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Featured Response to Confused about Hell

Discussion in 'Controversial Christian Theology' started by hedrick, Aug 30, 2019.

  1. hedrick

    hedrick Senior Veteran Supporter

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    A new member posted a question in For New Christians that can't be answered there.

    He noted that people make very convincing cases for annihilation, eternal torment, and universalism.

    I share the concern, but I think there's a reason: The New Testament gives multiple views on judgement, and many of them aren't literal. This should be a clue that perhaps what is actually going to happen is something we wouldn't understand.

    My summary
    • Paul in 1 Cor 15 and elsewhere seems to advocate universalism.
    • John 12:31 ff suggests something like 1 Cor 15. God overthrows the powers that oppressed humans. Once he does that, all are drawn to Christ.
    • The Revelation advocates either annihilation or torment, depending upon how you understand the second death
    • Jesus certainly describes judgement, but it's not clear whether it continues forever, and a number of his statements are obviously non-literal.
    Complicating the problem is that fact that "eternal" is used in the OT for things that aren't literally eternal. Fires that no longer burn, everlasting doors that aren't (ps 24).

    My reading of the second death (based on Jewish usage and the obvious meaning) is that it is probably destruction, though I don't think that's certain. I think you can unify Paul's views with the end of the Revelation if you assume that not many normal humans end up in the lake of fire, but only those who are so inalterably opposed to God that they're effectively part of the "powers" that Paul's picture shows as being destroyed. Paul's picture seems universalist. Once the powers that oppressed humans are destroyed, everything else is "in Christ." The powers in his view are primarily supernatural, but it's not impossible that they include some humans.

    Jesus uses such a variety of images that it's hard to pin down just what the literal meaning is. He certainly speaks of varying rewards and punishments. But I don't think there's anything that is unambiguously eternal punishment. (Mat 25 depends upon what "eternal" means. I think it's often not literal.) It may be that the Synoptic Gospels, Paul, and John simply don't agree. But I think it's barely possible that the punishments in the Gospels aren't eternal torment, in which case the Gospels could be consistent with Paul interpreted as I've interpreted him.

    This is equivalent to N T Wright's view in Rethinking the Tradition, in which most people end up with Christ, but some are effectively destroyed.

    I have to say though that I'm not entirely sure that Jesus' teachings in the Synoptic Gospels can actually be understood as consistent with Paul's. Reading Jesus' stories of judgement as not indicating eternal punishment seems like the most hopeful way of understanding them as consistent.
     
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  2. redleghunter

    redleghunter Thank You Jesus! Supporter

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    If we allow ourselves to dismiss clear teachings as imagery, then we can come to whatever conclusion suits us.

    What was not clear about Jesus explaining Judgment day in Matthew 25?

    Matthew 25: NASB

    31“But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne.32“All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; 33and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left.

    34Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation 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; 36naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to 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‘And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? 39‘When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40“The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’

    41Then He will also say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels;42for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; 43I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.’ 44“Then they themselves also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?’ 45“Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’46“These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
     
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  3. ~Zao~

    ~Zao~ Psalm 5:11 Supporter

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    The same chapter compares another group of people; one being the virgins~ top of the mountain ~ yeah ~ bumped to lower level. next being talents and gaining new kingdoms and all that. then there’s the nations. That would make a good video game ...
     
  4. redleghunter

    redleghunter Thank You Jesus! Supporter

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    Yes I hear this a lot. Jesus spoke of eternal life and everlasting life often. Everyone agrees that’s what He speaks of except when He used the same word for punishment. Why is that?

    So with Matthew 25, if punishment is not eternal then life is not eternal.

    One can run with the root word fallacy to death to avoid what is obviously clear.

    Word-Study Fallacies by Robert Cara
     
  5. ~Zao~

    ~Zao~ Psalm 5:11 Supporter

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    Eternal life is the sole gift of the Father but punishment is the domain of Christ. The 1000 yr scripture opens a debate as whether punishment is eternal or not.
    Considering the Character of God as to what would it take for His wrath to be appeased, I would have to consider God in the character of Jesus Christ.

    The dispensational side of it I recognize that God stops, remembers no more, and picks us up on a new platue of understanding. What is eternal in the here and now is lived within the life of Christ.
     
  6. hedrick

    hedrick Senior Veteran Supporter

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    The literal meaning is clear enough. This is closely parallel to the Revelation, where the fire is also said to have been intended for Satan. As in that passage, it’s pretty clearly destruction.

    What’s open for interpretation is how literally he means it. Jesus often uses hyperbole in speaking about judgement. Quite likely anyone who calls his brother “fool” is not actually going to be destroyed, and he doesn’t actually intended people to remove body parts.

    Certainly those who have lived lives that are either useless or abusive will be subject to judgement. But I would hope not many are actually considered worthy of a fate that was designed for Satan.
     
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  7. redleghunter

    redleghunter Thank You Jesus! Supporter

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    I have no idea what you are talking of.
     
  8. sdowney717

    sdowney717 Newbie

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    The atonement cost His Son a painful death on the cross.
    Without the shedding of blood and then the sprinkling on a person, there was no forgiveness.
    It is not just the sacrifice, it has to be applied to have atonement (propitiation), forgiveness of sin, there is no blanket forgiveness for all.
     
  9. redleghunter

    redleghunter Thank You Jesus! Supporter

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    Brother is our eternal life hyperbole?

    Jesus May have used parables but each parable taught a literal truth.
     
  10. ~Zao~

    ~Zao~ Psalm 5:11 Supporter

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    Strange fire.
     
  11. sdowney717

    sdowney717 Newbie

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    The destroying angel only passed over the house when he saw the blood over the door, it had to be applied. (the passover)

    1 Peter 1 New King James Version (NKJV)
    Greeting to the Elect Pilgrims
    1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,

    To the pilgrims of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,
    2 elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ:

    Grace to you and peace be multiplied.
     
  12. hedrick

    hedrick Senior Veteran Supporter

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    It's hard to make life and death exactly parallel. I'm not so convinced by arguments that "eternal" means "for an age." But it does have non-literal uses. By its nature death means an end and life means no end. So it's not unreasonable that eternal death and eternal life would be different from a time point of view.

    Further, Mat 25:41 doesn't actually put eternal life and eternal death in parallel. It refers to eternal fires. Given the OT model of eternal fire that burns up dead bodies, it's reasonable to suggest that even if the fire is literally eternal (which I doubt), the people whose remains it is burning aren't. The image here is destruction.

    Yes, "image" is the right word. The use of "sheep" and "goats" should make that clear.
     
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2019
  13. sdowney717

    sdowney717 Newbie

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    Without the blood atonement of your sins, your going to destruction, and it is forever. You dont come out alive. Challenging this by saying their is no destruction of the wicked and salvation of the just, destroys the whole concept of the saved versus the reprobate.
     
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  14. FireDragon76

    FireDragon76 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    If you were familiar more broadly with religious experience in general, I don't think you would be so quick to dismiss Hedricks viewpoint. It is common for a wisdom teacher to teach things according to a certain level of understanding. It could simply be that the entire story is just that, a story meant to illustrate the kinds of things that Jesus or the early Christian community expected of his disciples.
     
  15. redleghunter

    redleghunter Thank You Jesus! Supporter

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    Revelation 20: NASB

    10And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.



    Judgment at the Throne of God

    11Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. 12And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. 13And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. 14Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.


    Revelation 14: NASB

    9Then another angel, a third one, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. 11“And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.” 12Here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.
     
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  16. redleghunter

    redleghunter Thank You Jesus! Supporter

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    So fire and brimstone was a common occurrence in 1st century Israel?
     
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  17. FireDragon76

    FireDragon76 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Gehenna was actually the garbage dump outside Jerusalem.
     
  18. FireDragon76

    FireDragon76 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Jesus was not an analytic philosopher and did not use precise language, but some people bring that cultural expectation to the reading of the Biblical text.
     
  19. Der Alter

    Der Alter This is me about 1 yr. old. Supporter

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    In twenty one [21] of the following verses αἰών/aion and αἰώνιος/aionios are defined/described as eternal, everlasting, eternity etc, by comparison or contrast with other adjectives or adjectival phrases.
    I have a similar study in the OT with the words olam/ad with 37 verses.
    List of verses:1 Timothy 1:17, 2 Corinthians 4:17-18, 2 Corinthians 5:1, Hebrews 7:24, 1 Peter 1:23, 1 Timothy 6:16, Galatians 6:8, John 6:58, John 10:20, 1 John 2:17, 1 Peter 5:10, Romans 2:7, Luke 1:33,Revelation 14:11, John 10:28, John 3:15, John 3:16, John 5:24, John 8:51, Ephesians 3:21, Romans 1:20, Romans 5:21, Romans 16:26.
    …..In the NT “aion/aionios” sometimes refer to things which are not eternal but neither word is ever defined/described, by other adjectives or adjectival phrases, as meaning a period of time less than eternal, as in the following verses.
    [1]Romans 1:20
    (20) For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal [ἀΐ́διος/aidios] power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
    [2]Romans 16:26
    (26) But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting [αἰώνιος/aionios] God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith:
    In Rom 1:20 Paul refers to God’s power and Godhead as “aidios.” Scholars agree “aidios” unquestionably means eternal, everlasting, unending etc. In Rom 16:26, Paul, the same writer, in the same writing, refers to God as “aionios.” Paul has used “aidios” synonymous with “aionios.” In this verse by definition “aionios” means eternal, everlasting.
    [3]Luke 1:33
    (33) And he shall reign [βασιλευσει][Vb] over the house of Jacob for ever; [αιωνας/aionas] and of his kingdom [βασιλειας][Nn] there shall be no end.[τελος/τελος]
    In this verse the reign βασιλευσει/basileusei, which is the verb form of the word, is "aionas" and of the kingdom βασιλειας/basileias, the noun form of the same word, "there shall be no end.” “Aionas” by definition here means eternal.
    [4]2 Corinthians 4:17-18
    (17) For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal [αἰώνιος/aionios] weight of glory;
    (18) While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal;[πρόσκαιρος/proskairos] but the things which are not seen are eternal [αἰώνιος/aionios]
    In this passage “aionios” is contrasted with “for a moment,” vs. 4, and “temporal,” vs. 5. “Age(s)” an indeterminate finite period, it is not the opposite of “for a moment”/”temporal/temporary” “eternal” is. “Aionios” by definition here means “eternal.”
    [5]2 Corinthians 5:1
    (1) For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal [αἰώνιος/aionios] in the heavens.
    In this verse “aionios house” is contrasted with “earthly house which is destroyed.” Is God going to replace our destroyed earthly house with a house only lasts a little longer which will also be destroyed at the end of an age? The aionios house is not destroyed, the opposite of “is destroyed.” Thus, “aionios” by definition here means “eternal.”
    [6]Hebrews 7:24 but because Jesus lives forever [αἰών/aion] he has an unchangeable [ἀπαράβατος/aparabatos] priesthood.
    In this verse “aion” is paired with “unchangeable.” If “aion” means “age(s),” Jesus cannot continue “for a finite period” and be “unchangeable” at the same time. Thus “aion” by definition here means “eternal.”
    [7]1 Peter 1:23
    (23) For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, [ ̓́αφθαρτος/aphthartos] through the living and enduring word of God. …
    1 Peter 1:25
    (25) but the word of the Lord endures forever.[αἰών/aion] " And this is the word that was preached to you.
    In verse 23 “word of God” is paired with “imperishable.” The same writer, Petr, in the same writing 1 Peter in verse 25 writes the word of God “endures εις τον αιωνα unto eternity. ” Thus by definition “aion” here means “eternity.”
    [8]1 Timothy 6:16
    (16) Who only hath immortality, [ ̓́αφθαρτος/aphthartos] dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting [αἰώνιος/aionios]
    In this verse “aionios” is paired with “immortality.” If “aionios” is only a finite period, God cannot be “immortal” and only exist for a finite period at the same time. Thus “aionios” by definition means “eternal.”
    [9]Galatians 6:8
    (8) For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; [φθορά/fthora] but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. [αἰώνιος/aionios]
    In this verse “aionios” is contrasted with “corruption.” “Fleshly” people reap “corruption” but spiritual people reap “life aionios,” i.e. “not corruption.” “Age(s), a finite period, is not opposite of “corruption.” Thus “aionios life” by definition here means “eternal/everlasting life.”
    [10]John 6:58
    (58) This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.[αἰώνιος/aionios]
    In this verse Jesus contrasts “aionios life” with “death.” If “live aionios” is only a finite period, a finite period is not opposite “death.” Thus “aionios” by definition here means “eternal.”
    [11]John 10:28
    (28) I give them eternal [αἰώνιος/aionios] life, and they shall never [αἰών/aion] perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.
    In this verse Jesus pairs “aionios” and “aion” with “[not] snatch them out of my hand.” If “aion/aionios” means “age(s), a finite period,” that is not the opposite of “[not] snatch them out of my hand’” “Aionios life” by definition here means “eternal life.”
    [12]1 John 2:17
    (17) The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever. [αἰών/aion]
    In this verse “aionios” is contrasted with “pass away,” “lives aionios” cannot mean a finite period, A “finite period” is not opposite of “pass away.” Thus “lives aionios” by definition here means “lives eternally.”
    [13]1 Peter 5:10
    (10) And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal [αιωνιον/aionion] glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, [ολιγον/oligon] will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.
    In this verse “aionios” is contrasted with “little while” Does Jesus give His followers a finite period of glory then they eventually die? Thus “aionios” here, by definition, means “eternal.”
    [14]Romans 2:7
    (7) To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, [ἀφθαρσία/apftharsia] he will give eternal [αἰώνιος/aionios] life.
    In this verse “aionios” is paired with “immortality.” If “aionios” is only a finite period, believers cannot seek for “a finite period,” and “immortality” at the same time. But they can seek for “eternal life” and “immortality” at the same time. Thus by definition “aionios life” here means “eternal life.”
    [15]1 Timothy 1:17.
    (17) Now unto the King eternal, [αἰών/aion] immortal, [ ̓́αφθαρτος/aphthartos] invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever [αἰών/aion] and ever [αἰώνιος/aionios]. Amen.
    In this verse “aion” is paired with “immortal.” “Aion” cannot mean “age(s),” a finite period and be immortal at the same time. Thus “aion” by definition here means “eternal.”
    [16]Revelation 14:11
    (11) And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever:[εις αιωνας αιωνων/eis aionas aionon] and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.
    In this verse “aionas aionon torment” is paired with “no rest day or night.” If “aionas, aionon” means “a finite period” at some time they would rest, “Aionas, aionon” by definition here means “forever and forever.”
    [17]John 3:15
    (15) That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal [αιωνιον] life.
    In this verse Jesus pairs “aionion” with “shall not perish.” Believers could perish in a finite period, “aionion life” by definition here means eternal life.
    [18]John 3:16
    (16) For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting [αιωνιον] life.
    In this verse Jesus pairs “aionion” with “should not perish.” Believers could eventually perish in a finite period, thus by definition “aionion life” here means eternal or everlasting life.
    [19]John 5:24
    (24) Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting [αἰώνιος] life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.
    In this verse Jesus pairs “aionios” with “shall not come into condemnation” and “passed from death unto life.” “Aionios” does not mean “a finite period,” by definition here it means “eternal,” unless Jesus lets His followers come into condemnation and pass into death.
    [20]Romans 5:21(21) That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal [αἰώνιος] life by Jesus Christ our Lord.
    In this verse “aionios life” is contrasted with death. “A finite period life” is not opposite death, “eternal life” is. “Aionios life” by definition here means ‘eternal life.”
    [21]Ephesians 3:21
    (21) to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever [του αιωνος/tou aionios] and ever! [των αιωνων/ton aionion] Amen.
    In this verse “tou aionios ton aionion” is paired with “throughout all generations.” "Age(s)" a finite period cannot refer to "all generations." By definition “tou aionios ton aionion” means forever and ever.
    [22]John 8:51
    (51) Very truly [αμην αμην/amen amen] I tell you, whoever obeys my word will never [ου μη εις τον αιωνα/ou mé eis ton aiona] see death."
    According to noted Greek scholar Marvin Vincent "The double negative “ ου μη/ou mé” signifies in nowise, by no means." Unless Jesus is saying whoever obeys Him will die, i.e. see death, unto the age, by definition aion means eternity.
     
  20. redleghunter

    redleghunter Thank You Jesus! Supporter

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    And a very good illustration of what eternal torment would be. If indeed the garbage dump was constantly burning.

    That has little bearing on the clarity portrayed. Jesus was preaching to goat herders, fishermen and farmers. He was not waxing existentially like some Hindi guru. These were simple people raised in the Law and Prophets. Very concrete teachings.

    Let’s not try to tack on Eastern mysticism and the river of 10,000 voices.

    That’s not the Hebrew tradition or the God revealed in the Holy Scriptures.
     
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