Random thoughts, stolen images, hidden conversations and incoherent babble from beyond the wall of sleep. Odd bits of music and so-called worldly wisdom may creep in from time to time.
Saturday, August 28, 2010
Some kind of Hell
Hell doesn't avenge evil or reveal God's power. It does the exact opposite! By holding on to the doctrine of eternal hell, we in essence hold to the belief that in the end God's will to save all people goes unfulfilled, which puts God's power and goodness in doubt.
Hell heralds eternal hopelessness. Suffering in hell for all eternity means that souls burning there forever will exist without any hope of redemption. This leads us to the belief that God withdraws unconditional love once a person's body dies. In other words, God's love for us is tied to the physical body and the temporal realm, and grace disappears for unbelievers after the physical life is gone.
Hell keeps evil in eternal existence. The Bible tells us that, in the end, God will abolish evil. Yet, somewhere in the universal expanse of God's perfect peaceful kingdom, evil still survives in those who inhabit hell -- evil "lives" on eternally.
Hell creates a clash between justice and love. We unintentionally conjure up a cruel father who demands that unrepentant sinners spend eternity in the flames of hell, finding endless torture an agreeable way to achieve justice -- which is a far cry from the God who loves with an everlasting love. We develop a picture of a God who promotes eternal punishment as positive, as part and parcel of divine love and justice. We try to relieve these tensions by appealing to God's love and mercy on the one hand, and to God's justice and wrath on the other. Such a view of God's love, mercy, justice, and wrath leads to the conclusion that to love is to punish eternally and, therefore, to punish eternally is just.
Hell assigns eternal violence to God: Traditional theories of hell not only keep evil in eternal existence; they also keep the cycle of violence in motion for all eternity as unfortunate souls suffer the ferocity of eternal torture because God requires it.
Hell executes eternal punishment for temporal sin: Does sin committed during one short, temporary life span deserve an eternity of punishment? Even in our own society, we strive to make the punishment fit the crime.