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Do The Elect Delight In The Torments Of The Damned?


Paddington

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Phatmassers,

What are we to make of this idea of the saints in heaven taking delight in the torments of the damned? Is it part of the deposit of faith? It has been the opinion of many Christians thru the centuries. C.S. Lewis footed around it in the Chronicles of Narnia (imagine if he didn't), but I have seen the idea before from people in the Catholic and Reformed traditions. I'm sure other Christians have believed it too.
Here is a short list of quotes about this issue. I cut them form the site of hard-core skeptic, Edward T. Babinski. edwardtbabinski.us


Peace,
Paddington


AUGUSTINE
They who shall enter into [the] joy [of the Lord] shall know what is going on outside in the outer darkness. The saints knowledge, which shall be great, shall keep them acquainted with the eternal sufferings of the lost.
[The City of God, Book 20, Chapter 22, "What is Meant by the Good Going Out to See the Punishment of the Wicked" & Book 22, Chapter 30, "Of the Eternal Felicity of the City of God, and of the Perpetual Sabbath"]

TERTULLIAN
What a spectacle when the world and its many products, shall be consumed in one great flame! How vast a spectacle then bursts upon the eye! What there excites my admiration? What my derision? Which sight gives me joy??As I see illustrious monarchs groaning in the lowest darkness, Philosophers as fire consumes them! Poets trembling before the judgment-seat of Christ! I shall hear the tragedians, louder-voiced in their own calamity; view play-actors in the dissolving flame; behold wrestlers, not in their gymnasia, but tossing in the fiery billows. What inquisitor or priest in his munificence will bestow on you the favor of seeing and exulting in such things as these? Yet even now we in a measure have them by faith in the picturings of imagination. [De Spectaculis, Chapter XXX]

THOMAS AQUINAS
In order that the happiness of the saints may be more delightful to them and that they may render more copious thanks to God for it, they are allowed to see perfectly the sufferings of the damned. So that they may be urged the more to praise God. The saints in heaven know distinctly all that happens to the damned. [Summa Theologica, Third Part, Supplement, Question XCIV, "Of the Relations of the Saints Towards the Damned," First Article, "Whether the Blessed in Heaven Will See the Sufferings of the Damned?"]

JONATHAN EDWARDS
The sight of hell torments will exalt the happiness of the saints forever. Can the believing father in Heaven be happy with his unbelieving children in Hell? I tell you, yea! Such will be his sense of justice that it will increase rather than diminish his bliss. ["The Eternity of Hell Torments" (Sermon), April 1739 & Discourses on Various Important Subjects, 1738]

They shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment shall ascend up forever and ever. Rejoice over her, thou heaven, and ye holy apostles and prophets; for God hath avenged you on her. And again they said, Alleluia. And her smoke rose up for ever and ever.
- Revelation 14:9-11; 18:20, 19:3

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He who sits in the heavens laughs; the LORD has them in derision.



Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, "I have set my king on Zion, my holy hill."

I will tell of the decree of the LORD: He said to me, "You are my son, today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron, and dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel."

Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, with trembling. Kiss his feet, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way; for his wrath is quickly kindled.

Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

--Psalm 2


There is a sense in which God and his Saints look down on the damned and "laugh" and "hold them in derision". Psalm 139 reads: "Do I not hate them that hate thee, O Lord? And do I not loathe them that rise up against thee? I hate them with perfect hatred; I count them my enemies." The key here is "perfect" hatred, not hatred in the malicious sense that St. John says "he who hates his brother is a murderer".

The damned are damned because of pride, because they would not serve in one way or another. St. James says that "God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble."

It's important to see these two aspects together, that God tells us in Ezekiel that he takes "no pleasure in the death of the wicked", but "will make the land a desolation and a waste" if they do not repent.

The Saints do not "delight" in a distorted sense of taking arbitrary enjoyment in suffering, but in the sense that God's will and rule have triumphed over those who opposed him, and the proud have been "dashed into pieces like a potter's vessel". The hatred of the Saints is a "perfect hatred".
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Also, the main thing I read from the quotes you posted are that the saints rejoice that they were not subjected to that torment, and do not rejoice that others were subjected to that torment. Just as God wants us all to be in Heaven, so should we want all to be in Heaven, and want all to be spared of the fires of Hell.

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Also, the main thing I read from the quotes you posted are that the saints rejoice that they were not subjected to that torment, and do not rejoice that others were subjected to that torment.




Franimus,

Thanks for responding. I am not as optimistic about the quotes, however. JE and Tertullian are pretty hardcore. Revelation could even be out of context, but rejoicing in God's judgments is throughout the Scriptures. The Augustine quote doesn't say a whole lot. The Aquinas quote doesn't say why the saints are thankful. That's how it reads to me. I wish I knew more about this stuff. The quotes I posted took about 2 minutes of "research."

Peace,
Paddington
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Era Might,

Thanks for responding. That was probably the best I have ever heard on the topic. I think it is safe to say that Christians do not talk about this issue very much (understandable). But if it was talked about more, I think more people could give an answer like the one you gave. As a non-Christian, that is one of the things on my list that I want to be "cool with" if I convert. I hope it isn't lost on people that there are plenty of skeptics out there who will use quotes like those to justify their lack of faith.

Peace,
Paddington

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I hope it isn't lost on people that there are plenty of skeptics out there who will use quotes like those to justify their lack of faith.


Sure, it's completely understandable. I think it's important for us to realize what it means to sin against God. God is infinitely and intensely holy; he is holiness itself. Who is man that he asserts his own will above the will of God? God condescends with grace and mercy, if we will receive him with humility and if we will correct our ways to share in his infinite holiness. But if we will not, and if we ultimately say no to God, then we receive the wages of sin. The reality of hell may seem cruel to us, but we have no conception of the holiness of God. When we enter into his presence, we will see him as he is, and the pride of the damned will be seen in that perfect light, in the light of an infinitely holy and infininitely merciful God who has been rejected and offended. The punishment of the damned, because it contrasts with the reward of the humble, reminds the Saints of God's perfect justice, but also of his perfect mercy, because it is by that mercy that they stand before him; St. Teresa of Avila says: "Forever we will sing of his mercies."

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Nietzsche of course was one of the most vocal critics of Christianity on this point. In consideration of these quotes he remarks in the Genealogy of Morals that "there would be more justification for placing above the gateway to the Christian Paradise and its 'eternal bliss' the inscription 'I too was created by eternal hate'."

The quotes can certainly be interpreted as expressions of a very perverted revenge. However, they are also very speculative and can easily be taken out of context. And if nothing else, these esteemed religious writers weren't clear enough of their point or in fact were simply mistaken.

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  • 1 year later...

I do not think that the Saints "delight" in the sense that they enjoy watching others in hell suffer in a sick perverse way. It is more along the lines of them being thankful that justice has been served and that they are free from it. However, I would not say that they get a kick out of seeing sinners suffer. Our Lady of Fatima called them "poor souls" and expressed grief over the souls of the wicked going to hell. That is why she wished to convert more to the Catholic faith. I am sure they mourn the fact that they did not come to repentence, though. It is not a "delight" in the Calvinist sense of the word. they are pleased that His justice has been served.

Think of it this way: Let's say I was sick. You tell me, "Well, Ida, take some medicine." Let's say I tell you, "No, I don't need that medicine." Well, a few days later I feel even worse than I had. You look at me and say, "You know, wouldn't feel this way had you taken the medicine..." You are mocking me a bit, but you aren't "delighting" in it. It's more of a disbelief, like, "How stupid. You would have gotten better had you just taken some medicine."

I am sure that is how the saints view it. "This day didn't have to come. Christ had his arms open wide to you. And you rejected him."

Edited by Selah
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  • 10 years later...

I know it's twisted. But I was just thinking of someone and hoping I get to see him in hell from heaven. I've never met this person but let's just say I know some details about him I really don't like. Like I said I know it's twisted. But yeah...

On 1/12/2007 at 1:59 AM, Paddington said:

The sight of hell torments will exalt the happiness of the saints forever. Can the believing father in Heaven be happy with his unbelieving children in Hell? I tell you, yea! Such will be his sense of justice that it will increase rather than diminish his bliss. ["The Eternity of Hell Torments" (Sermon), April 1739 & Discourses on Various Important Subjects, 1738]

Gangsta

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  • 2 weeks later...

I think the saints would be saddened by the loss of souls.  One of the many paintings we see in the Vatican has Christ the Judge separating the sheep from the goats.  The people who didn’t make the cut are being dragged into the abyss by demons, beating, eating and basically tearing the souls to shreds... Jesus has a look, a flash of intense anger, while the saints around him cover their faces...

 

The saints praise the justice, I doubt they  enjoy the scenery... 

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