We are constantly told on this forum that those who "choose to reject God" go to hell when they die. This creates a contradiction to the concept of God is love to this person, a mere paradox to that person, and a "ha you were warned!" from yet another. To be perfectly honest, Ive never been able to resolve the conflict between a loving God and the archetypal concept of hell held by most Christians I've met; I've never once heard a satisfactory explanation.
So just what is your concept of hell?
- A place where Satan and his demons torture people?
- A place where God actively wilfully torments people for an eternity?
- A great big lake of literal fire where God throws people for eternity and forgets about them?
- A great big lake of literal fire which annihilates people so that they are no more?
- A great big lake where the fire purifies people fom sin and they come out redeemed and cleansed after some period?
- A dark cold place of isolation where God is not present?
- A dark cold place full of sinners lumped together were God is not present.
- Not a place at all, but a state of being continually in the presence of a loving God, but where a person's sin produces a cowering shameful existence?
- Eternal oblivion?
- Hell does not exist in any shape form or state?
- None of the above?
Personally, I'm somewhere between the cleansing and the shame in the presence.
I don't think Hell exists literally in any sense. In some sense the idea that "bad" people are going to get what's coming to them is nice, the idea that someone in the Universe is keeping some Universal "Naughty and Nice" list is comforting. But reality doesn't conform to our fantasies of perfect karma.
Hell exists at murder scenes, where men or women lie violently dead because their lives have been taken from them by someone else. (or others).
Hell exists where abominable crime exists. It is the 'horror' of the abominable.
Hell is the human experience of pure evil in all it's insane horror.
Other hells I do not know about.
I know about these hells because I have witnessed them and felt the hell.
Hell and evil (the devil?) are tangible human experiences.
I wouldn't like to say I really know of other Hells because I don't physically know about them. Not really.
The Hell that is promised after death if we have done dreadful wrong may exist, but that all comes with the grand mystery of death and life after it.
It is better to live the best lives we can because it feels like a good spiritual experience. Obviously then, leading an evil life is leading a bad spiritual experience.
Our spirits are something I don't know about, but I do know that I am a human being with a spirit and my spirit needs to be in the right.
It would be Hell if it were wrong.
I think my opinion is in line with yours. But, I don't know that 'shame in his presence' would last any length of time. If God exists, I would think he would help the individual understand the wrong so they could experience true remorse, and then mercy and grace would soon wash over the individual so they could move on.
A cleansing fire makes a lot of sense when used to interpret many of the statements in the Bible.
Either way, the only way to resolve a merciful God to eternal existence of our spirits is to accept that the hell taught by religion is a human misunderstanding, or a calculated interpretation by the early church to instill fear.
I just cannot reconcile a loving god that says to sinners "Hard cheese young fella me lad, I told you so, it's off to the eternal flames for you. Talk to the hand....".
It also doesn't make sense to me that God's mercy and grace only works when we are alive. Why should death represent a cut off? It's as if we are back in school and given a limited time to revise for a maths exam, noting we don't know when the exam is scheduled for, and then failing with the teacher saying "tough you didn't come to me for the answers".
I also note, that as vengeful as God might appear in the Hebrew scriptures, the ultimate sanction is death, and there is no post-mortem punishment. All are resurrected, and the worst fate is "everlasting shame". Hell does not exist there in any of the archetypal christian forms.
Imagine ourselves like unto the tomato plant.
Someone says, Come into the light of the sun, for in the light of the sun is life abundant, and in the darkness is death.
Would you say that the sun has punished all of those tomato plants for not entering into the light?
Life and death are different for different things.
Fresh air and sunshine are life for the tomato plant and death for a mushroom.
I perceive hell as being anyplace where the necessities for an abundant life is absent.
That isn't exactly what I mean, but the more I try to explain it, the more words I use, the more it can be misconstrued
Cause after all, too much sun and we wither away ,,, unless we are like unto a cactus, ... and even then ???
We believe every word the Bible says...not just the parts we find "pretty". Hell is exactly what Jesus Christ said it is, a place of eternal torment where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. A very real and scary place where many go because we "Christians" refuse to warn others about it because we don't agree with its' reality.
God is a just God and He wishes for no one to enter there...sadly free will allows us to choose that destination.
When I'm to share a room with people who think like this, that'll be hell for me!
If that's the case, why would God keep it secret until someone wrote the New Testament? Would you not have thought that something so critically important would have been shared since God's first dealings with men?
However you have not quite answered the question. Do you believe God is wilfully tormenting these people, or has he locked them up and thrown away the key?
In an imaginative sense I think of Hell as a place of total isolation. The expression, "See you in Hell" is false, because why would we be allowed the comfort of our fellow man in a place of eternal torment? Even the company of evil people could be a comfort in a bad situation--strange bedfellows and all that.
Perhaps every single person in Hell thinks they're the only soul in the place.
I believe Hell is all of your shames and shortcomings in life coming under a strong magnifying light. However that may manifest I believe depends on the individual.
For mankind hell is our mandate and heaven is an option given us thru Christ by faith. Scientist have discovered that there is a ball of fire in the center of the earth...so for the record there does exist a physical lake of fire. For a man such as Jesus to die for the sins of the world, I can only assume it must be pretty tragic on the other side of death. The best word I know is torment as the rich man wanted just a drop of water! Our memories will be with us and we will be frozen in time with what we choose to believe.
I have stated my position many times before.
God has a (self induced) obligation to provide for all of His creation for eternity.
Life is a short term when we are injected into human form and when God gets to see what we do with what He gives us.
We are souls with a body, not bodies with a soul.
At the end of this gig, God must either welcome us into His presence for eternity, or grant us our wish (as illustrated by our lives) to be separated from Him for eternity.
God has this obligation to provide a location where those who by their life proofs or personal choice have illustrated that they do not want anything to do with God, or by their actions have shown they are unworthy of being with God.
Any place where God is not present, must be hell (of a sorts).
I agree that the biblical concept of hell was (and is) absent from the OT, and was absent from the NT mainly until written into the book as a way of scaring the shepple aground 300 AD.
But the misinterpretation of key words to fit their aims for control was not to say that Christ did not warn humanity about the self elected separation.
The secularists demand separation of church and state, they could hardly complain if in eternal terms God demanded the same
With regards to your last phrase John, secularists are making I'll informed decisions here. No one has been able to present to them any evidence for God's existence, because God is a matter of faith. Secularists just do not think with that mindset. Similarly, I have absolutely zero interest in William Shakespeare, and no amount of extolling of him and his plays will ever change my mindset. We are all wired differently.
Those that want a separation between God and themselves will not think the same way when faced with God Himself; why should that be too late? Sure they are not blessed for believing without seeing; they will not be kings and priests, they are condemned for unbelief (watch that definition now! It means disapproved, pronounced as wrong, sentenced, NOT a description of a sentence), but eternally cut off? I don't see it and the definition of judgement is that the punishment/discipline must match the crime. In the whole scheme of life, unbelief is hardly a crime on the scale of murder, adultery, or any other crime for which our human courts send people to prison for long sentences.
People cannot be expected to make decisions on their eternity if they just cannot relate to the concepts.
I think my explanation refers more to people who have invalidated themselves from spending eternity WITH God, because they have truly expressed that they do not wish to do so anyway, or have done some (unrepented, unreconciled and unforgiven) thing which excludes them.
Personally I have no 'told you so' ambitions, nor would I like to know, or take any satisfaction, if folk I may have known were being tortured incessantly.
To think otherwise would probably mean that the person thinking such a way deserved 'hell' more than the hapless secularist blinded by science and humanism.
Having said that, and with my understanding that life is a time when we are given over to preparing for eternity, i.e. a return to a purely spiritual state, unencumbered by flesh, I would presume that those who wilfully neglect the indications of spiritual life may be less than suited to be in it for a spiritual eternity, being so rooted in the flesh.
I guess the problem is, do we assume that God is going to say;
"Hey guys, I know you rejected my approaches all your life, ridiculed my people when they tried to tell you about their relationship with me, did your best to shake people from faith and concentrated on the flesh, whilst feeding your mind all sorts of deceptions in the search for your secular evidence, but come on in anyway"
When clearly in scripture He does have some harsh things to say about folk who reject Him?
Not sure of what hell actually is but I am with you on the cleansing purifying thing.What I do know for sure Jesus said anyone who believed on him would be saved, and his sacrifice was once and for all. In other words it covered all at anytime anywhere. It even covered the souls who died before it. Souls were saved by faith before christ even was born into the world.I believe it covers even when we leave our flesh body.
I am a natural father and I know I could not spend eternity in heaven having a glorious time knowing my son is being tormented in hell, I would ask God to send me instead. That is what God did when he sent his son.
Agreed. I also looked up the meaning of brimstone some time ago and found an interesting article by the Georgia Sulfur Mining Company. Apparently brimestone was used to preserve wine, as a disinfectant, to fumigate rooms, and as a ceremonial cleansing agent in ancient rituals. I guess there's a reason why we are given this symbology in the lake of fire.
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