Epistemology

Download A Theodicy of Hell by Charles Seymour (auth.) PDF

By Charles Seymour (auth.)

In A Theodicy of Hell Charles Seymour tackles probably the most tricky difficulties dealing with the western theistic culture: to teach the consonance among everlasting punishment and the goodness of God. Medieval theology tried to unravel the hindrance through arguing that any sin, regardless of how mild, benefits never-ending torment. modern thinkers, nevertheless, are inclined to dispose of the retributive aspect from hell completely. Combining historic breadth with designated argumentation, the writer develops a unique figuring out of hell which avoids the extremes of either its conventional and glossy competitors. He then surveys the battery of objections ranged opposed to the potential for everlasting punishment and indicates how his `freedom view of hell' can stand up to the assault. The paintings might be of specific significance for these drawn to philosophy of faith and theology, together with lecturers, scholars, seminarians, clergy, and a person else with a private wish to come to phrases with this perennially not easy doctrine.

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It is logically and epistemically possible that the above dilemma be avoided in some cases--it is possible that there be some person who at some time intends to sin forever, and at no point in time intends to perform commendatile actions forever. So if intention is as culpable as deed, then it is logically and epistemically possible that some person deserves eternal punishment. But let us be more precise. If the sinner only intends to sin forever, but not to sin constantly, then he does not deserve hell, only unending punishment.

The obvious problem with such a view is that a person should not be punished for the benefit of others if that punishment itself is unjust. Similar questions arise when the division of the dead is based on religious rather than moral grounds (for instance, the acceptance of Jesus as savior). Is God justified in punishing eternally those who fail the religious test? Wouldn't God give people a chance after death to fulfill the religious requirements? Could God punish infidels as an example to others?

I will first look briefly but critically at the arguments of Augustine and Aquinas for the claim that finite sin can merit eternal punishment. Then in section III I will spend considerably more time on Anselm's famous argument in the Cur Deus Homo that sin is an offense against an infinite God, and so deserves infinite punishment. This defense of hell, along with a modified version in Jonathan Edwards' "Justice of God in Damning Sinners," will be rejected for a variety of reasons. I will also reject, in section IV, the strategy of contemporary authors who deny one of the crucial assumptions of the argument from justice--that hell is a punishment.

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