February 01, 2007

What Is The Divine Purpose Of Hell?

I posed this dilemma to a born again Christian one day: Suppose a devout Hindu woman, loving, charitable to others of every race, faith and class, devoted mother and wife is preached to about the Christian gospel one day. She listens politely and although she appreciates shared sentiments about God’s love, it does not convince her to change her religion. She already accepts Hinduism as truth and fact is, she is spiritually fulfilled in her own faith and enjoys a relationship with God. Her religion gives her a feeling of hope, peace and well-being in her Hindu tradition. Unfortunately, one day she is kidnapped, tortured, raped and killed by a man who has done this terrible deed not only to her but many other women as well. According to many Christians, this poor Hindu woman will go to hell. It does not matter that she was a good person, law abiding, loving mother and faithful wife. It does not matter that she was hospitable, charitable and compassionate to those in need. All that matters is that she heard the gospel and did not convert to the Christian faith. So for the rest of eternity, this poor woman will be mercilessly tormented in hell, with no hope of redemption. All her good deeds and compassion are futile and forgotten.

Now imagine the man who has tortured and killed her and many other women gets arrested and is sentenced to death. While waiting to be executed in prison, a Christian preaches the gospel to him, for whatever reason, it moves him to accept Jesus as his savior and the criminal converts to Christianity. When he is executed, he goes to heaven for an eternity of bliss. For all eternity, he is rewarded with Divine happiness. All his cruelty and degradation of women in this lifetime is forgotten.

After setting up this very probable scenario, I asked the born again Christian, ‘Where is the universal Divine justice in this?”




When forced to look at eternal reward and eternal punishment in such a visceral way, most Christians are stumped by the cruelty and injustice of what they hold to be true about the nature of God. Hell is supposed to fulfill every conceivable human nightmare, not even the worst Nazi concentration camp compares to it. Yet God will be sending the vast majority of human creation there. Who would want to worship and praise a God that would allow something like this? When faced with this dilemma, the Christian grasps for some way to get God off the hook. The most recent way of abdicating any responsibility on the part of a just and all-knowing, all-powerful Deity who is supposed to encompass all the higher qualities of universal love allowing such a barbaric place to exist where people are tortured for eternity, is to blame the human.

According to them, God gave us free-will, therefore it is OUR choice and OUR fault if we decide to go to hell and not God’s fault because he gave us a way out by accepting their doctrine and joining their church (Which is what they really mean by “accepting Jesus as your personal saviour) because simply saying you accept Jesus is not enough for most. They are not convinced you accept Jesus unless they see you attend their church, contribute financially to their expansion, live according to their specific biblical interpretation and doctrine and more recently in the US, vote according to their political preferences. Freewill supposedly takes God out of the equation because it’s now all on you! But does it?

Imagine for a second a parent who owns a burning stove. The parent has a three-year old child and yet the parent places a lit stove inside the child’s play pen. The parent tells the child, ‘If you love me, do not touch the stove! If you disobey and touch the stove you will get hurt! If you obey me, you will be free from harm.” Now the parent has all the power in the world to remove the stove. It does not even have to exist nor does it have to be right within the reach of the child. It is not even necessary for to test the child’s love nor the parent’s love of the child. Of course the parent loves the child! Of course the child can learn how to love the parent without having a burning stove in their playpen. The stove serves no purpose whatsoever! In fact, it poses more of a troubling question, ‘What parent would do such a thing?” Especially when you take into account that children are naturally curious and often forget and make mistakes. Worse yet, if the child does touch the stove, the parent will simply say, ‘I told you so. I guess you don’t really love me. Well, there’s nothing I can do now, you have to suffer” and watch the child burn alive, screaming in incomprehensible pain and not lift a single finger to help nor allow a chance of redemption.

Does this image disgust you? Does it traumatise you? Well, this is exactly what some people believe about God. In relation to an all-powerful God we are like the curious, still-learning, fumbling three year olds. If you are a loving parent, even in the midst of the child’s most annoying temper tantrum, you would never do such a thing. You know you are infinitely bigger, stronger, wiser and there are a vast range of other ways to earn the love of your little offspring, especially when you bring the concept of eternity into it. Remember, according to the theology that goes along with hell, this lifetime is not all there is, we have ETERNITY to live. So really even if we live to be 100 years, what is 100 years in face of ETERNITY? It is not even the first millimeter in a marathon race. So we are indeed three year olds. Shouldn’t a loving parent have more patience with our unsure, first steps? Should our eternal fate be decided by what we do in the infancy of our existence, even if we were the most terrible of three-year olds? Look at one of the worst three-year olds ever, Hitler, when we measure the horrific things he masterminded in his lifetime against an ETERNITY of torment, it eventually becomes unjust. Eventually he would have lived out the suffering of all his victims, isn’t that enough? Surely, some form of penitence, resolution and purging of the soul should happen by then. Why is everlasting torment required? What purpose does it serve to restore universal balance?

Still, we have not really explored this, “free-will” and what it entails. In conversations with Christians, they would readily admit after some time, that perhaps hell is unfair, perhaps it is barbaric, perhaps it does seem like overkill and perhaps God does not have to allow such a place to exist, but it is God’s prerogative to allow it and we cannot question God, (I disagree of course. Why else would God create me with a brain and how am I supposed to determine right from wrong if I cannot perceive it using my own faculties? How can I even determine God is God?) but they insist, it is still OUR CHOICE to disobey! It is still OUR CHOICE not to love God and end up there! God is not responsible for our choices! So once again the blame falls on us because we have freewill and Christians define free-will as “choice”. Which is not accurate. Freewill entails much more than choice. The correct definition of “freewill” according to the Concise Oxford Dictionary is freewill [n] the power of acting without the constraint of necessity or fate; the ability to act at one’s own discretion or [adj.] voluntary. It is important to grasp the correct understanding of freewill and not the deliberate misuse of the word to suit doctrinal constraints. When we understand freewill in the right vein, somehow, the idea of hell poses further problems.

In order to have freewill, we must be free to choose WITHOUT constraint or necessity. The choice must also be voluntary. There is no freewill when choice is made under threat or is coerced in anyway. To illustrate, let’s go back to the burning stove and the parent. If a parent holds a child’s hand over a burning stove and says, ‘Love and obey me and I will let you enjoy your favourite dessert. If you do not love and obey me I will burn your hand off!” certainly, the child has a choice. The child can choose to love the parent get a reward or choose the opposite and get his hand burnt off. But the REAL question is, did the child have freewill to make that choice? The answer is NO. The choice was made under duress. So too is the choice to join any religious sect (as the outward manifestation of love for God) out of fear of punishment or hope of reward or even a sense of obligation. What does it say about a parent who must resort to such lengths to get a child’s love in the first place? Shouldn’t the child’s love be voluntary? Isn’t that the measure of real love? Wouldn’t the true test of our love for God be if everyone had to undergo the same soul learning process throughout eternity and there was no eternal punishment or reward? Then you would have a clearer indication of who chose to love God because they REALLY want to, for there is freedom of fear of punishment and freedom of expectation of reward. NOW THAT IS TRULY FREEWILL!

Currently, there are talks within certain Christian sects of revising their views about hell, taking a second look at biblical doctrine and seeing the possibility of everyone irregardless of belief or lifestyle reaching salvation, if not now, in the many millennia of the eternity to come. The Vatican has already begun doing so. They want people to join Christianity out of love, not fear. The million-dollar questions of course are, “If everyone had the same fate, would you still love God?” “If there was no eternal reward for the good you do, would you even bother to do good?” and “If you cannot use hell or heaven to motivate people to convert, what can you use?” Many Christian sects are finding that they get better quality converts who have more longevity and maturity in their spirituality and more tolerance and compassion for others when they use God’s acceptance and unconditional love and its effect on their lives right now as the only reasons for faith. Fire and brimstone sermons seem to produce over-zealous converts whose faith fizzles out as soon as financial, family or personal adversity hits them. Their expectation or rather certainty of eternal rewards later creates an egocentric expectation of rewards NOW as well. This causes them to think themselves ‘special’ and ‘superior’ to those “evil non-believers.” This “us vs. them” attitude creates violent friction in our world because the “saved” feel they must impose upon the “unsaved” not just through overbearing proselytising but also in dictating EVERY social policy. When I put forth the possibility to believers of this ilk, that the Hindu woman I mentioned earlier can be sharing heavenly bliss right alongside them, they feel VERY offended, ‘No!” they insist, ‘She MUST go to hell! She did not accept Jesus! (or Mohammed if the person is Muslim)!” I often ask them if they would not simply feel very glad and grateful that God was more accepting than they expected? They don’t. They want to get that last laugh and be able to look down, all superior, upon the poor unfortunate souls and say, ‘I told you so!’ This chance to gloat from up on high is a big part of the appeal of hell for some people, especially if they feel insecure, excluded, unpopular and ignored in this lifetime. They can rest easy their slighted personal ego and soothe their religious pride when someone hurts their feelings with the knowledge that everyone will get their just desserts.

I have always found the hellfire doctrine disturbing. I would be depressed 24/7 if I believed it were true. Perhaps this explains the obsession of some to convert you, after all, if you believed almost everyone in your school or office was going to a place worse than Mount Doom for eternity, wouldn’t you be preoccupied with saving them? The problem is, you cannot force people to believe or convert. Faith is a complex thing and most have to be in a particular emotional state to convert or they must have some void to fill. This is why almost all Christian testimonies begin with, “I was at the end of my rope, everything was going wrong in my life, I wanted to die and then one day a Christian preached to me or I attended a revival service etc……..”. But, if life is going well for you, like our loving Hindu woman, and you are very content in your existing religious or non-religious belief and see benefits in it and feel joy and hope for the future you are NOT going to switch beliefs just like that. If certain fundamentalist Christians or Muslims were honest with themselves and were able to look at things objectively, they too could see that if someone of another faith were to preach to them, they would most likely reject it as well, for many of the same reasons other people reject their faith. Those that do convert do so because they were not content in their former beliefs or have problems they need help with or are looking for something to give their lives meaning. Ironically, just as there are people converting from their former faith to Christianity or Islam, there are people leaving Christianity and Islam for exactly those same reasons. Faith is very subjective and very personal. What works for one person, does not work for another.

So for the poor Christian most of the people he tries to save from this hell he believes in, will not convert and he must also cope with seeing those already in his faith leaving to join the doomed. This includes close friends, relatives and in some cases even husbands, wives and children. I think I would go crazy with grief at the human tragedy of it! I find it spine-chilling that most who believe in hell, do not even bat an eyelash in terror that BILLIONS of good people, not of their religious persuasion including, women, children, heroes of our time, talented souls who made great contributions will be tortured in a place a million times worse than a Nazi concentration camp for all eternity. I think any person with an iota of human compassion would find that idea sickening and feel all the more sad to believe it is truly going to happen. The absence of this human compassion is made possible because the fundamentalist labels the non-convert or unbeliever as “evil” or “infidel” even if they are the most peaceable and compassionate person on earth. In order to cope with the horror of it, they need to dehumanise the non-convert, just like the Germans had to dehumanise the Jews. How else are you going to be comfortable with the idea of Ghandi going to hell? I often ask Christians who believe this, “How can you be clapping and praising while believing such a tragic thing? Even if you are grateful that you are not going to be tortured for an eternity, aren’t you devastated by the belief that billions of others will? How can you be worshiping a sadistic Deity that allows such a thing with a blissful smile on your face?” It's like watching adorable little children shout racist, hateful epitaphs at minorities they do not even know, and cheering at brutal treatment of them. It is just as creepy to hear religious people speak of such a ghastly thing with a contented expression on their face, unless of course they take a secret delight in it. I suspect that some do, judging from the swiftness they judge others and proclaim with heated vindictiveness or smug coolness “You’re going to burn in HELL!!!!”. As they say this, does it not form a picture in their heads of the extent of suffering they are envisioning for that person, suffering more barbaric than 100 serial killers could inflict if given free use of their twisted imagination. And do not forget…. for ALL ETERNITY!!!



It has been observed that relatives of victims of brutal crimes who demand to see the execution of the criminal responsible often find that once their wish is granted, they cannot stand to look at it. They turn away from the sight of the person dying. Some even feel traumatised especially if it was a particularly slow, painful execution. As we progress away from barbarism, more efficient, less messy, humane forms of executions have been invented and some countries have done away with executions altogether. In fact, most victims of crime find that only forgiveness of the criminal allows them to get a true release from their pain and quells their hatred and vengeful feelings. Imagine that? Forgiveness gives us peace of mind and helps us connect with feelings of universal love that transcend even the worst inhumanity. Even the criminal finds resolution when confronted and is told by the victim, “You hurt me, I may not understand why, but I forgive you.” If we assume that God also shares our hateful and vengeful feelings towards others, why wouldn’t forgiveness also work on an even more divine level for a Supreme Being? In fact, who is to say, God who has infinite perspective into the past and future development of our souls, is even pissed off at what makes our blood boil? We like to think that it hurts God’s feelings when people reject our religious beliefs, when in fact it is only our feelings that are hurt. Remember we are the three year olds, and God is the wise, all-knowing parent who is not any more personally hurt than a parent is hurt when their three year old poops their pants by accident. Unless God is mean-spirited and abusive, and if God is (which I seriously doubt), then why worship such a being or expect to learn morality from It, which is the argument of many an atheist.

What is the saying, ‘To err is human. To forgive is Divine.’ If it is divine to forgive, then hell is certainly not divine. The concept of hell could only have come from a primitive human mind. Only we, the petty three year olds and creators of torture devices, world wars, concentration camps and burning women alive could conceive of such a bestial, useless place. You see, the idea of hell satisfies a very immediate, primitive human need for vengeance, especially when life is unfair and we see those who do bad things thriving while those who strive for right suffer. There is something in us that longs to believe that there will be a reckoning of some kind for those who go unpunished in this life and a reward for those who were never materially compensated for the good they do. I believe this is only fair, but the punishment (I prefer to call it “effect”) must be EQUAL to the cause. For if God created nature, then the laws of nature are God’ laws as well, so there must also be universal balance to the process. An eternity of torture for a sixteen-year old gangster is not just any more so than it would be just for a parent to light his three-year old child on fire for disobeying him. In addition, everything that exists in this universe exists for a reason. Everything serves a purpose or function that relates energetically to something else. Why must a soul be kept alive for the sole purpose of eternal suffering and never have the capacity to learn and grow? What does it fuel, accomplish, build etc.? What kind of energy does hell create and for what purpose? Hell just seems like a waste of eternal energy and human potential! Hell just seems so unlike every single fundamental law that governs the universe according to the values of a God of love and compassion that understands the fragile and faulty nature of his little children and has ETERNITY to watch them develop and build a relationship with them.

20 comments:

Vernon said...

Jessica I am thrilled to have discovered your blog though I know nothing about you. I will now attempt to read all of your back entries so I can get some grasp of where you are coming from. As regards your previous ( Shurwayne) entry I follow your reasoning but I believe there has to be some limit on public pronouncements when they cause fear or loathing of a segment of society.
I could just as easily use the bible to preach that one race or another is inferior. Would that be acceptable to say in public? As I say, though. I understand your point completely.

Jessica said...

Vernon, you hit the nail on the head! You can use the bible to condone many things that in our society are considered to be crimes against humanity.

This is why when people quote blindly from the bible we must immediately refute the hypocrisy of it. If someone choses to use the bible as the ABSOLUTE moral authority in one aspect of their life and insist that society does the same, then they must uphold ALL the biblical standards. Their inabilty or lack of desire to do this shows them to be just as relativist as those they accuse of being too secular or humanist.

Dan Newberry said...

You're quite an intelligent person, and I understand your questions about Hell. I used to have those same questions, and stayed away from Christ for most of my life. It did not seem "fair" that some would go to Hell, even though they were what I would call "good" people who had led pretty good lives.

However... we either believe the Bible as truth, or we reject it outright. If we reject the Bible as truth, then it really doesn't matter what it says about Hell, since it's not true anyway.

For my part, I have come to my salvation in Christ and I believe that the Bible is true. :) But we must seek God, and then read and understand His Word in order to see the realities therin. I read many a book designed to tear down the truth of the Bible before I eventually came to Christ. I was an avowed athiest--it even said so on my military dog tags. I used to really enjoy tripping up Christians in theological debates. I made good sport of it! :D

But that was then...

Will the Hindu person you reference, even though she lives a "good life," go into Hell? That is of course for God to decide, but His word does say that Christ is the only way to communion with God in the hereafter. If Christ is effectually presented to her, and she refuses to accept the love that He freely wants her to have, then she cannot enter His presence in Heaven when she dies. She will first reside in Hades, a place awaiting final judgement. I believe that some will accept the gospel while awaiting in Hades. (I should mention that most Christians do not believe this). I have scripture supports which I believe show that some in Hades will finally recognize Christ as Lord and avoid ultimate damnation in the lake of fire at the end of times (another discussion)...

As humans, we tend to judge for ourselves what is good and what is bad, but we tend only to agree on the extremes.
God says that man's righteous acts are like "filty rags." That isn't to say that we cannot please God when we do right, but it is to say that the right things we do here on earth will not buy us a place in Heaven. We cannot be good enough here to get there.

You mention Hitler. If Hitler at some point before he died confessed his sins to Christ and asked Christ to save his soul--and was genuinely sincere about it--then he's in Heaven with Christ right now. My guess is that Hitler did not do that, but if he did, then he is with Christ. God was ultimately in charge of every life lost due to Hitler's actions. None died before their time; none died that God did not know would die.

Conversely, if a Buddahist lived what by human standards was a "good life" and died still worshipping an idol, then he is in Hades, a place of awaiting final judgement, and will probably go to Hell when ultimately judged by God. I say "probably" since if the Buddahist never had the Gospel of Christ presented to him, I believe God will arrange for that Buddahist to hear the gospel before the final judgement, which is the Great White Throne judgement spoken of in the book of Revelation.

As humans, we place such a high regard on this flesh. God doesn't see the flesh as anything other than what it is; a temporary vessel for our soul, while we use our freewill to determine our ultimate fates.

You mention that we are as children, even to 100 years old. But God makes allowance for an age of accountability. See in Deuteronomy 1:39 where He says that the little ones who were too young to know good from bad will be allowed into the promised land. God only sends those to Hell who have willfully rejected Him. Romans chapter 1 verses 18-21 refers to those who knew God, but rejected Him.

So we reach an age where we really do know right from wrong (even though we're often poor judges of ultimate right and wrong), and it's well before 100 years old. Once God knows that we are mentally capable of recognizing Him, and understanding His Word, then we are rightly accountable, and hellbound if we reject Christ. Is this unfair? Well, what if a mass murderer and child molester were to say that he's so much a babe that he shouldn't be held accoutable (by man) for his actions? The courts would laugh at such a defense. In the same way, a person beyond the age of accountability (which is probably different from one person to the next) cannot say to God that he didn't know any better than to follow false gods. (However, if this person has truly never heard the Gospel of Christ, then I do not believe that God holds him accoutable. There is scripture that seems to indicate this, but that's another discussion). :)

God does not want to share His glory for eternity with the likes of the demon angels who left Heaven with Satan. Just like you and me, God wants true love. He can only garner true love if we come to him of our own accord--and this is at the crux of why He gave us all freewill. You would not want a partner in life who was forced, by design to love you. That would be false love. It is the same with God; He wants true love, and true love can only come from autonomous beings.

We often let our intelligence get in the way of understanding God, and His word, the Bible. We try too hard to reason through all of this. But research Sir Isaac Newton, one of the most brilliant scientists (some say THE most brilliant) who ever lived. Newton was a Bible believing Christian, and he understood Bible prophecy so well that he predicted (based on scripture) that Israel would re-assemble as a nation one day, and even suggested that it may be a day in the future when Jews returned to the renewed Israel on flying machines. Athiest Voltaire mocked Newton for this, saying something to the effect that this is what religion does to an otherwise brilliant mind. But Newton was right--Israel is again a nation, and Jews are returning there on airplanes. The only thing about Newton that bothers me is he invented that confounded Calculus! :D

There is a lot of prophecy in the Bible which has come true, and the Bible is the only religious book which can claim accurate prophecy. None other can.

God's Word teaches that none of us are truly righteous, and that all have sinned and fallen short of His Glory. So we cannot--unless we would elevate ourselves to a level of divine understanding equal to His--decide who is "good enough" to avoid eternal seperation from God, which is of course Hell. We can see good only based on the bad in the world, and bad only measured by what we call good. Christ regenerates us, and causes us to become new beings in Him; we actually become a part of Him when we accept His gift of salvation by believing.

By the way, as I'm sure you well know, there are multitudes of false Christians out there, preaching and acting out heresies against humanity. God said that such would be the case, especially in the end times, which I believe we're in right now.

To the human mind, it is cruel for a man to commit murder. God says the same--He says it is wrong, and should be punished. But God also says that rejecting Christ is wrong, and likewise deserves punishment. We have to realize that He is God, and we're just me and you. We cannot know the depths of His reason, but we can know peace and security in His son, Jesus. :)

I believe that the God of the Bible is the one true God, primarily because His prophecies have come to be. Did you know that dinosaurs were spoken of in the book of Job? This oldest book in the Bible, some say 5000 years old, profiles what are obviously dinosaurs in chapters 40 and 41. No man had dug up dinosaur bones when this book was written. ;)

In closing, let me say that if ten years ago someone had presented the same arguments to me that I now present to you I would have unraveled them, turned them upside down and force-fed them back to the unwitting Christian and made him look a fool to all watching. But that was then... :)
We cannot know truth until we genuinely seek it, and no amount of rhetoric can lead us there until we are good and ready to know it. It is a calling of the Holy Spirit that brings us to an understanding of who Christ is, and what we must do to glorify Him and live. Short of that, we'll meander in the mud of man's faulty logic--but hopefully not forever. ;)

Dan

Jessica said...

Hello Dan, I am only just now seeing your post as I rarely have the time to back check old posts and the comments. I ususally forget about old posts and this one had no new comments on it for some time.

Thank you for your contribution. I can tell you are very fervent about what you believe to be true.
My own personal experiences have also led to my discovery of some very solid and well proven truths that thoroughly contradict any claim of the bible or any holy book written by man (regardless of how inspired) to be the direct, infallible word of God. I am sure you have rejected other holy books, (the koran, bhagvand gita etc.) as infallible word of God and interestingly enough, the same arguements you may use against these books hold true with the bible as well.

As one Hindu man put it to my Christian evangelist father when he tried to preach to him,

"You make light of my holy scriptures and say its accounts of flying monkeys and eight armed Gods are silly and false. Yet, you want me to believe in YOUR holy scriptures with talking snakes and donkeys and spirit creatures with four heads of different beasts etc. So basically you are telling me, MY myth is superiour to YOUR myth."

Personally, I believe such absolutist views are dangerous as now it entitles man to claim direct access to God's throughts and opinions on everything and everyone, something man has used to laud over others and abuse tremendously.

Such a flawed result could not come from a direct perfect source.

I believe God is bigger than any book man may write about God and their spiritual experiences with God. All holy books are to be used as a guide. You take from them what you will. But to use them to prove God or try to know God entirely or make judgements on others (claiming that they are God's judgements) is infantile. Even the bible writer Peter thought so about early Christians who were trying to understand every thing Paul said in order to follow it word for word. In 2 Peter 3:16 he said, "As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction."

After spending most of my childhood and young adult life in an evangelical religion where I was made to study the bible three days a week, read from it every day and trained to answer every single objection any non-believer in it may raise, I have come to realise that the bible does not prove God exists.

The only person who can show you God, is God.

Personally, I believe in God and that belief did not come from Christianity or the bible. I had to go outside of both to find that God was universal and far more expansive than my limited little knowledge or perspective. It was scary, I admit to free fall like that outside of any religion or rule book. But the rewards in my life and self-development have been infinitely greater and my personal relationship with God has been renewed and grows stronger. Every day I thank God for that.

Not everyone was meant to walk the same path to God, Dan. It personal pride to assume or claim EXCLUSIVITY to God because of one's religious belief or book. I certainly don't claim any such thing. That is why I have no compunction of any kind for you to change your beliefs. I can tell you with a genuine smile, that if you feel spiritually fulfilled and your religious belief makes for peace within and with your neighbour regardless of who they may be, well, more power to you!

AM I A HINDU? said...

Very well written post Jessica. Thanks. People like you are indeed the salt of this earth. I slaute you.

No religion, no country, no culture has monopoly on God or truth.

God and truth are universal. Religions themselves are just ways to the truth and they are not the final goal.

Many many years ago, once when I was visting Time Square, NY, a priest asked me,

"Are you a Christian?"

...I said: NO.

He said: " Then You will go to hell.."

To that I answered, "Dear Sir, why should I go to a Christian hell, when we Hindus have SEVEN HELLS of our own to choose from."

He looked at me and sighed.

Hindus believe anyone who searches after truth will eventually attain salvation whether that person is Hindu or not.

You don't have to be a Hindu to attain salvation or self-realization.

Jessica said...

Hello am i a hindu, thank you for your post.

I agree with you 100% that no person, country, religion has a monopoly on God or truth.

I know I don't have to tell you the damage that those who think they do have caused on this earth, everything from genocide to oppression of others who are different to them.

I am putting up a post dealing with this for July. Hope you enjoy it.

AM I A HINDU? Best Seller said...

Jessica, I find you a FREE THINKER, who is really in search after truth. I hope you can read my book AM I A HINDU? [www.amiahindu.com] and comment on that.

If you permit me, I wish to put the picture you have on your post in my blog with proper credit to you and quoting your statement

As one Hindu man put it to my Christian evangelist father when he tried to preach to him,

"You make light of my holy scriptures and say its accounts of flying monkeys and eight armed Gods are silly and false. Yet, you want me to believe in YOUR holy scriptures with talking snakes and donkeys and spirit creatures with four heads of different beasts etc. So basically you are telling me, MY myth is superiour to YOUR myth."


By the way, my blog is at

http://www.flickr.com/photos/8925064@N03/

AM I A HINDU? Best Seller said...

Jessica, I find you a FREE THINKER, who is really in search after truth. I hope you can read my book AM I A HINDU? [www.amiahindu.com] and comment on that.

If you permit me, I wish to put the picture you have on your post in my blog with proper credit to you and quoting your statement

As one Hindu man put it to my Christian evangelist father when he tried to preach to him,

"You make light of my holy scriptures and say its accounts of flying monkeys and eight armed Gods are silly and false. Yet, you want me to believe in YOUR holy scriptures with talking snakes and donkeys and spirit creatures with four heads of different beasts etc. So basically you are telling me, MY myth is superiour to YOUR myth."


By the way, my blog is at

http://www.flickr.com/photos/8925064@N03/

Justin said...

I have been reading the blog along with the comments and i agree with a great deal of it. I have been raised to be a Christian, and I have recently begun to question the fairness of hell along with the exclusiveness of any religion to know God or make ANY assumptions or dictations of what is to happen to a person once they die. In fact, my father and I had a 3 hour conversation which mostly included such topics. He kept saying, just in different ways that people go to hell if they reject Christ, but.. i have begun to form my own opinions and I do not believe that. In addition, I no longer align myself with any religion.. my father said that if I dont believe in somthing (some established religion) then I believe in nothing. I am on a quest for truth, and I dont believe that ANY book or any person can reveal that to me only perhaps inspire me in such ways that may stimulate my mind. I must search and find my own path and my own understanding.. as far as Im concerned everyone is entitled to their own beliefs.. I see no reason why I or anyone else should attempt to convert, save, or otherwise intentionally influence another in these regards. I am very vunerable, moreso than I can say I have ever allowed myself to be but at the same time, I see this as the beginning of somthing properous and beautiful.. thank you to all who commented on this blog and to the author of this blog..

Jessica said...

Justin, I know how you feel and the good news is, as scary and vulnerable as you feel now, the more you search with an open heart and mind, the more personal power you will gain.

There are quadrillions of stars and planets in our galaxy alone and there are quadrillions of galaxies. The scope of it is mind-boggling.

Surely, the Creator of all of this has to be truly awesome and beyond anything and all the petty human emotions we have like jealousy, rage, vengence etc. Belittling God to a jealous diety who obsesses over every single human action is like seeing an elephant obsessing over what the bacteria living on the mites on its rump are up to.

The more I search, the more I learn, the more I realize I have so much more to learn. That's a wonderful thing as scary as it is.

People who want to have everything all figured out right now, including knowing exactly what God is and what he thinks about everything and everyone, will choose a fundamentalist path. It satisfies and spoon feeds on a very primal level. Perhaps that is what they need and I do not judge that, as long as they do not try to impose their beliefs on my life and livelihood.

You have a wonderful spiritual adventure ahead of you! I wish you all the best!

MarylandBill said...

I was referred to this post by a different blog post. I think the basic problem with the view of Hell presented here is that it assumes that everyone who is in Hell essentially is kept there by God. In reality, everyone is Hell is kept there by themselves.

Lets look at your analogy of the three year old and the stove. Hell is not the three year old putting his hand against the stove and getting burned, hell is putting their hand against the stove and then holding it there, despite the pain because they refuse to acknowledge that their parent told them it was a bad idea (granted not likely for a three year old, but I have seen my two year old fight against a 5 minute time out for an hour!).

In C.S. Lewis's The Great Divorce, he posited that the people in Hell are there by their own choice. They could accept God's love at any time but they choose not to. (Not strictly sound via Catholic Theology, but I suppose using God's perfect knowledge of our hearts, he would know who would choose to repent and therefore gets purgatory and who would never repent and therefore receives hell).

The Catholic faith does believe that a path to God is possible for those who are not Christian, but ultimately it must go through Christ in this life or the next. If we refuse to accept Christ, refuse to acknowledge our own failings, then how can it be just to let us into heaven?

Jessica said...

Thank you for your comment MarylandBill.

The basic problem with the traditional concept of hell is that such a place EXISTS for the purpose it does.

Saying people keep themselves there is as much a "blame the victim" tactic as saying people send themselves there.

Hell does not gel with a Loving Creator.
Hell does not gel with natural law.
Hell does not gel with Freewill.
Hell does not gel with any Universal Law pertaining to Balance, Manifestation etc.

GregT said...

You reasons are reasonably compelling. I am pastor and I can't begin to speak divine wisdom into you well written points and nor will I try. Because just about anyone can sit down and write one scenario after another that will appeal to our reason. And if your someone who is paying half attention you don't even have to manufacture situations that will set Christians on their heels, stumble for some inelegant response. I surrender! You win. Unfortunately, you may have lost a great deal more, than you can possible ever imagine. But that's probably "OK", because you made such strong arguments and impressed (probably) a great many people while doing it.

Anonymous said...

Just a quick comment. I'm intrigued by the idea of Hades being somewhere that the dead have the good news about Jesus preached to them. Not quite Purgatory. MarylandBill mentioned in the Great Divorce, where the dead are constantly taken on bus trips to heaven to hear the good news - some who receive it gladly and some who refuse to hear and choose to return to their own grey world.
But when questioning the purpose of the existence of Hell - is it possible - that Hell and Heaven are exactly the same 'place'?

Which one you found yourself in would be dependent on your connection/relationship/view of God? i.e. those who love God, who desire God, who have received the mercy of Jesus, would find themselves living in a world where God's will is done, where pain and hurt are no more. Those who hate God, who choose to run and hide, who reject Jesus's mercy, find the mere unarguable presence of God to be 'torment'? Can you not envisage God gradually softening even those hearts over millennia to bring them around?

Jessica Joseph said...

@ Greg T- The essay was certainly not meant to be anti-Christian or drive Christians away from their faith. The questions are not anything many Christians have not asked before and many have that Christianity and belief in hell are not mutually exclusive.

GregT said...

Jessica thank you for posting my comments and thank you for your response. Your blog either accused God of being unjust, unloving, or unwilling to prevent obvious acts of evil. Or we Christians just don't have a clue. However, take for instance the young man you just killed 12 and wounded 50 in Colorado. His actions were no doubt evil. The friends and family members of these victims are going to struggle perhaps the rest of their lives with this senseless act. Questions and statements like, "How can God let this happen?," and "I hope this young man burns in hell!" will no doubt resonate in the hearts and minds. Now your blog takes on a more serious and real life conundrum. I bet some of the victims' families believe there is hell and that this man belongs in it. I pray that the God of all comfort will meet them in the midst of their devastation and sorrow. But I also pray for this young man's life and that of his family. Because of the grace on love God bestowed upon me compels me. God's desire is that no one go to hell (not even this young man). The sacrifice that Christ made on the cross was not just for you and me but for this young man as well. I cannot begin to approach God's permissive will and wisdom in this situation. But I can respond with the same love that He so freely gave to me. And the same love that He offers to the victims and to the perpetrator. Because God's love does not discriminate otherwise who could be saved. Nevertheless, there is God's justice and it will be applied in this case and in every other case. Because God is both Just and Righteous. We will see or discern God's justice in this case-perhaps, perhaps not. But God's justice will prevail, because God cannot deny himself. Is his justice on par with our reasoning - I sure hope not because in my experience, people are far more harsh and judgmental than God. So when you and others perceive to judge God with your exceptional reason skills, I simply shake my head and speak the words of Jesus' up on the cross, "Father forgive them for they know not what they do." There is a hell for people who reject God's love through his son Jesus Christ, and for those who perpetrate acts of evil or God wouldn't be just. But even greater than hell, is God's love and his desire that none would perish. If this young man should truly repent and accept Jesus Christ as his savior. Then I will rejoice with the angels in heaven over one more lost sinner saved by grace. Because it is yet another glorious example of God's grace and love to save a sinner such as I. But I will still mourn for those who mourn, and I will still weep with those who weep, because my God compels me to do so. God created us eternal beings and there is more to life than the life will now know. When tragic situations like this happens which result in suffering and the early death of individuals, we can not understand why, we can only be shocked and abhorred by it. But if you believe in an after life. The Christian attitude is this: "We do not loose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (II Cor 4:16-18)" This we call faith in a loving and compassionate God. Which all the reason in the world (not even your exception reason)can even begin to understand or approach. God Bless.

Jessica Joseph said...

Well God bless you too Greg T.

I hope you understand fully that I did not accuse the ACTUAL God of being unjust.

I believe if there is a Higher Intelligence in the universe which extols the purest and most profound level of love and justice it would not have any need for a place such as Hell.

I also did not accuse ALL Christians of not having a clue.

I hope you realize that not all Christians believe in a place of eternal hellfire. So there is no need to feel attacked and the need jump to the defense of all Christians.

However I did question the level of humanity, love, empathy and a sense of justice of the small group of fire & brimstone Christians who cling to the barbaric, needlessly retributive and entirely pointless need to beleive in eternal punishment and sully the image of a just and loving Creator.

What happened in Colorado is indeed tragic and heart wrenching. I am not one who blames God or argues there cannot possibly be a God because of such things.

It is in fact my current belief in our eternal existence and the eternal balance and forward momentum of the Universe and its Creator that allows me to cope with the existence of suffering in the world. In fact, I cope with it far better now than when I was a Christian who believed in eternal hellfire.

I am able to forgive others from a far more genuine place. But I think most importantly, I am able to trust The Divine from a more genuine place, which has helped me grow from milk drinking infant as descibed by the same Paul in Corinthians to meat eating adult in my spirituality.

A meat eating spiritual adult can forgive even the Colorado shooter.

And if I can forgive him, then the Creator in whose image the bible says I and you were created, could do no less.

I have written extensively on Forgiveness before here http://jessiegirl.blogspot.com/2009/08/forgiveness-101-how-could-loving-god.html and will likely touch on it again in the futue


Bless.

GregT said...

Jessica - You seem to have trouble taking responsibility for the words you write. "You say things like..."I didn't say that, but others have." "I'm not accusing, bla, bla, bla." That is like saying, "I didn't set the bomb off, I only lit the fuse. You only loose credibility when you unwilling to stand behind the words you write.

Jessica Joseph said...

My dear Greg T, you do make me smile.

There is a very big difference between taking responsibility for one's writings- WHICH I DO.

If I did not, I would not have had a blog going for seven years now.

However, I am NOT taking responsibility for other people's inferences, assumptions and feelings, especially when they obviously cannot understand where I am coming from.

Let me very clear and specific with you.

You said and I quote, "Your blog either accused God of being unjust, unloving, or unwilling to prevent obvious acts of evil. Or we Christians just don't have a clue."

Both of these are inferences YOU HAVE DRAWN from reading the blog and by the way, not comprehending it in the least by the looks of it.

Countless other Christians and theists have read the same essay and come away with a completely different feeling because they clearly understood:

I am writing about "God" in the conceptual not GOD in the actual.

(If you do not understand what that means let me know)

I certainly would never accuse the ACTUAL God of being cruel, unjust etc. However I CAN critique a PARTICULAR religious concept of God.

Just as I can critique a particular religious belief/doctrine and relate FROM MY OWN PERSONAL EXPERIENCE.

I left a lot of open-ended questions if you were to read with more comphrension. I never accused Christians of not having a clue. I only QUESTIONED "How can one believe in such a barbaric thing?"

And once again, let me reiterate, countless Christians have read the same blog and felt uplifted by it because they feel the same way about this particular doctrine.

Countless more do not believe in eternal torment as part of the Christian faith.

There is a lot of diversity within the faith and I do not lump all together and neither should you. You do not speak for all Christians anymore than I do.

anziulewicz said...

Over at ChristianPost.com one author posted an article asking the question, "Why is Hell Eternal?" It's more philosophical than anything. You can read it here:

http://blogs.christianpost.com/the-pursuit-of-god/why-is-hell-eternal-23589/

My response:

Still doesn't make much sense. It's not really like Hell is a place of punishment in any logical sense. You get punished with a fine or a prison term to correct bad behavior in hopes that you won't engage in that bad behavior in the future. But in Hell there is no correction, no "paying your debt." The torture never stops. And not only THAT, but you go to Hell NOT because of anything you necessarily DID, but because of what you BELIEVED. And even then there's no reprieve.

But as the author says, "God is not limited, nor is He human." The nature of Hell makes this absolutely clear. No human being could ever be so cruel.