I have heard this since I was a very young Christian. It seemed somewhat reasonable as it was explained to me by pastors in sermons and by Christians as they explained the seriousness of sin. The claim goes something like this:

All sin is so bad that even the smallest of sins deserves eternal punishment in hell. It does not matter if it is losing your temper at a lousy referee, not sharing your Icee, or speeding 36 in a 35, every sin deserves eternal torment in Hell. Why? Although it may seem unreasonable to us (as depraved as we are), it is fitting for a perfectly holy God who cannot be in the site of sin, no matter how insignificant this sin might seem to us. In fact, there is no sin that is insignificant to God. Because He is infinitely holy, beyond our understanding, all sin is infinitely offensive to Him. Therefore, the punishment for all sin must be infinite.

I have to be very careful here since I am going against what has become the popular evangelical way to present the Gospel, but I don’t believe this is true. Not only do I not buy it, I think this, like the idea that all sins are equal in the sight of God, is damaging to the character of God, the significance of the cross, and I believe it trivializes sin. Let me explain.

First off, I don’t know of a passage in the Bible that would suggest such a radical view. It would seem that people make this conclusion this way:

Premise 1: Hell is eternal
Premise 2: All people that go there are there for eternity
Premise 3: Not all people have committed the same number or the same degree of sins
Conclusion: All sin, no matter how small, will send someone to hell for all eternity

The fallacy here is that this syllogism is a non-sequitur (the conclusion does not follow from the premises). Could it be that people are in Hell for all eternity based upon who they are rather than what they have done?

Think about this. Evangelicals such as myself believe that Christ’s atonement was penal substitution. This means that it was a legal trade. God counted the sufferings of Christ and that which transpired on the Cross as payment for our sins, each and every one. Therefore, we believe that Christ took the punishment that we deserved. But there is a problem. We are saying that we deserve eternal Hell for one single sin, no matter how small. I don’t know about you, but I have committed enough sins to give me more than my share of life sentences. I have committed sins of the “insignificant” variety (I speed everyday) and significant variety (no description necessary!). So, if Christ were only to take my penalty and if I deserve thousands upon thousands of eternities in hell, why didn’t Christ spend at least one eternity in Hell? Why is it that he was off the Cross in six hours, payment made in full? Combine my sentence with your sentence. Then combine ours with the cumulative sentences of all believers of all time. Yet Christ only suffers for a short time? How do we explain this?

You may say to me that I cannot imagine the intensity of suffering that Christ endured while he was on the cross. You may say that the mysterious transaction that took place was worse than eternity in Hell. I would give you the first, but I will have to motivate you to reconsider the second. Think about it. Do you really believe that the person who has been in hell for 27 billion years with 27 billion more times infinity would not look to the sufferings of Christ and say, “You know what? Christ’s six hours of suffering was bad. It is indeed legendary. But I would trade what I am going through any day for six hours, no matter how horrifying it would be.” You see, what makes hell so bad is not simply the intensity of suffering, but the duration. Christ did not suffer eternally, so there must be something more to this substitution idea and there must be something more to sin.

I believe that Christ did pay our penalty. I believe that hell is eternal. But I don’t believe that one sin sends people to hell for eternity.

Sin is trivialized in our day. Sin is first something that we do, not something that we are. In other words, people think of God sitting on the throne becoming enraged (in a holy sort of way) each time that someone breaks the speed limit. It is only the cross of Christ that makes Him look past the eternally damning sin and forgive us. Don’t think that I am undermining the severity of sin, but I am trying to bring focus to the real problem that has infected humanity since Eden.

The real problem is that we are at enmity with God. From the moment we are born, we inherit the traits of our father Adam. This infectious disease is called sin. This disease issues forth into a disposition toward God that causes us to begin life with our fist in the air, not recognizing His love for us or authority over us. It is rebellion. While this rebellion does act according to its nature, the problem is in the disposition, not so much the acts. When we sin, we are just acting according to the dictates of our corrupt nature. But the worst of it—the worst sin of all—is that we will never lower our fist to God. We are “by nature, children of wrath” (Eph. 2:3; emphasis added) and as a leopard cannot change his spots, so we cannot change our rebellious disposition toward our Creator (Jer. 13:23). We need a new nature. We need a new head of the human race to identify with.

Our disposition outside of Christ is that of a fierce enemy that cannot do anything but fight against its foe. Paul describes this:

Romans 8:7-8
“For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” (emphasis added)

We are of the “flesh,” therefore we commit deeds according to the flesh. Does this mean that the person in this state does no good at all? Well, it depends on what you mean by “good.” Can an enemy of God love his neighbor? Of course. Enemies of God can and do all sorts of acts that the Bible would consider virtuous. But from the standpoint of their relationship with God, they cannot do any good at all (Rom. 3:12). Giving a drink to someone who is thirsty with the left hand while having your right hand in a fist clinched toward heaven does not count as “good” before God. Why? Because we are in rebellion against Him. This is our problem. It is our nature.

This, I propose, is what keeps people in Hell for all eternity. Hell not is filled with people who are crying out for God’s mercy, constantly hoping for a second chance. People are in hell because they have the same disposition toward God that they had while they were walking the earth. They do not suddenly, upon entrance into Hell, change their nature and become sanctified. They still hate God. People are in hell for all eternity, not because they floated a stop sign, but because their fists are eternally clinched toward God. They are not calling on His mercy. They are not pleading for a second chance. They are in hell for all eternity because that is where they would rather be. It is their nature. As C.S. Lewis once said, “The doors of hell are locked from the inside.”

Christ, on the other hand, was the second Adam. He did not identify with the first either in disposition or choice. He gained the right to be called the second Adam who would represent His people (Rom. 5:12ff). He is not spending eternity in Hell because he was never infected with the sinful nature which caused him to be at enmity with God. His fist was never clinched toward the heavens.

Will one white-lie send someone to Hell for all eternity? No! To say otherwise trivializes sin and makes God an overly sensitive cosmic torture monger. Sin does send people to Hell. People will be punished for their sins accordingly. But the sin that keeps people in Hell for all eternity is the sin of perpetual rebellion.


C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo House Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Find him everywhere: Find him everywhere

    84 replies to "Why is Hell Eternal?"

    • Daniel

      Chad,
      If we go with the standard interpretation of the Greek word used for homsexuals there, we will find that these two verses condemn both active and passive homosexuals. And there is very good evidence to believe that one’s sexual orientation is apart of that person’s identity. That there are Christians who claim to be “ex-gays” but still struggle with the “temptations” kind of drives a dent in the notion that they are genuinely “ex-gays”. But I am not here to debate whether homosexuality is a sin or not. If it is, I see no value in Christianity whatsoever. Statements like “Becoming a believer is an acquittal from the sentence of hell upon judgment, because of the blood of Christ covering a believer’s sins” do imply that you believe Christianity is a “get out of Hell free” card.
      And if you want to look into more advanced studies of the verses you gave me on homosexuality:
      http://www.stjohnsmcc.org/new/BibleAbuse/Arsenokoites.php
      Another good source:
      http://www.beliefnet.com/Faiths/Christianity/2003/08/Homosexual-History.aspx?p=1

    • Truth Unites... and Divides

      Daniel: “By value, I mean “meaning”. Does Christianity afford any “meaning” for me than simply just a “ticket out of Hell” and a “sin covered free” card?”

      Do you think truth/Truth is absolute and objective? And if so, would that have great and critical value and meaning for you?

      Or do you think truth and truth-claims are relative and subjective?

    • Truth Unites... and Divides

      Daniel: “But I am not here to debate whether homosexuality is a sin or not. If it is, I see no value in Christianity whatsoever.”

      Are you saying that if genuine, historic, Biblical Christianity affirms Scripture’s transcendent teaching that same-sex behavior is a sin, then you see no “value” in Christianity?

      Would this validate the observation that you subjectively determine your own values?

    • mbaker

      Daniel,

      i have followed with interest some of the comments here. You asked of us Christians of what value is a choice between just going to hell and to heaven., and that’s all there is. Great question and one I used to ask myself.

      As Charles Stanley put it, accepting salvation then going no further is like buying tickets to the Super Bowl and then sitting out in the parking lot. There is so much more to the Christian life such as knowing you have a true friend in Christ no matter who else might forsake you, knowing you have the Holy Spirit to guide to you to all truth, as well as being your comforter no matter what, and knowing that you have the Bible to guide you in everyday life. Not to mention the fellowship of other believers, which you can find anywhere you go in the world. Christians are never strangers because of our common bond in the Lord.

      I pray you find the answers you seek.

      God bless.

    • Donnie

      Daniel,
      I think you bring up some very good points. Many times Christians are guilty of presenting their faith as about sin and getting out of hell free, as you say. You asked if there is any value other than that, and I hear crickets. Simply put, the gospel is not that simple. First of all, Christianity is not only a meta-narrative but it is a relationship, something hard to articulate to someone who can not experience that subjectivity. When someone comes to faith, it is not an understanding or epiphany that they come to, it is a Person.
      Secondly, and maybe more to your question, this sin, hell, and salvation issue is not so simple. Many times we present sin as a personal accusation against each unbeliever. Although that is true on one hand, on the other sin has much greater implications than who is sinning and defining particular sins. Think of sin as brokenness, and not only one persons brokenness but the worlds. Almost every person would agree that the world is broken (not right) to some extent and needs fixing. That is just as much a story of Christianity as personal salvation. God, the maker of the universe, is fixing it. He is using Christians to do it, not thru their ignorance or broken behavior which you so rightly point out, but thru His Sons work in them. And although you see bigotry and power-grabbing, God is sanctifying what is His to bring it all back to its unbroken state (Kingdom). We are very individualistic people, self-centered and focused on “me”, and we loose sight of this part of the gospel. It is good to be a part of this “valuable” part of Christianity and see redemption come and the broken healed. Oh, and being broken is not only those sins you see on our picket signs on the news, it is incompleteness we can not fill and longing which can not be satisfied, except in that Person whose relationship is so hard to explain.

    • Daniel

      What if I don’t need friends?
      Truth Unites…and Divides, I would have to say that if being a homosexual was a sin, then there’d be no value in following after some demonic, pagan, homophobe.
      Donnie, how is being a homosexual/bisexual a crime of selfishness? Who is being harmed in a sin like this? If sin is just selfishness, then perhaps this guy you’re supposed to have a relationship with has conflicting values.

    • Donnie

      Daniel,
      I don’t believe I mentioned sexuality in my reply. Are you profiling me? Sin is not only selfishness. In fact, that is not what I said either. I said that sin is in a sense, brokenness, and its effects are universal in that brokenness. ie. the world is broken. Can you agree that the world is not as it should be? Is starvation okay? Is disease okay? How about genocide and slavery? Is it okay that some take advantage of others who are helpless? War? Pain? Suffering? Death? The world is broken Daniel, and it is not all the fault of people who some would say suffer from a God delusion. My reply was to your question in which you asked is there any value to Christianity other than being spared from hell or saved from sin. The value is being a part of a solution to all of this brokenness I just mentioned, and even though some atheists would attempt to place Christians as a cause of it, we genuinely believe God is working towards the solution. That story has value. Can I ask you, what is the value of not believing? What is the investment that a-theists have in the solution? What value can one place in the lack of something (belief)? It is a risk at best, because if I’m wrong about God, then no big deal. If you re wrong though Daniel, well the risk is real if the God is real. Finally, if there are conflicting values, then it would have to be someone who doesn’t believe in transcendent morality but makes a claim that some action is transcendentally wrong. If there is no transcendent being then there can be no basis on which one can say that any morality should be recognized from one culture to another. And if no morality transcends time and culture then who has the right to say that anyone is wrong in something? Can you tell me that I should treat someone one way or another? Can I tell you? If culture decides, then what if one culture disagrees with another? Who decides then? The fact is, my worldview fixes things much better Daniel.

    • Daniel

      Okay…so when someone you know dies, this means you are a sinner? Even if they die of natural causes?
      If culture decides? If Christianity decides we will have people advocating both for and against slavery and both being correct.

    • Donnie

      What do you mean “natural causes”? Sin is the cause of death, not the other way around. If death is only a “natural” cessation of life, is that okay with you? If that is true, what meaning can there be to life?

      Okay, I’ll give you if Christianity decides morality will still be non-transcendent. Who decides though Daniel? If culture decides or any religious system, what right do those people have to tell those outside of that culture or system what is right or wrong? If morality does not come from a transcendent moral law giver, then there is no moral law which you or I can say is “good”. You want value and meaning, if you follow atheism to its logical outcome, you wont find it.

    • David

      For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done. Matthew 16:27.
      Makes provision for the level of reward whether negative or positive. My bible says no lie or sin will enter Heaven. In both Heaven and Hell there is levels of “reward” awarded.

    • Daniel

      Donnie, why did God put the tree in such a tempting location? I would think our morals progress and develop over time. This is why we can think of something that might have been recognized as moral/immoral back then as immoral/moral now.
      David, your god is going to be one lonely god. Romans 3:23 – for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, (ESV).

    • Donnie

      Daniel, I am not asking how morality has developed. The question is where does it originate? If it originates in culture as your development theory proposes, then what right does one culture have to dictate its morals to another? Here in the west we tend to see ourselves as more developed and therefore on the right side of morality, even as we look at history. But there are still cultures on earth today which practice ancient rights that we see as immoral, yet they do not. Can we say that the treatment of women in the middle east is actually wrong, or must we say that we only believe it is wrong based upon our cultures development therefore we force that upon them? If so, do they in turn have the same right to force their morality upon us? As for me, I believe that the way some of those cultures treat women, punish unbelievers, execute transgressors, etc. is actually wrong, not because I say so, or my culture says so, or Christianity says so, but because it IS wrong.

      As for the tree in the garden, that is a strange theological question. I can only speculate on its placement. I dont believe it was set as a temptation but as a monument. Each day that Adam walked by it and obeyed Gods command, God was glorified, not by Adams obedience but by Adams trust. If there was no tree or if it were peripheral in its location, God would not be AS glorified by the trust of His autonomous creation. God is not looking for obedience for obedience sake, but for us to obey as a response of faith to His character of rightness. Hmmm…I just thought of this, in a way, that is a picture of transcendent morality. It is humanities response to the true and known rightness or righteousness of God. It is us, acting upon what we KNOW to be right.

      Can you tell me how to get a pic of my own beside my name? I cant seem to do it.

    • Clark Coleman

      “If we go with the standard interpretation of the Greek word used for homosexuals there, we will find that these two verses condemn both active and passive homosexuals.” We need to be careful in our choice of words here. The active and passive homosexuals referred to by the Greek words were the active and passive with respect to their participation in homosexual acts. Many cultures (hence languages) distinguished between the male who was dominant in the sex act and the male who was submissive. Both were condemned by Paul’s language. I am not sure if you were trying to say that “celibate homosexual” == “passive homosexual” or not, but the celibate homosexual is not who Paul was condemning.

    • Daniel

      Donnie, the morals came from no where. They just developed and evolved as humans evolved. Some people have failed to evolve with the culture and still hold on to ancient books (Bible is one of them).
      Clark,
      1 Corinthians 6:9-10 – Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God ? Do not be deceived ; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. (NASB)
      Says homosexuals. Nothing about whether they are celibate or not or whether they are the dominate one. Besides, if celibacy is to be forced upon homosexuals, this contradicts what Paul talks about in 1 Corinthians 7. Thus, Paul is making up a silly rule here in order to create a “God hates fags” campaign out of Christianity. To Paul, I say, your god will be defeated by Satan at Armageddon assuming he exists! And I will rejoice when this terrible, homophobic, dictator is killed painfully and slowly by his own creation!

    • Donnie

      Unfortunately Daniel, you’ve been forced to take some very untenable positions to defend what seems to be a completely emotional belief. Thats fine. I think you know that. Its obvious that morality could not come from “nowhere”. Its also obvious that they (morals) have not evolved. You’re smart enough to realize that what you’re saying and are so forceful about is homosexuality. Biblical and moral issues aside, the belief that homosexuality is culturally acceptable and evolutionary in nature is also an untenable one. If you know anything about evolution, you know that natural selection does not necessarily propagate strong genetics more than exterminates weak ones. A species can evolve into extinction! You may deny God because of an emotional reaction to His abhorrent reaction to homosexuality. You might choose to say it is immoral to tell someone homosexuality is immoral. But culturally and genetically it does not work. I tried to keep at least my own responses to you away from this issue but you constantly revert back to it even after you’ve been shown the logic of the Christian position and the lack of cogency of others. You are not responding to God logically. You are responding emotionally (hate)!

      Your original question was “If the presupposition that there is no god is assumed, then is it possible to “hate” god?” Let me show you your last statement..

      “To Paul, I say, your god will be defeated by Satan at Armageddon assuming he exists! And I will rejoice when this terrible, homophobic, dictator is killed painfully and slowly by his own creation!”

      I rest my case…

    • Daniel

      Donnie, admittedly, no one really knows how one becomes a homosexual. However, the evidence suggests that it is as natural as heterosexuality. How can Yahweh say to people that they were all heterosexuals by nature and then say to homosexuals that they are in fact heterosexual sinners? This is exactly what cults like Exodus International do to their followers. What made you a heterosexual? What influence is their in the media to persuade people that homosexuality is valid? There isn’t. Society is based toward a masculine, heterosexual, patriarchal society. Do you not realize that Christians just follow along? So do morals really come from God? I highly doubt it and all you have done to “prove” this is play the “I’m right, you’re wrong!” arrogant Christian apologist game.

    • Clark Coleman

      “Says homosexuals. Nothing about whether they are celibate or not or whether they are the dominant one.” Sure it does. It was written in Greek, which has words for the submissive homosexual and the dominant homosexual. English only has such words if we employ rarely used words such as catamite and sodomite. The first Greek word, malakoi, refers to the submissive or passive homosexual. The second Greek word, arsenokoitai, refers to the active or dominant homosexual. Malakoi is variously translated “effeminate” (KJV, ASV, NASB), “male prostitutes” (NRSV), or “homosexuals” (NKJV). Arsenokoitai is variously translated “abusers of themselves with mankind/men” (KJV/ASV), “sodomites” (NKJV, NRSV), or “homosexuals” (NASB). The ESV and some other versions try to come up with a single phrase that covers both nouns, e.g. “men who practice homosexuality” (ESV) or “anyone practicing homosexuality” (HCSB). The summation is that both kinds of homosexual participant are condemned by Paul.

    • Daniel

      Clark says:
      “The first Greek word, malakoi, refers to the submissive or passive homosexual. The second Greek word, arsenokoitai, refers to the active or dominant homosexual.”
      Translation – fags of all types go to Hell.
      My response:
      I do not fear your Bible or your Hell.

    • Clark Coleman

      Do as you wish. I only wanted to clarify what the text says. An important point is that actions, not inclinations, are what Paul is condemning. There is no condemnation of the celibate homosexual in these passages.

    • Daniel

      Clark,
      Passive – “not reacting visibly to something that might be expected to produce manifestations of an emotion or feeling”
      (dictionary.com)
      Clark said: “The…Greek word, malakoi, refers to the submissive or passive homosexual”
      Synonyms for submissive include passive, resigned, patient, docile, tame, subdued
      (dictionary.com)
      Thus, according to you, Paul condemns not only active homosexuals but also celibate homosexuals.

    • Clark Coleman

      No, according to me, the Greek has two words, for the dominant and submissive participants in homosexual ACTS. Celibate homosexuals do not participate in homosexual ACTS, so they fit neither word. The fact that words such as submissive and passive have multiple meanings does not mean that you can ascribe whichever meaning you choose to MY use of the terms, when the context of my usage is clear. That is a basic logical fallacy.

    • Daniel

      Clark,
      You said – “The first Greek word, malakoi, refers to the submissive or passive homosexual.”
      Do you need me to emphasize the word “passive” in this sentence of yours here?

    • Clark Coleman

      As I already replied, words have multiple definitions. Passive can mean submissive but participatory, or it can mean inactive and completely non-participatory. My posts make it clear that the Greek words refer to two different participants in homosexual acts, and therefore the words do not include non-participants.

    • Jeff Ayers

      All sins are NOT equal in the sight of God: John 19:11 Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin.

      Luke 10:12 -14 But I say unto you, that it shall be more tolerable in that day for Sodom, than for that city.

      Luke 7:41-43 There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. 42 And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most? 43 Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged.

      Luke 12:47-48 And that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. 48 But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.

      CMP wrote “Hell is eternal”… Death and Hell are cast into the lake of fire which is the second death. People DO NOT spend eternity in hell. Also it is worth studying the fact that Hell in the OT is sheol (the place of the dead or unseen) . Gehenna (NT) is a literal place and location. (NO I am not a JW, but an IFB).

      THIS is what John has to say on the subject… and he does NOT say people go to Hell because of sin, big or small. John 3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that BELIEVETH NOT the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

    • Donnie

      Daniel, I’m truly sorry for that. I really did not intend to come across that way. I don’t even know why I was still awake and decided to read this old blog, after a rough day at work (UPS driver). This is not a “game” and you are correct, my motives were not always right. I do want you to know that people, probably in another State and almost definitely another culture, prayed for you today. Although you may believe that the folks in my church may be bigoted, arrogant, and ignorant, we all prayed for you today because we truly believe in our God and His desire to redeem you and answer your questions. NASCAR is in our little city today, right down from our church, but we raised your name along with the 150,000 who were at the track. I know you probably think this sentiment is stupid, but sincerity probably means something to you. I pray that what you are seeking you will find and that God finds you where you are.

    • Truth Unites... and Divides

      Daniel,

      I have heard it said, or I have read this somewhere in many places, and I would like you to confirm or disconfirm the following:

      The Gospel of Jesus Christ is offensive.

      Would you agree with that? Or would you disagree with that statement?

      The Gospel of Jesus, the Work of Jesus Christ, the Scriptures which attest to Jesus Christ all either say or entail the following:

      (1) In the beginning God…. I.e., God exists and has revealed Himself … sufficiently.

      (2) We are all sinners. We all have broken and transgressed against God’s Law, and transgressing God’s Law deems us as sinners, immoral and depraved sinners.

      (3) As CMP’s original post states, eternal Hell awaits those unrepentant sinners who die without repentance and trusting belief in Jesus Christ, risen Savior.

      (4) The Holy Triune God in His great mercy, in His awesome grace, and in His divine Love, provides a path to eternal salvation to those sinners who joyfully repent of their sins and worship the crucified Jesus Christ who was punished on the Cross for our sins, and died for sinners.

      (5) Same-sex genital activity is a sin according to the transcendent and clear teaching of Scripture. There are many sins listed in the Bible. And we are all sinners.

      (6) And we all need the shed blood of Jesus to cover our heinous sins, and we receive the shed blood when we confess and repent of our sins and embrace and follow Jesus as our Lord, as our Boss, as our King, as the One we worship.

      Daniel, is the above list, although very brief, is that offensive to you? If not, great!! If so, why?

    • Bro. Stumblefoot

      Michal Patton: You have just made a great mistake! You have started thinking! Keep this up and you will end up becoming reasonable and logical, which in turn may upset some of the non-logical ideas we have been taught concerning who our God really is. I’m lovin” it!

      Brother Stumblefoot

    • Bro. Stumblefoot

      Michael– I may have come on too strong and left a wrong impression; I’m good at that. No sarcasm intended at all toward you, and in fact i hold the Evangelical faith, certain points on Theodicy excepted.

      My comments on “thinking” had to do with what I see as a gaping hole in the average Evangelical mind, when it is suppposed that a loving God would develop a creation that would eventually (the vast majority) end up forever in Hell. If His standard of justice would not be satisfied at
      the cross, and if an eternal Hell would be the only solution, then surely He would have cancelled His plan for the human race. He is wiser than that, more powerful than that, and more loving than that. Thanks, Bro. Stumblefoot

    • […] For more on this, see here. […]

    • Mark

      “I believe that Christ did pay our penalty. I believe that hell is eternal. But I don’t believe that one sin sends people to hell for eternity.”

      Michael,

      I generally agree with what I believe to be the thrust of this statement. However, this statement, as a premise is faulty in at least two ways:

      First, the prima facie evidence from Scripture (much of which is already quoted by you and others) indicates that all people are vessels prepared for destruction (Rom. 9:22) due to our sin nature, not due to any act of sin (Eph. 2:3). We are not sent to Hell because of acts of sin, but because of the indwelling sin nature. Everyone with a sin nature sins, but not everyone who sins has a sin nature (anymore). You appear to have switched your antecedent and consequent. The statement above thus constitutes a logical fallacy known as affirming the consequent. You appear to be making a biconditional statement out of a conditional one.

      The second, assuming that sins do send one to hell, is the use of a strawman argument. No one just sins once. That person would be the most saintly saint that every walked, and would be so in tune with God. To reply that you are simply making a point about the nature of the atonement vis. the nature of the sins atoned for, would also lead you into reductio ad absurdum. You cannot reduce the sinfulness of humanity into an expression of one sin in a lifetime.

      Still a good discussion. Keep thinking!

    • April

      When people start quoting C.S. Lewis, I stop listening.

    • Andrew

      If you would check youtube after death experiences (hell and heaven), you will see that Jesus always says :”It is too late”. You cannot repent after death. God’s mercy stops when you died. From the point of your death,you meet His wrath and judgement.

    • Brother Stumblefoot

      Michael–I had not seen this particular blog before; i appreciated it because I think many of the right questions were brought up, and also because the responses show that a lot of Christians have a real problem with the eternal aspect of Hell. It just isn’t congruent, its like the square peg in the round hole.

      And try as we might to explain it and make it sound reasonable and palatable as possible, there are still problems. If we say that God really and sincerely loves the world, but is unable to invade a heart and melt down the sinner to repentance, then He has lost control of His universe.

      If we say He can draw anyone to Himself He wishes to, but sovereignly chooses not to in many (read most) cases, then we are faced with the black hole of what kind of God is He, to have either brought, or has allowed to be brought into this world, all these souls who have zero chance of redemption, because He has not ordained it. Did he just carelessly toss all these souls into existence, doesn’t He have a greater heart than that.

      A Hell (Hades and Lake of Fire) we accept, but not an eternal Hell. The premise has holes in it, in fact I will say that there is no unequivocal argument for an eternal hell.

      Even Matthew 25:46 (and context) is not the final, no more questions, proof text it is supposed to be. I don’t have to tell you that aion does not always indicate eternity, you’ve been around the block a couple of times, i am sure. To dogmatically affirm that it does here in Mt. 25:46 is, I think, to fall into the exegetical errors of the past.

      Where is that verse in Scripture that “proves” God cannot bring a soul to repentance after death?
      It just isn’t there.

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