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"If there is no Everlasting Punishment/Eternal Damnation then there is no free will"

Why is it not, "If there is no Everlasting Punishment/Eternal Damnation there is free will only not as much?"

The excuse is just a desperate excuse to believe!

First, all the Bible says is that you will be punished forever after death and does not require you to believe that the damned do or don't have free will anymore.  If Hell were about losing your free will and being stuck with your evil heart forever

Secondly, punishment is removing a lot of your free will because of something you did in the past.
 
Jesus and the Church both teach that if you die estranged from God by serious sin you will be punished forever for your sin in Hell. The doctrine could be a case of where grave evil - the worst evil imaginable is attributed to God and in defiance of the truth, believers still worship him as perfect! Religion has to find a way to make Hell a good thing or a necessary evil to avoid the charge of callousness.
 
Christianity popularises the notion that if there is no risk of going to Hell forever at death to endure unending punishment then there is no free will. Christians are trying to use people's love for their sense of freedom to get them to accept the existence of Hell. It is subtle emotional blackmail.
 
The Handbook of Christian Apologetics states that if there is no eternal damnation there is no free will. But that does not mean that anybody who dies in sin should be sent to Hell to be locked in sin forever. Their logic seems to be that if you can't choose a permanent state then you have no free will. But if our will is free enough though not completely free then who cares? If we are responsible for what we do but not 100% responsible then any choice for permanent suffering in Hell is impossible. Nobody wants to believe we are 100% free and nobody does believe it. It is okay to reward a person with perfect happiness for doing good if they are not 100% responsible for the good. It would show justice and generosity. It would not be okay to send a person to everlasting torment if their choice is not 100% theirs. A God who would do that should himself be damned. There is no need to believe in Hell at all and you cannot use free will as an excuse for believing in it. It is evil to even consider believing the doctrine.
 
Why would somebody believe in 100% free will that nobody wants to believe in except as an attempt to justify the evil doctrine of Hell?
 
Some say free will involves the power to make a permanent choice rejecting God.
 
The notion that free will means the power to fix your free will in a permanent state is a bizarre one. There is more freedom if you always keep the faculties with which you can change your mind and heart. And once you use free will to give up free will you no longer have free will and so should be allowed into Heaven.
 
Many who say free will requires the power to make a decision final are reasoning as follows, "You have to make up your mind sometime. You cannot be choosing good and evil every moment forever. So if God gives you a final choice he is respecting your free will."
 
So some say that if we will all end up in Heaven eventually then there is no point in worrying about being good and religious. You can put off conversion for trillions of years.
 
But there is a point in worrying about being good. It is the principle. It is not about what will happen to us if we get punished.
 
If you think that having a good future in this life or the next is what matters and sin or evil does not then you are already dark in the heart.
 
Putting a conversion off for trillions of years is actually nothing if you will change for the better permanently. What is several trillion years compared to endless years?
 
The argument makes you a bad ignorant person - you are corrupting yourself in order to justify people going to Hell forever. Sounds like the only person going there could be you!
 
Whatever the reason people can choose everlasting prison, it is not any of the ones we have seen.
 
Believers in everlasting punishment adopt the punishment model or the choice model. The punishment model implies you are thrown into Hell and this is only your choice in the sense that if you choose you commit a serious crime then you have to go to jail. You will not feel you have chosen Hell or jail but it is about punishing you and not about your choice.
 
The choice model argues that you alone cause your torment and are too stubborn to turn back to God.
 
Some say you can accept the choice model and the punishment model as well. But they are wrong. We have seen that you only ask for Hell or jail in the sense that you make people punish you when you commit a terrible crime. That is a sort of indirect choice. It is a mixed message choice. But the choice model is about a direct and clear choice. If you go to jail and have the key to get out and do not use it that is not punishment. So the choice model and the punishment model are not compatible.
 
In fact to say a person is being punished when you mean they can stop it but won't is vindictive. It is saying they suffer because they deserve it instead of feeling compassion for their self-abuse. What would you think of a person who tells a self-harming child, "You deserve all the cuts and bruises you carry"? If I rob a bank and then punish myself by starving myself. What is happening? You might say I deserve the pain of starving for I do it for myself but you cannot say it is really punishment for robbing the bank. It is not. To teach that you punish yourself in Hell is actually more callous than the notion that you are sentenced there for some sin you can no longer do anything about for it is in the past.
 
Suppose you need to be able to choose everlasting torment in order to have free will. What about the free will of anybody who wants to go to this Hell temporarily? Why is the permanent the only option? The damned should be allowed to change if they want to or to make themselves progressively worse and worse until they inflict everlasting torment on themselves which will never happen for we cannot choose such incredible misery. Even those who do seek pain, do so because they enjoy it or are attracted by some things that result from pain - eg attention and pity. It is argued that if God did not let you send yourself to Hell for all eternity then he would be guilty of ignoring your free will and giving you further chances of repentance that you do not want or will. If that is true then we have no free will now. If I choose to go to Hell now and forever, God ignores me. He doesn’t strike me dead instantly to let me do it so to say there is no free will if there is no Hell is just to blame the damned and excuse the inexcusable God and is therefore vindictive. It is a strange kind of free will that gives you the power to lose free will for in Hell you cannot change. It denigrates the alleged value of free will. Hell destroys the love of God by saying he gave us evil free will instead of the will we really have. (The will we really have is the will not to choose good or evil but to choose good or lesser good.) If that is true the mortal sinner will go to Hell the second he sins. Interestingly, this objection is not answered in the section of the chapter of the Handbook that answers objections.
 
If you really choose Hell of your own free will and you really create it for yourself of your own free will, then how can you be expected to fear it? There is nothing to fear if you are in control. Here is a parallel. You can't fear making a choice to do a parachute jump. You can't be afraid of your own free will. Jesus commanded us to fear him who can get us into Hell. If you stay in jail of your own free will you are not being punished any more. Being punished means being forced to suffer. Jesus described Hell as eternal punishment. We don't understand how people could choose Hell and so it does not help to say people choose it freely. We might as well believe that people go there kicking and screaming because of some sin they committed and the reason is known only to God. The choosing Hell idea is especially upsetting to and beyond the understanding of children. They will fear their choice or the choices others make in case the choice is for going to Hell.
 
God's justice is supposed to be built into the way God has made us and made all things. So if we go to Hell, it is built into our nature. It is not that he takes an active role and puts us in Hell. So he makes Hell a consequence when you are bad enough. The Church says God's mercy and justice are not in combat but are intertwined and he exercises just mercy and merciful justice. God's mercy and justice are said to work together implying that Hell is merciful for the damned don't want to go to Heaven. Some even say, "The goodness of the damned will be punished because it is goodness without God or goodness that separates good from God and honours good instead of him." Forgiveness by definition means just going ahead and doing it no ifs and no buts. If God requires a son to suffer for your sins before he will forgive that is not forgiveness. The mercy of God is dubious. And worse, the consequences cannot be the same for everybody. If you bring illness on yourself by becoming a drug addict, you may suffer more because of it than your friend who does the same. If God rigs this up then he is worse than the kind of God that gets the rod out and gives us a thrashing.
 
This teaching that you bring your punishment on yourself by doing wrong is nonsense. You can be a ruthless businessman and have the money to protect yourself from your enemies and live and die reasonably happy and healthy. But if you harm yourself by abusing say painkillers you will get very sick and die. It is not treating others badly that necessarily brings bad on you. It is abusing your body. It is fighting how nature looks after you. You will have a good liver if you don't abuse alcohol but if you drink loads every day you will pay a terrible price. It is not going against nature that harms you but the way you go against it. It is not being immoral that harms you but the way you choose to be immoral. If you are clever you can murder and get away with it. The hope that if you do wrong that nature will react and make you suffer is just vindictive wishful thinking. You want it to be true. But it is not true!

Can you wish that somebody will be going to Hell? You can if it is out of respect for their free will. The Church says God respects our free will if we choose Hell. You might say that it is wrong to wish Hell on a person for it denies they should be happy. If it is wrong because it makes them unhappy then you are implying unhappiness is worse than not having God. It’s a sin for you to worry more about the suffering than God. So it follows that you should wish a person may choose Hell as long as it is their free choice!

Free will and Hell do not go together. If free will exists, it is not completely free thus nobody can choose everlasting torment. Those who say they do are trying to blame the damned and not God. They are religious nuts. Those who try to say we have free will therefore eternal punishment is possible or really takes place are simply liars.


APPENDIX - STUDY OF HOW THE HANDBOOK OF CHRISTIAN APOLOGETICS STATES THAT ETERNAL HELL AND FREE WILL GO TOGETHER

Handbook of Christian Apologetics Says
 
Then the book complains that if there is no everlasting punishment then our choices make no infinite difference. It means that we can make choices that can put us in infinite misery or infinite happiness. Infinite means it lasts forever with no end.
 
Reason replies:
 
Who cares? Nobody except those who want justification for accepting Hell is a just doctrine. Are we to say that Hell should exist so that we can feel that our choices make an infinite difference? That is spiteful.
 
One thing is for sure, the believers are right that if Hell is justified that is one of the justifications as is free will which we will come to next. They are the only excuses for it for even justice is not enough. They mean that no sin deserves endless suffering and endless punishment. So they reason that if we go to Hell it is because of choice. If you argue that the damned deserve to go to Hell forever for their sins you will be seen as vindictive and harsh. But you are far worse if you argue, "They deserve it because they can leave but refuse to. It's self-inflicted." You can feel sorry for a man sentenced to life in jail but not for a man who stays in jail when the doors are never locked. So justice itself is not enough to account for everlasting torture in Hell. This is admitted on page 290 which says that our choice is the fundamental reason for the existence of Hell.  Strictly speaking what happens is the damned person makes the choice to keep making choices to stay in Hell forever. You have to make the choice over and over again to keep it up. In reality you have an infinity of choices. It is not really choice but choices. The notion of a choice making an infinite difference as in sealing your eternal fate is nonsense. It takes an infinity of choices. Thus we have proven that Hell is a vindictive doctrine. The choice argument is itself Hell for it insults our intelligence.
 
Nearly all of our choices make no infinite difference in the Christian view. It is only the choice we make at death, according to the doctrine of Hell, that does that. Clearly the Handbook is making a spiteful and deceitful attempt to cover up the malice of their doctrine. It even resorts to contradicting the doctrine to defend it!
 
Our choices never make us who we are. It is our commitment to them that does that. It follows then that if there is such a thing as everlasting damnation, then it is not our sins that put us there but our refusal to repent. The damned think that God is wrong and they are right. Pick and mix Catholics then are doing the one thing essential for going to Hell.
Handbook of Christian Apologetics Says
 
If there is no eternal damnation there is no free will.
 
Reason replies:

But that does not mean that anybody who dies in sin should be sent to Hell to be locked in sin forever for the lowest and most hardened sinner on earth according to the Bible can change and turn to God and become a righteous person. If somebody does not accept your love you just let them have it their own way and do not make a dungeon for them. Rather they should be allowed to change if they want to or to make themselves progressively worse and worse until they inflict everlasting torment on themselves which will never happen for we cannot choose such incredible misery. We cannot choose this because we have free will and free will is based on what we find attractive. It does not imply a defect in free will. Even those who do seek pain do so because they enjoy it. It is argued that if God did not let you send yourself to Hell then he would be guilty of ignoring your free will and giving you further chances of repentance that you do not want or will. If that is true then we have no free will now. It is a strange kind of free will that gives you the power to lose free will. It denigrates the alleged value of free will. Hell destroys the love of God by saying he gave us evil free will. If that is true the mortal sinner will go to Hell the second he sins. Interestingly, this objection is not answered in the section of the chapter that answers objections.
 
If we can’t have free will unless we can go to Hell forever then we can’t go to Hell as long as we are alive so we don’t have free will now!
 
To say there is no free will without an eternal torment in Hell is ridiculous for another reason too. It means you have no free will unless you can commit sin that takes you to Hell once and for all. The problem with this is, nobody goes to Hell for sin at all but for dying in sin. It’s the dying not the sin that puts you in Hell.
 
If there is no free will if there is no everlasting punishment then babies that go to Heaven having died in their cots never had free will for nobody who goes to Heaven chooses to leave it. They never had the chance to turn away from God forever. Heaven was forced on them.
 
And it would mean that pagans who can’t commit sin that cuts them off God forever for they don’t believe in such sin or in God or eternal punishment can’t have free will either!
 
You can’t choose everlasting punishment properly without believing in it strongly. So the less belief you have in the doctrine the less free will you have! You would need to know 100% that it exists. But that cannot happen unless you experience it forever. Its catch-22.
 
You can make a choice on earth that will affect your life forever. But that is just because life has to be that way. Life cannot function if we can keep changing our minds about everything. But that has nothing to do with the afterlife which should be different. There is no reason in itself why anybody can’t go from Heaven to Hell forever if they want. It is not the choice in life that binds you but the consequences. To suggest it is any different in the afterlife and that a choice is everlasting is total madness.
 
To say that choice is an everlasting choice is not the same as saying a choice has everlasting consequences. A choice and its consequences are two different things. Believers deliberately blur the difference so that it appears that making an everlasting choice is possible.
 
If we need to believe in Hell, if we need to believe we have the power to go there or to create a Hell in order to have or believe in free will, then doubters of Hell and deniers are demeaning our freedom and should be stopped. Hell is a fundamentalist intolerant proposition. Few would take seriously the claim that we need to believe in Hell and God to have proper regard for free will.
 
If you can say people who die in sin as a result of sudden death before they had a chance to change their minds about going to Hell have chosen Hell, then why can't you say that homosexuals or heretics once they commit their "sin" have made a final choice? Why can't you say if they live good lives after their sin or if they claim to have repented they are lying and they are still destined to go to Hell? In brief, why single out the dead? It is fairer to choose the living than the dead. The living could be said to be throwing away the chance to repent which can't be said of those who die suddenly. If you claim the right to believe that sinners who die go to Hell forever, then you can't deny somebody the right to believe that this final choice can be made in life as well. You can say for example that a Christian who converts to Islam will never be forgiven even if she or he pretends she or he is. There is something warped about disapproving of people saying that or being angry when they do if you believe that those who die in sin choose Hell forever.
 
Catholics like to say that free will is the God-given choice between treating God and others as means or as ends. The evil person treats God or people as means. They are not valued much in themselves so their wellbeing becomes more unimportant. But this implies we are not made just for ourselves but are made just as choice-makers. It may be replied that you cannot be made for yourself and your own sake without being made capable of making choices - even self-destructive ones! In other words, you are not made to be your own person unless you have free will. But who cares as long as you are sufficiently your own person? The ability to choose everlasting torment is not necessary. We all know we are programmed - many of us believe we are partly programmed and some believe we are entirely programmed. But either way, we cannot be accused of being bad enough to choose everlasting punishment. God has no right to send me to Hell even if I am a mass murderer for it is not fully my choice.
 
Some suppose that if there is an all-good God then evil cannot exist. It must be an illusion. But how can an all-good creator of all things allow us to be afflicted by the useless illusion of evil? Christians say that evil is not an illusion and is real and God puts up with it because he wants us to be able to choose between loving and doing evil. But if evil is not a mere illusion it is still mostly an illusion. Evil is mistaking the way to do good. It is doing good the wrong way. Jack the Ripper may have thought he was doing good by killing the prostitutes as they would spread disease. The Christians argue that saying evil is a mere illusion that is useless to God is to say God cannot exist. Evil then would disprove his goodness or his almighty power. They reason that evil can only exist if God needs to put up with it. God would not be a real God without goodness and without being all-powerful. But if they are right then their own doctrine that evil is largely illusion is not much of a help either! It follows then that those who sin are deceived when they sin and are not fully to blame for it. Thus it is impossible for angel or human to go to Hell. Some say that Hell is empty but it really exists. We see that Hell cannot exist.
 
To have the right to go to Hell forever you would have the need to go there. But it is ridiculous to imagine you need that!
 
To say you must love the sinner and hate the sin is say, "I love the sinner but...". Hell makes that but bigger and louder therefore it is not a good or helpful doctrine. It only appeals to people who have lost much empathy and who cannot be decent enough to abandon the doctrine.
 
People seem to think that if people go to Hell though poor God does all he can to keep them out of it, that a Hell made by our own stubbornness is better than one where God actually sentences the person there for all eternity. They seem to think that being sentenced to Hell implies Hell is crueller than a Hell where we stay of our own accord. But the Hell where we go as a result of a divine condemnation is actually more comforting for God will not make the person suffer more than they deserve. If we torment ourselves in Hell then it could be unimaginably agonising and God can do nothing.
 
Christians argue that to suggest that nobody should suffer or be punished in Hell goes with an unworthy view of God and man. The implication is that you will go to Hell for not believing in Hell! They certainly maintain that if you truly honour our free will and honour God for doing so that you will agree with eternal punishment.

APPENDIX: THE "FIRST POPE" SAYS GOD SENDS TO HELL JUDICIALLY

If Hell is your own creation why will Jesus tell you that you must get away from him to eternal fire?  If Hell is just what happens if you want to go it alone then why does he not just say go?   A parent who tells a rebel child to go and die of a drugs overdose is punishing and one who says just go is not.

2 Peter 2:

But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves.

2 Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute.

3 In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.

4 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell,  putting them in chains of darkness to be held for judgment;

5 if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others;

6 if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly;

7 and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the depraved conduct of the lawless

8 (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)—

9 if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment.

10 This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the flesh and despise authority.

Bold and arrogant, they are not afraid to heap abuse on celestial beings;

11 yet even angels, although they are stronger and more powerful, do not heap abuse on such beings when bringing judgment on them from the Lord.

12 But these people blaspheme in matters they do not understand. They are like unreasoning animals, creatures of instinct, born only to be caught and destroyed, and like animals they too will perish.

13 They will be paid back with harm for the harm they have done. Their idea of pleasure is to carouse in broad daylight. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their pleasures while they feast with you.

14 With eyes full of adultery, they never stop sinning; they seduce the unstable; they are experts in greed—an accursed brood!

15They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam son of Bezer, who loved the wages of wickedness.

16 But he was rebuked for his wrongdoing by a donkey—an animal without speech—who spoke with a human voice and restrained the prophet’s madness.

17 These people are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them.

18 For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of the flesh, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error.

19 They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for “people are slaves to whatever has mastered them.”

20 If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and are overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning.

21 It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them.

22 Of them the proverbs are true: “A dog returns to its vomit,” and, “A sow that is washed returns to her wallowing in the mud.”

Finally

Religion gives too many guesses as to why a God of love can have people in Hell forever.  In such a serious matter the reason is needed not guesses.  You don't say when somebody is sentenced to death that "maybe its because." That insults the seriousness of the matter.  Some say that Hell is everlasting not because you deserve it to be but because God does not give you the resources to repent once you die or when you die.  They say that is your choice.  Or they say you can repent but won't.   They oddly argue that if there is no Hell there is no free will.  But that is an assumption.  It is taking advantage of our desire to believe we have free will.  In other words we are being taken advantage of.     And it does not follow that God can abandon you and use your choice as an excuse for that is what it is.  It is said that as it is fundamentally good to live the damned do not want to be put out of their misery by being put out of their existence so in that sense they choose to live forever and thus to suffer forever.  But that is not a choice in the same way as putting a gun to somebody's head to get them to do something is not giving them a choice.  It is cruel in the extreme to use such an excuse for Hell.    Why we go there needs proof for it is too serious of a matter to get wrong.  It is not fair to say God has people in Hell even if they might deserve it when he may not have them there. Do you want to say Miss Carson hit Johnny and was right to if she did not in fact hit him?  Hell is just a passive aggressive judgemental doctrine that respects nobody not even God.

FURTHER READING
 
APOLOGETICS AND CATHOLIC DOCTRINE, Most Rev M Sheehan DD, M H Gill & Son, Dublin, 1954  
APOLOGETICS FOR THE PULPIT, Aloysius Roche, Burns Oates & Washbourne LTD, London, 1950
ENCHIRIDION SYMBOLORUM ET DEFINITIONUM, Heinrich Joseph Denzinger, Edited by A Schonmetzer, Barcelona, 1963
GOD IS NOT GREAT, THE CASE AGAINST RELIGION, Christopher Hitchens, Atlantic Books, London, 2007
 ‘GOD, THAT’S NOT FAIR!’ Dick Dowsett, [OMF Books, Overseas Missionary Fellowship, Belmont, The Vine, Sevenoaks, Kent TN13 3TZ] Kent, 1982
HANDBOOK OF CHRISTIAN APOLOGETICS, Peter Kreeft & Ronald Tacelli, Monarch, East Sussex, 1994
HAVE WE TO FEAR A DEVIL? Fred Pearce, The Christadelphian Office, Birmingham
HEAVEN AND HELL Dudley Fifield, Christadelphian Publishing Office, Birmingham
HELL – WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS ABOUT IT, John R Rice, Sword of the Lord, Murfreesboro, 1945
JEHOVAH OF THE WATCH-TOWER, Walter Martin and Norman Klann, Bethany House, Minnesota, 1974
LIFE IN CHRIST, PART 3, Fergal McGrath SJ, MH Gill and Son Ltd, Dublin, 1960
RADIO REPLIES VOL 1, Frs Rumble and Carty, Radio Replies Press, St Paul, Minnesota, 1938
REASON AND BELIEF, Bland Blanschard, George Allen & and Unwin Ltd, London, 1974
THE BIBLE TELLS US SO, R B Kuiper, The Banner of Truth Trust, Edinburgh, 1978  
THE DEVIL, THE GREAT DECEIVER Peter Watkins, The Christadelphian Birmingham, 1992
THE ENCYCLOPAEDIA OF BIBLE DIFFICULTIES, Gleason W Archer, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1982
THE FOUR MAJOR CULTS, AA Hoekema, Paternoster Press, Carlisle, 1992
THE KINDNESS OF GOD, EJ Cuskelly MSC, Mercier Press, Cork, 1965
THE LIFE OF ALL LIVING, Fulton J Sheen, Image Books, New York, 1979
THE REAL DEVIL, Alan Hayward, Christadelphian Bible Mission, Birmingham
THE REALITY OF HELL, St Alphonsus Liguori, Augustine Publishing Company, Devon, 1988
THE SERMONS OF ST ALPHONSUS LIGOURI, St Alphonsus Ligouri, TAN, Illinois, 1982
THE TRUTH ABOUT HELL, Dawn Bible Students, East Rutherford, NJ
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT HELL? Radio Bible Class, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1986
WHATEVER HAPPENED TO HEAVEN?, Dave Hunt, Harvest House, Eugene, Oregon, 1988
WHY DOES GOD? Domenico Grasso SJ, St Paul Publications, Bucks, 1970