17
Aug
09

Outer Darkness and Hell

 

      Mormonism makes a distinction between outer darkness and hell.  The LDS manual True to the Faith states: “Latter-day revelations speak of hell in at least two ways.  First it is another name for spirit prison.”  That makes hell temporary for almost everybody. Even those who do not accept Mormonism while they are in spirit prison will go to the lowest kingdom of glory.  “Those who choose not to repent but who are not sons of perdition will remain in spirit prison until the end of the Millennium, when they will be freed from hell and punishment and be resurrected to a telestial glory.”

     It goes on to say, “Second, the word hell is used to refer to outer darkness.”  Outer darkness consists of permanent punishment but only a few people will go there, namely, the sons of perdition.  Although Joseph Smith said that many of those who apostate from the LDS church qualify as sons of perdition, I have had many Mormons say that very few people will qualify. 

     Be that as it may.  The point I want to make is that Mormonism, by redefining hell and making it temporary for almost everybody, takes much of the sting out of hell.  Many find this much more attractive than the thought of people suffering eternally in hell.  I fully understand that.

     But there is one big problem with that.  It’s wrong.  The Bible clearly talks about those who do not rely solely on Jesus’ work as suffering eternally.  (Mormonism gets around that by defining eternal punishment as punishment coming from an eternal God – not as punishment that lasts for all eternity.  But I don’t see it doing the same thing with the “eternal” in eternal life.)  Even though the thought of people suffering eternally sends shivers down my spine, I can’t reject it.  That is what the Bible teaches.  Nothing emphasizes the seriousness and repulsiveness of sin more than the fact that it merits eternal punishment.  Neither does anything impress upon me more the urgency to tell others about perfection in Jesus more than this. 

    Any dismissal of an eternal hell plays right into the devil’s hand.  The last thing the devil wants us to have is a clear picture of the agonies of hell.  That, in a very real way, would scare the hell out of us. 

      Again I don’t like to think about or talk about hell.  Neither do pro-lifers like to talk about the details of abortion.  But sometimes they have to especially when talking to those who are ignorant of its hideous nature.  So also we.  We need to talk about the hideous nature of hell.  But we also need to talk about the only way to escape it – being covered with the perfection of Christ.

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32 Responses to “Outer Darkness and Hell”


  1. 1 geoff456
    August 17, 2009 at 11:02 pm

    Mark,

    I tend to think that ANY place that is away from where Heavenly Father and Christ are is hell. And wouldn’t you suffer if you could not be with them? (do you believe in “them” or just a “him”)

    Only the people that qualify for the Celestial Kingdom will be with God and Christ. Anywhere else IS hell….even if Hell is not a Place.

    and did you mean “pro-choicers”?

    ~geoff

  2. 2 faithoffathers
    August 18, 2009 at 3:41 am

    Mark,

    Question- is there a point at which a person will have satisfied the demands of justice in hell? We spend a lot of time talking about the law and justice and our reliance upon Christ to satisfy the demands of justice. If those who do not accept Christ’s offering and His vicarious sacrifice for us must suffer for eternity, how is it that Christ’s suffering had an end? If He stood in for us in suffering for our sin, wouldn’t He need to suffer for eternity in order to fully meet the demands of the law for us if your definition of hell is correct? Do you see what I am saying?

    In other words, Christ’s standing in for us resulted in the law being satisfied. Yet His suffering ultimately ended. Those not shielded by the effects of His atonement must suffer for their own sins. Why would their physical suffering not also come to an end in some sense?

    As geoff noted, living away from God and fully understanding what one has forfeited will be torment more powerful than physical pain.

    fof

  3. 3 markcares
    August 18, 2009 at 1:33 pm

    I have trouble seeing the telestial kingdom as hell when it is desribed as a kingdom of glory, when it is defined in Gospel Principles as part of heaven, where people “will receive a glory which is beyond human understanding, which is so great that we are unable to describe it adequately.” (D&C Student Manual, p. 166). If its glory is beyond human understanding than it follows that it’s much more glorious than life is here – that this life is a worse hell than the people will experience in the telestial kingdom.

  4. 4 markcares
    August 18, 2009 at 2:02 pm

    Geoff and F0F:
    As I reread your comments another question came to mind: are you equating hell with only physical torment?

  5. 5 geoff456
    August 18, 2009 at 2:54 pm

    Mark,
    I don’t think of any physical torment except for maybe the withdrawal from addictions that can no longer be fed.
    Hell for me would be purely mental torment. Knowing that I COULD have been with the Lord and I blew it.

    Just because the telestial kingdom LOOKS great does not mean it IS a great place to be. Our world is beautiful and has a degree of glory…all of God’s creations do, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t suffering and unspeakable horrors at times.

    Geoff

  6. 6 faithoffathers
    August 18, 2009 at 4:53 pm

    Mark,

    I think the word “glory” needs definition. I think everything physical has some degree of glory. But we typically think of glory as grandiose, beautiful, and great. Pick the most ugly place on planet earth and you will still find some degree of glory there.

    As to your question- no I do not define hell as only sufferring of the physical body. I think mental and spiritual torment is at least as unpleasant as physical pain. I consider the anguish I have personally experienced after committing some pretty ugly sins- I would have much more preferred to endure physical pain than experience what was mental and spiritual hell for me.

    Understand that the Telestial glory is what a person will experience after suffering for sins for which they did not repent and which did not have the sufferring of Christ applied. In other words, after they have paid their debt to justice.

    fof

    What of my questions about justice, etc.?

    fof

  7. 7 onlyjesus3
    August 19, 2009 at 3:50 am

    geoff456 – as a devout mormon do you not identify yourself as “pro-life” rather than “pro-choice”? “pro-choice” is a term commonly used by people who believe that abortion is ok. Do you? I just find it an odd discrepancy with you…

  8. 8 jm
    August 19, 2009 at 6:57 am

    fof

    What of my questions about justice.

    Jhn 5:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

    Justice is by death our life.

    Main Entry: con·demn
    Pronunciation: \kən-ˈdem\
    Function: transitive verb
    Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French condempner, from Latin condemnare, from com- + damnare to condemn — more at damn
    Date: 14th century
    1 : to declare to be reprehensible, wrong, or evil usually after weighing evidence and without reservation
    2 a : to pronounce guilty : convict b : sentence, doom <condemn a prisoner to DIE.

  9. 9 markcares
    August 19, 2009 at 2:19 pm

    FOF:
    Concerning your question about justice. My answer is based on God’s revelation in the Bible. There we are told:

    1) That Jesus has paid for sin
    2) That there is a hell where people who don’t trust in Jesus’ payment will suffere for all eternity.
    3) That God is just.

  10. 10 markcares
    August 19, 2009 at 2:26 pm

    FOF:
    You tal;k about defining the word glory. Look it up in any dictionary. Your explanation doesn’t do justice to the word. And it doesn’t do justice to what Elder Quentin L. Cook, one of your 12 apostles, said in the last General Conference. “All spirits blessed by birth will ultimately be resurrected, spirit and body reunited, and inherit kingdoms of glory that are superior to our existence here on earth.”

  11. 11 markcares
    August 19, 2009 at 2:30 pm

    If the poeple in the telestial kingdom will be experiencing mental torment and that is “hell” – then doesn’t this hell last forever? Isn’t that an eternal hell?

  12. 12 faithoffathers
    August 19, 2009 at 4:19 pm

    Mark,

    I do not disagree with Elder Cooks comment. My point is that the word “glory” is relative. As to mental torment- yes, that is a hell, and that will last forever.

    Our take on it all is that there will be a period of suffering for one’s own sin physically, mentally, spiritually (if he or she has not repented and therefore been covered by the atonement). After the debt to justice is paid, that person exists in a place that may be pretty OK, even better than earth presently, but that existence will pale in comparison with what they could have had. It is the forfeit of greatest glory and joy that will result in an individuals “eternal torment” or hell.

    fof

  13. 13 geoff456
    August 19, 2009 at 6:32 pm

    OJ3

    yes i am pro-life..i misread mark’s comment. i thought he meant that IF “pro-choicers” knew what was involved in the heinous practice that they wouldn’t sign on to it. Abortion is generally sterilized for public consumption. pro-lifers ALREADY know what it involves, that is why we are so against it.

    geoff

  14. August 19, 2009 at 10:33 pm

    I think this entire debate is focused on subjects which, frankly, none of us have any real idea of.

  15. 15 rblandjr
    August 20, 2009 at 1:21 am

    Everyone,
    Christ warned us of hell, outerdarkness.
    And I am glad that Our Savior made a way to redeem us from the curse of sin. And one day from sins presence.So we might live eternally with God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
    Jesus was clear about that place of torment, where there is” weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth.”

  16. August 20, 2009 at 3:03 am

    I was thinking…

    Doesn’t simplifying the whole afterlife into saved vs. damned pretty much encourage the annihilation of all distinctions between sins?

    I mean, if all sin is equally damnable, and any one sin – no matter how trivial is enough to merit damnation, then who really cares whether you stole a piece of candy, or murdered your grandma?

    I mean… they’re both sins, and they’re both equally going to damn you. Right?

    Doesn’t dividing the afterlife into a reductionist heaven-hell trivialize sin and eliminate all distinctions?

  17. 17 rblandjr
    August 20, 2009 at 4:57 am

    Everyone,

    Dr. Kenneth Wuest in speaking of grace makes this observation.

    “…what took place at Calvary. All the human race could expect in view of its sin, was the righteous wrath of a holy God, that and eternal punishment from His glorious presence. But instead, that holy God stepped down from His Judgment seat and took upon Himself at Calvary’s Cross, the guilt and penalty of human sin, thus satisfying His justice and making possible the bestowal of His mercy. And this He did, not for those who were His friends, but His bitter enemies, unlovely creatures saturated with sin.”

    The Cross was Gods reply to mankinds sin. When we answer, “No, I’ll do it my way”. Then a Holy Gods righteous wrath must fall with full force upon sinful man.

    Thank God for his grace that is offered freely to us His enemies whom He loved enough to give His very best.

  18. 18 rblandjr
    August 20, 2009 at 4:57 am

    Everyone,

    Dr. Kenneth Wuest in speaking of grace makes this observation.

    “…what took place at Calvary. All the human race could expect in view of its sin, was the righteous wrath of a holy God, that and eternal punishment from His glorious presence. But instead, that holy God stepped down from His Judgment seat and took upon Himself at Calvary’s Cross, the guilt and penalty of human sin, thus satisfying His justice and making possible the bestowal of His mercy. And this He did, not for those who were His friends, but His bitter enemies, unlovely creatures saturated with sin.”

    The Cross was Gods reply to mankinds sin. When we answer, “No, I’ll do it my way”. Then a Holy Gods righteous wrath must fall with full force upon sinful man.

    Thank God for his grace that is offered freely to us His enemies whom He loved enough to give His very best.

  19. 19 jm
    August 20, 2009 at 6:07 am

    Seth, you said: Doesn’t simplifying the whole afterlife into saved vs. damned pretty much encourage the annihilation of all distinctions between sins?

    I belive Jesus Christ said it best in Matthew 5:21-22 and 5:27-28.

    Mat 5:21 ¶ Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:

    Mat 5:22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.

    Mat 5:27 ¶ Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:

    Mat 5:28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

    Yea i think he eliminated all distinctions.

  20. August 20, 2009 at 6:24 am

    So, would Jesus agree with you that a me telling my wife that her shirt looks “just great” even though I don’t like it much is just as bad as me going out and murdering my grandma with a crowbar?

  21. 21 RLO
    August 20, 2009 at 7:19 am

    I believe the “just as bad” question isn’t the best one to be asking. Since perfection is the standard, the better question would be, “Which of these two scenarios falls short of the standard of perfection?” The “just as bad” or “which is worse” questions are the ones that are generally asked by sinful mankind trying to ease the conscience. Hey, I can always find someone whose sins are worse that mine. But the “which falls short of perfection” question is the one that is asked of us by God’s law. And who is justified before God by the law? (Galatians 3:11)

    It doesn’t really matter if I score a high “F” or a low “F” (or for that matter even a high “B”). Anything less than perfection is failure in God’s eyes. Dismal, were it not for many beautiful law and gospel passages, like Romans 3:23 that tells us, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace.” So the perfection that is required of us is attainable – just not of our own doing.

  22. August 20, 2009 at 3:15 pm

    I’m just telling you that your either-or view of the afterlife encourages the elimination of such distinctions.

    And apparently I’m not the only one who thinks so. Here’s a link from one of your own people explaining why the “one white-lie will send you to hell” concept is probably bad theology:

    http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2009/08/one-white-lie-will-send-you-to-hell-for-all-eternity-and-other-stupid-statments/

  23. August 20, 2009 at 3:16 pm

    Actually, I’m putting words in his mouth. I don’t think he shares my exact position. But I do agree with him on a lot of what he writes.

  24. 24 jm
    August 21, 2009 at 7:10 am

    Seth, Michael wrote this is his blog below the artical.

    36.C Michael Patton on 19 Aug 2009 at 12:35 pm #

    Concerning babies….

    I am a 36.C Michael Patton on 19 Aug 2009 at 12:35 pm #

    Concerning babies….

    I am a Calvinist, you must remember. While I am not going to build a theology around the idea that we must protect in our own judgement the salvation of those who have yet to reach the “age” I do believe that if God so chooses to save a baby, he has every right to apply Christ’s blood to them thereby removing their “original guilt.”

    Remember, I define salvation first as God’s sovereign act of redemption that is monergistically applied to the person, not the person own free will. I know that there will be much disagreement with this among many of you and that is fine…don’t want to go there. However, this is perfectly consistant with a Reformed soteriology. In fact, it is a cornerstone of it.
    , you must remember. While I am not going to build a theology around the idea that we must protect in our own judgement the salvation of those who have yet to reach the “age” I do believe that if God so chooses to save a baby, he has every right to apply Christ’s blood to them thereby removing their “original guilt.”

    Remember, I define salvation first as God’s sovereign act of redemption that is monergistically applied to the person, not the person own free will. I know that there will be much disagreement with this among many of you and that is fine…don’t want to go there. However, this is perfectly consistant with a Reformed soteriology. In fact, it is a cornerstone of it.

  25. 25 jm
    August 21, 2009 at 7:12 am

    To him it dose not mater if it a lie our murder.

  26. 26 RLO
    August 21, 2009 at 7:14 am

    Seth said: “And apparently I’m not the only one who thinks so. Here’s a link from one of your own people explaining why the “one white-lie will send you to hell” concept is probably bad theology:”

    “…one of (my) own people…” ??

    What makes bad theology? Theology that is in conflict with C. Michael Patton, or theology that is in conflict with Scripture? I’d rather test the truth of theological questions by what scripture says over what a mere man says.

    I guess I would agree that it is not “the one white lie” that will send you to hell: It’s “the one UNREPENTANT white lie” that will do so; the one “not covered by Christ” white lie, the “I can go it alone,” the “I can do it myself,” the “I don’t need your help” white lie. Which is essentially that “shaking of the fist at God” Michael Patton speaks of.

    I’ve heard the “six hours of pain on the cross vs the eternity of pain in hell” argument before. Perhaps attempting to suggest that since Christ supposedly had it so much easier that souls eternally in hell, that should somehow mean that his suffering could not possibly be sufficient. But this simply flies in the face of so many Scriptural passages, which tells us otherwise:

    Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous. Romans 5:18-19

    For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 1 Corinthians 15:21

    But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. 1 John 1:7

    He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world. 1 John 2:2

    to list a but a few. But then why not also:

    “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher that the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9

    Now Seth, before you simply dismiss (again) this Isaiah passage as the last ditch effort by an EV when you suggest he is about to lose an argument with you; instead, will you tell me: What do you think the Lord wanted you and I to know by telling us this?

    But back to the “Six hours vs Eternity” issue. Consider this:

    We are beings that were created in “time,” live in “time,” and in “time” we die. Our being as we know it, in our present existence, is intricately wrapped up in it, captive to it. We simply know of nothing else. And as such we sometimes, foolishly, try to hold God captive to “time” also. But have you ever thought about the fact that (and this is where “words” and “language” and “human reason” are probably going to simply fall down, but I will still try anyway), but have you ever thought about the fact that there was a “time” before “time” when there was no “time?” Or that at the end of “time” there may be no “time” as we presently understand “time?” Maybe it is only man, finite man, sinful man, who makes distinctions between six hours and eternity. Maybe this is what the Lord wanted us to know by giving us the passage in Isaiah. I believe he wants us to know that while words and language and human reason are wonder gifts, they have their limits. They are not the “be all to end all.”

    And that the time comes when human reason needs to shut up. Sit down. And listen. Like Job.

  27. August 21, 2009 at 3:36 pm

    RLO,

    The only reason I linked to that article is to demonstrate that the disagreements on this subject are so great IN YOUR OWN FAITH TRADITION, that I have little confidence in your ability to speak authoritatively for Jesus.

    You’re not exactly coming from a unified position.

  28. 28 ADB
    August 21, 2009 at 7:47 pm

    Seth,

    You know that RLO and several of us are from the same “faith tradition,” as you say, so instead of taking an evangelical blogger’s post and applying it to us, why don’t you focus on the posts in this thread. Seems that would avoid a lot of extra wasted space on this blog.

    Besides, it’s already been shown numerous times that even the LDS who post on this blog aren’t on the same page about a lot of things (even the stuff Mark has quoted from authoritative literature). Does that mean their points aren’t valid? No. I would hope you’d give RLO and others the same courtesy, which, generally speaking, I believe you do.

  29. August 21, 2009 at 7:54 pm

    I felt like the post brought up some relevant points and demonstrated that a person

    As I said, Mr. Patton does not completely support my position. I’m sure he’d bristle at any accusation of being “Mormon.”

    But I thought is was worth pointing out that you can arrive at SOME of my positions without any other resource than the Bible.

  30. August 21, 2009 at 7:55 pm

    By the way, it is rarely apparent what denomination the commenters here are coming from. So I usually just assume “Protestant” with a high likelihood of being Evangelical (since they are usually the ones stomping on Mormonism).

  31. 31 ADB
    August 24, 2009 at 2:00 pm

    From my devotional reading this morning which touched on the Ten Commandments:

    “‘There is no difference, for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God’ (Rom. 3:22-23). And the sinner, standing before the judgment seat of God, cannot appeal to a higher court, much less to a lower one, to that of his fellow men, offering all kinds of vapid excuses. The strength of the Law is too powerful for anyone to weaken by appealing to God’s mercy and leniency, by minimizing his sins, by comparing them with those of greater transgressors, by stating his good intentions, by laying claim to having been a victim of circumstances, by pointing to his imagined or imaginary virtues, by promising future amendment, by good resolutions, by an open confession, by the vain hope of escaping somehow the detection and punishment of God, by the illusory mirage of repentance after this life and of a final salvation for all sinners. Therefore, according to the Law, all sinners are subject to God’s punishment in this world, to temporal death, and to eternal damnation.”

    Well stated.

  32. 32 Echo
    August 24, 2009 at 3:03 pm

    The fact is that sin is sin. We tend to look at sin in varying degrees but God doesn’t. God views any one sin committed as if we have broken God’s entire law:

    James 2:10 “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.”

    So whether a person ONLY treats others disrespectfully or whether they go out and actually kill someone makes no difference. Both are lawbreakers.
    A lawbreaker deserves to go to Hell for eternity. That is the just reward.

    We don’t want to hear that because we know we have been guilty of treating others disrespectfully at times even though we have never killed someone. We don’t want to be indentified with “killers” We feel the killer deserves much more than we do. Yet when others treat us disrespectfully, we sometimes think the opposite.

    Whenever we break the law, we fail to love God and our neighbor and all sin is failing to love God and our neighbor. Both the killer and the disrespectful person have failed to love God and their neighbor.

    God doesn’t look at the outward. It’s not the act of killing that condemns someone. It is what is in the heart. Both the killer and the disrespectful person have the same evil in their heart. The evil of hating their neighbor.


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