Posted by: Hope | January 26, 2009

God’s Image, Hell, and Sinners?

On facebook I’m carrying a discussion with a good friend of mine (It’s really awkward debating with such a close friend FYI). I know I hate when people write “intros” to posts, I do too…but I always seem to. I’m not sure why. Anywho–I’m trying to figure out how to put into “words” everything we’re discussing…

Basically it started out on the subject of hell. He’s a fundamental Christian that believes in the basic concept of hell. Fine and dandy for him, I just don’t accept that part. But what this conversation has slowly turned into is basically the subject of humans being sinners and born of sin.

May I just post a few quotes? Maybe this will make this simpler on me. (Hang in there…I’d suggest you read all of this….no matter how long winded it gets!!)


I wrote:

And if it is true. (In reference to his view of hell) God’s a punk. Now I know Christ came and thats all cool and dandy…I know that. But god set us up for that failure. He made “adam and eve” KNOWING they were going to sin.

Come on bro..

Shawn writes:

“Hope, I’m confused…God made Adam and Eve with a free will. Yes, that means that He knew that they were going to sin…but why does that make Him a punk? I think that God would have a punk if He wouldn’t have made provision for atonement of sins (animal sacrifice…the shedding of innocent blood). When Christ was crucified, innocent blood was shed for the last time. In other words, our sins have been atoned for…all we have to do is accept it.

To me, that doesn’t scream “punk”, it screams “SAVIOR”!

Please don’t tell me that God wants people to go to Hell. Pick five of your closest friends and choose which two go to Heaven and which three go to Hell. You can’t do it! Why do we assume that God can?”

I wrote:
Why does that make him a punk? Shawn. Okay, think of it like this.

Say you give your kid a toy with a smile on your face, but then when they play with it you yell at them and scold them harshly for it. How is that any different?

God gave us the gift of life and I thank him for that. But he also designed us with sin basically built into our DNA as human nature. He predestined us to mess up. He also gave us the free will to choose. He KNEW there was going to be people that weren’t going to except him. So what then did he so called “create”? This thing called hell that is supposed to torture folks for not believing in him and choosing this salvation “plan”. And all the other folks that buy into it get this fantastic thing that is 100% the opposite of hell.

He gave us sin, he gave us choice, and that constitutes for hell.

Shawn writes:
Hope, if God was really trying to “punk” people, then why allow for the absolution of sins through animal sacrifice, and then absolute forgiveness of sins by the death of Jesus? It doesn’t add up.

A loving God would not require anyone to love Him…that isn’t love, but mind-control.

I must disagree also on the sin component of our DNA. We are made in the image of God…with knowledge of good and evil. The choice to do evil (made by Adam and Eve) allowed sin to enter into our soul. The sin nature passes from the father to his children. That is why Jesus was born of a virgin (don’t even give me any garbage about God raping a virgin…it’s bunk).

Anyway, the toy analogy falls short, because it displays an intent to yell and confuse and embitter. God’s intent was to have a relationship with us, and He gave us the ability to do so. Knowing we would fail, He planned for our redemption. The appropriateness of the descriptor of punk is fading rapidly…

I write:
Yes, he set plan of salvation. But you’re looking at it in an opposite of me. I’m look at it through the eyes of an atheist, or a person that doubts god. If you can at least for a moment try and yourself into my eyes, my thoughts. Understand that you as a Christian are blessed with the gift of knowing (well, believing) that you will be going to heaven because of your salvation in Christ.

Now through my eyes, I do not know this. I sin a daily basis with nothing to back me up. I’m unwilling to accept Christ because of my doubts. Knowing this, I have had many Christians, friends, and even family (the very few religious ones in my family…) show concern about me going to hell. They’ve described hell in terrible ways that I dont even want to think about. But it hasn’t helpeed me any. I’m too proud to just say “oh no! I’m gonna die someday…I better go and do something about that!”

I don’t believe in getting saved out of fear. So what am I supposed to do in this situation? I’m stuck. Look at it through my eyes, the fear…the worry, the unknown. But you can’t accept something just because you’re scared. That’s not right at all. But that’s really what a lot of people do.

I didn’t plan on giving you bunk about raping a virgin, I know it’s bunk. Don’t underestimate me, ok? Yes, we’re made in the image of god. But your forgetting something. We ARE born as sinners. It’s Biblical and don’t tell me that is not. Is god a sinner? No. I think your kind of twisting the concept of being made in the image of god.

I think that pretty much sums it all up. I don’t think anymore needs to be said.

What do you guys think? Specifically, what do you think it means to be made in the image of God?



  1. I am praying for you both. You should not get saved out of fear but rather out of love.

    The image of God – might be as simple as our ability to reason, to rule and to experience a loving relationship.

    Main thought is this – one should not come to Christ because they are scared of hell or death or whatever scares you. Many do “preach” such a gospel, but it is wrong. One should come to Christ out of love – the love of a Father who made a way for His children to be reconciled to Him. That way of course is through the greatest expression of love ever – the death, burial and ressurection of Jesus. God bless.

  2. AAAaarrgggghhhh. A lot to chew on here, but shawns arguments tend to go around in circles and are frustrating to read.
    I’m working on part of my belief on my blog, which will do nothing to answer any of this….
    Must chew on this………

  3. cb: Thanks. You slightly missed the point. But I know where you’re coming from. I didn’t come to Christ out of fear (yes, I’m a Christian…just a confused one…I was somewhat playing the devils advocate, though it is really truly how I feel). I agree, nobody should come to Christ out of fear. I almost think that when reading back through my posts that I dont believe in a hell (or at least I wont in a few months, or a few years…unless I get some stuff straightened out). Time will tell.

    Wulfgar: I look forward to seeing what you wind up spitting out.

  4. when discussing what happens to those who dont trust him jesus referred to the burning garbage dump outside the city walls.

    and just out of curiosity – whats wrong with coming to christ out of fear?

  5. What’s wrong with it? That’s not what Jesus preached at all. That’s whats wrong. Christ preached love, peace, and forgiveness. Not fear. There is so much more to Christ than the imagery of hell. If you accept Christ based off of fear you’re doing it for all the wrong reasons.

  6. Hope,

    I’ll get back with you in the next day or so. You’ve visited my site and know how long winded I can be. 🙂 I want to compress some thoughts before jumping in.

    Grace and peace be with you.

  7. “do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. rather fear the one who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”
    ~ jesus (mt 10:28)

  8. Yes. But out of ALL the things he said, that was only one instance. I mean, most of the time he was preaching love, forgiveness, and kindness…rarely did he speak of “doom”. Why, whats your point grace?

  9. i dont have a point. just asking questions based on whats in the text.

    there are at least 10 other instances of this same kind of talk straight from jesus. it wasnt an anomaly. so if thats the case its no stretch to say jesus used hell as a motivation.

    so again i ask whats wrong with coming to christ out of fear?

  10. Do your homework. Jesus spoke more about Hell than He did heaven.

  11. Because fear is an impulse. I dont think thats right. You should come to Christ out of an understanding, a passion, and a love. Not fear.

    Burpie, but I’m not talking about heaven, at all. I’m talking about love, forgiveness, and peace. Which in fact, I do think he talks more about than he does hell. Of course, I would probably have to do more studying to actually prove it or give any type of numbers. You’re right though…heaven is *Rarely* talked about. I think it’s mostly because god wants it to be unknown and maybe its because it’s something we, as humans, can’t really grasp. So the only image we have is 1) God’ll be there 2) Jesus will be on the throne with him and 3) it’s got golden streets. (oh, and all we’ll really be doing is praising him…but i think it’s more out of actions, than words…)

  12. You missed my point. You say hell does not exist, yet Jesus talked more about it than He did heaven.

    Do you believe in heaven?

    Did Jesus lie about hell?

  13. No, you missed my point. I never said hell doesn’t exist. I said its bull crap.

    Jesus believed in sins being accounted for. Yes. I believe in a hell…just not the one you believe in. (dont ask me what it is, I dont know)

    Do I believe in heaven? I guess. Maybe. Yet again, probably not the one you believe in (dont ask me what it is, I do not know)

  14. actually jesus spoke far more about heaven than he did hell so thats a misrepresentation. in fact he only mentions hell 11 times and the word he uses (gehinnom) refers to the city dump outside the wall. he spoke of heaven over 100 times and that doesnt even include the 26 times he refers eternal life.

    but fear is more than an impulse hope. if i see a burning building its not an imuplse that keeps me from walking in. its a cultivated respect for the power of fire.

    in proverbs it says the fear of the lord is the beginning of wisdom so fear must be a legitimate motivation for coming to him.

  15. It took me all day to ponder on what I thought about that grace…I’ll give you that.

    Here’s what I came up with, in a jist:

    Basically, I think proverbs isnt talking about when you first come to the lord (first of all, I’d have to see the verse to truly form a real opinion, but based off what you said…). It appears that it’s speaking in more of a “farther-down-the-road” stance.

    I think it mostly deals with after you have already accepted god into life. At this point it is when you realize that this wonderful, and loving god also is all powerful. And his power and majesty should manifest fear into your heart…and the fear of this almighty god will then bring you wisdom.

    I suppose, I merely disagree on your interpretation.

  16. Graceshaker,

    Wow, you think fear is a legitimate reason to believe? Well, heck, if you don’t believe that there’s a big, invisible dragon in your garage, it’s going to burn you alive the next time you pull into it! (And please, just for the sake of argument, let’s assume that you actually do have a garage in which you park a vehicle)

    Tell me, does the fact that I claim it’s going to burn you alive change, in any way, shape, or form, the reliability you place upon the claim that there’s an invisible dragon in your garage? Clearly if you’re going to believe in an invisible dragon in your garage, you’re going to need some other reasons to believe than simply a threat that it’s going to kill you if you don’t.

    This is, fundamentally, why hell is such horrible reason to believe. If you want to get pedantic, it’s also a logical fallacy, specifically argument from consequences. The statement that there are positive or negative consequences of a certain claim in no way, shape, or form affect whether or not the claim is true.

    So hell is, at most, an emotional reason to believe: it’s a way to scare people into believing, or, more likely, frightening people who already believe into continuing to do so (because just like with the invisible dragon claim above, a person not already indoctrinated into Christianity is unlikely to take hell seriously).

  17. psalm 111:10
    the fear of the lord is the beginning of wisdom

    proverbs 1:7
    the fear of the lord is the beginning of knowledge

    proverbs 9:10
    the fear of the lord is the beginning of wisdom

    im not sure how ‘beginning’ could be understood as being ‘farther-down-the-road’ but maybe you could unpack your thinking a bit more for my sake?

  18. Yeah…I still dont see how that has ANYTHING to do with at which point you accept Christ. The point at which you receive wisdom has nothing to do with the point at which you accept Christ. I’ve accepted Christ into my life, but I do not consider myself wise. I know many Christians who are in the process of getting wise, but to truly fear the Lord is something that comes with time and with that comes wisdom. When you think of a wise person, you think of someone with age…do you not? Now apply that to Christianity and your golden.

  19. hope – im thinking my discussion with jason may help you understand my thinking better..

    jason – howdy. i really enjoyed your garage dragon story. you ask:

    “Wow, you think fear is a legitimate reason to believe?”

    i think we can agree the term believe = mental assent in which case the answer is of course not. and i never said it was a legitimate reason to believe. i said it is a legitimate motivation for coming to christ. that different than believing he exist(s/ed).

    my comment to hope is predicated on the fact that she already believes.

    to borrow the bridge analogy if i am told the bridge ahead is out i can either believe or not. but if i have reason to believe then fear of driving off into the river is not only legitimate but the most healthy of reasons for taking an alternate route.

    the same is true with god and heaven or hell. if you dont believe then fear is ludicrous. but if you have reason to believe then fear is perfectly reasonable and thats been my point from the beginning.

  20. This is a great comment thread. You folk are very interesting to read, I hope I do not ruin it.
    The question on the table is what does it mean to be made in the image of God.
    the word image comes from Hebrew Tselem) image
    a) images (of tumours, mice, heathen gods)
    b) image, likeness (of resemblance)
    c) mere, empty, image, semblance (fig.)
    If we are a work of art, God Himself is the model.
    Please do not say God made us little gods, that is not the point. we are little models of God. What does that mean? Well as God can create, so can we. As God can imagine, so can we, as God can emote so can we, and the biggie, we are Triune beings. We have a body, we have a soul, and we have a spirit. You can’t argue with me on the first, the second one is the basis for most religion and discussed a lot in the bible, and what animates and feels love, rebellion, happiness , etc. is your spirit . Blessed are the poor in spirit..

    So here we are little models of God sitting around wondering if the model maker exists.
    So if we are in His Image we should be capable of being like and thinking like Him, right? Well that was what the devil said in the garden, you can be like God, in fact that is the cry of the cults, be like God in___ easy lessons, our first parents ate the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, we can be like God!
    That did not work out for us.
    God then gave us rules, so we would know right and wrong, and although that did not work to have His models act like Him, it did show us what sin was, and is. Jesus came no only to teach, not only to provide Divine forgiveness, but He came so He could go, and in leaving this realm, to send back a Helper who would do something amazing, give us a God like Heart, be our conscience when our conscience fails,teach, guide reveal, allow us to repent and mean it, and so fulfill the prophecies that our hard hearts would be transplanted with hearts designed closer to the original model, that we would have the Mind of Christ and the heart of God. For us to bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit, we need to stay near the Vine that is Christ. That pleases God.
    Sorry, way too long, forgive me.
    Oh, and just because fear today has a bad connotation, doesn’t mean fear was always bad, fear used to equal respect. Shalom!

  21. Grace (what’s your real name, if you don’t mind me calling you that instead. It’s just weird calling you grace…): I think I get where you are coming from.

    I still dont agree that fear is a legitimate reason to come to Christ. What’s the difference between coming to Christ and believing in god (in your opinion)?

  22. Willo: Thanks for your thoughts. I’ve never heard it explained that way. It does make sense…analogies always help me see things in a broader perspective.

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