Are you really excited about heaven? Do you spend a lot of time thinking about what it will be like?

My ears perk up every time someone mentions heaven. I’m naturally fascinated, for some reason, to know people’s thoughts about the only place Jesus refers to as “Paradise.” I’m usually disappointed, however, when people talk about heaven. My thoughts are usually something like, “Really, that’s what you think about heaven?” I don’t think I’m being self-righteous, but I do think we have not sufficiently pondered this place.

Here are some common comments I hear: “Floating around on a cloud sounds boring.” “Why would I want to go to a place where I don’t remember my past life?” “Why would I want to be at a place forever away from the spouse and kids I love?” Perhaps some future blog posts can tackle those questions.

And then there’s the other thought: “How can heaven be heaven when people you love are in hell?” Won’t everyone in heaven have survivor’s guilt?

How can heaven really be a joy-filled paradise? How heartless, it would seem, for me to enjoy heaven if people I love dearly are being continually tormented in hell. What do we do with these thoughts?

Here are some possible options to this question:

Option #1: Heaven is not Heaven

Is it possible heaven is over-hyped? Sure, it’ll be amazing to see Jesus. Satan will be conquered, sin will be no more, we will have an endless time for…for…thinking about those precious people suffering. How can I be in heaven when they are there in agony?

I would never dream of going on a vacation, having the time of my life, and all the while knowing a very close loved one is endlessly tortured with pain. It would seem heartless. How can I enjoy heaven? Maybe, therefore, heaven is not really heaven.

Here’s one way to process this option:

In Philippians 1:22-23 the apostle Paul says, “If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. 23  I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.”

If heaven was a bummer, you would think Paul would want stay on earth as long as possible. He could still make a difference while living on earth. Paul even says it would be “fruitful labor” if he stayed.

Paul was having a successful time leading people to Jesus. Why stop that? For Paul, however, it was far better, not a little better, but far better for him to depart and be in heaven. He reiterated this again in 2 Corinthians 5:8 saying, “Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.”

It would seem heaven may really be heaven. Perhaps, there’s another option.

Option #2: Hell is not Hell

One reason Paul may have been so excited to go to heaven is because Hell is not really Hell. There are generally two ways people process this option.

Annihilationism

God sends people to hell. They did not trust in Jesus as their Savior.  Thus, they end up in the place prepared for the devil and his angels (Matthew 25:41). In his final act of either mercy or judgment, He annihilates them. They cease to exist.

Heaven could still be heaven, because the people you love have been put out of their misery. Yes, you were bummed to hear of their annihilation, but you take comfort in the cessation of their misery.

Universalism

Another way for Hell to not be Hell is for all people to make it to heaven. Once again, the lake of fire is prepared for the devil and his angels. In the final act of God’s mercy, the utter triumph of Jesus’ crucifixion applies to all human beings. Those who became believers on earth may receive greater rewards in heaven, but all people make it to heaven. Hell is therefore not hell.

Here’s one way to process these two options:

Matthew 25:31-46 talks about the end of the world. Jesus is letting us know what’s going to happen (His resume is pretty good…He can speak with authority on the subject). In verse 32, all human beings are gathered. It says, “He will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.” All people are assembled. Will some be annihilated? Will all be shown to heaven?

Jesus says in verse 46, “And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

The reality of eternal punishment for a human being is placed on the same level as the reality of eternal life. In the same sentence eternal punishment and eternal life are communicated as realities.

It is very difficult from these words of Jesus to conceive of eternal life for humans, while denying the reality of eternal punishment for other humans.

Option #2 is something for which we all seem to hope, but it seems intellectually dishonest to embrace the view. Let’s look at another option.

Option #3: We Don’t Remember

How can heaven be heaven when people we love are in hell? Maybe we don’t remember our earthly lives in heaven. The glories of heaven coupled with the passing of time may severely dilute our memories.

I had a pretty good childhood. I grew up in a farm community in central Iowa. The scenery is beautiful and the people are generally fantastic. That said, how well do I remember life in Iowa when I was 9 years old?

Who was my school teacher when I was 9 years old? As I look up and squint my eyes trying to force my brain to bring back that memory, I can’t. The memory is gone. Someone who played a large role in my 9-year old life is no longer a part of my conscious existence. My memories from just 25 years ago are not that good. My memories are fuzzy.

8,427 years from now will I remember the people I love today? Perhaps the memory of those people drifted so far back that I no longer think of them, thus allowing heaven to be heaven.

Here are some ways I process Option #3:

First, our memories are not all equal. My memories from being 9 years old are not that good largely due to my physiological immaturity at the time. As an adult, my memory is much better.  I am continually amazed at the rich memories my wife and I have of something that happened 3 years ago while my kids have no memory of that time or place.

Second, memories tend to deepen joy. Knowledge of tougher times provides a backdrop for soul-satisfying experiences. The father with memories of many layoffs is thrilled with a stable job. The job would not provide the same level of joy,  if his memories were gone.

Observation of our reality confirms the importance of memory. One of the most dreadful human diseases is Alzheimer’s. Will God give all of us Alzheimer’s in heaven? If so, is an Alzheimer’s ward, heaven? No.
Finally, throughout the Bible God seems to be very interested in our memories. He spends a good deal of time making sure we don’t forget events like: the Flood (cue the rainbow); the Exodus (Passover); the time of Esther (Purim); and the Cross (Communion) to name a few.

The story of the rich man and Lazarus point to the realization of our memories. Although the rich man was in hell, he still remembered having brothers who did not know Jesus. Our memories seem to be intact in heaven.

So how can it still be heaven?

Option #4: We Remember and It’s Heaven

Here we are, at the end of this post. In some ways I’ve backed into this position by dismissing the previous three. I have sincerely considered the previous three options. In this fourth option we do remember loved ones, hell is hell, and heaven is heaven.

How can this be? I think there are a few ways to get there.

First, I believe the Bible to be God’s revelation of reality to humankind. I can’t see any of the three previous views being able to exist in light of the Bible’s revelation. The Bible upholds the importance of memory, the reality of eternal punishment, and the reality of eternal life.

Second, observation of life shows this fourth option to be a possibility. I’ll never forget the first time, many years ago, when I saw the New Tribes Mission video, Ee-Taow. It’s the well-recorded story of the Mouk people of New Guinea hearing the good news of Jesus for the first time (https://vimeo.com/9329683).

NTM produced a follow-up video called Ee-Taow:The Next Chapter (https://vimeo.com/9333908) chronicling the growth of the Gospel as the Mouk people became missionaries to other tribes. At around the 27:24 mark in the video the people break out in total celebration for all God has done for them. But then they stop abruptly. During this totally unscripted scene, all of them begin weeping spontaneously. They weep for those they loved who have died without responding to eternal life found through Jesus. As a tribe, they are in the very position we are talking about.

They have experienced a sort of heaven on earth by finally being set free from their sins. But, they are now weeping. What will happen next? With the cameras continuing to roll, we find out around 28:10 in the video. They resume their rejoicing. They find a deeper joy. Fully aware of everything that has happened, they are able to rejoice at the graciousness of God. They humbly, yet confidently, worship their Savior with joyful hearts.

Third, I think my future response to these options has already been made by me, recorded by another, and preserved for all of us. What in the world does that sentence mean?

I believe the events of Revelation 19 are still to occur in the future. When I make such a statement, I am describing a supernatural phenomenon. I believe in a supernatural God, however, so this is legal reasoning.

In some way God allowed John to preview events which had not yet come to pass. When John is observing the events which will be recorded and labeled as Revelation 19, he is witnessing future extraordinary events. Why is this important? Because I think I am directly quoted in the Bible! Furthermore, I think YOU, if Jesus is your Savior, are quoted verbatim in the Bible. You make an appearance in Revelation 19:1-3. Here’s what you say:

“After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven,
crying out,
“Hallelujah!
 Salvation and glory and power belong to our God,
for his judgments are true and just;
for he has judged the great prostitute
who corrupted the earth with her immorality,
and has avenged on her the blood of his servants.”

Once more they cried out,

“Hallelujah! The smoke from her goes up forever and ever.”

The apostle John has recorded your response. All humans have been judged. Some to eternal punishment, others to eternal life. We have witnessed it all. Your response, my response, they are the same as we all shout, “…for his judgments are true and just.”

Then an angel leaves us with a final thought as a new age for humanity commences. In Revelation 19:9 he says, “Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” No one is self-righteous at the wedding feast of the Lamb. We are all there because of the grace of God.  Therefore, no one can boast.

Although it is better for us to be there, it is good for us, now, to be here. We are still able to proclaim the greatness of Jesus to those who have not responded. We are still able to have a fruitful ministry imploring others to be reconciled to God through Christ (2 Cor. 5:20-21).


    39 replies to "Reflections on Heaven: How can Heaven be Heaven when People you Love are in Hell?"

    • Duane Triplet

      I think we will see God as He truly is and rejoice in His mercy and in His justice. We will love what God loves and that includes loving His victory over sin and seeing His enemies punished forever. On this side of glory it’s hard to fathom but once in eternity we will be thankful for Hell. Spiritual bonds are greater than ties to any natural family. My two cents.

    • Truth Unites... and Divides

      “Reflections on Heaven: How can Heaven be Heaven when People you Love are in Hell?

      Are there pastors out there whose dead parents and dead siblings died without knowing Christ as their Lord and Savior?

      If so, what do these pastors think and feel about this question?

    • Steve Martin

      Maybe there will be no such thoughts in Heaven. No reminders of earthly associations. I dunno.

    • Mike Sechler

      Am I sad that Satan is going to be in hell? No because I recognize him as someone who has rejected the goodness of God and who does not want to be in his presence.

      If we think of those not in heaven at all, I think we will be able to see them for who they truly are, namely people who have rejected by God.

      CS Lewis in “The Great Divorce” had an image of this with a wife who now in heaven meets her husband who has rejected heaven. He is no longer able to take away her joy with his whiny behavior, because she is taken by true joy in the Lord.

    • teleologist

      Let’s look at it another way. If you are in love with an unrepentant psychopathic serial murderer, would heaven still be heaven if this heinous murderer is not in heaven? If you have such thoughts maybe you shouldn’t be in heaven. The difference between the sins of a psycho murderer and us is a matter of degree. From our fallen sinful creature’s perspective we are telling a holy God and Creator what should be just punishment. Is heaven still heaven if heaven is based on the morale of such fallen creatures?

      • Mr Mike

        “Let’s look at it another way.”

        No let’s not. Let’s look at it the way it was asked. Most religious people would not assume that everyone going to hell is/was a psychopath. And I’d assume most of them would also agree that simply not realising a god is real, is hardly as bad as enjoying murdering people.

    • Bob Pratico

      Well thought out. Amen.

    • Irene

      There is a special term, that I can’t remember, for the idea sometimes shown in icons, where the person is in the bliss of heaven, yet tearful for us still struggling on earth. Michael or maybe an EO familiar with this? Pete again?

      As far as loved ones in hell, I too think we will have full knowledge of their fate, but that our will will be completely in union with God’s will, so I just trust that when I am perfected, I will be satisfied with the final justice of it all.
      That said, let’s not despair either while we are on earth. True, we know that, in general, there will be people in hell, but we can never know with certainty in any individual cases, so let’s continue in the virtue of hope, hoping in the great mercy of an all powerful God in the last instants of a person’s life. We can imagine there will be many surprises in heaven! Who is there as well as who is not!
      Jesus, remember me, when you come into your kingdom.

    • ruben

      I agree with Irene, God will make everything right and our understanding now is terribly limited. Also there will be great surprises on the last day.

    • Marc F

      Good post. When I think about this, our chief end here on earth is to glorify God. Everything God has designed is to make him the temple of our heart (nod to Tozer) and think of him. The greatest relationship we should ever have is with him and him alone.
      It is crazy for me to look at my 2 yr old, and think that she and I are merely dust in human form and that it is possible that if I am in heaven I may no rememberance of her regardless if she is in heaven as well due to the fact that we should (and in all likelihood) be utterly and completely infatuated by and with His presence.
      The question of course, is why is it such a struggle with attaining that infatuation with Him while on earth? Yet, infatuation with anything and everything else is so easy.

    • […] to go deeper today?  Here’s a major discussion at Parchment and Pen on the subject, How Can Heaven Be Heaven When People You Love Are In Hell? Like this:LikeBe the first to like this post. Leave a […]

    • Steve Meikle

      I have every reason to believe that both my deceased parents are . . . . .. lost

      If I am to stay sane I must perforce let them go.

      They made their own choices, most likely before I was even born.

      As The Spirit leads me to repent of more and more unbelief more and more questions of theology become irrelevant. And this, I grow to suspect, is one of them.

      If we trust Him we know He will do what is right.

      That is all the answer I can see in scripture, and I come to hold that it is all we need

    • […] On a similar theme, here’s a major discussion at Parchment and Pen on the subject some of you have considered, How Can Heaven Be Heaven When People You Love Are In Hell? […]

    • Dr. Jim Means

      I asked a very dear friend who was also an extremely godly man about this perplexing issue. His comment to me was insightful, and I have found it the most satisfying of all answers. He said, “Jim, we can only hope and pray that God has an ace up his sleeve.” The metaphor make us smile, but underneath there may be profound wisdom. There is infinite mystery in God; His thoughts and ways are not ours (Isaiah 55).

    • Kyle Peters

      This article raises a very important question, and how we answer that question will in some way reveal our theology. For starters, I believe we need to have the same mind as Paul who said: “For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh” Rom. 9:3.
      It is normal, and I think necessary for evangelism that we ought to weep for the lost and pray that the holy spirit would move upon the hearts of those around us. Yet at the same time, as we grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ, and as the holy spirit convicts us of sin, we begin to see the depravity that is the human heart. We should recognize our own sinfulness and the fact that we rightly deserve hell ourselves for rebelling against our perfectly righteous and holy God. I do not believe we will ever be pleased in this life with the thought of hell. Not because hell is unjust, but because we have not yet been perfected. I believe that once we have been given a full understanding of God’s righteousness and of human depravity, we will not only be satisfied with God’s judgements, we will glorify him for eternity for it. Also, once God lifts his hand of restraint, we will see the true nature of the fallen sons and daughters of Adam. Nobody in hell will ever repent, in fact there’s no indication that people will stop sinning when they die. I believe hell is locked from the inside — which is to say, I believe everyone in hell would rather be there than bow the knee to their sovereign lord. I know that seems pretty radical, but I believe that’s what the bible means when it says that apart from Christ we are dead in sin. Eph. 2:1-10, Rom. 8:7-8. So I believe that we need to be of the mind that says “the Judge of all the earth will do what is just”. If your attitude is: “if I were God, I would do things differently” I would be very concerned. What makes anyone think that their thoughts are superior to God’s? God is God and I am not.

    • Mark Fisher

      You raised a good question but then failed to answer it. Accepting the evangelical/”orthodox” view of the issue requires a fundamental lack of empathy toward the people you are assigning to hell.

    • […] REFLECTIONS ON HEAVEN: HOW CAN HEAVEN BE HEAVEN WHEN PEOPLE YOU LOVE ARE IN HELL? […]

    • Brother Stumblefoot

      Tim- Great post, very relevant; but I’m just not satisfied with most of the solutions offered here.

      Take for instance, that old “standby” verse in Mt. 25:46; the one we can always fall back on to rescue an eternal Hell from the grasp of the Annihilationists and Universalists.

      Just suppose–for the sake of argument,
      (in my case for the sake of sanity and trust in God)
      just suppose we could read that verse and re-translate the two uses of the word “eternal.” Suppose for a moment that we could more properly translate this as “age life,”
      and “age punishment.” Suppose with me that the reference might perhaps have more to do with a “quality” of life, than the “length” of it.

      Now I really think this/these supposition/s are much closer to the truth of the matter than the very painful, traditional view. Isn’t God really better than some of the things we’ve accused Him of? Isn’t the atonement a lot greater than we’ve supposed it to be?

      There are some very real issues regarding the use of the
      words, “eternal, everlasting, forever,” etc., in the Greek New Testament, and a lot of scholars are aware of this.
      God didn’t give us only a half loaf of good news, He gave us
      ultimate good news.

    • Brother Stumblefoot

      OK, I should have spelled this out better. Some of you are aware of this, probably to others it is a complete surprise.
      The New Testament word “eternal, everlasting, forever, etc.,
      comes from the Greek word “aion,” the noun form, and aionios, the adjective. The basic meaning is an age, not “eternal,” etc. An age has a beginning and an end; to translate either the noun or the adjective to indicate an eternal Hell, creates a lot more problems than it solves.

    • r

      I received a notice to subscribe, but my post does not appear. Is this a problem with my post or your website?

      PS your Capthcha verification is impossible, maybe try another?

      Thanks

    • r

      As a Christian, and believer in Jesus as my savior, I cannot get around this issue and I have looked at it from all angles. Basically it comes down to this single idea: Only Satan himself would want to torture people for eternity and the more the merrier.

      I just cannot believe that my loving God would do this, tho he could of course, but it would be the ultimate issue hypocrisy. This may more closely follow the Jewish faith, where people are judged based on acts rather than the saving grade of Jesus, so it seems I am at impasse with doctrine and scripture. My heart and my mind requires another answer to Hell. Besides, what would be the point to all powerful God? I suspect the point only benefits those who preach this here on Earth, for reasons you can speculate.

      http://www.godsplanforall.com/jesusdidnotteachhell

    • rob

      minus link…

      As a Christian, and believer in Jesus as my savior, I cannot get around this issue and I have looked at it from all angles. Basically it comes down to this single idea: Only Satan himself would want to torture people for eternity and the more the merrier.

      I just cannot believe that my loving God would do this, tho he could of course, but it would be the ultimate issue hypocrisy. This may more closely follow the Jewish faith, where people are judged based on acts rather than the saving grade of Jesus, so it seems I am at impasse with doctrine and scripture. My heart and my mind requires another answer to Hell. Besides, what would be the point to all powerful God? I suspect the point only benefits those who preach this here on Earth, for reasons you can speculate.

    • rob

      find another way to verify real people, captcha is the worst on the ‘net! nobody can read this dribble!

    • rob

      Not interested in signing up with a site that is not interested in hearing from me, may God bless you and do wish you the best in trying to grow your site.

      PS get rid of Captcha, this verifier loses a lot of people after the second attempt!

      • Tim Kimberley

        Rob,

        It’s been a busier than usual season at the Credo House. We apologize that we were unable to respond to you within our usual 24-hour goal.

        Our site has been attacked tremendously over the last 2 months. We have spent many hours working with our industry-leading Internet hosting company to prevent these attacks. Last week, for instance, a person in Turkey attempted to bring down our site by trying to login 4,000 times in one hour. Just this morning someone from the Czech Republic attempted to have a computer access a part of our site many times to cripple it trying to prevent us from pushing back the Darkness and lifting up the Light of the World.

        ReCaptcha can indeed be frustrating. It is considered hands down to be the industry standard by hosting companies, the FBI counter terrorism taskforce and organizations like wordpress. It is created and maintained by Google and it can be challenging for humans but we have had to install it throughout our site to ensure we keep out the thousands of non-human computers working to crash our site. If the numbers/letters are too difficult you can always hit the reload button requesting it to give you a new set of letters/numbers. I personally enter the recaptcha codes more than a dozen times a day. I think you’ll find it gets easier as you enter it.

        Anyway, I’m sorry you’ve become frustrated but please know the steps we’ve had to put in place are believe it or not hopefully for the best of our online community. If we can’t keep out those seeking to cripple our site then we won’t be able to minister to people at all.

        – Tim Kimberley
        Executive Director
        Credo House

    • Kyle

      I think a lot of people struggle with this issue because they have an unbiblical view of God and man. If you think God is unjust to send the whole human race to hell for eternity, or that we somehow don’t deserve it, then you don’t know your own heart or you’ve been reading a different bible. Since when do we set up a standard of morality outside of God and hold him to it? God is gracious to save even one sinner, yet he chooses to save an innumerable multitude as it states in Revelation. Since when do we as humans judge the creator of all things?

      Our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases. Ps. 115:3

    • rob

      Kyle: Appreciate your thoughts. I think this is the toughest subject matter there is for a Christian. This is about all I can say….if torturing people for eternity is your idea of a GOOD God, how is this in any way different than what exactly what Satan would do? Maybe the only difference then would be that God would not enjoy doing it (sending people to eternal torture) and Satan would – thats a pretty measly difference and I personally think that God and Satan are infinitely apart. How can you think otherwise?

      Seems to me, you would almost have to think they are one in the same, I just don’t.

      PS for Tim: I have to say I do understand your predicament, its amazing that people do the things they do. But I still think there are other verifiers out there – you don’t want to have the Bank so secure that nobody can come in to make a deposit!

    • Kyle

      Hi Rob: there’s a few things to consider here. First off, our biggest problem with God IS that he is good. The fact that God is good means he will uphold justice in punishing sin. He is the infinite God of all, and our sins against an infinite God are an infinite offense. A finite being cannot pay for his or anybody else’s sins against an infinite God, and God is good, he will by no means clear the guilty (lest he sacrifice his goodness.) Hence eternal hell. This is also why Jesus had to be both God and man: to be able to absorb the wrath of an infinite God while also representing mankind in the process. Also, there is no indication that people stop sinning in hell, so even if punishment was temporary, hell would in some way be self perpetual; one thing is clear – nobody repents in hell. Without God’s general grace restraining man’s sinful nature, I believe the true depths of human depravity will be revealed in hell. Read eph. 2 where it talks about how we “were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.”
      Consider also that God knew that people would reject him and end up in hell before they were created and had the power to not create such individuals if he desired, yet God chose to demonstrate his attribute of justice in the just punishment of sinners, and his attribute of mercy in the gracious salvation of his elect people (who themselves deserve hell.) The cross was not a backup plan, God knew from the beginning in what way he was to glorify himself. “He chose us in him before the foundation of the world” Eph. 1:4; “…having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will.” Eph. 1:11. While we may not understand in full why God chose to create in the way he did, all who put their trust in Christ find him to be a powerful savior who is “able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.” Heb. 7:25.

    • Kyle

      Just to add to that, I do not believe this issue can be properly understood outside of Calvinistic theology. If you believe God is trying to save everybody, and that he has a universal salvific intent, you’re gonna have a hard time reconciling that with God’s perfect foreknowledge. Of course there are some that embrace an unbiblical view known as open theism (God doesn’t know the future, or at least his knowledge of the future is not fixed, he learns as time goes on), but such a God is not worthy of worship.
      A few videos to consider:

    • Brother Stumblefoot

      Computers are tough to negotiate for those of us born a
      hundred or so years back. Maybe I will be able to get this to post this time

    • Bro. Stumblefoot

      Rob, I have to say that you voice the very sentiments so many of us have struggled with; and I almost choke on the suggestion that “you probably won’t understand this without a Calvinistic theology.” Actually, it was the Calvinistic theology that created the greatest problem for me, and I think a lot of other people also.

      Now I must back up and say that I do believe in the sovereignty of God, as is compatible with the Calvinistic viewpoint, but it is a benevolent sovereignty, not the arbitrary sovereignty implied in much of their teaching.

      Kyle has given us several “theories,” (which evidently we should take as maxims), to justify the theory as to why
      there has to be an eternal hell. All these attempts to come up with a spin that makes it right and good for people to suffer in eternal hell are really getting a little threadbare.

      I think it is sometimes necessary for Christians who really think, to go through these periods of questioning and even doubts before we are willing to consider the possibility that God is so much better than we ever imagined, and that while He may chasten severely, even in a Lake of Fire, (but not forever), His purpose is for good–ultimately.

      Let me just wind down with this: The word “eternal” in our English Bibles, comes to us as a mis- translation. Maybe more on that another time, if anyone is curious to hear.

    • Kyle

      Bro. Stumblefoot, the biblical understanding of salvation (Calvinism) does create problems for people, there’s no question about that. Our natural bent is to elevate our autonomy and minimize God’s. But I’d like to know, is God trying (and failing) to save everybody? What do you make of Romans 9:18? “So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.” Clearly God does not extend mercy to everyone, in fact he hardens whomever he wills. Could you also explain what you mean by benevolent sovereignty and where that is found in scripture? Is God benevolent to everyone equally? Also, can you explain how the actions of God, which come from his own character, could ever be said to be arbitrary? You basically state that God’s goodness can only be upheld if we deny the eternality of hell. Can you please tell me where this standard of goodness comes from? Look, eternal conscious torment is not an easy doctrine to swallow, but since when do we allow our fallen minds and emotions to tell God how he aught to deal with his creation? Can God’s grace be demanded? Was God just in sending the flood on the earth to kill every man, woman and child save for Noah and his family? Do you believe those children were innocent?

    • Brother Stumblefoot

      Good Morning, Kyle, I appreciate the fact that you have objected to my comment with what you see as valid reasons, instead of what is more often the case, an explosive volley of
      hyperbole but no substance. Few have attempted to disprove my views, rather just condemn them.

      For brevity’s sake, let me get right to the points you make for the traditional Calvinistic teaching.

      1. Is God trying (and failing) to to save everyone?
      My reply: Absolutely not. When our Lord said the He came to seek and to save that which was lost, He really meant what He said, and he will do it–in His own time.
      Not just the relative few who will be reached in the here and now, but “that which was lost”–That’s just about everyone, won’t we have to say? Not just the “elect,”
      they/we, are just the “first fruits.” To choose certain ones now, does not preclude bringing in a complete harvest in His own time.

      Ro. 9:18: Probably one of the most mis-interpreted verses in the Bible. It doesn’t say, “He hath mercy on whom He will have mercy, and whom He will, He sends to Hell.” But I suspect that’s how so many people read it.
      Just because God hardens someone, that doesn’t mean He can’t have mercy at a later time. Don’t we have examples of judgment on peoples ( especially Israel, whom He promises yet to bless in the future) and then later, great mercies.

      Benevolent sovereignty: I’m sure i don’t have to tell a good Calvinist about sovereignty, so I will concentrate on the benevolent part. Actually, that’s what the Calvinist seems most often not to comprehend. Defined as “desiring to do good for others,” good will,” “charitableness;” it is all through the Bible. Over and over again the O. T. abounds in recording His goodness; would you separate it from His sovereignty and suggest malevolence instead?

      Is God benevolent to everyone equally? Surely not in this life here, but if the most underprivileged here are ordained to an even…

    • Brother Stumblefoot

      Kyle and Rob: I’ve been having difficulties posting comments, was pleasantly surprised to discover part of my reply did post, even after I had given up hope that it would. But I am too weary tonight to continue the comment, will hope to be able to do so very soon. Hope this posts now.

    • Brother Stumblefoot

      Kyle and Rob, This is a continuation of my reply to Kyle’s questions to me.

      Is God equally benevolent to everyone? Surely not in this life, He isn’t; but if the most underprivileged here are ordained to an even worse (far worse) fate in the next life, most of them never having had an opportunity to hear the gospel, and this the result of an unconditional election; doesn’t this raise some questions, even for the Calvinist? It certainly does for a lot of other Christians.

      My reference to “arbitrary” actions of God: I have been bothered by how so many Calvinists seem to delight in
      discussing His judgments and “implying” an arbitrary
      decision, because “He is God, and He can do whatever He likes” I do not believe God is arbitrary, the problem lies with the Calvinist.

      God’s goodness in relation to an eternal hell: I could not state that God not good, even if I were forced back to the ect doctrine, and even limited atonement. But it would be a tough problem for me, and it is for a lot of
      5 pointers. I think everything militates against ect and limited atonement except certain mis-translations and mis-interpretations, and perhaps the Calvinist “perspective.”

      Do we allow our fallen natural instincts to tell us how God ought to deal with His creation? The Calvinist accuses the Reconciliationist of “inventing” a God who is more to our liking, easier to live with. I think the Calvinist attempts to present a God more to their preferred concept, One who will reward the elect, but has no effectual concern for all the rest of a fallen and helpless race. The Calvinist overlooks the reconciliation
      effected by the cross! Hopefully I will conclude next time.

    • Bro. Stumblefoot

      Kyle and Rob, This is a continuation of my reply to Kyle’s questions to me.

      Is God equally benevolent to everyone? Surely not in this life, He isn’t; but if the most underprivileged here are ordained to an even worse (far worse) fate in the next life, most of them never having had an opportunity to hear the gospel, and this the result of a predestinedl
      election to perdition; doesn’t this raise some questions, even for the Calvinist? It certainly does for a lot of other Christians.

      My reference to “arbitrary” actions of God: I have been bothered by how so many Calvinists seem to delight in
      discussing His judgments and “implying” an arbitrary
      decision, because “He is God, and He can do whatever He likes” I do not believe God is arbitrary, It appears to me that the Calvinist creates this impression of Him being arbitrary, by such statements.

      God’s goodness in relation to an eternal hell: I could not state that God not good, even if I were forced back to the ect doctrine, and even limited atonement. But I do think both doctrines imply actions which a good God simply would not do unless He had to,and a sovereign God does not have to do, because of the cross. If I should become convinced the doctrines were true, it would be a tough problem for me, and it is for a lot of 5 pointers. I think everything militates against ect and limited atonement except certain mis-translations and mis-interpretations, and perhaps the Calvinist perspective.

      Do we allow our fallen natural instincts to tell us how God ought to deal with His creation? The Calvinist accuses the Reconciliationist of “inventing” a God who is more to our liking, easier to live with. I think the Calvinist attempts to present a God more to their preferred concept, One who will reward the elect, but has no effectual concern for all the rest of a fallen and helpless race. The Calvinist seems to not comprehend the full reconciliation effect of the cross!

    • rob

      Kyle…To answer your question about how to define “Goodness”, I think it can be objectively defined as (1) living a Christlike life, (2) loving people as Gods children in His image and (2) “doing unto others what you would have others do unto you”. So, to this extent, Goodness can be objectively defined, meaning it is really not in the eye of the beholder. How does eternal torture in Hell fit in with any notion of objectively defined Goodness, which must apply to God as he IS the source and very definition of it?

      So much of the Original Sin story and the retribution aspect of man’s fall, evolves into all of this discussion, but it frankly is quite difficult for me (and I think any thinking Christian) to make sense of. God gave us (1) a brain and (2) a soul. On this I think I know we can agree. Where we differ is that both my brain and my soul tell me what I believe Goodness to be. God gave you the same resources as myself and if you feel that God would send someone to eternal torture who is not saved thru Christ by the time he dies, or maybe is already “predestined” for this fate (an even sadder commentary of your God), then I think your version of God is not a Good one. I just don’t believe you can turn God’s Goodness on its head, as you must if you believe that all nonbelievers would be tortured in Hell – not just for a while, but for eternity. My personal view is that for those who blantanly reject the Lord when He offers, and this must be a free choice, there is only separation. God turns away. It does not have to be a ruthless requirement for retribution.

      Jesus taught us to love our enemies (Do unto others?), I think you should consider this in Gods equation, and his judgement.

    • seeking the eternal

      when one realizes they, themselves in all that exists, do they find god. you see, if god is eternal, all things past, present, future, then what are all things but god? when the man can step out of being man, searching, see life for what it is, that history, hertory, is his story, her story see him or herself. in all that is was, and ever will be, experience life without judgment on self or other, then god becomes clearer. our reality as we experience it, is not as solid as we may think, that is the problem that lies within the mind, we are thinking, we are something other, that everything is neatly packaged into its own separate identity. i am not claiming myself to be perfection of this, but at the same time i have gained insight into the matter. you see, i could be the wisest, and in most right standing with god, but unless the other sees it within themselves, then god is not fully being seen. it is of each their own will and understanding to see god in the eternal. it is when everything you know, see, hear taste, touch comes into one beingness, of all that has, is, and will ever be, that our mind is free of attatchment to finding god, and we realize all was god all along, and will ever be god, then we can rest in assurance and peace of mind that we are, am, and always will be safe in god, that we, all is god. it is our attachments that keep us locked out of heaven. again stated, i myself am not perfect, but in understanding this, it gives hope to let go of attatchment to the world and some day reaching that place again. it is our attatchments, and uncertainties to who we are, what we are, and who others or anything is that keep us locked in our hells. it is the ego mind that keeps us shackled from seeing the big picture, and being with god, but it isnt something to worry about, seeing as we have eternity to figure it out, but there is no time but the present to start, lest we choose to stay stuck here in our own hell, and oh what a hell it is compared to what awaits on the other side. the only way to free the world is to free the mind first. everything we need to know is within, and shows itself without. once you see the beyond, you never want to come back to the mundane way of living, and if you do, the experience would be worse than the last. all creatures are free within Christ, Allah, Buddha, Shiva, and any others, just open the mind to the infinate of who and what life really is. namaste

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