Sinners in the hands of an angry god

What is your take on the issue of divine punishment, both in this life and the next?

I tend to believe that collective divine punishment, as found in the Bible (against the nations) is a real thing. I’d go as far as to suggest that I see parallels between modern, post imperial Britain and the fall of Babylon.

But alongside this, I feel as though God would be unjust if he did not show an example to the wicked. It would leave him apathetic to human evil.

So you see at least one necessary ingredient (or goal) of justice to be: deterrence. To the extent that people insist on how that is mixed with a perceived need for retribution or rehabilitation or restoration [okay - I’m just on an ‘r’ kick] will certainly determine their answers to this.

Have you ever read Lewis’ “Abolition of Man”? Having read that really shook up my views of all this - but they’ve also more recently been shook up by George McDonald too, and not necessarily in the same direction.

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No I meant to say that if God did not make the wicked suffer for their sins, he would seem apathetic to human evil

The problem is according to the scripture that we are all guilty, we are all wicked. The question is not who will be punished, but will any one not be damned forever to Hell.


There are some (think McDonald here) who would say that we are punished by our own sins and it is God that cleanses, refines us - with ‘fire’ as necessary, (and so finally ultimately rescues us) from our own sin.

C.S. Lewis plays with an interesting take in his tale The Great Divorce.

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That would be a universalist inference, which I don’t think that I can buy into. Dives and Lazarus comes to mind.

You have a lot of company in that regard. Not many do.

There is much in the New Testament about the wrath to come and much about avoiding it beforehand, but next to nothing that suggests there is escape after the fact.

If people are willing to take responsibility for what they do, there is hope. They are able to repent.

However it seems that many “Christians” are not willing to accept responsibility for what they have done and haven’t done. .

I’m not sure of what point you are trying to make and how it relates to my comment. (There are many ‘Christians’, who are so in name and by association only, C.H. Spurgeon’s ‘mere professors’.)

There are many “Christian leaders” today that seem to have gone astray. I am trying not to judge them, but they are endorsing all the things that Jesus opposed.

We should not be too troubled how God will do God’s job of judging.

All human beings are guilty. It is not we against them. It is we and them, but the first thing that we all must do is recognize that we are all responsible for the wickedness of this world.

Once we have acknowledged our responsibility then we must decide if we are going to accept God’s forgiveness. If we accept God’s forgiveness, then we need to rely on Jesus to counteract the evil that we have participated in.

I think that’s tricky as how would a child of a particular nation who is ‘receiving punishment from God’ be justifiably thrown into such suffering? And surely not all people in such a nation were corrupt and evil so why do they have to suffer for sins they didn’t commit? I’m not sure how questions like those are justifiable and perhaps you could chime in or clarify @Reggie_O_Donoghue?

So where does forgiveness fit into all this?

Isn’t the whole point that we do not get the justice we deserve?

At what point do we let forgiveness slide and revert back to punishment and payment?

If Christ dies for all sins…

that does not leave anything left to be punished for.

The day we start “judging” God’s mercy is the day Christianity dies.


Jesus died for all sins only in this sense:

Note: Repentance is still required.

But if God simply forgives people without a price then how are the religion brokers going to use it to get what they want?

Forgiveness fits into this with Jesus saying, “your sins are forgiven so go and sin no more.” The point is to give you the opportunity to change. If you don’t change then forgiveness doesn’t serve any good purpose.

Someone going around promising criminals that they can get away with it if they just belong to a secret organization which will get them out of paying the consequences. That sounds like something the devil would do – organized crime.

The whole point is NOT that our actions have no consequences. NO! Romans 2, God “will render to every man according to his works.” But there is fork in the road here. As with any disease we can allow it to consume us or we can go under the surgeon’s knife.

Well the proper place of mercy in the administration of justice concerns itself with what it takes to get people to change. That is the principle place for mercy in the first place… recognizing that making mistakes is part of the process by which we learn. But if we are not learning and changing then mercy isn’t working and it is time to get on with the justice part of it.

So is Christ a patsy?

It is a question of attitude. Do we look at the cross with a sigh of relief or with feelings of horror, regret, and repentance. Those with a sigh of relief are making Christ into patsy and I don’t think one iota of redemption comes to them at all.

Christianity dies when people stop thinking things through carefully and simply recite the same dogma over and over. It becomes something evil like the religion of the Pharisees when dogma becomes a justification for entitlement.

P.S. Anyone notice how compatible Christianity has been with organized crime in the mafia?


Christians are “known” for their callous insensitivity. Something I see here.

Matt 5 (NIV Bible Gateway)
38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’[[h] 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

People need to be able to separate Justice from the Gospel. It is not about the human ideas of Justice. And it is not about Jesus being a “patsy”. That is completely misrepresenting what God achieved.

If you really understand the passage I just quoted you would realise that you are starting from the wrong base. You have to start from God, not man.


Since all humans have sinned, God does not lose his justice through judging the nations.

I’ve always thought heaven and hell were states of mind and that indeed the reward and dis-incentivizing of malignant life choices was inbuilt. Instant karma is kinder. Deliberate punishment (whether with brimstone sticks or divine carrots) after the opportunity to chart a new course would be monstrous. Teaching this sort of theology warps morality in my outsider opinion. Glad but not surprised to learn there is a subset of Christianity which agrees with you.

In other words, little Timmy and little Jessica have been really bad this year and it’s appropriate for God to judge those sinning four year olds through an external nation coming in and slaughtering them? Or am I missing something here?

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“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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