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Old 11-26-2001, 09:12 AM   #21
Nomad
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Quote:
Originally posted by Helen:

Nomad: c) Or do you think that God will/must save everyone, and have them live with Him in Heaven forever? Would this include even forcing them to accept eternal life in Heaven against their will?

Helen: Another kind of question I am sick of. Why not say, should God force people to go to hell if they don't want to? But in the traditional viewpoint he does. If heaven is so great no-one will NOT want to go there so your question is silly. Hell is the place people will not want to go, not heaven.
Actually, Helen, your assumption here is false. I have even asked people on these very boards if they would rather go to heaven than to hell, and they have responded that they would rather go to hell. If you need me to dig up the links, I will do so, of course, but you can go to the Existence of God(s) board, post the question, and I am sure you will find the same response. Perhaps you do not think that these people are being serious, but I have taken them at their word. I see no reason to disbelieve them.

In any event, God will not force anyone to go to Hell. They will be sent their because they do not wish to be with God, nor will they allow themselves to be changed in order to gain entrance to Heaven.

Now, did you read Koon's article, and if so, what are your thoughts on his points regarding the nature of deontic constraints?

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Old 11-29-2001, 07:15 PM   #22
Bill
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Nomad:

The preference for "Hell" among "unbelievers" arises because of the way that "Hell" is represented to us by "believers." Some of us just find the idea of having no alternative but to act just as the "believers" do is the height of horror. And as for those Christians who assert that "Hell" is the vilest of conceivable tortures, well, I believe those Christians are clearly mentally ill (to take pleasure any any living thing being subjected to "the vilest of conceivable tortures" for all of eternity must certainly be a form of mental illness).

And, I think that if "Heaven" were represtented to us as our having the freedom to be whatever we might wish to be for all of eternity, with all necessary resources supplied on a whim, then it might be a desireable place to inhabit.
However, there isn't one word of scripture that would strongly support that sort of concept of what "Heaven" is. To me, the nothingness of non-existence is clearly a better alternative than the "Heaven" of orthodox scripture.

== Bill
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Old 11-29-2001, 07:41 PM   #23
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Nomad,

I think your representation of atheists preferring to be in Hell rather than Heaven is ridiculous and you must know it.

If Hell was known to exist and known to be a place of eternal torture and if heaven was known to exist and known to be a place of eternal pleasure then any human would choose to be in heaven (assuming no other options).

As an atheist, I have stated a few times that I would rather be in hell than in heaven for a certain type of hell and a certain type of heaven - for example, a heaven populated purely by Christian fundamentalists singing praises to God for eternity as compared to a hell which is not a nice place but in which the damned have free will to redecorate, as it were.

I would definitely prefer to go to heaven rather than hell. However, if going to heaven meant laughing at the damned then I do not know how a moral human would want to go there...
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Old 11-29-2001, 08:43 PM   #24
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Helen,

Your essay was extremely interesting to me. The problem of hell is the thing that started me on the path to atheism after 12 years as a Christian.

I know that you are seeking responses from Bible believing Christians but I thought I would add a couple of comments anyway. You can alwasy ignore them, after all

I agree that hell is such an important concept that if true it should be more clearly addressed in the Bible. Your essay contains many examples that point to the idea of hell being used as a warning to people to live better lives. I also think that your determining that the fact that God can send people to eternal damnation does not necessarily mean that he will do so - it seems to be very much a warning rather than an actuality in many of the pieces you quoted.

However, there are also passages you quoted which seem to indicate that God will eternally damn some people to hell -

"6. Matt 25:31-46 "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

Then the King will say to those on his right, `Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 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, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'

Then the righteous will answer him, `Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?' The King will reply, `I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

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

They also will answer, `Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?' He will reply, `I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.' Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."

This fact is difficult to reconcile with a good deity. If it was finite punishment to match specific crimes then that would be fine. But eternal punishment? Hmmm.

You also say in your opening that you are not simply looking for a belief that makes you feel good - you want the truth, and are thus using the Bible to find that truth. And you have found evidence that God may not send all unbelievers to hell. But isn't this what you wanted to find?

If I looked at the Bible and tried to discover passages to justify a belief that all unbelievers go to hell, could I find such passages? I will not bother trying right now but I am sure that there are Christians who have done this. Perhaps you should attempt to do that to see the different perspectives that the Bible can give.

However, in saying that I also understand that you are using God's charachter as a lens through which to interpret the Bible, which seems on the face of it a wise thing to do - after all, if god is omnibenevolent, how can he send good people to hell (or allow them to go there if you like)?

But there is an objection to this: we can only discern God's charachter by reading the Bible. Thus, it is circular to interpret the Bible through God's charachter. I do not know the answer to this dilemma, I am afraid.

I have been reading some commentaries on Augustine recently. One of the things that he said was:
"Redemption was a seizing of the perishing, a sheer seizure of minds incapable of loving God through their own act or choice."
and
"We do not reach out our hands and take salvation: salvation takes us."

"None who truly aspired to salvation, indeed, were denied it; but their aspiring was by God's ... grace."

[note: quotes are from the commentaries in the Dictionary of the History of Ideas, volume III and are thus paraphrasing Augustine.]

This implies perhaps that Augustine thought that God can choose to save anyone, Christian or atheist or pagan. And likewise damn anyone. It seems that the Bible can be interpreted by intelligent people in differnet ways...

While Hell is still a major concern for me with regard to Christian doctrine, I have come to the conclusion that the Bible is false and thus it is not quite so important.

I understand, however, the problems a loving Christian would have with this doctrine and my sympathy is with you.

I hope you are able to resolve it.

David
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Old 11-30-2001, 04:00 AM   #25
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Hi David,

Sorry - I was not ignoring you even though you gave me permission to . For some strange reason I haven't actually been here for a few days...

Anyway, thanks a lot for your comments.

As for determining God's character through the Bible, actually even the Bible (in Paul's letter to the Romans, chapter 1) claims that "[God's] invisible [attributes] are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made". The Bible therefore asserts that creation itself reveals God rather than just the one book, the Bible. If humans are made in the image of God they must reveal God in a particularly close way since that is said of no other part of God's creation, that it was made "in His image".

In practice, [fundie] Christians seem very wary of looking outside the Bible to know what God is like. I'm trying to stay where I can speak their language, so that's why I'm looking for ways to argue what seems true to me, within their framework. If I go outside their framework then I'm a heretic and they won't listen.

If I can encourage them to be more focused on what is important even though they are wedding to their framework I still think that's worthwhile and progress and will make the world a happier place for everyone.

I was thinking yesterday that one problem I have with hell is that no matter how bad you could make it sound, there are people past and even present (unfortunately) who would probably laugh grimly and say "been there, done that".

While people can say that about life on earth, I'd rather see the [fundie] church more focused on doing something about that, than they tend to be, because heaven and hell theology pushes them inexorably into the mentality of "just shove as many people as we can through the 'now you are 'saved'' door" and then they forget to do anything about the mess they just created on the other side of the door - as it were...

To quickly comment on the sheep and goats passage. Actually my pastor is going to preach on that on Sunday. Last Sunday he did say that Christians who didn't do anything about being Christians would go to hell and I was glad he said that, to be honest, because maybe it would wake a few people up who - based on their lives - seem to think being a Christian is only about what you believe and not how you live. I'd be happy if he says that again this week. After all, if it's what you think the Bible says, say it! Don't avoid it if you believe it's what it says.

But back to the passage, as best I can understand it before it's preached on ...I just want to say, there's a huge difference between Jesus presenting a category of people who are going to hell because their lives clearly showed they were not decent people - and between a fundie saying to an individual "You are going to hell because you don't believe what I believe". To me they are worlds apart, that is one of my concerns, and that's why I bothered to quote a lot of hell passages to show that when Jesus talked about hell, his clear emphasis was that hell was for people whose unkindness, arrogance, hypocrisy was evident. And he never said it was only for those who didn't hold certain beliefs. Never.

Anyway, thanks again; I am responding the first time I've been here since you posted.

love
Helen
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Old 11-30-2001, 04:33 AM   #26
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Helen:
Quote:
...I just want to say, there's a huge difference between Jesus presenting a category of people who are going to hell because their lives clearly showed they were not decent people - and between a fundie saying to an individual "You are going to hell because you don't believe what I believe". To me they are worlds apart, that is one of my concerns, and that's why I bothered to quote a lot of hell passages to show that when Jesus talked about hell, his clear emphasis was that hell was for people whose unkindness, arrogance, hypocrisy was evident. And he never said it was only for those who didn't hold certain beliefs. Never.
Not believing or having a different belief would be considered sin or blasphemy wouldn't it?
Edit to add -
--------------
From M-W:
Date: 13th century
1 a : the act of insulting or showing contempt or lack of reverence for God b : the act of claiming the attributes of deity
2 : irreverence toward something considered sacred or inviolable
----------------

Matthew:
12:30
He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.

12:31
Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.

12:32
And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.

edited again to add:
Oh, and one more thing. About the "not decient people" part. Don't you think it unfair to be punished for infinitely for something done in our finite lives? Oh, sure you may know right from wrong and make "sinful" choices for one reason or another, but if anyone can be redeemed for any sin like a death-bed conversion - what about those who die suddenly?
[ November 30, 2001: Message edited by: 3DChizl ]

[ November 30, 2001: Message edited by: 3DChizl ]</p>
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Old 11-30-2001, 06:25 AM   #27
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Quote:
Originally posted by 3DChizl:
<strong>Oh, and one more thing. About the "not decient people" part. Don't you think it unfair to be punished for infinitely for something done in our finite lives? Oh, sure you may know right from wrong and make "sinful" choices for one reason or another, but if anyone can be redeemed for any sin like a death-bed conversion - what about those who die suddenly?</strong>
Well, yes, I agree. It doesn't make sense, does it?

I probably don't believe in eternal punishment, myself; I'm probably a universalist.

But I didn't want to make a big deal of that in something I was hoping some 'fundie' Christians would read .

Thanks for your comments, 3DChizl

love
Helen
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Old 11-30-2001, 09:34 AM   #28
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Quote:
Originally posted by HelenSL:
<strong><a href="http://home.att.net/~shmildenhall/weighdwn/hell2.html" target="_blank">Hell</a>

I usually post in rants and raves but this is supposed to be a serious piece of writing about whether the people Christians today say are hellbound are the same ones Jesus thought were hellbound.

I want people who believe the Bible is true, to think about this seriously...

Who knows if any of them will, but it's what I'd like.

love
Helen</strong>
I think the concepts of Heaven and Hell are part of the practice of mind control by intimidation. If nobody fears a supernatural power how else can the purveyors of religion justify their position or existence? People tend to fear the unknown, and particularly what lies ahead in the future.
Why else should they fear going to Hell or look forward to going to Heaven?

In all fairness to religious doctrine, Heaven and Hell, as it relates to good and evil, is part of an effort to control peoples' behavior so that it is beneficial and not harmful to others. It seems to be beneficial for a lot of people. My point is this. Rather than getting hung up on the existence of Heaven or Hell let's remember the purpose it serves to have such concepts.
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Old 12-01-2001, 11:22 AM   #29
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Quote:
Originally posted by Bill:

The preference for "Hell" among "unbelievers" arises because of the way that "Hell" is represented to us by "believers." Some of us just find the idea of having no alternative but to act just as the "believers" do is the height of horror. And as for those Christians who assert that "Hell" is the vilest of conceivable tortures, well, I believe those Christians are clearly mentally ill (to take pleasure any any living thing being subjected to "the vilest of conceivable tortures" for all of eternity must certainly be a form of mental illness).
Well, as this is both a straw man, and a red herring (after all, they do not represent my beliefs, nor those of orthodox Christian churches like the Catholics, Orthodox or Lutherans, and we are not talking about some undefined generic Christian here), please do not detract from the discussion. I know of no one that takes pleasure in the destruction of the damned, let alone their eternal torment.

Quote:
And, I think that if "Heaven" were represtented to us as our having the freedom to be whatever we might wish to be for all of eternity, with all necessary resources supplied on a whim, then it might be a desireable place to inhabit.
As you noted below, offering this answer is really a dodge. We do not get to choose what either Heaven or Hell will be like. So we must either accept life in Heaven, or reject it.

Quote:
However, there isn't one word of scripture that would strongly support that sort of concept of what "Heaven" is. To me, the nothingness of non-existence is clearly a better alternative than the "Heaven" of orthodox scripture.
What is your understanding of the "Heaven of orthodox scripture?

Finally, given that non-existence does not appear to be an option according to orthodox Christian beliefs, what would your choice be between life in Heaven or Hell?

Nomad
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Old 12-01-2001, 11:32 AM   #30
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Quote:
Originally posted by David Gould:

I think your representation of atheists preferring to be in Hell rather than Heaven is ridiculous and you must know it.
Hello David

I agree that it does seem astonishing that some people would assert their willingness to go to Hell rather than Heaven, but as I told Helen, such people do exist, even on these discussion boards. Perhaps they are not being serious, but they insist that they are.

Quote:
If Hell was known to exist and known to be a place of eternal torture and if heaven was known to exist and known to be a place of eternal pleasure then any human would choose to be in heaven (assuming no other options).
Again this would seem to be logical, but not all humans do make this choice. The problem appears to be that many individuals wish to determine in advance what is like, and if it does not meet their own specifications, then they would rather reject it.

Quote:
As an atheist, I have stated a few times that I would rather be in hell than in heaven for a certain type of hell and a certain type of heaven - for example, a heaven populated purely by Christian fundamentalists singing praises to God for eternity as compared to a hell which is not a nice place but in which the damned have free will to redecorate, as it were.
Well, such a heaven does not exist (depending on your definition of a Christian fundamentalist I suppose), at least not in Christian Scripture nor Traditions, so you need not worry about being in such a place. Such a hell as you describe here does not exist either, of course.

Quote:
I would definitely prefer to go to heaven rather than hell.
Good. That does seem rational.

Quote:
However, if going to heaven meant laughing at the damned then I do not know how a moral human would want to go there...
No one would, I am sure. I know of no one who believes that the saved will laugh at the damned, though, no doubt, such odd individuals probably do exist.

Thank you for your reply,

Nomad
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