The earth is our hell

Discussion in 'Daily Devotional Forum' started by py3ak, Sep 13, 2015.

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  1. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    Stephen Charnock, A Discourse of Divine Providence

    Crosses in the Scripture are not excluded from those things we have a right to by Christ, when they may conduce to our good: 1 Cor. 3:22, ‘Life and death, things present, and things to come, are yours, and you are Christ’s.’ Since the revelation of the gospel, I do not remember that any such complaint against the providence of God fell from any holy man in the New Testament; for our Saviour had given them another prospect of those things. The holy men in the Old Testament comforted themselves against this objection by the end of the wicked which should happen, and the rod cease, Ps. 73. In the New Testament we are more comforted by the certain operation of crosses to our good and spiritual advantage, Rom. 8. Our Saviour did not promise wealth and honour to his followers, nor did he think it worth his pains of coming and dying, to bestow such gifts upon his children. He made heaven their happiness, and the earth their hell; the cross was their badge here, and the crown their reward hereafter; they seemed not to be a purchase congruous to so great a price of blood. Was God’s providence to Christ the more to be questioned because he was poor? Had he the less love to him because he was ‘a man of sorrows,’ even while he was a God of glory? Such groundless conceits should never into Christians, who can never seriously take up Christ’s yoke without a proviso of affliction, who can never be God’s sons without expecting his corrections.​
  2. SolaScriptura

    SolaScriptura Puritan Board Doctor

    Calling the earth "hell," no matter how one slices it, is a bit of an overstatement at best.
  3. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    I find it quite a glorious thought that this is as close as believers come; just as it is a solemn thought that this is as close to heaven as the finally impenitent ever come.
  4. Bill The Baptist

    Bill The Baptist Puritan Board Graduate

    I understand what he is saying, but it does come off as sounding a bit odd at first. Maybe that's because this is essentially what Rob Bell argued for in Love Wins, except that he denied the existence of a hell beyond Earth.
  5. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    I'd imagine we can probably take it for granted that Stephen Charnock and Rob Bell would see eye to eye on relatively few points....
  6. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    I think it's a powerful use of language to communicate that this sin-cursed Earth is the extent of the judgment that those redeemed from the sin and misery of Adam receive.
  7. SolaScriptura

    SolaScriptura Puritan Board Doctor

    Hell is a place of condemnation. Period. And condemnation is something that is not part of the Believer's existence (i.e, Rom 8:1). Our hard providences may be many things, but associating them with the concepts of judgment and condemnation is simply untrue. Even if it is to make a more lofty point.

    So like I said, Charnock's words are an unhelpful overstatement, even if he was a Puritan.

    Not only is it untrue, it is pastorally unwise. In fact to show how ill-advised are his words, I'm going to test them out. Yep! The next Christian I encounter who is going through a hard providence I'm going to say "Cheer up! At least this bit of God's judgment is only the closest you'll get to hell!" Hopefully that person's suffering truly is as bad as it can get, otherwise, when things get worse they may think that they can in fact get closer to hell!
    Conversely, the next sinner I encounter who is really doing well I'll say, "Enjoy it while it lasts, this bit of blessing is the closest you'll get to heaven!"

    Let's see if anyone receives spiritual benefit from either of those sentiments.
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2015
  8. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    Who can contend with such powerful insight?! I was, indeed, slavishly turning metaphor into reality because Charnock is a Puritan. Yet your words ring with such Pastoral counsel and years of experience that I was crushed by what I had never imagined.

    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
  9. SolaScriptura

    SolaScriptura Puritan Board Doctor

    Well, I'm sure you'll recover... ;)
  10. Ask Mr. Religion

    Ask Mr. Religion Flatly Unflappable

    What a wonderful witness to iron sharpening iron among the brethren.
  11. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk HD
  12. johnny

    johnny Puritan Board Sophomore

    There's been some epic swashbuckling on some of the other forums.
    (It must be in the air) I hope we can all forgive each other, :)
  13. SolaScriptura

    SolaScriptura Puritan Board Doctor

    Oh, that exchange above wasn't swashbuckling by any stretch of the imagination!

    It was me, based upon 14 years of ministry to include 3700+ counseling sessions in which I've brought help to hurting people and in which I've helped two congregations find their footing, saying that referring to this earth as "hell" is untrue and unhelpful even as a metaphor. I then gave a ridiculous example to underscore the unhelpfulness of it. In response my experience, concern, and competence were minimized as trivial. That's what that was.
  14. Elizabeth

    Elizabeth Puritan Board Sophomore

    I think probably to understand this, one would need to go/ or have gone, through some seriously hard times, some real privation. I bet the martyrs would understand it well. We, in our comfy state, probably not so much.

    You can't just read the line about earth being 'hell' out of context. To the poor, to the suffering, to the persecuted the idea of this present affliction being just a hellish way-stop, as we trudge to heaven, gives joy and hope. The hard part is NOW, the crown and joy and security, ahead. Maybe look at it a 'poetically' and it will make better sense.
  15. Clark-Tillian

    Clark-Tillian Puritan Board Freshman

    I think we all likely agree that Charnock is utilizing a rhetorical flourish in this text. And it is powerful. In the objective/non-humorous posts in this thread, that is, the posts dealing primarily with the text and not other comments, I find much fruitful insight, even when the comments disagree. Ministerially, I'm not certain I'd use the metaphor myself--certainly not with a suffering brother or sister in a counseling situation; I find that statements such as this can be easily misunderstood in these contexts, thereby aggravating the situation. First do no harm is an excellent caveat. So I can definitely empathize with Ben's comments on that score.

    However, with a well read and mature believer, who is not presently in the midst of a hard stretch of road, I could see the benefit of analyzing the text as a springboard for discussing the harshness of our current realities. Especially when coupled with some of the strongest aspects of a text such as Hebrews 1, and WCF 5.5...

    The most wise, righteous, and gracious God doth oftentimes leave, for a season, his own children to manifold temptations, and the corruption of their own hearts, to chastise them for their former sins, or to discover unto them the hidden strength of corruption and deceitfulness of their hearts, that they may be humbled; and, to raise them to a more close and constant dependence for their support upon himself, and to make them more watchful against all future occasions of sin, and for sundry other just and holy ends.
  16. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member


    By the time I decided to delete my snarky comment it had already been responded to.

    Insofar as it was typed to be snarky I repent.

    That said, over-playing your ministerial experience and wisdom and absolutizing this is absurd. How many years has Elizabeth been a missionary and finds it, as a metaphor, somewhat understandable?

    What if we were to research and find that Charnock was a minister for a longer period of time but didn't count up his counseling sessions. Would his experience trounce your own?

    I simply found your dismissal (Hell is a place of condemnation, period) to be absurd. I also found your confusion between contemplative material and words of counsel to be somewhat amateurish as if something might cause one to reflect on something in one context while realizing you might not use similar language in a counseling context. If your response was intended to be at all thoughtful and evoke respect for your ability to "counsel" then you certainly missed the mark. But, perhaps, you say things in counsel differently than you do in other contexts...
  17. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

  18. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    Calvin again:
  19. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    Incidentally, Calvin's commentaries are full of uses of hell in this fashion. It makes me wonder whether this was a common way of speaking of fallen man's estate of sin and misery at the time. I don't know if Calvin first started speaking in such terms or he was one of many and Charnock continued in that line. The point, as I first made it, is that man's estate of sin and misery is one of sin-cursedness. The fact that Calvin uses language to refer to our redemption as being freed from hell ought to give one pause as to how absurd it is to talk in such a fashion.
  20. SolaScriptura

    SolaScriptura Puritan Board Doctor

    Perhaps, but I find there to be a difference between Calvin's use of the word and Charnock's. Specifically, Calvin's use of the word seems to point to the judgment from which we've been delivered and he speaks theologically, whereas Charnock's quote applies the term to circumstances in life to say that this world itself is something it is not.

    At any rate, hell is a place of condemnation (period). All metaphorical and hyperbolic uses of the word rest on this fact. Call it absurd if you wish, but facts are facts. Thankfully we are free from condemnation, and God has not made this world a hell for us believers.

    There are very real reasons to think Charnock's quote is an overstatement at best and bad theology at worst.

    As administrator you can safely call people amateurish, etc, (btw - I never said I didn't understand the metaphor, I said I disagree with it.) but brother, you so often use the same dismissive, churlish rhetoric you accuse others of using. But be things as they may, grace and peace to you.
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2015
  21. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    Have you read all the uses? I only cited two. The point is that Calvin uses the word "hell" (and, yes, even believer's experience of it) as soemthing less than eternal condemnation even in the example cited above.
  22. SolaScriptura

    SolaScriptura Puritan Board Doctor

    Are you going to do like someone else in a previous thread (in which you lambasted him for it) and cut and paste every time the word occurs in his writings?

    I don't care about Calvin's use of the word. I care about the Charnock quote. Hell is uniformly used in scripture to refer to a place of condemnation. I can get metaphorical usage. But the key ideas of judgment and condemnation are central to the concept of hell. If anyone, even Calvin, uses it to refer to something (merely) unpleasant, then the concept is being cheapened. But as I said above, I see Calvin's use of that being consistent with those ideas and actually hostile to The usage in Charnock's quote.

    At any rate I'm going to bow out. I've said what I wanted to say, and I stand by it, and I have better things to do than go round and round with someone on something like this.

    As I said above: our existence is not one of judgment and condemnation (not even a little bit - contra your point in #6 above), this world is not a hell for us. Further, I do not believe it is pastorally helpful to imply such.

    Well, time for bed...
  23. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    Pleasant dreams.

    That the use of the word hell (or the idea of it) is *uniformly* used in Scripture to refer to a place of eternal condemnation *alone* is precisely what's under discussion.

    If you're happy with the argument in the form of "Ben said it, that settles it..." then it's probably best to bow out of the discussion because better arguments from Scripture are offered by Calvin as to how hell may be used to describe things other than what you insist it *must* be. Period.

    Thus, your criticism of Charnock is as baseless as it would be toward Calvin's view because you've made no substantive exegetical or theological arguments.
  24. Bill The Baptist

    Bill The Baptist Puritan Board Graduate

    I think it really depends on the way in which we consider hell. Compared to heaven, yes this world will surely seem like hell, but in comparison to hell, this world will surely seem like heaven.
  25. MW

    MW Puritan Board Doctor

    Perhaps Jonah 2:1-4 can shed some light on the subject:

    1 Then Jonah prayed unto the LORD his God out of the fish’s belly,
    2 And said, I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the LORD, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell cried I, and thou heardest my voice.
    3 For thou hadst cast me into the deep, in the midst of the seas; and the floods compassed me about: all thy billows and thy waves passed over me.
    4 Then I said, I am cast out of thy sight; yet I will look again toward thy holy temple.
  26. OPC'n

    OPC'n Puritan Board Doctor

    I didn't read through all the nay sayers nor the joiners of this post, but I agree with the OP. This earth is a touch of hell yet a touch of heaven for the believer and unbeliever. My hell is that of constantly being derailed with my sin.... my heaven is his hand of forgiveness and all that he gives to me. The unbeliever's hell is the trials of life we all endure yet no ultimate reason for living.....nothing past this earth's existence. His (the unbeliever) heaven is that which God gives to all like the rain for the just and the unjust, food shelter and clothing, and his absolute wisdom in creating such a beautiful world around us for us to enjoy. We do endure a sort of hell while hoping for those things unseen and the unbeliever.... well he just has earth while waiting for hell. In the end for the believer and unbeliever, it's a taste of things here and now and for the things to come. Thank you, Py3ak!
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