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Hell: a discussion

Helcaraxë

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Alright, on the "Which Guarentee Would You Accept" thread, courtesy of Celebthol, Elgee and myself were having a dicussion about Hell, its logicality, and its existence. Celebthol requested that we cease the philosophical banter, and we did thusly. But seeing as it is an intriguing topic that warrants discussion, I would like to continue the discussion, if Elgee would be willing. Note: I don't mind (I don't think Elgee will either) if anyone else participates in the discussion.

About the time we broke off, I was arguing that even in the parameters of Christian belief, Hell was self-contradictory. Elgee responded that because we have no real basis on which to prove the existence of Hell, saying it is an unfounded belief is itself unfounded.

My argument is this. It is somewhat self defeating to say that because of lack of sufficient evidence, arguing against Hell is itself ungrounded. First off, to not accept something because it is groundless and unprovable does not make that argument against the groundless thing itself groundless. I was basing my critisism of Hell partially off of the fact that there is really no logical reason for it to exist. If it is really illogical for Hell to exist, than to doubt it is logical, because there is no reason why it should exist and many reasons why it shouldn't, which I will discuss promptly.

The Christian God is supposed to be very just. (Also very compassionate, but that's somewhat irrelevant.) If someone commits a crime such as murder, it is in no way just to punish them for all eternity. My point is, for justice to be done, the punishment has to fit the crime.

MB
 

HLGStrider

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About the time we broke off, I was arguing that even in the parameters of Christian belief, Hell was self-contradictory. Elgee responded that because we have no real basis on which to prove the existence of Hell, saying it is an unfounded belief is itself unfounded.
I don't think this was exactly my arguement.

More accurately what happened was this: You broke into someone else's statement which involved going to hell that this was simply a matter of belief and an ungrounded one because there was no proof there was Hell. I said your belief was probably no more grounded than Neothen's. You returned that you had logical proof for yours. I said your logical proof was faulty and that I believe Neothen probably believes what he believes is logical. I know Neothen well enough to know he is fairly logical.

If someone commits a crime such as murder, it is in no way just to punish them for all eternity.
Why isn't it?

You can't just throw out the word just and expect us to follow suit in our view of justice. There are people who don't believe it is just to execute a murderer, for instance. Do you? I do. But if you don't and I do, justice obviously means different things to us. Why can't it mean a different thing to God than it does to you, and if it came down to trusting God or trusting you, I'd trust God's definition of just.

My point is, for justice to be done, the punishment has to fit the crime.
You'd have to prove that it doesn't to prove that is illogical. To some people you'd have to prove that murder is wrong.

But that asside, your definition of Hell is more a matter of punishment than seperation. For the Devil it was punishment, the punishment of seperation, for us it is just seperation, an inevitable result of telling God to shove off.

However, Thorin doesn't even believe in eternal hell, and is a Christian, and will be in this thread shortly to tell me how my beliefs are traditional but not Biblical and quote verses very quickly and use words that confuse me. .. which is a short way to say that he actually has a VERY long thread about this entitled Hell that got archived with the Guild of Religion. I never read it because I don't get into threads that had gone as far as that one had when finally saw it. I don't know what it would take to get that one unarchived, however. I'm sure it is worth a looksie.
 

Eriol

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I don't think Hell is a concept that is deducible by natural reason unaided by revelation. In other words, we would not know about it if God had not told us about it. So there is no (rational) reason for a non-Christian (or non-Jew / non-Muslim; I won't repeat that phrase every time, but Jews and Muslims share the belief in Hell, and for the same reason -- that God revealed it) to believe in Hell. There may be emotional inclination, or intuition of some sort, but no "reason". That's how I look at it.

So, to a panentheistic like you MB, Hell is simply a superfluous concept. There is no evidence in its support. However, to a Christian, it is very clear (in the Bible; and usually in words by Jesus Christ himself) that there is evidence for Hell. Christians may disagree on the nature of Hell; as Elgee said, Thorin says that Hell is a temporally finite punishment. Which addresses one of your concerns. Most Christians however stick with the "eternal punishment" idea.

All Christians agree on the idea of Hell.

You may be claiming that there is an internal contradiction among the Christian ideas of Hell and of a perfectly just and benevolent God. But you must recall that we believe in Hell because we believe in God and in His words. It is the assumption that God is perfectly just and benevolent (and truthful) that leads us to believe that there is a Hell, since this perfect God said it quite clearly, and repeatedly.

I don't know the particulars of your discussion, so I'll wait for your response.
 

Thorin

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Morgoth'sBane is really looking for a scrap with the moderators isn't he? :D

MB, unfortunately, the thread where all this was hashed out before has been deep-sixed so I don't think you could go through and check it out.

Eriol said:
You may be claiming that there is an internal contradiction among the Christian ideas of Hell and of a perfectly just and benevolent God. But you must recall that we believe in Hell because we believe in God and in His words. It is the assumption that God is perfectly just and benevolent (and truthful) that leads us to believe that there is a Hell, since this perfect God said it quite clearly, and repeatedly.
However, misinterpreting original language and context and then trying to explain those inconsistencies with references to God's character is blasphemous at most and false at the least. The benevolent, just and mercifully loving character of God exists before we intepret what we feel His actions are, not the other way around. When we look at the scriptures with this view, we see that the nature of hell CANNOT be what everyone makes it out to be or those characteristics of God are contradictory.

The issue of the nature of Hell is not as clear cut as you think. We have gone through this before and I have shown that the evidence not only for the existence of eternal punishment is lacking in the scriptures, but that the exact opposite (that man is ultimately annihilated) has massive support from the Bible (both Old and New Testament). To you as a Catholic, that doesn't matter. The church and 'sacred tradition' trump the scriptures. What are the other protestants' excuses?

For years this theology has been based on a few texts (many of which the KJV can't properly translate) and many of those ambiguous at best, without studying it. They would rather hold on to what they grew up believing. Thankfully many Christians and theologians are taking a closer look at this traditional doctrine and finding it to be riddled with errors. Any attempts I have seen to reconcile God's love and justice with His children suffering 2nd and 3rd degree burns for billions of years is so far fetched and stretching that it is obvious that support is built on an assumption after an assumption rather than trying to reconcile the Biblical inconsistencies with the traditional view.

Of course you will always have those who will believe it no matter what. Oh well.
 
C

celebdraug

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the Religion thread should be opened again!!

Hell is actually what you make believe!
 

Gothmog

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celebdraug, please do not try to re-open the GoR argument again. Discussion of Religious topics is allowed in the "Off Topic" fora of TTF.
 

Eriol

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Thorin said:
The issue of the nature of Hell is not as clear cut as you think. We have gone through this before and I have shown that the evidence not only for the existence of eternal punishment is lacking in the scriptures, but that the exact opposite (that man is ultimately annihilated) has massive support from the Bible (both Old and New Testament). To you as a Catholic, that doesn't matter. The church and 'sacred tradition' trump the scriptures. What are the other protestants' excuses?
Thorin, are you a religious NPW as well?

:D

Look again at what I said. "Christians may disagree on the nature of Hell, but they agree that there is a Hell". Do you find any flaw in that? What you call "annihilation of man" is not called "Hell" in the Bible version that you use? And therefore, don't you believe in Hell, with the proviso that it isn't eternal, but a temporally finite punishment of the sinners that ends in their annihilation?

I think MB wanted the general Christian position on Hell, and I hope to have described it correctly. What do you think?

I remember that thread, and your arguments. They are thought-provoking, and I had never looked at the issue before. But I also remember that your arguments were countered. Anyway, the nature of Hell is (apparently) not what is being investigated by MB, but rather the existence or not of a Hell (whatever its nature is).

It's interesting that you said this:

The benevolent, just and mercifully loving character of God exists before we intepret what we feel His actions are, not the other way around. When we look at the scriptures with this view, we see that the nature of hell CANNOT be what everyone makes it out to be or those characteristics of God are contradictory.
I find it interesting because I wrote the same thing and then struck it out, because I found I was going into a delicate matter, "what makes one believe?". I agree with you that we believe in the perfectly good God before we believe in Hell (I said as much), but it is a sad fact that many if not most believers believe in Hell first and God second. They believe in God because they are afraid of Hell. Then I found myself stating that belief like that is not God's intention. And then I found myself stating that God is merciful enough to take believers in any way He can.

All in all, I was stating a lot of personal opinions about the character of God as truth, and it felt uncomfortable. That's why I struck out the paragraph.

Perhaps this is completely off-topic, but it was interesting, and surprising, that you posted what I was about to post, in the very next post :).

Still on off-topic territory, Catholics do not think tradition "trumps" scripture, they ascribe equal value to both, and they never contradict each other. You never know, there might be a reader that believes what you are saying about Catholics, so I must be a bit of a NPW myself when you talk about it :D.
 

Thorin

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Eriol said:
Look again at what I said. "Christians may disagree on the nature of Hell, but they agree that there is a Hell". Do you find any flaw in that? What you call "annihilation of man" is not called "Hell" in the Bible version that you use? And therefore, don't you believe in Hell, with the proviso that it isn't eternal, but a temporally finite punishment of the sinners that ends in their annihilation? ....I think MB wanted the general Christian position on Hell, and I hope to have described it correctly. What do you think?
Yes, I do agree and that is why I didn't comment when you said "All Christians agree that there is a hell". The problem with those like MB and others, is that when they ask "Do you believe there is a hell?", they are really asking, "Do you believe that sinners will be tormented at death for eternity". We all know that is what most people think when they hear 'hell', because that is the traditional view that has turned many people away from God. I do not believe in that 'hell' and I do believe that 'hell' is a lousy translation of the Greek and Hebrew. Hence, the need to futher clarify my position despite what seems a general enquiry by MB.

Eriol said:
I remember that thread, and your arguments. They are thought-provoking, and I had never looked at the issue before. But I also remember that your arguments were countered.
And I don't believe at all that my arguments were 'countered' an attempt was made to discredit the idea of annihilation, but logic and reasoning (as well as biblical support) was lacking. I find that traditionalists will spend most of their time trying to discredit annihilation rather than trying to support eternal torment. This is because linguistically and contextually, there is no support for it. To me, I don't see that as 'countering' anything.
Eriol said:
Still on off-topic territory, Catholics do not think tradition "trumps" scripture, they ascribe equal value to both, and they never contradict each other. You never know, there might be a reader that believes what you are saying about Catholics, so I must be a bit of a NPW myself when you talk about it :D.
And I'm saying that there are instances where the Church does contradict the Bible (this being a prime example). The question is, can the church admit that (like Protestants) they can go off the mark theologically and substitute tradition in the scripture's place? Or do they continue to stand by the dictum, "The church cannot err"?

Like I said before though, Eriol. Catholics have a way out of theological disputes (deluded though it may be ;) ) Protestants who claim to follow Sola Scriptura do not.
 

Eriol

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Thorin said:
Yes, I do agree and that is why I didn't comment when you said "All Christians agree that there is a hell". The problem with those like MB and others, is that when they ask "Do you believe there is a hell?", they are really asking, "Do you believe that sinners will be tormented at death for eternity". We all know that is what most people think when they hear 'hell', because that is the traditional view that has turned many people away from God. I do not believe in that 'hell' and I do believe that 'hell' is a lousy translation of the Greek and Hebrew. Hence, the need to futher clarify my position despite what seems a general enquiry by MB.
I understand your stance now.

So, if MB is asking about the (general) idea of Hell, we'll both try to defend the Christian position; and if he's asking about the idea of "eternal torment", then you won't be at the defending side.

I prefer it when we're at the same side, rare though it is :D.
 

Thorin

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Eriol said:
So, if MB is asking about the (general) idea of Hell, we'll both try to defend the Christian position; and if he's asking about the idea of "eternal torment", then you won't be at the defending side.
Though I can't speak for our Muslim brethren (though I'm sure that Mohammed was somewhat influenced by the views of hell that existed at his time), I don't think hell is commented on or defended and (mis)understood from other than a Christian perspective. I don't recall anyone berating in public about the ancient Greek view of what hell was. It is always the traditional Christian view. So when someone says, "I have a problem with hell", I assume it is the Christian perspective and I go about debunking the foolish myths that many Christians ignorantly believe today that is causing this problem.

Eriol said:
I prefer it when we're at the same side, rare though it is :D.
Then start using the Bible instead of "The church says so" and we shall be a force to be reckoned with!
:D
 

Elessar II

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The Christian God is supposed to be very just..... If someone commits a crime such as murder, it is in no way just to punish them for all eternity. My point is, for justice to be done, the punishment has to fit the crime.
Well, first of all, ( according to my beliefs as a Christian) you don't go to hell for committing a crime, no matter how huge. The reason you go to hell (again, these are just my beliefs, I don't want anyone jumping on me ;) ) is because of refusing to accept what Christ did on the cross. See, Christ paid for all of humanity's crimes on the cross, and you have a choice on where you want to be for eternity. You can either accept Christ into your life, repent of your sins and join me in heaven :D , or you can refuse the pardon and go to hell. It's your choice.

And those are my beliefs as a Christian, although not all Christians share the same beliefs on this subject.
 

Helcaraxë

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HLGStrider said:
I don't think this was exactly my arguement.

More accurately what happened was this: You broke into someone else's statement which involved going to hell that this was simply a matter of belief and an ungrounded one because there was no proof there was Hell. I said your belief was probably no more grounded than Neothen's. You returned that you had logical proof for yours. I said your logical proof was faulty and that I believe Neothen probably believes what he believes is logical. I know Neothen well enough to know he is fairly logical.


Why isn't it?

You can't just throw out the word just and expect us to follow suit in our view of justice. There are people who don't believe it is just to execute a murderer, for instance. Do you? I do. But if you don't and I do, justice obviously means different things to us. Why can't it mean a different thing to God than it does to you, and if it came down to trusting God or trusting you, I'd trust God's definition of just.


You'd have to prove that it doesn't to prove that is illogical. To some people you'd have to prove that murder is wrong.

But that asside, your definition of Hell is more a matter of punishment than seperation. For the Devil it was punishment, the punishment of seperation, for us it is just seperation, an inevitable result of telling God to shove off.

However, Thorin doesn't even believe in eternal hell, and is a Christian, and will be in this thread shortly to tell me how my beliefs are traditional but not Biblical and quote verses very quickly and use words that confuse me. .. which is a short way to say that he actually has a VERY long thread about this entitled Hell that got archived with the Guild of Religion. I never read it because I don't get into threads that had gone as far as that one had when finally saw it. I don't know what it would take to get that one unarchived, however. I'm sure it is worth a looksie.

Eternal punishment is unjust because any crime commited on Earth is necessarily finite, thus the punishement (if it is just) is also necessarily finite.
Even God's idea of justice can't credibly be outside of these parameters or it wouldn't be justice at all, by definition.

MB
 

Thorin

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HLGStrider said:
However, Thorin doesn't even believe in eternal hell, and is a Christian, and will be in this thread shortly to tell me how my beliefs are traditional but not Biblical and quote verses very quickly and use words that confuse me
LOL. I didn't even look at your thread before I posted, LG, and I did exactly that. How well you all know me! :D

MorgothsBane said:
Eternal punishment is unjust because any crime commited on Earth is necessarily finite, thus the punishement (if it is just) is also necessarily finite.
Even God's idea of justice can't credibly be outside of these parameters or it wouldn't be justice at all, by definition.
Amazing how a non-Christian can see the logic in this reasoning but some Christians cannot. By this reasoning, I find the atheists and non-Christians actually supporting the loving character of God while the Christian brings it down.

No, we don't go to hell because we did something wrong but because we ultimately rejected God. And yet the questions must be raised. Why would a loving God of justice create such a place to begin with? What purpose does hell serve and is it the will of God that people suffer? When was this place created?

Ultimately, our views on the nature of man, the sin problem and what was accomplished at the cross will determine how we view hell. When we look at all these things in the grand scope of salvation history (along with biblical support), we see that not only is it illogical and unfair for God to have created such a place, but it goes against the very nature of God.

Does that mean that all will be saved or that the wicked will not be punished? Absolutely not! Consequences are consequences. However, when we understand that Christ saved us from DEATH, and not a fiery hell, and when we understand that this world will be 'hell' at the end of time to purge sin (i.e. God will eradicate sin and sinners will fall along with it), we see that God's responsibility is nil and being destroyed by fire is a natural consequence of a sinful life.

However, if I believe that Christ established this hell solely for the purpose of punishment,not redemption or reformation, and that man will be given an immortal body to suffer these agonies, we see a vindictive, unmerciful and vengeful God who MUST take some responsibility for this hell fire regardless of man's freedom of choice.

Again, we must go back to the language used in the scripture to determine what was meant by 'hellfire' how it is to be interpreted, and when and how it is received. Until we understand that, there is going to be serious interpretation problems as to how we look at God. We can't judge God until we truly understand the nature and method of this fire.
 

Helcaraxë

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That was a beatifully written and constructed post, Thorin. I couldn't agree more.

Keep in mind, Elessar, that I'm using fundamental Christian beliefs as the basis for my argument. And refusing to accept Christ is a finite action even if it is not really a crime, and thus warrants finite consequenses.

MB
 

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LOL. I didn't even look at your thread before I posted, LG, and I did exactly that. How well you all know me!
Oh all too well. . .Though truthfully I want to agree with you, I do trust years of tradition before someone I met on the internet on this one because you are the only one I have ever heard argue this based on Biblicality. Most people just argue it because they don't care what is in the Bible. All my spiritual role models, who are Bible believing (and Protestant if that matters) believe in Hell traditionally as well, and my mom is the type who is forever digging in that Bible concordance, looking up the original word and such. . .so at the moment I am simply choosing to believe them over you because I trust my mom more than I trust you which is as it should be, don't you think? I think I'll wait until I'm a little older to decide finally.

And refusing to accept Christ is a finite action even if it is not really a crime, and thus warrants finite consequenses.
Is it a finite action? I believe that when one accepts Christ one literally bonds with him. . .I'm not sure if that is a correct word, and through that bond one is able to go to Heaven. I believe that if you don't go to Heaven you are not going to be with God. Hell is seperation from God, and therefore you're in hell.

Accepting Christ is permanent and eternal. I don't see why rejecting him should be otherwise.
 

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Enter the guy with the bible!!

Sorry for just making bible quotes but I believe (as a Christian) that only the bible should be taken as authority. If you cannot find the answer in the bible then it is wrong to believe in confusing doctrines. I still however remain respectful of everyone else's viewpoint, Christian or not.

Eccl. 9:5, 10: "The living are conscious that they will die; but as for the dead, they are conscious of nothing at all . . . All that your hand finds to do, do with your very power, for there is no work nor devising nor knowledge nor wisdom in Sheol, the place to which you are going." (If they are conscious of nothing, they obviously feel no pain.)

Ps. 146:4: "His spirit goes out, he goes back to his ground; in that day his thoughts do perish."

Rom. 6:23: "The wages sin pays is death."

Rom. 6:7: "He who has died has been acquitted from his sin."

Jer. 7:31: "They [apostate Judeans] have built the high places of Topheth, which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom, in order to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire, a thing that I had not commanded and that had not come up into my heart." (If it never came into God's heart, surely he does not have and use such a thing on a larger scale.)

Illustration: What would you think of a parent who held his child's hand over a fire to punish the child for wrongdoing? "God is love." (1 John 4:8) Would he do what no right-minded human parent would do? Certainly not!

What is the origin of the teaching of hellfire?

In ancient Babylonian and Assyrian beliefs the "nether world . . . is pictured as a place full of horrors, and is presided over by gods and demons of great strength and fierceness." (The Religion of Babylonia and Assyria, Boston, 1898, Morris Jastrow, Jr., p. 581) Early evidence of the fiery aspect of Christendom's hell is found in the religion of ancient Egypt. (The Book of the Dead, New Hyde Park, N.Y., 1960, with introduction by E. A. Wallis Budge, pp. 144, 149, 151, 153, 161) Buddhism, which dates back to the 6th century B.C.E., in time came to feature both hot and cold hells. (The Encyclopedia Americana, 1977, Vol. 14, p. 68) Depictions of hell portrayed in Catholic churches in Italy have been traced to Etruscan roots.-La civiltà etrusca (Milan, 1979), Werner Keller, p. 389.
 

Thorin

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HLGStrider said:
All my spiritual role models, who are Bible believing (and Protestant if that matters) believe in Hell traditionally as well, and my mom is the type who is forever digging in that Bible concordance, looking up the original word and such. . .so at the moment I am simply choosing to believe them over you because I trust my mom more than I trust you which is as it should be, don't you think? I think I'll wait until I'm a little older to decide finally.
I challenge you to challenge her. If your mother is the searching kind (of which we all should be) I think she will eventually come to the same conclusions if she is willing to let go how she was raised and what she sees around her. If she does use the concordance, she will see that the different words for hell (Sheol, Hades, Gehenna, Tartaros) have three different meanings. Ask her how can we lump them together into one english word, 'hell' and derive a theology from that?

Out of the 11 usages of Hades in the NT, only Luke 16, the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, gives us an impression of conscious punishment immediately at death. How can one base this belief solely on one bible text? Especially when the uses of Hades don't give us a view of consciousness after death in all the other passages and is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew Sheol which was the grave and a place of no consciousness (as was pointed out by Merry with Ecclesiastes)?

Actually, many Protestants who believe in eternal hell admit that the wicked aren't there now, but receive it at the end of time. This is biblical. Why are they coming to this conclusion? Because there is no support that the wicked are in a fiery hell right now. My question then, is this. If eternal torture believers are accepting this now after centuries of believing otherwise, why is it so hard to believe that they may be wrong about the rest?

We must search the scriptures with an open mind, logical thinking, the aid of the holy spirit and common sense. To think that just because everyone else believes it makes it right is a dangerous way of thinking.
 

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It is encouraging that your mum takes such an interest and I understand completely why you trust her more than you would this forum but don't forget to search for the truth yourself!!

Thorin said:
Ask her how can we lump them together into one english word, 'hell' and derive a theology from that?
Good point especially when you take a look at this definition of Hell:

Definition: The word "hell" is found in many Bible translations. In the same verses other translations read "the grave," "the world of the dead," and so forth. Other Bibles simply transliterate the original-language words that are sometimes rendered "hell"; that is, they express them with the letters of our alphabet but leave the words untranslated. What are those words? The Hebrew she'ohl´ and its Greek equivalent hai´des, which refer, not to an individual burial place, but to the common grave of dead mankind; also the Greek ge´en·na, which is used as a symbol of eternal destruction. However, both in Christendom and in many non-Christian religions it is taught that hell is a place inhabited by demons and where the wicked, after death, are punished (and some believe that this is with torment).

Thorin said:
Out of the 11 usages of Hades in the NT, only Luke 16, the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, gives us an impression of conscious punishment immediately at death. How can one base this belief solely on one bible text?
I found this article on the very same point:

By what Jesus said about the rich man and Lazarus, did Jesus teach torment of the wicked after death?

Is the account, at Luke 16:19-31, literal or merely an illustration of something else? The Jerusalem Bible, in a footnote, acknowledges that it is a "parable in story form without reference to any historical personage." If taken literally, it would mean that those enjoying divine favor could all fit at the bosom of one man, Abraham; that the water on one's fingertip would not be evaporated by the fire of Hades; that a mere drop of water would bring relief to one suffering there. Does that sound reasonable to you? If it were literal, it would conflict with other parts of the Bible. If the Bible were thus contradictory, would a lover of truth use it as a basis for his faith? But the Bible does not contradict itself.

What does the parable mean? The "rich man" represented the Pharisees. (See verse 14.) The beggar Lazarus represented the common Jewish people who were despised by the Pharisees but who repented and became followers of Jesus. (See Luke 18:11; John 7:49; Matthew 21:31, 32.) Their deaths were also symbolic, representing a change in circumstances. Thus, the formerly despised ones came into a position of divine favor, and the formerly seemingly favored ones were rejected by God, while being tormented by the judgment messages delivered by the ones whom they had despised.-Acts 5:33; 7:54.

I completely agree about not taking one section of the bible and using it as your only arguement. The bible is in harmony throughout and should therefore be viewed completely and cross-referenced.
 

Thorin

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Merry said:
However, both in Christendom and in many non-Christian religions it is taught that hell is a place inhabited by demons and where the wicked, after death, are punished (and some believe that this is with torment).
This is Tartaros and is only used ONCE in the NT (in 2nd Peter, I believe). It is the realm where the demons reside. A sort of 4th dimension you could say. A place where we can't see them but they can cross over into our world. Unfortunately, because it is translated as 'hell' along with Hades 'hell' (the grave) and Gehenna 'hell' (the endtime punishment) we have a morphing of all of them which has given way to the current belief (the wicked die, go to hell and burn for eternity while either keeping the demons company, or being tortured by them). However, if we substituted the original language in it would sound ridiculous. "The wicked die and go to Hades where they receive Gehenna and are joined by the demons in Tartaros."
Merry said:
Their deaths were also symbolic, representing a change in circumstances. Thus, the formerly despised ones came into a position of divine favor, and the formerly seemingly favored ones were rejected by God, while being tormented by the judgment messages delivered by the ones whom they had despised.-Acts 5:33; 7:54.
I don't totally agree with this interpretation of it. I think the crux of the matter is at the very end in vs 30,31.
"And he said, 'Nay father Abraham, but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.' And he said unto him, 'If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead'"
The consciousness served more of a literary purpose. The dead characters in the parable were given voices (they'd have to otherwise there would be no conversation!) to emphasise the issue of the stewardship of the Jews to the Gentiles. Notice the use of "Abraham's Bosom". Christ is pointing to the emphasis the Jews put on being of Father Abraham's lineage.

Nowhere else is such a thing as 'Abraham's bosom' being part of the afterlife mentioned anywhere else in scripture I believe that Jesus was using some of the Hellenistic Jews' false beliefs on the afterlife (for they were influenced by the Greeks) to show that they did not have a 'shoe in' just because of their lineage. Jesus was not trying to explain any sort of afterlife. To interpret it as such would be to make the whole message of the 'parable' meaningless.

Also, considering the metaphorical language used and the fact that nowhere else in the scripture is Hades interpreted it as such means the usage of it in this context is meant only for the situation of the parable and not to convey factual information.
 

Helcaraxë

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Elgee, rejecting Christ is finite. It is reversible. The action is done at a specific time, in a specific place, and for a specific reason. And to argue that the "effects" are eternal doesn't hold water either. For someone to deserve eternal punishment for rejecting Christ they would have to continue it for eternity. Therefore, them being sent to Hell forever would need to be postponed until they ceased rejecting Christ, which would never happen because they are doing it eternally. Thus, they couldn't go to Hell forever. It's a paradox.;)

MB
 

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