Thursday, December 1, 2011

Second Chances In Hell?

I'm still wrestling with the idea that hell is a place of reformative punishment and is only temporary, and is not a eternal location of separation from God. It's not that I think that hell is a place of reformative punishment; quite the contrary, I still believe, based on Scripture, that hell is a place of eternal damnation to those who didn't trust Christ as Lord and Savior in this life. I've written three posts about this topic already (Is The Bible Incomplete?My Final Belief About Christian Universalism, and Fundamentalism Vs Universalism). I feel like I've already built a strong enough case against the idea that hell is temporary and reformative. But I want to make one more point.

If hell truly is only temporary and it's purpose is reform people so they are pure and able to enter heaven, then why did Jesus have to die? Okay, I can understand the fact that there had to be an atoning sacrifice for people to go to heaven and spend eternity with God. That's Biblical. But Jesus clearly said that He was the way (John 14:5). He's the way. There's no other way to heaven but Jesus. And if hell's purpose is to reform people so they can enter heaven, then isn't hell another way? In that case, wouldn't  hell actually undermine the sacrifice of Jesus? Yes, it would. That's just another reason why hell is not reformative and why it is, in fact, a place of eternal damnation and suffering for those who didn't follow Christ here on earth.


Tom van Dijk said...

As you say, without Jesus dying and being resurrected it is not possible to be reconciled with God for anyone. I agree.

But you suggest that in a temporary hell people would be saved not through Christ. That a reformative hell would imply a way without Jesus. Why would that be?

Even in this life, people come to Christ in many different ways - some through their education in a friendly christian environment, others via a life filled with problems and miseries. But all these stories of salvation meet eachother at one centerpiece: Christ.

In a reformative hell, being saved would also happen through Christ. John 12:32, Jesus will draw all to himself. John 1, Christ is the word, everything is created through Him and reconciled through Him, Colossians 1 will tell you the same story.

I'm not saying that there are ways to God outside of Christ. I'm saying that all ways will eventually lead to Christ, in this life and in the next.

Do you ever wonder why God allows people to forsake Him and live without Him? He could have prevented it! I would say it is because God's plans continue beyond the grave.

Tom van Dijk said...

I was curious about your statement that you have built a strong enough case against the idea that hell is temporary. Let's review your argumentation...

1. You state that according to Christian Universalists believe non-Christians will be in heaven and that according to Christian Universalists no hell exists because God is too loving for that. I already argued that this is not the belief of many Christian Universalists. In fact, it is not compatible with the idea of a reformative hell anyway.

2. You state that Christian Universalists believe that no human is totally bad. This is also not a concept shared by all Christian Universalists. That particular organization you quoted may believe this, but it's not even a concept only to be found in Christian Universalist circles. The idea that all people are in their core an image of God, corrupted and stained by sin, can be found in many other christian traditions.

So in your first post about this, the core argumentation is not against reformative hell at all. Just "guilty by association".

3. "There are verses that talk about the righteous going to heaven and the wicked to hell." I have argued that Matt. 25:41,46 actually talks about a reformative punishment and that the words of Jesus are quite a contrast with what the Essenes and Pharisees preached. Regarding Rev. 21:6-8, it does not even state the length or purpose of the fire. But obviously, there are Rev. 20:10 (unto the ages of ages -> that is not "forever") and Rev. 14:11 (unto the ages of ages -> again, not "forever"). You'll find that Revelation also includes salvation for all - I refer to "The Evangelical Universalist" for a whole chapter on this topic.

4. "Christian Univeralists base their hope of second chances on verses taken out of context that don't match up with the rest of Scripture." This is not true, there are many texts that teach universal salvation if you read them "plainly". Only if you mangle the texts into a presupposed eternal torment theological framework you end up with traditional "interpretations" of these texts. Read and find out! And again, I refer to "The Evangelical Universalist" for a discussion of what it means to state that something is biblical or not - I think you'll find that the author of that book is quite reasonable in his approach.

5. You've argued that Jesus died and was resurrected for nothing if there are second chances in hell. I've argued that this is not the case: without Jesus, there are no chances at all.

6. Jesus never spoke about second chances, even though He had many opportunities to do so. I reasoned against this in three ways: a) There are many theological issues that are not clearly taught by Jesus, despite there being plenty of opportunity and good reasons to be clear about such things; and b) That we don't know about things Jesus did not speak about - perhaps He did and it was simply not included in the gospels. Thus you can never prove that something is incorrect because Jesus did not say it. (You can also not prove that something is CORRECT because Jesus did not say that it was incorrect); and c) Jesus in fact taught that the punishment is a radically different thing than what Essenes and Pharisees taught, since He used such different words. Kolasis instead of timoria, aionios instead of aidios. It's a big difference.

7. You've argued that a restorative hell would provide sinners with a way to God outside of Christ. I have argued that this is not the case.

So, which of these do you consider strong argumentation?

[I would say: maybe 3 and 4, i.e. the discussion should be about what is in the bible, and not about what is not in the bible (such as 5, 6, 7).]

Daniel G said...

I don't really want to argue with anybody, I don't really care what you believe, I just want people to know Jesus and be known by him, but in response to the comment that jesus will draw all to him, he will, he gives everybody the chance to be saved by drawing them to him, but some reject that and end up in hell