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Disconcerting Thoughts About Hell
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Submitted: Jan 3, 2011
By James Coffin


A few months ago a young adult was telling me which Adventist doctrines he found most helpful. The absence of an eternally burning hell ranked high on his list. And not for him alone.

To a great degree, Ellen G. White is the one who pushed our denomination to our current stance. She describes her own evolution of thought as follows:

"I believed in an eternally burning hell; and as I thought of the wretched state of the sinner before God, I was in deep despair. I feared that I should be lost, and that I should live through eternity suffering a living death."


She adds: "Night after night, while my twin sister was sleeping, I would arise, and bow by the bedside before the Lord, and plead with him for mercy. [The only] words that I had any confidence to utter were, ‘Lord, have mercy.' Such complete hopelessness would seize me that I would fall on my face with an agony of feeling that cannot be described."

But, she says, "I learned that the wicked shall be consumed as stubble, and that they shall be as ashes under our feet in the new earth; they shall be as though they had not been. There is no eternally burning hell; there are no living bodies suffering eternal torment."

Based on her own struggles as both a youth and an adult, she spoke emphatically about the negative impact of traditional beliefs concerning hell: "It is beyond the power of the human mind to estimate the evil which has been wrought by the heresy of eternal torment. . . . The appalling views of God which have spread over the world from the teachings of the pulpit have made thousands, yes, millions, of skeptics and infidels."

In fact, she says, hell, as it's generally depicted, is more than the human psyche can contend with: "Many have been driven to insanity by this harrowing thought."

Certainly, the idea of humans eternally engulfed in flames and writhing in anguish seems a disproportionate punishment for a few years of sin on earth--even grievous sin. Why would a God of love (who's not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance) artificially keep people alive forever and ever and ever simply to torture them? Who benefits?

I used to get spankings when I was young. But the purpose of the spanking wasn't revenge; it was rehabilitation. It was to ensure that I didn't repeat the bad behavior. But in the case of the wicked in hell, as traditionally taught, there's no rehabilitation. Their eternal destiny has already been set. So what's gained by the torture?

Actually, the Catholic doctrine of purgatory (though not biblical) makes a lot more sense than the traditional doctrine of hell. Purgatory is at least a lesson-learning experience. The punishment is for a rehabilitative purpose. And salvation will be the ultimate outcome. But an eternal hell? What does it achieve?

Some have rationalized that the eternal punishment of the lost is for the benefit of the saved. It's a perpetual reminder that you don't mess with God. But I find that explanation highly unsatisfactory. In fact, I think most humans find a philosophical repugnance toward the thought of an eternally burning hell. And Ellen White was certainly an outspoken and articulate opponent of this misrepresentation of God's character.

Post-Enlightenment developed societies eschew torture-as-punishment in the human realm--even those that still retain the death penalty. While criminals may have to pay for their crimes by forfeiting life, pre-execution torture is considered barbaric.

But even Ellen White, who so eloquently argued against an eternally burning hell, appears to have trouble relinquishing at least a short-term hell in which sinners are kept alive artificially to be tortured for days or weeks.

"Some are destroyed as in a moment," she says, "while others suffer many days. All are punished ‘according to their deeds.' The sins of the righteous having been transferred to Satan, he is made to suffer not only for his own rebellion, but for all the sins which he has caused God's people to commit. His punishment is to be far greater than that of those whom he has deceived. After all have perished who fell by his deceptions, he is still to live and suffer on. In the cleansing flames the wicked are at last destroyed, root and branch-Satan the root, his followers the branches. The full penalty of the law has been visited; the demands of justice have been met; and heaven and earth, beholding, declare the righteousness of Jehovah."

In the foregoing scenario, the duration for which both humans and angels will be punished in the flames is directly proportional to their sins. Again, who benefits?

Those being thus destroyed are destroyed. They're gone forever. They can't take any lessons learned to their eternal grave. So what's accomplished by torturing them before they die? Why not just snuff them out because they'd be a blight in a cleaned-up universe?

Equally, how does such torture benefit the God who loves everyone? True, He gets the last word. True, all the lost admit that He was right. But then they're gone. Forever. What good does that do Him? Does it make the all-powerful God feel more powerful to have forced the lost to say "uncle" before He consigns them to the flames?

If we accept that this torture is for the sake of the saved, what does it say to them? I mean, certainly, the saved need to understand that the wages of sin is death. But wouldn't that be evident if God just zapped the lost? Instant death? Certainly, the saved need to know there are consequences. But what impact does it have on them to watch the wicked having their lives artificially prolonged so they can be tortured just before they die?

Are the righteous (i.e. forgiven sinners themselves) going to be convinced of God's goodness because these torture victims were resurrected just long to enough to declare that God was in fact fair--only to then be slowly charbroiled? What comfort could any righteous people derive from watching their aunts, uncles, cousins, parents, children, friends writhing in agony?

I'm sure that if I were there with the saved watching all this transpire, I'd be more than willing to "declare the righteousness of Jehovah," as Ellen White puts it. I'd say whatever was expected. I'd figure out quick-smart which side my bread was buttered on and where my eternal allegiance was going to lie.

Ah, but I thought this whole great-controversy exercise was about voluntary, un-coerced worship and obedience, not compulsion.

I'm delighted that our church doesn't subscribe to the doctrine of eternal torment. We've put some gratifying distance between us and a truly appalling, repugnant religious teaching. But I'm not so sure we've got it clear even yet when it comes to just how the God of love is going to deal with those of His children who are incorrigibly rebellious.

Comments

Re: Disconcerting Thoughts About Hell
On January 3rd, 2011 laffal says:

It is my understanding that, the suffering of those who are at last consigned to eternal death, is not caused by the fires of hell, but by... the realization that it is by their own choosing that they will be seperated from God for eternity in death. They chose to reject all of God's appeals to the heart / soul thru the gift of His Son Jesus, and the wooing of the Spirit. All God has done is give to them what they chose, no more, no less. The fire only serves the purpose of eliminating the objects fit for destruction.

The benefit? Sin will not enter the realms of God's kingdom ever again. Not because the redeemed will fear the same result of the lost, but because of an unforgetting appreciation of what it cost God to save us when He gave us His Son, to be our, the most undeserved's, Savior & Redeemer.

Peace




Re: Disconcerting Thoughts About Hell
On January 3rd, 2011 Preston says:

I have, for some time, had a difficult time reconciling the Adventist teaching of no eternal punishment with the literal words of Revelation 19 and 20. I clearly see that there is no eternal punishment for lost humans. However, it seems that the punishments for the beast, the false prophet, and Satan are quite different. These two KJV references tell a clear and different story:

Rev. 19: 20: "And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that that received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These BOTH (my emphasis) were cast ALIVE into a lake of fire burning with brimstone."

Following, Chapter 20 introduces the 1000 years where Satan is bound on earth while the righteous (saved) live and reign with Christ in heaven. The chapter goes on to speak of the 3rd Coming, where Satan is loosed, and plans his final attack on the Kingdom. Then, the final punishments are specifically detailed:

Rev. 20: 9,10: "And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven and DEVOURED (my emphasis) them."

"And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the the beast and the false prophet ARE (notice the present tense of the verb, in reference to what occurred in Rev. 19:20), and shall be TORMENTED (an important description) day and night FOREVER AND EVER."

Despite what, at times, seem to be tortured (forgive the pun) explanations, these verses are, to me, abundantly clear, needing no further interpretation. It seems the beast and the false prophet are cast alive into a lake of fire and brimstone (differentiated from the "fire from God out of heaven" in Rev. 20:9) PRIOR to the 1000 year period. Later, in Chapter 20, after the unsaved have been consumed, the devil is cast into that same lake of fire and brimstone ("where the beast and the false prophet ARE . . .") and is tormented, day and night, forever.

I cannot begin to explain why (although it seems somewhat obvious), but, "at least" from the language of the Bible, the beast, the false prophet, and the devil will receive a different and eternal punishment.

I'm sure a Greek scholar has a different spin on this. But the English version seems very clear. Am I missing something? Are we, as Adventists, avoiding something that the Word specifically declares?




Re: Disconcerting Thoughts About Hell
On January 3rd, 2011 laffal says:

Preston,

The Greek word "aion" can mean forever and ever (aion aion) in the sense of time, but it can also mean forever and ever in the sense of effect. Malachi 4 states very clearly that the wickied will be as ashes under the feet of the redeemed. I believe that Ezekiel helps to answer your question:

In the abundance of your trade you were filled with violence in your midst, and you sinned; so I cast you as a profane thing from the mountain of God, and I destroyed you, O guardian cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. Your heart was proud because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor. I cast you to the ground; I exposed you before kings, to feast their eyes on you. By the multitude of your iniquities, in the unrighteousness of your trade you profaned your sanctuaries; so I brought fire out from your midst; it consumed you, and I turned you to ashes on the earth in the sight of all who saw you. All who know you among the peoples are appalled at you; you have come to a dreadful end and shall be no more forever." Ezekiel 28:16-29 ESV)

The lake of fire has a work to do, purge God's creation from sin and all its effects, not to punish or torture.

There's a good book on this subject written by a Baptist lawyer, Edward Fudge. It's called, "The Fire that Consumes." The link should get you to the website where you can procure it if interested.


http://www.alibris.com/booksearch?qwork=10406512&keyword=edward+fudge&ma...

Peace



Re: Disconcerting Thoughts About Hell
On January 3rd, 2011 Elaine Nelson says:

Sorry, Jim, but you did not explain nor answer EGW's remarks about some burning longer than others.

Is it not a paradox when she says something, then counteracts with an opposing statement? What say you?

For some of use, we prefer to ignore her writings for that simple reason: one can always find two contradictory statements.  Should they be dated to discover which is the latest or most recent?




Re: Disconcerting Thoughts About Hell
On January 3rd, 2011 James Coffin says:

Elaine,

You're right, it's a paradox. When statements are seemingly contradictory, we can . . . Deny the disparity. Sweep one set of statements or the other under the carpet. Be on the lookout for some way to try to make them harmonize. Live with ambiguity. Reject the writer. These are some of the options open to us.

I have little problem with the concept of cause and effect. Natural result. Consequence. In that context, it would come as no surprise that some might suffer more intensely or for longer duration than others. As Laffal suggests in a response above, it may be much more a state of mind and mental anguish than physical burning. Although, the negative incentives in the Bible focus a lot more on fire than on mental anguish.

But when we employ terminology such as "made to suffer," that puts it into an altogether different category. And in the context of God-meted-out punishment, who benefits? Because the person who's soon to die is, according to Adventist theology, well and truly beyond the possibility of redemption. So the only potential beneficiaries of the God-inflicted punishment that I can come up with are: God, the redeemed or some onlooking intelligences. I don't find any of those answers, or all of them combined, to be satisfactory.

Jim




Re: Disconcerting Thoughts About Hell
On January 3rd, 2011 Elaine Nelson says:

Jim, I don't know if this comes from the Bible or EGW, but I can distinctly remember reading, or being taught, that the saved would be looking over the walls of the New Jerusalem watching those who are destroyed, perhaps even friends being barbecued. If this was a true remembrance, it is diabolical, IMHO and cannot possibly believe God would punish the saved in that way.



Re: Disconcerting Thoughts About Hell
On January 3rd, 2011 Preston says:

Thanks, laffal.

This is both helpful -- and confusing, in that Revelation 20:10 specifically speaks of "torment(ed)" as the primary feature of the punishment of the false prophet, the beast, and the devil (as opposed to extinction and/or purification). In addition, the qualifiers "day and night" cause me to lean toward the eternal definition of "aion." The fact that the beast and false prophet have already been in the lake of fire and brimstone for 1000 years, prior to the devil joining them there, buttresses that interpretation.

The references in Ezekiel do point to some finality, particularly Ezekiel 28:18, 19 ("I will bring thee to ashes . . . "). However, verse 19 could easily be read to have eternal features (". . . the people shall be astonished at thee: thou shalt BE a terror, and never shalt thou be (a terror?) anymore."

Suffice to say, the beast, the false prophet, and the devil have a different punishment than that of unsaved humans, who are consumed by fire "from God out of heaven." It seems to me that that is the purifying fire. The lake of fire and brimstone "where the beast and the false prophet ARE" (Revelation 20:10, referenced first in Revelation 19:20) seems, to me, to be a special brew of torment.

Separately, since we are talking about disconcerting thoughts about hell, in Revelation 20:14, death and HELL are cast into the lake of fire. It seems that the lake of fire is what is most disconcerting. Hell can't even hang in it! I'm quite sure we don't really know what "hell" really is.




Re: Disconcerting Thoughts About Hell
On January 4th, 2011 James Coffin says:


In reviewing Ellen White's actual words in The Great Controversy, it seems that the punishment of the wicked is to some degree mental anguish but primarily physical burning. Note how the scene plays out (pages 671-673):

"Notwithstanding that Satan has been constrained to acknowledge God's justice and to bow to the supremacy of Christ, his character remains unchanged. The spirit of rebellion, like a mighty torrent, again bursts forth. Filled with frenzy, he determines not to yield the great controversy. The time has come for a last desperate struggle against the King of heaven. He rushes into the midst of his subjects and endeavors to inspire them with his own fury and arouse them to instant battle. But of all the countless millions whom he has allured into rebellion, there are none now to acknowledge his supremacy. His power is at an end. The wicked are filled with the same hatred of God that inspires Satan; but they see that their case is hopeless, that they cannot prevail against Jehovah. Their rage is kindled against Satan and those who have been his agents in deception, and with the fury of demons they turn upon them."

At this point in Ellen White's narrative are several Bible verses. The next specific action is: "Fire comes down from God out of heaven. The earth is broken up. The weapons concealed in its depths are drawn forth. Devouring flames burst from every yawning chasm. The very rocks are on fire. The day has come that shall burn as an oven. The elements melt with fervent heat, the earth also, and the works that are therein are burned up. Malachi 4:1; 2 Peter 3:10. The earth's surface seems one molten mass--a vast, seething lake of fire. It is the time of the judgment and perdition of ungodly men--'the day of the Lord's vengeance, and the year of recompenses for the controversy of Zion.' Isaiah 34:8.

"The wicked receive their recompense in the earth. Proverbs 11:31. They 'shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts.' Malachi 4:1. Some are destroyed as in a moment, while others suffer many days. All are punished 'according to their deeds.' The sins of the righteous having been transferred to Satan, he is made to suffer not only for his own rebellion, but for all the sins which he has caused God's people to commit. His punishment is to be far greater than that of those whom he has deceived. After all have perished who fell by his deceptions, he is still to live and suffer on. In the cleansing flames the wicked are at last destroyed, root and branch--Satan the root, his followers the branches. The full penalty of the law has been visited; the demands of justice have been met; and heaven and earth, beholding, declare the righteousness of Jehovah."

One might consider even the fire from heaven to be a natural consequence of sorts--the righteousness of God coming into full contact with the evil of this world. But when we're told that the punishment is "according to their deeds," and that Satan is "made to suffer" for the sins of others, it suggests direct control by God. Fire of the magnitude described here would destroy everyone almost instantaneously. Their continued survival, for however long it is, must be predicated on God's direct intervention.

What I'm getting to is this: If there's some cosmic benefit to be gained from artificially keeping humans and angels alive for days or weeks so they can be tortured, is it such a leap to think that there could be even greater cosmic benefit in keeping them alive artificially to torture them forever? In either case, were humans the perpetrators, we'd universally condemn such actions. Keep in mind, we're not talking about a qualitative difference here. We're admitting that the torture of the wicked plays a crucial cosmic purpose. We're talking about merely a quantitative difference. Which I find disconcerting.

Jim




Re: Disconcerting Thoughts About Hell
On January 4th, 2011 James Coffin says:

In The Desire of Ages (pages 763, 764) Ellen White presents a somewhat gentler picture of the ultimate fate of the wicked:

"God will vindicate His law and deliver His people. Satan and all who have joined him in rebellion will be cut off. Sin and sinners will perish, root and branch, (Mal. 4:1),--Satan the root, and his followers the branches. The word will be fulfilled to the prince of evil, 'Because thou hast set thine heart as the heart of God; . . . I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. . . . Thou shalt be a terror, and never shalt thou be any more.' Then 'the wicked shall not be: yea, thou shalt diligently consider his place, and it shall not be;' 'they shall be as though they had not been.' Ezek. 28:6-19; Ps. 37:10; Obadiah 16.

"This is not an act of arbitrary power on the part of God. The rejecters of His mercy reap that which they have sown. God is the fountain of life; and when one chooses the service of sin, he separates from God, and thus cuts himself off from life. He is 'alienated from the life of God.' Christ says, 'All they that hate Me love death.' Eph. 4:18; Prov. 8:36. God gives them existence for a time that they may develop their character and reveal their principles. This accomplished, they receive the results of their own choice. By a life of rebellion, Satan and all who unite with him place themselves so out of harmony with God that His very presence is to them a consuming fire. The glory of Him who is love will destroy them."

This depiction doesn't seem to have God as the one in direct control of the intensity and duration switch. Nature simply takes its course. I'm not sure how to mesh this picture with the one provided in The Great Controversy.

Jim



Re: Disconcerting Thoughts About Hell
On January 4th, 2011 David C. Read says:

Jim there isn't a qualitative difference between a 5 year prison sentence and 25 year sentence, just a quantitative difference. The law acknowledges that some crimes are worse--more serious, a greater breach of the peace and dignity of the state, however you want to express it--than others, and deserve a longer term of imprisonment.

Ditto with the punishment of the unsaved: some have committed more and worse sins than others, and in anyone's justice system, worse crimes deserve a more severe punishment. And causing the Fall of mankind, and all the misery that followed in its train, was a horrendous crime and deserves a horrendous punishment. By the way, I wouldn't phrase it that Satan is punished for "the sins of others," only for the sins that he caused the saved to commit, and since he is in a very real way responsible for those sins, it is not inappropriate that he be punished for them.

The law must be vindicated. If it were possible to set aside the requirements of the law, Christ would not have had to die.

It is a very interesting topic and deserves more thought and study. The topics of the substitutionary atonement, the 1844/Investigative Judgment, and punishment of Satan and the unsaved are all very closely related and, certainly in the minds of Ellen White and our pioneers, formed a harmonious whole. Attempting a change in any of these doctrines is like pulling a thread in a knit sweater: the whole thing eventually comes unraveled.




Re: Disconcerting Thoughts About Hell
On January 4th, 2011 Elaine Nelson says:

" We're admitting that the torture of the wicked plays a crucial cosmic purpose."

Could you explain the origin of the "cosmic purpose" for which the destruction of the wicked provide?




Re: Disconcerting Thoughts About Hell
On January 4th, 2011 Elaine Nelson says:

If "nature simply takes it course" how did the New Jersualem come down? Where did the fire come from? What natural course is there in resurrecting the dead only to be killed again?

Why should we take literally some of John's vision--and visions are not to be take literally--and some only symbolically? Where and how is the line drawn?

This subject actually raises many more questions than are answered. If there is much symbolism in Revelation, why not accept that all is? Since Adventism has so greatly emphasized this book in its beliefs, there seems to be a very distorted view, one which perhaps Luther was right in wishing to eliminate it. What are the redeeming features other than God finally triumphs? If that were the message, why all the inaccurate attempts to interpret it for hundreds of years?




Re: Disconcerting Thoughts About Hell
On January 4th, 2011 RonCorson says:

When I first read this article I thought why did he not use the most clearly and earliest story from Ellen White, Then I see some other quotes and James Coffin still has not used them. Well here they are from Early Writings published in 1882:

The Second Death
Satan rushes into the midst of his followers and tries to stir up the multitude to action. But fire from God out of heaven is rained upon them, and the great men, and mighty men, the noble, the poor and miserable, are all consumed together. I saw that some were quickly destroyed, while others suffered longer. They were punished according to the deeds done in the body. Some were many days consuming, and just as long as there was a portion of them unconsumed, all the sense of suffering remained. Said the angel, "The worm of life shall not die; their fire shall not be quenched as long as there is the least particle for it to prey upon."

Satan and his angels suffered long. Satan bore not only the weight and punishment of his own sins, but also of the sins of the redeemed host, which had been placed upon him; and he must also suffer for the ruin of souls which he had caused. Then I saw that Satan and all the wicked host were consumed, and the justice of God was satisfied; and all the angelic host, and all the redeemed saints, with a loud voice said, "Amen!" EW.295.001

Those who say that it is the wicked own thoughts that cause them suffering are being very disingenuous. Of course unless someone has consciousness suffering won't occur but it is not their own sense of how bad they were or how horrible it is for them that they did not accept God that causes their suffering. For here we see Ellen saying it is caused by the fire rained upon them and that it is punishment according to the deeds done in the Body and further that this is all done to satisfy God's Justice.

Is this different from an eternal torment, certainly but both still speak of a vengeful, a God who wants to torture. The Adventist version simply has them tortured and then killed the general hell version does not allow them to be killed. Neither is a good view of God. To punish someone by torture and then killing them is terrible. It serves no purpose at all except to satisfy a blood thirsty god or a blood thirsty group of supposedly righteous people.

The problem for Adventists is getting past this material by Ellen White. The benefit for Adventists is that these kinds of things show us that Ellen even if one granted her prophetic authority is not always right and has holes and irrationality in her material and you can't just accept something because she endorsed it.She was often wrong her philosophy was at times terrible and if we don't overcome the Whiteite infatuation our religion is doomed to be irrational and harmful.

David Read wrote:

--It is a very interesting topic and deserves more thought and study. The topics of the substitutionary atonement, the 1844/Investigative Judgment, and punishment of Satan and the unsaved are all very closely related and, certainly in the minds of Ellen White and our pioneers, formed a harmonious whole. Attempting a change in any of these doctrines is like pulling a thread in a knit sweater: the whole thing eventually comes unraveled.

__

That is very true and of the three you mentioned not a one of them is a correct doctrine as the Adventist church teaches them.




Re: Disconcerting Thoughts About Hell
On January 4th, 2011 Elaine Nelson says:

Thanks Ron, for quoting those "alternate" statements by EGW.

It has always been those who teach are most selective when quoting her so as to present her in the best possible light, all the while excluding such statements as you have furnished us.

Who can deny that Adventists have been taught this type of punishment using her descriptions to encourage an impossible attempt to reach perfection and escape such a terrible future?

Many people around the globe have seen the torture that the U.S. has employed in this war and find it utterly satanic. Yet, is the God represented in her writings one whit better?

Until Adventism rids itself of her "authoritiative" position, there will be fewer thoughtful readers who find anything in Adventism to be necessary or valuable for their lives. Who wants to worship such a God?




Re: Disconcerting Thoughts About Hell
On January 5th, 2011 Seminary student says:

what are your thoughts on the " wrath of God " according to Paul in Romans ? I think that according to the bible , In Malachi we can see that it is not going to be a "walk in the park " for those who are lost " .My thoughts are : A God of love who hates sin and loves the sinner but as sinners want to cling to their sins they are destroy .( that is the picture i get from Ellen White ) and I believe that is the same biblical picture of God . So what do you think ? Ron , I see that you always see what you want to see in Ellen White , the bible etc . as the late Paul Harvey , used to say " the rest of the story " . read whatever the writer had to say and don't jump into conclusions with one statement and ignore the rest . Ron , Something else , you seem to have a bad temper when people don't agree with you and you call them ignorants . I hope we can have a civil dialog .

we can learn from those we disagree if we listen to them ,

Seminary student,




Re: Disconcerting Thoughts About Hell
On January 5th, 2011 Adversus_Heresus says:

I'm with Jim on this.

There's just too many unsettling statements in the bible about an eternal hell.

One can symbolize on those for just so long before exegesis forces another conclusion.

One would think that the revelation of an eternal hell even COULD be truth at the time of the biblical writers but would NOT be so today.

That would be totally acceptable.




Re: Disconcerting Thoughts About Hell
On January 5th, 2011 Elaine Nelson says:

"as sinners want to cling to their sins they are destroyed"

Does anyone here SERIOUSLY believe that at some future time every soul on earth will be faced with a choice to accept or reject God? Isn't this what the church has taught? With more than 6 billion souls today, is it conceivable that every one of them could: 1) understand a god of love; 2) understand sufficiently to be able to make a valid choice; and 3) how could such a god be presented to each one of them in order for them to make a good decision?

Now, please identify that possibility if one believes the traditional SDA story? Anyone?




Re: Disconcerting Thoughts About Hell
On January 5th, 2011 Seminary student says:

Good question ,Elaine . I don't know if I know the answer to that but i would thik that according to Paul in Romans God reveals himself through nature , Not everybody has access to the bible , I believe there are good people who never accepted Jesus but were good to others .That goes both ways as you know there are some Christians who know everything about the bible but they hate other people , So I believe it is all about how we treat one another . When Jesus asks his people about what they did for him , he ask them if they feed the hungry , viist the prisoners etc , it is interesting that they say : Mathew 25 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

It is interesting that these people were not even thinking they were doing something for Jesus , they did not propably knew Jesus ,but Jesus knew them .That is what I think we are missing , in the relational part .



Re: Disconcerting Thoughts About Hell
On January 5th, 2011 Elaine Nelson says:

SS, I completely agree. When was the last time you heard a sermon on the requirements for eternal life Jesus listed in Matt. 25?



Re: Disconcerting Thoughts About Hell
On January 5th, 2011 RonCorson says:

SS asks:

--

what are your thoughts on the " wrath of God " according to Paul in Romans ? I think that according to the bible , In Malachi we can see that it is not going to be a "walk in the park " for those who are lost " .

--

I think in the the quote in Romans it says that the wrath of God is already on those who reject Him and that that wrath is; He lets them alone to the natural consequences of their actions. After all everyone dies as it is it does not take God to kill them that is the natural result, we see it all around us. The gift of eternal life however is an act of God. Those who get their doctrines from the Old testament tend to have a very primitive view of God Because they do not understand God very well. They not having had the opportunity to see the actual incarnation of God in Jesus Christ. And of course even in the New Testament we see the old ideas as we see around us today many people have a hard time of letting go of their traditional understandings of things.

SS writes:

--

My thoughts are : A God of love who hates sin and loves the sinner but as sinners want to cling to their sins they are destroy .

--

I realize you are still in the Seminary and as such new to thinking for yourself and are probably fed a lot of trite nonsense. But there is no sin apart from a sinner Sin is a direct cause of the individual that preforms or fails to perform an action. There is absolutely no reason to hate an abstract and non existent entity known as sin. Sin is not something that can be moved around from here to there or from then to now or to the future. Sin cannot be separate from the individual involved in the sin. You can't give me your sins and I can't give you my sins and sins will not be placed on Satan (completely unbibical) and sins were not placed on Christ. I know you will rebel against that because you have not be taught to think critically yet but try this experiment, define sin and then explain how sin is moved about in time and space.

SS continues

--

( that is the picture i get from Ellen White ) and I believe that is the same biblical picture of God . So what do you think ? Ron , I see that you always see what you want to see in Ellen White , the bible etc . as the late Paul Harvey , used to say " the rest of the story " .

--

So in this discussion you believe that God loves the sinner and hates the sin so God must inflict misery upon the sinner before He kills the sinner because God hates sin so much? I will grant that that is the picture one gets from EGW, sadly and even more sadly those who perpetuate such things to their students. I do think if that is the picture you get from the Bible you are not reading the work in its entirety very well though I acknowledge that it is certainly possible to misunderstand what the Bible says because of the confused nature of the writers of the Bible. So I don't ever tell someone who believes in an eternal burning torment of people in hell that such an idea is not found in the Bible because it clearly is. The question however is what do we do with the material in the Bible, how do we interpret it and how do we make it fit with the idea of love and forgiveness. When we make the Bible say things that we could not allow as honorable for any man to become honorable to God we have created a philosophy of religion that is very harmful for God and for ourselves.

SS continues:

--

read whatever the writer had to say and don't jump into conclusions with one statement and ignore the rest . Ron , Something else , you seem to have a bad temper when people don't agree with you and you call them ignorants . I hope we can have a civil dialog .

we can learn from those we disagree if we listen to them ,

--

You mean I have jumped to conclusions about what Ellen White said because I quoted her? Oh dear my bad. How much better to not quote her and simply say that whatever I believe I get from the Bible and EGW and offer no evidence. Is that really the way they teach students to reason in the seminary?

Now I don't recall calling anyone "ignorants" maybe you can point out the instance to which you refer. I do find many people willingly ignore information but that is hardly calling them names such as you imply above and then making judgments upon my temperament, again based upon no evidence cited. But I will say that if one wants a civil dialog they themselves must act civilly and then they must act reasonably, so the question is are you capable of such civility?




Re: Disconcerting Thoughts About Hell
On January 5th, 2011 Hansen says:

The real issue here is the nature of man. Does he have an eternal spirit of not? If not, the idea of eternal torment can't get off the ground.There may be some people who imagine that God exercises Divine preogatives to keep people alive in hell so they can be tormented. Others believe that God creates some people for the purpose of destroying them in hell and tormenting them forever. Views along those lines create a very disconcerting image in my mind regarding the type of God some of us serve.

Adventism takes its key text on the nature of man from Genesis 2:7:

The Lord formed man from the dust of the earth, breathed into him the breath of life, and man became a living soul.

Body + spirit = soul. Take the spirit from the body and there is no soul, poof, man ceases to exist.

The real issue lies within that traditional formula




Re: Disconcerting Thoughts About Hell
On January 5th, 2011 Elaine Nelson says:

Not only is the nature of man not established, neither is sin. Exactly what and how is sin described?

Like Ron's questions, not until sin is better described can we begin to understand the relationship between man and sin. The old, tired cliche of "love the sin but hate the sinner" is contrary to the position that we are born in sin, even conceived in sin. If it is in our very nature, how can sin be eliminated without eliminating man?




Re: Disconcerting Thoughts About Hell
On January 6th, 2011 David C. Read says:

Hansen is right that the Adventist "formula" on the nature of man is found in Genesis 2:7, and that this dictates the Adventist position on eternal torment. The dust of the ground + the spark of life = a living soul.

That's another reason why Adventists like me are so militantly opposed to tossing out the first eleven chapters of Genesis. If we take away the biblical description of a soul (and the biblical negation of the pagan concept of the immortality of the soul) we'll have no foundation for our doctrine of death as soul sleep, the resurrection of the dead at the second coming, and the annihilation of the wicked.

The bottom line is that if the soul must live forever, then an unsaved soul must be tormented forever, one way or another.




Re: Disconcerting Thoughts About Hell
On January 6th, 2011 Eugene Shubert says:

James Coffin,

I hope you realize that what you are teaching is nothing new. Your doctrine is logically indistinguishable from the alpha of John Harvey Kellogg and you have tragically arrived at Kellogg's New Age conclusion: "The idea that God inflicts pain, or that pain is in any sense an arbitrary or retributive punishment, is a notion altogether foreign to a proper conception of God." The Living Temple, p. 441.




Re: Disconcerting Thoughts About Hell
On January 7th, 2011 Preston says:

Elaine,

Biblically, "sin is the transgression of the law" (1 John 3:4). The law was summarized by Christ as two things: 1) loving God with all your heart, and 2) loving your neighbor as yourself.

The cliche is, I believe, "hate the sin, love the sinner." Frankly, I don't believe any of us are capable of consistently executing this. Being born in sin, and shaped in iniquity, we do well to simply love God, accept His forgiveness of our sins and sinfulness, and to love our fellow man. I believe that our sinful ways, even if minimized, are not eliminated in our persons. It is our nature. Thus the need for a Savior, who has paid for our sins, through His death. If we accept this gift, Christ's death is the payment for our sins. To your question, that is exactly how sin is eliminated without the (eternal) death of the sinner.

As stated before, I am certain that none of us really understands hell (which is, again, cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:14). Hell and the fire are, apparently, different things. For me, the question of eternal punishment focuses only on the devil, the beast, and the false prophet. There is a biblical basis for believing that possibility (Revelation 19: 20 and Revelation 20: 9,10). If that interpretation is, indeed, literal, the "fairness" of that punishment is an interesting question.




Re: Disconcerting Thoughts About Hell
On January 7th, 2011 Stephen Foster says:

My take on the “hell” doctrine is that if it were not for it, there would be no Christians. It is somewhat analogous to teaching/informing your children that there are, and will be, corporal consequences to willful disobedience; even though your strong preference is that there will never be an occasion to ever administer it.

Obedience starts with fear. As we mature and come to understand that the source of the consequences cares about us and knows more than we do, fear becomes respect. As the maturation process continues further, and we realize that we love and owe a debt of gratitude to the executor of the potential consequences, obedience results out of…love and gratitude.

If there were no initial fear of (ultimate) consequences, the obedience which always directly results in our good would never commence in the first place.

Nevertheless the fact of the matter is that no one will be in heaven because he/she actually deserves to be there.

Stephen Foster
Adventist Today blogger




Re: Disconcerting Thoughts About Hell
On January 7th, 2011 Elaine Nelson says:

"My take on the “hell” doctrine is that if it were not for it, there would be no Christians."

What a terrible charge that hell made Christians!

Sorry, Christians formed at Pentecost and hundreds were won in the first century. I don't recall the apostles preaching about hell at all, but faith and hope in the resurrection was there theme, constantly preached.

It is true that for most of Christian history, hell has been the fear causing many to try to walk the "straight and narrow" but wasn't effective then as Christians pursued their fellows and punished them, all with the fear of hell. This is plain history of the Christian church. The Jews were first influenced by Zoroaster during the Persian Exile. This is shown by the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. Prior to that Jews had no eternal life of any kind or the herafter. All the gospels were written much later than Paul and the fomer did believe in a hell. In the book of Revelation it is given great prominence and later in the 12th century, Dante gave Hell a prominent part which affected everyone then as eternal torment--not in fire--but ice. "Hell is and always has been what people fear most in life" Many people live in hell here on earth, so why should they be resurrected for a second hell?

If only the fear of hell made Christians, is it a fear rather than love for God?




Re: Disconcerting Thoughts About Hell
On January 7th, 2011 Preston says:

There is a verse that says, "The fear of the Lord is the BEGINNING of wisdom." Even if fear is interpreted as "respect," the point holds. Fear certainly will not sustain your relationship with God, but it certainly does help to focus your attention at the stark alternatives of life -- just as a good spanking might. As Stephen says, it is a progressive process.

Why would God take the time to describe the negative alternative, if fear wasn't part of the equation?




Re: Disconcerting Thoughts About Hell
On January 7th, 2011 Elaine Nelson says:

As a parent and grandparent, I have found that the best antidote to misbehavior in children is to teach them respect rather than physical punishment. Gradually, they learn that they want to please their parents, rather than having fear. That is why respect for God, taking his name as a Christian, is far more important than beginning with fear. Even as kids get older, the deprivation of liberties or something they consider important is also farar more effective.

A study has shown that there are no prisoner incarcertated who were NO corporally punished! Something to think about. Spanking indicates that the parent is bereft of proper training procedures and defaults to that only form for punishment.




Re: Disconcerting Thoughts About Hell
On January 7th, 2011 laffal says:

Elaine,

What are we to do with the following verses?

Whoever refuses to spank his son hates him, but whoever loves his son disciplines him from early on. (Proverbs 13:24 GW)

Foolishness is firmly attached to a child's heart. Spanking will remove it far from him.
(Proverbs 22:15 GW)

Do not hesitate to discipline a child. If you spank him, he will not die. Spank him yourself, and you will save his soul from hell. (Proverbs 23:13-14 GW)

A spanking and a warning produce wisdom, but an undisciplined child disgraces his mother. (Proverbs 29:15 GW)

This is not to say that there is not to be instruction thru reasoning with the child, but the Bible also says:

You have forgotten the encouraging words that God speaks to you as his children: "My child, pay attention when the Lord disciplines you. Don't give up when he corrects you. The Lord disciplines everyone he loves. He severely disciplines everyone he accepts as his child." Endure your discipline. God corrects you as a father corrects his children. All children are disciplined by their fathers. If you aren't disciplined like the other children, you aren't part of the family. On earth we have fathers who disciplined us, and we respect them. Shouldn't we place ourselves under the authority of God, the father of spirits, so that we will live? For a short time our fathers disciplined us as they thought best. Yet, God disciplines us for our own good so that we can become holy like him. We don't enjoy being disciplined. It always seems to cause more pain than joy. But later on, those who learn from that discipline have peace that comes from doing what is right. (Hebrews 12:5-11 GW)

You can go back and read how what happened because of how prominent fathers in Israel refused to rebuke, muchless use the rod of correction: Eli with his sons, Hophni & Phineas, Samuels and his sons, David and his sons. God knows what we need in terms of discipline to get us on the right track and keep us there. The threat of hell is not it. But His love for sinners, who by nature will march right into the lake of fire, has supplied an other option thru His Son.

It's quite simple. Why do we teach children not to play in the street? They can get hit by a car and be hurt, if not killed. Some children are more insistent then others, therefore verbal instruction much have a progressive assistant to get the point of danger across in the mind of the child. But as you know with your lifetime of experience, some children will just keep running into the street.

When a sentence against a crime isn't carried out quickly, people are encouraged to commit crimes. A sinner may commit a hundred crimes and yet live a long life. Still, I know with certainty that it will go well for those who fear God, because they fear him. But it will not go well for the wicked. They will not live any longer. Their lives are like shadows, because they don't fear God. (Ecclesiastes 8:11-13 GW)



Re: Disconcerting Thoughts About Hell
On January 7th, 2011 Bill Garber says:

Preston,

Check out John 3:16,17 for the straight from the mouth of Jesus statement about God's love for the world, as inclusive as love can possibly be, and as remembered by John some 20 or so years after the words were spoken.

Perhaps the other items you are quoting were somehow the result of truth being lost in translation due to the experience, fears, and inadequate understanding of the inspiration the biblical authors you are quoting were experiencing.

It is amazing how memorably I have heard Christian teachers claim that the word 'fear' is realy the word 'love' ... I'm not kidding. Then again, perhaps they were inspired, too.

In the end, hermeneutics rule, not scripture ... even if one believes in the bible and the bible only, that is not something from the bible, but something imposed on the bible by reason of the believer's hermeneutic.

This is not to suggest the bible is not inspired, it is that the inspiration continues in the reader as the scripture is read, and that inspiration operates within the limitations of the reader as surely as the writer.

Since we inescapably make of the bible what we will, recognizing this is perhaps is the first step to truly meaningful understanding of spiritual truth as one reads the bible. And as such, we come to concede the inevitable differences among us individually, and accept one another in our uniqueness.

The harmony in scripture may not be commone belief, but common acceptance of unique individual belief. And from this arises a companionship, a love if you will, that amazes those who come into its influence.




Re: Disconcerting Thoughts About Hell
On January 7th, 2011 Hansen says:

Drifting off topic, which is one good reason nothing is ever resolved. It does illustrate how Biblically illiterate we are. People of the Book? If the book is used as a prop, then yes.

The "fear of the Lord" is clearly defined in Scripture:

Ps. 34: 11 come, you children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD.
12 who is the man who desires life and loves length of days that he may see good?
13 keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit.
14 depart from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.

Proverbs 8:13 "the fear of the LORD is to hate evil; pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverted mouth, I hate.

Fear of the Lord, in Scripture, is an expression somewhat akin to "salt of the earth" or "run of the mill"in the sense that we are not really talking about salt or running. "Fear" as we understand fear, as in fear of snakes or fear of a lecherous clergyman, is not an issue in the expression "Fear of the Lord." The "fear of the Lord is a formula which is clearly explained by the two passages above.




Re: Disconcerting Thoughts About Hell
On January 7th, 2011 Ella M says:

Ella M

Seminary student: Good answer. This is how I understand it. I also think people make choices every day for and against God. It is a slow process until one's choices finally lead them to totally reject God (the good they know) or on the other hand to a complete surrender to the good they know. Every one who has ever lived has made choices for and against on some level. I don't see it as something just for the endtime.



Re: Disconcerting Thoughts About Hell
On January 7th, 2011 Ella M says:

Ella M

Ron Corson:

You say:

But there is no sin apart from a sinner Sin is a direct cause of the individual that preforms or fails to perform an action. There is absolutely no reason to hate an abstract and non existent entity known as sin. Sin is not something that can be moved around from here to there or from then to now or to the future. Sin cannot be separate from the individual involved in the sin. You can't give me your sins and I can't give you my sins and sins will not be placed on Satan (completely unbibical) and sins were not placed on Christ. I know you will rebel against that because you have not be taught to think critically yet but try this experiment, define sin and then explain how sin is moved about in time and space.

First of all, have you been in seminary to make such judgements? You addressed this to SS.

Your critique of hating sin and loving the sinner may sound elevated and philosophical, but does not make common sense in the way the phrase was meant to be interpreted. On the personal level you can hate what your child or wife or spouse does, but you still love them. That is very plain to me in a family or any close relationship. Certianly you have such relationships. In agape love this can become a reality in our understanding of other people.

When you claim the sinner can't be separated from the sin, you set people up for hatred and rejection of those they feel are sinners. In fact, we must separate them.

Placing sins on Satan comes from the OT sanctuary service where they sins are placed on the scape goat. I believe the sanctuary service is a drama of the whole salvation story, and I came to this conclusion myself, and not because someone told me to. It just makes sense that the source of the problem should in all fairness at some time be held responsible for what he has done. The "placing" is symbolic as it always was in the OT. Also we can only view these things through our limited human existence (dimension) and not in God's reality. That's why it is a mystery/mystical.

I also believe that interpretations must be made with prayer for the Holy Spirit to guide and with common sense.

Elaine:

As for White, I believe her to be an inspired messager for her times as many have been down through the ages (even those unknown to us), and there can be more in the future. She helped establish a movement that has been a blessing to millions. Most of all I know she was real because of her compassion for others and that she did not want celebrity status for herself nor riches. That does not mean that everything she uttered was worthy of biblical status or we have a pope. It is the overall growth in the life that counts--that one is capable of changing their mind, and she was. She also believed that "every flash of intellect came from God" so when she states she "was shown" I think that is what she meant most of the time.

When we are too busy counting the trees, we forget the forest.




Re: Disconcerting Thoughts About Hell
On January 7th, 2011 Ella M says:

Ella M

Bill Garber--You said:

In the end, hermeneutics rule, not scripture ... even if one believes in the bible and the bible only, that is not something from the bible, but something imposed on the bible by reason of the believer's hermeneutic.

This is not to suggest the bible is not inspired, it is that the inspiration continues in the reader as the scripture is read, and that inspiration operates within the limitations of the reader as surely as the writer.

I like what you have written and agree with your whole post.




Re: Disconcerting Thoughts About Hell
On January 7th, 2011 Stephen Foster says:

Elaine,

Love and respect are the reasons that a mature individual (of any age) honors—through obedience—a parent, a grandparent, or God.

If (you think that) your children and grandchildren respect you without having first, at some point, feared you, then you truly have genius level children and grandchildren—the likes of which I, for one, have never met.

I honor, respect, and love my parents and would not want to disappoint or hurt them in any way. This is how we are to feel and think about obedience to God; but much more so. Personally, I had to first fear my parents, then I learned to respect them, then I grew to love and admire them to the point at which I want to please them. So it should be with our relationship to God; at which point “hell” ceases to become an issue.

The point is without “hell” being factored into the equation at some (early) point, we would never have progressed to the point at which it ceases to become an issue.

Stephen Foster
Adventist Today blogger




Re: Disconcerting Thoughts About Hell
On January 8th, 2011 Preston says:

Elaine,

Not to drift too far into theories of parental discipline, but the point of spanking (not abuse, but premeditated corporal punishment) is to establish the reality of the threat, so as not to have to use it often (if at all).

I believe the same is true with our relationship with God. None of us were created to be destroyed. But, again, can you explain why God described the punishment of the fire, if not for the purpose of focusing the mind of the proud and stubborn (like me) on the stark consequences of rejecting the gift of eternal life? Love, appreciation of, and willing obedience to God is the endpoint. But, like our relationship with our parents, the starting point may be boundaries enforced by consequences.




Re: Disconcerting Thoughts About Hell
On January 8th, 2011 Preston says:

Bill,

This is a somewhat confusing avoidance of the issue and the questions I posed. The blessed fact of John 3:16, 17 does not discount the consequences specified in Revelation 19: 20 and Revelation 20: 9,10. For some (completely understandable, but obvious) reason, we seem to avoid the notion that the Bible specifies (what seems to me to be) eternal torment for the devil, the false prophet, and the beast, and a consuming fire for unsaved humans. If I were trying to re-write these verses more clearly in contemporary English, I could not.

Some resort to questionable and unlikely Greek interpretations, others leap to obviously debatable and amorphous hermeneutics, or diversions to the indisputable fact of God's love, all to avoid discussing the fact that consequences have been outlined in clear terms. Don't ignore the obvious: the Bible might actually mean what it says.

As hell itself is cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:14), the disconcerting thoughts about hell seem to cause us to passively admit what we can't say about hell: "I don't know."



Re: Disconcerting Thoughts About Hell
On January 8th, 2011 hlfnlsn says:

After reading through this article, and many of the subsequent responses, I have yet to see anyone speak to the reality of what is going on at the final judgement. Many here have mentioned that in our society today, civilized ones, view torture as abhorrent and will not stand for it, and I agree. However, we as currently mortal beings, cannot look at a final judgement through the lenses of the societies we have constructed. You see the ultimate penalty for every lost soul is eternal death. It isn't as though some will only die for a little while and others will stay dead longer, every lost soul will be as though they had never been. In our justice system today, we acknowledge that some crimes call for harsher punishment than others. A person who stole an ipod should not have to suffer the same as someone who sold drugs to kids for 15 years. Now, if the punishment for both crimes required death, how would justice be administered fairly if they both received the exact same, quick and painless death? Justice would not have been served. The guy who never really hurt anyone, but was unrepentant about taking what was not his, would have received the same punishment as the guy who caused untold pain and misery on countless families. The unrepentant drug dealer would be laughing all the way to his death, because he did all he ever wanted and had all this wealth and caused untold misery for others and here he is getting the same quick death as the guy who just stole an iPod. We are wise to look at torture on this earth as we do, for we are incapable of seeing into a person soul and it is not our place as fallen sinners to inflict anything like that on another. However, God, as the final Judge and One who can see the very thoughts and soul of every man, has the prerogative, to deal accordingly with each individual as He sees just and fair. The torment of hellfire lasting longer for some versus others, can very simply be for the sake of justice. In the end no human being will suffer beyond what they deserve, but for those that deserve much suffering, much suffering they will receive. Christ gave everyone the choice to avoid the death they deserve by dying on the cross. those who choose to reject that will suffer what they deserve, not because God is barbaric, and just wants to watch people burn, but because justice demands their suffering. God has to be just, in order for every knee to bow and every tongue to proclaim that he is just. If Hitler was consumed with the same speed and swiftness as a person who was good by societies standards, but just didn't want anything to do with God, would that be just? I think not. If a criminal choose to brutally rape and kill women his whole life and was never caught and never repented, is God horrible or barbaric for resurrecting him and then subjecting him to the same pain and suffering he inflicted on his victims? He chose his life of crime and he chose to inflict that pain on others. When the saved are standing witness to the destruction of the wicked, it isn't like they will be there like the crowd at the colosseum, cheering and clapping. It will be more like those that are present at an execution. They are there to stand as a witness to justice being served. To be able to attest to the fact that all were treated in accordance with their crime, and were dealt with fairly.



Re: Disconcerting Thoughts About Hell
On January 8th, 2011 aklym says:

Art

If Hitler had repented immediately before his death, isn't it Christian dogma that he would thereby escape any punishment? Wouldn't he be rewarded with eternal life in heaven? Is that justice?

The Christian doctrine of hell and salvation is a warped view of justice that Christians advocate only in the abstract. If it was truly just, wouldn't we exercise some form of it in our courts? Christians lead the way in advocating for capital punishment in this country. Repentance be damned. (Or should I say, "Repentance? Be damned.")




Re: Disconcerting Thoughts About Hell
On January 8th, 2011 RonCorson says:

Ella Wrote:

--

First of all, have you been in seminary to make such judgements? You addressed this to SS.

--

No I don't have to go to a seminary to see if someone does not think critically I derive that from what they say. As I can tell by your statement you are not thinking critically either. You say in the Old Testament placing the sins on Satan is taken from the sancturary service. That is completely wrong. The Jews had no doctrine of Satan at the time of the origin of the Sancturary service. Satan is a much later development and it would be obsurd to think that the saviour of the day of atonement was satan. But that is what you have tried to make it because you follow Ellen Whites strange ideas about Satan and sin being placed upon him, even though you did not explain how or what good such a thing would do. see http://newprotestants.com/SCAPE1.htm

Ella continues

--

Your critique of hating sin and loving the sinner may sound elevated and philosophical, but does not make common sense in the way the phrase was meant to be interpreted. On the personal level you can hate what your child or wife or spouse does, but you still love them. That is very plain to me in a family or any close relationship. Certianly you have such relationships. In agape love this can become a reality in our understanding of other people.

When you claim the sinner can't be separated from the sin, you set people up for hatred and rejection of those they feel are sinners. In fact, we must separate them.

--

Of course you can love the person and still hate what they do to you. That happens to abused spouses all the time. The one doing the abuse however is still the spouse and not some inanimate sin. This is why the Bible talks about forgiveness. It is not about forgiving the inanimate sin it is about forgiving the one who wrongs you. So you cannot seperate sin from the sinner, relationships are about dealing with people with their good things and their bad things. If you hate someone because they have wronged you then you deny the instructions Christ gave about forgiving people. It amazes me to see someone try to defend that, after all what do you think sinner means? One who commits sin.

Ella Continues

--

Placing sins on Satan comes from the OT sanctuary service where they sins are placed on the scape goat. I believe the sanctuary service is a drama of the whole salvation story, and I came to this conclusion myself, and not because someone told me to. It just makes sense that the source of the problem should in all fairness at some time be held responsible for what he has done. The "placing" is symbolic as it always was in the OT. Also we can only view these things through our limited human existence (dimension) and not in God's reality. That's why it is a mystery/mystical.

--

I do honestly doubt that you came to the above yourself, it could not be found in the texts and it is not found in the New Testament and it is not found in Jewish history it simply is a contrivance that you really mainly find in Adventism. The placing of the sins of the camp was indeed symbolic but they were symbolic of removal out and away from the camp. The goat was not killed or punished it simply was an symbolic representation of removal of guilt.




Re: Disconcerting Thoughts About Hell
On January 8th, 2011 RonCorson says:

Here is a little tidbit for you people who like the phrase love the sinner but hate the sin from snopes.com

--

It's actually from St. Augustine. His letter 211 (c. 424) contains the phrase Cum dilectione hominum et odio vitiorum, which translates roughly as "With love for mankind and hatred of sins."

The phrase has become more famous expressed as "Love the sinner but hate the sin" or "Hate the sin and not the sinner" (the latter form appearing in Mohandas Gandhi's 1929 autobiography).

- snopes

Which is indeed interesting when one learns what Gandhi really thought Christianity was, that now Christians use his statement as if it was their own.




Re: Disconcerting Thoughts About Hell
On January 8th, 2011 hlfnlsn says:

aklym said:

"If Hitler had repented immediately before his death, isn't it Christian dogma that he would thereby escape any punishment? Wouldn't he be rewarded with eternal life in heaven? Is that justice?

The Christian doctrine of hell and salvation is a warped view of justice that Christians advocate only in the abstract. If it was truly just, wouldn't we exercise some form of it in our courts? Christians lead the way in advocating for capital punishment in this country. Repentance be damned. (Or should I say, "Repentance? Be damned.")"

Yes, if Hitler's repentance was sincere, then he would have fallen under the umbrella of the grace/mercy of Calvary. Like I said earlier those standing inside of New Jerusalem's walls, will be just as deserving of what happens to those standing outside of New Jerusalem's walls, but they were all given a choice. Christ pleads with all, to accept the mercy and grace of Calvary, and spare yourself the judgement that will befall those who reject that mercy. Outside the walls awaits justice, inside the walls mercy abounds, it is our choice what side we will be on.

As to our courts, we do in fact exercise a form of here, when it comes to sentencing for a convict who shows remorse versus one who doesn't. A criminal who feels truly sorry for what he did and shows a true change of heart through his behavior in prison, is given a shorter sentence or let out early. As for fully administering, the justice of the final judgement, in our earthly courts; well, that is impossible because it is not us who has the authority to administer the justice of the Final Judgement. As I mentioned earlier, the is the prerogative of God alone, and He alone has that authority.




Re: Disconcerting Thoughts About Hell
On January 8th, 2011 RonCorson says:

I am content to be ignored by those who can't offer reasonable arguments. Just don't pretend that your understanding means you accept the Bible as the word of God. You don't or you would be out killing sabbath breakers and have to believe in eternal torment. No I don't believe the Bible is the word of God being it is written by people with their imperfect knowledge, I am just honest enough to admit it rather than to pretend the way SS does.(By the way the Bible or any of its component books ever claims to be the word of God just to be clear, that is tradition)

I don't know what SDATS means but I do know that if the only thing you have learned from this blog and the comments is restricted to not listening to me then you are in a worse condition then I had suspected. When people won't or can't argue their own position it is usually because they don't have the facts or the logic needed and all to often that is the postion we find the traditional Adventists espousing. That is the real tragedy for our church.




Re: Disconcerting Thoughts About Hell
On January 8th, 2011 Ella M says:

Ella M

Corson: Some theologians have come to the conclusion that Satan was a later development of the OT and, therefore, much of what we read in the OT as being done by God was in fact from the adversary. I tend to agree with that in studying the OT but then wonder about the book of Job that some say was one of the first written.

You may be talking about some philosophical idea of sin, but I am trying to be practical, as I think that is how the term love the sinner and hate his sin is used. I don't think we are concerned with some "elevated" idea when we use the phrase. It is meant the way you admit to not liking certain behaviors, etc. but caring for the person. Take it as it is said and not try to make something else of it! (And what a distortion to use abused wives as an example--you know that is not what I meant!)

As to the scape goat, there is some evidence that later Jewish scholars used it as meaning Satan. I know I have read that, and it may be in a book I have by a theologian. Actually you or anyone could say what they chose to think it meant and claim it to be true. The OT service has a purpose, and this concept fits it. I feel I am using common sense.

No, I am not the originator of any of my ideas, I have to pick and choose them just like you do. But I come to the conclusions I do, because to me they make sense. They don't have to make sense to you--they are just being shared. I tend to think that we are all "brainwashed" by our education and study to a great degree. The free choice comes when we decide who we will let us brainwash us.

I would take your "critical thinking" more seriously if you ever agreed with a logical idea from someone else. But I think you know what you are doing and you add to the interesting mix on here.




Re: Disconcerting Thoughts About Hell
On January 8th, 2011 Ella M says:

Ella M

On the Hitler Comment, I would say that he had gone beyond repentence and long ago rejected God. I don't find this question/possibility plausible.



Re: Disconcerting Thoughts About Hell
On January 8th, 2011 RonCorson says:

Ella wrote:

--

As to the scape goat, there is some evidence that later Jewish scholars used it as meaning Satan. I know I have read that, and it may be in a book I have by a theologian.

--

The key there is later Jewish scholars. Way later. Christians have that technique of looking at marginal and later Jewish writings and pretending that they are the majority Jewish view and of course they are not. That the sacrificial system would ever include anything representing a power against God is simply not at all likely. Even if one took it to be of Satan the question would be why have it there at all, there is nothing that corresponds to that in the New Testament. Not even in the book of Revelation. So Satan as the scapegoat has very little biblically going for it. It's only authority is found from Ellen White's application with her teaching of sin transferred to Satan at the end of time. Actually when you look at the sacrificial system sin is never transferred either. But reading into the ceremony Adventists have said that sin was transferred from the sacrifice into the Holy Place and then removed by the High Priest cleansing, but that is not found in the ceremony at all.

Ella Wrote:

--

I tend to agree with that in studying the OT but then wonder about the book of Job that some say was one of the first written.

--

Again there is absolutely no indication that Job was the first or one of the first written. It clearly is written in the style of the wisdom literature which is considerably later. In that book satan is not used as a personal name but in the generic accuser and the accuser of Job is not seen as an enemy of God but one of God's servants doing God's bidding. That some say Job is the oldest is because they are under the mistaken assumption that the books of the Old Testament were written by eyewitnesses of the events and written in close relation to the time period of the settings. That of course is not true but has such a powerful pull on people that even those who think Moses wrote the first 5 books tend to think that Genesis was written first and that events covered did not include ideas found in subsequent books.




Re: Disconcerting Thoughts About Hell
On January 8th, 2011 Elaine Nelson says:

"Some say" is a very poor answer for failing to read about how the Bible was written, when, and by whom.

Faulty conclusions come from relying on others, some of who neither know nor can answer. The best course is to study for yourself and not believe everything so-called experts have said.

BTW, nowhwere in the book of Job is he called a Jew.




Re: Disconcerting Thoughts About Hell
On January 9th, 2011 Preston says:

Dear hlfnlsn,

If you read this strand carefully, you will see that I have been trying, ad nauseam, to focus the conversation on the explicit, chronological biblical language of the final judgment.

I agree that this conversation has focused around our own, limited (and, very likely) flawed perceptions of justice. Our perceptions of justice are largely based on variant aspects of the U.S. legal system, overlayed with our personal spin of spiritual justice, and factored by limited information (i.e. less than 100 years on the planet and all that goes with it -- including being confined to the planet and atrophy).

Still, we are free (and, it is fun) to speculate on the nature of the final judgment. But at some point, those of us who believe (or, at least, wonder) have to weigh what the Bible says as a possibility. Even in an intellectual conversation, the obvious must, at some point, be addressed -- particularly before it is dismissed.




Re: Disconcerting Thoughts About Hell
On January 9th, 2011 aklym says:

Art

Ella dismisses the idea of Hitler repenting as not plausible and dismisses the question. That is an interesting dodge. Let's deal with an evil person from just a few years ago. Ted Bundy was a brutal serial murderer. He claimed to have repented and to have found Jesus while on death row. Is it fair that he be rewarded with eternal life while an atheist who treated people with respect and love goes to hell? I suggest that to view such an outcome as justice is warped.




Re: Disconcerting Thoughts About Hell
On January 9th, 2011 Preston says:

As a practical matter, since none of us is the judge (and have no ability to determine who the judge is), wouldn't it be more useful to speculate on what the judge thinks rather than what we think of the judge?


Re: Disconcerting Thoughts About Hell
On January 9th, 2011 Bill Garber says:

Perhaps it is not unexpected that judgment will join this thread as the general topic is hell.

Reading speculation about who may or may not qualify for salvation here tends to be along the lines of who might get through the judgment, so to speak ... especially Hitler, Ted Bundy, atheists, and so on.

Now, in the 50 locations where the NT speaks of being saved, the word judgment appears only three times, conveniently in one three-use sequence of saved: I Peter 4:17, 2 Peter 2:4, and Jude 1:6

The word repentance never appears with the word saved.

Nor does the word forgiveness appear with the word saved.

It is as though the NT authors do not associate salvation with a kind of process that is the result of judgment, or for that matter such concepts as repentance or forgiveness.

Is it possible that judgment is associated with something other than the process of salvation? It seems so.

Paul in 2 Corinthians 2:8-9 declares "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast."

Clearly the salvation Paul speaks of is apart from judgment, as he seems to make quite clear that there is noting we do in order to be saved, and by inference nothing to be judged.
That said, judgment is clearly a solid biblical theme. And it is equally apparent that the bible claims every person will be judged.

Now if judgment is not a factor in salvation but is inescapable for every person who is saved, what role does the judgment have for the saved, as opposed to salvation?

Without question we are entering the realm of speculation at this point, though it is a realm many posters here seem comfortable with. With that in mind, a closer look at judgment may offer some clues.

Judgment is described as public and utterly inclusive of every human's every behavior. That said, Paul declares that our behavior is not related to our salvation.

So why a judgment?

Perhaps the role of judgment is to guarantee that every person saved will have zero doubts that they are saved by grace alone. That will be the result, it seems.

There are some advantages, if speculative, to this result.

First, God will not have to depend on people, angels, or any creatures in the universe to trust Him blindly about why he saved anyone. The judgment proves no one who is saved is worthy of salvation, and therefore everyone who is saved is saved by God's grace. This clarifies God's character if you will.

Second, the saved will forever be preempted from conspiracy to mount a rebelion with the claim that the God of the universe is unfair, unjust, unloving, or undeserving. Since there will be no one knowing of anyone deserving to be present, since there is no one deserving to be present, there will be no one who can tempt anyone to join such a rebelion.

In essence, the judgment establishes God's graciousness as utterly transparent and God as completely dependable in that graciousness ... and for those still concerned about sin, judgment once and for all eradicates sin from the universe going forward, without the need for ... hell ... or coersion ...or brut force ... all of which is quite incompatable with a God of grace.

Then ... clearly if this speculation is to be supported, a far more substantive conundrum arises; namely, why did God allow sin in the first place? This is a far more challenging issue than judgment or hell, or so it seems.




Re: Disconcerting Thoughts About Hell
On January 10th, 2011 Stephen Foster says:

While “the word repentance never appears with the word saved,” the word sin certainly appears with the word death.

Since—scripturally speaking—“all have sinned…,” and “there is none righteous, no, not one,” no one is deserving of escape or deliverance from the penalty (or wages) of sin that we know to be available to all according to (and via) John 3:16, 17.

Stephen Foster
Adventist Today blogger




Re: Disconcerting Thoughts About Hell
On January 14th, 2011 Ella M says:

Ella M

Elaine: I use the term "some say" because that is easier than listing names. Actually I heard this the first time in Graham Maxwell's class at LLU. He seemed to think Job was the oldest book written. I think he knew a lot more than I did or thought!

He also said Job wasn't Jewish, but I don't think that matters. Why would it?




Re: Disconcerting Thoughts About Hell
On January 14th, 2011 Ella M says:

Ella M

Corson: Concerning the scapegoat, you could be right. I haven't studied this outside the church interpretation which seems to makes sense. It's not really one of my priorities for study at this time. Apparently this is what the pioneers came up with and White agreed.

As for Job as the oldest, I am taking this from Graham Maxwell's Bible class some years ago.




Re: Disconcerting Thoughts About Hell
On January 14th, 2011 RonCorson says:

Maxwell was wrong on a lot of stuff, mainly because he followed the teachings of Ellen White. You can see some examples in my article at

http://newprotestants.com/Grahamaxwell.htm



Re: Disconcerting Thoughts About Hell
On January 14th, 2011 Seminary student says:

Maxwelll had a Phd from the University in chicago , Ron on the other hand has a phd from the university of " hallucinations" . And he says Maxwell was wrong and he is right . That is so funny.



Re: Disconcerting Thoughts About Hell
On January 14th, 2011 Elaine Nelson says:

If you are impressed by degrees, Des Ford had several and was one of the brightest lights in years. If you judge someone's ideology by degrees obtained, why are you able to have them? Do you have a PhD?

BTW, how many degrees did Ellen White have? Hmm, it seems that they don't really matter is you accept their ideology.




Re: Disconcerting Thoughts About Hell
On January 14th, 2011 laffal says:

Ella,

The concept of the scapegoat is as simple as the usage of the term in our common venacular. It is a term relating stictly to responsibility and blame. When the question is asked, who is to blame for all of the misery that the human family has suffered with from time immemorial, the scapegoat is the answer. The other churches take the position that our doctrinal position on the scapegoat being Satan, makes Satan our sin bearer. To which they theologically, and rightly so, disagree. Christ alone is our sin bearer. But in the light of who is actually responsible for all of the suffering and misery, Satan will ultimately be seen as the one who started, implemented, maintained, and sustained the process known in the Bible as sin, and is responsible for all of the results thereof. The scapedgoat does not bear our sins, he is responsible for them. Hence Revelation 20:1. Satan is given the time to think over the results of his rebellion against God and man.

The saved will live by faith in Christ who is their sin bearer. The lost will have to suffer the penalty for themselves. And because Satan is the originator of all that is designated as sin / rebellion, he will be the last to perish as he watches all of those who will suffer with him in the destruction of sin and those who chose to not be delivered from it by the grace of Christ.




Re: Disconcerting Thoughts About Hell
On January 18th, 2011 jwwjr says:

Perhaps some upgraded information about Edward Fudge and his book would be helpful.

Mr. Fudge is an ordained minister and elder in the Churches of Christ. He is a popular speaker in churches of other denominations, including Baptist and Adventist. The complete version of his excellent book, The Fire that Consumes, can be ordered online at www.lltproductions.com or www.edwardfudge.com/written/fire.html. Fudge is revising the book for its third edition, which should be available in June.

Edward Fudge is contributing to a new documentary on Eternal Torment and a companion dramatization of his experience. Both projects are currently in the works at LLT Productions. Feel free to contact me for more information.

Jim Wood
Writer/Assoc. Producer
LLT Productions




William Sandborn
2011-06-25 12:09 AM

I thought all sins were place on Christ at the cross. Why the need to place them on Satan, other than his own.

Bill S

Elaine Nelson
2011-06-25 12:01 PM

Read Rob Bell's book "Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived."


JaNe
2011-07-22 1:31 PM

It makes sense that some would "burn" a little longer than others. It would seem logical, and fair, that someone like Hitler or Bin Laden would suffer slightly more thsn your average Joe who simply rejected God, never hurt anyone, worked everyday and payed his bills and taxes on time. But all who are un repentant and reject God recieve ultimatly the same punishment-eternal DEATH.

Anonymous


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