Mak-The traditional concept is that God will keep the vast, vast majority of his creation conscious and aware for the sole purpose of torturing them for trillions and trillions of years, and even then He is just getting started. Some of us, with careful study, have determined to know if this traditional idea is actually true. There are alternatives to the traditional view other than that posed by Jade, and with minimal research you can find respected evangelicals who hold an alternate view. Do you not think they can respond with scripture to any objection you might raise? Of course they can, and if you give them careful consideration you might be persuaded, or at least come to realize that alternative views are not on nearly as shaky ground as you might suppose. I do not know which view is correct. But after years of looking into this I am of the opinion that the traditional view is the least likely to be accurate. I realize that the great majority of evangelicals would disagree. But I submit that this great majority has never *seriously* studied the alternate views, but rather simply regurgitate what they have been told by teachers who are simply regurgitating what they have been told, etc etc. Before we take the step of simply agreeing with the rather distasteful portrait of God described in my first paragraph above, I think it behooves us to make really, really sure that is an accurate portrayal.
Todd, Yes, I do think anyone who studies the scripture can answer with scripture. I was blessed to have an old bachelor, who would winter with my family, correct me many times with scripture. He knew koine Greek and was able to show me where my ideas were wrong from the actual texts. I also understand why sincere men and women look for an "alternative" meaning to the traditionally held view. Nevertheless, the real and simple reason that the vast majority hold to their traditional view of eternal torment is out of respect for the language of the text itself. This is the only reason I hold this view myself. The actual words found in the text are where the "traditional" view of eternal torment came from. These words are attributed to our Lord Himself. Surely, He was as sensitive as you, Jade, or anyone else, as to how the words would cause His Father to be perceived. Jesus was no respecter of tradition. Nonetheless, He uttered the words you are seeking an "alternative" understanding of. We must wrestle with the words while remembering He never spoke from Himself, but only what the Father gave Him to say. If they were the very words His Father gave Him to say, it was not for Him to question how those words made His Father to appear. Our responsibility is similar. We must be honest with the actual words of the text, regardless. Men with no axe to grind, with years of devoted study of the actual language, separated by hundreds of years, from different continents and cultures, reach the same conclusion. Why? Because the actual words of the text lead them to the same conclusion. I certainly agree that majority opinion is no basis at all to ascertain truth. The unjust practice of slavery was acceptable to a majority of evangelical Christians for far too long, just to cite one example. When you use the language "searching for an alternative view", I doubt you are simply trying to be a maverick. I recognize and can appreciate your honest concern; the traditional view paints a very sobering and severe picture of eternal torment. Nevertheless, the majority of those who read the scripture are just as sincere as you and Jade. I do not believe that the majority who hold the traditional view of eternal torment do so just because they heard someone else describe it in the way they understand it. There is a simple explanation for why the traditional view of eternal torment is held by the majority of Christians, the actual language of the text. I trust you have already considered this in your search for an alternative meaning. The most disturbing words describing eternal torment were uttered by our Lord Jesus; that is, if we are to accept the record we have been left by those who heard Him. I doubt you will lump Jesus into the category of the majority view, yet you know He is the primary reason the traditional view is held. If you find an "alternative" meaning to His words that is one thing, but you can not change the words He used. His words are difficult for you to accept. His description of eternal torment is the reason you are searching for an "alternative meaning", the majority of evangelicals are not the cause for this struggle. I care very little about majority opinion - broad is the way and wide is the gate that leads to destruction and many go therein, narrow the way and small is the gate that leads to life, and few there be that find it. So it is possible to discover wonderful truth and life that the vast majority will never discover. Our Lord Himself is famous for "you have heard that it has been said, but I say...." I state this to make sure you know I am no defender of tradition for tradition's sake. I am not looking for an "alternative" view - I choose instead to study the actual words found within the text and attempt to verify they are translated correctly. I can assure you that the actual words in the text create a very disturbing picture of eternal torment. Our Lord Himself chose the words that you wrestle with. I understand why you and other sincere believers are searching for an "alternative understanding". But the real issue is not whether the majority held view is reliable, the real issue is what did our Lord mean by the words He used. It is one thing to set up the traditionally held view as the straw man and topple it because it easily appears callous and indifferent to the horrid depiction of torment. It is another thing all together to wrestle with the actual words of the text uttered by our Lord Jesus Himself.mak
_________________Alan and Dina Martin
I will leave you to the compassion and mercy of God, but I do so aware of His own warning about adding to or taking away from what He has spoken.
If you are correct, I have nothing to fear anyway.
……I choose instead to study the actual words found within the text and attempt to verify they are translated correctly. I can assure you that the actual words in the text create a very disturbing picture of eternal torment. Our Lord Himself chose the words that you wrestle with…………It is one thing to set up the traditionally held view as the straw man and topple it because it easily appears callous and indifferent to the horrid depiction of torment. It is another thing all together to wrestle with the actual words of the text uttered by our Lord Jesus Himself.
Jade, In the very same passage you began with, spoken by the very same person you quoted, are words distinguishing between two different scenarios.Here is the passage from Revelation 21:3-8And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. 4 And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”5 Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said [b]to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”6 And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. 7 He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. 8 But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.”Do you accept everything written in this passage? The one speaking from the throne clearly differentiates between those who overcome and the cowardly, unbelieving, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars. The very same person speaking in verses 3 and 4 contrast the promise which He says is for the one who overcomes and the end of those whose part will be the lake which burns with fire and brimstone.You erase the distinction that the one on the throne chose to make Himself. I accept all His words. He describes conditions within the paradise of God and conditions outside. He declares that certain men will have "their part" in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone. I bless the One Who sits on the throne for every word He said. He is righteous to show mercy and He is to be glorified by His wrath just as well. We are exhorted to behold His kindness and His severity. I am not ashamed that the gospel of God includes the truth that the wicked shall be destroyed by the breath of His mouth. Paul, who understood grace better than either of us, introduced the gospel of God alongside the wrath of God being revealed from heaven against all unrighteousness and ungodliness of men who suppress the truth in their unrighteousness.The question is not whether you or I have seen Jesus, but it does seem to be a relevant question of which Jesus have we seen. There is another Jesus, and another gospel, and another spirit. The Jesus of the New Testament is both Savior and the one leading the armies of heaven to slay the wicked. mak
//I am not ashamed that the gospel of God includes the truth that the wicked shall be destroyed by the breath of His mouth.//But in your view they really won’t be, will they? That is just a very nice way of saying something infinitely worse. I’ve always been a little confused about the term “second death”. If it means being tossed into the LOF that would seem to be the 3rd death (1. Dead in trespasses and sins 2. Physical death 3. LOF And why use the term “death” when those in LOF are very much alive?I think we must also keep in mind that Revelation is apocalyptic literature with an awful lot of strange and symbolic imagery.
Is it really "my view" Todd? The plain meaning of the words is really not in question is it? You will readily acknowledge that Jesus, His apostles, Paul, Jude and the writer of Hebrews use very graphic and disturbing words. We don't have to disagree there do we? Why pin the difficulty on me, instead of where it really lies. You don't like what Jesus said - that is why you are looking for an "alternative meaning" to the plain reading of His words. Surely, you can admit this. The basic idea of eternal torment came from the mouth of our Lord Jesus, not mine, nor any other teacher, or preacher. You can accuse us of embracing a horrid concept of eternal suffering, fine, but you can not do so without implicating our Lord Himself. I am just an easier target than Jesus. If I merely repeat what He has said, then your beef is not with me - you do not like the way our Lord chose to describe the end of the wicked. You may not appreciate persons like myself who defend the words that were written, but it is not as if myself or others have invented "a view" out of the blue. The difficulty is not in translating the words, they are plain enough. The real difficulty is grappling with what the words actually say. I can appreciate that difficulty, but that is where the issue should remain, not whether or not I "hold" such a view. Countless men and women can read the plain text. That is not in dispute. What you want to dispute is what the words actually mean. Go ahead and do so, but blame Jesus for making it so graphic an unappealing - not others. I will read with an open mind your own "views" of weeping and gnashing of teeth. I am sure we don't disagree that Jesus actually used the phrase multiple times. Neither do we disagree that He used the actual term eternal torment. You seem to think that "my view" is horrid. At least you can admit that I got the idea from reading the words of Jesus. Can we begin there? I hope so, because if we can not trust the words of Jesus to be reliable, where does that place any confidence in the scripture? Have at it to search out a meaning that is agreeable to you. I will not fault you for trying. Please feel free to post your considerations that you have discovered regarding possible meanings. We are to test all things. There is nothing wrong with testing interpretations that are at least plausible.I won't bother to offer my own views because it appears if I simply quote the scripture, you have more than likely already figured out what "my view" is.mak
I promised Greg a few years back I wouldn’t argue about the views of hell. I realize I am skirting around the edges here but I don’t want to get into arguing actual scriptures in depth. There are plenty of resources available should a person want to study for themselves. I do acknowledge that Jesus talked about hell. Obviously he did. But there is a huge question as to what he was actually talking about, particularly when he used the term Gehenna. This is because Gehenna was an actual physical place near Jerusalem filled with fire and rotting corpses. But I can’t get into arguing the scriptures on this. I understand the traditional view is traditional for a reason. However, supporters of the three main views (eternal conscious torment, conditional immortality, universal reconciliation) all embrace **without discomfort** terms such as “eternal judgment,” “eternal punishment” and “eternal fire.” In other words, they all use these phrases to support their case. How is this possible? Obviously this is because there are differing opinions (supported by scripture) as to how these words are interpreted and what they actually mean. Like I said before, I am not sure which view is correct. But I have studied the issue enough to realize that it is not as simple as you are making it out to be.
Thanks Todd, we are nearing agreement.The simplest aspect of this subject to me is the translation of the words in the text. I can appreciate the increasing difficulty thereafter. To search out the meaning of the words is an endeavor worthy of undertaking. I believe the plain meaning is the safest, but I agree with you that Revelation is full of symbolic terms, and there are other passages where the matter of understanding is quite complex. We have so much more of the treasures of wisdom and knowledge to explore. It is the glory of God to conceal a matter and the glory of kings to search it out.Thank you for your participation in the discussion. I have often been refreshed by your own perspective. I also enjoy being challenged directly, because it compels me to examine the scriptures again to see if I may be in error. I have no desire to hold to a view simply because it is what I have been taught.I alone am to blame for whatever understanding I have come to. No man has forced his opinion upon me, and if I have failed to search out a matter to verify it, then the fault is my own alone. I bear the sole responsibility for what I believe and as a teacher I understand that I face a stricter judgment for my influence upon others.This is sufficient cause for me to carefully study and pray to know the truth. I enjoy the company and fellowship of many others on this forum who share a like passion and vision.mak
I did want to mention that in the past I have led Bible studies and I have never taught anything other than the traditional view, sometimes through gritted teeth I’ll admit. I am the only Christian I personally know who even considers other viewpoints, although I think one guy may be considering it based on some Facebook posts of his, but I had nothing to do with it. 😎I will freely admit that my primary qualm about eternal conscious torment is quasi-philosophical. I say quasi because I do think there is some scriptural support to the objection. Namely it is this: Scripture SEEMS to say that Jesus is the cosmic victor when all is said and done(Phil. 2:9-11). If the view of eternal conscious torment is true, this means that the vast majority of beings God created in His image (at least 90%?) will be tormented, by Him, for all eternity. In that scenario, satan is the cosmic winner. Can’t you just hear satan snickering at those numbers? At the end of the day, God is torturing almost all of the men He loves, or at least used to love. Now, someone might say that even if Jesus’ sacrifice saved one person from eternal torment, He is still the cosmic victor because no one deserved to be saved. But that explanation simply changes the definition of victor and loser.
While it’s not my intention to disrupt this thread, you did/are making some honest statements that bespeaks of your starting point, which by all indications is squarely outside the Kingdom of God. To approach these matters from a worldly perspective is to fall short of the truth of Gods spirit being revealed as even being a potential. Without the spirit who can see or know the things of God? When left to our human devices we inevitably fall into human reasoning and at best apply a pragmatic principle to what is divine, as such miss the requisite truth- From your words, it sounds like you are “interviewing” Gods plan to see if it meets your ideas of fairness and justice... seems like God may not be “god enough” for you to come into agreement with Him in that He is God, we are not and we have a choice wether we believe His word. It would seem plain enough that if God intended for ultimate or universal reconciliation with all men that He would simply say so,... but in fact, He says quite the opposite as do all His apostles and if that weren’t enough, you can simply ask Him yourself ? I mean surely you can pray and ask Him yourself, being willing to accept whatever He says without reservation.... “if any seeks wisdom, let him ask..” James 1:5 The idea that you can reason out the divine eternal justice of God by way of fallen human faculties is surprising to hear from you as even a consideration much less a possibility... yet here we are 🤷🏽♂️ Perhaps in addition to seeking the Lord to reveal this truth to you personally and therefore have it once and for all time settled in your heart, mind and spirit, you might also consider addressing the offense/contempt you hold regarding His final judgement being beyond our influence or appeal. I say this humbly because I too have held a disposition that veiled my eyes from seeing the truth and until He had broken me down, I was unwilling to accept His Truth on His terms. Yes He was patient and merciful with me as I’m sure He is with you, but until I was “poor” enough in spirit to let God be my God, He (His Truth) was a thing to investigate not a person to love. Only when it was settled in my heart that I would accept Him as He chose to reveal Himself was I able to know Him. Having said all of this, when I was struggling with the selfsame He gave me an analogy that helped me to better understand His perspective and my hope is that it also blesses you :) When a human body has a cell or group of cells that are not under the direction of the head, we call that cancer. Now these cancerous cells are not lazy, but are in fact quite busy but their work is against the head and by extension the body that supports and supplies them. Treatment for these cells seeks to “reform” them, convincing them to stop their rebellion by opposing them, reducing not only their influence on surrounding cells but also in the supply of energy/life itself. This is an act of love for the cells individually and the body as a whole. If after a period of this they (the cancerous cells) do not repent, coming back under the authority of the head, then the love for the body requires that they be cut out of the body and cast out never to be restored. This too is an act of love and it’s not because they weren’t loved that this happened, for the head provided for all the cells equally in source, context and opportunity by giving the supply of life which was used to initially rebel and remain so... all those cells have to do is submit to the authority upon which they themselves are dependent for their life and not think they “know better”. Obviously from their “local” perspective these actions being taken by the cancerous cells makes sense to them, seeming the “right thing” to do or the “right way” to view it but you see dear brother they were deceived into forsaking the very source of their life itself and as such, tho thru repeatedly and sincere efforts by the head, are (for the sake of not allowing the whole body to succumb) cut out and it’s an act of mercy to do so 🙏🏻 Understandably one may say, yes ok but.... to then torture these cells with eternal conscious torment is too much to be just, for it is enough that they are cut and thrust out.... and to that I say God is God wether we want Him to be or not but we have to ascribe to Him dominion for Him to be “our God”. He didn’t ask our permission to give us life, nor is He required to ask our permission to execute judgment over His creation wether we see it as just or not,... that’s the paradigm of Authority- So I hope you see that He is indeed being merciful with you, by not allowing you to have peace where there is error, we are forced (encouraged) to seek Him personally that He may be both the source and solution to our quandary. I believe He is blessing you immensely and desires to draw you unto Himself that He may speak to your heart and with His word settle your heart just as His word is forever settled in heaven 😇 It is to this end that I will pray dear brother believing the God of Abraham Issac and Jacob will reveal the truth of His spirit to us in a more intimate and amazing way, that we might know Him and Jesus Christ whom He sent 🙏🏻