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Most of the world ratified the United Nations Convention against Torture.

Can the belief in hell be justified against the Convention in those countries?

The punishment is to encourage and enforce proper behavior (not eternal) or to protect potential victims (no torture, see the Convention). So for better explanation of the question:

What is the meaning of eternal torture?

The satisfying answer should justify general christian insight without counterquestions, without metaphores, without implicit assumptions, without solipsism and without twisting of meanings.

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possible duplicate of Why should a sinner suffer forever in hell fire? –  David Stratton Jun 16 '13 at 14:20
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Welcome to the site by the way. I hope you don't take my vote to close as a judgement on the quality or content of your question. It's a valid question. Unfortunately it's already been addressed here, stated in various ways. The question I linked to is only one of many. For other similar ones, search the site for "loving God Hell" and you'll get several variations of "How could a loving God create hell?" –  David Stratton Jun 16 '13 at 14:24
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BTW, I assume from your username that you'd consider yourself an atheist. I'd like to reassure you that atheists are welcome here, so long as you follow the guidelines and don't misunderstand the purpose of the site. –  David Stratton Jun 16 '13 at 14:57
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As far as I am aware, God is not a signatory to any United Nations convention. –  DJClayworth Jun 16 '13 at 19:18
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@DJClayworth: of course Yahweh isn't. But the question stands if the belief in hell can be justified against the Convention due to the torture. I understand that it is not a pleasant question for christians who believe in loving god, but please note the last paragraph: without twisting of meaning. I don't want to condemn christian faith, so I ask. –  humanist Jun 16 '13 at 23:47

6 Answers 6

up vote -2 down vote accepted

Hell was originally created for Satan and his fallen angels

Matthew 25:41 (NIV) “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

We always have this misconception that God created hell to torture who do not believe Him or follow His commandments. I would argue that this is wrong! When God created Adam and Eve, His intention was to have a good fellowship and love relationship with them. We know that Satan fell before the creation of Adam. Hell was prepared for Satan and his fellow fallen angels.

Luke 8:31 (NIV) And they begged Jesus repeatedly not to order them to go into the Abyss.

The Devil and his angels are allowed to dominate and work on earth until their appointed time has arrived. The Devil is also called the prince of this world which indicates that he is the ruler of this world (see John 14:30). When Jesus was on earth, whenever the demons saw Him, they were terrified, thinking that their time is up!

Matthew 8:29 (NIV) “What do you want with us, Son of God?” they shouted. “Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?”

God has no responsibility for the lost souls

Whoever does not believe in Jesus Christ is not allowed to enter Heaven where God dwells. They will be thrown out of the Kingdom of God to where Satan lives, which is hell. Satan is not merciful like God, there is no love in him, he is rebellious, he loves to torture people, he loves destruction. God has no responsibility for anything that happen to those who are in hell.

Satan and his angles are the one who torture the souls

There is no direct scripture support for this but the scripture never say that God is responsible for the torture. You may go to http://www.youtube.com and search for the testimonies of those who visited Hell. You will usually find that there is no God in Hell nor his holy angles. The angels of Satan are the one who are torturing the souls in Hell. This is not scriptural but I'm just giving a real life example.

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There are some personal bias in the answer, but at least I can't find any internal inconsistency. At least to the point if Yahweh is responsible for hell. It's rather philosophical: is parent responsible for his child? Is A-bomb creator responsible for Hiroshima? Is knife manufacturer responsible for murder? If anyone won't find any internal inconsistency, I may accept this as an answer. –  humanist Jun 17 '13 at 13:17
    
@humanist I made this answer with a full knowledge that people won't agree. I have a different way of viewing things. I want to view God as just and rational. Not just playing around with His creation. If you want to show that you have a different view, accept the answer, just for the sake of showing your agreement. People might still downvote this but I'm reluctant to remove this post. –  Mawia Jun 18 '13 at 4:30
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I still don't understand why God is unable to defend the eternally tortured souls against Satan: if God is omnipotent, then why does He allow these people to receive eteral torture that they do not deserve? –  Anderson Green Aug 23 '13 at 1:12
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For example, it would seem unjust for an atheist to be tortured eternally (on account of their religious beliefs alone) if they discovered a cure for cancer (or made some similarly heroic accomplishment). I don't think anyone would deserve infinite torture for a sin that was not infinite: no one can be infinitely good or infinitely evil, so how can they deserve eternal reward or eternal punishment? –  Anderson Green Aug 23 '13 at 3:04
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I would hope so: would a non-believer deserve eternal torture if they had lived an otherwise virtuous life? –  Anderson Green Aug 23 '13 at 3:15

Even though I believe this has been answered elsewhere, I'll go ahead and answer this based on the comments to the original question.

Disclaimer:

Before I do, I need to remind everyone of the narrow scope of this site: We are not focused on proving any particular thing to be true. We focus solely on what the teachings are. As such it would be against site guidelines to answer whether the eternal punishment in Hell is true, or if God was justified to create an eternal place of torment. We can only answer what is taught within Christianity.


I'm going to answer this from the standard protestant Apologetics answer, which shares common themes across denominational boundaries.

The question here, as focused by the comments is "can the belief in hell be justified against the U.N. convention of disallowing torture".

The obvious answer here is the one that God gave to Job when Job questioned him about his misery. "Who are we to question God?"

Job 38:4 (KJV)

Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if you have understanding.

As explained by Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary

For the humbling of Job, God here shows him his ignorance, even concerning the earth and the sea. As we cannot find fault with God's work, so we need not fear concerning it. The works of his providence, as well as the work of creation, never can be broken; and the work of redemption is no less firm, of which Christ himself is both the Foundation and the Corner-stone. The church stands as firm as the earth.

In other words, God does not have to justify torture. (More on this later in the answer)

But that's not what you asked. What you specifically is how we humans can justify the belief in Hell when the U.N. has condemned it.

Again - short answer. We believe it because God said it's true. As pointed out by God in his discussion with Job (And by DJClayworth's comment), God is sovereign. God doesn't answer to us, we answer to Him.

We believe (at least most Christians do) that the Bible is God's inspired, inerrant Word.

Side note: Why we believe that would be the basis of a hundred other questions already answered on this site. And to make a distinction, that we accept this is not an implicit assumption, it is an established doctrine. Remember, we are not here to teach what is True, just what Christianity teaches, and it is undeniable that Christianity teaches that the Bible is God's word. Any attempt to steer this into a direction of whether it really is God's word is strictly not allowed in the site guidelines.


Main answer:

So that's it in a nutshell. We justify our belief because we trust God's word, and His word says it is so. We do not believe that God is accountable to the U.N. or any other organization/being, etc.


Extra credit

Addressing your qualifiers:

The satisfying answer should justify general christian insight without counterquestions, without metaphores, without implicit assumptions, without solipsism and without twisting of meanings.

While I'm at it, however, I'll point out that the underlying assumptions in the question are that:

  1. God isn't real
  2. The existence of Hell is immoral

In other words, the belief that we need to justify this is based on the assumption that God is a man-made construct. That we, as the group who believes in this made-up being, are responsible for introducing the idea of eternal torture. And that we must somehow answer for it or justify it. That is, in itself an "implicit assumption". It is quite impossible to have an opinion on anything without implicit assumptions. We all have them. We all have a set of glasses through which we see the world, and a base set of implicit assumptions that color our perceptions.

The very idea that "God is not real" generally springs the idea that "I won't believe it if it's not proven to me". In other words, if you can't prove that god exists, to my own satisfaction, then I don't believe He does. Tracing this back further, the root assumption that leads to this is that you are trusting only in your own intellect, mind, and reasoning process. This is the very solipsism you sought to ban in any "satisfying answer".

To bar implicit assumptions and solipsism in an answer to a question that is dripping with them shows a bit of a double standard. But at least I think I avoided the metaphor.

Likely, however, this won't be a "satisfying answer". If you were hoping for someone to come with proof that Hell is justified, I'm sorry, this is the wrong site. We don't focus on what's true, but rather what's taught. You may wish to go to a site dedicated to such things, but this isn't it.

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Thank you for putting quite lot of effort into the answer, David. Jesus wasn't having problems answering to ordinary people anytime. He was using metaphors and counterquestions, but sometimes he was able to reply without these "dirty tricks". I respect christian beliefs that Yahweh doesn't need to respond us, however he can. The possible answers are yes or no or I don't know - with optional explanation. I ensure you I don't have those underlying assumptions. However, I see contradict in Yahweh beeing good and hell's torture. How christians deal with this? –  humanist Jun 17 '13 at 1:16
    
Which goes back to my original set of comments. The question "How could a loving God create hell?" has already been answered in various guises on this site. The underlying question, as you just pointed out, is this. Which is why I voted to close as a duplicate in the first place. –  David Stratton Jun 17 '13 at 1:29
    
Please don't assume such things. I don't see the existence of hell itself to be contradictory to divine attributes. But the eternal torture seems to be contradictory to the goodness and the response "God is not obligated to answer this" looks like an evasive answer of wrongdoer. Is Yahweh really evasive here? –  humanist Jun 17 '13 at 5:51
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Hell is implicitly a place of suffering. So if you accept Hell as being consistent with the divine, you should have no trouble with people suffering in it. Also God no more has to give you an answer that fit in with your conditions than you have to tell your five-year old why he should pick up his room in terms that satisfy his conditions. –  DJClayworth Jun 18 '13 at 1:07
    
@DJClayworth Hell is the place of suffering and punishment (see the hell tag) which should enforce proper behavior (see wiki definition). If it is enforced (or potential victims protected), no more suffering is necessary. If someone change, humanists always forgive anything. Jesus (in bible) too. Eternal punishment means that Yahweh doesn't forgive, which would be very bad of him. The accepted answer claims that hell is not under Yahweh's control, which is probably not christian mainstream, but at least it is consistent with Yahweh's goodness. –  humanist Jun 19 '13 at 0:21

In the literal sense, there is no justification in eternal torture in hell.

The bible is absolutely steeped in symbolism, but gives plenty of "keys" to understanding the symbolisms.

Ecclesiastes 9:5 - Dead are unconscious.

Revelation 20:11-15 - Gehenna (Means second death...so where was the first death?)

Humans seems to like this idea of punishing by fire, but God states such an idea does not even come up into his heart:

Jeremiah 7:31- 32

The above account states that this manner of reasoning (punishment by fire) was directly inspired by pagan worship Jeremiah 7:30, and obviously it still is.


This torment-in-hellfire is an unending debate, but in the bible trees talk, animals with seven heads eat prostitutes, horses are ridden in heaven, locusts sting people. Its certainly not a boring read. But truly, its obvious our God-given intelligent minds were meant to perceive things beyond the strictly literal (John 6:56).

Most importantly religions and prominent leaders have always twisted things to get obedience by morbid fear, but the mind of God is very different: Matthew 11:30, 1 John 4:8.

And before it even goes as far as permanent death, there is always a kind hand out to pull us back from the proverbial fire: Job 33:22-29, Jude 1:23.

With all things considered - eternal punishment by fire (everlasting death) is a strong motivator to turn around given by a loving God, even if a kind outstretched hand is not enough to motivate the heart.

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One important point to this sort of question that was overlooked in this discussion is Election and Predestination. Most "humanist" don't take the interest or time to really study Christian Scripture and more importantly, if one is an unbeliever, will find most Christian beliefs foolishness because the revelation of Scripture is only spiritually discerned.

The fallacy of God being required to answer to man's sense of justice notwithstanding, the fallacies with questions relating to the justification of eternal torture are academic relative to the revealed truth of Scripture. God predestined His Elect from eternity and the reprobate will never believe and are condemned already.

The misconception is that we are here to make some sort of "decision for Christ" or, by others, that if we live a "virtuous life" that we will be judged well and permitted into Heaven. These are all false doctrine and the best we can do in this life "filthy rags" to God.

It's simple really, if your name appears in the Book of Life from before the foundation of the world then at some point God the Father will draw you to His Son and you will be saved out of this world. If not you will be condemned to hell. If that seems unfair to the OP or to the UN then, "who indeed are you - a mere human being - to talk back to God?". If this doesn't fit within the humanist's sense of judgement then that's too bad, this is God's Creation. It's all in the Scriptures and quite simple to those who are of the Elect and will always be foolishness to those who are perishing. God bless.

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Welcome to Christianity SE! Please stick around - but you should check out what we are and what makes us different than other sites. Because many of us have different beliefs, we take care to tell everybody where we're coming from (in this case, a Calvinistic framework). This keeps us from arguing about who is right and focusing on the teachings of various groups. It can take time to get used to it, but the links above can help. –  Ryan Frame Jan 11 at 17:28

Your 3 questions:

1. What's the justification of eternal torture in hell?

The hell is the "eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels". Now God give us the choice of follow God or the devil. Why someone that choose follow the devil (or choose do not follow God, in a biblical sense it's similar) will to heaven with the God followers? Is it fair? Now imagine a prison. It's not a nice place... but if you commit a crime, you (hopefully) will end in a prison. Hey, it's YOUR choice is there... You cannot blame the government or society (or even GOD) why you are in a place that was not prepared originally for you...

2. Can the belief in hell be justified against the Convention in those countries?

The God's Justice is far different of human justice. It's a topic for entire books, but you can notice by looking that gay marriage, abortion and another topics are approved in humam justice and not in the God justice...

3. What is the meaning of eternal torture?

Eternal torture is a eternal state of separation from God. Burning fire and torture are the lesser of your problems...

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What's the justification of eternal torture in hell? There is no eternal torture in Hell.

Most of the world ratified the United Nations Convention against Torture. Ok.

Can the belief in hell be justified against the Convention in those countries? There is the misconceived concept of Hell. Then there is the actual meaning .

The punishment is to encourage and enforce proper behavior (not eternal) or to protect potential victims (no torture, see the Convention). So for better explanation of the question: What is the meaning of eternal torture? Again, there is no eternal torture in Hell.

The satisfying answer should justify general christian insight without counter questions, without metaphores, without implicit assumptions, without solipsism and without twisting of meanings. Ok, Ready?

The concept of Hell is formed by a melting of concepts. Soon I hope that you will see.

The Old Testament was written in Hebrew. And the Hebrew word for Grave is "Sheol". When someone died, it was custom to bury the dead, therefore placing the body in Sheol, or in English terms "Placing the body into a grave."

The New Testament was written in Greek. And the Greek word for Sheol is Hades [a]. Now in the days of the Roman Empire they cremated the bodies. For Jerusalem the would have the bodies cremated in Gehenna (the Valley of Hinnom). Now all these words Sheol, Hades, and Gehenna where translated into a default Old English word "Hell".

In another piece of literature that was common in those days named "The Book of Enoch". There is a story about how angels defied God and later where tortured for a duration of darkness. In 2 Peter, an example of this story was used to teach something, the Greek Word that Peter used was Tartaroo [b] (meaning "throw to Tartarus"). This word unfortunately also was translated as Hell.

So what do we get when we mix all these concepts together? Death, Fire, Eternity of Pain, Darkness, and Punishment. So this might make you feel better. If you choose not to believe in God. You will die and stay dead, your body will either be put into a grave, or your body will be cremated. Unless, God decides to raise you from the dead anyways, just for kicks.

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"You will die and stay dead, your body will either be put into a grave, or your body will be cremated. Unless, God decides to raise you from the dead anyways, just for kicks." Doesn't Rev 20 indicate that everyone will be resurrected? –  curiousdannii Jan 12 at 7:29
    
Does it? Rev 20:5 points to a second Resurrection. Exactly how that will occur is not actually written. What it says: Jesus comes (Rev 20:11), All stood before throne (Rev 20:12), the sea, death, and Hades "gave up" the dead (Rev 20:13), death and Hades die (Rev 20:14), all not in book of Life die (Rev 20:15). Now notice that all stood before all had been given up. Therefore, "standing" no longer can be a proof that resurrection has occurred since it occurs before the "giving up". The actual term "giving up" could mean all is resurrected, but it could be a handing over. I base on what it says. –  Only he is good. Jan 12 at 18:30
    
So specifically, whether or not ones "not written in the book of Life" are raised from the dead or not is not actually specified. So either all are resurrected, then the ones not in the book of life are put to death again, or the ones not in the book of life are judged and forgotten about, and the ones in the book of life are raised. Therefore since it is not written. Jesus has the freedom of either choice. To bring back to life to kill again or not. What ever gives him his "kicks". –  Only he is good. Jan 12 at 18:39

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