Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Concerning Hell

I am trying to write a little on hell this week and reflect on some of the things I have been thinking about and reading about lately, and by “lately,” I mean the past few years.

For right now, it is not my intention to state a definite position that I take on hell, but rather to provoke thought and raise questions about the traditional and popular understandings of hell.

As I briefly stated in yesterdays post, I find that belief in hell is central to many people’s faith. I have heard people say, “well if there is no hell then why follow Jesus?” (I think this is sad) Or maybe even a more popular response has something to do with the “bad” people not getting what they deserve (This may be worse). For of course Justice has to be served, right? I find that we are usually ok with this idea of Justice as long as we are always on the “right” side of it. It’s funny how we are always the “sheep” and never the “goats”.

But there are also those people who are bothered by the idea of hell. The thought of the majority of the human race spending an eternity in torment and agony just doesn’t sit well with some. They can’t seem to connect the dots, so to speak, between the God we speak about being all loving, peaceful, forgiving, merciful, compassionate God… the same God who loved us while we were yet sinners, and the same God who, through Jesus, spoke of his kingdom not working like the kingdoms (empires) of this world, (The empire Jesus opposed used violence in order to coerce people in worshipping Caesar) and yet, in the next breath the same God is said to send/allow people to be damned for ever because they didn’t believe the right things about Him or worship Him while on this earth.

I find that these people who have questions about the traditional view of hell and eternity are also afraid to express their concern for fear of what the reaction from their “spiritual” peers will be. I know people who have lost their ministry jobs, lost financial support for their ministries, and even lost (so called) friends simply by questioning their faith.

I think many people, if they are honest and whether they have the courage to admit it or not, do have concerns and questions about the traditional view of hell which is probably why “hits” on my blog go way up when the title has the word hell in it.

Again, the point here is to ask questions and provoke thought… So how do the doctrine of hell and the God who is defined in the Bible as simply “Love” go hand in hand? And what, if any, are your concerns/questions you have dealing with eternal damnation? Or do you even think it is ok/necessary to question things such as this?

Your thoughts?

6 comments:

Matt said...

So I am guessing I get no response to my comment asking for the original paper? Then what is the point of asking for comments when in return there is no response? In love of course:).

Jkub said...

Sorry, havent had much time to respond, and you didnt realy comment on the blog... you just asked to read the paper which i didnt post. you said nothing about your thoughts on the subject which was what was asked.

But no i do not wish to post the paper, at least not at this time, for the simple reason of wishing to carry out the conversation on here with others. (which doesnt seem to be working. it seems people are afraid to discuss their beliefs on hell no matter what they are.)I am sure eventually most of what i wrote about in the paper will end up on here anyway.

Matt said...

Fair enough, how about to get the conversation going and to encourage others to jump in: the idea and concept that the focus should not be so much on this place with fire where one will burn for eternity, but more on the sad reality of the ultimate consequence of eternal separation from a loving God.

Jkub said...

Matt,
ok, so are you saying that you tend to think that the "fire" and 'burning" part are not literal, but rather hell is more about seperation from God? if so, then why dont you think they are literal and why do you think there is an eternal seperation? where is this idea found? where does one get the idea that the presence of God is absent from anywhere?

(And the reason for beginning by discussing the fire and burning part is because that is many peoples understanding of hell.)

(by the way where are you living now? Raleigh?)

Matt said...

Jacob,
I will not be able to reply to all of your questions in this one reply for the mere reason that I have a lot of other things to do such as work on papers for my ethics class.

I did not say whether or not I believe the "fire" and "burning" part are or are not literal because I prefer to focus on the rescue and promise made by God through Jesus. I would like to pose what do you do with verses like Prov. 11:19, Matt. 5:22, 10:28, John 3:36, Rom. 8:13, 2 Peter 2:4, just to name a few.

I know this did not fully answer your question, but at least there is some dialogue happening. It does not happen often, but maybe next time in Iredell county area we could get together. And, yes I am living in Raleigh now.

paultilly said...

I have questions myself about the hell doctrine as it is taught. But I do believe that Jesus seems to make clear inference that there is a kingdom that will reign eternally and that there are those who will not be a part of it. I dont know if He was referring to a trash dump or a literal hell in scripture.

Scripture mentions too many times that faith is a retirement for a relationship with God and eternal life. What is Eternal life? What is eternal death? I understand these questions are open for debate. The scriptures do not seem however, to make the existence of both a question.

Just hoping that God would never separate himself from anyone, does not make it so. Just not understanding how God could do that, does not make it so. Is there a big fire pit of lava full of non believers? I have no idea. Are there those who will CHOOSE to be separated from God? I believe so without a doubt.

By the way either way, a faith in hell has NOTHING to do with ones faith in Jesus. As you said Jake, Our relationship with Jesus should be much bigger than that. We simply are to love Him because He first loved us. We are in turn to show that same love to everyone. That is what REALLY matters. If we focused on that, Hell would be less of an issue either way.