There is NO Hell– God Just Couldn’t Be Meaner Than We Are

Is it any coincidence that the latest war of religion that started on September 11, 2001, is being fought primarily between the United States and the Islamic world? It just so happens that no two groups of humanity are more ingrained with the doctrine of literal fundamentalist religion — including a retributive view of God best expressed by a belief in a Hell — than conservative Muslims and conservative Christians. American fundamentalists and Islamic fundamentalists deserve each other.

And nowhere on earth have conservative Christians been closer to controlling foreign policy than here in the United States and/or the Islamic cleric-controlled strict conservative countries like Saudi Arabia– home to so much worldwide funding of terror groups. Nowhere on earth have conservative Muslims been more dominant than in the countries from which the 9/11 extremists originated – Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan.

What ties the fundamentalist Muslims and fundamentalist American Christians together? A literal belief in a judgmental angry God who desires to punish unbelievers for eternity. If we serve an angry killer “god” why not imitate him and kill each other? Why not “punish” each other for wrong beliefs as W Bush did attacking Iraq for no reason and bin Laden did in attacking us on 9/11? After all bin Laden is mild and kind compared to a god who would send anyone to Hell for believing wrong. Bin Laden only killed people once, not for eternity.

What a pair George W. Bush and Osama bin Laden made. On the one hand, an American president who was a born-again evangelical with a special “heart” for the state of Israel and its importance to the so-called end times, and on the other hand a terrorist leader who believed that he was serving God by ridding the Arabian Peninsula of an American presence and cleansing the “defiled” land of Palestine of what he believed were “invader Jews.”

So whether you’re an atheist or not, the issue of who’s going to Hell or not matters because there are a lot of folks on this planet – many of them extraordinarily well-armed – from born-again American military personnel to Muslim fanatics, who seriously believe that God smiles upon them when they send their enemies to Hell.

And so my view of “Hell” encompasses two things: First, the theological question about whether a land of eternal suffering exists as God’s “great plan” for most of humanity.

Second, the question of the political implications of having a huge chunk of humanity believe in damnation for those who disagree with their theology, politics and culture, as if somehow simply killing one’s enemies is not enough.

What most people don’t know is that there’s another thread running through both Christianity and Islam that is far more merciful than the fundamentalists’ take on salvation, judgment and damnation.

Paradise, which Muslims believe is the final destination of the society of God’s choice, is referred to in the Quran as “the home of peace”

“Our God,” Muslims are asked to recite, “You are peace, and peace is from You.”

Since Christianity is my tradition, I can say more about it. One view of God – the more fundamentalist view – is of a retributive God just itching to punish those who “stray.” In that view Jesus’ death was all about satisfying an angry “god” who needed a blood offering to make him change his mind about damning everyone and entice him to save a few the “elect.”

The other equally ancient view, going right back into the New Testament era, is of an all-forgiving God who in the person of Jesus Christ ended the era of scapegoat sacrifice, retribution and punishment forever.

As Jesus said on the cross: “Forgive them for they know not what they do.”

That redemptive view holds that far from God being a retributive God seeking justice, God is a merciful father who loves all his children equally. This is the less-known view today because fundamentalists – through televangelists and others – have been so loud and dominant in North American culture.

But for all that, this redemptive view is no less real.

Why does our view of Hell matter? Because believers in Hell believe in revenge. And according to brain chemistry studies, taking revenge and nurturing resentment is a major source of life-destroying stress.

For a profound exploration of the madness caused by embracing the “justice” of “godly” revenge and retribution, watch the film “Hellbound?”

The film shows how the “Hell” of revenge thinking, and the resulting unhinging of some people’s brains through their denial of human empathy, leads them to relish the violent future of suffering that they predict awaits the “lost” in Hell.

Do we really want to go back to a time of literal religion. Wasn’t 9/11 enough of an argument against retributive religion?

We need a concept of “Hell” like a hole in the head. It’s time for the alternative of empathetic merciful religion to be understood.

Watch the “Hellbound?” trailer here and also get addresses of theaters showing the film.

To book Frank Schaeffer to speak at your college, church or group contact him at Frankschaeffer.com 

Frank Schaeffer is a writer and author of Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back .

About Frank Schaeffer

Frank Schaeffer is an American author, film director, screenwriter and public speaker. He is the son of the late theologian and author Francis Schaeffer. He became a Hollywood film director and author, writing several internationally acclaimed novels including And God Said, "Billy!" as well as the Calvin Becker Trilogy depicting life in a fundamentalist mission home-- Portofino, Zermatt, and Saving Grandma.

  • http://www.nature.com Agnikan

    So when Jesus speaks of gehenna, is he being hyperbolic?

    • Frank Schaeffer

      Brian McLaren gives a very good account when it comes to that question in the Movie “Hellbound?” I hope you watch the film. Thanks for reading my post Agnikan.

  • Gregory Gusse

    I think in the New Testament the issue of “hell” is still pretty clear. but the folks who end up there are pretty clear too. Matthew lays it out goats and sheep …and he is also clear it is one’s works, how we treat each other, that defines the line. AND, it is all about mercy and compassion, period. There is no other salvation in Jesus’ words.

  • David

    Gehenna was a real, physical place, not a mythological, metaphysical place.

    • Matt

      Thank goodness someone had the knowledge to say that. Gehenna is a real place, specifically, it’s a place where horrible human sacrifices by fire to Moloch took place. I wish people who pretend to know the Bible actually took the time to LEARN instead of regurgitating misinformation.

  • Jeff

    Hi Frank

    Being agnostic you could say I don’t have a dog in this fight but here it goes anyway…..Most scholars would contend that traditional Christianity has a primary focus on the resurrection. While a person such as JD Crossens has an interesting liberation(non-hell) view of this matter most others I know rely on the saving-oneself-from-hell argument, similar to your subject written. Care to share your thoughts of the resurrection and how it fits in the scheme of things? Thanks, Jeff

  • Lisa Lynn

    Hi Frank
    I consider myself a Christian in that I try to follow in the path Jesus taught. But I also believe God gave me a brain because he/she/it wants me to use it. I don’t believe the Bible is the word of God because that makes no logical sense. I don’t believe in the virgin birth or the resurrection as actual physical events because those concepts were clearly stolen from more ancient mythologies. And I most assuredly do not believe in heaven/hell. The biggest problem for me in accepting those ideas is the black/white duality of it all. The only way I could accept that God would send some to Heaven and others to Hell would be to accept that God is a bigger jerk than I am. In the clip some guy says something about how he can’t believe God would forgive Hitler. Of course he forgives him, because God knows we have all been damaged and led astray by earthly concerns. How many people would become like Hitler if they had the power? The answer is obvious. All those people who burned pagans in Europe. All those people involved in the Inquisitions. All those born-again Christians who think it would be just peachy keen if we nuked all the Muslims, or who cheer for the murder of abortionists, or who vote to deny medical care and even food to their fellow beings and all those who believe they can judge for God because they know what is in the mind of God, like the self-righteous dopes in the clip.

    • Jennifer

      I couldn’t have written it better myself. That’s exactly how I believe, too!

    • Deborah

      Lisa Lynn,
      I agree with everything you said AFTER the line “In the clip”, half way down. I don’t think you can call yourself a Christian, however, but you have made very important points for all Christians to hear. I say this because a Christian not only believes in Jesus, but they seek a personal relationship with God through his Son. His sacrifice was to show us all that all sin is forgiven when you have a relationship with God. Without that relationship my sense of it is that you may wander off into the dark like a lost lamb. And we all know God worries so much about that lost lamb and will seek him out. The Bible doesn’t say much of Hell, actually, but it does indicate that one can or cannot enter paradise with God, and the alternative is the absence of God and His love. That would be Hell enough for me.

      I also want to let you know that liberal Christians like me are very ashamed of the hate/fear messages of the Right Wing Fundamentalists that make so many disparage Christianity. I believe that they are closer to goats than lambs and may find themselves in a dark parking lot of the cosmos until they finally understand ‘grace’.

      • http://soullibertyfaith.com Sisterlisa

        ” I don’t think you can call yourself a Christian”

        Really? Why can’t she?

        and you talk of grace.

        • Tami M

          Jon Stewart (a Jew) did a good job of encapsulating this: You can agree with the philosophy that Jesus taught, all well and good. But to call yourself a Christian, you do have to believe He was who He said He was. If you don’t believe in our Holy Book or the tenants of the faith that are most common (Apostle’s Creed or the Nicene Creed), you really can’t call yourself a Christian. You can be an admirer of our philosophy, but you gotta, sorry, drink the Kool Aid.

          It’s not a slam on Lisa Lynn. It’s just a fact of the matter. I can call myself a car because I stand in the garage, but that doesn’t make me one. Saying you follow the teachings of Jesus without believing any of the fundamental stuff of Christianity doesn’t make you a Christian.

          It would be something altogether different for someone to say that because you don’t believe in hierarchal gender distinctions, you can’t be a Christian. Or because you don’t worship Mass on Saturday nights and go to confession, you can’t be a Christian or any other sectarian distinction. Those are not fundamental tenants of the faith (though, really, Frank could probably write for days about THOSE messes). those are areas where we can “agree to disagree.”

    • David Woodruff

      Well said.

  • Joe Campbell

    Awesome article. I think the naivete of fundamentalists is thinking they somehow have the formula figured out; that they know who will be going to hell and somehow are part of God’s process of judgment. To me that notion is quite blasphemous. I do not know everything about God, but I reckon he doesn’t need any mortal help dealing with judgement. Then they think that they know everything about the next world and ignore so many relevant factors in this one. I think that is quite presumptuous.

  • William

    Frank, Another great read. It’s the fanatical fundamentalists among us who are the loudest, that demand the most attention and just take a look at our angry and vengeful, stressed out society. Those of us who see God as more loving and forgiving must become more vocal. As I mentioned in my last comment, I am a former fundamentalist minister so I know a bit about the angry, fire breathing rhetoric and what it does to ones thought processes and sense of well being. I have never known such peace and joy as when I let go of all of that. Thank you Frank for being a voice for those of us who are going through this wonderful transition. Peace to you my brother.

  • Greg

    If you don’t believe in Hell, then you need to give up on Christianity all together. Hell is an uncomfortable, I admit, but essential part of Christian teaching. I don’t understand why people like Frank still want to be part of Christianity and pray to Jesus while rejecting Jesus’ cornerstone teachings. God, as revealed in the Bible says he is loving, merciful, and full of justice, truth and wrath. This is either true or it isn’t. If you think it is false, then start your own religion and give it a new name. Why continue to call yourself a Christian. It would the same if you called yourself Republican, but rejected the most important parts of the Republican platform. Why do that? Why do people want to be associated with Jesus, yet they recreate their own personal version of him because they are offended by the real Jesus. There is some strange psychosis going on here.

    • Leigh

      Yes, there is a strange psychosis going on with evangelicals, on here and it is yours also Greg. Christianity is NOT based upon HELL. It’s based upon Christ’s words, deeds and example. Hell is the absence of Christ-like love and the absence of following his examples of how to be a good person. Hell is an extreme loneliness and suffering due to being without Divine LOVE. Hell isn’t a place it’s a state of being and a state of mind. It’s right here on Earth in all of those who can’t see the forest for the trees. Selfish desire, Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Wrath, Envy and Pride are those that cannot exist with LOVE.

    • http://mymusingcorner.wordpress.com Lana

      I grew up fundamentalists, and in my teen years a Calvinists. I even believed those Christian groups who didn’t believe in the Trinity were going to hell, as well as Catholics. Travel shacked my fundamentalists world view of Calvinism and hell.

      I remember standing in the killing fields of Cambodia, and saw a tree where they said women and children were slammed against until their skulls broken upon and they died. And my heart started swelling up inside, and I thought, “this is wrong, but my religion says they are burning in hell right now because they are Buddhists.” It didn’t help when I found out the leader of that field had become a Christian. In other words, the man who killed 17,000 people gets to go to heaven, but the innocent people he murdered are in hell.

      This doesn’t prove God doesn’t exist. But maybe it does require letting go of the fundamentalist worldview.

    • http://soullibertyfaith.com Sisterlisa

      Interesting that you compare your Christianity with the Republican party.

      Hell is not a cornerstone of faith.

      Jesus is the Cornerstone of faith.

      “Why do people want to be associated with Jesus, yet they recreate their own personal version of him because they are offended by the real Jesus.”

      I was going to say the same thing to you. Is it THAT offensive that hell doesn’t exist? I’d think a Christian would be thrilled to know God reconciles all of humanity.

  • Steve

    Everyone’s view is an interpretation even those who insist they know THE LITERAL TRUTH and deny that their view is an interpretation. It is enough for you to believe what you believe. You are not obligated to try and convince others to believe exactly what you believe. It is likely that none of us believe exactly the same anyway. It is okay for you to just be secure in your own beliefs. Even more to the point, we could agree that we will not try to force our interpretation on others especially through laws and force of arms. Peace.

    • http://TheBereanObserver Bob Wheeler

      Frankly, your comment is utter nonsense. Words have meaning. If it were otherwise your comment itself would be meaningless — it could be construed anyway that anyone wished, and you would have communicated absolutely nothing at all. But we both know that that is not true. You said something, and it is possible to know what you said. It is the same with the Bible.
      And apart from the Bible, it is absolutely impossible to know what happens to anyone when they die. What other evidence is there for either heaven or hell? So aren’t liberals in the position of simply making up their theology as they go along?

      • Lisa Lynn

        Bob,
        Yes, words have meaning. But those meanings change with context, with era, with culture. The writing we know as the Bible were oral histories that became written and then translated over and over, not to mention being picked through several times. Since you and I could argue for hours about the meaning of a modern day poem, what makes you so sure there is only one meaning in the words of the Bible? I simply can not understand that. I agree with Steve, but I still enjoy a good debate ;)

        • http://TheBereanObserver Bob Wheeler

          If you can read Greek and Hebrew you can read the original text — they were not “translated over and over.” Moreover much of the Bible — the Psalms, the Prophets, and epistles are not “oral histories.– they are poems. letters and prophecies. And in some historical books, such as the Gospel of John, I think we are looking at an actual eyewitness account.
          Some books of the Bible are difficult to interpret — such as the Book of Revelation. But some is just straightforward prose, such as Paul’s epistles.
          Since meanings do change with context, era and culture, this is why the traditional Protestant hermeneutic (Grammatico-Historical interpretation) tries to get at the author’s original meaning. And most of the time it can be done quite successfully.

        • Simone

          Lisa Lynn
          I SO agree with you. It’s so simple that some people have trouble getting it.

  • Sue

    For an even better discussion of Christianity and retributive violence, read Gil Bailie’s book Violence Unveiled. Highly recommend.

  • http://andhup.wordpress.com/ Leslie

    Thanks, Frank. I continually appreciate you and what you contribute to the public dialogue (not to mention my internal dialogue). Wish I could have caught you in DC… have to get you here to the upper Midwest sometime!

  • Jesse

    The author of this story is simply and plainly wrong! God is not itching to send you to hell, on the contrary He is constantly pursuing you and asking for you to choose him and giving us relentless opportunities to repent our sins and worship the One true Living God through His Son Jesus Christ. Hell is REAL and it is NOT about revenge, it is about accountability for our sins; accountability for rejecting God, our creator! Hell is eternal separation from God! Further clarification, God doesn’t change his mind, the only thing that changes is YOU when you fall to your knees and ask forgiveness, you go from being under judgement, to being covered by grace and the righteousness of Jesus. God is perfect and without flaw. He sent his only son Jesus to die on the cross not only for our salvation and to cover our sins, but it was also necessary to protect God’s holiness. God cannot know sin, thus he had to be insulated from it, thus his Son not only provided salvation for all, but kept God’s holiness intact and without blemish. Remember, its not about what you think hell is or is not, or about who or how you think God should be, but rather what the Word of God says! God is there for you, open the Bible and begin to learn about the divine perspective and understand who He is and what He asks of you. God bless you.

  • Joe Farley

    I am in no way a fundamentalist Christian. But in scripture there are a number of verses that would need to be reconciled if we were to say there is no Hell and that everyone is going to Heaven. I don’t relate Hell with an angry God. Of course if you don’t believe that God is perfect then you probably won’t see this point, but I see a just God. Let me say that I believe that Christ was God manifested in the flesh. That He lived a sinless life. That He died on the cross as a final sacrifice. But He did say you had to believe in Hm and follow Him. This is a point where God given free will comes in. We believe in Christ and accept His sacrifice for our sins or we don’t. So we make the choice where we will go. This is for those who have heard the message of salvation. For those who haven’t I don’t know. They can realize there is or isn’t God. I don’t know. That’s not for me to say. It’s up to God. But if we’ve been exposed to the message of Christ then we have to decide. If we decide to accept then the blood of Christ, His sacrifice, will cover our sins. If we don’t then we still have our sins. Because God is just, righteous, perfect and sent His Son to die for us He would have to go against His nature. Perfect and Holy cannot exist with sin. God doesn’t want anyone to be seperated from Him. He loves us all. But God and sin cannot exist together after the Judgement and Second coming. He has no choice. He gave us a choice. If we say no then we turn our back to him and make the decision of where we will go. This is nothing about an angry God. The God I believe in is not the same as the God of the fundamentalists which is an angry almost spiteful god. We being imperfect and finite often will say He can’t or won’t do that. It would be horrible for that to happen. But that’s because sometimes we don’t understand God’s justice and righteousness. Rather than us in His image we try to make God fit into our image. Put Him in a nice little box where we can understand everything about Him. Fundamentalists do the same thing. Sometimes it can be hard to let God be God and not try to shape Him. So, after being long winded here, I personally don’t see a problem of belief in God and the recognition that there is a Hell. I’m not sure what Hell actually is and I shouldn’t need to find out. God will pour out His wrath on this world, but at the time of His choosing. Not now. He desires that we be with Him but we decide if we will be or not. Judgement is not anger. Sin and perfection cannot exist in the same place. I could be wrong so I try not to judge others, because I’m not supposed to. If everyone is in Heaven, great. If some go but some need to go somewhere else for a time before going, great. If some will go and some won’t, great. I don’t tell God how He should run things. This is the way I believe it to be. If you believe otherwise then I hope we’re both right.

    • Kesha

      “In scripture there are a number of verses that would need to be reconciled if we were to say there is no Hell…”

      I strongly encourage anyone who is concerned about reconciling this view with Scripture to read the book Raising Hell (by Julie Ferwerda). She thoroughly addresses every verse related to “hell” and question asked by people who believe in hell. After reading it, please come back to discuss your views.

  • http://soullibertyfaith.com Sisterlisa

    Alice Spicer wrote a good piece on metaphor at whatgoddoes.com I think it may help some of the literalists.

    I think some people are upset at the notion of no literal hell, because the logical conclusion of that is no literal heaven. And that can be quite scary for a lot of people who think the earth is crap and they lack gratitude for the opportunity to even be alive. For many, living on earth isn’t worth it if they can’t live in literal eternal bliss.

  • Reinhard Rudersdorfer

    As read through all the comments I found many that sound very positive and spiritual. In other words, they allow the “Spirit within” to tell the story.— Hell is a figment of our egotistical imagination. “God is but Love, and therefore so am I”, says “A Course in Miracles”. If we could stay in the Moment (the present, a gift) we would discover the Love within us, Our Spirit. I have been working on this for a lifetime. Got the theory pat, now I’m working on putting it into practice. With God’s help I will live long enough to make a difference. Amen

  • Reinhard Rudersdorfer

    Keep on writing : Blessings to All

  • Jerrine Regan

    If you are really interested in understanding the concept of hell, read Bradley Jersak’s
    book: “Her Gates Will Never Be Shut” where he presents all the scriptures that speak of hell and helps us understand the different viewpoints that come from them. There is more than one way to interprete these scriptures that some Christians think only refer to eternal, conscious, torment.

    • Kesha

      I’ll have to check that book out. One I always recommend to people is Julie Ferwerda’s “Raising Hell”. It’s important for people to read views outside of the Bible-is-literal-and-inerrant framework that composes evangelical, American Christianity.

      Thanks for the tip!

  • Tobias

    Having found out that there is no such word as hell in the bible I find it hard make a dogma out of it.
    How can one?
    Does my believe in Jesus change god?
    Did Jesus taste death for all men?
    Is he savior of the world or saviour of a few?
    Did he threat sinners with “hell” (Ghehenna) or the religious?

    This is more than black or white, right or wrong. I leave it open to his goodness and grace.
    If 99 sheep were not enough – I think he still thinks like that today.

  • Pingback: BONUS post: There Is NO Hell -- God Just Couldn't Be Meaner Than We Are - Dancing Past the Dark – Dancing Past the Dark

  • Peter Strba

    I am astonished that there are Christians, who believe in the one, of whom they believe to be the prince of peace, who spoke of peace-makers as being blessed and who preached and practiced other non-violent challenges, such as loving ones enemies, turning the other cheek and forgive the unforgivable – that they can sincerely believe that this same God, whom their Jesus called his father, would condemn people to eternal punishment. Even worse; that not only people like Hitler deserve such punishment, but also people who don’t believe in God the ‘right’ way, according to the right doctrine! It all has a ring about it for being all too human! Fortunately (at least here in Europe) a majority of believers do no longer read the Bible with such literal interpretation. And I am not surprised, if even many, who call themselves forthright Bible believers, are more liberal – when faced with a biblical portrait of a violent god – than they ever would admit to. But then again who says that Christians have ever been non-contradicting. What else can you expect when the book which they claim to give an infallible account of Jesus’ birth, life, death and sayings, is full of contradictions too! If only some of these word-for-word bible-believing Christians would own up to the fact that they are just as selective in their way they read their book, as interpreters whom they criticize for being liberal wishy-washy.

  • James

    I’m reminded of a part of the bible that refers to many who will say in that day “Lord,Lord, didn’t we… In Your Name” and He said “depart from Me, I never knew you”. Eternal life is KNOWING God. There is an imparitive to get it right.

  • http://anitamathias.com Anita Mathias

    I’d love to believe that. But Jesus speaks more about hell than about anything except money? What do you make of Jesus’ statements about hell?

  • Larry Reynolds

    Dear Frank,

    I am a great fan of yours and enjoy reading your books, articles, and opinion pieces. This is another great article, but I feel the need to point out to you that ‘W’s was raised in The Episcopal Church, and, after marrying Laura, a Methodist, he began attending the United Methodist Church. Neither of those mainstream denominations are born-again evangelical churches. As a result, I’m not so sure his ideology grows out of a right wing conservative Christian faith. Just passing this along after seeing how you based your discussion on his presumed Evangelical-ness.

    • Larry Reynolds

      Sorry. My stupid smartphone automatically inserted an ‘s’ after ‘W’.

  • http://patheos Threeten2yuma

    Have you been to Newtown, Connecticut?

  • Stefan Stackhouse

    I believe in a loving, merciful God. He might be so merciful, though, that He won’t force those who hate Him to be in His presence for all eternity. I find it easy to reconcile a belief in a merciful God with the provision of a place as far away from Him as it is possible to be for those that hate Him and don’t want to be in His presence.

    As Augustine wrote, though, “. . . our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Thee.” We were made to love and be loved by God. I’ve got to believe that even those that hate God the most and are granted the mercy of being exiled from His presence can’t be really happy. Rather, it must become a sentence of eternal unhappiness, even if the unhappiness is entirely self-generated and self-inflicted. That, I believe, is what is really behind all the fire and brimstone metaphor. Those who take any of that stuff literally totally miss the point.

    My take, anyway.

  • Nick Gotts

    Eternal Fire: What Jesus Says in the Gospels About Hell – compiled by Greta Christina

    MATTHEW
    Matthew 5:22: “But I say to you that every one who is angry with the brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council; and whoever says ‘You fool!’ shall be liable to the hell of fire.” (Sermon on the Mount, said to the crowds)
    Matthew 5:30: “And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go to hell.” (ditto above)
    Matthew 10:28: “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” (said to disciples)
    Matthew 10:34: “Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth; I have come not to bring peace, but a sword.” (ditto)
    Matthew 11:21-22, Jesus: “Woe to you, Chorazin! woe to you, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it shall be more tolerable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you.” (said to crowds in cities, for not repenting when they saw his miracles)
    Matthew 11:23: “And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You shall be brought down to Hades. For if the mighty works done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. But I tell you that it shall be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.” (ditto above)
    Matthew 12:31-32: “Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. And whoever says a word against the Son of man will be forgiven; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.” (this is the Blasphemy Challenge thing, said to Pharisees when they said Jesus cast out demons because he was a demon himself, not by the Holy Spirit)
    Matthew 12:33-34: “I tell you, on the day of judgment men will render account for every careless word they utter; for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (ditto)
    Matthew 12:41: “The men of Nineveh will arise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.” (said to scribes and Pharisees, on people not repenting when they heard his preaching and saw his works)
    Matthew 13:30: “Let both (wheat and weeds) grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.” (said to crowds — explained later in 13:40-42)
    Matthew 13:40-42: “Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the close of the age. The Son of man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and evildoers, and throw them into the furnace of fire; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.” (said to disciples, in explanation of previously quoted parable which was said to crowds)
    Matthew 13:49-50: “So it will be at the close of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous, and throw them into the furnace of fire; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.” (said to disciples in explanation of a different parable)
    Matthew 18:8-9: “And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to enter life maimed or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and throw it away; it is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire..” (said to disciples)
    Matthew 22:2, 11-13: “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a marriage feast for his son
 But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment; and he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, an cast him into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.’” (said to priests and Pharisees)
    Matthew 23:15: “Wie to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you traverse sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.” (spoken to crowds and disciples, about scribes and Pharisees)
    Matthew 23:33: “You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell?” (ditto above)
    Matthew 24:48-51: But if that wicked servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed,’ and begins to beat his fellow servants, and eats and drinks with the drunken, the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will punish him, and put him with the hypocrites; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.” (said to disciples; part of a long passage replying to the question, “What will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age?”)
    Matthew 25:30: “And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.” (ditto)
    Matthew 25:41: “Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” (ditto — this is the parable of the sheep and the goats)
    Matthew 25:46: “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” (ditto above)
    MARK
    Mark 4:28-29: “Truly I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemies against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin.” (said to scribes — this is the Blasphemy Challenge part again)
    Mark 9:43-48: “And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to sin, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than with two feet to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, where the worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched. For every one will be salted with fire.” (said to disciples)
    LUKE
    Luke 10:11-15: “Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off against you; nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near. I tell you, it shall be more tolerable on that day [Judgment day] for Sodom than for that town. Woe to you, Chorazin! woe to you, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it shall be for you more tolerable in the judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you. And to you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to Heaven? You shall be brought down to Hades.” (said to disciples — not to the 12 but to 70 sent to prepare the way for him in towns he was about to go into, about cities that didn’t repent when they saw his miracles)
    Luke 11:32: “The queen of the South will arise at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them; for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here. The men of Nineveh will arise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.” (said to crowds, again about people who didn’t repent when they saw his miracles)
    Luke 12:8: “And every one who speaks a word against the Son of man will be forgiven; but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.” (again the blasphemy thing – but this time it’s spoken to the disciples, and not in the context of getting mad at the Pharisees for denying that he used the Holy Spirit to cast out a demon, but just in the context of explaining to the disciples how things were going to be)
    Luke 12:49: “I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled!” (said to disciples, about Judgment day)
    Luke 13:2-5: “And he answered them, ‘Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered thus? I tell you, No; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen upon whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, No; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.’” (said to multitudes)
    Luke 13:23-34, & 27-28: “”And some one said to him, ‘Lord, will those who are saved be few?’ And he said to them, ‘Strive to enter by the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able
But he (God) will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you come from; depart from me, all you workers of iniquity!’ There you will weep and gnash your teeth
” (said to crowds)
    Luke 16:22-29: “The poor man died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried; and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes, and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus [the poor man] in his bosom. And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy upon 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. But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. 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.’ And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house, for I have five brothers, so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’” (said to Pharisees)
    Luke 17:28-29: “but on the day when Lot went out from Sodom fire and sulphur rained from heaven and destroyed them all — so it will be on the day when the Son of man is revealed.” (said to disciples)
    Luke 21:22: “for these are the days of vengeance, to fulfill all that is written.” (said – I think, it’s a little unclear – to disciples in hearing of crowd)
    Luke 22: 31: “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat” (said to disciple Simon – the “sifting like wheat” reference is about judgment day being like separating the wheat from the weeds)
    JOHN
    John 5:22, 26-29: “The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son
 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself, and has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of man. Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come forth, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment.” (said to “the Jews” — not specified which ones, but in context it may be the Pharisees, or it may simply be the crowd)
    John 10:39: “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind.” (said to blind man whose eyesight he cured)
    John 12: 48: “He who rejects me and does not receive my sayings has a judge; the word that I have spoken will be his judge on the last day.” (not clear who this is said to or about)
    John 15:6: “If a man does not abide in me, he is cast forth as a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned.” (said to disciples)
    John 16:8-11: “And when he (the Counselor, a.k.a. the Holy Spirit) comes, he will convince the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no more; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.” (ditto)

  • Brad

    “Better not to believe in God, than to believe something unworthy of God.” Eternal torment, even eternal unhappiness would be pointless. Surely, with God, there is a point.

  • randoms

    I believe (not strongly I’m flawed,wantful,easily shaken)

    Wages of sin is death. Eternal life – the continuation of God’s decaying gift all life here human or not has thanks to Adam’s direct bypass of a time when God was available via speeddial is EARNED thanks to Jesus. You be a good boy and thanks to him the ones before and yet to come can ascend to live forever in God’s heaven & Earth 2.0 where decay and death are not forces and God’s children get to meet and live with daddy just like the old school happy family.

    The ones who don’t make the grade ARE sent to the lake of fire and body and soul are pretty much snuffed out – not tortured eternally. God made that place for Lucifer and the angels who were made eternal and immortal. He couldn’t let them roam free, couldn’t bare or actually to destroy them so they are kept there. Bad human souls will visit as god is double purposing it for our purge but our visit being non eternal will be most brief.

    God is just. Death is a fair end since no man or animal good or no asked for life. Eternal life is a generous reward and one likely not easily earned but is something every man has yearned for.

    God allows freedom. We do evil with it. God is not made evil by this. The only question I would have to God’s nature is his treatment of his rebel children (Satan and 1/3 angels)
    The fact that we would not be tormented still makes a heart uneasy that THEY would be.
    But perhaps that is a substanceless judgement for me to make or a concern to have. After all we know nothing of what an eternal creature is. For all we know they may not feel any pain and the lake of fire simply contains them where to mortal life it swiftly destroys.

    Who knows? Right now I’m my God and I’m a piss poor excuse for a man let alone a manager. Death and ashes is fine enough logical outlook for me but I’m never so bitter as to deny admitting the hole that wants more exists.

  • bean701

    My beliefs about hell began to unravel after I spent a lot of time reading. I had the question “what about the people who never heard of Jesus, do they go to hell?” “What about the Jewish victims of the holocaust?” I read the Shack (admittedly, it’s fiction) but some other work too-John Shelby Spong, Rob Bell, others. I can’t believe in a literal hell. Hell is here on earth, we create it with our actions of hatred….and the early leaders of the church (300 AD) created it to control people. I believe God is bigger than eternal torment.


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