Saturday, November 29, 2008

Hell-pful Answers

Do you like the pun in my title? I think its pretty corny. I don't really like it, but Nate and Austin will. They are the epitomes of corniness. Dorks!

I would like to be like Dr. Willsey and ask answerless questions, but I promised answers, or attempts at answers, and so I must deliver.

1) Is Hellfire literal or a metaphor?

I tend to think that hellfire is a metaphor. But the metaphor does mean something and I think that it must include the idea of physical torment. What does this torment include? Why can't it be much like the physical torment we experience on earth, just without the grace of God? Jesus wipes away all of our tears and there will be no more pain or death etc.... Hell retains these results of the curse but without any evidence of God's spurned grace. Of course this is speculation but is it reasonable speculation? Can we inform our understanding of hell with our understanding of heaven and vice-versa? I think ultimately we don't really know. I do believe that hell will be a place much worse than this earth. God's grace here sends rain on the just and the unjust. Hell will have no remaining evidence of God's love or grace.

2) If those entering hell are judged by their works (seen clearly in Rev. 20 and elsewhere) can we assume that there are different levels of hell?

I think there are clearly different levels of hell. Judgment by one's works has no meaning if all receive the same punishment. Language like 'it will be worse for you than tyre and sidon' also imply this. How extreme are the differences? My guess is that the differences are extreme, but I have little data to draw from. What will all the factors be? Thankfully God will work all of that out. He understands justice much better than I. I am confident, however, that when he judges, I and all who witness his justice will not dispute that it was, indeed, justice.

3) Is God being hypocritical to tell us to love our enemies when he tortures His? Why or why not?

I don't think so. Why or why not? I have something to say here... but later. Be patient.


4) Is there any room in Scripture for Annihilationism (notice I am not asking you if you believe in Annihilationsism....)?

I don't really think that there is room for annihilationism, but I do think that the arguments for annihilationism are not completely unfounded. I can see why someone could take the forever and ever as not referring to eternal suffering in hell but eternal damnation, the banishment from God's presence.

5) As I tried to remind yall about earlier, we are not looking forward to eternity in heaven but upon a new earth. That being remembered, how similar to the earth is Hell actually? We may not be able to say anything here really- just speculate.

Again more later.

6) For those with a very 'nice' view of God, here's a question for you, does God love those in Hell? If so, tell me what that even means. For those who say that God only loves the elect (or for some, perhaps, the Elect), does God only love some of His enemies whereas we are to love all of our enemies? Or are we only to love our e/Elect enemies?

I have a real problem with God loving people in hell. It sounds good to say that God loves everyone for all eternity but I do not think it is taught thus in Scripture. I'm not getting into the limited atonement debate here.

7) (new 11/23/08) What about babies who have not yet received the gospel?... harder than you think....

This is another topic that I intend on addressing later. I do not see an exegetical basis for the age of accountability and the automatic ushering of children into heaven. I wish I could teach it but I can't. Since nothing in Scripture forces me to accept that children that die early go to hell, I am willing to leave this a mystery that I trust God will deal with justly and in accordance with his nature.


8) Or does Scripture really not give us very many answers about Hell and we really just have to say we don't know. In other words, my questions are pointless and I'm wasting your precious time.

I don't think I'm wasting your time. What do you think?

1 comment:

VentiAmericano said...

Matt,
You have thought about it, and thus are not wasting my time. Your thoughts have made me think of hell more in the real-life concept. That is, similar to what we experience on earth, but not similar at all since God's grace will not be there.
Man, this motivates me...

About Me

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Tacoma, Washington, United States
"It is not as a child that I believe and confess Jesus Christ. My hosanna is born of a furnace of doubt." Fyodor Dostoevsky. I'm a Northwest Baptist Seminary graduate (MDiv) and current student (ThM). I plan on someday going to Africa and teach Bible and Theology at a Bible College or Seminary level. I hope to continue my studies and earn a PhD, either after I go to overseas for a few years or before. I'm a theological conservative, but I like to think outside of the box and challenge conventional thinking and consider myself a free thinker. I am currently serving in my fourth year as a Youth Pastor at Prairie Baptist Fellowship in Yelm Washington. My blogs will reflect my thoughts on both seminary and ministry life, though not (of course) exclusively. I enjoy literature and occasionally try my hand at writing stories and poems. "For I am not ashamed of the gospel for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes..." Paul

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