What Was Hell Like?

I’ve had a year and a half to think about things since my last post on this subject, What Isn’t Hell Like?. I’ve read a little of Edward Fudge’s thoughts on annihilation as a good explanation of what “eternal punishment” means.

And I’m wondering …

What if hell isn’t eternal – at least for us mortal folk? Suppose the “hades” aspect of it really was just a holding tank for those before Jesus’ time on earth, awaiting His judgment? And that, at the time His judgment came, it was tanked in the lake of fire for all time?

What if hell – the eternal, ever-burning, lake-of-fire aspect of it – is reserved for the devil and his angels: created, half-eternal beings who knew God and yet rebelled against Him? Because they were created to be eternal from that point on; created to be close to Him and still stood against everything good about Him?

What if eternal punishment is simply that those of us mortals who were created to choose immortality close to God – yet never having seen Him except through His creation and the story of His Son – we choose death when we choose to be anything other than closer to God? Forever-death? Irrevocable, un-appealable and unappealing permanent nonexistence?

When we had the chance to choose to be with Him forever, instead?

When we had the choice to be like Him, and carry His story forward, and live it out each mortal day?

When we were appointed to judge angels by showing them that the right choice could be made in faith and not just by sight alone, making their crime of rebellion all the more heinous?

Isn’t “eternal death” the opposite of “eternal life”? Rather than its opposite being “eternal torture”?

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Romans 6:23

And why is there something deep within me that wonders how a God – even a God of great righteousness and unimpeachable wrath – can be just in dispensing eternal torture to rebels whose sins were temporal; choices made blindly and in lack of faith?

8 thoughts on “What Was Hell Like?

  1. You were close!It’s actually: < HREF="http://www.godstruthfortoday.org/Library/thayer/DoctrineOfEternalPunishment000.htm" REL="nofollow">Doctrine of Eternal Punishment<>. And no, I haven’t read it.But I sure will. – Thanks!

  2. I wanted to post another note of thanks to shannon, having read the lengthy tract he linked. While I’m still not sure I can conform to every detail of this analysis, I can say that I have never found in scripture an irrefutable statement of proof that eternal torture in hell will be the sentence for sinning mortals. For Satan and his angel hordes, yes. But not for mortals.If it truly were so crucial a motivation to spur our good behavior in this life – the necessary “stick” counterbalancing the “carrot” of eternal reward – I cannot fathom that God would have left the matter so uncertain as to be debated twenty-one centuries down the road.I trust God’s judgment.Given the incalculable weight of benefit from living forever with God as opposed to <>any<> alternative, I am no less inspired to live like Christ and encourage others to do so if the threat of eternally torturous damnation is removed.In a way, I am even drawn to be more hopeful about my success in persuading others that God truly is just as well as loving; that His punishment for those who don’t anticipate or desire an eternal life in paradise is to give them exactly what they expect: death.And His punishment for those whose consciences are so seared that they think doing evil will earn them that reward is to give them exactly what they deserve: death.If scripture fails to carry the subtext that <>sinleadstodeath sinleadstodeath sinleadstodeath<>, I have completely misunderstood it in every aspect.

  3. I agree wholeheartedly and give a definite “maybe” to the ambiguity of this post. I really don’t know.My main reason for posting is to reply to DU’s comment. I think I heard somewhere that J. Allen made the statement that he wasn’t so sure of the answer to this question, either. You may want to check him out before you quote him.

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