(This posting is something of a footnote to my earlier posting, “What’s Wrong with the Religious Right?” on Matthew 25, a passage where Jesus describes the eternal destruction of the nations that ignore the needs of the poor, sick, homeless, and prisoner.)
Many of my family members fear for my eternal soul. As an apostate Pentecostal advocating unorthodox religious communism, their theology leaves little room for God to be merciful towards me, unless I abandon my false doctrine. Here’s an exchange I recently had with my cousin on the topic, which occurred after I created the above meme and posted it to Facebook
Original posting: “Hard to believe in an all-powerful loving creator who can’t save more than a fraction of the billions of humans he created from a hell he also created. #needanewtheology”
My cousin’s response: He actually only created two people and then handed it off to us. Therein lies the problem.
My response: So, he intentionally created weak people who couldn’t carry out his will or live up to his standards, so he could punish some of their offspring eternally?
Cousin: Not really, He created weak people so He could show them His great love by laying down His life that they may be saved.
Me: And, burning the vast majority of them eternally.
Cousin: Their choice, not His.
Me: Not really, God could choose just to annihilate the unrepentant, but God, who is all-powerful and free to set it up however he wants, chose to impose the punishment of eternal fire and torment for an INFINITE DURATION! That’s a lot of burning.
Here’s the deal, none of that is actually in the bible. It was added by the Catholic church in the middle ages.
Cousin: I personally sinned against Him and am deeply grateful He forgave me.
Me: I’ve known you my whole life. You’ve never killed anyone or even come close to doing the worst things human beings can do. I can’t imagine you or anyone doing something so evil that you should be tormented by burning for an INFINITE DURATION. Even Hitler should only be tormented for 600 million lifetimes. That’s still less than FOREVER.
When the Bible says the wicked will be punished eternally, the Greek word actually means, “finally” or “totally” or “irrevocably.” No Greek scholar accepts the translation to mean “infinite duration.”