Hell or No Hell?

Did you know that not everyone believes in a literal hell? Hell is the subject of much debate. I was taught in church that hell is a real place, a place of eternal torment and is the logical and fair consequences of someone arrogantly rejecting God’s offer of grace. I believe that lost souls will exist forever in a conscious state in an actual place where they will experience misery and torment for their sins, especially the sin of unbelief. This article explains that there will not be a one-size fits all punishment in hell because God judges righteously. In reading that article, keep in my mind that those who have had their sins forgiven by grace through faith will not be in hell or be judged, they are considered righteous because of Jesus.

However, some churches are teaching other ideas about hell, such as, when you’re dead that’s it, there is no hell or that hell is a temporary torment or fire, but after a period of time you cease existing. These people claim that God would never punish someone forever in such a way. Evidently this belief in a kinder, gentler God is more popular than ever because of the growth of seeker friendly church methods that have removed the teachings of sin, judgment and hell. These churches focus on Jesus’s positive messages, living your best life now and working for social justice.

Jehovah’s Witnesses and Seventh Day Adventists are two sects (some say cults) that are known for their non-mainstream teachings on hell. The JW believe that you simply die, but they also believe in resurrection. Honestly I could not make sense of their beliefs because they are so different than orthodox Christianity. I looked up some articles about death, hell and judgment on the JW website and all I can say is they do not read the same Bible that I read. The Seventh Day Adventists teach that when believers die, they are dead until they are resurrected and unbelievers simply stay dead. They do not believe in the existence of the soul apart from the body. Considering the thousands of cases of near-death experiences in which people have described dying, leaving their bodies and seeing dead loved ones and then returning to their bodies, I would have to say that the SDA have some ‘splaining to do.

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/culture/article/160513-theology-hell-history-christianity

In my perspective if hell is not real or does not equal eternal suffering in a place separated from God, many people would be a whole lot less interested in being saved from it. But some seem to think that avoiding teaching about hell and judgment, and sin for that matter, is going to draw more people to Christ. I don’t see that happening. What I see actually happening is the replacement of belief in God with other worldviews such as scientism and nihilism and existentialism.

The unbiblical teaching of universalism is one reason for not teaching about hell. This view teaches that all people, regardless of whether they know and obey the revealed truth about Jesus and God, will be saved. If this is true, then throw out your Bible and get busy partying! We don’t have to do anything, study anything, pray, stop sinning, obey any commandments, or love God and our neighbor! And all those sacrifices, including the Lamb of God on the cross, were for just for fun. Whew, glad they figured that out. Not! These are lies straight from the devil. Remember back in Genesis? Satan told Eve (with a sly smile, no doubt) , “You will not surely die.” And then we all know what happened. Death! Destruction! War! Do not fall for his lies and tricks.

Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father, but through Jesus. John 14:6

If there is no judgment for sins, is there a need for religion? The world is dividing into religious and non-religious factions. Those who are religious must courageously examine their beliefs and be willing to defend them in the coming anti-religious culture. Christians must study and discover what the Bible actually teaches about important doctrines such as hell, death, and judgment and not rely on someone else to do their thinking lest they be led astray by false teachers. If God is who he claims to be, our creator, provider, savior and judge, we must get to know him better!

2 Thessalonians 1:5-10

The Judgment at Christ’s Coming

[5] This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God, that you may be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering—[6] since indeed God considers it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, [7] and to grant relief to you who are afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels [8] in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. [9] They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, [10] when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed. ESV

What do you think? What is your belief about hell? Do you think teaching about hell is a good or bad practice as far as trying to save the lost? If you are not a Christian, what do you think happens after someone dies? Do people have souls? Is the world going to hell in a handbasket?

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19 comments

  1. PK, we must be careful in our analyses of hell and the Bible’s teaching of it, lest we become like the Pharisees who were arguing in Jesus’ day about how far the distance was between the sections of Sheol that separated the righteous and the unrighteous; whether it was a hands-breadth held vertically or horizontally. Jesus set them straight with the story of The Rich Man and Poor Lazarus. He said, there “between us [Abraham and Lazarus] and you a great chasm has been fixed.” (Luke 16:26)
    Debating over how severe punishments will be slides into dangerous Pharisaical slopes. As you point out, hell is to be avoided, flat out, nothing left to chance. C.S.Lewis considered hell to be a loving God’s final mercy for those who would not accept any other. How can He be merciful to a murderer who will not stop murdering? How can he be merciful to a religionist that insists his false god is the only one?
    Only by isolating the sinner so that his sins can no longer hurt others, even other sinners. So hell is a place of outer darkness with only the sounds communicating that anyone else is there.
    We who know these things must guard our hearts against superiority and remember He has revealed them to the foolish, the weak, the despised, i.e. us, to bring to nothing the world’s wisdom, power and prestige. (1 Corinthians 1:26-30
    There but for the grace of God go I. ❤️&🙏, c.a.

    • I’m sorry if this came across with the wrong tone. I agree that the details of hell are not cut and dry. That was my purpose in putting it out there in blogland. The important thing is the gospel of salvation. But my curiosity is how does the teaching of the various doctrines affect people’s desire for God? Unless you are a strict Calvinist, then it won’t affect them at all. But how does it affect people if you only tell them that believing in Jesus offers eternal life, but don’t tell them that not believing in Jesus results in eternal damnation? Aren’t we leaving out important information?

      • I agree whole heartedly. I cannot remember since childhood when I heard such a stern warning. We need to balance Jesus’ instruction with how to ENTER the Kingdom of God with its alternative. “You done good.” 😉

  2. So I was a bit confused by these arguments and one day I fell down an internet black hole of people arguing that Hell is not a biblical concept. I’m not sure how something with many direct references in Scripture is not a biblical concept, but here we are. Most of them attribute this to what they claim to be errors in translation, which gets even funnier. Here’s a gem. https://medium.com/@BrazenChurch/hell-a-biblical-staple-the-bible-never-actually-mentions-c28b18b1aaaa

    • Wow that is very funny that he used the same exact references to explain away eternal punishment that some theologians use to defend it. I just listened to an old sermon from the 1970s and he mentioned all of that same stuff which makes me wonder if this article was plagiarized. But either way, the point is not that hell, the word, is not in the Bible. This article is a diversion. The question is really, what happens at the judgment . Do people get punished for their sins or not? We can disagree on the details and length of time but I think it’s clear by the weeping and gnashing of teeth that something happens.

      • Destruction of evil is a central theme in the Bible, from creation through end times, even beyond references to Hell. It is a history of separating people who honor the will of God from evil and destroying evil. People who think they will not ultimately be punished for evil see the Bible as a collection of myths and Jesus as their favorite hippie.

  3. I agree. If there is a Heaven there has to be a He’ll. Just like light & dark or good & evil, one cannot exist without the other.

    We must pray for those whose views are shrouded in darkness to see the true light.

  4. You said a mouthful! -a thorough, rational mouthful. 🙂

    Like other Christian faiths, the LDS revelations of hell are what you said. It’s a tormented place for sinners who would not repent. There is more description and nuance in that this hell is after a Final Judgment of our lives and is referred to as Outer Darkness…and is only for very very very bad people. It’s possible even Hitler wouldn’t be there.

    They also teach of a ‘hell’ before then called Spirit Prison, which is a holding place for unrighteous spirits right after death.

    • I don’t know. Those hell-free churches seem pretty popular. I’m all about God’s grace, but if you don’t understand why you need it , it’s easily discarded. Then they move on to the next spiritual fad.

  5. My maternal grandmother had always had a tough go in life, a husband who gambled and drank away their savings right as the Great Depression hit— he eventually died in 1940 from TB— she went to work as a hair dresser while raising two daughters alone.. taking in borders and hiring a black woman to help her—
    She was never warm and fuzzy but was a practical woman who didn’t mind working with her hands— I think she had finally settled on the Presbyterian church when I knew her as my Mimi but had flopped around a good bit with her faith— at one point, my aunt told me, she
    had fancied Christian Science and believed hell was actually what we experienced here on earth— and for her, perhaps that had been true—
    I, on the other hand, believe that there is both Heaven and Hell— and a God who requires a good bit from His Children— a choice really — follow or not— Salvation or damnation —
    The gate is indeed narrow and this culture of ours simply does not get that!!!!

    • I agree. I’m afraid that actual hell is going to be way worse than anything on this earth. Hitler and other evil leaders have given us a glimpse, but imagine going that without the hope that at least you’ll be dead soon . This topic really stirred me up . I think it’s important.

  6. I’ve never understood the concept of there being no hell. Obviously, I was introduced to the concept in church ( can’t remember how though for the life of me! ) but again, what is the point of salvation then? It becomes salvation from what and takes away from everything Jesus did for us…which is very pleasing to satan now isn’t it? We all need to rememeber he is sneaky and willing to do and say whatever to lead us astray. As to what others teach, I’m so glad to live in a day and age when the Bible is readily available for me to read!! I have never understood Calvinists…what is the point of free will then? Anyways, not the point 🙂 God Bless!

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