vers 5.4 5/4/12 (Maundy Thursday))
there a Hell?
used to be an Evangelical Christian and used to beleive that the
Bible is "infallible as originally given".
I am no
longer a Christian but still believe in something and still believe
I no longer believe the Bible, if it is ever right
it is only be accident.
I definitely don't believe it is the
Word of God or devinely inspired.
might Hell mean?
take Hell to mean some kind of Eternal Punishment, either for bad
people or for non Christians, possibly very bad.
do I believe about Hell now?
don't beleive in any kind of Eternal Punishment. I think I believe
in an afterlife, I have reason to believe that there is some power
that cares and by extrapolation I don't think that death is the end
– that doesn't really make sense to me.
call it Heaven but I think it might not be perfect, just good. Is
there punishment there?
I think there might be but it might well
be analagous to our modern judicial system. Commesurate and
reasonable and not barbaric and not for ever.
I don't believe
that it matters what you believe with regard to what Christians
call salvation. I don't beleive that Jesus or anyone had to die to
save us; I believe we can just be let off for the things we've done
wrong, or there may be commesurate punishment in the after life if
what we've done is significantly wrong.
The commonsense Argument
most straightforward is that a good God wouldn't do that to people.
Christians believe that God is good, but a good God wouldn't
torment or punish anyone for ever. That seems obvious to me. Also
many people don't become Christians but I can't see why God would
put man on Earth just to send a lot of us to Hell. If God is the
Creator he is obviously no fool and there are many good things in
Life which suggests that he is not bad either so why would he want
to punish anyone for ever.
Also Christians believe that should
care about everyone and try to help everyone in every
way, whether or not they are Christians. This is laudable but if
there is a Hell that means Christians are better than God, and what
is the point in helping someone in some human way if they are going
to end up in Hell. I'm particularly thinking of Christians in the
medical professions who will work to help every one that they meet
in their jobs. A similar point is how can Christians have (or cope
with) non Christian friends and family. The whole thing is
unlivable with which suggests it's not true.
does the Bible teach?
Book of Revelation teaches that Hell is the Lake of fire, which is
horrific in the extreme and in my opinion a thoroughly unacceptable
and damaging belief. Many Christians don't beleive the book of
Revelation should be taken literally or should be in the Bible,
which I think is a good thing. It was the last book to be
Cannonised which is significant if you believe the Bible.
does the Bible teach outside of the Book of Revelation?
which is very telling is the Old Testament doesn't mention Eternal
Punishment, and there isn't much of a mention of an after life
either. Just Sheol, the place of the dead. The Old Testament is
supposed to be authoritative for Evangelical Christians but here a
conventional Evangelical reading of the New Testament (some kind of
Eternal Punishment) is inconsistant with the Old Testament.
help mentioning that the Old Testament only believes in one God,
whereas the New Testament is Trinitarian. But this is off the
This is a bit of surprise to Evangelicals if you
beleive in Eternal Punishment but I did a Bible Study on it once
and if you go to the Greek you will find that (to my knowledge)
there is only one verse that suggests Eternal Punishment which is
in the parable of the sheep and the goats in (I think) Matthew 5.
Jesus says somehing like "they shall go to Everlasting
The two Greek words that are used for Hell are
Hades (which you can just say is the Greek place of the dead rather
like the Old Testament Sheol which is not necessarily punishment)
and Gehenna which was a valley outside Jersusalem used for burning
This is not necessarily eternal either. There is
another word for Hell, Tartarus, but this is only used once and not
for people but demons.
(In one of the Epistles.) All the other
references to punishment in the afterlife are not clear or
suggestive of something temporary.
There is the parabal of the
Rich Man and Lazarus, but that is a parabal and you need to be
careful about basing doctrine on parabals. The main thrust of that
parabal is that the Rich Man should have treated Lazarus better and
didn't escape punishment for it.
The Greek words for Hell (see
above) are translated Hell in the English Bible and people may just
assume that that means some kind of Eternal Punishment because that
is what Hell means, but my point is that it doesn't have to.
is only one verse which you can ignore if you want to on
commonsense grounds, depending on what you believe about the
inspiration of the Bible. It could be an error even if you believe
the Bible is infallible as originally given.
anyone want to believe in Hell?
think why anyone reasonable would want to believe it unless they
were frightened they would go there if they didn't beleive it.
Good News is that you can be a Bible believing Christian and not
Believe in Eternal Punishment.
(This is what John Stott said in
his book Essentials.)
is Hell in the Bible?
and rather regretfully I think it suggests anialation. (I don't
beleive this is true for a moment and I think it is thoroughly
unacceptable but it is a better belief than Eternal Punishment.)