Psychoanalysts assure us that cruelty, however wanton it
may appear to its victims, is always motivated and that its primary motive
is usually fear. - Roger W. Wescott
The Punishment of God
Punishment definition: Willfully imposed pain and suffering
by some agency to counteract and prevent unethical or unwelcome behavior.
I have some good and bad news. God is NOT in the punishment
business. That is the "good" part of the news. What is the bad part? God is
NOT in the punishment business! Let me explain. We all agree that for wrong
behavior in the physical realm, the downside is automatic; something goes
wrong, something gets damaged, and there is perforce a price to be paid.
Without over complicating it, the laws of physics are not flexible nor in the business of forgiveness.
What about in the moral or ethical realm? Since in our
fallen state we often perceive that it is to our benefit to do something
unethical, which means that someone else gets hurt or pays the price. To
counteract this uncaring, unloving behavior, human societies have
universally constructed systems of law backed up by punishment of one kind
or another. The punishment does NOT happen automatically but is willfully
imposed, and is generally intended to fit the scope of the violation or crime.
The above quote by Roger Westcott, one of the truly greatest
thinkers and scholars of the modern era, SHOULD be enough to eliminate God
as a source of violent or cruel punishment. God is not motivated by fear,
"he" is in the mercy and forgiveness business and does NOT enjoy delivering
punishment, nor is he subordinate to some larger than God law or justice system.
He is free to do what he likes.
How to explain the principles, what really happens? Violation
of the physical principles brings an automatic bad
result and God doesn't purpose or need to inflict the less than desirable
result or any further punishment. Let's say that we carelessly hit our
finger with a hammer, which brings a measure of pain. We don't think that
God sits up there and decides to inflict it, do we? And pain is a warning
sign of damage, and some people that don't feel pain have a really big problem.
Thus, an undesirable result is ALWAYS an indication that something went
wrong and needs to change. This is not rocket science!
In the final analysis, violation of the spiritual principles
also always brings an undesirable result, if nothing more than keeping us
under the human condition.
The great intellectual irresponsibility, sin if you will, of
our ancestors was to interpret the devastating results of the ancient
catastrophes as punishment from God when they were merely the result of
earlier irresponsibility and the separation. All ancient mythologies are
replete with this false theme, including the Old Testament. God is in the
healing business, pure and simple, but is NOT into enabling us to continue
destructive thinking and a destructive course.
"Liberation is to come when the purely mechanistic nature of the
catastrophic agents is recognized. Man will then see that there
was no question of punishment or aggression because the agents were not
beings motivated to punish or destroy ... [and he] will have to keep
casting [his] ancestors in the role of fools of the cosmos." - William Mullen
When Jesus was on the earth, he obviously pushed the limits
of the mercy principle in healing ALL who asked, and not always with the best
results. Only one of the ten lepers came back to thank him and interact some
more. Amazing! It can be seen that the downside of this was that the people
became focused not on his message but on the miracles, and most thought that physical healing in
this life was as good as it gets. But his mercy overshadowed these and other
concerns! Are we going to object or complain about this? Not me!
The Punishment of the Ages
Jesus DID talk about the punishment of the ages, yet this does NOT mean
LASTING for all time but just means the GREATEST of all time. It takes place after the
resurrection at the end of our age, and is the time when, in the full light of truth and
understanding, people will judge themselves and suffer the intense agony of
regret and remorse according to the full measure of their behavior and impact in this life.
This self punishment will probably be more severe than others would impose.
Hell and Eternal Damnation
The word and concept of Hell is a construct of morbid
imagination by unhinged religious fanatics and fiction writers.
There is NO term equivalent to the
"Christian" concept of 'Hell' in the Gospels, and the only
reference to anything somewhat equivalent is in the parable of "The Rich Man
and Lazarus", a parable that has little or no authenticity and may not even have
Jesus as its source.
The idea of physical torture from God as punishment for "sinners"
in addition to the suffering they have already experienced on this earth, the aging and
dying "that no man can hope to shun", is barbaric and macabre–so bizarre and absurd that
it is a major insult not only to God but to a reasonable person's intelligence. Statements made
by the J-person which referred to Gehenna, a literal canyon used as a refuse dump where the
prophecy was literally fulfilled, are unjustifiably interpreted as Hell. The J-person's statements about Hades, a word
that means "the unseen realm" are also unjustifiably interpreted or translated as Hell.
Consequently, Jesus gave NO support for this idea, NONE!
The Creator fashioned a perfect system for himself and for
his fellow human beings to live within through all eternity, and our
forefathers fouled it up. Take a good look at the result, if you can stand
it. This violation imposed trauma and suffering mot only on themand their
ancestors, but on the whole universe. It
rubbed everybody's nose in violence and excruciating ugliness. If this can
be forgiven, ANYTHING can be forgiven! There is nothing undesirable that cannot be changed, healed,
cured or forgiven within the context of the full understanding of the truth about God. The idea of
eternal punishment is barbaric and macabre, and is one of the ultimate manifestations of sin, that
being missing the mark by holding a wrong concept of the character and soul of