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prisonchaplain

Evil and Hell Need Each Other - Silence of the Lambs

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There is a powerful dialogue near the beginning of Silence of the Lambs. Clarice is a young, pretty FBI agent from Behavioral Sciences (i.e. she has a B.A. in Psychology).  Dr. Hannibal Lector is a psychiatrist, a serial killer, and a cannibal (i.e. he would eat parts of his victims).  During her initial visit Clarice tries to get Dr. Lector to take a psychological assessment.  He despises psychology as pseudo-science. So, he says to her (my paraphrase):  You've read my file.  You've seen what I have done, and why I did it [simply for my own enjoyment]. Clarice nods.  He continues:  You can't bring yourself to call it evil, can you?

 

The devil swiped evil from our vocabulary.  Now, post-modern society has filed a charge against God.  Their claim is that hell is immoral, cruel, and mean.  Many Christians are caught flat-footed by this allegation. For centuries the fear of hell drove many into the Kingdom.  Suddenly, this doctrine has become a seeming albatross.  Even C.S. Lewis said he detested the doctrine of hell--though, he admitted, his opinion of it mattered not, if the teaching was true.

 

There is an element amongst younger clergy that also struggle--some even denying--against the idea of an eternal hell that is literal, physical punishment.  One well-known TV evangelist was asked why he doesn't talk about hell.  Without denying the doctrine, he responded that he was called to build up, not tear down.  That sounds good, but I suppose it means that those of us who teach the whole counsel of God are guilty of tearing down.  :angry:

 

Without evil hell makes no sense. Rather than defend the doctrine of hell, we must needs revive the doctrine of evil.  Opposition to God's reality, role, authority, and love is not a mental disorder, a result of various traumas, nor a genetically predetermined outcome.  It is evil.  After the final judgment the eternal kingdom will contain no evil.  Hell will.

 

So, what says the board?  Am I right?  Partially?  What of the lower kingdoms--will they contain lesser evils, or will all of the kingdoms be sin-free?

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What of the lower kingdoms--will they contain lesser evils, or will all of the kingdoms be sin-free?

 

This is an interesting philosophy. I suspect many would say sin-free. I agree with this, but probably for a different reason that some. Sin is, in some ways, related to commandments, which are related to the hope of Heaven. So without the hope of Heaven, no need for said commandments, hence...no sin.

 

Now at another level, sin could be considered as right or wrong based on utilitarian thinking. But this, really, seems to relate more to mortality. As in killing, stealing, etc. If there is no death, then many of these things become, realistically, non-issues. The sin of murder can't exist in the eternities.

 

But what of, say, laziness? Can those lying around lazy in the Telestial sphere be accuses of "sinning". Or, perhaps, there are laws, strictly enforced, that do not allow for such? We don't really know.

 

Interesting thought though.

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Guest LiterateParakeet

I agree with you.  Satan and his followers, will be cast into Outer Darkness, or Hell.  I don't think there will be evil in any of the kingdoms, but certainly in Outer Darkness there will because Satan will be there with his cronies. 

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I believe that in general the concept of Hell as defined by Traditional Christians contains more pagan doctrine it does the basic doctrine or gospel (good news) of Christ.  I have come to believe that Hell is not necessarily punishment where evil gets it just rewards.  Hell is simply a place that is not under G-d protection where those that have so chosen can do whatever that pleases them - which happens to be evil.   Hell is for those that enjoy evil and in scripture terms love darkness more than light.

 

Or as in other terms - love sex outside of marriage between a man and a woman.  That would rather lie than tell the truth.  That believe that if they desire something more than someone (from Gardens of the Galaxy) that they have every right to take it.  And so on and so on.  For such Heaven would be the place of punishment and eternal torment.

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... Even C.S. Lewis said he detested the doctrine of hell--though, he admitted, his opinion of it mattered not, if the teaching was true.

 

There is an element amongst younger clergy that also struggle--some even denying--against the idea of an eternal hell that is literal, physical punishment.  ...

It isn't difficult for this one to begin to understand. The concept of Hell most often described to us through the centuries feels illogical and as if it was designed by people wanting to control other people through fear. In his work, The Great Divorce, C.S. Lewis describes Hell in a way that I found at once very different and much more interesting. 

Edited by UT.starscoper

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I'm a bit confused by the suggestions that hell is not a place of punishment--that the corrupted church invented such.

 

Wasn't it Jesus who said:   46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal. (Matthew 25:46, source: lds.org)?

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I'm a bit confused by the suggestions that hell is not a place of punishment--that the corrupted church invented such.

 

Wasn't it Jesus who said:   46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal. (Matthew 25:46, source: lds.org)?

 

PC,

 

This is an issue that you won't get a consensus on, but what ultimately boils down to a semantic issue. What is "punishment", after all.

 

To my mind, depriving someone of something is an entirely valid form of what might be deemed "punishment". Therefore, any who do not receive eternal life and/or exaltation are, by default, "punished".

 

But you just wait and watch. There will be disagreement. ;)

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I'm a bit confused by the suggestions that hell is not a place of punishment--that the corrupted church invented such.

Wasn't it Jesus who said:   46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal. (Matthew 25:46, source: lds.org)?

Do these words require us to think in terms of a place?

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Do these words require us to think in terms of a place?

 

In light of other words of Jesus, such as these from Matthew 13:  41 The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity;

 42 And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. (lds.org) I'd say, yeah...Jesus has a physical place in mind.

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In light of other words of Jesus, such as these from Matthew 13:  41 The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity;

 42 And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. (lds.org) I'd say, yeah...Jesus has a physical place in mind.

Did Jesus ever speak figuratively?

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Of course...but fire is repeated many times in the NT--even in the Revelation.  The most direct understanding is most often the accurate one.

Perhaps my post #5 prompted this short give-and-take about the "physical" nature of Hell. Your reference to C.S. Lewis prompted me to cite him because I admire much of what he wrote. I think I would be foolish to allow our conversation to approach anything having even the appearance of becoming combative--not that I think it has. I think I'll pause so that you know I respect your beliefs and their foundation.  :)

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Lets reasons together.  The actual definition of Hell - both literal and symbolic is death.  According to LDS doctrine there are two deaths - a spiritual death : which means being separated from G-d the Father and his presents of light and truth.  The other kind of death is a physical death which means to be a spirit entity only - a being without a physical body.

 

There are actually a lot of connections in doctrine as we consider Hell - but lets keep this as simple as possible and come to better understand the attribute of G-d and man in order to understand the purpose and meaning of Hell.  The scriptures are very clear - because of Christ all will be resurrected.  Physical death or physical Hell is overcome by the atoning sacrifice of Christ.  If this is not believed by other Christians other than by us LDS (Mormons) I would very much appreciate a clarification.  If there are other LDS or Mormons on this forum that believe that Jesus did not overcome physical death or physical Hell - please clarify why you have this notion.  In essence this life and the spirit world is that physical hell and as scripture testify death and Hell will give up all that dead that is in them.

 

Thus the only problem is a spiritual death or spiritual Hell.  Again according to LDS doctrine only the Celestial kingdom will be spiritually alive and in the presents of the Father - his Kingdom, presents and enjoy the fullness of divine light and truth.  Thus, because of the Fall all mankind exist in the state of spiritual Hell. So if we believe that Hell is actual punishment - then everything in this life is punishment.  I just cannot wrap my mind around the possibility that abortion is wrong if being born in mortality is punishment.

 

But this is only the beginning - how can we say G-d is just if Hell is actually eternal punishment?  What can an individual do in our short life time to justly deserve eternal punishment?  Especially if Jesus actually has already paid for all the sins that we all can possibly commit.  Obviously a literal interpretation of Hell as a destination of eternal punishment because G-d goes out of his way to get even with all his human creation for not worshiping him during this life of misunderstanding and ignorance paints a picture of G-d that looks more like an evil demon to me.  I will be honest - punishment looks like an attribute or character of Satan to me - not something that is the nature of a loving merciful G-d.

 

I believe in a G-d that will lift up the sinner - not a G-d that will slap down anyone - regardless of their sins.  I believe in a G-d that is merciful to sinners - if he can forgive me of my sins - I just cannot believe he is determined to punish anyone.  And if he is willing to punish anyone - how can I believe I will somehow be excluded from his punishment.  And it is this last point that disturbers me the most about those that believe in eternal punishment in Hell.  That is that they believe they will be excluded and that someone that they do not like will be the one punished - rather than like the apostles at the last supper that were broken an pleaded - "L-rd is it I?"

Edited by Traveler

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I'm going to try to summarize what I captured from Traveler's post, before I respond--because it's essential to get these thoughts right.

 

1.  Anything kingdom assignment below the Celestial Kingdom is spiritual death.

2.  "Hell" is physical death, and therefore must be temporary, since Christ overcame it.

3.  Eternal punishment is unjust, therefore the doctrine is wrong.

4.  We are most arrogant if we believe in eternal punishment, but insist we won't partake and others will.

 

Have I captured these correctly? If so, does the idea of lower kingdoms being spiritual death, and of physical hell being temporary stand as official/semi-official LDS doctrine, or is there a variety of perspectives within the LDS family on these beliefs?

Edited by prisonchaplain

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does the idea of lower kingdoms being spiritual death, and of physical hell being temporary stand as official/semi-official LDS doctrine

 

No!

 

https://www.lds.org/scriptures/gs/hell?lang=eng

 

(Note: This idea of Hell is one of two)

 

or is there a variety of perspectives within the LDS family on these beliefs?

 

As you know, there is always a variety of perspectives...but that has little bearing on what the church actually teaches. ;)

Edited by The Folk Prophet

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No!

 

https://www.lds.org/scriptures/gs/hell?lang=eng

 

(Note: This idea of Hell is one of two)

 

 

As you know, there is always a variety of perspectives...but that has little bearing on what the church actually teaches. ;)

 

Based upon the above referenced link, and what I have learned here previously, I have in mind, for this string, the second understanding--the permanent hell, or "outer darkness."  Would it be fair to say this hell is very similar to the traditional teaching I outlined above, BUT that the likely number of those who would be consigned to this eternal punishment would be much lower?

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Thanks PC for your OP. Following the shootings in Oregon, the President concluded:

 

 

It's fair to say that anybody who does this has a sickness in their minds, regardless of what they think their motivations might be.

 

This has become a popular summary for such events, but it strikes me as being isolated for political expediency. Why don't we hear the same in other circumstances? Why don't we hear that anybody who shoots a cop has a sickness in their mind, regardless of any perceived injustices? Anybody who would shoot up a church is sick in the head, regardless of any racist motives? Anybody who would fly an airplane into a building is mentally sick, regardless of any religious or political motivation?

 

We look for a rational explanation and stir in a little (or a lot of) irrationality rather than looking for the immoral. There is evil in this world, and there are wicked people. Latter-day Saints have it in our very own origin story. Before Joseph Smith saw God, he was attacked by Satan. We do the world no favors by denying or avoiding this truth.

 

That said, I can see the mentally ill (at least, a certain brand of mentally ill and any associated with it) quickly becoming pariahs as they are blamed for the worst acts of society. Recognizing wickedness and evil should not preclude us from also recognizing people and the probation of mortality. People are not leopards and have been known to change their spots. I'm sure you of all people are aware of the hope of reform or (dare I say it!) repentance, while balancing it with the necessity of societal protection.

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The President's reaction--that a mass shooter, who targeted Christians btw, has a sickness in the head is exactly what I would expect of society.  We can't call it evil because that would be judgmental--and superstitious.

 

Repentance is real--and it's real powerful. My view differs from many here, but I believe that King David--the liar, adulterer, murderer--will receive great honors in heaven.  Likewise, Saul--who cheered at Stephen's martyrdom. I'd add Maury Davis, a pastor who spent time on Texas' Death Row.

 

On the other hand, there are those who will have done no crimes, and who will have lived polite, decent lives. They enjoyed pleasantry, but refused any recognition or acknowledgement--much less worship--of the Creator who bestowed such a life on them.  Their end will be much worse than those who sunk in depravity, but bowed the knee to the Savior.

Edited by prisonchaplain

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The President's reaction--that a mass shooter, who targeted Christians btw, has a sickness in the head is exactly what I would expect of society.  We can't call it evil because that would be judgmental--and superstitious. ...

Let's suppose the President were to declare that the mass shooter was evil. What substantive difference would it make, I wonder. 

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Let's suppose the President were to declare that the mass shooter was evil. What substantive difference would it make, I wonder. 

 

Part of me would hope he would be like the little boy who cried, "The Emperor has no clothes!"  Eyes would open, and society might collectively realize that there is evil and good, and such can be named.  Of course, those of us over 50, who've not drunk the post-modern Koolaid, would be thinking, "Well...duh!"

Edited by prisonchaplain

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Part of me would hope he would be like the little boy who cried, "The Emperor has no clothes!"  Eyes would open, and society might collectively realize that there is evil and good, and such can be named.  Of course, those of us over 50, who've not drunk the post-modern Koolaid, would be thinking, "Well...duh!"

Then I must wonder all the more about our Congress. And more about all of us over 50. And all of us who who recognize and acknowledge and worship. Do we need to call the shooter evil instead of sick in order to make a change? 

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... After the final judgment the eternal kingdom will contain no evil.  Hell will. ...

But if evil at that point is only in Hell, then at least two question seem to be begged. Since the (LDS) explanation is an eternal round so to speak where worlds are created, a war in Heaven is fought, spirits are tested and ultimately judged, etc., doesn't it then follow that there is an infinite number of Hell(s) or one Hell has been growing in population and will always grow forever and ever? And how then can we claim that only Hell will contain evil? 

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Then I must wonder all the more about our Congress. And more about all of us over 50. And all of us who who recognize and acknowledge and worship. Do we need to call the shooter evil instead of sick in order to make a change? 

 

At least we should call the shooting evil.  Further, admit that the shooter embraced evil.  Redemption is still possible.  However, to repent, the evil must be acknowledged.  If the shooting was done out of "sickness in the head," then the shooter gets to bypass responsibility.  Therein lies the horror of post-modernism--if there is no evil, there is not repentance--and no salvation.

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But if evil at that point is only in Hell, then at least two question seem to be begged. Since the (LDS) explanation is an eternal round so to speak where worlds are created, a war in Heaven is fought, spirits are tested and ultimately judged, etc., doesn't it then follow that there is an infinite number of Hell(s) or one Hell has been growing in population and will always grow forever and ever? And how then can we claim that only Hell will contain evil? 

 

That's an LDS question for LDS to answer.  My guess would be that with each new created world free will is recreated.  Ultimately, there would be more and more hells, or a bigger and bigger one.  Nevertheless, the percentage of created souls who suffer eternal punishment would always be much smaller than is envisioned by the historic Christian understanding.

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... My guess would be that with each new created world free will is recreated.  Ultimately, there would be more and more hells, or a bigger and bigger one.  Nevertheless, the percentage of created souls who suffer eternal punishment would always be much smaller than is envisioned by the historic Christian understanding.

Which leads to questions that don't have to be LDS asked and answered. In historic Christian understanding then: what is the point of punishment? In a temporal sphere punishment makes a lot of sense. But in an eternal sphere (as typically considered by non-LDS) what sense does it make to punish (whomever) over and over and over non-stop forever and ever? 

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