News

Puritan Gems

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

The Lost Doctrine of Eternal Hell

“This Doctrine is indeed awful and dreadful yet ‘tis of God” – Jonathan Edwards

"For we know him who said, "Vengeance is mine; I will repay." And again, "The Lord will judge his people." It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God." (Hebrews 10:30-31).



I dare say that there is not a lot of consideration today of the subject matter of which you are about to read. The topic of Hell is truly a lost doctrine today. Arthur Pink laments, "It is sad to find so many professing Christians who appear to regard the wrath of God as something for which they need to make an apology, or at least they wish there were no such thing. While some would not go so far as to openly admit that they consider it a blemish on the Divine character, yet they are far from regarding it with delight, they like not to think about it, and they rarely hear it mentioned without a secret resentment rising up in their hearts against it. Even with those who are more sober in their judgment, not a few seem to imagine that there is a severity about the Divine wrath which is too terrifying to form a theme for profitable contemplation. Others harbor the delusion that God’s wrath is not consistent with His goodness, and so seek to banish it from their thoughts." (The Attributes of God, p. 84).

According to most polls, the percentage of Americans who believe in Heaven ranges from 80% to 90%, while the percentage who believe in Hell ranged between 40% and 70%. The saddest part is that these numbers aren't much different among professing Christians. However, I must make it clear from the outset that anyone who would reject this doctrine cannot be called a Christian. Those who reject the doctrine of God's eternal wrath upon the wicked do not love the God of the Bible, but a false god, an idol of their own vain imaginations. Of them it is written, they "will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction." (2 Peter 2:1)

The God of the Bible is not apprehensive concerning His wrath, nor does He shy away in shame at its mention. His own challenge is "See now that I, even I, am He, and there is no god with Me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal; neither is there any that can deliver out of My hand. For I lift up My hand to heaven, and say, I live forever, If I whet My glittering sword, and Mine hand take hold on judgment; I will render vengeance to Mine enemies, and will reward them that hate Me" (Deut. 32:39-41). The Bible knows nothing of a god that is "too nice" to judge wickedness. In fact, a quick study of the Scriptures will show that there are more verses referring to God's anger and vengeance than there are to His love and mercy. Because God is holy, He hates all sin; And because He hates all sin, His anger burns hot against the sinner every day (Psalm 7:11). This is a doctrine that no preacher of righteousness has a right to ignore.

The Doctrine of Judgment in Christian Orthodoxy

The Eternal punishment of the wicked was taught among the earliest Christians. In his Letter to the Ephesians 16:1-2, Ignatius of Antioch (110 AD) writes, "Corrupters of families will not inherit the kingdom of God. And if they who do these things according to the flesh suffer death, how much more if a man corrupt by evil reaching the faith of God for the sake of which Jesus Christ was crucified? A man become so foul will depart into unquenchable fire, and so will anyone who listens to him." Clement of Alexandria (150 AD) writes, "If we do the will of Christ, we shall obtain rest; but if not, if we neglect his commandments, nothing will rescue us from eternal punishment." (Second Clement 5:5). Irenaeus (189 AD), the Second Century Bishop of Lyon, adds in his work "Against Heresies", "The penalty increases for those who do not believe the Word of God and despise his coming. . . . It is not merely temporal, but eternal. To whomsoever the Lord shall say, "Depart from me, accursed ones, into the everlasting fire," they will be damned forever." (Against Heresies 4:28:2). Similar statements can be found in works by Justin Martyr1, The Martyrdom of Polycarp2, Athenagoras3, Theophilus of Antioch4, Hippolytus5, Minucius Felix6, Cyprian7, and Cyril of Jerusalem8, and many others.

The Doctrine of Eternal Judgment has also been clearly established from the earliest Christian Creeds and Confessions. The Apostles Creed states, “He shall come to judge the living and the dead.” The Nicene Creed adds that Christ will come "to judge the quick and the dead”. The Athanasian Creed expounds even further, stating; “From thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead. At whose coming all men shall rise again with their bodies; and shall give account of their own works. And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting, and they that have done evil into everlasting fire.”

Despite the words of these Church Fathers, and the clear warnings from Scripture, it didn't take long for the strange and perverse musings of wolves to enter in among the sheep. The doctrine known of Annihilationism (the wicked will cease to exist) began in 4th-century with Arnobius. Noted Church Historian Phillip Schaff writes, “Arnobius… seems to have believed in actual annihilation; for he speaks of certain souls that "are engulfed and burned up," or "hurled down and having been reduced to nothing, vanish in the frustration of a perpetual destruction". (History of the Christian Church Vol. II, CHAPTER XII ). This belief is held today by cultists such as the Jehovah's Witnesses and Christadelphians. Annihilationism was condemned as heresy at the Second Council of Constantinople in 553 A.D.

The Doctrine of Restorationism (a belief in a temporary, remedial punishment, the basis for the modern belief in Universalism) arose from the Alexandrian school of theology, most notably with Origen. This heresy was combated by Epiphanes, Jerome, and Augustine.

Pope Gregory I was the first to formalize teachings in the Catholic Church surrounding Purgatory, a place of temporal punishment for post-baptismal sins. Unfortunately, this heresy has become a mainstay in the Roman Catholic Church, and was the lead grounds for the Reformation. However, aside these exceptions, the Christian Church has always held the Doctrine of the Eternal Punishment of the Wicked to be the ONLY orthodox Christian position.

The Westminster Confession Chapter 33, Section 2 states, "The end of God’s appointing this day is for the manifestation of the glory of His mercy, in the eternal salvation of the elect (Matthew 25:21; Romans 9:23); and of His justice, in the damnation of the reprobate who are wicked and disobedient (Romans 2:5-6; Romans 9:22; 2 Thess. 1:7-8). For then shall the righteous go into everlasting life, and receive that fulness of joy and refreshing, which shall come from the presence of the Lord (Matthew 25:31-34; Acts 3:19; 2 Thess. 1:1-12) but the wicked, who know not God, and obey not the Gospel of Jesus Christ, shall be cast into eternal torments, and be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power (Matthew 25:41, Matthew 25:46; 2 Thess. 1:9)."

Since the Reformation, other heresies, such as Universalism (universal salvation) have crept in. Those who hold these beliefs rarely appeal to scripture, but rather emotionalism9. They usually reason that God's punishments are reformatory rather than punitive. This brings us an obvious question. If the unregenerate wicked can still be saved by "the fires of Hell", thus effecting what the Cross of Christ failed to accomplish, then to what purpose was Christ's sacrifice? If Godly discipline were all that was needed to bring about eternal salvation, could God not have spared His only Son? God Himself refers to His judgments as "wrath", "fury", and "vengeance". Nothing about the judgments against the wicked could be mistaken for rehabilitation.

Some modern day universalists bolster their beliefs on the vain use of Near Death Experiences (NDE's). Many alleged "visions of heaven" and "light" have occurred within NDE's among individuals of various faiths, or even no faith at all. While I am skeptical of NDE's being anything more than hallucinations for the ill or dreams for the sleeping, we must also remember that "even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light." (2 Cor. 11:14). Any theology that exalts NDE's over the clear teachings of Scripture is a folly of fools (Proverbs 15:14).

Hell Defined by Scripture

The Hebrew word (she'ôl she'ôl שׁאל ׁאול), Greek Hades - literally "unseen" ( ᾅδης), has multiple meanings, including the grave, hell, and pit. Despite these various definitions, there can be no doubt that multiple instance of she'ôl and Hades refer to the abode of the damned, as it is taken in Luke 16:23. Various synonyms of it occur in the Scriptures, such as ('ăbaddôn אבדּון, see Proverbs 15:11) or perdition (see Proverbs 27:20). Consider these passages:The wicked "in a moment they go down to Sheol." (Job 21:13). "The wicked shall be turned back unto Sheol." (Psalm 9:17). If these references were taken to be the grave, than why single out the wicked, since the righteous will also face the grave? "Thou shalt beat him with the rod, And shalt deliver his soul from Sheol." (Proverbs 23:14). Can anyone rightly suggest that parental discipline can rescue a child from the grave? "Sheol and Abaddon are never satisfied" (Proverbs 27:20). Here Sheol is used along with Abaddon (destruction), the name of the angel from the bottomless pit (Rev. 9:11).

The word Gehenna (γέεννα - see Matthew 5:22; Matthew 5:29), is a word derived from the valley of Hinnom, in which the wicked Israelites were accustomed to practice horrible idolatries to Moloch, the idol of the Ammonites. It is synonymous with "everlasting punishment" Jesus identifies Gehenna with Isaiah 66:23-24 by speaking of it as the place of "The gnawing worm" and "unquenchable fire" (Mark 9:44). In its context, Jesus is adamant that Hell is worse than bodily mutilation and is to be avoided at all costs.

The word Tartarus (ταρταρόω) is only used once (2 Peter 2:4). It is derived from the lowest compartment of the pagan Greek Hades, recognized by mythology (Homer's Odyssey 11:575 and Plato's Gorgias) as a place for eternal judgment. For Peter to have chosen this word for a place of temporal punishment would have been most deceptive. Jesus will tell the wicked to "Depart from me, ye cursed, into the eternal fire which is prepared for the devil and his angels" (Matthew 25:41). Therefore, a consistent universalist must believe in the eventual salvation of the Devil himself, a most foolish doctrine.

William G.T. Shedd writes, "The strongest support of the doctrine of Endless Punishment is the teaching of Christ, the Redeemer of man...To threaten with “everlasting punishment” a class of persons described as “goats upon the left hand” of the Eternal Judge, while knowing at the same time that this class would ultimately have the same holiness and happiness with those described as “sheep upon the right hand” of the judge, would have been both falsehood and folly." (The Doctrine of Endless Punishment, pp. 14-15).

According to the Scriptures, Hell is "…to be feared" (Luke 12:4-5); "…to be avoided at all costs" (Matthew 5:29-30), "…a fiery furnace" (Matthew 13:42), "…a lake of burning sulfur" (Rev. 20:10). "…everlasting" (2 Thess. 1:9), "…unquenchable" (Matthew 2:12), "…eternal" (Jude 1:7). In Hell, there "…will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (Matthew 8:12), for it is a place where the "…worm does not die and the fire is not quenched." (Mark 9:44-48). For those who go there, "…it would be better to have never been born" (Matthew 26:24). It was universally accepted by the ancient Jews and Greeks that there would be a place of eternal torment. If Jesus or His Disciples actually believed Hell to be a place of temporal punishment or annihilation, they would have been purposely misleading their listeners. No modern reader of the above scriptures, much less an ancient one, could have ever guessed that all men without exception would eventually be holy and happy in heaven.

Unfortunately, the treatment of the Doctrine of Hell in modern churches isn't much better. Today's Seeker Sensitive preachers tell us that "the worst part of Hell is the eternal separation from the presence of God". Really? If that is true, then Hell is really no threat at all to the unrepentant sinner, who has already lived most of his life outside of God. Hell would be the ideal place for the ACLU attorney, who not only wants to live outside the presence of God, but wants to make sure that everyone else does as well.

However, those in Hell are NOT physically separated from the presence of God. That is a myth, mere wishful thinking. Rev. 14:10 tells us that the wicked "shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb". No my friend, it is not the absence of God that is the true horror of Hell, but rather His presence. In Hell, God will be there to personally pour out the fire of His Divine wrath upon the damned. It is there that He will "hate" and "abhor" you (Psalm 5:5-6). Your cries for mercy will fall on His deaf ears as He "will laugh at you calamity and mock at your terror" (Proverbs 1:26). Hebrews 10:31, a scripture that you won't find on many bumper stickers and T-shirts, states this quite accurately. Indeed, "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God."

Hell will be the destination for…The Devil (Rev. 20:10) and His Angels. (Matthew 25:41); whoever’s name is not found written in the book of life (Rev. 20:15); dogs, sorcerers, sexually immoral, murderers, idolaters, liars. (Rev. 22:15); the sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, homosexuals, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, and swindlers (1 Cor. 6:9-10); and Hypocrites (known by today's terminology as “Carnal” Christians). i.e., professing Christians who practice lawlessness (Matthew 7:21-23), who attempt to come to the feast without the proper garments (Matthew 22:12-14).

Hell is eternal. It is a place of “everlasting punishment” (Matthew 25:46). If it were just for a million years, then one could have hope in Hell. But there is no such fortune for the wicked. There is no parole from Hell. There will never be a moment when the lost man can say, “Release me, I’ve served my time”. After he has spent 1 Billion years suffering Hell’s eternal torments, he will be no closer to the end of his punishment then he was at the beginning. A damned sinner will be released from Hell on the very day that God stops hating sin, never. It is the height of foolishness to think that the worst thing we have to fear is annihilation or separation from the presence of God. As the sign above Dante’s inferno reads: “Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.”

The Purpose of this Doctrine

The Doctrine of Eternal Damnation is essential both for proper self-examination and for Revival. Historically, Hell was the focus of the preaching surrounding The Great Awakening. Let one peruse the sermons of George Whitefield, who preached the judgment of God with Puritan fire. Glance at the words of Jonathan Edward's famous sermon Sinners in the Hands of and Angry God. This is the kind of preaching that brings about true revival. The modern church, on the other hand, attempts to remove the fear of God (Proverbs 1:7; Matthew 10:28) rather than promote it. Gary North laments, "“Is it any wonder that the doctrine of eternal damnation is de-emphasized in preaching today? Is it any wonder that God is spoken of mostly as a God of love, and seldom as the God of indescribable eternal wrath? D. L. Moody, the turn-of-the-century American evangelist, set the pattern by refusing to preach about hell. He made the preposterous statement that "Terror never brought a man in yet." That a major evangelist could make such a theologically unsupported statement and expect anyone to take him seriously testifies to the theologically debased state of modern evangelicalism. It has gotten no better since he said it.” While we certainly should never ignore God's love, we also cannot ignore the fact the God is ANGRY. In fact, "God is angry with the wicked every day. (Psalm 7:11). "A fire is kindled in mine anger". (Jer. 15:14). Since the Bible itself speaks more about God's wrath and anger than about His love and mercy, the church should at least give equal attention to it. Proper, biblical evangelism requires, even demands that we bring the unregenerate sinner to the sobering reality that he is in terrible danger. His very next breath could be a scream of agony as he is cast into the winepress of God's wrath while his blood splatters the garments of the Most High. (Isaiah 63:3). With due respect to Rev. Moody's ridiculous comment; we can take our theology of evangelism from the greatest evangelist the world has ever known. The Apostle Paul made no apologies whatsoever for God's wrath, nor did he shy away from this doctrine in his ministry. "Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men". (2 Cor. 5:11).

It is a dangerous thing to be ignorant or careless concerning one's eternal path, for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leads to destruction, and many are they that enter in thereby. (Matthew 7:13). Indeed, many of these poor souls have already gone before, who never imagined that they would ever end up in Hell, yet suddenly and without warning find themselves there. Hear them cry out, "Let him dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue: for I am tormented in this flame." (Luke 16:24). Listen to them plead, "Send out from the dead to my fathers house, For I have five brothers, so he may testify to them, lest they also come into this place of torment." (Luke 16:27-28). May these pitiful sighs from the voices of the damned pierce our flinty hearts, so that we may run to Christ and not suffer the same judgment.

Footnotes:

1.) Justin Martyr: "No more is it possible for the evildoer, the avaricious, and the treacherous to hide from God than it is for the virtuous. Every man will receive the eternal punishment or reward which his actions deserve. Indeed, if all men recognized this, no one would choose evil even for a short time, knowing that he would incur the eternal sentence of fire. On the contrary, he would take every means to control himself and to adorn himself in virtue, so that he might obtain the good gifts of God and escape the punishments" (First Apology 12).

2.) The Martyrdom of Polycarp "Fixing their minds on the grace of Christ, [the martyrs] despised worldly tortures and purchased eternal life with but a single hour. To them, the fire of their cruel torturers was cold. They kept before their eyes their escape from the eternal and unquenchable fire" (Martyrdom of Polycarp 2:3).

3.) Athenagoras "[W]e [Christians] are persuaded that when we are removed from this present life we shall live another life, better than the present one . . . Then we shall abide near God and with God, changeless and free from suffering in the soul . . . or if we fall with the rest [of mankind], a worse one and in fire; for God has not made us as sheep or beasts of burden, a mere incidental work, that we should perish and be annihilated" (Plea for the Christians 31).

4.) Theophilus of Antioch "Give studious attention to the prophetic writings [the Bible] and they will lead you on a clearer path to escape the eternal punishments and to obtain the eternal good things of God.. [God] will examine everything and will judge justly, granting recompense to each according to merit. To those who seek immortality by the patient exercise of good works, he will give everlasting life, joy, peace, rest, and all good things.. For the unbelievers and for the contemptuous, and for those who do not submit to the truth but assent to iniquity, when they have been involved in adulteries, and fornications, and homosexualities, and avarice, and in lawless idolatries, there will be wrath and indignation, tribulation and anguish; and in the end, such men as these will be detained in everlasting fire" (To Autolycus 1:14).

5.) Hippolytus "Standing before [Christ's] judgment, all of them, men, angels, and demons, crying out in one voice, shall say: 'Just if your judgment!' And the righteousness of that cry will be apparent in the recompense made to each. To those who have done well, everlasting enjoyment shall be given; while to the lovers of evil shall be given eternal punishment. The unquenchable and unending fire awaits these latter, and a certain fiery worm which does not die and which does not waste the body but continually bursts forth from the body with unceasing pain. No sleep will give them rest; no night will soothe them; no death will deliver them from punishment; no appeal of interceding friends will profit them" (Against the Greeks 3)

6.) Minucius Felix "I am not ignorant of the fact that many, in the consciousness of what they deserve, would rather hope than actually believe that there is nothing for them after death. They would prefer to be annihilated rather than be restored for punishment. . . . Nor is there either measure nor end to these torments. That clever fire burns the limbs and restores them, wears them away and yet sustains them, just as fiery thunderbolts strike bodies but do not consume them" (Octavius 34:12-5:3).

7.) Cyprian of Carthage "An ever-burning Gehenna and the punishment of being devoured by living flames will consume the condemned; nor will thee be any way in which the tormented can ever have respite or be at an end. Souls along with their bodies will be preserved for suffering in unlimited agonies. . . . The grief at punishment will then be without the fruit of repentance; weeping will be useless, and prayer ineffectual. Too late will they believe in eternal punishment, who would not believe in eternal life" (To Demetrian 24).

8.) Cyril of Jerusalem "We shall be raised therefore, all with our bodies eternal, but not all with bodies alike: for if a man is righteous, he will receive a heavenly body, that he may be able worthily to hold converse with Angels; but if a man is a sinner, he shall receive an eternal body, fitted to endure the penalties of sins, that he may burn eternally in fire, nor ever be consumed. And righteously will God assign this portion to either company; for we do nothing without the body. We blaspheme with the mouth, and with the mouth we pray. With the body we commit fornication, and with the body we keep chastity. With the hand we rob, and by the hand we bestow alms; and the rest in like manner. Since then the body has been our minister in all things, it shall also share with us in the future the fruits of the past" (Catechetical Lectures 18:19).

9.) One scripture verse that is commonly appealed to is Romans 5:18, where the universal aspect is refuted in the very next verse.

33 comments:

Puritan said...

Great article

Anonymous said...

One problem is that you've taken one verse(Rev. 14:10), a great verse no doubt for proving the eternal state of hell, and forgot what Jesus said He would say to those that go to hell...He will say DEPART FROM ME, I never knew you. When most biblical preachers use the statement that is what is intended. And truly those who go to hell will be seperated from the manifest presence of God in all His goodness and blessings to man wich He so freely provides. While the biblicity of your doctrine of hell is to be commended, the premise of a "lost dotrine of hell" and putting down preachers who speak of people being seperated from God seems more like your persoanl ake to grind in the light of Jesus' words "DEPART FROM ME"....

Squirrelman said...

I read this unsure if people go to hell for eternity, but I still have my doubts. I looked at another site that supports temporary punishment, and they cite more Bible verses than you. That site is: http://www.jeremyandchristine.com/articles/eternal.php

Puritan Lad said...

Squirrelman,

The site you gave does a very sloppy job of handling scripture. Let me quote a portion of this nonsense.

“This verse admittedly uses the phrase "eternal punishment," but it is juxtaposed against the phrase "eternal life." Death by annihilation in the Lake of Fire could certainly be called "eternal punishment" because it is eternal in its consequences.”

Sorry, but annihilation is not eternal in its consequences. The phrase is not “eternal death”, but “eternal punishment”. The punishment is every bit as eternal as the life of the believer. If that isn’t clear enough, Revelation 14 should settle the issue.

“And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a loud voice, "If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also will drink the wine of God's wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name.” (Revelation 14:9-11)

Let me give you another quote from this site.

“I believe that men and women from around the world can come to a saving faith in Jesus Christ—even those from remote lands who have never heard the story. How is this possible? Well, I contend that our savior is at work in every country, every language, every culture, and even other religions.

Let me pause there for a moment. I want to make something very clear. I am in no way stating that many different religions are correct or that Christianity is just one of numerous ways into Heaven. This position is commonly called universalism, and I certainly do not believe it to be true. I profess that Christianity is the truth and the only one at that.

What I am prepared to defend is my belief that Jesus is active even in the hearts of people who may have never heard the gospel.

God's law of love is at work in all parts of the earth. People may live their entire lives without ever being given the choice to accept or reject Jesus by name, but they will have hundreds of thousands of opportunities to accept or reject his law of love—to act in pure, unselfish love or to continue in self-centeredness. I believe that in all of the choices we make on a daily basis, we are actually choosing to make a lifestyle out of following Jesus or rejecting him—and this can be done by anyone regardless of whether or not they know their savior's name.”


Sounds like a cultist to me. In his theology, Jesus is optional for salvation. In short, Jeremy and Christine look like a nice family, but they are not Christians. Do not be decieved.

Anonymous said...

http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?letter=S&artid=614

We all go to Sheol. We come from Sheol in the day of the Resurrection. It is the Grave. It isn't a place for the damed. It is a place for all the dead. But if you are a sinner, the stay isn't as nice.

Most will simply spend it with thier family.

By : Emil G. Hirsch

ARTICLE HEADINGS:
Position and Form.
—Biblical Data:
God Its Ruler.
Etymology.
—Critical View:
Origin of Biblical Concept.


Position and Form.

Hebrew word of uncertain etymology (see Sheol, Critical View), synonym of "bor" (pit), "abaddon" and "shaḥat" (pit or destruction), and perhaps also of "tehom" (abyss).

—Biblical Data:

It connotes the place where those that had died were believed to be congregated. Jacob, refusing to be comforted at the supposed death of Joseph, exclaims: "I shall go down to my son a mourner unto Sheol" (Gen. xxxvii. 36, Hebr.; comp. ib. xlii. 38; xliv. 29, 31). Sheol is underneath the earth (Isa. vii. 11, lvii. 9; Ezek. xxxi. 14; Ps. lxxxvi. 13; Ecclus. [Sirach] li. 6; comp. Enoch, xvii. 6, "toward the setting of the sun"); hence it is designated as (Deut. xxxii. 22; Ps. lxxxvi. 13) or (Ps. lxxxviii. 7; Lam. iii. 55; Ezek. xxvi. 20, xxxii. 24). It is very deep (Prov. ix. 18; Isa. lvii. 9); and it marks the point at the greatest possible distance from heaven (Job xi. 8; Amos ix. 2; Ps. cxxxix. 8). The dead descend or are made to go down into it; the revived ascend or are brought and lifted up from it (I Sam. ii. 6; Job vii. 9; Ps. xxx. 4; Isa. xiv. 11, 15). Sometimes the living are hurled into Sheol before they would naturally have been claimed by it (Prov. i. 12; Num. xvi. 33; Ps. lv. 16, lxiii. 10), in which cases the earth is described as "opening her mouth" (Num. xvi. 30). Sheol is spoken of as a land (Job x. 21, 22); but ordinarily it is a place with gates (ib. xvii. 16, xxxviii. 17; Isa. xxxviii. 10; Ps. ix. 14), and seems to have been viewed as divided into compartments (Prov. vii. 27), with "farthest corners" (Isa. xiv. 15; Ezek. xxxii. 23, Hebr.; R. V. "uttermost parts of the pit"), one beneath the other (see Jew. Encyc. v. 217, s. v. Eschatology). Here the dead meet (Ezek. xxxii.; Isa. xiv.; Job xxx. 23) without distinction of rank or condition—the rich and the poor, the pious and the wicked, the old and the young, the master and the slave—if the description in Job iii. refers, as most likely it does, to Sheol. The dead continue after a fashion their earthly life. Jacob would mourn there (Gen. xxxvii. 35, xlii. 38); David abides there in peace (I Kings ii. 6); the warriors have their weapons with them (Ezek. xxxii. 27), yet they are mere shadows ("rephaim"; Isa. xiv. 9, xxvi. 14; Ps. lxxxviii. 5, A. V. "a man that hath no strength"). The dead merely exist without knowledge or feeling (Job xiv. 13; Eccl. ix. 5). Silence reigns supreme; and oblivion is the lot of them that enter therein (Ps. lxxxviii. 13, xciv. 17; Eccl. ix. 10). Hence it is known also as "Dumah," the abode of silence (Ps. vi. 6, xxx. 10, xciv. 17, cxv. 17); and there God is not praised (ib. cxv. 17; Isa. xxxviii. 15). Still, on certain extraordinary occasions the dwellers in Sheol are credited with the gift of making knowntheir feelings of rejoicing at the downfall of the enemy (Isa. xiv. 9, 10). Sleep is their usual lot (Jer. li. 39; Isa. xxvi. 14; Job xiv. 12). Sheol is a horrible, dreary, dark, disorderly land (Job x. 21, 22); yet it is the appointed house for all the living (ib. xxx. 23). Return from Sheol is not expected (II Sam. xii. 23; Job vii. 9, 10; x. 21; xiv. 7 et seq.; xvi. 22; Ecclus. [Sirach] xxxviii. 21); it is described as man's eternal house (Eccl. xii. 5). It is "dust" (Ps. xxx. 10; hence in the Shemoneh 'Esreh, in benediction No. ii., the dead are described as "sleepers in the dust").

God Its Ruler.

God's rulership over it is recognized (Amos ix. 2; Hos. xiii. 14; Deut. xxxii. 22; I Sam. ii. 6 [Isa. vii. 11?]; Prov. xv. 11). Hence He has the power to save the pious therefrom (Ps. xvi. 10, xlix. 16, the text of which latter passage, however, is recognized as corrupt). Yet Sheol is never satiated (Prov. xxx. 20); she "makes wide her soul," i.e., increases her desire (Isa. v. 14) and capacity. In these passages Sheol is personified; it is described also as a pasture for sheep with death as the shepherd (Ps. xlix. 15). From Sheol Samuel is cited by the witch of En-dor (I Sam. xxviii. 3 et seq.). As a rule Sheol will not give up its own. They are held captive with ropes. This seems to be the original idea underlying the phrase (II Sam. xxii. 6; Ps. xviii. 6; R. V., verse 5, "the cords of Sheol") and of the other expression, (Ps. cxvi. 3; R. V. "and the pains of Sheol"); for they certainly imply restraint or capture. Sheol is used as a simile for "jealousy" (Cant. viii. 7). For the post-Biblical development of the ideas involved see Eschatology.

Etymology.

—Critical View:

The word "Sheol" was for some time regarded as an Assyro-Babylonian loan-word, "Shu'alu," having the assumed meaning "the place whither the dead are cited or bidden," or "the place where the dead are ingathered." Delitzsch, who in his earlier works advanced this view, has now abandoned it; at least in his dictionary the word is not given. The non-existence of "Shu'alu" has been all along maintained by Jensen ("Kosmologie," p. 223), and recently again by Zimmern (in Schrader," K. A. T." 3d ed., p. 636, note 4) even against Jastrow's explanation (in "Am. Jour. Semit. Lang." xiv. 165-170) that "sha'al" = "to consult an oracle," or "to cite the dead" for this purpose, whence the name of the place where the dead are. The connection between the Hebrew "Sheol" and the Assyro - Babylonian "shillan" (west), which Jensen proposed instead (in "Zeitschrift für Assyriologie," v. 131, xv. 243), does not appear to be acceptable. Zimmern (l.c.) suggests "shilu" (= "a sort of chamber") as the proper Assyrian source of the Hebrew word. On the other hand, it is certain that most of the ideas covered by the Hebrew "Sheol" are expressed also in the Assyro-Babylonian descriptions of the state of the dead, found in the myths concerning Ishtar's descent into Hades, concerning Nergal and Ereshkigal (see Jensen in Schrader, "K. B." vi., part 1, pp. 74-79) and in the Gilgamesh epic (tablets ii. and xii.; comp. also Craig, "Religious Texts," i. 79; King, Magic," No. 53).

This realm of the dead is in the earth ("erẓitu" = ; comp. Job, x. 21, 22), the gateway being in the west. It is the "land without return." It is a dark place filled with dust (see Sheol, Biblical Data); but it contains a palace for the divine ruler of this shadow-realm (comp. Job xviii. 13, 14). Seven gates guard successively the approach to this land, at the first of which is a watchman. A stream of water flows through Sheol (comp. Enoch, xvii. 6, xxii. 9; Luke xvi. 24; Ps. xviii. 5; II Sam. xxii. 5).

Origin of Biblical Concept.

The question arises whether the Biblical concept is borrowed from the Assyrians or is an independent development from elements common to both and found in many primitive religions. Though most of the passages in which mention is made of Sheol or its synonyms are of exilic or post-exilic times, the latter view, according to which the Biblical concept of Sheol represents an independent evolution, is the more probable. It reverts to primitive animistic conceits. With the body in the grave remains connected the soul (as in dreams): the dead buried in family graves continue to have communion (comp. Jer. xxxi. 15). Sheol is practically a family grave on a large scale. Graves were protected by gates and bolts; therefore Sheol was likewise similarly guarded. The separate compartments are devised for the separate clans, septs, and families, national and blood distinctions continuing in effect after death. That Sheol is described as subterranean is but an application of the custom of hewing out of the rocks passages, leading downward, for burial purposes.

Bibliography: Stade, Ueber die A. T. Vorstellungen vom Zustande nach dem Tode, Leipsic, 1877;
idem, Gesch. des Volkes Israel, i. 418 et seq.;
idem, Biblische Theologie des A. T. pp. 183 et seq., Tübingen, 1905;
F. Schwally, Das Leben nach dem Tode, Giessen, 1892;
A. Bertholet, Die Israelitischen Vorstellungen vom Zustande nach dem Tode, Freiburg, 1899;
G. Beer, Der Biblische Hades, Tübingen, 1902;
idem, in Guthe, Kurzes Bibelwörterbuch, s.v. Hölle;
Zimmern, in K. A. T. 3d ed., ii. 641, 642, Berlin, 1903 (where the Assyrian literature is given).E. G. H.

Anonymous said...

http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=115&letter=G&search=Gehenna

Gehenna is a temporary place of torment to punish the wicked. What the Catholics call Purgatory

By : Kaufmann Kohler Ludwig Blau

ARTICLE HEADINGS:
Nature and Situation.
Judgment.
Sin and Merit.


Nature and Situation.

The place where children were sacrificed to the god Moloch was originally in the "valley of the son of Hinnom," to the south of Jerusalem (Josh. xv. 8, passim; II Kings xxiii. 10; Jer. ii. 23; vii. 31-32; xix. 6, 13-14). For this reason the valley was deemed to be accursed, and "Gehenna" therefore soon became a figurative equivalent for "hell." Hell, like paradise, was created by God (Soṭah 22a); according to Gen. R. ix. 9, the words "very good" in Gen. i. 31 refer to hell; hence the latter must have been created on the sixth day. Yet opinions on this point vary. According to some sources, it was created on the second day; according to others, even before the world, only its fire being created on the second day (Gen. R. iv., end; Pes. 54a). The "fiery furnace" that Abraham saw (Gen. xv. 17, Hebr.) was Gehenna (Mek. xx. 18b, 71b; comp. Enoch, xcviii. 3, ciii. 8; Matt. xiii. 42, 50; 'Er. 19a, where the "fiery furnace" is also identified with the gate of Gehenna). Opinions also vary as to the situation, extent, and nature of hell. The statement that Gehenna is situated in the valley of Hinnom near Jerusalem, in the "accursed valley" (Enoch, xxvii. 1 et seq.), means simply that it has a gate there. It was in Zion, and had a gate in Jerusalem (Isa. xxxi. 9). It had three gates, one in the wilderness, one in the sea, and one in Jerusalem ('Er. 19a). The gate lies between two palm-trees in the valley of Hinnom, from which smoke is continually rising (ib.). The mouth is narrow, impeding the smoke, but below Gehenna extends indefinitely (Men. 99b). According to one opinion, it is above the firmament, and according to another, behind the dark mountains (Ta'an. 32b). An Arabian pointed out to a scholar the spot in the wilderness where the earth swallowed the sons of Korah (Num. xvi. 31-32), who descended into Gehenna (Sanh. 110b). It is situated deep down in the earth, and is immeasurably large. "The earth is one-sixtieth of the garden, the garden one-sixtieth of Eden [paradise], Eden one-sixtieth of Gehenna; hence the whole world is like a lid for Gehenna. Some say that Gehenna can not be measured" (Pes. 94a). It is divided into seven compartments (Soṭah 10b); a similar view was held by the Babylonians (Jeremias, "Hölle und Paradies bei den Babyloniern," pp. 16 et seq., Leipsic, 1901; Guthe, "Kurzes Bibel-wörterb." p. 272, Tübingen and Leipsic, 1903).

Because of the extent of Gehenna the sun, on setting in the evening, passes by it, and receives from it its own fire (evening glow; B. B. 84a). A fiery stream ("dinur") falls upon the head of the sinner in Gehenna (Ḥag. 13b). This is "the fire of the West, which every setting sun receives. I came to a fiery river, whose fire flows like water, and which empties into a large sea in the West" (Enoch, xvii. 4-6). Hell here is described exactly as in the Talmud. The Persians believed that glowing molten metal flowed under the feet of sinners (Schwally, "Das Leben nach dem Tode," p. 145, Giessen, 1892). The waters of the warm springs of Tiberias are heated while flowing past Gehenna (Shab. 39a). The fire of Gehenna never goes out (Tosef., Ber. 6, 7; Mark ix. 43 et seq.; Matt. xviii. 8, xxv. 41; comp. Schwally, l.c. p. 176); there is always plenty of wood there (Men. 100a). This fire is sixty times as hot as any earthly fire (Ber. 57b). There is a smell of sulfur in Gehenna (Enoch, lxvii. 6). This agrees with the Greek idea of hell (Lucian, Αληθεῖς Ιστορίαι, i. 29, in Dietrich, "Abraxas," p. 36). The sulfurous smell of the Tiberian medicinal springs was ascribed to their connection with Gehenna. In Isa. lxvi. 16, 24 it is said that God judges by means of fire. Gehenna is dark in spite of the immense masses of fire; it is like night (Yeb. 109b; comp. Job x. 22). The same idea also occurs in Enoch, x. 4, lxxxii. 2; Matt. viii. 12, xxii. 13, xxv. 30 (comp. Schwally, l.c. p. 176).

It is assumed that there is an angel-prince in charge of Gehenna. He says to God: "Put everything into my sea; nourish me with the seed of Seth; I am hungry." But God refuses his request, telling him to take the heathen peoples (Shab. 104). God says to the angel-prince: "I punish the slanderers from above, and I also punish them from below with glowing coals" ('Ar. 15b). The souls of the sons of Korah were burned, and the angel-prince gnashed his teeth at them on account of their flattery of Korah (Sanh. 52a). Gehenna cries: "Give me the heretics and the sinful [Roman] power" ('Ab. Zarah 17a).

Judgment.

It is assumed in general that sinners go to hell immediately after their death. The famous teacher Johanan b. Zakkai wept before his death because he did not know whether he would go to paradise or to hell (Ber. 28b). The pious go to paradise, and sinners to hell (B. M. 83b). To every individual is apportioned two shares, one in hell and one in paradise. At death, however, the righteous man's portion in hell is exchanged, so that he has two in heaven, while the reverse is true in the case of sinners (Ḥag. 15a). Hence it would have been better for the latter not to have lived at all (Yeb. 63b). They are cast into Gehenna to a depth commensurate with their sinfulness. They say: "Lord of the world, Thou hast done well; Paradise for the pious, Gehenna for the wicked" ('Er. 19a).

There are three categories of men; the wholly pious and the arch-sinners are not purified, but only those between these two classes (Ab. R. N. 41). A similar view is expressed in the Babylonian Talmud, which adds that those who have sinned themselves but have not led others into sin remain for twelve months in Gehenna; "after twelve months their bodies are destroyed, their souls are burned, and the wind strews the ashes under the feet of the pious. But as regards the heretics, etc., and Jeroboam, Nebat's son, hell shall pass away, but they shall not pass away" (R. H. 17a; comp. Shab. 33b). All that descend into Gehenna shall come up again, with the exception of three classes of men: those who have committed adultery, or shamed their neighbors, or vilified them (B. M. 58b). The felicity of the pious in paradise excites the wrath of the sinners who behold it when they come from hell (Lev. R. xxxii.). The Book of Enoch (xxvii. 3, xlviii. 9, lxii. 12) paraphrases this thought by saying that the pious rejoice in the pains of hell suffered by the sinners. Abraham takes the damned to his bosom ('Er. 19a; comp. Luke xvi. 19-31). The fire of Gehenna does not touch the Jewish sinners because they confess their sins before the gates of hell and return to God ('Er. 19a). As mentioned above, heretics and the Roman oppressors go to Gehenna, and the same fate awaits the Persians, the oppressors of the Babylonian Jews (Ber. 8b). When Nebuchadnezzar descended into hell, all its inhabitants were afraid that he was coming to rule over them (Shab. 149a; comp. Isa. xiv. 9-10). The Book of Enoch also says that it is chiefly the heathen who are to be cast into the fiery pool on the Day of Judgment (x. 6, xci. 9, et al.). "The Lord, the Almighty, will punish them on the Day of Judgment by putting fire and worms into their flesh, so that they cry out with pain unto all eternity" (Judith xvi. 17).
(see image) Valley of Ge-Hinnom.(From a photograph by Bonfils.)The sinners in Gehenna will be filled with pain when God puts back the souls into the dead bodies on the Day of Judgment, according to Isa. xxxiii. 11 (Sanh. 108b). Enoch also holds (xlviii. 9) that the sinners will disappear like chaff before the faces of the elect. There will be no Gehenna in the future world, however, for God will take the sun out of its case, and it will heal the pious with its rays and will punish the sinners (Ned. 8b).

Sin and Merit.

It is frequently said that certain sins will lead man into Gehenna. The name "Gehenna" itself is explained to mean that unchastity will lead to Gehenna (; 'Er. 19a); so also will adultery, idolatry, pride, mockery, hypocrisy, anger, etc. (Soṭah 4b, 41b; Ta'an. 5a; B. B. 10b, 78b; 'Ab. Zarah 18b; Ned. 22a). Hell awaits one who indulges in unseemly speech (Shab. 33a; Enoch, xxvii.); who always follows the advice of his wife (B. M. 59a); who instructs an unworthy pupil (Ḥul. 133b); who turns away from the Torah (B. B. 79a; comp. Yoma 72b). For further details see 'Er. 18b, 101a; Sanh. 109b; Ḳid. 81a; Ned. 39b; B. M. 19a.

On the other hand, there are merits that preserve man from going to hell; e.g., philanthropy, fasting, visiting the sick, reading the Shema' and Hallel, and eating the three meals on the Sabbath (Giṭ. 7a; B. B. 10a; B. M. 85a; Ned. 40a; Ber. 15b; Pes. 118a; Shab. 118a). Israelites in general are less endangered (Ber. 10a) than heretics, or, according to B. B. 10a, than the heathen. Scholars (Ḥag. 27a; comp. Men. 99b and Yoma 87a), the poor, and the pious (Yeb. 102b) are especially protected. Three classes of men do not see the face of hell: those that live in penury, those suffering with intestinal catarrh, and those that are pressed by their creditors ('Er. 41b). It would seem that the expressions "doomed to hell" and "to be saved from hell" must be interpreted hyperbolically. A bad woman is compared to Gehenna in Yeb. 63b. On the names of Gehenna see 'Er. 19a; B. B. 79a; Sanh. 111b; et al.

Bibliography: Winer, B. R. i. 491;
Hamburger, R. B. T. i. 527-530;
Hastings, Dict. Bible, ii. 343-346;
H. Guthe, Kurzes Bibelwörterb. pp. 271-274, Tübingen and Leipsic, 1903;
G. Brecher, Das Transcendentale, etc. pp. 69-73, Vienna, 1850;
A. Hilgenfeld, Jüdische Apocalyptik, Index, Jena, 1857;
F. Weber, Jüdische Theologie, pp. 336 et seq.;
E. Stave, Der Einfluss des Parsismus auf das Judenthum, pp. 153-192 et seq., Haarlem, 1898;
James, Traditional Aspects of Hell, London, 1903.K. L. B.

Puritan Lad said...

Thanks for the diatribe, but that is not what I asked you for. I aksed for Scriptural evidnece, and you haven't given any. I frankly don't care what the Jewish Encyclopedia says, because they were "blind leaders of the blind". I have given you a list of Scriptural proof for this doctrine, and you have yet to deal with any of these.

BTW: Both ancient Jews and Greeks believed in eternal punishment, as well as the early church. No amount of modern revision can change that.

Here is the Biblical argument again.

According to the Scriptures, Hell is "…to be feared" (Luke 12:4-5); "…to be avoided at all costs" (Matthew 5:29-30), "…a fiery furnace" (Matthew 13:42), "…a lake of burning sulfur" (Rev. 20:10). "…everlasting" (2 Thess. 1:9), "…unquenchable" (Matthew 2:12), "…eternal" (Jude 1:7). In Hell, there "…will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (Matthew 8:12), for it is a place where the "…worm does not die and the fire is not quenched." (Mark 9:44-48). For those who go there, "…it would be better to have never been born" (Matthew 26:24). Hell is eternal. It is a place of “everlasting punishment” (Matthew 25:46).

Unless you have some answer that doesn't refer to the modern Judaist heresy, I hold the case to be closed.

Daniel Florien said...

You do make a pretty good case God is evil.

Puritan Lad said...

Only if you beleive that man is innocent, and I think we have plenty of empirical evidence to the contrary...

Benjamin said...

I am proud to not believe in such a god.

Puritan Lad said...

"I am proud..."

That's because you neither know yourself nor do you know God.

Benjamin said...

But why would I want to know a god that punishes people eternally simply for a lack of belief in him? Such a being is not worthy of my love or yours either.

Puritan Lad said...

Benjamin,

There are several errors here, but mostly I think you are mistaken as far as the purpose of God's punishment goes. Perhaps the blame for this can be laid at the feet of the modern day seeker sensitive church.

Have you ever considered how disgusting your sins are in the eyes of a Holy and Just God? Why would such a God allow such a wicked creature into His presense? God punishes man for his sins, not merely for just unbelief. In other words, He punishes man because man deserves it.

As far as whether or not God is worthy of our love, who is man to make that decision. The very fact that he doesn't immediately destroy us wicked creature and send us straight to Hell makes Him worthy of love.

But God went even further, Benjamin. He sent His own Son to suffer the wrath of miserable sinners.

So before you pass judgment on God for His wrath, I would beseech you to consider this question. Suppose you were to die today, and find yourself standing before God. If God were to ask you, "Why should I allow you into my Heaven?" What would be your answer?

Finally, what if the Christian God is objectively real (and He is)? Would it not be prudent for your own sake to give Him the love he demands?

Benjamin said...

Well, you see, I don't believe that the Christian God is objectively real. I believe there is no more evidence for his existence, than, say, Allah, who, in his book, has specifically singled out Christians for a very nasty portion of Hell. What would you do, if, after you died, you appeared before Allah, and he asked you, "Why should I let you into Heaven?"

I must admit, I have not given much thought to concocting an answer to that question. You see, I am not afraid of something that I don't believe in. I am just as afraid of Hell as I am of Thor crushing me with a hammer of thunder. I am sure that you have a similar attitude towards the Islamic Hell, so I imagine that you can understand my feelings on this point.

I fear that I will never understand your point that God is worthy of love because he does not send everyone straight to Hell. If I insulted another man, and he decided not to kill me for it, is that reason enough to love him? I would say not, especially if he, like God, was responsible for the deaths of millions of other people, including close relatives of mine. (I speak of natural disasters and plagues here, the responsibility for which lies squarely with God.)

Yes, if the Christian god were objectively real (and I do not believe that he is), than it would indeed be prudent to do what he demands. However, I feel that his eternal wrath towards people of other faiths would be a problematic behavior, and by loving him, I would be an enabler. Now, if there were overwhelming evidence of his presence (angels in the streets, the sun pausing in the sky, cities being blown to bits by fiery hail from heaven, etc.), then I have to admit, I would do my absolute best to love him out of fear for my eternal soul. However, even in this case, I doubt I would be able to fully love him, knowing his violent and intolerant attitudes toward others.

Puritan Lad said...

Benjamin,

There is no shortage of evidence for the existence of the Christian God. We have the evidence of nature, the fine-tuning of the universe (Strong Anthropic Principle). We have the Providence of GOd, which is the basis for all inductive reasoning (without which, we could not function), as well as the intricate design of the human body. We have God's gift of wisdom and knowledge, without which the human mind cannot have any connection with the physical universe. We have the evidence of history, God's history of redeeming His people, the 500 witnesses to a resurrected Christ, etc.

The problem that you have isn't with the lack of evidence. The problem that you have is metaphysical. You have rejected the evidence above based on your own metaphysical presuppositions. You have committed yourself (without any reason) to a naturalistic worldview, and that alone determines what you will accept as evidence. In giving what you would accept as evidence, you listed "angels in the streets, the sun pausing in the sky, cities being blown to bits by fiery hail from heaven, etc." You may have been very sincere when you wrote that, given this evidence, you would "do my absolute best to love him out of fear for my eternal soul". However, even that type of evidence would not convince you. If you saw angels in the streets, you would immediately start looking for the video projector and the holographic machine. If you saw cities being blown to bits by fiery hail from heaven, you would look for the volcano or the latest terrorist weapon. If you saw the sun pausing in the sky, you would find some naturalistic explanation for that. Again, no amount of evidence would convince you because of your commitment to a naturalistic metaphysic.

The problem with your worldview, however, is that you must adopt a Christian metaphysic in order to argue against Christianity. one example is the idea of moral absolutes. You have passed judgment on the Christian God because He is "responsible for the deaths of millions of other people", and because of "his eternal wrath towards people of other faiths". Have you ever considered why you have moral absolutes? How can absolute moral values exist in a naturalistic worldview, and why should the Christian God be subject to your arbitrary standard? You complain that God has "intolerant attitudes toward others". Why are you intolerant towards God? Since when is "tolerance" considered the ultimate virtue.

See Modern "Tolerance": Defining A Self-defeating Premise

“Without absolutes revealed from without by God Himself, we are left rudderless in a sea of conflicting ideas about manners, justice and right and wrong, issuing from a multitude of self-opinionated thinkers.” - JOHN OWEN

The ultimate proof of God's existence, therefore, is the absurdity of His non-existence. Without Him, we cannot account for the preconditions of logic, science, morality, or intelligible experience. Therefore, God exists. It is in these areas that you show a knowledge of God, but reject such knowledge based on your flawed metaphysics.

See A Sound Proof For God's Existence

Let me interject that I truly feel sorry that you have lost a close relative. Death is a horrible enemy that we must all deal with. It is a result of sin, which brings us back to the question that you must face. To take a position that God is unworthy of your worship because He doesn't run things the way you approve of is to put yourself on the throne of God. Such a view greatly overvalues mankind, undermines the horror of sin, and does injustice to the holiness and the sovereignty of God. Let me give you a quote from CHarles Spurgeon for your consideration.

"Men will allow God to be everywhere except on his throne. They will allow him to be in his workshop to fashion worlds and to make stars. They will allow him to be in his almonry to dispense his alms and bestow his bounties. They will allow him to sustain the earth and bear up the pillars thereof, or light the lamps of heaven, or rule the waves of the ever-moving ocean; but when God ascends his throne, his creatures then gnash their teeth; and when we proclaim an enthroned God, and his right to do as he wills with his own, to dispose of his creatures as he thinks well, without consulting them in the matter, then it is that we are hissed and execrated, and then it is that men turn a deaf ear to us, for God on his throne is not the God they love. They love him anywhere better than they do when he sits with his scepter in his hand and his crown upon his head. But it is God upon the throne that we love to preach. It is God upon his throne whom we trust." – CHARLES SPURGEON

Anonymous said...

Sick doctrine for sick minds. Anyone who teaches this to children is on the same level as one who beats or sexually abuses children.

Perfect religion for sociopaths.

Anonymous said...

What total and complete garbage, puritan boy. Yet another poor soul lost to IFT (invisible friend theory). This character 'god' in your story is such an utter creep it defies belief. Then again it's all made up so why worry? Go out and enjoy yourself instead of wasting time talking tripe. Seek medical help, delusions are dangerous. You are a perfect example of what is wrong with this world

Puritan Lad said...

Are you really interested in discussing this, or are you another drive-by poster? Seeing as how you post under "Anonymous", I would guess the latter.

On what authority will you make your claims?

Anonymous said...

The authority of common sense and reason, the enemies of all religion.
I know it's pretty pointless trying to debate with one (or many) of the saved, but the article and comments paint a picture of an evil being, not a love-filled bringer of light. If you can't see that, what could i or anyone lese possibly say to convince you? God is not love, God is hate and unfortunately the world suffers because of it.

Anonymous said...

"The ultimate proof of God's existence, therefore, is the absurdity of His non-existence. Without Him, we cannot account for the preconditions of logic, science, morality, or intelligible experience. Therefore, God exists."

This is wothout doubt one of the top five most ridiculous passages I have ever read. Science and evolution provide answers for your pre-conditions; such things have been strongly (and successfully) argued by intelects more advanced than any contributers to this blog

Puritan Lad said...

Anonymous: "The authority of common sense and reason, the enemies of all religion."

Response: "Common Sense" and "Reason" assume that the human mind is capable of meaningful activity outside the creative powers and Providence of God. That seems quite absurd to me, so you're going to have to prove that this is possible.

Anonymous: "I know it's pretty pointless trying to debate with one (or many) of the saved"

Response: But you post here anyway?

Anonymous: "but the article and comments paint a picture of an evil being, not a love-filled bringer of light"

Response: Can you define evil for me? Please justify the standard by which you will do so.

Anonymous: "If you can't see that, what could i or anyone lese possibly say to convince you?"

Response: So again, why are you posting here?

Anonymous: "God is not love, God is hate and unfortunately the world suffers because of it."

Response: Didn't you just tell us that "Then again it's all made up so why worry?" Yet you seemed quite worried about it. Now you are giving God attributes after telling us He doesn't exist. Well, which is it? Are you suggesting that God doesn't exist merely because His standards don't meet your approval?

Anonymous: "Science and evolution provide answers for your pre-conditions;"

Response: Really? I'm trying to weed out your ad hominems and have a fruitful discussion here, but there is very little substance in any of your posts. Science cannot even provide a real explanation for anything in an atheistic worldview, such as a ball dropping to earth. But I'll digress that point for now. Since you made the assertion, can you please provide scientific and evolutionary basis for logic, science, morality, or intelligible experience? Just one will suffice.

Thanks...

cottage said...

May I take issue with ‘A Sound proof for God’s existence.’

'2P1. If God has revealed himself, then God exists
P2. God has revealed himself
Prove A: The Christian God exists.'

The believers’ argument, above, is of a perfectly valid deductive structure but it’s claim to soundness needs to be tested.

It is often asked of sceptics ‘just what would it take to make you believe in God’? As a sceptic my reply would simply be: ‘for God to prove his existence to me’, which is exactly of a piece with the argument above. And yet even if the proof were entirely sufficient for me to believe in God, it doesn’t follow from revelation that my belief that ‘God exists’ is true.

If Lucifer has revealed himself, then Lucifer exists
Lucifer has revealed himself
Lucifer exists

‘God (or Lucifer) has revealed himself’ is the same as ‘I have had an experience’, which is a state of mind and not an ontological demonstration. The mystic is claiming to have experienced God, and yet that very same mystic, as a most ardent believer, is none the less able to conceive of God’s non-existence without fear of contradiction, for a necessary being’s non-existence is logically impossible. And since ‘God does not exist’ is non-contradictory, the argument has failed as a demonstrable proof. Regards, Cottage

cottage said...

Puritan lad, you asked another poster to define evil. I hope you don’t mind if I answer that? ‘Evil’ is where there is harm and suffering. Where there is no evil there can be no suffering.

To continue with the theme of the thread, I think most people are uncomfortable with the idea of a vengeful and bloodthirsty Old Testament God. Quite understandably it would be better if God could be presented as the essence of pure love, but unfortunately the Bible’s writers had to acknowledge the existence of evil as a plain fact, and so the only accommodation left to them was to present the deity as a loving God who justly punishes wicked human evildoers.

But if God is the omnipotent creator, the cause of all existent things, and evil exists, then it does so only because God causes and sustains its existence, since nothing can exist independent of God’s will. And this brings us to the inconsistent triad and the classic argument for the incompatibility between God’s omnipotence, benevolence and the problem of evil. The notion of an omnipotent, infinite, perfect and all-loving being that punishes his finite, imperfect creation for their created faults is an absurdity that stands on its own. But when the Free Will Defence is introduced, the apologetic compounds what is already illogical, since it wants to say that it is better for an omni-benevolent God not to be omni-benevolent than for humans not be able to choose evil. It also informs us that an ability to inflict suffering is of a greater moral worth than having that ability withdrawn or made impossible. Aside from the obvious contradiction, that argument is misleading since it assumes that free will must necessarily imply the existence of evil. It does not! Once again we need a timely reminder that if God exists then nothing exists but what God brings into being. Of course it cannot be said that free will necessarily implies evil, because that presumes to dictate what an omnipotent being must create, which is contradictory. And yet, if free will does include evil then it can only be because the omnipotent Creator makes it so.

Cottage







.

Puritan Lad said...

Cottage,

You'll have to take that particular issue up with Ron, but I don't think he was referring to personal experience when he stated that God has revealed Himself, though that would certainly be included within the realm of revelation. There are many ways in which God has revealed Himself.

In any case, I'm not sure how someone who calls himself a "empirical skeptic" can logically differentiate between personal experience and ontological demonstration. Both are merely sense experience no? In order to differentiate between the two, you are going to have to somehow be privy to the sense experience of others.

Based on previous discussions, would you suggest that God's existence is a "reasonable certainty" based on so many "experiences"?

I noticed you didn't address the rest of Ron's argument. I read the comments section on his blog next week to see if you have addressed his intelligible experience argument.

As for the ancient "problem of evil" argument, I have dealt in detail with that here.

The Problem of Evil Answered

But using your definition, are animals capable of evil? There is a lot of suffering in nature, yet I have never met anyone who would consistently accuse the animal kingdom of moral evil. What about viruses and bacteria? Are they capable of moral evil?

Finally, what obligates a person to avoid causing suffering in others, particularly in a godless universe based on "survival of the fittest"?

Anonymous said...

Many thanks for your response, Puritan.

Now I think you might be missing the difference between sense data (X being contingently true) and intuitively demonstrable truths, such as A=A, where a thing is the same as itself. And no, I’m afraid I do not accept that God’s existence is a ‘reasonable certainty’; I rather think those are contradictory terms. We generally agree that there are table and chairs, the sun and the moon, and that deciduous trees shed their leaves in winter – despite the problem of induction and ‘whatever is may not be’ as Hume put it - but we most definitely don’t all agree that there is a God, never mind one who supposedly sent his son to earth to die for our sins etc, etc.

As to the argument ‘A sound proof for God’s existence’, I’ve addressed the ‘proof’ at its source, which in every aspect begins with the premise ‘God exists’ and finds for what is claimed to be a sound conclusion from faith alone. An argument may be circular and yet be true none the less; however, this circular argument begins and ends with a belief in an object, the existence of which is not demonstrated. Thus it is an argument only for believers, since an unbeliever doesn’t have to accept the premises, which are not universally or necessarily true. I won’t be visiting other blogs, as my discussion is with you and I can’t be running from one forum to another when I have limited time on a computer and I’m responding to points made here. But if you think there is specific element that I should look at again, then please put the argument to me in your own words and I’ll give you my response as soon as I can.

Instead of offering proof of God to underpin your belief, it seems to me that you bow out of the argument by preferring to build a case against those that question it. And I’ve noticed that this misleading form of argumentation (literally, leading objectors away from the core issue) appears as a common tool in Christian apologia. Creating arguments against materialism or atheism, even if correct, bring you no closer to proving to me - or even to you yourself - what you believe to be true. You may remember that in one of my earlier replies I informed you that I’m not an atheist. The reason for saying that is not because I’m a closet theist, or agnostic towards the idea of gods, but only because as a sceptic I cannot deny anything in absolute terms if it isn’t logically impossible. I can be mistaken in my perceptions and must therefore always be open being proved wrong, but your position can admit of no such vulnerability, even though your argument is founded only on faith. And that poses a crucial question: given that you are unable to demonstrate certainty, what makes your beliefs true and mine false? Even if I’m utterly mistaken in what I say it does not follow a fortiori that ‘God exists’ must be true, which is the very proposition on which your faith is founded. In your last response to me (in this forum) you said certain knowledge is not the term you used in your argument. And yet the thrust of your argument presumes certainty in the knowledge of a supposed deity, as it must if your claim to the truth is to stand!

What we loosely refer to as knowing can be subdivided into two things, experience, and necessary or analytical truths. By experience we mean sense impressions, while logical truths, or the analytical a priori, are true because a contradiction is implied if denied. But if sense experience cannot give us certain knowledge and pure logic fails to demonstrate the existence of God, then the proposition ‘If knowledge, then God’ fails as an epistemological truth.

Regards, Cottage

Puritan Lad said...

Cottage,

I'm not missing the difference between sense data and intuitively demonstrable truths, because my worldview can justify such a difference. But I'm asking you how an empiricist can do so. How do you justify demonstrable truths without being privy to the sense experience of other people? In an empiricist world, sense data is sense data, and thus everything is based on personal experience alone, whether it be a personal experience with God, or sitting at a table on a chair. The fact that we agree or disagree on a matter is irrelevant. Besides, not everyone generally agrees that there are table and chairs, etc. There is an entire culture of Eastern thought that would deny the reality of the physical universe. So you need to justify your reliance upon sense experience. On what basis will you accept my experience about tables and chairs, and reject the Apostle's experience about a resurrected Christ?

As for the source of the argument, both Ron and myself have put forward two arguments, one for believers, and one for non-believers. This is necessary due to the conflict in our metaphysical presuppositions. The argument for non-beleivers is that God's existence is proven by the absurdity of his non-existence. You seem to object to this form of argumentation, but it is both logical and valid. The reason that you object is because, like most non-believers, you pretend that your skeptical position is the "neutral" or "default" position. But there isn o "neutral" or "default" position. One is either sanctified by the Word of Truth, or has a mindset that is hostile to Christ's Lordship. You either begin with God, or you begin with "no God". The problem with "no God" is that it leads to irrationality. You would not even be able to put forward an argument without acknowledging God in some limited way, because your worldview cannot account for any sort of knowledge, logic, intelligible experience, uniformity in nature, free will, free thought, personhood, etc. Like it or not, this is a valid, logical argument for God's existence. If one is to deny that God is the precondition of these things, then we need to be presented with an alternative.

There is no neutral approach. (Thus all arguments are narrowly circular on the metaphysical level, because all worldviews have unproven presuppositions, ie. "I think, therefore I am". It is the broadly circular arguments that are invalid arguments, though they may be arguing for a valid truth).

You keep falling back on the idea that true knowledge is unattainable, because true, consistent skepticism is actually irrefutable, since you won't grant your opponent any knowledge by which he may be refuted. However, once you put forth an arguement for anything, including your skepticism, you have shown that you are not a true skeptic. Instead, you hold that your sense experience gives you reason to expect uniformity, but haven't demonstrated why this is so. In addition, you reject anyone's sense experience when in doesn't fall in line with your own metaphysical presuppositions. Thus your skepticism and empiricism are both selective and arbitrary. More below...

Puritan Lad said...

You wrote, "What we loosely refer to as knowing can be subdivided into two things, experience, and necessary or analytical truths." On what authority will you make such a claim? As I stated in my original argument, both empiricism and idealism fail as a solid epistemology (though both are useful tools). The experience argument is dealt with above. As for logic, I'll need an argument that shows that the laws of logic are indeed universal and unchangable. The Christian worldview can justify universal and unchangable laws, but I have yet to see a non-believer do so.

You then concluded that "if sense experience cannot give us certain knowledge and pure logic fails to demonstrate the existence of God, then the proposition ‘If knowledge, then God’ fails as an epistemological truth." This is a broadly circular argument. I do not accept your definition of "knowing" that you stated above. All knowledge, even knowledge about sense experience and logic, requires transcendental revelation, thus "If knowledge, then God" is true.

Anonymous said...

Puritan, with respect, you say you’re not missing the difference between sense data and intuitively demonstrable truths and then confusingly ask - ‘how can an empiricist do it?’ You then say there is an entire culture of Eastern thought that denies the physical universe, which is my own argument exactly! The point here is that intuitively demonstrable truths do not rely on sense experience (more on which below). The world exists, we shall say, but logically might not exist. But when we speak of God we are portraying an Absolutely Necessary Being, the non-existence of which is said to be impossible. And yet, when we announce ‘There is no God’ we find that we’ve committed no logical error, and the world and God, together, can be thought non-existent. ‘God’ isn’t a logically certain proposition but only a belief that argues from the world of experience, which itself is in doubt. Inferences from the experiential world that suppose other worlds (‘God’) are still contained in the experiential world. And if we can deny the world we can deny the inferences. And we can’t introduce God to underwrite an inferential argument because as we’ve seen ‘God’ is part of, and can be treated the same as, the experiential world. Tables and chairs and the Resurrected Christ are the same species.

You wrote that I object to Ron’s argument for the existence of God because it isn’t valid. That’s not so. I have already explained that Ron’s argument is perfectly valid because of its correct logical structure, its circularity notwithstanding. An argument can be valid even if the premises are false. But I can deny the first premise, as an ontological proposition, along with the conclusion that follows, and so it is the soundness that is questioned and not the validity. You say ‘you either begin with God or ‘no God’. In fact you begin your argument (but not your belief, which is held from an article of faith) from ‘no God’ because your argument is inferential: ‘The world exists: hence ‘God exists’. That is not a logical demonstration, and God is made dependent upon the contingent world for his existence, which is absurd if God is the Necessary Being. So your argument should begin with a self-evident truth, as in ‘God exists: hence the world exists’. But it isn’t self-evident because no contradiction is involved in ‘God does not exist’.
And it is a specious form of argumentation and diversionary to say that if one denies God then we need to be presented with an alternative. In fact that is just an inverted argument from ignorance. If A cannot explain his headache and B says headaches are caused by the phase of the moon, it doesn’t follow that A’s lack of explanation means B’s argument must be correct.

You said: ‘…you hold that your sense experience gives you reason to expect uniformity.’ Yes, indeed, but my expectations are only as true as the next occurrence. But although I question the veracity of the senses, I, like everyone else on this planet of ours, manage perfectly well on the basis of reasoning from the past and probability. And it is not the case that I ‘reject anyone’s sense experience when it doesn’t fall in line with [my] own metaphysical presuppositions.’ I reject sense experience as a criterion of truth, not because of a ‘metaphysical presupposition’ but because of a logical demonstration made evident by the principle of non-contradiction. And yes, of course ‘empiricism and idealism fail as a solid epistemology’, which is the point I’ve been labouring all along. But I absolutely go with the Christian view - on there being unchangeable and universal laws. If ‘God is God’, and God cannot be not God, then there is no occasion when those statements are false, and they are true because the converse is contradictory: p or not-p is true whether or not God or tables and chairs exist. If logic applies in all possible worlds and God is a possible world, then God is constrained by logic. God is a possible world (no contradiction). God is therefore subject to the laws of logic.

Cottage

Puritan Lad said...

Cottage,

If we are going to discuss the details of Ron’s argument, then I suggest that you go to the source. Remember, it was you who claimed that Ron’s first argument was based upon personal experience, not me (I don’t believe Ron was referring only to personal experience). You have stated that you won’t, and you may feel free not to, but I have no need to debate over what he meant by his second premise. It’s clear enough to me.

In your statement above, you tried to differentiate between personal experience and ontological demonstration. (Remember, this was your argument against Ron’s first proof, not mine). Therefore, I am asking you, as a self-described “empirical skeptic” to justify the difference. If you admit that you worldview cannot do so, then you will need to clarify your objection to Ron’s argument again? (And you still haven’t dealt with the second part of his argument). As a Christian, I can verify the differences between personal sense experience and ontological demonstration, but since you aren’t, then I need you to validate your objection to Ron’s argument.

You wrote, ”But when we speak of God we are portraying an Absolutely Necessary Being, the non-existence of which is said to be impossible. And yet, when we announce ‘There is no God’ we find that we’ve committed no logical error, and the world and God, together, can be thought non-existent.”. I never stated that the statement “There is not God” was a logical error. I said that it was objectively false, and have given the logical reasons behind that. Let me state my case again:

The problem with "no God" is that it leads to irrationality. You would not even be able to put forward an argument without acknowledging God in some limited way, because your worldview cannot account for any sort of knowledge, logic, intelligible experience, uniformity in nature, free will, free thought, personhood, etc. Like it or not, this is a valid, logical argument for God's existence. If one is to deny that God is the precondition of these things, then we need to be presented with an alternative.

Just saying that one can logically conclude otherwise doesn’t cut it, because without God, there can be no laws of logic by which we can make logical conclusions. You have written ”If logic applies in all possible worlds and God is a possible world, then God is constrained by logic. God is a possible world (no contradiction). God is therefore subject to the laws of logic.” On what basis would you assume that logic applies to all possible worlds? For that matter, how would you justify logic being universal and lawlike in this world? You will have to justify this before we can proceed. I do not hold that God is subject to the laws of logic. (If God is subject to anything besides Himself, than he cannot be God, by definition). Instead, God is the SOURCE of the laws of logic.

Regards,

PL

Anonymous said...

”No Cottage. That is the one thing that you haven't done. You have asserted that there is a difference, but you have yet to justify that difference as an empiricist. What is one to logically demonstrate a truth to, if not to ones experience? This precisely justifies my premise, that without God, we cannot know anything.”

Puritan you are still missing the point, possibly because I’m not making myself plain. But what is becoming clear is that throughout this discussion you have been, and still are, confusing mind with the empirical world, believing those two things to be the same and treating them as if they were. The three angles of a triangle are equal to two right angles and that is necessarily true independent of experience. If I were to physically lay out what I believe to be the perfect triangle I am liable to make mistakes, either because I cannot eliminate infinitesimally small errors or because of the curvature of the earth etc, etc. But regardless of my feeble and uncertain empirical efforts the truth of the formula obtains necessarily. And it is true for you just as it is for me. It is because of this fundamental misunderstanding that you want the sceptic to form an important but misleading element of your apologetic. But if ‘God exists’ is true then it stands regardless of any worldview, sceptical or theistic. A demonstrable truth isn’t dependent upon my existence, or my worldview; for even if I desert this mortal coil this very instant God=God will always be true, (which doesn’t in the least impose existence upon the concept). Similarly, the premise ‘God does not exist’ implies no contradiction whether I conceive it or you conceive it. So forget the sceptic and his worldview, because I’m saying it is impossible for the theist to hold in the mind two conflicting propositions. Even God and his agents cannot make a circle square, undo history or re-write the past. God is subject to logic, for otherwise the concept isn’t intelligible. And it cannot be said that God is the cause of logic, or synonymous with it, when his very existence is made impossible by a contradiction.

And now let’s look at this again:

“Belief in God is the only reasonable position to hold if for no other reason, it is unreasonable to argue against God's existence because to do so one must first presuppose those tools of argumentation that are only defenisble given God's existence.”


1. Belief in God (ie he exists)

2. Unreasonable to deny, since 1# pre-supposes tools of argumentation

3. God exists

Now read it backwards:

1. Belief in God

2. Unreasonable to deny since 1# pre-supposes tools of argumentation

3. God exists

Eureka! They are the same! If #1 is true then there is no need to pre-suppose #2 because it must logically follow, but it is a special plea that argues in a circle and presumes to tell us what is the case without establishing the truth of #1.

We see that in every case ‘God’ begins with a belief and ends as a belief, which has its place firmly in the uncertain empirical world.

Cottage

Puritan Lad said...

Cottage: "But what is becoming clear is that throughout this discussion you have been, and still are, confusing mind with the empirical world, believing those two things to be the same and treating them as if they were."

Response: No, I am not. I'm simply asserting that God is the precondition of both the mind and the empirical world.

Cottage: "The three angles of a triangle are equal to two right angles and that is necessarily true independent of experience."

Response: That's an interesting statement coming from someone who hold that certainty isn's possible. Are you certain of this? On what basis will you make this claim?

Cottage: "But if ‘God exists’ is true then it stands regardless of any worldview, sceptical or theistic."


Response: True. And the statement does stand regardless of the worldview. This is proven by two ways. For the believer, Romans 1:18-22 plainly tells us that (and you agree that Ron's argument, based on this passage, is logically valid). For the non-believer, it is proven to be true because the unbeliever relies on God in order to even function. In fact, you are relying on God in order to even form your arguments. Without the knowledge of God's Providence, there can be no justification for universal, invariany laws (whether they be laws of logic, laws of science, laws of morality, laws concerning triangles, etc.) Even your statement "the premise ‘God does not exist’ implies no contradiction" assumes univeral invariant laws, which you have yet to justify.

So let's get down to the nitty-gritty. You have made the following claim, which I will put in the form of a logical syllogism:

P1: If logic applies in all possible worlds and God is a possible world, then God is constrained by logic.

P2: God is a possible world (no contradiction).

Conclusion: God is therefore subject to the laws of logic.

I will ask you once again if you can justify P1, "logic applies in all possible worlds".

1.) How can you be certain of this since according to you, there is no certainty?

2.) How would you justify this claim? Have you visited all possible worlds and tried all of the laws of logic? And even if you did that, how would you validate this as anything more than personal experience? Maybe the laws of logic aren't really laws, but conventions that exist inside your brain.

While you think of your justification, I will counter with another transcendental argument:

P1: If the laws of logic exist, then God exists, since God is the precondition of the laws of logic.

P2: The laws of logic exist.

Conclusion: God exists.

Until you prove that universal invariant laws can exists in a godless universe, I'll have to cease honoring your use of the laws of logic, because you are simply borrowing capital from my worldview in order to argue against it. That is the ultimate contradiction. More proof that the denial of God leads to irrationality (or in the case, the existence of rationality).

Cottage: "We see that in every case ‘God’ begins with a belief and ends as a belief, which has its place firmly in the uncertain empirical world."

Response: We actually see that God is the beginning of everything, including logic, reason, and the empirical world. The only other option is "no God", which is equally circular (all arguments are circular at the metaphysical level) and leads to irrationality.

Regards,

PL

Puritan Lad said...

Cottage: "There are no certainties in nature and sense experience, but the tri-angle cannot be other than what it is, regardless of whether it exists anywhere, or however it is presented to the five senses. Give it a different name by all means, but the concept’s geometrical truth and the definition holds firm nevertheless. Remove just one of its angles in your mind and the concept is changed and the triangle becomes something else (p, or not-p is certain), and whatever it is now, it certainly is not a triangle!"

Response: I don't disagree, but the point is that you are now claiming certainty in the knowledge of triangles. Are you now backtracking on your position that knowledge is possible? How did you discover this truth about triangles? Was it by sense experience, or something else?

Cottage: "The term ‘possible world’ doesn’t of course refer to planets and worlds such as the universe, or places to be visited, but refers to necessity, contingency and possibility. To argue the possible world concept minus logic is an absurd notion, since ‘possible’ is the logical predicate; thus if we dismiss logic the possible world argument becomes void. The golden rule that logic isn’t an argument for logic must be correct, but a ‘possible world’ devoid of logic is unintelligible and on that account renders all discussion on the subject nonsensical. Like you, I can’t argue for what is logically inconceivable or absurd, and yet that is a mute point since we are both in agreement that God is a possible world."

Response: How do you know that a world devoid of universal logic would be unintelligible? Perhaps different worlds may use different laws of logic? In any case, your statement amounts to the fact that the laws of logic are universal because you need them to be. But that just doesn't cut it. The point is not mute, because there are no philosophical freebies. You wrote that "To argue the possible world concept minus logic is an absurd notion". How can anything be absurd without logic, since absurdity is a logical entity?

Cottage: "Your major premise (God is the precondition of the laws of logic) began with the very conclusion that you mean to prove; it didn’t set out conditions but presumed to inform us straight off of what is the case, ie that God is the precondition for the laws of logic (the very point that is being disputed). Your minor premise and conclusion only exist superficially to state once more what has already been asserted."

Response: The premise is proven by the impossibility of the contrary. There is no neutral starting point in discussing the existence of God. We either begin with God, and thus can justify the ability of the human mind to understand the world, or we begin with no God, and are left with irrationality. The fact that you appeal to universal, invariant laws of any sort is proof that you are aware of God's Providence (Hebrews 1:3), which is the only rational basis for inductive reasoning. Until you can justify the laws of logic in a godless world (or any sort of universal invariant entity), then the premise stands, and thus the proof for God's existence.

Puritan Lad said...

Cottage: "If logic is explained only by God’s existence then his existence would be logically certain. I would not be able to conceive of his non-existence any more than I can conceive of a triangle being square. And yet while I am quite unable conceive of a square triangle I can conceive of God’s non-existence - and so can you! God’s existence and logic are self-evidently not therefore synonymous, and God must therefore answer to logic, which is further proved by the numerous instances where God is logically constrained!"

Response: God's existence is logically certain, as I have shown. You may pretend to be able to conceive of his non-existence, but you must assume His Providence in order to be able to form an argument against His existence (unless you are prepared to offer an alternative justification for induction). The denial of a premise does not make God's existence any less certain.

Cottage: "By offering a transcendental proof for the existence of God you are acknowledging the universal validity of logic, and yet when I point out logical errors or demonstrate logical truths you say logic is not admissible because I’ve ‘borrowed’ from your worldview!"

Response: Correct. Since only the Christian worldview can justify inductive reasoning and universal invariant laws, I may freely use God's laws of logic. I'm still awaiting the alternative justification for induction. Until then, my point that the denial of God's existence leads to irrationality hold true.

Regards,

PL