So, I'm already at my 100th post. Arbitrary marker, I know, But I decided I'd make this an interesting one. I want to discuss eternal punishment with you. Why eternal punishment? Because eternal punishment in hell is one of the most commonly used methods of intimidating people into believing the lies of evangelical christians.
The evangelical christians love the idea of eternal hell. It puts the impetus on a potential convert to either choose to believe or be potentially tortured forever. Its a great big initimidation con, and no doubt gets alot of weak converts from those who are afraid of that potential torture. That said, even so, I will set out to show that the idea of everlasting punishment is not only ridiculous as a doctrine, but completely unbiblical.
In this instance we should look at both the New and Old Testaments, but first the new. Yeshua, in those scriptures, which as best we can tell were initially published in Greek used the words Aionoios Kolasis to describe the eventual comeuppance of sinners and unbelievers. Now, while kolasis does equate to some kind of punishment for a crime or the rehabilitation, aionios is a bit trickier,a nd far more at odds with the fundies.
Aionios means "long enduring" based on all the greek sources that I can muster. It does not imply everlasting, and can be as short as a few years or a few centuries, but it is not eternal even in its implication. The term aionios is used dozens of times in the Septuagint (which Yeshua quoted from) in fact, and every single time it is in its meaning of "long enduring" not eternal. At least, not until you get to the New Testament where translators in the late Roman era and early middle ages decided that it meant eternal.
Highly conservative churches of course hate this idea, because it smacks of Origen's ideas about universal salvation, and of course, if you're going to be saved in the end regardless, alot of people aren't going to back the church, and the church's purpose of getting people to their salvation is completely shot, and many people would lose their purpose of living while not actually having to contribute productively. The very idea of universal salvation was very prevalent in early Christian communities, in fact, and even Augustine makes note of such doctrines and their popularity.
So, maybe I've misread something, but I cannot find anything to dispute this. Even if hell were to exist, I would not fear it because I would know it to be only for some time. Of course, as I don't believe in hell at all I fear it even less. But I highly recommend hitting fundies with that one every once in a while, as they really need a reality check, and watching them twitch in the throes of their cognitivie dissonance can be terribly amusing.
While I was researching all this I came upon a book called The Jerome Conspiracy which I recommend people check out. Its not a long read, and puts this all in a more comprehensive narrative. I actually wish I had come upon this source first, since most of my information is also therein.
Yeah, I'm Here
5 years ago