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March 30, 2009


Ashley, you may feel that someday you'll deeply regret not doing more to save your grandmother from unbelief. Perhaps you worry that your grandmother will end up in hell, suffering for all of eternity.

This is where the evangelical faith gets a bit weird, prompting you to do strange and uncomfortable things out of what is in fact genuine concern and sincerity on your part. The beauty of your motivation, however, likely won't be appreciated by those whom you seek to save. This is largely because the idea of hell and the need for faith is, in the first place, really quite strange.

Still, the threat of what God may do to unbelievers can effectively silence objectivity in these matters. But this is not a tool you'll want to use. If you try to get others to share your anxiety about hell and unbelief, this will probably strike everyone as a perverse form of manipulation, which it may well be.

Many times we only plant seed to see it develop at a later time. It would be nice to "close every sale" at the time of presentation, but often it's much later that we actually make the sale.

We can describe color to the blind but they see it when God opens their eyes.

Occasional, it's good to have you back... what's so strange about hell anyway?

Thanks Jesse. It's nice to be back. I must say, I was completely surprised when Amy blocked me from continuing our last conversation. I was quite taken aback. I may have insensitively damaged her pride when, in the context of trying to reign the increasingly disorderly interchange (we had been doing quite well), I mentioned my suspicions about her and kpolo. That said, I think these suspicions are somewhat confirmed by the conversation's later developments. Though I hope she proves it unfounded, my fear is that Amy will continue to seek pretext to ban me.

Your question here is beautifully blunt: "what's so strange about hell anyway?"

Let's start again by finding some common ground. Since hell is a place of eternal torment, wouldn't you agree with me that it be strange if God decided who goes to hell and who goes to heaven depending upon the color of their eyes?

How about we take it just one step back and agree on what 'eternal torment' means first. What's your impression?

Lest I be accused of dodging the question, it would not just be strange, but unfair for God to decide who goes to heaven/hell based on the color of our eyes.

I'm still interested in your impression of what is meant by eternal torment, but we may not want to get too side-tracked on it.

>>I may have insensitively damaged her pride

LOL--Or it may have been exactly what I explained. O.R., I promise you that if I ban you, it will only be for the reasons I've given you--and I tend to get the opinions of others before making any such move, so you can relax and just enjoy your time here. There are plenty of other very intelligent, articulate, even aggressive atheists who have remained here for quite some time without any interference from me. I hope you can figure out what you're doing differently from them and make some adjustments because, in the words of Jack Bauer, if I wanted to ban you, you'd be banned already. Well...he didn't say "ban," but you get the idea.

Dear Occasional Reader with the persecution complex,

I look forward to your reply to Jesse's first question. It was "beautifully blunt". I look forward to your reply that is as equally concise and to the point.


John, I have attempted to post two comments here. They don't seem to be getting through.

To Jesse and John,

When it is said that hell is a place of eternal torment this seems to mean that that there is suffering which lasts forever. Does that seem right to you?

Stick to discussing the arguments, and you'll be fine.

Amy, I think you should allow me to answer you (and John) publicly. Doesn't this seem fair and reasonable?

You said nothing new. End of story. Move on. It seems from your response that you still don't understand the problem, so just stick to the arguments.

Amy, why don't you let others judge for themselves the merits of my responses? After all, it is your censorship tactic here that is being called into question.

Can we please stay on topic? John, maybe OR has a persecution complex, but pointing it out isn't helping anybody here.

Occasional, for me, using 'suffering' instead of 'torment' doesn't really clear things up, but I would like to move on anyway. Granted that it's unfair for the color of your eyes to determine whether you go to heaven or hell, let's get back to the question: what's so strange about hell?

O.R., I am the host, you are the guest. I'm sorry we can't see eye-to-eye on that, but I can't put any more time into managing this right now. Sorry, guys.

This is very good advice Greg. I like that piece of scripture, Mark 6:4 "But Jesus said to them, A prophet is not without honor except in his own country, among his own relatives, and in his own house."

I originally thought that Christ spoke that only of his own situation, but now I see that it regards his followers as well.

The question of suffering with regard to hell is interesting. To be sure, all suffer. Some are purified and burned. Those purified are glorified. Those burned are cast off. Those purified have submitted to the fire. Those burned have resisted the fire. Believers have submitted to God's judgment with the confidence of the gospel of grace in Christ and unbelievers have resisted God's judgment. Nevertheless, both will be judged. There is nothing strange about hell. No one will be there who didn't want to go there in the first place.

With regards to the article (the computer I'm on at the moment is having trouble with the video so I'm assuming the question here), there's only so much we can do - share the gospel and pray. If grandma has spurned any further discussion, then it seems pointless to try to discuss it outside of reliance on God. Pray that the Holy Spirit works in her heart and that the way is made for the gospel to be heard. Then look for the time when the gospel may be shared. Otherwise, you've don't all you can do.

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