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Mar 13 2012

Hell and Who Goes There

I was reading an article the other day regarding hell.  The author of the article holds to the theology that God predestines (Romans 8:30) or chose  for adoption (Ephesians 1:4-5).  Clearly, this is what the Scriptures teach.  The article was discussing who is going to hell. The author correctly pointed out what Scripture has to say regarding those who die and have not placed their faith in Christ for salvation from their sins.  He goes on to state that “many grit their teeth at the reality of hell” and “they will not believe that” (i.e. believe in hell).  I understand that there are some truths that are not only difficult to acknowledge or understand but that many will do what they can to make scripture say what they are comfortable with.  I have struggled myself.  I struggled and agonized over the clear teaching of predestination.  I fought it within myself and with anyone who discussed it with me.  While I could not deny the words I read in the Bible, I tried to make them say something else.  The gymnastics I used to make this doctrine say what I wanted it to say was remarkable. In the end, I accepted what was clearly taught in Scripture.

The author made a point that I found very disturbing.  He was making a point of those who modify scripture to make scripture say what they want it to say.  He used, as an example, infants who die in infancy. He stated “They say that all infants who die in infancy go to heaven, denying depravity, denying the need that each soul that goes to heaven must be born again with the spiritual resurrection life of Jesus Christ. And that life must also be implanted then in an infant according to God’s power and Spirit.” I found his example using infants to be extremely callous. I felt that another example that was less brutal would have been more appropriate or fitting.

Nevertheless, I strongly disagree with the teaching that children will not be in the presence of the Lord.  I wrote a post about this subject in 2009.  The post can be read by clicking here. Since I have already discussed this topic, I am only going to touch on a few points. I obviously disagree with his view on the eternity of infants.  The author’s presumption that to not agree with his view indicates that it is because those that disagree with that teaching is due to modifying scripture to say what I want it to say.

First, scripture clearly teaches that man will be judged on the basis of our deeds (Revelation 20:13 & 2 Corinthians 5:10).  An unborn child that is either aborted or dies in the womb has no deeds in which to judge.  Neither does a young infant.  In fact, while they have the stain of sin that all humanity has, they have not yet had an opportunity to commit a single sin.  And yet, God has declared that He will judge “according to what they have done.”  If that is the case, and it is according to the Word of God, then in order for those that believe that infants are condemned to be true, this scripture only applies to those that have lived long enough to have deeds to judge. In other words, judging according to deeds does not apply to all of humanity.  Infants are excluded.  They are condemned despite not having any deeds on which to judge.

Second, scripture teaches that sin is not counted where there is no law (Romans 4:15, 5:13). Throughout the whole of scripture, God has held man accountable by INFORMING him of His law and His ways starting with Adam. He held Adam accountable because He commanded Him not to eat the fruit from the tree that is in the midst of the garden (Genesis 3:3). From there forward, God has always informed mankind of His law and the consequences of breaking His law or commandments, no exception.  There are never any surprises.  Man has no excuse BECAUSE he has been informed.  Jesus states in John 15:22 that if He had not come and SPOKE to them, they would not have been guilty of sin but since He had spoken, there is no excuse.  Again, God is holding man accountable because He has revealed to man His Word.  According to those that believe infants or the unborn are condemned, infants are exempt from having sufficient information. They are not afforded the same opportunity that the rest of have.

According to this teaching regarding infants, they are in a worse position that the rest of humanity.  All those millions of children that are aborted go straight from the womb to condemnation.  They have no deeds upon which to judge.   They have not been informed of His law which the rest of us have and yet, they are condemned. Scripture also says that man has no excuse because He makes Himself known in things that have been made (Romans 1:20).  Again, according to the teaching that infants or the unborn who die are condemned, this scripture is also not applicable.

I brought up  other points in my post in 2009 that is extremely supportive that God is not condemning little children to hell.  I did not try to make scripture say what I want it to say.  In fact, when I initially started looking into that subject, I went in with an open mind.  I was willing to be convinced.  If I was convinced, I would not have posted.  The reason I would not have posted is that of all topics that can hurt and harm and even turn people away from the Good News is the idea that little tiny babies are spending eternity in hell.  I could not imagine the heartache or the damage caused to someone who lost a little child whether due to a miscarriage or death after birth reading a post where it is taught that their precious child is in hell – even if that’s what I believed.  There are other examples that can be used with respect to condemnation.

Even so, God has chosen to deal with the little ones differently than those that have the capacity to be informed.

Photo:  Microsoft Clip Art

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4 comments

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  1. Alan Robertson

    Why bother to present an argument about something which is not factual and inherently undemonstrable. Who is right and who is wrong? How would anyone ever know? Might just as well have a discussion about the colour of fairies wings. Anyone can claim a belief in God. Anyone can write a book. How can anyone claim that their book must be right and my book must be wrong? If its not based on some demonstable reality how can you ever prove one point of view or another? Before you start any argument you need to understand what the basis of proof is otherwise you will not resolve anything.
    OK so this is a discussion amongst Christians who already believe in the scriptures. But such a belief is from choice. So why not choose to believe one section of the bible rather than another? So who goes to hell or not is also a view of choice. Once you start believing things as a matter of faith you can’t start reasoning that one faith is superior to another. You can have as many religions as you want.
    No its not like that. God is an absolute being with definite rules and he has told me what they are. Fine but there are 7 billion people on the planet any of who could state that.

    1. Tishrei

      Why bother to present an argument about something which is not factual and inherently undemonstrable.

      I understand from your point of view, the Word of God is neither factual nor demonstrable.  But as you said later in your comment, this is a discussion amongst Christians and therefore, we believe in the truth contained in the Word of God.  That being said, faith in the Word of God is not blind faith like a little child believing in some Santa Clause living in the South Pole riding a sleigh through the air pulled by some flying reindeer.  There is historical evidence that backs up many of claims found in the Bible (I should do a post on that).

      So why not choose to believe one section of the bible rather than another? So who goes to hell or not is also a view of choice.

      To choose to believe in one section of the Bible rather than another is like making a choice to believe that the sun travels around the earth.  I can’t make myself believe something that I know is not true.  As such, since I am a Christian, I believe the scriptures are truth even if I don’t fully understand everything contained in the Bible.  Having a full and complete understanding of something does not mean that I question it.  There are lots of things in life that I don’t fully comprehend but that does not mean that I question the reality of it. 

      Once you start believing things as a matter of faith you can’t start reasoning that one faith is superior to another. You can have as many religions as you want.

      This statement made by folks that don’t believe either in God or what is in the Scriptures act like faith is something that is limited to those that believe and that we’re somehow somehow like little kids believing in what we’re told without anything to back it up.  The fact of the matter is that all human beings operate on faith and faith doesn’t have to be in God.  We have faith that the airline pilot has been trained to operate the aircraft and can in fact get us to our destination safely.  I don’t know for a fact that a particular pilot is not drunk or that the aircraft has been kept up.  I have faith that those in charge are doing their jobs.  Without faith, we could not operate in this life.  Without faith, no parent would be able to allow their children to spend all day in school, go outside to play, etc.  We would not be able to get in a car and drive, get in an airplane, etc.  This faith that allows us to operate in life is NOT blind faith.  That’s a fact of life. 

      As to one religion is superior to another, there is but one God and He has not given a bunch of religions for folks to follow.  The Bible stands up against any other religion out there.  It’s based on fact, eyewitnesses, historically it’s correct and the fact that things stated LONG before something ever happened cannot be hapenstance.  The mathmetical probability of the many prophecies coming true EXACTLY as stated is impossible.

      No its not like that. God is an absolute being with definite rules and he has told me what they are. Fine but there are 7 billion people on the planet any of who could state that

      The number of people that disagree with something does not make it a fact.  For that matter, the number of people that believe something does not make it true either. 

      1. Alan Robertson

        We would probably both accept that the gold standard of proof is repeatable demonstration. We would also both probably accept that some recognition of eyewitness accounts of historical events should be taken. The more so if the accounts are numerous and independent. The crux of the difference between us is I am unwilling to accept eye witness accounts of events which I know otherwise to be impossible. So for virgin birth and transmutation of matter (other than by nuclear means), I don’t believe the accounts. In such situations it just casts doubts on the credibility of the witness. So I have no difficulty in believing in Jesus the man but do not believe the miraculous parts. This is common to most of mankind. People claiming interventions of God in a Court of Law would not be believedfor example.
        I don’t see parallels between the earth going around the sun and arguments about who goes to hell in the scriptures as equivalent. The motion of the sun can be observed every day whereas the scriptures are a book written by men about their vision of God of which there have been many. Now you believe the scriptures are a book of divine revelation but that is a circular argument because it would only convince people who already believe and carry no credibility with those who don’t.
        I don’t accept either that there is an equivalence between scientific and religious thought because ultimately its all faith. Your argument relies on the word ‘faith’ being used in a variety of contexts in common speech but leaving your child at school is not the same as choosing to believe in the divine. I work in an engineering office in the middle of London where people of all cultural and religious backgrounds can collaborate using science and engineering to create real things. This works because the higher levels of proof are common to all mankind. Its only when you get to the subjective thoughts that people differ.
        One thing we do agree on is that the quality of belief has nothing to do with how many believe that. So can agree with your last point. Thanks for taking the time to have a discussion.

  2. Tishrei

    Hi,

    Yes, I agree with you that "proof is repeatable demonstration” (science).  In regards to historical events, we pretty much have to rely on eye witnesses and written word for it is only recent that we have means in which the world can witness history being made. 

    The crux of the difference between us is I am unwilling to accept eye witness accounts of events which I know otherwise to be impossible. So for virgin birth and transmutation of matter (other than by nuclear means), I don’t believe the accounts. In such situations it just casts doubts on the credibility of the witness.

    I understand your position.  However, the “eye witness” to these accounts is not an “eye witness” but plural “eye witnessES” to these events.  What I cannot prove to someone regarding Christianity is the miracles.  They either have to accept that the accounts of the eye witnesses are true based on irrefutable events (not necessarily miracles) witnessed by these same witnesses.  One thing that really struck me before I came to faith is the account of Jesus.  It was foretold LONG, LONG before He ever was born – where He would be born, the family line He would be born to and how He would die.  If that is not a miracle, I don’t know what is.  Imagine for a moment, someone being born and dying exactly like it was written long before He came into existence.  There is absolutely no way to engineer something like that even up to His death and what happened to his clothes.  I’m not talking about the virgin birth, I’m talking about actually being born into a particular family line, where he was born, his death and what happened to his clothing. 

    I don’t see parallels between the earth going around the sun and arguments about who goes to hell in the scriptures as equivalent.

    There was no parallel intended.  The point I was trying to make was that I cannot choose to believe something that I don’t believe is true.  That was in response to you saying “why not choose to believe in one section of the bible rather than the other?”  Who goes to hell or not is NOT a view of choice, its a belief.  People don’t “choose” what to believe, they are convinced of something and thus they believe.  Back to the original post, I don’t “CHOOSE” to believe that babies are not judged like adults, but I believe it because of my reading of the scriptures.  It’s not a choice, I am convinced based on evidence.  A choice is something like should I have a peanut butter & jelly sandwich or a cheese & mustard sandwich (yeah, that’s pretty elementary but you get the idea).

    Now you believe the scriptures are a book of divine revelation but that is a circular argument because it would only convince people who already believe and carry no credibility with those who don’t.

    I understand your point of view.  I am in position to understand your point of view because I was not always a believer.  I was not raised in a Christian home and did not believe the scriptures. I don’t want to say that I believe more now than I did when I first came to faith as that would not be accurate.  However, I can say that the more I know, it’s more and more difficult for me to understand how I could not have believed. The miracles aside, there’s so much that it would be absolutely impossible for it to not be true.

    I don’t accept either that there is an equivalence between scientific and religious thought because ultimately its all faith. Your argument relies on the word ‘faith’ being used in a variety of contexts in common speech but leaving your child at school is not the same as choosing to believe in the divine.

    True, it’s not the same.  I think you missed the point I was trying to make.  What I was trying to point out is that all human beings have faith – we could not exist if we did not have faith.  I’m not talking about faith in God, I’m talking about faith in general.  Faith is trust or confidence and it is not based on nothing.  For instance, I have been skydiving.  I am really, really scared of heights, you have no idea how scared of heights I am.  I did not do a tandem jump, I did a freefall on my first jump (though I had the instructor jump with me).  Anyway, even though I never met nor knew anything about the person that packed the parachute, I had faith that s/he did the job correctly and that it would open and I would not fall to the earth and splat all over the place.  That’s not blind faith, it’s faith based on something.  People have been skydiving and lived. I had faith that he was trained properly.  I had faith that the organization had done what they needed to do to ensure that I would safely land.  Without that trust and confidence in someone and something (that’s what faith is), there was no way I would have jumped out of an airplane.  That’s what I was getting at with the example of parents sending their children to school (or anything else for that matter).  And I disagree with you that choosing to believe in God is different.  The reason I disagree with you is because just like I had faith in the person who packed the parachute to do it correctly which was based on something, my faith in God is based on something.  Neither one is based on blind faith. 

    People tend to equate faith with people that believe in God.

    Anyway, thank you for visiting and chatting.  I hope you’ll at least take a look at some of  the verifiable accounts in the Bible. It’s really rather amazing.

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