Author Topic: On the Bible and Punishment  (Read 3806 times)

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deances

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On the Bible and Punishment
« on: January 03, 2012, 05:17:32 PM »
I agree with the general premise of universal reconciliation insofar as none of us is eternally punished and that eventually, we are all reconciled with our Creator, but I go beyond that, as follows, and am interested in your opinion:

1. THE BIBLE:  Even if we acknowledge that the Bible does not teach about eternal damnation, there are still, MANY, MANY statements that to me, are inconsistent with an all-knowing, all-loving God. God is portrayed as angry, jealous, petty, insecure, arbitrary, and possessing a host of other characteristics generally attributed to flawed mortals.

Why, then, are we so concerned with pointing out that "the Bible supports Universal Reconciliation?"  Shouldn't our first step be to determine why we follow the Bible's teachings as authoritative at all?

Some have said that the Bible should be looked upon as a library - full of many, many ideas, both accurate and inaccurate - rather than a Constitution, to be taken as a Manual of Life.

2. PUNISHMENT:  There seems to be an implication that, although God does not punish eternally, He does punish temporarily. I think "punishment" is the wrong word and concept here. Punishment is a human consequence that is an IMPERFECT solution to a problem. Imperfect, but the best humans can come up with at this point.  Just like war is often an imperfect solution, because we humans sometimes do not have the means to think or act upon a better solution.

For instance, most folks feel justified in the U.S.' entry into World War II, but if we had the power to turn Hitler and Hirohito into bunny rabbits, and caused their weapons to shoot marshmallows and flowers instead of bullets and bombs, then we could have stopped them without firing a shot - without killing a single innocent civilian, or young (German or Japanese) soldier caught up in a flawed national ideology.

Accordingly, I don't think God "punishes" us in the afterlife for our "sins," and then we are ultimately reconciled with our "Savior."  Rather, I think that we humans commit "error," and that we are ALWAYS in our Creator's good graces, but he gives us the "guidance" in the next life to learn - to achieve a higher plane and no longer be inclined to commit the "errors" that some call "sins."

After all, would God really place someone in a pit of fire "temporarily?"  Even under our own form of government, that would be considered "cruel and unusual punishment." As great as our Founding Fathers were, I doubt they were more compassionate than God.

Offline WhiteWings

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Re: On the Bible and Punishment
« Reply #1 on: January 03, 2012, 06:53:22 PM »
I think you are right about punishment.

Jesus always used: Kolasis punishment  (corrective/restorative)
Opposed to timora punishment. (retributive punishment/vengence)
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: On the Bible and Punishment
« Reply #2 on: January 03, 2012, 07:54:28 PM »
Quote from: deances
Accordingly, I don't think God "punishes" us in the afterlife for our "sins," and then we are ultimately reconciled with our "Savior."  Rather, I think that we humans commit "error," and that we are ALWAYS in our Creator's good graces, but he gives us the "guidance" in the next life to learn - to achieve a higher plane and no longer be inclined to commit the "errors" that some call "sins."

After all, would God really place someone in a pit of fire "temporarily?"  Even under our own form of government, that would be considered "cruel and unusual punishment." As great as our Founding Fathers were, I doubt they were more compassionate than God.

Just my belief but I think it is this life is where we are learning, maybe the next life will show us just to what extent we have learned. We will know as we are known.

I don't think God will place us in a literal pit of fire for any duration. The fire is a spiritual fire, or spiritual experience I should say.

CHB

Offline lomarah

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Re: On the Bible and Punishment
« Reply #3 on: January 03, 2012, 08:05:23 PM »
Yes I also agree with you about punishment.

The Bible is not an easy book to understand and there is sometimes much lost (and added) in translation, but with the guidance of the Holy Spirit it is the written Word of God. When it comes to God's jealousy you have to realize that He is jealous FOR us, not of us, and that for our own good!

Have you never had scripture come to mind at a particular moment and know that it was God speaking to you?

By the way, welcome to the boards. :)
From Him and through Him and to Him are all things.

deances

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Re: On the Bible and Punishment
« Reply #4 on: January 03, 2012, 09:59:41 PM »
Thanks, everyone, for welcoming me to the boards, and it's great to read your responses.  A couple of follow-up points:

I agree with the points regarding corrective "punishment," and so perhaps "punishment" is not the best translation - maybe it should be "rehabilitation."

Perhaps, then, "jealous" is not the right word either, to describe God's feelings for us. Maybe "protective" is a better word.

Yes, the Bible did make me feel good when I'd read it, but for most of my life I didn't actually read it - rather, I read books that quoted (accurately) from it, but quoted a lot of the "feelgood" passages from it.  When I recently read it, a little over a year ago, from cover to cover, taking exhaustive notes  (a five-month process), it seemed more like a message trying to exploit human fear:  "Believe in me, or else!  Do as I say, or else!  If you're on my good side, you'll be rewarded, but if you're on my bad side, incur my wrath!"

And, as I absolutely do not believe that God would operate that way, my own conclusion is that either 1) those statements are flat-out false; or 2) I am not interpreting them correctly.

The problem, for me, with statement two, that I am not interpreting it correctly, is that there is simply SO MUCH in the Bible that I find troublesome or unnecessary (maybe 98% of it), that it is hard for me to understand how I can possibly misinterpret that much.

Here's an example:  let's say a person from a foreign country writes a letter to you, and before his/her signature writes the salutation:  "I LOATHE YOU."

In reading the entire letter, which includes affectionate passages such as:  "you are my dear friend," "I can't wait to see you again,"  "you warm my heart,"  "my life is complete with you in it,"  etc., you conclude that the person MISTAKENLY wrote the word "LOATHE," really having meant to write "LOVE."

If, however, the majority of the letter contained statements like:  "you disgust me," "I wish I had never met you," "you make me sick to my stomach," and "I curse the day you entered my life," then it would seem more likely that "I LOATHE YOU" would be consistent with those sentiments.

Unfortunately, that's how I see the Bible.  A scarce few feelgood passages drowning in a sea of hateful, vengeful, exploitative demagoguery  That's why, while I remain open-minded for someone to show me where I am going wrong in my assessment.

And, by the way, despite all of this, my faith in an all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-loving God remains unshaken.  I have a strong faith in God DESPITE the Bible, not BECAUSE of it.

I look forward to more dialogue  :-)

Offline jabcat

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Re: On the Bible and Punishment
« Reply #5 on: January 03, 2012, 11:00:10 PM »
Welcome. 

Yes I also agree with you about punishment.

The Bible is not an easy book to understand and there is sometimes much lost (and added) in translation, but with the guidance of the Holy Spirit it is the written Word of God.

 :thumbsup:
We will know as we are known.

I don't think God will place us in a literal pit of fire for any duration. The fire is a spiritual fire, or spiritual experience I should say.

CHB

Amen. 
Thanks, everyone, for welcoming me to the boards, and it's great to read your responses.  A couple of follow-up points:

I agree with the points regarding corrective "punishment," and so perhaps "punishment" is not the best translation - maybe it should be "rehabilitation."

or 2) I am not interpreting them correctly.

We've been conditioned to read the scriptures and interpret them through the lens of 1500 years of darkness, foisted upon us by orthodoxy with its vile pagan influences - including the unregenerated hearts and minds of much of the "powers of the 'church' " through the Dark Ages.  Translations, interpretations, our own [even unknown and unnoticed] biases and distortions - all lead to our seeing God in a different way than Who He really Is.   I've heard Nathan say, and I think it's very much worth considering, that all scripture should be read through the view of Love...God IS love.  Love may discipline.  And an Immense Love such as God, Who is in summary, above our human understanding [For who can know the LORD's thoughts? Who knows enough to give him advice? Rm. 11:34], may do things that through our veiled human eyes, may not make sense, seem like love, even seem "wrong".   But to come to the  place of being shown that God will have all men be saved, that the end of the Lord truly is mercy, that everything He does is for good whether we can grasp it right now or not - and then to walk humbly before our God, trust Him that it's in Him we live, breathe, and have our being - is truly a blessing.

All scripture is God-breathed.  It's us who see through a glass darkly, and have our own varying levels of being veiled. 

Believe me, I STRUGGLE with this (and have no right to, as God has blessed me day after day with all His mercies), but we can cling to this;   Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later.  Romans 8:18

Blessings.
Neither should there be vulgar speech, foolish talk, or coarse jesting--all of which are out of character--but rather thanksgiving.  Eph. 5:4  **  Saved 1John 3.2, Eph. 2:8, John 1:12 - Being saved 2Cor. 4:16 2Peter 3:18 - Will be saved 1Peter 1:5 Romans 8:23

Offline WhiteWings

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Re: On the Bible and Punishment
« Reply #6 on: January 03, 2012, 11:15:55 PM »
Yes, the Bible did make me feel good when I'd read it, but for most of my life I didn't actually read it - rather, I read books that quoted (accurately) from it, but quoted a lot of the "feelgood" passages from it.  When I recently read it, a little over a year ago, from cover to cover, taking exhaustive notes  (a five-month process), it seemed more like a message trying to exploit human fear:  "Believe in me, or else!  Do as I say, or else!  If you're on my good side, you'll be rewarded, but if you're on my bad side, incur my wrath!"
There is a lot killing the Bible. That's true. But the laws always read like: "If you do X, then the punishment is Y."
Y can be horrifying. But Y is the punishment. When Y is being stoned to death then it ends at death. Nowehere it says the punishment goes on after death.

Statements like "In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the LORD will reward you." are easily misunderstood.
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: On the Bible and Punishment
« Reply #7 on: January 03, 2012, 11:33:45 PM »
Nowehere it says the punishment goes on after death.

good example of where our conditioned "filtering" comes in...we often add our own learned interpretations and assumptions.

the Judgment and Punishments, and Word Studies sections on the first page might be helpful to explore   :2c:
« Last Edit: January 03, 2012, 11:37:11 PM by jabcat »
Neither should there be vulgar speech, foolish talk, or coarse jesting--all of which are out of character--but rather thanksgiving.  Eph. 5:4  **  Saved 1John 3.2, Eph. 2:8, John 1:12 - Being saved 2Cor. 4:16 2Peter 3:18 - Will be saved 1Peter 1:5 Romans 8:23

Offline CHB

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Re: On the Bible and Punishment
« Reply #8 on: January 04, 2012, 12:26:42 AM »
Welcome. 

Yes I also agree with you about punishment.

The Bible is not an easy book to understand and there is sometimes much lost (and added) in translation, but with the guidance of the Holy Spirit it is the written Word of God.

 :thumbsup:
We will know as we are known.

I don't think God will place us in a literal pit of fire for any duration. The fire is a spiritual fire, or spiritual experience I should say.

CHB

Amen. 
Thanks, everyone, for welcoming me to the boards, and it's great to read your responses.  A couple of follow-up points:

I agree with the points regarding corrective "punishment," and so perhaps "punishment" is not the best translation - maybe it should be "rehabilitation."

or 2) I am not interpreting them correctly.

We've been conditioned to read the scriptures and interpret them through the lens of 1500 years of darkness, foisted upon us by orthodoxy with its vile pagan influences - including the unregenerated hearts and minds of much of the "powers of the 'church' " through the Dark Ages.  Translations, interpretations, our own [even unknown and unnoticed] biases and distortions - all lead to our seeing God in a different way than Who He really Is.   I've heard Nathan say, and I think it's very much worth considering, that all scripture should be read through the view of Love...God IS love.  Love may discipline.  And an Immense Love such as God, Who is in summary, above our human understanding [For who can know the LORD's thoughts? Who knows enough to give him advice? Rm. 11:34], may do things that through our veiled human eyes, may not make sense, seem like love, even seem "wrong".   But to come to the  place of being shown that God will have all men be saved, that the end of the Lord truly is mercy, that everything He does is for good whether we can grasp it right now or not - and then to walk humbly before our God, trust Him that it's in Him we live, breathe, and have our being - is truly a blessing.

All scripture is God-breathed.  It's us who see through a glass darkly, and have our own varying levels of being veiled. 

Believe me, I STRUGGLE with this (and have no right to, as God has blessed me day after day with all His mercies), but we can cling to this;   Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later.  Romans 8:18

Blessings.

Absolutely!!! Great post J

chb

Offline jabcat

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Re: On the Bible and Punishment
« Reply #9 on: January 04, 2012, 01:15:13 AM »

Absolutely!!! Great post J

chb

 :HeartThrob:  Blessings to you and your husband.
Neither should there be vulgar speech, foolish talk, or coarse jesting--all of which are out of character--but rather thanksgiving.  Eph. 5:4  **  Saved 1John 3.2, Eph. 2:8, John 1:12 - Being saved 2Cor. 4:16 2Peter 3:18 - Will be saved 1Peter 1:5 Romans 8:23

deances

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Re: On the Bible and Punishment
« Reply #10 on: January 04, 2012, 03:41:27 AM »
That is precisely the problem I have, WhiteWings: I take little comfort in a doctrine whereby our Heavenly Father condones stoning a person to death, merely because it means that the punishment ends at death and is not eternal.

Particularly when some of the offenses that might result in such fatal stoning might include: wearing a wool sweater with linen pants, allowing an ox and donkey to plow in the same field, or touching the skin of a dead pig.  Regarding the latter, that would mean anyone who has ever played a game of football is a prime candidate for being executed by way of stone-hurling.

"Hey, but at least it's not eternal," does not seem to be enough of a consolation.  I think the entire matter is wholly inconsistent with the all-knowing, all-powerful, all-loving and, in turn....all enlightened Supreme Being.

Offline Beloved Servant

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Re: On the Bible and Punishment
« Reply #11 on: January 04, 2012, 06:37:56 AM »


Tearfully,
we see so often focus on the result of our stiff neck instead of turning back to the Lord.

Lord I pray...make me your hunter.

Offline Beloved Servant

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Re: On the Bible and Punishment
« Reply #12 on: January 04, 2012, 06:57:04 AM »


His promises are solid.

There are many who have never read the Bible cover to cover YET come to complain about their misery.







Offline WhiteWings

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Re: On the Bible and Punishment
« Reply #13 on: January 04, 2012, 07:31:11 AM »
I think Deances isn't worried, or doubting the promises. It's the many wars is the OT.
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 Beloved Servant

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Re: On the Bible and Punishment
« Reply #14 on: January 04, 2012, 07:36:39 AM »

OUR wars are always won with faith.

deances

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Re: On the Bible and Punishment
« Reply #15 on: January 04, 2012, 10:25:18 AM »
Exactly right, Whitewings.

I believe God is love, and God is goodness. I am not God, so I am not 100% love and goodness, though of course I wish I were.

To the extent that I have love and goodness inside of me, I know that comes from God.

And not that God needs any defending, but sometimes when I read in the Bible about the brutal death that God inflicts or promises to inflict, I feel like suing the publisher for libel: i.e., defaming our Heavenly Father's good name.

Offline Molly

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Re: On the Bible and Punishment
« Reply #16 on: January 04, 2012, 01:07:55 PM »
Quote
I feel like suing the publisher for libel: i.e., defaming our Heavenly Father's good name.

Maybe that's because you don't understand why he is doing what he is doing.

I think we have to ask ourselves--would we want that job?  And, what would we do differently?

But, of course, that would depend on us having the information he has about the ages.



You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives Gen 50:20

Offline CHB

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Re: On the Bible and Punishment
« Reply #17 on: January 04, 2012, 03:54:43 PM »
Wow Molly!! I liked that.  :thumbsup:

CHB

Offline Cardinal

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Re: On the Bible and Punishment
« Reply #18 on: January 04, 2012, 05:10:00 PM »
 :cloud9: Great post, Jab... :thumbsup:
"I would rather train twenty men to pray, than a thousand to preach; A minister's highest mission ought to be to teach his people to pray." -H. MacGregor

deances

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Re: On the Bible and Punishment
« Reply #19 on: January 04, 2012, 05:18:19 PM »
You are absolutely right, Molly. I don't understand what He is doing, and neither does anybody else, and that is precisely my point.

I don't have a problem THAT God caused the Great Flood - along with earthquakes, tsunamis, disease, etc.  After all, God allows mortal death to occur every day, tearing families apart and causing them great heartache.

My criticism is not with the events, it is with the human interpretation that God is doing these things because He is angry. Anger is a human flaw - a weakness. When we get angry and raise our voices, or even throw something, we regret our action after we have collected our thoughts. For those who do worse, the typical reaction is:  "go to an anger management class."

The rock singer, Bono, in criticizing various churches' fundraising methods, once said: "My God isn't short of cash, mister."

And to that, I add: "My God doesn't need anger management classes."

Offline Molly

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Re: On the Bible and Punishment
« Reply #20 on: January 04, 2012, 05:39:01 PM »
You don't think God gets angry?

I remember a ten year old saying to me once, after I read some Old Testament stories--why is God so angry?

How would you answer that?

Why did he get so angry with his people, or do you think he is wrongfully represented in the Bible?

Think about Jesus lashing out at the money lenders, turning over their tables and chasing them out with whips---


He said to them, "The Scriptures declare, 'My Temple will be a house of prayer,' but you have turned it into a den of thieves." Lk 19:46


Was he angry?  Was he justified in his anger?

Offline CHB

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Re: On the Bible and Punishment
« Reply #21 on: January 04, 2012, 05:48:21 PM »
Hi deances,

Wouldn't you say that it is right for God to teach us how to forgive? What better way to learn forgivness than to learn to forgive God? Look what happened to Jesus and this was forordained before the world began. Do you think Jesus forgave God his Father for all the suffering he had to endure? I think all of the things that happen in this life are a learning experience that may start out as a bad thing but when it is finished the results are a good thing.

I remember going through some rough times in my life but when they were over, after a while they seem like a distant thing that I can hardly remember now and I learned a few things by going through them. When I was a child and got punished for something I did, that was a learning experience. You learn the benefits of doing the right thing and the consequences of doing wrong. A positive and a negative. This is what the world and all that is in it operates on. The tree of good and evil.

CHB

Offline WhiteWings

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Re: On the Bible and Punishment
« Reply #22 on: January 04, 2012, 06:04:02 PM »
Hi deances,

Wouldn't you say that it is right for God to teach us how to forgive? What better way to learn forgivness than to learn to forgive God?
Meaning God did wrong things.
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: On the Bible and Punishment
« Reply #23 on: January 04, 2012, 06:30:33 PM »
No!! but it seems wrong to us acording to this topic.

CHB

Offline WhiteWings

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Re: On the Bible and Punishment
« Reply #24 on: January 04, 2012, 06:52:31 PM »
Not?  :winkgrin:

Seems wrong. Ok. I understand what you mean, but for me forgiving is closely related to mistakes.
 :2c:
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 ...