Saturday, September 5, 2009

Thinking is a hellish thing to do.

A big part of evangelical theology is that Jesus died to satisfy God's justice, and took the punishment that humanity deserved.

But evangelicals also say that those who reject Jesus are sent to hell, where there will be punishment for all eternity.

So, if the punishment is eternal hell, and yet Jesus took the punishment that humanity deserved ... shouldn't Jesus be in hell for all eternity?


Temaskian said...

Good point! Even the fiction is staged.

Sarge said...

That was always my question, if this (alleged) Jesus "died to ave mankind" (but somehow, being immortal he didn't actually die...really...)wha' hoppen?

This "death" seems to have been highly ineffective for it's purpose. First, the death. Not good enough, you have to believe. Nope, quite inadequate, you must do this and stop doing that as well. But wait!! There's more!!

It's almost like a Ronco commercial in reverse, beliefs, rituals, obligations...

Pretty inefficient for an almighty deity, I'd say.

Lorena said...

Good point! Evangelicals have an explanation for that, though. I think it is that Jesus has power over Satan or something. He conquered death, they say, by rising from the dead.

It goes something like, "Yes, he died, but he rose again, defeating Satan, and now he sits at the right hand of God."

In other words, he had the power to get the hell out, but if we die and go there, we have to stay.

OneSmallStep said...


**but somehow, being immortal he didn't actually die...really...)**

Yes, I've wondered that as well. How can God die, if God is eternal? So how can Jesus die, if Jesus is God? If only the human part of Jesus died, then doesn't that mean God required a human sacrifice?

OneSmallStep said...


I don't get how the evangelical explanation actually covers the issue, though. In looking at the standard fare, or the four spiritual laws, it's always that the death of Jesus pays the penalty. It's never described as Jesus went to hell to satisfy the penalty. The focus is always on the death itself.

And even if he had power over Satan, God's justice demands an eternal stay in hell. Does the justice then become relative to who is in hell? But isn't relative situations exactly what evangelicals don't like?

Lorena said...


I think you may have found a real hole in the fundy propaganda (aka theology).

Temaskian said...

Maybe the people in Jesus' time had no concept of life after death. They thought that Jesus' death would bring them eternal life. Literally. Which is why Jesus was said in the bible to have promised that some would not taste of death until they see the Son of Man coming in power.

Or, as some say, Jesus went to hell for a few days (3?) Jesus = infinity. Infinity multiplied by 3 = infinity. That's how I as a Christian in the past would have theorised it. (Silently in my brain, of course, I would not dare voice it out, such theological attempts would have been viewed with much confusion by the club I was in.)

Heretic aka Temaskian

Laura said...

I think some of the confusion has to do with the fact that we do not live in a culture that condones blood sacrifices. To ancient Middle Easterners, it probably would have made perfect sense since it was part of their culture. But it is as incomprehensible to our culture as women wearing pants, receiving education, and working outside the home would be to theirs. Hence one of the reasons trying to apply ancient Middle Eastern ideas to a modern Western world is ludicrous. It requires a force fit which causes much of the confusion. The Bible isn't anymore applicable to us today than understanding pop references in any television show would be to them in the past.

Anonymous said...

Lorena said,
In other words, he had the power to get the hell out, but if we die and go there, we have to stay.


Temaskian said...

Agree with Laura. It's probably not based so much on reason as much as the culture in those days.

When something is not right, get some blood. Kill some animal. Kill somebody.

Sabio Lantz said...

He took what we deserved, "Death", experienced it and then defeated it. Thus vicariously he defeated death for us.

Isn't THAT how it is suppose to go?
Wasn't it Tertullian (a Church Father) who really played up this theology? Tertullian was a lawyer, btw.

Sarge said...

I was at the VA today for an appointment, and heard certain things discussed in the waiting room.

A person was discussing the sorry state of the world with a seat mate and it all seemd to boil down to "people going off on their own toot" philosophicly, intellectually, and religiously.

Apparently, the Age of Enlightenment was one of the worst disasters ever to befall mankind, and an orthodoxy, any orthodoxy at all was better than "free thought".

One of the three actually claimed to have punished his kids for asking "why".
Another said he got his degree and it made him sick to have to answer questions on exams or write papers that were "against his religion".

So it goes in these modern times, when people have the same curiosity as a backward hen.

OneSmallStep said...


**Or, as some say, Jesus went to hell for a few days (3?) Jesus = infinity. Infinity multiplied by 3 = infinity.**

I'm probably taking this deeper than you intended, but does both parts of Jesus equal infinity? The human and the God part? Or just the God part?

OneSmallStep said...


Thanks for commenting. I've enjoyed reading your blog.

Ironically, we can probably thank the non-blood sacrifice culture on Christianity. It teaches that Jesus was the sacrifice to end all sacrifices, and so no more would be necessary. As it gained power, it would've seen sacrifices to any other god as idolatry, and thus banned them. So perhaps the whole reason why our culture has changed so much about blood sacrifices is because of the religion that had the biggest blood sacrifice of all.

OneSmallStep said...

Sabio Lantz,

I say it fits better, especially with Paul's focus on the last enemy being death.

OneSmallStep said...


**and an orthodoxy, any orthodoxy at all was better than "free thought".**

Sigh. I'd suggest saying to them about how if we have a "don't question" mentality, then it wouldn't take much for a charismatic leader to get a bunch of people to do bad things ... and yet I think that would go over their heads. Or make them think of President Obama.

Sarge said...

Being as my mouth is wired shut...probably luckily... I couldn't say anything.

I also couldn't stand in slack-jawed shock at such a waste of brain cells. Nor purse my lips. Just closed my eyes and breathed deep.

But you're correct, people are always looking for someone who will do the Quick Draw Magraw thing, insist, "I'll do th' thin'in' around here"!

Thought is the greatest threat to any authority, that's why it's discouraged.

Temaskian said...

"I'm probably taking this deeper than you intended, but does both parts of Jesus equal infinity? The human and the God part? Or just the God part?"

I'm getting a headache thinking about this. Get back to you later. ;-p

Message: Logic breakdown. Error. Refer to your administrator.

Anonymous said...

I struggle with the idea of hell - how does it exist and what the hell is it? The normal Christian view is hell is a place of torture for eternity - which is crazy strange to me.

I just could not see God being like that - even as a human that cares for people - God must care more than me? It mean logically He's God and I am just a limited human being with limited amount of expressions of love and peace...that was my take from years back and I still am on that track.

What makes sense to me is there is no underworld - hell. In Jewish teachings there was no such thing - just death and then the hope of resurrection. I see this in the Jesus story - with much more added coloring alongside it.

The fact is, it seems the gospels have added in some Greco-Roman enlightenment into the teachings. Hades was not a Jewish term - but it is the most used term in the gospels. The Lazarus story reflects this viewpoint the best - the addition of an underworld.

In that parable we have aspects of a heaven, a sheol, and an underworld - common theme in Greco-Roman religions. It was like death was not enough (since good and bad we all die) - a punishment of some eternal sort needed to be invented to satisfy the problems with evil of this life.

I see resurrection as the final answer to this question - those who seem life worthy of living probably deserve more of it...and they might be resurrected. As for people that don't deem life worthy of living and abuse it - are throwing it away and maybe when time comes for more - well they were given a little and they decided to waste resurrection after sheol. This seems more like the original intention of the Jewish sects of that day.

As for the sacrifice and what it meant - resurrection was an assurance of hope. Simple.

OneSmallStep said...


**The normal Christian view is hell is a place of torture for eternity - which is crazy strange to me.**

That's more of the Westernized view of Christianity. Eastern Orthodox holds that everyone goes to the same place, and what one experiences depends on how one views God. If you've spent your life hating the light and doing deeds of darkness, then it's a painful place to be. If you've spent your life with faith in God, then it's a great place to be. It's not set up to be torture, it simply is torture based on how one reacts to justice and peace and light and all that.

Sarge said...

Maybe some of you remember "Brother Dave" Gardener?

He had a sequense where he discribed hell as a place where a person who went saw several people at a sumptuous banquet table loaded with food of the best quality and avoi du poi quantity. But, they are tied to a chair with only one arm free, and dining tackle which is three feet long.

So he figures he'll try "heaven". Sees the same set-up, but the people are feeding one another.

And a horror clip in which a man finds himself in "hell" which consists of sitting in a room with an elderly couple eating snacks and watching their home movies, listening to their jokes and remenisces.

The demon supervising tells him that there's a room exactly like it in "the other place".

The comment that we look at this through our own cultural lense is pretty much oorrect, I think.

Plus, something that DOESN'T seem to change, desire to see harm come to 'the other', the 'outsider', your enemy.

The belief in the absurd because it IS absurd seems to drive so much of it.

I can face oblivion just fine. It'll be here directly.