Confession: I've always hated hell

by Theresa Gomes

In my mid-20’s I considered myself a ‘seeker’. I was invited to attend a Sunday service at a friend’s denominational church. As I remember the sermon, it included a poignant ‘story’ of a young girl who was asking her mommy to please tell her about Jesus. But, no, the mother was too busy at the moment and sent little Susie out to play. What happens next is, tragically, little Susie gets hit by a car, dies and ends up in hell because her mother didn’t take the time to lead her to Jesus. I was not a born again believer at that time and I didn’t know Esther from Ephesians, but an anger welled up in me – knowing that God could not possibly choose to send a child to hell for their parent’s failing, or for any reason for that matter. I remember wanting to stand up and storm out of there and make a display of my unbelief, but resisted for the sake of not embarrassing my friend (who later, under fire from my questions, had no answers in defense or otherwise).

I’ve continued to wonder through the years, “Who on earth would believe, honestly, such a thing? And if they did, why would they want to come under the Lordship of such a God?” I could see how this kind of teaching could drive away unbelievers from faith in the God of the Bible. Praise be to Jesus, I was nonetheless drawn into a new Life with Him. I became a believer despite that glaring ‘idea’ of millions of unbelievers falling continuously over the cliff (of physical death) into eternal hell. I echoed Simon Peter, “To whom shall I go? You have words of eternal life.”

The churches that I attended through the years did not teach that children go to hell. However, I did find the consistent message that those who believe in Jesus are saved (go to heaven) and those who (whether by choice or by the failings of Christians to get the Word to them) have not believed in Jesus will, unfortunately, be spending eternity in hell. This concept - what I believe can be called ‘tradition’ or ‘Christian lore’ - is the focus of my mind and heart today.

The burden of this ‘belief in hell’ has so hounded me that at last I’ve resolved to put thought to paper. Of course, who am I? I’m not a Bible scholar. I’m no one compared to all the great Bible teachers of today and yesterday. Why can I not see it the way they apparently do? I’ve in no way solved the dilemma, even for myself, but it is a topic of such immense importance in evangelism (and Christian life!) that I feel compelled to start the conversation in my corner of the world. And, I’ve discovered what an unpopular conversation it is! There is a surprising defensiveness among some Christians for their hell beliefs and others just do not want to talk about it. However, it is just too heavy on my heart – I have to speak up.

Is it possible to even come to a definitive answer? Some say there are things we won’t fully understand this side of glory. True, we see through a glass darkly. Then why bother, you ask. Well, if ‘we’ (Christian church in America) are going to be teaching and preaching this message, shouldn’t we really know what God’s word says – and just as importantly, feel the implications of what we purport so readily? Do we really consider what we are saying? Most importantly, let us teach and preach solely the words of truth from Scripture, avoiding at all costs doctrines and traditions of men.

This is what gets my blood boiling: how easily it can roll off our tongue - this pronouncement that those who do not meet certain criteria will be going to hell for all eternity. Now, my questions start coming. Let’s get this straight - Is this the hell of never-ending torment? You mean to say a conscious, tortured existence forever and ever with no hope of escape? Isn’t this what we are taught from the time we are children? No wonder the callousness is so complete by adulthood.

Has that word ‘hell’ come out of my mouth, through my own human, sinful lips? Did I feel the consequence in my bones? Did I reflect on the regret of an eternity in agony? How do I feel about someone – anyone – going to such a place? Then multiply that by millions. How can it be that so many of God’s beloved (for God so loved the world) will go there (remember that the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it)? Well, if God lets them go there, then they deserve it, right? Our sinful nature makes each of us worthy of hell. Isn’t that what we’ve been taught? We all fall short. I was taught that we are all headed for damnation unless we hear and believe in Jesus. And although He doesn’t wish that any should perish (1 Tim. 2:4), nonetheless they continue to go to hell, death after death, day after day, century after century.

Can we consider torture for a moment…Let’s imagine that the worst killer on the planet is in your custody: would you be willing to torture him for the rest of his earthly life? I mean, that would only be about 40 or 50 years, not eternity. No? How about some real, teeth-gnashing torment - but just for a week? A day? 5 minutes? I realize it is not our place to inflict such punishment; the point is to take a second look at our hell doctrine, which includes unending torment. It seems to me we should absolutely tremble to speak of such consequences. And all along knowing that we deserve death right along with every sinful soul on earth! There is none righteous, not one.

What is going on here that we can contend that such a reality exists without being overcome by holy fear? In addition, if we really believed this was the destiny of non-Christians all around us, wouldn’t there be weeping and begging and endless sorrowful prayer? Would you not make an outrageous commotion to save someone from a burning building? And even being burned alive on earth is temporary suffering.

If we actually believe they all go to this hell, I say our hearts are yet stone.

If we really believe it, when we stand before the King and Judge of creation, could He possibly ask ‘what have you done in response to your belief about hell?’ Will there not be consequences as we stand before the Throne with this doctrine in our pocket, yet the sorrow of its implications lacking? Before we even get to the question ‘is it a true doctrine or not’, we need to ask: am I living what I say I believe? Jesus warned, “For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.”  (Matt. 7:2)

To believe in this hell is a fearful thing indeed. There is no avoiding the terrifying implications. In fact, it seems to me that it is such a horrifying concept that we really can’t get our brains around it – like the size of the universe. Who can imagine?

I think one reason I have come to a burdensome place concerning this topic is because when I contemplate ‘what if it is really true?’ – then I kind of lose my mind. Maybe it’s just me, but I just can’t handle that reality – there is something so beyond horrifying, so much more than absolutely dreadful. And to think, I was just a decision away from being there. I deserve to be there just as much as my nice, Hindu neighbor – probably more. And just maybe I will stand in front of Jesus and say “Lord, Lord” and He’ll reply “I never knew you”! I just start to lose it, I feel like I’ll go crazy. I imagine being in hell – and I’m conscious of being there - and it never ends. I imagine my loved ones who I just couldn’t convince – maybe I didn’t pray enough?... Oh, merciful God, how can it be true?

Tell me, truly, do you believe it?

It is obvious that I am emotionally driven by this subject! It is personal, and it concerns my loved ones. Not only that, it colors my Lord and God and His character. Am I an arrogant fool to be concerned with Almighty God’s reputation? (I think of Abraham, Moses, Daniel... see Gen. 18:23-25, Psalms 74:18-23, Exodus 5:22-23, Daniel 9:19, Jer. 14:21)

I am biased; my wants and desires taint my thinking; my blood runs hot with anger when I hear the pronouncement of hell. I admit all these things. I am not disqualified from this discussion by these deficits; I am simply suspect in my conclusions. My goal in sharing these thoughts is to stir passionate examination in others and find the common and holy ground that we should be standing on. Lord Jesus, lead us to the place of truth. Please show me I’m not alone in this burden.          -- written around 2011


[Afterthought 2014: My confession of hating hell really stems from the deep-seated feeling that something there was just not right. But really, why should anyone care what I feel or think? I am not a biblical scholar, nor do I know Greek, Hebrew or even an average knowledge of biblical history. So why am I writing all this stuff and now putting it out there for folks to read? It is because I was seeking and knocking and searching God's word with a burden unexplainable. Then, I was led to answers that lightened the burden and brought some lifting of the confusing fog. I realized that there were a rare few willing to take the journey into the frightening subject of final punishment and that the answers I gleaned through hours, months, years of study needed to be shared. Shared because I believe they came from the Lord of life who rewards those who seek Him and His truth.

Please don't think that I believe I am the only one that has found answers in this way. That is just how He works. I was so amazed with what I found that I doubted - really scratched my head and wondered. I mean, what about, er, the rest of the world? Most already are convinced about eternal conscious torment and the rest are building on false teachings. Was I alone? I asked in prayer for an answer: Was I alone in what I found in the Bible? If it were true teaching, wouldn't others have also studied and discovered it? And the answer came soon - yes, there were others and the study I did was actually reinventing the wheel.

But I was glad! At the outset of my study, it was just me, the Holy Spirit and the Blue Letter Bible (with Greek and Hebrew references) and yet I (stay-at-home-mom and housewife) found - and sometimes almost word for word - the same conclusions as Bible experts with historical and language degrees! (Such as Edward Fudge, see The Fire That Consumes) Wow, I was really impressed with myself for a moment there. But it had to be the Lord teaching me Himself.

The question was then: now what? My burden was then to share what I found with others - even if it was a terrible assignment. Who wants to hear about hell? Especially that they and the whole church have been getting it wrong for centuries. Yeah, that goes over well. No matter, off I went to talk to who would listen - and I suppose even when they didn't want to listen. Sometimes I still wonder if I'm a bit off, but God's word is solid ground and I can find confidence there. And I trust Him to keep teaching me - I mean, I still haven't figured out how to love as He loves or abide in Him always - so I'm really just an infant in the faith after all.]


  1. Howdy Theresa - Here I am commenting! I am very glad that I read this portion first. It gives me a better idea, foundation and perspective to head into the 'rest of the story'. Thanks for tackling the blogosphere. It can be fun too! Well, I will be commenting further as I read and contemplate, so bless your socks clean off! In Jesus - Tim

  2. Thank you for this! I've been tortured by the concept of hell myself. Eternal conscious torment. What a thought. It's hard to rationalize how a God who loves all would turn around and then cast them gleefully into a pit and enjoy them suffering and call it good. How is that love? God loves us so much it boggles the mind. Think about it, it would be like if someone murdered my child (hard to imagine) and that I love them as much as my now dead child, and are willing to completely forgive them and adopt them into my family -what?!

    And yet, even still, God will cast me (if I get it wrong, which is possible) into the fire and any of my family that succeed will have to watch me in torment forever, and sing praises to God.

    I already listened to someone about this (Pastor Gregory Boyd of Woodland Hills doesn't believe in eternal conscious torment, either, btw.)

    Again, thank you. God bless you and your seeking.

    1. Andrew, thank you so much for your comment. I hope you are able to also check out some of the biblical study on this subject and see that the weight of evidence in God's word is against this idea of eternal torment.

      In terms of rational thought (which I realize God's ways are not always what we consider 'rational') it seems amazing to me that when believers think this over, that they would not at least consider that such 'justice' is not how God reveals Himself to us in His word.

      I am thinking of writing a post that would be very controversial but would hopefully produce some thoughtful concern over this traditional doctrine of hell.

      Bless you and your family, as well!

  3. You've written down the thoughts of my mind! I'm currently in a Pentecostal Church that teaches everlasting concious torment and it's been bothering me for years but it's coming to a head now where I don't think I can take it anymore and I don't know what to do whether to stay and hide my concerns and doubts or step out and risk being labelled as deceived or a heretic?

    1. Vicky, thank you for sharing your thoughts. I know just how you feel! You are right, there will be some rejection if you talk about this subject. Don't be discouraged though, as you will find the position against eternal torment is supported overwhelmingly by Scripture. My advice is study it yourself and become very knowledgeable in all the Bible verses about judgment. When I did that, using the Bible alone and asking for God's guidance, I discovered that the traditional view of hell is unbiblical. Later, I found other solid Bible teachers who taught the same (like Edward Fudge) and learned more from them. I hope you will read some more of my posts and comment - especially with questions. Also, I recommend a website: . God bless you and keep you in your life. Stay strong in the truth of Scripture and always walk in love!

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Thank you Theresa for taking the time to reply I appreciate your words. I will continue to study the Word and will certainly be interested in reading more of your posts so stand by for more questions from me I'm sure! Blessings

    1. Vicky, please feel free to email me at I hope you are doing well. I am praying for you!

  6. Excellent information Theresa! How I wish all the church would at least consider that "perish" actually means "perish!" That God will "destroy" the wicked. This is actually is to be taken at face value!

    I learned this truth many years ago and it literally changed my view of God immensely! "Conditional Immortality" is exactly what the scriptures teach. has some great info on this.
    (The Greeks taught all souls are immortal, the Jewish Apostles did not.)

    I would love for every pastor to study this truth. It would revolutionize the church to fall in love with Jesus over and over again! Amen.

  7. Mr. Barry, thank you for those thoughts... I agree that if Pastors began to study this subject, there could be a significant shift towards biblical teaching in the area of final punishment.

    I love the site - I will be referencing the information there like I did for the study on Daniel 12:2.

    God bless you!


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!