Author Topic: Who Does Hell Benefit?  (Read 1469 times)

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Offline Akira Takahashi

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Who Does Hell Benefit?
« on: January 30, 2009, 04:49:14 AM »
A thought occurred to me while watching the first film in the Left Behind series a series that I'm not particularly fond of.  As I search for Biblical truths I have been finding some in Universal Salvation.  Now, I do believe in Hell, but my brain couldn't help but ponder this question: who benefits from Hell?  Does God benefit from such a place?  Satan?  Do we?  Let's explore this.

After Lucifer tried overthrow the Lord, he was cast out of Heaven, his name was changed to Satan, and as far as we can figure, he now dwells in an underworld of sorts that we call Hell.  This stopped his rebellion, so we could say that God benefits from this right now, but let's continue.

Satan is able to take the form of a serpent to deceive Eve who, in turn, convinces Adam to join her in her sin.  Now, if Hell can keep Satan away from the gates of Heaven, why can it not keep him away from the Earth that he sought to claim?  By having the ability to sever the harmony that existed between mankind and God, and even the harmony that existed between all life forms and God, he, in essence, claimed possession of God's most prized creation!  If you believe in the eternal torment theory, then that means that Hell is not only incapable to keeping Satan away from God's creations, but it also houses most of God's creation in the end!  If we look at it this way, Hell is most certainly Satan's greatest asset and God's greatest liable!

In the end, if you believe in eternal torment, even Jesus' ultimate sacrifice is not enough to keep Satan from claiming eternal souls, nor is it enough to save people from Hell after it has claimed them; it's only good enough to save the people who have chosen grace during their lifetimes on earth, and it cannot compare to the lost.  Thus, Hell is still very unbeneficial to God.

Now, strangely, another party besides the Evil One seemed to benefit a great deal from Hell at one point in time, and that party is none other than man.  Sound strange?  Well, it shouldn't.  The earliest churches didn't resort to the fear mongering of an eternal torment, but as religion became less about faith, devotion, and trust in the Lord and more of an organization that could be used to control the masses, Hell became a very important tool.  Throughout time, torture and fear have always been used to drag people onto their side.  We can look at the Spanish Inquisition, the Crusades, or for some non-Christian sources, we can look to Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, and even certain instances of pre-Meiji Era Japanese crucifying Japanese Christians to warn missionaries away.  All of these use fear, torture, and manipulation to achieve their goals and to win over as many people as possible, even if they never truly believe in it to begin with.

For a long time, Hell was used as a way to keep people in line, and a lot of men benefited from this.  They could use it to achieve their ends, all in the name of saving souls.  We were all sinners in the hands of angry God, dangling over the pits of Hell by a thread with God holding the scissors at the ready!  So many people were indoctrinated by the teachings of an eternal torment that they were unable to break away from that fear.

Now, we have hit a problem in today's culture.  Fear mongering doesn't work so well on today's apathetic world, at least not in a religious sense.  Instead, the doctrine of Hell pushes more people from the Lord than anything else found in scripture.  Christianity in particular has won the reputation of being hateful, violent, and tyrannical.  A lot of people will respond with something along the lines of, "You're thinking of religion.  Real Christians don't let the fear of Hell dictate their lives."  In one sense, this is true.  We don't worship out of fear, but then what is Hell for?  Fundamental Christians can't cast off their teaching of an eternal torment and still pretend that Hell doesn't hold much significance for them, and many of them know that Hell will actually drive away potential converts.  Still, their message of grace tends to ring hollow to those who know that the alternative is interminable suffering.

It reminds me of a line from the movie - the one that got me thinking about this.  Chloe and her father are talking about God, since her father has recently converted since his wife and son have been Raptured away.  Chloe brings up Hell, and adds a sarcastic comment of, "What a nice God!"  Her father responds with, "It isn't about Hell."  Given that the Left Behind series gets its thrills from the ever looming prospect of Hell, then I highly doubt that Chloe's father really meant what he said.  It comes off as nothing more than fundamental Christians trying to replace their past indoctrination with a message of pure love and grace.

In the end, didn't Hell become the Church's greatest liable, too?

Offline WhiteWings

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Re: Who Does Hell Benefit?
« Reply #1 on: January 30, 2009, 08:37:55 AM »
Satan is able to take the form of a serpent to deceive Eve who, in turn, convinces Adam to join her in her sin.  Now, if Hell can keep Satan away from the gates of Heaven, why can it not keep him away from the Earth that he sought to claim? 
Building an imperfect prison would make God imperfect to. Unless the imperfect prision was designed that way (plan) or there isn't such a prison.

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In the end, if you believe in eternal torment, even Jesus' ultimate sacrifice is not enough to keep Satan from claiming eternal souls, nor is it enough to save people from Hell after it has claimed them; it's only good enough to save the people who have chosen grace during their lifetimes on earth, and it cannot compare to the lost.  Thus, Hell is still very unbeneficial to God.
Quote
"You're thinking of religion.  Real Christians don't let the fear of Hell dictate their lives."  In one sense, this is true.  We don't worship out of fear, but then what is Hell for?  Fundamental Christians can't cast off their teaching of an eternal torment and still pretend that Hell doesn't hold much significance for them, and many of them know that Hell will actually drive away potential converts.  Still, their message of grace tends to ring hollow to those who know that the alternative is interminable suffering.
The ET response to that is that God would like all to go to heaven but loving as He is He grants the wish of being separated from Him.

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Now, strangely, another party besides the Evil One seemed to benefit a great deal from Hell at one point in time, and that party is none other than man.  Sound strange?  Well, it shouldn't.
That's how most atheists view religion. A tool to control the masses. So, many agree with you.

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It reminds me of a line from the movie - the one that got me thinking about this.  Chloe and her father are talking about God, since her father has recently converted since his wife and son have been Raptured away.  Chloe brings up Hell, and adds a sarcastic comment of, "What a nice God!"  Her father responds with, "It isn't about Hell."  Given that the Left Behind series gets its thrills from the ever looming prospect of Hell, then I highly doubt that Chloe's father really meant what he said.  It comes off as nothing more than fundamental Christians trying to replace their past indoctrination with a message of pure love and grace.
They see hell as love. God giving what His creation asks for. Or something similar twisted.

Quote
In the end, didn't Hell become the Church's greatest liable, too?
I think not. Without the fear message religon would be far smaller.
Never noticed churches are fuller in bad times like war? Fear drive people to church.
Fear sells. Throughout the ages people payed the business called "Church Inc." Mostly to keep themselfs out of hell.
Stock prices where soaring. But if there is nothing to fear why keep paying "Church Inc." ?
Preaching the good message generates no cash. In fact noone attends to church. Afterall all roads eventually lead to heaven. And we get a free ride. So who preaches the good news? Noone because churches are broke...
1 Timothy 2:3-4  ...God our Savior;  Who will have all men to be saved...
John 12:47  And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.
Romans 4:5 But to the one who does not work, but believes in the one who declares the ungodly righteous ...

Offline jabcat

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Re: Who Does Hell Benefit?
« Reply #2 on: January 30, 2009, 08:42:02 AM »
I've never watched any of those Left Behind movies, or read the books.

Since hell's a mistranslation, I think that makes your OP question even tougher.

I've been wondering about this related verse..Matthew 25:41

The Christian Bible says "Then He will declare to those also on His left, Go from Me, you cursed ones, into the Fire of the Last Age [to be destroyed in the Second Death (Rev. 20:14,15)] that has been made ready for the Adversary [Satan] and his Messengers!

The CLT renders it "into the fire eonian made ready for the Adversary and his Messengers"...

I've been thinking the Lake of Fire is God's direct presence, and not literally a "lake of fire" per se, as is taught as "hell".  Now I'm not so sure..If "it" was originally prepared for satan, but then others have gone/will go there....?  So as you say, who benefits, and my thought is, who's it for, what is it, is it 2 different things, i.e., the "fire eonian" and the Lake of Fire?
« Last Edit: January 30, 2009, 09:00:31 AM by jabcat »
Looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith.  Heb. 12:2

Offline WhiteWings

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Re: Who Does Hell Benefit?
« Reply #3 on: January 30, 2009, 09:06:27 AM »
Jeremiah 32:35   And they built the high places of Baal, which are in the valley of the son of Hinnom, to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire unto Molech; which I commanded them not, neither came it into my mind, that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin.

To me that verse says there is no real fire.
1 Timothy 2:3-4  ...God our Savior;  Who will have all men to be saved...
John 12:47  And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.
Romans 4:5 But to the one who does not work, but believes in the one who declares the ungodly righteous ...

Offline jabcat

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Re: Who Does Hell Benefit?
« Reply #4 on: January 30, 2009, 09:15:35 AM »
Yeah, I'm not saying there is either.  I just wonder what and who sometimes.

I know this Molech verse, and I know it's used to argue against "hell"...I wonder though if it's mostly arguing against the abomination of a sacrifice to a false god  :dontknow:?
Looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith.  Heb. 12:2

Offline WhiteWings

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Re: Who Does Hell Benefit?
« Reply #5 on: January 30, 2009, 10:16:37 AM »
Good point. God is against false gods. That's clear from many verses.
So is this just one of those verses or does is (also) add something?

"neither came it into my mind" can point to:
a] God never thought about making sacrifices to false/none existing gods.
b] God never thought about letting His children pass trough a fire.
c] God even never thought of sacrificing His children in whatever way you can think of.
d] Combination of (some) of the above.

Stating the obvious here; God is taking about His own mind/thoughts. Not that of humanity.
If there are no other gods besides God (and an alknowing God knows that for sure) then point a seems nonsense.
Assuming God is talking about serious thoughts and not about when He makes jokes to Himself indeed God never even thought about sacrificing towards things He knows don't exist and He repeatingly tells us it's not allowed.
So IMHO a is not a possibility.

So for me the verse certainly means b with a possible/likely addition of c


Akira Takahashi,
If I take this thread to far off-topic; just say so and I stop doing so.
« Last Edit: January 30, 2009, 10:20:40 AM by WhiteWings »
1 Timothy 2:3-4  ...God our Savior;  Who will have all men to be saved...
John 12:47  And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.
Romans 4:5 But to the one who does not work, but believes in the one who declares the ungodly righteous ...

Offline legoman

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Re: Who Does Hell Benefit?
« Reply #6 on: January 30, 2009, 03:13:47 PM »
Just a note on the molech verses:  I believe a slightly better translation is "neither came it into my heart".

To say it literally never came into his mind would mean he never thought about it or knew it was going to happen - that would imply God's foreknowledge was imperfect, which cannot be.

The thoughts did not come into his heart, in that it is not something he desired or wanted or required.  But of course he still knew it would happen, before the foundation of the world.

Legoman

Offline WhiteWings

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Re: Who Does Hell Benefit?
« Reply #7 on: January 30, 2009, 05:46:06 PM »
I fully agree Legoman.

In fact I wrote something similar but removed it again because my version unwanted sounded a bit like questioning Gods intelligence.
Thanks for helping out! :laughing7:
1 Timothy 2:3-4  ...God our Savior;  Who will have all men to be saved...
John 12:47  And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.
Romans 4:5 But to the one who does not work, but believes in the one who declares the ungodly righteous ...

Offline Sarah

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Re: Who Does Hell Benefit?
« Reply #8 on: January 30, 2009, 06:55:11 PM »
This thread reminds me of the movie The Village. I loved that movie. It was a perfect illustration of what motivates some to proclaim the message of hell. It is thought to keep the peace and to keep people safe.

For those of you haven't seen the movie and want to don't read any further. I am going to spoil it for you. It is about a society that lives in a village in the woods. From the dress and speech you would assume it is pre-colonial times. The village is a wholesome community that loves each other, but their is this element of fear. If people wander too far away, or if their is something amiss in the actions of those in the village, these strange monsters show up at night, which you never get a great view of. Also, the elders tell stories of slaughter and mayhem done by these creatures. In other words, it keeps people in the village and disciplined if you will. Through a series of events, you learn that the older people in the community dress up in these animal hides and are in fact the 'creatures'. They decided to do this because they used to live in New York and murder took away loved ones. They wanted to create a safe place for their families and had to keep the young ones there who didn't know any better. Ironically it ended up being a blind adolecent who discovered the truth because his love for his wife was greater than his fear of the creatures.

This movie reminded me of something Benjamin Frankin said. He said that although he didn't ascribe to the God of the day, he felt that religion was good for people, it kept them in line.

Weather I agree or not is another issue.


Offline WhiteWings

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Re: Who Does Hell Benefit?
« Reply #9 on: January 30, 2009, 07:03:44 PM »
I've seen that movie.
Yeah, often good intentions turn into something bad.
1 Timothy 2:3-4  ...God our Savior;  Who will have all men to be saved...
John 12:47  And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.
Romans 4:5 But to the one who does not work, but believes in the one who declares the ungodly righteous ...

Offline CHB

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Re: Who Does Hell Benefit?
« Reply #10 on: January 31, 2009, 03:38:39 AM »
Who does hell benefit?  Preachers who teach it. They get more attendance because of the fear of hell, therefore more money in their pockets.   :bigGrin:

CHB

Offline Akira Takahashi

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Re: Who Does Hell Benefit?
« Reply #11 on: January 31, 2009, 04:37:47 AM »
Building an imperfect prison would make God imperfect to. Unless the imperfect prision was designed that way (plan) or there isn't such a prison.

That's what I'm getting at, or at least trying to.  God created Hell the way it is for a reason, but why?  Is it truly meant as a prison, or is it misinterpreted?  And if Hell really isn't a prison, then why do men create it so.

The question should really be, how does Hell, the way most Churches preach it, benefit anyone?

Oh, and Sarah, I've also seen the movie The Village.  I'm actually not a huge fan of Shyamalan, but this was a really good movie, I thought.  I never would have compared it to portions of my argument, but it made perfect sense the way you put it!

Offline Akira Takahashi

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Re: Who Does Hell Benefit?
« Reply #12 on: January 31, 2009, 04:47:15 AM »
I've never watched any of those Left Behind movies, or read the books.

Since hell's a mistranslation, I think that makes your OP question even tougher.

I've been wondering about this related verse..Matthew 25:41

The Christian Bible says "Then He will declare to those also on His left, Go from Me, you cursed ones, into the Fire of the Last Age [to be destroyed in the Second Death (Rev. 20:14,15)] that has been made ready for the Adversary [Satan] and his Messengers!

The CLT renders it "into the fire eonian made ready for the Adversary and his Messengers"...

I've been thinking the Lake of Fire is God's direct presence, and not literally a "lake of fire" per se, as is taught as "hell".  Now I'm not so sure..If "it" was originally prepared for satan, but then others have gone/will go there....?  So as you say, who benefits, and my thought is, who's it for, what is it, is it 2 different things, i.e., the "fire eonian" and the Lake of Fire?

Sorry for the doublepost, but I had to respond to this one.  First of all, I've only read the first Left Behind book and seen the first film, but my mom is a huge fan of these books.  While I don't necessarily agree with how they portray things, they do offer an interesting glimpse into the mind of people who believe that they'll be caught up in the Rapture before things turn sour down here.

Now, you managed to take my opening question and put an interesting twist on it: who's it for and what is it?  Those are both very interesting.  If it's not what the mainstream Church makes it out to be, then what is it.  We can't really call it a prison, since Satan seems quite capable of slipping through its bars.  Yet, many people believe that those who turn away from God wind up there permanently.  Some on this board seem to look at it as something of a temporary prison, or even a rehabilitation facility.  Scripture itself is fuzzy on this.

I'm not knowledgeable in the subject to really offer anything more than my opening post, but that's why I love reading your responses.

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Re: Who Does Hell Benefit?
« Reply #13 on: January 31, 2009, 05:58:17 AM »
To say it literally never came into his mind would mean he never thought about it or knew it was going to happen - that would imply God's foreknowledge was imperfect, which cannot be.
God doesn't entertain abominable, evil, unbelieving, vindictive, fearful, grotesque, perverse, poverty and sickness filled thoughts.  His foreknowledge is rooted in His understanding every possible/potential outcome of all He's ever said.  God's as aware of His Word as we should be of ours.  Words snowball.  The Scriptures say that He upholds all things by His Word.  Understanding all things to be the equivalent of all beings, then we have to look at anything He's not upholding since only what cannot be shaken will remain and "duh!" it's only those things that He's spoken into existance and/or granted within our range of authority to call into being that He foreknows, calls, predestines, glorifies, etc.  It's all very simple.  He stands on His own Word the way we're supposed to stand on His Word.  He lives by faith and not by sight: Ephesians 5:1, John 8:12, 31-32, Luke 6:40, Matthew 5:48, et. al.  He calls us everything that Jesus is.  You know He's not moved by what He sees!

Offline Akira Takahashi

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Re: Who Does Hell Benefit?
« Reply #14 on: February 08, 2009, 06:42:23 AM »
Martin, what precisely do you mean by, "God doesn't entertain abominable, evil, unbelieveing, vindictive, fearful, grotesque, perverse, poverty and sickness filled thoughts"?  Since he does have foreknowledge of every possible outcome, then He should also know every bad thing that could possible come about.  And He certainly doesn't turn a blind eye to the suffering on Earth?

Just a little confused and in need of clarification.

Offline Doc

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Re: Who Does Hell Benefit?
« Reply #15 on: February 12, 2009, 11:19:24 PM »
A thought occurred to me while watching the first film in the Left Behind series a series that I'm not particularly fond of.  As I search for Biblical truths I have been finding some in Universal Salvation.  Now, I do believe in Hell, but my brain couldn't help but ponder this question: who benefits from Hell?  Does God benefit from such a place?  Satan?  Do we?  Let's explore this.

After Lucifer tried overthrow the Lord, he was cast out of Heaven, his name was changed to Satan, and as far as we can figure, he now dwells in an underworld of sorts that we call Hell.  This stopped his rebellion, so we could say that God benefits from this right now, but let's continue.

Satan is able to take the form of a serpent to deceive Eve who, in turn, convinces Adam to join her in her sin.  Now, if Hell can keep Satan away from the gates of Heaven, why can it not keep him away from the Earth that he sought to claim?  By having the ability to sever the harmony that existed between mankind and God, and even the harmony that existed between all life forms and God, he, in essence, claimed possession of God's most prized creation!  If you believe in the eternal torment theory, then that means that Hell is not only incapable to keeping Satan away from God's creations, but it also houses most of God's creation in the end!  If we look at it this way, Hell is most certainly Satan's greatest asset and God's greatest liable!

In the end, if you believe in eternal torment, even Jesus' ultimate sacrifice is not enough to keep Satan from claiming eternal souls, nor is it enough to save people from Hell after it has claimed them; it's only good enough to save the people who have chosen grace during their lifetimes on earth, and it cannot compare to the lost.  Thus, Hell is still very unbeneficial to God.

Now, strangely, another party besides the Evil One seemed to benefit a great deal from Hell at one point in time, and that party is none other than man.  Sound strange?  Well, it shouldn't.  The earliest churches didn't resort to the fear mongering of an eternal torment, but as religion became less about faith, devotion, and trust in the Lord and more of an organization that could be used to control the masses, Hell became a very important tool.  Throughout time, torture and fear have always been used to drag people onto their side.  We can look at the Spanish Inquisition, the Crusades, or for some non-Christian sources, we can look to Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, and even certain instances of pre-Meiji Era Japanese crucifying Japanese Christians to warn missionaries away.  All of these use fear, torture, and manipulation to achieve their goals and to win over as many people as possible, even if they never truly believe in it to begin with.

For a long time, Hell was used as a way to keep people in line, and a lot of men benefited from this.  They could use it to achieve their ends, all in the name of saving souls.  We were all sinners in the hands of angry God, dangling over the pits of Hell by a thread with God holding the scissors at the ready!  So many people were indoctrinated by the teachings of an eternal torment that they were unable to break away from that fear.

Now, we have hit a problem in today's culture.  Fear mongering doesn't work so well on today's apathetic world, at least not in a religious sense.  Instead, the doctrine of Hell pushes more people from the Lord than anything else found in scripture.  Christianity in particular has won the reputation of being hateful, violent, and tyrannical.  A lot of people will respond with something along the lines of, "You're thinking of religion.  Real Christians don't let the fear of Hell dictate their lives."  In one sense, this is true.  We don't worship out of fear, but then what is Hell for?  Fundamental Christians can't cast off their teaching of an eternal torment and still pretend that Hell doesn't hold much significance for them, and many of them know that Hell will actually drive away potential converts.  Still, their message of grace tends to ring hollow to those who know that the alternative is interminable suffering.

It reminds me of a line from the movie - the one that got me thinking about this.  Chloe and her father are talking about God, since her father has recently converted since his wife and son have been Raptured away.  Chloe brings up Hell, and adds a sarcastic comment of, "What a nice God!"  Her father responds with, "It isn't about Hell."  Given that the Left Behind series gets its thrills from the ever looming prospect of Hell, then I highly doubt that Chloe's father really meant what he said.  It comes off as nothing more than fundamental Christians trying to replace their past indoctrination with a message of pure love and grace.

In the end, didn't Hell become the Church's greatest liable, too?

Interesting observations.
 
One thing though that perhaps you didn't catch as you were typing this:
"but as religion became less about faith, devotion, and trust in the Lord and more of an organization."

Let me assure you that religion has never been about any of those things (except organization). Religion has always been the enemy of true faith...
God does not instruct us to pray to change His mind. He wants us to pray so that we'll know His mind.
 
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God never had or needed a Plan B. He's still on Plan A.

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