American believe in heaven and hell, but they are far less comfortable discussing the latter. - Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons - "Last Judgment" by Fra Angelico c. 1431 (

3 reasons we're afraid to talk about hell

American believe in heaven and hell, but they are far less comfortable discussing the latter. - Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons - "Last Judgment" by Fra Angelico c. 1431 (

American believe in heaven and hell, but they are far less comfortable discussing the latter. - Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons - "Last Judgment" by Fra Angelico c. 1431 (

Have you seen that new movie “Hell Is for Real?” Of course, you haven’t. Because it doesn’t exist. It’s heavenly counterpart, however, earned $21.5 million in ticket sales in its opening weekend.

Sixty-four percent of Americans believe in the survival of the soul after death, and a majority believes in both heaven and hell, according to a Harris Poll released in December 2013. But while most are comfortable discussing the afterlife and heaven, talk of hell can scatter the masses.

So why are Americans afraid to talk about hell?

Rebecca Price Janney, a cultural historian and author of “Who Goes There? A Cultural History of Heaven and Hell,” traces the shift back about 70 decades to World War II. During this time, many asserted that American soldiers couldn’t possibly go to hell because they’d already served their time having “been through hell” on the battlefield. The idea offered great comfort to those at home who were grieving lost loved ones.

“This [idea] caught on and persisted over the decades,” Janney says, “and we saw it re-emerge strongly during the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks: ‘How could these dear people who died so tragically possibly go to hell?’”

Resisting the idea of a literal hell may offer comfort, but the reasons many today shy away from it may be more simplistic and pragmatic. I spoke to several people who have studied the issue and they listed at least three reasons we shrink back from hell-talk:

Hell Doesn’t Feel Fair
Some Americans' theology of hell begins with arithmetic. The average American's life expectancy is just shy of 79 years. How many years of punishment in what the Bible describes as “a lake burning with fire and sulfur” would be justified for eight decades of sin?

“Many Americans quantify their sins and then weigh it against not just punishment, but eternal punishment,” says Brian Jones, a pastor and author of “Hell is Real (But I Hate to Admit It).”  “In their 80 years, maybe they cheated on their taxes or even on their wife. When their sense of fairness is projected on God, they have a hard time thinking God would prescribe such a thing.”

These Americans seem to feel like Admiral Fitzwallace advising President Bartlett to avoid a disproportionate response to Syrian aggression on “The West Wing”: “You’ll have dolled out 5,000 dollars of punishment for a 50 buck crime, sir.”

But what about those we think have committed a $5,000 crime? When it comes to Pol Pot or Joseph Kony or even one’s unfaithful ex-spouse, there seems to be less resistance to hell.

“Most people don't believe they are bad enough to go to hell. Sure, we all mess up. But at least we're not as bad as that guy,” says Preston Sprinkle, co-author with Francis Chan of “Erasing Hell: What God Said About Eternity, and the Things We Made Up” and professor at Eternity Bible College. “Hell, it seems, may be fitting for the Hitlers and Stalins of the world, but God--we assume--would never send mediocre sinners to hell.”

Hell Sounds Harsh
Another reason people are hesitant to discuss hell, Jones says, is because the only people who talk about it are hateful Christians like those associated with Westboro Baptist Church and “creepy Christians that no one wants to hang out with.” By contrast, he says, most modern believers want to be perceived as kind, loving, and gracious.

“There aren’t very many models out there for how to talk about hell winsomely, so Christians are frozen in their tracks. It’s hard to do something when you haven’t seen it modeled well,” says Jones.

Jason Boyett, author of “Pocket Guide to the Afterlife.” Echoes Jones’s sentiment: “I think some people hesitate to talk about hell because they don’t want to continue to deliver only bad news instead of something that is encouraging and inspiring. The existence of hell is difficult and a challenging part of Christian theology. If you think too much about it, it is really kind of frightening.”

Hell Scares Off Spiritual Seekers
As Christianity continues to lose steam in the West, many Christians have begun to refine their message to attract new followers and not repel skeptics. Those I spoke with all said they felt this impulse is a driver behind why pastors today speak about hell with less frequency and force.

“When you look at some of the old puritan pastors—people like Jonathan Edwards—and their gleeful sermons on hell, those guys were really preaching about it,” says Boyett. “I always read those and think, ‘How did anyone come back to a church like that?’”

Added Sprinkle, “All in all, I think preachers are more skittish about talking about many things that could be a turn-off to the seeker. Hell is probably just one of those topics.”

Jones and Boyett both noted that in addition to numerical growth, concerns about financial giving have influenced the way pastors speak about it.

Don't Be Shy
Most people I spoke with said they believed perspectives on hell were shifting among Millennials. Sprinkle says he thinks among many young people today the doctrine has been downgraded from a fundamental belief to a secondary one. Boyett says a new generation is more “willing to at least entertain uncertainty about hell.”

Americans, it seems, believe hell exists but they aren’t as sure as they once were. And many question whether it will last forever. They can’t fathom hell for themselves but are okay with others going there—particularly those they consider really nasty sinners.

As moral people, hell is often difficult to justify. As rational people, hell is difficult to understand. As emotional people, hell is difficult to fully accept. But the fact remains that the Bible and Jesus talk an awful lot about hell. But our reticence to discuss it doesn’t make it any less real, and our resistance to imagine that we are “bad enough” to go there doesn’t mean we won’t.

Christians mustn't burn with excitement at the thought of souls being punished in the afterlife. But neither should we run from the issue like our hair is on fire. As Kirsten Powers concluded in her USA Today column on hell this week, "forever is a mighty long time."


  1. Hell is also very vaguely defined in the New Testament (There is no Jewish concept of Hell).

    Most of the conceptions of it come from post-biblical culture such as acquiring tropes from pagans and turning them into elements of hell and the devil, Dante, Milton, medieval and renaissance painters…

    So it is the perfect tool for making stuff up which would spread fear in the name of Jesus (or Allah). Hell has served a function to allow people to claim a haughty holier than though attitude towards those who disagree with their religious views. Whomever is the “other” is hellbound while the “faithful” are safe in the comfort of going to heaven.

  2. Hell, known as Sheol in the Old Testament and Hades in the New Testament is identified at Ecclesiastes 9:5,10 in the King James Version as follows:

    “For the living know that they shall die; but the dead know not anything, neither have they any more a reward, for the memory of them is forgotten. Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might, for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the GRAVE, whither thou goest.”

    “Hell” is evidently the common grave of mankind, both good and persons, and NOT a place of fiery torment forever that would never be exacted by a loving God. As Jesus brought out at Matthew 11:1-4, he considered Lazarus, whom he had resurrected from the dead, as sleeping in death (verses 11-14).

    Was Jesus in a place of torment when he was dead for three days? Acts 2:31 brings out:

    “He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.

    Was the perfect son of God, who did no wrong, left in a place of torment by his Father? Certainly NOT! He was asleep in death in the common grave referenced at Ecclesiastes 9:5,10.

    The lake of fire is a symbol of eternal destruction with no hope of resurrection whatsoever, not a place of eternal torment. As brought out at Revelation 21:8:

    “But the fearful and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters , and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”

    This lake of fire and sulphur cannot be a literal place as Revelation 20:14 brings out that:

    “And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.”

    It is impossible for a human condition such as death to go into a literal place, including the entire grave of mankind. Thus, death will be put to death as Revelation 21:4 brings out:

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

  3. Oops… It should be Matthew 11:1-44 instead of Matthew 11:1-4, correcting my typo.

  4. One more typo: John, chapter 11, not Matthew 11.

  5. Fran- Hell is real and talked about as a place of weeping and gnashing of
    teeth. Read all of the Bible not just part of it and don’t take verses out
    of context to fit into your flawed view/teaching! Why would Jesus warn us
    about hell/go to the Cross if hell is not real? Read the story of the rich
    man and the other Lazarus. The rich man died and he was in torment!
    He was was in hell and wanted to go warn his family and brothers and
    was told that if they would not listen to people who were still alive they
    would not listen to someone from the spirit world! The Bible says it
    would have been better if Judas was never born! Why does it say
    that? It says that becasue hell is real and there is real pain…Period!
    The Bible says not to subtract from it or you go to hell so people who
    teach there is no hell go to hell because of that teaching! Ironic. The
    Bible says if peoples names were not found written in the Lamb’s Book
    of Life they were thrown into the lake of fire with the antichrist and false
    prophet. Read all of the Bible not just part of it. 1 Corinthians 6:10 says
    that drunkards go to hell so why are Christians still getting drunk? Jesus
    said many will say to Me Lord,Lord and not enter heaven! Hell was not
    made for man but prepared for the devil and his angels but man didn’t
    want to listen/stick to what God/the Bible said so Jesus came and died
    for our sin so we don’t have to go to hell. Bible says we must Repent!
    Jesus is part of the Trinity and not just an angel or the spirit brother
    of lucifer which many false denominations are teaching! The Bible says
    even if an angel comes to you and preaches another Gospel don’t
    listen and the Bible says if someone preaches/teaches another form
    of the Gospel/a false teaching that person will be eternally condemned!
    The devil poses as an angel of light and many false teachings are based
    on an angelic visitation which was lucifer twisting Scripture to fool people
    just like he did in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve. Hell is real!

  6. Hell is real and there is no purgatory anymore after Jesus went to the
    Cross the Old Testament saints were set free so people who teach
    that purgatory still exists are wrong! If people can go to purgatory/hell
    and then get out that would be works. If people could still get out of hell
    then we wouldn’t need the Cross. Bible says works can’t save us so nobody
    can boast on the day of judgment. Only the Grace of God saves us and
    the only way to get that Grace is by Repenting/trusting is Jesus Christ!

  7. The scriptures I cited were very self-explanatory about the condition of the dead regarding both good and bad persons. As to your discussion of the “rich man and Lazarus”, this was a parable (not literal) Jesus provided that symbolized 2 different classes of people, including their symbolic deaths. This account can be found at Luke 16:14-31.

    Jesus used the “rich man” class to represent the Jewish religious leaders, including the Pharisees, scribes, Sadducees and chief priests. They were rich in spiritual privileges and opportunities; their clothing of royal purple showed a favored position and their linen, a picture of self-righteousness. That proud and rich class viewed the poor, common people with contempt.

    The “beggar” Lazarus class represents people whom this class deny proper spiritual food and privileges. Like Lazarus, who is covered with ulcers, they are looked down upon as spiritually diseased and fit to associate only with dogs. Those of the Lazarus class are hungry and thirsty for spiritual food and drink, and they are at the gate, trying to get whatever morsels they can that may drop at the rich man’s table.

    Jesus next showed what change would befall them both. Luke 16:22, 23 brings out:

    “And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried. And in hell he lift up his eyes, being on torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.”

    Both the rich man and Lazarus class will now experience a change. Jesus had just finished pointing to a change in circumstances by saying:

    “The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the Kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.” Luke 16:16

    It was with the preaching of John and Jesus Christ that both classes would “die” to their former “condition” in this way:

    Those of the humble Lazarus class would die as to their spiritual deprivation and come to a position of divine favor. Instead of looking to their religious leaders for spiritual food, the spiritual truths given to them by Jesus filled their needs and they were brought in the bosom or favored position of the Greater Abraham, God.

    Those of the rich man class came under divine disfavor because they repeatedly refused to accept the Kingdom message taught by Jesus. They died as to their former position of seeming favor. They are in figurative torment as follows:

    “And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue, for I am tormented in this flame.”

    This shows that God’s fiery judgments messages proclaimed by Jesus’ disciples are what “torment” that rich man class. They want those disciples to let up on declaring their messages, providing some measure of relief from their torments.

    This is what took place next:

    “But Abraham said, “Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise, Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.” (Luke16:25,26)

    Such a dramatic change of place happened between both of these classes. At Pentecost 33 C.E., the Old Law covenant was replaced by a new covenant. The disciples of Jesus were favored by God. The great gulf between them represented God’s in unchangeable
    and righteous judgment.

    The rich man class next took the following action:

    “Then he said, I pray thee, therefore, Father, that thou wouldest send him to my Father’s house: For I have brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they come into this place of torment.” (Luke 16;27,28).

    The rich man class thus confesses that he has a closer relationship to another father, who is actually Satan the devil (John 8:44). The rich man class requests the Lazarus class to water down God’s judgment messages so as to not put his five brothers, or religious allies in that place of torment.

    The following takes place:

    “Abraham saith unto him, “They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, “Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.” (Luke 16:29,30)

    Thus, if the 5 brothers would heed the writings of Moses and the prophets that identify Jesus as the Messiah and become his disciples, they would escape judgment. But the rich man objects, “but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.”

    However, Jesus closes this parable by saying:

    “And he said unto them, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.” (Luke 16:31)

    God will not provide special signs or miracles to convince people. They must read and apply the Scriptures if they want to obtain his favor.

    The only “literal” Lazarus who is mentioned in the Bible is found at John, chapter 11.

  8. Not the same thing. The old testament refers to nothing comparable to the Christian version of hell. That is simply Christians looking for validation and confirmation with half-baked snippets of the text as they usually do with the Old Testament. Your Ecclesiastes 9:5,10 has no description of hell.

    The description is vague enough to fill in the gaps with whatever the preacher/priest/televangelist wants to use. A great tool for fearmongering and scaring impressionable children into belief.

  9. I found found the true description of hell:

    Being locked in a room with Fran and Karla A.

  10. There never was a purgatory as Romans 6:7 brings out: “For he that is dead is freed from sin.” Isaiah 38:18 also says: “For the grave cannot praise thee, death cannot celebrate thee; they that go down into the pit cannot hope for thy truth.”

    It is obvious from these scriptures that no further punishment for sin is exacted after a person dies, and the dead are not able to experience joy because of confidence in the prospect of salvation.

    However, purification from sins while we are living is accomplished through the ransom sacrifice of God’s son, Jesus Christ, as referenced at 1 John 1:7,9:

    “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

  11. Larry, that is very encouraging since there is no torment in hell, the common grave of mankind. 😀

  12. Fran-Many claim and still teach there is a purgatory citing the holding
    place where the Old Testament saints were held before Jesus went
    to the Cross. Hell is a real literal place! Jesus spoke more about hell
    and less about heaven as a warning because He doesn’t want people
    to go to hell. Jesus went to the Cross/died for our sin so we don’t have
    to go to hell. If people just sleep/turn to dust/get annihilated Jesus died
    on the Cross for nothing! Jesus wouldn’t warn us about hell if it wasn’t
    real so I think that you need to study the Bible some more but we can
    just agree to disagree. There is no purgatory as I stated in my first
    response…I was just using that as an example of how people can
    misunderstand/take Scripture out of context/twist the Bible. God bless.

  13. Fran-Hell is real place where there is weeping/gnashing of teeth so I don’t
    know what you are talking about but we can now just agree to disagree. In
    fact the Bible talks about how it will be worse for certain people on the day
    of judgment because they saw more miracles/had more Truth than others
    yet they wouldn’t Repent! Read all of the Bible not just part of it.

  14. Funny that you should bring up Heaven is for Real. Talk to any pastor who has been next to enough death beds and the number of those talking about a heaven near death experience and the number of those who talk about a hell near death experience is about 50/50. It’s very real stuff to those who believe they’ve been given a glimpse of the afterlife.

  15. So, Karla and Larry, you are saying that Jesus was in a place of fiery torment when he was dead for 3 days (per Acts 2:41)?

  16. Don’t look at me. Its all convenient sectarian hokum from my end.

  17. Talk to any clergy outside of Christianity and they will find that people describe things which are very grounded in their own religion/culture during NDE’s.Theologically that is far messier than any religious believer is willing to accept. [Every religion would be considered correct and personally subjective]

  18. Larry, I questioned you on that point because you mentioned “The Old Testament refers to nothing comparable to the Christian version of Hell.” What is the difference between them and why?

  19. Yes, it is a real place, the common grave of mankind, from which it is possible to be resurrected back to life from (John 5:28,29; Acts 24:15).

  20. Oh, there must be a HELL otherwise you cannot need a SAVIOR.

    We are born onto a conveyor belt to HELL thanks to original sin of Adam&Eve.
    We are told to grab hold of JESUS to whisk us off the belt.
    Because GOD wants us to be saved!!!
    (but he is the one operating the conveyor belt)

    Christianity breaks your leg and offers you a medic.
    Too stupid.

  21. Your reference from the Old Testament was not really accurate as a depiction of Hell as you believe it to be. That is merely Christians framing the old text in light of their newer religious belief. Confirmation bias.

    There is no Jewish version of hell as a separate punitive afterlife. Instead the afterlife is seen in terms of proximity to God. The more righteous one is, the closer they are to God. It is vague and undefined. The afterlife is mostly absent from the scriptural text and that is intentional. The point being to focus on doing good works in this life than worrying about the next.

  22. 3 different Greek words in the NT are translated “hell”.
    Not one of them means a place where the dead are tormented interminably.
    Gehenna was the garbage dump where fires necessarily burned continually…
    Hades literally means: not perceptible, or unseen. If humans are living souls (Gen. 2:7), when the spirit of life is taken from them, their “soul” returns to where it was before they were alive; namely, the unseen. The body decomposes to soil from which it ultimately comes, and the spirit of life returns to God who gave it. Oblivion. Makes the resurrection kind of important, doesn’t it.

    The serpent’s lie is still alive and well, however: “You shall not surely die”. The vast majority of humans as well as “Christians” believe that.

    BTW, the lake of fire is “the second death”. Death means death.

    “Rom 5:8 yet God is commending this love of His to us, seeing that, while we are still sinners, Christ died for our sakes.”
    Rom 5:10 For if, being enemies, we were conciliated to God through the death of His Son, much rather, being conciliated, we shall be saved in His life.”
    Rom 5:12 Therefore, even as through one man sin entered into the world, and through sin death, and thus death passed through into all mankind, on which all sinned -”
    Rom 5:15 But not as the offense, thus also the grace. For if, by the offense of the one,THE MANY died, much rather the grace of God and the gratuity in grace, which is of the One Man, Jesus Christ, to THE MANY superabounds.”
    Rom 5:18 Consequently, then, as it was through one offense for all mankind for condemnation, thus also it is through one just award for all mankind for life’s justifying.”
    Rom 5:19 For even as, through the disobedience of the one man, the many were constituted sinners, thus also, through the obedience of the One, the many shall be constituted just.”
    1Co 15:25 For He must be reigning until He should be placing all His enemies under His feet.
    1Co 15:26 The last enemy is being abolished: death.
    1Co 15:27 For He subjects all under His feet. Now whenever He may be saying that all is subject, it is evident that it is outside of Him Who subjects all to Him.”
    1Co 15:28 Now, whenever all may be subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also shall be subjected to Him Who subjects all to Him, that God may be All in all.”
    Rom 11:33 O, the depth of the riches and the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How inscrutable are His judgments, and untraceable His ways!”
    Rom 11:34 For, who knew the mind of the Lord? or, who became His adviser?
    Rom 11:35 or, who gives to Him first, and it will be repaid Him?
    Rom 11:36 seeing that out of Him and through Him and for Him is all: to Him be the glory for the eons! Amen!

    That’s why He calls it the evangel, well-message, good news, or gospel.

  23. Jesus didn’t die on the cross to save us from hell. Whether hell exists or not, I believe Jesus still would have died. Jesus came to save us from our sins, which is very different. The sermon on the mount as well as other places in the Bible show us the concept of “The Kingdom of God” (In the Lord’s prayer, the prayer is for God’s kingdom to come, on earth as it is in heaven). Jesus died because he wants to transform us…in this lifetime.

  24. You think hell is something you don’t hear about too often, try listening for talk about Purgatory! I’d be willing to bet 9 out of 10 American Christians couldn’t give a proper definition of Purgatory, much less have a proper theological grasp of it.

  25. Indeed He was! He was not, of course, subject to such torment Himself, however. Having defeated death, our Lord entered Hell, not as a condemned man but as a conqueror. He boldly stormed the very depths of hell to free those pious souls born after the fall who had been awaiting His arrival.
    Catholicism and Orthodoxy call this the Harrowing of Hell, usually depicted in iconography as our Lord stepping through the gate of hell to lift Adam and Eve up by the hand. It’s a beautiful reminder that even those pious individuals who predated Christ have found redemption in Him.

  26. Hmm. As a muslim I find this all very interesting.

    It boils down to a simple question and that would be, do people who deny the existence of the Creator, assign the Creator partners or hate Islam deserve to go to paradise.

    I hesitate to say that third point because certainly, not all muslims go to Paradise either but it isn’t about them is it…’s about the communication people have ignored overall.

  27. At the end of the day, God who is All Knowing, All Wise and Most Just, more just than we could ever be, will do what He wills.

    Perhaps it is eternal (for some) because if they lived forever they would continue to sin forever.

    Interestingly, Jim above quotes a place called Gehenna. (in Ancient Greek?) The Islamic word for hell is Jahanam, of which there are vivid descriptions in the Islamic scripture.

    And God knows best, may He shower us in His mercy.

  28. Is there any crime that can be committed by any human, that would warrant an eternity of torture? I challenge anything reading this comment to point out such a crime and give cogent reasons why that crime is worthy of this punishment. (Note: I used ANYTHING instead of any human, so any of the gods, if they exist, feel free to response here.)

  29. There is no question that Hell/Gehenna is a NT biblical reality. It is also true that the OT biblical references to Sheol are not as clearly defined in Scripture, and would seem to have contained good and bad alike (in Christian teaching the souls of those who loved God were freed by Christ). That doesn’t mean that the ancient Jewish people didn’t have an eschatology that included just punishment of the wicked. Furthermore, although there isn’t a word strictly corresponding to “Hell” in the OT there are references like Isaiah 66:22-24, which is quoted by Jesus in his own teachings. Some on this comment thread seem to suggest that the idea of Hell originated with Jesus or early Christians and is absent from OT era Jewish theology, but that simply isn’t true. That being said, what exactly such a judgement and punishment would look like, when it would take place, etc, has and continues to be the subject of a great deal of speculation. The Wikipedia articles on the subject do a pretty good job of giving a taste for the diversity of thought on the subject within ancient Judaism.

    From a Christian perspective Hell is a reality that should be dealt with. The early Church fathers accepted this teaching and many others that many modern Christians are very uncomfortable with. Interestingly the strident atheists that comment on this site are often seen defending traditional Christian views and biblical interpretation because they see many modern Christians softening traditional teachings to make them more palatable for themselves and others. They of course want these teachings to not be wriggled around, but rather the faith and Scripture to be shown as truly ridiculous. I think Christians out there who are uncomfortable with Hell and other traditional Christian teachings should just take the time and deal with these subjects head on. Come to grips with the faith as a whole, and consider taking the time to read teachings from the fathers of the Church. If you piecemeal your faith you will left with nothing but rags, but the faith taken as a whole bears forth the majesty and wonder of God. At Pascha in many parishes around the world the homily of St. John Chrysostom is read. Take some time to read it (it’s short and sweet). It gets raucous and joyful with a lot of shouting during Liturgy when this is read (at least at my Melkite parish).

  30. I want to suggest that God will no burn the wicked in hell for eternity based on two reasons.
    1. That idea is incompatible with God’s character-God is love.
    2. God is not unjust. The crime does not fit the punishment.
    The popular belief of everlasting hell distorts the image of God and creates more unbelievers than any other doctrine.
    Watch this for a better explanation of hell

  31. There is none; therefore, God will not burn anyone in hell for eternity.

  32. I would suggest that you take the time to read The Great Divorce by CS Lewis. I think he did a wonderful job in this book of getting to the meat of what Hell is, and what truly deprives us of a loving relationship with God. He cautions in his introduction not to take the descriptive details too literally. The ideas carried within are the treasure of this book.

  33. I have believed Hell is Earth ever since I read Paradise Lost. There is definitely an afterlife, IMHO. I believe that people reincarnate and come back to work out their karma. They will have to keep coming back here to work it out until it’s all finished.

    That doesn’t give US the right to “punish” anybody who has not done anything in this life to hurt other people. If we do that, we incur bad karma.

    I don’t hesitate to talk about hell because that is exactly where we are–in the Devil’s playground.

  34. I have punished people for a lot less than your measly Jesus!!

    Ixion, the guy tried to go after the Missus. I tied him to a burning wheel to spin for all eternity.

    Tantalus, invited me over for a feast and tried to feed my “long pig”. He is stuck in a grove with a pond where the fruit and water move away from him every time he tries to satisfy his hunger and thirst.

    Sisyphus, violated the cardinal rule of the culture to be nice to guests and travelers. He has to roll a rock uphill which falls down every time for all eternity.

    Then again, nobody said I was a nice guy.

  35. There is no aspect of permanent or eternal torture of Hell (its main purpose) in the Jewish religion. That is entirely a Christian idea. As I said before, it is merely Christians framing the OT in terms of their own beliefs for confirmation. The afterlife is intentionally vague in Judaism. Extra-biblical texts talk of purification after death

    Nowhere do you find a notion of eternal torment in the OT. You see some vague talk of souls being cleansed of wickedness, scary visions of what happens to the living if they defy God, but not the kind of confirmation of Hell Christians look for. .

  36. Paradise Lost uses Biblical images to make jokes and digs at the society of the writer which are largely lost over the centuries. There is a level of satire which is lost to modern readers.

    “I believe that people reincarnate and come back to work out their karma. They will have to keep coming back here to work it out until it’s all finished.”


  37. Little Frankie feels threatened by a religious belief which does not require blind obedience to a supreme being who makes all the moral decisions for you. Poor baby.

  38. S. Keegan- There is no purgatory! When people die they go to heaven
    or they go to hell. If people can go to purgatory and then get out that
    would be works and the Bible says works can’t/don’t get us into heaven
    so no person can boast! Only Repenting/trusting in Christ saves us!

  39. Indeed if Christians are looking to the OT for definite confirmation of their specific conception of Hell they will not find it (eternal torture or otherwise). The vague references that they find could probably be interpreted to fit almost any model. The afterlife in Judaism is definitely vague and open to speculation, but I would suggest that the exact nature of Hell and purification in the afterlife has remained open to speculation for Christians as well. It is the reality of Hell that was universally accepted. In that sense I think you can see a departure from Judaism in Christianity.

    As to the nature of Hell a variety of opinions have been expressed by Christians. In Eastern Orthodoxy it is common to hear the view expressed that the very presence of God will be bliss and paradise for those who love God, and a torturous Hell for those who do not. Out of many Christian traditions theologians have stopped short of defining anything in particular other than that Hell is the eternal exclusion of a relationship with God, and that the utter lack of God’s loving and healing presence will be an eternal pain and torment. Jesus himself used conflicting visual metaphors to describe Hell, for example, fire and darkness. This would imply that the physical descriptions themselves shouldn’t be taken too literally. That hasn’t stopped many Christians over different eras from believing in literal lakes of fire though.

    The point is that while the Christian conception of a state like Hell as a reality is more universally accepted in Christian teaching, it is not created out of whole cloth or without precedent in Jewish traditional teaching. Furthermore, Christians are still free to speculate on its nature and have produced a variety of views. To my knowledge only maybe some fundamentalist denominations make exact highly literal definitions a doctrine, and it’s not reasonable to hold all of Christianity to their interpretations.

  40. I so totally agree you, that God would not do such a thing to his creation, even if they were bad people while they lived.

  41. Plus I have had much betters actors play me in films. The only really decent to do Jesus was either Max von Sydow and Willem Defoe. Everyone else, blah, unknown or not impressive.

    I had Liam Neeson, Sean Bean, Anthony Quinn, Christopher Walken, Lawrence Oliver and Hulk Hogan!!! The most voracious scenery masticators ever to go onscreen.

  42. I should add that my own personal views of Hell have been informed by suffering through addiction and alongside of addicts. The hateful bitterness, anger, pain, isolation, and unquenchable craving of addiction seems to me like an analog for Hell. I personally imagine that experience where the torturous fire burns brightly from within unchecked for eternity as something like Hell. I recommended “The Great Divorce” in a comment above because I think Lewis provides a rich visual metaphor for this idea. Again though, while that view can certainly fit within Christian tradition, that is personal speculation derived from experience. I’m just encouraging Christians not to back away from Christian tradition because it makes them uncomfortable. Engage the historic Church and learn from it.

  43. Hell is not universally accepted, except among Christians (and Muslims). This is a major point of departure between Judaism and Christian. This is one of those things where Christians basically had the ball and just ran with it in their own direction.

    Purification of souls as some Jewish sects/sources associate with a negative afterlife is closer in nature to the Buddhist bardo a place for inevitable transition. Not a permanent state of being like the Christian afterlife. The best description of it would be like a cosmic washing machine. Everything goes in there. There is none of the eternal or punitive elements to it which makes up the nature of Hell.

    “To my knowledge only maybe some fundamentalist denominations make exact highly literal definitions a doctrine, and it’s not reasonable to hold all of Christianity to their interpretations.”

    All fundamentalist denominations make exact literal definitions. All mainstream denominations which engaged in active proselytizing/missionary work did so as well for dramatic effects for impressing people into the faith. Whether they do so now is a matter of conjecture. But literalizing Hell was a great tool for scaring folks into the arms of Christian faith.

  44. You might want to do some reading into the Buddhist concept of the “hungry ghost”. Greedy spirits doomed to wander the earth due unable to satisfy unquenchable physical needs. Very similar concept to yours. Very familiar to anyone mildly conversant with Chinese and Japanese myths.

    There is a gonzo review of American Horror Story’s first season which gives a cute nexus between the addict, hell and the hungry ghosts which I found amusing.

  45. Those people don’t escape hell they are sentenced to the Lake of Fire!
    Hell is the holding place for people who are condemned which the verse
    in John you mentioned says. The Great White Throne Judgment is the
    sentencing where the wicked are raised from the dead not to escape
    hell but to be sent to the Lake of Fire with the antichrist,the false prophet
    and all the people who took the mark of the beast during the tribulation.
    Hell is real because Jesus warned us about it/said it is real….Period!
    People who say there is no hell are calling God a liar and that is not a
    very smart thing to do! Read all of the Bible and read all the verses not
    just part of them/take parts out/twist verses/Scripture to fit your flawed
    and false theology. Hell is real and the Bible says that it is very real!

  46. Purgatory is not a place where people are capable of choosing their eternal destination, insofar as we know. All the teaching of the faith tells us that our ultimate destination – heaven or hell – is determined in this our mortal existence.
    Purgatory, rather, is a place where those who are saved – heaven-bound, every one – have their remaining sinfulness purged away. It is, in common description, the forecourt of heaven. One who dies in Christ is guaranteed heaven; however, most of us do not die in such a state as to be immediately ready for heaven. Our sinfulness clings to us, it has penetrated deep into our souls, into our very being, and it must be purged away before we can enter heaven. This is what takes place in Purgatory; it’s essentially a wash-room to get clean before entering the glories of heaven.

  47. That’s super interesting Larry. I’ve never run across the Buddhist hungry ghost idea before. I should clarify that as an analog addiction is somewhat limited because it is so carnal in expression, but the heart of addiction is in the mind and spirit. All of sin is seated in the mind and spirit and is inherently self-destructive when engaged with, so in that sense left unchecked it just eats and eats and eats. Not in a carnal sense, but a metaphysical sense.

    Thanks for sharing that. I certainly think that addicts in general would understand this concept. Addiction for me personally felt very much like being a living ghost.

  48. S. Keegan-What are you talking about? That is just totally false!
    Christ died on the Cross for our sin/did that for us! To be absent
    from the body is to be present with the Lord! There was a holding
    place for the Old Testament saints who died before Jesus went
    to the Cross and that is where many people get the idea of/about
    a purgatory. You are right that after we die people are sent to hell
    or heaven and once we die there is no more chance. It’s either
    people go to heaven or they go to hell. Repent/trust in Christ
    and He will wash all your sins away! The Cross/Grace is enough
    and that is what we need to wash all our sin away so if you Repent
    and trust in Jesus you will be saved! You have been misinformed
    with what you are saying. Read the Bible and trust in Jesus alone!

  49. Meg- You believe that Jesus was just a prophet but no true prophet can be
    revered if they are a liar so if Jesus wasn’t the Son of God He was a liar
    and can’t be revered or a true prophet. People saw the mircales Jesus
    performed and was He raised from the dead. Why else would the Roman
    soldiers lie and say His body was stolen? You can trust Jesus/the Bible
    because of the prophecy accuracy. That’s why the Bible holds up because
    it predicts who the Messiah is and the Messiah/only way to heaven is Jesus!
    Read Psalm 22/other Bible prophecy that is 100% accurate proving that
    Jesus is the Messiah/Son of God/part of the Trinity/only way to heaven!
    The Roman soldiers were people that didn’t even follow Jesus/believe in Him
    yet they lied and said His body was stolen because He was raised from the
    dead. Open up the Bible and read the Truth for yourself. Jesus Christ is
    alive and well. Jesus is who He says He is/the Messiah/only way to heaven!

  50. Agreed, it is a major point of departure. I think my main points were first that there are origins of thought in Jewish traditional teaching that early Christian views are influenced by, and second, that there is a variety of thought within orthodox Christianity as to the exact nature of hell (although there are common elements in all orthodox views, i.e., you’re never found partying eternally with your favorite metal band!). You could argue the former assertion (re: origins in Judaism), but the latter is indisputable. Orthodox Christians can and do speculate all over the place on what hell is actually like, and have done so all the way throughout the history of the Church. Personally, I think an eternity of life apart from the love of God is scary enough, but perhaps it’s too abstract if you are trying to use hell as a primary tool to proselytize!

    Regardless, hell is a part of the whole cloth of orthodox Christian teaching. While it can be stated that Jews of the time period had no developed ideas concerning an eternal hell, Jesus quotes OT Scripture explicitly in support of a concept of hell that establishes it in real terms for Christians. Christians aren’t doing themselves or anyone else any favors to shrink away from it. If we can choose a life with God, we sure as hell can choose a life apart from him.

  51. I find a major problem between equating addiction with sin. Sin denotes voluntary behavior which is inherently harmful, to be punished by some outside force. You do something bad to others out of spite/malice. An act to be hated.

    This is extremely counterproductive to consider addiction to be sinful since it is not acting malicious mind, but a primal physical and mental need. More something to be pitied than hated.

    Equating addiction with sin encourages people to shun the addict and the addict to shun help to recover. If its something more worthy of pathos than scorn, calling it sin is far too extreme. Its a failing yes, but would it be an affront to God? Doubtful.

    IMO, the hungry ghost concept seems a lot more descriptive and instructive. We humans are all defined by how we relate physical needs and wants to how we deal with others. Addictions and over-concern with the physical life being something more weighing you down and preventing one from moving forward. Self-imposed hell as temporary as one makes it.

  52. The word “Hell” is the English translation of the Greek word “Hades.” Hades meant the netherworld where souls were thought to go immediately after death. It was not a place of eternal torture. Jesus went to Hades, the netherworld.

  53. The brain is the seat of all comprehension and awareness. When we die, our brain dies. Therefore we cannot experience anything after death—not Heaven, not Hell, not purgatory. Some say that comprehension and awareness reside in a soul. We all know of someone who has brain damage, such as that caused by Alzheimer’s disease, who have little or no awareness or comprehension. So the soul is not the seat of awareness and comprehension.

  54. Does anyone have a near death vision of hell? Why not?

  55. OK, so what you’re really getting at in my mind is the distinction between desire and engagement. To be an addict, in the sense that you feel the desire, is not sinful. To be an addict who engages with that desire is in fact sinful. I’ve been there my friend. You’re not helping addicts by soft balling what they are doing to themselves and others. You can love someone and still speak plainly to their condition. An addict who really wants to be free instead of a slave isn’t going to be dissuaded from help by a frank coming to terms with what they have done. In fact, it is a precondition to getting truly well. And if you haven’t met a malicious addict, one more than willing to consciously harm people in order to fulfill their desire, then you haven’t met many addicts.

    That being said, the ability to make free will choices progressively diminishes the further one falls into addiction and is progressively restored as one is healed, but the choice is never entirely gone. IMO, the reason why twelve step groups work so well whether secular or religious is community and relationship. Sin is inherently isolating and destructive on oneself and on relationships. Loving relationships are restorative and draw us out of ourselves and not only meet essential human needs, but give us vital tools and perspective.

    I would say that the progressive and isolating characteristics of sin are common to all sins though. They are just more blatantly and outwardly obvious in some sins than in others. Have you ever been overtaken by bitterness and unforgiveness before? I have and it has a lot of the same awful qualities, but often no one could see it. Just like addiction, it can grow, consume, blind, and isolate.

    As a Christian I would simply take that all a step further and say that the most vital relationship we can have is with God through Christ, and that a relationship with God allows us to be a partaker of his life. I have found that the life of God waters all of my relationships making all of them richer rather than diminishing them. Furthermore, in Christ one does not find shunning or scorn of the sinner but compassion and healing. It’s up to the sinner themselves whether they want to be free or a slave, but God will more than meet you where you are. He will work for, in, and through you, giving you all you need and more so that you can not just be loosed from sin but be transformed and drawn into his life as an image bearer. As Athanasius said, “God became man so that we might become God”.

    That is the power that loosed me from addiction. Honestly Larry, I heaped scorn on myself as an addict. I didn’t need others to do it for me. What I found in Christ and in the Church was life giving love, and I learned to love myself through that. Of course, as a deacon at my Church likes to say, “the Church is a hospital; it’s for sick people not well people”. We are all still learning how to love each other like God loves us.

  56. Christ’s atoning sacrifice did indeed make expiation for sin, and faith in Him alone is sufficient to remove the eternal punishment of sin (which is hell). However, even the holiest among us are rarely free of impure motivations or impious habits. For the vast majority of us, although we die in Christ, we are not yet free from our sinful habits. To enter heaven in this state, with the stain of sin still upon us, would be unworthy of the majesty of heaven or that of our Lord. In Purgatory, we are free to finish growing in the fullness of the grace which was begun on Earth, and when we have finally been perfected in grace then enter the joys of heaven (which is assured for all who enter Purgatory). Perhaps some few of the great saints of the Church have attained this purity in this earthly life, and so pass directly into the Beatific Vision, but I know I certainly haven’t attained such, and am unlikely to do so in the handful of years I have remaining to me. Purgatory is by no means to be feared; it is the place where the promises of Christ, once accepted here on Earth, find their completion and fulfillment, making us into the kind of people worthy of inhering the Kingdom.

  57. Hell is a product of our own making and we stay in it long enough to understand that whatever we did to be there, isn’t a good idea for our next life. All of this is according to Spiritism. Founded in the 1850’s by Allan Kardec, the Spiritist doctrine was revealed to him by a series of questions and answers to mediums throughout Europe. The doctrine is a message from Jesus and Allan Kardec is the “great consoler” mentioned in the new testament. The doctrine states we must be selfless, loving and charitable to others to strive to improve in each successive life. Whatever wrongs we perform must be paid for in this or the next life. Therefore, Karma is a real operating principle 🙂 To learn more explore

  58. @Chris Byrum (for comment at Apr 25, 2014 at 4:39 pm)

    That was articulate, clear and well said and most of all deeply sincere. Your faith obviously works for you. You embrace it in a way which opens arms rather than closes fists. That is admirable. I don’t share your faith, but I appreciate what it has done to turn your life around.

    I wish you the best of luck and that you continue to find joy in the world.

  59. Hell is real! Jesus warned us about hell because He doesn’t want us to
    go there! People who say there is no hell are calling God a liar and that
    is not a very smart thing to do! The Bible says not to subtract from it or
    you go to hell so people who teach there is no hell go to hell because of
    that teaching! Ironic. Hell is talked about as a place of weeping/gnashing
    of teeth! If people are weeping/gnashing their teeth that means hell is a
    real place with real pain so if people are in pain that means hell is real!
    Jesus said many will say to Me Lord,Lord and not enter heaven so if
    people don’t enter heaven they go somewhere else and that place is hell.
    We are created as eternal beings. Don’t you think God would’ve destroyed
    the devil/fallen angels/demons but we are created as eternal beings and
    God did spare the fallen angels/demons from hell for their rebellion so
    He will not spare people who reject His mercy/Grace! People want to
    rebel/live their own life apart from God and God says people who do
    that will go to hell. God gave us a choice not to go to hell but people in
    their pride choose not to follow God therefore they choose to go to hell.
    Bible says we must Repent! Bible says Repent or perish! We must Repent!

    Jesus spoke more about hell and less about heaven because He doesn’t
    want anyone to go to hell. People don’t want hell to be real because they
    don’t want to Repent/live right so they create/make a false god/idol to suit
    themselves which is called idolatry and no idolater will enter heaven! God
    said to have no other gods before Me but man didn’t want to listen and do
    things their own way and now we see the results because of it. A world in
    chaos and ruin. We see the reults of sin/the fall/not listening to God and
    sticking to what the Bible says. Hell is real and to avoid it we must Repent
    and put our trust in Jesus who is the Messiah and the only way to heaven!

  60. Your posts remind me of 1 Corinthians 13:1 – Speaking without love, like a crashing cymbal or clanging gong.

    No one will listen. You may make yourself feel good, but people are just going to hear noise.

  61. Daniel-People are going to hell and you are not kind enough to warn
    them? Are people listening to these “preachers” that tickle their ears
    which the Bible warns about? Of course they do because the Bible
    warned that people would want their ears tickled and would start to
    listen to false teachers/preachers and create a god to suit themselves
    therefore denying the Truth by creating their own version of it which
    is called idolatry. That’s why when a real preacher preaches the Truth
    people get upset because they have strayed so far away from the real
    Truth it will take tough preaching to get through to people. Bible says
    in 1 Corinthians 6:10 that drunkards go to hell yet people get drunk
    like it’s no big deal because many people today only talk about gay
    marriage and/or abortion so they don’t have to face their own sin.
    Bible says if you have a sharp tongue your religion is worthless yet
    we have a whole nation of mean spirited people who don’t bridle their
    tongue. Read all of the Bible not just part of it. Bible says we must Repent!

  62. World War II was but seven decades ago rather than seventy.

  63. Larry – – you should check out Francis Chan’s book, “Erasing Hell.” It is very well done and actually addresses the Jewish concept of hell and what was being taught, by Jews, around the subject at the time of Jesus.

  64. I also thank you. It’s really nice to have a thoughtful conversation on a topic and in a forum that often brings out vitriol. All the best Larry.

  65. I suggest a fourth reason: people will laugh at you. As they should.

  66. I personally fear hell for either myself or other sinners I know. I am able to alleviate that fear by not believing in hell. There’s not much evidence of hell and not much clear Biblical guidance, so I choose not to believe in it and this helps alleviate my fear of it. Why do I fear hell? Because it is so painful and eternal. Would I want Hitler or Pol Pot to suffer all eternity in hell? Not particularly, although they were really bad guys. But where does believing in their eternal suffering get me? Nowhere. It just makes hell a possibility, and a scary one. Can I choose to believe or not believe in hell? Sure, until death I am free to do exactly that. And my choice to not believe in hell both comforts me personally and makes me kinder and more sympathetic to those around me, so I think it’s a good choice.

  67. We’ll all find out someday, that’s for sure. Of course, it might be too late at that time to post any revised opinions…

  68. You do have a point with your conveyor belt illustration. Put that way salvation seems mighty unfair and coerced and painful.

  69. At least Karla still believes what the Bible actually says about hell. In this forum, that’s a miracle all by itself.

    I’m not too impressed with anybody’s love-level in this forum, including yours or mine for that matter. Besides, that “speaking with love” thing is not too easy to objectively measure anyway, in a forum like this one.

    (For example, a loving attitude mixed with rejection of Scripture, is poisonous no matter how well it outwardly seems to conform to 1 Cor 13. But many people see nothing wrong with rejection of Scripture, so they would disagree.)

    So I’m looking at “what’s the actual content of this post” a lot more than I am looking at “what’s the apparent love-level of this post”, because the former can be more easily compared with Scripture to see where things are really at.

    Doing so, it looks like Karla’s post there is Scripturally accurate. Also her explanation is not dissing anybody nor looking down on them.

    So on this topic, she apparently passes the 1 Cor 13 test, AND she believes the Bible at the same time. Not bad for this forum, not bad at all.

  70. I see so much suffering here on earth and I feel so much compassion for those who suffer here on earth that I choose to believe that death brings relief from all suffering, probably through unconsciousness although possibly through some divine or spirit form of relief such as a universal heaven. Seeing death as a future end to suffering is a comfort to me while I live.

  71. “Can I choose to believe or not believe in hell? Sure, until death I am free to do exactly that.”

    That’s true. But, if hell is real, isn’t one’s own death just a bit too late to start believing that hell is real?

  72. Let’s take some time to discuss Paul’s writing on the subject since it’s such a central focus of Scripture.

  73. Just remember to look up “hungry ghosts” when you get a chance. You will appreciate it.

  74. I agree with you and what you have said. The word in the Bible should never be changed. Not even one word that has ben written should be changed. Some people have different ideas of how they belive and there are different religions, this I know but the bible as it was written buy the first religion should remain the same and you should respect it enuff and leave the words as written. God wrote the 10 rules to fllow and they should remain as he wrote the to all the people.

  75. Hellfire Is An Unreasonable Teaching
    Many believe that the wicked will go to a fiery hell and be tormented forever. Is this teaching logical? The human life span is limited to 70 or 80 years. Even if someone perpetrated extreme wickedness for his whole lifetime, would everlasting torment be a just punishment? No. It would be grossly unjust to torment a man forever for the limited number of sins that he can commit in a lifetime. God’s word calls for balance in meting out His justice. (eye for eye, tooth for tooth, life for life)
    Who knows the truth about what happens after we die? Only God can reveal this information, and he has done so in his written Word, the Bible, referred to above. Here is what the Bible says: “As the [beast] dies, so the [man] dies; and they all have but one spirit . . . All are going to one place. They have all come to be from the dust, and they are all returning to the dust.” (Ecclesiastes 3:19, 20) There is no mention here of a fiery hell. Humans return to dust—to nonexistence—when they die.
    In order to be tormented, an individual has to be conscious. Are the dead conscious? No. “The living are conscious that they will die; but as for the dead, they are conscious of nothing at all, neither do they anymore have wages, because the remembrance of them has been forgotten.” (Ecclesiastes 9:5) It is impossible for the dead, “conscious of nothing at all,” to experience the agonies of hellfire.
    A Harmful Doctrine
    Some maintain that the teaching of hellfire is useful, true or not. Why? They say it serves as a deterrent to wrongdoing. Is that true? Well, is the crime rate in regions where people believe in hellfire lower than in other places? Hardly! In fact, the doctrine of hellfire is very harmful. Will a person who believes that God torments people view torture as something abhorrent? Why should he? Those believing in a cruel god often become cruel like their god.
    In whatever way a reasonable person may look at the matter, he cannot accept the existence of a hell of torment. Logic rebels against it. Human nature is repelled by it. More important, God’s Word does not say that such a place exists. When a person dies, “he goes back to his ground; in that day his thoughts do perish.”—Psalm 146:4.

  76. Larry,
    You understand that Fran is saying the Bible itself does NOT support the “christian” doctrine of HELL. The hellfire doctrine IS (as you said earlier) an adaptation from pagan religions of old. The Jews did NOT have a belief in the concept of “chrisitan hell” because they had the original teachings from God himself and HE did NOT explain “hell” anywhere in the OT because it doesn’t exist! At least not in the form that many have been taught to believe. The OT says when a person or an animal dies it is “the end” of life.
    Ecclesiastes 3:19-20- For there is an outcome for humans and an outcome for animals; they all have the same outcome. As the one dies, so the other dies; and they all have but one spirit. So man has no superiority over animals, for everything is futile.  All are going to the same place. They all come from the dust, and they all are returning to the dust. (Psalms 146:3-4)- Do not put your trust in princes nor in a son of man, who cannot bring salvation.  His spirit goes out, he returns to the ground; On that very day his thoughts perish. (Ecc.9:5-6&10)- 5 For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing at all, nor do they have any more reward, because all memory of them is forgotten. 6 Also, their love and their hate and their jealousy have already perished, and they no longer have any share in what is done under the sun. 10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do with all your might, for there is no work nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom in the Grave, where you are going.
    According to THE BIBLE (Karla A) when your physical body dies, YOU (the whole person) cease to exist. “Hell” would only be feasible if the soul was immortal and could experience suffering by being on fire. The BIBLE also says that everlasting life is a GIFT that God gives to the righteous. (Romans 6:23)- For the wages sin pays is death (not hell), but the gift God gives is everlasting life by Christ Jesus our Lord. So, God would have to give this “gift” of everlasting life to a wicked person then use that “gift” to burn the sinner in hell forever and ever…. Makes NO SINCE and is A FALSE DOCTRINE. Let it GO! The TRUTH will set you FREE, Karla A…

  77. As to purgatory, the book Orpheus—A General History of Religions states: “St. Augustine had held that there was an intermediate state of probation between future felicity and damnation, that of the purification of souls by fire. This is the Orphic [pagan Greek] and Virgilian [pagan Roman] doctrine of Purgatory: there is not a word about it in the Gospels. . . . The doctrine of Purgatory . . . was formulated in the sixth century, and proclaimed a dogma of the Church by the Council of Florence (1439).” The New Catholic Encyclopedia admits: “The Catholic doctrine on purgatory is based on tradition, not Sacred Scripture.” With regard to Limbo, Rome’s Cardinal Ratzinger admits that it is “only a theological hypothesis.”
    What, though, about the Bible? Does it say that the soul survives the body at death and can therefore be punished in a fiery hell or purgatory? The New Catholic Encyclopedia states: “The notion of the soul surviving after death is not readily discernible in the Bible. . . . The soul in the O[ld] T[estament] means not a part of man, but the whole man—man as a living being. Similarly, in the N[ew] T[estament] it signifies human life: the life of an individual.”
    So the underlying premise for punishment after death falls flat. The Bible states: “The soul that sins shall die.” (Ezekiel 18:4, Revised Standard Version, Catholic Edition) It also declares: “The wages of sin is death.” (Romans 6:23, RSV) Therefore, when the Bible speaks of impenitent wicked people ending up in “Gehenna,” “everlasting fire,” or “the lake of fire,” it is merely using symbolic language to speak of their undergoing permanent death, “the second death.”—Matthew 23:33; 25:41, 46; Revelation 20:14; 21:8; compare 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9.

  78. what planet is the author FROM because

    Americans are always telling each other to Go there .. its ONLY the Lord who does NOT want us to end up there..

  79. IF talk of hell can scatter the masses.. WHY ARE THE MASSES constantly telling each other to Go there when they get angry at each other?

  80. CMR-Hell is talked about all through the Bible. The rich man died
    and went to hell. He wanted a drip of water to cool his tongue. You
    are not reading the whole Bible. The body goes into the grave
    and the soul goes to heaven or to hell. Jesus warned us about
    hell so you are calling Jesus a liar by saying hell is not real. Read
    all of the Bible not just part of it and don’t take verses out of the
    context they were written to fit into your false teachings/theology.
    We are created as eternal beings and the soul goes somewhere
    after we die and there are only two options…heaven or hell. Read
    all of the Bible/do some more research because hell is very real!
    Jesus went to the Cross to save us from hell and the Bible also
    says it would have been better if Judas had never been born!
    Why does it say that? It says that because hell is real. In fact
    the Bible says it will will be worse for some people because if
    others had seen the miracles/had the knowledge they had they
    would have Repented. Bible says Repent or perish! The Bible
    is very clear that hell is real so you really need to get the facts.

  81. It plain to see from the previous posts that there is not an absolutely unanimous agreement regarding the precise location of hell,who goes there,how long they have to stay,how hot the heat is,and is there any exclusions/exemptions or get out of jail card. Evidently you must have to have blind faith to believe in hell.
    What is faith?..Can you see it? Feel it? Weigh it? No!! It is something that is intangible. You must have faith that faith exists. Is everbody’s faith the same?
    No. Has anyone ever come back from the dead and produced something that they brought back from heaven,hell or purgatory? No …Never. Billions and bilions have died nobody has risen from the dead…ever. Except Jesus in the book. We have the right to have faith in our chosen religions,but realistically, you can live a holy life by following one rule. The Golden Rule. Forgot the rule didn’t you. Even the animals know it.

  82. I have studied this subject for years, and the answers as usual are all found in the pages of Scripture. Hell is a misleading and at times ridiculous translation. It is used to represent at times Sheol, Abaddon, Hades, Gehenna and Tartarus. No wonder people are so confused!
    The reason Christians don’t talk about hell is because they are ashamed of it. When you think about the bottom line of traditional hell where God keeps millions of His beloved creation alive for the purpose of tormenting them – forever – you can see why folks back-pedal in that area. Deep down, we know it just does not line up with God’s character. It is not biblical and I have begun to share the study I did over years about the true nature of final punishment and the lie of eternal conscious torment. Please visit I would love comments!

  83. The lost will remain in Hell; and the saved will see the former things passes away. There is no annihilation nor soul sleep. The soul is forever, with two locations, Heaven or Hell for an eternity.

  84. “Rebecca Price Janney, a cultural historian and author of “Who Goes There? A Cultural History of Heaven and Hell,” traces the shift back about 70 decades to World War II.”

    Your arguments might carry more weight if you were to avoid errors like this one.

    And, as others have pointed out, the following statement is basically untrue: “But the fact remains that the Bible and Jesus talk an awful lot about hell.”

    They don’t. Medieval & Renaissance painters, along with Dante, Milton & others, have had far more to do with developing a mythos of Hell/the Devil than either the Old or New Testaments. Jesus says very little about Hell in the four canonical gospels.

    But, as ever, the truth gets twisted & over-stated to suit religious beliefs.

  85. These type of scare tactics have been spouted for 2000 years, because, apparently, Christianity isn’t good enough on other merits to get and keep paying members.
    I find it so interesting that hell die-hards almost seem to relish the idea of a vengeful god inflicting eternal torture for OTHERS–but all of them feel safe and secure themselves.
    If hell turns out to be real and a “God” is that cruel and arbitrary, NO ONE can be sure where they would end up.
    What if it turns out some other, non christian religion (like Islam, for
    instance) turns out to be true?
    Or what if this is all some kind of test, and only the god-doubters are “saved”?
    You would have no sure way of knowing.
    No one should take comfort in a religion that preaches that eternal torture is both possible and somehow “just”.

  86. @Lois, Hell is not a scare tactic it is true and has been true since there has been creation. That is the reason Jesus died on the cross so we as humans would not have to go to Hell. Hell was created for Satan and his angels. However, those humans that follow them will end up on Hell. That was the reason Jesus (God incarnated into human flesh), died on the cross that we follow him and repent become born again we don’t end up in Hell and its free.

    If there is no Hell then God would be a liar and God would not be a loving God. That is why he warns us and died his earthly life so we would not end up there. No Hell, and God would prove to be apathetic toward the victims of those that cause pain to others. Its not eternal torture but eternal punishment to those that have denied God and hurt others. They have been warned.

  87. This is a tough subject for any Believer to broach. It is tough for me personally for a lot of reasons that are obvious and touched on in this article, but also because the reality of Hell has been used to terrify and control the masses so often throughout history.

    I have not sorted it all out, yet. I have to go to God in prayer about this, about talking about Hell and warning about it. About whether using fear and terror to get someone to believe in salvation and love God is real belief. I do believe that God will make me understand.

  88. “WOW,” I was taught and believed that multitudes upon multitudes of humans will suffer “eternal torment” for 100 trillion years, and then another 100 trillion years, and then another 100 trillion years, and it goes on and on with no hope of it ever ending. I am certain that each one of us, deep inside of our very being, know that something just does not add up, but we just can’t quite figure out what is
    it that we are not understanding correctly from the Scriptures.

    The true biblical teaching is neither the traditional Christian view of hell, nor the view of annihilation. Our great God is neither a great torturer nor a great annihilator, but He is the great Saviour of the world.

    The mystery of the finished work of Christ on the Cross will one day reveal the perfect plan of God for the entire human race, which
    does not include “eternal torment” or “eternal annihilation” for one single person!

    I have written an article upon this topic, but it is much too lengthy to post on this site (24 pages). Below is a sample. If anyone would
    like a copy in it’s original Word Document Format, feel free to e-mail me and request a copy, and I will e-mail you a copy.

    [email protected]

    ………. What is the “GOOD NEWS” of the Gospel of Christ? ……….(Re-examining the widely held belief of “eternal torment” in “Hellfire”)

    My purpose for this writing is to Biblically “expound” upon (1) is there really going to be “eternal torment?” (2) is there really going to be “eternal annihilation?” (3) to give a Biblical answer to the question “If there is no “eternal torment,” and if there is no “eternal annihilation” of our very being, then what are we being saved from, and what is our being here during this present time on earth really
    all about?”

    I was a Christian for 38 years before I gained a better “Scriptural” understanding of some Biblical truths that I had not properly
    understood in regards to the finished work of Christ on the Cross.

  89. My name is Alan Finch. I became a Christian 42 years ago. I am adding another comment to my previous comment in August of 2018.

    It is important to understand that the Lake of Fire is not a physical Lake of Fire. The Biblical phrase “Lake of Fire” is symbolic for a Spiritual Lake of Fire which is representative of the FIRE of God’s Spirit that is going to do a transforming work of “Divine Purification” in each individual that comes before the Great White Throne Judgment. This transforming work from God’s Spirit will give these individuals a full understanding of God’s Boundless Love for them and the entire human race. (Note: The Scriptures do not reveal how long that this process will take)

    I have written a 26 page article that Biblically deals with this subject extensively. If anyone would like a copy, feel free to e-mail me and ask for a copy, and I will e-mail you a copy.

    [email protected]

  90. How strange that those commenting on this article are denying what God has made known to us in the Bible about hell and the lake of fire (ie, calling God a liar). Hell and the lake of fire do exist, those sent there are there for eternity, and they are in unending torment. And the punishment fits the unbelievably evil crime of ‘blowing off’ the horrific suffering and death of Jesus Christ – God in the flesh – in our place, as though what He endured and accomplished on our behalf isn’t worth considering or accepting or appreciating. Trampling over the blood of Christ as if it’s worthless, no big deal, not true, meaningless, etc., thus treating God as if He’s of no account and a liar, is the heinous, unforgivable sin. And all those who die apart from humbling themselves before Him and asking Him to save them from their sins will forever be enemies of God and thus treated accordingly. It’s a terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Turn to Christ and be saved.

  91. I concur. I have been preaching the Word for 30+ years and in just the last 6 months have awakened to the full ramifications of this eternal torment charade. It is the result of translational malfeasance. We are bound up in this notion that the Bible is flawless. Wrong. The word of God is flawless. The bible is a translation of the Word of God. Men translated the word of God and called it the bible.
    Why is it that four proper nouns representing the location name of the afterlife in Greek and Hebrew would be masked by translators under a single generic improper noun? The word hell is placed over Sheol, Hades, Gehenna and Tartarus as well as destruction is placed over Apollion. Where do they get off hiding these words from us? If they are willing to unilaterally disguise all those propoer nouns without explanation what else might they change? How about eternal? It is aionios in the Greek which according to every authoritative Greek lexicon and scholar was never the common word for eternity. It was age related. An indefiniate period of time. Aidios was the word that meant only eternity. It was used once by Paul and only to describe God, never punishment.
    We have been scammed by Augustine and his minions. Tradition and human religion carried it on until today.
    In case you find it hard to believe God would allow such an error to persist, consider how long the church neglected the doctrine of justification by faith alone before it was revived at great risk to his own life by Martin Luther. God was waiting for someone with the courage to stand up and speak the truth as He always has.

  92. Fantastic article. It stands on the precipice and identifies a very real problem. The body of Christ is confessing hell in our creeds and statements of faith, but we are rejecting hell in our practical witness. Why? I would assert our practical witness flows out of our daily walk with God and the leading of the Spirit. Our creeds are handed to us and imposed upon us by men and we fear betraying them because of what it says about those who went before us and those who raised us up from new birth and because of political consequences in the realms of religion.
    Spirit led beleivers are NOT BEING LED to proclaim eternal torment because the SPIRIT IS NOT PROCLAIMING IT! The Spirit is not proclaiming it because it is not in the Word of God. It may be in the bible, but that is a non-Apostolic translation of the Word of God.
    Some preachers may be proclaiming it but look at their hideousness. They pride themselves in the courage of their cruelty. Like Jonathon Edwards, that abuser of hearts, they delight to terrorize and offend and consider it a bonafides of ministry integrity.
    We are hamstrung by hell.
    And consider this. Of the three great schools of theology, Augustinianism, Calvinism and Universalism, only one is not named after a man and the men after whome two are named died unrepentant of murderer and subornationof the murder of the saints they deemed heretics.
    I would never want to claim the theology of murderers. Give me the theology of the men who died as lovers of peace and meekness such as Origen and Gregory of Nyssa.

  93. Why do you hang out on gay web sites? Are you Ted Haggard?

  94. Just followed a link from Drudge to an interesting article. You a bitter vindictive person. Let go of the hate.

  95. Matt Drudge…who makes stuff up to please his brainless fans. That tells me all I need to know about why you’re trolling gay sites shilling for Trumpty Dumpty.

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