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Source: (consider it) Thread: Purgatory: to whom will God show mercy?
Jason™

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quote:
Originally posted by GreyFace:
This is a good analogy for universalist theology but not so hot if there's a possibility that some will be lost, and my understanding (limited as it is) of Lutheran theology is that they're not universalists.

Well, yes. Logically speaking, if I had to side with your argument or LutheranChik's, I have to give you that win. You can't argue for a non-empty hell and still claim humans have nothing to do with the decision of being saved. Unless you are a strict Calvinist who believes that the direct deposit IS made into some of the people's accounts, and not to others, just willy nilly according to God's taste. I'm quite surprised no one has argued from that vantage point yet, but I am willing to wager that LutheranChik will not!

-Digory

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PaulTH*
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Originally posted by Bonaventura:

quote:
I also find it highly ironic that for a person who claims to be highly influenced by judaism, to essentially fall back on Hellenistic concepts, and by ultimately appealing to how God must be in essence, a textbook example of how Greeks would argue contra Hebrew. Scotism is ultimately platonic.

If what I wrote came across as a Hellenistic concept I didn't explain myself very well. My reason for not seeing the need for a redeemer is because the Lord is my redeemer, and I can't understand why we need another tier of soteriology in the form of the Son. If sin is forgiven when we repent, which both Christians and Jews believe, why isn't repenting to the Father sufficient?

My whose gripe against Christian theology is that it is so complex. When the early church decided that Jesus was the unique Son of God it required a miraculous nativity story. When the Western Church formulated the doctrine of original sin, it needed the Immaculate Conception, on pain od torture and excommunication to shore up its latest ridiculous addition to required beliefs.

The simplicity of the immediacy between God and us where we can throw ourselves on His mercy whenever we stray from the divine image implanted in every one of us, is what makes it, for me, so much more powerful than the enormous mental gymnastics contained in Christian soteriology.

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Yours in Christ
Paul

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LutheranChik
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The Lutheran view of salvation is one of single predestination: that God wills everyone to be saved; that's what God wants. It would seem that some people's "no" to this overrides God's "yes"; that in the scheme of things their God-antagonistic human nature wins out over God's intitiating action in their lives. But we don't know. In the final analysis, we're salvation agnostics...who is "in," and who if anyone is "out," salvationwise, is entirely God's business. We know that, through our baptism, we are adopted into God's family, incorporated into Christ's Body, "marked with the cross of Christ forever." That's my self-identification. My job is now living into that relationship; that's sanctification.

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Freddy
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quote:
Originally posted by PaulTH*:
The simplicity of the immediacy between God and us where we can throw ourselves on His mercy whenever we stray from the divine image implanted in every one of us, is what makes it, for me, so much more powerful than the enormous mental gymnastics contained in Christian soteriology.

I like this, and I do agree that this is where we end up, or ought to end up.

The simple answer is that good people find happiness and bad people don't.

How this system actually works, how it is maintained, and how the human history has impacted it, however, is another story. History is never simple.

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"Consequently nothing is of greater importance to a person than knowing what the truth is." Swedenborg

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LutheranChik
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Freddy, instead of accusing me of not proclaiming the Gospel, I'd suggest that you concern yourself with working out the particulars of your own faith life. Unless you'd like a ticket to Hell (the Ship version).

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GreyFace
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LutheranChik, apart from a semantic argument over the nature of the term salvation, I wouldn't disagree with that. However, please explain how this...

quote:
It would seem that some people's "no" to this overrides God's "yes"; that in the scheme of things their God-antagonistic human nature wins out over God's intitiating action in their lives.
is not saying that you believe either that God deliberately makes some people unable to respond to his grace (strict Calvinism as Digory is using the word and apparently logically contradictory), or that we are given the capacity for choice which can affect our final destination (my belief - and this is in no way earning salvation, a state which is undeserved and made possible by Christ), or that God is not in control of things.

If you don't like the two options I rejected above, I cannot see how you can fail to accept the notion that we can do things that lead to our appropriation of the salvation offered just as we can do things that lead to our rejection thereof, even if the core is not action but choice (if there's a difference).

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GreyFace
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quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
The simple answer is that good people find happiness and bad people don't.

But that raises the question of who is good and who isn't. Is a bad person who wants to be good actually a good person, and is a good person (in our terms) who just goes with the flow actually good at all?

Can we judge a murderer as bad when we don't know the details of how he came to be that way? I don't think we can - pertinently in the case of a repentant murderer - and there are scriptural hints like the parable of the talents that we will be judged on what we've done with what we had to work with rather than what we are.

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Gauk
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quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:

Basically at the judgment, all will appear before the judgment seat and those not known by him will go to hell and those who are known to him and whose names are written in the Lamb's Book of Life will be welcomed into his kingdom.

There will be many whose names are not there and they will be turned away.
There is no second chance neither is there any gift of faith given at this judgment seat that will allow those who lived as unbelievers to have a place in the kingdom.

And no preacher should preach that without a heavy heart.

And no preacher should preach that without considering the morality of it.

I've asked this question before and no-one likes to answer it. How does hell (as you see it) fit in with any modern conception of jurisprudence? What you are saying here is that unbelievers will be locked up in hell and the key thrown away. For what crime would that be justified on earth? Is there any crime for which you, yourself, personally, would consider eternal punishment a fitting reward for someone? If you had a button to press that would send someone known to you to such a fate, would you press it?

And if not, are you saying that God would?

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Now the Sirens have a still more fatal weapon than their song, namely their silence ... it is conceivable that someone might possibly have escaped from their singing; but from their silence certainly never.

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Martin60
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Mudfrog

How does that - your one dimensional exegesis of Dan'l 12:2 - invalidate any one getting their FIRST chance? Some Jews, Moslems, atheists, gay radicals, neanderthals will obviously come through the process of judgement in to eternal life and some Baptists, Pentecostals, Lutherans, Calvinists, Presbyterians, United Reform will obtain even more opprobrium than they do already.

And by the way, Matthew 10:15 demonstrates that Judgment Day isn't what you think it is.

Unless your God is a racist, sexist, homophobic, elitist, etc, etc, scumbag.

Unless God is Satan?

Any 'preacher' who condemns 99% of humanity to everburninhellfire wouldn't know the gospel if it bit him in the arse.

The ignorance and fear is laughable and will be forgiven as such in the resurrection, despite the harm that it has done.

The worst case scenario is that such so called Christians will be so offended at God's grace that won't be able to forgive Him and would rather cease to exist than share heaven with sinners.

--------------------
Love wins

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Bonaventura*
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quote:
Originally posted by PaulTH*:
If what I wrote came across as a Hellenistic concept I didn't explain myself very well. My reason for not seeing the need for a redeemer is because the Lord is my redeemer, and I can't understand why we need another tier of soteriology in the form of the Son. If sin is forgiven when we repent, which both Christians and Jews believe, why isn't repenting to the Father sufficient?

Dear Paul

your theology still strikes me as thouroghly socinian and scotist. That is fine by me. But by appealing to omnipotence and omniscience, as you did in your original post, you are using hellenistic concepts of deity not Hebrew.

You still need to explain how using those concepts don't land you into the mire of predestination, why is repentance at all necessary? Why is there need of of commandments? Why is there any need of prayer if God is omniscient? Why need of an elaborate and complex sacrificial cult? Why need of a covenant people? Several of the patriachs seem to argue with God, and he apparently changes his mind. This is a tradition which I had very much hoped had been retained in Christianity, unfortunately it was not. But does God change? You have not elaborated on this.

In fact why a need for a revealed religion at all, would not just a simple natural theology just solve it all?

quote:

My whose gripe against Christian theology is that it is so complex.

Then scrap kabbalism.

quote:

When the early church decided that Jesus was the unique Son of God it required a miraculous nativity story.

The nativity story was used by 19th century protestants as proof of the godhood of Christ, whereas it was used by the ancient church fathers as primarily a proof of the humanity of Christ.
ironic isn't it?

IMHO, Christianity is about the dialectic between God and humanity. The Church has too often strayed into forms of monophysitism, either human beings were totaly depraved sinners in need of salvation, or they have been construed as passive vessels for an absolute divine truth. The divine has been emphasised at the expense of the human.

To understand this and my spirituality one has to peer deep into and understand the book of Sirach (ecclesiasticus).

Shalom

--------------------
So lovers of wine drink up! The Beloved has lifted his red glass. And paradise cannot be, now, far away. -Hafëz

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Marvin the Martian

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quote:
Originally posted by GreyFace:
Tell me, what do you think we are saved from?

Good question.

My answer would be Hell. What would yours be?

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Hail Gallaxhar

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Freddy
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quote:
Originally posted by LutheranChik:
Freddy, instead of accusing me of not proclaiming the Gospel, I'd suggest that you concern yourself with working out the particulars of your own faith life. Unless you'd like a ticket to Hell (the Ship version).

LutheranChick,

My apologies. I did not mean to offend you. I'm sure you do a good job of proclaiming the Gospel.

My question is just what you think Jesus meant by His sayings about the need for obedience.

--------------------
"Consequently nothing is of greater importance to a person than knowing what the truth is." Swedenborg

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LutheranChik
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Greyface: It's the philosopher's dilemma. We have the freedom to say "no" to God, but not to say "yes" to God.

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Freddy
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quote:
Originally posted by GreyFace:
quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
The simple answer is that good people find happiness and bad people don't.

But that raises the question of who is good and who isn't.
It doesn't if we're keeping it simple. [Biased]

Considering that God sees our hearts, the question is whether we are ruled by love of self and the world, or love of God and the neighbor.

I always notice that when viewing movies it is remarkably easy to make judgments about who is good and who is bad. Even "bad" people can be portrayed as sympathetic characters, so that you easily perceive that they really mean no harm. No matter how complex the writers make a character, almost any viewer can slice through the complexities and form a conclusion about their "real" character.

Admittedly this is much harder in real life, but we're not supposed to judge other people anyway. My point is that I think most people in the world know the difference between right and wrong. If you start from the assumption that God is completely fair, then people will be happy in the exact measure of the goodness of their heart.

But I'm not especially wanting to keep it simple. I was just responding to Paul. [Biased]

--------------------
"Consequently nothing is of greater importance to a person than knowing what the truth is." Swedenborg

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Jason™

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quote:
Originally posted by Gauk:
I've asked this question before and no-one likes to answer it. How does hell (as you see it) fit in with any modern conception of jurisprudence? What you are saying here is that unbelievers will be locked up in hell and the key thrown away. For what crime would that be justified on earth? Is there any crime for which you, yourself, personally, would consider eternal punishment a fitting reward for someone? If you had a button to press that would send someone known to you to such a fate, would you press it?

And if not, are you saying that God would?

I've recently started to ask myself this question, and I've come across an answer that is logically unassailable. (Meaning, it is on par with the "Don't question God" defense--there's nothing that can be said to disprove it OR prove it, etc.)

Usually, this answer goes something like: "If God is infinitely worthy, than any offense against him is automatically infinite, and deserving of infinite punishment. Using earthly or human standards of judgment and punishment are inaccurate, because they do not take into account the intensity of offending the Ultimate Good.

In some ways I can pardon this argument as it does its best job at explaining the problem away in somewhat logical terms. However, I can't help but compare it, in my mind, to the judge who sends the black man to death row for killing a white lady, but gives the white man 10 years for killing a black man. If we have an innate sense of "that seems wrong," it doesn't quite add up to me that God would demand such preferential treatment, of sorts.

I don't know though, what do you think, Gauk? (Or others?)

-Digory

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Mudfrog
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quote:
Originally posted by PaulTH*:
Originally posted by Bonaventura:

quote:
I also find it highly ironic that for a person who claims to be highly influenced by judaism, to essentially fall back on Hellenistic concepts, and by ultimately appealing to how God must be in essence, a textbook example of how Greeks would argue contra Hebrew. Scotism is ultimately platonic.

If what I wrote came across as a Hellenistic concept I didn't explain myself very well. My reason for not seeing the need for a redeemer is because the Lord is my redeemer, and I can't understand why we need another tier of soteriology in the form of the Son. If sin is forgiven when we repent, which both Christians and Jews believe, why isn't repenting to the Father sufficient?

My whose gripe against Christian theology is that it is so complex. When the early church decided that Jesus was the unique Son of God it required a miraculous nativity story. When the Western Church formulated the doctrine of original sin, it needed the Immaculate Conception, on pain od torture and excommunication to shore up its latest ridiculous addition to required beliefs.

The simplicity of the immediacy between God and us where we can throw ourselves on His mercy whenever we stray from the divine image implanted in every one of us, is what makes it, for me, so much more powerful than the enormous mental gymnastics contained in Christian soteriology.

I half agree with you here.

Christian theology has has made the gospel message very complicated - usually because people/the church has ignored the Scripture's plain teaching.

e.g. the doctrine of sin: we all know we are sinners. we all know it's a human thing (none of us are left out) and it came from the beginning. We know therefore we need a Saviour who is worthy to redeem us. The Bible is very clear that Jesus was sinless and that he was virgin born. End of story.

So why does the church feel it needs to explain or invent stories to show how Jesus was sinless? Why go through the whole Marian rigmarole of immaclate conception, perpetual virginity and bodily assumption? We don't NEED Mary to be conceived immaculately for Jesus to be sinless.

In fact, doctrines of baptisms, masses, saints, and all the rest that you can't find in Scripture just cloud the whole issue.


As far as the need for Jesus well, I agree with you that God is the redeemer and I understand your question why do we need another tier of soteriology in the form of the Son. Well the idea is that Jesus is part of the same 'tier' that we see in the OT. He is part of the sacrificial system set up by God. God obviously doesn't need to have lambs with their throats cut in order to forgive us, but we do - in that we need a symbol to remind and confirm our atonement with him. Jesus is simply the culmination of that. He wasn't sent to be another way of salvation, he was the pinnacle of the existing one - being the lamb who was slain before the foundation of the world. I often think that if Jesus was indeed already slain for us in the heart of God, the only reason for Jesus to exist historically was as a 'sacrament' of what was already true. Calvary therefore is the perfect enactment of what is etrenally true, that there is a life given on our behalf that we might be atoned. Indeed, that is the only basis on which the OT sacriofices were valid and efficacious I like that word).

Yup. Make the gospel message simple. Keep it to Scripture and if it's there, you'll not go wrong.

Who needs Church Fathers and Reformers anyway?
If the people had been allowed to read the Scriptures for themselves we would never have got into the mess we're in now.

IMHO

--------------------
"The point of having an open mind, like having an open mouth, is to close it on something solid."
G.K. Chesterton

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Mudfrog
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quote:
Originally posted by Martin PC not & Ship's Biohazard:
Mudfrog

How does that - your one dimensional exegesis of Dan'l 12:2 - invalidate any one getting their FIRST chance? Some Jews, Moslems, atheists, gay radicals, neanderthals will obviously come through the process of judgement in to eternal life and some Baptists, Pentecostals, Lutherans, Calvinists, Presbyterians, United Reform will obtain even more opprobrium than they do already.

And by the way, Matthew 10:15 demonstrates that Judgment Day isn't what you think it is.

Unless your God is a racist, sexist, homophobic, elitist, etc, etc, scumbag.

Unless God is Satan?

Any 'preacher' who condemns 99% of humanity to everburninhellfire wouldn't know the gospel if it bit him in the arse.

The ignorance and fear is laughable and will be forgiven as such in the resurrection, despite the harm that it has done.

The worst case scenario is that such so called Christians will be so offended at God's grace that won't be able to forgive Him and would rather cease to exist than share heaven with sinners.

First of all, who says that modern jurisprudence is the perfect model by which to judge eternal justice?

Secondly, it's more complicated than God sending people to hell as a punishment for their crime of being sinners.

Actually I don't see it that way - anymore than I see God rewarding Christians with heaven because the've been forgiven.

Hell is not a punishment, heaven is not a reward.

Perhaps you could look at hell as the state that all humanity is destined for simply bvceause of it's uncleanness, it's selfishness and opposition to the holiness, love and Fatherhood of God. It's not what we do that has set us all on this path, it's simply who we are. God isn't making us go there - justice demands that we be separated from our Father because of our sinful nature.

What God has done and is doing is entirely positive. He put together a complete rescue package so that no one need continue on that hopeless road. In Christ he literally saves us and offers the means of coming home.

The judgment day will simply be a day of confirming our destination. Those who have never taken up the offer of leaving the road to hell will simply go there. The ones who have accepted Life will be welcomed into the alternative place.

And yes, it's even more complicated than that!
There is justice and law-breaking involved, but I prefer to think that punishment/condemnation will be what happens in hell.
Rewards are what are given in heaven.

But neither hell or heaven are in themselves the punishment or the reward.

--------------------
"The point of having an open mind, like having an open mouth, is to close it on something solid."
G.K. Chesterton

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Mudfrog
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Martin PC, you wrote:

And by the way, Matthew 10:15 demonstrates that Judgment Day isn't what you think it is.

Unless your God is a racist, sexist, homophobic, elitist, etc, etc, scumbag.

Unless God is Satan?


Matthew 10:15 says:
"Assuredly I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment that for that city (any city that rejects the Gospel, having heard it)."


Can you tell me what your interpretation of this verse is? And what you find objectionable?

--------------------
"The point of having an open mind, like having an open mouth, is to close it on something solid."
G.K. Chesterton

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Martin60
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Mudfrog - who said any thing about modern jurisprudence?

And, of course, you are diametrically biblically wrong on hell not being punishment - Matthew 25:46 - and heaven not being a place of reward - Matthew 5:12, 6:1, 10:42 etc.

And I have no objection whatsoever to Sodomites literal and metaphoric having an easy time in the resurrection.

You do, with a heart heavy with schadenfreude - not hypocrisy, irrational terror and ignorance - of course.

--------------------
Love wins

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Mudfrog
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"I've asked this question before and no-one likes to answer it. How does hell (as you see it) fit in with any modern conception of jurisprudence? "


Sorry Martin, Gauk said it.
I wrongly ascribed it to you.

apologies

--------------------
"The point of having an open mind, like having an open mouth, is to close it on something solid."
G.K. Chesterton

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Mudfrog
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quote:
Originally posted by Martin PC not & Ship's Biohazard:
Mudfrog - who said any thing about modern jurisprudence?

And, of course, you are diametrically biblically wrong on hell not being punishment - Matthew 25:46 - and heaven not being a place of reward - Matthew 5:12, 6:1, 10:42 etc.

And I have no objection whatsoever to Sodomites literal and metaphoric having an easy time in the resurrection.

You do, with a heart heavy with schadenfreude - not hypocrisy, irrational terror and ignorance - of course.

Hell is a place where punishment is meted out and heaven is a place where rewards are given, I grant.

But the destination of hell itself is not a punishment for sins comitted because all humanity has hell as its destination because they are 'in Adam' not because of the tally of wrongdoings against their names.

eaven is also the place of communion with God and whatever rewards there are are secondary to the blessing of just being there.


Why do you assume that I object to Sodomite's having an easy time at the resurrection?

--------------------
"The point of having an open mind, like having an open mouth, is to close it on something solid."
G.K. Chesterton

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Martin60
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Your becauses don't follow. Hell is eternal punishment without qualification. Not eternal punishing of course. That would be obscenely insane.

You MUST object to Sodomites having a resurrection to eternal life because none of the literal ones were decent let alone received the gospel 2000 years before its delivery.

--------------------
Love wins

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Mudfrog
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quote:
Originally posted by Martin PC not & Ship's Biohazard:
Your becauses don't follow. Hell is eternal punishment without qualification. Not eternal punishing of course. That would be obscenely insane.

You MUST object to Sodomites having a resurrection to eternal life because none of the literal ones were decent let alone received the gospel 2000 years before its delivery.

I don't single anyone out. There is none righteous, not one. The truth is that without a positive response to the Saviour all remain in their sins whether they are Sodomites, as you call them, or gossips.

All have sinned - regardless of how bad or decent their actions have been in the sight of other people - and fall short of the glory of God.

It would be like someone getting out of a bath saying that someone walking out of the sea is wetter. The volume of water might be greater but the degree of wetness is the same.

Daft illustration but it's all I could come up with.

You sin because you are a sinner.
We all have the capacity to commit big and little, grave or inconsequential sins. It is the fact of your sinful nature, not the amount or degree of your sins, that requires you to seek a Saviour.

The good news is that in Jesus there is One.

--------------------
"The point of having an open mind, like having an open mouth, is to close it on something solid."
G.K. Chesterton

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Martin60
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Hmmm. You appear to have backed away from condemning nice non-Christians to everburninhellfire. That's good. Because you will be judged as you judge.

--------------------
Love wins

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Gauk
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quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
Usually, this answer goes something like: "If God is infinitely worthy, than any offense against him is automatically infinite, and deserving of infinite punishment. Using earthly or human standards of judgment and punishment are inaccurate, because they do not take into account the intensity of offending the Ultimate Good.

In some ways I can pardon this argument as it does its best job at explaining the problem away in somewhat logical terms. ...

I don't know though, what do you think, Gauk? (Or others?)

-Digory

I would say that it isn't logical at all. If God is infinitely worthy it doesn't follow that any offense is automatically infinite. The magnitude of any offense is due to what the offense is, not who is offended. If you kicked a bishop and a priest, I would dispute that kicking the bishop was worse.

Further, if you got into a time machine and went back in time to kick Jesus, your kick would not be an infinitely bad crime if Jesus is infinitely good. It's still just a kick.

In fact, it's debatable if an "infinite offense" has any meaning. And I certainly don't see any logical argument that if "infinite offense" DOES have any meaning, that it justifies infinite punishment. It might for the G&S Mikado, but a loving God is not mandated to impose infinite punishment on anyone, by logic or anything else.

--------------------
Now the Sirens have a still more fatal weapon than their song, namely their silence ... it is conceivable that someone might possibly have escaped from their singing; but from their silence certainly never.

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Gauk
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quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:
"I've asked this question before and no-one likes to answer it. How does hell (as you see it) fit in with any modern conception of jurisprudence? "

Sorry Martin, Gauk said it.
I wrongly ascribed it to you.

Yes I did. let me expound it a little further. We have, as individuals living in a modern society, pretty good ideas about what is just and unjust, even if we don't always order society in line with them.

Our ideas about justice are closely linked to what we believe about good and evil. We believe that justice is good and injustice is evil.

Now I believe, and you can disagree if you like (some philosophers do), that there are such things as objective moral standards. Sometimes we have difficulty finding them in tricky cases, but they are out there. I believe, therefore, that "justice", as we perceive it in 2005, has a good measure of compatibility with God's justice; it's certainly not at 180 degrees away.

Therefore, if I hear some hypothesis that competely offends MY sense of justice, I have a pretty strong hunch that it isn't God's justice either. Otherwise my moral compass is so way off beam I might as well give up now.

--------------------
Now the Sirens have a still more fatal weapon than their song, namely their silence ... it is conceivable that someone might possibly have escaped from their singing; but from their silence certainly never.

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JimT

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quote:
Originally posted by Bonaventura:
The nativity story was used by 19th century protestants as proof of the godhood of Christ, whereas it was used by the ancient church fathers as primarily a proof of the humanity of Christ.
ironic isn't it?

Not nearly so ironic if one asks what the use was of the nativity stories by later gospel writers after Mark. Mark presents the most human Jesus, with no virgin birth and an ambiguous but possible denial of his divinity with, "Why do you call me good? There is none that is good but God himself." Scholars agree as well that Matthew and Luke had the gospel of Mark in front of them when they wrote their own gospels, since they took exact wording directly from it. Yet, Matthew adds a dream of Joseph about his wife giving birth by a non-human father and Luke adds an apparent historical, factual account of an angelic appearance to Mary promising that her child is the seed of God Himself. What was the intent of these later gospel writers? Was it not exactly the same intent as 19th century Protestants? Clearly so in my view. They had Mark. They could have left Jesus human and ambiguously divine, but instead they made him undeniably God and ambiguously human. I cannot see how their intent can be inferred as anything but this.

If you can convince me that the ancient church fathers had as low an opinion of the intent of later gospel writers as you seem to of 19th century Protestants, I might be convinced to convert to Catholicism along with my sisters. Because I view the gospel writers as Jews chiding one another about the true Way to God, with us non-Jews left to separate the wheat from the chaff among the words they directed more at one another than to us, digging up prophesies from Isaiah, like Virgin Birth. You think perhaps the ancient church fathers saw things my way? Would the Pope look with as much favor upon Catholics with a low opinion of the intent of later gospel writers, as he apparently looks upon Catholics with a low opinion of the intent of 19th century Protestants? If so, he's my kinda guy. I'm not much thrilled with either to tell you the truth.

quote:
Originally posted by Bonaventura:
IMHO, Christianity is about the dialectic between God and humanity.

I really, really like this. Reminds me of Process Theology, about which I know almost nothing but am favorably disposed. Reminds me as well of a quote from Victor Frankl that goes something like, "Should we be surprised if we find after all these years that when we were talking to ourselves we were really talking to God?"

[ 01. September 2005, 15:38: Message edited by: JimmyT ]

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GreyFace
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quote:
Originally posted by Gauk:
I would say that it isn't logical at all. If God is infinitely worthy it doesn't follow that any offense is automatically infinite. The magnitude of any offense is due to what the offense is, not who is offended. If you kicked a bishop and a priest, I would dispute that kicking the bishop was worse.

So would I, but this is because a bishop is not ontologically superior to a priest. I assume you would consider it a greater crime to shoot somebody in the head than to squash an ant you found raiding your kitchen.

quote:
In fact, it's debatable if an "infinite offense" has any meaning. And I certainly don't see any logical argument that if "infinite offense" DOES have any meaning, that it justifies infinite punishment. It might for the G&S Mikado, but a loving God is not mandated to impose infinite punishment on anyone, by logic or anything else.
I think you miss the point of the argument, which is that according to logic or justice or satisfaction, infinite punishment is indicated - or at least, infinite bliss for the guilty is right out - but love and mercy comes into play. God would be mandated so to punish if justice was his overriding attribute but it appears it is not.

So we're back to where we started, which is that nobody deserves Heaven, nobody can earn their way into it to compel God by arguments of justice, so if any get in it's through mercy, and we get essentially Calvin vs the complication of free will if any don't.

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JimT

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quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:
The good news is that in Jesus there is One.

But you must believe that it is "Jesus" and not anyone else, and the blood of Jesus and not anything else. That is the bad news, isn't it?

By no other name are we saved from eternal punishment for having passively acquired a sinful nature from our disobedient ancestors, who damned us for all time, and by no other means are we saved than the blood, without which there is no remission of sin, correct? The Jews of Jesus time, steeped in traditions of blood sacrifice were speaking literally to non-Jews and all of humanity for all time, correct? This was so that all future humans from any tradition could, in contrast to being eternally punished for their passively-inherited nature, might eternally worship the blood-requirer and Son-sacrificer who would be known as "Satanic" if he were human but as "God Himself" to literal Bible-believing Christians who accept that Divine Goodness is beyond human comprehension, correct? That is the way you seem to describe it and the way I always heard it, once the varnish is peeled back and one can see the grain underneath.

You know, what I always hear after this is, "yes, sadly that's true, but try to forget about it and think about how much God must love us given that he became like us and suffered like us." It doesn't wash. "Try to forget it" or "just accept it" just does...not...wash. God will have my respect for Who He Tells Me He Is or I will withhold it. In this life and the next. He can not take a shortcut and offer me the carrot of eternal bliss at my mouth and the barbed wire whip of eternal punishment across my ass, all for inheriting my current state through his creation of all that is, and the fabled disobedience of my fabled first parents. So that I may worship Him eternally? He's got to be joking.

Let Him try though if he is determined. I will gladly scream execrations at Him for Eternity from Hell. That's an eternal promise. And the really nasty, mean, vicious part of me, which came from hearing this crap from the womb, almost hopes I get the chance. That's what it's done for me, and that is perhaps the saddest part of all.

But perhaps I will only get to sit in a corner by myself, as Gordon believes. I'll just scream in the hope He hears me. I'll still have hope.

No one can ever take that from me, ever.

[ 01. September 2005, 16:08: Message edited by: JimmyT ]

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Pyx_e

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Jim, if by God's mercy I make it and find you not there i'm friking leaving. I don't want no friking mercy that does not include you (and many others).

P

--------------------
It is better to be Kind than right.

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QLib

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On my more hopeful days, I think that Pyxe's idea may be about how it actually works. When Jesus talked about needing 'workers for the Harvest' (not the sowing, note, but for the gathering) he said that the labourers are few, compared to the size of the Harvest. So I think that maybe they'll start off with a few in Heaven (A,B and C) and then C will say' "Well, I'm not staying here unless X, Y and Z are here" and s/he will go and fetch them up - and it will carry on like that until the whole of creation is redeemed.

--------------------
Tradition is the handing down of the flame, not the worship of the ashes Gustav Mahler.

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The Lesser Weevil
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quote:
By no other name are we saved from eternal punishment for having passively acquired a sinful nature from our disobedient ancestors, who damned us for all time, and by no other means are we saved than the blood, without which there is no remission of sin, correct?
Jimmy,

What if, instead of the judicial model of punishment and forgiveness, we consider Jesus' death and resurrection on the analogy of real magic? Not the "magic" of the illusionist, but the powerful stuff of (dare I say it) Harry Potter. What if, due to structures in reality so deep not even God can change them, the blood of an innocent can transform sinners into saints? What if sin is not the transgression of an arbitrary rule, a rule that might just as easily be the other way, but a twisting away from essential Reality that finally removes any reality from the person so twisted? Might that cast a different light on the situation?

--------------------
In case of dissension, never dare to judge till you've heard the other side.
Euripides, Heraclidae, circa 428 B.C.

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Bonaventura*
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quote:
Originally posted by JimmyT:
Not nearly so ironic if one asks what the use was of the nativity stories by later gospel writers after Mark. Mark presents the most human Jesus, with no virgin birth and an ambiguous but possible denial of his divinity with, "Why do you call me good? They could have left Jesus human and ambiguously divine, but instead they made him undeniably God and ambiguously human. I cannot see how their intent can be inferred as anything but this.



wow there is a lot to unpack here, which would deserve another thread. Generally I do agree with you that there in the history of ideas in the church the divine element in Christ has been emphasised at the expense of the human. When it comes to the use of the virgin birth as proof text of divinity I would recommend you to check Colin Gunton who has written on this topic. I have to leave for a coffee break now...

But rest assured, you are not likely to convert. [Biased]


quote:

I really, really like this. Reminds me of Process Theology, about which I know almost nothing but am favorably disposed. Reminds me as well of a quote from Victor Frankl that goes something like, "Should we be surprised if we find after all these years that when we were talking to ourselves we were really talking to God?"

A static conception of god cannot be maintained. The Christian God in particular, the God of carnivalism and crucified truth, can only be understood dynamically. I believe that in God there is a creative dynamic process which is accomplished in eternity.

I like your quote from Frankl, though I find it a tad too individualist for me. It is not just self talk but action towards the neighbour and the attempt to realise the image of God in others that you can have communion with God. In the small acts of kindness. Being is communion.

Best wishes,

--------------------
So lovers of wine drink up! The Beloved has lifted his red glass. And paradise cannot be, now, far away. -Hafëz

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JimT

Ship'th Mythtic
# 142

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quote:
Originally posted by The Lesser Weevil:
Jimmy,

What if, instead of the judicial model of punishment and forgiveness, we consider Jesus' death and resurrection on the analogy of real magic? Not the "magic" of the illusionist, but the powerful stuff of (dare I say it) Harry Potter. What if, due to structures in reality so deep not even God can change them, the blood of an innocent can transform sinners into saints? What if sin is not the transgression of an arbitrary rule, a rule that might just as easily be the other way, but a twisting away from essential Reality that finally removes any reality from the person so twisted? Might that cast a different light on the situation?

In my view, it casts a generally wholesome light on the situation so long as the "magic" comes from a mystery in the fact itself, and not from the twin mechanisms of:

1. A God who, in response to the emergence of sin as an unanticipated or anticipated disease or willful rebelliousness against good, intentionally "requires" blood as "payment in full" from passive inheriters of the disease or proclivity

and

2. The "magic" is not dispensed individually on the condition of belief in said magic and specific mechanism.

The fact that a Jesus would sacrifice his life for the sins of the whole world, for eternity, not bowing either to military pressure to violently throw off Roman occupation, nor to religious authority requiring adherence to supposedly divine commandments of behavior not directly related to true goodness and badness, seems in my mind to have planted a seed in the metaphysical world of thought, feeling, emotion, and spirit where we really live as human beings; a seed that has blossomed into a Christianity completely divorced from the sqabbling gospel writers, disciples, and apostels. That I am unable to deny, and it has no unhealthy side effects that I can see. It even has an element of some kind of "faith" pathetic though it may be in realtion to those whose "faith" is so great they can at a snap of their mental fingers posit a bellybuttonless Adam willfully disobeying a human-like God at the temptation of a rib-made woman deceived by an upright snake.

But it's something. And it's what keeps me going and Purgatorially ranting against Old and New Testament literalism when I ought to be writing my dissertation.

On nothing having to do with relgion!

Sheesh what's wrong with me?!?

Pyx_e: right back atcha, ya big lug. [Smile]

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Jason™

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quote:
Originally posted by JimmyT:
quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:
The good news is that in Jesus there is One.

But you must believe that it is "Jesus" and not anyone else, and the blood of Jesus and not anything else. That is the bad news, isn't it?

By no other name are we saved from eternal punishment for having passively acquired a sinful nature from our disobedient ancestors, who damned us for all time, and by no other means are we saved than the blood, without which there is no remission of sin, correct? The Jews of Jesus time, steeped in traditions of blood sacrifice were speaking literally to non-Jews and all of humanity for all time, correct? This was so that all future humans from any tradition could, in contrast to being eternally punished for their passively-inherited nature, might eternally worship the blood-requirer and Son-sacrificer who would be known as "Satanic" if he were human but as "God Himself" to literal Bible-believing Christians who accept that Divine Goodness is beyond human comprehension, correct? That is the way you seem to describe it and the way I always heard it, once the varnish is peeled back and one can see the grain underneath.

You know, what I always hear after this is, "yes, sadly that's true, but try to forget about it and think about how much God must love us given that he became like us and suffered like us." It doesn't wash. "Try to forget it" or "just accept it" just does...not...wash. God will have my respect for Who He Tells Me He Is or I will withhold it. In this life and the next. He can not take a shortcut and offer me the carrot of eternal bliss at my mouth and the barbed wire whip of eternal punishment across my ass, all for inheriting my current state through his creation of all that is, and the fabled disobedience of my fabled first parents. So that I may worship Him eternally? He's got to be joking.

Let Him try though if he is determined. I will gladly scream execrations at Him for Eternity from Hell. That's an eternal promise. And the really nasty, mean, vicious part of me, which came from hearing this crap from the womb, almost hopes I get the chance. That's what it's done for me, and that is perhaps the saddest part of all.

But perhaps I will only get to sit in a corner by myself, as Gordon believes. I'll just scream in the hope He hears me. I'll still have hope.

No one can ever take that from me, ever.

Wow. That's some good writing. You should be a professional critic or something, because the flow of those sentences when you get going all good and angry like would give goosebumps to even those poor souls sweating and burning in hell!

A lot of what you said is perfectly right on, IMO. The traditional Christian view coupled with the traditional Christian apologetic makes for a very sticky defense of a supposedly "loving" God. Of course, many would argue that we perhaps don't know what "loving" really means and we can't possibly fathom what it really means for God to love us the way he does with "perfect" love. But what I say to that is this:

If God made us, he knows us perfectly. He knows our capacities for understanding and for feeling and he knows our sense of justice and goodness and of what love is and should be. If his ways are so contrary to all of these senses that we as humans have, then he will understand our tendency to disbelieve in him. In fact, he may even value it in some strange way.

No real argument, just an additional thought.


-Digory

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Gauk
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quote:
Originally posted by GreyFace:
So we're back to where we started, which is that nobody deserves Heaven, nobody can earn their way into it to compel God by arguments of justice, so if any get in it's through mercy, and we get essentially Calvin vs the complication of free will if any don't.

Equally, no-one deserves Hell in the way that it is traditionally depicted, as eternal torment.

I used to know an Evangelical who had a different take on things. His view was that those whom God saved went to Heaven, everyone else was simply annihiliated as being of no account and not worth preserving. This I find a much more morally acceptable viewpoint. Considering that atheists don't expect life after death, if they don't get it, they won't actually be losers in their lights.

--------------------
Now the Sirens have a still more fatal weapon than their song, namely their silence ... it is conceivable that someone might possibly have escaped from their singing; but from their silence certainly never.

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GreyFace
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quote:
Originally posted by Gauk:
Equally, no-one deserves Hell in the way that it is traditionally depicted, as eternal torment.

At this point I usually get into a battle about whether it is better to exist perpetually in a state of less than perfect bliss, or to cease to exist altogether.

Nobody's yet drawn the line at which the torment becomes so bad that it's better for existence to end. I assume that any atheist still alive thinks that their existence in this life is better than nonexistence in spite of its faults so how much worse than Heaven does not-Heaven have to be before annihilation looks good?

quote:
I used to know an Evangelical who had a different take on things. His view was that those whom God saved went to Heaven, everyone else was simply annihiliated as being of no account and not worth preserving. This I find a much more morally acceptable viewpoint.
I used to. I don't know now. Why would God create someone of no account?

Me at Pearly Gates: "Is my son in there?"
St Peter: "Who? Oh, that worthless nonentity that God made by mistake. What do you love him for? Even God can't be arsed with him. He could have saved him technically but he couldn't be bothered. He's been obliterated. No, he wasn't a person as such, just window-dressing. What are you sobbing about?"

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Jason™

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quote:
Originally posted by GreyFace:
Me at Pearly Gates: "Is my son in there?"
St Peter: "Who? Oh, that worthless nonentity that God made by mistake. What do you love him for? Even God can't be arsed with him. He could have saved him technically but he couldn't be bothered. He's been obliterated. No, he wasn't a person as such, just window-dressing. What are you sobbing about?"

Would we find it better to hear the answer, "Who? Oh that sad soul that God made to display his wrath. I know you love him, but he's not here. Even God's infinite love wouldn't reach out to save him. I mean, he could have saved him techinically but he didn't want to. He's living in a state of constant torment, where there is "weeping and gnashing of teeth." He's still a person, but you'll just never see him again. What are you sobbing about? I mean, you're in heaven!"

[ETA a lowercase "e". Oops.]

[ 02. September 2005, 14:00: Message edited by: professorkirke ]

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Freddy
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quote:
Originally posted by GreyFace:
quote:
Originally posted by Gauk:
Equally, no-one deserves Hell in the way that it is traditionally depicted, as eternal torment.

At this point I usually get into a battle about whether it is better to exist perpetually in a state of less than perfect bliss, or to cease to exist altogether.
As I have said elsewhere, I think a big problem here is "the way that Hell is traditionally depicted." How does anyone know that this is what Hell is like? Does this depiction really make sense? Why do people so completely buy into it?

My denomination teaches that Hell is the unhappiness inherent in selfish and worldly desires. The more people pursue these, the more unhappy they become.

This is true after death as well as in this world.

Repeated experience does lead many people to see that immoral and self-centered pleasures are ultimately empty and joyless. Others, however, persist in looking for happiness in those things - and these things do have their own delights.

The thing that I like about this model is that it moves the whole system very far from any kind of juridical approach. God doesn't punish. No one is condemned to Hell. There is no Hell fire. It is simply that people do what they want, and the biblical imagery is a way of describing the relative joys involved. Hellish pleasure is really no pleasure at all. Heavenly joy is extremely joyful.

This to me makes sense of the whole scenario that is described in the Bible. People don't literally burn in Hell - the "fire" is the fire of their own self-defeating, self-centered, desires. People aren't literally cast into hell - hell is the environment that they create for themselves through their choices. People aren't literally condemned to stay in hell forever, rather, they chose to stay because this is what they consider to be joy - heaven holds no appeal for them.

Not that, objectively speaking, hell is enjoyable for anyone, it's just that there is no accounting for taste.

This is what the Bible describes - but it puts it into imagery that makes sense at a universal, very simplistic, level.

I like the idea that these universal, simplistic pictures describe a more complex and familiar reality. To my way of thinking this solves all of the problems that people have with the idea of hell and who God will show mercy to. [Angel]

--------------------
"Consequently nothing is of greater importance to a person than knowing what the truth is." Swedenborg

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Mudfrog
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The problem seems to be that we are looking at hell through the spectacles of a medieval Christendom IMHO that has crossed into popular thinking.

Thus we have the idea that hell is a place of little red imps with pitchforks feeding the eternal flames with the never-consumed flesh and bones of the wicked, the heretic, the lazy, the gluttonous, the perverted, etc, etc.

Heaven, likewise is populated by paper-winged, tinsel-haloed, white robed spirits who seem to having to do but gaze wistfully at the nearest passing cloud...

And that all the above is designed and directed by a wrathful, God who loves to punish and destroy anything that offends even the slightest decent thought or deed.

The judgment is seen as the the day when a decision is made as to which one destination you are sent. The scales are weighed (isn't that Egyptian?), the good deeds are counted against the bad, etc, etc.

The inference is that we are neutral until judgment day, that no one can possibly know which way they are going until they stand before the throne and hear the Heavenly Simon Cowell says, "Get Out, you're awful" or "You're through to the next round."

Were it true that the hall of judgment will be filled with the screams of those people shouting "That's not fair, I did my best!" and the audible sighs of relief of those who are thinking "Well, I didn't think I was going to make it but someone over there must like me..."
Then I too would not want to believe it.

I certainly wouldn't want to hear about eternal agony for people who missed the pearly gates by three sins.


But this is a gross caricature. It's not what the Scripture teaches.

We will not stand before throne after a lifetime of "Will I get to heaven, won't I get to heaven."
No one is looked upon as neutral and "We'll decide when we get you up there, so just do your best!"

The truth is that heaven is not our natural destination and were it not for the atonement, NO ONE would be going to heaven at all. The fact that ANYONE will be welcomed into the Kingdom of God is entirely due to the fact that God would want hell totally empty and heaven open to absolutely everyone - the Bible even says as much.

The problem is this - justice.
Oh, and there's another one - sin.

Are we to say that God in Christ should unilaterally ignore the laws of justice and the privilege of free will and just sweep everyone into a pure and perfect heavenly realm regardless of what they have believed, thought, done, etc?

Don't you think he would have done it if he could?

So, if heaven is NOT our default destination, if justice and sin have to be dealt with and satisfied, and if God himself, through the atonement, has provided all the remedy that was needed, (indeed the only remedy that was sufficient), then what is the problem with the idea that there will be many who will not avail themselves of the alternative destination that is now available and still end up, against the heart-felt wishes of God, going to hell - the place they were going anyway regardless of whether they were axe-murderers or atheistic but loving little old ladies?

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"The point of having an open mind, like having an open mouth, is to close it on something solid."
G.K. Chesterton

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Gauk
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I have always liked the following story:

A minister dies and presents himself at the Pearly Gates. St Peter congratulates him on being among the blessed, and invites him in.

The minister explains he has an unusual request. He has spent so much of his life preaching about Hell, he would like to see what it actually IS like - if he could just have a little look?

St Peter thinks this is irregular, but nothing is spared the blessed, so he phones Satan and explains the situation and asks Satan to make arrangements.

So the minister descends to Hell as the first ever infernal tourist.

A devil welcomes him in. "Come in - you're just in time for dinner!"

The scene is now a banqueting hall in Hell. There are tables piled high with lovely food. This is not what the minister is expecting.

Says the devil, "I can see what you're thinking. Watch what happens when the sinners come in. The rules are that they have to eat with six-foot long chopsticks."

So the sinners come in, line up either side of the tables with their chopsticks. They can pick the food up easily, but as each sinner can't reach his mouth with the huge chopsticks, they try to drop the food into their mouths from above, without much success. So over the course of the dinner, the food is gradually transferred from the tables to the floor, and the sinners eventually go away groaning with hunger.

The minister is satisfied that they are under torment, and returns to Heaven.

An angel welcomes him in. "Come in - you're just in time for dinner!"

The scene is now a banqueting hall in Heaven. There are tables piled high with lovely food. It looks very like Hell. It looks EXACTLY like Hell. The minister is a bit worried as to where he is.

Says the angel, "I can see what you're thinking. Watch what happens when the blessed come in. The rules are that they have to eat with six-foot long chopsticks."

The minister is now very alarmed.

So the blessed come in, line up either side of the tables with their chopsticks. They can pick the food up easily, but as each person can't reach his mouth with the huge chopsticks, they feed each other.

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Now the Sirens have a still more fatal weapon than their song, namely their silence ... it is conceivable that someone might possibly have escaped from their singing; but from their silence certainly never.

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GreyFace
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quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
Would we find it better to hear the answer, "Who? Oh that sad soul that God made to display his wrath."

Of course not, but then I'm not a Calvinist.
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Jason™

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quote:
Originally posted by GreyFace:
quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
Would we find it better to hear the answer, "Who? Oh that sad soul that God made to display his wrath."

Of course not, but then I'm not a Calvinist.
Touche, GreyFace. Good point. [Biased]

(Although the Free-Will Version[TM] is probably not much more easily swallowed.)

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Freddy
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quote:
Originally posted by Gauk:
I have always liked the following story:

I have always loved that story as well. [Smile]

The message, I think, is the idea that the evil and the good face the same conditions in the next life. The difference is in how they respond to them. The "punishment" is not what anyone does to them, but what they do to themselves. Nice message. [Overused]

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"Consequently nothing is of greater importance to a person than knowing what the truth is." Swedenborg

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Jason™

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quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
The message, I think, is the idea that the evil and the good face the same conditions in the next life. The difference is in how they respond to them. The "punishment" is not what anyone does to them, but what they do to themselves. Nice message. [Overused]

The only thing that this version must include then, by default, is the ability for those in hell to leave whenever they so choose. As someone may have said, this is suggested in The Great Divorce by Lewis, but it is an idea that many are strictly opposed to.

My question is, why? Freddy, I think you and I and quite a few others from this thread are probably all in agreement on how we feel on this point, but yet there are a few others I can think of here and MANY from the churches I am involved with that would be vehemently opposed. Why is this notion of mercy being extended to people beyond the grave so easily rejected when I'm not sure there is an incredible amount of Scripture to refute it?

In other words, WHEN will God show mercy?


-Digory

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Mudfrog
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quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
quote:
Originally posted by Freddy:
The message, I think, is the idea that the evil and the good face the same conditions in the next life. The difference is in how they respond to them. The "punishment" is not what anyone does to them, but what they do to themselves. Nice message. [Overused]

The only thing that this version must include then, by default, is the ability for those in hell to leave whenever they so choose. As someone may have said, this is suggested in The Great Divorce by Lewis, but it is an idea that many are strictly opposed to.

My question is, why? Freddy, I think you and I and quite a few others from this thread are probably all in agreement on how we feel on this point, but yet there are a few others I can think of here and MANY from the churches I am involved with that would be vehemently opposed. Why is this notion of mercy being extended to people beyond the grave so easily rejected when I'm not sure there is an incredible amount of Scripture to refute it?

In other words, WHEN will God show mercy?


-Digory

I'd be very interested to see the 'incredible amount of Scripture to refute' the truth that there is no second chance after death.

St Paul tells us that 'now is the accepted time; behold now is the day of salvation.'

Also, the parable of Jesus about the foolish bridesmaids, whilst having other applications as well, does strongly teach that when the bridegroom arrives, if one is not ready, one will be shut out of the feast however loudly you stand outside crying to come in. And it is the bridegroom himself who will tell you to leave.

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"The point of having an open mind, like having an open mouth, is to close it on something solid."
G.K. Chesterton

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Golden Key
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quote:
Originally posted by Mudfrog:
then what is the problem with the idea that there will be many who will not avail themselves of the alternative destination that is now available and still end up, against the heart-felt wishes of God, going to hell - the place they were going anyway regardless of whether they were axe-murderers or atheistic but loving little old ladies?

They will be lost.


Plus, God will know. And so will we. So ain't *nobody* gonna be happy. [Frown]

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Blessed Gator, pray for us!
--"Oh bat bladders, do you have to bring common sense into this?" (Dragon, "Jane & the Dragon")
--"Oh, Peace Train, save this country!" (Yusuf/Cat Stevens, "Peace Train")

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Mudfrog
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So you are saying that to spare the feelings of the redeemed, all the non-believers should be allowed in to heaven as well?

Where is justice in that?

Indeed, what's the point of grace through faith, religious devotion and morality?

Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die and all end up in heaven regardless?

I don't think so.

What a non-Gospel that is - and what a tragedy for Jesus of Nazareth who died for nothing. He may as well have stayed dead.

[ 03. September 2005, 08:42: Message edited by: Mudfrog ]

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"The point of having an open mind, like having an open mouth, is to close it on something solid."
G.K. Chesterton

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Golden Key
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And you seem to be saying that, to spare the feelings of the redeemed, all the non-believers should go to hell. "I spent my life trying to follow You, and You let X into heaven? Do you know what kind of person X is? Heck, why did I bother?"

I'm saying that God's love is, I hope, bigger and deeper and more wonderful than that. Everyone goes Home, no matter what healing, restitution, or learning they need. (And we're ALL going to need some!) Everyone and everything will be healed. No suffering in hell, no weeping in heaven over the lost. Everyone lost will be found.

Mudfrog, a question for you to chew on, and you don't have to give an answer:

Let's say you get to Heaven. All your beliefs turn out to be right, and you get in.

But the person you love most in the world goes to hell, whatever hell is.

Would heaven still be heaven for you?

--------------------
Blessed Gator, pray for us!
--"Oh bat bladders, do you have to bring common sense into this?" (Dragon, "Jane & the Dragon")
--"Oh, Peace Train, save this country!" (Yusuf/Cat Stevens, "Peace Train")

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Freddy
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quote:
Originally posted by professorkirke:
The only thing that this version must include then, by default, is the ability for those in hell to leave whenever they so choose. As someone may have said, this is suggested in The Great Divorce by Lewis, but it is an idea that many are strictly opposed to.

Yes, in "The Great Divorce" Lewis does a good job of explaining this system. But note that he only "suggested" that people in hell can leave.

In this system the catch is that, although they can leave at any time, they do not want to leave. They do not perceive themselves as burning in eternal punishment. They cannot bear the things that people in heaven enjoy. They see themselves as ordinary people living a life that is fundamentally unfair, but one that they prefer compared to the alternatives. They can leave hell any time they like, but the problem is finding a place where they will be happy.

Essentially this means that hell is eternal. Not that people's situations do not change, but that those situations must always be what they themselves have chosen. God cannot make people choose to love Him.

It is easy to think in biblical stereotypes about the next life. In reality, as taught in my church anyway, it is a world like this world, with all of the same features. What we call hell is nothing more than countries and cities in that world that have features attractive to like-minded individuals. In this world there are no such thing as "evil" cities or countries, despite what some people would like to think. Good people can be found everywhere. But in the other world people are much more free and able to seek out people like themselves. Like the Internet, I guess.

It is no secret that what the Bible describes as hellish delights are very attractive to many, even most, people. Happily, I think that most people eventually see that these kinds of pleasures are ultimately self-defeating, and that real happiness comes from loving and serving God and the neighbor - that is, that joy is connected with doing things that have value.

The other problem that I think people have in thinking about the next life is the belief that people's natures will be radically changed there. It is easy to imagine that even the most angry and violent person would become docile and loving once they saw God and realized what was what. But I think the reality is that life after death just continues the life that people led in this world, and that things do not change as dramatically as people might imagine.

So I agree with those who talk about eternal damnation. Not that God damns anyone, or that the "damned" perceive themselves that way. This is just a biblical way of saying that people choose their own paths, that no one is going to force them to change, and that this is how mercy works.

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"Consequently nothing is of greater importance to a person than knowing what the truth is." Swedenborg

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