What is more frightening than eternal torment in a burning hell? Yet many believe that uncountable millions or billions of people will actually experience this dread punishment–forever and ever. I believe this is inconsistent with the Father’s love, and furthermore I don’t believe the Bible even teaches such a thing.
Rob Bell, Love Wins (click to see the book on Amazon)
Bell begins his book with:
I believe that Jesus’s story is first and foremost about the love of God for every single one of us. It is a stunning, beautiful, expansive love, and it is for everybody everywhere.
Upon reading this, I thought immediately that I might really like Love Wins, and I did. Bell points out that many have been taught that ‘a select few Christians will spend forever in heaven, while the rest of humanity spends forever in torment and punishment in hell with no chance for anything better.’ (read the rest of my review here)
C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce (click to see the book on Amazon)
I read this small volume many years ago and it impacted my thinking tremendously. In years since, I have been amazed by the number of other evangelicals who have said the same thing about this book—it was transforming in their perspective on hell.
Though I remembered its major thrust and recalled a number of specific scenes from the book, I didn’t remember a lot of the detail; so I read it again. And it was as good this time around as it was before. (My full review is forthcoming).
Clark Pinnock, A Wideness in God’s Mercy (click to see the book on Amazon)
From Jesus without Baggage
- What about Hell?
- Jesus and Hades
- Jesus and Old Testament Imagery
- Jesus and the Fires of Hell
- Hell and Enoch in the New Testament Writers
- Revelation and the Lake of Fire
- What Does Jesus Mean by an Outer Darkness of Weeping and Gnashing of Teeth?
- Outer Darkness, Weeping, and Gnashing of Teeth in Matthew
- Who Would Reject the Father and What Becomes of Them?
- Conditional Immortality and Natural Death
- Hell? Conditional Immortality? Something Else? What Happens to Those Who Reject God?
- “If There’s No Hell then I Will Sin All I Want!”
- The Second Death, the Book of Life, and the Lake of Fire–Are They About the Endtimes or Something Else?
- Sheep, Goats, and the Bosom of Abraham
- What Did Jesus Mean by the ‘Eternal Fire Prepared for the Devil and His Angels’?
- The Influence of Zoroastrianism on Jewish Thought in Jesus’ Time
- The Origin of Satan and His Demons in the Book of Enoch
- Judgment and Punishment in the Book of Enoch
- If We Are Free to Approach God Without Fear, What Becomes of Our Other Religious Fears—Like Hell?
- Hopeful Universalism and a Gentle Alternative
- A Gentle Alternative to Punishment in Hell for Those Who Reject God’s Offer of Eternal Life—Conditional Immortality
From Benjamin Corey
- What Jesus Talked About When He Talked About Hell
- Letting Go Of Hell (Without Letting Go Of The Bible)
- 25 Bible Verses That Disprove Eternal Conscious Hell
- A Sincere Question for My Friends who Believe in Hell
- The 3 Biblical Options for a Theology of Hell
- If Hell Is Real, Why Did God Wait So Darn Long To Warn Us About It?
- Would An Eternity In Hell Even Be Fair? (The Problem of Proportionality)
Articles from Other Writers
- Black Saturday: Satan, Hades, and the Beginnings of Hell by Don M. Burrows
- Life after Death – A Contentious Post on Decision Points by Tony Cutty
- “All right, then, I’ll go to hell” by Rachel Held Evans
- Did Anne Frank go to hell? by Rachel Held Evans
- Biblical considerations for an inclusive view of salvation by Rachel Held Evans
- Sheep and Goats by Rob Bell
- Why Hell Makes So Many Christians Happy by Richard Beck
- So Much Bigotry Comes Down to the Doctrine of Hell by Lana Hope
- What I’m Going To Tell My Daughter About Hell (When She Asks) by Josh Way
- Do universalists evangelize? by Chuck Queen
- Could you be so holy that you wouldn’t be sad when your children go to hell? by Randal Rauser
- Teaching Children About Hell by Cindy Brandt
- The great eternal Auschwitz by Rob Grayson
- Hell – Part 1: A “Biblical” Staple The Bible Never Actually Mentions by Jacob McMillen
- Hell – Part 2: Why The Lake of Fire, Lazarus & Gnashing Teeth Can’t Conjure Up Eternal Torment by Jacob McMillen
- Hell – Part 3: How & When The Idea of Eternal Torment Invaded Church Doctrine by Jacob McMillen
Jesus without Baggage exists to assist and support those questioning beliefs they have been taught in fundamentalist, traditional evangelical, and other groups. If you know someone who might find Jesus without Baggage helpful, feel free to send them the introductory page: About Jesus without Baggage.
Pages in this series:
Resources on Angry, Violent, Vindictive God
Resources on Inerrancy and Reading the Bible
Resources on Hell and Conditional Immortality
Resources on Legalism, Sin, and Salvation
Resources on Gays and the Church
Resources on Christian Patriarchy, Abuse, and Extreme Fundamentalism
Resources on Young Earth Creationism and Evolution
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You are probably not right. Jesus told about ETERNAL PUNISHMENT in Mt. 25:31-46. “And these shall go away into everlasting punishment” (Mt. 25:46).
Hi Reader, did you read any of the linked posts?
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And here’s an even more radical concept — “Hell isn’t even a Christian concept – it’s pagan.” http://www.patheos.com/blogs/rogerwolsey/2015/03/to-hell-with-hell/
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Thanks for sharing, Roger.
My poor little phone can’t keep up. 🙂
Seriously, I wish that I had a computer and a printer, and at least 2 back up ink cartridges.
Ok, I do tend towards “radical” views, but I am enjoying so much of the info on this blog.
Of course, I wish I could share with my evangelical/borderline fundamentalist wife……….God will help with this 🙂
About 2 months ago, her and I went through different “challenges”, both of us got knocked down, our faith went a little Wonky. She dove so far, so fast into the bible, to shake off Satan. In a nutt-shell she borderline went a little nuts.
Me, I was also put through the wringer, by a Trickster. Many native religions have some sort of “trickster”. So I got tricked, my faith went wonky, but God has shined through.
What I have noticed is that from Judaism to Christianity, so much changed.
I spent a couple hours last night looking at the different views between Judaism’s and Christianity’s “Satan”, VERY interesting.
The whole “fallen angels”, I always viewed as metaphorical towards us “HUMANS”, we fell from grace.
So of course, I have issues with “Hell”.
Thanks for great reads Tim 🙂
Hi James, I hope your recent challenges have cleared up some. Life is certainly an adventure!
Thanks Tim, some has improved, some hasn’t. But God will help with all of this .
Yours is one of the first blogs that come to mind when I encounter confused people trying to sort out why their beliefs feel so “off” to them. Just recommended you again, and wanted to thank you for offering such an excellent resource.
Dreamer, thank you so much for the kind words! It means so much to me that you find my blog useful in supporting those questioning and dealing with their inherited beliefs. I hope I continue to serve as a helpful resource.
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Hell? Seriously. I have never understood it the way most “organized”religions see it.
I understand that some wish to condemn it as “pagan” in origin. But lets be franc here, so would anything that could be considered of religion in origin. Including Judaism, Christianity, and Muslim. So the “pagan” label really shouldn’t be used. So quit writing on the walls with crayons.
Yes, from what I see, we have the original Highlander movie to thank for Hell. The Kurgans were of course fond of a tormenting place, so it made it into their afterlife scenario.
Why I don’t believe in Hell………God loves us period!!!!!!!. Jesus died for ALL of us, period!!!!!!!!
Have a blessed day.
James, you really summed up the matter well: “Why I don’t believe in Hell………God loves us period!!!!!!!. Jesus died for ALL of us, period!!!!!!!!”
Amen to that!
As my friends Jen and Shane out in Colorado say…… One Love 🙂
Cs Lews’ The Last Battle, also has some great images of hell when the dwarves are in a hut of misery that is actually in Aslan’s Land/heaven. All they need do is step out.
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I agree, Marjorie. I love that passage.
My ex came to Christ because of me. My heart has softened towards him because many things in his past he could not help and he was victimized. Though I don’t believe all go to Heaven, annihliation is just and fair.
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Helen, I am glad you were instrumental in your ex’s coming to Jesus!
Fascinating reading again Tim. Thanks!
I’ve read all of your links and a good number of the others. I feel like I’ve been hoodwinked all this time!! I have to say that I have never really thought much about hell anyway, it always seemed a strange doctrine to me, something I was never comfortable with.
But in my own simple way I’ve come to this conclusion about eternal suffering in hell :-
I simply cannot accept that a loving, merciful God who introduced the concept of “an eye for an eye” in order to limit retribution between humans (not to encourage revenge!) would impose eternal (infinite) torment on us for finite misdemeanors on earth.
This punishment would not fit the crime.
I’m not entirely sure what takes hells place, I’m leaning more towards death and just a ceasing to exist. But I finally feel that I can box up hell and put it out with the trash!
(But having said all that I’m a bit disappointed if there isn’t a special place of suffering for those responsible for mass genocide etc!).
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Tim P, I am glad you feel you received useful information from the resource page on hell. I think the traditional view of hell simply falls apart when we actually examine the passages used to support it. So I’m with you–put it out with the trash!
Your statement is very insightful in my opinion: “I simply cannot accept that a loving, merciful God who introduced the concept of “an eye for an eye” in order to limit retribution between humans (not to encourage revenge!) would impose eternal (infinite) torment on us for finite misdemeanors on earth. This punishment would not fit the crime.”
I agree wholeheartedly.
You bring up the ‘Hitler’ objection. You are not the only one who wants such people to suffer, and I understand. But if, after death, Hitler realizes with a clear mind what he has done–I think he will suffer just from the realization. And if he does not, then I think he will reject God’s restrictions on eternal life and cease to exist. However, I think God’s love extends to everyone–even Hitler; but he will have no opportunity to hurt others in the afterlife.
Thanks Tim, as i wrote the mass genocide bit I realise it said more about me than anything else !!!
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I realize that you are probably trying to comfort Christians/ex-Christians/potential Believers and trying to reassure them that Yahweh is not a cruel evil God. Certainly, He is not.
I understand you are probably also trying to provide a place safe of acceptance, for those who got Jesus scared into them from “Fire and Brimstone” sermons and other scary Christian dramatic depictions of Hell, or from threatening parents, mean youth pastors.
However, Hell is a real place, according to Jesus, in Luke 16:19-31:
The Rich Man and Lazarus
19 “There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 20 And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, 21 who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side.6 The rich man also died and was buried, 23 and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. 24 And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ 27 And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house— 28 for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ 29 But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’”
Perhaps it would be better to acknowledge Hell’s existence, but point out that a man/woman’s salvation is a very intimate matter between God and the person. It is not for us to judge who is going to be saved, or be condemned.
It is however, not our place to deny the existence of this place of suffering which Jesus speaks of.
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B, I realize that we will disagree on this, but I don’t think the Bible teaches hell as a place of eternal suffering. Even in your example of the Rich Man and Lazarus, I don’t think Jesus was describing such a place. It was a parable. I talk about this at: