Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christians - is this what you believe?

You are about to read some disturbing descriptions about hell. As they say, if it is true then it ought to be taught to the world. However, we don't hear many pastors preaching the old fire and brimstone sermons much these days. So terribly unpopular they are.

Personally, I am relieved that traditionalists are mostly ashamed and embarrassed by their doctrine of hell and therefore have retreated to silence on the subject. Whatever the reason, I am thankful for silence when it comes to false teaching. Of course, if it were a solid Bible teaching, then no matter the cost it would need to be spoken.

"Traditionalists believe that Jesus taught about hell to scare people from it, and that everyone who follows Him ought to do the same. In this day, therefore, when many traditionalists work so hard to minimize the gross horror of their own doctrine, preaching samples of traditionalists from an earlier age are in order."1

"When thou diest thy soul will be tormented alone - that will be a hell for it - but at the day of judgment thy body will join they soul, and then thou wilt have twin hells, body and soul shall be together, each brimful of pain, thy soul sweating in its inmost pore drops of blood and thy body from head to foot suffused with agony; conscience, judgment, memory, all tortured... Thine heart beating high with fever they pulse rattling at an enormous rate in agony, thy limbs cracking like the martyrs in the fire and yet unburnt, thyself put in a vessel of hot oil, pained yet coming out undestroyed, all thy veins becoming a road for the hot feet of pain to travel on, every nerve a string on which the devil shall ever play his diabolical tune...If God be true, and this Bible be true, what I have said is the truth, and you will find it one day to be so."   - Spurgeon

If that quote from Spurgeon is not graphic enough for you, how about this colorful description by A.W. Pink:

"So it will be with the soul in Hell... imagine yourself to be cast into a fiery oven, all of a glowing heat, or into the midst of a blowing brick-kiln, or of a great furnace, where your pain would be as much greater than that occasioned by accidentally touching a coal of fire, as the heat is greater. Imagine also that your body were to lie there for a quarter of an hour, full of fire, as full within and without as a bright coal of fire, all the while full of quick sense; what horror would you feel at the entrance of such a furnace! And how long would that quarter of an hour seem to you!...And how much greater would be the effect, if you knew you must endure it for a whole year, and low vastly greater still, if you knew, that you must bear it forever and ever!... That after millions of millions of ages, your torment would be no nearer to an end, than ever it was; and that you never, never should be delivered!But your torment in Hell will be immeasurably greater than this illustration represents. How then will the heart of a poor creature sink under it! How utterly inexpressible and inconceivable must the sinking of the soul be in such a case."

So, Christian, is this what you believe? When a believer mocks the idea that the Bible teaches destruction as a final end, and holds out eternal conscious torment as the 'truth', then why do they not profess the forever torments as our bold friend Mr. Pink does?

"In popular traditionalist preaching and writing, hell 'is almost invariably understood as a real, material, inextinguishable fire, ceaselessly tormenting the damned.' And, if that is what Scripture reaches, no one who believes the Bible has any right to object... If God's Word teaches that hell will be the scene of unending conscious torment, it should be preached as a terrible place of unimaginable pain and horror. If the traditionalist view of hell is correct, most of its modern advocates owe their fire-and-brimstone ancestors a profound apology. The fundamental issue is not whether the pain is physical or spiritual, literal or metaphorical. The issue is whether Scripture intends to denote conscious suffering that never ends, of whatever sort or description."2

"Rather than make apologies for such vivid and earthy descriptions of unending torment, traditionalists ought to emulate them all the more. If the wicked are to be made immortal for the purpose of enduring everlasting torture in agony, writers like Pink and preachers like Spurgeon do sinners an inestimable favor by making that very, very plain.

We ought not to retreat from the language of... Spurgeon and Edwards on grounds that is is unduly harsh, out of step with postmodern sentiment, or that it is intolerant or politically incorrect. We should instead reject all such statements because they are unscriptural, lack any biblical basis, and represent a theological dogma whose history we can trace back through the centuries to its first explicit pronouncement among Christians more than a hundred years after Jesus. Traditionalism did not originate in an exegesis of Scripture, and its advocates admit that it contradicts what the Bible repeatedly appears to say. Traditionalism's problem is not that it is unsympathetic but that it is unscriptural. Scripture - not sympathy - provides its only cure."3

If you have doubts about hell and the fact that it seems unbiblical, do not be overcome with guilt, as if you are going against God. Instead, study out the subject in full, depending on the Holy Spirit as your guide to truth, and then make your judgment. You may find that the shame and embarrassment you feel about this hell doctrine are founded afterall.

1,2,3 - Edward Fudge, "The Fire That Consumes", pgs. 362-365


  1. Hi, hope this finds you well. Me again.
    I went to my Bible study last night where we discussed hell and looked at the standard verses supporting eternal conscious torment. I gave my views as best could faultering though they were about destruction standing out a lot more than torment. Of course I was told the Bible clearly says the wicked will be punished in hell fire which I expected.
    At the moment I'm struggling to honest and I wonder if you have any experience on how you dealt with these feelings. I am angry. I sometimes feel like tearing my clothes in anguish and despair that these people who I love and who have shown me so much love believe the traditional view and look down on those who don't. Now I watch them worship and wonder how they can sing about loving a God who would do such a thing to those they claim to love in this life. Their sons and daughters.
    I wonder how one person can read the Bible and hold so strongly to the position of hell fire and wonder if I am being deceived by my human mind or wicked heart or the devil? These people have received the Holy Spirit and operate with His power so why would God not put it on their hearts to question something that has been wrongly believed?
    So, my head is spinning and I ask you to pray for me if you wouldn't mind to know what to do as I go forward with regards to staying in my current Church.
    Thank you! and thank you for having the courage to write this blog so people like me feel less alone.

    1. Hi Vicky, sorry, it looks like I posted this reply as a comment! You may not have seen it, although I did reply right away! Here was my response:
      I so appreciate your honesty and know EXACTLY how you are feeling. I have been and continue to be in your shoes, as you described. I will pray for you, of course. I also am baffled at the resistance Christians have to reconsidering the traditional view of eternal torment. You would think they would rejoice to realize how biblical annihilationism is and to immediately search deeply in the Scriptures, as the Bereans did. It is telling that although popular traditionalists like Francis Chan (Erasing Hell) and Mark Driscoll (Hellbound the movie) admit that annihilationism cannot be discounted as a biblical view, it is still considered almost heresy! I have agonized over the same things - how could loving, Christ-centered, Bible-believing, Holy Spirit-filled human beings embrace and be "okay" with this teaching of eternal torment?! AND, why do I see it differently than the majority? And not just now, but over thousands of years! I have learned that through all this time since Jesus, there have always been a remnant that believed as the Bible teaches: that the wicked and all evil, including death and Hades, will be destroyed in the lake of fire (eternal destruction; i.e. destroyed forever).
      Now, above all this, keep in mind that you must walk in love. Do not let this be an area that causes division in your fellowship with others. I know that is a hard one. You will begin to find others that have been convicted by the Spirit about this subject and others who will listen and be changed in their thinking. Be patient. If you are in a Bible believing church with folks who walk the walk, then I would say stay and try to be an influence for good. Don't take it personally! (I say that, but often I take the rejection personally. I know, however, that I should not and it is just my pride.) Keep asking God for wisdom and opportunity to share. Ask Him to guide you to the people HE wants you to talk to. I have lots of advice, but don't want to overwhelm you.
      Stay strong and realize that this deception has a deep foothold on much of the church and it will take lots of love, truth and perseverance to start a change in your corner of the world. Have faith, and know that you are not alone! You are a great encouragement to me.

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  3. Clark H. Pinnock recounts a quote about the well-known Protestant preacher J. Edwards:

    "...His sermon "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" is (in)famous for the picture of God dangling sinners over the flames like a loathsome spider. J. Gerstner, an Edwards scholar, summarizes Edwards' view in this way:
    Hell is a spiritual and material furnace of fire where its victims are exquisitely tortured in their minds and in their bodies eternally, according to their various capacities, by God, the devils, and damned humans including themselves, in their memories and consciences as well as in their raging, unsatisfied lusts, from which place of death God's saving grace, mercy, and pity are gone forever, never for a moment to return.

    Not only is it God's pleasure so to torture the wicked everlastingly, but it will be the happiness of the saints to see and know this is being faithfully done. It would not be unfair to picture the traditional doctrine in this way: just as one can imagine certain people watching a cat trapped in a microwave oven squirming in agony and taking delight in it, so the saints in heaven will, according to Edwards, experience the torments of the damned with pleasure and satisfaction."

    Read the full article on conditional immortality:

  4. Your blog is very useful for me,Thanks for your sharing.



I understand this is a difficult subject and there are different views from folks who all value God's inspired word. I value your feedback, corrections and questions. Please leave a comment!