I grew up in a very evangelical/Baptist household. I learned that people who accept Jesus get to go to Heaven, and people who don’t believe go to Hell, to be tortured eternally in fire and sulfur by a loving God.
^Does anybody see a problem with this?
For awhile, it was OK. It was OK because I wasn’t going to hell, and all my friends and the people I loved weren’t going either, because they were Christian. After high school though, I got out of my Christian bubble and became friends with people who didn’t believe as I did. They were fun, had good character, and I really like them. That’s when I realized: The thought that these people would be tortured eternally after death horrifies me, and I don’t even really love them that much. Well actually I do, but there is no way a human could love anyone as much as God loves. And if the thought of someone being eternally tortured– someone I don’t even know that well or really love that much–horrifies me, a mere human, how much more would it horrify God? God is so, so much more loving and compassionate than me, or anyone!
“Oh, but God is also just!”
Of course he is. If he wasn’t, there would be no hope of things getting better. We’d just have to live with sin–depression, war, anxiety, anger, rage, manipulation, murder etc. etc– forever. That would be horrible.
That’s why Jesus came and died, guys. He came and took the punishment for sin–past, present, and future–he took it all upon himself.
And John says in 1 John 4:18 that there is no fear in love. Paul tells us that God hasn’t given us a spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7). So I believe that any teaching that tries to scare you into believing Jesus isn’t really from Him.
Also, God tells us to love people. My belief in Hell kept me from loving unbelievers because it hurt too bad to really love them and then think that these people might spend eternity in Hell if I didn’t get them to believe as I did.
Here’s something else: If the classic, evangelical view of Hell is correct, then Anne Frank and about 90% of the Holocaust victims are burning in hell right now. Forever.
If there is a literal Hell, I would never, ever have children. How could you even consider bringing someone into this world when there was the possibility they could be tortured forever, and ever and ever once they die?
That’s it for now. I know this is a really mixed up-all-over-the-place post, so sorry if it’s confusing! There’s just so much I want to say about it but it’s hard to actually say it coherently and in one post. Plus I’m sick so it’s hard to write, period 😛 If there’s something I wasn’t clear on (and I’m sure there was!) please ask, comment, argue, whatever. 🙂
|February 18, 2016 at 12:56|
Hell is definitely real.
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.
So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
God hopes all would come to Him in repentance (2 Peter 3:9). But those who deny Him will go to hell.(John 3:36) People say it’s not fair. The question isn’t, “Why would a loving God send anyone to hell?” But “Why would anyone choose hell over a loving God?” He leaves the decision up to us. Why? Well it wouldn’t be true love if we were forced to love Him.
Why would God come in the flesh, live life as a human, endure temptation and pain, then be brutally beaten and killed, if hell weren’t real?
|February 19, 2016 at 02:19|
I’m not denying the reality of hell, merely the aspects of it.
I don’t believe you can one verse (or even several) and build an entire philosophy around it. You have to look at verses in context. You have to look at the original language it was written in, who Jesus was speaking to and how it fits in with the rest of the Bible. The Bible uses a lot of metaphors, parables and similes; not everything is to be taken literally.
As an example: Jesus said in John 6:53 ~Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.”
If you believe in taking every verse in the Bible literally you must become a cannibal and a vampire. <OK that's ridiculous.
And we know from later verses that Jesus meant we have to accept his perfect sacrifice on the cross.
Jesus spoke something, and later it was revealed to be a metaphor for something else. Why couldn't that happen again, as in with the verses you mentioned?
As for your question on why anyone would choose hell over a loving God~this is implying that Hell exists apart from God; as if God didn't have anything to do with creating it and it merely exists. But if you believe in the literal version of hell, then God must have created it (Colossians 1:16), and we go back to why God would create a place where the finite choices of humans cause them to be tortured eternally.
And your last question: Let's say–just for a second–that hell isn't a place of fiery torment. Is there nothing to be saved from?
Are you kidding? Sin. Ourselves
Murder, hatred, greed, war, violence, depression, anxiety, sickness, doubt, worry, fear…I could go on forever.
God came to save us from sin, and from the punishment of sin, so that we could truly live.(matthew 1:21; John 10:10)
If the classic, evangelical view of Christianity is correct, then almost everyone is going to Hell. Yet the gospel means “good news”. I ask you: Is it good news that most people will be born, live a rather difficult life (life can be hard, it’s way harder and stressful if you don’t believe in Jesus) then be tortured eternally?
Did God himself die a horrific, gruesome death so that a handful of people could go to heaven? Is that really triumphing over the principalities and powers of the world? (Colossians 2:15)
I would also add that in keeping the churchy view of hell, you ignore many verses in the Bible.
when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw ALL men to myself.
And all men will see God’s salvation
1 John 2:2
If Jesus is the perfect sacrifice for all sin–meaning our sin was placed on him, and he took the punishment–why would someone have to also pay for their sin in a place of fiery torment? God is just–he doesn’t punish the same sin twice.
^Why didn’t God say “some”?
Like I said at the beginning, you can’t build an entire philosophy around single verses (including the ones I shared). I think any view of hell deserves careful consideration beyond what you learn in Sunday school.
|February 19, 2016 at 10:05|
God did not create hell, per say. One of God’s attributes, an essential part of him, is perfect justice. God cannot ignore sin or do anything but punish it with all of his fury. That is why Jesus dying in our place was the only way to save anyone at all from hell. All of us are headed straight to hell, but, through Jesus’s sacrifice, some of us are saved. Hell is merely the place in eternity where we are headed, and it is full of eternal punishment for sin because a perfectly just God cannot overlook sin or do anything but punish it with all his fury. An essential attribute of God requires that his justice must be satisfied. Hell is not so much a created place as it is God’s perfect justice colliding with sin, no different than Jesus in “hell” on the cross because he was bearing the full fury of the punishment against the sin of the people he saves.
|February 19, 2016 at 15:03|
I’m not exactly sure what I believe about hell (along with a lot of other things), but I find it hard to swallow the idea that every non-Christian who dies will go there. I’m only a Christian because I happened to be born to parents who are Christians in an area of the world where a lot of people are Christians. What about people who aren’t Christians because they happened to be born in an area of the world where Christianity is uncommon? I know that a lot of Christians say this is a good argument for the importance of witnessing. And witnessing is important. But there are people who we can’t reach yet or who can’t respond the way we want them to because of their own scars. And I think it’s hard to understand that until you start to doubt your own beliefs.
But what bothers me most is how many people have probably turned away from Christianity because they were mistreated by Christians. For example, when Christians came into the new world, they tortured and murdered the Native Americans, and then they tried to witness to them about Christ. There were certainly Native Americans who wanted nothing to do with Christ because of how his “followers” were treating them! And those wounds are still open today for so many Native Americans and for other minorities that have been mistreated by people claiming to be Christians. I don’t understand how a just and loving God could send those people to a place of eternal torment. At this point in my life, if I’m going to follow God at all, I have to believe that he takes things on a case-by-case basis and doesn’t immediately send everyone who hasn’t explicitly confessed Jesus as Lord to hell.
|February 21, 2016 at 16:16|
^Yes! I love everything you said.
One thing I’ve thought about lately is that life on earth can be pretty awful, due to your choices/beliefs/other people’s choices, so what if you, say, grow up in an abusive home and you never realize you have the choice to change, or what God has done for you, so you live with depression, anxiety, what have you then you die and go to…be tortured eternally? Really? After all the horrible things you’ve already been through? What about Jesus “healing the brokenhearted” (Psalm 147:3)? Brokenhearted people do a lot of really messed up things, guys.
Also, in answer to Princess’s comment about why God should let people who tortured his people into heaven well…#1, Because we don’t earn our way into heaven.
|February 21, 2016 at 20:31|
Marcy~But John the Baptist didn’t say “Behold, the lamb of God who takes way the sins of believers!” He said: “Behold, the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. (John 1:29)
John the Evangelist said in 1 John 2:2~He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins of all the world.
So everyone has this amazing gift from God~the complete forgiveness of sin~but you have to believe. If you don’t believe, you think–consciously or subconsciously–that you have to pay for your sin yourself. Or even if you don’t think that, you still wouldn’t feel like you could know God or ask him to help you when you needed it. You’d have to deal with any issues–anger/depression/sadness/stress/ death/ whatever on your own. That would kind of be hell, wouldn’t it?
|February 21, 2016 at 21:03|
(I don’t have time to write my thoughts on this at the moment, but I will come back when I do!)
|February 22, 2016 at 14:02|
I believe in predestination and election based on the Bible as a whole (I can go into why, but that’s a whole different discussion and I don’t want to get your thread off topic). Because of that, I believe a lot of the verses that talk about “the world” and “the whole world” are referring to a large group of people made up from all over the world (as opposed to just the Jews), rather than the literal whole world. Jesus takes away the sins of the world, not just of the Jewish people.
In addition, believing in predestination and election means that I don’t have that problem with what happens to people who haven’t heard about Jesus or can’t accept for some reason or die too young to have accepted him. While we obviously need to try to reach everyone we can, I believe that people can only believe and be saved if God effectually calls them and gives them the faith to believe. Because of that, I believe that God can call and save anyone, whether they’ve heard of him or can accept him or not. He is not limited to just those who have the opportunity to believe in him. God looks at our hearts, and I firmly believe there are people who never had the chance to hear about Jesus on Earth who are up in heaven right now.
While it’s awful to live life without God, that cannot be the hell the Bible is referring to in the numerous verses that talk about hell. The hell described in the Bible is after the judgement day (so, therefore, hell cannot be referring to our time on Earth). Jesus spoke with a clear assumption that hell exists, such as in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31). Hell existing as a place where sinners go after death is assumed in that passage. In addition, hell cannot be the awfulness of life without God because the rich man’s life was very pleasant on Earth and him going to hell is a separate part of the story. Also, hell cannot be living without feeling like you’re a Christian on Earth because those who claimed to know Jesus during their lives but did not are later sent out to the place where “there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Luke 13:28)”.
|February 22, 2016 at 15:06|
Of course I wouldn’t want anyone going to hell even if they did torture me for my faith. My point was that why would we want to serve a God who accepts sin. People think God is harsh, but would we really want it any other way. I’m glad I serve a pure and holy God. And while we can’t earn our way to Heaven, the Bible says God will judge every man according to his works.(Romans 2:5-9) I don’t believe God will let anyone die without hearing of Christ at least once in their life.And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.
|February 23, 2016 at 00:33|
Salvation is free to anyone who will accept it. But if you don’t accept it, you can’t enter into Heaven. (John 3:3) If I offer a coupon to everyone for a free meal, but you don’t come to me and get the coupon, you’re gonna have to pay for your meal. Even though I freely offered the coupon, you rejected it. Therefore YOU will pay for your own meal. If you don’t accept Jesus, you’ve gotta pay for your own sin.
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.
|February 23, 2016 at 01:09|
AdventureGirl: I can understand why you think this, but I respectfully disagree. 🙂 I’ve never really given it this kind of thought, so it’s interesting to see your perspective.
I do, of course, believe that hell exists. I think that we are all condemned to hell from the moment we are born, because we are born into our own sinful nature due to Adam and Eve’s choice to step away from God’s perfect plan and into sin. Logically, if we as Christians believe that we will live eternally with God if we choose to follow Him, we have to also believe the opposite–that we *deserve* eternal punishment if we do not choose to follow Him. Otherwise, the entire Christian faith is a moot point; if we go to heaven anyway, why bother to have faith in God? Why bother to follow the Bible? Why bother to spread Jesus Christ to nonbelievers? Of course, we know that we do those things because God originally created humanity to bring Him glory; but the reason that Jesus’ sacrifice is so significant, the reason that God commanded us with the Great Commission, is because our sin leads to death/eternal punishment, and He wants us to instead have eternal life with Him, so He gave us a way into heaven.
You said that perhaps “hell” is just the struggles that nonbelievers experience in their lives on earth. Now firstly, that does not make sense in every circumstance because many nonbelievers feel that they have good lives, and are perfectly content in their ways. But also, the struggles that result from sin are different than the end result of sin. In other words, the consequences of sin are completely different than the punishment required to make up for sin. For example, if a kid disobeys his/her mom and stays up past their bedtime, they are going to be tired and miserable the next day. Their tiredness and misery is the consequence, or natural result, of their action. Then of course, their mom might ground them from television. Their restriction on television viewing is the punishment, or payment, for their action.
The idea that hell is eternal torture away from God *is* horrifying, it *is* hard to accept, and it *can* seem unfair, but that is because we as humans so desperately want to believe that we can be good or make up for our sinful nature and our sinful choices, but the truth, His Truth, tells us that we simply cannot.
As for whether God created hell, or it just exists, that is something I do not have an answer for. But if there is anything else you said that I did not touch upon, tell me, and I will address that as well to the best of my ability. 🙂
|February 25, 2016 at 17:22|
So, I went to a funeral recently, for someone who was Christian, so the funeral was obviously based around the person’s (and much of their family’s) religion. And it was a very nice service. But something that struck me—as someone who’s not religious—as odd was the pastor’s comment on “I like doing funerals because it forces people to think about where they’re going when they die.” (Does that seem like an odd thing for someone to say at a funeral to anyone else?) Then he proceeded to ask for a show of hands of how many people had accepted Jesus as their savior.
Another question—can anyone explain how someone is expected to enjoy Heaven with the knowledge that someone they love (or just anyone at all) is in Hell?
@Adventure I have to agree that if I believed in a literal Hell, I could never have children. I could never set someone up to be tortured indefinitely, especially if that is their default destination.
@Marcy Can I ask why you believe God would ever not give someone the faith to believe in him—or why he would create people just to torture them on purpose? (Or maybe a better question would be if you think a God that does that is good and just, and if so, why?)
|February 27, 2016 at 20:52|
Good discussion right here guys 😉 Thank you all for your well-thought out answers.
Rainbowuni~I’ve thought about that before (how I would feel being in heaven when people I loved were in hell) and I read somewhere that when we’re in heaven we won’t know/remember that there is a Hell. Frankly, that’s not too comforting, nor do I see any support of such a view point in the Bible. Scripture seems to point to having more knowledge in Heaven, not less. (1 Corinthians 13:9-10) And no, I don’t know that I could be happy if I honestly believed most of the people around me were going to be tortured eternally by my God when they died.
Mandi~The idea of Hell isn’t horrifying to me because I think I–or anyone else–can earn their own salvation. It’s horrifying, period. We hear so much that God is love, yet God is willingly torturing people once they die? What kind of love is that? What happened to “Love always protects?” (1 Corinthians 13:7) Does God ignore his word when someone dies?
What about people who haven’t believed in Jesus, but die for someone else in sacrificial love? To be clear not thinking they can earn salvation from dying, but because they truly love someone–like a soldier/firefighter/cop saving a child and being killed in the process, or a mother pushing her child out of the way of a car and being run over herself or whatever; well, Jesus said that “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13)
And in 1 John 4:7 it says:
@Marcy I don’t believe God would be just and fair if he created people knowing they would not have enough faith to believe in him, and still punishes them for that, because, after all, he created them like that. Please feel free to share your view on predestination more thoroughly, I’m not concerned about it taking away from my topic 🙂
For people who don’t believe in predestination, this brings up another question about Hell. Do you believe God would send someone to hell who hasn’t heard of him? I believe creation points to God, so in a sense no one really has an excuse to not believe in God; however, unless someone has specific knowledge I don’t see how they would know Jesus is the God of this world.
|February 28, 2016 at 08:28|
@rainbowuni, hello! 🙂 It’s been a while…..I do think the comment “I like doing funerals because it forces people to think about where they’re going when they die” is a sort of odd, although I do think that awareness of the reality of ‘what happens when I die?’ can lead to salvation (the person becoming a Christian), so I at least understand what he meant.
I do believe that every person, including me, is *deserving* of eternal punishment, and that every nonbeliever *is* on the path of eternal punishment. One short explanation for that is: “Since all of our sin is ultimately against God (Psalm 51:4), and since God is an infinite and eternal Being, the punishment for sin, death, must also be infinite and eternal” (http://www.gotquestions.org/hell-real-eternal.html). Another way to look at it: Let’s imagine a nonbeliever who lives for 80 years. We’ll estimate that this person was pretty well-balanced, and spent a total of 40 years doing good and spent a total of 40 years sinning. So, (to me) it seems fair that this person should have 40 years of punishment, that way he evenly makes up for his 40 years of sin. This seems to be the most fair and logical way to do things, yes? Well, there’s a problem with that system. That system does not take into account the fact (we’ll call it fact for the sake of the argument/explanation) that our soul lives on forever, or eternally, but our bodies perish when we die. You might say, well, this person would simply be punished for 40 years and then go to heaven, right? The problem with *this* is that you’re assuming he can now make the conscious decision to repent after–or even during–his punishment; but he cannot possibly have done that, because he is dead. He lived his life, he had countless opportunities to repent and follow Jesus and accept Jesus’ gift of salvation, but he never did. Now he is dead and whatever choices he made in his 80 years, affect him forever. That may still seem unfair, but it is simply what has to happen since our lives are temporary and our souls are eternal. Also, you have to remember that this is from the standpoint of God revealing Himself to us in our lives and giving us the chance to repent.
So there’s my illustration, I apologize if it was confusing or did not make sense; don’t read too deep into it, but ask me if you need clarification on something. 🙂
Now, in regards to your comment: “And to believe that a being who could do something about it, and supposedly would want to, but chooses not to for any reason, is worthy of worship is, quite frankly, impossible for me.” First, to clarify, I am assuming that by ‘it’, you mean hell/punishment/what we supposedly deserve for our sin. Um, yes I do believe that hell exists and that nonbelievers go there, but I also believe that God *could* do something about it, that He did *want* to do something about it, that He *did* do something about it, and He is worthy of worship *because* of that. What Jesus (God) did about it is sacrifice Himself on the cross for us and pay for our sins *if we are willing to accept that*. (Refer to the analogy in my previous comment: “If I hand you a sweater in a wrapped box for Christmas, and you do not open it, you cannot possibly expect to have the ability to put on the sweater. You have to open the gift in order to have the ability to utilize it. In the same way, Jesus did die for us, and His sacrifice is *enough* to cleanse the whole world’s sins, but if you do not believe in and follow Him–open His gift–then it does not make sense for you to expect to be cleansed and able to go into heaven”).
To be honest, I do not have an answer for your question in regards to being-in-heaven-while-knowing-others-are-in-hell.
@AdventureGirl, in regards to your argument using 1 Corinthians 13:7, God is love/loving, and He does love us unconditionally, but because He loves us and is perfect and holy, He cannot stand to be around sin, it is not possible for Him to be near those who are unholy. Of course, when we are saved, He washes us clean and we become holy in His eyes because of Jesus’ sacrifice, but until then, we are unholy and cannot draw near to Him. So, if someone never accepts Jesus’ sacrifice, when he dies, God has no choice but to put him into hell, because that’s just how things work due to the nature of God (or at least that’s how I see it). God still loves unbelievers, and He desperately wants them to accept Him and live eternally with Him, however if they choose to turn away from Him and stay in their unholiness, He cannot let them into heaven to be near His perfect holiness.
As for your argument in regards to John 15:13 and 1 John 4:7, what you’re saying does make sense, and I do not really have an answer for that. However, based on what you’re saying, and assuming that the definition of being a Christian is “being born of God and knowing God”, it is possible for someone to have completely rejected God and not believe in Him, but still be a Christian if they have shown love. So, do you also believe that?
This is like, the best discussion we’ve had in a loooong time here, lol. 😀
|February 28, 2016 at 14:56|
You must be logged in to reply to this topic.