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April 11, 2011

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Walter

Hi Brain,

I also don't believe the western understanding of hell, e.g punitive hell. My view is more of an Eastern Orthodox view.

In eastern orthodox church, hell is not a place that God abundon his creatures, hate his enemies, pour out fullness of wrath on them forever and foreover.

Eastern christians understand that God is omipresent. He is in heaven and hell. His love is unending and unchanging. He requires us to love the enemies because He does so as well. They understand that heaven and hell is also inescapable of loving presence of God. Heaven and hell are determined by how one relates to the love of God.The love and present of God to a believer is a comforting embrace but to the arrogant and independent God-hater, that same love and present is a suffocating stench that torments.

On the other word, God's love toward his enemies is never changes. God still loves his enemies forever.Sinners in hell is scourged by God's love forever. Many early church fathers also taught this view of hell. This view is hold by eastern orthodox church.And this view is close to the life of Jesus

One of the church father, Saint Issac the Syrian has the best expression on this view of hell:

''I also maintain that those who are punished in Gehenna are scourged by the scourge of love. Nay, what is so bitter and vehement as the torment of love? I mean that those who have become conscious that they have sinned against love suffer greater torment from this than from any fear of punishment. For the sorrow caused in the heart by sin against love is more poignant than any torment. It would be improper for a man to think that sinners in Gehenna are deprived of the love of God. Love is the offspring of knowledge of the truth which, as is commonly confessed, is given to all. The power of Love works in two ways: it torments sinners, even as happens here when a friend suffers from a friend; but it becomes a source of joy for those who have observed its duties. Thus I say that this is the torment of Gehenna: bitter regret. But love inebriates the souls of the sons of Heaven by its delectability.'' St. Isaac the Syrian

Wayne Northey

Thanks, Brian.

This has been the Church’s tragic legacy for centuries. I try to show this in my piece in this journal, “War and Hell”. It includes a book review of "The Other Side of the Good News" by Larry Dixon, whose conclusion of “eternal conscious torment in hell” for every non-believer is warmly endorsed in the Preface by J.I. Packer. Larry and I were fellow evangelists in West Berlin who once proclaimed Jesus together. We now worship a different “Lord”, one, in his and Packer’s case, who is quite prepared to give all enemies, temporal and spiritual, hell.

I wrestle with this in my novel "Chrysalis Crucible" – as both tragic motivation for evangelism, and execrable “scared straight” tactic for the unbeliever.

Jesus’ teaching on the other hand says: The litmus test for love of God is love of neighbour; and the litmus test for love of neighbour is love of enemy. To the extent one fails to love one’s enemy/ies, to that extent one fails to love God. This is the central atonement teaching and God’s model in Christ in Romans 5:6 – 11.

This is “Why Evangelicals Hate Jesus” according to Phil Zuckerman in a provocative posting here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/phil-zuckerman/why-evangelicals-hate-jes_b_830237.html. Evangelicals indeed reject Jesus outright on hell and war. Evangelicals teach that the only ultimate fearful entity in the cosmos to be saved from is a “god” who will give eternal conscious hell to everyone who fails to embrace “Jesus as Lord and Saviour”. This is a heresy (false teaching) and a travesty beyond imagining.

The vast majority of evangelicals and Roman Catholics (see Father Emmanuel Charles McCarthy on this here: http://www.centerforchristiannonviolence.org/) in the United States – and worldwide – subscribe to such a doctrine of hell and to such eradication of enemies.

Like I said: tragic.

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