Hell, That Place Where Other People Go.

While every good Christian knows he/she is a sinner, and knows about hell as a consequence of sin, he/she almost always thinks other people’s sins are much worse than their own.

Preachers understand this about people.  The topic of hell is not discussed as much these days as in the past.  It is not easy to construct a sermon about sin that does not to point the finger at anyone in the pews.

One of the reasons hell is difficult to preach about is because the concept does not seem fair.  Starting back during WWII it was popular to think of fallen soldiers as automatic candidates for heaven.  This was comforting to all those left to grieve.

There is, of course, no provision in the Bible giving an automatic pass to sinners just because they died fighting invaders, Germany and Japan.  Invaders, like the U. S. when it invaded Iraq, do not get an automatic pass either.  Babies are born sinners–the hell story gets complicated when you think about it.

In a way, hell has become a foreign concept.  Today’s laws on crime do not sentence anyone to eternity.  In the very worst cases, there is life in prison.  Even that is not eternity.

For most infractions, there is a defined period of imprisonment and the debt to society is paid.  The sentence of eternity does not fit today’s standard of justice.

While punishment has been a part of Christianity since its beginning, new thinking may remove it from the faith’s theology.


39 Responses

  1. This version of hell and eternal punishment is a pure Christian invention. Not until gentle Jesus, the lamb is such a horror described.
    As Blake might have said of the keeper of hell rather than the Tyger.
    Did he who made the lamb make thee.

    1. It’s incredible how well the inventers of Christianity understood the human mind. To first make up a god, then a man-god, sin and finally hell for all who do not believe the first three is genius.

      1. Fr. James

        Yeah, they all got together and made it all up. Then when put under torture and death none of them admitted it. It’s all a conspiracy that has been going on forever. All the way back to Og the caveman. Wow Jon, you really are off your rocker.

  2. Adam Heckathorn

    Here is one of the comments on the article expressing The view of JW’s If Your going to believe the Bible I don’t know how the concept of a burning hell ever got started: Fran Apr 24, 2014 at 5:00 pm
    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.”

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    Fran Apr 24, 2014 at 5:08 pm
    Oops… It should be Matthew 11:1-44 instead of Matthew 11:1-4, correcting my typo.

    Fran Apr 24, 2014 at 5:28 pm
    One more typo: John, chapter 11, not Matthew 11.

  3. Wanna B Sure

    “But never yet have I seen horse or foot
    nor ship in range of land no sight of star
    take it’s direction from so low a toot.”

    1. Oh yes, the tortured and tortuous imaginings in the fiction of Dante and Dan Brown, Paul and Luke did pretty much as well as the later writers and just as fictional. The worst of all must surely be the ones that came up, from the depths of depraved imaginings, the idea that one of the pleasures of heaven would to look down on the torment of those in hell. Surely this alone would turn anyone off the very idea of being a Christian.

      1. Wanna B Sure

        Or of not. “The idea that one of the pleasures of heaven would to look down on the torment of those in hell” is indeed imaginings.

        1. In order that the happiness of the saints may be more delightful to them and that they may render more copious thanks to God for it, they are allowed to see perfectly the sufferings of the damned. . .So that they may be urged the more to praise God. . .The saints in heaven know distinctly all that happens. . .to the damned. [Summa Theologica, Third Part, Supplement, Question XCIV, “Of the Relations of the Saints Towards the Damned,” First Article, “Whether the Blessed in Heaven Will See the Sufferings of the Damned. . .”] Thomas Aquinas

          1. There are many quotes from many theologians on the same theme, not all Catholic. Even Luther is quoted as saying that a mother would not be distressed to see her offspring in eternal torment.
            Not all from old times, some the last few years.

          2. Wanna B Sure

            “…as saying that a mother would not be distressed to see her offspring in eternal torment”. Source–context, date said, early-intermediate or fully developed Luther? One must remember the early Luther said many things he changed his position on as the reformation moved forward, including devotion in the Marian Tradition. As in Augustine, there were three stages. the playboy, the Manichean, and the orthodox.

          3. One site from many:

            I did notice that this does not give a source. The exact quote is When questioned whether the Blessed will not be saddened by seeing their nearest and dearest tortured answers, “Not in the least.”

            There does seem to be a lot of vitriol spread about Luther. A lot of it does seem justified, especially if you were Jewish. You talk about early, middle and late and how things changed and developed. Any search for truth must be like that, my question is did he ever find it?

          4. Wanna B Sure

            Re. last sentence–expected.
            The key to your misapplied source is “blessed”. In context, “blessed” are those who have died in the faith have no sorrow or are distressed there. Nor would there be satisfaction for the “blessed” to know someone they knew to be suffering, even if according to the standards of the living they “got what they deserved”.

  4. Adam Heckathorn

    More people are literate today than ever before so They can read the Bible for
    Themselves. What I see is an almost irresistible opportunity for exploitation in promoting Hell as a place of torture. Wouldn’t it be nice if We could develop a Society where ethical behavior is exalted not because of the threat of a Vindictive God but because it produces the kind of Society We’d all like to live in?

    1. Wolfy32

      I agree, there needed to be a punishment though. or there’d be no consequences for just forming a new religion.

      as to literal experssions of hell. I thought about what is known today scientifically that could generate a form of eternal damnation.

      Black holes are said to have the gravitational power to bend light. And in so doing, they can also bend time. One theory is said that the further one got past the event horizon of a black hole the slower time would move until it eventually stops at the center.

      If this is true, I imagined hell has placing the soul of a person at the center of a black hole. Constantly being shredded by the gravitational forces yet, frozen in time eternally as one was continuously crushed and pulled apart.

      That’s the closest I got for any form of scientific evidence of the possibility of an eternal damnation.

      I just think the whole concept of you have free will but in reality you don’t have a choice.. It’s heaven or hell.. you choose…

  5. Wanna B Sure

    The moral; Avoid most TV Preachers, street preachers, and short wave radio preachers, especially from the deep South.

          1. In that case, if nothing is happening boredom would be torture enough, in that it would not be too different from heaven, sitting clouds singing songs of praise to the accompaniment of harps and harmoniums would be torture enough.

          2. Wanna B Sure

            Let me know. I could be “standing off from affar”, with my accordion with twelve voices, set only on harmonium to intensify your expected boredom. I think I will play “Please Release Me” for your listening pleasure. If you cease to exist, which is your understanding, I’ll take the day off.

          3. “Imagine” would be a more appropriate song I think.
            Please release me could be OK, bit silly and sentimental but better than any old trishy trashy polka.

          4. Wanna B Sure

            I see you dislike polkas as much a I do. And you thought we couldn’t agree. “Just when you think you know someone.”

          5. entech

            “Standing off from afar”, reminds me of the most popular request to Scotland’s team of lone pipers. Can you play “Over the hills and far away”.
            With an unspoken the farther the better.

          6. Wanna B Sure

            Just for your listening pleasure, if one plays the base button, and the base button above it, (the 5th up in the circle of 5ths, omitting the major, minor, 7th and diminished cords, one can mimic the drone tonality of a bag pipe. Applied to a three or four chord progression in a minor mode, with the treble voice of flute, you would rush for the nearest purveyor of haggis, and girls that dance funny. Might not be your cup of – – scotch. Would that be hellish enough for you?

  6. entech

    In a way, hell has become a foreign concept. Today’s laws on crime do not sentence anyone to eternity. In the very worst cases, there is life in prison. Even that is not eternity.
    For crimes by man against man, even a life sentence ends with death. The atrociousness of the threat of hell is that it does not start until death and never ends, at least a life sentence does have an end.
    Not enough evidence is a good enough plea against a criminal sentence, not enough evidence for belief is not a good and sufficient reason to avoid eternity in pain and suffering, you don’t have evidence, you can’t have evidence, you don’t need evidence all you need is faith.

    1. Wolfy32

      The question becomes if faith defines reality for many, does the concept become real regardless of whether it’s real or not?

      By believing in hell and therefore the power to judge, is not the ostrocization and isolation of a group sentencing someone to hell no different than hell being real?

        1. Wolfy32

          Yes, but, then how can people say “doing this is wrong and will lead to you going to hell?”

          Humans have put their mark on what will send a person to hell even though we don’t know for sure in black and white what is and is not acceptable.. Comes back to sin, sin will separate one from God, aka hell, but, that which is sin changes from generation to generation.

          How can one know with certainty that doing abc will sentence one to hell? And what is the measure. If one does something today that sentences them to hell and tomorrow they ask Jesus to forgive them, and then do something else that might be questionable on sentencing them to hell, now suddenly they need saving again. Each minute it could be a “i’m going to heaven” oops I screwed up again, I’m going to hell, ooooh, I’m going to heaven again, oops sorryGod I’m human I screwed up again, I’m going to hell…

          Any one person could be going to hell a hundred times a day.

          1. Wanna B Sure

            @ 12:47 “for we daily sin much”. “Forgive us our trespasses”.
            1st sentence; If you know it is wrong, admit it, stop doing it and accept forgiveness, and move on. If it breaks a civil law and you get caught, go to jail. Being forgiven does not prevent jail, but it will prevent the other.
            Everyone has their pet “sins”, and we all struggle with them. Envy, greed, lust, gossiping, etc. “And help us to be aware of temptation”.
            Defiantly drive 120 mph in a 55 mph, zone, and you will be caught or killed, and you will probably kill someone else, all because you said “I can”.

  7. Fr. James

    Hell exists. You can chose to go there, but you don’t have too. That is very fair. Those who go there choose to do so and choose to stay. God does not force anyone to love him or go to heaven. The gates of hell are locked on the inside.

    1. entech

      Bit like the choice given to some enemy of the Hebrews in ancient time, can’t remember if it was the Ammonites or Midianites, live as slaves or die.

      1. Fr. James

        You are already a slave. A slave to sin and death. You can be free, if you wish. God offers you freedom from slavery. He takes slaves and makes them sons.

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