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How can any human being choose of his or her own free will to go to Hell?

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In reply to an earlier post on Dec 13, 2011 3:05:30 PM PST
Anne Rice says:
With all due respect, FashionSense, that
is absurd.
People certainly do not choose their desires.
A baby does not choose to desire food, or warmth,
or the touch of her mother.
And no human being "chooses" sexual desire.
It comes whether one desires it or not.

We do most certainly endeavor to choose how we respond
to our desires, but to say we choose them is ridiculous.
I cannot choose to be hungry or not to be hungry.
If I ignore my hunger, I will starve to death.

It is patently obvious that desire varies from person to person,
with men often having a much stronger sexual desire than some women.

There is no equality in the world when it comes to desire.

God has never given any one an equal footing when it comes to desire.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 13, 2011 3:06:38 PM PST
DERetiree says:

I did not do a good job of explaining Martin Luther's comment about "reason is the whore of theology". My apologies for anything misleading I said or omitted. Obviously reason is a gift from God ... it is just not to be used to try to figure out the hidden side of God. God revealed to us what He wanted us to know in his Word (Holy Scriptures). The bottom line Good News is that God wants all to be saved. Unfortunately, not all will be for reasons we do not know ... the Scriptures do not speak to why some and not others receive the gift of faith.

As to the comment about Luther going back to the basics, yes he did. His 95 theses posted on the church door in Wittenberg in 1517 were a listing of the corruption that had grown over the years and existed in the church at that time. He was trying to reform the (small "c") catholic or universal Christian church that had gotten away from the original teachings, not split the church. At the time of Luther there was only the Western Christian catholic church (later to become the Roman Catholic and a variety of Protestant denominations) and the Eastern church, now known Eastern Orthodox. There was no (large "C") Catholic church at Luther's time if my memory serves me correctly.

Peace and forgive me for all the things that I have said that do not make sense. This is such a complex topic that it is difficult to try and answer a question without raising two more!!

Perhaps this link will prove insightful for those who care to explore more than can be discussed in an internet forum:

... DERetiree

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 13, 2011 3:11:25 PM PST
Anne Rice says:
You have enchanted me.
I am not only going to reread Lamentations now.
I am going to "try" to read Barth.
What would you recommend?
I thought I would order the volume of the Dogmatics
in which he addresses Atonement and Reconciliation.
I think it would be foolish for me to presume that I could
read all the Dogmatics.
If you would recommend a better intro into the mind of Barth
I welcome it.
Please give my love, truly, to your mother.

I thank you so much for your words here.
They almost brought to my eyes. I mean this touches me because I think this journey is so very important, and I cannot move away from it, and so often my intentions are misunderstood here.

I must say I have encountered many, many wonderful people here. And you are most certainly one of them.

The doors really don't open in this Forum until we accept the good intentions of those talking to us.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 13, 2011 3:17:26 PM PST
Anne Rice says:
Obviously Luther used his reason every step of the way as he studied the bible, and as he translated it into German, as he read Augustine and privileged what he read there over what he might have read in other church fathers.
Any time a theologian tells us to be suspicious of reason, we have to step back from such a statement and say, "but what about YOUR reason?"
True there are mystics like Paul who claim to be explaining a revelation.
But most theologians are not mystics. They're using reason.

Of course Luther was rebelling against the Roman Catholic Church,
and I do understand the context of his rebellion.
(One of the most brilliant books I've ever read is
Dairmaid McCulloch's THE REFORMATION.)
And Luther's reason told him that it had "gotten away from the original teachings."

My reason tells me that the entire Christian belief system needs
a re-examination.

Look, I appreciate your post and your patience.
You haven't mischaracterized Luther at all.
I understand what you're saying.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 13, 2011 3:27:45 PM PST
Lilly Smith says:
Anne, with respect to you as well, you are not simply questioning Christianity, you are judging it. In your words:

"We cannot know the mind of God,
but we can hold that He is perfect,
and we can reject systems that present Him as less than perfect.
Christianity presents him that way."

Christianity does not present God as less than perfect. What you fail to address in your criticisms is the justice of God. You hold that he is loving and merciful, and I agree. He is also just and must uphold justice or he is not perfect. In Christian philosophy, God upholds justice. I see no justice in your philosophy as you've described it so far.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 13, 2011 3:27:47 PM PST
FashionSense says:
Anne Rice

The hint is in the fact that God says that no one was able or did fulfill the Old Testament covenant. And that Jesus came to fulfill it and then establish the new one. And this was the hint that the world needed a saviour.

The close relationship with God in the Old Testament was with a few minor people. While God may have had a close relationship with Abraham and Sarah he destroyed the people of Sodom and Gomorrah. While God may have had a close relationship with Noah he destroyed the rest of the whole world. And while God may have had a close relationship with Jeremiah the people hated Jeremiah and what God had to say through him and these people did not then have a close relationship with God. Also, Jonah was asked by God to go prophecy to Ninevah, a people who had turned away from God, that subsequently turned again to God partially but later went back into their apostasy. When Moses was on top of Mount Sinai the people below were not having a close relationship with God but existing only in idolatry and mayhem. The people were following after Baal and Asherah and had a distant relationship with God. While God wanted a closer relationship with his people, his people did not want one with him. A few did.

The book of Judges is filled with the people of God turning into false idol worship over and over again. These things all led to the need for a saviour.

Since the people could not remain faithful to God, God needed a plan to redeem people in order that they could be saved and go to heaven. People need to be redeemed from their sins so that they can remain sinless in eternity. God wants a people who will remain sinless throughout all eternity and not bring back sin with its association to war, murder, hate, racism, sexism, abusivenness, idolatry, disease, illness, etc. He wants to keep heaven undefiled. God wants no spot in thee, as he says of the Shulamite girl in the Song of Solomon, "There is no spot in thee."

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 13, 2011 3:35:03 PM PST
M. Galishoff says:

The best place to start with Barth is with his commentary on Romans The Epistle to the Romans. If you decide to read the Dogmatics I recommend the Study Edition (the Dogmatics is in five languages and the Study Edition translates the Greek, Hebrew, Latin, German etc). Start with Volume 1.1 and 1.2. He has many other works that are magnificent.

I found that I needed to read works about Bath to understand his writings and the issues involved. John Webster, Peter Oh, George Hunsinger and Bruce McCormack are outstanding Scholars. Hunsinger wrote a guide How to Read Karl Barth: The Shape of His Theology. The volumes published by T&T Clark are pricy but worthwhile. If you wish to read about the Catholic response to Barth, the volume by Hans Urs von Batlhasar The Theology of Karl Barth (Communio Book). Essential to understanding Barth is how he addressed the problem of the analogia entis by devising an anlogiia fiedi (the development of his mature theology from his early work). Keith L Johnson Karl Barth and the Analogia Entis (T&T Clark Studies In Systematic Theology) monograph is outstanding. Peter Oh's doctoral thesis Karl Barth's Trinitarian Theology: A Study of Karl Barth's Analogical Use of the Trinitarian Relation is likewise.

The Karl Barth Study Series published by Ashgate are also great - I have two volumes in the series. Really, you just start anywhere you like.

But you must love Mozart because Barth writes like Mozart composes.

I have given you too much, I am afraid.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 13, 2011 3:47:47 PM PST
M. Galishoff says:

I found this monograph that I have not read: Barth on the Descent into Hell: God, Atonement, and the Christian Life (Barth Studies). Although I have blown my budget and my wife will slaughter me like a pig, I will order it as it seems to deal with the issue at hand.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 13, 2011 4:15:23 PM PST
LS:You hold that he is loving and merciful, and I agree. He is also just and must uphold justice or he is not perfect. In Christian philosophy, God upholds justice.
SA: There you already have the contradiction: merciful and just do not go together.

Posted on Dec 13, 2011 4:34:55 PM PST
DERetiree says:
Anne, not dogmatics by Barth, but two good books on dogmatics (my opinion) are:

Robert Kolb
The Christian Faith

Steven P. Mueller
Called to Believe, Teach and Confess - Introduction to Doctrinal Theology

I've never undertaken reading Barth ... this thread has piqued my interest, maybe I'll give him a try.

On a tangential topic: Have you read Eric Metaxas' "Bonhoeffer" 2010? Fascinating biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and his struggles with the evils of Hitler and how a Christian should deal with evil.

... DERetiree

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 13, 2011 4:54:07 PM PST
J. Williams says:
I don't think anyone says "I choose Hell." However, the choice comes in accepting that we all sin and that we all deserve death. To avoid the punishment of death, God sent His only son, Jesus to die in our place. To take the punishment of sin for us. We have the free will to choose to accept Christ's gift of salvation and go to Heaven or to deny his gift, and go to Hell.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 13, 2011 5:02:01 PM PST
DERetiree says:
Sophie Amrain says:
LS:You hold that he is loving and merciful, and I agree. He is also just and must uphold justice or he is not perfect. In Christian philosophy, God upholds justice.
SA: There you already have the contradiction: merciful and just do not go together.

The apparent contradiction can be easily resolved if one considers the distinction between Law (what God says you must do) and Gospel (what God does for us). The purpose of the Law is to show us that we cannot possibly live up to God's expectations of us on our own and to drive us to realize we need a Savior. That Savior is Jesus who died for the sins of all and was resurrected. Once we believe that, we are saved. My cry as a sinner is "Lord have mercy on me a sinner". God is just and will judge the living (believers) and the dead (unbelievers) on the last day. The believers will not have to give an account of their sins on the last day as they are already written into the Book of Life because of Jesus. The unbelievers are in the Book of the Dead and will be judged, justly, by God and have to give an account of their sins.


... DERetiree

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 13, 2011 5:05:44 PM PST
R. Largess says:
Sorry, Anne, but you're not being intellectually honest with yourself. Many people here have given you different answers to your original question, and rather than trying to understand them and answer them your response is universally: "No, That can't be". Why? Because it's too awful to accept; if God is good, he wouldn't permit such a terrible thing as people choosing evil forever. Unfortunately for this viewpoint, God chose to make man in a very real sense his equal, that is, possessing reason and freedom. Your view robs him of his freedom, and thus really of his reason too. You've heard this argument from a number of people, and repeatedly failed to attempt to answer it rationally. Man is a remarkable thing; capable of glorious good and terrible evil. And you'd turn him into, what, a robot? A slave that HAS to be good, because a good God won't let him be bad? There's a dark side to your vision of God the puppet-master. I wonder if it isn't worse than Hell.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 13, 2011 6:08:42 PM PST
Anne Rice says:
I don't think the record of Christian people since the coming of Christ
has been much different than the record of Jewish people since
Genesis or Sinai.
So the entire thrust of your post seems false to me.

I don't see any evidence that Christians have turned to God, or
kept His laws, or been redeemed from war, murder, hate et al.
Christians don't seem to be "redeemed" if we look at their 2,000 year record.

So I would say, based on your belief system, and your description of it, the New Covenant hasn't worked any better than the Old Covenant.

Again, this is according to your description.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 13, 2011 6:11:41 PM PST
Anne Rice says:
This is deeply appreciated. And I will be returning to this again and again. Thank you.
And I do insanely love Mozart.

When I am in the act of writing a book,
I mean in the thick of it, I watch the film Amadeus
over and over again. (Or Immortal Beloved.)
Granted this isn't listening to Mozart, but it is
going to the mentor Mozart for guidance in that
Amadeus presents a lot about the genius of Mozart.
I listen to Mozart constantly, on the road, in the house,
over and over.
Love Don Giovanni and all the operas,
(Losey's film of Don Giovanni most loved)
and the piano concertos et al.

Again, my thanks.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 13, 2011 6:13:14 PM PST
Anne Rice says:
I value these recommendations very much, DERetiree.
Thank you.
I have yet to read Bonhoeffer. His books really intrigue me
and I have read some about him but not enough.

Posted on Dec 13, 2011 6:16:42 PM PST
Anne, I think this is a very important question for many Christians and non-Christians alike to consider. Perhaps though its not so much a matter of choosing to go hell but rather a refusal to acknowledge the choice offered of life. Non-believers know that a choice is offered but they require more evidence than the historical data you yourself researched so they remain in unbelief. They have no desire to go to hell but neither do they have a desire to do what you and many other former athiests (notable are C.S. Lewis, Alister McGrath, Marvin Olasky to name but a few) and that is fairly examine the evidence. They may be sincere in their belief now but many change later in life and God is his grace and mercy gives every opportunity to receive His free gift because as we know from Scripture God desires none to end up in Hell. I think too many Christians use the threat of hell as a hammer and the tactic you are questioning to motivate people to a decision but that has lost any impetus a long time ago on most. Moreover, eternal damnation, eternal concious torment, is a also a very poor reading of the Greek. There are theologians, John Stott amongst them, who argue for annihalitation or the ending of the life that was refused. It's not unreasonable to think that a person may chose to end their life, people do so all the time. After all, who can truly understand the mind of man.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 13, 2011 6:18:09 PM PST
Anne Rice says:
J. Williams,
I am moving away from seeing it in this light.
Of necessity, I am moving away.
I cannot do otherwise.
I do not see us as "deserving death" so much as physical and spiritual beings in an evolving biological system of which death is a part.
I do not think we can avoid physical death,
and I am not at all sure that we experience spiritual death ever.
I do not believe in Original Sin (St. Augustine)
and do not see any evidence of any Fall or Turning Away from the
These ideas seem to me to have evolved from very primitive myth and very early religious notions which are no longer vital and do not contain truth.

I see evidence of the Creator and the splendor of his Creation.
I feel that His Creation may be the key to Him
and what He wants of us.

The Christian Religion with its ideas of Original Sin, and a Fall,
and Hell --- may be hampering many from "knowing" the Creator
in this world or what He expects from us, but there are obviously many many ways to the Creator.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 13, 2011 6:19:58 PM PST
Anne Rice says:
I must take issue with this. "The purpose of the Law is to show us that we cannot possibly live up to God's expectations of us on our own and to drive us to realize we need a Savior."

I do not see any evidence in the O.T. that this is the purpose of the
That seems entirely a Pauline prejudice and a supercessionist notion
which the O.T. does not support.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 13, 2011 6:29:25 PM PST
Anne Rice says:
Human beings are not the equal of God, R. Largess.
It is folly to suggest they are.

No, I have not turned humankind into robots.

I have argued that fallible human beings are not capable of knowingly choosing Hell instead of God. I have pointed to what I regard as a dishonest theology. I have questioned it and I have weighed many responses and I do not find any argument supporting the Christian belief system to be persuasive.

I do not see God as a puppet-master. Far from it.

I am sorry you have so misunderstood what I have said here.

I think if you will examine Christian theology you will see that in
both the Catholic and the Protestant tradition there is a great deal of talk of people being misled into Hell, tricked into Hell, deceived into Hell, and people going there in spite of their hopes and their dreams and their good intentions.
There is also horrific talk of people who don't accept Jesus as their
savior going there because they are mistaken.
That is why so many Protestants believe that Catholics go to Hell,
along with members of many other religions. Over and over again the question of salvation for many Christians boils down to a formula that could justly be described as tricky.

But there is very little if any explanation about how a person could responsibly and knowingly choose Hell for all eternity over God. Yet modern theologians have begun to suggest that people can do this ---

The theology reveals its weaknesses over and over again.

I think you have unfairly trivialized my point of view.
If this is the extent of your understanding of it, then we obviously deeply disagree.

I urge you to reexamine your theology.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 13, 2011 6:32:02 PM PST
Anne Rice says:
Brian, I think you make a number of very good points here,
and you make fine and interesting distinctions.
Thank you.

Michael Davenport is a poster in these threads who argues gently and well that the choice in the bible (or in the Christian system)
has always been between life and death and he backs up his
argument with excellent documentation.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 13, 2011 6:40:07 PM PST
andy f says:
I also believe that god loves people.i dont know anyone who disagrees.the only problem is that the bible presents us with many attributes of god's character.elevating the love of god over his other attributes is not the correct way to interpret scripture.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 13, 2011 6:46:12 PM PST
Anne Rice says:
andy f.,
I agree without question that God loves us.
He loves us completely.

Does God love religion?
I do not know.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 13, 2011 7:58:29 PM PST
However, many different Christian churches have different ideas about the truth. I belong to a Christian church which itself states that there is much misinterpretation by many about what Jesus meant.

I don't know about genesis since that is in the old testament. We are speaking of the teachings of Jesus Christ not the ancient Jewish teachings.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 13, 2011 8:04:09 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 13, 2011 8:07:50 PM PST
Amicus: "It's easy to understand how a person could choose "evil" if they have some defect of personality, or mental illness, or even a physical imbalance of chemicals that distorts their thinking process. But if a person is wholly healed and rational, how could he choose evil over good? And yet, it happens constantly."

I think it is easy to figure out why people choose the wrong way--temptation. How about compromising yourself for money or power? How about prejudice? People who get their personal needs met at the expense of their children. I can go on and on.
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