Friday, June 05, 2009

Talk among yourselves: Is an eternal Hell reasonable?

Ok folks,

It's that annual time of the year where we pack up the family and head to the beach for a week of rest and relaxation.

I don't want to leave you empty handed though. I want to give you all something to talk about for a few days.

Question: Is an eternal Hell reasonable? Why or why not?

Rules: I can't police the language so mind your manners. Use the golden rule of 'do onto others as you would have them do onto you'.

Back in a week -


ExPatMatt said...

That's a juicy question right there Wayne (I'm sure you knew I'd bite on that one!)

I hope you and your family have an excellent holiday - be sure to post some cool pics, if you fancy, when you get back.

All the best!

PS. No, Hell is not reasonable....

Wayne Dawg said...

Thanks Matt!

Albrecht said...

Actually, if I bring my laptop, Pops can moderate the language if he so chooses. :P

ExPatMatt said...

Don't worry, we'll behave!

Paul Latour said...

Have a great time, Wayne.

I answer the question with a question:

Is God reasonable?

Steve Martin said...

Only to those who believe.

Steve Martin said...

Have a wonderful time, Wayne!

(not in the beach!)

Jonathan said...

Is an eternal heaven reasonable for those who don't deserve it?

Albrecht said...

It seems God would honor the eternality he placed upon humanity's soul regardless of the man's choice upon the fate of his eternal existence. I don't really see anything wrong with that in and of itself. I think it's one upon many points that work together toward this subject.

Albrecht said...

Also, that's an equally interesting question, Johnathan. One people look over incredibly often.

Anonymous said...

Matt is right.

An eternal hell is nothing more than an made up system to scare people into believing a certain religion.

Why waste the time to torture someone forver?

Why not just zap them into dust and forget about?

What's the point of forever torturing a person?


Ike said...

Paul Latour said...

Anonymous Frank said:

"An eternal hell is nothing more than an made up system to scare people into believing a certain religion."

Then, to you, Jesus was a liar with an agenda to scare people into a religion. That was worth getting nailed to a cross for. If so, then you would have to also conclude that Jesus was insane.

It's either that or Jesus is who He says He is (God) and what He preached is true. Including the "hell" part.

Tracy Wagman said...

Regarding fear...

Everything that God has Satan has a counterfeit.

Satan's fear...
intimidation,control, torment, bone chilling, hair raising,scared of the dark, monsters under my bed, run for the hills.

God's holy fear...
The good kind of fear. The hand to mouth sort of fear. The fear that would occur if your child was running into the street and didn't notice the Mack truck about to hit him.

God's uses holy fear to warn us of hell. The purpose is to get you to do business with God and escape hell.

Just as you would utilize holy fear to call out, warn, flail your arms run as fast as you can to save your child from getting hit from the truck.

The trouble with many people is they confuse holy fear with demonic fear. They don't allow holy fear to have its way. They don't stop and listen to the warnings and find out what to do about it. "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God." (Just fall... God will catch you.)

There really is a place called heaven and there really is a place called hell.

Just because you don't beleive in hell doesn't mean that it's not real. And just as easily as you don't believe... is as easily as you can believe.

It's terrifying to think that hell is real... that's Holy Fear!

So what RU going to do about it?

As for the question, Is hell unreasonable?

I don't know.

Ike said...

The holy hatred of God is upon everyone outside of Christ. When Jesus died on the cross...He took upon Himself all the sins of His people. It was not the nails that killed our Lord. God the Father poured out His wrath that "we" deserved.....and killed His Son.

This is how the Lord can justify the wicked. It is also why all those who reject His Son will suffer His perfect hatred for all eternity. This is no game. Hell is real and it is forever. Those who go there.....who are the "many"....will be consumed with more and more and more fear...pain...and wickedness.

While I am glad that Matt visits this blog.....the more Matt hears the Gospel and the more he rejects it.....if he does not except the forgiveness in Christ.....hell will be worse for him than those with less exposure. That is a fact in Scripture.

ExPatMatt said...


Why are you 'glad' that I keep visiting this blog and rejecting the Gospel, thus making things worse (Worse? How could it possibly be any worse?!) for me.

Actually you raise an interesting point; we should probably define 'Hell' before we discuss whether or not it's reasonable.

You seem to think that there are 'grades' of hell, depending on people's exposure to the Gospel? I've talked about this with Christians before and nobody has ever said this to me - could you expand on this thought and perhaps give Scriptural backing to the idea that some people will suffer 'worse' eternal torment than others?


Ike said...


I am glad you come here because faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. My prayer is that God will have mercy upon you and knock that door down in your heart and save you.

Luke 11:22 makes it clear that light creates resposibility and that it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgement, than for you if you do not repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. To hear the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ over and over.....and reject it is a very serious thing. This is no game my friend!

ExPatMatt said...

Luke 11:22

"But when a stronger than he shall come upon him, and overcome him, he taketh from him all his armour wherein he trusted, and divideth his spoils"

I'm not seeing the connection to Hell here.....

Albrecht said...

If Hell does not exist as some people even within supposed Christian circles have suggested, then why did Jesus go to the cross? Why would Jesus offer salvation for the remission of sins if there was not a danger bearing upon each of us? Christ did not give us all the reasons why, though many can be brought up. He has a plan and a way. The bible speaks of Hell and that there are people who are going. Some extra-biblical philosophies can be touched upon with this but ultimately trust in the Scriptures is key.

Ike said...

I'm sorry Matt....I meant Matthew 11:22.

Vagon said...

Albrecht said: "If Hell does not exist as some people even within supposed Christian circles have suggested, then why did Jesus go to the cross?"

Well think about it. Jesus is all knowing and 3 days death isn't that bad. Actually it was probbaly 3 days in Heaven so thats great right? Wait, what did he sacrifice?

"Why would Jesus offer salvation for the remission of sins if there was not a danger bearing upon each of us?"

Why would L. Ron Hubbard offer Dianetics if there was not a danger bearing upon us?

"Christ did not give us all the reasons why, though many can be brought up. He has a plan and a way. The bible speaks of Hell and that there are people who are going. Some extra-biblical philosophies can be touched upon with this but ultimately trust in the Scriptures is key."

What compels you to believe in the Scriptures?

ExPatMatt said...

Ok Ike, that makes more sense!

Forgive my amateur interpretation of Scripture, but in these verses Jesus is castigating the peoples of towns where He performed miracles because they hadn't repented.

Whereas people in other towns would have repented if they'd seen what the first towns saw, correct?

So when He says 'it will be more bearable of the Day of Judgment...' I don't think He's referring to the actual punishment in Hell, but rather the very fact that there is a hell.

The towns who saw miracles will be all like; "Oh, so He was who He said He was! How dumb are we? This is unbearably depressing news!"

Where the towns that didn't see miracles will be like; "What's going on? Oh, it's Hell is it? Well, there's not much we could have done about that."

I don't really see anything here to indicate that the actual punishment in Hell is any worse for one group than another - but it does show that everyone (from those who had first-hand contact with Jesus and still didn't repent, so those who never heard of Him) will all end up in the same place; being tortured. Forever.

I think that this system is fundamentally immoral (according to my subjective morality, of course)


Albrecht said...

Alrighty, then. I don't know if you want personalised reasons you'll likely discredit for that alone or information easily attained elsewhere should you have ever tried to even tiptoe beyond your own views in the tiniest bit, but ya:

I believe in the bible because we have 66 books written by about 42 authors over 1500 years written by different people, in different languages, across different cultures with incredible historical accuracy, progressive cohesion, literary unity yet diversity, fulfilled prophecies, etc.

We have eyewitness testimony concerning the resurrected Christ documented from Matthew, John, Peter, Paul (a former persecutor), and James (former skeptic). Many other eyewitnesses were referenced as well.

Backtracking: the primary prophetic categories of scripture include Christ, the Jews, and the Gentile nations; specifically, 71 prophecies on the coming of Christ from the Old Testament, if I remember correctly.

To keep going: the astonishing wisdom contained within Scripture, its adaptable teachings, the timeless vitality and applicability of the Word read and heard, and... so on. :)

I can just refer you to books, writings, online sources, or whatever else perhaps if you seek more info on something. I've written too much already.

Ike said...


The very breath you have today and the cup of coffee you enjoyed this morning was the common grace of God. For you to not give Him glory is "fundamentally immoral"...actually it's the most hideous sin.

Look Matt....the biggest problem of Scripture isn't the stuff you talk about. The biggest problem is the fact that God Himself said that it is an abomination to justify the wicked. And "we" christians sing about it all the time. A holy....righteous God cannot overlook any sin. How can He justify any of us? God the Father poured out His holy...righteous....perfect hatred that His people deserved upon the One who didn't! Thats how much He loved us! For you to hear over and over the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ....and continue to reject a very dangerous thing. God only allows so much sin for a person....and when the cup is full....He will have no problem taking them out. I beg you to cry out for mercy to the Lord and plead the blood of Christ. If you do.....He will not dissapoint you!

ExPatMatt said...


Nice to meet you. I'm not sure why you felt the need to start off your comment by poisoning the well, but whatever.

We're talking about reasonableness of Hell, not the validity of Scripture. I'm accepting that there is a Hell for the sake of argument and because, well, there might be.

You appear to be trying to prove that the Bible is God-inspired - this is not the topic of discussion.

Thanks for playing though!

ExPatMatt said...


My apologies, I hadn't seen your exchange with Vagon (Hi Vagon!) and I thought you were talking to me! I humbly retract my comment.


I know that 'not giving glory to God' is breaking the first Commandment, but you can probably surmise by now that this doesn't really bother me that much. Any more than a Hindu telling you that eating beef is wrong is going to bother you.

"I beg you to cry out for mercy to the Lord and plead the blood of Christ. If you do.....He will not disappoint you!".

I did and He did.

But that's beside the point. We were talking about Hell. I was disagreeing with your interpretation that there are 'grades' of eternal torment - you never really responded to that (or anything else I wrote).

I do understand that, in your theology, God has to punish the wicked and that 'wicked' is everyone who isn't saved (although they're still wicked but have a 'get out of jail free' card courtesy of Jesus). I get all that.

But still, what could a person possibly do that is so bad that the only appropriate punishment is an eternity of torture?

Nothing can hurt God, God can do anything, God knows everything. Why can't God forgive everything (including unbelief)?


Albrecht said...

I'm Joseph A. Ya, I came off a bit snippy. Sorry. I just thought he was a bit typical, I guess.

Vagon said...

Thanks Albrecht.

To be honest there's a lot of holy books out there, I need a compelling reason to believe yours.

So far you've mentioned:

Number and timespan of authorship. I can provide a number of Classics authors (a few that were integrated into Jewish and Christian writings) but you wont be convinced. Why do you think I will be.

Unity, cohesion and diversity. What else would you expect from a book that was compiled by a large number of Christian communities? What about the dissenting books like the Nag Hammadi? considering it was compiled, how do you account for the division and inconsistencies?

You mention eyewitness testimony from Matthew, John, Peter, Paul and James. Why do you assume they are eyewitness? Can you show historical evidence that Jesus even existed? Can you show contemporary evidence that shows Jesus existed?

You mention prophetic fulfillment. Do you think it would be prophetic if Jesus was a spiritual rather than historical figure?

Wisdom and applicability is a character trait of all religions. Aesop's fables too. Why do you believe this is unique to the bible?

Online sources would be best for me.

Sorry if I come across typical, if it helps your hell-is-necessary-because-Jesus-died cicularity was typical too.

Lets be typical together.

Joseph A. said...

That's some impressive historical relativism. There's more evidence Christ existed than just about anyone from ancient history. 42 sources mention him within about 90 years of his life, many of them being completely non-Christian. More pagan sources mention him than Tiberius Caesar during the same era and the same amount mention Christ as Julius Caesar. I'm sure you don't question anything about Julius either, or do you? Almost anyone besides the patented internet atheist blog troller (with exceptions of course) will agree to the nonsense of asserting his nonexistence. Even his resurrection has impressive evidence for it, as far as historicity and the historical method itself goes.

Gary Habermas (one example) nicely dismantles opposing resurrection theories in his layman work "The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus." Many other writings are available in more detail or on a scholarly level.

You're quite the conspiracy theorist as well. :)

That wasn't my lone reasoning on the existence of Hell, and was certainly not proof, and was not aimed at your audience.

Also, roar. Hiss. Growl. Etcetera. Adieu.

(Le sigh, sunburn galore.)

Ike said...


God "WILL" get glory from our damnation or our salvation and worship. Either way....He will get glory.

ExPatMatt said...

That's what it's all about, isn't it Ike? God getting the glory. Got to massage that cosmic ego, eh?

Christians often say that the atheistic worldview is devoid of purpose, but for Christians, what purpose is there really? God gets glorified no matter what you do and it wouldn't matter either way because He's God and the fate of puny mortals is totally inconsequential to Him.

SO what is the point, really? To avoid Hell for your own cowardly sense of self-preservation? Is that worth losing your dignity over?

I think not.

I also don't think Hell, God or Sin exist, but that's beside the point.


Ike said...


I wish I could convince you otherwise...but I can't. I pray that the Lord will have mercy on you and and raise your dead bones to Life!

ExPatMatt said...

That's a very defeatist attitude, Ike.

You might be able to convince me, if you actually addressed the points I raised and didn't resort to just repeating your dogma (the very thing you're trying to convince me of and the very thing I don't believe in yet) instead of engaging in a reasonable discussion about the topic at hand.

You claimed that there were grades of Hell and I'm asking you to back that up because the Scripture you quoted doesn't appear (to me) to support your position on this.


Ike said...

Sorry Matt...salvation doesn't come through reasoning. The sad thing is....."most" professing "christains" are going to hell. Read Matthew chapter 7.

ExPatMatt said...


And what we're here (on this thread) to discuss is whether or not the punishment of 'hell' is reasonable.

So for those 'professing' Christians who are in for a shock on Judgment Day, for those people who never heard the Gospel, for those people who were turned off religion and Christianity in particular because of dishonest and corrupt televangelists; where is God's infinite mercy?

How can you justify a 'one-punishment-fit-all' sentence for the entire human race (bar a very select few who are, apparently, tapped by the Holy Sprit Himself!) when there are so many other ways of dealing with things?

If you don't want to talk about it, fine. But don't derail the thread with emotional pleading and pretend like you had no alternative.


Ike said...

"when there are so many other ways of dealing with things?"

Name one.

Vagon said...

Joseph A, (Albrecht I guess?), thanks for that.

Now the sources you mention, the 42, what are they? Do they include Matthew, Mark, Luke and John?

What about Seutonius, Lucian, Tacitus and Josephus?

I need some specifics here :)
I've got a sneaking suspicion that none are his contemporaries, they will reference "Christians" but not Christ or they will be outright unhistorical or frauds. But please show me the sources if they are so abundant.

Well lets check out that Habermas book. I found excerpts as an online source on his website. In his own words his major reasons for believe in a historical Jesus is Paul.

An excellent question is why Paul's spiritual "Christ" have no connection to the Gospel human "Jesus", but shares a lot of similarities with pagan gods?

An even better question is why Hambermas thinks quoting the bible as an unbias record is even remotely historical. He later espouses the gospels as a source and continues in this vein. Where are the non-biblical sources?

I had particularly good chuckle at this: "The empty tomb accounts are surprisingly attested by multiple sources, being found in almost every Gospel source".

I was also a little amused at why you think this is somehow address the mythesist position at all.

I look forward to hearing about the strongest of those 42 witnesses you mentioned.

Well thanks for the conspiracy theorist, it means a lot to me coming from someone who uses Habermas as a historical source.

Oh and snarl, woof, meow, ciao. Is that how its done?

Vagon said...

Wow my spelling and grammar was shocking. Apologies.

Steve Martin said...

"God gets glorified no matter what you do and it wouldn't matter either way because He's God and the fate of puny mortals is totally inconsequential to Him."


He became man (fully) and suffered, and died on a cross - staked to wood and left to die.

I wouldn't think He would do all that for you, if you were inconsequential to Him.

Chris Geiser said...

Anonymous said, "Why waste the time to torture someone forver?

Why not just zap them into dust and forget about?

What's the point of forever torturing a person?"

I am quite sure everyone would want Hitler to be punished a little more than being blasted into powder. Especially the roughly 100,000 murderers who got away with murder between 1990-2000 should be punished for their crimes if they haven't repented and believed on Jesus Christ. Just like when we watch a movie and we see the bad guy get what's coming to him, we say, "Yes!" Guess what? We are the bad guys. Bad people need to be punished forever. On earth when a person is labeled as a rapist, society looks down on that person for the rest of his or her life and they feel shame the rest of life too, how much more should a perfect God pour shame onto perverse people, especially when God sees all the thoughts and secret words and deeds. Hell is most definitely justifiable. God is Holy and He is loving too. I think people who hate God overlook the loving part of God and just look at Him as unfair. They don't regard His loving side. God cares for people. Human beings are valuable to Him. If a person doesn't see themselves as a valued child of God, I think they would have to have a rather low self esteem. I know I would if I thought I was just an animal who learn his behavior from his parents.

ExPatMatt said...


"He became man (fully) and suffered, and died on a cross - staked to wood and left to die".

...and then came back to life 3 days later and then spends the rest of eternity ruling over all of creation; tough gig.

That act only served to 'save' a very small fraction of humanity (something God knew would happen) and the rest are doomed to burn.

As I said to Ike, there are other ways of meting out justice.


ExPatMatt said...


It's interesting that, when defending the concept of Hell, you utilize Hitler, murderers and rapists.

It's not just the people that we as a society would consider 'baddies' that get eternal torment - it's everyone who's ever commit any kind of sin ever, no matter how small. And, as you pointed out, the 'baddies' can avoid this punishment anyway; as long as they repent (have fun hanging out with Jeffery Dahmer when you get to Heaven, btw!)

To defend eternal punishment in Hell, you have to justify Hitler receiving the same punishment as a 17 yr old rape and murder victim who lived a 'good' life but wasn't saved. Can you really say that it is just for them both to receive the same, eternal, torment?

You also said;

"If a person doesn't see themselves as a valued child of God, I think they would have to have a rather low self esteem".

I've heard other Christians say that self-esteem is a terrible thing because we're all wicked sinners, so which is it?

You deny that you're an animal, eh? Do you also deny that you're a mammal? How about being a vertebrate, do you deny that too?

Good to see you again Chris, I always enjoy our banter.


Steve Martin said...


"That act only served to 'save' a very small fraction of humanity (something God knew would happen) and the rest are doomed to burn."

That act was accomplished for "the whole world".

That many choose to not trust in it is their own undoing.

Don't try and hang that on God.

It's nobody's fault but your own that you don't want to trust Him.

Joseph A. said...

I in no way used Habermas as a historical source. That seems obvious. *sigh* Never mind. I'll go ahead and stop nibbling on troll-bait early.

Vagon said...

Joseph apologies, I thought you were quoting him as a secondary source that might have some insight into the historical evidence you talked about.

But lets face it, I'm trolling, like your little "typical" and "conspiracy" calls weren't adhom.

I don't mind - this post was about hell being reasonable and as you said, your argument was directed at Christians.

I'm unsure as to why you think Christians would think it was unreasonable in the first place, but maybe thats just me projecting.

Still if its not too hard to find the best of those 42 eyewitness you were talking about, I love to know who they are.

Chris Geiser said...


God punishes people according to their transgressions. Hitler would get a worse punishment than a person with less transgressions than he had.

I don't deny I am a vertebrate or a mammal. But a do deny I am an animal. I am a human being. 'Human' means "lowly" and 'being' means "we are aware of our existence". Animals do not set up court systems either. Cows don't say, "Hey, there is an unruly cow over there, he should be punished by being put in a grass-free pasture."

Self-esteem is not a bad thing, but self-righteousness is. To be proud and arrogant is not a good thing. Self-esteem is a good thing especially when we can believe we are God's children and no longer the Devil's children.

The rabbit trails and red herrings we are going on is not the issue, it is a sin issue. Morality is a God given standard, it is not learned from parents and it is not something to through away and get away with it. Things such as lying, stealing, murdering, blaspheming, committing idolatry and anything else contrary to the Ten Commandments are the things that will kill you. Your death one day will be the proof of your sin. God says "the soul that sins shall die." The devil deceives mankind by convincing them that God will not punish guilty sinners, which is everyone. Satan did the same thing in the Garden of Eden when he convinced Eve that she would not die if she disobeyed God's command to not eat from the tree. God is still loving and rich in mercy and is willing to forgive sins through Jesus, who was God Almighty who came down through the virgin Mary by the Holy Spirit just as the scriptures prophesied.

ExPatMatt said...


It doesn't matter if it's a choice or not (for those that ever heard about it), the point is that God knew from the beginning that only a small number of people would make the right choice and yet He went ahead with the whole thing anyway.

Even with the foreknowledge that the vast percentage of people would end up in Hell, He still went through with The Plan, so it clearly isn't that big a deal to Him that this has happened to humanity - He could have done things differently, no?

Also, it's not that I don't 'want' to trust God. I am not convinced that there is a God to trust in the first place. If I were, I might still be tempted not to worship Him (for the above stated reasons) but I would certainly be honest enough to say; 'yes, I believe there is a God, I just don't like Him.'

However, I don't believe in any gods, so your point is redundant.


ExPatMatt said...


Could you please explain to me, because I'm still not clear on this issue;

a) where in Scripture does it describe a hierarchy of punishment in Hell?

b) how is it possible for one version of eternal torture to be worse than another version of eternal torture?

Vertebrate, mammal, animal are all biological classifications; you can't be a vertebrate or a mammal without being an animal. Sorry bud, that's just the way it is.

The cow thing was just stupid.

"Self-esteem is not a bad thing".

Seriously man, I've heard Christians say that self-esteem is the root of wickedness and should not be encouraged ever. Strange that two Christians should have such opposing views on a fundamental aspect of human nature...


What are the 10 Commandments? Serious question.

Steve Martin said...


I often don't like God, either.

I had children, knowing full well all the trials, troubles and pain that they would have to endure.

That does not mean that I don't love or care for them.

That is life.

The good with the bad.

ExPatMatt said...


"I had children, knowing full well all the trials, troubles and pain that they would have to endure".

There's a slight difference though, isn't there? I get your point - but you never had an option of having kids that wouldn't have trials and troubles, did you? God did, He could have done things very differently, but He didn't and now everyone starts out life on the edge of the precipice with a very slim chance of not falling over the edge.



DeaKn007 said...

Answering the question, Is Hell reasonable, can be answered using reason and logic. In order to answer this question, we must understand the nature of an All Powerful All Knowing Being who calls Himself Perfect True and The only one who is really Good (see Mark 10:18) If This All Powerful All Knowing Being who created everything we know including ourselves, truly is what the Holy scripture says he is then we as imperfect sinful human beings could never know what is truly reasonable when it comes to giving out punishments for sins.

Secondly, since we as lowly humans have limited knowledge, it makes us even less able to make a clear and accurate judgment for sin. In the Holy Scriptures it states that God (Matthew 12:36, 1 Corinthians 4:5, ) knows every secret sin and will hold us accountable for every idle word we speak. (By the way there is different degrees of punishment see Matt 23:14)

Thirdly, we often think that God is like us and we bring Him down to our standard of righteousness. We don’t realize that when we curse get drunk steal kill lie fornicate etc… that we are not sinning against our neighbor but against our Creator who is the God of the Holy Scriptures (Genesis 39:9) Therefore if this sin is an offense against the God of the Holy Scriptures and not against us, why should we decide what punishment is fair and not fair? By saying that we as lowly human beings should determine what punishment is right and which one is not right is in itself an insult to God. You are insinuating that your ways are more righteous than God and that God is not just or right or perfect. This also means that you do and you are calling God a liar because you do not believe the testimony that God has given of himself in his Scriptures (1john 5:10) which clearly state that God is good and man is sinful.

Fourthly, The Holy Scriptures state that every man will proclaim his own goodness (proverbs 20:6) and if you ask, most people will tell you that they are good and deserving of a ticket into heavens gates. But when you compare yourself to the laws of the Holy Scripture, you will see that your stretching of the truth is really lying, that your sexual lust is really adultery and that your hate was really murder in the sight of an absolute Perfect Just and True God. When we compare ourselves to God’s laws we see that what we thought was acceptable was exceedingly sinful in the eyes of the Lord. Then we look at the punishment of such crimes against the Lord: Hellfire forever and ever? But we never grasp the concept that God hates sin so much that God created the terrors of eternal hell as an expression of His hatred for sin and God is justified because he is God, The Great I AM.