I love you . . . but you chose to burn . . .


#1

How could an all-loving god allow humans the choice between loving him and burning in hell? The common argument I here is that we need free will to choose to love god or not. Okay, great. But why does the alternative to loving god have to be eternal torture/misery? Why can’t they be that you either go to heaven with god or another place that still cool, only god is not there.

There is no reconciling the notion of an all-loving god and one that allows people to choose to burn for eternity. They contradict one another. I wouldn’t let my son choose to burn in hell for eternity. It just wouldn’t be an option for him. God is all powerful, so he sets the parameters, meaning they could be different.

Also, God is supposed to be all-just. Justice is enforcing a reasonable punishment to fit a particular offense. Do you think that it is a just punishment to burn in hell for ETERNITY for simply not believing in God?


#2

[quote=jahozafet]But why does the alternative to loving god have to be eternal torture/misery? Why can’t they be that you either go to heaven with god or another place that still cool, only god is not there.
[/quote]

It’s not a question of God not being there. When you enter eternity God is there even though you have spiritually separated yourself from Him by your own choice. The torture and misery is simply what it is like to be in eternity but hate God.

Think of it this way (and this is not doctrine so you don’t have to accept this one). God’s love for us is like an all-consuming fire. The first choir of angels are the seraphim (the burning ones). If we die in the state of grace, when we go to heaven, we will experience the “fire” of God’s love and it will fill us with exstacy. We will be able to see God as He IS and we will be filled with HIM. If we must go to Purgatory first, we still feel this same burning love of God for us and we will long to see God as He IS, but we will not be able to until the last vestige of sin is purged from our soul. Only then will we experience the Beatific Vision that is God. Because of this the burning love of God will be a torture to us, but one which we will gladly endure because it is the only path to heaven.

If, on the other hand, we do not die in the state of grace, if we die without love for God, then we will STILL experience God’s eternal and infinite love for us and we will hate it. His burning love for us will be a real fire that tortures us because we will never be able to escape it BECAUSE GOD WILL NEVER STOP LOVING US!

You say that you would never let your son make such a choice, but then you prove that you love your son less than God love’s us. For it is in our free will that God has given us the ability to be His sons and daughters. If He were to take that choice away from us, we would be no different than any other animal. God loves us too much to take that choice away because doing so would deprive us of truly experiencing Him.


#3

Why would an atheist believe that God condemns people to Hell for not believing in Him?

Why would a theist believe that?

Hell is reserved for those who choose to be in mortal sin. Choose separation from God freely, knowing that this is wrong, and with full consent of the will.

I would doubt that atheism, in and of itself, meets the criteria for mortal sin.

Only you and God know whether or not a state of mortal sin applies to you.


#4

Yes God loves us and yes God has infinite mercy. But God is also not a fool. He made it pretty clear what to do in order to achieve eternal happiness.

If we are presented with the facts of Christianity and rebuke, deny, ignore, it, then what else are we to expect? Should God say…“Well you deliberately chose to ignore what I wanted of you, but come in to Heaven anyway” That doesnt sound right.

We have free will and we can easily choose to follow God’s word or not, (however, actually performing those works may be difficult) Justice will be served at the end of time

Remember, even if we fail we have many, many chances to go to the Lord and get forgiveness through Confession if you are catholic. And if not who’s to say that there isnt a last chance at the split billionth of a second before we actually expire where Jesus asks us “Who do you say I am?”


#5

[quote=jahozafet]How could an all-loving god allow humans the choice between loving him and burning in hell? The common argument I here is that we need free will to choose to love god or not. Okay, great. But why does the alternative to loving god have to be eternal torture/misery? Why can’t they be that you either go to heaven with god or another place that still cool, only god is not there.

[/quote]

All good come from God…if we choose ourselves over God (which most of us will do), that is what we’ll get, ourselves without God, and withoud ANY good - because ALL good come from God.


#6

[quote=jahozafet]How could an all-loving god allow humans the choice between loving him and burning in hell? The common argument I here is that we need free will to choose to love god or not. Okay, great. But why does the alternative to loving god have to be eternal torture/misery? Why can’t they be that you either go to heaven with god or another place that still cool, only god is not there.

There is no reconciling the notion of an all-loving god and one that allows people to choose to burn for eternity. They contradict one another. I wouldn’t let my son choose to burn in hell for eternity. It just wouldn’t be an option for him. God is all powerful, so he sets the parameters, meaning they could be different.

Also, God is supposed to be all-just. Justice is enforcing a reasonable punishment to fit a particular offense. Do you think that it is a just punishment to burn in hell for ETERNITY for simply not believing in God?
[/quote]

A fair question. I think we’d have to start by questioning whether the common description of hell as flames and burning is meant to be taken literally. I believe that JPII at one point even said that it is actually a state of being, rather than a physical place. The torment is used not literally, but rather to describe the situation of being eternally separated from God and his love. THAT is hell, the separation, and we use the metaphors of flames and such only as descriptors. (oh man, I can just see the rad trads coming down on me for this :D).
btw: Just my opinion here, not doctrine.

I think for anyone whose lived a truly secular life and to whatever extent possible separates themselves from God in this life actually will attest that once they accepted God, all their prior life seemed quite hellish in fact. Speak with someone who suffers from depression and often feels separated from God, alone and isolated. They will tell you they have had a foretaste of what hell might be like.

While it is a punishment in that sense, it isn’t doled out by God per se. God wills that all men be saved. Hell is chosen by those who will go there. As C.S. Lewis put it, in the end, a person will either say to God ‘Your will be done.’ or God will say to the person ‘Your will be done.’ Speaking of C.S. Lewis, I would recommend his book ‘The Great Divorce’ . It is a fictional story, but is an easy read and sheds light on some of these questions.

God Bless
Steve


#7

[quote=SteveG]A fair question. I think we’d have to start by questioning whether the common description of hell as flames and burning is meant to be taken literally. I believe that JPII at one point even said that it is actually a state of being, rather than a physical place. The torment is used not literally, but rather to describe the situation of being eternally separated from God and his love. THAT is hell, the separation, and we use the metaphors of flames and such only as descriptors. (oh man, I can just see the rad trads coming down on me for this :D).

I think for anyone whose lived a truly secular life and to whatever extent possible separates themselves from God in this life actually will attest that once they accepted God, all their prior life seemed quite hellish in fact. Speak with someone who suffers from depression and often feels separated from God, alone and isolated. They will tell you they have had a foretaste of what hell.

While it is a punishment in that sense, it isn’t doled out per se by God. God wills that all men be saved. Hell is chosen by those who will go there. As C.S. Lewis put it, in the end, a person will either say to God ‘Your will be done.’ or God will say to the person ‘Your will be done.’
[/quote]

:amen:


#8

God is infinite perfection - every good has its embodiment in God. His majesty is so great, so all encompassing that to choose against it - to choose against Him - is evil to the extent that we can barely understand it. Because of justice, the punishment for one who chooses against God must be commensurate with the choice he has made - he has rejected infinite Good - therefore the punishment must be very intense - dare we say infinite? EENS has made a good point - God is all good - to be without Him is to be without any good at all, so, no, we can’t just go to some cool place without God - without God, there is no goodness at all - there cannot be any such “cool place.”

Betsy


#9

[quote=jahozafet]How could an all-loving god allow humans the choice between loving him and burning in hell? The common argument I here is that we need free will to choose to love god or not. Okay, great. But why does the alternative to loving god have to be eternal torture/misery? Why can’t they be that you either go to heaven with god or another place that still cool, only god is not there.

There is no reconciling the notion of an all-loving god and one that allows people to choose to burn for eternity. They contradict one another. I wouldn’t let my son choose to burn in hell for eternity. It just wouldn’t be an option for him. God is all powerful, so he sets the parameters, meaning they could be different.

Also, God is supposed to be all-just. Justice is enforcing a reasonable punishment to fit a particular offense. Do you think that it is a just punishment to burn in hell for ETERNITY for simply not believing in God?
[/quote]

Because it’s HIS creation. It is not my place to set any guidelines on God.

God exists because He has revealed Himself to man over and over and over and over again.

We either believe it or we don’t.

If we do, then all the rest of the questions aren’t important because He has shown us the way to His Heart - there’s no guessing in that for us anymore…just the challenge of following His way because what He asks of us is very difficult in this world full of His works and Satan’s…a constant challenge.

If we don’t - after having been shown the way - then my son, that’s your choice - and He has set the consequence for that choice just as He has set the reward for choosing to accept Him.


#10

Too many posts to address individually . . .

Overall, people who love other people do not let them burn. If hell is not burning in flames, then why does is say so in the bible? You interpret it to mean separation from god, but that is not how the bible describes it.

God loves you

When people love you, they don’t present you with the option to burn for eternity

So, either God doesn’t love us or doesn’t exist

The bible says that non-believers go to hell, and also describes hell as fire and brimstone.


#11

Case #1: Imagine God as the father of a household. A child wants to be happy so he eats a lot of candy before mealtime. The father finds out about this and teaches the child not to eat candy before supper. The child then does the same action again. This time the father takes the candy away since he/she disobeyed a second time. Then the child becomes clever and goes out of his/her way to get the candy. The father bans all candy from the house. That’s a loving father trying to teach the child a lesson. The child likely will learn that maybe he’ll/she’ll be able to have candy again if he/she just waits until after dinner.

Case #2: Alternative “God”: A child wants to be happy so he eats a lot of candy before mealtime. The father finds out about this and teaches the child not to eat candy before supper. The child then does the same action again. The father again finds out and tells the child no candy before meals but takes no further action. Then the child continues to take the candy since he/she knows that he/she won’t be punished for his/her actions. The father continues to tell the child that he/she should not have candy before meals in the hopes that some day he’ll/she’ll get it but does not put into place any punishment to teach a lesson. That’s a father that’s not allowing the child to grow. The child will never learn why it is not good to have candy before eating dinner.

I would pick the father in case #1 as the truly loving father since he wants his son to chose wisely by not eating the candy before supper. I hope that made sense.


#12

[quote=jahozafet]Overall, people who love other people do not let them burn. If hell is not burning in flames, then why does is say so in the bible? You interpret it to mean separation from god, but that is not how the bible describes it.
God loves you
When people love you, they don’t present you with the option to burn for eternity

So, either God doesn’t love us or doesn’t exist

The bible says that non-believers go to hell, and also describes hell as fire and brimstone.
[/quote]

Sorry jahozafet, but the ‘It’s not in the bible’ will not fly on a faithful Catholic forum. The bible uses lots of different literary techniques to get truths across. The bible uses a dove to represent the Holy Spirit. Do you think the Holy Spirt really IS a dove? Be careful to take everything so literistically. The bible is the inerrant word of God, but can be very confusing if you don’t know how to read it. That’s why Christ gave us the church to guide us to understanding it.

Again, the choice for hell is the persons, not God’s. If my son, who I love desperately, spits in my face, tells me he never wants to see me again, and moves to siberia with no contact info, am I an un-loving parent? Of course not. If he chooses to separate himself from me, I can not force myself on him.

God Bless
Steve


#13

[quote=jahozafet]Too many posts to address individually . . .

Overall, people who love other people do not let them burn. If hell is not burning in flames, then why does is say so in the bible? You interpret it to mean separation from god, but that is not how the bible describes it.

God loves you

When people love you, they don’t present you with the option to burn for eternity

So, either God doesn’t love us or doesn’t exist

The bible says that non-believers go to hell, and also describes hell as fire and brimstone.
[/quote]

Maybe I’m too simplistic here…but even with the way you present God here…if the thought of burning in fire and brimstone forever is so abhorrent to you…then why chance ending up there?

Questioning why God would or would not make that arrangement isn’t going to change anything. There are many, many things about God we will never understand until we are in His presence.

You have two choices -
You either choose to believe He exists or you don’t.

If you choose to believe He exists then don’t waste anymore time questioning His motives or plan or reasoning - there isn’t enough time in a man’s lifespan to find those answers. Spend your time learning what He has already revealed to us and in preparing yourself to be united with Him when your time comes.

If you choose not to believe He exists then what does it matter what “he” says about hell or anything else???


#14

[quote=jahozafet]If hell is not burning in flames, then why does is say so in the bible? You interpret it to mean separation from god, but that is not how the bible describes it. … The bible says that non-believers go to hell, and also describes hell as fire and brimstone.
[/quote]

You must remember that Catholics look to the teaching of the Church in addition to the Bible. Hell is both a state of being and a real place of fire. At present, however, it can only be a state of being because those who are there are only spirits. After the resurrection, their bodies will be restored and they will experience real fire.

[quote=jahozafet]Overall, people who love other people do not let them burn. … God loves you When people love you, they don’t present you with the option to burn for eternity So, either God doesn’t love us or [hell] doesn’t exist
[/quote]

You are imposing your own view of what love is on God. Since you quote the Bible at us, I suggest you read the book of Job to see God’s response to such things. Our idea of love is an imperfect reflection of that infinite and pure love that is God. But God is also pure and infinite mercy and justice all at the same time. If someone you loved were going to make a choice that you felt would ruin their life, would you chain them up in order to prevent them from making that choice?

What you are suggesting is that if God loves us, he will destroy that which makes us capable of loving Him in return. Remember that if we cannot choose to turn away from God, we also cannot choose to turn to Him. Our relationship with God would no longer be person to person, but person (God) to robot (us). It is true that we would no longer be able to sin (because sin requires the choice of a free will) but we would also no longer be able to do good. Wars would cease, but so would all humanitarian efforts. We would become nothing more than animals going through our lives based on little more than instinct. It would not be an act of love for God to do this to us. It would mean that God has truly given up on us; and that is in no way, shape, or form, love.


#15

[quote=SteveG]Sorry jahozafet, but the ‘It’s not in the bible’ will not fly on a faithful Catholic forum. The bible uses lots of different literary techniques to get truths across. The bible uses a dove to represent the Holy Spirit. Do you think the Holy Spirt really IS a dove? Be careful to take everything so literistically. The bible is the inerrant word of God, but can be very confusing if you don’t know how to read it. That’s why Christ gave us the church to guide us to understanding it.

Again, the choice for hell is the persons, not God’s. If my son, who I love desperately, spits in my face, tells me he never wants to see me again, and moves to siberia with no contact info, am I an un-loving parent? Of course not. If he chooses to separate himself from me, I can not force myself on him.

God Bless
Steve
[/quote]

So let me get this straight . . . there are parts in the bible that are to be taken literally, and parts that are to be taken figuratively . . . these literary techniques that you describe. How do you discern between the two?

The problem with interpreting the bible is that people can interpret it to mean anything they want it to. It’s been used to justify everything, including racism and slavery.

So basically, what people do when interpreting the bible is interpret in such a way that there is no errors. This is not a solid foundation.


#16

[quote=YinYangMom]Maybe I’m too simplistic here…but even with the way you present God here…if the thought of burning in fire and brimstone forever is so abhorrent to you…then why chance ending up there?

Questioning why God would or would not make that arrangement isn’t going to change anything. There are many, many things about God we will never understand until we are in His presence.

You have two choices -
You either choose to believe He exists or you don’t.

If you choose to believe He exists then don’t waste anymore time questioning His motives or plan or reasoning - there isn’t enough time in a man’s lifespan to find those answers. Spend your time learning what He has already revealed to us and in preparing yourself to be united with Him when your time comes.

If you choose not to believe He exists then what does it matter what “he” says about hell or anything else???
[/quote]

The “why chance it” idea . . Pascal’s Wager . . . does not rub me the right way. That equates to faith out of fear. The only reason you are faithful is because you are giving in to threats. The theology should stand logically in it’s own right and not resort to threats.


#17

[quote=jahozafet]So let me get this straight . . . there are parts in the bible that are to be taken literally, and parts that are to be taken figuratively . . . these literary techniques that you describe. How do you discern between the two?
[/quote]

We rely of the gift that God has provided for us in the magisterium of the one and only Church Christ established, the Catholic Church. She has handed down the revelation from God unchanged for nearly 2000 years and will continue to do so until Christ’s return. It is not a matter of our private judgment because if our judgment contradicts that of the Church, we know that the Church is correct.


#18

[quote=theMutant]You must remember that Catholics look to the teaching of the Church in addition to the Bible. Hell is both a state of being and a real place of fire. At present, however, it can only be a state of being because those who are there are only spirits. After the resurrection, their bodies will be restored and they will experience real fire.

You are imposing your own view of what love is on God. Since you quote the Bible at us, I suggest you read the book of Job to see God’s response to such things. Our idea of love is an imperfect reflection of that infinite and pure love that is God. But God is also pure and infinite mercy and justice all at the same time. If someone you loved were going to make a choice that you felt would ruin their life, would you chain them up in order to prevent them from making that choice?

What you are suggesting is that if God loves us, he will destroy that which makes us capable of loving Him in return. Remember that if we cannot choose to turn away from God, we also cannot choose to turn to Him. Our relationship with God would no longer be person to person, but person (God) to robot (us). It is true that we would no longer be able to sin (because sin requires the choice of a free will) but we would also no longer be able to do good. Wars would cease, but so would all humanitarian efforts. We would become nothing more than animals going through our lives based on little more than instinct. It would not be an act of love for God to do this to us. It would mean that God has truly given up on us; and that is in no way, shape, or form, love.
[/quote]

God is supposedly all powerful, so the only reason that the parameters you describe exist is because God wants them to. If God is all powerful, then he could change those parameters at the blink of an eye. So either God wants people to suffer and not believe in him, or he is not all powerful.


#19

[quote=theMutant]We rely of the gift that God has provided for us in the magisterium of the one and only Church Christ established, the Catholic Church. She has handed down the revelation from God unchanged for nearly 2000 years and will continue to do so until Christ’s return. It is not a matter of our private judgment because if our judgment contradicts that of the Church, we know that the Church is correct.
[/quote]

This equates to blind faith. You are saying that you are not allowed to have judgement, anbd that the church makes judgements for you.

Do you know who else has blind faith? Islamic extremists. They were told that if they blew up a bus full of innocent people, they would be immdiately with Allah. Blind faith is dangerous . . . I think people should think for themselves.


#20

[quote=jahozafet]God is supposedly all powerful, so the only reason that the parameters you describe exist is because God wants them to. If God is all powerful, then he could change those parameters at the blink of an eye. So either God wants people to suffer and not believe in him, or he is not all powerful.
[/quote]

Again, you are imposing your definition on God’s existence. You say that if God is all powerful he could change “those parameters” but that is tantamount to saying that God can redefine what sin is on the fly. It seems to me that you do not understand the concept of eternity. God IS. God is all powerful but He cannot be what He is not. He cannot sin, He cannot deceive, He cannot change what is and is not sin because He cannot change; otherwise He would not be eternal and, therefore, would not be God.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.