Holy Spirit's Guidance on the Topic of Hell

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2 years 8 months ago - 2 years 8 months ago #5307 by Singalphile
I think I understand your opinion about the matter. It is a common, Western, Protestant, theologian's opinion, I suppose. But I still don't see any biblical evidence for it.

Ephesians 4:1-16 does not say anything about "doctrine", as that word is commonly understood (i.e., "A belief or tenet, especially about philosophical or theological matters").

The Greek word in Eph 4:14 - didaskalia - means simply "teaching" or "instruction". That refers to teaching about Christ-like, righteous, truthful living, which can be seen by the context of that whole chapter (if not the whole book!). As I've repeatedly stated, of course the Holy Spirit guides us in that respect. That is the truth to which He guides us, and that is why (or should be why) we have teachers and shepherds.

Again, if you have any biblical evidence that the Holy Spirit is interested in you or me having correct "doctrine" (in the modern sense), then please let me know. I've looked and I have found nothing substantive.

There are of course a few ideas - 8, by my count - that are required for Christians to hold. For example, an atheist cannot be counted a believer. What gives me the right to say that, you might ask? My response: Hebrews 11:6 says so: "...for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him."

So, no, the Holy Spirit would not allow all theological opinions to be lost, nor would the Holy Spirit allow a believer to continue in sin (as in my desert island illustration), imo.

But opinions about the final state or condition of the lost don't necessarily have anything to do with anyone's behavior. My guess is that the Church had real problems with which God was working. I don't know that He cared much at all about anybody's opinion about hell, except perhaps that such opinions were an example of some people (theologians, naturally) going beyond what is written, which I think Paul cautioned against ( 1 Cor 4:6 ).

So, once again, the argument that God wouldn't allow some wrong "doctrine" (in the modern, common understanding of the word) about hell to be dominant is, I think, without biblical merit. Either it's a sin to have a wrong opinion or it isn't. It's not, imo.

Thank you, FelixCulpa. I appreciate your thoughts.

"Singalphile" - Name chosen (hastily) to indicate being on a narrow path, pursuing the love of God. Male, upper-30's, USA.
Last edit: 2 years 8 months ago by Singalphile.

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2 years 8 months ago #5308 by DTM
Interesting discussion. But I have something of a different take that perhaps will help FelixCulpa. (Just a bit of my background that might help you understand where I come from. I was raised Catholic and remained so until my mid-30s, nearly 30 years ago. The Catholic position is that the Holy Spirit does indeed guide the church in its teachings, and on the strength of that, they elevate the church's traditional teachings to be equal with Scriptural revelation.) Now, I agree with the Catholics and with FelixCulpa that the Holy Spirit will guide the believer, and that goes beyond just behavior. But I think the Catholic position takes it too far. Tradition is important, but it must yield to Scripture. By that I mean that, if I come up with a new interpretation that contradicts what has always been believed, I'd better have the humility to realize that untold thousands of theologians over 2000 years are probably not going to be that far wrong, so I'd better give some serious thought before I insist that they are. Still, they are possibly wrong, and their tradition cannot override Scripture.

I think it is possible for the church to get some things wrong, and it might go on a while before it gets corrected. I'm not going to set a schedule for the Holy Spirit to act. So when I see that this is an early belief that was never actually condemned, was pushed aside as a minority view and largely ignored until perhaps the last century, it gives me pause, makes me think hard about it, but doesn't override the clear (at least to me) teaching of Scripture. And I spent a long time thinking about it before I was willing to say, "Yes, as unlikely as it seems, a lot of people have been wrong about this for a long time."
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2 years 8 months ago #5309 by Singalphile
Thanks, DTM.

I don't like to be annoying or a broken record, but in my own studies, I haven't found any evidence that correct theological opinions (about hell, for example) are an additional fruit of the Spirit.

As I've said before, if God had intended to write a book of systematic theology, we'd have to say that He did an extremely poor job of it!

But I'm willing to be corrected about that.

"Singalphile" - Name chosen (hastily) to indicate being on a narrow path, pursuing the love of God. Male, upper-30's, USA.

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2 years 8 months ago #5312 by John Haak
Thank you all for the careful thoughts on this topic.

Singal ... I like what you describe as the Holy Spirit is at work to conform us to the image of Christ in our character; seen in the fruit of the Spirit. That is the clear and repeated teaching of Scripture while the John 16 promise made to the future Apostles is unique.

DTM .... I like what you bring about treating church traditional ideas with respect but seeing that we should put our personal understanding of Scripture above that. I see church history as a "cloud of witnesses" [Hebrews 11]; examples and brothers and sisters in Christ that we should respect and seek "counsel" from as Proverbs says repeatedly.

Culpa ... Your initial question on the role of the Holy Spirit in settling on correct doctrine has been well addressed already but I would summarize it with a caution. I think we can expect His help to be humble in recognizing that our conclusions on doctrines are just our best thinking but not infallible. I get worried when I hear any believer say that "God showed me that ...". We have the Scriptures so that we might love the Lord with all our Mind, wrestling with meanings and threads of evidence. Be cautious to ever claim the HolySpirit has "taught" you anything that is doctrine that millions of other believers have not found [Baptism form, Lord's supper meaning, church government, etc.]
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2 years 7 months ago #5350 by SarahsKnight

DTM wrote:
I think it is possible for the church to get some things wrong, and it might go on a while before it gets corrected. I'm not going to set a schedule for the Holy Spirit to act. So when I see that this is an early belief that was never actually condemned, was pushed aside as a minority view and largely ignored until perhaps the last century, it gives me pause, makes me think hard about it, but doesn't override the clear (at least to me) teaching of Scripture. And I spent a long time thinking about it before I was willing to say, "Yes, as unlikely as it seems, a lot of people have been wrong about this for a long time."


That's certainly why I had pause at first when considering CI five years ago. I was thinking "all this fear I felt of hell during my torturous period of Scrupulosity. Could it have really been this unreal? For nothing? When in reality death means death and destruction means destruction and we actually AREN'T inherently immortal? Could the majority view of the Church actually been wrong all these centuries (so much in the majority, in fact, that in all of my 28 previous years of life I never even KNEW there were alternate theologies on heaven and hell)?

Well, after finding myself unable to easily get around all the numerous verses that on their face plainly state CI, and finding no logical reason to believe they have special meaning that every "True" Christian is just somehow supposed to know and understand, such that they actually teach ECT and inherently immortal souls, I said to myself: "Yeah, I guess through the sheer persuasive power of spoken tradition of hellfire and brimstone and everlasting torture because of the repulsive fear that it brings ... the majority of people really CAN be wrong for 15 centuries." And if this many ECT proponents are as stubborn even in the face of clear evidence as to condemn any Christian who believes other than them about hell, then quite frankly, if it is a nonessential doctrine for salvation (and I believe it is nonessential; it's just that ECT really creates a crummy attitude in a lot of Christians, unfortunately), why SHOULD the Holy Spirit be obligated to guide them away from ECT even if it so obviously seems wrong? Why should He bother if people are going to be this stubborn and insist - even sometimes condemning conditionalists or universalists as false believers in the so-doing - that the soul is immortal and never actually dies even in the face of Ezekiel 18:20. (You wouldn't believe the hoops of semantics I have seen traditionalists jump through in order to explain to me how that verse in particular still fits with their view.)

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