Pollock: Is God Too Kind to Torture?
I have finally found the time to continue my look at A. J. Pollock’s defense of the traditional doctrine of eternal conscious torment (ECT). In this excerpt Pastor Pollock argues that the unbeliever receives no punishment he does not deserve. I agree with that principle: God is just and cannot be unjust.
It is important for me to clearly state a presupposition that I come to this topic with. The first is that one of the main purposes of the Mosaic Law was to reveal God in all His glory to this lost and dying world. Whenever the topic of God’s justice and righteousness come up I will tend to go look to the Mosaic Law as an example of God’s justice in action. The Mosaic Law revealed God’s love, mercy, grace, and many other attributes including His justice. This is a common teaching among conservative Christians and it isn’t difficult to find statements like this one from The Mosaic Law: Its Function and Purpose in the New Testament:
The Purpose and Function Explained
(1) In a general sense, it was given to provide a standard of righteousness (Deut. 4:8; Psalm 19:7-9). In the process, the Mosaic Law revealed the righteousness, holiness, and goodness of God (Deut. 4:8; Lev. 11:44-45; 19:2; 20:7; Rom. 7:12-14). The Law at Sinai was given to Israel to reveal who God is and to shed light on the reality of an infinite gulf that separates God from man.
I don’t know of any Christians who hold the scriptures in high regard that would not agree with that statement.
Given that the Mosaic Law was designed to reveal God and His character to the world has anyone noticed that it does not command anyone to be tortured? The closest that any command comes to ordering torture is when the daughter of a Levitical priest turned to prostitution they were to be burned. I will say that I am not sure that the woman was not to be stoned first and then have her body burned. I know of no example in the entire Old Testament where anyone was actually tortured by God’s command.
I have already posted an essay arguing that the concept of sin against an infinite God requiring an infinite punishment (please see my post “Does Sin Against An Infinite God Require Infinite Punishment?”). In that post I mention the law of lex talionis (the principle of an eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth) from the Mosaic Law which is important. I believe that God’s punishment of humanity follows lex talionis and that unbelievers may very well suffer greatly. What I have began to question is whether our “sins against an infinite God require infinite punishment”. If human philosophical speculation is disregarded then the case for ECT is greatly weakened.
The only other comment I would like to make about Pollock’s argument is that he compares God to a human judge which I don’t believe to be quite right. A human judge executes judgment of laws that he does not write, he is following the statutes written by others. God’s situation is different. He is creator, law-giver, judge, jury, and executioner.
Now here is pastor Pollock:
But it is often argued that God is too kind to torture any. This is true. God tortures none. The Bible never affirms that He does. “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?”
Does anyone accuse the King of torturing his subjects, who are by their misdeeds the inmates of H.M. prisons? Go into the prisons, see the tormented mind, the accusing conscience; the bitter remorse that often fills with exquisite torture the minds, the consciences of the prisoners. Would anyone in his senses accuse the King of deliberately torturing his prisoners? Assuredly not! It is the remembrance of their own evil deeds, and the hourly consequences of them, that torment them. They torment themselves.
“The wicked is snared in the work of his own hands” (Psalm 9:16).
Or to go a step further, is it necessary, as a punishment, for the magistrate to order a wicked youth to be birched? Or does the judge condemn a criminal to hard labour? Will any right-minded citizen accuse the magistrate or judge of torturing those so condemned to punishment for their misdeeds? In connection with the affairs of this world one does not hear of such sickly sentimentality, but this is a common argument, if such a term it can be dignified by, often urged in connection with this solemn subject. It recoils on the heads of those who use it.
HADES and Eternal Punishment
A J Pollock
[Click on this link to see the next installment in this series: Pollock on Revelation 19:20]