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Huan Yi
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0 posted 08-14-2005 02:24 PM       View Profile for Huan Yi   Email Huan Yi   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Huan Yi


Did he himself
actually say anything about Hell?
Arnold M
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1 posted 08-21-2005 12:42 AM       View Profile for Arnold M   Email Arnold M   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Arnold M

Hi John: You've put out a baited question.
You're obviously familiar with the KJV, and must have read verses where Jesus uses the word "hell".
So, if you use a concordance you will find that "hell" is an interpretation for "hades"
(four places), and "geenna" (eleven places).

Jesus never spoke of a place of burning fire where so called "immortal souls" of the lost are now, and in the future, will be consciously tormented for eternity.

God bless.  Bick
Huan Yi
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2 posted 08-21-2005 12:53 AM       View Profile for Huan Yi   Email Huan Yi   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Huan Yi

Arnold,

Thank you, I suspected as much.

My question arose from reading about
the Christian world of the Crusades.  It was a world
that was deeply concerned, if not obsessed,
with the idea of sin and related damnation;
going to Hell and burning for eternity.  And
yet where did this idea come from?  Was it
not from priests looking to use the fear to their
ends?
Ron
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3 posted 08-21-2005 02:09 AM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

quote:
Was it not from priests looking to use the fear to their ends?

You mean like politicians looking to use the fear of war to their own ends? Or the police looking to use the fear of crime to their own ends? Or perhaps doctors looking to use the fear of death and disease to their own ends?

Some do, I'm sure. But I'm equally sure that most priests, politicians, policemen and doctors honestly believe they are helping to protect themselves, their families, and their society from real and present danger. In my experience, people who only want power would never dream of actually sacrificing anything personal for it.
Stephanos
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4 posted 08-21-2005 05:13 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

quote:
My question arose from reading about
the Christian world of the Crusades.  It was a world
that was deeply concerned, if not obsessed,
with the idea of sin and related damnation;
going to Hell and burning for eternity.  And
yet where did this idea come from?  Was it
not from priests looking to use the fear to their
ends?



Fortunately there are New Testament Manuscripts that go back much further than the time of the "Crusades".  And there are many more translations of the Greek than the King James Version to confirm that Jesus warned about Hell ... and not as a mere Garbage dump outside of Jerusalem.  Though the name "gehenna" was indeed a literal place, it had come to symbolize ignominy and perpetual waste for the Jewish people.  Taken in context with other references to the fate of the wicked, by Paul and others, it requires too many scriptural gymnastics for me to believe that Jesus was referring only to a temporal, earthly, fate of the Jews.    


quote:
Arnold, Thank you, I suspected as much.



But surely for different reasons.

I am well aware of Arnold's views about this, and somewhat familar with John's (from previous posts).  So I would like to point out what I think is a significant difference in the natures of their arguments.  Arnold's position is based upon the premise that an all-benevolent and good God, could never allow for Hell.  Though I believe this is mistaken, it is based upon the righteousness of God.  But John's position, I presume, is based more upon the premise that the "whole" of religion is corrupt, that men are too deceitful to hold truth, and that religion has always been nothing more than a tool for someone to use to oppress someone else.  But under his suppositions, the whole thing must be suspect, not just the doctrine of Hell.  He could just as easily say that "heaven" was a contrived doctrine, that some pushed on others to get them to be servile, out of a false promise of celestial reward.  


I just wanted to suggest that your (John's and Arnold's) dissatisfaction with "hell" as a doctrine, stems from entirely different sources.  As strange bed-fellows, one position will hardly help the other.  For Arnold to concede John's points, would be to deny Heaven as well.  For John to concede Arnold's, would be to accept the goodness of God and revelation as a reality, not something born out of political conniving.  


Stephen.
Huan Yi
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5 posted 08-22-2005 12:27 AM       View Profile for Huan Yi   Email Huan Yi   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Huan Yi


Stephen,

I remember reading, (now many decades ago),
that the original, (Hebrew?), concept of “Hell” may have been
simply the grave, oblivion, from which there was
no resurrection.  Perhaps that wasn’t threatening
enough, but it doesn’t deny a “Heaven”.

John
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6 posted 08-22-2005 05:05 PM       View Profile for Midnitesun   Email Midnitesun   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Midnitesun

An aunt of mine told me that HELL was simply the absence of HEAVEN in your future; of course, that clarified everything for a six year old mind she then proceeded to inform me that HELL...was spending life with my Uncle. LOL. I never did expect to learn anything worth spending much time pondering Heaven or Hell after that.
I still can't figure out how anyone can be so sure about what Jesus did or didn't really say, given the nature of the written word and the oral traditions of storytelling which embellish everything. Guess I read all religious scriptural stuff as metaphors that I must pick through on my own. But your discussions always fascinate me!
Essorant
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7 posted 08-24-2005 03:17 AM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

To me it is better to believe God shall practice what he preaches, inspires, and commands.
God preaches, inspires, and commands man away from such cruelties as throwing men into fire, therefore I may not believe he shall turn around and do such cruelty himself to throw men into a fire called hell.  
But God shall practice what he preaches.  And he shall be the highest example of the princple he inspires in men.

Susan Caldwell
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8 posted 08-24-2005 10:39 AM       View Profile for Susan Caldwell   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Susan Caldwell

Kacy?  I love your Aunt!  

"too bad ignorance isn't painful"
~Unknown~

Stephanos
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9 posted 08-25-2005 01:34 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

quote:
To me it is better to believe God shall practice what he preaches, inspires, and commands.

Your premise is correct Essorant ... namely that God's Character has to be at least as noble, as he commands ours to be.  But your conclusion is problematic, I think.  The Bible contains many instances where God commands us not to do something, which he himself must do.  For example, Jesus says in Matthew 7:1 "Judge not, lest you be judged".  But this is a directive given from Heaven to those who dwell on the Earth.  But if God were subject to the same, then how could it say "lest you be Judged"?  Lest we be judged by whom?  God, of course.  


We have to ask is there any difference between the nature of God, and the nature of man, which would justify such a difference in expectations.  Why would God be able to "judge" while we are forbidden to do so?  The answer lies in the omniscience and omni-benevolence of God.  We are imperfect.  We don't see all the varied strands that lead to a person's actions, therefore we are great bunglers when we try to judge as God does.  We also have the tendency to take delight in inflicting punishment on others.  But the Bible says that God only punishes out of pure justice and benevolence.  There is no alloy of petty or disproportionate passion, in the metal of his sword.  


I've said all of that to establish the premise that there is a proper difference of standard (between God and us), based upon the nature and authority of God.   Deity is not the same category as fallen humanity.  But we are assured that this difference reflects not a deficiency of character in God, but a proper office.  Men want to judge, because they want to be what they aren't.  The authorities may drag me off the baseball field (kicking and screaming) because I'm not Chipper Jones, no matter what I say.  And they should rightly take my bat away (I tend to get dangerous when delusional).  But that doesn't mean that Chip doesn't get to bat either!


That brings us to the subject of Hell.  Is consignment to hell by God, the same thing as a vindictive imperfect execution of rage by man?  I don't think it is.  We are given some clues to this, in the Bible ...


Is the wrath of God described in terms of human anger?  Yes.  The reason for this I think, is because the anthopomorphic principle arises out of necessity, because God has to speak to us in terms we can understand.  We too hold the faculty of anger and indignation, albeit imperfectly.  When God expresses his wrath, he wants us to relate it to our own wrath, so that we may understand the reality of it's foundation.  For even though our wrath is tainted with selfish considerations, it is often based upon something true.  This brings me around to the Theomorphic principle ... though fallen, we are made in the image of God.  Our wrath imperfectly reflects his own.  We are never told to not be angry, because it's not only impossible, it's unfitting.  It's apathetic, even less than human, not to be angry about the actions of serial killers and child rapists.  We are rather told, "Be angry and sin not".


Secondly, if a man allows someone else's fate flippantly (kind of like Willie Wonka, who didn't really seem to lift a finger to prevent the demise of his guests, who were unruly brats), we have a basis for complaint.  But when God is said to have taken every pain, in the incarnation, to have prevented our ruin, the same complaint is invalid.  Christ suffered a hell on the cross, that we cannot even imagine.  He had the guilt and rage of the sins of the entire world upon his spirit.  Why else could a son who was perfect cry  "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?", as even the sun refused to shine on him, in his vicarious vileness?  I'm not trying to convince you completely at this time ... but to suggest that Hell cannot be called the torment of an injust tyrant, if that "tyrant" could be shown to have taken all it's pains and torments upon himself to keep us from it.  


Thirdly, in addition to the anthropomorphic descriptions of God's wrath, there are also in the Bible descriptions of self condemnation ... Of Hell being a fate, a choice, a logical end to a chosen path.  This is not incompatible with the former descriptions, because they are not mutually exclusive.  I've been angry at what people have done to themselves too.  Dostoevsky's description may be helpful here, from "The Brothers Karamazov":


"From 'Of Hell and Hell fire: A Mystical discourse'

Fathers and teachers, I ask myself: 'What is hell?' And I answered thus: 'The suffering of being no longer able to love.'  Once in infinite existence, measured neither by time or space, a certain spiritual being, through his appearance on Earth, was granted the ability to say to himself: 'I am and I love."  Once, once only, he was given a moment of active living love, and for that he was given earthly life with its times and seasons.  And what then?  And what then?  This fortunate being rejected the invaluable gift, did not value it, did not love it, looked upon it with scorn, and was left unmoved by it.  This being, having departed the earth, sees Abraham's bosom, and talks with Abraham, as is shown us in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, and he beholds paradise, and could rise up to the Lord, but his torment is precisely to rise up to the Lord without having loved, to touch those who loved him- him who disdained their love.  For he sees clearly and says to himself: "Now I have knowledge, and though I thirst to love, there will be no great deed in my love, no sacrifice, for my earthly life is over, and Abraham will not come with a drop of living water (that is with a renewed gift of the former life, earthly and active) to cool the flame of the thirst for spiritual love that is burning me now, since I scorned it on earth;  life is over, and time will be no more!  Though I would gladly give my life for others, it is not possible now, for the life I could have sacrificed for love is gone, and there is now an abyss between that life and this existence."  People speak of the material flames of hell.  I do not explore this mystery, and I fear it, but I think that if there were material flames, truly people would be glad to have them, for, as I fancy, in material torment they might forget, at least for a moment, their far more terrible spiritual torment.  And yet it is impossible to take this spiritual torment from them, for this torment is not external but is within them.  And were it possible to take it from them, then, I think their unhappiness would be even greater because of it.  For though the righteous would forgive them from paradise, seeing their torments, and call them to themselves, loving them boundlessly, they would thereby only increase their torments, for they would arouse in them an even stronger flame of thirst for reciprocal, active, and grateful love, which is no longer possible.  Nevertheless, in the timidity of my heart I think that the very awareness of this impossibility would serve in the end to relieve them, for, having accepted the love of the righteous together with the impossibility of requitting it, in this obedience and act of humility they would attain at last to a certain image, as it were, of the active love they scorned on earth, and an action somewhat similar to it ... I regret my brothers and friends, that I cannot express it clearly ...
"


At any rate, though hell can never be thought desirable, by a righteous and considerate person, it need not be the cruel expression of a lesser character, concerning God.



Stephen.                          
Essorant
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10 posted 08-25-2005 03:04 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

"Jesus says in Matthew 7:1 "Judge not, lest you be judged".  But this is a directive given from Heaven to those who dwell on the Earth.  But if God were subject to the same, then how could it say "lest you be Judged"?  Lest we be judged by whom?  God, of course. "
...
"Why would God be able to "judge" while we are forbidden to do so? "


Stephanos
I don't think we are forbidden to judge, but rather forbidden to judge hypocritically (id est unrighteously)

If one judge as a hypocrite, one shall be judged as hypocrite by God and should fear that judgement.  

But if one judge righteously, one shall be judged as righteous by God and need not fear.

Why should you fear if you are not guilty?

Both man and God are subject to the same principle/law: man should judge righteously (as possible) and God should judge righteously (as possible).  And if either do not judge righteously they do wrong and by the same principle deserve to be judged as wrong.

"But the Bible says that God only punishes out of pure justice and benevolence. "

Sure it does.  But does that erase the parts of the bible portraying God as destroying cities and even slaying and plaguing men for his own laws?   If it is not right for man to do such, how is it right for God?  
For me it simply comes down to this: although I trust even the men that wrote the bible, even many things that were written in the bible, yet many things I cannot accept in the bible because they show extremisms that are contrary to the principles that I ever knew as righteousness and even as inspired by God himself.  


"Is consignment to hell by God, the same thing as a vindictive imperfect execution of rage by man?  I don't think it is."

What's the difference between the loftiest reason and the basest rage if both come to the same cruel conclusion: that a man should be tortured or executed for doing something wrong?  


"This brings me around to the Theomorphic principle ... though fallen, we are made in the image of God.  Our wrath imperfectly reflects his own. "


But if our wrath imperfectly reflect his own, may not something of ours, that is much more civilized, such as Democracy, and our democratic justice system, even more closely and importantly reflect something of God?  
Why should we be striving so earnestly to help and rehabilitate criminals  and give them hope and saving, if the divine way is to give up on wrongdoers and leave them to hell?

What kind of justice system reflects God more: one with executions and gehenna firepits, or one with help and rehabilitation?


"Hell cannot be called the torment of an injust tyrant, if that "tyrant" could be shown to have taken all it's pains and torments upon himself to keep us from it."

What's the difference between the "tyrant" taking "all it's pains and torments upon himself to keep us from it." or a tyrant acting impulsively out of the basest rage, if they both come to the same cruel conclusion: that a man should be tortured or executed for doing something wrong?


"Thirdly, in addition to the anthropomorphic descriptions of God's wrath, there are also in the Bible descriptions of self condemnation ... Of Hell being a fate, a choice, a logical end to a chosen path.  This is not incompatible with the former descriptions, because they are not mutually exclusive.  I've been angry at what people have done to themselves too.  Dostoevsky's description may be helpful here, from "The Brothers Karamazov""

All my comments were based upon suggestions of hell that are very unlike Dostoevsky's: The "hell" that is a fiery hole, where sinners shall be thrown at Judgement Day, and where flames and demons and devils shall punish their souls forevermore for temporal sins, cut off from heaven and salvation, abandoned by God forever.
Dostoevsky's seems a much different contemplation  and much more thoughtful.  But the other one though is one that I cannot ever believe in or accept, even if it were true.  


[This message has been edited by Essorant (08-27-2005 11:06 PM).]

Essorant
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11 posted 08-28-2005 02:17 AM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

"The Problem of Evil"
http://garylenaire.atspace.com/evil.html

[This message has been edited by Essorant (08-28-2005 11:37 PM).]

Stephanos
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12 posted 08-29-2005 06:26 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

quote:
Both man and God are subject to the same principle/law: man should judge righteously (as possible) and God should judge righteously (as possible).  And if either do not judge righteously they do wrong and by the same principle deserve to be judged as wrong.

The Biblical picture is different than what you describe here.  Though man, (biblically speaking) is given much authority being created in God's image, his judgement remains limited, because he is limited.  His judgment is limited in scope as well.  


When God is the source of moral judgement, the very determiner of right and wrong behavior, it's not quite right to say that he is "subject" to law.  The law rather eminates from his person, as light emanates from the sun.  He is "holy" and "righteous" in the superlative degree.


  
quote:
Stephen: But the Bible says that God only punishes out of pure justice and benevolence. "


Ess: Sure it does.  But does that erase the parts of the bible portraying God as destroying cities and even slaying and plaguing men for his own laws?   If it is not right for man to do such, how is it right for God?



Even you said that righteous judgement depends upon whether it is done "hypocritically" or not.  Well, that's exactly why it can be wrong for man to do something, that it is not wrong for God to do.  What makes man unable to judge after the manner of God is ... 1) man's limited scope and knowledge, and 2) his sinful nature.  God is neither limited in scope and knowledge, nor is he morally flawed as we are.  


When it comes to what we consider to be harsh judgements in the pages of scripture, (such as the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, for example), I think there are some things we should be aware of that are all too easy to forget.  One of them, is that judgement often occurs after long periods of longsuffering and grace on God's part.  When you read in the pages of the Bible about something that seems to happen suddenly and fiercely as lightning, you are viewing the end of a longer historical process, often hundreds of years long.  So, out of misconception, people often grumble against the decisions of God, viewing his judgments as if they were the result of temper-tantrums.  But that's not true to history, which to naive readers, appears to pass by as quickly as a page is turned.  It might be said that the parenthetical history surroudning "judgement" goes too often ignored.


Another thing to remember is that God has built into the universe, a kind of "mechanism" of judgment (for lack of a better term).  There are principles that almost always work in a law-like fashion, to bring either reward or reproof.  The Bible says "Whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap".  It doesn't mean that one picture is more true than the other, it's just another description.  God actively and personally bringing judgement, and his laws working in the world, are not mutually exclusive.  


William Barclay, in his commentary in the book of Romans, put it this way:

"Paul ... speaks of the wrath of God coming upon the children of disobedience.  But quite frequently Paul speaks about the wrath, without saying it is the wrath of God, as if it ought to be spelled with capital letters- The Wrath- ...

The whole message of the Hebrew prophets was that there is a moral order in this world.  The conclusion is clear- that moral order is the wrath of God at work.  God made this world in such a way that we break his laws at our peril.  Now if we were left soley at the mercy of that inexorable moral order, there could be nothing for us but death and destruction.  The world is made in such a way that the 'soul that sins must die'- if the moral order is to act alone.  But into this dilemma of man there comes the love of God, and that love of God, by an act of unbelievable free grace, lifts man out of the consequences of sin and saves him from the wrath he should have incurred
."


quote:
For me it simply comes down to this: although I trust even the men that wrote the bible, even many things that were written in the bible, yet many things I cannot accept in the bible because they show extremisms that are contrary to the principles that I ever knew as righteousness and even as inspired by God himself.



Again, I don't think the prerogative of a holy and righteous God to judge sin, violates any of the principles of which you speak.  Especially when, as I mentioned before, God has been shown to be longsuffering and patient, and his judgements actually less than were deserved.  I don't think we really understand the vileness of sin, what the bible calls the "mystery" of lawlessness.  When that is revealed (though I think it was already revealed at the cross), we will understand that though there were plauges, famines, and many sorrows in this world, that God "does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities..." (Psalm 103).  Your words about "rehabilitation" tell me that you perceive sin as something more superficial, and less of a diagnosis than it really is.  


Also, any tendency to pick and choose, among scriptures gives me concern.  It's not that we don't all pick and choose to some degree what we like to emphasize.  But to say one scripture is a fluke of man, even a wicked expression of merely human anger, while others are "inspired by God" is too arbitrary.  And it ends up begging the question, of why any scripture at all should be considered of divine origin.  If there is no reliable corpus of writings and revelation, then I don't see how divine inspiration can stand.  This whole approach also places God in the dock of human judgement, not the other way around.  And if that's the case, then who is really "god" between the two of them?  


C.S. Lewis described this topsy-turvy situation in one of his essays ...


"The ancient man approached God (or even the gods) as the accused person approaches his judge.  For the modern man the roles are reversed.  He is the judge: God is in the dock.  He is quite a kindly judge: if God should have reasonable defense for being the god who permits war, poverty, and disease, he is read to listen to it.  The trial may even end in God's acquittal.  But the important thing is that man is on the Bench, and God is in the Dock."  


quote:
What's the difference between the loftiest reason and the basest rage if both come to the same cruel conclusion: that a man should be tortured or executed for doing something wrong?



Well, for one, the "loftiest reason" may not come to such a conclusion as quickly, and indeed may offer many escape-hatches out of such a path of destruction.  As due warning is given, and opportunities to repent, the means of adequate reversal set forth, the conclusion can only be that Hell is set in the very desire of man ... moreso than the will of God for man.


quote:
But if our wrath imperfectly reflect his own, may not something of ours, that is much more civilized, such as Democracy, and our democratic justice system, even more closely and importantly reflect something of God?  



Certainly, and I would urge you to take a closer look at democracy.  The same system that allows some to prosper, secures that some will fail, depending on the individual.  And look at our "democratic" justice system.  Though I don't try to equate earthly democracy with the Kingdom of God, democracy as a system tends to mirror what I'm saying, moreso than what you're saying.  Prisons are a very good earthly glimpse of what Hell may be like in some ways.  And even in what you call an "enlightened" democratic society, some prisoners never leave.  


quote:
Why should we be striving so earnestly to help and rehabilitate criminals  and give them hope and saving, if the divine way is to give up on wrongdoers and leave them to hell?



Again Essorant, what you refer to as "giving up" may be the end of an arduous, patient, and merciful path, rather than a knee-jerk reaction of anger.  The cross of Jesus Christ is proof that God's heart is for no man to perish in such a way.  And again, the striving of man to rehabilitate criminals (which you try to contrast with the divine economy), often fails with many criminals does it not?  And their greatest punishment is not where they end up dwelling, but who they end up being.


quote:
All my comments were based upon suggestions of hell that are very unlike Dostoevsky's: The "hell" that is a fiery hole, where sinners shall be thrown at Judgement Day, and where flames and demons and devils shall punish their souls forevermore for temporal sins, cut off from heaven and salvation, abandoned by God forever.
Dostoevsky's seems a much different contemplation  and much more thoughtful.  But the other one though is one that I cannot ever believe in or accept, even if it were true.  

Actually if you read Dosoevsky again (see my quote above), you will see that he does not deny the "material flames" of hell.  The elder even says that he "fears" such a mystery.  Rather he chooses to describe the more spiritual torments of Hell, to which matierial flames would be a "welcome distraction".  And Dostoevsky does not present hell as something reversible.  Didn't you read his references to the "gulf" that is fixed, and the "impossibility" of reciprocal love?  How is all of this any less terrible than the more crude physical descriptions of hell?  To me, it is more terrible.  


Also, you make the mistake (I think) of making two different descriptions of hell mutually exclusive.  You make a "both/and" situation into an "either/or".  But I find no compelling reason to think it has to be either/or.  


Your last comment is most interesting to me.  You couldn't / wouldn't accept this "even if it were true".  Does that mean that you are more committed to your own views, or to the search of truth?  


Please understand Essorant, that I don't delight in Hell, or the punishments of the wicked.  And neither does God, else Calvary  would never have been.


Stephen.  
Huan Yi
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“man's limited scope and knowledge, and 2) his sinful nature.”

And who gave man these flaws,
and to what purpose; entertainment?

Why then punish man
for playing with loaded dice?
Denise
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Stephen, do you believe that Calvary was pointless if there is no Hell, or never-ending punishment of some sort? Do you believe that God wouldn't have gone to such lengths to save us unless it were to save us from unending torment? Would you view your salvation as somehow less valuable if there is no Hell? Maybe I misread your last comment, but that was the sense that I was getting.
Stephanos
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15 posted 08-29-2005 11:28 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

John
quote:
And who gave man these flaws,
and to what purpose; entertainment?

Why then punish man
for playing with loaded dice?

Are you so sure that man wasn't adequately warned about the dice?  If you think not, you're adding to the text, and in effect echoing the question "Did God really say ...".


God's justice is seen in that he allowed man to take his informed chosen path, unto death.


God's mercy is seen in that he has given the prodigal a way back home ... with even more honor than before he left.

quote:
Stephen, do you believe that Calvary was pointless if there is no Hell, or never-ending punishment of some sort? Do you believe that God wouldn't have gone to such lengths to save us unless it were to save us from unending torment? Would you view your salvation as somehow less valuable if there is no Hell? Maybe I misread your last comment, but that was the sense that I was getting.


Actually Denise, I was coming from the standpoint that there is a Hell ... in which case Calvary shows that Hell is anything but a flippant, knee-jerk response from God.  It kind of takes the wind out of the sails of the "God is a big meanie" argument.  I really wasn't trying to say that Christ's work would be meaningless if there were no hell.  That's a totally different proposition.  


Stephen.      
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16 posted 08-30-2005 12:51 AM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

"The Biblical picture is different than what you describe here.  Though man, (biblically speaking) is given much authority being created in God's image, his judgement remains limited, because he is limited.  His judgment is limited in scope as well. "


Stephanos

Do you believe that God shares power with his creation?

If you do, how may you say God has all power, and unlimitedly to himself, if his creation has some and limited?  

Doesn't God willfully partake of limitation and put his power in limitation by relating and sharing with a limited creation?

Isn't limitation a requirement in a sharing relationship?

How may others have some, if one has all?

Limitation has its seeming negatives, but it also has postives too: it seems to tie us into a sharing relationship.  A Human is limited because all other beings and things need their power, but all other beings and things are limited too because a human--you--need your power too.  

Therefore this limitation is not such an "imperfection" but a very need to share power with others,  in fact with God and the very whole Universe itself.  

A little sharing may go a long way          


"When God is the source of moral judgement, the very determiner of right and wrong behavior, it's not quite right to say that he is "subject" to law.  The law rather eminates from his person, as light emanates from the sun.  He is "holy" and "righteous" in the superlative degree.
...
Even you said that righteous judgement depends upon whether it is done "hypocritically" or not.  Well, that's exactly why it can be wrong for man to do something, that it is not wrong for God to do.  What makes man unable to judge after the manner of God is ... 1) man's limited scope and knowledge, and 2) his sinful nature.  God is neither limited in scope and knowledge, nor is he morally flawed as we are.  


But if who is called "God" does something that we know as evil and wrong, how can we accept that as good and righteous?


"When you read in the pages of the Bible about something that seems to happen suddenly and fiercely as lightning, you are viewing the end of a longer historical process, often hundreds of years long.  So, out of misconception, people often grumble against the decisions of God, viewing his judgments as if they were the result of temper-tantrums.  But that's not true to history, which to naive readers, appears to pass by as quickly as a page is turned.  It might be said that the parenthetical history surroudning "judgement" goes too often ignored."

I agree.
But that is still not a given.  The bible itself sometimes indicates the time.  Furthermore, timing doesn't change what is the said deed itself.  

When God is said to punish someone by slaying, are we to accept that as a moral act of God?  


"Your last comment is most interesting to me.  You couldn't / wouldn't accept this "even if it were true".  Does that mean that you are more committed to your own views, or to the search of truth?"

I meant my judgement of the "hell" that is described in the bible wouldn't change if it turned out to be even as it is said in the bible, right before my knowledge as the truth, and God himself set it all before my eyes.  
  
Huan Yi
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“Are you so sure that man wasn't adequately warned about the dice? …
God’s justice is seen in that he allowed man to take his informed chosen path, unto death.

I remember reading that it was not uncommon
for early Christians to seek an early death,
(I believe suicide was then expressly prohibited
by the Church as a response), under a sort of less life less sin
logic.  
Stephanos
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18 posted 08-30-2005 01:02 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

quote:
Stephen: The Biblical picture is different than what you describe here.  Though man, (biblically speaking) is given much authority being created in God's image, his judgement remains limited, because he is limited.  His judgment is limited in scope as well. "


Ess: Do you believe that God shares power with his creation?  If you do, how may you say God has all power, and unlimitedly to himself, if his creation has some and limited?



Yes, I believe that.  But I didn't say that God has "all power unlimtedly to himself".  Obviously he has chosen to share some of his sovereignty, without laying down his authority.  But what may be cautiously called God's "limitations" are not imposed from without, but chosen for his own purposes, particularly to give us some measure of freedom.  When it comes to us, a great many of our limitations are imposed from without.  An actor in a play has some degree of freedom in creativity too, but an actor and a playwright are not the same.    


My only point was that no matter how much freedom God has given us, or how much of his own freedom he seems to have suspended in creating us, we are not God.  We never could think to create something from nothing.  We are too bankrupt to think up, much less create, the mountains, rivers, and forests.  Therefore, being the sole source of wisdom and infinite knowledge, God is able to make judgments which would be sinful for us to try and make.  There are some shoes that we can't wear.


quote:
But if who is called "God" does something that we know as evil and wrong, how can we accept that as good and righteous?



But Essorant, I can't even know that killing is absolutely evil and wrong, apart from circumstance.  But I can know that it IS wrong for those who have not been given that authority.  


Do you believe that God allows death to exist?  You have to come to one of two conclusions, then.  Either God has given sanction to death, or he is powerless to do anything about it.  If you believe the former, then you are really saying the same thing I am, though in slightly softened terms.  If you believe in the latter, then you have to say that you don't really believe in the God of the Bible who raised, and will again raise the dead ... but rather in a more pagan idea of "god" who is only amplified humanity, subject and imprisoned to the laws of nature, like we are.


quote:
When God is said to punish someone by slaying, are we to accept that as a moral act of God?  



Essorant, I think you may disagree with me on a fundamental point, about sin and wickedness.  I think that there are deeds worthy of death.  And if, after much longsuffering and patience, God should make such a judgment, then justice is done.  However I don't think that such a severe justice (as punitive death) is ever administered without a great deal of mercy and grace beforehand.  No, I just can't agree with you that when God has done such a thing, that he was being immoral.  

quote:
Stephen: Your last comment is most interesting to me.  You couldn't / wouldn't accept this "even if it were true".  Does that mean that you are more committed to your own views, or to the search of truth?"


Ess: I meant my judgement of the "hell" that is described in the bible wouldn't change if it turned out to be even as it is said in the bible, right before my knowledge as the truth, and God himself set it all before my eyes.



So, are you saying that you would be sorry that Hell (by necessity of truth) had to be?  Or are you saying that you would never change your feelings that God should never have allowed it to be?


I can understand the first position.  The second I think has a flaw in it.  When you say "never" even in the light of the truth, you are saying that you will hold to your opinion even if evidence of Hell's necessity is given to you.  What if you are given an overwhelming sense of its necessity, when the nature of sin and wickedness is revealed to you in fullness?  Or what if you are shown vividly (no longer in doctrine but in face to face terms) the fact that God has lamented the punishment of the wicked even more than any of us, and proved it at the cross?  I have a hard time believing that you would still feel the same way.  


I don't think it is rebellion for you to feel the way you do now, because you haven't seen these things vividly.  And your feelings come from a sense of rightness and justice, which is noble.  

But if, having been shown these things, you held on to your ill feelings, that would be rebellion, I think.  


Stephen.    
Stephanos
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19 posted 08-30-2005 01:17 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

quote:
I remember reading that it was not uncommon
for early Christians to seek an early death,
(I believe suicide was then expressly prohibited
by the Church as a response), under a sort of less life less sin logic
.


John, wouldn't that have been more likely in a gnostic setting?  Gnosticism, as far as I've understood it, tended to teach that bodily life was essentially evil, (the world being a creation of an evil demiurge rather than God) and the "spiritual" life good.  Though Christianity involved a chronological dualism (this age versus the age to come), it didn't have this thoroughgoing dualism of the gnostic, that devalued life on Earth.  Though I know that Gnosticism is linked to Christianity as a heretical form of it.  


It's hard to imagine orthodox Christians doing such a thing, whose basic teaching was that life is good and created by God.  Sin itself was thought to be an enemy of life, thus ending one's own life (a sin itself) would not be any real solution to the sin problem.


That is interesting.  Let me know if you can remember a reference.  I'd like to read about it.  


Stephen.
Huan Yi
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20 posted 08-30-2005 02:45 PM       View Profile for Huan Yi   Email Huan Yi   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Huan Yi

Stephen,


“Suicide is not specifically condemned in either the Old or New Testaments; indeed there are a number of rather neutrally-reported suicides in the Bible.[2] The early Christian Church was permissive of suicide, and many sects actively embraced suicide, especially through provoked martyrdom, as an escape from the evil world - the Apostle James is reported to have said, "No one will be saved if he is afraid of death, for the kingdom of death belongs to those who kill themselves."[3]. Many early Christians deliberately provoking the authorities to execute them, and even goading the lions to attack: St. Ignatius, facing martyrdom, is reported to have said, "Let me enjoy those beasts, whom I wish much more cruel than they are; for if they will not attempt me, I will provoke and draw them by force."[7]

It was partly in refutation of these sects in the early 4th Century that St. Augustine condemned suicide in "The City of God," though Augustine insisted on an interpretation of the Sixth Commandment inconsistent with the suicides recorded in the Bible, and he relied largely on the position of older, pagan philosophers, notably Aristotle, who argued that humans were the property of the God(s).[4] “

ashbusstop.org/law_history.html


I can’t remember the book I read, (at university), but it pretty
much related the same thing.

John

[This message has been edited by Ron (08-30-2005 06:01 PM).]

Stephanos
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21 posted 08-30-2005 05:40 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

John,


that website, the "suicide bus-stop" is obviously slanted toward a pro-suicide view.  And so I have already found a number of inaccuracies in it's presentation of Biblical history and suicide.  


Here are the inaccuracies as I see them ...


1)  The Bible records seven suicides, and that they are presented "as neutrally or appropriate under the circumstances".


For anyone who actually reads the Bible and doesn't just take someone else's word on the matter (and please do the same with me), it is fairly obvious that suicide is always reported in a desperate / negative context.  When discussing the individual examples however, the writer glosses over the biblical passages, relating just enough information to make his point.

For example, the destruction of the pagan temple by Samson, and the crucifixion of Jesus are given (seriously) as examples of suicide.  That's more than a stretch.


2)  Martyrdom can be equated with suicide.


I guess Chesterton said it all when he said that a suicide is the opposite of martyrdom, in the sense that a martyr "cares so much for something outside him, that he forgets his own personal life", while a suicide involves a man who "cares so little for anything outside him, that he wants to see the last of everything".  It's not that I don't have compassion upon those who struggle with suicidal thoughts, or even upon those who commit suicide, but martyrdom and suicide are only superficially the same.  They are fundamentally different.


Does that mean that even the orthodox view of martyrdom could not be carried to a fevered pitch, a fanaticism that borders on suicide?  No, I think perhaps it did.  But it did so especially among Gnostic groups.  


Interestingly enough, that's why that so-called quote of James, is from a Gnostic apocryphal book.  The title was claimed to be "James" during a time when teachers were competitively seeking for recognition of authority.  One way to achieve such recognition was to claim your writing was written by an apostle.  At any rate, that quote does not reflect orthodox Christian views, and that it actually came from James, is more than doubtful.  


3)  Augustine (when refuting suicide) interpreted the 6th commandment inconsistent with the suicides in the Bible ... and relied on a pagan teaching that humans were the "property of the gods".


As I mentioned before, the historical suicides reported in the Bible are not given as good examples.  It can easily be argued that they are given as bad ones, from the passages themselves.  But at any rate, the reportage of these events in no way contradicts Augustine's interpretation of the 6th commandment.      


Also, the Jewish cosmological teaching that mankind was a special creation of God, was most likely the source of Augustine's view of the sacredness of human life.  Psalm 24 says "The Earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof, the Earth and all who dwell therein".  With this ancient view as the foundation for the Judeo-Christian scriptures, why do the writers on this website attribute pagan teachings as the source for Augustine, as if he was bringing into Christianity some foreign idea?  You can't even get past the first chapter of the Bible, and see that it was already there ... for Jews and Christians alike.



Stephen.  


[This message has been edited by Stephanos (08-30-2005 11:22 PM).]

Huan Yi
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22 posted 08-31-2005 03:37 PM       View Profile for Huan Yi   Email Huan Yi   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Huan Yi

Stephen,

I think it was William Somerset Maugham,
through one of his characters, who expressed little
faith in human intelligence, believing most people
more willing to give up their lives than learn the math tables.
In that light, I don’t find it difficult
to believe that early Christians tried to get themselves
killed soon to avoid sin.  And it isn’t hard to imagine
that men reading what were after all no more than
the words of other men, (perhaps no more capable),
could bless such purpose.  There’s a problem
in that, as far as I know, the Bible, unlike the Quran,
is not claimed to be the literal word of God; and there’s
much to hold the actual authors suspect of including
serving their own ends.

In the end, it’s what you decide for yourself; ( at least with
us; “Islam” literally translates to “submission”).

John
Stephanos
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23 posted 08-31-2005 04:10 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

quote:
I think it was William Somerset Maugham,
through one of his characters, who expressed little
faith in human intelligence, believing most people
more willing to give up their lives than learn the math tables.  In that light, I don’t find it difficult
to believe that early Christians tried to get themselves
killed soon to avoid sin.



I'd rather hear you argue your point with some data, than just tell me why you don't find something difficult to believe.  

I assert that upon further study, anyone will find that such extremes were found mostly among the heretical groups (gnosticism), and that suicidal tendencies can only be justified (now or then) from scripture with great and arduous gymnastic effort.  I'm only urging others to go back to the "math tables" of knowledge, so to speak, and don't just believe something because someone said it.  


quote:
And it isn’t hard to imagine that men reading what were after all no more than the words of other men, (perhaps no more capable), could bless such purpose.



But even if you want to say that the words of scripture are merely human words, you have to ask whether or not a certain teaching, or tendency accurately reflected the original body of writings.  And the answer of scholars to such a question is "No".  The apocryphal book of James, was a gnostic text ... an expression of heresy, attached to an apostolic name for clout (ironically many of the authentic Christian documents were anonymous, in self-identification).  So no matter if you insist on denying the divine inspiration of words, this still only reflects a fringe group that should more accurately be called "gnostic" rather than "Christian".

quote:
There’s a problem in that, as far as I know, the Bible, unlike the Quran, is not claimed to be the literal word of God; and there’s much to hold the actual authors suspect of including serving their own ends.


Actually there may some technical difference in the way the Koran and the Bible are described, but the Jewish / Christian view of divine inspiration does refer to the scriptures as the "word of God".  There is also the belief that God is able to preserve his word faithfully rendered from age to age.  Are you suggesting that it is not the Christian teaching that the Bible is faithfully rendered as a divine revelation that is set apart from mere human wisdom?


And while I hear the "earliest Chrstians were only serving their own political agenda, therefore they can't be trusted" bit over and over, I have found there's little to it, when one seriously begins to study its claims.  It is a quite popular urban legend.  

quote:
In the end, it’s what you decide for yourself


If you mean that our choice is our own to make, I agree.


Stephen.
Huan Yi
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24 posted 08-31-2005 07:43 PM       View Profile for Huan Yi   Email Huan Yi   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Huan Yi

Stephen,

I don't think early Christians
getting themselves killed to minimize
their vulnerabilty to sin was something
someone dreamed up in the backroom.  Because
they don't fit, doesn't mean they are false.
I remembered one reading, and quickly without much effort found another.
I leave it to someone more concerned than I to
do yet another supporting scholarly study, (please),
as if at this point I think it would be found anymore credible.

John
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