If someone dies and goes to hell

seekeroftruth

Active Member
Yooper:

I can only skim through what you have taken much time to think about - I broke the arm on my reading glasses last week and finished them off about an hour ago - further I want to take the time to thoroughly read and absorb what is obviously a thoughtful response. From the little I can pick up, it deserves my undivided attention - better at 4am when it's quiet here.

Your final paragraph though hit home so hard that it brought me to tears - in my heart of hearts I know that God is everything you described but I am so unworthy, yet I know that He loves me, but I don't understand why - how can that be? How can He forgive my shortcomings and outright sins when I cannot forgive myself?

Thank you for taking so much time - my apologies for short changing you - Friday night at the movies with my son starts at 7. Have a lovely evening!
When my children did things that are absolutely stupidly idiotic..... I hated it.... I yelled at them.... I put them in time out.... I punished them.... even used a spanking to punish them.... but I still love them.

Humans are stupid.... God made us so He already knows how stupid we all are. He gives us a little credit for just being stupid humans.

God created the Universe.... He created time... when He set the earth to rotate around while rotating around the sun... making the sun come up and the sun go down.... a day. Since He created time.... He controls time.... He knows if you have put off talking to Him. He also knows why.

I really think God likes the idea that you seem to be so shy towards Him. My daughter cried when I took her to see Santa Clause. I didn't understand at all.... but then she told me she was afraid he wouldn't like her. When we whispered that problem in Santa's ear.... He flung upon his arms... chuckled... and won over my daughters fearful heart. I think God will do the same for you.

Humans are stupid... but God created us... so He understands that flaw. I think He must find it endearing.... or He would have corrected it a long time ago.

☕
 

black dog

Free America
PREMO Member
Hi, I'm Gemma Rae and I'm an alcoholic.
12 Step programs use a slightly different version
.
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
and the Wisdom to know the difference.
 

Bobwhite

Member
If I may add a few thoughts....

First, thank you for posting your questions, your doubts, etc. Takes courage these days to do so.

Second, a "thank you" to NextJen for answering them so well. Takes courage to do that, as well, these days.

Third, your question: Hell. I hope what follows - however meandering - you will find helpful on your faith journey.

Before we even get to the Christian Hell (haha) one can get lost trying to sort out what the various religions say about Heaven and Hell, etc. Then, it's equally confusing trying to sort through the various Christian traditions and their takes on the subject.

I tend to go with Occam's Razor; that the simplest explanation is the best (parsimony). And as far as religions go, Christianity is the simplest explanation (why I don't generally take time to speak to other traditions' takes on Hell, salvation, etc. BTW, why I went with Christianity, besides being the simplest explanation (but also the best) is addressed way down when I talk about a guy named Adler).

Anyway, NextJen did a great job of presenting the Gospel message of faith in Jesus Christ. That's where I stand and where I think the best case can be made: sola fide (faith alone) or what Biblical scholar Michael Heiser calls "believing loyalty." We make mistakes (i.e., we sin), but we get back up again and do better (or try to) because our loyalty is to the Lord. It's not the "doing better" that is important, it's the loyalty that causes us to want to do better that matters.

This, of course, is not what Catholicism says (or some other Christian traditions, for that matter, like the High Protestant denominations or Eastern Orthodoxy, for example). This is, however, pretty much the heart of Protestant evangelicalism and since that's what I believe that's where I count myself a "member" (full disclosure: I left the Catholic Church in HS. I was headed, I thought, to seminary, but came across things that didn't make sense and were answered by priests in equally confusing and disingenuous ways; that confused things and in doing so undermined my faith in the "denomination's" take on things. So I'm a defected Roman Catholic, but have been described by Catholics as a "defective Catholic"!). There's more to my story, but none of it is important at this point....

What is important is to stress again that nothing you do - aside from being loyal - matters one iota with regard to Heaven or Hell. You don't get to Heaven by doing good things, you don't go to Hell for doing bad things. Unless we are referring to these good or bad things as a reflection of you and where your heart lays; that is, to whom you pledge your loyalty. In this way, rites or sacraments matter only as hopefully a truthful signal as to where that loyalty is. In other words, the point of baptism or communion (etc.) is like wearing a baseball uniform: others know by your actions whose team you're on. At least that's what is hoped; many go through the motions and it means nothing; it's a fraud. (Please note, gentle readers, this long post is not a place where it would be helpful to discuss the means, merits, efficacy, etc. of baptism, etc. So I won't....)

So after so much preparatory groundwork, finally, we get to Hell!

C.S. Lewis makes several comments about Hell that I find myself in full agreement with. First, Lewis says there are two types of people; those who say to God, "Thy Will be done" and those to whom God says, "Thy Will be done." The former are Heaven-bound, the latter Hell-bound. Because remember, it's all about loyalty. In the former, the person is loyal to God; in the latter, the person is loyal to something other than God (be it self, other (false) gods, etc.).

Lewis then makes the point (most poignantly in The Great Divorce) that the Gates of Hell are locked on the inside. In other words, the souls in Hell are there because they want to be there, not because God locked them in. We have heard "condemnation" used in the sense that God condemns people to Hell but that's a bit of a misnomer for several reasons.

First, because John 3:16 (the famous football stadium verse) says that God so loved the world that.... The whole point of Jesus was rescue, not condemnation.

Second, God's honors human choice. So if a person wants to live a life apart from God then God honors that choice. And that "apartness" is Hell. From God's perspective this is a condemnation because that's not what He intended for us. He literally is the reluctant judge who wants to help a defendant but the defendant doesn't want to be helped. He is not the petty, spurned "lover" who condemns to Hell because a person didn't pick Him. That's us framing God as we are rather than as He is. He wants us in Heaven but will respect our choices.

So the hellfire, brimstone, and pain we read/hear about where Hell is concerned? Lewis made the point that this is what Hell WILL feel like because God is not there to satisfy. If Heaven is an eternity of being filled (and fulfilled), Hell is an eternity of never-ending want. Where the worm never dies...; the itch that can't be scratched, the goal that is never reached, the want that is never fulfilled. It's waiting for Amazon Prime to deliver a package that never comes! It's waiting for the final season of Game of Thrones but HBO never releasing it (or George R.R. Martin never writing the book we've all been waiting so long for!). You get my meaning, I'm sure!

So, loyalty. Literally, "Who is your God? God or you?"

Lewis also adds one note of caution: that there comes a point in a person's life where their eternal destiny is set. A tipping point where it is clear which loyalty has been chosen where afterward no matter what happens nothing will shake that loyalty. But until that time, if we let God do His work the "Hound of Heaven" will keep pursuing us until such time as we are caught or we tell Him to call off the hunt.

Speaking of the "Hound of Heaven," for those wondering where Christianity stands among the world's religions (or even atheism) I cannot stop recommending Mortimer Adler's How To Think About God (he's written some other books that are equally great, but this is - I think - the place to start).

Adler himself was caught by the Hound of Heaven. As a lifelong non-observant Jew Adler (editor emeritus of Encyclopedia Britannica) was a brilliant philosopher. He eventually married an Episcopalian, but still remained both atheist and skeptical. Eventually, he was baptized as an Episcopalian and prior to his death was received into the Catholic Church. (Wikipedia link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mortimer_J._Adler). The point is not about which denomination, baptism, etc., the point isn't even that he followed a line of evidence, the point is that he decided where his loyalty lay.

Anyway, back to his book (which he wrote while still an atheist). Because perhaps TL;DR Adler makes the point that atheism, theism, polytheism, etc. make no philosophical sense. That the only belief paradigm that makes sense (FROM A FIELD OF LOGIC, PHILOSOPHICAL PERSPECTIVE, NOT feelings, self-discovery, personal preference, etc.) is monotheism. So at that point in his life he stated that the only paradigms that made sense were Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. He ends the book there and encourages readers to explore further. He did say that all could not be true; that only one could be true as each said things about themselves and the others that are mutually exclusive/contradictory. So pick one, but not two or three.

That he chose Christianity perhaps comes as no surprise. And it shouldn't. Christianity (from a Christian's perspective) is Judaism fulfilled (so it makes no sense to "go backward." Islam describes a system where loyalty is important, but actually secondary to "doing" the "Five Pillars Of The Faith." So from a logical, philosophical perspective Christianity is what made sense. But most importantly, the difference comes down to Jesus. There's a reason the Bible has Jesus saying, "Who do you say that I am?" Is he the Messiah? Jews and Muslims say, "no."

(As an aside, C.S. Lewis makes the point in Mere Christianity that perhaps it easiest to think about Jesus in this manner: he is either Lord, liar, or lunatic. If the former, He deserves our loyalty because He is who He says He is: Immanuel (God With Us). If the latter two (or even just a good person/teacher), he may at best deserve our respect and consideration but nothing more.)

And it also satisfies the principle of parsimony.

Trying to tie it all together, let me end by saying there's no reason to fear Hell. You won't go/don't go there if you don't want to. But the catch is that if you don't want God, you do want Hell.

My prayer is that you want/will want/are working toward wanting God. He is a wonderful and gracious God who doesn't promise our "here" will be easy, but does promise our "hereafter" will be unimaginably wonderful.

Amen.

(Final thought. These comments are in no way meant to disparage, disrespect, or debate those of other faith traditions (also, non-believing traditions, like atheism, agnosticism, etc.). This is written in answer to a question about Christianity from a questioning Christian.)

--- End of line (MCP)
I love your response. I will disagree with you on sola fide and the teachings of high Protestantism. I spent my childhood in the Episcopal church (before Vatican II) and 20 or so years in what is called the Anglican Catholic Church and I can assure you that sola fide is what they profess.

One other note. There are protestant churches that are catholic, but aren't under the Bishop of Rome.
 

Yooper

Socket 1, Intel 80486
PREMO Member
I love your response. I will disagree with you on sola fide and the teachings of high Protestantism. I spent my childhood in the Episcopal church (before Vatican II) and 20 or so years in what is called the Anglican Catholic Church and I can assure you that sola fide is what they profess.

One other note. There are protestant churches that are catholic, but aren't under the Bishop of Rome.
Hi, Bobwhite. Thank you for your post! Thank you for the compliment. Thank you for the "uplift"!

I purposely tried to keep my comments to the OP's posts simple (well, as simple as this multi-faceted issue could be, anyway) because, to my mind, questions such as hers are best answered by starting with commonalities and simplicity. But mostly, with hope.

So I purposefully avoided getting into the area of sola fide more deeply; instead touching on it broadly via a more general observation as a foundation stone for my overall theme/direction.

Anyway, to your comment.

Where we would disagree, I think, centers on how sola fide is implemented/plays out. The (Roman) Catholic Church sees sola fide as a non-argument; historically saying that it, too, is "faith alone." But the Catholic Church also says that works are required per James' epistle; thus, essentially, "faith and works" (the latter "proves" the former, the former enables/empowers the latter). This is a combination Catholics have no problem with, but - as is historically evident - Protestants do. As you would assume, I fall into the latter group, but I can see that the "faith and works" is a version (?) of the "believing loyalty" I wrote about. I think it is contorted and has evolved into more than "believing loyalty," but even while disagreeing I can see the RCC line of thought....

Many Protestant churches - to my mind - haven't made things simpler by professing "faith alone." The (Roman) Catholic Church makes no bones about "faith and works," but Protestant churches confuse things by claiming "faith alone," but then claiming the need for something more.To illustrate what I mean by this is I point to what I (and many others) see as contradiction in the various denominational creeds and statements where in one article "faith alone" is claimed, but in other articles things like baptism (or other "sacraments") are required. Of course, this begs the question: if "faith alone" is sufficient, then why do these creeds/statements (e.g., the Belgic or Heidelberg Confessions, Westminster Confession Of Faith, others) then state the necessity of baptism (for example)? You can't have it both ways. Defenders of the faith (or better, denominational stance) play "pretzel logic" by adding "faith, then works," "faith plus works," "faith begets works," "works beget faith," etc. Too confusing most times, certainly too confusing for the OP (or, perhaps better to say, what I thought was the OP"s fundamental concerns).

So, yes, I kept it simple(r) because I find/believe questions like this (can) get between the Searched and the searcher (if only, at the beginning, but I think for most of us, lifelong). So my approach is to let the searcher get balance and on two feet before tackling questions that have divided us (even if these divisions have done so charitably, though historically it's sad that often has not been the case).

(As an aside, there is a line of thought that goes like this: That there are so many denominational positions MUST mean the Lord allows for diversity of thought in order to better shepherd those of diverse temperaments and that these differences are ultimately matters of preference and not matters of necessity. Here's the reasoning: Since many denominational positions are mutually exclusive, then only one is correct (what most denominational-ists say), none are correct (what critics of Christianity say), or none of these differences actually matter in the end (my view). This is, btw, similar thinking regarding the very strong argument as to why God allows differences in Biblical manuscripts.... It's the differences that point out the essential/the True/the actual/what's accurate. But that's another subject for another time...!)

As I try to close, let's me ask you to pardon the random nature of these thoughts. The point was to try to respond (without writing another book!) to your comment that "sola fide is what they profess" but it's a complex topic to get one's arms around in a short post.

So I guess my summary thought would be this: Yes, that's what "they" profess, but it's far from a clear/settled case that that's how it actually plays out (and not just to "outside" critics).

Not trying to disagree or slam; just an attempt to add to the conversation....

P.S. To your comment, re: Catholic. No disagreement there. As you might expect, some thoughts. But I have - this time, anyway - resisted the impulse to put pen to paper!

Happy Sunday. Philippians 4:7!

--- End of line (MCP)
 
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