What is Hell about then?

On the Purgatory version of 'Is Christianity dying on the vine?', Hugal opined that, 'Salvation and therefore going to Hell is not and has never been about being good or bad.'

I suspect he is trying to distance Christian belief from 'works-righteousness' here but am I the only one who finds his comment rather unsatisfactory?

If Hell - whether we understand it as separation or estrangement from God, eternal conscious torment or some kind of state of mind or however else it's been understood - is nothing whatsoever to do with our behaviour, whether 'good or bad', then what is it about?

What is Hugal saying? That it's an arbitrary state, condition or destination that has no bearing whatsoever on what we may have done but based only on whether we've ticked the right belief boxes?

It seems to me that in his laudable attempt to do apologetics, Hugal may be stumbling into very reductionist territory, a danger, I think with certain 'sound-bite' forms of evangelical presentation.

Discuss. Expand. Explain.
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Comments

  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    Aye, from their failure to engage on what they mean by us being similar to God, I agree with you until proven otherwise: turn - say the sinner's prayer - or burn. Which is, of course, utter bollocks, as believed by the fundamentalist rump that is being collapsed to in the CoE as demonstrated publically here on Good Friday.
  • Hell is the church's doctrinal get out of gaol free card. It is deployed to scare people into not noticing that it is coercing people into accepting God's free gift of total, unconditional love.
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    edited April 22
    Some people prefer the idea of a God of wrath but in the Book of Jonah God demonstrates to His own prophet that he is a God of salvation not of wrathful judgement. The famous fivefold description of God that recurs throughout the OT is that He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness (Jonah 4: 2). Jesus sets aside the prophecies of Isaiah and John the Baptist that He would bring vengeance and judgement to proclaim the time of God's favour instead (Is 61: 1-2; Matt 3: 11-12; Luke 4: 16-18). The good news of the gospel is that Jesus brings God's grace not God's wrath: 'For the law was given through Moses but grace and truth through Jesus Christ' (John 1: 17). It's all about grace.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    Hell is the church's doctrinal get out of gaol free card. It is deployed to scare people into not noticing that it is coercing people into accepting God's free gift of total, unconditional love.

    Brilliant. It will always work on a tiny minority in the West, the church's future as assured...
  • Rublev wrote: »
    Some people prefer the idea of a God of wrath but in the Book of Jonah God demonstrates to His own prophet that he is a God of salvation not of wrathful judgement. The famous fivefold description of God that recurs throughout the OT is that He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness (Jonah 4: 2). Jesus sets aside the prophecies of Isaiah and John the Baptist that He would bring vengeance and judgement to proclaim the time of God's favour instead (Is 61: 1-2; Matt 3: 11-12; Luke 4: 16-18). The good news of the gospel is that Jesus brings God's grace not God's wrath: 'For the law was given through Moses but grace and truth through Jesus Christ' (John 1: 17). It's all about grace.

    For Grace to work, judgement is necessary. It's not either/or but both/and.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    That's human.
  • I suspect it might be tricky figuring out what hell is all about without knowing something about Sheol. Sheol admitted all the dead without judgement.
  • Yes, that's a fair point, Colin. A good example of homework well done ...

    I'm now wondering whether that's what Hugal had in mind, but I still suspect otherwise.

    Is he saying that Hell is simply 'the grave' or a form of 'Hades' or the 'Underworld' or a Christian development of the Jewish concept of Sheol?
  • Yes, that's a fair point, Colin. A good example of homework well done ...

    I'm now wondering whether that's what Hugal had in mind, but I still suspect otherwise.

    Is he saying that Hell is simply 'the grave' or a form of 'Hades' or the 'Underworld' or a Christian development of the Jewish concept of Sheol?

    That was a rare occasion when research for writing comes in useful for real world discussion :wink:

    The concept of different kinds of afterlife/domains for the dead based on what they did in life is, IIRC, less common than the one-size-fits-all afterlife. Nor do all beliefs with different kinds of afterlife use moral judgement to sort the dead. In Norse belief/myth, whether you go to Valhalla, Fólkvangr, or Helheim depends on how you died, not how you lived.
  • HugalHugal Shipmate
    I said salvation and therefore going to Hell is not based on how good or bad we are. I did not say what hella was. There are many different idea. One clerical friend of mine puts forward the idea that no one goes to Hell all go to heaven because sin is defeated and God is gracious. I don’t agree with that.
    There can be no sin in Heaven. We humans are imperfect we do both good and bad things. There has to be another way to sort things out otherwise no one would go to Heaven.
  • Hugal wrote: »
    I said salvation and therefore going to Hell is not based on how good or bad we are. I did not say what hella was. There are many different idea. One clerical friend of mine puts forward the idea that no one goes to Hell all go to heaven because sin is defeated and God is gracious. I don’t agree with that.
    There can be no sin in Heaven. We humans are imperfect we do both good and bad things. There has to be another way to sort things out otherwise no one would go to Heaven.

    Hence the development of purgatory as a doctrine, I believe. In fact, I can see no other solution: anything else makes God a murderous tyrant or an incompetent creator.

    Definitely an example of our being led into truth by the Holy Spirit. Others have and will occur - please do adjust your (biblical) set.
  • HugalHugal Shipmate
    edited April 22
    I don’t think there is Purgatory. The story of the Rich Man and Lazerous. There is a gap between Hell and Heaven that cannot he crossed. Yes that is just a story but it is an indication.
    For me Hell is being without God for eternity.
    Jesus said there was a hell.
    I am not going outside the bible.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    edited April 22
    That's where you and your epistemology come from. Outside the bible. God bless you mate.
  • Hugal wrote: »
    I don’t think there is Purgatory. The story of the Rich Man and Lazerous. There is a gap between Hell and Heaven that cannot he crossed. Yes that is just a story but it is an indication.
    For me Hell is being without God for eternity.
    Jesus said there was a hell.
    I am not going outside the bible.

    I am, because I believe we are instructed to go there, and because it's the only logical reason why human history has continued beyond the first century. That is, at root, why I think evangelicalism is a complete cul de sac or (to use a slightly perverse translation) sack of arse.
  • MooMoo Kerygmania Host
    I have heard the theory that after death we all come into the presence of God. For those who love him, it is heaven; for those who hate him it is hell.
  • KarlLBKarlLB Shipmate
    Moo wrote: »
    I have heard the theory that after death we all come into the presence of God. For those who love him, it is heaven; for those who hate him it is hell.

    And for those who neither?
  • So perhaps you'd like to explain, Hugal, how Hell has nothing to do with whether we are good or bad when there are plenty of scriptural references that might imply that it is.

    You know the verses as well as I do. You are overlooking them, it seems to me, in favour of a not particularly well thought through populist evangelical position.

    I could chuck in at least half a dozen verses off the top of my head that suggest that biblical judgement is based on what we do or didn't do and not simply on what we believed.

    Correct me if I'm wrong but you appear to be promoting an easy-believism tick box, reductionist view of salvation.

    You have yet to demonstrate how or why Hell as you understand it has nothing to do with whether we are good, bad or indifferent.

    You claim to be scriptural but your arguments seem to be highly selective at best. You've got to elide a fair bit of scripture, it seems to me, to arrive at the conclusions you appear to have reached.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    If you say the sinner's prayer and mean it you will be got good.
  • Hugal wrote: »
    I don’t think there is Purgatory. The story of the Rich Man and Lazerous. There is a gap between Hell and Heaven that cannot he crossed. Yes that is just a story but it is an indication.
    For me Hell is being without God for eternity.
    Jesus said there was a hell.
    I am not going outside the bible.

    Except Jesus did cross the gap between heaven and hell. What do you think he was doing to the spirits in hell when he preached to them, taunting them? No, he would not have preached to them had he not then been able to liberate them.
  • Since I have memories of other incarnations it’s my conclusion that theres no such place.

    Or I should say at least, if I am headed there, I haven’t arrived but I have lived plenty of lives that felt like hell and feel like it upon recall.

    I had a personal insight into why we might envision hell as a lake of eternal fire from which there is no deliverance, why it is such a universal image, and why it invokes such horror.

    It has to do with the part of our brains that we share with reptilian life forms. It’s called the R-complex and it is located beneath the cover of the mammlian brain. It runs our most primitive responses to environmental cues, what we call “instinctive” behaviour and many of the autonomic bodily functions

    I have no science to back this up with but this personal experience presented me with a flashback of an existence where the world was on fire. It burned for ages. There was nothing but fire, boiling waters, and the poor reptilian creature was forced to eat others like it and its own young for its own survival. There was nothing but fire and torment for a long age.

    I think this is a traumatic memory that is locked in the earths magnetoshphere and something in the R complex resonates with it and translates into imagery that we call forth as “imaginary” but may be a collective traumatic recall of events that happened.

    Theres of course no science to underpin this, this is just an example of how I parse information as it comes to me through strange experiences, how pieces of the puzzle fall into place.

    Not saying I’m right just sharing another point of view for your consideration.

    AFF



  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    Hugal wrote: »
    I don’t think there is Purgatory. The story of the Rich Man and Lazerous. There is a gap between Hell and Heaven that cannot he crossed. Yes that is just a story but it is an indication.
    For me Hell is being without God for eternity.
    Jesus said there was a hell.
    I am not going outside the bible.

    Except Jesus did cross the gap between heaven and hell. What do you think he was doing to the spirits in hell when he preached to them, taunting them? No, he would not have preached to them had he not then been able to liberate them.

    When did He do that?
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    Christians are not good people they are forgiven people. Psalm 53 says that God looks down and sees there is no one who does good, not even one (Ps 53: 2-3). Even the greatest human John the Baptist was not good enough for the kingdom of heaven (Matt 11: 11). When the rich young ruler encounters Jesus he calls him 'Good teacher.' And Jesus replies, 'Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone.' So we can forget any idea of Pelagianism.

    The Parable of Dives and Lazarus has been mentioned as Jesus most specific teaching about hell. And Dives is not said to be guilty of committing any serious sins, but is held accountable for his sins of omission - his moral blindness and indifference towards the sufferings of Lazarus on his doorstep.

    In the Parable of the Pharisee and the Publican it is emphasised that it is not the nature of the sin but the attitude towards repentance that counts.

    However, although it is a doctrine that there is a hell, it isn't a doctrine that there is anyone in it.
  • HugalHugal Shipmate
    Yes Jesus did cross the gap but he is fully man and fully God so is able to. I will rephrase no one who is only human can criss the gap.
    Gamma yes there are passages like the Sheep and the Goats. I am not say that people are not bad and I clearly said we are sinful several times. What I am saying is that there is no Holy weighing scale to balance the good against the bad. Any bad/sin keeps us from Heaven. Having more good is not the entry requirements for Heaven.
  • Hugal wrote: »
    Yes Jesus did cross the gap but he is fully man and fully God so is able to. I will rephrase no one who is only human can criss the gap.

    With God all things are possible. No human can do it by their own power, but that's rather the nature of salvation.
  • LeRocLeRoc Shipmate
    So perhaps you'd like to explain, Hugal, how Hell has nothing to do with whether we are good or bad when there are plenty of scriptural references that might imply that it is.
    Including the Lazarus story Hugal referred to. Dives didn't go to Hell for not repenting of his sins, or not accepting Jesus as his saviour.
  • HugalHugal Shipmate
    I was quoting Father Abraham in the parable, but yes nothing more s impossible with God.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    LeRoc wrote: »
    So perhaps you'd like to explain, Hugal, how Hell has nothing to do with whether we are good or bad when there are plenty of scriptural references that might imply that it is.
    Including the Lazarus story Hugal referred to. Dives didn't go to Hell for not repenting of his sins, or not accepting Jesus as his saviour.

    Oh yes he did. The former.
  • HugalHugal Shipmate
    Martin and I agree on this. Also Jesus had not died and defeated death. So Dives could not have had Jesus as his saviour. Jesus was going to change that with his sacrifice.
  • CrœsosCrœsos Shipmate
    LeRoc wrote: »
    So perhaps you'd like to explain, Hugal, how Hell has nothing to do with whether we are good or bad when there are plenty of scriptural references that might imply that it is.
    Including the Lazarus story Hugal referred to. Dives didn't go to Hell for not repenting of his sins, or not accepting Jesus as his saviour.

    More interestingly, as far as we know Lazarus did none of the tricks that Christians recommend about believing the proper theological positions at the moment of his death and yet he still goes directly to the bosom of Abraham (or to Abraham's side, depending on your translation).
    Because here’s the thing we evangelical types aren’t allowed or accustomed to notice: Most of the time in the actual Bible, the poor are already saved. All of them. They just are.

    That’s a given. It’s rarely stated outright because, throughout the actual Bible, it goes without saying. It is simply assumed — over and over again. The starkest example of this might be Jesus’ parable of the rich man (sometimes called “Dives”) and the beggar Lazarus. How and why is Lazarus “saved” in that story? He just is. Salvation belongs to him because nothing else does. The only drama in that story involves Dives and his wealthy relatives. Can they be saved, too? Yes — because they need to be. No such need is attributed to Lazarus.

    But surely Lazarus — like all people — is a sinner. And surely that means he needs to be saved from his sins? Probably so. But if his Jubilee and salvation also involves the forgiveness of his sins, then it doesn’t occur in that story due to his confession and repentance. It is granted to him and attributed to him because he is a beggar. That’s how Jubilee works. It makes demands from creditors and extends grace to debtors — whether or not they seek it or even know it.
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    The crucified thief Dismas is granted salvation not because he understands any Christian theology but simply because he recognises Jesus for who He is. For Jesus that is sufficient. He doesn't teach him the words of a Creed. He just tells him that he is accepted (Luke 23: 40-43).
  • SusanDorisSusanDoris Shipmate
    Being an atheist, I am content in the understanding that my death will be the end, but I would be most interested to know what posters here think happens to atheists and how you work this out.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    You won't be atheists any more.
  • Simon ToadSimon Toad Shipmate
    I am reading this thread and my wife exclaims from her chair next to me, 'eww, marmite easter eggs.'

    QED
  • Simon ToadSimon Toad Shipmate
    Susan, atheists will be forced to eat marmite easter eggs when they are already feeling overfull.

    AFF, surely lake of fire imagery comes from volcanoes. There's plenty of them about. Mariners probably tell stories about them.

    I have no idea what Hell is like. This comes from the scriptural passage wherein Paul says that now he sees through a glass darkly, but then all will be made clear, or something. Under that caveat, I'm attracted to the idea that whether you go to heaven and hell is about your conduct in this place, mediated through the judgement of God, and that your belief and the nature of it are relevant. Any attempt to systematise thoughts on heaven and hell beyond such a brief, sketchy and hesitant offering has got to be hugely problematic.
  • A Feminine ForceA Feminine Force Shipmate
    edited April 22
    Simon Toad wrote: »

    AFF, surely lake of fire imagery comes from volcanoes. There's plenty of them about. Mariners probably tell stories about them.

    I'm certain that this explanation satisfies the rational mind and I don't argue that this is definitely a possibility. What it doesn't answer for me is why do we seem to need a hell and why do we all recoil from the imagery in the same manner?

    I'm simply relating one of the conclusions I came to as a result of taking in information from various experiences and sources - there are many premises underlying this that of course demand their own examination, but time and space don't permit them here.

    So for this reason I'm sticking with the reptilian brain model for the moment.

    But thank you for acknowledging my post. I truly appreciate it.

    AFF
  • Simon ToadSimon Toad Shipmate
    I always read your posts with interest. :smile:
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    Hugal wrote: »
    For me Hell is being without God for eternity.
    Jesus said there was a hell.
    I am not going outside the bible.
    Are you not? Psalm 139 seems to suggest otherwise:
    Where can I go from your spirit?
    Or where can I flee from your presence?
    If I ascend to heaven, you are there;
    if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.
    If the Bible is right about who God is, how can anyone be “without God” and still “be” at all?


  • Nick Tamen wrote: »
    Hugal wrote: »
    For me Hell is being without God for eternity.
    Jesus said there was a hell.
    I am not going outside the bible.
    Are you not? Psalm 139 seems to suggest otherwise:
    Where can I go from your spirit?
    Or where can I flee from your presence?
    If I ascend to heaven, you are there;
    if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.
    If the Bible is right about who God is, how can anyone be “without God” and still “be” at all?

    Sheol is specifically a non-judgemental afterlife. Everyone goes to Sheol. Hell seems to be something different.
  • Raptor EyeRaptor Eye Shipmate
    If we are currently being blessed by God's presence, whether we are good or bad, as Jesus indicated, then it follows that there will be something missing when we are not. I have been given what I believe to be a glimpse of hell, a dreadful place in which my spirit was parched in the absence of God.

    God is patient with us, wanting everyone to turn and say yes, to accept the offer of eternal life in the kingdom. But all of the indications are that there will be a cut off point, after which who knows? Will it be eternal regret in that parched place? Will it be oblivion? I hope and pray that everyone will say yes, before it is too late.
  • mousethiefmousethief Shipmate
    Is it ever too late?
  • mousethiefmousethief Shipmate
    The idea that one can never go outside the Bible is a fantasy. It is the fundamentalist fallacy that THEY are reading the Bible straight, and everybody ELSE is interpreting it through some extrabiblical framework. We can't help but interpret it through some extrabiblical framework. We are not inside the Bible. We are not inside its eras, we are not inside its cultures, we are not inside the heads of the writers. Even with the best will in the world our attempts to understand the Bible are limited by our own limitations.
  • Nick TamenNick Tamen Shipmate
    Nick Tamen wrote: »
    Hugal wrote: »
    For me Hell is being without God for eternity.
    Jesus said there was a hell.
    I am not going outside the bible.
    Are you not? Psalm 139 seems to suggest otherwise:
    Where can I go from your spirit?
    Or where can I flee from your presence?
    If I ascend to heaven, you are there;
    if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.
    If the Bible is right about who God is, how can anyone be “without God” and still “be” at all?

    Sheol is specifically a non-judgemental afterlife. Everyone goes to Sheol. Hell seems to be something different.
    But the point of the psalm is that there is nowhere one can go that God is not there.

    And I ask again, if God is as described in Scripture, is it possible to be “without” God, to be outside the presence of God, and still exist at all? Doesn’t “being without God” mean nonexistence?

  • Nick Tamen wrote: »
    Nick Tamen wrote: »
    Hugal wrote: »
    For me Hell is being without God for eternity.
    Jesus said there was a hell.
    I am not going outside the bible.
    Are you not? Psalm 139 seems to suggest otherwise:
    Where can I go from your spirit?
    Or where can I flee from your presence?
    If I ascend to heaven, you are there;
    if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.
    If the Bible is right about who God is, how can anyone be “without God” and still “be” at all?

    Sheol is specifically a non-judgemental afterlife. Everyone goes to Sheol. Hell seems to be something different.
    But the point of the psalm is that there is nowhere one can go that God is not there.

    And I ask again, if God is as described in Scripture, is it possible to be “without” God, to be outside the presence of God, and still exist at all? Doesn’t “being without God” mean nonexistence?

    I agree with your point. But if the psalm comes from a time when the Afterlife was still identified as Sheol (which is definitely a non-judgemental afterlife) then does it still apply when the Afterlife is described as Hell which does appear to have a judgemental aspect.
  • Hugal wrote: »
    I don’t think there is Purgatory. The story of the Rich Man and Lazerous. There is a gap between Hell and Heaven that cannot he crossed. Yes that is just a story but it is an indication.
    For me Hell is being without God for eternity.
    Jesus said there was a hell.
    I am not going outside the bible.

    Except Jesus did cross the gap between heaven and hell. What do you think he was doing to the spirits in hell when he preached to them, taunting them? No, he would not have preached to them had he not then been able to liberate them.

    Biblical reference for this please?
  • I think Hugal and I are at Ross purposes to some extent. I'm not advocating Pelagianism.

    All I am saying is that there are plenty of scriptural indications that we are judged by what we do or don't do, and it's not just the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats.

    Our Lord said that if anyone causes 'these little ones' to sin it would be better for them if they had a millstone tied around their necks and be flung in the sea. What's that about if it isn't being judged for wrong-doing?

    There's the whole thing in Romans 2 as well about people'sconsciences either defending or condemning them.

    None of that fits the nice, neat evangelical schema.

    Which isn't to say that there aren't evangelicals around who don't have as good a handle on these things as people from other traditions.

    I'm simply saying that the scriptures don't support a simplistic reductionist view.
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    @ExclamationMark

    Christ's descent into hell is mentioned in the Apostles and Athanasian Creeds. The idea that He preached to the dead is referenced in 1 Pet 3: 18-20 (cf Eph 4: 9). In the Harrowing of Hell Christ remedied original sin as the second Adam and redeemed the faithful who came before His earthly ministry.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    edited April 22
    Rublev wrote: »
    @ExclamationMark

    Christ's descent into hell is mentioned in the Apostles and Athanasian Creeds. The idea that He preached to the dead is referenced in 1 Pet 3: 18-20 (cf Eph 4: 9). In the Harrowing of Hell Christ remedied original sin as the second Adam and redeemed the faithful who came before His earthly ministry.

    It isn't to the dead. And when?
  • RublevRublev Shipmate
    That's the theology of Holy Saturday. It is tomb day.
  • Simon ToadSimon Toad Shipmate
    Wow. Things move pretty fast in this timezone.

    The imagery of the passing through death back to life is ..... If it's not supported by scripture I'm doing an endnote.
  • If one accepts that TripAdvisor has nothing good to say about hell but does not want to fly JesusAir then what comfort can one take in theologian John MacQuarrie's idea that other Mediators Between Human and Divine are available?

    He suggests Moses, Zoroaster, Lao-Tzu, Buddha, Confucius, Socrates, Krishna, Jesus, and Muhammad all offer pathways to God.
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