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Precondemned by [the Christian] God

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/5/2015 Category: Religion
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 369 times Debate No: 71170
Debate Rounds (3)
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This debate shall assume that the Christian God exists as an omniscient being. I will argue that at least some are predetermined to be cursed to Hell by God.

1 John 3:20 [omniscience]
For whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.

John 14:6
Jesus answered, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through me."

John 11:25
Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die."

If God is to be omniscient, than He is to be intimately familiar with the minds and situations of all beings. With that, He, as the Creator of the world and all thing in it, has created minds with the inability to accept Jesus Christ as their savior, and has also allowed some to exist in the world without contact with Christianity, hence, having not the very concept of Jesus Christ.

Therefore, since God has defined the condition which must be met in order to achieve 'eternal life' AND he has bestowed or permitted limitations that make some incapable of meeting those conditions, he is ultimately responsible for their eternal fate.


Because my opponent has set forth arguments in the first round, I will respond in kind.

The only assumption which my opponent asks us to make is that the Christian God exists and, as a corrolary, that this God is omniscient. Pro argues that the existence of an omniscient Christian God logically requires that some people must be pre-condemned to hell.

Although not expressly stated, this debate as framed by my opponent is really just a rehash of the old question of free will vs. determinism - if God knows our decisions before we make them, are we really free to choose? This particular theological culdesac has been turned over a thousand times, and is mostly unresolvable. Fortunately, we need not address it to defeat the resolution.

Pro's position rests on an unstated assumption - that the Christian God condemns people to hell at all. Assuming a belief in a Christian God, however, does not necessarily require a belief in hell, or a belief that any human soul will be condemned to hell. If one can assume the existence of the Christian God without assuming the existence of eternal punishment, then the resolution is false.

Certainly, there are branches of Christianity that believe, consistent with my opponent's position that some number of people - probably most - will be condemned to hell. The Reformed tradition, or Calvinism, is expressly based on the belief that God expressly chooses who to save and who to condemn. [1] But of course, not every Christian is a Calvinist. There are also Christian Universalist traditions, which believe that all people will be reconciled to God, and that no one will be condemned to hell. Universalists argue that this doctrine was the early common understanding of most Christians, and that hell is a relatively modern religious innovation. [2] They may be right in this regard - no less a luminary than St. Augustine, though himself a believer in eternal punishment, acknowledged that "There are very many in our day, who though not denying the Holy Scriptures, do not believe in endless torments." [3] Thus, even in the early history of Christianity, it was possible to believe in a Christian God but not eternal condemnation.

Today, even traditions that believe in the concept of hell and the possibility of eternal damnation allow for the possibility of universalism. For instance, although the Catholic Church - the largest body of Christians on the planet - clearly teaches a belief in hell, it also allows the possibility that all humankind can be saved - hell, under orthodox Catholic teaching, may well be empty. [4]

Since universalism is consistent with the teachings of many Christian churches and has intellectual roots from the earliest Christians, we cannot say that a belief in a Christian God requires anyone to adopt a belief that any person be condemned to hell. As long as universalism remains a possibility within orthodox Christian theology, then no Christian must definitively conclude that any person will be condemned to hell eternally.

I thus stand opposed to the resolution - one may assume the existence of an omniscient Christian God, but this assumption does not logically require one to conclude that any person will be pre-condemned by God to hell.

[4] Catechism of the Catholic Church 1058, 1821
Debate Round No. 1


Firstly, I shall extend my gratitude to my opponent for accepting this debate. Indeed, I have intentionally attempted to steer this discussion away from the separate "free will or not" debate.

Regarding the argument that some branches of Christianity do not believe that any shall go to Hell (The Christian Universalist Association), indeed, I shall concede that in this case the original argument would be nullified. In regards to Calvinism, they explicitly believe in predetermination. But, since these two branches do not represent the entirely of Christianity and that it is not possibly to determine which specific branches are truly correct, I shall motion to set those "absolute" branches aside for the last round of this debate.

I shall return to the topic of free will, however, for it still has a presence in this issue. If a branch of Christianity believes in the existence of Hell and that some shall find there way there, that there are, in fact, conditions set forth that dictate whether an individual has qualified to descend to Hell. In the Bible, it is stated, pertaining to God, "All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made." [1] This means that He is responsible for our body, and specifically, our brains and minds. Our free will is confined to the limitations of our mind and we do not have absolute control over our thoughts and beliefs. For instance, one cannot simply choose to believe himself an elephant without sufficiently convincing evidence or delusion.

Due to this, there exist conditions that are insurmountable to some minds. We understand that there are differing beliefs in regard to Hell, but we haven't a need to break down all of these possible conditions for Hell that various branches of Christianity believe. Regardless of the specifics, there are some who have not been granted the ability or possibility to meet those conditions.

For example, if the condition were to accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior (John 14:6 [1]), then there are many who will not be able to meet the conditions based upon their situation and limitation of free will. Those who are born into a culture with no exposure to Christianity cannot accept Jesus, since they ares ignorant of Him. Those of truly skeptical minds cannot force themselves to belief and therefore, cannot genuinely accept Him. Those who possess mental disabilities which make it impossibly for them to communicate and understand Christianity at all. The criminally insane, who commit and enjoy horrible acts without having the cognitive rationale to understand that they must repent.

To present a specific example, I reference the Aztec civilization [2]. If born as an Aztec, one was indoctrinated into their belief system. The Aztec, as God has created him, stood no chance of attaining salvation based on the conditions that God has set forth. Apart from the impossibility of accepting Jesus, these people committed vile acts (common human sacrifice) so even if a branch of Christianity believes that good acts simply qualify one for heaven, they would fail because their religion and customs dos not align with Christian morality.

[1] John 1:3, The King James Holy Bible


I do not know that there is much left here to debate.

Let me begin by restating my opponent's frame for this debate. The debate is premised on one assumption:

ASSUME: that the Christian God exists as an omniscient being.

After stating his single assumption, my opponent stated the resolution as follows:

RESOLUTION: That "at least some are predetermined to be cursed to Hell by God"

I have shown that making the assumption upon which the debate is premised does not necessarily lead to the conclusion that all people are condemned to hell, as some people who believe in the Christian God believe that all will be saved (Universalists) or that all can be saved (Catholics). Either belief is sufficient to defeat the resolution, as long as they are compatible with a belief in an omniscient Christian God.

The assumption behind the debate tells us a lot - it gives us a set of holy writings to work with, a clearly-defined central figure, and centuries of believers who've contributed their own ideas to the development of Christian theology in thought and action. But within that bounded framework, there is much diversity of what is "Christian," and how Christians over time have understood their concept of God. We are, after all, dealing with the deity that is held in common by Martin Luther King Jr. and Torquemada, St. Francis and Fred Phelps. There's a lot of God there to work with, and the terms of the debate clarify none of God's traits beyond omniscience.

My opponent says that we should table the discussion of the various branches of Christian thought because we cannot "determine which specific branches are truly correct." Well, that's true, insofar as it goes - clearly, Christians themselves have been unable to do so. I'm not a Christian myself, so I can only look at the whole of the diversity of Christians belief and find any perspective equally plausible. When I look at the whole body of Christians, I see plenty who do not believe in eternal condemnation - the possibility of universalism lies well within the mainstream of Christian thought, sufficiently so that it is fair to say that no one who believes in the Christian God is required to believe in actual eternal torment in hell as a necessary part of their religion.

But we don't need to determine which Christian viewpoint is "right" in order to resolve this debate. In order for my opponent to prevail on the motion, he needs to show that eternal condemnation is necessary part of assuming the existence of an omniscient Christian God.

My opponent's argument is entirely contingent on this additional assumption. Without hell, my opponent's key statement that "there are some who have not been granted the ability or possibility to meet th[e] conditions [for avoiding condemnation]" makes no sense. Within Christian belief, it's quite possible that God has set no conditions at all on avoiding condemnation.

But - to indulge my opponent, and to engage directly with the resolution that I suspect he wishes he had written - I will briefly adopt my opponent's assumption that eternal condemnation exists, and address whether that requires a belief that some people are precondemned to hell by their circumstances. Many Christians who believe in hell also believe that people who never hear of Christianity (like the Aztecs) have, in some form or another, an opportunity to accept or reject God's salvific grace. [1] There are also those who, recognizing that some people have cognitive limitations, propose an "age of accountability" that extends God's grace to the very young and, presumably, those who remain at a mentally young state. [2] Furthermore, Christian scripture holds that salvation was an invitation extended to all humanity, which can be interpreted to mean that everyone is given an opportunity to accept or reject it. [3] Thus, precondemnation is not a necessary consequence of Christian belief, even if one believes that some people will be condemned.

Nevertheless, I submit that this debate is largely at its natural conclusion, as Pro has failed to show why the assumption of an omniscient Christian God leads to precondemnation of any person.

[3] II Peter 3:8-9; John 12:32; Titus 2:11
Debate Round No. 2


I believe that my opponent is correct in that this debate has little direction left to go - it actually took a on very different direction that I had imagined.

The differing beliefs of Christianity are many, and we cannot know which is correct (assuming Christianity is correct). I am not a Christian, nor am I sufficiently knowledgeable to make such judgments, but can one say that if a belief is directly contradictory to the bible, it is wrong? I refer to the following passages from the Bible that contradict the concept of Universal Salvation. I have looked up many versions of the Bible, and they all read the same basic way.

Matthew 7:13-14
13 Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. 14 For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.

Luke 13:23-24
23 And someone said to Him, "Lord, are there just a few who are being saved?" And he said to them, 24 "Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.

Isaiah 35:8
And a highway will be there, it will be called the Way of Holiness; it will be for those who walk on that Way. The unclean will not journey on it; wicked fools will not go about on it.

further, I don't believe that the possibility of impossibility refutes the entire point. My original point was based on the verses in the Bible (hence, the passages). So, one can then argue that if some Christians simply reject such verses in the Bible, that completely nullifies the point because they have created the a possible scenario in which the original premise is completely false? I belief this to be using a minor technicality to defeat the argument.

In any case, I want to thank my opponent again. No matter the result of this debate, I know more now than I did prior to this debate.


I want to thank my opponent as well for a fun debate. And an odd one, considering that we are two non-Christians debating Christian doctrine.

I will make a brief rebuttal to my opponent's closing:

My opponent lists several verses that he claims directly contradict the idea of universal salvation. Whether they do or not, however, is somewhat beside the point - all religions contain contradictions within themselves, and Christianity is no exception. In fact, it is in reconciling those contradictions that some of the most vibrant discussion is to be found. While the verses cited by my opponent seem to contradict the idea of universal salvation, other verses can be found supporting the idea:

Colossians 1:19-20: For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

1 Timothy 2:3-4: For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

And this is how many arguments proceed in (Protestant) Christianity, by citing conflicting scriptures at one another. The various branches of Christianity must reconcile such contradictions by looking to the central promise at the heart of Christianity - the redemption of the world through the sacrifice of Christ. Through that lens, many Christians find the better side of the argument lies with at least a possibility of universalism.

This is no minor technicality, as my opponent suggests, but a question of how to interpret the heart of Christianity - is Christ for some, or all? I have no special standing to settle that question. What I can say is, based on the assumptions my opponent asked us to make at the start of this debate, that the existence of an omnipotent Christian God does not necessitate that any person is precondemned to hell.

I therefore urge your vote for Con, and thank my opponent again for this debate.
Debate Round No. 3
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