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Author Topic: Do we deserve hell?  (Read 1949 times) Average Rating: 0
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truthseeker32
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« on: June 21, 2012, 11:16:23 PM »

I attend a bible reading group at the local Roman Catholic parish, and tonight something rubbed me the wrong way. There are a lot of beliefs I hold in common with my Roman Catholic brothers and sisters, but I guess the one I encountered tonight, although I am sure I have heard it before, is the idea that we DESERVE hell. As soon as I heard this, my "that isn't right" trigger went off.

Just to be clear, I am not a universalist who believes we all deserve heaven. I suppose I am in a middle way that doesn't believe we deserve either, unless we choose them, and by choose I mean choose with real awareness.

What is your perspective on this? Do we deserve hell, or is it just a grave possibility for those who choose to reject God? Both? Neither?
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« Reply #1 on: June 21, 2012, 11:17:14 PM »

Yes.
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« Reply #2 on: June 21, 2012, 11:19:42 PM »

I do.
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« Reply #3 on: June 21, 2012, 11:24:45 PM »

I do, too.
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« Reply #4 on: June 21, 2012, 11:25:45 PM »

I can't speak for 'we'. But per St. Paul, "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God". What else is hell?
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« Reply #5 on: June 21, 2012, 11:37:09 PM »

So I deserve eternal torment even though I never signed the contract (never chose to be born)?
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« Reply #6 on: June 21, 2012, 11:46:38 PM »

So I deserve eternal torment even though I never signed the contract (never chose to be born)?

I already said I can't answer for 'we', and I certainly can't answer for you. But I think it's the wrong question. Do you deserve to be united with God? Or another way, if your father, without you asking, gives you a brand-new car, and then you go out and wrap it around the nearest light-post, do you deserve to have a car? or do you deserve to be car-less?
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« Reply #7 on: June 21, 2012, 11:47:19 PM »

Part of it may have to do with the way you perceive hell. If you look at it as an eternal, unending punishment then I can see your point. If you look at is as a self imposed separation from God that is something else entirely. I've always thought it odd that God would punish us eternally for something so temporal and finite.
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« Reply #8 on: June 21, 2012, 11:49:22 PM »

Eloquently stated, witega. I definitely deserve it, as terrifying it is for me to constantly remind myself of it.   Undecided
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« Reply #9 on: June 21, 2012, 11:49:38 PM »

Western physical punishment Hell, no. There is absolutely no evil action a man can commit that would really justify leaving him tormented in Hell for all of eternity as punishment. Eastern Orthodox spiritual-state Hell? Yes. That is understandable because we determine whether or not we feel Hell and God does not choose to leave us there forever as punishment but it is the natural result of our evil spiritual state that we have not allowed God to redeem.
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« Reply #10 on: June 21, 2012, 11:54:05 PM »

I already said I can't answer for 'we', and I certainly can't answer for you. But I think it's the wrong question. Do you deserve to be united with God? Or another way, if your father, without you asking, gives you a brand-new car, and then you go out and wrap it around the nearest light-post, do you deserve to have a car? or do you deserve to be car-less?
I want to make sure I understand your analogy. Does the car represent forgiveness?
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« Reply #11 on: June 21, 2012, 11:56:20 PM »

Western physical punishment Hell, no. There is absolutely no evil action a man can commit that would really justify leaving him tormented in Hell for all of eternity as punishment. Eastern Orthodox spiritual-state Hell? Yes. That is understandable because we determine whether or not we feel Hell and God does not choose to leave us there forever as punishment but it is the natural result of our evil spiritual state that we have not allowed God to redeem.
That's the key thing--we choose whether or not we will feel Hell. When you think about it and can say honestly that you would not, this is when you know you're doing something wrong... I can say that I have had times where I have just wanted to say, "What does it matter anymore?" and give up, especially as (as much as I hate to admit that I act according to the stereotype on occasion) a teenager.  Embarrassed But it is at these times when I am best able to pull myself back on track spiritually, through God. I thank Him for this.  Smiley
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« Reply #12 on: June 22, 2012, 12:01:35 AM »

That's the key thing--we choose whether or not we will feel Hell. When you think about it and can say honestly that you would not, this is when you know you're doing something wrong... I can say that I have had times where I have just wanted to say, "What does it matter anymore?" and give up, especially as (as much as I hate to admit that I act according to the stereotype on occasion) a teenager.  Embarrassed But it is at these times when I am best able to pull myself back on track spiritually, through God. I thank Him for this.  Smiley
It seems like there is a distinction to be made between choosing God and REALLY choosing God. There is this mortal life where things are confusing, and yeah we sin, and we can call that not choosing God, but it isn't a solid, conscious, informed decision. REALLY choosing or not choosing God would be fully understanding your options.
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« Reply #13 on: June 22, 2012, 12:02:00 AM »

I already said I can't answer for 'we', and I certainly can't answer for you. But I think it's the wrong question. Do you deserve to be united with God? Or another way, if your father, without you asking, gives you a brand-new car, and then you go out and wrap it around the nearest light-post, do you deserve to have a car? or do you deserve to be car-less?
I want to make sure I understand your analogy. Does the car represent forgiveness?

No. The car represents existence. Forgiveness would be the part where after totalling the car, your father gives you another car. And when you run that one into a ditch, he gives you another car. And when you flip this one over, he gives you another car. And so on.

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« Reply #14 on: June 22, 2012, 12:06:44 AM »

I already said I can't answer for 'we', and I certainly can't answer for you. But I think it's the wrong question. Do you deserve to be united with God? Or another way, if your father, without you asking, gives you a brand-new car, and then you go out and wrap it around the nearest light-post, do you deserve to have a car? or do you deserve to be car-less?
I want to make sure I understand your analogy. Does the car represent forgiveness?

No. The car represents existence. Forgiveness would be the part where after totalling the car, your father gives you another car. And when you run that one into a ditch, he gives you another car. And when you flip this one over, he gives you another car. And so on.


It seems like your analogy demonstrates that we do not deserve God's infinite love. I am totally on board with this. However, that doesn't automatically believe we deserve the opposite. It seems to me that we don't inherently deserve either heaven or hell unless we choose them.
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« Reply #15 on: June 22, 2012, 12:07:09 AM »

That's the key thing--we choose whether or not we will feel Hell. When you think about it and can say honestly that you would not, this is when you know you're doing something wrong... I can say that I have had times where I have just wanted to say, "What does it matter anymore?" and give up, especially as (as much as I hate to admit that I act according to the stereotype on occasion) a teenager.  Embarrassed But it is at these times when I am best able to pull myself back on track spiritually, through God. I thank Him for this.  Smiley
It seems like there is a distinction to be made between choosing God and REALLY choosing God. There is this mortal life where things are confusing, and yeah we sin, and we can call that not choosing God, but it isn't a solid, conscious, informed decision. REALLY choosing or not choosing God would be fully understanding your options.
True.
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« Reply #16 on: June 22, 2012, 12:29:21 AM »

I already said I can't answer for 'we', and I certainly can't answer for you. But I think it's the wrong question. Do you deserve to be united with God? Or another way, if your father, without you asking, gives you a brand-new car, and then you go out and wrap it around the nearest light-post, do you deserve to have a car? or do you deserve to be car-less?
I want to make sure I understand your analogy. Does the car represent forgiveness?

No. The car represents existence. Forgiveness would be the part where after totalling the car, your father gives you another car. And when you run that one into a ditch, he gives you another car. And when you flip this one over, he gives you another car. And so on.


It seems like your analogy demonstrates that we do not deserve God's infinite love. I am totally on board with this. However, that doesn't automatically believe we deserve the opposite. It seems to me that we don't inherently deserve either heaven or hell unless we choose them.

This is why I think you're asking the wrong question. There is being with God, being in relationship with our Creator, and there is not being with God. There is no third option. And not being with God is what Hell is. In this life, we can fill our senses/passions/minds with things that distract us from that fundamental truth. But when this transitory world is done away with and we come into direct experience of fundamental reality, we will no longer be able to hide from it and we will find that we are either with God (heaven) or without God (hell). All the poetic imagery about fire and torment and 'gnashing of teeth' is not about what 'we' deserve--it's using sensory, worldly language that our sensory, worldly minds might be able to understand in order to try to break through the comfortable shell of this life to convey to us what being without God is *really* like.

So, to go back to my original answer. I am not a thing that deserves to be in the presence of the Infinite Good. If I do not deserve to be in His Presence, then, ipso facto, I deserve to *not* be in His Presence. And since not being in His Presence is Hell, that is what I deserve.
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« Reply #17 on: June 22, 2012, 12:43:24 AM »

So witega is this world some kind of Experience Machine or Allegory in the Cave?
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« Reply #18 on: June 22, 2012, 01:00:16 AM »

So witega is this world some kind of Experience Machine or Allegory in the Cave?

No. This world is what it is. But it's not all there is.
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« Reply #19 on: June 22, 2012, 03:36:53 AM »

So, to go back to my original answer. I am not a thing that deserves to be in the presence of the Infinite Good. If I do not deserve to be in His Presence, then, ipso facto, I deserve to *not* be in His Presence. And since not being in His Presence is Hell, that is what I deserve.
I guess it is this dichotomy that I struggle with. There is certainly a category of things that are "either-or." For example, something either exists, or it doesn't. There is no middle ground. Then there are categories where the false dichotomy arises. If I said all people are either tall or short, one could obviously point out that there is an in between. A closer example to the subject at hand might be criminal rehabilitation. One might say a criminal is either deserving of freedom, or deserving of incarceration. This leaves out other possibilities like probation. 

So my question is if we don't deserve heaven, does that automatically mean we deserve hell? Maybe it is the way I am asking the question. "Deserve" is a more legalistic term fitting the theology of the West. Maybe the correct way of stating things is we don't inherently deserve either. They are simply consequences of our decision.

I think it fitting to highlight Aristotle's discussion of voluntary and involuntary actions.

A voluntary action is one where an agent makes a decision freely, understanding the particulars.
An involuntary action is one where the agent acts out of force or ignorance.

I was thinking about this in relation to your responses, and perhaps some of you feel like you deserve hell because you feel like you know and understand the particulars and still sin?
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« Reply #20 on: June 22, 2012, 06:09:16 AM »

I have a couple of thoughts concerning "in Him we live and move and have our being", the many mansions "in my Father's house", going "from glory to glory", and the parable about the servant who knew better receiving more stripes than the onw who was ignorant of the master's will that I will try to write more about later.
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« Reply #21 on: June 22, 2012, 06:56:36 AM »

I can't say I don't.
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« Reply #22 on: June 22, 2012, 07:35:08 AM »

(sorry, comment removed).
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« Reply #23 on: June 22, 2012, 08:17:59 AM »

A couple of considerations recently given to me. (Thanks Jah777) I hope it benefits you as well.

St. Isaac the Syrian:

"It is totally false to think that the sinners in hell are deprived of
God's love. Love is a child of the knowledge of truth, and is
unquestionably given commonly to all. But love's power acts in two
ways: it torments sinners, while at the same time it delights those
who have lived in accord with it." (Homily 84)

---------------------------------------------------------------------

"Hell in this view is understood as the presence of God experienced by
a person who, through the use of free will, rejects divine love. He is
tortured by the love of God, tormented by being in the eternal
presence of God without being in communion with God. God's love is the
fire that is never quenched, and the disposition and suffering of the
soul in the presence of God who rejects him is the worm that does not
die. Whether one experiences the presence of love as heaven or hell is
entirely dependent on how he has resolved his own soul to be disposed
towards God, whether communion or separation, love or hatred,
acceptance or rejection.

"Hell, then, is not primarily a place where God sends people in his
wrath, or where God displays anger, but rather, it is the love of God,
experienced by one who is not in communion with him. The figurative,
spiritual fire of God's love is transcendent joy to the person
purified and transfigured by it through communion in the body of
Christ, but bottomless despair and suffering to the person who rejects
it, and chooses to remain in communion with death."

This quote comes from the following article:

http://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/2010/09/hell-and-gods-love-alternative-orthodox.html


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« Reply #24 on: June 22, 2012, 10:08:23 AM »

So, to go back to my original answer. I am not a thing that deserves to be in the presence of the Infinite Good. If I do not deserve to be in His Presence, then, ipso facto, I deserve to *not* be in His Presence. And since not being in His Presence is Hell, that is what I deserve.
I guess it is this dichotomy that I struggle with. There is certainly a category of things that are "either-or." For example, something either exists, or it doesn't. There is no middle ground. Then there are categories where the false dichotomy arises. If I said all people are either tall or short, one could obviously point out that there is an in between. A closer example to the subject at hand might be criminal rehabilitation. One might say a criminal is either deserving of freedom, or deserving of incarceration. This leaves out other possibilities like probation. 

So my question is if we don't deserve heaven, does that automatically mean we deserve hell? Maybe it is the way I am asking the question. "Deserve" is a more legalistic term fitting the theology of the West. Maybe the correct way of stating things is we don't inherently deserve either. They are simply consequences of our decision.

I think it fitting to highlight Aristotle's discussion of voluntary and involuntary actions.

A voluntary action is one where an agent makes a decision freely, understanding the particulars.
An involuntary action is one where the agent acts out of force or ignorance.

I was thinking about this in relation to your responses, and perhaps some of you feel like you deserve hell because you feel like you know and understand the particulars and still sin?

I think you should read the essay "The River of Fire" by Alexander Kalimiros (Google it). It's not the final answer, but it does open up a new way of looking at heaven and hell.

Heaven is not simply a reward, and Hell is not simply a punishment, doled out based on whether we win or lose the game of Life. It is better explained as different experiences of the same eternal reality. Fr. Stephen Freeman's "Everywhere Present" elaborates on this idea also.
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« Reply #25 on: June 22, 2012, 10:36:34 AM »

The torments of hell are caused by the unquenched passions. Those in hell have chosen the passions as a way of "life", but in The Age to Come all possibility to fulfill such passions will cease to exist. Thus, the torments are proportional to whatever passions one has chosen; if one chose to always steal, this opportunity will be "stolen" form him, if one chose to always drink, he will always be "thirsty", if one chose to kill, he will be eternally "killed", etc. The reality is, though, that nobody is doing anything to those in hell, it's just the way they perceive things, though the torments are very real and horrible (to them); it's really a huge price to pay for so little that they have chosen, it wouldn't be a big deal to a normal person, but those in hell simply can't get over themselves because they truly are evil -- they can't abstain from their passions one second, and losing the opportunity to fulfill them and realizing that God has repaid Himself those that they have wronged gives them a sense of having been defeated and humiliated (though it wasn't intended that way, nobody wanted to defeat them, they simply had to be overcome -- so, this is what torments them the most, the love that is always shown to them, yet they perceive it as being totally ignored, as if "nobody cares that they are evil, everybody wants to love them")
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« Reply #26 on: June 23, 2012, 11:14:24 PM »

(not meant in a confrontational context)
I don't understand exactly why somebody would say that they deserve hell...
It makes it sound like you want God to put you in hell, or you are just trying to "show off" your humbleness (oxymoron?) in saying you are a sinner.

Me, I don't want to go to hell.  Sure, I've sinned.  Sure I struggle.   But to say "I deserve eternal punishment in torment" I don't know...

Sure I've broken commandments, and I absolutely feel bad for it.  Sure, I've sinned.  But why always look at the bad things.  I've also worked hard all day long for my family, to bring them up in God's teachings, had dinner and story time with my family.   We worked in the hot Texas sun 100F for 10 hours outside today to steward his creation and animals.   Always loving and thanking God for the blessing of it.

Do we fall short.  Yes. 
Do we break commandments.  Yes.

But many of us also do good things too.  Jacob's ladder?

I think it is right to repent for your sins, learn not to do them again, drop it and go do God's will in your life.

Heck I would have rather not existed than end up in eternal torment.   I hope that is not God's plan for me. 
It's a confusing question, but one that I just wouldn't come out and say "Yeah I deserve hell".

I just love God and want to be with him.  I screw up, I sin.  But I hope that doesn't make me deserving of Hell.

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« Reply #27 on: June 24, 2012, 01:12:17 AM »

So I deserve eternal torment even though I never signed the contract (never chose to be born)?
I've heard this argument before.  At one time, I even used it.  I learned that it's the wrong question to be asking.  And the answer to your OP question?  Yes.  But the more important question is; why?
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« Reply #28 on: June 24, 2012, 02:03:07 AM »

(not meant in a confrontational context)
I don't understand exactly why somebody would say that they deserve hell...
It makes it sound like you want God to put you in hell, or you are just trying to "show off" your humbleness (oxymoron?) in saying you are a sinner.

I have no idea why you are conflated 'deserve' and 'desire' as they are totally separate things. There are many things that I desire that I don't deserve, and plenty of things that I deserve, that I don't desire. I recently had my 10-year service anniversary with my current company. I certainly 'deserved' the various items they gave me because I have put in 10 years of conscientious work for the company; but I can't say that I 'desired' a lapel pin with the corporate logo or any of the knick-knacks they offered (I ended up letting my wife choose as none of them interested me).

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Me, I don't want to go to hell. 

Me neither. I most sincerely want to go Heaven. And because "I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day," I have some belief that that will in fact be the case. But that's a whole separate issue from whether I 'deserve' to go to Heaven.

Quote
Sure, I've sinned. 

Cutting it off there because I think all the rest is extraneous. I have sinned.  And indeed we don't even have to emphasize the moral aspect here (or get into truthseeker's Aristotelian concerns about the level of understanding behind various actions). At various points in my life I have done things (or failed to do things) that I knew were not the best choice. Not even getting into whether they were sins or not, I have never successfully lived up to my own ideals. I have lost my temper and said things that hurt people I did not want to hurt. I have slept in, enjoying my bed, when I didn't need that extra hour and knew I could have gotten up and done something that I considered constructive and beneficial. I have been petty and spiteful in my own eyes. Have I been the worst of sinners? Have I never done anything good? No--I try to embrace that saintly humility, but I'm nowhere close to that yet. So I see myself--I'm not despicable person, but I'm not perfect, even by my own standards (much less the standard I have been introduced to via Christ and the Church).

Then, I turn my attention from myself to God: Absolute perfection. Unending love and patience. Complete self-sacrifice. And I ask myself, does my imperfection 'deserve' to be in His presence? And I can't answer yes. Even if I didn't have to admit that I fail of my own ideals, if I was fully and completely the man I want to be, I don't think I could answer yes, because even the perfect me is less than an ant when compared to the Transcendent Creator of the Universe. Does an fly 'deserve' to be in my presence? How can I have even use the language of 'deserve' when it comes God?

Which brings me back to why I've contended from the start that 'do we deserve hell' is not the right question. The only question is 'do we deserve to be with God'--the rest is irrelevancies.
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« Reply #29 on: June 24, 2012, 02:09:11 AM »

This is the danger in going to RC Bible study, I guess... Grin

But seriously, yes, we/I do. "I didn't sign the contract" is a bit of a cop out, isn't it? You don't enter into a contractual relationship with God,, so that if you do X, He must do Y or what have you. Rather, the point I've seen emphasized over and over by Orthodox theologians is not how we are so terrible and irredeemable, but rather more simple and obvious: We are not good enough for heaven. After all, even the moon and the stars, which if you'll remember He has created and called "good" in the book of Genesis, are themselves impure before Him (Job 25:5). So you have to wonder how, if things that He has created that are themselves incapable of sin are impure, we can think that we are better. It's just not going to work out in our favor. But of course, we have the Savior, through Whom we may have eternal life, so what we "deserve" isn't the point anyway. We are redeemed not when we stop "deserving" hell, but when we live and believe in accordance with the commandments and examples of He who came down from heaven specifically to save us from what we deserve.
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« Reply #30 on: June 24, 2012, 02:11:00 AM »

I think the question of the OP is predicated upon an erroneous Calvinist view of God as a divine Judge whose wrath must be appeased. Certainly God will indeed judge sin and sinners, but not in the mortal forensic sense with which we typically associate judgment. As a Protestant I developed a sort of self loathing, viewing myself as a worthless sinner. But we are the very image of God, precious enough in His sight that He redeemed us by his Cross. So I don't think it's healthy or productive to assess ourselves as either deserving or undeserving of hell. Such speculation can easily lead to the extremes of pride or despair. It's better to focus on the truth that God is merciful and is ever present in our lives, and then strive and struggle to avail ourselves of His unconditional love. Just my opinion.


Selam
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« Reply #31 on: June 24, 2012, 02:52:47 PM »

The diversity of opinion in orthodoxy is lovely Smiley

This is the danger in going to RC Bible study, I guess... Grin

But seriously, yes, we/I do. "I didn't sign the contract" is a bit of a cop out, isn't it? You don't enter into a contractual relationship with God,, so that if you do X, He must do Y or what have you.
I think my first mistake was using language like "deserve" which doesn't fit as well in an Orthodox mindset.

From a western view, telling someone they deserve hell as sinners seems ridiculous. We learn that because of are fallen nature sin is inevitable, yet we are held fully accountable for this nature we were forced into. It seems like placing a child in a room full of toys and candy with a small note that says "do not eat" and then telling the child he can never see his parents again for not obeying the small note.

From an eastern perspective, sin is likened to a sickness. If a person is sick and they go to a doctor who gives them careful instruction of how they can feel better and they do not heed his advice, then it seems like language such as "deserving" can be used, but their being sick alone and the associated symptoms does not seem to justify the label of deserving.

I think the question of the OP is predicated upon an erroneous Calvinist view of God as a divine Judge whose wrath must be appeased. Certainly God will indeed judge sin and sinners, but not in the mortal forensic sense with which we typically associate judgment. As a Protestant I developed a sort of self loathing, viewing myself as a worthless sinner. But we are the very image of God, precious enough in His sight that He redeemed us by his Cross. So I don't think it's healthy or productive to assess ourselves as either deserving or undeserving of hell. Such speculation can easily lead to the extremes of pride or despair. It's better to focus on the truth that God is merciful and is ever present in our lives, and then strive and struggle to avail ourselves of His unconditional love. Just my opinion.


Selam
Beautifully written. This seems to be very much in line with my perspective.
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« Reply #32 on: June 24, 2012, 04:36:13 PM »

The diversity of opinion in orthodoxy is lovely Smiley
Two things to keep in mind.

1. Orthodoxy, although conservative in it's outlook, does not have many 'absolutes'.  Within the confines of Dogma, there is a large gray area that allows for differences of opinion a.k.a. theologoumena.

2. Online fora is not the best place to learn.
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« Reply #33 on: June 25, 2012, 10:15:20 AM »

The alleged disagreement between Catholics and Orthodox on the justice of Hell disappears under close examination.  If we assume, as most people do, that Hell is and will be eternally populated, with no possibility of escape, then the question always arises, "Do those individuals deserve their torment?"  And to that question, theology must answer yes.  Why?   Because to suggest otherwise is to claim that God is unjust.    It really doesn't matter whether one says "God ordains the punishment of Hell" or "The damned choose their punishment."  Both statements are in fact true.   

And this is why I choose to believe, with St Isaac of Ninevah and St Gregory of Nyssa, that God will find a way to save all.   
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« Reply #34 on: June 25, 2012, 01:27:48 PM »

The alleged disagreement between Catholics and Orthodox on the justice of Hell disappears under close examination.  If we assume, as most people do, that Hell is and will be eternally populated, with no possibility of escape, then the question always arises, "Do those individuals deserve their torment?"  And to that question, theology must answer yes.  Why?   Because to suggest otherwise is to claim that God is unjust.    It really doesn't matter whether one says "God ordains the punishment of Hell" or "The damned choose their punishment."  Both statements are in fact true.   

And this is why I choose to believe, with St Isaac of Ninevah and St Gregory of Nyssa, that God will find a way to save all.   
Thank you, Fr. I tend to lean in this direction as well.
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« Reply #35 on: June 25, 2012, 03:17:34 PM »

(not meant in a confrontational context)
I don't understand exactly why somebody would say that they deserve hell...
It makes it sound like you want God to put you in hell, or you are just trying to "show off" your humbleness (oxymoron?) in saying you are a sinner.

I have no idea why you are conflated 'deserve' and 'desire' as they are totally separate things. There are many things that I desire that I don't deserve, and plenty of things that I deserve, that I don't desire. I recently had my 10-year service anniversary with my current company. I certainly 'deserved' the various items they gave me because I have put in 10 years of conscientious work for the company; but I can't say that I 'desired' a lapel pin with the corporate logo or any of the knick-knacks they offered (I ended up letting my wife choose as none of them interested me).

Quote
Me, I don't want to go to hell.

Me neither. I most sincerely want to go Heaven. And because "I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day," I have some belief that that will in fact be the case. But that's a whole separate issue from whether I 'deserve' to go to Heaven.

Quote
Sure, I've sinned.  

Cutting it off there because I think all the rest is extraneous. I have sinned.  And indeed we don't even have to emphasize the moral aspect here (or get into truthseeker's Aristotelian concerns about the level of understanding behind various actions). At various points in my life I have done things (or failed to do things) that I knew were not the best choice. Not even getting into whether they were sins or not, I have never successfully lived up to my own ideals. I have lost my temper and said things that hurt people I did not want to hurt. I have slept in, enjoying my bed, when I didn't need that extra hour and knew I could have gotten up and done something that I considered constructive and beneficial. I have been petty and spiteful in my own eyes. Have I been the worst of sinners? Have I never done anything good? No--I try to embrace that saintly humility, but I'm nowhere close to that yet. So I see myself--I'm not despicable person, but I'm not perfect, even by my own standards (much less the standard I have been introduced to via Christ and the Church).

Then, I turn my attention from myself to God: Absolute perfection. Unending love and patience. Complete self-sacrifice. And I ask myself, does my imperfection 'deserve' to be in His presence? And I can't answer yes. Even if I didn't have to admit that I fail of my own ideals, if I was fully and completely the man I want to be, I don't think I could answer yes, because even the perfect me is less than an ant when compared to the Transcendent Creator of the Universe. Does an fly 'deserve' to be in my presence? How can I have even use the language of 'deserve' when it comes God?

Which brings me back to why I've contended from the start that 'do we deserve hell' is not the right question. The only question is 'do we deserve to be with God'--the rest is irrelevancies.

I don't know, because the question has logical problems for me.

It is easy to say "Yeah I deserve hell", in order to make myself feel pious, as though I should say it.

But then I turn around and say "Yeah, I'm not perfect, but I try, and I love God, been married my entire adult life, raised children in Christ, never cheated, and though I've broken some of the commandments in sin/error, I still love God and try hard.

To say "yeah I deserve hell and eternal torture", when I reflect back do I really believe something like that?  I seriously don't know.  Of course, I'm not one to gravel down either and focus on my wrongs all the time, I'd rather focus on the good and pursue that rather than live in sheer guilt.

Just so you know though, I don't disagree with anybody here, just discussing.   I absolutely know and have had the attitude of "I deserve hell".   Today I kind of think about things and wonder "do I really deserve eternal torture"?
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« Reply #36 on: June 29, 2012, 01:50:56 PM »

I think the question of the OP is predicated upon an erroneous Calvinist view of God as a divine Judge whose wrath must be appeased. Certainly God will indeed judge sin and sinners, but not in the mortal forensic sense with which we typically associate judgment. As a Protestant I developed a sort of self loathing, viewing myself as a worthless sinner. But we are the very image of God, precious enough in His sight that He redeemed us by his Cross. So I don't think it's healthy or productive to assess ourselves as either deserving or undeserving of hell. Such speculation can easily lead to the extremes of pride or despair. It's better to focus on the truth that God is merciful and is ever present in our lives, and then strive and struggle to avail ourselves of His unconditional love. Just my opinion.


Selam
I have to say that I at times have seen, fairly or not, this sort of false self hate in actuality be a veiled for of self love :"I am a rotten sinner, but unlike you I'm among the Elect". Is this an unfair view?
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« Reply #37 on: June 29, 2012, 06:46:52 PM »

I think the question of the OP is predicated upon an erroneous Calvinist view of God as a divine Judge whose wrath must be appeased. Certainly God will indeed judge sin and sinners, but not in the mortal forensic sense with which we typically associate judgment. As a Protestant I developed a sort of self loathing, viewing myself as a worthless sinner. But we are the very image of God, precious enough in His sight that He redeemed us by his Cross. So I don't think it's healthy or productive to assess ourselves as either deserving or undeserving of hell. Such speculation can easily lead to the extremes of pride or despair. It's better to focus on the truth that God is merciful and is ever present in our lives, and then strive and struggle to avail ourselves of His unconditional love. Just my opinion.


Selam
I have to say that I at times have seen, fairly or not, this sort of false self hate in actuality be a veiled for of self love :"I am a rotten sinner, but unlike you I'm among the Elect". Is this an unfair view?

I'm not a psychologist, but I can see what you mean. I was very judgmental and thought anyone who wasn't a "born again" was going to hell. And yet I was miserable myself. I think I was angry at God, because I had this view of a Calvinist God where my free will was non existent. So I would frequently pray, "God, don't let me sin." And then I would sin, and I would be angry at myself for sinning, but also angry at God for letting me sin. Then all I could do to have hope was remind myself that I was part of the "elect." I really see how dangerous that theology is now.


Selam
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« Reply #38 on: June 29, 2012, 08:17:19 PM »

I think the question of the OP is predicated upon an erroneous Calvinist view of God as a divine Judge whose wrath must be appeased. Certainly God will indeed judge sin and sinners, but not in the mortal forensic sense with which we typically associate judgment. As a Protestant I developed a sort of self loathing, viewing myself as a worthless sinner. But we are the very image of God, precious enough in His sight that He redeemed us by his Cross. So I don't think it's healthy or productive to assess ourselves as either deserving or undeserving of hell. Such speculation can easily lead to the extremes of pride or despair. It's better to focus on the truth that God is merciful and is ever present in our lives, and then strive and struggle to avail ourselves of His unconditional love. Just my opinion.


Selam



I'm not a psychologist, but I can see what you mean. I was very judgmental and thought anyone who wasn't a "born again" was going to hell. And yet I was miserable myself. I think I was angry at God, because I had this view of a Calvinist God where my free will was non existent. So I would frequently pray, "God, don't let me sin." And then I would sin, and I would be angry at myself for sinning, but also angry at God for letting me sin. Then all I could do to have hope was remind myself that I was part of the "elect." I really see how dangerous that theology is now.

Selam

WoW Gebre that is a lot. I wouln't wish that kind of frustration and self-torment on anyone. All I can say is I hope that is not a wide spread state of mind, and as of yet I haven't known too many people to suffer from it...AFAIK
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« Reply #39 on: July 03, 2012, 08:22:34 PM »

Just a thought to the OP.
 Could it be called Grace if we didn't?
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« Reply #40 on: July 04, 2012, 03:18:53 AM »

Just a thought to the OP.
 Could it be called Grace if we didn't?
I think so. Imagine you became ill with a serious disease and a doctor healed you free of charge. He has graced you with his care. However it still doesn't seem correct to say you deserved to be sick. On the other hand, if the doctor offered his services and you refused, then I think one could say you deserve to be sick because you have chosen sickness.
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« Reply #41 on: July 04, 2012, 04:57:33 AM »

Just a thought to the OP.
 Could it be called Grace if we didn't?
I think so. Imagine you became ill with a serious disease and a doctor healed you free of charge. He has graced you with his care. However it still doesn't seem correct to say you deserved to be sick. On the other hand, if the doctor offered his services and you refused, then I think one could say you deserve to be sick because you have chosen sickness.

I like the analogy. Well said.


Selam
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« Reply #42 on: July 04, 2012, 08:48:20 AM »

Just a thought to the OP.
 Could it be called Grace if we didn't?
I think so. Imagine you became ill with a serious disease and a doctor healed you free of charge. He has graced you with his care. However it still doesn't seem correct to say you deserved to be sick. On the other hand, if the doctor offered his services and you refused, then I think one could say you deserve to be sick because you have chosen sickness.

This assumes, I think, that the offer of healing always remains open. 
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« Reply #43 on: July 04, 2012, 04:12:04 PM »

Just a thought to the OP.
 Could it be called Grace if we didn't?
I think so. Imagine you became ill with a serious disease and a doctor healed you free of charge. He has graced you with his care. However it still doesn't seem correct to say you deserved to be sick. On the other hand, if the doctor offered his services and you refused, then I think one could say you deserve to be sick because you have chosen sickness.

This assumes, I think, that the offer of healing always remains open. 
This is indeed my hope.
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