Hell is a topic that many believers are excited about, but also worrying about. Linked to it is one of the most controversial and controversial doctrines of the Christian faith. The argument is not even about the certainty that corruption and wickedness are judged. Most Christians agree that God will judge evil. The battle over hell is all about how it will look, what temperatures will prevail there, and how long it will be exposed to it. The debate is about understanding and communicating divine justice - and people like to transfer their definition of time and space to eternity.
But the Bible does not say that God needs our stained vision to translate it into his perfect image of eternity. While the Bible says surprisingly little about what it will be like in hell, it is rarely judged with a cool head when it comes to concrete facts in this regard. When theories are discussed, for example, with regard to the intensity of suffering in hell - how hot it will be there and how long the suffering will last - many of them become hypertensive and tension fills the room.
Some Christians hold the view that what is true faith turns out to be hell. Some show themselves uncompromising, as far as their greatest possible terror is concerned. Any deviant perspective is dismissed as liberalistic, progressive, anti-faith, and tempting, and, unlike a belief that persistently clings to sinners who are given over to the hands of a wrathful god, rather attributed to stupid humans. In some circles of faith one sees in the conviction that hell causes untold torments, a veritable test of true Christianity.
There are Christians who believe in the divine judgment, but are not so dogmatic as to the details. I belong to it. I believe in the divine judgment in which hell stands for eternal divine distance; As far as the details are concerned, however, I am anything but dogmatic. And I believe that the alleged necessity of eternal torments as a justified act of satisfying an angry God stands in stark contradiction to the loving God, as revealed in the Bible.
I am skeptical about a picture of hell that is defined by balancing justice - the belief that God puts suffering on sinners because they didn't deserve it any other way. And I reject the thought that God's anger can be appeased by people (or at least their souls) are slowly roasted on a spit, just plain. Retribution justice is not part of the image of God as I know it. I firmly believe, however, that the Bible's testimony teaches that God will judge evil; furthermore, I am convinced that he will not cause eternal torment to people by imposing on them physical, mental and spiritual punishments that will not end.
Do we defend our own personal idea of hell?
Biblical passages about hell can undoubtedly be and will be interpreted in many ways. These contradictory interpretations go back to the theological and spiritual baggage of Bible verses - according to the motto: I see it that way and you see it differently. Our carry-on luggage can help us to make sound theological conclusions, or we can force ourselves down and lead us far from the truth.
The viewpoint of hell that ultimately represents Bible exegetes, pastors, and teachers of the Scriptures is, so it seems, without sacrifices those from which they personally emanate from the beginning and which they seek to prove later in the Bible.
So while we should honestly consult the Bible's own testimony, when it comes to hell, it is important to realize that it is often used merely to validate preconceived beliefs. Albert Einstein warned that we should seek to know what is real and not what we want to know.
Many Christians who call themselves conservative believe that the authority of the Bible is at stake even in this fight for and about hell. In her opinion, only a literally understood hell of eternal torment coincides with the biblical precept. The picture of hell they champion is the one they have been taught. It is the hellish picture they may need to maintain the status quo of their religious world view. Some are so convinced of the accuracy and necessity of their religious image of hell that they simply do not want to accept any evidence or logical objection that challenges their point of view.
The hellish picture of eternal torment represents the great, threatening tail for many groups of beliefs. It is the instrument of discipline with which they threaten their sheep and guide them in the direction they deem appropriate. While hell, as seen by extremely biased believers, may be a compelling disciplining tool to keep the sheep on track, it is unlikely to bring people closer to God. After all, those who join these groups because they do not want to fall by the wayside are not attracted to this kind of religious training camp because of God's unparalleled, all-embracing love.
At the other extreme, there are Christians who believe that God's judgment of evil is equivalent to a brief preparation in the microwave - quickly, effectively and relatively painlessly. They see the energy and heat released by nuclear fusion metaphorically for the painless cremation with which God will no doubt punish evil. These Christians, sometimes called advocates of annihilation, seem to God to be gracious Dr. Kevorkian (an American doctor who assisted 130 suicide patients) who administered a lethal injection to sinners who had been killed in hell (which results in a painless death).
Although I do not believe in a hell of eternal torment, I do not join the advocates of annihilation. Both perspectives do not go into all biblical evidence and, in my opinion, do not fully do justice to our Heavenly Father, who is above all characterized by love.
Hell, as I see it, is synonymous with eternal distance from God, but I believe that our corporeality, our limitations, in terms of logic and language, do not allow us to pinpoint the implications of God's judgment. I can not conclude that God's judgment will be marked by the idea of retribution or the pain and suffering that the corrupted inflicted upon others in the course of their lives; because I do not have sufficient biblical evidence to support such a theory. Above all, however, the nature of God counteracts the hauntings of eternal torment.
Speculation: How will it be in hell?
Literally, hell marked by eternal torment is a place of immense suffering, dominated by heat, fire, and smoke. This view assumes that our sense of fire and destruction, which are subject to human standards, are one to one equated with the eternal torments.
But is hell really a place? Does it already exist or will it be fueled at a later date? Dante Alighieri postulated that hell was a huge inward-turned cone whose tip pierced the center of the earth. Although such scriptures attributed hell to several earthly locations, it is also referred to non-earthly.
One of the arguments to heaven and hell that obey the laws of logic is that the literal existence of one is dependent on that of the other. Many Christians have solved this logical problem by equating heaven with eternal closeness to God, while attributing eternal distance from God to hell. But the true-to-the-letter advocates of the image of hell are not at all pleased with the views that they call excuses. They insist that such explanations are nothing more than watered-down theological Vishivashi. But how can hell be a proven, geographically localizable, fixed location? (be it in the past and present, including eternity or as an inferno, the coals of retribution of which still have to be made to glow), on which the physical pain of eternal torments of hell are to be endured by non-physical souls?
Some proponents of faith in the letter hypothesize that God will provide those unworthy of heaven upon arrival in hell with special suits fully equipped with pain receptors. This notion - the grace of forgiveness that God forgives forgiveness - will actually put the souls given to hell in a suit that will make them suffer everlasting pains - is brought forward by otherwise rational people who seem to be overpowered by their righteous piety. According to some of these faithful followers, it is necessary to appease God's wrath; therefore, the souls given to hell will be given a suit of God appropriate to them, and not one that derives from the sadistic arsenal of the instruments of torture made by Satan.
Eternal torture - a satisfaction for God or rather for us?
If such a picture of hell, shaped by eternal torments, can be shocking when confronted with the God of love, we, as people of such a doctrinal doctrine, can certainly also gain something. From a purely human point of view, we are not taken with the idea that someone can do something bad without being held accountable. We want to make sure that the just punishment of God does not let anyone go unpunished. Some say that it is important to soothe God's wrath, but this forensic sense of justice is actually a human-based innovation that only serves our human understanding of fairness. However, we should not be soothed in the same way as we are, in the belief that God wants to transfer our concept of fair play to God.
Do you remember as a small child spared no effort to point out to your parents an imminent misstep of their siblings? They were reluctant to watch your siblings get away with anything, especially if you were already punished for the same transgression. It was about meeting your sense of compensatory justice. Perhaps you know the story of the believer who lay awake at night because, convinced that somewhere someone escaped unpunished, he could not sleep.
Eternal hellish torments can comfort us because they are in tune with the human desire for justice and fair play. The Bible, however, teaches us that God acts obedient in the lives of men through His grace and not the human-imposed definitions of fair play. And the Scriptures also make it very clear that we humans do not always recognize the greatness of God's wonderful grace. Between, I'll see that you get what you deserve and God will make sure you get what you deserve is a fine line. We have our notions of justice, often based on the Old Testament principle of an eye for an eye , Tooth for tooth, but there are just our ideas.
However devotedly we follow a theologian or a systematic theology who postulates the appeasing of God's wrath, the truth remains that it is up to God alone, as he does to adversaries (his and ours). Paul reminds us: Do not take revenge, dear ones, but give room to the wrath of God; because it is written: 'Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord' (Rom 12,19).
Many of the hair-raising, creepy, and shattering, detailed representations of hell that I've heard and read about come from religious sources and forums that explicitly use the same language in a different context than would be condemned inappropriately and barbarically, as it would reduce human lust for bloodshed and Violence speaks the word. But the passionate desire for God's just punishment is so great that, due to the lack of specific biblical foundations, a human-driven judiciary gains the upper hand. Religious lynching mobs who insist that the eternal torments of hell they propagated served God are rife in wide circles of Christianity (see John 16,2).
It is a religious cult to insist that those who do not live up to the beliefs here on earth will have to atone for their failure forever. According to many Christians, hell will be reserved for the unsaved now and in the future. Not saved? Who exactly are the unsaved? In many circles of the faith, those who are outside their specific limits of faith are called unsaved. Some of these groups and some of their teachers admit that among the (from the eternal torments of divine wrath), some of those saved may also be outside of their organization. However, it can be assumed that practically all religions that propagate an image of hell characterized by eternal torment take the view that eternal salvation can be achieved most safely if one moves within their confessional boundaries.
I reject a stubborn, hard-hearted viewpoint that pays homage to a god of wrath who condemns those outside the strictly defined boundaries of faith. A dogmatic dogmatism that insists on eternal damnation can only be regarded as a means of justifying the sense of human justice. Thus, believing that God is like us, we can faithfully serve as travel agents who offer a journey without return to eternal torment - assigning them their rightful place in hell, in violation of our religious traditions and teachings ,
Does Grace annihilate the eternal Hellfire?
One of the most important and at the same time Gospel-based objections to the most horrible of all conceivable hellish images of eternal torment, we find in the message of the Good News. Legitimate faith describes free-ride tickets from hell that are awarded to people based on their work. However, a predominant occupation with the hell inevitably leads to people being too self-absorbed. Of course, we can strive to lead our lives so that we do not go to hell by trying to live according to arbitrary bid and ban lists. We do not necessarily miss out on the fact that others may not try as hard as we do - and so, to help us sleep well at night, we volunteer to help God and give others a place in a hell marked by eternal torments to reserve.
In his work The Great Divorce CS Lewis takes us on a bus tour of ghosts who set off from hell to heaven in the hope of a permanent right to stay.
They encounter the dwellers of the sky, whom Lewis calls the redeemed forever. A great spirit is astonished to find here in heaven a man of whom he knows that he has been accused on earth of murder and executed.
The Spirit asks: What I would like to know is what you have to do as a damned murderer here in heaven, while I had to go the other way and spend all those years in a place that is more like a pigsty.
The One who is saved forever tries to explain that both the person he murdered and himself saw himself reconciled to Heavenly Father before the throne of God.
But the mind simply can not accept this explanation. It contradicts his sense of justice. The injustice of knowing that he is eternally saved in heaven, while he himself is condemned to remain in hell, literally overcomes him.
So he screams at the one who is redeemed forever and asks him for his rights: I just want my rights ... I have the same rights as you, are not you?
This is exactly where Lewis wants to lead us. He lets those who have been saved forever answer: I did not get what was mine, otherwise I would not be here. And you won't get what you're entitled to either. You get something far better (The Great Divorce, CS Lewis, Harper Collins, San Francisco, pp. 26, 28).
The testimony of the Bible - is it to be understood literally or metaphorically?
The proponents of a picture of hell, as it could not be worse and more durable, must rely on the literal interpretation of all the Bible passages concerning hell. In the 14. Dante Alighieri in his work The Divine Comedy introduced hell as a place of horror and unimaginable torment. Dante's hell was a place of sadistic torture where the wicked were condemned to writhing in unending pain and boiling in the blood while their screams echoed in eternity.
Some of the early church fathers believed that the redeemed in heaven could bear witness in real time to the tortures of the damned. Following the same style, contemporary authors and teachers theorize today that the Almighty is present in hell to be virtually personally aware that his judgment of God is actually being enforced. Indeed, some followers of the Christian faith actually teach that those who are in heaven will by no means grieve to know family members and other beloved people in hell, but that their eternal bliss, knowing that they are above God's righteousness, even more aggravated, and their concern for the men once loved on earth, who now endure eternal torments, will seem comparatively meaningless.
When faithful to the Bible (paired with a distorted sense of justice) gets dangerous, absurd thoughts quickly gain the upper hand. I cannot imagine how those who come to God's kingdom by God's grace can feed on the torture of others - let alone their loved ones! Rather, I believe in a God who never stops loving us. I also believe that there are many illustrative descriptions and metaphors used in the Bible that God input should be understood by people as well. And God did not inspire the use of metaphors and poetic words in the hope that we would distort their meaning by taking them literally.
by Greg Albrecht