Eternal Conscious Torment
Tay – why are you a happy nihilist? I know the world’s going to end, but Jesus has a job for me to do!
Today we are talking about the ‘classic’ view of Hell.
Dante’s inferno. The centre of Hell is ice cold.
What Is Eternal Conscious Torment
The logical consequence of our free choice to reject God, and so is not incompatible with His justice.
Calvinism: Hell is a consequence of man’s injustice, but reject the notion of libertarian free will.
Two schools of thought on that:
1. God has chosen people out, predestined them to heaven, and the rest are left to their own devices.
2. God actively chooses some to go to heaven and then actively chooses others to be damned in Hell.
Some Calvinists will say that we have free will, but in the compatiblist sense (that God makes us choose through circumstance, and knowing how we will act in a given situation).
Libertarian freedom – truly free to choose – Hell is because we don’t choose God.
We may have looked at some of these during our discussion of Annihilationism, as there is some debate over the meaning of the word ‘destroy.’
“And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
If ‘eternal’ punishment is not eternal then how can ‘eternal’ life last forever. Are we going to die again? Or are we going to have the cycle of sin and death all over again?
Does that work with the other views that we’ve looked at so far?
And if your hand causes you to fall away, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and go to hell, the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to fall away, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to fall away, gouge it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.
And another, a third angel, followed them and spoke with a loud voice: “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he will also drink the wine of God’s wrath, which is poured full strength into the cup of his anger. He will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the sight of the holy angels and in the sight of the Lamb, and the smoke of their torment will go up forever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and its image, or anyone who receives the mark of its name.
This seems to be a very direct verse. It is something that troubles if taken literally.
There are many different ways to interpret the language of revelation. You can always find a way around them, or to talk about these verses in a way that softens the language.
But on a first reading, a face value, it looks like this time spent being punished eternally. This is the sort of thing that Jesus said, and one of the examples he gave.
Eastern Orthodox View
To be in God’s presence and still be sinful, would be less preferable to being thrown into a thousand hells.
Everyone is in God’s presence, those who die in Christ enjoy that. Those who die apart from Christ still go to be with God, but for them His presence is like a burning fire.
You are conscious of your sin and the burning presence of a Holy God. C.S. Lewis says that Hell is locked from the inside…
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