Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Degrees of Punishment

I have believe that their are degrees of punishmnet in Hell, which I think is important in our understanding of punishment. The following is a quote from Millard Erickson's Systematic Theology (p. 1240)

"We should observe, finally that Jesus’ teaching suggests that there are degrees of punishment in hell. He upbraided those cities which had witnessed his miracles but failed to repent; “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! .. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I tell you that it shall be more tolerable on the day of judgement for the land of Sodom than for you” (Matt. 11:21-24). There is a similar hint in the parable of the faithful & faithless stewards: “And that servant who knew his master’s will, but did not make ready or act according to his will, shall receive a severe beating. But he who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, shall receive a light beating. Every one to whom much is given, of him will much be required; and of him to whom men commit much they will demand the more” (Luke 12:47-48)

The principle here seems to be, the greater our knowledge, the greater our responsibility, and the greater will be our punishment if we fail in our responsibility. It may well be that the different degrees of punishment in hell are not so much a matter of objective circumstances as of subjective awareness of the pain of separation from God. This is parallel to our conception of the varying degrees of reward in heaven (pg. 1234). To some extent, the different degrees of punishment reflect the fact that hell is God’s leaving sinful man with the particular character that he fashioned for himself in this life. The misery one will experience from having to live with one’s wicked self eternally will be proportionate to his degree of awareness of precisely what he was doing when he chose evil."

1 comment:

  1. I agree wholeheartedly! I also think that a particularly horrible form of punishment might be having to watch Texas A&M football games!!

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