Problem of Hell

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    Cain, James

     (67K)

    On the Problem of Hell

    "There is a conception of hell that holds that God punishes some people in a way that brings about endless suffering and unhappiness. An objection to this view holds that such punishment could not be just since it punishes finite sins with infinite suffering. In answer to this objection, it is shown that endless suffering, even intense suffering, is consistent with the suffering being finite. Another objection holds that such punishment is contrary to God’s love. A possible response to this objection is developed."
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    DePoe, John M.

     (94K)

    The Problem of Hell

    "The Christian doctrine of hell has long been a stumbling block for people to overcome when accepting Christianity. For surely a good God would not send people to hell, especially those who lead a pretty good life and had no possible opportunity to accept Christianity. Below, I will proceed to resolve this problem by first sharpening the apparent disharmony of the doctrine of hell, then pointing out some misconceptions, and finally by providing a positive Christian defense for the classic doctrine of hell."
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    Gray, Tony

     (194K)

    Destroyed For Ever: An Examination of the Debates Concerning Annihilation and Conditional Immortality

    "C.S. Lewis states clearly what is probably true for most modern Christians. Hell may well be unique amongst Christian doctrines, if not for the lack of attention that it has received in the past decades, then for the unwillingness with which many orthodox Christians believe in it. Fundamentalists may preach vividly about the fires of hell, and liberals have long heralded the downfall of eternal damnation, but what can we say about a doctrine which leaves many people highly embarrassed? More recently, the doctrine has received the renewed interest of a specific debate amongst evangelicals concerning whether hell is eternal conscious torment or whether the wicked are annihilated after judgment. This article will attempt to outline the nature of these recent debates."
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    Kvanvig, Jonathan

     (164K)

    Heaven and Hell

    "The philosophical issues that arise out of the vivid imagery in western culture concerning heaven and hell arise quite naturally in nearly any religious context, though they are surely more pressing in some. Here the focus will be on the problems arising for the doctrines in the great monotheist traditions, and especially within Christianity, since it is within the latter context that these issues have been primarily discussed and it is the tradition with which western philosophers are the most familiar."
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    Kvanvig, Jonathan L.

     (161K)

    Hell

    "The philosophical issues that arise out of the vivid imagery in western culture concerning heaven and hell arise in every religious context, though they are surely more pressing in some contexts. Here the focus will be on the problems arising for the doctrines in the great monotheist traditions, and especially within Christianity, but the issues discussed will arise for any religious tradition."
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    Kvanvig, Jonathan L.

     (116K)

    Losing Your Soul

    "The loss of soul theory, as I will construe it here, is an ambitious approach to the problem of explaining the permanence of hell. While it is true that any account of hell can be supplemented with the idea of loss of soul, the theory I am concerned with here attempts to use the idea of loss of soul to shore up a difficulty faced by the choice model...I will argue that the loss of soul theory has fairly good prospects for defending the insistence on a full commitment to the choice model, but that it is less successful in defending the idea that loss of soul provides a good account of the permanence of hell. I will begin, then, by defending the full commitment to the Choice Model that the loss of soul theory needs. After doing so, I will devote some time to explaining more precisely the idea of loss of soul that is needed by the theory in question, and then to my reservations about it."
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    Kvanvig, Jonathan L.

     (134K)

    Universalism and the Problem of Hell

    "No one should ever be tempted toward universalism because of perceived difficulties with the strong view of hell of the sort nicely encapsulated in McTaggart’s Dilemma, and no one should opt for universalism by pointing out contrasts between universalism and perceived failures of the strong view involved in that dilemma. To do so is just a rehearsal of the historical confusion that universalism provides some comfort for those troubled by the problem of hell. Instead of playing off moral difficulties of alternative accounts of the nature of hell, the universalist should argue against alternatives that share a morally adequate conception of the nature of hell."
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    Kvanvig, Jonathan L.

     (112K)

    Autonomy, Finality, and the Choice Model of Hell

    "In the context of traditional Christianity, the doctrine of the afterlife is pervaded with the concept of finality. Hell is described as the 'second death', and the apocalyptic imagery includes a description of a Final Judgment involving a great white throne. It is natural to think of such finality in terms of the language of 'once and for all': there is a determinate consummation toward which history is aimed, a point at which one’s fate for all eternity is settled once and for all. When clarified in such terms, contemporary philosophical thought about hell seems seriously deficient, as will emerge in what follows. My purpose here is to investigate the issue of finality to determine whether and how contemporary thinking about hell can be reconciled with it."
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    Murray, Michael J.

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    Three Versions of Universalism

    "The doctrine of hell is as troubling as any feature of the traditional Christian faith. A number of alternative accounts of human eternal destiny have been proposed...and foremost among these is the doctrine of universalism, i.e., the doctrine that all are ultimately redeemed to enjoy perfect communion with God forever. In this paper I offer some critical philosophical reflections on the doctrine of universalism."
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    Townsend, Christopher

     (170K)

    Hell: A Difficult Doctrine We Dare Not Ignore

    "This paper focuses on the doctrine of hell, examining the main features of the Bible's teaching and considering a number of debated issues, notably the argument over annihilationism and eternal punishment. The chapter goes on to explore the apologetic challenges and opportunities which arise from the doctrine of hell, and reflects on the 'strange silence' of the modern church on this topic."
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    Walls, Jerry L.

     (108K)

    Purgatory for Everyone

    Despite widespread acceptance of the doctrine of purgatory in some form, Protestants, by and large, have traditionally rejected the notion out of hand. The roots of this rejection go back, of course, to the Reformation, and it is well known that purgatory was deeply connected with the most basic and bitter disputes that split the Western Church. Among these disputes is the Protestant notion of sola scriptura, the view that Scripture alone is the source and authority for doctrine. Many Protestants would summarily dispense with purgatory on the ground that it is not mentioned in Scripture...The fact that purgatory is not expressly present in Scripture is not enough to settle the issue, however. The deeper issue is whether it is a reasonable inference from important truths that are clearly found there."