Hell: Ever More Evidence ~ BitterSweetLife

Friday, June 01, 2007

Hell: Ever More Evidence

Hell is a place reserved for those who treat God's glory like leftover food from a buffet line--those who disparage what is inexpressibly valuable. Therefore it must be regarded as ironic that the most common response to Hell goes something like this:

Average respondent: God wouldn't do that! How do I know? Well, because God is loving, and I just know. It would be unjust. Eternal agony for finite sins. The punishment doesn't fit the crime!

In other words: Dragging God through the dirt by abusing his name, neglecting his mercy, and denying his glory is no big deal. Definitely not worthy of Hell.

To recap: Hell is the place designated for people who disparage the infinite glory of God. And the routine response to the idea of Hell is to further disparage that glory.
God: Hell is for those who disrespect my glory, failing to worship the Creator of all that is true, good and beautiful.
Average respondent: You don't really mean that because dissing your infinite glory isn't really anything to get worked up about.

From God's perspective, our tolerantly indignant responses to Hell's reality provide ever more evidence that Hell is a necessity.

** Thanks to Matt Chandler of The Village Church for prompting this in a recent sermon delivered via iPod.

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Jamie said...

Hmm. I'm not sure your line of reasoning proves that an eternally-burning hell is a *necessity,* as you say.

Maybe God's glory is infinite (although I truly don't know what it means to say that), but why does that make it *necessary* that sinners who tarnish God's glory suffer infinite torture? You're operating on the eye-for-eye-and-tooth-for-tooth principle, but Jesus told the Jews in his own time to move beyond that principle. I think there is more to justice than that one concept.

The main reason I object to the traditional doctrine of hell is because there seems to be no purpose to the punishment. People are supposedly tortured endlessly with no possibility of repentance, but for what reason? It sounds a lot more like vengeance than justice.

Ariel said...

Hey Jamie, I'm not so much interested as "proving" the necessity of Hell as in affirming the biblical point of view, i.e., God's perspective.

Saying God's glory is "infinite" is simply shorthand for what the Bible tells us about Him--that his ways are unsearchable, his love is unending, and his plans are from eternity. However, what you say here is the crux of the issue:

Maybe God's glory is infinite ...but why does that make it *necessary* that sinners who tarnish God's glory suffer infinite torture?

The most we can say here, while holding to a high view of the Bible, is that Hell's horror is a reflection, an echo, of Jesus' splendor. We have hardly tapped the goodness of God and can't imagine the beauty of his plans for the world from eternity. That's why we wince at Hell. We are better at picturing torment that we are at picturing joy.

No one likes to talk about endless human suffering, justified or no. But Jesus had plenty to say about Hell and he didn't mince words:

The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. - Matthew 8

It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, 48'where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched. - Mark 9

Where Jesus speaks clearly, we don't have any mandate to sidestep what he clearly presents as reality.


Culture. Photos. Life's nagging questions. - BitterSweetLife