Spiritual Separation from God
#1
How can I explain to my friend that if we choose to sin and wind up spiritually separated from God in hell that God is still sustaining us so that we  experience everlasting punishment.?  We turn our backs on God but he always has us in His sight.

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#2
I wouldn't explain it like that.  Saying that God is actively sustaining someone in the torments of hell makes it sound like the only reason one still exists if they are in hell is because God desires for the person to be tormented.  If your goal is to evangelize them, you will only push them further away by telling them this.
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#3
Why not just leave Hell as a sober mystery? Jesus Christ warned about it so we ought not to deny it, but outside the scriptures there's very little we know about it. Sometimes I think those of us in the West think way too much, we want to over analyze and intellectualize everything. It's unhealthy. Hell is a mystery of faith and we don't want to end up there. Shouldn't that be enough?
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#4
OK  Full disclosure-- I am talking with a JW  --every time I mention this I just get told to not speak to her and I don't get my question answered.

She says there is no hell even after Jesus talks about eternal punishment so therefore if one's sin causes one to be damned to hell they are annihilated.  I am trying to explain to her that if one does wind up in hell they are realizing the punishment of hell, that that individual chose,  that our spirits never die.  At this point she says that we are separated from God and don't exist any longer.  I am trying to tell her that we always exist to God whether in hell, purgatory or heaven.  Just because we turn our backs from God doesn't mean that He turns his back on us.

I hope this makes my question more understandable.
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#5
(05-23-2015, 10:25 AM)Phyllo Wrote: OK  Full disclosure-- I am talking with a JW  --every time I mention this I just get told to not speak to her and I don't get my question answered.

She says there is no hell even after Jesus talks about eternal punishment so therefore if one's sin causes one to be damned to hell they are annihilated.  I am trying to explain to her that if one does wind up in hell they are realizing the punishment of hell, that that individual chose,  that our spirits never die.  At this point she says that we are separated from God and don't exist any longer.  I am trying to tell her that we always exist to God whether in hell, purgatory or heaven.  Just because we turn our backs from God doesn't mean that He turns his back on us.

I hope this makes my question more understandable.

You're not thinking about this correctly.  If one goes to hell, God has turned his back on us, at least in any way meaningful to us.  To say that he hasn't would give one the false hope that if they ever go to hell, there may be a reprieve at some point in the future.
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#6
(05-23-2015, 11:00 AM)Melkite Wrote:
(05-23-2015, 10:25 AM)Phyllo Wrote: OK  Full disclosure-- I am talking with a JW  --every time I mention this I just get told to not speak to her and I don't get my question answered.

She says there is no hell even after Jesus talks about eternal punishment so therefore if one's sin causes one to be damned to hell they are annihilated.  I am trying to explain to her that if one does wind up in hell they are realizing the punishment of hell, that that individual chose,  that our spirits never die.  At this point she says that we are separated from God and don't exist any longer.  I am trying to tell her that we always exist to God whether in hell, purgatory or heaven.  Just because we turn our backs from God doesn't mean that He turns his back on us.

I hope this makes my question more understandable.

You're not thinking about this correctly.  If one goes to hell, God has turned his back on us, at least in any way meaningful to us.  To say that he hasn't would give one the false hope that if they ever go to hell, there may be a reprieve at some point in the future.

OK--so she says that when God turns his back on us our spirit can't survive because He has cut us off.  I am trying to tell her that God never cuts us off but we cut Him off and even though we cut Him off we are still suffering in hell and our spirit survives in everlasting punishment.  Some how God sustains our spirit or lets our spirit experience everlasting hell.
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#7
If she is right and we are annihilated as soon as we separate ourselves from God then why are we still here after so many sins?

What happens is that in Heaven our wills will never change from good to bad, because we will contemplate God. The will of the damned will never change from bad to good because this is only possible by grace (indeed, if the will were to improve in Hell, St. Thomas says that everlasting punishment would be unjust). Basically we will be like the angels: the ones with God will be forever with Him, and the ones damned won't have redemption. In a sense God simply respects our freedom.

I must admit that I find the picture of St. Gregory of Nyssa much more appealing, even though I know its wrong. We have to trust in God that His plans are more beautiful than the scheme of St. Gregory of Nyssa.

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#8
(05-23-2015, 02:18 PM)Renatus Frater Wrote: I must admit that I find the picture of St. Gregory of Nyssa much more appealing, even though I know its wrong. We have to trust in God that His plans are more beautiful than the scheme of St. Gregory of Nyssa.

What is the picture that you're referring to?
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#9
(05-23-2015, 12:05 PM)Phyllo Wrote: OK--so she says that when God turns his back on us our spirit can't survive because He has cut us off.  I am trying to tell her that God never cuts us off but we cut Him off and even though we cut Him off we are still suffering in hell and our spirit survives in everlasting punishment.  Some how God sustains our spirit or lets our spirit experience everlasting hell.

That's correct.  Our existence is entirely dependent upon God's sustaining us.  I'm just saying, don't tell her that if you are trying to convert her.  It won't work.  Ultimately, if hell is real, we know very little of it for certain.  Best not to inundate the catechumens with lots of theolegoumena that may not even be accurate.
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#10
(05-23-2015, 04:29 PM)Melkite Wrote:
(05-23-2015, 02:18 PM)Renatus Frater Wrote: I must admit that I find the picture of St. Gregory of Nyssa much more appealing, even though I know its wrong. We have to trust in God that His plans are more beautiful than the scheme of St. Gregory of Nyssa.

What is the picture that you're referring to?

Well, basically its the exitus-reditus thing taken to an extreme: as God creates us out of nothing our being is essentially a movement from nothingness to God, so it wouldn't make much sense for some creatures to eternally go into the opposite direction, so to him hell is not eternal. What I find ugly about hell is that there will always be this place of suffering, this place of opposition to God. As I said, in all honesty, I cannot reconcile it in my mind yet, though I accept it and in faith I trust God knows what He is doing.

Here, pages 206 kinda explain it a bit. In the section he is talking on how Gregory treats the relation of the infinite with the finite (the ontico-ontological difference), but you can kinda understand the paragraph 206 alone if you know the basic philosophy that is assumed by the Fathers.

Of course, there are problems with this picture too, like what to do with freedom? I also find it necessary that the union with God is not natural but supernatural, and so the human is an excentric creature (it is out of its center, by nature), so that its nature is always directed to something beyond. So, there's that problem too.
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