[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?
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.