Would you agree that it's time to have a conversation about hell and put this terrible concept to rest? Is it really true that Jesus spoke of such a horrid place? This current article in the religious press caught my eye and inspired me to bring this subject up again: Why would Jesus talk about hell? by Harold N Miller. If it is true, as Jesus tells us, "He who has seen me has seen the Father" - we have to acknowledge that we never saw Jesus condemn anyone to hell - and we never heard him speak of the heavenly Father as a vindictive, punishing Father. And if that's true, then we must, in all fairness, question these saying that are attributed to the God of Love. We'll blog about this idea below, but first, here are some selections from the article that are worth reading, and considering. This author asks:
"Why would Jesus — the Lord of love, the author of grace — talk about a fate that horrible?
"Our minds tend to go toward worst-case answers:
"Jesus was not as compassionate and wise as us.
"He allowed the brutality and barbarism of his day to rub off on him.
"Or maybe he himself never spoke threats of hell, but over-zealous followers put them in his mouth.
"But there are also best-case answers available:
"Jesus' images of horror and agony may simply be a description of a chosen path of sinful selfishness going on forever, on a trajectory toward abject misery. Jesus, more perceptive and wiser than any other prophet or teacher, was more aware of this danger than any other. And so he in compassion warned us of it more than any other."
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We tend to think that the author of this article has pretty much hit the nail on the head with that last statement - and Urantia Book teachings supply all the missing pieces. Let's get started.
What really IS the result of choosing sin?
In the article above, there is a sense that this author feels Jesus did not really ever say that there was a hell created by his Father for his erring children; and this is something that Urantia Book readers wholeheartedly believe...but If there is not actual place of eternal damnation, what happens to people who are truly evil - people who have knowingly sinned against God so often and so consistently that they have become iniquitous?
We cannot ever judge another's heart or their motivations; but having said that, we do believe that there are those people whose disdain for the good, the true and the beautiful - for God - seems obvious. What happens to a person who has become "sin-identified"?
The Urantia Book provides answers
In The Urantia Book, we discover a solution to this age-old dilemma of eternal damnation. The book teaches us that the greatest punishment that can ever be meted out to such a one is eternal annihilation - cessation of existence as a person for all eternity. There's no physical manifestation of fire or torment (which would be futile anyway, since there is no physical body to burn) ... instead, the punishment is an extinguishing of that person's being for all time.
From Justice and Righteousness
2:3.2 The greatest punishment (in reality an inevitable consequence) for wrongdoing and deliberate rebellion against the government of God is loss of existence as an individual subject of that government. The final result of wholehearted sin is annihilation. In the last analysis, such sin-identified individuals have destroyed themselves by becoming wholly unreal through their embrace of iniquity. The factual disappearance of such a creature is, however, always delayed until the ordained order of justice current in that universe has been fully complied with.
2:3.4 When this sentence is finally confirmed, the sin-identified being instantly becomes as though he had not been. There is no resurrection from such a fate; it is everlasting and eternal. The living energy factors of identity are resolved by the transformations of time and the metamorphoses of space into the cosmic potentials whence they once emerged. As for the personality of the iniquitous one, it is deprived of a continuing life vehicle by the creature's failure to make those choices and final decisions which would have assured eternal life. When the continued embrace of sin by the associated mind culminates in complete self-identification with iniquity, then upon the cessation of life, upon cosmic dissolution, such an isolated personality is absorbed into the oversoul of creation, becoming a part of the evolving experience of the Supreme Being. Never again does it appear as a personality; its identity becomes as though it had never been. In the case of an Adjuster-indwelt personality, the experiential spirit values survive in the reality of the continuing Adjuster.
Further, in The Goodness of God, this concept is further explained:
2:6.8 God loves the sinner and hates the sin: such a statement is true philosophically, but God is a transcendent personality, and persons can only love and hate other persons. Sin is not a person. God loves the sinner because he is a personality reality (potentially eternal), while towards sin God strikes no personal attitude, for sin is not a spiritual reality; it is not personal; therefore does only the justice of God take cognizance of its existence. The love of God saves the sinner; the law of God destroys the sin. This attitude of the divine nature would apparently change if the sinner finally identified himself wholly with sin just as the same mortal mind may also fully identify itself with the indwelling spirit Adjuster. Such a sin-identified mortal would then become wholly unspiritual in nature (and therefore personally unreal) and would experience eventual extinction of being. Unreality, even incompleteness of creature nature, cannot exist forever in a progressingly real and increasingly spiritual universe.
God is the ultimate reality. And God IS truth, goodness, and beauty. So we see, that deliberate and continued sin against God renders the sinner increasingly unreal. As the sinner becomes so far removed from God, he/she progressively loses reality, and so it becomes inevitable that s/he cannot continue existing in a universe that is progressive, as God's universe of universes is.
God is kind and he is merciful
It is wonderful to know that there is not - and never has been - and never will be - a scary place of fire and brimstone and eternal torment of the body and the spirit. God is not vengeful like that: he is the God of Love - the God that Jesus revealed to us through his life and teachings.
From The Love of God
2:5.1 "God is love"; therefore his only personal attitude towards the affairs of the universe is always a reaction of divine affection. The Father loves us sufficiently to bestow his life upon us. "He makes his sun to rise on the evil and on the good and sends rain on the just and on the unjust."
2:5.2 It is wrong to think of God as being coaxed into loving his children because of the sacrifices of his Sons or the intercession of his subordinate creatures, "for the Father himself loves you." It is in response to this paternal affection that God sends the marvelous Adjusters to indwell the minds of men. God's love is universal; "whosoever will may come." He would "have all men be saved by coming into the knowledge of the truth." He is "not willing that any should perish."
2:5.3 The Creators are the very first to attempt to save man from the disastrous results of his foolish transgression of the divine laws. God's love is by nature a fatherly affection; therefore does he sometimes "chasten us for our own profit, that we may be partakers of his holiness." Even during your fiery trials remember that "in all our afflictions he is afflicted with us."
2:5.4 God is divinely kind to sinners. When rebels return to righteousness, they are mercifully received, "for our God will abundantly pardon." "I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins." "Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us that we should be called the sons of God."
2:5.5 After all, the greatest evidence of the goodness of God and the supreme reason for loving him is the indwelling gift of the Father—the Adjuster who so patiently awaits the hour when you both shall be eternally made one. Though you cannot find God by searching, if you will submit to the leading of the indwelling spirit, you will be unerringly guided, step by step, life by life, through universe upon universe, and age by age, until you finally stand in the presence of the Paradise personality of the Universal Father.
Lucifer awaits such a fate
We all know of at least a few angelic beings who have become so sin-identified that their fate could very well be that of total annihilation - Lucifer, Satan, Caligastia (aka the devil), and others of their kind who betrayed God, betrayed Jesus, and betrayed all of us through their nefarious rebellion:
53:9.7 The rebellion has ended on Jerusem. It ends on the fallen worlds as fast as divine Sons arrive. We believe that all rebels who will ever accept mercy have done so. We await the flashing broadcast that will deprive these traitors of personality existence. We anticipate the verdict of Uversa will be announced by the executionary broadcast which will effect the annihilation of these interned rebels. Then will you look for their places, but they shall not be found. "And they who know you among the worlds will be astonished at you; you have been a terror, but never shall you be any more." And thus shall all of these unworthy traitors "become as though they had not been." All await the Uversa decree.
53:9.8 But for ages the seven prison worlds of spiritual darkness in Satania have constituted a solemn warning to all Nebadon, eloquently and effectively proclaiming the great truth "that the way of the transgressor is hard"; "that within every sin is concealed the seed of its own destruction"; that "the wages of sin is death."
Are there others?
Again, it is not our prerogative to pass judgment on any personality...certainly not human beings like us. No one can rightly judge another or their motivations for what they do. What may look totally evil to us may, in God's eyes, have a shred of reason or an extenuating circumstance upon which mercy may be placed as a tempering force.
But we do know that this final extinguishing of personality is the worst thing that can possibly happen; and so it behooves all of us to choose God and choose good as we go through our lives.
In the end, once one really know God and his goodness, one very naturally chooses good over evil. Sin becomes something that is just not done deliberately because it is inconsistent with a life lived according to God's holy will.
Read what Jesus teaches about evil, sin, and iniquity
Finally, here is positive religious instruction at its best from Jesus:
150:5.5 In summing up his final statement, Jesus said: "You cannot buy salvation; you cannot earn righteousness. Salvation is the gift of God, and righteousness is the natural fruit of the spirit-born life of sonship in the kingdom. You are not to be saved because you live a righteous life; rather is it that you live a righteous life because you have already been saved, have recognized sonship as the gift of God and service in the kingdom as the supreme delight of life on earth. When men believe this gospel, which is a revelation of the goodness of God, they will be led to voluntary repentance of all known sin. Realization of sonship is incompatible with the desire to sin. Kingdom believers hunger for righteousness and thirst for divine perfection."
Many of the passages that are quoted in this blog are found in Paper 2 of The Urantia Book: The Nature of God. Understanding more about our loving heavenly Father and his good and merciful nature can uplift and comfort even the most worried soul. And we've placed numerous other links in this blog so that you, the reader, may be drawn to explore some of the concepts that are being discussed and taught in The Urantia Book about what becomes of the persistent evildoer; we hope you'll take advantage of them and gain the comfort and assurance that comes from understand more about its positive life-saving and life-enhancing teachings.