Hell II

volcanoIf you believe in Hell, you believe someone is going there. How do you feel about that?

Eliza commented, Embracing that sinful life will lead to untold sorrow and ultimately eternal destruction in hell. I asked her that question. I can think of various answers.

1. Quiet satisfaction. God’s wonderful purposes are being worked out, and that has to be good, right? God moves in a mysterious way. Well, the God of Love is torturing billions of people, either right now or in some Eternal fashion outside time, and feeling anything other than horror at that is psychotic.

Then I looked at a thesis by Trevor Johnson.

He quotes Tertullian: How vast a spectacle then bursts upon the eye! What there excites my admiration? what my derision? Which sight gives me joy? which rouses me to exultation?-as I see so many illustrious monarchs, whose reception into the heavens was publicly announced, groaning now in the lowest darkness with great Jove himself, and those, too, who bore witness of their exultation; governors of provinces, too, who persecuted the Christian name, in fires more fierce than those with which in the days of their pride they raged against the followers of Christ.

Johnson argues, this knowledge and sight of the condemned dead is not troubling to the saints, but rather gives more cause for praises. He argues that God perceives suffering, and is still joyful, because His ultimate plan is good. If God were merciful to the suffering, He would be unjust. God’s mercy would have no meaning if God could not https://i2.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/9/93/Stromboli_Eruption.jpg/322px-Stromboli_Eruption.jpgwithhold it from whom He chose. At p75, the depth of God’s nature is complex. It passes understanding.

If the unrighteous could make God unhappy by going to Hell, this would be some small victory for them. But no. Those who have rebelled against the Lord and moved beyond repentance will not be able to gloat that they have made the Almighty miserable. God is not defeated in the triumphs of his righteous judgment. Quite the contrary…they will unwittingly provide an occasion for God to rejoice in the demonstration of his justice and his power and the infinite worth of his glory.

OK, I am convinced. If you believe in Hell, quiet satisfaction- or delight- is the only allowable response, for the alternative is to judge God wanting. St Paul’s unceasing anguish that Israel had rejected God would turn to satisfaction. It is only permissible to feel pity for those outside God’s mercy before death.

But then I read on to Romans 11:32: For God has bound everyone over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.

2. Horror. Eliza’s answer is that she feels “distress and discouragement”. I see people I cannot blame: Hitler was a product of his past and surroundings just as everyone else is. Many have alternative religions, which prevent them from affirming Christ.

My answer to the horror is that Hell does not exist, and God would just be monstrous to give someone a ghastly (or even luxurious) life on Earth followed by eternal torment.

Apropos of nothing but the fact that it is fun, here is Vlad Putin with Medvedev in a bra. St Petersburg police impounded the picture, making it world famous.

Putin

Followers

I wonder why people follow my blog, sometimes. Far fewer read or comment than follow. Is it any more than saying “Hi there, come and look at my blog”? One or two recent followers are worth a look, and not all of them because they are unintentionally amusing weirdos.

Nicole I am delighted to find Nicole Moseley, Bipolar Christianity. I get the email announcing she follows me, recommending “great posts” of hers I might want to read. Hers was “Saved from Hell“, a collection of Bible quotes which might be used to argue that all humanity is saved, and none will go to eternal damnation. As she believes all judgment is in the hands of God, this is not a definite statement of belief, but worth considering, for those like me who admire the Bible but not Evangelical readings of it. I am glad to find her.

spookchristianHowever, what prompted this post is Spookchristian. His “great post” is here: I do not recommend it. He argues that the Pope is the Antichrist because he referred to Muslims as “brothers”, and his objection is not that the Pope used sexist language. I am delighted that he should follow my blog, but would be even more pleased if he would read one post right through. He would be exposed to a different point of view.

BroussardSomewhere in between the two comes Jerry Broussard. I have seen him on the homosexuality tag: inexplicably, he finds arguments condemning it persuasive. Perhaps he is an idiot. A lot of his posts on that subject are paranoid, for example this one on a preacher arrested outside Wimbledon. Thank God for the Public Order Act, is all I can say. The bigot who thought it right to preach to the tennis queue that gays will go to Hell was only arrested, and not charged. He was not worth the magistrate’s time. However here the “preacher” Tony Miano says, just after condemning lying as a sin, So if a homosexual walked up to me and said, I’m hungry and I need something to eat. Michelle WI would walk them to the nearest restaurant, give them something to eat, and share the Gospel with them because I love them. Here is his public facebook page: he really should publish his address, so that people can take him up on his offer. The conversation would be tedious, but a free meal is a free meal.

On the tag surfer, there is a great big “follow” button, by selected blogs. “Followed by people with similar interests.” “Followed by sites you’ve liked.” “Followed by bloggers you follow.” Some of these links are pretty tenuous, and I just followed someone by accident: my finger slipped. Some follows come when I comment on a blog, but I don’t think I had commented on Michelle W before she followed. Her great post was about being sexually assaulted. She called her writing curmudgeonly, but it manages to make complaining entertaining, and I would be delighted if she were reading here, especially if she commented.

Hell

File:HansMemlingHell.jpgHell is a popular topic on wordpress: ten posts in under ten hours. Someone calls his home state “Hellannoy”, and there is deathless poetry:

living in my 2×2 cell of private hell
days spent listening for freedom’s bell
i loved you with my broken heart
your love just fractured it farther apart

Milton’s claim about “Rhime being no necessary Adjunct or true Ornament of Poem or good Verse” is conclusively disproved.

Reformedstudies sees Hell as a real threat:

When was the last time you shared your faith with an unbeliever?

Approximately 150,000 – 200,000 people die every day, and most of them are perishing into a hopeless, Christless eternity. There are two great tragedies in this: first, these people have wasted their lives and will spend eternity separated from the only source of everlasting joy. Second, and most importantly, these are people who owed worship and allegiance to Almighty God, and who instead of honoring their Creator as He deserves, they spent their time worshiping lesser things.

Do you care? If you claim to care, do your actions back up that claim?

https://i2.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/0a/Hellmouth.jpgMy point of agreement with him is that following Christ must involve making our lives in this world better. My disagreement is about “Satan the god of this world”- I see little pure evil; most people are doing our best under difficult circumstances, and evil acts come from damage not wickedness.

And in the trenches of this [spiritual] war, if I had to choose between standing beside a doctrinally-confused Arminian who is willing to preach the Gospel, or a fellow Calvinist who thinks it’s not his job to share Christ crucified, I’d take the Arminian any day of the week. My Christianity is further from his than the Arminian’s.

Clay was born again. I was born again on 14 February 1999- in the John 3:3 sense, but not necessarily the Born Again sense- but Clay has a time, 10am. Having rejected God’s offer of salvation over and over during my 52 years – an offer I was well-versed in, File:- Google Art Project.jpgas I grew up hearing the gospel preached time and again – I was without hope and bound to spend eternity that way. And, as I believe in a literal hell as described in the Bible, that’s where my rejection would have landed me. Now, Clay is headed for Heaven, which is like:
think of the greatest thing that could ever happen to you – winning the world’s biggest lottery; …– and multiply it by the largest number you can think of.

Clay’s Christianity has much in common with my own. He has peace, purpose and blessing in his life, now. The fundamental difference is what happens to the non-Christians.

I debated with Andrew about Hell. Huffington Post had six things Christians should stop saying including “Jesus is the only way to Heaven”. Andrew disagrees: what he says instead is “Christological claims to exclusivity for salvation” is an “essential doctrine”. Perhaps he thinks we should use longer words. I tried to get him to admit that most of those 150,000 a day would be going to Hell, if that were true, and he refused to say that. Possibly God would save infants and the mentally disabled, but capax adults had only Christ, which is tough on the Buddhists. “I can do nothing but speak the truth” says Andrew, but he avoids the H-word almost completely. “I don’t take the doctrine of Hell lightly.” I find Reformedstudies more honest.

As for me, I am with Origen and possibly CS Lewis on apokatastasis, the final reconciliation of all created things to God.

Oh, and here is a site with “science” in its address, on Hell.

A Catholic

File:Pannello di pittura parietale da area vesuviana, miho museum, shiga 02.jpgOh no! Not another bigoted homophobe! Wait a while, he is interesting as a specimen. He shows how thinking within a closed system can completely insulate you from reality, and how brilliant Constantine was in creating an ideology to control his empire.

Here, he is writing on a debate between a Christian and a bishop. The bishop says that there is only one Catholic view on gay marriage, and that those who do not accept it should leave the church. This has Mark crowing in delight: “Booyah!” Never mind that it makes opposition to gay marriage one of the most important doctrines of the church.

It is the comments which display the full horror of the man. Those who accept all the church’s teachings are Catholic. Those who do not are not Catholic. The Church, that is, the real Church, is indeed shrinking and that’s a good thing, for at the end of the day the Lord’s work of separating the sheep from the goats will be made all the easier.

I pressed him on “goats” just to make sure. He replied, Matthew 25:31-46 That’s what happens to the goats. The verse says,

Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

You’re all going to Hell!! gloats Mark. God wills no one to go to Hell, but there are those who are so insistent upon their own will, their own sense of what is right, that they completely reject the things of God, and thus close themselves off from Heaven forever. God loves us all so much that he is willing to honor the choices we make. File:Affresco di giardino da pompei, museo archeologico nazionale, napoli.jpgMark backtracks on this later, possibly having realised how foolish it looks.

This is a simplistic view, but he can take into it all sorts of complexities. Later, he blathers on about what mortal sin is, even though this contradicts what he said about those who accept gay marriage shrinking out of the “real church”. Whether it is mortal sin is between the person and God, and not for others to say. Possibly, he has read Irenaeus: God save us from an educated idiot.

I cannot deduce his answer to Plato’s dilemma “Is the pious loved by the gods because it is pious, or is it pious because it is loved by the gods?” He may imagine there are moral arguments against gay marriage separate from his false biblical authority.

In his own eyes, he will always defeat me in argument because he has a moral truth: God and the Church condemn all gay sex, in a LTR or not. He simply does not accept any moral argument against this. No-one can get through to him.

Constantine produced a hierarchy, right down to each individual citizen or slave, and anyone disobedient would go to Hell. Mark shows that the attitudes of slavish obedience and arrogance live on, which with the conspiracy of silence produced the worldwide child abuse scandal. His idolatry of his church insulates him against the promptings of God- he has no ears to hear.

Gnashing of teeth

..jpgJesus said, cast him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Surely that is as strong evidence you can have of Jesus instituting Hell? No.

Well, I only wrote it yesterday, and today I turned to Marcus J Borg. Gnashing of teeth occurs in the darkness, the blazing furnace, and a place with the hypocrites, but only in Matthew apart from one occurrence in Luke. Here are the Bible references:
Matthew 8:12: Outer darkness. After the healing of the centurion’s pais, Jesus says many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Matthew 13:42: The parable of the weeds in the field- thrown into the blazing furnace, as weeds might indeed be.
Matthew 13:50: Fishermen threw bad fish away.  This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous 50 and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be guess what.
Matthew 22:13: A man went to a wedding banquet without wedding clothes, and was thrown into the outer darkness.
Matthew 24:51: A wicked servant who did not do the work while his master was away was cast out when the master returned.
Matthew 25:30: the parable of the talents. Luke 19 :11-27 tells a similar story, but without gnashing.
Luke 13:28: Jesus said, Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. 25 Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, “Sir, open the door for us.”

‘But he will answer, “I don’t know you or where you come from.” 

Then Luke repeats the same saying as in the healing of the pais, but without that healing story.

https://i0.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/27/Jheronimus_Bosch_4_last_things_%28Last_Judgment%29.jpgPeople will come from the East and the West and feast with Abraham. This is not necessarily after death. There were the religious folk, who thought they had the religious knowledge and the promises were theirs, but foreigners actually understood the message of Jesus and they did not. We can be in the Kingdom of Heaven here on Earth, or in worthless religious forms like cracked cisterns which hold no water. They gnash their teeth because they see blessing they do not have, but do not know how to get it.

Borg has an answer on the parable of the talents. We tend to think of the man going on a journey, who gave bags of gold to three servants, as God. Borg suggests that, instead, he is a rich man who treats poor servants like rich men have always treated them. The problem with this theory is verse 14: “The kingdom of heaven will be like a man…” Borg says that the man does not act as we know God to act.

So, from the book “Jesus” (2006) it’s Borg 1, Hell 0, though his interpretation does not apply to the other sayings, which are not in that book.

The importance of damnation

https://i2.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/a/a0/F%C3%A9licien_Rops_-_La_tentation_de_Saint_Antoine.jpg/560px-F%C3%A9licien_Rops_-_La_tentation_de_Saint_Antoine.jpg“There is no final damnation.” That is a very scary thought if you believe that. If there was no eternal damnation then there would be no need for Jesus, or the Gospel, or even the bible. We’d all be going to heaven, no matter what we did, how we lived, and what we believed. And that would make a great deal of what Jesus said to us, a lie. Which in turn would mean that God is not perfect, but rather is sinful Himself.

From a facebook debate. It was started with this lovely quote from Cynthia Nixon: ”Gay people who want to marry have no desire to redefine marriage in any way. When women got the vote they did not redefine voting. When African-Americans got the right to sit at a lunch counter alongside white people, they did not redefine eating out. They were simply invited to the table… We have no desire to change marriage. We want to be entitled to not only the same privileges, but the same responsibilities as straight people.” It degenerated. My best contribution was after a 19 line comment: I wrote, “Yawn”. Happy dance, I nailed the man! All that earnest cogitation, dismissed in one word. Ha!

Having increased your adulation and wonderment at me a notch, I will now dissect his comment. There are (at least) two Christian world-views. This lawyer, who in his mid-forties has been able to retire, says that the life of Jesus only has purpose in order to save Christians. His sacrifice is the point of his life. That sacrifice is to propitiate the wrath of God against God’s creation in our original sin. This fits the Nicene creed-

I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ…by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. The creed has the birth and the death, and nothing in between.

This means that the heart of the Gospel is damnation. It is Pascal’s wager in reverse: there is no point in following Jesus, or being Good, or worshipping, unless billions burn in Hell. The dogma is more important than people. This is why it is easy to idolise dogma over gay people, and call us abominable.

John rephrased: If there was no eternal damnation, then there would have been no reason for God to send his Son to suffer so greatly and die on the cross for our sins. I think the sacrifice was for the wrath of man, not the wrath of God, but that would be difficult to get over on facebook.

In the parable of the sheep and the goats, the bad are led off for eternal torment. In several parables people will be in the outer darkness, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. The rich man looked up from his torment at Lazarus in Abraham’s bosom, across a great gulf. The gospels are full of Damnation: and still I reject it as Afterlife. There may be other interpretations of those passages, but I do not know them; I do not want to explain away the passages, but live with them.

Heaven and Hell

File:Last judgement Bosch.jpg

Last judgement Bosch (left panel)If the division for eternity [between Heaven and Hell] is all about accepting Jesus and nothing about how you behave, it is a silly and arbitrary division indeed, was the challenge. So, what is the division?

There is not one Christian view. Origen, a theologian from the third century, believed in apocatastasis, the idea that that which God creates, returns to God. This was declared heretical in 553AD, but some accept it now. My former vicar said that he believed Hell existed but no-one actually went there.

The division being about accepting Jesus makes great sense in a personal context. I have heard of Jesus. The gospel is that I cannot be good on my own efforts- which fits reality, I make mistakes all the time- but that Jesus reconciles me to God by his sacrifice. There is forgiveness if I only believe in it. To me, that makes good psychological sense: I keep trying. Despite all my past failures, what matters now is what I do today.

Antinomians, such as extreme Calvinists in 17th century Scotland, said if one is predestined to Heaven or Hell, there is no point in behaving morally.

Why divide by belief? Belief is enough. I am accepted by God the parent. We hope this belief will change the person: loved, we respond with love, for God and others.

The division makes far less sense in a world context. The child of Chinese Communist Party members may have heard of Jesus, has not got the excuse of ignorance, and yet has grown up knowing that Christianity is ridiculous. He never enters a church. Yet, if he lives well, why should he go to Hell? One could multiply examples. The man who joins a gang, because it is the only way to be safe, and is ordered to do vile things, may be living as well as is possible in his circumstances. 2.3 billion Christians, now, means 4.7 billion non-Christians, and the idea of them all going to Hell is repellent. Last judgement Bosch (right panel)

Christians usually answer this by saying judgment is between God and God’s creature, and not up to the speaker. Romans 1:20 speaks of people being aware of the reality of God from their experience of creation:  For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. This applies at least to those Paul saw worshipping idols. Despite that, we are squeamish about Hell- though not all of us, and in the past there has been enthusiastic damning of the Outsider.

The Reformation rejected the former idea of Purgatory, perhaps because the sale of indulgences. Someone not bad enough to be damned went to Purgatory (of which the flame is roses, and the smoke is briars) for a time, and the church sold time off. 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 gives a scriptural basis for this; but I think Protestants believe those the Catholics destine for Purgatory get straight to Heaven. The Catholics do not sell indulgences now, but claim they can be gained by Freely abstaining in a spirit of penance from something licit and pleasant. So they encourage asceticism.

Limbo is not an official doctrine of any church, but the idea that at the edge of Hell there is a place for those who lived well but did not have the chance to turn to Christ: Dante places Virgil there. There is no punishment other than separation from God.

My answer, which is a strain within Christianity, is that damnation is between God and each person, and that I can only apply any threat of it to myself and to no other person; but I follow Origen. There is no eternal separation from God. Last judgement Bosch (central panel)

The Hell people

“When is a Christian not a Christian?” asked Sharon Autenreith, about Charles Worley. Her answer is more nuanced than mine. From Charles Wesley, she says,

The world is full of people who seem respectable and religiously observant and who show up at church often enough.  But if they don’t genuinely love God as He revealed Himself in Christ, and if that doesn’t spill over into an active love for others, well, that’s not Christianity. 

Initially I demurred, quoting

They drew a circle that kept me out
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout
But Love and I had the wit to win
We drew a circle that took them in!

Then I read Ivar Fjeld.

File:Arenallong.jpg

Have a look at the comments. They are not scared to lie:

Statistics show as many as 75% of “gay” men have been prematurely sexually active or abused as a child, usually involving another male (sometimes a female).

Andrea says of gay people,

it’s hard to want and serve the Living Creator when one wants to serve the Satan of the Damned and all his evilness…which with each evil they ‘take pleasure in’ there will be a stronger and more devilish demonic pull to create and get involved in to satisfy that lust that is ever dragging the person(s) down lower to the pit of Hell.

Ivar agrees. He wants to tell me of the Love of God, which I have only if I repent. But, he says, we are in the End Times:

When the moral code of conduct falls in Zionist Israel, the last and final antichrist will have his way. Than there will only be lawlessness on Earth, and the man of Lawlessness will be welcomed.

File:Villarrica lava fountain.jpg

Revelation gives him a lot of fuel for these thoughts. Chapter 13, for example.

The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise its authority for forty-two months. It opened its mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven. It was given power to wage war against God’s holy people and to conquer them. And it was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the Lamb’s book of life, the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world.

I have read that church leaders like Gene Robinson are promoting a false religion, and leading people to Hell. Armageddon and the Rapture will follow.

File:Eruption 1954 Kilauea Volcano.jpg

I had wanted to emphasise what we have in common. We believe in God, and in Jesus, and we have the Golden Rule. But I really do not care what these people think. Hell awaits all who do not conform to their narrow beliefs? LOL. God creates seven billion people in order to damn most of them to the Lake of Fire? Worthless rubbish. They are false Christians, better called Hell people, for their emphasis on Damnation.

At one time, I took it seriously. The thought that I would be damned hurt me. Taking communion expressing myself female was a huge step for me. The thought that they would be damned still hurts and oppresses gay people.

I exchanged emails with a Hell person. He told me,

 I firmly believe it is satan’s lies that continue to deceive those who live this life style. I also believe that satan has manipulated scientists minds into believing they found the cause of homosexuality. It may seem as though I am giving satan a lot of credit and power and he does have a degree of power, but we must remember that God is in complete control of this universe we live in.

Words fail me.