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View Full Version : Do you believe in a literal HELL?



BadDog
Aug 23rd 2008, 07:03 PM
Just wanted to take a poll regarding this controversial issue. Here are a few choices - I know that they won't encompass all that they should, but they'll give us some ideas:

Hell? Real or allegorical?

1) Yes. Hell is literal–a place where people suffer for eternity in the Lake of Fire. (Dante's Inferno) The Literal View.

2) Yes. Hell is where unbelievers are exterminated. They do not suffer eternally, but cease to exist. The Annihilation View.

3) Yes. Hell is biblical but allegorical, not literal. It's simply the absence of God. This is also referred to as The Metaphorical View.

4) Yes. Hell is a place of punishment—but not for eternity. I believe ultimately all will be redeemed. (I am a Christian.) The Purgatorial View

5) No, I do not believe in hell at all. (I am a Christian)

6) No. I believe that all roads (religions) lead to heaven. There is no hell. (I am not a Christian.)



#1 is the traditional position on hell - that it is a place of eternal suffering as a judgment by a righteous God.

Assume that #4 above is a position held by conservative evangelical Christians in other areas of theology. They just do not believe that the Lake of Fire is eternal, and instead hold that all will eventually believe in Christ, or in some other way be saved. This is often referred to as Universal Redemption (or Reconciliation). There are a wide range of positions here, but the bottom line here is that they do not believe that hell is for eternity but for an age. It is also referred to as Christian Universalism. If you are not a Christian, then this is not your position. :P

If instead you believe that there are other paths to heaven (God) besides Christ, then select #6 above, rather than #4.

#3 and 5 above are similar. #5 is for those who do not believe in hell at all, while #3 is for those who hold to hell as a biblical concept, but one intended to be more allegorical. I know - close.

#2 is a position held by a growing number of evangelical theologians that says that one's existence is exterminated in the Lake of fire - you simply cease to exist. (FYI, this is NOT the traditional view on hell. The traditional view says that souls are eternal. It's just a matter of where you spend eternity.) IOW, you do not believe in suffering in hell for eternity if you hold this position. Other views of hell (whether allegorical or literal - except the UR position) in general see it as an eternal judgment of some sort.


Comments? BTW, this was not intended as a thread for bashing those who disagree with you, nor as a place for UR to plug their position. But we do want to know your thoughts on this sensitive topic. Let's get a feel for the range of beliefs regarding hell.

Oh, FWIW, I still hold to #1 above, as difficult as that may be to support at times. I recently read The Evangelical Universalist by Gregory MacDonald. Good book, but some of his arguments break down, IMO. For example, the problem of universal retribution breaks down due to his misunderstanding about eternity. Any mathematician would see through that argument, IMO. But it was a good read.

Thx,

BD

Literalist-Luke
Aug 23rd 2008, 07:16 PM
Call me a conservative, fundamentalist, traditionalist then - # 1 is my vote. You should set this up as a "poll" thread in the Polls Forum.

BadDog
Aug 23rd 2008, 07:30 PM
Call me a conservative, fundamentalist, traditionalist then - # 1 is my vote. You should set this up as a "poll" thread in the Polls Forum.Lit-Luke,

Hi. Actually, it was set up in the polls forum. I was in the middle of listing the views and so I guess they had it temporarily listed somewhere else.

BTW, for what it's worth, your position is NOT the conservative fundamentalist traditionalist position... :P That is #1 - the view that unbelievers suffer for eternity in hell. The view that they cease to exist - are exterminated, believe it or not, is considered to be somewhat radical, and not evangelical! But who cares what they think, huh?

Oops - I assumed that you voted #2, since the only other vote, other than my own, was for #2. Yes, you did vote "conservative." :D

I believe that RC Sproul may have held the #2 position for a time. At the least he did write an article on it. It is an attempt to deal with the issue that some URs have that an eternal suffering must be an infinite amount of punishment, and hence is unwarranted since we do not commit an infinite amount of sin. The other argument is that eternal suffering does not seem to fit the character of God, and also the question is raised as to how one could enjoy eternity while being aware that a loved one is suffering at the same time.

Comments?

BD

Frances
Aug 23rd 2008, 07:47 PM
I believe in hell - because Jesus did. I hope I never discover what it actually entails, apart from there being no love there.

BadDog
Aug 23rd 2008, 07:48 PM
1) Yes. Hell is literal–a place where people suffer for eternity in the Lake of Fire. (Dante's Inferno) The Literal View.

2) Yes. Hell is where unbelievers are exterminated. They do not suffer eternally, but cease to exist. The Annihilation View.

3) Yes. Hell is biblical but allegorical, not literal. It's simply the absence of God. The Metaphorical View.

4) Yes. Hell is a place of punishment—but not for eternity. I believe ultimately all will be redeemed. The Purgatorial View.

5) No, I do not believe in hell at all. (I am a Christian)

6) No. I believe that all roads (religions) lead to heaven. There is no hell. (I am not a Christian.)

FYI, views #1 - #4 are held by Christians, and all hold to some form of belief in hell. #5 is also held by some Christians - who do not believe in hell at all, allegorical or literal. #6 is a form of universal redemption which is non-Christian in nature, and should be distinguished from #4, which is held by believers - some of whom are very conservative. BTW, Augustine held the #4 view, and I think that Origin did not believe in a literal view of hell at all (#3 or #5).

I confess that I have been reading a book edited by Stanley Gundry and William Crockett - Four Views on Hell. It is one of those books designed so that you can read what a guru of a position says, and the other 3 comment on that position as well. I love those kinds of books. The first 4 options in this poll are from that book. I added 5 and 6 because some simply do not believe in hell... at all.

It is interesting that Crockett defends the metaphorical view, yet he is one of the editors of the book! It is also interesting that there often appears to be a strong reaction to #4 above, but not to #3, which IMO handles the Bible in a less literal fashion than does #4. I think it may be because #4 (Evangelical Universal Redemption) is often misunderstood as # 6 - that all roads lead to heaven.

BD

BadDog
Aug 23rd 2008, 08:04 PM
I'm curious... as I understand it, our board does not permit those who hold to the #4 position above to "proselytize" in threads - the UR position. Does it also handle positions #2 and 3 above in a similar manner?

Thx, just curious.

BD

BadDog
Aug 23rd 2008, 08:12 PM
I must add that referring to the UR #4 position as "The Purgatorial View" is probably not fair to it, since those who hold it are Protestants, not Catholics, as is Zachery Hayes - who defends that position in that chapter in the book I listed. But it is very close to what UR says, IMO. I hope I didn't offend any URs in our mix by doing so. I just didn't want to have too many positions, when #4 and UR are very close.

Edited-added: The UR position is typically different also in that it sees LL people as eventually being redeemed, while the Catholic position still sees many as perishing... they just see some believers as needing to go through purgatory. But the idea of a temporary holding place is similar to the UR position.

BD

Literalist-Luke
Aug 23rd 2008, 08:14 PM
Lit-Luke,

Hi. Actually, it was set up in the polls forum. I was in the middle of listing the views and so I guess they had it temporarily listed somewhere else.

BTW, for what it's worth, your position is NOT the conservative fundamentalist traditionalist position... :P That is #1 - the view that unbelievers suffer for eternity in hell. The view that they cease to exist - are exterminated, believe it or not, is considered to be somewhat radical, and not evangelical! But who cares what they think, huh?Um, I goi with eternal suffering, based on the plain wording to that effect in Revelation and in statements by Jesus that "their worm never dies".
Oops - I assumed that you voted #2, since the only other vote, other than my own, was for #2. Yes, you did vote "conservative." :DThat's right. :thumbsup:

Pleroo
Aug 23rd 2008, 08:18 PM
Comments?


:rolleyes: Ahhh, yes. Comments I have. However, since comments in support of Christian Universalism have been, for all intents and purposes, banned on the open forums I'll be surprised to see too many of us represented here.

But, I'll joyfully chime in with a declaration of my belief in what the Bible teaches: that God is the Savior of all men, that just as in Adam all died, so also in Christ all will be made alive, and that every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father!

As to the question of hell (hades), your opening post seems to equate it to the Lake of Fire which it cannot be since hades is cast into the Lake of Fire. Am I misunderstanding you, BD?

daughter
Aug 23rd 2008, 09:11 PM
I can't vote on this one, because option one is spoiled by the assumption that the traditional biblical view of hell is that represented in Dante's Inferno. It isn't... The Divine Comedy was in part political allegory, and Dante himself didn't take it literally! But I do believe that hell is real, that to call seperation from God merely allegorical torture is underestimating the majesty and might of God... And if anything hell is worse than the flames we've heard of.

I believe yes, hell is real, it is eternal, it is a place of punishment, pain, and eternal seperation from God, and it's even worse than we can imagine. Given that we imagine it as a place of eternal burning, and it's too awful to describe... I'm glad I'm not going there, and I'm going to keep praying for others to be saved.

holyrokker
Aug 23rd 2008, 10:52 PM
I would vote "None of the above"

I think hell is a "spiritual" location.

The suffering is spiritual, rather than physical. The body is dead, so there can't be any more physical suffering.

1 Corinthians 15:42-44 says: "So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable;....it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body"

amazzin
Aug 23rd 2008, 11:01 PM
Anybody who doesn't agre with this:
Yes. Hell is literal–a place where people suffer for eternity in the Lake of Fire.

They are headed there for a visit and they will burn for an eternity. It is a real palce not to be debated.

BrckBrln
Aug 23rd 2008, 11:37 PM
Anybody who doesn't agre with this:
Yes. Hell is literal–a place where people suffer for eternity in the Lake of Fire.

They are headed there for a visit and they will burn for an eternity. It is a real palce not to be debated.

:rolleyes: So you're saying that people who believe in Annihilationism are going to hell?

Jerry4America
Aug 24th 2008, 03:15 AM
Anybody who doesn't agre with this:
Yes. Hell is literal–a place where people suffer for eternity in the Lake of Fire.

They are headed there for a visit and they will burn for an eternity. It is a real palce not to be debated.That does seem a tad bit harsh. I am dogmatic for #1 (not the Dante Inferno part), but I wouldn't say that people that believed in option 2 or 3 were going to Hell because of that.

BadDog
Aug 24th 2008, 05:01 AM
:rolleyes: Ahhh, yes. Comments I have. However, since comments in support of Christian Universalism have been, for all intents and purposes, banned on the open forums I'll be surprised to see too many of us represented here.

But, I'll joyfully chime in with a declaration of my belief in what the Bible teaches: that God is the Savior of all men, that just as in Adam all died, so also in Christ all will be made alive, and that every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father!

As to the question of hell (hades), your opening post seems to equate it to the Lake of Fire which it cannot be since hades is cast into the Lake of Fire. Am I misunderstanding you, BD?
No, you're correct. I know that "hell" is cast into the Lake of Fire in Revelation 21 or 22. But that's how most view it, and I didn't want to confuse more than I already was. But I did make clear in my opening post that what is in view IS the Lake of Fire... that is where people will suffer for eternity - not hell (or Hades or Ghenna).

I do not understand why Christian Universalism is banned here - didn't know that it was so strongly, and do not understand why, I must admit. I was just interested in what percentage of users here believe in what form of hell, if at all. Annihilation used to be considered almost heresy, yet more and more evangelical theologians are heading down that route as well.

I have researched this some, and must say that it is a confusing issue. I have sympathy for those who take position #2 or #4. I think that if more Christians researched this, rather than just accepted what they've been taught, this would be more widely split than it apparently is these days. Witness our poll... only one for #2, and 11 for #1. Yeah, I also hold to #1, but I have read two books on it carefully. I also know some Greek and studied the Greek regarding AIWN and AIWNOS and various complex singular and plural versions of those terms. I think the Greek does leave the door open, but I still see AIWNOS as referencing eternity - in general, though not exclusively. Complex forms of AIWN often refer to eternity in general as well, though not always.

But there are some good logical and philosophical questions raised by # 2 and # 4 above. I do not want to turn this thread into a debate on UR or annihilation though. But please, do vote. There should be no problem with that.

BD

BadDog
Aug 24th 2008, 05:07 AM
I can't vote on this one, because option one is spoiled by the assumption that the traditional biblical view of hell is that represented in Dante's Inferno. It isn't... The Divine Comedy was in part political allegory, and Dante himself didn't take it literally! But I do believe that hell is real, that to call seperation from God merely allegorical torture is underestimating the majesty and might of God... And if anything hell is worse than the flames we've heard of.

I believe yes, hell is real, it is eternal, it is a place of punishment, pain, and eternal seperation from God, and it's even worse than we can imagine. Given that we imagine it as a place of eternal burning, and it's too awful to describe... I'm glad I'm not going there, and I'm going to keep praying for others to be saved.Sorry about that - the intent is to make it clear that position #1 is one that sees the Lake of Fire as a place where those who do not trust in Christ will suffer forever. Sure Dante's Fire did make it seem like God was very vindictive. But can the Lake of Fire be any easier to endure than Dante's Inferno described? IMO it will be worse than the agony depicted there.

I guess I needed another option for those who hold to an eternity in "hell," but a hell that is not that intense. And Jesus did say that "their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched."

Mark 9:47, 48 And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.

Those who do not accept this should perhaps then vote for a more allegorical hell, as in #3. Do you believe that hell (hades) is a place where the worms inflict agonizing torture and the fire does not subside? That is what Jesus was saying, if taken strictly literally, right? If not, then you are taking a somewhat allegorical view. Sorry, but I didn't want too many options - which is why I combined the UR with the Catholic purgatory... probably not the best thing to do. :P

I realize that you do espouse a quite literal view of the texts... you just have an issue with the "Dante's Inferno" part. Remember that it was a comedy. Hell there did bear the following inscription at the entrance: "Abandon all hope, ye who enter here." Uh, sounds legitimate to me. Sure, there's lots of imagery of maggots, worms, wasps, etc. But Jesus literally mentioned the worms, and one guy in Acts literally was consumed by worms. And the play has those who committed various sins being punished in a manner appropriate for their sins... sounds reasonable to me, again.

Anyway, my intent was to focus on the literalness of intense suffering hell for that position by referring to the play.

BD

BadDog
Aug 24th 2008, 05:17 AM
I would vote "None of the above"

I think hell is a "spiritual" location.

The suffering is spiritual, rather than physical. The body is dead, so there can't be any more physical suffering.

1 Corinthians 15:42-44 says: "So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable;....it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body"
Sounds like the allegorical position (#3) above.

BadDog
Aug 24th 2008, 05:19 AM
Anybody who doesn't agre with this:
Yes. Hell is literal–a place where people suffer for eternity in the Lake of Fire.

They are headed there for a visit and they will burn for an eternity. It is a real palce not to be debated.Sorry amazzin, but IMO this is unbiblical.

Many believers have trusted in Christ for eternal life. They may be wrong in their theology about the final resting place for the unsaved, but that does not mean that they are going to hell! Where does any scripture say such?

Their salvation is based on their faith in Christ.

BD

BadDog
Aug 24th 2008, 05:21 AM
:rolleyes: So you're saying that people who believe in Annihilationism are going to hell?Amen! If so, then RC Sproul may be headed there, for he did write an article defending Annihilationism. (Not sure if he still holds to it though.)

BD

BadDog
Aug 24th 2008, 05:31 AM
I didn't realize how sensitive an issue this was when I started this post... I do want everyone to continue to be careful and considerate to those with whom they disagree.

That said, I would like to know how various people who voted for, say #1, handle the apparent image generated of a ruthless, unmerciful God, which is obviously not biblical. How do you deal with that?

I'd also like those who hold to #2, a view of extermination of unbelievers, in terms of the scripture I quoted above (Mark 9:47, 48) about the worm not dying and the fire not being quenched.

I'd be interested in those who hold to #3 how they handle it clearly being allegorical. Why do you think it should be viewed in an allegorical manner?

I'd be interested in those who hold to #4 explaining the basis for a "2nd chance."

Lastly, for #5 and #6 above, those who do not believe in hell at all - hell (or eternal judgment) is spoken of dozens if not hundreds of times in the Bible... why draw the line there?

Cheers, and let me encourage one and all to try to learn from those who hold a different position than their own. I'm not asking that you change your position, or vacillate on it. I am asking that we all genuinely listen to what others have to say on this sensitive and difficult subject.

BD

BadDog
Aug 24th 2008, 05:43 AM
It is interesting that at this point over 90% hold to the traditional view of an eternal place of suffering, though we do know of one who would have voted for #5, and perhaps one or two of those who voted for #1 were thinking of a literal place, but not literal fire and worms... which would be #3.

Regardless, that's very interesting. I really did not know what to expect.

BD

holyrokker
Aug 24th 2008, 05:49 AM
Sounds like the allegorical position (#3) above.
But I don't view it as allegorical. I believe hell to be real, but not a physical place that torments physical bodies.

God is not physical. He is not in a physical place, but He is very real.

BadDog
Aug 24th 2008, 05:58 AM
:rolleyes: So you're saying that people who believe in Annihilationism are going to hell?I am aware of the following theologians who hold to Annihilationism:

Pinnock, Stott, Gerstner, Carl Henry, George Ladd, and I believe Edward Fudge.

There are other big wigs who hold to Annihilation, but I haven't researched fo ra list. :D These are just those I'm aware of.

BD

BadDog
Aug 24th 2008, 06:02 AM
But I don't view it as allegorical. I believe hell to be real, but not a physical place that torments physical bodies.

God is not physical. He is not in a physical place, but He is very real.
Understood. That is the #3 position, which is what is meant by it being "biblical." To say that you do not view the description as "where the worm does not die and the fire is not quenched" as referring to a "physical place" is to take an allegorical position... That does not at all mean that you are being less accurate in your interpretation of scripture... you just believe that the intent was not that of a literal physical suffering.

Those who hold to #1 believe that this was meant to be literal bodily suffering - for eternity. This is why I thought that perhaps some who voted #1 really meant #3. Sorry that I wasn't clear enough.

BD

daughter
Aug 24th 2008, 09:24 AM
I'll post more in depth later... but just to say that we only have a problem with hell because humans are generally centre of our universe, rather than God. When I was first Christian the idea of annihilationism was rather attractive to me, and I wanted to believe it. However, the more I studied the Scriptures (particularly the Greek texts... I'm afraid my Hebrew is still rather shoddy) the more I realised this was wishful thinking.

I ended up suffering real fear over this issue... I started to listen to the devil's accusations that God was unjust, unfair, etc...

But then one day I realised that God is centre of the universe, not any human. As long as I focus on the "rights" of man to be saved, I'll miss the fact of God's unfathomable love. We all deserve hell... I know I do. Who am I to judge God and suggest He should do it some other way?

When I was rejeting hell as a doctrine I wasn't struggling to understand what the scripture said, I was rebelling against it. Humans do not deserve an eternity of bliss in heaven... why do we only balk at the idea of an eternity in hell? Who do we think we are? The centre of the universe?

Wow, that ended up more in depth than I intended. I may have time to show you some word studies later, but I'm sure you can find similar material online.

Oh... I've also read Dante's Inferno. It's NOT a valid depiction of hell, even though it's a very well written work. If you base your idea of hell on the Inferno, it's no wonder you're having trouble accepting what the Bible says.

God bless, and speak to you soon.

PeterJ
Aug 24th 2008, 03:47 PM
Who he Dante's?

daughter
Aug 24th 2008, 03:56 PM
Dante wrote a political allegory using medieval RC conceptions of hell, purgatory and heaven as a literary vehicle. There are many extra biblical ideas in it... such as the detailed description of hell, descending in stages, so that you can see the metaphorical punishments being played out as you descend. For example, a couple who died in adultery, are clinging to each other, and being blown around by the wind, further down politicians and sycophants are swimming in faeces, while devils push them under, people who cause division are split into fragments, and near the bottom, murderers are frozen in living ice. The devil is like that little sweety at the bottom of an icecream cone... frozen at the bottom of hell, chewing Judas etnerally.

I do NOT believe this is an accurate depiction of hell, although Dante got in trouble for his depiction of what happens to popes.

Too many people took this literally at the time, and although it's a great piece of literary fiction, it's done a lot of damage to the credibility of the doctrine of hell.

TrustGzus
Aug 26th 2008, 07:34 PM
While this book is sixteen years old now, here is a summary by R. C. Sproul . . . .

Summary

1. The suffering of hell is beyond any experience of misery found in this world.

2. Hell is clearly included in the teaching of Jesus.

3. If the biblical descriptions of hell are symbols, then the reality will be worse than the symbols.



4. Hell is the presence of God in His wrath and judgment.

5. There is no cruelty in hell. Hell will be a place of perfect justice.

6. Hell is eternal. There is no escape through either repentance or annihilation.
[/URL]
[URL="http://bibleforums.org/#_ftnref1"] (http://bibleforums.org/#_ftn1)Sproul, R. C. (1996, c1992). Essential truths of the Christian faith. Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House.

Athanasius
Aug 26th 2008, 08:56 PM
:rolleyes: So you're saying that people who believe in Annihilationism are going to hell?

Well I shouldn't think they'd have anything to worry about. Not like they believe they're going to be there for eternity :rolleyes:


Sorry amazzin, but IMO this is unbiblical.

Many believers have trusted in Christ for eternal life. They may be wrong in their theology about the final resting place for the unsaved, but that does not mean that they are going to hell! Where does any scripture say such?

Their salvation is based on their faith in Christ.

BD

What does it mean to have "faith in Christ"?

To answer the question, I agree with Amazzin.

BrckBrln
Aug 26th 2008, 09:00 PM
Well I shouldn't think they'd have anything to worry about. Not like they believe they're going to be there for eternity :rolleyes:

:rofl:Good point.


To answer the question, I agree with Amazzin.

Do you mean you agree with him about if you don't believe in option 1 then you are going to hell?

longtooth
Aug 26th 2008, 10:34 PM
If there is a real & litteral heaven for believers then there is a littera hell for unbelievers.

Mike CP King
Aug 26th 2008, 10:36 PM
There were a few options missing in the pole.

For example

Anihilationism where people not found in the book of life are thrown in the lake of fire are punished until God's justice is fully satisfied then anihilated.

This option is a different view to some groups who believe that unbelievers cease to exist at death.

One must also be aware that Sheol and Hades was meant to be understood as 'grave' in contrast to the Greek/Babylonian view of heaven and hell which became into being from around 200BC (notably the Pharisees and Saducees) and later with the early church (Augustine's statement about accepting Plato's view on the immortality of the soul.)

Athanasius
Aug 27th 2008, 01:27 AM
:rofl:Good point.

Do you mean you agree with him about if you don't believe in option 1 then you are going to hell?

I agree with everything he said, so yes.

BrckBrln
Aug 27th 2008, 02:22 AM
I agree with everything he said, so yes.

Wow, you got any scripture? I mean, what is the difference between Annihilationism and something like Calvinism/Arminianism?

Athanasius
Aug 27th 2008, 02:56 AM
Wow, you got any scripture? I mean, what is the difference between Annihilationism and something like Calvinism/Arminianism?

One's clearly anti-Biblical, the other two are debatable and probably both right and wrong on different topics.

BrckBrln
Aug 27th 2008, 03:03 AM
One's clearly anti-Biblical, the other two are debatable and probably both right and wrong on different topics.

I still don't see how believing in Annihilationism will send you to hell. I think there are many people who will say that either Calvinism or Arminianism is clearly anti-Biblical (I could be one of them) and who's to say they are wrong? Could not one be right and one wrong? I just think it's a real stretch to condemn people who believe in Annihilationism.

matthew94
Aug 27th 2008, 06:54 AM
I have studied the 3 main Christian views closely (eternal torment, conditional immortality and universal reconcilation). I have come to hold the position that conditional immortality is the position most supported by the biblical evidence.

So I voted #2

Baddog made the following comment against #2


I'd also like those who hold to #2, a view of extermination of unbelievers, in terms of the scripture I quoted above (Mark 9:47, 48) about the worm not dying and the fire not being quenched.

But, truth be told, this passage actually is a major argument FOR #2 and against #1 (since, when examined, it can no longer be used to support #1 despite being one of the major supposed evidences). Mark 9:48 is referring back to Isaiah 66:24

Mk 9... their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.
Is 66.. their worm will not die, nor will their fire be quenched

But, in context, is Isaiah talking about the eternal torment of the wicked OR the death of the wicked?


22 "As the new heavens and the new earth that I make will endure before me," declares the LORD, "so will your name and descendants endure. 23 From one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, all mankind will come and bow down before me," says the LORD. 24 "And they will go out and look upon the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; their worm will not die, nor will their fire be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind."

The passage specifically says that the bodies are dead. The passage is simply using powerful imagery to communicate that the fate of the wicked is gruesome and unreversable death.

I also take some issue with the phrase "extermination of unbelievers." Terms like 'annihilation' and 'extermination' make it sound as if God is killing normally immortal beings as a punishment. Such is not the case. The Bible clearly says that God alone is, by nature, immortal (1 Timothy 6:16). Immortality is something we have to access through Christ (Romans 2:7, 1 Corinthians 15:53-54, 2 Timothy 1:10). Thus, a better term for this position is conditional immortality for the simple reason that, according to the Bible, our immortality is, indeed, conditional upon our being 'in Christ.'

Pleroo
Aug 27th 2008, 02:58 PM
No, you're correct. I know that "hell" is cast into the Lake of Fire in Revelation 21 or 22. But that's how most view it, and I didn't want to confuse more than I already was. But I did make clear in my opening post that what is in view IS the Lake of Fire... that is where people will suffer for eternity - not hell (or Hades or Ghenna).

Okay, BD, thanks for clarifying.



I do not understand why Christian Universalism is banned here - didn't know that it was so strongly, and do not understand why, I must admit. I was just interested in what percentage of users here believe in what form of hell, if at all. Annihilation used to be considered almost heresy, yet more and more evangelical theologians are heading down that route as well.

I have researched this some, and must say that it is a confusing issue. I have sympathy for those who take position #2 or #4. I think that if more Christians researched this, rather than just accepted what they've been taught, this would be more widely split than it apparently is these days. Witness our poll... only one for #2, and 11 for #1. Yeah, I also hold to #1, but I have read two books on it carefully. I also know some Greek and studied the Greek regarding AIWN and AIWNOS and various complex singular and plural versions of those terms. I think the Greek does leave the door open, but I still see AIWNOS as referencing eternity - in general, though not exclusively. Complex forms of AIWN often refer to eternity in general as well, though not always.

But there are some good logical and philosophical questions raised by # 2 and # 4 above. I do not want to turn this thread into a debate on UR or annihilation though. But please, do vote. There should be no problem with that.

BD

Right, I don't want your thread to get locked so I won't give any response to why I believe the Scriptures teach a universal reconcilation through Jesus Christ.

I'm still hesitant to vote, because I am not 100% in accord with the wording you've used for #4. But, since you're just trying to get a general idea, I will put my vote there. Regardless of my beliefs on what hell and the lake of fire are, I do believe that Jesus is the Savior of the world, and that all will be redeemed.

TrustGzus
Aug 28th 2008, 02:08 AM
It seems to me that if someone acknowledges that they are a sinner and in need of a redeemer, and if they believe that Jesus is fully god and fully man, was born of a virgin, was crucified, died and rose again bodily from the grave, hold to Trinitarian theology and believe Jesus is coming again to establish his kingdom, I'd have a hard time saying that if people don't hold to view #1, i.e. taking the language about Hell in a wooden-literal sense, that they'd actually end up in Hell.

I'd like to hear the argument for that case.

Jesus: Why should I let you into my Heaven?
Person: Because I am a sinner and knowing that all my righteousness is as filthy rags I put my total trust in your substitutionary death on my behalf and that you rose again on the third day.
Jesus: But you didn't believe in Hell in a wooden-literal sense so I cannot let you into my Heaven.

Take this passage from Dr. Norman Geisler's Systematic Theology.

Hell is also depicted as a place of eternal fire. The fire is real, but not necessarily physical (at least not as we customarily understand the word), because people in hell will have imperishable physical bodies (John 5:28–29; Rev. 20:13–15), so normal fire will not affect them. Further, the figures of speech that describe hell are contradictory if taken in a strictly physical sense. Hell has flames, yet it is outer darkness. Hell is a dump (with a bottom), yet it is a bottomless pit. While everything in the Bible is literally true, not everything is true literally. For instance, God is not a literal rock (Ps. 42:9), since He is spirit (John 4:24), but He is literally a solid, rocklike foundation.
[/URL] [URL="http://bibleforums.org/#_ftnref1"] (http://bibleforums.org/#_ftn1)
Geisler, N. L. (2005). Systematic theology, volume four: Church, last things (338). Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers.


Does this mean that Geisler is going to Hell for not taking Hell literally?

Doesn't seem biblical to me.

matthew94
Aug 28th 2008, 03:32 AM
Personally, I think it is fairly absurd to claim that one's view of hell has very much at all to do with whether he's a genuine Christian or not. The Bible tells us what we MUST believe. We must believe God exists & cares for His creation. We must believe Jesus came, is who He said He is, died and rose again. Our views of hell are hardly essential. Eternal judgment is, indeed, a 'foundational' Christian belief (Hebrews 6:3), but certainly more than poll option #1 fit that description!

MidnightsPaleGlow
Aug 28th 2008, 04:33 AM
Yes, Hell is real, unfortunately, most of the people who die daily end up in Hell, suffering for all eternity.

BadDog
Sep 2nd 2008, 02:14 AM
Okay, BD, thanks for clarifying.


Right, I don't want your thread to get locked so I won't give any response to why I believe the Scriptures teach a universal reconcilation through Jesus Christ.

I'm still hesitant to vote, because I am not 100% in accord with the wording you've used for #4. But, since you're just trying to get a general idea, I will put my vote there. Regardless of my beliefs on what hell and the lake of fire are, I do believe that Jesus is the Savior of the world, and that all will be redeemed.Pleroo,

Thx. I realize that the UR positions range widely. (Also didn't realize that you held such a position. :D )

BD

BadDog
Sep 2nd 2008, 02:33 AM
I have studied the 3 main Christian views closely (eternal torment, conditional immortality and universal reconcilation). I have come to hold the position that conditional immortality is the position most supported by the biblical evidence.

So I voted #2

Baddog made the following comment against #2

BD: I'm not posting for or against any position here - just trying to get a feel for where people stand. :P

But, truth be told, this passage actually is a major argument FOR #2 and against #1 (since, when examined, it can no longer be used to support #1 despite being one of the major supposed evidences). Mark 9:48 is referring back to Isaiah 66:24

Mk 9... their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.
Is 66.. their worm will not die, nor will their fire be quenched

But, in context, is Isaiah talking about the eternal torment of the wicked OR the death of the wicked?

The passage specifically says that the bodies are dead. The passage is simply using powerful imagery to communicate that the fate of the wicked is gruesome and unreversable death.

I also take some issue with the phrase "extermination of unbelievers." Terms like 'annihilation' and 'extermination' make it sound as if God is killing normally immortal beings as a punishment. Such is not the case. The Bible clearly says that God alone is, by nature, immortal (1 Timothy 6:16). Immortality is something we have to access through Christ (Romans 2:7, 1 Corinthians 15:53-54, 2 Timothy 1:10). Thus, a better term for this position is conditional immortality for the simple reason that, according to the Bible, our immortality is, indeed, conditional upon our being 'in Christ.'
Matthew94,

I really do not want to get into debates on this thread, but I will respond briefly. I won't get into a give-n-take though - here. I do like your response to that passage, albeit.

As I see it, we cannot separate our bodies from us. Can bodies be punished eternally and yet the people embodied therein not also be so punished? Perhaps this is simply imagery, as you suggest, but the intent to me sure seems to indicate eternal punishment, when read naturally. The Bible does not know of existence without bodies.


The expression "annihilation" is the term used by theologians, including those who hold such a position. I do not intend it to be derisive. Those who have an issue with how this sounds about how God is dealing with sinners would have a stronger issue explaining a God punishing the same sinners for eternity.

I appreciate the annihilation position, personally, since in my opinion they do not have to deal with one of the questions I asked: "How can saved individuals have peace knowing that loved ones are being punished throughout eternity?"

And did you notice that I tried to select questions for everyone to answer - regardless of their position. I am just trying to stimulate us all to consider what others believe and to deal with questions and issues for our own position.

Thx for giving a response.

BD

matthew94
Sep 2nd 2008, 04:04 AM
Thanks for responding!

Coptichristian
Sep 16th 2008, 05:39 PM
I voted for the fourth option.

faroutinmt
Sep 16th 2008, 06:06 PM
Hell is both real and eternal. Jesus said that it was a place of eternal punishment (not temporary). Matthew 25:41, 46

It is both a place of eternity and punishment. Jesus says it is a place of fire and torment. That means that it is not just separation from God, but also a place of pain: punishment for sin. Hell is how God sees sin. Hell is what sin deserves. Hell is the justice of a God who is good, righteous, holy. Hell is the necessary justice imposed by a righteous judge. It is a good thing for God to punish sinners. Believe me, when I think of my sins, I realize that Hell is what I truly deserve.

Punishment, everlasting, torment, fire.....these are words which describe Hell. You don't want to take any chances of it being otherwise.

Coptichristian
Sep 16th 2008, 07:58 PM
Hell is both real and eternal. Jesus said that it was a place of eternal punishment (not temporary).

What of this word eternal? Need "eternal punishment" refer to an unending punitive process? Or might it refer instead to the fact that the end result of said process lasts forever? For instance, consider Hebrews 9:12. Is our redemption eternal in the sense that the redeeming process never ends? Of course not! Do you see my point? If post-mortem punishment is everlasting in the sense that its effects last forever, then a purificatory hell remains a possibility.



Jesus says it is a place of fire and torment. That means that it is not just separation from God, but also a place of pain: punishment for sin.


Indeed, hell is painful, but it is not separation from God. For consider, doesn't Revelation state that those in the lake of fire will be tormented in the presence of the Holy Lamb and His angels? Also consider this:

"In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;" - 2 Thessalonians 1:8,9

Here we read that the wicked will be destroyed by Heavenly fire (note that the Greek word apo does not signify that the destruction consists in being away from God, but that the destruction comes from God). Eternal destruction, evidently, is none but destruction from on high, just as eternal punishment is simply that sort of perfect parental punishment which originates in the Heavenly Father.


It is a good thing for God to punish sinners.

Amen.




Believe me, when I think of my sins, I realize that Hell is what I truly deserve.


If God is just, then we will all get what we deserve.

Richard H
Sep 16th 2008, 08:34 PM
I did not vote, because you left one out.
Hell is a real place of torment - then at the judgement those in hell will be cast into the lake of fire and then death and hell will be cast into the lake of fire.

No scripture cited.
Look it up yourself. :rolleyes:

Coptichristian
Sep 16th 2008, 08:36 PM
Revelation 20:14.

Richard makes a good point though. "Hell" originally referred to sheol/hades. Translations such as the KJV have confused the distinction between the lake of fire and sheol/hades by translating Gehenna as "hell".

We should be careful to define our terms.

Coptichristian
Sep 18th 2008, 07:47 PM
Anybody who doesn't agre with this:
Yes. Hell is literal–a place where people suffer for eternity in the Lake of Fire.

They are headed there for a visit and they will burn for an eternity. It is a real palce not to be debated.


Do you really believe this? I thought that it is the rejection of Christ that lands a person in hell.

Coptichristian
Sep 18th 2008, 07:56 PM
I also know some Greek and studied the Greek regarding AIWN and AIWNOS and various complex singular and plural versions of those terms. I think the Greek does leave the door open, but I still see AIWNOS as referencing eternity - in general, though not exclusively. Complex forms of AIWN often refer to eternity in general as well, though not always.


I have studied these Greek words as well. It is completely dishonest to suggest, as many Christian Universalist suggest, that these words never refer to eternity. The truth is that the doctrine of universal reconciliation does not hinge upon the meaning of this word.

Remnant
Sep 18th 2008, 08:12 PM
Revelation 20:14.



Richard makes a good point though. "Hell" originally referred to sheol/hades. Translations such as the KJV have confused the distinction between the lake of fire and sheol/hades by translating Gehenna as "hell".



We should be careful to define our terms.



I think one should be carful in leading prople to believe their is no such place called Hell, where their is an everlasting torment and fire.



And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.-Revelation 20:15
(God) is a being of infinite greatness, majesty, and glory; and therefore he is infinitely honourable...for he is infinitely worthy to be obeyed himself, and we have an absolute, universal, and infinite dependence upon him. So that sin against God, being a violation of infinite obligations, must be a crime infinitely heinous, and so deserving of infinite punishment.-Jonathan Edwards (1)


"Hellfire and brimstone." To many people, this phrase evokes some of the worst stereotypes of "Fundamentalist" Christianity. After all, isn't it outmoded to appeal to fear in order to get people to respond to the Gospel? No, it is not. Without a holy, reverential fear of God, we will never begin to know true wisdom (Proverbs 1:7). There can be no love of God apart from His justice and His holiness. They go hand-in-hand. Ultimately, we cannot call ourselves Bible believers or followers of Jesus Christ unless we are willing to accept the whole of their teaching, including the "unpleasant" parts.

In Part 1 of our study (2), we looked at the Bible doctrine of Hell and saw conclusively that the Bible does teach the eternal punishment for the wicked. We also examined what Jesus taught about this crucial doctrine, and how God's judgement and justice are not at all in violation to His love. Furthermore, we saw that Jesus described Hell as a real, tangible place, not as an allegory or a metaphor. In His vivid teaching about the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31), we see that in Hell, the rich man was the same person he was on earth. He could see (v. 23). He could talk (v.24). He remembered his life on earth (v.25) and he feared for his brothers (v.27-28).

This gives us a sobering look at the characteristics that survive death. Once the limitations of mortality are removed, our ability to feel, think and remember will remain. The saving work of Jesus applies to the whole person, spirit, soul and body. Consequentially, a person who rejects that precious gift will suffer the consequences with every part of their being. A person who dies of a horrible disease will continue to suffer the agony of that disease for all eternity. After all, they rejected their healer. The alcoholic and the drug addict will continue to experience the ravages of their addictions but with nothing to satisfy them. They rejected their deliverer.

When we think of Hell, we think of fire, and that is certainly a part of it. However, that is only one facet of the horrors that will be found in that place of torment. One quip that is commonly heard when witnessing to the unsaved is that they would rather be in Hell with their friends than in Heaven. Well, the Bible actually does speak on this topic in the Book of Psalms: "Lover and friend hast thou put far from me, and mine acquaintance into darkness (Psalm 88:18, KJV)." When compared with the New Testament's references to "outer darkness", it appears as though the lost person in Hell will never be aware of the existance of any other person, ever again. Man, by nature and design, is a social being, and no graver punishment can be imagined than depriving him of any form of fellowship. A person in Hell will experience total, desperate isolation and loneliness...forever. Imagine a world totally cut off from everything which is good. No love, no joy, and absolutely no hope. In the words of D. James Kennedy:


When you have been in Hell a hundred billion, trillion eons of centuries, you will not have one less second to be there-to be lost forever. You will be in utter darkness, fleeing this way and that with never another mortal soul to converse with...lost, lost, shrieking out, lost, forever and ever...Immortal soul, lost in infinite darkness...(3)

Hell is, in fact, made up of numerous sections or compartments, each of which serves its own unique purpose (2). With this in mind, we will proceed with what we will call a "Guided Tour" of the infernal world.


1. Tartarus-The first of these we will look into is called Tartarus. We see reference to this place in the following Scriptures:

And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day. (Jude 6, KJV)
For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment; (2 Peter 2:4, KJV)


We further find the reason why these angels were so treated in Scripture:
"There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown." (Genesis 6:4, KJV)

All this happened long before Noah's Flood, and was the main reason God sent this Flood on the Earth; he needed to ensure the bloodline that would wind up with our great Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ. Really, though, Tartarus is only important to the believer in seeing the goodness of God; angels have no plan of redemption.

2. Paradise-The next compartment we will examine is currently empty. This is what is referred to in the New Testament as "Paradise" or "Abraham's Bosom." Before Calvary, the righteous dead went to this place (the above-mentioned Lazarus, for example). Now, however, they are in Heaven with those that have died in the Lord. (Ephesians 4:7-11, Hebrews 2:14-15, I Peter 4:6, Matthew 12:40, Revelation 1:18, Psalm 16:10, and others)

3. Sheol/Hades-Next on the tour is the area known in the Old Testament as Sheol and in the New Testament as Hades. This is what is commonly meant when people refer to hell. This is the place where those who die outside of saving faith in Jesus' work currently go. While it is true that the Bible does occasionally translate these words as meaning "grave," that is not their normative use. Generally, both Sheol and Hades refer to the abode of the dead, or a place of conscious punishment (The typical words for "grave" are queber in the Old Testament, and mnaymion in the New). Jesus described this place as "Weeping and gnashing of teeth" (Matthew 8:12, 22:13, 25:30), "Place of torment" (Luke 16:28), and "Outer darkness" (Matthew 8:12, 22:13).

4. The Eternal Lake of Fire-Finally, we come to the portion of Hell known as the Lake of Fire. At the end of the Thousand Year Reign of Jesus Christ (Revelation 20:1-10), the unrighteous dead in Sheol/Hades will be cast alive into this Lake of Fire for all eternity (Revelation 2:11, 14:9-11, 19:20, 20:10-15, 21:8). There is even a Bible verse that seems to indicate that believers may be required to look into this Lake of Fire roughly every month throughout eternity (Isaiah 66:23-24). This, my friends, is the place where God's ultimate justice and judgement will be served upon those who reject His precious gift of salvation. In the bone-chilling words of Revelation 14:11: "...the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night."


What is the purpose behind all of this? As with all other aspects of God's dealings with man, the ultimate end is God's own glory. He will be glorified in the damnation of the lost just as surely as He will be in the eternal praises of the redeemed. God's holiness will never, ever be compromised. His laws and commandments reflect His holiness, just like our failure to obey them reflects our sinfulness (4). For example, most of us are familiar with the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:1-17), which are a summary of God's law. On the surface, it is easy to overlook them thinking "I've never committed adultery, stolen anything, or killed anyone. You see? I'm not so bad!"

Unfortunately, this sort of attitude overlooks the main reason for God's law: To reveal to us exactly how sinful and separated from God we really are (Galatians 3:24)! You see, God looks not only at our outward actions, but on our hearts. This includes every thought and every motive. Have you ever had an immoral sexual thought? Then, in Jesus' own words, that makes you an adulterer (Matthew 5:28). Have you ever withheld your tithes and offerings from God? Then in God's eyes, that makes you a robber and a thief (Malachi 3:8-10). Have you ever hated anyone? Then that makes you a murderer (1 John 3:15). If we will be honest with ourselves, none of us can argue with the words of Romans 3:23: "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." For all who die in their sins, Hell will be your home (1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Galatians 5:19-21; Revelation 21:8 ).

The good news is that no one has to go there!


"For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He (even) gave up His only begotten (unique) Son so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life." (John 3:16, Amplified Bible)

In His death on the cross, Jesus paid the penalty for every sin we have ever committed, and offers salvation to us, right now, as a free gift (5)! If you would like to recieve it, here is what you must do:


1.ACKNOWLEDGE-"For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23) "God be merciful to me a sinner"(Luke 18:13)
2.REPENT-"Except ye repent, ye will likewise perish"(Luke 13:3)

3.CONFESS-"If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9)If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved" (Romans 10:9)

4.BELIEVE-For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes on Him should not perish, but have eternal life"(John 3:16)

5.RECEIVE-"As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name"(John 1:12)


This is what our entire human existance is all about. The Bible compares our earthly existance to a vapor (James 4:14). No matter how many years we may have on this earth, our time here is only a tiny "blip" on the radar screen of eternity. This is why being prepared for this eternity is the most important decision any person will ever make (7). Hell is real, it is horrible and it is forever. As the prophet Amos warned us long ago, "Prepare to meet thy God" (Amos 4:12).

http://www.james-dave.com/hell2.html

Pleroo
Sep 18th 2008, 08:17 PM
I have studied these Greek words as well. It is completely dishonest to suggest, as many Christian Universalist suggest, that these words never refer to eternity. The truth is that the doctrine of universal reconciliation does not hinge upon the meaning of this word.

Well, I'm no language scholar. I've studied this to the best of my knowledge and ability and I think it's dishonest to say that it's "dishonest to suggest". :D To my understanding, those words always pertain to an age or ages. Whether or not the duration of those ages could ever be eternal might be up for debate, but the most accurate translation of those words would never be "eternal" or "forever".

Coptichristian
Sep 18th 2008, 08:18 PM
Remnant, when you copy and paste something as extensive as the study you just posted, you should cite your source, lest you plagiarize.

http://www.james-dave.com/hell2.html

Peace

Coptichristian
Sep 18th 2008, 08:22 PM
To my understanding, those words always pertain to an age or ages. Whether or not the duration of those ages could ever be eternal might be up for debate, but the most accurate translation of those words would never be "eternal" or "forever".


Funny you say that. Did you know that Plato coined aionios? Do you know what aionios meant in his writings? In my experience, those who insist - as you are insisting - that aionios only ever refers to a period of time base their argument on what is in fact a mere fallacy, ie. the root fallacy (an etymological fallacy).

Richard H
Sep 18th 2008, 08:32 PM
I think one should be carful in leading prople to believe their is no such place called Hell, where their is an everlasting torment and fire.


Hi Remnant,
You certainly have done your research.

I don't think Copti or I were stating that there was no hell.
I certainly believe in hell, but it is a temporary place until the day of judgement.

The judgment, BTW is not just about us. It is judgement day for angels as well.

2Pe 2:4 For if God did not spare sinning angels, but delivered them to chains of darkness, thrust down into Tartarus, having been kept to judgment; (Lit)

Unfortunately, "misery" loves company.

Richard

Pleroo
Sep 18th 2008, 08:33 PM
Funny you say that. Did you know that Plato coined aionios? Do you know what aionios meant in his writings? In my experience, those who insist - as you are insisting - that aionios only ever refers to a period of time base their argument on what is in fact a mere fallacy, ie. the root fallacy (an etymological fallacy).

Actually, Coptic, what I'm insisting is not that I'm right about this, but that you are wrong when you say URists are being dishonest when they "suggest" that the word does not mean forever. Could be we sincerely believe what we're saying, eh? :)

Like I said, I'm not a language scholar. I rely on other people who are scholars to share their findings and, to the best of my ability, I make a judgment on that. I have yet to see an explanation that was understandable to me of why those words could ever be translated as eternal. If I ever do, I'll certainly do my best to digest it and make sense of the conflicting opinions.

Coptichristian
Sep 18th 2008, 08:40 PM
Actually, Coptic, what I'm insisting is not that I'm right about this, but that you are wrong when you say URists are being dishonest when they "suggest" that the word does not mean forever. Could be we sincerely believe what we're saying, eh? :)


Oh, I undestand that many universalists (and some annihilationists) believe that it never means "eternal", but to believe this is to disregard a plethora of evidence to the contrary.

Pleroo
Sep 18th 2008, 08:46 PM
Oh, I undestand that many universalists (and some annihilationists) believe that it never means "eternal", but to believe this is to disregard a plethora of evidence to the contrary.


Okay. Any chance that you have links to any of this evidence that you could post? I've read a plethora of articles and studies that say differently but, as yet, have found nothing comprehensive (nor comprehensible, to an average joe[anna] like me :P) to dispute those articles.

Coptichristian
Sep 18th 2008, 09:01 PM
Pleroo,

Here is something I wrote on the issue:

Aionios and the Biblical Concept of Eternity


There has been a number of Christian Universalists who have insisted that the Greek word aionios never means “eternal” and that it always, in the Bible at least, pertains to an indefinite period of time. While it is true that aionios is, at times, used in contexts where “eternal” is impossible if not unlikely, I cannot, in good conscience, adopt this narrow view. Scholarship and context have proven that this rich Greek word indeed carries the meaning of eternity.

Some insist that eternal punishment consists in being punished forever. Does his interpretation represent the only viable application of the term aionios? No, it is not, for consider:

“Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption [for us].” Hebrews 9:12

Does this verse mean that the redeeming process lasts forever? Of course not! Rather, it is the end result of the process which is everlasting. Seeing that the word “eternal” is applied in this manner in Hebrews 9:12, my opponent must demonstrate why “eternal punishment” refers to an everlasting punitive process rather than referring to the final result of the punishing process.

What is the Biblical concept of eternity? First it must be noted that God is the only eternal being in the primary sense. That is to say, only God is eternal by virtue of being who He is. All other things are eternal only insofar as they derive their eternality from God. Our eternal life, for instance, is participatory; we partake in the life of Christ. Eternal destruction, I thus propose, is eternal by virtue of originating in God. In other words, to suffer eternal destruction is to suffer destruction at the hands of God, as opposed to destruction at the hands of mortals (this idea is articulated in Matthew 10:28). Likewise, eternal life is that sort of life which is peculiar to God, in contrast to mortal life.

Eternity, according to the Bible, is without beginning nor end, and thus transcends time (Revelation 1:8 , 22:13). As mentioned before, the Greek word translated “eternal” in many places in the Bible is aionios. From its first known appearance in Greek literature (see the works of Plato, e.g. Timaeus 37d), aionios was used of that which transcends the physical world of time. This sense is retained in the New Testament, as is evident considering that this word is routinely used in the New Testament contexts in which its juxtaposition to things perishable and material is manifest.

"For we know that if our earthly house of [this] tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens." - 2 Corinthians 5:1

Here aionios is used of the indissoluble things of Heaven in contrast to the things of the mundane world of corruption.


"While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen [are] temporal; but the things which are not seen [are] eternal." -2 Corinthians 4:18

In this verse, aionios describes the eternal truths which human eyes and ears have not seen nor heard, for these truths belong to the unseen realm of God as opposed to the visible world of change..

"Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed." - John 6:27

Aionios here refers to that Heavenly life which does not fade nor falter; It is the very life of Christ in contradistinction to the perishable life that humanity has in Adam.

This life that Christ gives - the very life of God - is not of this world, but is of the unseen realm of Spirit:

"That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the spirit is spirit." - John 3:6

So then, what do we make of those verses which speak of "eternal destruction" and "eternal punishment"? I suggest that it is the sort of destruction/punishment which originates in the eternal God.

"In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;" - 2 Thessalonians 1:8,9

Here we read that the wicked will be destroyed by Heavenly fire (note that the Greek word apo does not signify that the destruction consists in being away from God, but that the destruction comes from God). Eternal destruction, evidently, is none but destruction from on high, just as eternal punishment is simply that sort of perfect parental punishment which originates in the Heavenly Father.

“In the same way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them committed sexual immorality and practiced perversions, just as they did, and serve as an example by undergoing the punishment of eternal fire.” Jude 1:7

The word aionios here serves to make the point that the fire and punishment in view is not ordinary, but rather from God. The eternal fire is God Himself (Deuteronomy 4:24, Hebrews 12:29).

Pleroo
Sep 18th 2008, 09:11 PM
Thanks Coptic. So, to be sure I'm understanding, would it be fair to say that, in a nutshell, you propose aionios is actually more qualitative than quantitative? I've heard that argument being made once or twice before, but this is the first time I've seen it laid out quite like you have. Definitely something to chew on.

Remnant
Sep 18th 2008, 09:12 PM
Remnant, when you copy and paste something as extensive as the study you just posted, you should cite your source, lest you plagiarize.

http://www.james-dave.com/hell2.html

Peace

Thanks, The truth is still the truth no matter who says it!

Pleroo
Sep 18th 2008, 10:51 PM
Funny you say that. Did you know that Plato coined aionios? Do you know what aionios meant in his writings? In my experience, those who insist - as you are insisting - that aionios only ever refers to a period of time base their argument on what is in fact a mere fallacy, ie. the root fallacy (an etymological fallacy).

Something I read regarding the Plato argument:


» Barclay gives a few examples of Plato using aionios as if it meant eternal.

"The most significant of all the Platonic passages is in the Timaeus 37d. There he speaks about the Creator and the universe which he has created, 'the created glory of the eternal [aionios] gods."'
To Barclay, for some reason, because Plato used aionios in connection with "gods," it is some kind of proof that aionios means eternal. According to this reasoning since God ("gods") is eternal, then aionios must mean eternal. But this overlooks the fact that, yes, God in someway was/is perpetual (His power, Rom 1:20 (http://www.biblegateway.com/cgi-bin/bible?language=english&version=ASV&passage=Rom+1%3a20)), but also God may in some sense also be or relate to an aeonian (aionios) time. Just because the word aionios is used in connection with "gods" doesn't give it the meaning of eternal. Furthermore, what do Plato's writings have to do with our God and the definition of His "eternalness"? Plato was speaking in the above example about gods, not God. Plato's writings were not inspired by God: they are full of myth and faulty thinking.

[Taken from the New Mind Papers by Walter R. Dolen
Copyright © 1977-2003 by Walter R. Dolen and/or BeComingOne Church]


Also, I had to look up what a root falacy was. My understanding is that the equivalent fallacy in English would be to take the noun pineapple and break it down into it's root words, pine and apple. Obviously, those 2 nouns would not give you an accurate understanding of the word pinapple, so that would be a root falacy.

Fair enough. But, the word aionios is an adjective derived from the noun aion, not one noun derived from 2 different nouns. Aion is a noun meaning age and it makes perfectly logical sense that the adjective form of that noun would mean pertaining to an age. Sort of like the adjective form of the noun "dark" would be "darkness".

Add to that the many times when it makes absolutely no sense to translate the words aion or aionios as forever or eternal and the fact that rendering them as age or age-during is always appropriate, and it seems clear.

Now, that's an extremely over-simplified explanation of my pretty simplistic understanding of the matter. But if you'd care to point me to the "plethora of evidence to the contrary" :), I'd appreciate it.

Coptichristian
Sep 19th 2008, 12:07 AM
Thanks Coptic. So, to be sure I'm understanding, would it be fair to say that, in a nutshell, you propose aionios is actually more qualitative than quantitative? I've heard that argument being made once or twice before, but this is the first time I've seen it laid out quite like you have. Definitely something to chew on.


Yes, aionios zoe is a quality of life, ie. the timeless life of Christ. Eternity, afterall, transcends all quantity. I'm glad that my article gave you something to chew on. I look forward to hearing more from you on this.

Coptichristian
Sep 19th 2008, 12:08 AM
Thanks, The truth is still the truth no matter who says it!


Amen to that. :D

Coptichristian
Sep 19th 2008, 12:28 AM
Something I read regarding the Plato argument:


Quote:
» Barclay gives a few examples of Plato using aionios as if it meant eternal.

"The most significant of all the Platonic passages is in the Timaeus 37d. There he speaks about the Creator and the universe which he has created, 'the created glory of the eternal [aionios] gods."'
To Barclay, for some reason, because Plato used aionios in connection with "gods," it is some kind of proof that aionios means eternal. According to this reasoning since God ("gods") is eternal, then aionios must mean eternal. But this overlooks the fact that, yes, God in someway was/is perpetual (His power, Rom 1:20 (http://www.biblegateway.com/cgi-bin/bible?language=english&version=ASV&passage=Rom+1%3a20)), but also God may in some sense also be or relate to an aeonian (aionios) time. Just because the word aionios is used in connection with "gods" doesn't give it the meaning of eternal. Furthermore, what do Plato's writings have to do with our God and the definition of His "eternalness"? Plato was speaking in the above example about gods, not God. Plato's writings were not inspired by God: they are full of myth and faulty thinking.

[Taken from the New Mind Papers by Walter R. Dolen
Copyright © 1977-2003 by Walter R. Dolen and/or BeComingOne Church]


Dolen is all but ignoring Plato's metaphysical scheme wherein the realm of the gods is that of a changless and timeless eternity. In Timaeus 37d, aionios is usedto describe the world of the eternal Forms in juxtaposition to the transient world of becoming. Are you familiar with Plato's theory of the Forms?


Also, I had to look up what a root falacy was. My understanding is that the equivalent fallacy in English would be to take the noun pineapple and break it down into it's root words, pine and apple. Obviously, those 2 nouns would not give you an accurate understanding of the word pinapple, so that would be a root falacy.

That works.


Fair enough. But, the word aionios is an adjective derived from the noun aion, not one noun derived from 2 different nouns. Aion is a noun meaning age and it makes perfectly logical sense that the adjective form of that noun would mean pertiaining to an age. Sort of like the adjective form of the noun "dark" would be "darkness".


Right, but what of semantic dynamicism? Words often change meaning over time in such a way that the meaning of an adjective need not be semantically bound to the root from which it is derived. Take, for example, the word "gorgeous". It derives from "gorge", meaning "throat". Surely, when I tell my girlfriend that she's gorgeous, I don't mean that she is "throaty". ;)


Add to that the many times when it makes absolutely no sense to translate the words aion or aionios as forever or eternal and the fact that rendering them as age or age-during is always appropriate, and it seems clear.

Sometimes is makes no sense to translate aionios as "eternal", but oftimes it makes little sense to translate it as "pertaining to an age", or what have you.


But if you'd care to point me to the "plethora of evidence to the contrary...

I presented some evidence in the article I wrote. Would you like to address it?

TrustingFollower
Sep 19th 2008, 01:13 AM
I think it is time to close this being it has turned into a discussion about and preaching the UR doctrine. UR is not a doctrine that will be allowed on this board.