Hell: Here I go again

flames.jpgFor about a year or two, I have had what I will readily admit is a bizarre obsession with the “theology” of hell.

I’ve written about it. A lot. But not in a few months. For the most part, I’ve been whining about how, in most evangelical circles, “hell” (i.e., what is it? who goes there? for how long? what happens to you while you’re there?) is seldom discussed any longer. Indeed, it sometimes seems like it is anathema to bring up the subject.

So…at risk of developing a reputation as someone who is overly obsessed on this topic, below, I have tried to summarize the implications of what I believe was the mainstream evangelical view about 30-40 years ago. No one would quite say it in this many words, but it seems to be the inescapable conclusion insofar as the questions of sin, hell, and salvation are concerned:

The vast majority of human beings are destined to be tormented by God in the most unimaginable ways possible for all of eternity.

To put it mildly, this seems to be a very grim perspective, particularly for people who claim to be bringing “good news” into the Earth. Will this be the true nature of the universe – the ultimate reality – for virtually all of humanity that has lived, that is now living, and that will ever live? 

My working theory is that a lot of folks are uncomfortable with this way of thinking, but they aren’t sure there is an alternative that is faithful to scripture. On the other hand, part of the reason there seems to be no viable alternative may be precisely because everyone has stopped talking about it. A lot of street-level evangelical theology has changed in the last 20 years or so. Perhaps the thinking on this subject may have also changed if it were only discussed more openly.

What do you think? Has the time come to have a long, hard look at this subject? Or should I just get over the whole thing, because everything that needs to be said has already been said?

At this point, I’m not even asking anyone to take a position here. I’m just wondering if anyone else thinks its worth talking about…

4 Responses to Hell: Here I go again

  1. Jonathan Sharp says:

    Yes, it’s worth thinking about.

    The annihilationist view has gotten some legs lately, and been attacked more vigorously as a result.

    The problem with discussing it (at least from what I have seen) has been that if anyone publicly veers from the Dante-esque traditional view of eternal suffering, then one is consigned to it by the protectors of that view.

  2. bonnieq says:

    There is so much mis-information out there about “hell” and what happens after a person dies the first death: death of the flesh, as it were. To begin with, the word “hell” as used in the Bible means “grave.” Therefore, it is not a place of fire and brimstone, torture and torment.

    Those who die-in-Christ, simply sleep. According to various scriptures throughout the Bible, when they awaken to Christ calling their name when He comes in the clouds, they will rise up and feel as though they slept only over night.

    Sadly, those who die-without Christ, their spirit being does not sleep: there is “weeping and wailing and grinding of their teeth,” which means they know that they are slated for the 2nd resurrection and utter destruction. The “suffering for eternity” also has been mis-taught. These will suffer for 1000 years, then be resurrected to utter destruction. In fact, the Bible states that the righteous will walk upon their ashes.

    As for those of the first resurrection, they are caught up with those still living-in-Christ to meet Christ in the air; where, scripture states they will ‘escorted to the safe haven of heaven’ for 1000 years: during which time Earth will lie fallow, unable to support life. This is called her Sabbath rest.

    There are so many scriptures involved that I could not hope to include them all here.

    Love in Christ,
    Truth Seekers and Speakers, link on blog
    Unicorn Haven, link on blog

  3. yngtadpole says:

    It you believe in Hell, then you should be talking about hell.

  4. Matt says:

    Thanks all for stopping by.

    Jonathan – I think you make a good point. People do not like to have the Dante-esque concept of hell challenged. WHY they don’t is something of a puzzle to me. If there were anohter possiblity that is equally (or more) faithful to scripture, wouldn’t you want to at least explore it – hear someone out on it?

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