Henry: Hi, Charity. I’ve been thinking these last few days about what you said. I haven’t said anything for a while because I wanted something real to say. You ask a lot of hard questions.
Charity: Ya, sorry about that.
Henry: No, don’t be sorry. I enjoy talking with you, even though we seem to disagree on a few things.
Charity: I hoped you weren’t through talking to me.
Henry: It’s just…
Henry: Well, you’ve given yourself a win-win position. Either God is all-good and everyone goes to heaven, or God is not all-good and some people are lost forever. You’ve also been able to ask questions without saying what you really think on the matter.
Charity: That’s because I don’t know what to think on the matter. I’m not actually interested in winning the argument; I just want to know what’s true.
Henry: Let me ask you this then – What happens to justice if all men are eventually restored and spend eternity with God? What happens to the woman who kills and fillets her husband only to serve him for dinner to her children? What happens to the man who cages and tortures his victims for sexual pleasure and then dismembers and eats their bodies? What happens to the tyrant who oppresses and murders his own people, his own family, and dumps thousands of bodies in a killing pit? Or, the one who harms little children for fun, or the serial rapist destroying young girl’s lives? – Where is justice for their victims if, regardless of what we do on earth, we all are made right and have the same destiny? Essentially, all criminals get away with their crimes.
Charity: Hmmm… I see what you mean. I can’t ignore justice or the pain and hurt caused by others. But, can’t we account for this somehow and still restore all men to God?
Henry: It’s nice to think that all men are victims or just making careless, ignorant mistakes. The salvation of all humanity might sit well with me if all men were just misguided angels. But, some men commit horrible, unbearable crimes from which the pain and suffering take lifetimes to recover.
Charity. I agree. I cannot deny the presence of evil in the world, and the need for justice. But, answer me this – are all crimes or mistakes or “little sins” treated the same in hell? It doesn’t seem right that the child who stole a quarter from his mother’s purse and the gas chamber operator in a concentration camp should get the same punishment.
Henry: Yes… I can only say that the punishment justice inflicts will be right and appropriate.
Charity: But, Isn’t hell a place of eternal conscious torment in flames?
Henry: That’s what the Bible says.
Charity: How is that appropriate punishment for the child who doesn’t clean his room when told to? I might approve of a cannibalistic rapist being tortured by fire, but certainly not the child. It’s far more appropriate to teach the child obedience and set him right. Isn’t that what justice is, setting things right?
Henry: I can agree to that.
Charity: It shouldn’t just be about inflicting pain for the joy and satisfaction of the offended party. There must be a “setting right” of things in the punishment itself. Human justice takes different forms; it sometimes reforms criminals, or at least tries to. It sometimes prevents others from acting badly. Sometimes it charges a sufficient payment to the victim. In all cases, it is meant to set right the wrong, not to enact torture for pleasure’s sake. We don’t all sit back with our bowl of popcorn laughing at the derision of the damned do we?
Henry: I don’t think God takes pleasure in the pain of others. But, If you are responsible for a lot of things then more will be required of you, Luke 12:48. The punishment must correspond to the amount of things the person is responsible for.
Charity: What are you saying, hell has less fire in some areas and more fire in others?
Henry: I’m saying there are degrees of punishment in hell.
Charity: Well, that’s kind of ambiguous.
Henry: I guess it’s sort of a blind trust in justice on the basis that God is good, and punishes in so far as it is right.
Charity: Again, you are evading the question. Are you really saying some of us will endure less-hot fire and some of us more-hot fire? And what about the fact that fire burns, as in destroys. It’s painful because it destroys our bodies. Won’t all the inhabitants of hell be burned up at some point?
Henry: No, Hell is always described in the Bible as eternal. It lasts forever.
Charity: If that’s true, then all inhabitants of hell will be punished the same amount. They all have an infinite amount of suffering to endure, whether it’s not-so-hot fire or very-hot fire. That’s not a punishment that corresponds to the crime. It infinitely outweighs the crime. And by the same logic, it infinitely outweighs even the most horrible of crimes. That’s not just.
Henry: But, aren’t you confining God to your own human standard of justice? What makes you think that your understanding of justice and God’s compares in any way? God is not human, Numbers 23:19.
Charity: Didn’t he create my mind, my intellect and understanding?
Charity: Why should God give me an understanding of justice and then require me to reject it? If God made me and he is good, then my understanding of justice must somehow reflect his justice. If I can’t trust my own mind, which God made, how can I trust that I’m rightfully rejecting my mind? I have to use my mind to determine that it is right to reject it. In fact, to my mind, it’s your understanding of hell that doesn’t make sense. It has more in common with mythology than it does reason.
Charity: Yes. It’s more like the myth of Prometheus. As the story goes, he gave mankind the gift of fire, which belonged to the gods. As punishment he was tied to a rock and every morning a vulture would eat out his liver. Then it would magically grow back so the vulture could eat it again the next morning. And this went on for eternity. – Your understanding of hell requires this same sort of “magic” that recreates our bodies only for hell-fire to consume them over and over again for all eternity. Are you telling me the Greeks weren’t wrong about hell, only about the kind of torture involved?
To Be Continued…