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  1. #1
    Babylon Candle Venom's Avatar
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    Default How can a benevolent God stand for the existance of a hell with eternal suffering?

    a narrative on how i can't understand how God could create hell and allow people to go there for eternity:


    Blood rolls down a lashed back. Tears and mucous choke the cries of pain. You recognize the face of this person as your best friend. Broken flesh reveals the lung cavity of an agonized young girl. Worms eat away at her lungs and heart as she coughs up blood. This was your daughter. An older man, is chained at one end of his hands and feet and is being pulled apart as his sockets rip apart, then are mended and then ripped apart again, over and over again. You recognize this as that amazing high school teacher you would never forget who helped you everyday after school on the math you couldn't ever do right. A dark bottomless pit fills with water, and there is a women trying to stay above the water, yet she continues to drown. Her, you recognize as your mother.

    This list goes on as you recognize hundreds of important people that you knew in your life. Still beyond this group of hundreds, there are billions of people with each their own eternal damnation. As far as the eye can see, you turn around and around, taking in this scene of pain, sorrow and despair. Enforcers of hate carry out these acts of cosmic justice and laugh in the power they have over this domain. They've stolen these souls from their creator. They laugh at you, they tell you they've won. That they've taken away some of your domain, forever. In what ever theatric way best portrayed: slow motion, music or whatever best portrays the absolute horror of this place you take a few turns trying to find a visual without horror to rest your sight. This is a location, with less hope than a Nazi concentration camp.

    Each face represents a lost soul, begging for deliverance and mercy. These people are being punished. Why are these people here? Some were raised Jewish from a young impressionable age, one was too young to understand the complexities of arguments and was swept away in atheistic debate. Another man became bitter from his lot in life and never gave thought to a compassionate God. A scientist, who couldn't bring himself to basing his life on faith, was programmed through his work to reject everything without evidence. Each a sinner. Each had moments of true selfishness. Each had moments of hate. Each doubted the existence of Jesus. Yet, each had moments of true unprompted compassion, innocence and friendship. They deserve this punishment, yes. They are sinners, yes. They are human.


    They are your creation. What thought goes through your head. Really imagine the screams, the gore, the pain, the desperation, the hopeless aura.


    You look down at your hands. You have the power to change this all. You let this all happen. They had a choice, yes. Einstein wasn't the one that decided to drop an atomic bomb, but he sure didn't lack a feeling of guilt when they used his ideas to create one. Your creation, your atomic knowledge, and this Hiroshima, is what its been reduced to. Your inner conscience pleads for mercy. Your soul speaks to the one objective morality that you're sure exists: mercy and sympathy. Without these, all punishment is simply revenge. Punishment should do one of two things: teach the punished party a lesson that can be learned from or it should protect other people by removing dangerous parties. Punishment that seeks to torture for the sake of torture, or doesn't allow the party the chance to demonstrate a lesson learned, is simply revenge. Revenge is not morality.

    You look once more at the worms pouring in and out of your daughters entrails. You then spin around to see the math teacher being split in half. You spin once more to witness a gay mans teeth being placed on the curb of a wood block, and then being hit over the head with a mallet, crushing everything between the lead and the wood block. The amount of suffering in one location is overwhelming. Unthinkable decibels of broken bones, screams, rips of flesh and whips cracking are drowning out all of your thoughts. Over the sound, you remind yourself that these people deserve their fate, that they are sinners.

    How long will this go on for? For eternity. Are anyones sins really worth infinity? If no one is ever going to be freed, are they really learning anything here? Surely if you were to save them from this torture, they would believe in your forgiveness and truth as much as any earthly believer. So if they are save-able, why are you giving up on them? Why not cry out, "This is madness! this is not what I want for any of my creation!". Did Jesus die in vain? Jesus was resurrected, yet these people still must suffer. If for some, belief completed the transaction, why does a lack of belief make these people less deserving of your compassion? If your own son had been dragged off to be tortured for eternity for his sins, would you not be willing to storm the gates of hell if you had a sliver of hope that you could save him?

    All humans have at least a .0000001% bit of good. There is some part of God's image in all of us. How could God limit himself to just a mere lifetime as a time frame to reclaim your previous innate goodness? Would this all powerful and compassionate God, not be willing to endure the terrible sites of hell to show himself, his compassion and seek to show you the goodness inside of you? If this goodness can be reclaimed through belief in Christ's sacrifice in the earthly life, why should God give up on you in the afterlife?


    i just don't understand

  2. #2
    Queen hunter Virtual ghost's Avatar
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    Ok, hell is a bad place to be.

    But I don't understand why people see heaven as promised land ?

  3. #3
    Babylon Candle Venom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Antisocial one View Post
    Ok, hell is a bad place to be.

    But I don't understand why people see heaven as promised land ?

    do you mean that as in, "heaven isnt explicitly promised?"

    or that heaven doesn't sound great?

  4. #4
    Glowy Goopy Goodness The_Liquid_Laser's Avatar
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    Heh, I just posted this in another thread, but it is probably more appropriate in this one. According to the Bible hell is basically death rather than eternal suffering. I won't deny that there is a long prevelant teaching of eternal suffering in the Christian church, but I don't believe that is what the Bible teaches. Here is what I posted in another thread:

    My point though is that the Bible doesn't depict hell as eternal torture. It depicts it as death or destruction, i.e. being destroyed by fire.

    "Do not fear those who kill the body, but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both body and soul in hell." Matt. 10:28 (emphasis mine)

    Consider also these two well known passages:
    "...whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life." John 3:16
    "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 6:23 (again empasis mine)

    Preachers often portray the choice as being between heaven and hell. However the Bible portrays the choice as being between life and death. The alternative to life is not torture. It's death. Some people reinterpret death to mean torture. I don't. I believe death literally means death.
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by The_Liquid_Laser View Post
    Heh, I just posted this in another thread, but it is probably more appropriate in this one. According to the Bible hell is basically death rather than eternal suffering. I won't deny that there is a long prevelant teaching of eternal suffering in the Christian church, but I don't believe that is what the Bible teaches. Here is what I posted in another thread:
    Is that like Annihilationism?

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    Glowy Goopy Goodness The_Liquid_Laser's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sassafrassquatch View Post
    Is that like Annihilationism?
    Yep, that's basically it. According to that article different groups might disagree on some of the finer details, but the basic idea is that hell means death rather than eternal suffering.
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  7. #7
    On a mission Usehername's Avatar
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    TLL, do you by chance have an internet resource (or even a book) where you find you agree often with someone's biblical teachings/views?

    I find I'm so regularly searching multiple avenues, to find one thing that I strongly argree with or don't see a huge hole in their perspective that was left unanswered and untouched.
    *You don't have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body.
    *Faith is the art of holding on to things your reason once accepted, despite your changing moods.
    C.S. Lewis

  8. #8
    Glowy Goopy Goodness The_Liquid_Laser's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Usehername View Post
    TLL, do you by chance have an internet resource (or even a book) where you find you agree often with someone's biblical teachings/views?

    I find I'm so regularly searching multiple avenues, to find one thing that I strongly argree with or don't see a huge hole in their perspective that was left unanswered and untouched.
    That's a tough one. I'm a Seventh Day Adventist, so the best I could do is point you to an SDA website. (Here's one: Fundamental Beliefs) However there are some views where I don't agree with my denomination. For example SDA's tend to be far too legalistic in my opinioin. Basically I am an SDA, because we agree on the theology which is most important to me including grace, salvation by faith, and views on the afterlife.

    Theology is just one part of religion though. For example I don't really know what the theology of The Salvation Army is, but when it comes to practice I think they really have the right idea. However, I do agree with my denomination on a fair amount of social issues. For example health, education, and separation between Church and State are important values for us. (These used to be important for evangelicals in general about 100 years ago, but most other denominations have done a 180 since then.)

    Overall I'd say I'm something of a mutt. Most of my views come from private study, and I ask someone knowledgable when I have a question. For example my pastor has a PhD, and there is also a theology professor who attends my church. Unfortunately I can't point to a single online source or book where I could say, "This guy completely captures what I believe."
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  9. #9
    The Black Knight Domino's Avatar
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    My mother sat by and listened as I told her about the Army Rangers when they liberated a camp that had held the mangled survivors of the infamous Bataan Death March. One Ranger spoke of an emaciated prisoner who'd begun walking toward the camp's gate only to collapse and lie unmoving on the ground. The Ranger came back for him, picked him up -- remarking later with fresh horror that the prisoner weighed no more than a child -- and carried him through the gates. The Ranger knew the man was dying, so he knelt down with him on the freedom side and held him in his arms until the man passed. There was a look of mute relief on the prisoner's face.

    When I first read that story, I felt myself shattering.

    It grieved me -- this poor man had endured for so long, his spirit had stayed with his body instead of abandoning it in the middle of indescribable horror, only to have him die at the very moment of his liberation -- but also twisted me with the gentle tragedy of it all -- he died in the arms of 11th hour kindness.

    I was so grateful that he met his end with someone who'd come to save him, and yet where was this anger coming from?

    I spoke to my ENTJ best friend Athena.

    "I wanted him to live," I snapped into the phone.

    "I know," she said. "If I were there with him, I would have wanted that too. I would've been like 'Dude, you're gonna live if I have to give you CPR for 100 years!', but think about this -- maybe to die on the other side of the gate was all he really wanted. Maybe, after everything he'd suffered, what mattered to him most was that someone came for him in the end."

    Bitterly, I wondered aloud if relief itself had killed him.

    I told her about a certain priest, a Father Englemar Unzeitig, who'd been newly-ordained at the outset of WW2 and who'd been almost immediately imprisoned by the SS for speaking against the abuses aimed at the Jews. Father Englemar was thrown into Dachau, which he called the "largest church on earth" because scores upon scores of priests, church workers, and clergy had been sent there.

    At some point, toward the end of the war, an outbreak of typhoid at the camp had decimated the population. Victims were sequestered off alone, left to die. But 20 men volunteered to go take care of them, knowing that they were signing their death warrants. One of them was Father Englemar.

    He contracted typhoid and died a day after his 34th birthday, and only weeks shy of the camp's liberation by US troops.

    In a letter smuggled out to his sister, written just before he died, he said, "The Good is undying and victory must remain with God, even if it sometimes seems useless for us to spread love in the world. Nevertheless, one sees again and again that the human heart is attuned to love, and it cannot withstand its power in the long run... we want to continue to do and offer everything so that love and peace may soon reign again."

    His graciousness tore me to pieces. No thing looks so enduring or noble anymore. All people care about is how white their teeth are or who they know.

    Here's where my conflict begins...

    While I'm struck speechless by such a brilliant flash in the darkness, I resent the darkness for closing in again. I told my mother that a great deal of my sadness was due to the fact that I believed that the darkness got the last word. I don't mean that in an end times sense.

    I mean it in the sense of the eschatology of the every day.

    Evil breaks my heart because it gets the last word. The brilliance dies out and darkness sets in once more. I feel the loss of having been understood or accepted or loved, and that the source is gone. Darkness can't stomp out greatness, but I feel the effects of it's grasping hands, when it seizes on a beautiful person and drags them into it's own death.

    "Compassion" means to 'suffer with' -- voluntarily entering into the suffering of another's torment and taking part of the load.

    Why can't grace of that magnitude survive here? Why can't it kick the door in?!

    I hate feeling so strongly about something I can't see or feel, but I know is there. Hell may not be pits of fire, but an even more awful separation from God, from the good of the universe. If we limited human beings can create such horrors in our tiny brains, surely Hell must be the collective of all evil malign things.

    God is holy in ways we are not. I believe He's benevolent and kind, but there's another aspect of Him that makes Hell necessary? I grapple with this.
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  10. #10
    Babylon Candle Venom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The_Liquid_Laser View Post
    Heh, I just posted this in another thread, but it is probably more appropriate in this one. According to the Bible hell is basically death rather than eternal suffering. I won't deny that there is a long prevelant teaching of eternal suffering in the Christian church, but I don't believe that is what the Bible teaches. Here is what I posted in another thread:
    one of my friends IRL told me that the idea of hell doesnt exist in the OT...in the OT its simply just punishment in this life and then death being the ultimate punishment...

    ...then suddenly the NT brings up this much darker view of being sent to place of terrible suffering... funny how i read somewhere Jesus preaches twice as much on hell as he does heaven.... yet ive never read a biblical description of heaven.


    i kind of have to assume that absence of God would be torture in some sense we cant describe: like think about it...he takes away all the gifts you have? what is left? if you somehow can live on im guessing it would suck....




    Im just struggling with the idea that this infinite God, would let an arbitrary barrier of this split second of peoples lifetimes (in a cosmic sense) be the last bell? Like why can't he continue to fight for your soul in the afterlife? why does he give up in the afterlife?

    I thought God was great because he was unquantiable, or infinite. We loosely define his infiniteness as love. well how does he suddenly stop loving us when we die just because we did what he programmed us to do?!


    im tired of semantics games played by apologetics:

    In the above verses you can see that God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked yet he delighted in destroying the wicked people. Is this a contradiction? No. Because God has a purpose and a plan and He has the sovereign right to accomplish His will.

    ....

    God can and does control people's hearts and actions so that they will accomplish His purpose. He does this sovereignty and He does it without causing people to sin. He can even make someone's heart hard for the purpose of carrying out His plan.


    .....

    God did not cause the people who crucified Jesus to sin. But, He sure used their sin and He predestined all of it to occur. He used the sins of Herod and Pilate along with the Gentiles to do His divine will. In fact, God anointed them to do what they did. Why? To carry out His purpose and His plan to bring His Son to the cross, to save sinners, and to bring glory to Himself.
    am i going insane!??? how is this the most loving God? Am i the only one who reads this apologetics person as playing semanitcs and side stepping the obvious moral questions?

    Might does not make right. The very fact that I can imagine a more loving God myself, makes we wonder how this is the most loving god possible?

    This could be all side stepped by taking the entire bible as metaphor and going universalist...that all will be saved by being cleansed of the flesh during revelation (the second death would also be metaphorical). but apparently this is a heretical view.



    I just feel like im loosing my mind. punishment should either A) teach a lesson. or B) protect people from dangerous parties. How is this all fitting into God pre ordaining who will be saved from the very start? why would he give up on that 1% chance of his children if he has all of eternity to try and visit them in hell.

    why is it so much nobler to believe in the resurection 2000 years later without any appeal to the 5 senses? In fact God should know exactly what it would take for each person to be saved based on their skepticism that he created them with!? Why couldnt a person who came to believe by witnessing God/jesus in person during the afterlife come to "believe"?


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