The Biblical Case Against Eternal Torment - Part II
gbox1: a.Moral Implications
God is turned into a cruel, sadistic torturer, whether He does the torture or just allows it. This is irreconciable with a God who loves the world so much that He sent His son to die for sinners. God cannot be praised for His goodness when He torments sinners throughout the ages of eternity. Our conscience that God has placed within us revolts at such a concept of eternal torture. John Hick says, “The idea of bodies burning for ever and continuously suffering the intense pain of third-degree burns without either being consumed or losing consciousness is as scientifically fantastic as it is morally revolting...The thought of such a torment being deliberately inflicted by divine decree is totally incompatible with the idea of God as infinite love.”
God says, “My ways are above your ways and my thoughts above your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9,10). If our conscience revolts at the idea of torturing a human alive for any prolonged period of time, how can we attribute an even worse thing to the God who created us and put that conscience in us? Especially when He is far superior in that area than we are? And yet we make Him out to be ten times worse then the worst sinner on this earth.
b. Judicial Implications
God deals in the realm of retributive justice. The punishment fits the crime. God implemented this system for his people on this earth, why would he operate His own system with a far inferior one? It is difficult to imagine what rebellious lifestyle warrants ultimate punishment of everlasting, conscious torment in hell. It is hard to believe that divine justice can be satisfied by inflicting a punishment of eternal torment. There is no positive, reformative or redemptive purpose in this punishment. The Bible says that ultimately, the wages of sin is death. If one sins, one dies. That is the punishment for the rebellion of sin. Some people say, “God is an infinite being, therefore a sin committed against him deserves an infinite punishment.” Yes, punishment: death. Punishing? Forever? That is not fair in the least. When we sentence someone to death, that is their punishment. The electric chair is a means to an end. There is not a continual, never ending jolt of electricity. The punishment of the electric chair presupposes death. In eternal torment, God’s justice and mercy are not evident and God is the embodiment of all those things...including love. How does a loving God allowing trillions of years of third degree burns for a mere 70+ years of rebellion on this earth, constitute justice in any fashion, never mind God's justice, who's "ways are above our ways and thoughts above our thoughts"?
In an eternally burning hell, we have a cosmic dualism. Happiness and pain, goodness and evil would continue to exist forever alongside each other. This is impossible to reconcile with Revelation 21:4 which states that “there will be no more sorrow, or crying for the former things have passed away”.
The fact and knowledge of loved ones suffering in hell, and the presence of millions suffering excruciating pain would only serve to destroy the peace and happiness of the new world. The new creation would be flawed from day one. Regardless of their state, sin and sinners still would exist in a “perfect” world. Sin cannot exist in the presence of God. We see that when Christ comes the second time, the wicked are destroyed by the light of his power and glory. It is an automatic thing because sin cannot exist in the presence of God. Yet in Revelation 14:10 says
“And he (wicked man) shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb”
Obviously then, they would have to cease to exist at some point by this fire. If we are to take this literally, then we must conclude that sinners will continually be living in the presence of God which is a biblical contradiction.
The purpose of the plan of salvation is ultimately to eradicate the presence of sin and sinners from the world. Christ’s victory of his redemptive mission can only be fulfilled in this task. The pain and "torment" is a natural effect of the fire that is supposed to destroy sin and a sinful world. This is called God's "strange act" because it goes against all He is. However, for a new heaven and a new "start" and to put sinners out of their misery, it is a necessary one.
d. Illogistics and Character Flaw Implications
For hell in its understood form to exist, we must conclude that God created this hell from the beginning of the earth before man existed, after Satan fell from grace. (the bible says that hell is initially for the Satan and the angels). This raises an interesting thought.
Is God truly a loving God to create a hell even BEFORE man sinned? This God not only anticipated that man would probably sin, but also that he would have a real juicy punishment awaiting him too. The obvious question to ask is, why would God create such a place to begin with? This shows that He obviously delights in torment because only He was responsible for needlessly creating it. I say this because there is NO OTHER PURPOSE for hell then punishment. No reformation, no redemption, just endless pain. If such a place existed, and God created it, then Christ came to save us from His own creation, for there would not need to be any torment had God not created hell. Hence, the only conclusion we can come to for this "hell" to exist, is that God wants to punish sinners.
God would not allow those He died to save, even when they hated Him, to be tortured for endless ages just because they chose the opposite path. The Bible doesn't support it, philosophy doesn't support it, common sense rejects it, and the conscience abhors such a thought.
(Edited by gbox1)
Zanjan: See my response in part one of this subject.
You have to learn to be both tough and strong - to take the good with the bad without crumbling. The purpose of life on this physical plane is to build intestinal fortitude - if you can't, you're not fit for important responsibilities. You'll be run over by others, produce nothing, and perish.
The purpose of your existence, however, is to know and worship God. If you won't, then you're not fit to do His work, nor will you ever be happy and content. Your intellect will be severely stunted and your soul withered.
This world is its own torture chamber, it's a fiery furnace yet fire burns away the impurities. Learning is painful but the divine potter knows how to mold you into something useful.
No one is tortured forever, they're just deprived for as long as it takes them to learn their lessons.
Zanjan: gbox wrote: "The purpose of the plan of salvation is ultimately to eradicate the presence of sin and sinners from the world."
God has no intention of eliminating evil from the world - if that was what He wanted, He would have done it by now. His plan is that man should rise above the evil and there's no way that's possible without being tested. God's plan is to develop humanity through an ever-advancing civilization.
Salvation is the act of cutting the tethers to this material world and to the self. One must die one's self in order to live in God. Salvation is a spiritual transformation of the soul, like changing copper into gold. The Biblical term is to be born again.
(Edited by Zanjan)
gbox1: Zanjan, I am not talking about this world now as we know it but when God 'makes a new heaven and a new earth'. Zanjan wrote: "No one is tortured forever, they're just deprived for as long as it takes them to learn their lessons."It sounds like you are promoting universalism here. That is a whole other thread. You're more than welcome to start a thread on the biblical support for universalism but I would like to keep this as a debate between the traditional view of hell and annihilationism.
Zanjan: "when God 'makes a new heaven.........."
He makes a new religion. Naturally, it has a new name, as scriptures say. There's no end to this process.
'......... and a new earth'
It's a different world from what mankind had known before - not a new planet but a changed one.
Universalism is a political concept - not the same thing as, say, universal education or wii-fi. I was speaking of God's ways - that is, what His purpose is for us. He guides and molds our social and spiritual evolution; annihilation defeats that purpose.
This physical plane is our first life (aside from a term in our mother's womb). When we die, we continue to the next life, then the next and the next. The worlds of God are infinite in number. Have you seen where the universe ends? Certainly, you can't see where the mansions in heaven end either.
(Edited by Zanjan)