundant life he gives now. Eternal life is not confined to an afterlife.

    “Does the Gospel have much to offer a modern believer if you take away eternal life?”

    If one’s view of the gospel and eternal life is really nothing more than fire insurance then maybe not. That’s probably why we see many church goers but not a lot of kingdom living. I suppose it really boils down to what one believes the gospel to be as well as how one defines eternal life. But Jesus’ message was not about fire insurance, it was about being in his kingdom. His kingdom is not restricted to the afterlife.

    “If there is more than one path to an eternal relationship with God, then Jesus died for nothing.”

    I believe Jesus to be the risen Messiah, Savior, and Son of the living God who provides the way to the Father to have a relationship with God thru the Spirit. I certainly don’t believe his death and resurrection to in any way be in vain.

    “To ignore a portion of the message Jesus Himself taught about the reality of Heaven and Hell is to present an incomplete Gospel.”

    It’s not about ignoring his references to hell; it’s about understanding the context in which he used it. The word he actually used was Gehenna, an actual ravine south of Jerusalem. It was the OT site of human sacrifice, detestable to God. It’s ironic that people take Jesus’ reference to a place where humans were scorched alive for a finite amount of time (which God found detestable) and render it to now mean a place where God allows people to be scorched over an infinite amount of time.

    “…the Bible is very clear that Hell is a real place.”

    In every instance in the NT save one I believe, the original Greek used the word Gehenna (literal valley south of the city) or Hades (which actually meant realm of the dead; i.e. the grave). The OT word akin to this was Sheol where the implication is that everybody went there without respect to personal righteousness.

    “I chalk it up as one more thing we won’t really know about for sure until we inhabit eternity.”

    I agree

  • Ron McPherson

    He must really care a lot about you Phil lol. He called you a liar and deluded without offering a reason why. I bet it’s because you drink really old grape juice

  • RonnyTX

    Bones to PhilL:
    The orthodox view the concept of hell not as punishment but as refinement in the presence of the Burning love of God.

    It isn’t a place.

    Ronny to Bones:
    I agree. For I can well remember, when I was in the presence of God and God who I knew, was holy. And God showed me my sin, as the goodness of God, led me to repentance. That was something good for me and I had to have; but I will never claim, it was a pleasant experience! (ha) But when I saw my sinful selfrighteousness, as God did, when I saw it for the sin that it was and agreed with God about that, then what followed, was the greatest thing I ever experienced, as the love of God began to pour out on me! :-) Ah my yes, the goodness of God, that leads us to repentance! And then takes us on to faith, in Jesus Christ and the cross! :-)

    And now I simply believe, that before all is said and done, what God has done for one and for some people, before all is said and done, God will do the same and that for every person. :-) Now for some, that won’t happen in this lifetime; but their time is coming after they die and are then raised from the dead. The way I see it now, some will
    be raised from the dead and will go to the Lake of Fire, the one we read of in the book of Revelations. But they will not be alone there. No, the Lamb, Jesus Christ, will be there with them. :-) They will be their with perfect holiness and love and they will come to repentance and be took on to faith in Jesus Christ and what he did for them, on the cross. Jesus Christ there for all of us, taking all of our sins, upon himself. For, that is just how much he loved/loves us, one and all, with no one left out! :-)

  • RonnyTX

    Caelin:
    god is perfect, and without sin right? and it is self-evident that a perfect entity, a perfect being can NOT be around sin. Hell, is not a punishment, not in the traditional sense, hell is the eternal separation from god, because we are born into sin, and live in sin there is no way we would ever be able to be with god in heaven, that is without jesus, then basic apologetics come into play, and i’m pretty sure you know the rest

    Ronny to Caelin:
    Caelin, Adam sinned and God was around Adam. Cain sinned, by murdering his brother Abel and God was around Cain. Yet God told neither of those guys, that the wages of sin was an eternal hell of torment. But God simply told Adam, that the wages of sin was death.

  • RonnyTX

    Bones to Ronny:
    Why do I need to be shown all my sins????

    Ronny to Bones:
    Bones, I was thinking of what God did for me, as I was born of God. God didn’t show me all of my sins; but God did show me my selfrighteousness and showed me that it was sinful. The great irony in this, is that I was taught to be selfrighteous, think of myself as better than many other people, in the local church I grew up in. Well, that was in th 4 years I was a church member, thought I had been saved; but in fact, hadn’t been. But I still get a smile on my face, when I think about the sin God pointed out and showed me in myself, was one I had been taught, in a local church.

  • RonnyTX

    PhilL to RonM:
    Probably the same people who decide to be gay.

    Ronny to PhilL:
    (ha) Remembering the time, when I was 12 years old and I was falsely taught I had chosen to be gay. My, I spent a lot of years in fear, fearing that even one person, would some how find out, that I was gay and not heterosexual. But then in time, God showed me that my being gay was not chosen and sinful; but in fact, was a good gift of God, to and for me. :-)

  • Realist1234

    If you want to believe that the Gospel accounts are unreliable and dont reflect the life and teaching of Jesus, then thats up to you. But there are many scholars better qualified than the likes of Peter Enns who hold a different view. Perhaps you should read some books by Craig Blomberg. Hes not the most conservative of scholars, but certainly thinks the Gospels are reliable. At the very least they reflect the main gist of Jesus’ teachings, if not verbatim.

    You also said the Gospels were written 70 year’s after Jesus’ death – I noticed you didnt mention His resurrection. Very telling. Actually Luke was very likely completed by around AD 62 (30 years after Jesus), and Mark in the mid to late 50s AD (up to 30 years after Jesus). So less than half the time you think. It is highly unlikely any sort of ‘legend’ could have arisen in such a short time period, particularly as many of the first witnesses were still alive at the time of writing.

    The apostle John said that it is only through Jesus, the Son that one can be given the right to ‘become a child of God’. So if you are not a follower of Jesus you should not presume you are one of His children.

    As I said in other posts, I am not advocating eternal conscious torment when it comes to ‘hell’, but more likely the ending of the person’s existence after judgement. Though I am still undecided. What I do reject completely is the view that ultimately all human beings who have ever lived will receive God’s salvation. That is simply not taught either by Jesus or His apostles. But you have clearly decided that Jesus is wrong on that one.

    Eternal life is a gift – all you have to do is follow Jesus. Not false, unreal Hindu or Muslim ‘gods’ . I dont think thats alot to ask. Perhaps there will be many surprises as to who are saved. But lets not ignore or twist Jesus’ words to say something they dont.

  • caelin blevans

    god was never in person with cain, and i have mentioned adam, and eve (who you forgot) and, maybe convoluted, god did say adam would die, and he meant spiritual, does it matter what the punishment is?

  • caelin blevans

    yes i can
    2 samuel 6:1-7

  • caelin blevans

    such as?

  • caelin blevans

    no it isnt, you used the berean study bible, while i used the king james version. and if you took the time to do a short research, you will find that the bsb was published in 2016, while the king james was first published in 1611. want to take a gander at which one is more accurate?

  • caelin blevans

    jesus was the perfect sacrifice right? how could he be a sacrifice for mankind unless he was fully human? and in multiple verses you see jesus saying that he did his miracles with the power of the lord, further demonstrating that jesus was a man.

  • I find it interesting when people say, “and he meant spiritually” as if God left a footnote in Genesis that said, “when I said “die,” I didn’t mean it in the literal, plain meaning of the word, but in a strange different way.”

    This is why hell-believers have to redefine the word die, dozens of times in scripture, to make a hell theology stick.

  • That was someone God struck dead because they touched the ark. Everyone else around that person was also a sinner and completely unscathed.

  • I’m sorry, David, I’m really having trouble seeing how anything you’re saying has anything to do with what I said.

  • Bones

    Well no.

    I used the NASB.

    Some footnotes from the NASB

    1 John 5:8 A few late mss add …in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one. And there are three that testify on earth, the Spirit

    So it’s a later addition….

    See also

    The Textual Problem in 1 John 5:7-8

    https://bible.org/article/textual-problem-1-john-57-8

    Doesn’t the bible say something about people who add to it?

  • Bones

    Original sin, the serpent as the devil, death coming into the world through Adam.

    All these are Christian novelties.

  • RonnyTX

    Xanthorpe to RonM:
    The Gospel – “good news” – is good for a variety of reasons, one of which is that Jesus gave us a means of escaping the torment He warned would come if we remain separated from God when our physical bodies die.

    Listen, I’m not an adherent of the “turn before you burn” school of delivering the Gospel message. However, the Bible is very clear that Hell is a real place and that absent the saving grace of Jesus Christ, that is where we are destined.

    It may not pass the modern proportionality test, but I chalk it up as one more thing we won’t really know about for sure until we inhabit eternity.

    Ronny to Xanthorpe:
    Xanthorpe, I don’t believe that in the bible, Jesus Christ spoke of hell at all. Now it is there, in some translations of the bible; but as I understand it now, hell was added to the bible, by some bible translators and it was never there, to begin with. A good article about this, on the following link:
    http://www.tentmaker.org/ifhellisreal.htm

  • God says the punishment for sin is death. He does not say punishment for sin is an eternity in hell. Man says that. God says all men die once. He does not say all die twice but certain people will refuse to accept God and will die the second death. The second death is not an eternity in hell. It is extinction and erasure from The Book of Life. Again, God has a plan for man and the Christian doctrines heaven and hell are not biblical. Heaven is where God resides right now as I write this. Heaven is not where man will spend eternity.

  • RonnyTX

    Bob Shiloh:
    God says the punishment for sin is death. He does not say punishment for sin is an eternity in hell. Man says that. God says all men die once. He does not say all die twice but certain people will refuse to accept God and will die the second death. The second death is not an eternity in hell. It is extinction and erasure from The Book of Life. Again, God has a plan for man and the Christian doctrines heaven and hell are not biblical. Heaven is where God resides right now as I write this. Heaven is not where man will spend eternity.

    Ronny to Bob:
    I agree with you Bob, that the scriptures tell us that the wages of sin is death. Then I think about in Luke chapter 2, where the angel told the shepherd, that the birth of Jesus Christ was good news and that for all people. :-) And also the scripture that I have put below. It tells us we all died in Adam and all are made alive in Jesus Christ. And it goes on to tell us, that Jesus Christ is going to destroy death. Well, when he does that, then all that will be left, is life! :-)

    20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. 21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming. 24 Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.
    25 For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. 27 For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. 28 And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.” 1 Corinthians 15:20,28

  • RonnyTX

    Xanthorpe to Ron M:
    “To ignore a portion of the message Jesus Himself taught about the reality of Heaven and Hell is to present an incomplete Gospel.”

    RonM to Xanthorpe:
    It’s not about ignoring his references to hell; it’s about understanding the context in which he used it. The word he actually used was Gehenna, an actual ravine south of Jerusalem. It was the OT site of human sacrifice, detestable to God. It’s ironic that people take Jesus’ reference to a place where humans were scorched alive for a finite amount of time (which God found detestable) and render it to now mean a place where God allows people to be scorched over an infinite amount of time.

    Ronny to RonM:
    Amen! For there were Old Testament Hebrew people, who sacrificed their own children, to the pagan god Baal. They literally burnt their children up! :-( But even as bad as that was and it was horrible, it wouldn’t be as bad as the common teaching of some, that God is going to burn and torture many people and that forever and ever! :-( But note in the following Old Testament verse, God says that it never even entered His mind, to tell the OT Hebrew people, to sacrifice/burn up their children to Baal. And God calls such doings as that, abomination. Yet so many of us were brought up in church, taught falsely, that God was going to burn and torture most humans beings and that forever! :-(

    “35 And they built the high places of Baal, which are in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire unto Molech; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my mind, that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin.”
    Jeremiah 32:35

    And I believe it’s in 1 Corinthians the first or second chapter, that Paul tells people there, that one big problem they had, were that they were following preachers. And he reminded them that it was Jesus Christ on the cross for them and not him or any other preacher. But I know when I was in a local church and from a very young age, I was taught that whatever was said in our pulpit, it had to be true and was the same as me hearing such from God. So in church and by some people, I was taught to be a preacher follower; but slowly and surely, God did bring me out of that and freed me from such sin. :-)

  • RonnyTX

    DavidC to PhilL:
    Liar. You know nothing of what true followers of Jesus Christ believe or think. Professor, you are deluded by your own lies.

    Ronny to DavidC:
    David, why do you keep your older posts hidden? Surely you aren’t ashamed of them, are you?

  • RonnyTX

    Caelin to Ronny:
    god was never in person with cain, and i have mentioned adam, and eve (who you forgot) and, maybe convoluted, god did say adam would die, and he meant spiritual, does it matter what the punishment is?

    Ronny to Caelin:
    If you read the following chapter, you will see that God did speak directly to Cain.

    https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+4&version=KJV

  • Paul Julian Gould

    Of course, there are competent scholars that have provided credible evidence that the Matthew verse you cite was a later interpolation…

    And the 1John citation bears the same scrutiny.

    Further, I’ve said and I proudly state that my lovely wife and I are one… but we’re not the same person, for which I’m certain we are each quite grateful.

  • Paul Julian Gould

    Unless you are one that considers the 17th century English of the manuscripts is more accurate than the original Greek and Aramaic autographs (and Ruckmanites, among others, do subscribe to this), for myself, although I am Jewish and not a Christian, I much prefer more recent scholarship as to the variations in manuscripts, and what was actually and originally meant, rather than rely on monarchist, politically motivated translations, thanks.

  • Paul Julian Gould

    Well, if, as some theorists have stated, we exist in a multiverse, they may be in one of the universes next door… but then, by that theory, somewhere/when, unicorns fly and fart rainbow glitter, so there’s that…

    (kidding, my friend… just amazed that there seem to be so many truly and rigidly convinced people who are terrified of examining an alternate explanation, rather than their pet dogma)

  • Paul Julian Gould

    Entirely too many miss the forest for the trees, and insist that a mystical allegory and metaphor has to be literally as stated, else one “hates God” or doesn’t believe in God…

    CS Lewis wrote his space trilogy as a quite wonderful allegory… could there possibly some sad souls that would insist such a tale actually exists and happened or will happen? Probably, somewhere… but one would miss the lessons of Lewis’ theology were one to do so…

    Entirely too many do the same with whatever text serves as Sacred Writ for their faith path.

  • Herm

    Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.

    1 John 4:7-21

    When our hearts and minds are filled (baptized) with the Holy Spirit we live in love.

    “If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”

    John 14:15-21

    The advocate of God, the Spirit of truth, the Comforter, and the Dove are the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit of God connects all hearts and minds of God to be one in God in perfect love.

    “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

    Matthew 22:36-40

    These are the two commandments that upon which all the law of God is founded, including all the commands of Christ Jesus.

    On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
    “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”
    He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
    “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

    Luke 10:25-28

    The antithesis of eternal life is eternal death. God is only spirit so not being in God, by way of the Holy Spirit, when our physical body no longer functions we have nothing to share our “free” spirit through, we in all respects know nothing and are no longer known. We are dead to any form of communication. Our physical species we accept as mankind is dependent upon being functional within the physical to communicate with one another. Within us all is a created image of them who are spiritually in God. Our spiritual species known as our creator God is dependent upon being functional by way of the Spirit to communicate with one another.

    “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

    Matthew 5:43-48

    My Father and my Brother are perfect examples of love. My Father and my Brother are of God, connected as one by the Holy Spirit filling each of their hearts and minds. The Dove is available to fill each and every one of our hearts and minds that the Father can speak aloud for all the heavens to hear, “this is my child of who I am proud”.

    The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

    Luke 10:37

    The one who had mercy on the dying Jew was a Samaritan, a tribe considered an enemy of all Jews.

    Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

    Genesis 1:26-27

    Males and females of mankind are not of God until they choose to become bound in reciprocally loving brothers and sisters of the only begotten of God Son of Man. Without the Spirit of truth filling and uniting each heart and mind to become students (disciples) of Jesus the Messiah each will surely die. Our one and only creator God is a spiritual plurality of many united individuals each consisting of and recognizable as a unique heart, soul, strength and mind capable of perfect love.

    Our one and only mankind is physically in the image of other animal species on this earth. Our individual members are bound together first and foremost by an instinct to survive for as long as possible with death looming ever closer which is of no concern to spiritual individuals in God who know no beginning and know no end. Separated from all other hearts and minds individuals of mankind fear what they do not know. Jesus saved us from that fear by sharing His love to the point that each of His disciples pick up their own cross to die in love for those who would place them on their cross. The only reason Jesus, the only begotten Son of God, was placed on a cross was to preserve the crucifier’s way of life for just a little while longer. That was and is the extent of life for those who only know by way of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil but do not know God in their heart and mind.

    Those who are separate from God are in sin. The penalty of sin is death. Knowing nothing and having no way to communicate without a physical body. A child once of Man and now of God, a little sister and/or brother of the Son of Man, is spiritually in God and God is spiritually in her and him together before their physical body dies. Following physical death there is no eternal awareness, in any form pleasant or unpleasant, outside of God … only a cessation of awareness with no tool available to communicate through to ourselves and/or to others as is the physical on this earth and the Holy Spirit in the spiritual boundless life of our creator God.

    I truly hope this helps some to put their fear of death, especially along with an ugly eternal torture meted out by an immensely vindictive god, to an eternal death. My Father is perfect and loves much too much the least of His created charge to forever punish the puny little ignorant rebels to His cause for eternal love.

  • Paul Julian Gould

    Shabbat Shalom, Friend Herm… Just saying howdy and diggin’ your writing as much as ever… *gentle smile*

  • Paul Julian Gould

    (we’ve always agreed on much, but differed in terminology and expression… beautifully stated, my friend.)

  • Herm

    You show respect to my Sabbath of choice, thank you! This is where my heart and mind is resting in a trusting focus in God.

    In the Spirit of joy and peace we get to eternally differ in terminology and expression out of love for our differences that we share, including with our Father and Brother … not ever in the demand that we each be exactly alike … and even less any demanding that all others be like me. Our Father knows and loves us all equally by our differences shared in love with each other.

    The rose smells at least twice as strong when shared between two. The majestic view of the mountain is at least twice as large when pictured between two hearts and two minds. Just more good news you’ve help give me today, and that’s Gospel.

    Shabbat Shalom, Friend Paul.

  • Paul Julian Gould

    Curious… you’ve stated the “accepted Jesus into our hearts” thing a couple of times…

    Is there a specific verse reference you could provide, or is that just an American-style Evangelical Protestant meme?

    Yes, I’m being sarcastic… there’s no more reference for that meme than there is for the so-called “altar call” or many, many other things within the vibe, that somehow seem to have acquired the status of Holy Writ.

  • Dean

    How bout No, Friend?
    We’ve been pretending that this God concept & some guy “Jesus” is somehow real for far to long and the results have been horrific to say the least.

  • AKFletch

    Almost there, Ben, but we aren’t actually made in god’s image. As you strongly imply, obviously god is made in our (current) image of ourselves, and thus doesn’t actually exist, except as an artifact.

  • Herm

    … and, yet, you took the time to respond … defensively, offensively or questioning?

    For and from those who personally know this guy “Jesus” the Christ the results have been far from horrific, in their hearts and minds unquestionably the opposite. The horrific results have come only from the ignorant who know only of “Jesus” from the compilation of the Christian Bible, their family, their friends, their church and their desire but do not know “Jesus”.

    Thank you for caring!

    Love you!

  • hisxmark

    If you want vengeance, (which desire seems hardwired into the human psyche,) but don’t want to seem vindictive, you postulate a fiction, and call it “justice”. You demand “punishment”, which is just a politically correct term for vengeance. Punishment, the psychologists have found, can deter if it is certain and immediate. In practice, it can seldom be either.
    It does make sense for persons and societies to prevent re-offense by those who have offended, but this usually doesn’t entail punishment, vengeance, or “justice”. It may, however, entail making the offender powerless to re-offend.

  • Dean

    Right, right….The True Christians™

  • gimpi1

    I’ve heard it expressed as sort of an equation, that finite acts can’t trigger infinite consequences. The math simply doesn’t work, and that disproportional imbalance is what sets off our “unjust” meter.

  • gimpi1

    An aside, caps and proper punctuation can make it easier to read what you write.

  • Herm

    No, no….not my christian church is better than your christian church. I am witnessing in regards to us sisters, brothers, and mother of the Messiah….children of God all filled in their spiritual hearts and minds with the Holy Spirit….the same Spirit filling the heart and mind of the Christ and our Father in heaven. That is how we know Jesus to trust Him to be our only Teacher. If in our daily routines on this earth we are recognized as “little Christs” or “Christlike” it will be supported by our true manners in an all inclusive love and not from our vain claims of an exclusive membership in any organized earth based religion. We hope our true Trade Mark is recognized as compassion, tolerance and empathy for all in God and for all in Their image. We don’t kill to defend our church family but we will die that our ignorant enemy might live.

    You interest me to care for you simply because you are even though I would not know your name if you hadn’t shown enough interest to reply to me. Thank you for that honor!

    The living Christ I know personally in me, and I in Him, began similar to what you have done with me today. He showed enough interest to reply to my heartfelt question, “are you for real?”

    I can honestly answer that question now that He is for real and expand that answer to so are we in Him as His sibling students.

    You are welcome to ask, dare or challenge Him directly with “are you for real?” He will answer.

  • Tim

    And this is relevant to the point I made because…? The standard position of orthodoxy for several hundred years now is that Jesus was both fully man and fully God (whatever that means). But you haven’t made any connection with what you’ve said here and any counterpoint you might be trying to make, so I’m at a bit of a loss as to what else to say.

  • daroncrass

    Ben. I want to believe what you are saying is true. I am having difficulty with Mathew 25 though. Can you help me understand why this passage is not referring to hell ? 31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

    34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

    37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

    40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

    41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

    44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

    45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

    46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.

  • I am not a universalist (though I have a lot of sympathy toward the position and long to be convinced). So, for me this passage isn’t that hard– I do believe there will be a divine punishment for all who reject God and reject his way of living, and that this punishment will be a second death. Thus, the second death will be an “everlasting punishment” because it will be irreversible. Traditional hell would be “everlasting punishING” instead of punishment.

  • daroncrass

    That makes sense. Thank you for your help.

  • RonnyTX

    Sorry, I posted this twice; but my first post didn’t show up,right off. So tried again and ended up with a double posting!

    Daron, here are two good online articles, that I think will help you on this.

    http://what-the-hell-is-hell.com/2010/eternal-punishment-matthew-2546-is-not-found-in-the-greek-new-testament/

    http://www.tentmaker.org/articles/Matthew-25-46-Commentary-Amirault.html

  • RonnyTX
  • Dean

    Okay I asked Jesus if you “are you for real?” He says he’s been too busy with finding keys and granting football players touchdowns to pay attention to you and yours. So I’m not sure who you think you’ve been chatting with but it’s certainly not Jesus? :/ Sorry for the bad news. :(

  • Herm

    Good luck with that Dean, your choice! Your concept of spiritual reality could use a tad bit more expanding, like infinitely more. I can’t help you and you certainly aren’t helping any others. You are welcome anytime when you choose to search for the truth rather than define the truth according to your minute perspective. The Christ I know is spiritual and can be in all places at the same time with full authority over heaven and earth. That’s the reality of truth I know personally. Enjoy the comfort of what little you believe you can control for the flicker of your life and I will enjoy the comfort of being in Them who can control the all we know and beyond eternally. You really have no clue who me and mine are.

  • JD

    Xanthorpe: “It’s sad to think the temporal pleasures of this world are the sum total of our existence. That is truly a depressing thought.”

    Why?

  • Xanthorpe

    To answer Seabeacon and JD, because it’s depressing to think that we are born, live for whatever number of years we do, and then die…and that’s it.

    Ultimately, nothing any of us do will have any lasting effect on Earth. Most, if not all, of what anyone can conceive is not new, merely a “re-imagining” of ideas that have gone before.

    Can we devise a cure for a particular disease? Sure, but if we’re honest, we also created the disease, so we’re ultimately just fixing something we ourselves broke in the first place.

    Solomon hit the nail on the head in Ecclesiastes. This life is mostly a chasing after the wind. Each person on earth can have a completely different idea of what is “right.” I would hazard that most people on earth have little or no control over their ultimate level of education and achievement. Any cultural “advancement” is purely subjective. To one set of people, something is fresh and new, to another, it’s meaningless or even annoying.

    Can we build something lasting? Not really, after we’re gone, the earth will cover it up and eventually cause it to crumble. Can we “reach for the stars?” Sure – but to what end? To die on a barren, airless world or in the vacuum of space while on a fruitless search for another planet to despoil?

    Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the heck out of life! I have fulfilling relationships with others, I am awed by the natural beauty of this planet we call home. The vastness of the universe – what little of it that I can see – amazes me. I can stand outside at night for hours and just gaze up at the sky. The beauty of a flower is breathtaking.

    At times, music has moved me to tears, as have other art forms. I am lifted up when humanity surprises me by doing something unselfish.

    But each of us has a void that only God can fill. Ultimately there is no purpose in life without God. Whatever we do here in the short time we have in this life has no real bearing on anything. A few faded photographs, perhaps now preserved for posterity as a collection of ones and zeroes. A fond (I hope) memory for my children and grandchildren, until they too pass.

    Buffett? Gates, King, Rockefeller, Plato, Washington, Jobs, Napoleon, Ghandi? Footnotes in history books. At some point in the distant (we hope) future, this planet will die, taking the sum total of humankind’s achievement with it, unless we happen to conquer what Roddenberry coined as the final frontier.

    But then, that planet will eventually die, and so on.

  • Xanthorpe

    And, ultimately, this is the crux of the point the article makes: the created people telling the Creator, “We don’t like the rules and outcomes you’ve designed, so we’re not going to play your game anymore. You cannot punish us, because we don’t believe your punishment is fair.”

    To humanity, an omnipotent God/Creator is not really logical, but even if we decide He/it is – in whatever respect – that entity had darn well better play by our three-dimensional rules of morality, or else we’re kicking him and his obviously unfair Hell to the curb. If we need a god, we’ll make one that fits our concepts. (Footnote, that’s been tried a number of times with really poor results all around.)

    Jesus Christ refusing to save Himself and instead choosing to die on the cross for humanity’s sins isn’t logical. But Jesus didn’t say, “I’m dying for everyone and you don’t have to thank me, just show up in Heaven when your physical body dies and tell them I sent you.”

    He said, “No one comes to the Father but by me.”

    Whether or not anyone believes Hell is fair, or if it even exists, ultimately, we will all find out who is right and who is wrong at the appointed time. In the meantime, I believe Jesus died to save us all, but we have to receive that salvation (via the Holy Spirit) in order to “come to the Father.”

    All the rest is dogmatic and theological argument and I don’t believe anyone has ever and will ever receive the grace and mercy of Jesus through a well-reasoned blog post.

  • “…that”s a crock of shite as well.”

    Bones, my friend, I have always loved your direct approach :)

    Hope you’re well!

  • Plus it’s a non-sequitur. Created for the demons….humans choose to go there. sounds like it’s a little more exclusive than just choice – surely you need to be a demon or the devil to get in? Thanks for making the point, Ron.

  • cs

    Can anyone explain why grace would have a limit in the first place?

  • jeffnkr

    I hesitate to respond, because I am fearful of being seen as someone who is immaturely hollering at a playmate who has taken my favorite toy truck away from me, and won’t give it back. Such is not the case. Benjamin, I sincerely do wish to hear all that you have to say, with the love and respect to which you are entitled.

    If, when I got to Heaven, and found out that everyone had made it – every single person that had ever lived, at any time in history – then I would be gloriously, deliriously happy!

    However,

    I think you are looking at Hell through the eyes of a human being, in which the Holy Spirit does not dwell and has not filled or baptized. Yes, I do believe you’re mistaken about Hell. Not, I am NOT saying that I believe you are a heretic who isn’t saved, who doesn’t know God, through Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit. Whether or not you are is up to God to decide and judge. (For the record, I believe you are just as much a Christian as anyone I know, whom I believe, definitely is.) Yes, I do believe Hell is a literal place, and that those who do not know Jesus Christ as LORD and Savior, will be there. I do not like that. Yes, I do believe that the devil is a real being, and I don’t like the idea that there is such a place for people who are being deceived by him. (I see the enemy of God as an incredibly handsome white male, impeccably dressed in a tuxedo, not a one-piece red suit, with a tail, and horns, who carries a pitchfork. But, being a deceiver, he can appear as anything and anyone he desires; the Bible says he can disguise himself as an angel of light [2 Corinthians 11:14]) I do not consider anyone at all to be my enemy; being human, and imperfect, I’m sure I’ve done stupid things that have offended and upset people. I pray daily that God will abundantly bless anyone whom I have offended, and show them His exceedingly abundant love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness. I sincerely hope there is something else other than Hell, for even the worst of the worst.

    Every single person has the choice to embrace God, and come to Him, through Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit, regardless of what one has done. It is not a requirement that we understand God, or His ways, beforehand. Indeed, none of us will ever understand God, in this life. To the same degree that the concept of Hell is bad, and an incredibly-awful, terrible place, Heaven is a wonderful, glorious place, and God’s love, mercy, grace, forgiveness, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, self-control, faithfulness and gentleness are all exceedingly abundantly above all that we can ask or think. I pray, every day, that hundreds of millions of people will come to God, through Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit, and be in Heaven, with me. I won’t be there because of anything I’ve done; it will be 100% because of what God has done. I’m not a good person. I need what God has to offer. I have sinned, and fallen short of the Glory of God. Only the Blood of Jesus can wash away my (or anyone’s) sins. Only the power of the Holy Spirit can bring me to God. By grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, is my salvation, or anyone else’s.

    Therefore, God doesn’t send anyone to Hell. Anyone who will be in Hell, will be there, not because of what they’ve done, in this life, but because of what they HAVEN’T done. Anyone who finds themselves in Hell, for all eternity, will be there because they didn’t call on God, through Jesus Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit. That’s the only way, so that no one in Heaven will be able to brag or boast about his or her efforts and/or works, in this life. It will be all about God!

    That being said, I trust God with things I don’t understand, and do not like. I sincerely hope that I am wrong about Hell, but I’d rather proclaim that there IS a Hell, a literal fire-and-brimstone prison in which a person is fully conscious and fully aware of his or her sins and also of the opportunities he or she had, to embrace Christ, and to avoid Hell altogether, and be wrong, rather than proclaiming that there is NOT a Hell, and be wrong.

  • Excellent, thank you! It’s like why would God act less forgiving than He requires us to be? His forgiving nature should be far, far greater than ours, and indeed that is what Scripture presents us with.

  • apoxbeonyou
  • Each and every biblical translation IS biased and perverted in accordance with the worldly views and religious dogma of the translators! And king james’ version leads the way with it’s pagan latin catholic ‘jesus’ and pagan greek ‘christ’!

    For The NEW Covenant Joshua, He who IS The Messiah, was given the same Hebrew birth name as Joshua of the old covenant!

    Thankfully Yahshua(Joshua) The Messiah leads His brethren along that “Narrow Way” to Heaven!

    YES! For when the brethren of The Messiah receive that final breath(Spirit, air) we are taken Home, Home at last!

    For it is as The Messiah testified, “Whoever lives and believes in Me(The Life and Teachings He received from The Only True GOD) shall never die”!

    HalleluYAH!

    ALL Thanks and Praise Be Unto Our FATHER and GOD!

  • caelin blevans

    should i read the caps as shouting or emphasis, because either way, it doesn’t make much sense, and if this is verse, please reference which one

  • caelin blevans

    truthfully i think you just copy and pasted with out formatting it

  • Simply sad for you and all whose god is naught but those biased and perverted colored marks written on a dead tree and bound in fabrication.

    Yet while breath(Spirit,air) is, Hope IS!

    For TRUTH IS! and Miracles do happen…….

    HalleluYAH!