8 Replies to “The Importance of Hell”

  1. I don't remember the exact moment, but I always felt disturbed by the idea of this place of eternal punishment. What kind of loving God would impose that kind spiritual punishment? I know there are people who do really bad things, but the vast majority of humanity surely wouldn't come close to eternal damnation. So what was the point? So at some point, I just decided there was no hell. And from that followed, of course, there's no heaven. (I know John Lennon beat me to it by a couple decades.) I found that to be really liberating and empowering. It makes more sense for me to live a good life – helping people, working to make my community better – so that I can make things better here on Earth while I'm alive, not out of some hard to define belief that I will be rewarded after I die.

    1. Thank you for your comments. What did you think about the article? Your comments raise several good questions:

      1) Does God punish evil and reward good?

      2) Is the idea of Hell deeper than God arbitrarily and spitefully 'sending' people to Hell for petty sins, or is the idea of Hell more about God allowing people to not pursue Him and in fact walking away from Him, even for all of eternity?

      3) Can we simply think the idea of Heaven and Hell away and expect that they just don't exist?

      4) Why is the idea of living a good life important? Who says that working for the good of humanity is a sort of universal value that all men must live by?

      Again, thanks for taking the time to interact. I look forward to the dialogue.

      -Aaron

      1. I think the answers to 1 and 2 depend on the teachings of your church. I've heard a lot of Christians answer 'yes' to 1 (often forcefully). There's certainly a lot of wisdom in the teachings of Christ and Christianity that I try to be mindful of. Heaven and Hell aren't part of my own belief system. So my answer to 3 would be 'yes.' 4 is a tougher one to answer briefly. I suspect your answer would probably be 'Jesus' or 'God.' But I think there are some things that people can understand to have value without having a 'higher power' – God or the church or whoever – tell us so. I can say living a good life is important to me because it helps my neighbors or my community or my workplace (altruism) and because it makes me feel good (selfish). I think most people do view that as something to aspire to in their lives, and whatever spiritual path people follow to make that happen is ok with me.

        1. Stimulating discussion. I appreciate the respectful exchange on your part and hope you sense my attempt to reciprocate.

          One thing worth noting: Jesus spoke more on the reality of Hell than all the other biblical writers combined. But that doesn't necessarily matter if you don't have the faith presupposition that I do. My faith commitment to Christ and the Bible is what leads me to believe that God does reward good and punish evil. More deeply than that though, I believe that on the cross, Jesus endured evil to ultimately destroy it on the Last Day. So yes, living a good life is based on Jesus' teaching, but not necessarily to earn God 'points' for judgment day. I try to live a good life because I believe Jesus gave His life for my sins to destroy the evil that resides in my own heart.

          I guess what I wonder is why altruism would be considered 'good'? I can conceive of numerous scenarios where your version of altruism and someone else's version would be in conflict because of (as you stated) selfish reasons (i.e. self/family/cultural preservation). How would those conflicts be resolved when two parties are acting strongly for what they believe to be best for their tribe?

          It seems without universal standards, we are hard-pressed to call slavery, child torture, sex trafficking, the Holocaust wrong. Hitler believed (wrongly) that he was acting in Germany's best interest by wiping out Jews and the 'genetically inferior.' Hitler was wrong, though he believed that he was helping his community. The rest of the world was right to try to stop him. Our version of altruism trumped his and I believe for good reason.

          I'm obviously under the assumption that you also believe these types of atrocities are wrong. The question: on what basis do you prove they are wrong?

          Thanks again for the stimulating discussion. I too do not offer any form of negative judgment for the spiritual paths people choose. Judgment is not my job. Loving my neighbor is.

    2. Thank you for your comments. What did you think about the article? Your comments raise several good questions:

      1) Does God punish evil and reward good?

      2) Is the idea of Hell deeper than God arbitrarily and spitefully ‘sending’ people to Hell for petty sins, or is the idea of Hell more about God allowing people to not pursue Him and in fact walking away from Him?

      3) Can we simply think the idea of Heaven and Hell away and expect that they just don’t exist?

      4) Why is the idea of living a good life important? Who says that working for the good of humanity is a sort of universal value that all men must live by?

      Again, thanks for taking the time to interact. I look forward to the dialogue.

      -Aaron

  2. Thank you for your comments. What did you think about the article? Your comments raise several good questions:

    1) Does God punish evil and reward good?

    2) Is the idea of Hell deeper than God arbitrarily and spitefully 'sending' people to Hell for petty sins, or is the idea of Hell more about God allowing people to not pursue Him and in fact walking away from Him, even for all of eternity?

    3) Can we simply think the idea of Heaven and Hell away and expect that they just don't exist?

    4) Why is the idea of living a good life important? Who says that working for the good of humanity is a sort of universal value that all men must live by?

    Again, thanks for taking the time to interact. I look forward to the dialogue.

    -Aaron

  3. I think the answers to 1 and 2 depend on the teachings of your church. I've heard a lot of Christians answer 'yes' to 1 (often forcefully). There's certainly a lot of wisdom in the teachings of Christ and Christianity that I try to be mindful of. Heaven and Hell aren't part of my own belief system. So my answer to 3 would be 'yes.' 4 is a tougher one to answer briefly. I suspect your answer would probably be 'Jesus' or 'God.' But I think there are some things that people can understand to have value without having a 'higher power' – God or the church or whoever – tell us so. I can say living a good life is important to me because it helps my neighbors or my community or my workplace (altruism) and because it makes me feel good (selfish). I think most people do view that as something to aspire to in their lives, and whatever spiritual path people follow to make that happen is ok with me.

  4. Stimulating discussion. I appreciate the respectful exchange on your part and hope you sense my attempt to reciprocate.

    One thing worth noting: Jesus spoke more on the reality of Hell than all the other biblical writers combined. But that doesn't necessarily matter if you don't have the faith presupposition that I do. My faith commitment to Christ and the Bible is what leads me to believe that God does reward good and punish evil. More deeply than that though, I believe that on the cross, Jesus endured evil to ultimately destroy it on the Last Day. So yes, living a good life is based on Jesus' teaching, but not necessarily to earn God 'points' for judgment day. I try to live a good life because I believe Jesus gave His life for my sins to destroy the evil that resides in my own heart.

    I guess what I wonder is why altruism would be considered 'good'? I can conceive of numerous scenarios where your version of altruism and someone else's version would be in conflict because of (as you stated) selfish reasons (i.e. self/family/cultural preservation). How would those conflicts be resolved when two parties are acting strongly for what they believe to be best for their tribe?

    It seems without universal standards, we are hard-pressed to call slavery, child torture, sex trafficking, the Holocaust wrong. Hitler believed (wrongly) that he was acting in Germany's best interest by wiping out Jews and the 'genetically inferior.' Hitler was wrong, though he believed that he was helping his community. The rest of the world was right to try to stop him. Our version of altruism trumped his and I believe for good reason.

    I'm obviously under the assumption that you also believe these types of atrocities are wrong. The question: on what basis do you prove they are wrong?

    Thanks again for the stimulating discussion. I too do not offer any form of negative judgment for the spiritual paths people choose. Judgment is not my job. Loving my neighbor is.

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