Saturday, January 16, 2010

Lucia Everlasting Torment in Hell and Truth [UPDATED]

A good friend of mine said recently that he didn't want to be convinced of belief, as you can be convinced of anything, even things that are not true or right in hindsight, therefore he doesn't trust being convinced. Hopefully I've got the essence of that right, for I think he is being very wise as he carefully tries to get to the truth.

Truth is something human beings are wired for, however, our ability to discern truth or to desire to recognise truth is flawed, due to our flawed nature. It takes a desire for truth above a desire to believe in a certain way to get closer to the truth. In other words, careful deconstruction of ones desires and motives, which (I think) is really only possible with divine help. Otherwise, it's easy to get tangled up and seriously lost. One incorrect assumption can lead a person away from what is true.

Which leads me to why I've made the above reflection. I've been reading up on "annihilationism". It's a belief that those in Hell are not left in eternal torment, they are at some point totally and utterly destroyed by God. It's somewhat similar to believing that when you die you cease to exist (as many atheists do), or when you die you get absorbed back into God (as some New Agers do), or when you die your memory is wiped and you get reincarnated into a different person or animal (New Agers and some other religions).

I used to believe in reincarnation, and it was one of the beliefs I had the most difficulty unbelieving when I finally became convinced in the truth of the Catholic Church and her claim to be the Church establish by God on earth. I think I had difficulty with letting go of this belief because it made sense in regards to holding together other beliefs I had. It reinforced the immortality of the soul, it gave expression to "energy never dies, it just changes form", a byline of mine that I used in various internet forums from a song I loved by Single Gun Theory. Without reincarnation, how I understood myself totally fell apart. I needed to believe this and yet the Church told me this belief was false. It was quite the barrier that I knew I had to overcome, thus my major stumbling block in returning to the Catholic faith.

So, when kindly given Glenn's notes for his podcast on why he believes annihilationism to be true, I can only think, you can convince a person of anything given enough ammunition and will. If I didn't have myself solidly anchored in Catholicism, I might find his arguments compelling. (Except there are too many contradictions in them, so maybe not.) Even Satan is a Scripture scholar, as we find when he tempts Christ in the desert. My friend's distrust of convincing arguments comes back to me with force when reading Glenn's notes. Sorry, Glenn.

In my quest for trying to understand the counterarguments, I have rediscovered a Catholic blog that robustly defends the faith: Biblical Evidence for the Catholic Faith by Dave Armstrong, convert from Evangelical Christianity. His post on Biblical Evidence for Eternal Hell was useful, but not enough. But his latest post(Reply to Protestant Apologist Jason Engwer's "The Canon & Church Infallibility" (An Alleged Disproof of Catholic Development of Doctrine), Pt. IV ), even though it's not on the subject at all where he quotes St Vincent, has been incredibly helpful.

. . . Chapter XX.

The Notes of a true Catholic.


[48.] This being the case, he is the true and genuine Catholic who loves the truth of God, who loves the Church, who loves the Body of Christ, who esteems divine religion and the Catholic Faith above every thing, above the authority, above the regard, above the genius, above the eloquence, above the philosophy, of every man whatsoever; who sets light by all of these, and continuing steadfast and established in the faith, resolves that he will believe that, and that only, which he is sure the Catholic Church has held universally and from ancient time; but that whatsoever new and unheard-of doctrine he shall find to have been furtively introduced by some one or another, besides that of all, or contrary to that of all the saints, this, he will understand, does not pertain to religion, but is permitted as a trial, being instructed especially by the words of the blessed Apostle Paul, who writes thus in his first Epistle to the Corinthians, "There must needs be heresies, that they who are approved may be made manifest among you:" as though he should say, This is the reason why the authors of Heresies are not forthwith rooted up by God, namely, that they who are approved may be made manifest that is, that it may be apparent of each individual, how tenacious and faithful and steadfast he is in his love of the Catholic faith.
Interestingly enough, the above quote leads full circle to how I got involved in the whole conversation with Glenn in the first place. Apparently (and he can correct me if I'm wrong on this), he thought that by pointing out to traditional Christians how the traditional view leads to enjoying the suffering of the damned in Hell, that we may think again about our adherence to the traditional notion of Hell, and potentially take on the view that God doesn't punish people forever, he just destroys those who don't get to Heaven.

However, this attempt to get a person such as myself to change my beliefs didn't work. Rather than being revolted by enjoying someone's suffering or just embarrassed by traditional belief, I thought that there must be more to it that I don't understand, and therefore set about trying to find out what the something more was. In other words, as St Vincent says "... that they who are approved may be made manifest that is, that it may be apparent of each individual, how tenacious and faithful and steadfast he is in his love of the Catholic faith."

Thank you Glenn.

Related Links: Front Row Seats in Hell and Loftus on Eternal Torture ~ Baretta Blog

The splendour of truth shines forth in all the works of the Creator and, in a special way, in man, created in the image and likeness of God (cf. Gen 1:26). Truth enlightens man's intelligence and shapes his freedom, leading him to know and love the Lord. Hence the Psalmist prays: "Let the light of your face shine on us, O Lord" (Ps 4:6).

Veratatis Splendor ~ Vatican

UPDATE (22 January, 2010)
Summa Theologica:
Question 94. The relations of the saints towards the damned
1. Do the saints see the suffering of the damned? Yes.
2. Do they pity them? No.
3. Do they rejoice in their sufferings? Only indirectly.
[...], It is written (Psalm 57:11): "The just shall rejoice when he shall see the revenge."

Further, it is written (Isaiah 56:24): "They shall satiate [Douay: 'They shall be a loathsome sight to all flesh.'] the sight of all flesh." Now satiety denotes refreshment of the mind. Therefore the blessed will rejoice in the punishment of the wicked.

I answer that, A thing may be a matter of rejoicing in two ways. First directly, when one rejoices in a thing as such: and thus the saints will not rejoice in the punishment of the wicked. Secondly, indirectly, by reason namely of something annexed to it: and in this way the saints will rejoice in the punishment of the wicked, by considering therein the order of Divine justice and their own deliverance, which will fill them with joy. And thus the Divine justice and their own deliverance will be the direct cause of the joy of the blessed: while the punishment of the damned will cause it indirectly.

36 comment(s):

KG said...

A fascinating post Lucyna, and there's at least a few hours of reading in those links. Which leads to further links and further reading....
Who among us has time to be bored?
"life piled upon life were all too little.."

Andrei said...

I think hell is the separation of the individual from God for eternity.

It is quite clear from the hostility shown toward that which is Holy by some of our contemporaries that there is an underlying hatred toward our Redeemer and that leads me to wonder how those who display this hostility in the here and now are going to cope on the Day of Judgement when they meet him as Judge.

I expect they actually will judge themselves and flee to the Outer Darkness

Glenn said...

Lucia, I passed my notes on annihilationism on to you, and you now say that apart from your precommittment to Catholicism, you might find them convincing, "Except there are too many contradictions in them."

I am calling your bluff. Let's hear about these contradictions, shall we?

(let's also see if the comment system can be changed so that we don't need a Google account)

Glenn said...

Oh, and incidentally, I yet again - as I did at my blog - point out that you are still misrepresenting my post on hell. I was not arguing against the traditional doctrine or trying to get people to accept my view. I was pointing out (as I told you already) that many who think that they hold the traditional view actually do not.

The Old Geezer said...

I enjoyed looking over your blog
God bless you

Lucia Maria said...

Glenn,

Above, you said:

I was not arguing against the traditional doctrine or trying to get people to accept my view. I was pointing out (as I told you already) that many who think that they hold the traditional view actually do not.

Yet in your blogpost Loftus on Eternal Torture, you said:

Recently I blogged on what traditional Christian theology says about hell. I cited the examples of Tertullian, Aquinas, Jonathan Edwards and Isaac Watts, all of whom taught in one way or another (Tertullian being the most graphic) that when the saints get to heaven they will derive great happiness and enjoyment from watching the torture of the damned. My point there was that those who claim to hold the traditional Christian view of hell don’t realise that this was part of that theology, and would be less likely to state that they affirm the traditional view if they were aware of this aspect of it.

Mmmmmm... methinks you are not being entirely honest here. That's one contradiction, just in how you've framed your perspective and then what you've actually said and done before we even get to the arguments on annihilationism.

David said...

What exactly is your argument against Glenn here Lucia? Are you contradicting his assertion that Aquinas et al stated that, "when the saints get to heaven they will derive great happiness and enjoyment from watching the torture of the damned", or the fact that he believes many Christians who describe themselves as "Traditional" would not agree with this view?

ZenTiger said...

I don't know about Lucia, but I will be arguing against his interpretation of Aquinas' statement (in a post) when I get a chance.

Lucia Maria said...

David,

In answer to your questions, no and no.

My position, as I stated on his blog, is more of a feeling of intense sadness that people go to Hell. However, upon reflection, I can't disagree that anyone who is in Heaven enjoys the suffering of the damned.

The point of disagreement is on believing St Thomas and Tertullian to have the correct view - he thinks they are wrong, because theirs is the "traditional" view of Hell. He believes souls in Hell are destroyed by God (at some point), not left to suffer for eternity. Though, even if the souls in Hell are eventually destroyed, I'm not clear on why he doesn't think the souls in Heaven enjoy their suffering in the meantime - apart from it being the traditional view which he opposes, and it being somewhat abhorrent as a concept.

leftrightout said...

Hell, I understand that. But I have a lot more trouble getting my head around the idea of heaven, and for an eternity. Just what will we be doing there?

I understand that we need free will to make the human condition work, yet in heaven there could be no free will, or it would not be heaven, unless your idea of heaven is a place just like earth. So what is heaven, and how will we fill in the time?

Sorry if this is "threadjacking".

David said...

I wasn't really commenting on his hypothesis about god destroying souls, just the statements you quoted.

Still.. interesting. While alive, mortal, and on Earth, you feel sad that people are going to go to hell. When you get to heaven however you think you'll enjoy the suffering of the damned? Have I got that right?

Glenn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Glenn said...

Lucia, two things:

Firstly you have let yourself down in your interpretation of my comments. You quoted me saying that people who say that they hold the traditional view of hell "would be less likely to state that they affirm the traditional view if they were aware of this aspect of it."

This confirms exactly what I said earlier, that "I was pointing out (as I told you already) that many who think that they hold the traditional view actually do not."

You ought to be able to see this straight away. Both of those quotes amount to the same thing: The view that those who say that they hold the traditional view actually don't hold it, and if they were aware of what it taught, they would not claim to affirm it. That you can seriously call me dishonest for saying the same thing twice does not speak well of how careful you are being. That was careless of you.

Having entirely disposed of that cheap shot, now let me draw your attention back to your claim against me. For the second time, I am calling your bluff. You have claimed that in the defence of annihilationism that I provided to you, there are many contradictions.

Kindly point out some of these contradictions. Thanks. Pleae do not ignore the request this time.

Don't think I'm picking on you. You blogged on it, and you made the accusation. Now put up or retract your false claim.

ZenTiger said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ZenTiger said...

David, I can see a problem looming in this discussion.

And an irony. I trust you are not becoming "happy" at the opportunity to expose a perceived immoral stance? Why, you might decide to skewer Lucia on her beliefs, and assert "I gain no happiness in proving to myself the immorality of a position I have not taken the time to learn about, but a fully capable of judging"

Now, I may well be reading far too much into your comments, but please allow me this indiscretion as my words may prove instructive for some readers who are thinking along those lines.

An example.

If I were to ask a person today if they were gay, and they replied "affirmative" I might conclude they preferred the intimate company of men. However, if English happened to be a second language, there is a chance they simply meant "happy". It would be wise for me therefore to choose my words carefully to correctly understand the response, and be sure we were both using the words in the same way.

My point is, in these discussions you need to be very clear on what different terms precisely mean to different people.

Hell for example, according to Catholic doctrine isn't so much a place, as a state. What causes some-one to be "in hell" is a choice of accepting that state.

That understanding of Hell changes the discussion if the interpretations are not fully understood.

There are some key words when understanding the fragment of Aquinas' quotation that may change perception.

In this discussion I would have to explain clearly the meaning of the words Pity and Happiness to understand how Aquinas used them in discussing this issue, and obviously back that up with clear proof.

Aquinas asks a series of questions, of which Glenn's post alludes to. The questions addresses whether the blessed rejoice in the *punishment* of the wicked (note the difference here between discussing punishment (justice) and being told that the blessed rejoice in the *suffering*.

Note also that the suffering is caused by both by their choice to reject God and their choice not to repent of their sins. Again, the state of being in hell through this reason is important here.

I also suggest that the word *punishment* is sometimes incorrectly exchanged for *suffering* by some commentators who link his questions together, but somehow fail to distinguish the progression from asking:

1. Whether the blessed pity the unhappiness of the damned?

to then asking:

2. Whether the blessed rejoice in the punishment of the wicked?

It is making the distinction between viewing *punishment* over viewing *suffering* that allows Aquinas to explain:

A thing may be a matter of rejoicing in two ways. First directly, when one rejoices in a thing as such: and thus the saints will not rejoice in the punishment of the wicked.

So the happiness they experience is not directly due to observing suffering in the way some people have stated this, but rather that they rejoice:

indirectly by considering therein the order of Divine justice and their own deliverance, which will fill them with joy.

Do you see the difference here?

I will hopefully find time to address this in a fuller post, because even this brief comment is possibly inadequate without laying out in full what Aquinas has said.

Zynic said...

I hadn't come across before that the traditional view included that the saints enjoying the torment. I can quite easily affirm the view of hell as a place of fire with endless torment (either literal or metaphoric you don't want to go here) without including that the saints are enjoying the spectacle. Where in the Bible does this appear? That said, after listening to Glenns podcasts his arguments are quite persuasive and indeed wonder where you think his inconsistencies are?

David said...

"I trust you are not becoming "happy" at the opportunity to expose a perceived immoral stance?"

Not quite, though I don't really blame you for anticipating that response. I actually suspected the explanation would be similar to what you've put forward.

I was actually just considering adorning my best athiest-smug while watching you thiests slug it out with each other :P

Since you are expecting my viewpoint though.. here it is.

What Aquinas is talking about seems consistant, and justified, IF you believe in god, heaven and hell, and all that other stuff. I don't think it's "Immoral" when given that starting position.

I don't believe though. As I've stated before I think human behaviour is deterministic, and largely dominated by emotions. I think a lack of empathy that people show for each other perpetuates the "evil" in society. So, the belief that rising to a higher plane of existence and understanding would eliminate that empathy, even if it's logically justfied when presented with those beliefs, wouldn't in my view detract from the view that the empathy we feel in the here and now is a product of our own mortality and weakness.

Empathy is something that I think needs to be encouraged. The thing is, Jesus christ showed a lot of it, and one of the better aspects of Christianity has been to teach just that. It does seem to me to be a bit ironic (even if it is logical) that the main characteristic of the guy you follow is something that essentially disappears when you get through the pearly gates.

In essence our viewpoints diverge at the root of our beliefs. Beyond that both views seem quite "rational".

ZenTiger said...

Seems like Lucia or myself will have to take the time to point out our areas of difference. Again, it will require a post rather than a comment to adequately address this. Until that time, a taster:

For starters I have a major disagreement on the substance of Glenn's claim. Here is his claim as I understand it:

But modern believers in eternal torment wouldn’t endorse this, would they? Would they actually endorse a theology of hell in which we sit and watch millions of people, including our lost children and friends, actually being tortured in fire – and would they agree that we will gain happiness and pleasure from the sight? In fact they do just that.

The implication here is that the "traditional view" endorses enjoyment out of watching other people suffering. It sets Glenn up to argue that his own annihilationism point of view is "more biblical" than the traditional point of view.

Again he repeats his premise:

Recently I blogged on what traditional Christian theology says about hell. I cited the examples of Tertullian, Aquinas, Jonathan Edwards and Isaac Watts, all of whom taught in one way or another (Tertullian being the most graphic) that when the saints get to heaven they will derive great happiness and enjoyment from watching the torture of the damned.

He concludes that followers of the "traditional view" don't know what they are following, and would probably change their minds if they did. In a comment from Glenn in this thread:

I was not arguing against the traditional doctrine or trying to get people to accept my view. I was pointing out (as I told you already) that many who think that they hold the traditional view actually do not.

(Continues below)

ZenTiger said...

(part 2)

A couple of points:

1. He is asserting the traditional or doctrinal view is that saints in heaven take immoral enjoyment from the suffering of others. I disagree (at least from Catholic doctrine).

2. He is implying therefore that people who hold a perceived traditional view (that saints would not take immoral pleasure from watching the suffering of others) do not hold the traditional view and would be surprised they are wrong.

Again, I disagree slightly. If one learned of the "traditional doctrinal view" in the Catholic church, one would perhaps investigate the fuller understanding of it. We can turn to the writings of the current Pope and his predecessor to gain insight (fuller understanding) into this view, or go back to Aquinas directly who explains the situation beyond the selective quote, out of context.

I also think to some extent Glenn believes such people would be very discomforted by learning the previously unknown doctrinal view, as he presents it, because this partially justifies his own view point, something he feels is more morally plausible - in his case - annihilation of the soul by God.

So, my first contention is that great thinkers like Thomas Aquinas took on board the writings of the earlier Church thinkers and what is contained in the bible to better understand if such a position was morally defensible, and if it was understandable.

If it is, then Glenn's initial premise fails and his appeal to consider an alternate theology will have to be on alternate grounds.

I have partly answered the "immoral" aspect of the claim by explaining that Aquinas saw that the happiness derived from watching souls being *punished* was an issue of justice, and the happiness so derived for that reason. Indeed, to repeat, he specifically states:

A thing may be a matter of rejoicing in two ways. First directly, when one rejoices in a thing as such: and thus the saints will not rejoice in the punishment of the wicked.

But the answer goes deeper than this, so I must defer until I have time to respond properly. This will also give Glenn an opportunity to confirm or deny my understanding of his argument, and specifically his quotes.

Currently, I think he is saying to Lucyna that she has misunderstood him, even as I suggest he misunderstands Aquinas :-)

The subtly of the issue though is that I do not dispute that the end result "sounds immoral" on the face of it, but that if we see the perfection of God in the way purified souls do, then we will understand that all knowledge will be revealed to us, because truth hidden is truth denied.

We therefore will not have the souls of the damned airbrushed out of existence (including the friends, sons and daughters he speaks of), in order to "keep us happy". On that basis, he would have to argue that there is some way for the damned to get to heaven. Is annihilating your parents souls also going to allow you as a saint, perfect happiness in heaven?

And yet happiness (term also requires further definition) in heaven (term also requires more discussion) is also a state of Grace caused by a purified soul and full acceptance of God, so this happiness must be lasting.

To explain that entire thought, in human terms is extremely difficult and Aquinas helped us immensely by writing his Summa Theologica, so I know it's going to take a fair amount of time to order my thoughts properly on this.

Regs, Zen

Glenn said...

Zentiger, to be a fair representation you would have to take out the word "immoral" from your description of point 1. of my view. What a simple knock down reply you would have if I had claimed that the traditional view literally affirms that the saints will do immoral things in heaven!

No, my view was (and is) simply that most who claim that the uphold the traditional view on hell would themselves not want to uphold all parts of it, such as the idea that we will watch and enjoy as the lost burn int he flames of hell. I notice you're trying not to breathe Tertullian's name, however!

But what I'm really asking for - and have been since I first commented on this blog post - is to see some of the many contradictions that Lucia says are in the paper on annihilationism that I gave her a link for (i.e. not the blog post on front row seats in hell). I'm eager to see what these contradictions are! I'll just have to wait, I suppose.

ZenTiger said...

Glenn, with all due respect, I think including the word immoral very important to discussing your representation. You are either making a point or you are not.

I can't see ANY point to your statement

No, my view was (and is) simply that most who claim that the uphold the traditional view on hell would themselves not want to uphold all parts of it,

if you are not applying a judgment of that position. Your judgment that people would change their view therefore relies on the view you suggest as being in some way deficient. I suggest you fundamentally think it immorally deficient because your interpretation is that the saints will derive great pleasure watching the sufferings of others. Aquinas explains that is not the case. I notice you ignore that point, and simply wonder why I ignore Tertullian. I have explained why I am not commenting on Tertullian, and for that matter I don't need to.

Furthermore, whilst you wait for a response from Lucia (which understandably can take some time) I would be interested in you addressing the points I made.

For example, your view of annihilism (or is it annihilationism?) requires you to believe souls in heaven will still remain perfectly happy when God destroys the souls of the damned. Can they truly remain happy to see their loved ones obliterated? If we are gaining perfect happiness in heaven, then it is not a matter of choice between accepting the lesser of two evils (eternal damnation or obliteration), because that is in itself an imperfection. Aquinas had much to say about this, which is why your small snippet of quotation is so flawed - you have to ignore the bulk of his theology to accept your initial premise. He was far too thorough in his writings to deserve that.

ZenTiger said...

David, thanks for the comment. This part here I would love to explore further, as I think it quite important:

I don't believe though. As I've stated before I think human behaviour is deterministic, and largely dominated by emotions. I think a lack of empathy that people show for each other perpetuates the "evil" in society.

So, the belief that rising to a higher plane of existence and understanding would eliminate that empathy, even if it's logically justified when presented with those beliefs, wouldn't in my view detract from the view that the empathy we feel in the here and now is a product of our own mortality and weakness.


I think a belief in rising to a higher plane of existence could not eliminate that empathy, as there are other factors at play. Also, on determinism - I'm now assuming you are the same David that mentioned this a while back (there seem to be a few Davids) so I'll try to find time to explain a question I have about that.

Gotta focus on work today though!

Lucia Maria said...

Leftrightout,

Hell, I understand that. But I have a lot more trouble getting my head around the idea of heaven, and for an eternity. Just what will we be doing there?

I understand that we need free will to make the human condition work, yet in heaven there could be no free will, or it would not be heaven, unless your idea of heaven is a place just like earth. So what is heaven, and how will we fill in the time?

Sorry if this is "threadjacking".


That's a really good question, and I have come across something in my reading over the last couple of days in regards to freewill and heaven, in regards to those in Heaven being totally aligned to God and any desire or ability to offend him just not present anymore ... I'm just not able to really answer the question off the top of head because I don't know enough.

I'll have to get back to you on that. I'll save your comment to a separate folder so I don't forget, but feel free to remind me.

Lucia Maria said...

Glenn,

Lucia, two things:

Firstly you have let yourself down in your interpretation of my comments. You quoted me saying that people who say that they hold the traditional view of hell "would be less likely to state that they affirm the traditional view if they were aware of this aspect of it."

This confirms exactly what I said earlier, that "I was pointing out (as I told you already) that many who think that they hold the traditional view actually do not."

You ought to be able to see this straight away. Both of those quotes amount to the same thing: The view that those who say that they hold the traditional view actually don't hold it, and if they were aware of what it taught, they would not claim to affirm it. That you can seriously call me dishonest for saying the same thing twice does not speak well of how careful you are being. That was careless of you.


Ok. Let's do this slowly and carefully.

X = The Traditional View of Hell.
Traditional view of Hell is defined as believing that the souls who reject God are punishment in Hell for Eternity. Ie, forever, without end.

Y = Glenn's Theology of Hell.
So far includes the concept that God wipes from existance the souls in Hell at some so far undefined point.

X1 = Aquinas' explanation of how the souls in Heaven view the souls in Hell. Can be thought of as part and parcel of X, since one must believe X in order to believe X1.

Function: Present X1 to readers and ask whether they still believe in X. Result so far - no one has changed their minds.

More soon.

Lucia Maria said...

Oops...

X2 = Tertullian's understanding of how the souls in Heaven view the souls in Hell. Can also be thought of as part and parcel of X, since one must believe in X in order to believe X2. Similar, but not exactly the same as X1.

Correction to Function: Present X1 & X2 to readers and ask whether they still believe in X. Result so far - no one has changed their minds.

Let's call the function TestYourHellBelief.

Lucia Maria said...

Except, now we have a problem. The function TestYourHellBelief has not been given the variables X1 & X2. X1 has been substituted by Glenn's interpretation of it. Let's call it YX1. In other words, X1 contaminated by the position Y. ZenTiger points out what the true position of X1 is above in his comment of 18 January 2010 8:49 p.m. Hopefully he will do a fuller explanation of what X1 is, but at this point. However, the crucial thing to note is that the suffering of the damned is not what gives those in Heaven pleasure, it is the punishment given to them. Subtle, but important.

So now, my function looks like this:

Function TestYourHellBelief(YX1, X2)

Glenn said...

Lucia, two things: "Result so far - no one has changed their minds."

You are not in a position to say this, and should admit as much.

Secondly however, my very frist request when I entered this comment thread, a request I have repeated multiple times now, is this: In your blog entry you claimed that the transcript of my podcast on hell, where I advocated annihilationism, contains many contradictions.

Can you produce some of these contradictions? You are answering questions that i have not asked you, and you are avoiding the one question I am asking you repeatedly.

Lucia Maria said...

Glenn,

This is my blog and my post. My post is not about annihilationism as such therefore you just need to wait.

I still maintain that the purpose of TestYourHellBelief is to change the person's mind about what their Hell belief is. I would be inclined to accept that you are not trying to change anyone's mind if it were not for what you went onto say in your Loftus post.

The suggestion appears to be that believers are just too afraid to think critically about their faith, because they don’t want to get too sceptical and end up in hell forever. If believers stop teaching eternal torment, then the net result will be that more people will be inclined to give up their faith for lack of fear.

The evidence, however, suggests something very different from what John implies – for Christians and non-Christians, actually. First, here’s how Loftus is mistaken on how giving up the doctrine of eternal torment and embracing annihilationism affects Christians. In the first place, holding the traditional view of hell creates exegetical difficulties for a Christian. There are biblical passages and themes that don’t make sense and need to be held in tension with much of what the traditional view maintains. [...] What’s more, there’s a tension between what many Christians believe about the character of God and the doctrine of eternal torment (to say nothing of the idea that God will spring for front row tickets so that we will all get a good view of the proceedings!). My experience with many Christians who have wrestled with – and finally given up – the doctrine of the eternal torment of the lost has shown me that giving that doctrine up is usually something of an intellectual and moral burden being lifted from one’s shoulders.


In other words, you are not merely asking people to state what they believe, you are challenging them to do so despite the "intellectual and moral burden" of X. That is why you are being dishonest, stating again and again that you are not trying to change anyone's mind, when in your actions you are doing exactly that, and talking about the advantages of changing one's beliefs. Why not admit to it?

Not only that, but you've redefined X1 into YX1, subtly misrepresenting St Thomas' position. Whether by design or ignorance, I'm not sure.

Maybe the exact use of words is not such a big deal to you.

Lucia Maria said...

For in your pdf notes you use two passages to support immortality for the just.

Here's the first one.

Proverbs 12:28 “In the way of righteousness there is life; along that path is immortality.”

But, only one translation explicitly uses immortality. All others have some variation of the following: In the path of justice is life: but the bye-way leads to death.

The second passage had a similar contradition.

Could we argue that the meaning is substantially the same? Maybe. But the fact that you used a translation that uses the very terminolgy that appears to supports your argument leads me to seriously distrust the process you went through to arrive at position Y. Especially if it's like the process you went through to create the TestYourHellBelief function.

Is that enough for you, or shall I go on? I have the advantage of knowing your position is wrong, so maybe you'd like to bow out now.

ZenTiger said...

Glenn quoted Lucia:

"Result so far - no one has changed their minds."

and suggested: You are not in a position to say this, and should admit as much.

An interesting comment Glenn, because Lucia is suggesting that the point of your post is to convert people to your view, and your method is to expose an apparent immoral/deficient doctrine that people would immediately want to reconsider if they knew this.

I know of at least two people that have read your post and all it prompted was an investigation into the doctrine and a better understanding of it. A consequence of this was also to find that your portrayal of the doctrine is a little imprecise.

A third person on this thread could, even as an atheist/agnostic could at least understand the consistency of the position.

Until your explanation is corrected, whether people or not become uncomfortable with your disputed interpretation, I'm not sure this line of discussion is relevant.

What is relevant are the points I've raised along the way, so I hope you find time to address them. I'll have a look at your arguments for annihilism (annilationism?) if time permits and maybe my 2 cents worth can provide you the input you desire.

It will take far more time than I have available now, but I will make a note to look into Tertullian. Always keen to learn something new.

Glenn said...

Lucia, you seem to be supposing - in fact, absolutely insisting, that if Aquinas knew of Tertullian's view that i also quoted it, then either he definitely rejected it, or when he expressed his own view which was on the same subject (the happiness of the saints created by watching the torments of the damned), he wanted people to think that he was not getting at the same idea. This must be what you think, because when you see me quoting these two as expressing the same idea, you say that I am "redefining" things.

Whether you hold these assumptions about Aquinas untinentionally, or whether you are aware of holding them but do not want to identify them explicitly, I do not know and cannot tell. But your holding that assumption (and perhaps Zentiger holding it as well) is surely the best explanation for both of you squeezing Tertullian's stronger wording out of the picture and treating Aquinas as though he was teaching something unrelated.

You are in the wrong to accuse me of being dishonest. I did not argue for the annihilationist view. You are, in fact, the one now being dishonest. You are now saying that I have claimed that I was not out to change anyone's mind. Entirely wrong. I have stated again and again that I was indeed out to change people's mind. I was deliberately trying to change people's mind about whether they really stand with the traditional view. I ask that you stop misrepresenting me.

Regarding my arguments for annihilationism, you ask "is that enough for you?" Well of course it's not enough, for you have not yet pointed to one single example of a contradiction in my paper. How can zero ever be enough? It's silly to call every disagreement that you have with me a contradiction in my work.

As you raised Proverbs 12:28, my answer is simple: I was finding as many occurences of "immortality" as I could, across a range of translations. This seems fair enough to me. It's certainly not a contradiction on my part, and your comment about there being any contradictions in the paper is sounding more dishonest by the second. Here's my theory: You accused me of contradicting myself in order to score a rhetorical point, but you simply have no way of backing it up because the fact is that I didn't contradict myself at all. Now you won't back out of it and have to come up with examples that aren't contradictions.

Glenn said...

Zentiger: You claim that Lucia is right and I am wrong, and in fact nobody has been influenced int he direction I was hoping for.

You subtantiate this by saying that there exist two Catholic Defenders of Aquinas and one atheist who either were able to at least grant consistency to the view (something I never denied), or approve of the view.

You say that those two people were prompted to gain a better understanding of Aquinas as a result. Well, I realise that my interpretation of Aquinas has been asserted to be wrong, but I think it's pretty accpetable of me to say that two outright rejections is no proof that Lucia is correct and that nobody has moved in my direction ont he subject of that blog. I mean, have either of you two surveyed the many hundreds of people who have read that blog entry? Surely your sample makes your comeback a bit dubious!

You simply must accept that you are misrepresenting me by using the word "immoral." I am not saying and have never said that the traditional view asserts that the saints will take part in immoral pleasure in heaven. That is a fundamental misrepresentation on your part, and if you can't see that then there is little point even hoping to discuss anything of depth on this. That is big and obvious. I have claimed that the traditional view says that the saints will derive pleasure and happiness from watching the ongoing and eternal torments of the lost in hell. If you, on looking at this, think that there are overtones of immoral pleasure, then that's telling. I suspect some people will indeed see that as well, but all I have done is described the view.

The only serious attempt at a point that you've made along the way that I can see is a kind of tu quoque argument like this: "For example, your view of annihilism (or is it annihilationism?) requires you to believe souls in heaven will still remain perfectly happy when God destroys the souls of the damned. Can they truly remain happy to see their loved ones obliterated?"

The word is "annihilationism." Good grief. Sorry, but wow.

Secondly, there's no symmetrical comparison to make here. It's not like we can even talk about the saved living in paradise watching the... well, what exactly would they be watching again? See,t he whole attempt at an "Oh yeah, well so are you!" response falls apart.

What's more, even talking about the saints looking back on the fact that some of their loved ones are no more isn't the same and here is why: No annihilationist that I am currently aware of teaches that the saints will gain happiness and pleasure from... I don't know, reminding each other of the fact that they are gone, or anything like that. That doctrine is entirely absent from annihilationism.

ZenTiger said...

Lucia, ...This must be what you think, because when you see me quoting these two as expressing the same idea, you say that I am "redefining" things.

...Whether you hold these assumptions about Aquinas untinentionally, or whether you are aware of holding them but do not want to identify them explicitly, I do not know and cannot tell. But your holding that assumption (and perhaps Zentiger holding it as well) is surely the best explanation for both of you squeezing Tertullian's stronger wording out of the picture and treating Aquinas as though he was teaching something unrelated.


Glenn, your assumption is wrong. I will say this again:

1. You quoted Aquinas and Tertullian as having the same view.

2. I have explained, with DIRECT QUOTES from Aquinas that you have misunderstood his view.

3. I explained that I would not at this point address Tertullian;s view because I HAD NOT read Tertullian.

4. Why would I take your interpretation of Tertullian as being necessarily correct, when your take on Aquinas is wrong?

5. I have expressed a desire to read Tertullian so I might respond to your reference.

6. The best explanation for me ignoring Tertullian is therefore exactly for the reasons I provide.

7. If you think that I am avoiding Tertullian's view, it is presumably because you still hold fast to yours, yet the only way you have attempted to justify your position by suggesting that I am holding on to my "assumption".

I did not argue for the annihilationist view.

What? You are surely skirting around the edges, because you may not have presented your "arguments" but you certainly advocated for this view. For example:

My reasons for thinking that the traditional view is not biblical and that annihilationism are spelled out in three part a podcast series on the subject (part one is here - link)

How can I possibly interpret that sentence of yours in any other way than an offering of your view?

And then you offer this:

John will already be familiar with the objection to Christianity that it teaches a repugnant doctrine, namely that of eternal torment in hell. Torturing people forever is evil, many unbelievers reason, and if Christianity teaches that, then so much the worse for Christianity.

So, do you believe this? Because my reading is that you set yourself up to explain that *your* reading of the bible shows you the solution of annihilationism:

Of course, I’m not saying that everyone who thinks this would become a Christian once they realised that the Bible doesn’t teach the doctrine of eternal torment, but if there is any movement at all, the removal of one objection to Christianity can only move people one way – towards, rather than away from Christianity.

Is this not a plug for annihilationism? Please confirm.

I'll comment on the other items later - we may be cross posting which can be confusing.

Glenn said...

ZenTiger, as is probably apparent, my patience is wearing thin with some of these tactics, so I intend this to be my last comment on this blog entry here.

I find it deeply implausible that Aquinas had absolutely nothing like Tertullian's view in mind, your protests nothwithstanding.

Yes, I know that you have quoted Aquinas directly, and I have commented accordingly. You have noted that Aquinas said that we will delight int he torments of the damned not in and of itself, but because it contrasts with our fate and it reminds us of our own deliverance. I know that you didn't like my comments on this, but I can't really help that.

Regarding the fact that I have repeatedly and very clearly stated and re-stated the purpose of my post and yet you persist in assuring me that really you can see the facts of the matter, I can only experience wonder at the way you're so worried that I might be attributing to Aquinas that which I seek to find there, when you are so set on doing that very thing to me.

The way you have tried to make out that my argument about the taditional view is in itself an argument for annihilationism is clearly flawed. For example: "How can I possibly interpret that sentence of yours in any other way than an offering of your view?"

This is crazy. That sentence of mine was a way of pointing out that the current post is not an argument for my view, but if the reader wants to see what my arguments are, I provided a link so they can go and see what those arguments are.

Similarly: "Is this not a plug for annihilationism? Please confirm."

Actually that was a different blog post altogether. And no, it was not an argument for my view at all. John Loftus made a sociological claim: That if Christians stop believing in eternal torment, we would see more people fall away from the faith. My reply was to express doubt over this, and to suggest that my observations suggest the opposite. So not only was this comment not even part of the same post where I presented my argument about the traditional doctrine (I maintain that this was dishonest of you), but it certainly was not an argument for annihilationism.

As you can no doubt tell, I think that the quality of your comments and Lucia's in this thread is extremely poor. I don't think your comments are ordinarily this poor, but this has not been a good example of NZ Conservative at work, sadly.

And with that, I leave you to have dominion over your comment thread.

ZenTiger said...

Secondly, there's no symmetrical comparison to make here. It's not like we can even talk about the saved living in paradise watching the... well, what exactly would they be watching again?

1. Are you asserting there is no hell?

2. Are you asserting that the souls in heaven would be blocked, or denied the ability to see any events in hell?

I have claimed that the traditional view says that the saints will derive pleasure and happiness from watching the ongoing and eternal torments of the lost in hell. If you, on looking at this, think that there are overtones of immoral pleasure, then that's telling.

You state that the traditional view "takes great pleasure" in looking on the suffering of others, and offer a selective quotation from Aquinas as proof. Very selective, because it gives a different impression of what his three discussion points covered in that section.

You may not be *stating* an opinion, but you certainly imply that the heaven/hell view is immoral. Your document starts the sentence introducing Aquinas' quote with emotive language:

"Perversely, defenders of the doctrine of eternal torment have taught the opposite of scripture here, and even worse:

and then go on to quote Aquinas. It seems to me we are in an overly pedantic argument.

I'm still unconvinced you are not passing judgment; I'm not clear why you wouldn't (given you try to prove the doctrinal view is wrong and your view correct) and wonder why you would disagree with this. Ultimately though, it's a distraction from the main argument.

Also, I should clarify I don't disagree with the general statement that the doctrinal view of heaven and hell includes eternal torment, it is a few points on the margins.

I think you have presented an incomplete picture of the (Catholic) doctrine of heaven and hell, your use of Aquinas' quote is one such indicator to me.

At this point, I can't say how that might impact your paper, but it has inspired me to create a post around Aquinas' Summa covering that section.

Lucia Maria said...

The post has been updated to include the a direct link to what St Thomas Aquinas has said on the relations of the saints to the damned. Not quite how Glenn portrays it with his selective quoting.

St Thomas Aquinas is one the 33 Doctors of the Church, therefore his view on how the saints view the damned is far more important and noteworthy than Tertullian's. Especially since Tertullian eventually lapsed into heresy.

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