Questions I ask

Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.

Rev 20:15

I am pondering one question lately:

Why would a God of love even start creation knowing that most people will end up in eternal torture through this experiment?

Many point to the last revival, the ingathering of the harvest at the end of times, and that many will be saved.

But it will be just a fraction of all the people that lived. Even if that fraction is large, it still leaves billions of people bound for the lake of fire. More of them every day Jesus tarries.

Just know that my mind works different. You will know when you read on. Just bare with me.

We could argue for Jesus’ death using a quote by Spock in The Wrath of Kahn (1982):

“Logic clearly dictates that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.” Captain Kirk answers, “Or the one.”

If we do so, we might as well argue for the many put into the lake of fire using Captain Kirk’s quote from The Voyage Home (1984):

“Because the needs of the one outweigh the needs of the many.”

If only one gets saved, that outweighs the needs of the many that are lost. We usually put a twist on that saying that Jesus would have died if only one were saved.

I do not want to draw my theology from Star Trek. The quotes just seemed fitting for some of the thoughts I had in the past when contemplating this problem.

Another way of looking at this:

Did God put his own need for relationship above the needs of the many?

I do not believe that God has a need for relationship as much as he wants to share the beauty and peace and adventure he experiences with the many.

As love needs independence and free will to be true love, there will be many that do not take up the offer of eternal communion with God.

Is this price one has to pay and that God is willing to pay?

Does he even have to pay that price in the first place?

There are many logical arguments against this.

If God is almighty, he could have the souls of the lost just cease existence. If he cannot do so, he is clearly not almighty. (Thus, if they have to suffer, he choses to have them suffer or is powerless to prevent it.)

If God is outside of time, why would he limit the time each person has to decide about their eternal destiny to one single go of 70-80 years? If he is all-knowing and knows that somebody would not chose right even with an infinite number of tries, why create them in the first place?

If he is asking us to forgive not once or seven times, but 7 times seventy times, is God substandard to his own standards? Or does 7 times seventy times therefore still mean a limited number, maybe the mathematical 490? Yes, we have to live with the consequences of our decisions, even if forgiven, but:

If God gives us a rule on revenge in an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, he surely should not surpass this rule in his punishment. With a limited number of people living for a limited number of years in a universe with a limited life-span according to the common interpretation of the bible, even counting the ripple effects our decisions have through time, we only have a limited number of eyes and teeth, so to speak, affected. Eternal punishment is always more than that.

Maybe the lake of fire is limited in time, as it is told to last for an aeon. An aeon is a span of time with a beginning and an end of undetermined length, thus the idea of purgatory. This would certainly satisfy the rule of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But would it satisfy the new testament standard for forgiveness?

We are in a logical dilemma. And I know the thoughts of God are higher than our thoughts. I am just telling you what haunts me at the moment.

Have you heard this story:

A fine Christian died and arrived at the pearly gates. Peter welcomed him in. But just when the man wanted to cross the line, he saw his friends outside like beggars. “What about them?”, he asked. Peter answered that they did not qualify.

The man hesitated and thought about Jesus walking the earth, spending his time with harlots and thieves because it was not the healthy that needed him.

The man stepped back, and in turning to his friends said: “I am sorry, but they need me.” Peter rejoiced: “Finally!”

But could it be that all this questioning is unnecessary in the first place?

What if God forgives, even forgave everybody? What if his mercy is without limits and new every morning? What if “the fall” was not about sin in the first place? What if sin truly was conquered at the cross?

Looking at the Greek of today’s verse, what is translated whosoever, everyone, can well be translated everything, whatsoever.

In our modern thinking, whosoever makes much more sense because of the word name. What if I told you that there is no word for name in the Greek text?

What if everything that is not written in the book of life is poured into the lake of fire? Of course, there are all those other verses talking about names being written in the book of life and about God blotting them out. It would require an in-depth study to see wether going from person to thing does make sense.

One thing to consider in that study would be the ancient understanding of names. Names were not just identifiers, but functions and identities. What if this is about mindsets, not people? What if everything, every mindset that does not align with the tree of life will be thrown into the fire, not people?

That would make sense at least with some of the verses about this, on first glance. I have to admit, I did not do this study, but I will. Let’s look at Rev 13:8, 17:8: people with a mindset based on the tree of knowledge of good and evil will worship the prophet and the beast, which represent exactly that mindset.

That would also explain why in Rev 21:27, supposedly in the new aeon, nobody with a mindset that does not align with God’s thinking and the tree of live, nobody therefore that is “written in the book of life”, would enter the city. Will others still exist then? It does seem so from the verse.

To open just another can of worms: maybe that verse does not talk about the future?

I am by no means giving answers here, just asking questions out loud. But the more I pray and think, the more I see that the story is just, well, another story. I start to believe with Kelley Varner: we have been lied to.