• Frank

    The theology here is terrible and unsupported. Hell exists as an eternal state of separation from God which people choose. So it’s not that God is incapable of forgiveness or incapable of reaching anyone anywhere, it’s about people choosing to reject God and spending an eternity apart from Him by choice.

    Any other theology of hell is unsupported and is dangerous as its a lie.

  • Karla

    Bible is very clear that hell is real and Jesus warned about hell so people
    who say there is no hell are calling God a liar/making a mockery of all He
    went through on the Cross! Why would Jesus go through all that He did
    if there is no hell? That’s like the people who say there are other ways to
    heaven. If there were other ways why would Jesus go to the Cross? Hell
    is a very real place. Jesus died for us so we don’t have to go to hell but
    we have to Repent/do our part. Two guys were next to Jesus on the Cross
    and only one of the guys went to heaven because only one guy Repented.

    Bible says if you have a sharp tongue your religion is worthless yet today
    people say mean things and then they laugh after like that makes it okay.
    People who are still mean/don’t bridle their sharp tongue need to change
    because Jesus said many will say to Me Lord,Lord and not enter heaven!
    Gossip,greed,jealousy,gambling,taking the Lords name in vain are all sins
    that need confronted as well. Many sleep around/have premarital sex and
    then get married thinking that covered it up but don’t Repent or agree that
    sleepin around/having premarital sex is wrong! We all need to/must Repent!

    1 Corinthians 6:9-12 lists all who won’t inherit the kingdom of heaven unless
    they Repent and three of those sins are coveting,getting drunk and all of the
    sexually immoral yet people today covet,get drunk and sleep around like it’s
    no big deal because so many people only want to talk about abortion and/or
    gay marriage/homosexuals. All sin is bad. Luke 13 says to Repent or perish!
    The wine Jesus made was diluted and the Bible says don’t get drunk with/on
    strong wine so all the people who get drunk on wine are also wrong/go to hell.
    Bible says Repent and believe the Gospel to be saved! We all must Repent!

  • Tom Downs

    When you and Martin sit down with God at judgement day you can ask the LORD who was right. But be prepared to answer why you cared so much about being right.

  • Jack

    Tom, you’re assuming that Frank’s opinion is tightly held because he wants to be right. But without really knowing what goes on in any one person’s head besides our own, we could assume the same about your motives for your position.

    There is or there is not an eternal state called hell…..independently of one’s opinion on the matter or what motivates it.

  • Karla

    Bible says not to subtract from it or you go to hell so the people who
    teach that there is no hell go to hell because of that teaching. Ironic.
    It doesn’t matter how spiritual people are if they’re not Biblical they are
    still lost and are headed for hell. We must follow the Bible and be Biblical.

  • Jack

    I like what CS Lewis once wrote about hell — that the doors are locked on the inside, rather than the outside.

    His book, “The Great Divorce,” about a mythical bus ride from Hell to Heaven, really brings this out in a creative way. It is well worth reading.

  • philip

    The Reverend Martin Elfert is totally correct in his analysis of what Jesus was sent to earth to try to accomplish. Can you imagine the anguish and pain Jesus felt, not on the cross, that was just a short, excruciating, physical pain; but the pain of anguish that goes far beyond the physical pain.Tthe pain I talk of is Jesus knew His words of everlasting love would be twisted and contorted for religious narrative to control ignorant, illiterate subjects. The basic Pavlovian theory that all human marketing is based upon: reward and withholding.
    A pastor and spirit lecturer of the church took a question, “Is there a hell?” You could see his body tense, his head tilt up to look into invisible space. Reader, remember 2,000 years of the dogma of hell hung in the air. His answer, “Having not been there personally, I cannot verify.” Hedging his words, “I personally believe that Jesus has endless love for us.” At which point the questioner jumped to her feet with a resounding, loud voice , “Well, Father, there better be a hell, because there’s people that I want in it!”
    Another priest who I knew, God rest his soul, I asked him regarding hell. His response after a few seconds of gauging my trust was to say, “We all are in the same house with Jesus; all the doors are open, some of us are close to Him; others might be in the bedroom, or in the closet holding onto a clothes hanger, in the basement, or on the john reading a magazine.”
    Like Reverend Elfert, we know Jesus is in the house. Jesus always, on earth and in heaven, gives us the freedom to choose His love.
    Via con Dios, my Friends!
    PS. To my atheist Friends, I’ll be tending the keger in the patio!

  • Fran

    Both the Old Testament (Sheol) and New Testament (Hades/hell/grave/death in numerous translations) refer to the common grave of mankind where people, good and bad, are sleeping in death (Ecclesiastes 9:5, 6, 10), not aware of anything at all.

    Even Jesus was in the common grave for three days, asleep in death, before he was resurrected back to life by God (Acts 2:31).

    As long as “hell” stands for the common grave of mankind, and NOT a place of fiery torment forever, I do believe in it.

  • Jack

    The problem is that Jesus spoke very frequently about hell and each time it was a warning of it being a real risk that was not to be taken lightly.

    The ultimate question is what becomes of people who really don’t want Heaven at all — people who, if they were there, would be in absolute misery, with each second worse than the prior one.

    What is God supposed to do with them — create some sort of new reality that accommodates their self-centeredness? That would be the equivalent of giving them a “happy” drug and letting them puff on it forever. To the extent that Heaven, if it’s real, is the ultimate reality, asking that is asking for something that is by definition impossible. A perfect being who is ultimate reality, truth, and goodness is incapable of turning reality on its head to accommodate those who refuse forever to embrace reality.

  • JOhn

    It’s obvious that Martin dodged the intent of the question with the ides of our going through hell on earth (difficult and tragic events), and not any discussion of eternality. Sometimes it is better not to take the bait!

  • Frank

    Heaven and hell don’t require our belief to be real. They both exist. It has nothing to do with being right and everything to do with telling people the truth or deceiving them.

  • Karla

    Bible also says that it would have been better if Judas was never born so
    that again shows that there is a hell/punishment in the afterlife not just a
    place where you cease to exist. Bible is very clear that hell/hellfire is very
    real. The rich man was in hell and wanted to go warn his brothers cause
    he was in torment in hell but was told he could not crossover to the other
    side so hell is real/final once you are there like the Bible says. You either
    go to an eternal heaven or you go to an eternal hell. We all must Repent!

  • Shawnie5

    My thoughts precisely, Jack.

    While I believe in hell, I personally don’t believe it is an eternal state. I feel that the “second death” that the Bible speaks of is exactly that, and that both death and hell are destroyed forever when they are cast into the lake of fire. “The soul that sins shall die.”

    But those who reject God prefer that to eternity in God’s presence.

    The Father’s words from the OT are haunting in their anguish. “Why will you die?”

  • Karla

    Shawnie-Bible is very clear that hell is eternal. You can’t pick and
    choose which parts of the Bible you like and don’t like. Bible says
    getting drunk is wrong/so is being mean/having a sharp tongue so
    is it okay to still get drunk/be mean/belittle people? No it’s not and
    the Bible is the Truth/Word of God! It does not change…Period!
    Bible is very clear that hell is real/eternal just as heaven is eternal.

  • Karla

    Matthew 13:41-42 describes hell as a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth
    so the people who say there is no hell or hellfire are calling God/Jesus a liar.

  • Fran


    Matthew 13:31-43 is a PARABLE that Jesus taught about the kingdom of God; basically about weeds in the field. A parable is defined as a short STORY of which a moral or religious lesson may be drawn.

    That parable was later explained by Jesus to his disciples as follows: The sower of the field was Jesus; the field is the world; the fine seed are the sons of the Kingdom (only those who have a heavenly hope); the weeds are the seed of the wicked one and the enemy that sowed them is Satan (verses 37-39).

    When Jesus mentions that the weeds are gathered and burned in the fire (verse 40), that indicates that Satan and all those who follow him will meet the same fate, eternal death, not a place of fiery torment forever.

    Revelation 20:14, 15: confirms this when it says:

    “And death and hell were cast in the the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”

    It is evident from these scriptures that the “lake of fire” is not a literal place, but is SYMBOL of eternal death, from which no resurrection is possible. It, as well as the parables of Jesus, which provided symbols of various things, are not to be taken literally.

    But how can we be sure of that? Revelation 21:3,4 brings out concerning mankind:

    “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be NO MORE DEATH, nether sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain, for the former things are passed away.”

    So Revelation 20:14,15 confirms that hell (the common grave) and death will literally be eliminated forever, so that man can finally live forever on earth.

    The parable Jesus gave about Lazarus and the rich man is, again, not literal, but described 2 classes of people in Jesus’ day. The rich man symbolized the religious leaders and Lazarus symbolized the common people in those days. It indicated that the religious leaders would lose a favorable standing with God (teaching traditions instead of truth, thus causing them torment). Instead, the common people, received a favorable standing, believing in Jesus and what he taught them.

    There has never been a place of fiery torment forever, nor will such a place ever exist from our loving Heavenly Father.

  • Shawnie5

    Believe me I don’t pick and choose what I like and don’t like. There is plenty I don’t like. But clearly hell is not forever because the scriptures say hell will eventually be cast into the lake of fire and that this is the second death. There is a scriptural ambiguity about what “second death” means. I happen to believe the scriptures point to ultimate annihilation. Of course I could be wrong. But neither alternative is pleasant.

  • Karla

    Fran-Revelation 21:3,4 is talkin about the people who are saved/Christians.
    Hell is a real place where there is weeping and also the gnashing of teeth so
    you really need to do some more research because if there is weeping and
    gnashing of teeth/pain that means hell is a real literal place like Bible says.
    Bible says hell is real and also Jesus warned us all about a place called hell.
    Read Matthew 25:41 and also Revelation 20:10. The Bible describes hell as
    a very,very real place so we need to stick to and follow the Bible. God bless.

  • samuel Johnston

    Hell is only an idea – a speculation. The better question is: Why do men like the idea of eternal suffering- (for others, naturally).
    My opinion is that it appeals to the vengeful, the jealous, the mean spirited, and those of little compassion and understanding. They will excuse themselves (like my grandfather – a minister- did) “Oh no, I am not responsible, I just follow the authority of the Bible!” These men are liars. As they constantly tell us -they have the choice to believe or not- and we do. If God is so unjust as impose eternal punoshment, then we are all lost- or their is no God worth of the name.

  • Jack

    More than anything else, Shawnie, I pray to God you’re right on this. Death is a terrible end, but literal eternal hell is nearly unbearable to ponder.

    On the other hand, part of me thinks that if hell is literally eternal, those who are in hell would still prefer to be there, as horrific as it is, than dead.

    This is all far beyond our human capabilities to understand, but we both agree on perhaps the most important point of all — that those who will not be in heaven would positively hate it if they were there. That would be, for them, like an eternal hell in terms of how they’d experience it.

  • Jack

    Samuel, in the end, all that matters is what is actually real and true, not people’s motives for believing or disbelieving any proposition about it.

    There is….or there is not….life after death. There is….or there is not….a judgment. There is….or there is not….a heaven. There is….or there is not…a hell.

    If everyone who believed in a hell were a vicious sadist, that tells us nothing about whether hell is real or not. It exists or it doesn’t exist independently of the character of those believing or disbelieving in it.

  • Shawnie5

    I agree, Jack. Whether hell is of limited duration or eternal, I think what makes it hell is that everyone gets their wish to be their own god. Problem is, everyone else also gets to be their own god…and the Transcendent that gets in their way on earth removes Himself from the equation. Imagine this fallen and depraved world taken to its logical conclusion with no Holy Spirit at work anywhere and no escape. That’s hell.

  • samuel Johnston

    Hi Jack,
    Unsurprisingly, I disagree. Whatever is “not of this world” is not “knowable”,
    revelation* included. Paul’s Christianity is all based on a single proposition,
    one that was rediscovered by Luther, while he was sitting on the privy. “The just shall live by faith…alone”.
    Put another way, what does God demand of men? Luther’s answer is clear, but I maintain “For now we see through a glass, darkly…”.
    We know that Jesus did not walk around threatening people with punishment.
    He called on them to be more thoughtful, more compassionate, and above all to love one another and to love God, which he then explained amounted to approximately the same thing. He despised showy hypocrisy, and the condemnation of sinners.
    In short, he asked people to behave better.
    As you know, more “modern” theologians define hell as separation from God. I do not disagree.
    I conclude that hell is not a place, but a condition, not totally unlike “hardness of heart”.
    *revelation is a personal insight/message, not directly (accurately) transferable to another (see Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason).

  • Fran


    Then your beliefs are not in line with The
    Lord’s model prayer, that God’s will be done in EARTH as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:10).

    Why have you left the earth completely out of the picture, believing that after death, we either go to the (1) heavens (doing what?) or (2) a place of fiery torment, both eternally?

    Even the psalmist was moved to write:

    “The heaven, even the heavens, are the Lord’s; but the earth hath he given to the children of MEN.” (Psalm 115:16). It is actually God’s gift of a home to us (which I totally love and want to live on forever), and always will be:

    “Nevertheless we, according to his promise look to a new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.” (2 Peter 3:13)
    Peter 3:13)

    The resurrection hope of mankind will be realized from dead persons’ GRAVES, not a place of fiery torment:

    “Marvel not at this for the hour is coming, in which ALL that are IN the GRAVES shall hear his voice and shall come forth: they that have done good unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil into the resurrection of damnation.”(John 5:28,29).

    After God’s kingdom or heavenly government starts its millenial rule over man on earth, we will certainly be blessed by a most loving God, to literally see our dearly beloved ones who have passed away, be brought back to life on earth, the forever home of humans, to be reunited with family and friends (just as Jesus did for Lazarus; John 11:1-44)!

  • Fran


    I totally agree and don’t understand it either… Why people would totally love the idea of “eternal suffering” for others!!! I am guessing that people like that are just more judgmental than God, and in the most adverse way!! Being imperfect and sinful persons probably doesn’t help us, either!!

    Many times it appears to me that the lower animal kingdom are more considerate, compassionate and caring towards each other than we are!! I think that’s really sad for us!

    Besides that, the “forever torment” option does not, in any way, reflect a very loving, just, compassionate and forgiving God and Creator; and I sincerely believe that God is loving and always will be.

    I am comforted to know that if I die in the future (due to time or unforeseen circumstances, or just old age, lol), I will only be sleeping in death (John 11:11-14) and I have no fear of it happening (Ecclesiastes 9:5,6, 10). Otherwise, I’d be a totally nervous wreck!!!

  • Shawnie5

    “We know that Jesus did not walk around threatening people with punishment.”

    Then who said this? “Behold you are healed. Stop sinning, or something worse may happen to you.”

    “Do not fear those who can only kill the body. Fear God, who can destroy both body and soul in Gehenna.”

    “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”

    “He who does not believe on Me is condemned already.”

    Although to be fair, these were not threats but warnings, from one who had come for the express purpose of sparing us from all these things.

  • samuel Johnston

    Hi Shawnee 5,
    You must use your brains, and not just repeat a translation the canonized text (from C.E. 419), as if ever word was transcribed by a secretary of Jesus in C.E. 25-30.
    “(On the Bible) It is full of interest. It has noble poetry in it; and some clever fables; and some blood-drenched history; and some good morals; and a wealth of obscenity; and upwards of a thousand lies.”
    Samuel Clemens

  • Karla

    Fran-How many times do we have to go over this? Read the Bible where
    it talks about a great gulf is fixed between people in hell and Abrahams
    bosom where saved people went before Jesus went to the Cross and in
    the Old Testament the earth opened up and swallowed people who went
    to hell. Even Jesus went to hell/the heart of the earth when He died so He
    could set the Old Testament saints free. Hell is eternal and it is very real!
    The Bible says anyone who takes the mark of the beast will be thrown into
    the lake of fire with the beast and the false prophet then will be tormented
    day and night forever and ever.Bible says that it’s better for you to cut off
    your hand/lose your hand even your eye than to lose your soul/go to hell
    which again shows us that hell is real not a place you want to go but sadly
    many don’t want to listen/Repent and follow Christ so they end up in hell.
    Jesus is God as part of the Trinity/Godhead/was not created and hell is a very,very real place! Jesus warned us all about hell so you are calling Him
    a liar cause He didn’t warn us for nothing/no reason. We all must Repent!

  • Shawnie5

    If that is your opinon about the gospel texts, then how would you know whether or not Jesus “went around threatening people with punishment” or called on them to be more thoughtful, etc, or despised showy hypocrisy, and all the rest?

  • samuel Johnston

    I misspoke. I do not “know” in all the possible senses of the word know. (savoir and connaître)
    1. I was not a witness
    2. I have no contemporaneous reliable sources.
    3. I depend solely on scholarly analysis, in particular, Alfred Loisy, Immanuel Kant, and Anitole France. To some extent, I agree with the Jesus Seminar. I do not agree with Oath Against Modernism (1910).
    4. I do not subscribe to any supernatural explanations, any foreknowledge, prophecies, or magical events or beings.
    I am familiar with Christian orthodoxy and mainline Protestantism. Those who maintain that the Bible is the inerrant “Word of God” are ignorant loonies.

  • Shawnie5

    It ounds to me like you don’t really know why you think he said certain things and not others. You may of course correct me if I’m wrong.

    “Supernatural explanations” don;t really come into play here.

  • samuel Johnston

    If the Bible is not reliable as history (it is not), and we throw out the magical, then all of us are left with the problem that almost nothing is “known”, in the normal historical sense about Jesus. “The Biblical account is all true” crowd is faced with an incoherent figure that forgives and loves, and smites and condemns, indifferently and irrationally.
    The “The Quest of the Historical Jesus” has yielded almost nothing of value on the positive side of the ledger, it merely confirms what is not factual. The modest Dr. Schweitzer speaks about what Jesus’ “misunderstood”. Dr Funk’s methodology, leaves us with a hardly credible eccentric sage. So, the Quest has failed, and we are left with the history of the Church and the Christ – a different kettle of fish altogether.

  • Shawnie5

    Not responsive, but never mind.

  • samuel Johnston

    Yes I answered, and I even gave a few sources. You just do not like my answer because my judgments are not the same as yours. I merely reason and speculate. Socrates proudly claimed his ignorance.
    He then observed that others were equally ignorant, but refused to admit it.

  • Shawnie5

    I don’t mind your sources…I’m familiar with the lines of thought myself and know their limitations. But if you merely speculate ignorantly, then it was rather pointless to try to counter Jack about what Jesus did or did not teach.

  • Samuel Johnston

    I merely countered his speculation with mine, based on a reasonable assumption, (namely that if some obscure preacher went around claiming that he was “the way, the truth and the light…..”, he would have been laughed out of town.) Such statements were obviously put in his mouth by others. Speculation is all anyone can do on this subject. The facts are buried so deeply in mythology, rumors, folk sayings, and fraud, no one can reasonably claim reliable historical knowledge. If you claim deeper knowledge and insight please provide it, and I will listen carefully to your reasoning.
    Presuppositional apologetics is nothing but arbitrariness. Also, the rhetorical ruse that something is either “true or false” -without defining what is knowable and what is not- is wearing a bit thin. I stand in the shadow of Kant on the matter.

  • Fran

    I will continue to defend the only true God (whose name is Jehovah; Psalm 83:18), who does not condemn any of the dead to eternal torment. You must be serving a different god than the one who inspired the Bible, his Word of truth, for our benefit and direction.

  • samuel Johnston

    Hi Jack,
    I am still pondering the sort of universe that you imagine.
    ” -that those who will not be in heaven would positively hate it if they were there. That would be, for them, like an eternal hell in terms of how they’d experience it.”
    Since I fit that situation exactly, (I would indeed be miserable) then why would an all powerful entity create a being like myself? “Free Will” explains nothing. If I make a bad judgment because of accident, mental defect, personality quirk, or just plain orneriness, still- the creator, allegedly with foresight and infinite ability could have spared me by a mere minor adjustment.
    Let us assume that like General Motors, he knows he is creating a defective product, but continues to do so nonetheless? If so, then he is a moral monster.