Weblog of a Christian philosophy student

Weblog of a Christian philosophy student. Please feel free to comment. All of my posts are public domain. Subscribe to posts [Atom]. Email me at countaltair [at] yahoo.com.au. I also run a Chinese to English translation business at www.willfanyi.com.

Location: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Suffering, Hell, and the Atonement

This is a series of interesting theological conjectures that deal with suffering, hell, and the atonement.

I would say that the answer to why we suffer is that when God made us in His image, He put something in us exactly like what He has (Ecc 3:11; John 10:34). What God put in us we call our 'soul'.

I think that the way a soul works is that through a miracle performed by God, our brain is made to somehow 'draw on' or 'make use of' the divine to a small extent. From that we get a soul, which is what we borrow from God, and yet we're distinct persons to God.

This 'soul' of ours gives us free will, consciousness, and a moral sense. You can't get those things from a physical body (in the sense of a person rather than a machine).

In other words, personhood, free will, consciousness, and morality are things that only God has, and we get to have them since we 'draw on' God to a small extent through a miracle performed by God.

Because our soul is borrowed from God, it is always 'hanging around' God, even though our bodies are here on earth. So while half of us is on earth, half of us is always 'up there' with God, in a sense. It's like we have one foot in the sea (our physical body) and one foot on shore (our soul that is with God, connected to the brain through a miracle).

When we sin we sin with our soul. Why? Because you need personhood, free will, and a moral sense to sin, and we get those things by borrowing from God... without those things you cannot sin, so without being a 'god' (in the sense of John 10:34) it is impossible to sin.

It's because we sin with our soul that leads to all our problems. When we sin we essentially 'corrupt' our soul. We corrupt what we've borrowed from God by doing evil which is totally against God's nature. This is a problem because God is normally connected to our soul, because our soul is borrowed from Him. But if we sin and do evil, then God has no choice but to separate the sinful soul from Himself, otherwise the soul's evil choices would transfer to God by remaining connected to God, and thereby corrupt God (another way of viewing it would be that God's holiness cannot tolerate the presence of sin).

This process causes a lot of pain - actually all the pain in human existence - because we feel through our soul and our soul is only free from pain when it is connected to God. But God is right to do it, even though it causes unimaginable suffering, because He has the right to take what steps are needed to protect Himself from our sin.

This results in a buildup of pain every second for the soul of a sinner according to a 'constant' of how much it hurts our soul not to be connected to God. This might be about 50/50 good experiences to bad experiences. People in our world who have unhappy lives have this constant 'front-loaded' so they suffer more in this life, which is then made up for in the eternity to come. Some people have it the other way around. But the constant always stays the same and is the same for every person. So every sinner who remains a sinner will ultimately end up suffering the same, necessary amount as long as they remain sinful (souls cannot be destroyed because they're made in the image of God and God is eternal).

These bad experiences don't have to be accompanied by any physical stuff, but God chooses to make them go along with physical stuff (like e.g. diseases, earthquakes, and so on) because He wants a visible cause of suffering, rather than have people suffer for no apparent reason.

The only solution is to become sinless, which allows God to keep with Him what we've borrowed from Him. This makes the person who is sinless happy in a kind of happiness that we can't imagine and have never known (1 Cor 2:9).

God enabled this to happen through the atonement, where Christ died for all possible sins that we have, or could ever have, committed. The sins were put on Christ, and through Christ's Spirit we have access to a sinless person who has the happiness of God.

Everyone who accepts Christ could be free from all suffering in the moment that they do that. God wants to accomplish something with suffering, however, which is why people who have accepted Christ still suffer (Zec 13:8-9).

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