Questions & Answers
Is the fear deeper than hell?
Hello Elaine! Thanks for your thoughts.
Though the topic is "Hell and/or Eternal Torment" the discussion actually hints of something deeper. Deeper than hell, I say? Oh yeah, much deeper. I suggest that our mainline "Christian" views of hell mask those underlying fears along with its fleshly logic. Yes, fleshly logic.
By the way, please don't assume I'm unfamiliar with what you propose for I was Bible-college trained in this very school of thought. I preached my own decent share of "hellfire and damnation" messages, and I used them in the exact way you state. Now, if you have read any of my comments on the matter then you'll realize that I have not once suggested an "unfairness" regarding hell and damnation, and there is a good reason why - "fairness" or "unfairness" has absolutely nothing to do with it, as these are concepts we learned in the world.
Today, the world often pictures God in a way that doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t mesh with Scripture. In effect, man sees Him as an indulgent Father, wearing a perpetual beatific smile, as He extends blessings to everyone and blows kisses with every breath. He is viewed as a kind of a "sugar daddy" who is approached only when people want something. The thought that God would sentence someone to spend eternity in the flames of hell is repugnant and disconcerting to the world-view of God. Elaine
I have to wonder what world you suppose REALLY believes such a thing? It's not that I haven't heard many CLAIM to believe in such a God ... but do you actually buy into these claims? If people really saw God as an indulgent father who brings blessings and blows kisses with every breath I doubt any would only approach such a God when they wanted something. This is the insanity of the logic that cannot understand God. It is the same logic that we keep trying to fit into Christ. But it can't be done, it has only been the product of our false concepts.
Let's face it, we all know what the world thinks because our former existence was derived from it. What did we REALLY perceive in the world: second chances ... or eventually getting what we deserved? We ourselves KNOW that we made many attempts to deny the inevitability of our underlying fears of condemnation, and I think we still try to psyche ourselves by concepts of better things because of our feelings of inadequacy and failure. I have witnessed this in most believers who are questioning and/or considering the really of life in Christ. Why, knowing these things, do we ever take the bogus claims of the flesh as reflecting the truth of its own thoughts and desires? Human history provides a detailed accounting of the desperation of the heart ... NOT of its supposed laxness.
I am also very familiar with the need to categorize God so that we can better "understand" Him, but in this, our thoughts are no different than those reached by the Jews. I'm not suggesting that we ignore what the Bible says about God through His interaction in the history of Israel, and if you have read much of what I have written you will know that I go into great detail of the Biblical accounts. I don't think God's judgments upon those under law - as those you mentioned - were too extreme, and truthfully I don't think any of us really thought so, for similar to what you stated, we are quick to judge far more severely for far lesser things when those things affect us personally. We simply have a habit of trying to soften GOD's justice by calling it unfair (at least toward ourselves or those we love) because His is not fleeting like ours.
So, our question here is: "Is it unjust of God to send people to a place of never-ending punishment?" Elaine
No, this is what people have FEARED for as long as there have been people!! It is only this fear of condemnation that has brought on the insanity of questioning GOD'S justice. I will not entertain that insanity even though the world around me would demand it, for I have been given eyes to see and ears to hear and the mind to understand the bogus from the real. You have been given it, too. But you gravitate to collections of verses pulled out of context to support the thoughts of that life we died to.
Your conclusions suggest that by not holding to eternal torture in the flames of hell is to miss the depth of His love in sending His son to die for us, but the truth is that when we hold to Christ and him crucified, we are brought to the true perception that God does not hold men's sins against them ... because of Christ hanging on that cross and suffering.
As far as "hell" goes, just remember that Sodom and Gommorah "are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire." (Jude 7) Somehow, the fact that those cities were destroyed by fire and were extinguished doesn't lend itself to supporting a time-related sense of "forever" as we have always thought of it. The verses you quote support the systematically constructed doctrine of hell, and usually have a far better meaning without it.
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