RICK LANNOYE SAID:
“Sorry, but you're arguing with a strawman, against a point that no one is making! Either you're unaware of what we who reject Hell are actually saying or, perhaps, purposedly distorting it. I hope it's the former.”
In the context of fire and brimstone, burning a straw man is an apt analogy.
“In any case, here's the REAL argument:”
Do tell. I’m on the edge of my seat, waiting for your priceless enlightenment on the issue.
“What is usually taken to mean ‘justice,' as the justification for God causing people to suffer pain in Hell, is the idea that they deserve to suffer for the pain they caused others. However, ‘justice’ and ‘revenge’ are normally distinguished by the notion that the pain inflicted is equal to and not exceeding the pain the guilty caused others.”
i) My little post said nothing about “pain.” Therefore, you’re the one who’s guilty of a straw man argument, not me.
ii) It’s quite possible to wrong someone without causing him pain. Likewise, it’s quite possible to punish someone without causing him pain. So your framework is arbitrary.
Mind you, I have no fundamental objection to the idea that God might inflict pain on some or all of the damned. But that’s inessential to my argument. Try again.
iii) Even more to the point, you seem to assume the only reason God would punish a human being is for what he did to another human being.
Evidently, the idea of wronging God is an alien concept to you.
It is, however, quite possible for sinners to wrong God. Indeed, we’re all guilty of this.
But while we can wrong God, we cannot harm him or cause him pain. These are distinct and separable notions.
“Now, since there is no such thing as a human who could have ever caused an INFINITE amount of suffering, then to inflict an infinite amount of suffering in return upon any human would be impossible IF God were going to be truly ‘just,’ at least, according to the common understanding of ‘justice’.”
i) Guilt is not an “amount.” Guilt is a quality, not a quantity.
ii) The damned don’t experience “infinite” punishment. Their consciousness is finite. They experience punishment finitely, from one moment to the next–not all at once.
“No matter how much hurt a human caused (and to be sure, there are some who did a LOT), if he were to suffer the exact amount of suffering in return, there would come a point when he would have suffered an equal amount, given enough time. If Hell were a place, therefore, where justice is meted out, then it could NOT be ETERNAL.”
Once again, it isn’t necessary to hurt someone or inflict pain in order to wrong someone. You have a dreadfully superficial grasp of morality.
For example, it’s possible to wrong the dead. You can do this by besmirching their reputation.
Take a man who’s a preacher’s kid. Suppose his parents were loving, devoted parents. But when he grows up, he turns his back on the faith. And, in order to justify his apostasy, he trashes his parents. He waits until they are dead. When they are no longer in any position to defend themselves or set the record straight. Then he defames his late parents. He dishonors their memory, even though they were honorable parents.
Now, he’s not hurting them, in the sense of inflicting pain or anguish. Yet he’s wronging them. You wrong the dead when you slander the dead.
And, indeed, he’s wronging them in a way that’s worse that mere pain. After all, there’s nothing inherently wrong with feeling pain.
“This has NOTHING to do with a statute of limitations! You're confusing a legal limit which our laws have because it's so difficult to preserve the evidence needed to justly convict someone after long periods of time.”
No. All I’ve done is to play along with Grayling’s argument.
“Quite different from how long a punishment for the justly convicted ought to be!”
I myself drew that distinction in a separate post. You’re behind the curve.
“Presumably, if God were inclined to hurt people in return for every hurt they committed, in equal measure, He would have no such problem as his memory failing, and forgetting or distorting what happened.”
I don’t even know what that’s supposed to mean. Were you sober when you wrote that? Or was that the drink talking?
“But the point you're really missing is that Jesus, not only rejected the idea of exceeding the Old Testament ‘eye for an eye,' put taught that God did not want to hurt anyone, but to FORGIVE!”
What Jesus do you have in mind? Is it this Jesus?
31 "When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left… 41"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels…46And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."
Or this Jesus?
God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, 7and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels 8 in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might.
Or this Jesus?
12When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, 13and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale. 14 The sky vanished like a scroll that is being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. 15Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, 16 calling to the mountains and rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, 17for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?"
Continuing with Rick:
“If you'll re-read the words of Jesus in the gospels, and look for where HE said his purpose for coming was to die as a blood sacrifice to PAY for our sins, guess what? YOU WON'T FIND IT. In fact, the one place where he does talk about sacrifice is where he says God doesn't want it! He quotes Hosea, saying that God desire MERCY instead. Look in the book of Acts, at all those first Christian sermons. One would think that would be a real good time to explain what was Jesus' main reason for coming, right? But in none of those sermons, do any of the apostles say Jesus was a blood sacrifice to pay for our sins! No, all these stuff about blood sacrifice was superimposed later on.”
i) First of all, it’s nice to see you lay your cards on the table. You reject hell because you reject penal substitution. It’s useful to see how much else we must jettison to jettison the doctrine of hell.
ii) For a good treatment on the subject, see Steve Jeffery et al. Pierced for Our Transgressions: Rediscovering the Glory of Penal Substitution (Crossway 2007).
“Jesus actually said that God just forgives when we own up to our sins and repent. That's it!”
I see. So Jesus really didn’t need to come here at all. He didn’t need to die on the cross.
If, on his deathbed, Joseph Stalin says, “You know, God, now that I’m about to die, I’m sorry for murdering 20 million men, women, and children. Just forgive me!”
“If not, then Jesus/God asks us to do something he, himself, cannot do, to forgive others without demanding any sort of payment or to suffer some painful punishment.”
i) Even if that were true, so what? Why assume that God has all the same rights and responsibilities as we do?
Even at a human level, a soldier, policeman, or judge has different rights and responsibilities than a father, husband, or brother.
ii) You’re also assuming, without benefit of argument, that the possibility of human forgiveness isn’t underwritten by the atonement.