Tract #66: Does Hell Make Sense?

Tract #66, Does Hell Make Sense?, is ready for you to print and hand out. Download it, see page #3 for printing instructions, and let me know your comments! Thanks!

066_problem-of-hell.pdf


Does Hell Make Sense?

Hell, in the traditional Christian sense, is a place of eternal torment where unrepentant and unredeemed sinners are punished until the end of time. Does a Hell of this kind make sense, given that it was supposedly created by an infinitely just and loving God?

The first thing we have to decide is what kind of crime is so severe that justice demands eternal punishment in payment. In those versions of Christianity that hold with this image of Hell, being born human and not accepting Jesus as your savior may be considered sufficient to earn you damnation. They might say that all the little sins over the course of one’s lifetime, particularly when added to the “original sin” of Adam and Eve, earn one an eternity of torment.

This essentially makes being tortured forever humanity’s default state, something you have to get out of instead of something that you are given as punishment for a specific act.

Others might say that the sin of rebelling against God — either by refusing to recognize him or breaking his laws — is such a large sin that eternal punishment is completely just. But isn’t the magnitude of a crime in part determined by how much damage it does or could do? And isn’t it true that a mere human could not possibly do any damage to this crime’s victim — God? That leaves us with eternal punishment for doing something that caused no damage. Not exactly just.

Perhaps sinful humanity is so dirty and repulsive that we can’t be allowed into Heaven without first being cleaned by Jesus. Okay, maybe that’s the case. But then why is the only alternative to Heaven endless torture? Why couldn’t God create a place that isn’t Heaven, but that the only thing horrible about it is its distance from God? Wouldn’t that be more loving and just?

Some argue that God doesn’t send anyone to Hell. Rather, people choose to go to Hell by rejecting God. If that’s the case, don’t you think these people would change their mind as soon as they experienced Hell? Wouldn’t they immediately repent of their sins and accept God? If they didn’t, could they in any sense be said to be in their right mind, and might not it be unjust for God to be punishing crazy people so severely?

Some religious people say that it is too late to change your mind once you are in Hell. You had your chance to repent, but didn’t take it. This makes as much sense as a parent whose child wants to eat a cactus forcing the child to eat the whole thing after it pricked its tongue and found that cactus-eating is a bad idea. And to make the analogy more exact, the parent wouldn’t just make the child eat the cactus, it would make the child eat cactus after cactus for all eternity.

This doesn’t sound like justice.

In fact, nothing about Hell sounds like justice.

Could an infinitely loving, good, and just being really have created such a system?

Posted on January 29, 2010 at 9:51 pm by ideclare · Permalink
In: Tract

5 Responses

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  1. Written by Rick Lannoye
    on February 1, 2010 at 11:39 am
    Reply · Permalink

    You make a number of excellent points to show that Hell cannot possibly exist!

    I’ve actually written an entire book on this topic–Hell? No! Why You Can Be Certain There’s No Such Place As Hell, (for anyone interested, you can get a free ecopy of Did Jesus Believe in Hell?, one of the most compelling chapters of my book at http://www.thereisnohell.com), but if I may, please allow me to share one of the many points I make in it to add to yours–that not even Jesus believed in Hell; he couldn’t have!

    If one is willing to look, there’s substantial evidence contained in the gospels to show that Jesus opposed the idea of Hell. For example, in Luke 9:51-56, is a story about his great disappointment with his disciples when they actually suggested imploring God to rain FIRE on a village just because they had rejected him. His response: “You don’t know what spirit is inspiring this kind of talk!” Presumably, it was NOT the Holy Spirit. He went on, trying to explain how he had come to save, heal and relieve suffering, not be the CAUSE of it.

    So it only stands to reason that this same Jesus, who was appalled at the very idea of burning a few people, for a few horrific minutes until they were dead, could never, ever burn BILLIONS of people for an ETERNITY!

    True, there are a few statements that made their way into the copies of copies of copies of the gospel texts which place “Hell” on Jesus’ lips, but these adulterations came along many decades after his death, most likely due to the Church filling up with Greeks who imported their belief in Hades with them when they converted.

  2. Written by levhita
    on February 2, 2010 at 10:41 am
    Reply · Permalink

    As I understand there isn’t really much about Hell in the bible, it was “created” as we know it now, in the middle ages, as a way to intimidate people.

    The most modern view of hell comes from Dante’s Divine Comendy, circa 1321.

    Being the Divine Comedy, not exactly a religious text but more like poem created to complain about the sins of those days, there is no way someone would really believe in “that” hell.

  3. Written by Kodanshi
    on September 13, 2010 at 12:29 pm
    Reply · Permalink

    I’d like to point out that nothing about this argument NECESSARILY points to the non–existence of Hell (though I don’t believe in Heaven or Hell), but simply that an eternity of fiery torment cannot exist in conjunction with a just and loving deity.

    I would also like to point out that most people with children would never punish their children forever even if that child rejected the parent. Does that, therefore, make us morally superior to god? I believe it does.

  4. Written by Tom_M
    on July 3, 2011 at 6:39 pm
    Reply · Permalink

    Tract #66: Does Hell Make Sense?

    I think that the first question that should be asked concerns the source of the information from which this arises. Does the Bible say that this “hell” is the case? If one is to trust that the God of this Bible will always speak truth (and not lie), then one must accept the claim that there is a “hell”. Why? Because the only way for God is to be believed is if He only tells the truth (always). Those who’ve written about Him in the various books of the Bible make the statement, several times, that God is Truth. He is synonymous with truth. It follows that if He says there is a place (condition) called “hell”, then there is.

    Now, what exactly IS “hell”. You’ve stated that it’s a place (condition) of eternal torment. The Bible writer communicates as close a description as he can make about the anguish suffered there – a searing pain akin to burning. Is it really a physical sensation? Or, is it a mental anguish brought on by the realization that one had the chance to accept the Truth, but opted to choose a pseudo-truth (an imperfect fragment, or was totally erroneous) about reality? [The torment of one 'beating oneself up over missed opportunity' in addition to a very real abuse by Satan and his demons (who realize that they've lost the battle with God, and are really pissed)?] Mental anguish can be many times more painful than any physical problem. But, if the physical is added to the mental, then that would be a very uncomfortable condition – wouldn’t it?

    How many of you are a parent? Are your children past the age of eight or nine? For those who are, there was a time in your parenting when you would admonish the child over some unacceptable behavior. After saying it for the umpteenth time, you probably were frustrated and imposed something more severe – right? There will be a time when God has exceeded His patience, knowing that no more people will be convinced to mend their ways. Cause always has an effect. If a person is in a state of sin (unacceptable to God), then a solution rejected will incur a negative reinforcement (punishment). The condition will be the opposite of that experienced by those who chose to heed His admonitions. The effect that will occur doesn’t have to be an active chastisement, although the Bible describes such events. It may take the form of Him turning His back on those who rejected Him – as Jesus alluded to in His short parable about those folks too late for the feast (and the door having been closed). The late-comers standing outside pleaded to be allowed entrance. And His response was to ‘go away, I don’t know you’.

    Since the people in the parable had had no time for God, and were more interested in the world in which we physically live, He leaves them to their mortal condition. After death, they’ll be removed from the presence of God – left ‘in the dark’ as it were.

  5. Written by Roman
    on October 28, 2011 at 3:28 pm
    Reply · Permalink

    Needs must when the devil drives.” – nach William Shakespeare Ende gut, alles gut, 1. Akt; dort: “He must needs go that the devil drives

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