In this article I answer to Eric Landstroms claims that hell is justified.
Logical and Reasonable Claims for
Eric Landstrom wrote: An incomparably holy God is the object of the offence of sin. God is eternal, hence sin is an eternal offense to Him. There are actually, many logical arguments that justify an eternal hell in the vain of classical apologetics. However, it has been my experience that reason and logic have little or no influence upon a universalist.
Tonys reply: It has been my experience that reason and logic have little or no influence upon eternal tormentists such as Eric.
For instance there are several issues which Eric has written above which are not even found in the Bible, and aside from this he is not being very logical nor reasonable about the issues he does make. Yet he declaims that the universalist is not logical nor reasonable. Let us look at some of the issues Eric raises:
Eric wrote: 1) God is eternal, hence sin is an eternal offense to Him.
Tonys reply: There is not one verse in all the Bible which states that sin is an eternal offense to Him. So Erics argument is not Biblical in the first place. His whole argument based upon these ideas is not very logical that punishment against an infinite God has to be infinite.
Eric wrote: 2) There are actually, many logical arguments that justify an eternal hell.
Tonys reply: On the surface they may seem logical but once one finds what the Bible actually says then there can be no justification for an eternal hell.
Eric wrote: Typically, the answer that is given is that the degree of somebodys punishment is not a function of how long it took to commit the crime; rather it is a function of how severe the crime itself was. J.P. Moreland reflects, As Alen Gomes pointed out, the nature of the object against which the sin is committed, as well as the nature of the sin itself, must be taken into account when determining the degree of heinousness (Lee Strobel, The Case for Faith, Zondervan, 2000, p. 181).
Tonys reply: Yes? . . . and? . . . what these people fail to see and fail to comment on is what Christ accomplished in His death, burial and resurrection for all mankind. Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.
What is the nature of the object against which the sin is committed? The nature of God is LOVE and JUSTICE. The Bible says that the nature of God is this: God is LOVE and God is a just God. And just what kind of God is God? The Bible informs us: God is LOVE This is what love is:
4 Love is patient, is kind.Everything that love is, God is, for, God is love.
That same God Who is love tells us to love our enemies.
This is the type of loving God we humans sin against.
Jesus showed us the Father. And what is the Father like? How did Jesus treat the woman caught in adultery who sinned against God? She was (according to law) supposed to be stoned. But Jesus showed us Gods love in dealing graciously and lovingly with the woman.
Thank God that He is also a JUST God. And all His judgments are done with true justice. And what is true justice? The time meets the crime. The whole law of Moses shows different sentences for different crimes. The same sentence is not meeted out for all crimes of differing severity.
And besides, I reiterate that Christ already died for all mankind (see 1 John 2:2).
God is going to deal with all mankind based upon that and not based upon his infiniteness.
Eric, in quoting Alen Gomes pointed out:the nature of the object against which the sin is committed, as well as the nature of the sin itself, must be taken into account when determining the degree of heinousness.
Tonys reply: Hmmm . . . Lets think about this for a second: Lets say two boys were caught stealing. Lets say they were the exact same age, lets say twelve years old, and stole the exact same bicycle, but they stole their bicycles from two different people; one Methuselah, who, lets say for the sake of argument, was 900 years old at the time of the crime and the other person was . . . oh . . . lets just say . . . another kid, that the other bike was stolen from.
The question now is this: Should the one boy go to prison for life because he stole from Methuselah who was vastly older than the young child that the other bike was stolen from? Should the other 12 year old kid who stole a bike from the young child just get a slap on the wrist because the other child was not as grand or old as Methuselah? Does not justice demand that each boy be disciplined justly?
Eric wrote: Norman Geisler writes of why hell is eternal for the injustice of sin before the Lord in the Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics (Baker Books, Fourth printing, June 2000, p. 313):
Is Damnation of Temporal Sins Overkill? To punish a person eternally for what he did for a short time on earth seems at first a gigantic case of overkill. However, on closer examination it turns out to be not only just, but necessary. For one thing, only eternal punishment will suffice for sins against the eternal God. The sins may have been committed in time, but they were against the Eternal One. Furthermore, no sin can be tolerated as long as God exists, and He is eternal. Hence, punishment for sin must be eternal.
Tonys reply: Interesting how these logical and reasonable people can never quote a scripture when they say such drivel.
How about Christ died for the ungodly? Christ came into the world to save sinners? How about: Consequently, then, as it was through one offense for all mankind for condemnation, thus also it is through one just award for all mankind for lifes justifying. For even as, through the disobedience of the one man, the many were constituted sinners, thus also, through the obedience of the One, the many shall be constituted just (Rom.5:18,19).
Christ as the Lamb of God took away the sin of the world.
and: And He is the propitiatory shelter concerned with our sins, yet not concerned with ours only, but concerned with the whole world also (1Jn.2:2). The above verse of 1Jn.2:2 is saying that Christ not only covered our sins but He covered the sins of the whole world also.
So any sin committed against the Eternal One has been dealt with in the death of Christ. Humans are not required to pay for what Christ has already paid for.
And if we go back to the illustration of the two children stealing bicycles, we see how wrong the theologians idea is that since the sins may have been committed in time, but they were against the Eternal One. And that therefore this shows that to punish a person eternally for what he did for a short time on earth seems at first a gigantic case of overkill. However, on closer examination it turns out to be not only just, but necessary."
So lets again just say that the two boys (being the same age) stole the same bicycles but from two different judges; one judge was 2000 years old and the other was 24 years old.
According to the theologian I can just hear the two judges:
The younger judge says to the young law breaker: You should count your lucky stars that you stole that bicycle from me and not from the 2000 year old judge, since I am only 24 years old! I can only give you a slap on the wrist.
The 2000 year old judge says to the other young law breaker: How dare you steal from me! Dont you know I am vastly older than the other judge! Since I am so much older, you must pay a vast amount of time for your crime!
Other examples can be given such as: Two boys stole a bicycle, one from the Pope and another from a regular guy on the street. Which boy should pay more for his crime? You can be the judge as to which one having had a bicycle stolen was the greater one :)
If you dont see the problem with the theologians argument, then, I am sorry but I cannot help you.
Eric continues: What is more, the only alternative to eternal punishment is worse, namely, to rob human beings of freedom and dignity by forcing them into heaven against their free choice. That would be hell since they do not fit in a place where everyone is loving and praising the Person they want most to avoid. Or, Gods other choice is to annihilate His own image within His creatures. But this would be an attack of God on Himself.
Tonys reply: What dignity did humans ever have after Adam sinned? What freedom did humans ever have? The Bible says that humanity are slaves of sin. Who says humans have a free choice as to salvation? Jesus said no one can come to the Son unless the Father draw (lit. drag) him. I can cite many more verses. I find it interesting that your logical and reasonable sources use not one Bible verse. How could they? What they espouse is just not in the Bible.
Also, lets really think about what Eric is saying. He says it is actually worse to make someone go to heaven against their will than to have that person suffer in eternal torture in fire? He says that would be hell. Lets see, according to Eric, a person tearing at their flesh and screaming in torment for all eternity is so much better and enjoyable to the person should that person be forced against his will to enjoy all the wonderful things of heaven? Im at a loss for words with such grand theological statements as Eric expounds!
Furthermore Eric says that should one be forced into heaven against their will that it would be violating their free will, and then Eric says that they want most to avoid the Person. Now I dont doubt one bit that all of humanity want to avoid Him (Romans 3:12) and that Not one is just--not even one. Not one is understanding. Not one is seeking out God (Romans 3:10,11). But Paul does not leave it at that. Please note especially Romans 3:21,22 and how Paul shows this will not always be the case with all mankind in Romans 5:18,19.
Eric continues: Further, without eternal separation, there could be no heaven. Evil is contagious (1 Corinthians 5:6) and must be quarantined. Like a deadly plague, if it is not contained it will continue to contaminate and corrupt. If God did not eventually separate the tares from the wheat, the tares would choke out the wheat. The only way to preserve an eternal place of good is to eternally separate all evil from it. The only way to have an eternal heaven is to have an eternal hell.
Tony replies: First of all, the man in the story Jesus spoke of told the workers to Leave both to grow up together until the harvest (Matt.13:30).
Lets see . . . just where in the Bible is that phrase eternal separationx? Lets start with Genesis . . . nope, not in there . . . . Not in all of the Old Testament. . . . O.K. lets go into the four accounts . . . nope, not in there. . . . Maybe the statement is in Pauls epistles? . . . nope, not in there . . . . Oh! I got it! It must be in Hebrews or Peter James or John? . . . nope, not in there. Well, there is just one last book...Revelation . . . nope, not in there either! So Eric is spreading fables and old wives tales.
A Bible verse of 1Corinthians 5:6 was used by our antagonist friend, I guess to somehow prove some sort of eternal separation? Lets look that verse up and see the contextual setting in which it is found . . .
Is Paul saying anything that evil in the universe must be quarantined in 1Cor.5:1-8 eternally? Hardly. Rather Paul said that the Corinthian believers were boasting and such boasting is like leaven that leavens the whole kneading. Furthermore, the verse is dealing with the believers and not about the unbelievers. While it is true that the context deals with taking out the believer that was doing wickedness, it was so that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus!
Now I dont doubt that God reveals that He is going to segregate death from life in the future as we find written in the book of Revelation. I believe He will. The Lake of Fire is called the second death. But hardly is 1Cor.5:1-8 talking about that!
Eric, who claims to be logical and reasonable wrote: The only way to preserve an eternal place of good is to eternally separate all evil from it. The only way to have an eternal heaven is to have an eternal hell.
Tonys reply: Ghee, I wonder where that is in the Bible? I would say that The only way to preserve an eternal place of good is to have Christ die for all sins and by the blood of His cross to reconcile all in the heavens and all on the earth to God (see Colossians 1:20). All who are at enmity to God in the heavens and on the earth will be reconciled. There will no longer be any enmity in all the heavens nor on the earth, not because people are in some sort of eternal hell but due to what Christ accomplished.
Eric continues: Finally, if Christs temporal punishment is sufficient for our sins eternally, then there is no reason why eternal suffering cannot be appropriate for our sins. It is not the duration of the action but the object that is important. Christ satisfied the eternal God by His temporal suffering, and unbelievers have offended the eternal God by their temporal sins. Hence, Christs temporal suffering for sins satisfies God eternally (1 John 2:1), and our temporal sins offend God eternally.
Tonys reply: First of all, where in all the Bible does it say that Christs temporal punishment is sufficient for our sins eternally? This is mere theological mumbo jumbo. Neither is the term eternal suffering in all the bible as the result of our sins. Yet Eric wants us to believe that he and his theologians are the logical and reasonable ones and that I, the universalist am not? Now I will grant that there are some translations of the Bible which say everlasting punishment, but the Greek word behind everlasting is AIONION or eonian. To be short so as not to loose the point, the Bible says that all the eons will end. Please see the tract: The Eons of the Bible on our web site.
Eric wrote this above: Christs temporal suffering for sins satisfies God eternally (1 John 2:1).
Tonys reply: Lets have a look at 1 John 2:1:
My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:
I dont know about you, but I see nothing in that verse that Christs temporal suffering for sins satisfies God eternally. It does, however say to those believers that if they did sin, that Jesus Christ is an advocate. But I doubt that we will be sinning eternally, so why does God need satisfied eternally?
Now let us see the direct double speak: they say:
Christ satisfied the eternal God by His temporal suffering, and unbelievers have offended the eternal God by their temporal sins. Hence, Christs temporal suffering for sins satisfies God eternally (1 John 2:1), and our temporal sins offend God eternally.
Now if as they say Christ satisfied the eternal God by dying for our sins then how is it that our temporal sins offend God eternally?
Hmmm...God was satisfied but as it turns out God was not satisfied!?
It is interesting to note also, and which they fail to say is that: if they say Christ satisfied the eternal God by His temporal suffering, then why dont they say that His temporal sufferings were for all the offenses of unbelievers?
What I also find interesting is that they say: Christs temporal suffering for sins satisfies God eternally, why dont they then say that this satisfaction includes OUR temporal sins?
And there you have it folks. Another day in the life of dealing with logical and reasonable people who prove that eternal torment is the just and right thing to do.