"People like to think that they who do these things will wind up in hell, as divine punishment. Is there a divine retribution for them, or will God just let them keep on until they get it and repent, since the only power of evil is to self-destruct?"
This was posed to me following my recent "Angry no more" lecture. There are a couple of questions raised here - Is God a vengeful God? and, Does God know and punish sinners? Here is my response. Stay with me to the end. Don't let the first sentences fool you into thinking that God doesn't take on and take down evil.
God is All, and that allness is the exterminator of anything unlike good. Just as light eliminates darkness through it's simple presence, eliminating moral and physical darkness isn't an act of destruction for divine Good; it's an act of simply being God.
Darkness is often self-imposed. Take my cat, for example. She loves light, even seeking it out. But she also closes her eyes tightly when the sun is shining on her. The light doesn't disappear, and she can't avoid its effects; but the darkness she experiences may seem very real to her with her eyes closed to it.
If one is duped into believing that God is distant, that good is far off, that good can be subverted and changed into its opposite, or that one is not good as God's image, he is holding a false view of the divine Light in and around him.
Sin is Bible vocabulary for negativity, for evil thoughts and deeds.The Bible teaches that sin is punished. It also teaches that man is redeemable from sin. Christ Jesus illustrated this redemption by forgiving and turning people's hearts from sin. Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures points out one of the basic tenets of Christian Science: "We acknowledge God’s forgiveness of sin in the destruction of sin and the spiritual understanding that casts out evil as unreal. But the belief in sin is punished so long as the belief lasts." (Mary Baker Eddy, p. 497)
It is important to note that God doesn't do the punishing. A sin belief punishes itself. Sin is self-destructive. The belief punishes itself, induces suffering on itself, until the belief is released. "Vengeance is mine" is an attempt to to explain this phenomena of self-destructive evil by blaming the discomfort on a human-like and angry god.
If there is not a single morsel of morality - some slight indication of humanity, honesty, affection, compassion, hope, faith, meekness or temperance in a Hitler, than that Hitler was never a man. (Man, in this sense, is the generic term for manifestation or child of God.) In such a case he would be classified, and would always remain, a figment of what Christian Science denotes as animal magnetism, the anti-Christ, generic evil, or complete darkness. However, If there is any slight indication of humanity there - whether we have personally ever seen it or not - that makes him redeemable.
Fortunately, we don't have to worry about if or how a Hitler is or isn't transformed or changed. Whether man or a figment of animal magnetism, the divine and irrevocable law of progress will sort out the true facts, redeem the real and wipe out entirely that which is unlike God.
Darkness never wins in a contest with Light. Light, and the good that constitutes God and His creation, conquers all.
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