The Biblical Case Against Eternal Torment - Part I
gbox1: The fundamental problems with ‘eternal torment’ are as such:
1) It hinges on the false and unproven assumption that wicked man destined for hell has an immortal soul. The only logical way for man to be punished for eternity is to be able to live for eternity
2) It ignores (and invalidates) the process of the salvation history of man sinning, being condemned to death, the Savior coming to die that death, and the eradication of sin at the end to 'create all things new for the former things have passed away'
Instead, the traditional view of hell is a distortion of a few scriptures where assumptions are read in and the global, wholistic view of man in the scriptures is ignored.
Do the Wicked have immortality?
Even though man doesn't have an inherent immortal soul, let’s say for the sake of argument that those who believe in Christ do, as Christ has given them eternal life. Even saying this, the scriptures blatantly show that those who do not except Christ do not have life. Rather they suffer the wages of sin which is death.
'The wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life' - Romans 6:23
If I believe in Christ, I will receive life. Eternal life is a gift for the righteous.
"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever would believeth in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life" - John 3:16
So. If I don't believe in Christ, I do not have eternal life but 'perish' and 'suffer the wages of sin which is death'. Therefore, whatever punishment that is inflicted on the wicked must be finite as they don't have immortality like the righteous.
If we say that God bestows immortality on the wicked for the specific purpose of torturing sinners, then we must hold God directly accountable for the punishment of hell and the suffering of sinners. God is in charge. God can make or destroy. He chooses (and has laid out this plan from the foundation of the world) to eradicate sin that caused this misery to begin with.
Man chose to sin. Because of this, man was doomed to die (Romans 6:23; Genesis 2:18) along with this sinned filled world. God provided a way of escape through His Son. Now man has the choice to either grab the life rope or go down with the ship. It is no longer God condemning man to a pre-destined hell that He created without justice, mercy, redemption or fairness. Instead, we see that God has said the ship MUST go down. We don't have to go down with it.
The imagery and language of the Bible points to complete eradication and elimination of sin from the universe, not a prolongation of it throughout the endless ages of eternity where suffering abounds.
Eternal life and immortality for the righteous verses consuming fire that brings on death for the wicked. Only those who believe in Christ will have eternal existence.
(Edited by gbox1)
Zanjan: You wrote: "It hinges on the false and unproven assumption that wicked man destined for hell has an immortal soul."
If the wicked man is not already in hell, then where is he? Not heaven, that's for sure.
Maybe look up the word immortal - it means to exist forever. Not necessarily to never die. God created the soul out of an essence we can't comprehend - it's not physical; therefore, the death of the physical body can't harm it.
At death, the soul will meet his/her Maker and be asked to give an account of their doings on earth. They will be judged then place somewhere in the hereafter.
Christ said the wicked would go into the lake of fire; lots of gnashing of teeth. If one has ceased to exist, they wouldn't know or feel any burn. Not much of a threat, eh. In another place, it's written they would wish for death and not find it.
God never said any soul would be annihilated. Wither and perish, yes, but not meet oblivian. What happened to the rich man after he died and saw Lazarus in the arms of Abraham? No soul ceases to exist.
Eternity has no space or time - it refers to the state of one's existence. The living are those who have a life in the Kingdom of God -awake with spiritual powers and, happy with work to do - but those who are outside of that are like the dead to them.
You're living your eternity at this exact moment. Hopefully, you're doing better than just existing or surviving.
(Edited by Zanjan)
gbox1: The wicked are still dead (along with everyone else) until the day of Judgement where they will be held accountable for their deeds both good and bad. A ridiculous notion if our fates and punishments were doled out at our physical death, don't you think? Revelation 14 and 20 speak of the resurrection of the dead to everlasting life or everlasting dead in the lake of fire happens, not at our physical death. That the 'soul goes to heaven at death' is an assumption not supported by the scriptures. The 'spirit goes back to God who gave it', but the spirit is not the soul and the spirit is not the thinking, cogitating essence of man. A lack of understanding on the Hebrew and Greek words for 'spirit' and 'soul' have led to a gross misunderstanding of the nature of man. The parable of the rich man and Lazarus was a parable. It was personification using some of the beliefs at the time though not endorsed by Christ (being in Abraham's bosom is NOT a biblical belief but a Jewish belief among many Jewish sects influenced by Greek dualism). The crux of the parable was to show stewardship to the Gentiles, not to prove the afterlife. It even ends with 'They will not be convinced EVEN IF ONE ROSE FROM THE DEAD'.
(Edited by gbox1)
Zanjan: "A ridiculous notion if our fates and punishments were doled out at our physical death, don't you think?"
No, I don't think. This life is a school and religion is a higher school of intellect. As you walk through life, you make mistakes but you learn from them; ergo, you improve and your knowledge increases. Nevertheless, you don't graduate to the **next grade** if you don't pass the grade test. What happens is you stay right where you are until you learn the lessons required at that grade. This is ongoing in both worlds.
If you drop out, you slide backward because nothing in existence remains static.
Those who've distanced themselves from God don't get the same benefits as those who are nearer. What's unjust about that?? That rule isn't going to change just because the body dies. If one is uncomfortable enough, that just might be the incentive they need to turn over a new leaf.
There's no point complaining about what you didn't earn, just buckle down and stop sneaking peeks at your classmate's answers.
There is progress in all the worlds of God, including for the wicked, but the Bible doesn't say anything about the hereafter - the ancients would only have been distracted by such information. Christians have no idea what goes on in the next world. For that sort of information, they'd need to consult more recent scriptures.
(Edited by Zanjan)
Zanjan: gbox wrote: "A lack of understanding on the Hebrew and Greek words for 'spirit' and 'soul' have led to a gross misunderstanding of the nature of man."
That's true but it's no fault of the words - the problem was it was never explained. When I was young, people were still using "spirit" and "soul" interchangeably and they're not; however, that didn't matter to them as everyone got the general message.
Today it matters because we need to understand our species is dual-natured. The first nature is the lower spirit - the animal spirit which is self-centered, bent only on it's own gain and survival. The second nature is the higher, divine spirit - that nature which is God-centered, reflecting His divine attributes which manifest the noble spirit of man.
Therefore, the spirit is the pre-programmed function of the given creature but the soul is the identity, possessing the faculty of intellect, which only humans have. The word 'human" comes from "hu" for humous (soil) and "man" - a creature of the earth.
The whole aim in life is to transcend the lower, animal nature and become who God intended us to be - true man. So, this transformation calls for a drastic change, Biblically known as "born again".