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THE HELL DEBATE
A RESEARCH PAPER SUBMITTED TO
PROFESSOR MASHALL WICKS
IN COMPLETION OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR
This paper will address two of the most common views in the hell debate..1 Introduction When trying to have a conversation about hell Hendrikus Berkhof says concerning the dominant ecclesiastical idea of hell as eternal punishment that ”there has always been a reluctance to engage in a deeper probing of this frightening conviction. Nevertheless. hell is viewed there is always several questions that is often asked. and Paul R. Grand Rapids.says that hell is a place of unending torment for the wicked. Christian Faith: An Introduction to the Study of Faith (rev. However. treat his people this cruelly by banishing them to hell for eternity? How could a God who says that he loves everyone be this mean? Is this how God shows his love for his children? Why would God create us just to torture us? These are all legitimate questions and finding an answer that will please everyone is not an easy thing to do. 2009) 280 Tentmaker Ministries “Quotes About Hell” http://www. One view called “The Classic View.ed. Across the Spectrum: (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic. Gregory A. 1990) 535.tentmaker.htm (accessed July 2. How could a God who is so loving and caring. However.org/Quotes/hellquotes.”1 In other words no one wants to talk about hell some churches have even avoided this topic for fear of losing members. as a Christian we are bound by our faith to believe that hell does exist. and if it does exist what really happens once a person is sent there? There are those who are bold enough to stand up and tell you that there is no hell it’s just something made up by man to scare people into becoming a Christian. The Annihilationist view-says that hell is a place where the wicked shall be no more”2.Boyd. hell has been a hot topic debate for centuries. H. 2012) . Eddy. In regards to the hell debate there are some who believe that we are living in hell right now here on earth.”3 “Evangelical 1 2 3 Berkhof. “The fear of hell is the basis for the Christian faith. and there are many different views regarding hell and the nature of hell. Eerdmans.
once sin came into the picture all bets where off.”7 “Hades is a Greek noun used 61 times in the Greek Old Testament (Septuagint) to translate the Hebrew term she’ ol. and that Satan will one day end up there.”10 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Gregory A. In Gehenna worms are constantly at work in a fiery environment that burns forever (Mark 9:48) Only God can commit people to Gehenna. 1482 Ibid 699 Ibid 745 Ibid 631 . irreversible)?”4 What is Hell? “The Bible tells us that God created hell. 1986) 173. It all came down to choice. which refers to the grave or the realm of the dead”8 “Tartarus was regarded by the ancient Greeks as that abiding place where rebellious gods and other wicked ones were punished. Its only New Testament use is in 2 Peter 2. and Paul R. Wadsworth Group 2002) 809 Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary “Hell” (Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers. Elmer Theology for Today: (Belmont. or does it mean that once rebels are destroyed. That is. preparing it in part for the devil and his angels. and Geheena. Joshua 24:15 (NKJV). Eddy.Boyd.2 Christians disagree over whether this punishment is eternal in duration or in consequence. Towns.4”9 “The New Testament uses Gehenna to speak of the place of final punishment. James. “the place of the unrighteous dead” according to the Hebrew bible. Tartarus. “Hell is a place where real people will suffer real punishment for a real eternity.” 5 So we see from the beginning hell wasn’t created for people. Hades. 2003). The bible tells us in plain english to choose for yourself whom you will serve. it is eternal (namely. permanent. Foundations of the Christian Faith (Downers Grove. Montgomery.”6 Hell has been given several names such as Sheol. Boice. Across the Spectrum: (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic.” does it mean rebels will eternally suffer a process of destruction. Inter Varsity Press. when the Bible speaks of “eternal destruction. “Sheol is known as the place of the dead” or more specifically. 2009) 281.
2012) .3 Yet with all these descriptions this is still not enough to convince people of the realization of hell.describes hell as everlasting fire in verse 46.hell is described as outer darkness.merriam-webster. It has already been established from this view that hell is a place of unending torment for the wicked. Nevertheless. hell is a real place where the unbelievers will spend eternity. However there are others who feel that once you die that’s it. regardless of what people may think. I want to make it very clear that God doesn’t get pleasure in condemning people to hell. Matthew 25:41 . The bible talks of such a place as hell and gives very vivid descriptions of hell. The Classical View There are several things I would like to point out regarding the Classical View. Matthew 8:12 .states that God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance Every one will be given the chance to accept Christ as their personal savior so that you can spend eternity in heaven. lasting forever” 11 Hell is an everlasting place with no end. there’s no heaven or hell. 2 Peter 3:9.com/dictionary/unending? show=0&t=1341355848 (accessed July 3. As the debate about hell continues there are many people who will argue you and down because they believe that there is no such place as hell.hell is described as everlasting destruction and in Revelation 19:20.hell is described as the lake of fire. hell is described as everlasting punishment. Hell is not some place where the unbelievers will go and party for the rest of eternity. First. “Hell is a place where all unbelievers will be cast into 11 Merriam Webster Dictionary “Online Dictionary” http://www. I believe that the Classical View appears to hold closely to the biblical view of hell as defined by Christianity. Unending is defined as “ having or seeming to have no end. As I stated in the introduction many people have a problem with a God of love condemning people to such a deplorable place like hell. 2 Thessalonians 1:9.
Tim and Hindson.4 the lake of fire. Secondly. So if a person is aware of their surroundings when in hell then this signifies that they are still alive. there will be plenty of room for the non-believers. according to this view the wicked will be conscious and aware of what is happening around them. 96.” 12 Isaiah 5:14 – tells us that hell has enlarged itself and open it’s mouth beyond measure. We all know that when a person gets burned or dies from fire there is excruciating pain. 13 Towns. The fire God has prepared for hell is fire that will not consume the body but it will torment the body forever. Also while in hell the unbelievers will have their memory and for all eternity they will remember the times when they had the opportunity to accept Christ but they chose to reject him. The Certainty of Eternal Punishment for Unbelievers. The rich man was so thirsty that he wanted water from the tip of Lazarus’s finger to cool his tongue. “One of the clearest passages on the unending nature of hell is Matthew 25:31-46. Elmer Theology for Today: (Belmont. Sounds like someone has his memory while in hell. Wadsworth Group 2002) 832 . In hell you will not even get sour wine. where they will be tormented for all eternity. 12 La Haye. and put it on hyssop John 19:28-29.talks about the rich man being in torment in Hades and asking for something to drink. The scripture goes on even further to say that the rich man wanted someone to go tell his five brothers so they would not end up in hell. Luke 16:23 . Ed. In Luke 16:25-31 we once again find the rich man whose already in hell and Abraham telling the rich man to remember how in his lifetime he had no compassion for Lazarus so in hell there is no compassion. “The Popular Encyclopedia of Bible Prophecy. 2004). Those that think that there will be overcrowding in hell need not worry. (Eugene: Harvest House Publishers. It’s bad enough that you are being tormented by fire but not being able to drink anything is as Elmer Towns describes “ thirst is one of the most painful sensations known by man”13 On the cross Jesus complained of thirst and they gave him a sponge filled with sour wine.
2009) 282. He was emphasizing the dual nature of suffering in that place. 16 17 Towns.5 Here Jesus acts as King on the Day of Judgment. Eddy. And because of the pain they are in they are gnashing their teeth together. The victim would be cut off from the light. Those who know Christ will be given eternal life (v.34). Elmer Theology for Today: (Belmont. and Paul R. . The Annihilationist Views “argues that the traditional view (The Classical View) resulted from people reading the Bible with pagan philosophical presuppositions. 15 La Haye.46)” 14 Finally we read in Matthew 22:13-that there will be outer darkness and weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Eugene: Harvest House Publishers. while those who do not know him will be condemned to eternal punishment. Eddy. Across the Spectrum: (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic. They believe that once the wicked is committed to hell the fire will annihilate them and the suffering will be over.” 16 The Annihilationist View The Annihilationist View contradicts the Classic View. Wadsworth Group 2002) 830 Gregory A. “On several occasions Jesus used the expression weeping and gnashing of teeth to describe the personal anguish of individuals in hell”15 It is my belief that the unbelievers are weeping because they have come to the realization that they made a bad decision of not choosing Christ. “The Popular Encyclopedia of Bible Prophecy. Tim and Hindson. The Annihilationist believes that God will “justly punish the sinner for their sin and he will not allow them into heaven. They would be victimized by darkness and all that it implies negatively.Boyd. However they believe God will mercifully annihilate them so that they 14 Gregory A. This view also believe that an all loving God will not allow anyone to suffer because this goes against the message of God’s love. the place of blessing and fulfillment. and Paul R.Boyd.”17 The Annihilationist believes that the wicked will go to hell but they will not endure eternal damnation. Ed. The Certainty of Eternal Punishment for Unbelievers. 2004). (. 136. Across the Spectrum: (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic. “When Jesus used darkness to describe hell. 2009) 286.
”18 “The Annihilationist View is based on four major Biblical considerations: (1) the punishment of sin is death. or as Ephesians 2:1 states. 229 19 . Additionally.Boyd. Evil brings death to the wicked. 2009). as in the sting of sin. Psalm 2:9-the wicked will be dashed to pieces like a potters vessel. Samuele.”19 The Annihilationist uses various scriptures from the Old Testament to back their view of total annihilation. Scriptures such as Deut 29:20 –where it talks about the Lord blotting out the name of the sinner from the book of life. Eternal torment or annihilation? College and University Dialogue. dead in sin. Across the Spectrum: (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic. Groups such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses and The Seven Day Adventist also hold to this view. as it means to perish or to be ruined by sin. Eddy. 2008). “destruction does not mean annihilation. Baker Books. verse 23 –where God says he will destroy the people and the land just like he did Sodom and Gomorrah. Norman. Perdition does not speak of annihilation either. There are other groups who hold to the Annihilationist View.htm (accessed July 6.”21 This is what makes the gospel seem so difficult to grasp because whenever the scriptures don’t line up to the views of a particular group they will do everything in their power to confuse others. L. or it would not have been been termed as everlasting destruction. their soul goes to sleep during the intermediate state until the final resurrection and judgment of God before they enter their 18 Ibid 290 Bacchiocchi. Logic suggests that everlasting destruction is only feasible under everlasting existence. “The Lord’s plan for evildoers is to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.God says the wicked will perish. and Paul R. 288. and (4) the cosmological implications of eternal torment.” 20 Norman Geisler.2012) 20 Gregory A. “The doctrine of soul sleep is the belief that after a person dies.6 will not endlessly endure what the traditional view says they will endure. 21 Geisler. death does not refer to annihilation. They both teach a doctrine known as soul sleep. Psalm 1:6.org/articles/10_3_bacchiocchi_e. but rather to separation. http://dialogue.adventist. A Popular Survey of the New Testament: (Grand Rapids. Hell. addresses’ the issue of annihilation by saying. (2) the language of destruction of the wicked (3) the moral implications of eternal torment.
Eddy.7 eternal destiny of either heaven or hell. . Kevin. Hell is a place of constant torment. “Paul teaches that the wages of sin is death. outer darkness. What is the Doctrine of Soul Sleep? Is it in the Bible? Unlocking The Bible. Bibliography 22 Halloran. 290. This view is not biblical because as I have stated through out this paper hell is for eternity and there will be pain and suffering. All that matter is hell is real and if you refuse to accept Christ as your Lord and Savior you will end up there. weeping and gnashing of teeth. 2009). and Paul R. Conclusion It doesn’t matter which view of hell you may believe.Boyd.”23 God doesn’t want any to perish but he does desire that we accept him and turn away from our sinful lives. http://www. The belief that an allloving God wouldn’t condemn anyone to this type of suffering is a bad belief to have. It’s a place were Satan and his angels will take up permanent resident forever and ever.unlockingthebible.org/what-is-the-doctrine-of-soul-sleep-is-it-in-the-bible (accessed July 6. but the free gift of God is eternal life Romans 6:23.2012) 23 Gregory A.”22 Even with this belief the Jehovah’s Witnesses still believe that if a person goes to hell they will be annihilated. Matthew 10:39. This is constant with Jesus’ teaching that those who try to find life apart from God end up losing it. Across the Spectrum: (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic.
Kevin.merriam-webster. MI: Baker Books. What is the Doctrine of Soul Sleep? Is it in the Bible? April 17. Ed. Boice. 2012.htm (accessed July 2. Holman Illustrated Bible dictionary. 2008. Grand Rapids. Bacchiocchi. Foundations of the Christian Faith. OR: Harvest House Publishers. Geisler. http://ww. James. Samuele. 2002.unlockingthebible. Hell: Eternal torment or annihilation? http://dialogue." Tentmaker. Norman. Hindson. 2008. http://tentmaker. "Tentmaker Ministries. . Ill: Inter Varsity Press. The Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics.org/articles/10_3_bacchiocchi_e. TN: Holmad Bible Publishers. Nashville. Montgomery.8 http://www.org/what-is-the-doctrine-of-soul-sleep-is-it-in-the-bible/ (accessed July 6. Towns. A Popular Survey of the New Testament. 2012). 2012). 2012).com/dictionary/unending?show=0&t=1341355848 (accessed July 3. 2012.Caner. L.org/Quotes/hellquotes. 2012). Elmer. 2003.adventist. CA: Wadsworth Group. Theology for Today.htm (accessed July 16. Belmont. Eugene. Halloran.Ergun. Downers Grove. 1986.