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Goldcitydance and Brian: Didn't I already refer to Matthew 7 in my earlier point about substantiation found in passages one that points to the plethora of ways not to be saved and another one that points to the plethora of victory in Christ (Rom 5)? Perhaps our interpretative lenses have to come out once more. Is Christ speaking of metaphorically? What's he referring to? Is Paul speaking metaphorically? What is he referring to?
But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God's grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!
He knows those whose desire and effort are toward righteousness and truth. He elects those. His elections are not arbitrary. Of course, human efforts and desires have no chance at all of satisfying God, so God calls and brings salvation to those elect.
Brian, think of our prisons. The fact that they are full of people serving time to satisfy justice doesn't make our country great. The prisons don't glorify us; they shame us. The prisoners belong there of course, but each one represents a failure somewhere along the line---personal, family, society. Think of God's creation in which everything was originally good. What failed? Well, we, the epitome of His creation, failed. So rather than destroy us and start over, God carried out a plan to redeem as many of us as He could, and at great cost to Himself. The fact that He still has to punish those who reject redemption is just but not glorious; it's tragic. He has not gotten them to do what He really would like them to do.
You asked previously about Romans 8 and 9. I believe the strict Calvinist doctrine of election misses the point in those passages. God doesn't begin with election; He begins with His foreknowledge. The text doesn't explain what is meant by foreknowledge, but I take it to mean that God knows the final condition of creation and of all creatures. He knows those whose desire and effort are toward righteousness and truth. He elects those. His elections are not arbitrary. Of course, human efforts and desires have no chance at all of satisfying God, so God calls and brings salvation to those elect. No doubt Paul was greatly affected by his own experience. Although he was a most sincere seeker, his course had no chance of leading him to the truth. When God intervened in his life so dramatically, Paul was overwhelmed with the thought that God must have known and decided all along that He would bring salvation to him.
Having not read all of the 71 replies (currently) on this thread (fact of the matter is I'm too lazy), I'm not sure if this was addressed by someone else or not, but here's my $0.02 worth.
The writer of the blog aserts that the doctrine of eternal damnation doesn't do us any bit of good, right? OK...so what? Since when do we judge a doctrine on it's pragmatic value? It is either true, or it isn't (thank you Captain Obvious). The fact that some may not like it doesn't make it any less true or any more false. Last time I checked, we're created for God's glory, not the other way around. That's the problem when doctrine takes a back seat to "felt needs."
With that in mind...
1.What good can be found in this this doctrine?
Irrelevant! As stated above, it is either true, or it isn't. As Brian states in the OP, the Bible clearlt teaches eternal damnation; therefore, it is a fact and not open to debate.
2.How can we find comfort in a God that can send the majority of humanity to Hell?
Whether you want to argue the semantics of "do we choose hell" vs. "does God send us to hell" is all well and good, but doesn't answer the question. I don't think the doctrine of hell is one of those "feel good" doctrines that brings a lot of comfort. What it does do is state in no uncertain terms, that God is a God of justice and righteousness and holiness. It also teaches that sin is serious and has serious (eternal) consequences. It is the perfect counterweight for divine grace (Romans 6:23). The doctrine of grace is made that much more attractive because the alternative is eternal damnation in hell.
Finally, I do find comfort that my God is just, holy and righteous. I find comfort in the fact that God will punish wickedness. I would feel NO comfort in an earthly judge who did not give punishment that fit the crime, so why would I want that in the Judge of the universe? Moreover, I trust in the goodness of God that he will always make the best descision regarding justice.
I know at first some of these things just seem obvious but if you'll allow yourself to step back a second you might see things differently. Your statement about the obvious was regarding "eternal damnation in hell". About eternity, are you even sure what that means? A clear understanding of the word is not simply "never ending"; it refers to the next age. Second, damnation does not simply mean "to be exiled to a dark place" The word's history came from the Latin I think, but it refers "to have judgment pronounced upon". We all will receive eternal damnation. As for the word Hell, if you study it you will find that two of its uses in Scripture -mostly New Testament- refer to the Greek ideas of places of dark torment. Only sometimes will it refer to the Old Testament's usage of Sheol not often in the NT. If you study Sheol you will not get far though, because its not that clear. Last of all, where is Hell? That's right, the Bible doesn't say....or does it? What might the belly of the earth mean? Is Dante right then? Remember we still see through a glass darkly.
Quite often people depict God all wrong. Our traditions do this. Mine is guilty. The Bible's God is much more interesting sometimes. God is love and that love is the perfect union of mercy and justice. It comes as no surprise that when people talk about this issue, very seldom do people understand how God's nature is made up of justice and mercy. Love must be both. But what if all it takes is His mercy to set the world right? Doesn't mercy by definition surpass justice? How could, in your view, God be more just than He is merciful? The fact of the matter is, there is room in Scripture for a much more complex God than the simple one you have tried to convince these others of.
What kind of justice does not have an end?
How does justice get served? At what point has the evil been done away with?
How can justice be served if the time is never served?
Who can be in Hell and who could be dead if death and Hell are cast in the lake of fire?
What does fire do (function) throughout the scriptures?
Why do we expect fire to do something else than it normally does in Scripture when we get to the issue of Hell?
I think that you might be as guilty as anyone of creating God in your own image. Perhaps God is much harder to understand. The issue of us choosing God and Him choosing us is not just people arguing over semantics. The reason people ask the questions is because we live in a world with paradoxes. Light for example; it is a wave and a particle. These things seem to contradict, but they don't. They work harmoniously and we don't know how. The Incarnation is another. The famous art work called the "Christ of Sinai" or "Pantocrater" (I think that's spelled right) depicts the two faces of Christ. One side of his face is serious and dark, the other side is brighter and hopeful. Trying to grasp only one side is simple, trying to understand both is...well...almost impossible. But the trying is the thing. To know Him as He has revealed Himself as both Leviathan and Lamb.
Most people I know believe in a universe where evil will have its big dark hole (bigger than heaven to fit everyone) with most of the world's people in it (being of course alive in some sense because of the Holy Spirit) and it will never end and this will be God's plan of putting his enemies under his feet and all things glorifying Him.
I'm not saying I have all the answers, but I have answered some of these; I have taken a particular stand, all the while understanding that this is the sort of issue that needs to leave room for bending. Truth be known, the Scriptures support a different view than the one you have, or I should say it suggests other possibilities. What I don't want, after actually reading all the pages, and actually trying to rethink the issue, is someone entering the conversation trying to quiet everyone down for asking the right questions; as if the answers were simple.
Why do many of you on here always say things like "God is just and holy" as a way of validating your view of a never ending hell for most of creation. Why does no one say, "God is love, therefore most of creation must burn forever?" Why not make sense of it that way. Can you? Why ignore the other side of God. Love is just, but it is also merciful.
Did anyone read my post or was it too long?
Did any of you come to conclusions about hell from scripture without scripture contradicting itself ?