I was recently listening to a podcast from the UK on the doctrine of Hell. It was basically over its eternality or finality, and it was quite intriguing. You can check out the podcast on iTunes, it was Unbelievable? 08August2009.
At one point I would have agreed that it was finite and that those there would have their souls destroyed. But after some recent thought, I have come to the belief that it is eternal, just as heaven is, and that people will continue in their sin there and continue there torment at only their faults. This is an idea many are uncomfortable with, as nobody likes the idea of Hell, and we often try to make it seem as nice as possible. But that does not seem to be the case. It really is a bad place, and should make us uncomfortable, that seems to be the point.
So the million dollar question is, does a finite sin demand an eternal consequence?
There are many answers, and I am tempted to say that when it is against an infinite God, then it does. But that seems to easy to say. I think it would be wiser to think of it in more practical terms. Would someone who had rejected God their whole lives really want to bask in His glory and Worship Him for eternity? Or would they rather keep to their ways and be apart from Him? I think that answer is fairly self explanatory. So let’s say that is the case. That would mean that they would continue in their sin after death on earth, and therefore increase their punishment ad infinitum, making the question of finite sin meriting infinite punishment trivial and unnecessary.
But what if there are some people who truly would change and want to worship God after seeing Him in His glory, what happens to them? Are they still damned, or are they allowed into heaven? This is where it gets really tricky. Because being the loving person that I am, I would like for them to spend eternity in a perfect place rather than an evil place, and I would hope God would wish the same. But, unfortunately, what anyone wishes has no effect on its truth value, and in this case, what I want doesn’t matter. It will be the way it will be no matter how I feel about the issue. And having read the Bible, I find nowhere where it says there will be a second chance for repentance after death. So I firmly, and reluctantly I must admit, affirm the notion that they are screwed if they didn’t respond to God’s revelation, whether special or general accordingly, they don’t get to come in.
I guess my favorite analogy would be a marriage, and I have used it before on friends. Let’s say you are dating someone (God in this case), and He proposes to you. If you ignore Him or deny Him, are you still engaged? Of course not. Now, for the sake of argument, let’s say you say yes, but on your wedding day you run off with another man. Are you married to the man you had previously had said yes to? Of course not. So to analyze my “parable,” we can see how the non-Christian is the “proposee” and God the proposer. And then we see the Christian turned non-Christian as the one who ran off, leaving God behind. In both cases, the non-Christian does not receive the reward of marriage, although that was the goal of some sort. Just as they do not get into heaven.
So where does that leave us? Hell being eternal due to our stubbornness, not God’s lack of love, for He wants everybody to come to know Him, no second chances after death, and “born again lost again” people getting the same sentence as never found people.