What Would You Have Asked Lazarus?

General discussions about Christianity including salvation, heaven and hell, Christian history and so on.
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Byblos
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Re: Fire or No Fire?

#136

Post by Byblos » Fri Oct 20, 2006 12:04 pm

DonCameron wrote:Hello To All,

Lately I have seen several comments about the eternal punishment being a "separation from God" rather than any physical torture by fire.
Don,

It's not one or the other. The way I see it, "separation from God" will result in some type of "real" and "eternal" anguish that will very much be discernable. Exactly what form this anguish will take is a bit ambiguous, I'll grant you that much. But I take solace from the fact that I have no intention of finding out. :wink:

Blessings,

John.
Let us proclaim the mystery of our faith: Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.

Lord I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.

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Re: Fire or No Fire?

#137

Post by Judah » Fri Oct 20, 2006 1:01 pm

Byblos wrote:
DonCameron wrote:Hello To All,

Lately I have seen several comments about the eternal punishment being a "separation from God" rather than any physical torture by fire.
Don,

It's not one or the other. The way I see it, "separation from God" will result in some type of "real" and "eternal" anguish that will very much be discernable. Exactly what form this anguish will take is a bit ambiguous, I'll grant you that much. But I take solace from the fact that I have no intention of finding out. :wink:

Blessings,

John.
I'm in there with Byblos. I have always found this topic rather confusing - ambiguous. I believe it to be a separation from God, a realization that one got it all terribly wrong (the new insight), and some everlasting experience that is far from desirable. Beyond that, I am really kind of agnostic - I just don't know. And like Byblos, I hope never to find out - at least, not by personal experience.

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#138

Post by ttoews » Fri Oct 20, 2006 2:02 pm

B. W. wrote:...one thing that Annihilationist doctrine does it demonstrates derision towards the fear of God and shows disdains for the word of God. It seeks to supplant God's wisdom's with man's own. It exalts human reason other God's.
this is just wrong...look again at my posts on this thread and you will see that I argue from the Bible against the traditional interpretation and not against the Bible. Further, a number of Annihilationists would suspect that man's wisdom (in the form of the Platonic idea of the immortality of the soul) is the true source of the traditional interpretation.

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Re: Fire or No Fire?

#139

Post by ttoews » Fri Oct 20, 2006 2:09 pm

Byblos wrote: It's not one or the other. The way I see it, "separation from God" will result in some type of "real" and "eternal" anguish that will very much be discernable. Exactly what form this anguish will take is a bit ambiguous, I'll grant you that much.
there should be a bit more to it than that....as I have already pointed out to FFC the damned are already separated from God and one doesn't see a lot of real and eternal anguish resulting from that separation. Further, do you believe one can continue in existence if one is totally separated from God; or is it that God must maintain one's continued existence? Just curious.

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Re: Fire or No Fire?

#140

Post by ttoews » Fri Oct 20, 2006 2:20 pm

DonCameron wrote:Hello To All,

Lately I have seen several comments about the eternal punishment being a "separation from God" rather than any physical torture by fire.

You all know what I believe the everlasting punishment is. Please let me know what you all believe it to be.

If you don't believe it will be eternal torture by fire, why not?
....well fire was the truly traditional interpretation, but it seems that lately the traditionalists seek to "take the hell out of hell." If one wants to preach literalism as the only way to go, then why don't they understand "eternal fire" as exactly that? If the problem is the description of hell as being utter darkness, why not reconcile the two literally and understand that the damned will be blinded by the fires of hell and then will have to blindly (in utter darkness) swim in the lake of fire for all eternity? I think the literalist should fear that he may "allow the nose of the camel to enter the tent" if the literalist starts to stray from pure literalism.

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#141

Post by ttoews » Fri Oct 20, 2006 2:42 pm

FFC wrote:So, Don, would you say that the unconscious punishment is not having conscious eternal life in heaven with God? If so than most people would say "so what!".

How is it punishment to be separated from God and annihilated forever from someone and something that most people could care less about. I'm thinking a more fit punishment would be to let a person exist just outside of heaven, being able to see it but being eternally excluded from it. Constantly reminded of what he blew off and can never have. Now that would be punishment!
FFC, please allow me to apply your comments to the world we live in. Let's say your country captures a terrorist who wanted to board a plane and fly it into a building. The USA considers two options:
a) execution, or
b) life imprisonment.

Would you comment in the same fashion as you have done above? Would you ask the following:
So, ttoews, would you say that the execution is not having conscious life in this world that is controlled (to a large degree) by the USA? If so then most terrorists would say "so what!".

How is it punishment to be separated from the USA and killed? That fate is something most terrorists could care less about. I'm thinking a more fit punishment would be to let a person exist in a prison just outside the USA's society, being able to see it but being excluded from it. Constantly reminded of what he blew off and can never have. Now that would be punishment.

Is only imprisonment punishment?
Would the terrorist ever realize the beauty of the American Way?
Will the damned ever want to be with God?

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#142

Post by FFC » Fri Oct 20, 2006 2:55 pm

Ttoews wrote:there should be a bit more to it than that....as I have already pointed out to FFC the damned are already separated from God and one doesn't see a lot of real and eternal anguish resulting from that separation.


Ttoews. it's one thing to be separated from God and still partake of His general grace in this life (the rain falls on the just and the unjust)...and another to have that completely removed from you and be eternally damned without hope.
Ttoews wrote:Further, do you believe one can continue in existence if one is totally separated from God; or is it that God must maintain one's continued existence? Just curious.
Man's spirit was made to be eternal. I don't believe God ever meant to violate that by simply snuffing it out.
"Faith sees the invisible, believes the unbelievable, and receives the impossible." - Corrie Ten Boom

Act 9:6
And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?

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#143

Post by Judah » Fri Oct 20, 2006 3:12 pm

ttoews wrote: How is it punishment to be separated from the USA and killed? That fate is something most terrorists could care less about. I'm thinking a more fit punishment would be to let a person exist in a prison just outside the USA's society, being able to see it but being excluded from it. Constantly reminded of what he blew off and can never have. Now that would be punishment.

Is only imprisonment punishment?
Would the terrorist ever realize the beauty of the American Way?
Will the damned ever want to be with God?
I think the point that I made previously covers that situation.
My belief is that, when we stand in the full light of God and Judgement, that there is a full realization of the truth of who He is and who we are - in other words, perfect insight - and a part of that realization includes how we were created to be with Him, our true end which is ultimately desirable beyond anything else.
If one receives such an insight, complete with the yearning for what should have been, then to be discarded (separated) must be horrific.
I suspect that is one aspect of hell. Whatever else that is involved will be far from desirable.
I like the way you have shown there need be no contradiction between darkness and flames. That makes sense to me.

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#144

Post by B. W. » Fri Oct 20, 2006 7:05 pm

ttoews wrote:
B. W. wrote:...one thing that Annihilationist doctrine does it demonstrates derision towards the fear of God and shows disdains for the word of God. It seeks to supplant God's wisdom's with man's own. It exalts human reason other God's.
this is just wrong...look again at my posts on this thread and you will see that I argue from the Bible against the traditional interpretation and not against the Bible. Further, a number of Annihilationists would suspect that man's wisdom (in the form of the Platonic idea of the immortality of the soul) is the true source of the traditional interpretation.
Then I stand corrected and owe you an apology and stand corrected. Not all do this. Sorry about that.

What I mean by Fear of the Lord is that awesome respect, and reverence for God and his word. Not a terror but rather a deep respect for God - a trembling and humble spirit that comes when one encounters God as the OT Saints did.

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#145

Post by B. W. » Fri Oct 20, 2006 7:30 pm

Judah wrote:
ttoews wrote: How is it punishment to be separated from the USA and killed? That fate is something most terrorists could care less about. I'm thinking a more fit punishment would be to let a person exist in a prison just outside the USA's society, being able to see it but being excluded from it. Constantly reminded of what he blew off and can never have. Now that would be punishment.

Is only imprisonment punishment?
Would the terrorist ever realize the beauty of the American Way?
Will the damned ever want to be with God?
I think the point that I made previously covers that situation.
My belief is that, when we stand in the full light of God and Judgement, that there is a full realization of the truth of who He is and who we are - in other words, perfect insight - and a part of that realization includes how we were created to be with Him, our true end which is ultimately desirable beyond anything else.
If one receives such an insight, complete with the yearning for what should have been, then to be discarded (separated) must be horrific.
I suspect that is one aspect of hell. Whatever else that is involved will be far from desirable.
I like the way you have shown there need be no contradiction between darkness and flames. That makes sense to me.
Judah you are very close to the truth.

Too readers: There are times when human words cannot explain things in complete and easy format. If it was written in the bible that it was raining cats and dogs, many would argue over a literal interpretation. However the expression simply means it was raining so hard with drops so big so hard so fast and so long that it is impossible to convey the truth about how hard it was raining.

The same applies to the metaphors and symbols used in describing hell. Human words cannot describe it in an easy and concise manner so it has been expressed as fire, darkness, banishment from God, a hot dry place, a burial pit, grave, death, torment, a place where inhabitants are weeping and gnashing their teeth [which by the way you cannot do if you cease to exist], a place of fear, a place for Satan and his host, a garbage dump, a lake of fire, smoke, a place of recompense and the list goes on. It is not a nice place. It is eternal and never ending.

Sometimes I wonder why so many spend so much time haggling over words and fail to see the picture - the illustration that Hell is real and a terrible place to behold - so terrible that no words can describe it in a nice neat little package.

Since this is so - I wonder where the reverence for God and his word went in these discussions? Question is - can you and I take God at his word: the smoke of their torment arises forever and ever describes as much as the old saying - it is raining cats and dogs.
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#146

Post by Judah » Fri Oct 20, 2006 7:51 pm

B.W, I think we are singing from the same song book.
B.W. wrote:... Human words cannot describe it in an easy and concise manner so it has been expressed as fire, darkness, banishment from God, a hot dry place, a burial pit, grave, death, torment, a place where inhabitants are weeping and gnashing their teeth [which by the way you cannot do if you cease to exist], a place of fear, a place for Satan and his host, a garbage dump, a lake of fire, smoke, a place of recompense and the list goes on. It is not a nice place. It is eternal and never ending.
And all these different images make literal belief difficult and ambiguous for me. I can see how some apparent contradictions may not be contradictions at all, such as darkness and flames (mentioned in an earlier post by ttoews) but there are such a range of descriptions that, just for now, I must claim to be "agnostic" - I simply don't know.

However, one day I expect that to change in the way I have previously mentioned....
1 Corinthians 13: 12 Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
Meantime, I'm afraid I do not give it a great deal of thought. I am quite happy to accept that it is not somewhere that I would ever want to be. I don't look in that direction, but instead...
Philippians 3:14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

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#147

Post by ttoews » Fri Oct 20, 2006 9:01 pm

FFC wrote:Ttoews. it's one thing to be separated from God and still partake of His general grace in this life (the rain falls on the just and the unjust)...and another to have that completely removed from you and be eternally damned without hope.
fair enough, but do you find this distinction made in the verses that you use to support the idea that death = separation?
Man's spirit was made to be eternal. I don't believe God ever meant to violate that by simply snuffing it out.
now you've gotten me more curious....what verse(s) (apart from those that you think support eternal torment, which in turn, would necessitate eternal existence) do you think support the notion that man's spirit was made to be eternal? What do you think was God's purpose in creating man? Was it for man to have a relationship with Him? Is so, how is that purpose not violated by eternally damning man to hell without hope and where no relationship is ever possible? I look at Romans 9: 22-24 which reads:
22 What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath--prepared for destruction? 23 What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory-- 24 even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles?

Wrt to v.22 we agree that the damned are prepared for destruction but we differ on what we understand "destruction" to mean. God's purpose wrt the damned is stated at v.23 and is to "make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy". Do you or I need the damned to be tormented for eternity so that the riches of his glory will be known to us? You seem to think the answer is yes, eternal torment is required. Why?
Last edited by ttoews on Fri Oct 20, 2006 9:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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#148

Post by ttoews » Fri Oct 20, 2006 9:02 pm

B. W. wrote:Then I stand corrected and owe you an apology ...
thanks, that was gracious of you.

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#149

Post by ttoews » Fri Oct 20, 2006 9:22 pm

Judah wrote:My belief is that, when we stand in the full light of God and Judgement, that there is a full realization of the truth of who He is and who we are - in other words, perfect insight - and a part of that realization includes how we were created to be with Him, our true end which is ultimately desirable beyond anything else.
you say that we were "created to be with Him". I'll ask you the same question I asked FFC and that is, "How is that purpose not violated by placing the damned in hell where they will never have any hope of being with Him?" What is the purpose of endless torment? Will that put an end to sin/rebellion against God? If the purpose of endless torment is "justice" in your mind, why is endless torment more "just" than torment followed by annihilation or than immediate annihilation? If every sin is an "infinite offense against an infinite God" (btw I view this as a ridiculous argument) then as the damned continue to curse God during their eternal torment an infinity upon infinity of "offense" is accumulated and "justice" can never hope to catch up.
If one receives such an insight, complete with the yearning for what should have been, then to be discarded (separated) must be horrific.
true, but I also note that separation is what the devil apparently chose for himself....and the damned are not called his children w/o reason.
I like the way you have shown there need be no contradiction between darkness and flames. That makes sense to me.
thanks, if I was more traditional it is the way I'd go.

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#150

Post by Judah » Sat Oct 21, 2006 1:51 am

Yes, I do believe the purpose for our creation is to be with Him - to glorify God and enjoy Him forever, as I've often heard said. But it is not all that there is to His purpose. As I understand it, He wants us to make a choice to be with Him, to be restored to the righteousness that He had intended for us so that we may be perfect as He requires of us.

Because, as it is written in Romans 3:23 that "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God", I also believe our "default destination" has become that of separation from Him and whatever horrors that hell happens to provide. Although so many people do so, we (people in general) cannot presume to go automatically to Heaven. That would bypass Judgement (or make a mockery of it, not being on God's terms with Himself as the judge) and is more like the belief of Universalists, not Christian doctrine.

I also believe that God does not want to lose any one of us. Many verses say so.
Ezekiel 18:23 Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign LORD. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?
2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
1 Timothy 2:4 who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

So... given that many people do not take up on His provision of salvation through Jesus Christ, for whatever reason, I would say that His purpose in that respect - but not in the respect that He has allowed us the choice - is violated.
ttoews wrote:What is the purpose of endless torment? Will that put an end to sin/rebellion against God? If the purpose of endless torment is "justice" in your mind, why is endless torment more "just" than torment followed by annihilation or than immediate annihilation?


I have also questioned the "justice" in eternal damnation - separation from God, somewhere I would not want to be, a situation of torment. However, it helps me more if I start from the position that God's justice is perfect, that no-one could be more fair than Him, that He has no corrupt agenda, and that none of us will be dealt anything but absolute justice. These ideas are based on qualities inherent in His character. Therefore, if it is so that endless torment is a part of His justice, then it is undeniably just - even if I do not understand how that can possibly be so. I am recognizing my human inadequacy when it comes to understanding some (many) of the ways of God.
ttoews wrote:If every sin is an "infinite offense against an infinite God" (btw I view this as a ridiculous argument) then as the damned continue to curse God during their eternal torment an infinity upon infinity of "offense" is accumulated and "justice" can never hope to catch up.


I figure that God in His wisdom has set the entry criteria for heaven to be consistent with His character of righteousness and love, therefore there can be no place for sin at all. And it appears to me that for those who reject God right to the end of their lives, it is they themselves (rather than God) who are choosing the default destination rather than to be made perfect in Him. I am not letting up on our own responsibility in this matter.

When we come to see Him face to face, we see both Himself and ourselves in the full light of truth, and some (many I think) will realize with horror the predicament of having got it so wrong. Say a second chance choice is allowed right at that moment. Would it be a genuine choice freely made to serve God in love, to glorify Him, to enjoy Him, if one has rejected Him right up until then and therefore a decision would be heavily influenced by desperate avoidance of such terrible consequences? I'm not so sure that it would. Therefore despite the horror, the unsaved sinner has sealed his own fate. I don't think it is every sin that gets added up, but rather, that it is one's fundamental state of being in sin. Now this is supposition on my part, but if I was thrown into hell, I might just be filled with immense hatred and resentment and all kinds of evil nastiness toward my persecutor God whom I could likely blame for having done this to me - for not telling me more upfront what it was about beforehand, not warning me more, not removing temptations, not persuading me, and all the other excuses for blame imaginable. That is likely to harden my resolve to hate, not lessen it towards love and righteousness. So I am locked into that situation by the evil in my own heart.

Now I cannot work out the mechanics of it all - where hell can exist and be separate from God, how that stops sin (who said it had to, by the way?) and at what point there may be annihilation perhaps. As it happens, I don't see annihilation as punishment because I presume that is a state of nothingness with no awareness. I don't go along with purgatory which looks like a kind of similar arrangement but with recovery and admission to heaven as the final outcome, rather than torment then nothingness. I have already admitted that I have to remain agnostic on much of this - I simply don't know. But I do know that for whatever lies ahead of that nature, Jesus was pretty emphatic that it was not where you would want to go - not unless you had an over-riding preference for evil, that is.

The fact that I cannot be certain about too many of the details of all this does not preclude my interest in the dialogue here. I have given the questions my best shot for the time being.

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