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jaketheripper's avatar

To believing Christians: Is Hell a punishment or a consequence?

Asked by jaketheripper (2773points) August 17th, 2009

Sometimes God is described as being really pissed at sinners and he wants them to go to hell to be punished
Sometimes God is described as going to the end of the earth to help us but that some of us refuse that hell is a consequence of that
What do you think
please provide scripture or biblical reasoning

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jaketheripper's avatar

@MrKnowItAll That answer is why i put that little bit about scripture or biblical reasoning in my question.

MrKnowItAll's avatar

@jaketheripper Biblical reasoning is an oxymoron.

jaketheripper's avatar

@MrKnowItAll lol why did you answer this question if you feel that way? And why would you say something like we should pray to Jesus if you feel that the Bible is nonsense anyway?

teh_kvlt_liberal's avatar

I’m not a Christian, but Hell does exist.
It’s called Florida

eponymoushipster's avatar

Hell is simply the common grave. It is a place of non-existence, not of torment, in fire or otherwise. (Buddhists have both a cold and hot hell)

The idea of “Hell” as most people express it has pre-Christian roots. In Romans, it simply states that the wages sin pays is death. So, if once you die, you’ve paid for your sins by that, there would be no further reason to torment someone after that. It states in the Bible that “God is love”. If that is so, then He wouldn’t eternally torment someone after their death. In His view, they’ve paid for their sin by dying. It’s done.

Look into the meanings of the Hebrew word Sheol, the Greek word Hades and the word Gehenna.

People often point to Hell as a sign of God being vindictive, hateful, etc. But the concept that most people share of it is from people, not based on what is said in the Bible. Someone may say biblical reasoning is oxymoronic. However, when you mix in things that aren’t in the Bible, then it isn’t biblical reasoning.

@teh_kvlt_liberal can’t argue with that…:)

cyn's avatar

Arizona is also another hell!
<——-agrees with @eponymoushipster

jaketheripper's avatar

@eponymoushipster the bible describes hell in more detail and christianity seems pretty unanimous with the idea that we exist in suffering after death. thanks for the thoughts but i have to disagree

eponymoushipster's avatar

@jaketheripper could you provide some back up to what you’re saying? and, too, what “Christianity” teaches is not always in harmony with what the Bible teaches.

Where does it say to celebrate Jesus’ birth? Where does it say to have a clergy class and a lay class? Where does it say to venerate Mary?

Most of what spews out of “Christianity” is a mix of traditions, pagan ideas mixed with Christianity – in order to make quick converts, and misapplication of Scripture.

And without any points to back up what you’re saying, you don’t have much of an argument.

cyn's avatar

The bible is a big contradiction. It contradics itself! I cannot believe in something that contradicts itself!

jaketheripper's avatar

Almost every christian denomination believes this way. Catholics, Methodists, Presbyterians, Baptists, Nazarenes, Most groups that would be classified as emergent also believe this way. BTW im not catholic so I don’t have believe in A clergy class and a lay class or the veneration of mary. but i see your point. I believe you are mistaking traditions and practices from core doctrines.

eponymoushipster's avatar

@cyndihugs as the person who wrote that notes, not all those things are necessarily contradictions. furthermore, some of those point to things in Jeremiah, and other books, where a prophet was sent to warn Israel about what would happen if they disobeyed. After they were freed from slavery in Egypt, they willfully entered into a covenant with God. He told that what would happen to them if they didn’t live up to their end of the bargain.

Obviously, i can’t comment on every point there; time nor space allow. However, i’ll show you one that simply is a matter of translation and some reasoning.

Is Jesus equal to or lesser than?

JOH 10:30 I and my Father are one.

JOH 14:28 Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I.

First off, the Trinity is not a Bible teaching. That too has pre-Christian roots. Jesus is a separate entity from God. They were “one” in that they had they were in accord, they acted in harmony. Jesus perfectly reflected His Father’s qualities and personality. Even people today say “we’re of one mind on the matter”. Does that mean there’s literally one mind between them? No. They’re simply acting in harmony.


just because it’s widely accepted doesn’t make it right. during wars, both sides claim God is on their side, even of the same religion. are they right, simply because they make that claim?

In ancient Babylonian and Assyrian beliefs the “nether world . . . is pictured as a place full of horrors, and is presided over by gods and demons of great strength and fierceness.” (The Religion of Babylonia and Assyria, Boston, 1898, Morris Jastrow, Jr., p. 581)

Early evidence of the fiery aspect of Christendom’s hell is found in the religion of ancient Egypt. (The Book of the Dead, New Hyde Park, N.Y., 1960, with introduction by E. A. Wallis Budge, pp. 144, 149, 151, 153, 161)

Buddhism, which dates back to the 6th century B.C.E., in time came to feature both hot and cold hells. (The Encyclopedia Americana, 1977, Vol. 14, p. 68)

Depictions of hell portrayed in Catholic churches in Italy have been traced to Etruscan roots.—La civiltà etrusca (Milan, 1979), Werner Keller, p. 389.

eponymoushipster's avatar

@cyndihugs another one that is simply interesting is the claim that rabbits don’t chew cud. partially, Moses or anyone at the time Leviticus was written didn’t have the same scientific orders we have to define and separate the animal kingdom. but to a certain extent, they perform an act that is very similar.

to note:

Certain British scientists of this century made close observations of the rabbits’ habits under careful controls, and the results they obtained were published in the Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London, 1940, Vol. 110, pp. 159–163. Briefly this is the way the hare reingests its food: If a rabbit eats a breakfast of fresh food, it passes through the stomach into the small intestine, leaving behind in the cardiac end of the stomach some 40 or 50 grams of pellets that were already present when the fresh food was eaten. From the small intestine the morning meal enters the caecum or blind end of the large intestine and there remains for a period of time. During the day the pellets descend, and in the intestines the bacterial protein in them is digested. When they reach the large intestine they bypass the material in the caecum and go on into the colon where the excess moisture is absorbed to produce the familiar dry beans or droppings that are cast away. This phase of the cycle completed, the material stored in the dead end of the caecum next enters the colon, but instead of having all the moisture absorbed it reaches the anus in a rather soft condition. It is in pellet form with each coated with a tough layer of mucus to prevent them from sticking together. Now when these pellets reach the anus, instead of being cast away, the rabbit doubles up and takes them into the mouth and stores them away in the cardiac end of the stomach until another meal has been eaten. In this way the special rhythmic cycle is completed and most of the food has passed a second time through the digestive tract.

cyn's avatar

“I will not pity, nor spare, nor have mercy, but destroy.” (JER 13:14) “Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not, but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling.”

“The Lord is very pitiful and of tender mercy.” (JAS 5:11)
“For his mercy endureth forever.” (1CH 16:34)
“The Lord is good to all, and his tender mercies are over all his works.” (PSA 145:9)
God is love.” (1JO 4:16)\

If God is “love” why would he destroy?
see how it contradicts?

jaketheripper's avatar

Since I have concensus and authority (not mine obviously but that of almost every christian theologian who are the leading authorities on the Bible) on my side I feel like the burden of evidence rests with you. You use the verse in Romans but i think you use it incorrectly considering almost no one interprets it that way. Could you provide any other scriptures that support your view?

kalafatic's avatar

I think of hell as the absence of God

eponymoushipster's avatar

@cyndihugs as i stated earlier, in regards to Jeremiah in specific, these were warning messages to an unfaithful nation. Yes, God is love, but He also shows wisdom, justice and power.

He said “Put no other gods before my face” (or something similar in whatever translation you prefer). Yet what did they do? Ezekiel 5:11 – ” sanctuary that you defile with all your disgusting things…”. He repeatedly warned them, and they refused to listen.

In a regular family, if the children repeatedly disobey, how does the father react? Does he simply let them keep going on – playing in the street, etc? No. He says “Don’t play in the street. Don’t do this, don’t do that.” If they keep going, what happens? They’re punished in some manner. Does the father not love his children? No, of course not. If he didn’t love them, he wouldn’t bother – he’d let them do whatever. But out of love he disciplines them.

His people at that time knew what was expected of them, and willfully disobeyed, even after repeated warnings. See Deuteronomy chapter 29. They’re told what’s expected, and what will occur if they didn’t obey. (v19–21).


How do others interpret the verse in Romans 6:23? I don’t think it could be much clearer.
Furthermore, in Romans 6:7, it says “He who has died has been acquitted of his sin.”

Would eternal torment of this manner be in line with God’s personality?

Jeremiah 7:31 – “They have built the high places of Topheth, which is in the valley of the son of Hinnom, in order to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire, _a thing that I had not commanded and that had not come up into my heart._”

At Matthew 10:28, Jesus warned his hearers to “be in fear of him that can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna.” What does it mean? Notice that there is no mention here of torment in the fires of Gehenna; rather, he says to ‘fear him that can destroy in Gehenna.’ By referring to the “soul” separately, Jesus here emphasizes that God can destroy all of a person’s life prospects; thus there is no hope of resurrection for him. So, the references to the ‘fiery Gehenna’ have the same meaning as ‘the lake of fire’ of Revelation 21:8, namely, destruction, “second death.”

“Much confusion and misunderstanding has been caused through the early translators of the Bible persistently rendering the Hebrew Sheol and the Greek Hades and Gehenna by the word hell. The simple transliteration of these words by the translators of the revised editions of the Bible has not sufficed to appreciably clear up this confusion and misconception.”—The Encyclopedia Americana (1942), Vol. XIV, p. 81.

Translators have allowed their personal beliefs to color their work instead of being consistent in their rendering of the original-language words. For example: (1) The King James Version rendered she’ohl′ as “hell,” “the grave,” and “the pit”; hai′des is therein rendered both “hell” and “grave”; ge′en‧na is also translated “hell.” (2) Today’s English Version transliterates hai′des as “Hades” and also renders it as “hell” and “the world of the dead.” But besides rendering “hell” from hai′des it uses that same translation for ge′en‧na. (3) The Jerusalem Bible transliterates hai′des six times, but in other passages it translates it as “hell” and as “the underworld.” It also translates ge′en‧na as “hell,” as it does hai′des in two instances. Thus the exact meanings of the original-language words have been obscured.

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

something I’ve always found entertaining.

Many physicists now feel that the universe will eventually run out of usable energy, meaning suns, white dwarfs, red giants, and eventually black holes, will all burn out, resulting in the aptly named “Big Chill” (in reference to the big bang)

the interesting thought is, if this theory is correct, would that mean that Nordic Mythology, which tells of a Hell-like destination for evil men, only it’s a barren tundra, not a fiery inferno.

So if this theory turns out to be correct, were the viking right the whole time? ;)

Qingu's avatar

@eponymoushipster, I think it’s instructive to look at what Yahweh threatens to do to you… before he introduces the concept of hell in the New Testament.

Let’s look at Deuteronomy 28. The chapter starts off by saying, if you follow all the laws in the OT, God will reward you with lots of crops, lots of children, etc. This goes on for 15 lines.

Then, Yahweh spends 50 lines enumerating all the curses that he’ll inflict on you if you don’t follow every single one of the laws. These curses include:
• Starving you
• Inflicting you with boils
• Making you blind
• Having someone rape your fiance
• Selling you into slavery
• Forcing you to eat the flesh of your children
• Forcing you to eat your miscarriage afterbirth
“And just as the Lord took delight in making you prosperous and numerous, so the Lord will take delight in bringing you to ruin and destruction.”

So when you say you believe that this Yahweh character is loving, eponymous, I really fear for your future wife or children, because you have an incredibly warped view of what love is. The love Yahweh feels is like the love that an abusive husband feels—“you make me beat you.”

And we haven’t even got to hell, which you’ve somewhat dishonestly characterized in the watered-down C.S. Lewis fashion as an “absence.” Jesus explicitly says it’s a place of fire, of “wailing and gnashing of teeth.” And we haven’t begun to explore the colorful punishments God has in store for us in Revelation.

If you want to pretend that God made hell as an “absence” and not a punishment, that’s fine. Just stop pretending you believe in the Bible or the Christian god.

Qingu's avatar

@ABoyNamedBoobs03, that certainly sounds like the logic that Christians use to try to reconcile the Big Bang with the ex-nihilo mythology in John’s gospel.

FrogOnFire's avatar

What I was taught at a Catholic Youth Retreat is that nobody is forced to go to hell. Everyone is given a choice when they die, and the bad people will choose hell because it looks good to them.

eponymoushipster's avatar

@Qingu yes yes. every time a Bible discussion comes up, you pop in and run over your usual ramble. thanks, we get it. you’re not religious, and you don’t believe in the Bible. so obviously the beginning to the question of the OP “To believing Christians” doesn’t apply to you.

I didn’t say “absence” – i said non-existence. Read first, then you can apply your broilerplate to specifically what i said.

It’s worth noting that they did eat their own children, when the Babylonians laid siege to Jerusalem and later, when the Romans did it again in 70 AD. Was it a commandment? Mm. nope. It was a result of their disobedience. It was what they were reduced to. But i’m sure you’ll snooker up some other angry run-on.

Qingu's avatar

@eponymoushipster, I don’t really see a distinction between absence and nonexistence, but whatever.

I was mostly curious how you reconcile your assertion that God is loving—so hell can’t be a punishment—with the verses I quoted. Specifically the one where God says he will “take delight in your ruin and destruction.”

Do you think this part of the Bible is incorrect? Or do you believe that God is both loving and a self-described sadist? If you believe the latter, I fail to see how you can argue that this deity wouldn’t make hell as a punishment.

Qingu's avatar

Also, how on earth do you know that the Hebrews ate their own children when they were conquered by the Babylonians and the Romans?

And are you saying the Hebrews “deserved” this state of affairs because they disobeyed God? That’s certainly an interesting interpretation. I’d love to hear you apply that logic to, for example, the Holocaust.

jaketheripper's avatar

This is getting totally off topic. Lets get back to the original question, And please don’t use this as an excuse to attack another persons belief. Read the question and answer accordingly

cyn's avatar

I thought “God is Love”.
<——walks away crying

CMaz's avatar

“I’m not a Christian, but Hell does exist. Its called Florida”

You must live on the west coast. :-)

For all the Bible says about Hell. It is a statement to motivate you in the “right” direction.

There is no hell except for the one you choose to live or sadly end up in.

After that, all is good.

teh_kvlt_liberal's avatar

East coast actually lol

CMaz's avatar

Well, it was a 50/50 guess. lol

As Hellish as Florida gets I do prefer it to any other place. :-)

Vero Beach here.

russian123's avatar

When you say that God gets pissed at sinners, it makes sense. God hates sin. & In the bible it does talk about the wrath of God. However, God doesn’t want anybody to go to hell and be punished. That’s why Jesus came. So he could pay the price for our sins. Therefore, God loves us SO much he gave his ONLY son. This is what the bible tells us clearly. So why in the world would he want to punish us & send us to hell? The reason he gave us choice, is because he loves us that much. He wants us to join him. It’s just all up to us :)

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