Does God punish sinners / unbelievers?

No disagreement there. End times is definitely the context.

So … yeah! Being separated according to how we treat others is a sobering warning, no?

There are other teachings too; about grace and forgiveness that also make other sharp points about how our future plays out according to whether we have forgiven or not.

As with everything, there seems (to me) to be a laser-focused lesson involved, and the farther we move away from that focus, the more danger we are in of missing the important point. So when you insist on taking the “literal” sense of something, that can still go a lot of ways. Do you mean you are literally focused on the point being taught? (Probably a good thing.) Or are you trying to take something literally that was being used as a device to represent something else or as an element of part of a larger story? (Probably a dangerous thing to do.)

That is true, but it’s not just Muslims who have a problem. Long before Islam existed, Calvin taught double predestination– God predestined some people to save (the elect) and some to condemn to the flames of hell. It didn’t matter if a person had great faith and lived a saintly life-- if he was predestined before his birth to burn in hell that sealed his fate.

I’m under the impression that Tim Mackie was treading it lightly in how we he presented it. I’m under the impression he supports conditional immortality. Hell is forever because hell is the second death and this second death means dying and never coming back. You are punished eternally, because you are dead eternally with no hope of eternal life.

There is a podcast called Rethinking Hell hosted by Chris Date. It’s around 150 episodes and they range from 40 minutes to 120 minutes. The majority are of debates between Conditionalist and those that support eternal conscious torture and universalism. So around 200+ hours of debates on the subject of hell. Very informative.

The podcast also spawned YouTube videos , blogs, books and a Facebook group.

I’d agree this passage is more direct than a parable. It also can be understood without filtering it through the wild vision given to John in Revelation. If we look at what it says on its own terms, I don’t think there’s anyone it doesn’t disturb. It should especially disturb followers of Jesus, since it’s part of a private address Jesus gives to his disciples (Matthew 24:3). It seems to climax Jesus’ long talk about what the future holds.

The first disturbing thing is that when Jesus judges the people of all nations, the verdict is based on works. That’s probably the clearest bit of the whole passage, yet it’s also the part many of us don’t want to see. Jesus separates the sheep and the goats, then says their placement is because of what they did and didn’t do to God’s children. Further, the passage rules out the idea that God sees Jesus’ righteousness instead of our filthy deeds. God isn’t blind Isaac, tricked by a sheepskin into blessing an unworthy kid. Jesus sees our deeds. Jesus isn’t the one we hide in, masking our true identity, but rather he locates himself in the needy child we did or didn’t serve. From this vantage point, he sees us clearly and judges our deeds accurately.

And this is the second problem: surely all of us can recognize within our past a mixture of both goatly and sheepish acts. The division is portrayed as a clear polarization into two groups, but how does that work when we’re all on a spectrum? The answer, it seems, is that there will be surprises. Both sheep and goats seem shocked by how things turned out – they wonder how it could be. This is not a passage that lets us wait comfortably and idly for our ultimate salvation. It unsettles our confidence that Jesus has invisibly changed our hearts by insisting that a real change will be visible in how we act.

And last, the passage speaks of two outcomes. Both are eternal, but only one consists of life. Jesus says the goats are headed for eternal fire. Fire is a common biblical image for destruction. Fire burns up and eternal fire can’t be stopped from completely burning up. When fire doesn’t burn something, such as the burning bush or Daniel’s friends in the fiery furnace, it reveals God’s sustaining presence. Here it’s the opposite: “depart from me into the eternal fire.” Some suggest that since the fire was prepared for angelic beings it must keep its victims alive in torment forever. But the Bible isn’t even clear about angelic immortality, much less human immortality. Psalm 82:6–7 seems to refer to how God can destroy heavenly beings as easily as humans. Eternal life is consistently portrayed as only possible in union with God; apart from God no creature can live at all.

I appreciate what @Mervin_Bitikofer wrote earlier about Jesus’ tendency to use graphic images to wake up his hearers. I don’t think there’s a literal fire waiting, but we were made for more than this limited life. The ‘more’ requires aligning ourselves with the king and customs of kingdom come. This passage was spoken to disciples to shake them out of indolence and cocky certainty. Hell doesn’t seem to have been part of how Jesus and his first followers spoke to seekers. And because of passages like 1 Peter 3:18–4:6, I’m hopeful that some who failed to seek in this life will be found after they die. I do believe everyone will get a full opportunity to receive God’s gift. I’m not sure all will choose it, though. A necessary requirement seems to be allowing a transformation that will fit us for life with God without our presence turning the hereafter into the same mess we see now. If the only life we can accept is one where we are not changed, we are binding ourselves to a life with an expiry date.

Choice is meaningless Marshall. Love is competent. Love unlocks all dungeons. All.

Perhaps. But I’m not convinced a finite lifespan is a dungeon, especially if a creature prefers it to the alternative. And I don’t believe we see love in its purest form when it’s forced on its subject for their own good.

Perhaps love gives choice meaning. Face to face with Jesus without blind spot or distortion or locked gate between us, we’ll be enabled and ennobled to make a competent choice.

I personally think that the Bible is very clear on immortality. Only God is immortal.

1 Timothy 6:15-16
New American Standard Bible
15 which He will bring about at the proper time—He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen.

It says only God. Not humans or angels or anything we call spirits or souls. So the question is not what else is immortal, but who else will god grant eternal life too.

In the Bible the only ones who are receiving eternal life are those who remain in God. The rest, humans and angels alike are destroyed. The reason why so many are convinced that angels and humans have eternal life even in hell is because they were not taught the development of the afterlife in scriptures or how to recognize symbolism , hyperlinks and parables.

To begin hell is not the name of some afterlife world. It’s a translation of a place mentioned in the Bible. It’s Gehenna “The Valley of Hinnom”.

So when you see hell it’s actually Gehenna. Hades is a different place. It’s the land of the dead

Hell which is the lake of fire is interpreted as the second death. It’s called the second death as opposed to the first death because it takes place after the resurrection of the wicked and the righteous.

Acts 24:15
New American Standard Bible
15 having a hope in God, which these men cherish themselves, that there shall certainly be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked.

So for humans there are two types with two different outcomes during one event.

Then righteous receives eternal life.

The unrighteous receives a eternal punishment.

Matthew 25:46
New American Standard Bible
46 These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

The key thing to notice is that it says eternal punishment. That means a punishment with a never ending consequence. Many wrongly presumes that means being tortured forever. But that would require being kept alive. A far better understanding is death. After all it says hell is the second death.

Here are a few other verses that showcases its death.

Romans 6:23 nasb

Romans 6:23
New American Standard Bible
23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gracious gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The wages of sin is death, not eternal life plus torture.

Almost every where you look the lost is said to perish. Very few places actually says something will be tortured forever and that’s in parables and the highly symbolic book of revelation.

But in revelation it mentions several places , not just the devil and his angels being cast into hell.

Revelation 14:9-11
New American Standard Bible
Doom for Worshipers of the Beast
9 Then another angel, a third one, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10 he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the (mark of his name.”

But we see other things cast into hell as well.
Such as hades and death.

Those are not actual beings though. So how can they be kept alive and tortured? Makes no sense. What does make sense is that they are destroyed and cease to exist. There is no more hades and there is no more death.

So try to say it’s eternal because of endless smoke and ect…

Isaiah 34:10 nasb

10 It will not be extinguished night or day;
Its smoke will go up forever.
From generation to generation it will be desolate;
None will pass through it forever and ever.

Here is a very similar sounding decree made shady Edom.

A fire will burn it forever and ever, it’s smoke will always go up and no one will trespass there anymore.

But we know Edom was on earth and that it’s not on fire anymore. It’s fire ended thousands of years ago. So what was meant was that it was destroyed. Same for Satan, the lost, hades and death.

Things like endless smoke, eternal fire and worms that don’t die can all be hyperlinked back to things like this.

That would mean God is running a protection racket. I cannot believe in a God modeled after a mafia godfather criminal. The claim of a mafia godfather that he “loves you” is not a claim I feel to be worthy of any consideration whatsoever.

There is endless evidence that our worst enemy and greatest danger is to be found in ourselves and our own self-destructive habits.

To say that something has been prepared does not implicate God as a torturer. It can simply mean that is the way things have been made to work… that people suffer the logical consequence of their own choices.

Revelation 14:9 And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If any one worships the beast and its image, and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10 he also shall drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured unmixed into the cup of his anger, and he shall be tormented with fire and sulphur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment goes up for ever and ever;

Both of these (Matthew 25 and Rev 14) are good evidence for eternal torment and against universalism but do not support the claim that God tortures people. That comes from the presumption that everything which happens is according to God will and desire which does not agree with the Bible (e.g. read Genesis 6).

On the contrary, there is one place in the Bible which specifically states how God expresses His wrath against evil doers.

Romans 1:8 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of men who by their wickedness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse; 21 for although they knew God they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man or birds or animals or reptiles. 24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever! Amen.

God’s wrath is expressed in leaving us to the consequences of our own choices. And why is God angry anyway? Because of all the pain and suffering we inflict on others who are also His children.

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What choice do people have to make? I just can’t understand how anyone can be left to rot in their own private hell that they never chose in the first place. We don’t do that to deranged killers. Well not in Britain. Not unless they utterly refuse and that’s because we don’t have the skills to heal them. Even then we’d medicate them. Even against their ‘will’ if necessary.

Jesus saves.

Jesus speaks:

Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.
Matthew 7:13-14

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Double predestination, as I have seen it defined, is not what Calvin taught. The definition of the term I have seen is that it implies that God causes sin. What Calvin taught is more like: “A person cannot change God’s mind about their salvation, and God will work things out for peoples’ salvation in spite of what those people are like without God.”

Are you sure about this?

So Calvin was a universalist? Praise God!

Thanks @mitchellmckain , very helpful.


More than I bargained for but I’ll give it a crack. Thanks.

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Take your pick Russell. What would you like to be true if transcendent Love were real and competent?

Eternal torture (not even Islam teaches that), or being burned alive in lava? For not saying sorry to God while you were on Earth?

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Well, if what I would like should be the basis of of a religion or a moral framework, gee…? Not sure? Maybe I could defer to my superiors?

Western society is pretty much a reflection of “whatever you like”. The result isn’t good. I think, actually, it’s bad.

The cat is your superior as much as anyone else. What would the cat like to be true?

So non-Western society is better? Where would you like to live, without white or other ruling class privilege? Because of their superior morality or religion?

Fire= Used as a symbol of judgment and punishment
Punishment= Death
Release= Christ’s sacrifce
Second Death= ETERNAL Death

So according to this …

everlasting punishment = no punishment whatsoever, forever

nonexistence is not a punishment.
nonexistence is nothing at all.

To be sure the phrase “eternal punishment” is in some ways incoherent. The purpose of punishment is behavior modification, thus punishment which lasts forever is a failure of the purpose of punishment.

And yet Jesus certainly does teach eternal torment and never once teaches nonexistence. Jesus tells the following story…

Luke 16:19 “There was a rich man, who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 20 And at his gate lay a poor man named Laz′arus, full of sores, 21 who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table; moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried;

And then how does Jesus’ story go…

Lazarus is brought back to life on the earth and the rich man does not exist anymore forever.

NOPE! Jesus never teaches any such thing.

Luke 16:23 and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes, and saw Abraham far off and Laz′arus in his bosom. 24 And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy upon me, and send Laz′arus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in anguish in this flame.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Laz′arus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ 27 And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house, 28 for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ 29 But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if some one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced if some one should rise from the dead.’”

So the way Jesus tells the story is that no matter how we have lived our life there is something which continues to exist after we die. But our happiness in that state depends on how we have live our life.

So when Jesus says…

Matthew 25:45 Then he will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me.’ 46 And they will go away into eternal κόλασιν, but the righteous into eternal life.”

κόλασιν (kolasin) is a Greek word which like most words in most languages has a variety of meanings: chastisement, punishment, torment, deprivation, correction, penalty, or just consequences.

… is it reasonable to read this in a way contrary to how Jesus describes things in the story? Apparently some feel free to alter Jesus’ words from “eternal κόλασιν” to “nonexistence” altering the ending of the story to “Lazarus is brought back to life and the rich man does not exist anymore forever.”

Now what of universalism or universal reconciliation… I am not sure I buy it, but I think it fits the text better than annihilationism. If you read “eternal κόλασιν” as eternal correction, then the fit to the text is not so bad. For the story of Lazarus and the rich man it would mean adding an epilogue…

And after a very long time the heart of the rich man was changed and he became fit company for such as Lazarus and was brought out of Hades.

It is not really in the teaching of Jesus, but I think it is safe to say that there is much which is true but not in the teaching of Jesus.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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