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Author Topic: To Hell You Say?  (Read 1055 times) Average Rating: 0
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Justin Kissel
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« on: March 25, 2012, 09:33:22 PM »

It is sometimes said that one of the reasons we must go through life, the reason God doesn't just let us into heaven upon blinking into existence, is that we need to make a choice. We need to choose for or against him. What then of people who do not have a chance to live a life and make choices (e.g. infants who die in the womb)? If they can die in the womb and yet go to heaven (a speculation I'm assuming for the sake of argument), then wouldn't it have been better for sinners who will end up in hell to have never been born? Even if they go to some type of limbo, wouldn't the same still hold? wouldn't it have been better than ending up in hell?
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« Reply #1 on: March 25, 2012, 10:30:11 PM »

The problem with this, in my view, is that it makes hell the default unless you act otherwise. I think Orthodoxy presumes the opposite, and only when a person begins to sin is he cut off from God.

My understanding is if the person was not capable of sinning (such as an unborn infant), they are blameless and not separated from God. Christ commanded us to become like children, so for that reason alone I cannot fathom that a child could be anywhere but in the bosom of Abraham.

Some texts from the funeral service for infants may be enlightening here:

Prayer: O Lord Who watches over children in the present life and in the world to come because of their simplicity and innocence of mind, abundantly satisfying them with a place in Abraham's bosom, bringing them to live in radiantly shining places where the spirits of the righteous dwell; receive in peace the soul of Your little servant (Name), for You Yourself have said: "Let the little children come to Me, for of such is the Kingdom of Heaven."

The Gospel: At that time, they were bringing even infants to him, that he might touch them; and when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. But Jesus called them to him, saying, "Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it." Those who heard it said, "Then who can be saved?" But he said, "What is impossible with men is possible with God."

Troparia: Who would not lament for you, my child, as your end journey begins from this world to another home? For while still a little child, all too soon from your mother's arms, as might a birdling on speeding wing upborne, are you departed to Him that made all things. O child, who from lament could refrain when he beholds your lovely face, which was like a gladsome rose, now fading fast away?

Who would not with groaning sighs, my child, and floods of clamorous tears mourn the wealth of your comeliness and the beauty shining forth from the innocence of your heart? For like a caravel which leaves no wake behind, so are you vanished, and from my eyes are sped. Come, my beloved friends, kinsfolk, neighbors, now draw nigh to join with me in the kiss of last farewell, and bear him (her) to his (her) grave.

http://www.goarch.org/chapel/liturgical_texts/infant_funeral

(Note that for young children, the litany for the departed is not even said. That should be telling.)
« Last Edit: March 25, 2012, 10:32:34 PM by age234 » Logged
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« Reply #2 on: March 25, 2012, 10:32:17 PM »

The problem with this, in my view, is that it makes hell the default unless you act otherwise. I think Orthodoxy presumes the opposite, and only when a person begins to sin is he cut off from God.

I apologize for the short response to your well thought out post, but if I may further ask, why then allow sinners who will end up in hell to live at all? If God foreknows that they will end up in hell, wouldn't it be better to have them be spontaneously aborted before birth, therby avoiding hell?
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« Reply #3 on: March 25, 2012, 10:38:38 PM »

The problem with this, in my view, is that it makes hell the default unless you act otherwise. I think Orthodoxy presumes the opposite, and only when a person begins to sin is he cut off from God.

I apologize for the short response to your well thought out post, but if I may further ask, why then allow sinners who will end up in hell to live at all? If God foreknows that they will end up in hell, wouldn't it be better to have them be spontaneously aborted before birth, therby avoiding hell?
Can God foreknow they will end up in hell if they don't have a life to live that would send them there? That is to say, can God foreknow something that isn't?
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« Reply #4 on: March 25, 2012, 10:38:44 PM »

The problem with this, in my view, is that it makes hell the default unless you act otherwise. I think Orthodoxy presumes the opposite, and only when a person begins to sin is he cut off from God.

I apologize for the short response to your well thought out post, but if I may further ask, why then allow sinners who will end up in hell to live at all? If God foreknows that they will end up in hell, wouldn't it be better to have them be spontaneously aborted before birth, therby avoiding hell?

But does God really foreknow though?
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« Reply #5 on: March 25, 2012, 10:49:32 PM »

Because that would be murder, first and foremost.

I mean, sure: from a utilitarian standpoint, if you abort all children (or baptize them at birth and then kill them) you will likely ensure that all people go to heaven. (Less likely for the people committing the genocide, however.) But sinlessness is not the end of the story.

Remember that our goal is not simply sinlessness, but rather deification. Most people won't overcome sin in this lifetime, but if they do, then what? Adam was sinless too, but he was not created in a deified state, which is our ultimate goal.

We continue working towards becoming like God. That is the point of this life, and all eternity thereafter. We cannot simply deny people that. And to do so hypothetically by murdering children would certainly destroy the ability of the living to restore God's image within themselves.
« Last Edit: March 25, 2012, 10:51:31 PM by age234 » Logged
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« Reply #6 on: March 25, 2012, 10:51:45 PM »

This verse would seem to indicate that God foreknows what we will do or what type of person we will be, though I don't claim to be certain of my understanding here...

"Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations" (Jer. 1:5)
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« Reply #7 on: March 25, 2012, 10:54:00 PM »

Quote
We continue working towards becoming like God. That is the point of this life, and all eternity thereafter. We cannot simply deny people that. And to do so hypothetically by murdering children would certainly destroy the ability of the living to restore God's image within themselves.

I'm not saying we should kill babies, I'm saying perhaps God should.

EDIT--Sorry, I cut it off mid thought... and doesn't God have the right to end lives when he sees fit, if he sees fit? Isn't that the explanation for things like killing infants during the flood, or ordering the Jews to commit genocide... that God can do as He pleases?
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« Reply #8 on: March 25, 2012, 11:35:32 PM »

This verse would seem to indicate that God foreknows what we will do or what type of person we will be, though I don't claim to be certain of my understanding here...

"Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations" (Jer. 1:5)

Again, though, we know that God will foreknow what will be, but we have nothing to tell us that God can "foreknow" what won't be. That is, is it even possible (in a logical contradiction manner) to foreknow something that will never be?
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« Reply #9 on: March 26, 2012, 12:27:24 AM »

This verse would seem to indicate that God foreknows what we will do or what type of person we will be, though I don't claim to be certain of my understanding here...

"Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations" (Jer. 1:5)

Again, though, we know that God will foreknow what will be, but we have nothing to tell us that God can "foreknow" what won't be. That is, is it even possible (in a logical contradiction manner) to foreknow something that will never be?
If God foreknows that I will eat only corn for breakfast tomorrow, then God foreknows that my eating of jambalaya for breakfast tomorrow will never be.
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« Reply #10 on: March 26, 2012, 12:55:38 AM »

Because that would be murder, first and foremost.

I mean, sure: from a utilitarian standpoint, if you abort all children (or baptize them at birth and then kill them) you will likely ensure that all people go to heaven. (Less likely for the people committing the genocide, however.) But sinlessness is not the end of the story.

Remember that our goal is not simply sinlessness, but rather deification. Most people won't overcome sin in this lifetime, but if they do, then what? Adam was sinless too, but he was not created in a deified state, which is our ultimate goal.

We continue working towards becoming like God. That is the point of this life, and all eternity thereafter. We cannot simply deny people that. And to do so hypothetically by murdering children would certainly destroy the ability of the living to restore God's image within themselves.


I think this is a good answer to a legitimate question. Ultimately though, there are certain questions such as these that perhaps will never find a completely satisfactory answer in this life. Human logic will never be able perfectly reconcile all the mysterious ways of God.


Selam
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« Reply #11 on: March 26, 2012, 01:10:18 AM »

It is sometimes said that one of the reasons we must go through life, the reason God doesn't just let us into heaven upon blinking into existence, is that we need to make a choice. We need to choose for or against him.

 This is Orthodox teaching.  Our Lord doesn't want robots.

... then wouldn't it have been better for sinners who will end up in hell to have never been born?

 No.  Every life is precious in His sight.  Remember, he gave the keys to heaven to his apostles but the keys to hell he kept for Himself. 

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« Reply #12 on: March 26, 2012, 01:16:21 AM »

I've yet to see an answer...  Undecided  Perhaps I cannot see ...
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« Reply #13 on: March 26, 2012, 01:33:52 AM »

I've yet to see an answer...  Undecided  Perhaps I cannot see ...

  Would it have been better for the sinner not to have been born at all rather than end up in hell?  I could be wrong, but it seems as though you're placing mankind in a utilitarian modes operandi.  Life is way more complex than good = heaven and bad = hell.  And we are so blessed that God is way more merciful than that.  We are not little islands unto ourselves.  We affect others in countless and unknown ways. 

 But then again, maybe your fears stem from a misunderstanding of what hell is and why some people will be sent there?
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« Reply #14 on: March 26, 2012, 01:44:09 AM »

I've yet to see an answer...  Undecided  Perhaps I cannot see ...

Would it have been better for the sinner not to have been born at all rather than end up in hell?   I could be wrong, but it seems as though you're placing mankind in a utilitarian modes operandi.

Well, let me put it this way... let's suppose a loved one dies. Now let's suppose you worry that they might be in hell (I know, I know, this is America, we all pretend like the dearly departed are saints... but just go with it for a second...). Let's say they murdered and raped and burnt Bibles and killed kittens and hated Jesus and their dying word was a curse on God.  Anyway, if you are in that state of mind, isn't it tempting to think that, if they are indeed going to hell, that it would have been better to have avoided it at any cost, even at the cost of existing at all? I mean, if you think your loved one will suffer horribly for eternity--and eternity strikes me as being a pretty long time--don't you wish somehow, someway (even if in an extreme way) they could avoid it?

Quote
Life is way more complex than good = heaven and bad = hell.  And we are so blessed that God is way more merciful than that.  We are not little islands unto ourselves.  We affect others in countless and unknown ways. But then again, maybe your fears stem from a misunderstanding of what hell is and why some people will be sent there?

I would guess it has to do with a rejection of God (not just a momentary rejection)... and dating muslims.  But mostly rejecting God.
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« Reply #15 on: March 26, 2012, 01:56:30 AM »

I've yet to see an answer...  Undecided  Perhaps I cannot see ...

Would it have been better for the sinner not to have been born at all rather than end up in hell?   I could be wrong, but it seems as though you're placing mankind in a utilitarian modes operandi.

Well, let me put it this way... let's suppose a loved one dies. Now let's suppose you worry that they might be in hell (I know, I know, this is America, we all pretend like the dearly departed are saints... but just go with it for a second...). Let's say they murdered and raped and burnt Bibles and killed kittens and hated Jesus and their dying word was a curse on God.  Anyway, if you are in that state of mind, isn't it tempting to think that, if they are indeed going to hell, that it would have been better to have avoided it at any cost, even at the cost of existing at all? I mean, if you think your loved one will suffer horribly for eternity--and eternity strikes me as being a pretty long time--don't you wish somehow, someway (even if in an extreme way) they could avoid it?

No one wants their loved ones to end up in hell.  So, yes, I suppose that line of thought would be tempting.  Tempting, but wrongful.  Why?  Because in a way, it's questioning God's judgement.

Quote
Life is way more complex than good = heaven and bad = hell.  And we are so blessed that God is way more merciful than that.  We are not little islands unto ourselves.  We affect others in countless and unknown ways. But then again, maybe your fears stem from a misunderstanding of what hell is and why some people will be sent there?

I would guess it has to do with a rejection of God (not just a momentary rejection)... and dating muslims.  
Cute, Asteriktos.  I never said dating Muslims gets one into hell.  I defy you to show me where I said that, if indeed that's what you're implying.  Any way, God desires that all reach theosis and no one tastes hell.  God is infinitely more merciful than you or I can imagine.  He will give us chance after chance after chance for metanoia.  He will put us in situations where we will see the error of our atheism.  But the Scriptures talk about a person whose heart has hardened.  Proverbs talks about how fools won't listen and delight in their foolishness.  Yes, I would hate it if one of my loved ones tasted hell.  I would hate it if YOU tasted hell.  But the fact is, God doesn't play dice.  He does almost everything to get us out of our denial, but we alone must make that choice.
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« Reply #16 on: March 26, 2012, 02:08:22 AM »

I've yet to see an answer...  Undecided  Perhaps I cannot see ...

Would it have been better for the sinner not to have been born at all rather than end up in hell?   I could be wrong, but it seems as though you're placing mankind in a utilitarian modes operandi.

Well, let me put it this way... let's suppose a loved one dies. Now let's suppose you worry that they might be in hell (I know, I know, this is America, we all pretend like the dearly departed are saints... but just go with it for a second...). Let's say they murdered and raped and burnt Bibles and killed kittens and hated Jesus and their dying word was a curse on God.  Anyway, if you are in that state of mind, isn't it tempting to think that, if they are indeed going to hell, that it would have been better to have avoided it at any cost, even at the cost of existing at all? I mean, if you think your loved one will suffer horribly for eternity--and eternity strikes me as being a pretty long time--don't you wish somehow, someway (even if in an extreme way) they could avoid it?

No one wants their loved ones to end up in hell.  So, yes, I suppose that line of thought would be tempting.  Tempting, but wrongful.  Why?  Because in a way, it's questioning God's judgement.

Quote
Life is way more complex than good = heaven and bad = hell.  And we are so blessed that God is way more merciful than that.  We are not little islands unto ourselves.  We affect others in countless and unknown ways. But then again, maybe your fears stem from a misunderstanding of what hell is and why some people will be sent there?

I would guess it has to do with a rejection of God (not just a momentary rejection)... and dating muslims.  
Cute, Asteriktos.  I never said dating Muslims gets one into hell.  I defy you to show me where I said that, if indeed that's what you're implying.  Any way, God desires that all reach theosis and no one tastes hell.  God is infinitely more merciful than you or I can imagine.  He will give us chance after chance after chance for metanoia.  He will put us in situations where we will see the error of our atheism.  But the Scriptures talk about a person whose heart has hardened.  Proverbs talks about how fools won't listen and delight in their foolishness.  Yes, I would hate it if one of my loved ones tasted hell.  I would hate it if YOU tasted hell.  But the fact is, God doesn't play dice.  He does almost everything to get us out of our denial, but we alone must make that choice.

No, I wasn't implying that you'd said anything of the kind. No one had said anything that extreme. It was meant to be a joke, to lighten an otherwise over-serious post.  Smiley

I suppose I am indeed questioning God's judgment. IMO that is not so different than what others have done. Abraham bargained with God trying to save Sodom/Gamorrah, Moses objected to being called for the task God wanted him to do and got Aaron added to the team, etc. Like them I want to understand where the limits are, the why of what is going on, and so forth.

But this may be an issue I just need more time with. And it's a bit personal for me, because I do have a loved one in the situation I mentioned earlier.

But again, sorry for my joke missing the mark.
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« Reply #17 on: March 26, 2012, 02:12:01 AM »


But this may be an issue I just need more time with. And it's a bit personal for me, because I do have a loved one in the situation I mentioned earlier.

But again, sorry for my joke missing the mark.

No worries.  Smiley  I would pray for understanding because it's something we all struggle with.  I would also pray for your loved one.  The situation is not permanent until Judgement Day.
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« Reply #18 on: March 26, 2012, 02:18:25 AM »


But this may be an issue I just need more time with. And it's a bit personal for me, because I do have a loved one in the situation I mentioned earlier.

But again, sorry for my joke missing the mark.

No worries.  Smiley  I would pray for understanding because it's something we all struggle with.  I would also pray for your loved one.  The situation is not permanent until Judgement Day.

Asteriktos, did you date Muslims at one time in your life? Perhaps that was the misunderstanding. I know that Gabriel dated Muslims at one time in his life, so maybe he thought you were talking about him.


Selam
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« Reply #19 on: March 26, 2012, 02:23:44 AM »

Sorry, I was sort of referencing this controversial thread. If it hadn't been that it could have been about marrying Jews (another thread).
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« Reply #20 on: March 26, 2012, 02:25:38 AM »

I really do understand the question. I wrestle with this myself. I have no worries about our baby Hosanna who departed after only 11 weeks on earth, but I do have concerns for my mother, my father, and my sister who have no Christian belief or profession whatsoever. These are difficult matters to understand and reconcile.

I think the Blessed Virgin Mary can help us though. She is called more holy than the Cherubim and Seraphim. She is purer than the angels. So, Our Lady the Virgin Mary is closer to God than even the infants and the unborn who die without sin. She is the perfect Christian example for all of us, because she used the divine gift of free will to choose obedience to God, acceptance of His inexplicable Mysteries, and reception of Christ throughout her life. So, she shows us that it is indeed better to be born and to love and serve God than to die in the womb or as an uncorrupted child.

Just a thought.


Selam
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« Reply #21 on: November 27, 2012, 01:12:02 PM »

The problem with this, in my view, is that it makes hell the default unless you act otherwise. I think Orthodoxy presumes the opposite, and only when a person begins to sin is he cut off from God.

I apologize for the short response to your well thought out post, but if I may further ask, why then allow sinners who will end up in hell to live at all? If God foreknows that they will end up in hell, wouldn't it be better to have them be spontaneously aborted before birth, therby avoiding hell?

But does God really foreknow though?


are you suggesting that he is waiting to hear from us about things?
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« Reply #22 on: November 27, 2012, 01:14:22 PM »

Because that would be murder, first and foremost.

I mean, sure: from a utilitarian standpoint, if you abort all children (or baptize them at birth and then kill them) you will likely ensure that all people go to heaven. (Less likely for the people committing the genocide, however.) But sinlessness is not the end of the story.

Remember that our goal is not simply sinlessness, but rather deification. Most people won't overcome sin in this lifetime, but if they do, then what? Adam was sinless too, but he was not created in a deified state, which is our ultimate goal.

We continue working towards becoming like God. That is the point of this life, and all eternity thereafter. We cannot simply deny people that. And to do so hypothetically by murdering children would certainly destroy the ability of the living to restore God's image within themselves.

What? adam was sinless?

Last time I checked Adam gave into temptation and bite the apple as well. After Eve of course.
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« Reply #23 on: November 27, 2012, 01:16:22 PM »

Because that would be murder, first and foremost.

I mean, sure: from a utilitarian standpoint, if you abort all children (or baptize them at birth and then kill them) you will likely ensure that all people go to heaven. (Less likely for the people committing the genocide, however.) But sinlessness is not the end of the story.

Remember that our goal is not simply sinlessness, but rather deification. Most people won't overcome sin in this lifetime, but if they do, then what? Adam was sinless too, but he was not created in a deified state, which is our ultimate goal.

We continue working towards becoming like God. That is the point of this life, and all eternity thereafter. We cannot simply deny people that. And to do so hypothetically by murdering children would certainly destroy the ability of the living to restore God's image within themselves.

By the way, Are you suggesting that we won't be saved unless we become deified. Or is it a different story?
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« Reply #24 on: November 27, 2012, 01:28:38 PM »

Because that would be murder, first and foremost.

I mean, sure: from a utilitarian standpoint, if you abort all children (or baptize them at birth and then kill them) you will likely ensure that all people go to heaven. (Less likely for the people committing the genocide, however.) But sinlessness is not the end of the story.

Remember that our goal is not simply sinlessness, but rather deification. Most people won't overcome sin in this lifetime, but if they do, then what? Adam was sinless too, but he was not created in a deified state, which is our ultimate goal.

We continue working towards becoming like God. That is the point of this life, and all eternity thereafter. We cannot simply deny people that. And to do so hypothetically by murdering children would certainly destroy the ability of the living to restore God's image within themselves.

By the way, Are you suggesting that we won't be saved unless we become deified. Or is it a different story?
In Orthodoxy these are not exclusive.

In the words of St. Athanasios, that the Son of God became what we are, so we may be deified.  By Divine Grace we understand the saving work of God, made available through the work of Christ and distributed by the Holy Spirit. The work of the Holy Spirit is a free gift, necessary for our salvation and requiring our cooperation. (Synergy) We respond to God's grace through our works of love, which manifest the fruits of God's grace working in each of us. We have been saved by the death and resurrection of Christ. We are being saved by our active participation in the Sacramental life of the Church as a work of love manifesting the fruits of God's Grace.  We will be saved if we remain in him at His glorious Second Coming and final judgment.

In other words salvation is a process of deification (becoming more and more like God), in this life and beyond.
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« Reply #25 on: November 27, 2012, 04:46:16 PM »

By the way, Are you suggesting that we won't be saved unless we become deified. Or is it a different story?

What's the difference?
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