Nature of God

Eternity

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mcphee123

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The reality of hell
« on: December 04, 2015, 08:14:05 am »
Hi everyone - I've been a Christian since I was 15 (I'm 30 next year) and it's been an awesome journey - I'm a big thinker, a doubter, a sceptic at times but the undeniability of Christ's prescence in my life is what has brought me through.

I'm sure this will have been asked before but I'm not sure what to search for in order to find it. My question is this;

We live sinful lives, apparently deserving of eternal punishment. We often speak of suffering in the sense that once compared to an eternal life with God, it pales into insignificance, and will actually become easier to deal with, if one has that perspective. Converse to this, couldn't the same be said about sin/hell? Once an unsaved person has spent 10,000 years (and set to endure infinitely longer) being punished for the sins of what is an incredibly short life in comparison, couldn't it be said that the sins committed will pale in comparison to the eternal suffering to which they are condemned? And therefore isn't it unjust?

I've heard arguments about our lack of understanding on the severity of sin, but it just doesn't sit right with me. If I lived a completely sinless life apart from the acknowledgement of Jesus (maybe I only heard of him once in the passing and discarded it), do I deserve to be eternally punished for this?

Yes, only God knows the severity of sin, but do I just have to accept this?

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Paterfamilia

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Re: The reality of hell
« Reply #1 on: December 07, 2015, 01:52:53 pm »
In my opinion, no.  I believe annihilation has a very strong scriptural basis - much stronger than eternal suffering.

In any case, I have come to fully trust that God is righteous and just in everything He does, given that our sins are vicariously covered (a very UNfair reality).
"First I knocked them out of a tree with a rock.  Then I saved them."

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Miles_Donahue

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Re: The reality of hell
« Reply #2 on: January 03, 2016, 11:45:55 am »
The problem here is that the punishment of Hell does not seem to fit the crime of sin; e.g., how could we ever merit eternal punishment for a lifetime of finite sins? It would seem to be the highest injustice. I think a few points suggest otherwise, however.

First, while every sin deserves only a finite punishment, perhaps the totality of our sins deserves infinite punishment. How? If we commit an infinite number of sins, then indeed we are deserving of eternal punishment. In this lifetime, we can only commit a finite number of wrongdoings. But what about in Hell? Perhaps the inhabitants of Hell, as their hearts grow harder and they continue to spurn and reject God, continue to sin and merit further punishment. In this way, Hell in infinitely self-perpetuating. This alternative might seem to leave open the option that Hell's occupants eventually repent and find their way to Heaven, an option not open to the orthodox Christian. However, as C. S. Lewis once said, omniscience knows when a person is too far gone to redeem. It is possible that God has so ordered the world that no one in Hell would repent if they did not repent in their earthly lifetime. Some people never give in.

Second, there is a sin worthy of infinite punishment. Those who willingly reject the gift of God in Christ reject God himself, and given who God is, plausibly commit a sin of infinite gravity. As Craig has pointed out, we should not think of Hell as punishment for finite sins like adultery and theft, but as the just consequence of rejecting God's offer of forgiveness. This isn't to say that "only God knows the severity of sin", but rather that rejecting God himself is a sin of infinite severity.

Now, if you "lived a completely sinless life apart from the acknowledgement of Jesus", you wouldn't need to be forgiven, would you? Therefore, God would not condemn you. But seeing as no one on Earth has ever lived that life, we needn't worry about it.
- Socrates said the unreflective life is not worth living. I say the indecisive life is not worth living, because even if you choose wrongly, at least you chose.

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Lion IRC

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Re: The reality of hell
« Reply #3 on: January 04, 2016, 10:11:49 pm »
I couldn't have said it any better than Miles_Donahue.
...unless of course I was JP Moreland or WLC.
This user will NEVER be posting at Reasonable Faith Forum again.

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jakswan

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Re: The reality of hell
« Reply #4 on: January 05, 2016, 05:53:47 am »
Second, there is a sin worthy of infinite punishment. Those who willingly reject the gift of God in Christ reject God himself, and given who God is, plausibly commit a sin of infinite gravity.

Some say god has more compassion than you credit it with.

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SPF

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Re: The reality of hell
« Reply #5 on: January 06, 2016, 09:53:19 am »
Quote
If I lived a completely sinless life apart from the acknowledgement of Jesus (maybe I only heard of him once in the passing and discarded it), do I deserve to be eternally punished for this?
First off, you haven't done this, nor has any other person alive - so why get caught up in a hypothetical that does not, and will not ever exist in reality?

Another response worth thinking over is that while it may not seem like our finite crimes are worthy of an infinite punishment, we also need to remember that part of the degree of punishment is based upon who the crime is against.

Consider a person who goes out and runs up to a lady walking her dog at night. He proceeds to bludgeon her dog to death.  That person will certainly get in trouble for that, but the punishment will not be the same  if instead of bludgeoning the dog to death, they bludgeoned the lady. Why? Because the crime was against a person and crimes against people are considered worse than crimes against animals. 

Likewise, perhaps crimes against an infinite God are worthy of an infinite punishment. 
"It is better to remain silent at the risk of being thought a fool, than to talk and remove all doubt." - Abraham Lincoln

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muonis

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Re: The reality of hell
« Reply #6 on: April 18, 2016, 03:16:14 pm »
Perhaps hell in of itself is not "punishment" for the sake of punishment, but rather eternal separation from God, which would naturally be perceived as unpleasant for a being that was initially designed to be together with God?

So the pain is a consequence of being separated from God, while being separated from God is a consequence of the sinful state of a human not being justified through the sacrifice of Christ. Specific acts of sin and punishment do not come into the picture at all. I wonder if this would be a more accurate understanding of the existence of hell.

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Bill McEnaney

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Re: The reality of hell
« Reply #7 on: June 16, 2016, 09:52:54 pm »
In my opinion, no.  I believe annihilation has a very strong scriptural basis - much stronger than eternal suffering.
Seventh-Day Adventists believe that God annihilates the damned.  So I wonder whether their belief can promote license.

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kravarnik

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Re: The reality of hell
« Reply #8 on: June 17, 2016, 03:36:38 am »
The problem here is that the punishment of Hell does not seem to fit the crime of sin; e.g., how could we ever merit eternal punishment for a lifetime of finite sins? It would seem to be the highest injustice. I think a few points suggest otherwise, however.

First, while every sin deserves only a finite punishment, perhaps the totality of our sins deserves infinite punishment. How? If we commit an infinite number of sins, then indeed we are deserving of eternal punishment. In this lifetime, we can only commit a finite number of wrongdoings. But what about in Hell? Perhaps the inhabitants of Hell, as their hearts grow harder and they continue to spurn and reject God, continue to sin and merit further punishment. In this way, Hell in infinitely self-perpetuating. This alternative might seem to leave open the option that Hell's occupants eventually repent and find their way to Heaven, an option not open to the orthodox Christian. However, as C. S. Lewis once said, omniscience knows when a person is too far gone to redeem. It is possible that God has so ordered the world that no one in Hell would repent if they did not repent in their earthly lifetime. Some people never give in.

Second, there is a sin worthy of infinite punishment. Those who willingly reject the gift of God in Christ reject God himself, and given who God is, plausibly commit a sin of infinite gravity. As Craig has pointed out, we should not think of Hell as punishment for finite sins like adultery and theft, but as the just consequence of rejecting God's offer of forgiveness. This isn't to say that "only God knows the severity of sin", but rather that rejecting God himself is a sin of infinite severity.

Now, if you "lived a completely sinless life apart from the acknowledgement of Jesus", you wouldn't need to be forgiven, would you? Therefore, God would not condemn you. But seeing as no one on Earth has ever lived that life, we needn't worry about it.

Hey, Miles.


The concept of guilt plays a huge role. Concept which we have in human affairs as well. When you steal something, your punishment does not reciprocally follow - that is, you simply return what was stolen, or pay the value of it, and it's all done, - but you also carry "guilt" for trespassing the law, which needs to be redeemed. So, a thief does not only return, or repay, the stolen, but also redeems guilt that is carried for trespassing the law. The guilt increases, or decreases, in accordance to the law that's been trespassed - trespassing the law against murder carries more guilt, than trespassing the law against assault. So, criminals who have trespassed the former - and have murdered someone, - go in jail for longer time, than those who have trespassed the latter - and have attacked someone physically, - and go in jail for shorter time.


Now, with God's Law it's different. Because we trespass the Law of an eternal and infinite being - God. So, the guilt is not of finite consequence, but of infinite such. The offense against such being is irrevocable - there's nothing in one's powers to redeem such guilt, like you pay money to God, or you go for 5 years in jail. What such offense warrants is eternal punishment, for you're trespassing the eternal Law of an eternal being - God. Every sin is ultimately an offense against God, His inteded order, inherent being and revealed Law. So, offenses against other humans play out differently, than offenses against God. In human affairs, the guilt we carry for offending other human beings is finite and contingent, but the guilt we carry against offending God is eternal and infinite, thus if the guilt is of such terms - eternal and infinite, - then it's redemption is such. That's why Lord Christ Jesus had to come and atone for our sins, because Him alone - eternal and infinite being, - can redeem an infinite and eternal guilt.


I mean, even in human affairs, there are crimes that carry guilt warranting to sentence the criminal for a life time! I don't know why it's surprising that offenses against God, an eternal being and being of infinite worth, does warrant such a thing?


Law is based on intrinsic worth, possessing inherent rights, that shouldn't be broken. When you break human law, it means you denote other human beings' intrinsic worth, stripping them off of certain rights - when you murder another, you then declare that you don't acknowledge his right to life and believe them to not be worhty of life. When you break God's Law, it means you denote God of His intrinsic worth, stripping Him of His right to conduct His creation and order it to a desired end of His, an end which He has the prerogative to hold, given He's the creator - thus, when you sin, you denote God's intrinsic worth, beliving Him to not be worthy to conduct His creation. Given God's being, then it means your sin carries an infinite guilt.
« Last Edit: June 17, 2016, 03:46:06 am by kravarnik »
"And even if you crush my body and drain it 'til the last drop - you can never touch my spirit, you can never touch my soul. No matter how bleak or how hopeless, no matter how hard or how far - you can never break my conation. Tear the will apart from desire." Insomnium - Weather the storm

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kravarnik

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Re: The reality of hell
« Reply #9 on: June 17, 2016, 04:04:32 am »
Hi everyone - I've been a Christian since I was 15 (I'm 30 next year) and it's been an awesome journey - I'm a big thinker, a doubter, a sceptic at times but the undeniability of Christ's prescence in my life is what has brought me through.

I'm sure this will have been asked before but I'm not sure what to search for in order to find it. My question is this;

We live sinful lives, apparently deserving of eternal punishment. We often speak of suffering in the sense that once compared to an eternal life with God, it pales into insignificance, and will actually become easier to deal with, if one has that perspective. Converse to this, couldn't the same be said about sin/hell? Once an unsaved person has spent 10,000 years (and set to endure infinitely longer) being punished for the sins of what is an incredibly short life in comparison, couldn't it be said that the sins committed will pale in comparison to the eternal suffering to which they are condemned? And therefore isn't it unjust?

I've heard arguments about our lack of understanding on the severity of sin, but it just doesn't sit right with me. If I lived a completely sinless life apart from the acknowledgement of Jesus (maybe I only heard of him once in the passing and discarded it), do I deserve to be eternally punished for this?

Yes, only God knows the severity of sin, but do I just have to accept this?

Hey, mcphee123.


As I said to Miles, I think you're looking at this from the wrong angle. When we introduce the concept of guilt, then the situation has one more dimension to it. Often we break the law over things that are of contingent, finite and revocable nature, but the fundamental implication of breaking the law is that we demean other moral beings' intrinsic worth(the victims of the crime that is). That same thing is done when we sin against God, even if the crime has nothing to do with God - say, we broke into someone's house and stole their possessions, - it is still an offense against God, because it goes against His revealed Law and intended order for creation. So, fundamentally, we don't only carry guilt for demeaning the guy's whose house we broke into and whose possessions we stole, but also for offending God's intrinsic worth, for breaking His intended order and for stripping Him off of His rights to be in that position - to guide His creation.


See, if justice had only to do with revocable loss, and the repayment of it, then God would have simply made Adam and Eve puke the fruit they ate. But, that's not the case. Justice has to do with intrinsic worth, essential being and the legal rights that come with those. And when Adam and Eve sinned against God, God didn't make it a big deal, because He really cared about this fruit, but because they rebelled against Him and didn't acknowledge Him as the rightful being to guide them, and listened to Satan instead.


So, justice does not only deal with loss of certain material - finite and contingent - possession and their eventual recovery at the expense of the criminal. It deals with intrinsic worth, essential being and the legal rights that accompany those. For example, an animal is not a moral agent, or even if one grants that it is, it's not of the same intrinsic worth and essential being, as human beings are. And, then, there are things that aren't OK to do with human beings, but are OK to do with animals - say, it's wrong to murder human beings and then eat them, but it isn't wrong to slay an animal and eat it. If justice was all about recovering material possessions that were unlawfully broken, or damaged, then we would be legally guilty for stepping on an ant and deserving of punishment. However, that's not the case - and justice is not only about these, although they are essential to justice, but more about intrinsic worth and essential being(having God breathed spirit and being a moral agent) and the legal rights that come with them(rights to life, rights to freely choose, rights to speak your mind openly, rights to think for yourself, rights to have things you have produced yourself, through your own effort to belong to you and be your lawful property, etc.), and when these are stepped over, then a crime has been done. And such crime carries guilt - say, a dictator denies the right to his opposition to speak against him in public and instill negative opinions about him, but then, after 30 years of such policy, he changes and lets people speak against him for another 30 years... justice wasn't done, because these 30 years of freely expressing negative opinions of him, do not redeem these 30 years of opression. So, there's a guilt that needs to be redeemed by that dictator, and the mere revocery of free speech, does not erase the guilt for his previous opression of it.


That's how I understand it. Sorry for the long post.
"And even if you crush my body and drain it 'til the last drop - you can never touch my spirit, you can never touch my soul. No matter how bleak or how hopeless, no matter how hard or how far - you can never break my conation. Tear the will apart from desire." Insomnium - Weather the storm

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Paterfamilia

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Re: The reality of hell
« Reply #10 on: June 26, 2016, 12:57:41 pm »
In my opinion, no.  I believe annihilation has a very strong scriptural basis - much stronger than eternal suffering.
Seventh-Day Adventists believe that God annihilates the damned.  So I wonder whether their belief can promote license.


Well I think we should remember that we are separated into goats and sheep based on our heart condition.  God is not fooled or mocked by one who says in his heart that God will ignore his attitude of rebellion.
"First I knocked them out of a tree with a rock.  Then I saved them."

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JTega6

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Re: The reality of hell
« Reply #11 on: December 06, 2018, 06:44:50 pm »
It seems as if your argument goes like this:

If a punishment is just, then its severity matches the wrong-doing committed.
Humans’ wrong-doing, sin, is finite.
God’s punishment for humans’ sin, spending eternity in hell, is infinite
If an infinite punishment is more severe than a finite wrong-doing, then God’s punishment for humans does not match the severity of humans’ wrong-doing.
An infinite punishment is much more severe than a finite wrong-doing.
Therefore, God’s punishment for humans does not match the severity of humans’ wrong-doing. (MP 4,5)
Therefore, God’s punishment for humans is unjust. (MT 1,6)

   I would direct an objection to premise 2 in this argument. The problem with this argument is that the first two premises of it support the belief that the only factor that decides the severity of human sin is the actual sin, but this is not true. Just as in every other scenario where someone commits a crime, the actual action that a person commits is not the only factor in the severity of the crime. Who a crime was committed against also plays a role in the severity of the crime. For instance, under United States law being found guilty for threatening someone would result in a five year prison sentence. On the other hand, if someone is found guilty for threatening a United States judge or federal law enforcement officer that is a ten year jail sentence, double even that if one is found guilty of threatening the president. In each of these scenarios the crime is the same, threatening another human being, yet the punishments are different. This is because who one commits a crime against changes the severity of the crime.
   Qualities factor into the severity of a wrong-doing. In the case of the sins that humans commit, if they were just against other humans, then they would be finite, as humans possess finite qualities. Instead though, each sin that a human commits is not only against his fellow man but also God. God is an infinitely good being, therefore any act that is committed against God is not the same severity as an act committed against man. If committing the same act against the president is four times as severe as committing an act against a regular person, and this is because the president is more important, powerful, etc. than the average person, and God is infinitely more important, powerful, good, etc. than the president it would stand to reason that a sin against God is an infinitely severe sin. Therefore, since the punishment one experiences when committing a sin should match the severity of the wrong committed, a just punishment for humans would be an infinite punishment.

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jayceeii

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Re: The reality of hell
« Reply #12 on: December 10, 2018, 09:25:57 am »
...it would stand to reason that a sin against God is an infinitely severe sin. Therefore, since the punishment one experiences when committing a sin should match the severity of the wrong committed, a just punishment for humans would be an infinite punishment.
Your argument has weight, but you may not quite appreciate why. Let us say instead of eternal punishment, a punishment so long it seems like eternity. Then, instead of specific acts, let us speak about propensities, that in a given situation the individual will always make the same evil choices. It then doesn’t matter if God appears, a prophet, or a person who was somehow transported back in time to testify how the problems men are causing today afflict the offspring of their offspring, as they defend their offspring as life’s central value. The sinful man says, “I will not obey, I will do things my way,” offering violence as his only argument. Such a one cannot be reached by any means, so “hell” awaits him.