Monday, April 10, 2006

The Problem With Hell

"Are you saved?"
"From What?"
"Eternal Damnation!"
Does anyone else have a problem with the concept of being damned to eternity for a mere lifetime of sin? I mean even if I am the meanest atheist on the planet for my entire life....isn't eternity a bit harsh from a god that is supposedly merciful and just? Do those concepts reconcile? I say if I am supposed to forgive trespasses then god should be a bigger deity and cut me a little slack. Truthfully I think the concept of hell is nothing more than a control that was introduced into the system of religion in order to control people through the use of fear but that is just me. If hell really does exist then I say god is a prick and it would be virtuous for us to rebel against his controlling influence and go our separate ways...who does this deity think he is?

If there is no hell then there is nothing to be saved from and if god is just then there is no hell....

23 comments:

lauren said...

Hell is punishment in the afterlife that we didn't receive on earth. God is merciful and he is just - and that "just" part comes into play when we die. He's not going to let a murderer who likes to slaughter people or a child rapist waltz around in heaven... UNLESS they truly regret and repent for their actions. I believe that if God knows that your regrets are sincere, then you're home free. To me, heaven is the ultimate, and hell is just one long bad dream.

I hate that term, "saved". It suggests that if you don't accept Jesus Christ as your lord and personal savior, you're up shit creek. Most people aren't so extreme. My credo is just to live a good life, genuinely repent for your sins and you'll be okay. Just believing in God is enough for me.

"...it would be virtuous for us to rebel against his controlling influence and go our separate ways..." It's called free will.

Brian in Mpls said...

But isn't that the point of all of this the use of grace and mercy is gift because it is give to those who don't deserve it? The power of forgiveess lies not with you being sorry for the things that you have done to me, but in my accpeting of and loving of you reguardless of the action.

dawnmarie said...

grace is a gift though, and you must accept the gift in order to receive it. It's of no use to you if you just leave it sitting in the hand of the giver, then you're not possessing it. In my opinion, if you repent, and accept the grace given to you with the repentance, you're in.

I do think that in order to be a christian, you've got to believe christ paid for the sins. otherwise you're just an ian. Christ is the root of the word and the faith.

Megsta said...

the hard part is deciding who is deserving of all this grace and mercy stuff... I personally don't buy into any of this heaven and hell business myself, but I do beleive we all have an internal connection to some sort of divine power, actually I think the connection is more than just that, I think we are all part of the greater whole. Each one of us knows deep within whether or not the things we do in this lifetime are right or wrong, I think that we are expected to get things right for the most part and we are sent back here (hell on earth? heaven on earth? depending upon what it is you experience in your life - reincarnation) until we figure out our lessons. I think that any religion that condemns a person for any "sins" they have commited is cruel, I think the personal hell one lives out in their own mind is punishment enough - I think that each person reguardless of what they've done in their life deserves a chance to get things right, I can feel hatred and anger towards any rapist, murderer, child molestor, but they are really just like you and I - trying to use the tools they were given in this lifetime to get themselves through somehow. We all make mistakes and do bad things - that is the nature of being human - and I think that until we are all able to see and nurture our earthly connections to one another and take it upon ourselves to work together towards the betterment of humankind as a complete whole, we're all just going to be lost in a stream of neverending questions or quick to agree with answers.... I think I'm quite babblesome now and I'm not really sure what I'm tryin to get across here, but I think the answers are never cut and dry - I think the peace and security in this world we are all searching for are too simple and complex to make perfect sense to anyone... the joy and beauty of life is that it is a never ending process towards finding happieness and love - some of us choose positive routes to acheive this and others lash out at the world in order to get the love and attention they crave (look to any small child for proof of this theory if you are not sold - how many do you know who have screamed, hit, biten etc to try to get what they want)
Here's wishing you all the joy and forgiveness that you deserve!

Rocketstar said...

Great post Brian, it reminds of one of my favorite quotes:

"Fix logic and reason firmly in her seat, and call to her tribunal every fact, every opinion. Question with boldness even the existence of a God; Because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of logic and reason, than that of blindfolded fear."
--thomas jefferson.

lauren said...

Brian, you bring up an excellent point. Dawn does too. I think she said it a lot better than me.

I guess that was what I was getting at with the whole being sincere thing. If you're just going through the motions but feel no real regret, do you deserve to be treated with mercy and grace? Or is that my human reaction to something that is best saved for a higher being?

dawnmarie said...

"the hard part is deciding who is deserving of all this grace and mercy stuff..."

I think the point is that either all or none are deserving, but we get it anyway. so long as we ACCEPT it.

Brian in Mpls said...

I don't think we have to accept it is my point I think that we place human values of emotion on god and god can not have emotion if he already knows everything past and present an emotion is a response to or anticipation of an event that is unknown..if I already know all of the events and have experienced it I am indifferent to any given event and don't have an emotional response. I don't agree with the aspect that one has to accept anything....would god damn all the people of the world who are fortunate enough not to have experienced Christianity? or any other religion with an exclusivity cause? Not any god I would ever yield too, because it is a value system that I don't agree with...It is conditional love. And if I hold god to the highest standard and love given by a perfect being is by definition unconditional

dawnmarie said...

bri, you're right, you don't have to accept it, but hten you don't have it.

i absolutely think you can have emotion even if you know what's going to happen. you can absolutely love something knowing what it's going to do.

Brian in Mpls said...

You can anticipate an emotion and that emotion will last until the event is experienced....

Brian in Mpls said...

Sweet Hell here I come :)

Rocketstar said...

My heathen pagan agnostic blood will be right there with you man, we'll have a jolly good time drinking beers with the devil.

lauren said...

"Would god damn all the people of the world who are fortunate enough not to have experienced Christianity? or any other religion with an exclusivity cause?"

Both the Jewish and Muslim faiths recognize God (Jehovah and Allah). They both have heavens. It is probably the same heaven that I hope I'm going to as a Catholic. The thing about Christianity, when people practice it correctly, is that there is no exclusivity clause. Being that you aren't a Christian (and I don't know if you ever were one) maybe your experiences haven't been with the right kinds of Christians.

I was taught that God is a loving, merciful, just God. I don't think my God is exclusive just to Catholics or just to Christians. I think my God is shared with Jews, Muslims and the "higher power" that many agnostics recognize.

Which brings me to another question: How can an agnostic person recognize that there is a higher power, but not recognize the higher power by name? Just wondering, that's something I've never gotten.

Brian in Mpls said...

"I was taught that God is a loving, merciful, just God." Can a god like this condem people to an eterinty in hell? I guess that was my point.

and i am agnostic because i can neither recognize nor disprove the existance of a higher power

And yes the same god that abraham made the covenet with is the same god that all three pray too...so the heaven (if there is such a place) is one and the same

good discussion and good points:) How is the move going my the way? You in cin. yet?

Say Rah! said...

lauren - your statement re: exclusivity... according to christianity, doesn't one need to accept jesus as the savior (i.e. be christian) in order to go to heaven? i'm honestly asking. i am not catholic, but my mother is. we were talking about judaism one day and she asked how they felt that they weren't going to be able to go to heaven since they didn't believe the jesus part. first, i'm like, ma, they don't believe that, so it's never occurred to them... duh. anyway. what i like about judaism is that 1) it's non-proselyzing and b) they believe that anybody who lives a good life can go to heaven - jewish or not.

but i really, really, really thought that christianty (catholicism or otherwise) teaches that you must accept jesus, specifically. and that seems pretty darn exclusive to me.

lauren said...

Brian - God doesn't condemn anyone to hell. People condemn themselves through their actions and their unwillingness to feel sorrow for their sins. And I mean that in the most sincere, non-Bible beating way.

Sayrah - Maybe it was just the way that I was raised, but I never once had to make the statement, "I accept Jesus Christ as my lord and personal savior" the way that many Christian faiths are taught. I was taught, however, that Jesus is the Son of God and as part of the Trinity, is God. I was also taught that if you live a good life, you're going to heaven - and that doesn't mean that Christians or Catholics get first dibbs on heaven, either, but that anyone who lives a good life gets in.

Following that logic, as I said before, believing in God is enough for me. If your God and my God are different, then that's cool. I'm all for diversity, as I was never taught that one religion is the superior to another. I've studied other religions at length and found that many of them either follow the same pattern, hold true the same basic principles and coincide with one another nicely. I'm certainly not the poster child for Catholics - just one person expressing what they think about the whole heaven and hell debate.

lauren said...

PS - the move is arduous and never ending. I still don't have furnitue. But I don't take over my apartment until May 1, so I guess I still have a little time?

Anonymous said...

lauren.... doesn't the bible also say that works without faith is nothing??? so do you or do you not need to beleive in jesus christ and live a wholesome life in order to get to heaven? in the bible jesus says" i am the way the truth and the light, NO ONE

Anonymous said...

doh!!!! i hit the send button..
anyway he says noone comes to the father but through me. in order to get to heaven you need to do both things. its how i see it at least. but what do i know???

Brian in Mpls said...

Not to be harsh anonymous as I love your insight, I hope that you will appreciate my candor meant only to provoke further thought on the subject.
I do believe though that this is exactly why we must get away from the bible for this discussion. Especially its literal translation. We need to see the bible for what it is. IT IS A DOCUMENT CREATED BY MAN. Passages that it contains were voted in \\or out by the council at Nicaea
in Greek and Latin. If you have any idea what this process can do to effect the original intent (Which is lost since no surviving manuscripts exist) watch our legislative process on how a bill is passed into law. The bibles translation into English is horrific at best it contains more errors and contradictions than there are words in the new testament.

lauren said...

Brian, you might be surprised by this, but I am in complete agreement. Well said. Plus, I don't think your original post was to define heaven and hell from one religious perspective, but from a personal perspective. I feel that I have done so, and that the rest of your readers (save for the anonymous person) have done so, as well.

Also, can I just say, I think this is a good, frank discussion... but let's not forget that heaven and hell is not a notion singular just to Christianity. It just happens to be the denomination that is most represented here.

Okay, I'm finished defining and/or defending my personal beliefs for the day.

FACE said...

I worship SATAN!

Dem Soldier said...

I too don't like the SAVED word. Leave me alone....Don't need to be saved.

God is always merciful to all of us, be religious or not.