the love of eternal torment

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It’s surprising that most Christians are rather complacent about their core belief in hell: the majority of human beings who exist and have existed will spend eternity is some form of torment. Sermons dwelling on the horrors of hell may not be quite as popular as they once were, but it seems clear that most Christian denominations still hold this belief dear to their hearts.

Immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell, where they suffer the punishments of hell, “eternal fire.” The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God, in whom alone man can possess the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs. (Catholic Church)

In both “body and soul” unbelievers will suffer eternal separation and condemnation in hell. Indescribable torment will be experienced consciously, the degree determined by the nature of the sins to be punished. (Lutheran Church)

Baptists believe Hell to be a real place existing outside of God—an eternal separation between soul and God. … Hell, they believe, was created originally for Satan and his devils as a place of incredible torment. (Baptist Church)

And of course, we have the words attributed to one of their gods, the character Jesus:

The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 13:41-42)

If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. (Mark 9:43)

It’s clear that hell is a real place in the minds of the majority of Christians. And it seems they have found a way of reconciling the notion that their god is loving with this idea of eternal torment for most of humanity. But have Christians really stopped to think if any of this is logical?

Let’s look at it step by step:

  1. Christians believe they have free will, in spite of the fact that they believe an omniscient being created them.
  2. They choose to ‘sin’ (i.e. behave in ways contrary to the wishes of their god) because they are essentially a bad creation by a perfect being.
  3. They are happy they have this free will to sin because it proves their god isn’t creating mindless robots, just flawed creatures that can choose to be bad.
  4. Christians believe they will be happy in an afterlife called heaven, where they can’t sin because they won’t want to choose to be bad, but they will still have free will.
  5. Christians believe they will be happy in heaven (a place of love) knowing the majority of humanity is suffering eternal torment in this place called hell.
  6. Christians believe they will be using their free will and choosing to be happy in heaven in the knowledge that people they love here on earth will be suffering eternal torment in a place called hell.

I’ve always said, if I were to end up in Heaven to find loved ones were in Hell, my free will would be freaking the **** out. If I didn’t, then I either wouldn’t be me or wouldn’t be free. (M.M.J. Gregory on Amusing Nonsense)

I think the above quote sums up the worst of it nicely, but for anyone who wants to delve further into these contrary notions, check out Amusing Nonsense and John Zande in 38 Words.

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