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The Horrors of the Evangelical Hell

hell

Most Evangelicals believe in a literal Heaven and Hell. The Bible says that it is “appointed unto men once to die.” All of us will die someday, Evangelicals say, and the moment we draw our last breath, we will be transported by God to Heaven or Hell. Where we end up depends on whether we were born again/saved. Those who were saved when they died go to Heaven, and those who weren’t — atheists, agnostics, pagans, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, and Catholics (to name a few) — go to Hell.

Hell (actually the Lake of Fire) is a place where unbelievers will be punished and tortured for their sins for eternity. Some Evangelicals suggest that the only sin people will be punished for in Hell is the sin of unbelief; as if this is somehow better than being punished for adultery, fornication, or being LGBTQ. The life expectancy for humans is 70-80 years in most of the developed world. If Evangelicals are right about Hell, this means that a momentary decision made by unbelievers to not believe the Evangelical gospel will be punished for millions, billions, and trillions of years. Think about that for a moment. Just saying no to Jesus means you will be tortured by God of “love” forever. How you lived your life matters not. What good works you did matters not. You may have been an awesome mother, father, grandparent, or friend. It matters not. You may have devoted your life to serving the sick, poor, and marginalized. It matters not. If you didn’t believe the right things (and Evangelicalism preaches a gospel of right beliefs) you will spend eternity suffering in the flames of Hell. (And yes, I am aware that a small percentage of Evangelicals are annihilationists. But even with annihilation, unbelievers are still tortured by God for a time before they are obliterated.)

Worse yet, the natural body can’t withstand the extreme fire and heat of Hell. Those consigned to Hell would immediately melt and be turned to ashes without God doing something to keep that from happening. The Bible teaches that Heaven and Hell are actually temporary holding places. After Jesus returns to earth and defeats Satan, every human will be resurrected from the dead, judged, and then given a new body. Christians will spend eternity in the Eternal Kingdom of God. Unbelievers will spend eternity in the Lake of Fire. (I speak generally. I am well aware of the various Evangelical beliefs on these subjects.) By fitting unbelievers with bodies that can withstand the terrors of Hell, they won’t be turned to ashes. Isn’t God awesome?

no atheists in hell

There’s no evidence for the existence of Hell (or Heaven). Ask an Evangelical to point you to where Hell is and they will point down. What? Hell is Australia? I guess Hell could be Antarctica, though its climate seems very un-hell like. All joking aside, most Evangelicals believe Hell is somewhere in the center of the earth. According to Wikipedia, the core of the earth is approximately 1,500 miles in diameter, one-fortieth of the volume of the whole earth. Today, almost eight billion people live on earth. Scientists estimate almost 110 billion people have lived and died on our planet. Evangelicals believe that the vast majority of people past and present will end up in Hell after they die. Evangelicalism is an exclusive club. Few people are actually members. Thus, we can safely say that Hell has a population in excess of 100 billion people. Imagine 100 billion people living in a space the size of the United States. Donald Trump might want to go to Hell and build high rises to accommodate all the non-Evangelicals.

The very idea of Hell is absurd. Yet, a majority of Americans believe in its existence. According to a 2014 Pew Research study, sixty percent of American adults believe in the existence of Hell. Eighty-two percent of Evangelicals believe Hell is a real place. The literalness of Hell is deeply engrained in our thinking. Even among Evangelicals-turned-atheists, Hell often lurks in the depths of our minds. How could it be otherwise? Years of indoctrination, of being told Hell is a real place and unbelievers will spend eternity being tortured by God, will do that to you. I have received numerous emails over the years from ex-Evangelicals who are still struggling with thoughts about Hell. It is hard to shake the sermons and Sunday school lessons about Hell. When people are told a lie repeatedly, it should come as no surprise that they believe it. Undoing the psychological conditioning often takes years.

Hell is a cudgel used by Evangelical preachers to keeps asses in the pews and money in offering plates. If threats of Hell are removed, would Evangelicals still attend church, give money, or evangelize unbelievers? Heaven is the carrot, but Hell is the stick. If there is no fear of Hell (or God), would people still devote themselves to the one true faith? Maybe, for social reasons, but if there are no worries about going to Hell, I suspect people would likely treat their chosen religion more cavalierly than they do now (more like they do in some European countries).

Today, my friend ObstacleChick had an interaction on my Facebook page with an Evangelical man named John. I doubt that’s his real name. John sent OC a private message, one that can only be described as a Hell-inspired death threat.

Here’s a screenshot of John’s message:

message to obstaclechick

OC is a former Evangelical, a Southern Baptist. She attended a Christian school. OC was deeply immersed in Evangelicalism before she deconverted. I suspect what upset OC the most was this asshole calling her Missy. 🙂 OC tried to respond to John’s threat, but, of course, he blocked her so she couldn’t do so (and I blocked him on my page). I hate it when my friends face retribution from Evangelical Christians because they comment on my Facebook page or this blog.

John believes in the existence of Hell. His words reveal that he has been deeply indoctrinated, and that he thinks it normal and acceptable to threaten unbelievers with death and Hell. Perhaps John even thinks he is doing this out of “love.” Isn’t this exactly what the Evangelical preachers do? They preach up the love of God and the awesomeness of Jesus. Yet, they also warn unbelievers that if they refuse God’s offer of salvation through the merit and work of Jesus, judgment and Hell await.

The good news is that there is no Hell. I have seen no evidence for its existence. While thoughts of Hell may infrequently plague my mind, I know they are vestiges of five decades of psychological indoctrination. The longer I am removed from Evangelicalism, the fewer thoughts I have about Hell. Lifelong indoctrination doesn’t disappear just because you stop believing. It takes time to free one’s mind of years and decades of harmful beliefs. If you are struggling with thoughts about Hell, all I can tell you is that it gets better with time. Remember, life is a journey, not a destination. There’s no life after death, so all we have is the life before us.

Update

An hour after I posted this article, I received the following email from an Evangelical man who calls himself Rev. James Makerfield:

I hope this email reaches you well.I hope it reaches MANY in fact!
From the “Zealots”. Or Evangelical “assholes”.  As you put it.    

Number ONE we love you all very much. Mr Bruce you are Loved very much!
The GREATEST HATE is to NOT bring the gospel to the lost! and we all need the gospel! Believers and unbelievers. 

Hell is REAL place!

It is NOT A THREAT!It’s not a fairytale!It’s not a scare tactic! 

It is REAL!   I’d suggest googling “atheists who went to hell”.  If you want proof outside of the Bible.

What I am going describe now is the portrait of the eternal future of EVERYONE who dies without Jesus Christ. 😭

This includes all people who trusted in “RELIGION” (man’s attempt to make himself right with God)

All who tries to earn salvation through good works and morality. 

And all who fell into the trap that not even the demons fell into! ATHEISM and ANTI-THEISM/ANTI-CHRISTIANITY ( which is what a high percentage of atheists really are they’re really Anti-Christians. 

As the Unbeliever takes his or her last breath in this life they will take their first breath in eternity pulled from their body and taken and placed in a deep hot dark pit!

Deafening screams will be on all sides all around them!  The place will stink God awful! 🤢🤮

Take rotten eggs, sulphur, human crap/sewage and a landfill and it won’t hold a candle to the stink of hell and burning souls! 😢

Their body will ignite in flames! You will scream “AHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!”  “NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!”

😭😭😭😭😭😭

You will feel pain that cannot be described in any human language!
You will feel the reality of Revelation 20:15!“And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” Revelation 20:15

You will scream “OH GOD!!!!! YOURE SUPPOSED TO BE LOVE!!!!”
Then you will remember John 3:16“For God so loved the world he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life” John 3:16

You will remember Romans 5:8“But God commendeth his love towards us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us “ Romans 5:8

You will cry “AHHHHH!!!!! THIS CANT BE HAPPENING!!!! WHY WASN’T I WARNED!?!?!?”

Then you will remember every person who tried to witness to you.
You will remember every sermon you ever heard and/or preached but NEVER TRULY believed!

You will remember finding a tract in a bathroom and throwing in the trash or on the ground.

You will remember every person on Facebook and the internet blog,every email, every call every Avenue that Christ used to desperately get you to accept his grace and mercy. 

Now it will be too late!

Furthermore as the rich man pleaded in Luke 16:19-31. 

You will have an indescribable thirst like you have never had before!  UNO ONE DROP OF WATER would be precious but you and everyone else who died in sin will NEVER get it! 😭

You will have a desire for unsaved family and other people trapped in unbelief to come to salvation through Jesus Christ.    

Just as the first rich man did for his 5 unsaved brothers. 

You will pray for God to send someone to tell them the gospel!

You will curse the day you were born!You will curse the moment you were conceived!You will wish you would’ve been squirted on the mattress!

This pain and agony will last for all ETERNITY!

What’s 20 years in eternity!? Less time it takes to blow a breath of air!

If a person lives to be 110 that’s less than a 1/2 in eternity!

900 million years will be less than 1/2 second in eternity!

Think about the prisons on earth even in a earthly human prison there is hope that you can can get out! No one will ever get released from hell!

And imagine being in a prison with every murderer, child rapist,vile of the vile!
In hell you will scream right beside Satan and the Anti-Christ and the false Prophet and thousands of demons for all eternity!

There will be no contact with anyone! Hell will be full of millions that rejected Jesus Christ and each soul will be in complete isolation!

There will be NO REST! Not even a quiet moment!

And yet the LOST world says that we (TRUE GENUINE FOLLOWERS OF JESUS CHRIST!) “HATE” people when we warn them of this COMING REALITY! Pfft!

Jesus Christ loves YOU and he does NOT want you or anyone else to perish in hell. 

What if this email is your last warning?What if you don’t wake up tomorrow?
I STRONGLY ENCOURAGE you and anyone else reading to listen to the Holy Spirits call. 

It sure sounds like John and James are the same person or identical twins.

bruce-gerencser-headshot

Bruce Gerencser, 64, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 43 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

You can contact Bruce via email, Facebook, Twitter, or YouTube.

Your comments are welcome and appreciated. All first-time comments are moderated. Please read the commenting rules before commenting.

47 Comments

  1. Avatar
    BJW

    Honestly? I could never believe that a loving god would torture anyone forever. Ergo, god is non-loving, god doesn’t exist, or hell doesn’t exist. The idea that the center of the earth is supposed to be hell is laughable. If there is an unloving god, I couldn’t worship it for any reason.

  2. Avatar
    Jennifer Kunkle-Clark

    I have a deep desire to slap the ever loving shit out of John for what he said to your friend. I used to think things like those he said were normal and acceptable as I was growing up in an Evangelical church. Now that I’ve had more life experience and and am no longer a “believer” I can actually see how horrible posts like his are.😕

  3. Avatar
    Brian Vanderlip

    Thanks, Bruce, for bringing to light the horrid ugliness of belief as it commonly exists in the world. John is a reptile. Something happened to his heart and brain so that he did not mature out of the reptilian stage. Reptiles are happy creatures, sort-of, happy in their predatory search for thier next victim…
    How does one become such a creep? Is it the example of Jesus that triggers a biped to regress to the reptilian? How does that work? How does the love your neighbor stuff get so so degraded in churches, in Johns….

  4. Avatar
    Astreja

    Oh, how those god-botherers love to whine “It’s not a threat”!

    Yes. It. Is. It’s a threat, John. It’s a threat, James. And I hold you personally responsible for uttering threats.

    You are disgusting pieces of shit who get your jollies from threatening perfect strangers on the pretext that you’re passing along a vital message from your imaginary friend. You obviously don’t have either the brains or the courage to confront the hell myth and say “Wait a minute – why would a loving god condemn someone to eternal punishment? That doesn’t make any sense at all.

    Fuck both of you, and fuck the Holy Spirit too.

  5. Avatar
    William

    I remember when I still believed having a discussion with an atheist who was telling me that sulphur wouldn’t burn at that temperature, resulting in a discussion of presenting some physics which showed that at high pressures the melting and boiling point of sulphur increases so somewhere in the middle of the earth with high pressure, high temperatures very much exist etc.

    Well, the truth is that the bible teaches the earth is flat and there IS some fundamentalist preachers who are honest in what the bible teaches so with that so it can’t be in the middle of the earth if it’s not spherical according to the bible. There is also confusion, does only the soul of the unbeliever inhabit hell never receiving a new body? Just like pharisees and saducees, people still can’t agree… For an important doctrine, think it could be a bit clearer. It’s ambiguity would suggest it’s non existence alone.

  6. Avatar
    theologyarchaeology

    Just because you choose to deny it doesn’t mean it isn’t real and not going to happen. You seem to miss out on what crime and punishment are all about.

    All God asks is that you believe in his son as your Lord and Savior and you go to heaven. Why is that so hard for you to do? Do you not love God enough to give up your sins?

    • Avatar
      Bruce Gerencser

      There is no God for me to love besides my wife, David. Asserting without evidence that your peculiar version of God exists doesn’t mean it does. Quoting verses from an ancient religious text doesn’t count. Try harder, David, try harder.

      What a cheap, reductionist gospel you preach. I didn’t believe that, even when I was a Christian. Besides, I, at one time, believed in God’s son as my Lord and Savior. I believed in him from the ages of 15 to 50. Are you saying that salvation is believing the right things until you die; that the Calvinists are right?

      I understand crime and punishment, David. Your comments (and blog posts) are crimes. Sadly, the only punishment I can send your way is to say “fuck off.”

      I want to believe in as many true things as possible. If you have evidence outside of the Bible for the existence of Hell, I would love to see it. I’ll be waiting. Who knows, your “evidence” might be that which brings me back to Hey-Zeus.

      For the record, I reject the notion that humans are “sinners.” Sin is a religious construct used by clerics to keep asses in the pews and money in the offering plates. I believe in good and bad behavior. Guess which category many of your comments fall under?

      Evidently, you are okay with obnoxious, vile Christians making death threats or threatening unbelievers with torture. Sure makes me want to worship David Tee’s God (that’s sarcasm, btw).

      So which is it David? Believing in Jesus or giving up my “sins”? And if it’s the latter, are you not preaching works salvation? You’ve spent your entire life hustling for the Evangelical Jesus, yet you don’t understand the Christian gospel? Stay around, David, and I’ll teach you.

      • Avatar
        BJW

        Excellent response, Bruce! And yes, he’s shown zero concern for his fellow man. He just wants to bludgeon us and if not, wee! we go to hell. Well David, along with Bruce I’d like to say: FUCK OFF.

      • Avatar
        theologyarchaeology

        UHM… you are the one making assertions without evidence, not me. The rest of your response can be simply put down to ‘not wanting to hear the truth’.

        Oh and do not put words in my mouth, just speak for yourself, I will speak for me.

        • Avatar
          Bruce Gerencser

          sigh

          You don’t get to control the discussion or what I say. I get it.You are a Fundamentalist. You are used to having your way. But, not here, David. Feel free to respond to my comment. As it stands now, you sound like a whiny little bitch.

        • Avatar
          BJW

          Assertions without evidence? There is ZERO evidence that any of the great events in the OT happened. No Creation, no flood, no Exodus. That is, no evidence if a person actually investigates the matters scientifically. OTOH, your lot start with belief and work your way backwards, and then try to claim that is proof? Seriously, dude, there is zero about you that invites a single one of us to feel attracted to your religion. From your words, there is permanent punishment, a heinous one, for not believing in your god. So there is zero unconditional love from your god. And your manner is that of an internet troll, only to annoy and irritate and try to upset others. How does that work with your god’s supposed love for mankind? If anything, your trollish manner is causing any who could be interested to run…as fast as possible in the opposite direction. The only people you can catch are sad, vulnerable people who already feel guilty about being human.

          PS–I’m not living a “sinful” life, in fact, I live a pretty conservative one: 1 husband for 39 years, 2 adult sons who I helped with their challenges and disabilities. I take in stray cats, I eat healthfully, abstain from alcohol, don’t dance (ok, I’m disabled), and help my fellow man as much as it is in my power to do so. The worst thing I do (gasp!) is give a hard time to stupid trolls who are puffed up with their own ego…like you.

          PPS–there is actual evidence of the beginning of our universe, physical, measurable evidence. That is more than you can say about your beliefs and most of the events in the Bible, including the Resurrection.

        • Avatar
          BJW

          Dr T: I realize I’ve used some unkind language to you. But have you ever thought of trying to love your enemies, to do good to those who hate you? To “love your neighbor as yourself?” Honestly, I don’t hate you. If I came across you as I was going out and about, I’d be happy to talk to you. If you were stuck in a line somewhere and needed a bit of money because you left your credit card at home, I’m your girl. But to attack strangers on the internet about your so-called god of love? It just doesn’t work. And BTW, if you were attacking me on Twitter or Facebook I’d simply block you. But when you attack someone I care about (Bruce), I feel it is necessary to push back hard. Also, you seem to think we should defer to you while you say cruel things to others. That’s just not how it works, it’s called the consequences of your actions (speech).

          • Avatar
            Bruce Gerencser

            Oh, David “loves” us enough to tell us the “truth.” He personally “loves” me so much that he calls me names and smears my character. I don’t love the man, nor do I like him. Shit on my doorstep, and I’m going to say what I think of you. The only reason I allow David to comment is that he’s an advertisement for atheism. Why in the hell would anyone want to live next door to his mansion in Heaven? Not me. 😂

          • Avatar
            BJW

            Ha! I’d turn and go in the other direction if this man lived close. But most of the people close by me are quiet heathens, anyway.

    • Avatar
      Sage

      Ah, and now we have the greed sermon. Believe so you go to heaven and have a mansion.

      Hey pretender, why not go to your local homeless camp, bring them, to your church, feed them, clothe them, help them with their needs and illnesses, and give them hope and a new chance in life. You have that nice church, lots of room. Just suspend your services, clear out the pews, empty the classrooms, set up some showers, prepare food, and help the less fortunate. That is what Jesus says right?

      Your parishioners can be there to help with these needy people. Maybe they can learn to serve as god intended, or learn to truly care for others.

      But this won’t happen. Having people able to worship in your sanctuary every Sunday is far more important than helping those without shelter. Just say a 20 second prayer for them then launch into the next praise song. It will be fine, because you prayed for them. God will help them pull themselves up by their bootstraps.

      Stop glorifying yourself, your belief, and fussing over what Bruce says, and serve your community. Stop chasing the riches of heaven and help the poor and suffering in this world.

    • Avatar
      GeoffT

      This view is insane, rendering God appear morally at a level that makes Hitler look like a saint. Eternal punishment in hell for not believing something is ridiculous. After all God could easily change my beliefs at the wave of his hand.

      Hell is a purely human invention, and an especially unpleasant one. Those who subscribe to its belief have lost all sense of decency and morality.

    • Avatar
      clubschadenfreude

      “Just because you choose to deny it doesn’t mean it isn’t real and not going to happen. You seem to miss out on what crime and punishment are all about.

      All God asks is that you believe in his son as your Lord and Savior and you go to heaven. Why is that so hard for you to do? Do you not love God enough to give up your sins?”

      there is no archaeology that supports theology.

      Poor Christian, need to have sadistic fantasies because he can’t imagine anyone daring to point out he is wrong.

      There is no crime. Hell, Christians can’t even decide what their god considers sin, they just make it up per their own petty hates and desires. No sin, no crime, no punishment. Just delusions by humans who need to feel special.

      Why believe in a god that has no evidence for it, and a magic man/god that has no evidence for it. And especially why worship a murderer of children and a committer of genocide? I certainly have better standards than that.

      Such impotent threats from Christians. How pathetic.

      • Avatar
        Dave

        More horrific than the doctrine of hell is the manner in which so many Christians embrace this. In their arrogance and self righteousness they admonish others for their refusal to believe, blaming the victims for their sentence of eternal torture. These same people claim to have a religion of love?

    • Avatar
      Obstaclechick

      @theologyarchaeology in the case of evangelical substitutionary atonement, the “crime” is our existence, our supposed “original sin” passed on to us from the supposed Adam and Eve who disobeyed God, and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned. Not that I believe in the literal historicity of this myth. But in no court of law would someone’s mere existence subject them to eternal torture. And yes, I know that there’s a verse about God’s ways being beyond our ways, and not to lean on our own understanding, but if your deity considers justice to be eternal damnation for the crime of existence, then maybe your deity is a monster. If you like this monster, that says a lot about you.

    • Avatar
      Michael Mock

      God has never asked me this. Never. A lot of Christians have, but never God. It’s almost as if He doesn’t exist, and there’s just a bunch of people running around and presuming to speak for Him.

      But leave aside the silence of God. Let’s talk about what crime and punishment are all about. Let’s talk about the principle of proportional justice. The punishment for a crime should be proportional to the severity of the crime, e.g. the punishment for stealing a candy bar is much less than the punishment for stealing a car, which in turn is much less than the punishment for murder. Right? You shouldn’t face the death penalty for stealing a candy bar.

      So explain to me how any sins I commit during my finite lifetime can possibly merit an eternity of agonizing, terrifying punishment.

      And then explain to me why you worship the sort of monster who would condemn people to that.

    • Avatar
      Astreja

      My perspective:

      I don’t believe that your god exists. Therefore, it is impossible for me to love it.

      I don’t believe in heaven or hell, so I can neither desire heaven nor fear hell.

      I think that “sin” is a purely religious concept with no referent in reality.

      I believe that if there ever was a Jesus, he was a mortal man who is now dead. To me, he is neither lord nor saviour; he’s a pile of nondescript bones in a Roman mass grave.

      You seem to be under the misapprehension that people can simply choose to believe things. No. At best we can pretend to believe. Not interested in even trying to do that.

  7. Avatar
    Yulya Sevelova

    While reading this post tonight, I have to wonder about the fact that it’s usually the obnoxious types who insist the most on ” god- bothering” others, like John calling OC a ” Missy”, which is a very old fashioned term,a rather patriarchal term ,from the South. Uh, let me guess, John’s from that region ? If these people truly are about souls, then how come they are so toxic in their demeanor when it comes to evangelizing people ? It’s like they know the effect such behavior will have on others, yet they choose this tactic anyway. I’d venture that they want to drive people into Hell.😗

  8. Avatar
    Sage

    This person, who is either the same person or one person mislead…er ..I mean taught by the other, could have saved a lot of time by simply saying “if you don’t believe in god, he will kill your and torture you in the most heinous ways, so crawl to him and cower at his feet in abject fear ,”

    Great religion there, based on fear and torture. Fear me or die horribly. Nice, very nice. And this is a god of love? Something doesn’t calculate.

    Isn’t it odd how beliefs honed in the days of despotic, power hungry, self righteous, domination oriented, war mongering dictators, kings, and popes makes god sound exactly like the powerful people of the era. I wonder if the authors based their view of god on the people they saw in power, you know, the ones who said follow me or die in prison as we torture you and if you live we will eventually burn or behead you?.

    Nahh, can’t be that, I’m being too logical again. Obviously the reason to be a Christian is to avoid hell and torture. All that stuff from the sermon on the mount was Jesus talking after a good toke. Seriously, read the sermon on the mount with the assumption and Jesus and his buddies started talking after smoking some of the good stuff grown along the Jordan river.

  9. Avatar
    Catherine A Kirk

    “Lifelong indoctrination doesn’t disappear just because you stop believing.” Man, isn’t that the truth. One of the hardest parts of my deconvertion was getting over my fear of hell. Pascal’s wager would run through my head over and over again. I was able to find some good channels on YouTube to watch as well as reading some stuff by Bart Ehrman and Christopher Hitchens. My brain hasn’t worked like a computer, where you can erase the old program and then put something new there and be done. Old beliefs and fears sometimes resurface. I think the thing that helped me over the hump was reading books and watching lectures given my Bart Erhman. If the Bible isn’t God’s word then all of the things in it are just the imaginations of men. Thank you Bruce, for recommending his material in your blog.

  10. Avatar
    MJ Lisbeth

    James (or whatever your name is)—Who are you calling “Missy,” Miss-tuh?

    I am not a psychologist, But I reckon that having recurring Hell-thoughts after leaving your faith is a pretty sure sign of PTSD. And using the threat of Hell—along with some, shall we say, situational ethics and good old-fashioned character assassination—qualifies as a textbook example of psychopathology.

    (I say this as someone who was classified as someone with a disorder in the first four editions of the DSM but not the fifth, and most recent, one.)

  11. Avatar
    Troy

    The fundamentalist Hell is as childish as the devil and angel sitting on a cartoon character’s shoulder, both pleading the conflicting sides of a moral quandary. I suppose it is effective because human beings like the stark lines and simple coloration of a cartoon.
    I’m sure you’ve seen the Church Lady’s “superior dance”. Part of the allure of this cartoony Hell is that you get to put all your enemies into it while you’re superior dancing in Heaven. Of course putting enemies in Hell as propaganda is nothing new. Dante stuck all sorts of baddies there including a few Popes (“Inferno”).

    I’ve seen the theological (he he) construct that Hell is “separation from God”. I wonder how to square that circle when God is also presumed to be omnipresent.

  12. Avatar
    MJ Lisbeth

    Troy—One way Dante’s Hell differs from that of the Fundamentalists is that Dante’s Hell has different levels with different punishments commensurate (at least from the point of view in the poem) with the sin. As I understand, Fundamentalists and other Christians believe in a singular lake of fire for all who don’t accept Jesus.

    Of course, Dante’s ideas of which sin is “worse,” and therefore what punishment is proportionate, does not necessarily correspond to what Dante envisioned. (Imagine a criminal justice system based on it!) While most people would agree that those who commit treachery are pretty low on the totem pole (sorry to mix metaphors), I don’t think even my enemies or exes would consign me to the third pocket of the Seventh Circle—which is where I would end up, according to the Inferno.

  13. Avatar
    Obstaclechick

    I am no “missy”, that’s for sure! I am pretty sure John got butthurt that I questioned his testimony as True Christian for commenting on an evangelical-pastor-turned-atheist’s page using what looked to be a hastily-created Facebook page. I also called out his use of the No True Scotsman fallacy when he asserted that I (and others like me) were never True Christians. Additionally, I explained that most of Bruce’s readers are well versed in evangelical soteriology, and that we aren’t “fields white unto harvest”. The threatening direct message with the subsequent block so that John could be guaranteed of the last word….for Jesus…..crossed the line.

    Evangelicals ALWAYS ALWAYS feel compelled to threaten their targets with hell. ALWAYS.

    And John/James, don’t call me “missy”. I am over 50 years old in a managerial position, am a competitive obstacle course racer, and the use of “missy” is an attempt to infantilize and dismiss me as a human being in charge of my own agency. And please, in the future, don’t contact people via private message to threaten them because you want to have the last word. That’s a serious breach of common decency. If one of the members of your triune God instructed you to do this, it’s no wonder people are leaving evangelicalism in droves. #Exvangelical

  14. Avatar
    thatotherjean

    I’m agnostic rather than atheist, but I certainly don’t believe in hell. What I hate most about Evangelicals who threaten unbelievers with hell is that they are so GLEEFUL about it. They’re happy to describe the tortures of the damned–and happy to include the person they’re speaking to among them–but they’re completely convinced that they could never possibly land there themselves, no matter what they do, because they’re SAVED.. Smugness ought to be a sin.

    • Avatar
      Kel

      I believe that, for some people, Hell is indeed a very satisfying revenge porn. The ultimate “Told you so!”

      Church Father Tertullian apparently took great pleasure in the prospect of his enemies burning in Hell. He mentioned how wonderful it would be to see actors dancing ever more daintily, trying to avoid the surrounding fire, than they ever could in life.

      I think one of the arguments Tim Keller made in the defence of Hell is that eternal punishment addresses the injustice in this world. He thinks that the revulsion modern audience feels towards the idea is borne out of suburbanite complacency. One only needs to ask those who have been severely wronged whether they think Hell is a just idea (he assumes that those people would say yes).

      But of course, the problem is, in order to secure a “just” dessert for your favourite criminals, you also condemn other people whose only sin is “not knowing”, “disbelieving”, or even “being born”.
      And since it is a revenge fantasy, not a real yearning for justice, Hell would never include these Hell proponents themselves.

      • Avatar
        William

        Interesting, I’d never heard of Tim Keller before, I googled him, and lo and behold, a tweet by him within the last 24 hours says, ‘you can only stay bitter towards someone if you feel superior’. Isn’t that telling. He then goes on to speak about forgiveness, but given hell is eternal non forgiveness, he betrays himself by revealing he doesn’t really agree with hell either.

        The fact is that people on the whole have altruistic traits built into them. It is not only in todays day and age that there’s objections to kicking someone when their down, and what could be more opposed to this than gleefully celebrating someone allegedly burning forever. People today aren’t really that much different biologically, and instinctively. Mercy existed ‘then’ and now.

        • Avatar
          Kel

          Hi William, interesting you found that tweet!

          If I’m not mistaken, Keller was once skewered for not being “hard” enough on Hell. In one interview, in response to somebody’s question about the fate of those who “haven’t heard”, he said that he hoped God would provide a special dispensation – a hitherto secret “trap door” – to give them a chance.
          Of course, the more traditionally-minded people rained fire and brimstone upon him. One Calvinist blogger I found even lumped him, along with a few other Neo-Calvinist authors, in the “pseudo-Calvinist” pile because of this

          Your observation really got me thinking.
          The only thing holding me back from a more “benign” view of punishment or Hell is me accusing myself of being too emotionally weak, a wimpy snowflake – yes, I’m a millennial. Our predecessors, who braved through two worldwide wars and survived numerous plagues, did not seem to have the gall to ever question God’s justice. Who am I to do that?

          Of course, some of the early (Eastern) church fathers did believe in universal reconciliation. But it’s hard to shake off the ingrained suspicion that having a kinder view of Hell is just an excuse for me being nonchalant about justice.

  15. Avatar
    Yulya Sevelova

    Theology/ D.T. You really aren’t qualified to comment about Hell, as to whether it exists or not. Anyone visiting your blog can tell that for themselves. Your defense of behavior that is so heinous, of living and now deceased famous Christian leaders is all the proof needed that your mental state, as well as morals, is questionable. No one can afford to get their information from YOU. Is the subject of Hell worth researching ? I’d say it is, because in one way or the other, you can prove it either doesn’t exist- or it does. If it indeed does, one thing that will never change, is I’m never setting foot in a church again, unless it’s because I’m going to level it. As in set it afire. Since I’m not violent- so far-I have no good reason to bother with them. When I heard that people are retaliating against those churches that ran those Native- killing Residential schools by burning them down, I thought, good !! It’s about damn time ! .Finding ANOTHER collection of long- dead kids yesterday (182 so far). This was just the Canadian side of the border ! As I stated before, if anyone is qualified to either talk about becoming a Christian, or just Hell as a general subject, it’s definitely not you. While you’re free, I’m guessing, to comment here, it’s kind of like preaching to the proverbial choir . Even people who remain believers don’t want to hear from you. You run some parachurch organization,right ? They are welcome to your input. No one here, is interested in what you have to say. You ought to simply move along………

  16. Avatar
    Emersonian

    After reading the update I am convinced that hell is a lake of weeping emojis…

    Seriously, as a UU I accept that a belief system that includes a notion of eternal hell is valuable/meaningful for some people. But… I’m sorry, this is ludicrous. Why does ANYONE find value in this concept? What are John/James/Dave getting out of it–other than a sort of weird pleasure in feeling that everyone they don’t like or don’t agree with will Get Their Comeupance someday? I may be a crappy universalist but this seems like the worst possible theology one could build a life around.

  17. Avatar
    Victor

    Ok, I’ll admit this, my heart was pounding profusely while reading this. This particular topic still scares me but wont stop me. Here’s what pisses me off, I LOVE YOU but then DESCRIBES ELABORATELY HOW YOU WILL BE PUNISHED IN HELL. Does love mean something else to you? Damn how can people be so blind that they can’t even recognize what psycological blackmail and torment it, quite frankly i have had enough, shut the fuck up. Let me tell you by the way, that any atheist who says they went to hell and came back is another evidence against your belief which says MAN DIES ONCE!. And yes, yes i know how this works, I’m 18 living with my christian zealot parents who still dont or maybe refuse to acknowledge the fact that im no longer christian, so i know how this “i went to hell stories go”. They show you only the ones about the “Heaven and hell” ideology, and for years i thought that was how all of it went….thank goodness for the internet or i would have never found NDE stories. Sorry to burst ur bubbles james and john, but there are more million stories of a glimpse of the afterlife that talk nothing of your religious concept of hell and heaven, there are even more on this type than your religious nonsense but no, these were never shown to us, why? They are demon influenced and false? 🤣🤣🤣. Yes, as usual yours is right and everyone elses is devil inspired 😂😂. There are atheists who convert to your religion after claiming to have some spiritual experience, yes i i know, there are also christians who convert to atheism after some spiritual experience as well, but you’ll probably rub it off as the devil. Your pathetic. And no, its not easy to just believe and escape hell, thats because im not selfish, i have to know why i am believing, what i am believing etc and all these must come with evidence. Following without questions is the first indication of danger ahead for me. So next time before you go around elaborating how people will burn in hell and exactly what they will say and the stages they will pass through, remember the same goes for u if we look at it from the concept of islam or any other religion. I still wonder what people like you do here, why are you reading this blog. Fuck I’m so angry right now, believe without evidence or else I’ll burn you in fire. Imagine kids my age who grew up in other religions, yes they will burn too, fuck you. And since we are making recommendations, i suggest you go to NDEF website, or better still read ex-illumati member confessions or alien abduction stories cause they exist too, but you won’t cause you know they don’t agree with you. So atlas here we all are, cherry picking what agrees with us and discarding what doesn’t. Heartless peeps, funny thing is that they would tell this hell story to even a 2 year old without regret or second thoughts. Loving God? Ok, maybe that’s your definition of love. Take yourself as an example, maybe you would throw your child in an eternal furnace cause he decided to wear pink instead of blue, but sorry humanists like me wouldn’t, even if our child became the most evil person on earth. That’s how much parent-child love is, it’s natural, its crazy. Yet there’s this being whose love cannot be matched but still wouldn’t hesitate to say burn yes burn to his most loved creation. Wow, its nice to let off steam, pls don’t assume all i said is why i left your religion, i simply ask for evidence of both the god, the hell, and all the stuff u blatter about. Lol, hell, such good bedtime story, i remember then i would dream about it countless times and of course this would be interpreted as god warning me. Fuck that fear, humans are loving beings if they choose to be, sin is not a real thing, it implies that one have failed a mythical being with is false altogether. Bye for now, i think i need to steal some of my dad’s alcohol to clear my head (sshh pls don’t tell him)

    • Avatar
      BJW

      Hey Victor: it really took me back when I read about people’s so-called relationships with their god and church, and it turned out to be a perfect description of abusive relationships.

  18. Avatar
    Elijah Yoder

    Eternal destiny is not determined at all by what a person says. It is a result of how one lives from the heart. What is often missed in a discussion of hell by evangelicals is the opposite: heaven and what it really is. Far from being only a spiritual cloud in the sky to play a harp, it is a real place of physical beauty and joy. I think the feelings will be the greatest part of it.

    I found this website while doing research. Bruce, you seem like a REAL person living from the heart! I respect you for that. Too many “Christians” are merely phenomenal phonies.

Want to Respond to Bruce? Fire Away!

Bruce Gerencser