One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are One Thousand Gifts discussion


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The Hitler button

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message 1: by Hippasus (new)

Hippasus Suppose there is an afterlife and in this afterlife Hitler has been strapped to a device that will set him on fire for all of eternity. All that is needed to start this torture is the press of a button, and you have been given the task of pressing it. Would you press the button?

If you believe in hell do you believe it will consist of maximum torture for an infinite duration, or will it be something less severe than this?

What if the person strapped to the maximum torture device is a homosexual or an atheist? Would you press the button then?

As an atheist who faces this remote prospect I am curious how many people really believe I should burn forever.


message 2: by Hippasus (new)

Hippasus Maggie wrote: "bless your heart. go find something more worthy to do than trying to bait people who think differently from the way you do."

I don't think asking people about their conception of hell is inappropriate. Why are you afraid of this question?


message 3: by Hippasus (new)

Hippasus Maggie wrote: "oh. look. denial. reread your own words ... baiting is what you are doing. you sincerely want to know about the concept of "hell" ... word your question in a sincere way."

Feel free to rephrase the question however you like if it makes you more comfortable answering it.


Krystina what does this have to do with the book one thousand gifts?


Krystina ah. ok. thanks :)
anyway i sure loved this book. i think i need to read it again.


drowningmermaid Burn forever in the FLAMING PITS of LOGIC, Christopher.

You and all your homosexual atheist ilk.

--

To answer your question:

I come to this from a different perspective, since I was raised in the evangelical church, but no longer subscribe to the tenets of said church.

What you have to bear in mind, is that no Christian person sees themselves as being responsible for any such button. I think most Christians, just like most human beings, would refuse to press any such button, for any person, for any reason.

(Yes, I know Milgram's obedience theory kicks that statement in the teeth, but I'm talking about basic, conscious individual morality here, not the unfortunate human tendency to do whatever heinous thing we're told to do.)

Christians do not believe that hell is about hate. For them, Hell is a tragic part of reality, not something to be wished on anyone.

You ask: "If you believe in hell do you believe it will consist of maximum torture for an infinite duration, or will it be something less severe than this?"

The general consensus is "Yes. Maximum torture for infinite duration." Although, some hold that there is an eventual 'ceasing to be' and fewer, more heretical groups hold that there might yet be another chance.

Bear in mind, too, that the crux of hell is NOT the "fire" of "physical pain" aspect. It is the absolute and total separation from God. Meaning, separation from everything good or kind or beautiful.

Just remember, it's not that mainstream Christians feel that you "should" burn forever. This is not about vindictiveness or schadenfreude. It's about a very terrifying, heartbreaking certainty that you WILL be cut off. Hell is the point at which God gives up on you, and ceases pursuing your unworthy self. Hell is part of an overall worldview, and if they believe that you will burn, they almost certainly will also believe that someone they love dearly will burn, too. It's not necessarily about singling out particular people or groups as being dirty and unrighteous.

Hope that helps.


drowningmermaid Thanks, Maggie!

I just thought the question deserved an answer/explanation. Hell is a doctrine that bothers people on both sides of the fence, after all. But the problem is, when people with different beliefs talk about "God" or even any kind of afterlife, they are often starting from completely different preconceptions. It's like they're speaking different languages.

Thanks for letting me know what you thought.


message 8: by Hippasus (last edited Mar 20, 2013 09:33AM) (new)

Hippasus Well since dm has resurrected the thread I noticed I failed to respond to last post. My apologies.

@Maggie: "christopher, have you not noticed in my first response that i have addressed the issue that you want others to participate in? to reiterate: 1. we are not god therefore we do not/can not make the button-push call"

When I said you hadn't answered the question I simply meant that you hadn't said explicitly whether you would press the button or not, and I'm still not sure if you would press it or not. You have simply stated that you do not believe it is possibly God would place you in such a situation. Very well I am willing to retract the situation in which you personally must press the button. Suppose you are simply going to watch god decide to press the button or not. Would you have no objection to god pressing the button?


message 9: by Hippasus (new)

Hippasus @Maggie: "did you take that walk in the fresh air? and did it help clear your mind? "

Yes I did take that walk. My mind feels clear.

I understand your statement about self-selection. People decide for themselves whether they will transgress gods commandments or not. Is that not what you mean? But I am asking a very specific question about the nature of the punishment one you do go to hell. Does anyone deserve to be physically tortured by fire for eternity, even if that person is hitler?


drowningmermaid Good grief.

You ask: People decide for themselves whether they will transgress gods commandments or not. Is that not what you mean?

No, she does not mean that people decide to transgress and therefore find themselves on the chopping block. She is referring to a basic evangelical belief best surmised by C.S. Lewis: "The gates of hell are locked from the inside."

Hell is separation from God, for the hellgoer, that separation begins in life and continues throughout eternity ever, always, and solely at the choice of the Sinner, not God.

A better Hitler question would be: if Hitler had his finger on a button that would roast him forever in the undying flames of heck, what would you do?

You ask: Does anyone deserve to be physically tortured by fire for eternity, even if that person is hitler?

To answer in one word: No.

As I said before, and Maggie agreed, VERY few people, Christian or not believe that eternal agony is a thing that anyone can deserve any more than anyone else. (After all, Hitler would hardly have been the embodiment of human evil without the participation of many, many other, more ordinary people.)

But that doesn't seem to really be the question you're asking. The question you're really asking is:

SINCE you evangelicals believe that God punishes with eternal torture-- and usually for fairly minor infractions-- can that be right?

This is a rhetorical question.

An evangelical will, of course, answer, “No, and that’s not what we believe anyway.”

In evangelical thought, hell is not a punishment for poor behavior. It is only the logical outflow of a life lived rejecting God. (eg when you die, you will continue to reject God.)

Since God, as here defined, is the source of everything noble and beautiful and good, you lose out on those things when you reject him. And there you have hell.

For example, in life you have the opportunity to communicate, and know another person’s views and experiences. In life you have the opportunity to read, and so passively share someone else’s experiences. One of many simple joys.

But say someone has the hellish tendency to start threads about books that they have no intention of reading, and for no other purpose than to bait another human being into a pointless argument that exists solely for the purpose of argument itself, and perhaps the feeling of scoring a point.

These flames are the first flickers of hell. And yes, in the evangelical belief structure, you can probably expect more of that in the hereafter.


message 11: by Hippasus (last edited Mar 20, 2013 02:13PM) (new)

Hippasus @dm: "Hell is separation from God, for the hellgoer, that separation begins in life and continues throughout eternity ever, always, and solely at the choice of the Sinner, not God."

The sinner makes the choices, which is what I said: "People decide for themselves whether they will transgress gods commandments or not". Let's not split hairs. But my question was not about who's fault is it that any particular person is in hell. It is about the nature of hell.

@dm: "But that doesn't seem to really be the question you're asking. The question you're really asking is:

SINCE you evangelicals believe that God punishes with eternal torture-- and usually for fairly minor infractions-- can that be right?"

You seem to offended by some apparent assumption on my part that "you" do believe this way. I never stated any assumption. I conditioned my original question with a clear "IF": "If you believe in hell do you believe it will consist of maximum torture for an infinite duration, or will it be something less severe than this?"

@dm: "You ask: "If you believe in hell do you believe it will consist of maximum torture for an infinite duration, or will it be something less severe than this?" The general consensus is "Yes. Maximum torture for infinite duration." Although, some hold that there is an eventual 'ceasing to be' and fewer, more heretical groups hold that there might yet be another chance. Bear in mind, too, that the crux of hell is NOT the "fire" of "physical pain" aspect. It is the absolute and total separation from God. Meaning, separation from everything good or kind or beautiful."

You say the crux of hell is NOT torture by fire. I'm glad it is not the crux but is it present in any way? The intention of this discussion was to speak with people who really believe I should burn in hell. I was simply curious to speak with such people. I have posted the discussion in several forums and I have found a few who do believe this. I was not trying to attack anyone who does not believe that hell does consists of fire.

I never made any statement at all suggesting that ALL christians believe that hell consists of torture by fire. The point of the discussion was to learn how many do. I really don't know why you and Maggie are so angry with me.

@dm: "But say someone has the hellish tendency to start threads about books that they have no intention of reading, and for no other purpose than to bait another human being into a pointless argument that exists solely for the purpose of argument itself, and perhaps the feeling of scoring a point."

It doesn't seem possible to defend myself from such an accusation. I don't how to prove my sincerity or genuine curiosity.


message 12: by Hippasus (new)

Hippasus It seems Maggie has left. Are you still there dm?


Denise This has nothing to do with the book...IMHO


message 14: by Jennifer (last edited Aug 05, 2013 08:48PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jennifer My answer is no, I could not push the button because I am not infinitely just. Definitely not for an atheist or a homosexual there would be zero desire. My pity would override justice and I could not bring myself to push that button.

In addition to this, I could not push the button because I have no right to. Not even for Hitler. The Bible says that everyone has sinned (Romans 3:23). Though I haven't done any "big" outward sins like mass murder, the Bible also says that the penalty for sin (all sin, mass murder, not believing in God, lying, thinking of yourself as better than someone else) is death (Romans 6:23). No matter how good I try to be, deep down I am as guilty as anyone and equally condemned to hell. I would have no right to push the button and I wouldn't dare to.

I know that I am throwing a lot of "the Bible says" your way. But part of the question was what would I do and these realities are foundational to my worldview (drowningmermaid did a good job articulating things). And the foundation is that we are all lost, but while we were still sinful and undeserving God came in the flesh and died in our place (Romans 5:6-9). This so that He in His infinite justice would have an option besides pushing the button.

Many people focus on Hell and say that if hell exists that God is cruel. But if you look at the Christian worldview seriously you will see that God is not cruel. Someone as perfect and important as the Creator of the Universe had no business suffering in our place. That is infinite love and infinite justice united.

I digress a bit, sorry, anyone who has a question like yours deserves an answer.

Anyway, is Hell infinite torture forever? DM explained that well I think. Yes it is. Mainly because of the separation from God and therefore the separation from all forms of goodness.

Is Hell specifically fire forever? When Jesus refers to Hell He sometimes calls it the "outer darkness" and sometimes "the furnace of fire" usually accompanied by stating that in that place there will be "weeping and gnashing of teeth." So... the argument for Hell being a place of dark fire forever is one that cannot be ignored. Here are some verses if you are curious: Matthew 8:12, 13:42 & 50, 22:13, 24:51, 25:30, and Luke 13:28. However I agree with DM and believe that separation from God is a big part of that.

Do I believe you should go there? That is where we both should go. My choice to become a Christian (and therefore not go to Hell) does not in any way make me superior to you. I have simply chosen to accept the salvation that was handed to me.

Many Christians are extremely uncomfortable saying that people deserve Hell. (This is because we are also human.) However to say otherwise is to say that God is not just. I take the view that our idea of justice is warped. We live in a world where children are exploited in the sex trade (some say over a million). That fact alone condemns us all. Why doesn't everyone lay awake at night thinking about how to save those children? We are broken that's why. We are so comfortable with sin that we don't recognize the depravity of it. My worldview says that all sins lead to death (a.k.a. Hell) and I believe that. That includes my sins. They little on humanity's broken scales, but I can't trust these scales because they are not just.

God is perfectly just, too just for evil to survive in His presence (I use a strong word, but I apply it equally to myself), and yet He is also infinitely loving. That is why He wanted to create a loophole by becoming human and suffering the punishment for anyone who is willing. 2 Peter 3:9 states that God doesn't want anyone to suffer this fate. Going to the extreme of dying in our place demonstrates that. Jesus warned us that He is the only way to God (John 14:6 - still throwing a lot of verses at you in the spirit of taking your question seriously, hope they help). So those who choose a different way will find that all roads lead to Hell except one. This is a heartbreaking reality for the God who loved us all enough to die for us.

Drowningmermaid quoted C.S. Lewis when he said that "the gates of Hell are locked from the inside." This is a choice that every person makes: to take the Hell they deserve or the Heaven they are not worthy of. Infinite love invites each of us to Heaven. We are all equally guilty and equally loved by God.


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