Hell and the afterlife are eternally important topics. There are three Christian viewpoints on hell and the afterlife:
- Traditionalism (eternal torment in hell)
- Universalism (all are saved from hell)
- Annihilationism, otherwise known as Conditional Immortality (total destruction in hell – body and soul)
This website is in-depth information on the third view point: Annihilationism and Conditional Immortality. You will find this Biblical information very eye-opening and it will answer the questions and doubts that you’ve kept secret from your Christian friends.
What Is Sheol?
Sheol Definition & Descriptions in the Bible
Understanding Human Nature: Mind, Body and Spirit
Resurrections of the Dead: Firstfruits, Harvest & Gleanings
FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions
Hell in the Bible: The True Literal View
What does the Old Testament say about Hell?
Immortality: Will all souls live forever, either in heaven or hell?
Sheol In the Bible: Psalms Part 1
The Meaning of Sheol According to the Prophets
Examples of Everlasting Destruction in the Bible
Conditional Immortality: Answering the Critics
Sheol in Proverbs
The Book of Life is exactly that: A Book of Life
Epilogue: The Nature of Eternal Life
Sheol In the Old Testament
The Rich Man and Lazarus
The Bible and Hell: Supposed Proof Texts for Eternal Torture
Everlasting contempt means disgust not torment
Conclusion on Sheol
Hell, Hades, and the Afterlife
Hell and False Doctrine: Issues of Morality & Justice
The Problem of Hell: Traditionalism vs. Annihilationism
Conclusion: Hell is Everlasting Destruction not Eternal Torment
14 Reasons Why the Traditional View of Hell Is Untrue
Sheol in the New Testament
Immortal Soul: The Great Lie
Hell Doctrine and the Early Christian Church
Gnashing of teeth refers to anger and sadness not pain
What is Conditional Immortality?
Sheol in the Bible: Psalms Part 2
Gehenna: Place of worms and fire not tortured souls
The Truth About Hell: Other Arguments Proving Annihilation
Hell is where both the body and soul are destroyed
Further Proof that Hell is Everlasting Destruction
Why this topic is important
As an evangelist, I deal with Apologetics issues all the time, including hell and the afterlife. For those of you unfamiliar with this topic, it simply means giving a rational defense of the faith to those who ask you. In reading a book entitled Letters from a Skeptic A Son Wrestles with His Father’s Questions about Christianity, Dr. Gregory A. Boyd answers his fathers numerous objections to the Christian faith, including questions about hell and the afterlife. These objections were in the form of written letters that were sent back and forth over a long period of time. The father had asked many, many excellent questions that his son, Dr. Greg Boyd, took great pains to answer them very well. Then finally the issue of hell came up. Look what his father states in his letters:
|Your last letter put my mind a bit more at ease about who is going to hell, but it didn’t address the problem of hell itself. This is really the more fundamental question…|
Now tell me, what the hell (excuse the pun) would be the purpose of torturing someone eternally? What’s the point?
Obviously there’s no “lesson” to be learned…So it just doesn’t make sense to me, Greg. And I’m just not at the point where I can pretend to “suspend” judgment about this. The character of God is on trial (emphasis mine) in my life, and this very relevant evidence which needs to be considered.
Did you notice that? Dr. Boyd’s father considers the issue of hell and the afterlife a stumbling block to his acceptance of God and the gospel. He says the “character of God is on trial” and this is a correct observation. This is no light matter with unbelievers. Dr. Boyd then responds very lovingly with several options about hell and the afterlife. One of those options is Conditional Immortality (although he does not call it that.)
You said it about as forcefully as it can be said. Hell is a real theological problem, I must admit it! To be perfect honest, Dad, I’ve never been able to make much sense of it myself. But I have enough grounds for believing in Jesus and in the Bible to accept what they say on this matter, even though it doesn’t make perfect sense to me…
(after several points, Dr. Boyd then goes on…)
A fourth and final point, Dad, is this: you wondered why God would not, after a time, finally put the rebellious out of their misery. Why doesn’t He just perform a divine act of euthanasia and exterminate the damned? You should know that a number of very reputable evangelical theologians maintain that this is exactly what the Bible teaches.
They maintain, on the basis of an analysis of the scriptural text, that the Bible itself teaches that God will ultimately annihilate all who are not “in Christ.” The punishment is “eternal” because it has eternal effects, not because it is endured eternally. Such theologians point out that only such a view of hell squares with all the biblical talk about the reprobate “perishing,” “being destroyed,” “burned up like chaff,” eternal torture in this view, then, God’s judgment and mercy converge on the same act. God judges the rebellious even as He mercifully puts them out of existence…
It is very important to see how Dr. Boyd’s father responds to this information about hell and the afterlife which he had never heard before (since he had never heard this point of view before.)
I’ve recently been reviewing our letters back and forth over the last two years, Greg, and I must say we have really come a long way!…Your response about hell really helped. I especially liked that “annihilationist” view you mentioned. That was a major obstacle for me…It seems to be the only loving and just alternative. Letting someone go on…strikes me as sadistic. (Then he continues with a follow up letter to his son after becoming a believer.)
Well, as I told you over the phone, I finally “took the leap.” Hallelujah! Looking back on it, it seems that things really began to change for me when you convinced me of the Bible’s inspiration and helped me make sense out of hell. I’m not sure why, but I think it was at that point that I really started to “see the light.”
(Letters from a Skeptic, Dr. Gregory A. Boyd, Chariot Victor Publishing, Colorado Springs, CO, 1994, pages 160, 164, 166 &189 respectively)
I think the point is a very powerful one for me. It is all about the character of God. Dr. Boyd’s father picked it up and yet many believers don’t see it. The God we tell unbelievers about, in their mind, is unjust because we don’t explain things fully to them. God can (and will) take away their life. However, they will first suffer, in proportion for their sins. How many have turned away from the faith because they wrongly believed traditions taught about hell and the afterlife, and not the scriptures? Thankfully, Dr. Boyd shared this option with his father and his father is now going to have immortality because of it.
NOTE: Dr. Greg Boyd now holds to the doctrine of Conditional Immortality himself and has come out publicly in favor of it.
Most people don’t realize the many problems that arise from presenting the so called Traditional position about hell and the afterlife. See Questions and moral problems for those who hold to the eternal torture.
Dr. Samuele Bacchiocchi makes similar comments in his excellent book, Immortality or Resurrection?
Few teachings have troubled the human conscience over the centuries more than the Traditional view of hell as the place where the lost suffer conscious punishment in body and soul for all eternity. The prospect that one day a vast number of people will be consigned to the everlasting torment of hell is most disturbing and distressing to sensitive Christians. After all, almost everyone has friends or family members who have died without making a commitment to Christ. The prospect of one day seeing them agonizing in hell for all eternity can easily lead thinking Christians to say to God: “No thank you God. I am not interested in your kind of paradise!”
It is not surprising that the Traditional view of hell as a place of eternal torment has been a stumbling block for believers and an effective weapon used by skeptics to challenge the credibility of the Christian message. (Immortality or Resurrection? A Biblical Study on Human Nature and Destiny, Biblical Perspectives, Berrien Springs, MI 1997, p.193)
As an evangelist myself, I want to preach a message that is accurate. The character of God is at stake. Yes, God is holy! Yes, God will judge sin! (If you are not a believer I urge you to come to Jesus (Yeshua)). However, this topic is very important and the wrong answer can put up unnecessary stumbling blocks to the unsaved and even to believers. Look at this comment left on another web site that also teaches Conditional Immortality:
I accepted Christ a few months ago. What an awesome experience the first few weeks were! Then came visions of the majority of mankind being thrown alive into a pit of fire, where they would scream and whither for eternity. I saw faces of people I loved, people I knew–burning, withering, and screaming in pain! I was in terrific fear, fighting back “God, why?” So, I prayed, “Let me understand, Lord, for I do not want to question Your righteous judgment!” But peace did not come. I was so shaken that I had to get therapy and prescription medication. I then noticed all the times the Bible used the word “perish,” “destroy,” “everlasting destruction,” “death,” and plus something in me telling me that a God who is love would never do this–Your website has brought me peace. I prayed for discernment, and I have it now. Thanks.
I think this is sufficient evidence to show that this is a very important topic. How many believers are suffering under the weight of the false teaching of eternal torment–for their unsaved loved ones already gone? How many children are taught the wrong view of a God who will torture them for eternity in hell if they don’t accept Jesus and they are tormented by it themselves here! The truth of God’s Word helps us see the ultimate fate of unbelievers and helps us motivate them to come to salvation today, to life, to everlasting life.
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Taken everything into consideration, I now NO LONGER believe in the God who will torture souls in an eternal lake of fire in Hell. He’s the demiurge, to say the least!! The God whom I believe, Jesus’ Father, our God, the true and loving God in the Bible…He’s the ever loving and merciful God who will never consign any soul to an eternal torment. He just can’t do that! Why, may ask…The answer is simply because GOD IS LOVE!
I am so moved by the various letters that you have posted from other Christians who have struggled with the doctrine of hell. The “traditional” doctrine of eternal torment ruined my life for many years and I am still recovering from it. When the doctrine was first explained to me, I was a new believer filled with peace, love and joy. To say that I was shocked is an understatement. I was horrified by the doctrine, yet somehow I felt that I had no choice but to accept it. Surely such loving and kind Christians would not mislead me; they knew the Bible! I lived for many years in fear bordering on terror, wondering if I was really saved and deeply depressed about all the people throughout the world who were going to burn alive forever. I had a hard time loving God and trusting Him to save me when I thought that He was keeping many holocaust victims locked up in a furnace. Sometimes I’m angry at myself for believing the doctrine and other times I struggle with anger towards the traditional Church for teaching it to me. It sounds crazy, but I feel like I have post traumatic stress syndrome from this doctrine. What really boggles my mind is the fact that so many Christians seem to want the doctrine to be true. Thank you for helping so many of us find freedom and peace of mind.
How difficult is it to find the truth anymore! Some many books, preachings, supposed experts….its overwhelming. John 8:32 You shall know the Truth and the Truth shall set you free….. As I read John 3:16 one day the word Persish jumped out at me…I researched its meaning…complete annialation?? Why didnt it say Torment? So here I am….questioning everything I was ever taught on Hell…… What is God telling me….or is it God? Am I being lead away from or am I being drawn to something…?? Pray I find the Truth….I have many that listen to me I do not want to be responsible for injecting the wrong information in their lives! My journey has begun.
We’ll be sure to keep you in prayer, Susan.
In the meantime, I encourage you to explore the topic by breezing through the three books available at this website — Conditional Immortality, HELL KNOW and SHEOL KNOW. The first one is a compelling introduction to the topic whereas the latter two go into more detail.
God Bless You on Your Journey, Sister. 🙂
Hi, my name is Francois (I’m male :). The topic of election and this topic of everlasting burning in hell h
as been to me a great stumbling block in my Christian faith. Through the years I’ve questioned incorrect teachings on these topics and due to my ongoing talking about it, some of my brothers in Christ would say things like: we are not in a position to question these things of God that are above and beyond us. In obedience I would then leave it, but the election thing was used so much by the Devil in my life that I had to search harder and further, until I got the answers that sense. I recently went through a four year prosess of the Devil attacking me with a notion of “hating God”, it would be an idea, a concept, a notion he would shoot at me with an arrow and it would deeply condemn me. After much prayer, I eventually got to grips with it being the Devil, but it still didn’t go away. With determination I kept on fighting this thing for the past couple of years, and now recently, one of my best friends came up to me with this book. The revelations in this book has somehow taken away the open door the enemy had to shoot that arrow of “hate God” at me. Thank you much for your thorough work in this book. Maybe think of writing something about election too, as viewing this the wrong way can also drive you nuts. Having both election and eternal burning viewed the wrong way is just…….. I don’t know man, unbearable…
Love in Christ, regards, Francois
Thanks for your feedback and kind words, Francois.
that is what christianity is. apologetics for the god of eternal damnation.///who has the keys to death and hell ? not the debil, but the one who tricks you into believing he is good. because he gets off on torturing you while you worship him. that is real sadomasochism
I bought copies of Hell Know! for a few friends. Does it also com in Spanish? Are copies of Shoel Know available in print in any version?
HELL KNOW is not yet available in Spanish, but we’ll look into this in the months ahead. The published version of SHEOL KNOW should be available by early May. As soon as I know I’ll post an update on the “About” section of the website. By the way, the published version of SHEOL KNOW contains much more material than the web-version and is just more readable.
Robert Joseph T.
Thank you for your website, I enjoyed reading your book on Conditional Immortality its a good introduction to the topic.