14 Reasons why the Traditional view of hell is untrue
The Traditional view of hell is not Biblical. Scripture says that God has put His standards in man’s conscience and calls us to reason together with Him (Isaiah 1:18). So does the Traditional view of the lost, as eternal conscious torment, fit the bill? Does it pass test of scripture? Assuredly it does not.
C.S. Lewis wrote, “There is no doctrine I would more willingly remove from Christianity than (hell), if it lay in my power,” (C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain, London: Geoffrey Bles, 1940, p. 118). C.S. Lewis recognized the moral repulsion he faced when looking at the Traditional view. “We are told that it is a detestable doctrine and indeed, I too detest it from the bottom of my heart” (ibid. p. 118).
Why don’t many more see it? Sadly, it seems like some authors will find heaven less pleasurable if they don’t gain pleasure from watching the lost suffer. Here’s a quote of Samuel Hopkins from The Works of Samuel Hopkins (p. 458) followed by William West’s opinion of that quote:
“…their torment shall ascend up in the sight of the blessed forever and serve as a most clear glass always before their eyes to give them a constant, bright, and most affecting view…This display of the divine character and glory will be in favor of the redeemed, and most entertaining, and give the highest pleasure to those who love God, and raise their happiness to ineffable heights. Should this eternal punishment and this fire be extinguished, it would in a great measure obscure the light of heaven and put an end to a great part of the happiness and glory of the blessed.”
What kind of sick man could get the highest pleasure from seeing a cruel God doing his cruel work on billions and even on many he knows and loves? He makes the saints in Heaven be deprived of qualities God has given to us, sympathy, pity, love for others, caring for others; and made them to be cruel monsters that delight in the pain of others, and loves to hear the groans of those they now love, and the groans of the countless millions of the lost.
(Quoting Samuel Hopkins, The works of Samuel Hopkins, p. 458 in The Resurrection and Immortality, William West, Xulon Press, 2006, p. 313)
Sadly, there is much, much more in Traditional theological literature which has ridiculous statements like those of Samuel Hoskins. They say we will get pleasure from seeing the wicked suffer, God says the exact opposite.
For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord GOD. (Ezekiel 18:32)
At least current popular Christian author Max Lucado rightfully and publicly states that if he is wrong about this issue (eternal torment for the lost), “I’ll celebrate my misreading of his words,” on the last day (3:16 Numbers of Hope, Max Lucado, Thomas Nelson Publishers, p. 96). His heart is in the right place but sadly he still believes in eternal torture. So I ask, why do some Christians seem so upset if the lost are not tortured forever?
But that is not the only problem with the eternal torment view. Consider the following…
1) Eternal torment is the opposite of justice
How can we read about a God who says over and over again in scripture that he is “Just” and wants fairness among his people; commands an “eye for an eye and tooth for tooth” and then Himself tortures these same people mercilessly for not ten’s of years, not hundred’s of years, not million’s or years, not billion’s of years, not trillion’s of years, not eons, but eternity. A sinner on this earth living for a millisecond of time, (in comparison to eternity) being tortured for eons and eons of time is not justice.
God has been made so cruel, and this doctrine is so unthinkable that it has probably created more atheists, and caused more weak believers to fall away than any other false teaching. The dread of Hell has caused misery and mental anguish to countless millions and instead of the horror of hell turning many to God….many millions have been turned away from such an unjust God.
(The Resurrection and Immortality, William Robert West, Xulon Press, 2006, p. 313. See www.robertwr.com for more info.)
Clark H. Pinnock picks up on this theme as well:
Let me say at the outset that I consider the concept of hell as endless torment in body and mind an outrageous doctrine, a theological and moral enormity, a bad doctrine of the tradition which needs to be changed. How can Christians possibly project a deity of such cruelty and vindictiveness whose ways include inflicting everlasting torture upon His creatures, however sinful they may have been? Surely a God who would do such a thing is more nearly like Satan than like God, at least by any ordinary moral standards, and by the gospel itself. How can we possibly preach that God has so arranged things that a number of his creatures (perhaps a large number predestined to that fate) will undergo (in a state of complete consciousness) physical and mental agony through unending time? Is this not a most disturbing concept which needs some second thoughts? Surely the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is no fiend; torturing people without end is not what our God does. Does the one who told us to love our enemies intend to wreak vengeance on his own enemies for all eternity? As H. KŸng appropriately asks, “What would we think of a human being who satisfied his thirst for revenge so implacably and insatiably?”
(The Destruction of the Finally Impenitent by Clark H. Pinnock McMaster Divinity College Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, Pinncok article defending Conditional Immortality)
Television evangelist, Dr. David Regan, of the Lamb & Lion Ministries (a former believer in eternal torment) also picks up on this theme on the pages of his Lamplighter magazine:
My first difficulty with the Traditional view is that it seems to impugn the character of God. I kept asking myself, “How could a God of grace, mercy and love torment the vast majority of humanity eternally?” It did not seem to me to be either loving or just. I realize He is a God of righteousness, holiness and justice, but is eternal suffering justice? The concept of eternal torment seems to convert the true God of justice into a cosmic sadist.
(The Reality of Hell, Dr. David R. Reagan, Lamplighter magazine, March 2006, Lamb & Lion Ministries, McKinney, TX)
2) We gain immortality only from the gospel
There is a gift we get from believing the gospel; it is called “everlasting life” (John 3:16). Paul calls this gift (immortality) an integral part of the gospel message, “Who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Timothy 1:10).
If all souls are born immortal, then why are we encouraged to seek it?
“To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life:” (Romans 2:7)
Why would Jesus offer us an opportunity to “live forever,” if we all live forever?
“If any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever.” (John 6:51)
The truth is, the abundant life Jesus (Yeshua) promises us is in eternity, it is immortal life, everlasting life.
“I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10)
Believers will live forever. How much more abundant can you get?
In 1 Timothy 6:15-16, Paul says that God alone possesses immortality. And 1 Corinthians 15:53 teaches that the Redeemed will not become immortal until the time of their resurrection.
3) The Old Testament does not teach eternal torment in hell
Isn’t it hard to believe that such an important teaching as eternal torment has no clear verses stating this fate in the Old Testament? Virtually every important doctrine has its roots in the Old Testament and is taught in typology (or symbols) there. Where is this taught in symbols? Was the lamb of Exodus tortured forever? Were any of the sacrifices tortured forever? No, the sacrifices were eventually turned to ashes. “And they shall take away the ashes from the altar” (Numbers 4:13) If this was the fate of all the offerings (including the sin offerings), then why should the fate of the sinner be any different?
It would be unreasonable that God would give them such detail of what would happen to Israel (Deut 28:15) in this lifetime and then say nothing of the eternal torment facing them. And if it be as important as it is supposed to be now, it was equally important then. Yet no single indication of it is discoverable in the writings of Moses. How could God have warned Israel in detail about punishments in this life, droughts, plagues, and other punishments and not say one word about most important issue, eternal torment?
The New Testament writers used the Old Testament types to show how the destruction of sinners in the hands of an angry God happens. It was turning them into ashes, not tormenting them for long periods of time. Sodom and Gomorrah are a supreme type given by Peter and he says “And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample” (2 Peter 2:6). Notice, Peter says two things about the fate of the ungodly:
- They are an example for us to see what awaits the ungodly.
- They eventually became ashes–cremated! (see also Malachi 4:3)
William West states this more of these thoughts most forcefully:
ADAM: God told Adam in the day he ate he would die. He was not told that after his death he would be subjected to endless torment.
CAIN: His sin was the first murder, which, by most, is believed to be the greatest of all sins. What was his punishment? His punishment was that he was to be a fugitive and a vagabond in his lifetime on the earth. Not one word about any punishment after his death. The punishment for anyone who killed Cain would be seven times greater than the punishment of Cain. How could anything be seven times greater than (eternal torture)?
THE DESTRUCTION OF SODOM AND GOMORRAH: Genesis 13 and 14: These cities were literally burnt up (Psalms 11:6; Isaiah 34:9), not still burning with the people walking around in torment. Peter states that they are an example (2 Peter 2:6) of what will happen to the unsaved.
ALL THE CURSES of the Law, if they did not keep it, were in this lifetime (Deuteronomy 28:18-19). Not one word was said about a curse after this lifetime.
It would be past comprehension that God would give them such detail of what would happen to them in this lifetime and say nothing of the unending pain He was going to forever heap on them.
Source: The Resurrection and Immortality, William West, Xulon Press, 2006, various excerpts from chapter seven–A strange and unexplainable silence. See www.robertwr.com for more information.
Again, the same thing is said in another evangelical commentary:
There is no doctrine of hell (i.e. eternal torment) in the Old Testament. In Isaiah 66:24, at one time a much quoted verse, the reference is not to the continuing personality (nephesh) of the rebels, but to their corpses.
(The International Bible Commentary, second edition, Grand Rapids, MI, Zondervan Publishing House, 1986, p.64 column 1)
If eternal torment is the fate of most of mankind, then why is no single indication of it is discoverable in the writings of Moses? If there was such a thing as eternal torment taught in the Tenach (Old Testament), then how could the Apostle Paul proclaim to the unsaved idol worshippers in Athens, “In the past God overlooked such ignorance” (Acts 17:30). How could this statement be true if God was planning to torture them eternally? Did God really overlook this then? Paul said the wicked would be destroyed, “Whose end is destruction” (Philippians 3:19) not eternally tormented. Moses said nothing of eternal torture. Jesus said the human soul would be destroyed–not preserved (Matthew 10:28).
4) Jesus (Yeshua) paid our debt, but the debt was death, not eternal torment in hell
Edward Fudge beings up this excellent point.
For the New Testament is quite clear that Jesus not only died but that He died because of sin and in the place of sinners. More than that, the death He died was in some true and real sense the sinner’s death–the death required by sin–the death we should have died…The Old Testament prophets spoke of “the sufferings of Christ” and the “glories that would follow” (1 Peter 1:11). Yet what is this suffering and glory if not the eschatological judgment of God….the cross of Christ was no mere example of divine judgment; it was God’s judgment par excellence–the judgment withheld already for centuries from many to whom it was due (Romans 3:25, Hebrews 9:15,26-28).
Jesus not only died “for sin”; He died in the very place of sinners. That is what Peter meant in saying that Jesus “bare our sins in His own body.” This is what is meant that Christ’s death was vicarious…To use familiar language, Jesus suffered hell for His people–the very hell they would have suffered had He not taken their place. From the very first the wages of sin was death, and Jesus underwent the very same sentence pronounced in the primal Garden.
(Edward W. Fudge, The Fire That Consumes. A Biblical and Historical Study of the Final Punishment, Houston, 1982, Chapter 12, various pages excerpted)
Since Jesus was fully God, He was resurrected from the dead. Had He not been divine, His body would have remained dead. But certainly this is unthinkable for a sinless One. Therefore Paul states triumphantly, “And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name” (Philippians 2:8-9).
The point being, Jesus was sinless and therefore God raised Him from the dead. His body’s death was not eternal. The sinners at the end of time will undergo their personal “crosses” and they will suffer in proportion to their sins and then die (cease to function) eternally in body and soul (Matthew 10:28). It is called the “second death” in scripture. (Revelation 2:11) The death of the body is called the first death. After the Resurrection, the death of the body and soul together is called the second death.
Again, Dr. David Regan (who changed to Conditional Immortality after studying it) correctly notes:
Finally, to me personally, the most convincing of all arguments against the Traditionalist viewpoint relates to what Jesus Himself suffered on the Cross. Our sins were placed upon Him. He took the punishment we deserve.
And what was that punishment? It was extreme suffering followed by death. If Jesus did not suffer the full penalty for our sins, then our debt has not been paid. But the Scriptures say that He paid the full debt, and it was not eternal torment, but death.
Source: Dr. David R. Reagan, Lamplighter magazine, March 2006, Lamb & Lion Ministries, McKinney, TX
5) Perish means perish, death means death, not eternal torment
John 3:16—”For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”
This is the most quoted verse in the Bible and also one of the clearest accounts on the destruction of the wicked. “Whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life”? John didn’t write that. “Whoever believes in Him shall not have everlasting life in torment.” Remember, the wicked will not have immortality at all. Immortality is reserved only through the gospel (2 Timothy 1:10). The way most churches interpret John 3:16, they mentally replace the very clear word “perish” with something that means nearly the opposite-“never perish.” There is a clear word for “torment” in the Greek-so why did John not use it? Because he was not teaching it at all. In John 3:16, the word “perish” in the Greek is “apollumi.” It is correctly translated many other times as “destroy” throughout the New Testament. When something is “destroyed” it means something that no longer functions at all. That is the common usage of “apollumi” as “destroy” in the New Covenant writings. When Yeshua (Jesus) states in Matthew 10:28 that the soul will be destroyed (not preserved), He is telling us that the lost soul will no longer function. It will not be conscious. It will be destroyed. John 3:16 and Matthew 10:28 are in perfect harmony when you understand the truth of Conditional Immortality.
6) Why would God choose the words like “destroy, destruction, perish, death” to signify something other than their plain meaning?
- Psalm 92:7-“Shall be destroyed forever.”
- Psalm 1:6-“Be the way of the ungodly shall perish.”
- Matthew 10:28-“Rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”
- John 3:16-“Whosoever believeth in him should not perish.” (Greek: destroyed)
- Romans 6:23-“For the wages of sin is death.”
- James 4:12-“There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy.”
- Philippians 3:19-“Whose end is destruction.”
- 2 Thessalonians 1:9-“Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction.”
- Hebrews 10:39-“But we are not of them who draw back unto perditio (Greek: destruction); but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.”
- Revelation 20:14-“This is the second death.”
Is God trying to intentionally deceive us by using words that have a different meaning than what their plain meaning is? Isn’t this a basic rule of hermeneutics? The literal meaning is the first meaning used unless context declares otherwise. Don’t you have to redefine every single one of these words in order to get eternal torment as the final fate of the unsaved?
Again, William West summarizes this point beautifully when he states:
The present definitions of words must be destroyed and new definitions given. The new definitions end up being the opposite of the old definition, death is no longer death; it is eternal life in Hell. No other book in the world uses these words this way. Did God use words in a way that would be a deliberate misleading of mankind? They are not used with these meaning in our everyday language. When we say anything, a plaint, animal or person is dead, we do not mean that plaint, animal or person is alive and being tormented.
Death (and destruction) must be made to mean one thing when it is a plaint or animal that is dead and another when it is a person that is dead. I somehow missed the revelation by which they know this. Where is the book, chapter and verse for it? Is there any word God could have used that they would not say “it does not mean what it says”? No, not a one if it would conflict with their theology.
“My mind fails to conceive a grosser misinterpretation of language then when the five or six strongest words which the Greek tongue possesses, signifying “destroy,” or “destruction,” are explained to mean maintaining an everlasting but wretched existence. To translate black as white is nothing to this.”
(R. F. Weymouth, Life In Christ, page 365, translator of The New Testament in Modern Speech)
Those who wrongly believe in immortality for all from birth must reinterpret the Bible to say:
- Those who are destroyed are not destroyed. (James 4:12; 2 Peter 2:12; 2 Peter 3:7)
- Those who perish do not perish. (1 Corinthians 1:8: John 3:16)
- Those who die do not die. (Romans 6:23)
- The end of the wicked is not really their end. (Philippians 3:19; Hebrews 6:8)
- Those who are consumed are not consumed. (Hebrews 10:27)
- Mortals are born immortal; (1 Timothy 6:16) therefore, how can there be any such thing as being mortal? There are no mortals and could never be a mortal if all men are created immortal.
- The second death is not a death; it is eternal life with torment. (Revelation 21:8)
Are they really teaching the Bible when they corrupt it into saying the opposite of what it really says, or teaching what they want the Bible to say?
Source: The Resurrection and Immortality, William West, Xulon Press, 2006, various excerpts from chapter two. See www.robertwr.com for more information.
7) Even Joshua–who declared the burning of the sinner, slew them first–then burnt their bodies.
Joshua 7:15—”And it shall be, that he that is taken with the accursed thing shall be burnt with fire, he and all that he hath:”
Joshua 7:25—”And Joshua said, Why hast thou troubled us? the LORD shall trouble thee this day. And all Israel stoned him with stones, and burned them with fire, after they had stoned them with stones.”
It is clear here. Joshua takes Achan, who had sinned and had been warned of burning, and first he has them stoned–then, after they are dead, he burns their carcasses. This is exactly what is said in the article above entitled “Why rarely cited Isaiah 66:24 is a key.” Isaiah tells us that the lost are slain and their dead bodies are burned as well. Jesus, when speaking of Gehennah (hell) quotes this verse in Isaiah. Peter tells us the lost will become ashes (2 Peter 2:6). Malachi tells us the same (Malachi 4:3).
8) Paul did not teach eternal torment in hell
Why did Paul never proclaim this doctrine of eternal torture? Or did Paul correctly understand Yeshua (Jesus) in Matthew 10:28…that the souls of the unsaved will be destroyed. Paul fully proclaimed the whole counsel of God by plainly declaring:
- That those who live a lifestyle of unrepentant sin “deserve death“–Romans 1:32
- That “all who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law”–Romans 2:12
- That sin “leads to death“–Romans 6:16
- That sin “results in death“–Romans 6:21
- That “the wages of sin is death“–Romans 6:23
- That those who live according to the sinful nature “will die“–Romans 8:13
- That the gospel is foolishness “to those who are perishing“–1 Corinthians 1:18
- That those who preach the gospel are “the smell of death” “to those who are perishing”–2 Corinthians 2:15-16
- That the Old Testament law “kills” and ultimately brings “death“–2 Corinthians 3:6-7
- That the gospel is “veiled to those who are perishing“–2 Corinthians 4:3
- That those who please the sinful nature “from that nature will reap destruction“–Galatians 6:8
- That “they will be destroyed“–Philippians 1:28
- That “their destiny is destruction“–Philippians 3:19
- That “they will be punished with everlasting destruction“–2 Thessalonians 1:9
- That they “are perishing“–2 Thessalonians 2:10
- That “they perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved”–2 Thessalonians 2:10
- That “Christ Jesus…has destroyed death“–2 Timothy 1:10
- That they are like worthless land that will “in the end…be burned“–Hebrews 6:8
- That sins are “acts that lead to death“–Hebrews 9:14
- That raging fire “will consume the enemies of God”–Hebrews 10:27
- That those who “shrink back” in unbelief will be “destroyed“–Hebrews 10:39
In various ways with various words Rabbi Paul was sure to repeatedly declare precisely what would happen to those who foolishly reject the gospel. He was sure to do this because God appointed him to fully proclaim the whole counsel of God. Paul didn’t hide any aspect of the truth–including the awful truth that those who reject the Messiah will be utterly “destroyed” by the raging, consuming fire of the Lord. If words have any meaning at all then this is what we must conclude.
Allow me to add that if Christ supposedly preached eternal torture, as many contend, then Paul would have certainly backed it up. Yet Paul taught no such thing because Jesus taught no such thing, not to mention the bible they taught from–the Old Testament–teaches no such thing.
Source: This section is taken from this chapter of HELL KNOW with special thanks to Dirk Waren
9) Paul said he was innocent of “the blood of all men” (Acts 20:26)
This phrase is always used in scripture when people are in danger of facing death, not eternal torture. Paul declared he was “innocent of the blood of all men.” Paul didn’t hesitate to share the whole counsel of God, including the unfortunate news of what would ultimately happen to those who reject the gospel. The very fact that Paul says he’s innocent of the blood of all people is a sure indication that people will actually die (not live–suffering in immortality) when they suffer the second death (ibid).
10) John says in Revelation that there will be “no more death”
If “death” really means “living eternally separated” from God (and it does not), then death really will exist forever. However, in Revelation 21:4–John specifically states that there will be “no more death.” Think about that for a moment or two.
11) Jeremiah 7:30-33 speaks of this place called the Valley of Hinnom (Gehennah)–not as a place of eternal torment
In speaking of this place, Jeremiah said (actually God is speaking in this section of scripture) that it will be called the “Valley of Slaughter,” not the “Valley of everlasting torment” as modern mainstream Christianity suggests.
12) Jesus (Yeshua) states of His betrayer, “It would have been better had he not been born” (Mark 14:21)
However, if most human beings are facing eternal torment, then how ridiculous of a statement is this? Should not the Messiah rather have said (if eternal torment was true) that it would be better if all unbelievers had never been born! If eternal torment is true, then clearly it would have been better for most everyone not to have been born (since the majority will not be saved) (Matthew 7:14). Yet Yeshua (Jesus) reserves this statement for only the most vile of sinners. This seems to indicate that even for the lost, (whom God would rather to have been saved), it is still better to have been born and then lost life than to never have been born. In other words, God is so good, that at least they got a chance to live a short period of time. Ruminate this argument in your mind over and over again and it will clearly show the goodness of God.
13) God’s fire always consumes His enemies, not preserving them in torment
According to Hebrews 10:26-27, notice clearly that, on judgment day, raging fire will utterly consume God’s enemies, not sadistically torture them without end, “and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.” The Greek word translated as “consume” here literally means “to eat” (Strong 33) and is translated as “devour” in the King James Version. We can soundly conclude that raging fire will literally devour God’s enemies when they’re cast into the lake of fire–consuming them wholly.
The following excerpt is taken from Hell Know by Dirk Waren on this topic:
Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu took their censors, put fire in them and added incense; and they offered unauthorized fire before the LORD, contrary to his command. (2) So fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD. (Leviticus 10:1-2)
We see here that Nadab and Abihu ignored God’s commands and attempted to approach Him on their own terms. As a result “fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD.” Their disregard of the LORD’s will and attempt to approach Him on their own terms represents religion as opposed to Christianity. Religion is the human attempt to connect with God, whereas Christianity is God connecting with humanity through Christ. We can either do it our way or God’s way, it’s our choice.
The fiery consumption of Nadab and Abihu is a biblical example of what will happen on judgment day to people who disregard God’s Word and live their lives with little or no concern of their Creator; these proud rebels are only willing to approach God on their own terms. On judgment day such people can expect a fire to come out from the presence of the LORD and consume them. They will die before the LORD, just as assuredly as Nadab and Abihu did.
Here are a few more examples:
NUMBERS 16:35-And fire came out from the LORD and consumed the 210 men (Korah’s followers) who were offering the incense.
2 KINGS 1:10-“Elijah answered the captain, ‘If I am a man of God, may fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty men!’ Then fire fell from heaven and consumed the captain and his men.”
PSALM 97:2b-3-“…righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne. Fire goes before him and consumes his foes on every side.”
PSALM 106:18-“Fire blazed among their followers (Dathan’s rebellious followers); a flame consumed the wicked.”
EZEKIEL 22:31-“So I will pour out my wrath on them (the sinful people of Judah) and consume them with my fiery anger, bringing down on their own heads all they have done, declares the Sovereign LORD.”
ZEPHANIAH 1:18-“Neither their silver nor their gold will be able to save them on the day of the LORD’s wrath. In the fire of his jealousy the whole world will be consumed for he will make a sudden end of all who live on the earth.”
REVELATION 18:8-9-“Therefore in one day her plagues will overtake her (“Babylon”): death, mourning and famine. She will be consumed by fire, for mighty is the Lord God who judges her. When the kings of the earth who committed adultery with her and shared her luxury see the smoke of her burning, they will weep and mourn over her.“
As you can plainly see, the Biblical fact that God is going to destroy his human enemies by a consuming fire at the second death perfectly coincides with how God has dealt with his human enemies throughout history. This is testimony to the unchanging, consistent character of God (see Psalm 102:26-27; James 1:17 and Hebrews 13:8). After all, would it not be strange and totally inconsistent with God’s just, merciful character as revealed throughout history if, on judgment day, he sentenced his human enemies to never-ending conscious torment–a sadistic, unjust, merciless sentence diametrically opposed to his consistent, unchanging character? Of course it would.
Notice clearly in all the above texts that God does not sadistically torture these people perpetually with fire. No, the fire consumes them. No doubt there’s an amount of terror and conscious pain to this type of execution, but it’s not sadistically never-ending–it mercifully results in death.
Is this unjust on God’s part? Not at all. Notice Psalm 97:2-3 above: before stating that God will judge and destroy his enemies with consuming fire, it assuredly states that “righteousness and justice are the foundation of his throne.” You see, we can always be absolutely confident of the fact that God’s judgments are completely righteous and just; and God is not quick in making a judgment; he is “compassionate and gracious, slow to anger abounding in love” (Psalm 103:8); “He is patient… not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2Peter 3:9b). Yet, there’s a limit to God’s patience and mercy if a stubborn person continually chooses to resist and rebel against him; and when his patience and mercy end, his judgment begins. Yet even God’s judgments are balanced by his mercy and justice.
Source: This entire section is taken from Hell Know by Dirk Waren with special thanks.
14) If eternal torment were true, it means abortion is a good thing
There ultimately is no getting around this point. Sadly, untold millions have been aborted in recent history. Surely many babies underwent conscious pain as they were forcibly extracted and suctioned out of the womb. Those who are familiar with the pro-life movement are rightfully horrified by the pictures of aborted little children (yes, they are children). Most conservative theologians would rightfully place these little ones in heaven for eternity.
However consider the alternative. If millions of these aborted precious little ones were left to go to full term and then birth, ALL would grow up to be sinners and the majority would probably never accept Jesus as adults. Jesus Himself said most people would never find the way, “broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction and many there be which go in there at” (Matthew 7:13).
Therefore, the majority of these people (if left to full term) would be tormented forever. That means if there is a choice of momentary pain for them (abortion) or eternal torture facing them, then abortion would be best. This point needs to be repeated over and over again. Those who consider themselves “pro-life” really need to reconsider the logic of their positions if they believe in eternal torture.
Look what a curious person wrote to a web site on this issue:
What happens to aborted babies? I heard a preacher on the radio say that they go to heaven and grow to adulthood and become the person they should have been. If that is so, abortionists apparently have been responsible for the salvation of more people than most evangelists combined. Though they meant it for harm, it turned out for good. If most people go to hell, how can we complain if aborted babies bypass this life of carnal sinful flesh and go directly to heaven…? —Stan
If eternal torment is true, then he is correct-abortion is best. But if it’s not true (and it’s not)–then Pro-Life is best! (And Pro-Life is the best! God is pro-life!)
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…I believe the saints who become kings and priests will teach the disobedient and those former unbelievers the righteousness of God just as spoken in Isaiah 26. Not all believers will be kings and priests, only the remnant will rule.
1 Cor. 15:28 – Now when ALL things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be ALL in All. Obedient believers have already been subjected to Him, it is the disobedient and unbelieving that will still need to be subjected to Him.
Yup, I’m an universalist.
Hi Eve. Thanks for the feedback.
Sorry for editing your post due to length, but I’ll address the core points.
You have responded to a single short article on a site that includes no less than three books on the subject of human damnation and all related topics. As such, this chapter of HELL KNOW includes a long section that covers the arguments for universalism (just scroll down to the section Universalism: Will All Be Saved Eventually?).
To draw a proper conclusion on any topic — and especially major doctrines — we have to be careful to “correctly handle the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15) by interpreting Scripture with Scripture and therefore considering all the passages on a subject and not just a select few. Obviously the clearer, more detailed verses trump the more ambiguous, sketchy ones.
With that understanding, the Bible plainly indicates two possible destinies for humankind: LIFE or DEATH, SALVATION or DESTRUCTION (John 3:36, Matthew 7:13-14 & James 4:12). The simple fact that Christ said “anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it” (Mark 10:15) shows that everyone won’t be saved. If everyone is ultimately saved this statement makes no sense.
Speaking of which, many passages are rendered nonsensical if one embraces universalism. Consider this verse, for example:
If universalism were true, this is how we’d have to (wrongly) interpret the verse:
As you can see, the notion of universal salvation renders the Scriptures utterly nonsensical. Add to this the fact that Christ plainly said there is an unpardonable sin (Matthew 12:32), which itself disproves the idea that everyone will eventually be forgiven and redeemed.
Further evidence that not everyone will be saved, but will instead suffer the wages of eternal destruction can be observed in simple parabolic statements like these:
What happens to weeds thrown into fire? They burn for a little bit and eventually burn up.
This is of course a figurative reference to what will occur on the day of judgment when the unrepentant will suffer the “second death,” as literally detailed in Revelation 20:13-15. Here’s another literal reference to this judgment, which reveals the outcome of those condemned:
Those who are condemned to the lake of fire on Judgment Day will be destroyed, not granted eternal life (Matthew 10:28).
For more clear evidence from the Scriptures that universalism is not a sound doctrine, see this article.
Yes it is. The Lord Christ described the lake of fire as “the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41). The last book of the Bible also describes it as a location where condemned humans are cast in order to suffer the “second death” (Revelation 20:13-15). The book of Hebrews elaborates:
Obviously these people aren’t offered redemption and eternal life since they foolishly chose to be God’s enemies, as also detailed in Luke 19:27. Again, “the wages of sin is death.”
Concerning your question:
This is explained by the Lord in Matthew 25:31-46 wherein he elaborated on the Sheep and Goat Judgment and those allowed to enter the Millennium as mortals with eternal life (as is the case with believers in our current era). The very beginning of this passage shows that this “Sheep and Goat Judgment” takes place after Christ’s return to Earth at the end of the Tribulation and before the Millennium, which is when He judges the living nations, i.e. the people around the globe who survive the Great Tribulation. These mortals with eternal life will propagate by the millions during the 1000 years and they are the ones glorified saints will reign over (keeping in mind that believers in a glorified state will not procreate, as the Lord pointed out in Luke 20:34-36). For biblical details see this article (scroll down to the section The “Sheep” Who Are Allowed to Enter the Millennium for insights on the people whom glorified saints will govern during the 1000 years).
Certainly, as 1 Timothy 2:4 points out, God “wants all people to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth.” In fact, this is the very reason why this section of Scripture encourages believers to offer prayers for “everyone” (see verse 1); but what can God do if people freely choose to reject the Lord’s offer of reconciliation and eternal life in favor of “sin, which leads to death” (Romans 6:16 & 6:23)?
The reason all people can’t be saved is simply because God respects our freewill choices. He did not create robots, so he can’t force people to choose reconciliation and receive eternal life. People who reject God in favor of sin are choosing death, the wages of sin. So God will ultimately accommodate them. Their fate is really self-destruction because God is only giving them what their freewill actions justly deserve. Will the LORD enjoy this? Of course not. He doesn’t want “anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
Those who adhere to universal salvation should be commended for their great love of all people and their bold opposition to the sadistic notion of eternal torture, but their deviation from the clear teachings of Scripture cannot be condoned. Their overemphasis on love has caused them to become theologically unbalanced; it clouds their understanding of freewill and the true hideousness of evil and rebellion. Far fewer Christians would divert to the apostasy of universalism if they would research the biblical authenticity of literal everlasting destruction, which maintains that those who “reject the Son will not see life” (why would the Bible even say this if no one would reject him?).
If you’re interested, here’s the first chapter of HELL KNOW for further study. I encourage reading all the chapters and prayerfully chewing on the scriptural data.
God Bless You as You Seek & Serve.
I have been a christian for a while and only recently got around to studying about “hell.” I agree that the traditional concept is a false teaching. I researched it because I think it detracts from the gospel and misleads or continues to mislead potential believers from knowledge of God and HIs desire for all to turn. I have been researching the original pictographs the Bible was written in prior to the 70 years in Babylon and have found more clarity on the meaning of many of the current words used in the Bible. For example, in the Ancient Hebrew Lexicon of the Bible, Jeff Benner thinks the words everlasting or eternal meant permanent or “something that was continual,” in the pictographs. I think this supports your conclusion that the second death is a permanent or continual state of death with no possibility of a “2nd” resurrection. I think a good verse to support the idea that the Lord would have told us about a “hell” if it existed is that He always tells us of His plans for us ahead of time. Isaiah 42:9:
I would think an important “new thing” would be age-abiding physical punishment.
Thanks for the insight, William.
I appreciate this well written article–however, I don’t understand why so many annihilationists after saying the punishment for sin is death–which repeated over and over again throughout scripture (Romans as just one example) take the symbolic language of Revelation and make the lake of fire ‘literal’–it is no more literal than the dragon with the seven heads or the prostitute or the many waters, etc–this is a VISION that John sees and the angel explains it–the lake of fire IS the SECOND DEATH. Obviously it is not a literal lake of fire because Satan and the fallen angels –which are spiritual beings therefore have no physical bodies therefore NO PAIN RECEPTORS are ‘cast’ into it. Furthermore, death and hell are thrown into this ‘lake of fire’ so obviously it is FIGURATIVE. As God spoke the world into being he will simple by ‘the breath of His mouth’ speak them out of being because HE is the CONSUMING FIRE.
Thanks for the comment.
Not everything in Revelation is symbolic. After all, Is Jesus Christ symbolic? Is God symbolic? Heaven? The Earth? John? Angels? Great tribulations on Earth? Judgment Day? As such, the student of the Scriptures has to determine what is literal in Revelation and what is figurative, as well as what’s a combo of each.
Yes, for unredeemed human beings the lake of fire is the “second death” where God will “destroy both soul and body” (Matthew 10:28), but this doesn’t negate that the lake of fire is an actual place created by God. Scripture interprets Scripture. The Bible elsewhere describes the lake of fire as “the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41). As you can see, the lake of fire was something prepared by the LORD for a particular purpose. The aforenoted Matthew 10:28 even shows that God will destroy the soul & body of condemned human beings “in hell,” aka Gehenna, which is a symbolic reference to the lake of fire. For more info on Gehenna, the “Valley of Hinnom,” go here.
What do we know about spiritual beings and what they feel or cannot feel? The physical realm was created from the invisible spiritual realm (Hebrews 11:3). Angelic beings are described in the Bible as having spiritual forms or bodies, which you can read about here. The mass of demonic spirits known as ‘Legion’ shouted to the mighty Christ: “What do you want with us, Son of God?” they shouted. “Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?” (Matthew 8:29). This shows that evil spirits can feel pain.
If you’re interested in further study on the topic of damnation, here is the Contents Page to the web-version of HELL KNOW, which provides access to each chapter.
If he said of Judas it would have been better had he not been born, then doesn’t that imply some type of punishment after death?
Also when Jesus says Sodom and Gomorrah will condemn this generation on Judgment Day, what are your thoughts?
Thanks for the feedback.
No one here is denying that there is punishment after death for the unrepentant. But, according to the Bible, what is the penalty of sin for human beings? Death (Romans 6:23), which can either be relatively quick or longer and more painful. The unsaved dead will be resurrected from Sheol (Hades) to be divinely judged on Judgment Day and cast into the lake of fire if their names are not found in the Book of Life (Revelation 20:11-15); there they will suffer the “second death,” which is destruction of soul & body as they are wholly consumed by raging fire (Matthew 10:28, Hebrews 10:26-27,31, Luke 19:27 & 2 Peter 3:7).
To answer, go to this chapter of HELL KNOW and scroll down to the section Conscious Suffering Meted Out as Divine Justice Requires.
If you’re interested in further study on the topic, here is the Contents Page to the web-version of HELL KNOW, which provides access to each chapter.
I’m a Christian ,and have accepted Christ as my savior ,this is new to me. I was very insecure for years on this fear teaching of eternal hell. I’m searching, because what I have been taught about hell could be wrong.
Hi David. I suggest starting with D. Barry’s Conditional Immortality, which is a great introduction to the topic.
If you want more details, read HELL KNOW.
Both links bring you to the Contents Page of each book, where you can then access any of the chapters.
For even more details, check out SHEOL KNOW.
…Like Lewis, most do not like the doctrine of eternal punishment. Throughout history some have taken up the mantle to prove it wrong. We are in one of those periods. But the Scriptures are clear. Jesus is the one who taught the most about eternal punishment and warned of it. He knew the consequences and died to provide an escape. Heed his work and warning.
Thanks for the feedback Don.
Jesus taught eternal punishment and not eternal punishing, as explained here (scroll down to the section “They Will Go Away to Eternal Punishment”). This “eternal punishment” is literal eternal death with no hope of resurrection, as verified by numerous clear passages, like Romans 6:23, Matthew 10:28, Luke 19:27 & Hebrews 10:26-27,31).
Your comment pertains to one article from a vast website on the nature of human damnation that honestly and thoroughly addresses every side of the issue. This website consists of three web-books and several additional articles. I encourage you to start with HELL KNOW. Here’s the Contents Page, which provides access to all ten chapters and two appendixes. Here’s Chapter One.
If you have any additional comments/questions/rebukes please write me at: email@example.com
God Bless You!
“WOW,” I was taught and believed that multitudes upon multitudes of humans will suffer “eternal torment” for 100 trillion years, and then another 100 trillion years, and then another 100 trillion years, and it goes on and on with no hope of it ever ending.
I am certain that each one of us, deep inside of our very being, know that something just does not add up concerning this picture. But, we just can’t quite figure out what is it that we are not understanding correctly.
Want about man’s moral behavior? If there is no eternal torture or hell, why fear for God? People will say “fine, this is life, I can do whatever I want, who cares? I will once die and then it’s all over….”
Thanks for the feedback.
Your argument is addressed in this chapter of HELL KNOW, just scroll down to the section ‘Everlasting Destruction Isn’t Severe Enough’.
I encourage you to study the topic in detail. Here’s the Contents Page to HELL KNOW, which provides access to all the chapters. Here’s the first chapter.
Don’t hesitate to write if you have further questions.
In 2 Thessalonians 2:15 it speaks of keeping our traditions: “So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.” Isn’t the eternal torment in hell teaching one of those traditions?
The Greek word for “teachings” in this passage, could refer to instructions (i.e. teachings) or traditions, thus it’s rendered as “teachings” in this verse in the NIV; the same goes for 2 Thessalonians 3:6.
Whether teachings or traditions, what was the teaching on human damnation in 51-52 AD when Paul wrote this epistle? The answer is literal everlasting destruction. For instance, in the previous chapter of this very epistle Paul emphatically states:
For details on what was taught on human damnation in Christian circles during the 1st Century see this chapter of HELL KNOW, as well as the following chapter.
But in 2 Peter 2:6 further down it says : then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trial, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment.
Doesnt it show he will keep them in punishment until judgment?
What else does it mean?
Thanks for the feedback, Margot. 🙂
The verse you are referring to is 2 Peter 2:9. Go here and you’ll observe that the various English translations render this verse in one of two basic ways: (1.) The way your quote reads and (2.) the way other versions render it, like the King James Version, the revised NIV, the Berean Study Bible and the International Standard Version. For instance, the KJV words it like so:
The NIV and Berean Study Bible render it like so:
And the ISV renders it thusly:
For more insights from 2 Peter go to this chapter of HELL KNOW. For insights on the nature of the intermediate state between physical death and bodily resurrection see SHEOL KNOW. (Those links to HELL KNOW and SHEOL KNOW go to the Contents Page of each book, where you can access every chapter).
Great articles on the Satan inspired doctrine of eternal torment. I have been blessed in knowing for many years that this Satanic teaching was a false one, but your site brings it all together for those who are just beginning to question. One thing I would ask that you to do as your next major study. Your commentary appears to indicate that you believe in the teaching of salvation in this life or condemnation(2nd death )This false doctrine is the ugly companion to the false doctrine of eternal torment and equally impugns God’s character. I have searched this doctrine out as well and proven it to be false. Intuitively, we all should know that God the Father will not condemn the billions who have lived and died unconverted, tens of millions of whom, had never even heard the name of Christ, much less, who He was or what He said. It boils down to having an understanding of God’s plan for mankind and the timing of those plans. Best regards. Brad Tunell