Hell And Murderers

Eternity is a long time, ask any kid the night before Christmas.

The question assumes entry into Heaven is also forever. I’m not the best Biblical scholar (actually the worst) but it seems to me Satan originaly had a condo in heaven.

Maybe murderers will have to watch reruns of their deeds for a few years (through the eyes of their victims). If Hollywood reruns are any indication, it will just feel like an eternity.

I once read a novel many years ago in which Hitler faced his own eternal judgement at the end, and God’s punishment was that Hitler had to go back and live the lives of each holocaust victim one by one. It sounded like a pretty just punishment to me. It was satisfying, (we’re talking millions of miserable lifetimes) but it wasn’t eternal. There was an end to it eventually.

I’m not a Christian, either, but I think you raise an interesting point. Is Christianity’s concept of the afterlife outdated? It’s certainly different than what one finds in Judaism, its parent religion. And after nearly 2000 years, with incredible progress in various fields of science and philosophy, is it (Christianity’s concept of the afterlife) relevant to the modern world?

I can guess what the fundamentalists would say, but how about the more moderate to liberal Christians?

Why should our concept of the afterlife change unless it is just an idle threat to get people to do right? If that is the case, why not scrap it altogether?

The concept seems metaphysical to me to begin with so I don’t know what scientific progress would do to change the concept (unless we are talking about hell being endothermic or whatever).

I’m not sure I understand what you mean about it being relevant.

That’s God’s choice. If He wants to, He can make them ready. We can’t say beforehand whom He will and will not choose, only that we think we most likely have a safer way to His “good side”, as it were.

A much better judgment would be for him to have to live next to happy, content, friendly Jews forever and not be able to hurt or even offend them.

Indeed, for one such as he, Hell could very well be entering Heaven to see it populated with all those he hates.

Let’s see how to answer this. Let’s take the 2nd quote first:

Yes, the Christian version of hell does seem a bit odd. It isn’t very well aligned with the Jewish concept of the afterlife of the same period. It seems more like an mixture of Greco-Roman mythology and a selective reading of Revelation. shrug Also consider the advances in philosphy and science since the first century, C.E; natural events are not divine retribution, humanism and equality amongst humanity, the earth is not the center of the universe and specially created for humanity, etc. How does that line up with Christian theology now? That is a question to be considered.

It seems to me your first and third quote are essentially the same. If hell is just a threat to make people be ‘good’ and it’s no longer considered a real threat, then shouldn’t it be disposed of? Do modern Christians consider damnation to hell a real threat?

What Jesus said about the concept of punishment in the afterlife:

Matthew 13:41,42 (49,50)
“'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 18:8
“If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; it is better for you to enter life crippled or lame, than to have two hands or two feet and be cast into the eternal fire.”

Matthew 25:41,46
"“Then He will also say to those on His left, 'Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels;”

“These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

I think Mark may use the phrase “unquenchable fire.”

I should go ahead and point out that there are Christians who say something along the lines of “hell” being an annihilation of the body. There may be some translational issues going on as well. I used the New American Standard translation.

Diogenes wrote:

I agree completely with this. Repentance, in my opinion, is the decision to stop obstructing goodness. Since love is the facilitation of goodness, and God is love, sincere repentance means the sudden flooding of a man’s spirit with God’s own goodness. No matter how sullied a man’s moral journey, once God’s goodness has filled him, he is one with God. “The first shall be last and the last first.” — Jesus

Interesting question, but for the answer, I’m with Diogenes, like the law of man, the intent is the question. Are you honest about your intentions, or just hedging your bets?

Originally posted by Dogface
My Church doesn’t have the view of hell as a pagan place of torture. Instead, it is how those who have not been made ready will experience the Presence of God. Likewise, my Church doesn’t pretend to claim to absolutely know who will be made ready and who will not–only that some things can improve ones chances.
A pagan place of torture? Have you READ the bible?

“With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped his image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur.” (Revelation 19:20)"

A Pagan place of torture would be a place without tye-dye (kidding, really :wink: )

Now honestly, since Revelations and many of the gospels were actually penned subsequent to the crucifixion, (meaning Jesus probably had no idea what was being taught in his name) I personally, (were I to call myself a Christian) would discount them as not germaine to my particular belief, however. Since I am a Pagan, I can discount the lot of it as blather and falsehood, yet I choose not to, since all religious text has intrinsic social value, IMO.

Hell, by all accounts, was a valley (the Hinnom Valley precisely) of burning garbage (including executed criminals by the by) on the outskirts of Jerusalem, and this pit, because of logistical concerns, and the lack of clean air laws, needed to be burning all the time, this valley was then juxtaposed as the modern hell in current text (that’s my take, anyway). What we’ve got to remember here, is that logic and truth and ideals were a bit skewed back when the big book was written (they thought the world was flat for pete’s sake) and the reality of life, death, sickness, emotion and sometimes even weather was an utter mystery. Now I’ll admit that the Hinnom Valley has some serious negative Pagan history, yet it is no more or less backward than any other religion of the times (how else do you explain hundreds of grown men leading innocent lambs to a mass ritual sacrifice) and I beleive we’ve come (both Pagans and Christians) to a place where we can peacefully co-exist, were it not for the zealots, the fundies and the general nitwits on both side of the aisle.

>No, he’s saying that those who have not been made ready will fear and shudder in the absolute goodnesss of God<

In the Tibetan Book of the Dead, this occurs in the First Bardo, if a soul encountering the Clear Light winces away from it, and so begins descent to a lower heavens or rebirth, depending on the Karmic condition of the soul.

Someone who is ready will know to embrace the light, and will not fear it.

I forget the chapter and verse, its somewhere in luke, but jesus himself said that all you need to enter heaven was to love god above all else and love your neigbor as yourself.

Define “love” how you will.

The reason you forget the chapter and verse is that you are wrong. He was asked what the most important part of the Law was.

He answered in classic Rabbinical fashion.

My point here is that most people’s concept of hell and the afterlife is based more upon folklore and mythology than a learned reading the Bible (whichever version you like) and of various Christian theological texts.

Which leads us back to the OP; isn’t it something of a paradox that a person can lead a totally sinful life, and in their last few moments “repent” and get into heaven. If this is still acceptable Christisn doctrine, does it need to be reconsidered, especially in light of scientific and philosophical advances over the past 2000 years?

I know how the Fundamentalists would probably respond, how about the moderate to liberal Christians?

When you say “according to religious faiths” you seem to be excluding all non-Christian faiths.

Karma, for example, does not evaporate with a deathchair conversion.

This is just my opinion on this but I think in order to spend eternity in hell you must choose to go there in full knowledge of your choice. I don’t believe God makes the choice for us. I believe hell is for the ones who have experienced God in their lives and have made a conscious decision and have chosen to reject him. When God makes the final judgement call I do believe the individual knows already what they have chosen. I also don’t believe that our acceptance into heaven is about what we have done on this earth. I believe that we see things “inside the box” in the realm we presently live in and although I very much DO believe taking a human life is far worse than petty theft, I don’t think God rates his love for us on those things.

Exactly - so do I. I wouldn’t want anything to do with a deity who could even contemplate such an idea. However I’d be quite happy with Purgatory - then it would just be a matter of what level people are admitted at. So Hitler and Bundy might start at level 666, or whatever, while nicer types like you and I would get in a bit further up the ladder…

Hijack: has there ever been a Christian who has committed a sin so that he/she would go to hell - in sympathy with the damned? Now that WOULD be Christian…lay down your soul for your friends…

I wouldn’t worry too much. I expect everything comes out all right in the end, one way or another. And hey, even eternity might end.

That said, I don’t believe most people truly understand the depths of evil inside of themselves.

Wouldn’t it be more sympathetic to try to keep them from being damned? Maybe I misunderstand the question, but I don’t find there to be anything especially “Christian” about choosing to spend eternity with your buddies over God. Maybe if the scenario was that by somehow damning yourself, you could save your friends, but that seems a little unnecessary as it is basically what Christian doctrine says Jesus already did for us.