18 Dec 2011

The Concept of Hell

Submitted by Stephen Winters
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Let's Examine the Concept of Hell

People are so afraid of the idea of "hell" that they don't take time to think out the implications of their fear of and their beliefs about hell. Let's put aside all fear of hell and think out what hell would mean?

If hell is a real place, then these questions must follow:

What is hell?

For this purpose, let's look at what at the typical religious beliefs about hell. to quote, "The abode of condemned souls and devils in some religions; the place of eternal punishment for the wicked after death, presided over by Satan." from Hell, theFreeDictionary.com

Who created hell?

If hell is real, then where did it come from? Who made it, did God create hell, did Satan create hell, or was it made by someone else? If God created hell, what does that say about God? If Satan created hell, what does that say about him?

When was it created?

Is hell part of the original creation? Was it created at a later time? If so, when? If God created hell at the time of the original creation, then did he intend to put the people he created into hell? Why would he do that? If he created hell at a later time, was it because he had failed at his purpose in creating humans. So he created hell as a motivation for humans to come to him? Let's think about this. Let's look at an example of a father. What would a father do? (and God is said to be a far more loving Father than any man on earth.) Would a loving father say to his children, "You children must obey me or I will throw you into a large fire where you will be burned alive."

Why was it created?

Was hell created because he failed at his attempt to make a perfect creation with perfect humans?

What is the purpose of Hell?

How do people get into hell?

Where is hell?

How was hell created?

What kind of mind or person would create a place of the most extreme everlasting torture? If a person here on earth would create a place like that, and put his victims into it, what would be said of him? How would the police and courts act towards him?

Is Hell Real.

Various authors have studied out the concept of hell.

"There is no mention of "hell" or any possibility of suffering after death anywhere in the Hebrew Bible, or Old Testament (OT).  The Hebrew word Sheol clearly means "the grave," not "hell." This can easily be confirmed because if Sheol is translated as "hell" the Christian dogma of hell as an inescapable place of suffering where God is absent is immediately refuted."1

"Hell was not a place in early Jewish thought. Sheol, the original place all dead people went, was just a place dead people went, sort of like Heathen conceptions of afterlife, where we think in terms of the “halls of our ancestors” – the place where all our dead family go. 2


 What About Evil-Doers?

Some might argue: "If there is no place called hell, does that mean that "evil-doers" get off scott free? Does that mean that they are not punished for their sins and their crimes?" That presupposes that "we" are the good people who deserve better, and that "they" are the bad people who deserve all the hell can dish out. 

Are "we" really any better than "them." If we had been through their childhood and been through their life, would we have acted any better or any differently? Your response might be, "I" accepted Jesus. What did Jesus mean when he asked this question, "Why do you call me good? There is no one good except for God." Mark 10:17-27

I might go on to ask, "What about the people who have never heard, who have never had a chance to hear and to repent?"  What if I were to go on and ask about where it says about God, "I will harden whom I want to harden and have mercy upon whom I want to have mercy..."  and "Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use? What if God, although choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction?"  Romans 9:11-25  If hell was true, this verse could be interpreted to indicate that God created some people just to send them to hell.

I would strongly suggest that you really think out what you believe. In addition, think out the implications of your beliefs. Remember, just because we believe something, our beliefs don't make it true.

Random Notes

If someone says that "There is a hell", then we have to ask some questions:
If there is a hell, then when was it created?
Did God create hell at the creation? At that time did he know that he was creating faulty people? Did he create faulty people on purpose, or was he unaware of his sloppy workmanship?
The common argument is that God created humans with free will (i.e. they had the freedom to choose God or reject God.) However, this is faulty reasoning. If God truly gave humans "free will" and then threaten them (with hell) if they made the wrong choice, is that truly free will? Truly, if God gave humans the freedom to make any choice that they wanted, then he should not punish or destroy them for "making the wrong choice". That's not true free will.
Now, let's look at the .... of choices. To be truthful, man can only choose what is available for him to choose. He can't choose what he doesn't think of or what is not evident. If men had a thought to choose something, then where did that thought come from?
Too often men say that the thought (to make a wrong choice) comes from Satan. Then we have to consider, where did Satan come from.
One common instruction today says that the Bible is .... This is a subtle way of saying that the Bible shouldn't be questioned. "If you question the bible, then you are defying God!" Really? Where did that thought come from?
Everything in life is up for questioning. Even the question of God should and must be questioned. Is there truly a God? If so, then what is God?
If so, then why was it created?

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