Finding the Devil in the Post

Satan’s existence is suggested by human experience and the Bible and is confirmed by reading the Washington Post. The Post … Continued

Satan’s existence is suggested by human experience and the Bible and is confirmed by reading the Washington Post. The Post is almost surely not a particularly diabolical organ, but it does report the news, and the news often shows signs of the demonic.

The bad news about the world is evidence for evil that goes beyond the merely human. The Devil is a spiritual being gone wrong who could not be satisfied with goodness, truth, and beauty. This proud tyrant seizes power and authority that he is not fit to wield. The Creator grants the Devil his free choice and allows the natural consequences of his folly to come to full fruition.

God, in his justice, allows the case against truth, goodness, and beauty to be made by Satan to humankind. Sensible humans will take this into account when living life.

The existence of the devil is a good reminder that just because a being is spiritual does not mean he is helpful. Religious experiences can be confusing partly because we misunderstand them, but partly because some spiritual beings are deceptive and malevolent.

Theology, the science of knowing God, helps protect humankind from these beings. People who try to be spiritual without theology are doing the spiritual equivalent of walking into Los Angeles and asking anyone they meet to be their best friend and boss. It might work out well, but it probably will not.

God speaks to humanity and the Devil has chosen to try to confuse our reception of His loving words. As a good Father, God tries to warn us of bad behavior and bad theology and the Bible gives us those warnings in writing. One hears the voice of Satan when this sensible morality is attacked in the name of a “new theology” which is always as old as the Garden of Eden.

Satan tells every generation of Christians that something big has happened and that the Church must change or die. The Internet, the pill, the bomb, World War II, flappers, the steam engine, the Enlightenment, and the Fall of Rome all have been given as reasons that goodness, truth, and beauty had to change to fit the times. Ignoring this demonic folly has proven good policy.

Humans are quite capable of imagining and performing evil acts without help of course. In our broken condition we act badly even when we wish we wouldn’t. Nobody needs a devil for that kind of thing, but with a little aid and encouragement we can go further and become positively inhuman. Knowing this puts us on our guard and makes our prayers an even more pressing priority.

Because he is not a god, Satan cannot do everything. His resources are great, but limited. He is often happy to be ignored, because the ignorant cannot expose his limitations. The skeptic will overlook what he does do and the fanatic will give him credit for evils he could not do. Of course like any insecure and tyrannical soul, Satan cannot simply hide, but must sometimes demand either fear or love.

His limitations suggest a mixed policy of encouraging atheists to ignore him, Satanists to worship him, pagans to misidentify him, and Christians to obsessively fear of him. This maximizes his influence and minimizes his defeats.

Nobody save a prophet can look at the Post and be sure what God or the Devil is doing at any given moment or in any given news story. God’s providence is inscrutable in its complexity, but rational, while the Devils work is manifestly irrational and thus difficult to discern.

Over time in the hideous works of Stalin, Hitler, or Mao humankind can begin to discern a touch of the diabolical. Meanwhile we trust in God, attempt to do the good He gives us to do with the means he gives us, and keep an exorcist or pastor handy.

It is sensible to suspect the diabolical when an evil is sustained, irrational, and obviously and spectacularly destructive to the very parties practicing it. We should enter such situations reasonably and prayerfully. Let me suggest two types of “front page” wickedness that might give a Christian special concern.

The irrational, wicked, continuous, and destructive hatred of the Jewish people has a bloody and sordid history. Anti-Semitism has sponsored so much wickedness that it is reasonable to suspect diabolical force behind it.

The tyrant in any cult of personality in a nation or in a small group behaves much like Satan. The weird, wicked, and ultimately self-destructive actions of the leader of North Korea make our special prayers for the deliverance of that nation especially appropriate.

Jesus believed He was God and died for our sins, Kim Jong-Il acts like he is god and kills others for his sins. If “Dear Leader” is not possessed of devils, he gives a fair imitation.

Of course, the pages of the Post only record the public actions of humankind. They rarely venture to tell the private struggles of the men and women that form most of the actual history of our sad race. It is there that most of us come face to face with devils. Each of us face temptations and some of these come with special force and are particularly hard to resist. No man can blame devils for bad choices or pass off his personal moral responsibility, but many men are aware of the persuasive power of Satan’s pleading for evil.

The devil did not make us do it, but he surely is not helpful.

Plunging into wickedness is bad for the human soul in itself, but also because it allies the bad man with the devils. Demons are not helpful or trustworthy allies.

Satan exists with his demons and he is intent on destroying as much that is beautiful as he can. We need not fear him, but cannot ignore him. And so the wise man prays for deliverance from human and diabolical temptation while longing for mercy from Jesus Christ, God’s son, for our failures.

Thank God such mercy is available.

John Mark Reynolds
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  • jromaniello

    I’m not quite understanding how the evils that have occurred over the history of Earth prove that Satan exists. That humans are capable of horrible things? Absolutley. The existance of Satan? No. In fact, to blame it on an intangible being that we believe exists, with no concrete proof that it does, is irresponsible and feeble thinking. It’s how many of the Evangelists and Fundamentalists caught committing the acts they vehemantly preached against would explain themselves: Satan or “The Devil” made me to it. Nonsense! We are all responsible for our actions and our destinies. There have been atrocities committed throughout history, however, I think it’s proposterous to belive that some mythical being is at the epicentre.

  • coloradodog

    Hell would be having to spend an eternity with this guy.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    I do not believe that Satan exists. Once again, it is the easiest explanation for some people, that requires the least amount of brain-power; just sit back and believe the tale told to you, passed on in a succsssion generations, stretching back into the fog of antiquity, and who knows where it started, or why.Peace is not really a happy kingdom with a wise ruler; peace is really an equilibrium of tensions and a synchronization of rythms, which includes and accounts for all that is good and bad in the world and in the human heart.

  • johnmarkreynolds

    Hello, This is the author, finally able to sign in on the new system.Let me clear up a confusion: While I don’t think you can see Satan’s work (for certain) in the particular, I think there is evidence from human experience for his actions in general. It is a cumulative case. You can often tell something is happening in general that you cannot know for certain in the particular. I don’t think the evils of human history are all the Devil’s fault. One can contribute to a problem (by encouraging it) without being responsible.As for “science,’ I am using the term in the classical sense. Not all fields are natural sciences . . . and do not have to use the same rules. Those interested in more information on what I mean might read JP Moreland’s book “Christianity and the Nature of Science.”Fairy tales are serious literature and can teach us a great deal. They are worth attention and get it in many literature departments, but sadly the Bible is not one. It might not be true, but it is not a fairy tale! As for why one might want to take the Bible seriously, I would suggest “Scaling the Secular City.” I appreciate the time people spend responding (and am sometimes able to respond). I probably cannot respond again on this thread.

  • johnmarkreynolds

    I should add that the argument (roughly) is that:1. We have reasons from private experience to think the Devil exists.Therefore: it is reasonable to think the Devil exist.Of course, the existence of the Devil is dependent on disputable claims, but that is true of most things in philosophy or any other field. One should read standard works in Christian philosophy (my favorite philosopher is Swinburne or on a more popular level Moreland) for arguments in favor of the premises of an argument.Of course, belief in a personal Devil is a “secondary” Christian belief far less central than belief in God or in the work of Jesus.

  • Arminius

    John Mark Reynolds,While I seldom agree with you, I respect the fact that you take time to answer questions. Very few of the panel do so.

  • mono1

    theology or divine revelation?the study of divine revelation is the most honorable,most realistic ,most comperhensive,most needed,simply because it is about the creator god who created this life and what is going out in this life .what is delusional and irrational is to form an opinion about god or mankind or even the satan without refereing to both,1-the creator god wordsome say god doesnot existcan mankind in his right mind ask the same questions about the creation?does the creation exist?is mankind a metaphor?is the sun and the moon only a spirit?the fact is ,human theology or (philosiphy)failed to identify god .what is needed is divine revelation to tell mankind the nature of god and the nature of mankind and the nature of satan.please read ibn timyia,671-728 Hthe accordation between revelation and rationalation.

  • johnmarkreynolds

    Pagan Place,I do not want to be misunderstood.Deceived “Christians” are responsible for and have been responsible for many evils in the world. Since there are more of us than almost any other group, we have done a great many wrong things. Of course, it is nonsense to say traditional Christians have mostly been wrong when they applied their beliefs. You list some things Christians did wrong, but give no credit for the things Western civilization did right. Those interested in more than what I can put in a comment box with my fading eyes might read the popular level book “What Is So Great About Christianity.”Having been a pagan and because my favorite non-Biblical writer was a pagan (Plato), I know that not all pagans are followers of Satan either through misapplication. They are certainly not intentionally.The problems with paganism are many, but for me came down to the Incarnation. For an extended view of what paganism looked like to a thoughtful Christian at the time, I enjoy “City of God” by Saint Augustine.

  • norriehoyt

    I’ve found that the best antidote to the Devil is to partake of The Holy Spirit (a.k.a. Talisker 90 Degrees Proof).

  • johnmarkreynolds

    BTW: it is a gross oversimplification that “fear of the Devil” led Christians to do anti-Semite or other deeds. Sometimes, since as I pointed out “fear” which is the antithesis of love is often his tool in stirring up strife. The Devil delights in being fear and (to borrow an old line!) cannot bear to be mocked. However, fear is not the only bad motivator, especially fear of Satan. People who did not believe in devils managed to kill quite a few people in the Soviet Union after all. Nor are the “tolerant” immune to “helping” others in ways that smack of a totalitarian impulse. As I say in the post, evil is and is often positively inhuman. Nobody and no philosophy is immune. God who is Love wins, but people often don’t choose the winning side.

  • johnmarkreynolds

    Norrie,If a good drunk would save the world, wouldn’t that be great! (Nice choice in beverages, by the way!)Sadly, it doesn’t and in fact (as Plato says in Laws II) often reveals that people are pretty bad when they “mellow out.”

  • twmatthews

    My comments are being held by the blog owner. I don’t think there is anything derogatory or inflammatory about the post. I did write it in Word and then copied it into the comment area.Could that be causing a problem because of the control characters embedded by Word?

  • johnmarkreynolds

    TW Matthews:Since I too have had posts “disappear” or be “held” you can assume it is not always the content! I hope we get to read what you wrote.

  • johnmarkreynolds

    Thanks to everyone who commented on this thread. This is a good time for me to say “good bye” as I have a book project demanding more of my time this weekend. Now disrespect intended if I cannot post again!John Mark

  • johnmarkreynolds

    Of course, I meant to type “no disrespect intended” by my failure to comment further.When Mrs. Reed tried to improve my “keyboarding” skills I should have listened. Of course, Daniel will point out that this is not the only course in which I should have paid more attention . . .

  • twmatthews

    Dear Mr. Reynolds,I join DITLD in thanking you for clarifying your column and responding to questions and comments submitted in response to your original column. I also stand with Daniel in opposition to your conclusions simply because your column and subsequent clarifications, seem to provide no support other than “I believe”.Part 1 added to see if it was a length issue.

  • twmatthews

    Dear Mr. Reynolds,I join DITLD in thanking you for clarifying your column and responding to questions and comments submitted in response to your original column. I also stand with Daniel in opposition to your conclusions simply because your column and subsequent clarifications, seem to provide no support other than “I believe”.Here are a couple of examples:This statement in and of itself certainly cannot be challenged. We have no way of knowing whether these private experiences were whispers in your ears, visions, dreams, etc. Using the California lottery analogy further, if I said to you “I have private reasons to believe I will win the lottery next week.” you would have no basis from which to judge the truthfulness of that statement. Maybe I have inside information or I’m working with someone who works with the lottery commission or maybe I’m just hoping so much that it becomes real to me, almost like a divine revelation. How would you know based on my statement?

  • twmatthews

    This is Part 2 of my post since trying to send the entire thing at one time seems to cause it to be “held up”.Your second statement, “2. We have reasons from religious literature to think that the Devil exists.” is equally problematic. As a former Christian, I’ve spent a lot of time reading the bible, reading books about the bible and attending bible study groups. Unfortunately, my personal research has convinced me that the bible is nothing more than a compilation of writings from dozens of people. I would need a separate thread and quite a few pages to present my evidence to you that has lead me to this conclusion. But suffice it to say that the bible is filled with contradictory, historically inaccurate events. Reading about where and how to purchase slaves while never finding in either the new or the old testaments a single definitive statement condemning slavery is just one of many dozens of examples of why the bible is morally suspect in addition to being historically inaccurate. Alongside of Satan the bible is filled with other, fantastic creatures for which there is no realistic evidence. The idea that most mental illness is caused by demons or demonic possession would normally cause one to send for the professional help. However, when it comes to religion people can profess belief in the most incredible ideas – turning a wafer into flesh, building a boat big enough to house all known species that ever existed (including 39,000 species of beetles alone) and yet remain with the acceptance of society. For this reason, the idea that the bible supports something the idea of Satan certainly provides no real justification anymore than it would to claim that a mental health professional should really look into demonic possession as one of the possible causes of mental illness.Finally, you said “3. The existence of the Devil seems consistent with human history and in fact helps explains certain events”. Really? There is something that has been historically verified for which the devil represents the best explanation science can come up with? On the contrary, I can’t think of a single historical event that has been confirmed by reputable historians for which the best explanation is God. Can you name one event that has been historically verified for which the best explanation available is God?

  • Paganplace

    Hi, Mr. Reynolds. A lot of stuff you left us here with. I do hope you read later, it’s likely to be drowned out by all the usual ‘Satanic accusations.’ But if you’ve dug back what’s likely this far, here’s a start:”Of course, it is nonsense to say traditional Christians have mostly been wrong when they applied their beliefs. You list some things Christians did wrong, but give no credit for the things Western civilization did right.”You ignored my qualifiers, when you characterize my statement. When you apply your idea of ‘evil’ or ‘Satan’ in political or social ways, yes, you’re near always *wrong.* There is goodness in you, (even if you tend to try to take all credit for cultures that barely survived your rise to temporal power) …but when you do good, it’s almost invariably *in spite* of your dualistic impulses, if it’s not, more often, really about putting your devils and judges aside and being as authentically-human as you can. You pose the rest of the world, now, as somehow incapable of these emotions, and actions, cause you evince a need that all goodness comes from Christianity. This is not so. And certainly, all that comes from Christianity is *not* good. Most *especially* when you start invoking or projecting your ‘Devil.’

  • Paganplace

    Anyway. *Augustine?* Basis for being an authority on Paganism? Man thought yer Satan was responsible for women existing every time he got a stiffie. Kinkier than a Himalayan slip n’ slide.Introduced the form of many of your neuroses about even *dreaming* about sex. Also many spanking methods. Gods. Try again.

  • Paganplace

    By the way, Mr. Reynolds:”Satan’s existence is suggested by human experience and the Bible and is confirmed by reading the Washington Post.”I submit that this is insufficient ‘confirmation’ for you to invoke Plato or whatever else you think you know to start telling other people you think you get to label my life ‘evil’ every week. I do appreciate you showing signs of at least *trying* to read why you don’t seem to get taken too seriously, here. I’m gonna just put this out there, but, could you perhaps entertain the possibility that it’s not so much about any ultimate evil in the universe ‘persecuting your righteousness’ as that you basically talk out your ‘fundament’ on a weekly basis?

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    You have a brain, but you do not use it. It is possible to make up an argument for anything; it is possible to beleive anything; it is possible to have faith in anything. But I am not interested in believing in anything. I am interesteed in knowing what is true. There is no simple recipe for knowing what is true and what is not true. It is kind of an art. Some people are simply no good at it. You are one of thoe people. Not only are you no good at it, you do not even seem to really care. Caring to know is the first part of knowing.You say that belief in Satan is a simpler explanation. But to read what you have written, that does not seem to be the case. You have written something that I think is fantastically complex, to the point of virtual incomprehensibililty. In fact that is how you write everything.I do not want to pick apart everything you say and explain how each point after point is wrong. All I would say, and I aay it pleadinly, and without much hope, is for you to use your brain. If you are not going to use your human brain, then you may as well have a monkey brain. Why a person like you would waste your intellectual capacity lobbying for the eixstence of Satan is totally TOTALLY beyond me. But go ahead, suit yourself.

  • johnmarkreynolds

    A mistake people make is to think that Christians want the Devil to exist and so argue for his existence. It is not that we wish this sad and bad thing were true, but that we are compelled by the evidence and our experience to believe it.I certainly wish there was no Devil! Sadly, best reason and best experience has led lots of well informed people to the knowledge that there is such a being.We may be wrong, and I for one am open to arguments against my general position, but don’t embrace the position because we wish it to be true.Side Comment of Belief and Wishes:I should add that embracing a position (even a somewhat improbable one) because one wishes it to be true is NOT inherently irrational. I have argued elsewhere that in some situations (where the pay out is very high and the risk is very low), it might be rational to make a “bet” on the truth of a claim against a fair bit of evidence. However, this does not make it rational to believe just anything! Suppose you had a 1 in 10 chance of winning the California lottery instead of the ridiculous odds now in play. Your risk is pretty low . . . and your winnings would be very great if you won. You have a decent chance of winning, so in fact you should play despite the odds being 9 in 10 that you would win nothing.

  • johnmarkreynolds

    My frequent interlocutor Daniel says:”It is possible to make up an argument for anything; it is possible to believe anything; it is possible to have faith in anything.”I reply:I wish (in some ways) that this were true. I have not found it possible to believe quite a few things that would be to my short term advantage (atheism is one example) or that would be fun to believe (in fairies for example) or that would make me feel good about myself. My good friends who are not what I call in these posts extreme or radical secularists (the Dawkins types) cannot believe some things I can. I don’t think they are “crazy,” but then they don’t think things that seem compelling to me (the existence of God) are crazy either. We think the other is wrong and carry on rational discourse. We agree on many things (the importance of civil discourse is one!). Here is hoping we can keep carrying out such discourse . . . but I can assure you that I at least am sadly incapable of believing just anything I wish.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    “1. We have reasons from private experience to think the Devil exists.These three points are not true. You may believe them, and your clicque may believe them but “we” do not believe them. I do not believe in the Devil because I have no reason to believe. It is an irrelevant belief. There is no evidence that there is a Devil and there in no reason to hope or wits there were a Devil.It is just a big nothing issue. The Bible says almost nothing about Satan or the Devil. It is mostly simply invented, or borrowed from the religions that transiently influence Judaism under the Bablylonian Captivity several centuries before the time of Jesus.I think that Devil imagery is either a sign of ignorance, or else a sign of mental weakness and perhaps pathology.

  • johnmarkreynolds

    Daniel,I know you don’t agree. The Bible suggests the existence of the Devil, including references from the Lord Jesus Himself. Human experience, including some things I have witnessed, are more simply explained with a devil than with a spiritual world containing only the Divine.This is not the most important doctrine of the Faith, but it is a doctrine.In a blog post, I can only point to what I believe and give general reasons for why I believe it . . . but I have suggested two books.I hope they are helpful!

  • johnmarkreynolds

    Daniel,You say:”I think that Devil imagery is either a sign of ignorance, or else a sign of mental weakness and perhaps pathology.”I comment:That seems a bit extreme. Jesus uses it in the New Testament. He does not seem mentally weak, ignorant, or pathological. C.S. Lewis, a decent Oxford don, used the image. He was certainly not ignorant or weak. His life does not seem pathological.

  • DanielintheLionsDen

    John Mark ReynoldsYou did not understand my point.My point is that there is really no such thing as knowledge. For no one knows what is true and what is not true. In every case, it is up to each one of us, as individuals, to judge what is true and what is not true. We have our own sensory experiences, that convey information about the world, but even this information is not necessarily true. And then we have information from other people. Some of this information comes from religious texts, and some of it comes form scientific papers. Your determination of what is true and what is not true is determined by the credence or credibility that you give to the various sources from which you acqire information. This all amounts to acquiring knowledge reflecrve of truth as an art.Obviously, you are heavily reliant on sources of information that I would put into the category of “supersition” and I do not suppose that I will ever talk you out of any beliefs derived from these sources until you yourself make the necessary mental adjustments with regards to superstious belief.And likewise, you do not extend a reasonable credibiliy to science, because it conflicts with your other beliefs, and you do not seem to understand it very well.Having said all of that, it is my judgement in contrast to your own, that existence of Satan and the Devil has no credibility, and it in fact wildly absurd, to the point of being a silly belief. I know right off the bat that anyone who believes in Satan has a criteria for the evalutaion of information as valid knowledge that is completely different, even alien from my own criteria for these things.If that is your belief, then, as I said, I do not suppose there is anything that I can say to change it.

  • Paganplace

    Oh. Also. Your neighbors would appreciate it if you’d be a little less casual about bandying your definitions of ‘Devil’ around, particularly when in concert with your idea of ‘pagan.’ Some of the folks you pull the sheep clothing over do seem to get the wrong idea sometimes. It’s ….given to produce a certain discourteousness in your otherwise, I’m sure purely virtuous folk.

  • justillthen

    Parts on and two are not being posted yet. Seems that one submission to this thread is too many, so I will have to wait to put them up. A shame, but hopefully a short lived one.

  • justillthen

    Mr. Reynolds, the continuation of above post:Humans, individuated and often divorced from Union with the Divine, find it easy to see everything as separate from themselves, themselves separate from Everything, label it all as friend or foe, right or wrong, truth or lie, and stand in judgment of it as if their perspective was truth.

  • justillthen

    Mr. Reynolds, the continuation of above post:In the Devil we recognize the awareness that we are those that turned away from Union, but not wanting to take responsibility for it we give our choice to disregard God and place ourselves as sovereign to an imaginary Evil Entity. The devil made me do it. Eve was the Eve-il bit-ch that caused human suffering. Adam was hoodwinked, and hussy-whipped. Kill all snakes. Sex is evil. On and on without taking responsibility.

  • johng1

    There is no devil, no god, no nothing. The older I get, the closer I perceive humans to lower forms of animals. Missionary gumbo, yumbo yumbo yumbo. It is depressing these silly superstitions persist and will be here long after I die. Maybe if we had longer lifespans we wouldn’t be such a silly race. That’s it, lets work harder on that idea.

  • ender2

    Satan was created by Man in Man’s image, just as much as the Cults of Abraham created their god in Man’s image.All of the Evil necessary to destroy the world and keep Humans killing each other for 2500 yrs exist satan in and jehovah/allah, as they were created by warlords, Abraham, Constantine and Mohammed.The closest real thing to satan can be found on any Saturday or Sunday morning behind a pulpit, altar or on the floor of the mosque. If there were a satan he could do no better job than those cults priesthoods at keeping humans in darkness, ignorance and acting as vassals of greedy, power hungry men.Until humanity stops making excuses for its nature and starts working through science and rational thought for fundamental change in its behavior, we will continue to act no different than humans of the past. Actually, humans were probably better before Abraham. Prehistory humans had to get along to some degree because life was just too hard before we learned from warlords how to steal others wealth with our armies of gods warriors.

  • kert1

    John Mark,What I can’t quite understand is how you have the stomach and time to answer all these questions. Especially when most are very condescending. It is one thing to disagree but it another to claim you are flat out wrong and don’t use your brain. And that is one of the nicer posts. Obviously blogs aren’t about dogma. They are about discussion and sharing our beliefs. I learn much from both sides but I am just growing weary of the near constant anger that is expressed. It’s just not fun to discuss ideas when you become a target. I don’t know how you do it but keep up the good work. God bless.

  • justillthen

    Hello Paganplace,I came to recognize that I was having trouble for a ‘bad’ word that I didn’t think would be considered unacceptable. I should have known that bi-itch would be reason for rejection. But it makes no sense. I call my dogs that thirty times a day… It is just one more proof that dogs are unconditional lovers. Many humans by comparison just suck. Meaning to blow, backwards. Just to be clear.

  • justillthen

    Hello Kert1, I am glad that you are an ally of Mr. Reynolds and believe similarly. Your posts have been intellegent and your belief and heart are apparent, and that is a beautiful thing. I do not negate or seek to degrade belief in God. I believe in God and have since I was very young. My belief is markedly different than the common evangelical stance, indeed christianity in general. I take issue with exclusivity. This is where I have been challenged by Mr. Reynolds in the past, as well as many who profess belief in some form of divinity. Mr. Reynolds has said time and time again that he and fellow evangelicals are correct, and that others are wrong. Show me how. Bibles do not count, as they are suspect compilations of story, written without corroboration or substantiation. Ditto with the Qu’ran, Torah, Gita… No God is validated, even as we believe in God. Negation of others beliefs because they are different than ones own is plainly arrogant, not to mention grossly presumptuous. In many ways I like the essays of Mr. Reynolds. I appreciate his mind as well as his love of the God that he perceives and his heart with it. But he dismisses into “Hell” those that believe differently that he does. Perhaps Mr. Reynolds gets posts that are condescending because he is.

  • johnmarkreynolds

    I do not “dismiss into Hell” all those who disagree with me. People can no more dismiss people into hell, then they can declare a walrus to be a gorilla. No human has the job, because “going to hell” is a reflection of reality, not a mere reward or punishment at the end of a game.People live in time and make choices. These choices impact their souls (as Plato saw) and then they die. The soul lives on after death (see J.P. Moreland’s “Body and Soul” for some arguments for the soul). At that point it lives where it must.Hell is the place for those who cannot endure the pleasure of paradise. They are not ready for it. Who will be there? Those who want to be based on their choices in this life. For more on this doctrine, one might see Moreland or C.S. Lewis. As for a “condescending” tone, I would be sorry to have it and know my limitations as a writer (and of these com boxes). I hope folk will read me as charitably as I read their comments. . . disagree with arguments or point me to good books.I am always looking to learn. John Mark