Question about Heaven and Hell

Discussion in 'Theological Forum' started by tellville, May 30, 2008.

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  1. tellville

    tellville Puritan Board Junior

    It seems to me that a lot of us take the descriptions of Heaven to be symbolic (there won't actually be streets of gold) but the descriptions of Hell to be literal (there will be flames). I'm just curious as to why this is? Why couldn't the descriptions of Hell also be symbolic?

    Just to clarify: I am not denying Hell, nor am I trying to downplay the horror which it is. Scripture is very clear that there is a Hell and that it is a place that will be horrible. I'm just curious if there is a double standard in how we interpret the texts that deal with each reality and if there isn't a double standard what makes there descriptions different?

    * I guess you could put the question the other way and ask why we don't take the heaven texts literally but it seems to me that heaven talk is very symbolic. But maybe I am wrong about that.
  2. Wannabee

    Wannabee Obi Wan Kenobi

    As one with a tendency towards literalism, :popcorn:
  3. tellville

    tellville Puritan Board Junior

  4. Zenas

    Zenas Snow Miser

    I wasn't aware that the descriptions of Heaven were taken symbolicaly. I take them literally.

    -One who firmly thinks there will be streets of gold.
  5. ColdSilverMoon

    ColdSilverMoon Puritan Board Senior

    Probably because we want to imagine heaven, our future home, as a place even more wonderful than can be described in human terms. Yet when it comes to hell, we don't dare imagine there could be anything worse than a literal lake of fire. So yes, I do believe there is a double standard to a certain extent...
  6. live4Him

    live4Him Puritan Board Freshman

    I think hell is going to be so horrible that there are not words to accurately describe it. The description we have of hell in the bible describes it to be eternal suffering where there is fire, worm doesn't die, torments, etc. This may not be literal. But either way hell will be horrible where God's pours His wrath on the sinner for all eternity. I think the same applies for heaven.
  7. Backwoods Presbyterian

    Backwoods Presbyterian Puritanboard Amanuensis

  8. Vytautas

    Vytautas Puritan Board Freshman

    Ames takes the reference to gnawing worms to be symbolic of a terrified conscience.
  9. staythecourse

    staythecourse Puritan Board Junior

    My heart warms to the images in Revelation. There is going to be some massive oysters somewhere in some ocean.... ;)

    I want to see transparent gold!
  10. Puritan Sailor

    Puritan Sailor Puritan Board Doctor

    With both heaven and hell, there are multiple images given in Scripture, especially the Gospels and Revelation. I don't think any one picture contains the fullness of heaven or hell, hence the multiple pictures. The pictures are intended to provoke meditation. So when considering all that, don't focus so much on the details of any one particular picture, but try to step back and take in the whole view that the multiple pictures give you. For heaven it is a beautiful thought. For Hell, it is dreadful. There is more than words can describe for both places. :2cents:
  11. jwithnell

    jwithnell Moderator Staff Member

    I think there may be some symbolism involved because we are physical creatures and physical terms are used to help us gain understanding. Important for this discussion is the realization that heaven is not our final destination -- we look forward to a new earth which will very much be a physical place, one that we are much more likely to understand. In either case, our delight will be a perfect worship of Christ. No amount of gold could measure up to that!
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