Problem of Hell

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The problem of Hell is an ethical problem in religion in which the existence of Hell for the punishment of souls is regarded as inconsistent with the notion of a just, moral, and omnibenevolent God. It derives from four key propositions: that Hell exists; that it is for the punishment of people whose lives on Earth are judged to have sinned against God; that some people go there; and there is no escape.[1]

Issues[edit]

There are several major issues to the problem of Hell, the first is its definition, as there are several words in the original languages of the Bible that are translated into the word "hell" in English. A second issue is whether the existence of Hell is compatible with justice. A third is whether Hell is compatible with God's mercy, especially as articulated in Christianity. An issue particular to Christianity is whether Hell is actually populated forever or they perish, or if God will ultimately restore all immortal souls (universal reconciliation) in the World to Come.

In some aspects, the problem of Hell is similar to the problem of evil, assuming the suffering of Hell is caused by free will and something God could have prevented, the discussion regarding the problem of evil may thus also be of interest for the problem of Hell. The problem of Hell can be viewed as the worst and most intractable instance of the problem of evil.[2]

Criticisms of the doctrines of Hell[edit]

Criticisms of the doctrines of Hell can focus on the intensity or eternity of its torments, and arguments surrounding all these issues can invoke appeals to the omnipotence, omniscience, and omnibenevolence of God.

If one believes in the idea of eternal Hell, unending suffering, or the idea that some souls will perish or be destroyed by God, author Thomas Talbott says that one has to either let go of the idea that God wishes and desires to save all beings, or accept the idea that God wants to save all, but will not "successfully accomplish his will and satisfy his own desire in this matter." [3]

I would like to declare my philosophies on this "Problem of Hell". Now this is just one deeply religious lay ministers' inturpretation from the sources I have studied, I'll try to cite as many sources as I remember. Part 1:

 In the beginning, in the first paragraph of the Bible, GEN God the Father said "let their be light." And we all know what happened for the next seven days. No where in the Bible does it say that God created Hell or Darkness. 
 One would assume everything was darkness until God spoke light into existence, it says that he created the heavens and the earth. But again, there is not a single piece of evidence that proves that God had anything to do with the creation or functions of Hell. 
 In fact, my Deacon in the Roman Catholic Church, who taught my catacism class said that it was the "demons" who created Hell, so they would have a place to exist. and God never even imagined hell.
(Citation needed. I don't know where he came up with this theory. If you read this and know it's source from the Catholic Church, please add it.) 
 But let's assume my Deacon is correct. The demons created Hell. So our next question is, "who are these demons?".  In the ancient Jewish texts and traditions, there was two separate creation stories; in the first one, again, first two chapters of Genensis plainly tells two different creation stories. Modern Christian combine the two stories and pretend there was only one creation, but let's, just for a minute go with the ancient Jewish belief that it was Lilith who was the first woman created, equal in all areas to Adam. As the story is told, Lilith didn't like being subservient to Adam and Adams male ego wanted to make the rules. Lilith went and cried to God the Father of her plight and unfairness, and to Lilith's dismay, God took Adams side. 
 Lilith got so mad that she flew away, across the seas. God felt bad and tried to get her to return to Adam, but during her time away she hooked up with the ArchAngel Samael (angel of death and destruction. He is not a fallen angel, She got pregnant and (this is my interpretation) with Cain. God sent three other angels to seek her out and beg her to come home, but she said NO and after Cain was born, she "uttered the word that must never be said" which ArchAngel Samael told her about. It turned Lilith into the first Demon. 
 So Lilith, A happy first in all things. First woman human, first Demon, first to not die a mortal death.
 It is worth mentioning that there are ancient stories that ArchAngel Samael raped Eve after they left the garden, And Abel is the son produced by the rape, after they left the  garden Cain came to live with Adam and Eve. Claiming to be Adams' son. And Adam thought Abel was his son, and Seth was the first true born human on Earth. 
   Again, this little tidbit is my personal interpretation of the study of the bloodlines. And it explains the rivalry between Cain and Able. And why Seth is the true bloodline for the Jewish people, it also explains the next chapter of Genisis, Cain murders Abel. Now there is an interesting dialog, between God and Cain, after the murder happens. In this dialog God sends Cain away to wonder the earth and sow no seeds and Cain cries out, "But if I leave your presence, anyone will kill me at sight" since God forgave Cain God puts a mark and curse on Cain, not to punish him, but the curse is to protect him from anyone who might kill him. "And Cain leaves God's presence and he travels off to the land of nod, east of Eden." 
 If your following my theory so far and  interested, I found most of these ideas, and myths directly from Bible or here on wiki. I'm just taking individual myths and sowing them together, like a quilt.
 If your following along, you might have a couple questions about now, like I did. 

1. What about Lucifer and the fallen angels? 2. Isn't Lucifer Satan? 3. If there are only five humans alive on Earth. Who are the people that Cain is afraid of? 4. And who is Nod?

  I'll get to Lucifer and The Fall in a minute. I am suggesting now, that It was Lilith who was the serpent who tempted Eve in the Garden.  After Seth was born Adam went off alone for a hundred and something years, every night when he slept, Lilith would steal his sperm and produce hybrid offspring. Demons.
  It was Eve and the three sons that lived in the land that was Eden, that land, today is Isreal. Obviously, the holy land. East of Isreal is Iran, Iraq, the middle east. So Cain went to the middle east, the land of Nod, where a Nephilim race had been breeding like crazy, from succubus/demon Lilith and Adams stolen sperm.     
  Cain found refuge, being first born human/angel hybrid of liliths, and his bloodline were the caanites from the Bible stories. Always at war with Seth's bloodline the Isrealites for the promised Land. (Until Noah's flood) which God sent to destroy the races of Nephilim that had over taken the land.  So at the time of the flood, only Seth's bloodline was saved. And there was peace until Abraham son's came along, his actual firstborn was Ishmael. Son of one of his concubines. And a hundred years later isaac was born from his true wife, this is where the bloodline splits again. Isaac, being Gods choosen heir and father of the Jewish bloodline  and religion. Ishmael went east again to the middle east, brothers splitting the land and fighting over it. Ishmaels bloodline became the muslim religion and people, those two bloodlines are still at war for the holy land. 

Part 2:

 So remember this theory is based on the purpose of Hell, is it the cruel and eternal suffering or is god an unjust God. I believe he is both, he was a unjust God in the beginning but as life evolved he became merciful.
 Here is my Quote, that I hear in my head Everytime I pray about this topic. "All souls will go to Heaven".

I've been studying this topic for twenty years. Praying for twenty years. I was born in the Mormon religion. And there is no hell for Mormons. Mormons believe in four world's of afterlife, the Celestial kingdom, where only righteous Mormons will go after death and be with God, and if they are righteous enough the men can become Gods themselves over there own world's. The next world is the Terestrial kingdom, which is a world similar to the world we live on called earth, this is where good people go who are not mormon and have never heard of Mormons and are ignorant in that faith. The third world is the telestial kingdom, this is a world similar to purgatory, the people who go here in the afterlife is everyone else, no matter their sins, except one key sin. That brings me to their fourth and final world, they call it outer darkness, and this place is reserved for those who had knowledge of God and the Mormon Church, and choose openly to not believe and blashpemy God. Basically people who should know better, Like Aleister Crowley, for example. Unfortunately, folks, Hitler wouldn't go to outer darkness, cause he didn't know better, he really believed the Jewish people were evil, and he's not even the world's worse conquer and massacre of people.

   Many more religions have different after life world's. I won't go into all of them, but after Adam and Eve sinned and the mess Lilith created, God gave up on this planet, we carry original sin, which keeps us from going to heaven to be with him. So God created purgatory his promise to Noah, for the bloodline of Seth to go to when they died.  But who created Hell?
  I propose there is no such place. What we call hell is merely a secondary 2nd dimensional world that overlaps our Earth,  two world's existing in the same space. A world that was created by Lilith and Lucifer. Bombshell dropped.
 Yeah, now we can discuss Lucifer, my favorite unsung and unappreciated fallen angel. 
 1. We must define the difference between fallen angels and demons. And yes they are different races of spiritual beings, neither where given human bodies, so the are 2 dimensional beings, and can only exist in a two dimensional world.  Fallen angels are exactly the same as angels, given there name, only fallen angels fell from heaven, the home God made for himself and the angels, and originally for us too.   
 The battle, I'm suggesting was not before humans were created, but the fall of the angels, Lucifer being the number 1 first creation of the angels and first to fall, happened simaltaneously as the fall of man from the garden of Eden.  

Lucifer didn't think it right to keep Eve in the dark as a subservient creation made from Adams rib. God wanted to give us free choice to see if eve would choose him or not, but the fallen angels thought she should be given knowlegde to choose. God wanted to be loved, Obviously, Adam knew everything god knew in the first creation with Lilith, but in an effort to not have another female uprising, god choose to keep Eve innocent and Adam just wanted a subservient wife.

  Lucifer disagreed with this aspect of God's plan. So did Lilith, for a while her children were half breeds populating the earth. But when they died she needed a home for them to go. Lilith was the serpant who tricked Eve into eating the forbidden fruit of knowlegde. Lilith is the first Demon, she is not a fallen angel, and with the exception of Cain, all her offspring, are demons. When Eve ate if the forbidden fruit, there was a war in heaven that day, in a nano second of time, amongst the angels. Lucifer standing up for human life to God, that they shouldn't be destroyed, and him and all the angels who thought Eve shouldn't have to bare original sin for all time and eternity and her offspring, God cast out of heaven, they had no where to go except earth, but without bodies, they couldn't exist on Earth, at that time, and Lucifer and Lilith combined forces and created a 2nd dimension, overlapping this planet for the fallen angels and demons to live and exist in. That is Hell. Only angels and demons can enter Hell.
 If you aren't convinced so far, our human souls cannot exist in Hell. We have a SOUL. Different from angels and different from demons. So yes all souls go to heaven, no matter how or what they do, the main reason I believe this, is because of Jesus Christ. Our Lord and Savior, God incarnate.  
 If Jesus is our saviour who paid the price of our sins with his own divine God blood, who is all merciful, who is he saving us from, and why does it costs a blood sacrifice? Well, at first, when Lilith did her crazy stunts, and became unholy, and then Eve was tricked into eating the forbidden fruit, angels rebelled from him, and everyone started breeding Nephilim.  yes God was a very angry jealous God. He gave up on us and left us to so rotten seeds, until Noah's time, by then he saw that Noah kept his bloodline pure, and he became close to Noah, God sent the flood, wiped out the nephilim. And Noah became the new Adam, the angels and demons were restricted from procreating on Earth. And God started to care again. A little bit, and finally the bloodlines were pure until Abrahams days. Then the people forgot and started being evil again. 
 But God made a promise to Noah And to Abraham and Isaac and Moses, a new convenent, that eventually a Messiah, himself, would incarnate into flesh, to experience what it was like to be human, weak and scared and emotional, etc. And like he tempted Abraham to sacrifice his true first son, God was foretelling, his plan to sacrifice his in flesh and blood, and save mankind, it souls. 
  From of course who...... Lilith. 

Jesus bought and paid for our blood to be pure. There will be a judgement, but after the day of judgement comes, when we all get to see every cause and effect event that ever happened, at the end of the movie, we all see that every last human souls is innocent. Every fallen angel will be forgiven cause they were innocent, and all of liliths children, the demons are innocent. Everyone will go to heaven; in the end. no entity, accept Adam and Lilith will have to pay the blood price.

 Adam is just as guilty as Lilith. And I believe, that even they will be forgiven, after all, it truly is only God's fault for everything. That is why he paid the blood price.
  I hope whether or not you agree with my telling of tales or not, I hope it I offered something for you to be curious about and do your own research like I did.

Judaism[edit]

Almost no forms of Judaism share the traditional majority Christian belief in the immortality of the soul, therefore Sheol (Hades in the Septuagint, "the grave" in many instances in the King James Bible) is simply the destination for all the dead, and no "problem of Sheol" exists. Gehenna, found in the Mishnah, is the Lake of fire or destination of the living sinners and raised wicked at Judgement Day, and the place of either of destruction, in the Mishnah or, in some rabbinical texts, eternal torment,[4] which would potentially create a "problem of Gehenna."

Jewish religious thinking has traditionally held, even among different schools ranging from Jewish Orthodox teachings to Reform Jewish thinking to Conservative Jewish thinking and more, that "The righteous of all peoples have a place in the World-To-Come", in the words of the Talmud, with humanity as a whole being 'saved'. Thus, rabbinical scholars have broadly held the inclusive view that the vast majority of people in existence, both Jewish and gentile, will be reconciled with God in the afterlife given the power of his grace and the fundamental goodness of mankind.[5]

Christianity[edit]

In Christianity, Hell has traditionally been regarded as a place of punishment for wrongdoing or sin in the mortal life, as a manifestation of divine justice. Nonetheless, the extreme severity and/or infinite duration of the punishment might be seen as incompatible with justice. However, Hell is not seen as strictly a matter of retributive justice even by the more traditionalist churches, for example, the Eastern Orthodox see it as a condition brought about by, and the natural consequence of, free rejection of God's love.[6]

The Roman Catholic Church teaches that Hell is a place of punishment[7] brought about by a person's self-exclusion from communion with God.[8]

In some ancient Eastern Christian traditions,[which?] Hell and Heaven are distinguished not spatially, but by the relation of a person to God's love.

I also maintain that those who are punished in Gehenna, are scourged by the scourge of love. Nay, what is so bitter and vehement as the torment of love?...It would be improper for a man to think that sinners in Gehenna are deprived of the love of God...it torments sinners...Thus I say that this is the torment of Gehenna: bitter regret. —St. Isaac of Syria, Ascetical Homilies 28, Page 141[6][9]

In terms of the Bible itself, issues of salvation and access to heaven or to hell are mentioned frequently. Examples include John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." which tends to show the wicked perish and the saints have everlasting life or John 3:36 (NIV), "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on them",[10] and 2 Thessalonians 1:8–9 (NIV), "Those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus, they will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might."[11]

The minority Christian doctrine that sinners perish and are destroyed rather than punished eternally such as is found in John 3:15 "That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.", is referred to as Christian mortalism; annihilation for those not awarded immortal life, conditional immortality for those who are.[12] This Christian view is found in very early Christianity, resurfaced in the Reformation, and since 1800 has found increasing support among Protestant theologians.[13]

Justice[edit]

Some opponents of the traditional doctrine of Hell claim that the punishment is disproportionate to any crimes that could be committed, because human beings have a finite lifespan, they can commit only a finite number of sins, yet Hell is an infinite punishment. In this vein, Jorge Luis Borges suggests in his essay La duración del Infierno[14] that no transgression can warrant an infinite punishment on the grounds that there is no such thing as an "infinite transgression". Philosopher Immanuel Kant argued in 1793 in Religion within the Bounds of Bare Reason that since morality lies ultimately in a person's disposition, and as disposition is concerned with the adoption of universal principles, or as he called them: "maxims", every human being is guilty of, in one sense, an infinite amount of violations of the law, and so consequently an infinite punishment is not unjustified.[15]

Some theists, particularly in the Thomistic tradition, have argued that God's infinite dignity requires that any transgression against him warrants an infinite punishment,[citation needed] and the correct punishment for a crime is proportional to the status of the wronged individual. Opponents of this view object, citing that the severity of a crime is determined by the amount of harm done to the victim, not by their lifespan or scope of being. An omnipotent being, by definition, cannot be harmed. Therefore, by condemning souls to an eternal damnation, God would be punishing souls for actions that had no effect on him.

Another apparent injustice is in being punished for something one does not know exists, as some denominations[who?] of Christianity believe that only by accepting Jesus can one be saved from Hell.[citation needed] However a few branches of Christianity teach that one cannot sin unless one performs an action knowing it is wrong, or performs an action knowing it could result in harm. Catholics say that as far as strict necessity is concerned, faith in Christ may suffice in implicit form, though explicit faith is better, and implicit faith in Christ may even be compatible with misled rejection of appearing Christendom.[citation needed][clarification needed]

The eternity of Hell has also been justified in the Scholastic tradition by appeal to the irrevocability of the reprobate's decision to oppose God after death.[citation needed] Eternity is perceived not as an infinite stretch of time, but as an unchanging present (though these may not be qualitatively different), this argument however, could be challenged by the view that if wrongdoers are to be punished in Hell they must suffer, and for this they must retain their sentience in order to experience suffering. If this sentience is retained it follows that the wrongdoers would be aware of their transgressions and capable of repenting them.[citation needed] Consistent with the Thomistic mode of disputation, one might also question whether a being finite in intelligence can justly be condemned to a punishment infinite/eternal in extent.

Another argument against the justice of Hell is that humans are not culpable for their sins, since sinning is unavoidable to them. For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; (Epistle to the Romans, 3:23) However, the statement "all have sinned" does not necessarily indicate that sin is unavoidable (Hebrews 4:15) Also, if God is omniscient/prescient, he is aware of the outcome before anyone enters into Heaven or Hell. From the reasoning that God created them in the first place, some go so far as to ascribe to Him the culpability for a person's eternal fate.[citation needed] The question is all the more burning if one states exactly this (positive reprobation, Calvinism). However, the (theoretically distinct) doctrine of negative reprobation without consideration of future demerits (Domingo Báñez) — God elects some, the others fall into sin on their own, but of necessity, and are then judged for their sins—will be felt not so much distinct "in practice". If the angels and the blessed without inconvenience to their free will partake of an irresistible grace (which is thus shown possible), even who holds an at least conditional election of every human being (Molinism and, despite notable academic success of Thomist grace theology within the Catholic pale, in practice the stand of Catholics) needs to say that God could have rescued some and did not.[citation needed] Here, again, the discussion shades into that on the problem of evil.

Divine mercy[edit]

Another issue is the problem of harmonizing the existence of Hell with God's infinite mercy or omnibenevolence which is found in scripture.

As in the problem of evil, some apologists[who?] argue that the traditional view of the torments of Hell are attributable not to a defect in God's benevolence, but in human free will. Although a benevolent God would prefer to see everyone saved, he would also allow humans to control their own destinies, this view opens the possibility of seeing Hell not as retributive punishment, but rather as an option that God allows, so that people who do not wish to be with God are not forced to be. C. S. Lewis most famously proposed this view in his book The Great Divorce, saying: "There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, 'Thy will be done,' and those to whom God says, in the end, 'Thy will be done.'"

Two problems remain regarding Christian theological teachings about grace, the first which grants that God could indeed convert the heart of every sinner and yet leave the freedom of will in its integrity;[16] in the Thomistic tradition, God grants sufficient grace for salvation to all people, yet it only effects salvation for some. The early modern controversies on grace among the Jansenists, Jesuits and Dominicans focused in part on the question of sufficient and efficient grace, and whether these differed in kind.[citation needed] Secondly, an omniscient God would be aware of the future choice of the individual human's free will, to accept or reject God, prior to the creation of the individual human, this omniscient God would then exercise his/her own free will in choosing to create a human that he/she knows, a priori, would be condemned to eternal torture. God could, in this circumstance, simply choose not to create the human, such a choice would be incompatible with God's infinite mercy or omnibenevolence.

Some modern critics of the doctrine of Hell (such as Marilyn McCord Adams) claim that, even if Hell is seen as a choice rather than as punishment, it would be unreasonable for God to give such flawed and ignorant creatures as ourselves the responsibility of our eternal destinies.[17] Jonathan Kvanvig, in The Problem of Hell (1993), agrees that God would not allow one to be eternally damned by a decision made under the wrong circumstances.[18] One should not always honor the choices of human beings, even when they are full adults, if, for instance, the choice is made while depressed or careless, on Kvanvig's view, God will abandon no person until they have made a settled, final decision, under favorable circumstances, to reject God, but God will respect a choice made under the right circumstances. Once a person finally and competently chooses to reject God, out of respect for the person's autonomy, God allows them to be annihilated.

Islam[edit]

In Islam, Jahannam is the final destiny of evildoers and therefore regarded as necessary for God's divine justice. God's punishments are by definition considered to be justified, since God holds absolute sovereignty. Furthermore, with regard to the predestination one of six articles of faith in Islam, the question arises, how can creatures be punished for their deeds.[citation needed]

The inhabitants of Hell[edit]

The inhabitants of afterlife places are not dogmatically determined in Islam, thus it is up to individual interpretation and exegetes of the Qur'an, who exactly enters hell. A common concern is about the fate of non-muslims and if they will be punished for not belonging to the right religion. An often recited quranic verse implied, righteous non-muslims will be saved on Judgement Day:

Indeed, those who believed and those who were Jews or Christians or Sabeans - those who believed in Allah and the Last Day and did righteousness - will have their reward with their Lord, and no fear will there be concerning them, nor will they grieve.2:62

On the other hand, other scholars hold this vers may be abrogated and just applies until the arrival of Muhammad,[19] some non-pluraist scholars like Ibn Arabi already stated, every human will receive a properly message and will not be doomed for unsuspectingness, while others claimed, these people are judged by their own moral standards, because of God's all embracing mercy.[20]

Another criteria to determine the justice of hells punishment, derives from it's duration, but Islam has not undisputed concept about it. While some scholars stated, hell is indeed eternal, others hold hell exist to purify not to inflict pain,[21] while others again stated, hell itself will cease to exist.

With the increasing urgency of pluralism, modern writers such as Edip Yüksel and Mouhanad Khorchide hold hell rather finite than for eternity. Edip Yüksel argues that evildoers will be punished in Hell for an appropriate period then cease to exist, so their suffering (which is described in the Quran and is balanced with descriptions of heaven) will not be eternal, but only a just amount.[22] Other universalist leaning scholars include Tariq Ramadan, Sayyid Qutb and Ibn Qayyim[23] (though it has been argued that Ibn Qayyim, like his teacher Ibn Taymiyya, was not a universalist).[24]

Concerning predestination[edit]

The degree of free will, differs in islamic thought. Based on sunni traditions, God wrote everything, that will happen on a tablet before creating the world, therefore free will is not something beyond Gods influence, thus resulting in the problem, how punishment is justified, since God made human the way he will sin. In Ashari thought, God created good and evil deeds, but human decide, to choose between them, thus human have indeed their own possibility to choose, but God has still sovereignty about all possibilities. Still remains the question, why God created those, who will go to hell, and why God even created the possibility to become evil; in islamic thought, evil is considered to move away from good and God created this possibily, so humans are able to recognize good,[25] while angels in contrast are unable to do so, therefore angels generally rank lower than humans, because they lack the ability to perceive the world how humans do.[26]

Proposed answers[edit]

Annihilationism[edit]

As with other Jewish writings of the Second Temple period, the New Testament text distinguishes two words, both translated "Hell" in older English Bibles: Hades, "the grave", and Gehenna where God "can destroy both body and soul". A minority of Christians read this to mean that neither Hades nor Gehenna are eternal but refer to the ultimate destruction of the wicked in the Lake of Fire in a consuming fire, but which because of the Greek words used in translating from the Hebrew text has become confused with Greek myths and ideas. From the sixth century BC onward, the Greeks developed pagan ideas for the dead, and of reincarnation and even transmigration of souls. Christians picked up these pagan beliefs inferred by the Greek of immortality of the soul, or spirit being of a mortal individual, which survives the death of the body of this world and this lifetime, which is at odds and in contrast to the scriptural teaching that the dead go to the grave and know nothing and then at the end, an eternal oblivion of the wicked and an eternal life for the saints. Scripture makes clear that the dead are awaiting resurrection at the last judgment, when Christ comes and also when each person will receive his reward or are part of those lost with the wicked.

The Greek words used for those Bibles written in Greek, came loaded with ideas not in line with the original Hebrew, but since at the time, Greek was used as basically English is used today to communicate between people across the world, it was translated into these Greek words, and giving an incorrect understanding of the penalty of sin; in the Hebrew text when people died they went to Sheol, the grave and the wicked ultimately went to Gehenna which is the consuming by fire. So when the grave or the eternal oblivion of the wicked was translated into Greek, the word Hades was sometimes used, which is a Greek term for the realm of the dead. Nevertheless, the meaning depending on context was the grave, death, or the end of the wicked in which they are ultimately destroyed or perish. So we see where the grave or death or eventual destruction of the wicked, was translated using Greek words that since they had no exact ones to use, became a mix of mistranslation, pagan influence, and Greek myth associated with the word, but its original meaning was simple death or the destruction of the wicked at the end.

Christian mortalism is the doctrine that all men and women, including Christians, must die, and do not continue and are not conscious after death. Therefore, annihilationism includes the doctrine that "the wicked" are also destroyed rather than tormented forever in traditional "Hell" or the lake of fire. Christian mortalism and annihilationism are directly related to the doctrine of conditional immortality, the idea that a human soul is not immortal unless it is given eternal life at the Second Coming of Christ and the resurrection of the dead. Such a belief is based on the many texts which state that the wicked perish:

"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16 (KJV).
"For the day of the Lord is near upon all the heathen: as thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee: thy reward shall return upon thine own head. For as ye have drunk upon my holy mountain, so shall all the heathen drink continually, yea, they shall drink, and they shall swallow down, and they shall be as though they had not been." Obadiah 1:15-16 (KJV).

Annihilationism asserts that God will eventually destroy or annihilate the wicked when they are consumed in the Lake of Fire at the end, leaving only the righteous to live on in immortality. Conditional immortality asserts that souls are naturally mortal, and those who reject Christ are separated from the sustaining power of God, thus dying off on their own.

This is seen in the texts making clear the alternatives at the end are to perish or to have eternal, everlasting life:

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

And that the consequence for sin at the day of judgment when God will judge both the living and the dead when He appears is death, not burning forever. God's gift is eternal life, very different from the penalty of sin:

"The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished." 2 Peter 2:9. (KJV).
"As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world." Matthew 13:40 (KJV).
"So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth." Matthew 13:49-50 (KJV).

The mortality of the soul has been held throughout the history of both Judaism and Christianity,[27][28] with many biblical scholars looking at the issue through the Hebrew text, have denied the teaching of innate immortality.[29][30] Rejection of the immortality of the soul, and advocacy of Christian mortalism, was a feature of Protestantism since the early days of the Reformation with Martin Luther himself rejecting the traditional idea, though his view did not carry into orthodox Lutheranism. One of the most notable English opponents of the immortality of the soul was Thomas Hobbes who describes the idea as a Greek "contagion" in Christian doctrine.[31] Modern proponents of conditional immortality include some in the Anglican church such as N.T. Wright[32] and as denominations the Seventh-day Adventists, Bible Students, Jehovah's Witnesses, Christadelphians, and some other Protestant Christians.

Free will[edit]

Some apologists argue that Hell exists because of free will, and that Hell is a choice rather than an imposed punishment. Jonathan L. Kvanvig writes:[33]

[C.S.] Lewis believes that the doors of hell are locked from the inside rather than from the outside. Thus, according to Lewis, if escape from hell never happens, it is not because God is not willing that it should happen. Instead, residence in hell is eternal because that is just what persons in hell have chosen for themselves.

Similarly, Dave Hunt (1996) writes:

We may rest assured that no one will suffer in hell who could by any means have been won to Christ in this life. God leaves no stone unturned to rescue all who would respond to the convicting and wooing of the Holy Spirit.[34]

An example from popular culture can be found in the graphic novel series The Sandman; in it, souls go to Hell because they believe that they deserve to, rather than being condemned to it by God or Satan.[35]

Universal reconciliation[edit]

Universal reconciliation is the doctrine or belief of some Christians that all will receive salvation because of the love and mercy of God. Universal reconciliation does not commit one to the position that one can be saved apart from Christ, it only commits one to the position that all will eventually be saved through Christ. Neither does universal reconciliation commit one to the position that there is no Hell or damnation – Hell can well be the consuming fire through which Christ refines those who turn from him. Universal reconciliation only claims that one day Death and Hades themselves will be destroyed and all immortal souls will be reconciled to Him.

It was traditionally claimed by some western scholars such as the Universalist historian George T. Knight (1911) and Pierre Batiffol (English translation 1914) that a form of universal salvation could be found among some theologians in early Christianity.[36] Origen interpreted the New Testament's reference (Acts 3:21) to a "restoration of all things", (Greek: apocatastasis of all things), as meaning that sinners might be restored to God and released from Hell, returning the universe to a state identical to its pure beginnings.[37] This theory of apocatastasis could be easily interpreted[who?] to imply that even devils would be saved, as was the case during the later Origenist controversies.[citation needed] Greek orthodox scholars do not count Gregory of Nyssa (A.D. 331–395) as a believer in Universal Salvation.[38]

In the 17th century, a belief in Christian universalism appeared in England and traveled over to what has become the present-day U.S.A. Christian Universalists such as Hosea Ballou argued that Jesus taught Universalist principles including universal reconciliation and the divine origin and destiny of all souls. Ballou also argued that some Universalist principles were taught or foreshadowed in the Old Testament. Critics of universalism maintain that the Bible does not teach universal salvation,[39] while proponents insist that it does.

Recent examples of advocates for the position are Kallistos Ware, a Greek Orthodox bishop and retired University of Oxford theologian who states that many of the 'Fathers of Church' postulated the idea of salvation for all, and Saint Silouan of Mt. Athos, who argued that the compassion and love of those in heaven and on earth will extend to eliminating suffering even in hell. In terms of Biblical citations, Father David A. Fisher, Pastor of St. Anthony of Padua Maronite Church and professor of philosophy at Ohio Central State University, has argued that total reconciliation seems to arise from the First Epistle to the Corinthians such as 1 Corinthians 15:22, "As all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ", and 1 Corinthians 15:28, "God will be all in all."[40] Verses that seem to contradict the tradition of complete damnation and come up in arguments also include Lamentations 3:31–33 (NIV), "For no one is cast off by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love",[41] and 1 Timothy 4:10 (NIV), "We have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe."[42]

Empty Hell theory[edit]

Some Catholic theologians such as Karl Rahner, Gisbert Greshake, and Cardinal Hans Urs von Balthasar[43] have at length discussed the possibility that any man may be led by a final grace to freely willed repentance if necessary at least at some point in the process of dying. This possible process is described thus by the late Munich dogmatic Prof. Michael Schmaus: "If in terms of theology death is a meeting of a man with God in so far as God calls man and he answers obedience, readiness and love, it would be surprising if in the moment of dying the chances of taking position never were given, even contrary to the outward look. [...] One cannot apply to experience as counter-argument, because [...] what happens then in the interior and behind the physiological processes is only known by someone who experiences dying itself, and this unto its very end. We may assume that in the dissolving process of the earthly union of body and soul and with the progressing breakaway from earthly entanglements, a special awakeness accrues to man [...] in which he can say yea or nay to God."[44]

Balthasar was careful to describe his opinion that Hell might be empty as merely a hope, but even this claim was rejected by most conservative Catholics, including Cardinal Avery Dulles,[45] the Syllabus says in no. 17 that we may not (even) hope for the salvation of all non-Catholics;[citation needed] this seems to mean conversely that there is at least one non-Catholic in all history who will not be saved. Matthew 7:21–23 seems to say that "many" will be reproved; of course many need not be many statistically because even one would be too much in a respect, however many seems to be at least some and not nobody.[original research?]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Kvanvig, Jonathan L. (1994). The Problem of Hell. Oxford University Press, USA. pp. 24–25. ISBN 0-19-508487-X. 
  2. ^ Kvanvig, Jonathan L. (1994). The Problem of Hell. Oxford University Press, USA. p. 4. ISBN 0-19-508487-X. 
  3. ^ Talbott, Thomas, "Heaven and Hell in Christian Thought", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2017 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), forthcoming URL= <https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/spr2017/entries/heaven-hell/>. "Theists who accept the traditional idea of everlasting punishment, or even the idea of an everlasting separation from God, must either reject the idea that God wills or desires to save all humans and thus desires to reconcile them all to himself (see proposition (1) in section 1 above) or reject the idea that God will successfully accomplish his will and satisfy his own desire in this matter "
  4. ^ Mercer dictionary of the Bible p319 Watson E. Mills, Roger Aubrey Bullard – 1990 "In extracanonical Jewish literature and in the NT, Gehenna was used to designate the place/state of torment of torment of the wicked."
  5. ^ Jitendra Dhoj Khand. Supreme God: Body, Will, Wisdom, and Work. Dorrance Publishing. p. 18. ISBN 9781434946140. 
  6. ^ a b "Orthodox Christian Homepage". Home.it.net.au. Retrieved 2013-10-24. 
  7. ^ Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1035, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, ISBN 0-89243-565-8,1994 – the revised version issued 1997 has no changes in this section
  8. ^ Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1033, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, ISBN 0-89243-565-8,1994
  9. ^ [1] Archived November 27, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
  10. ^ https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John+3:36
  11. ^ https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Thessalonians+1%3A7-9&version=NIV
  12. ^ "What is Conditional Immortality?". Afterlife. 2013-10-03. Retrieved 2013-10-24. 
  13. ^ Richard Bauckham "Universalism: a historical survey" (@ theologicalstudies.org.uk), Themelios 4.2 (September 1978): 47–54. "Here and there, outside the theological mainstream, were some who believed that the wicked would be finally annihilated (in its commonest form. this is the doctrine of 'conditional immortality')." "Since 1800 this situation has entirely changed, and no traditional Christian doctrine has been so widely abandoned as that of eternal punishment.3 Its advocates among theologians today must be fewer than ever before. The alternative interpretation of hell as annihilation seems to have prevailed even among many of the more conservative theologians."
  14. ^ Borges, Jorge Luis (1999). Discusión. Madrid, España: Alianza Editorial, S.A. p. 230. ISBN 84-206-3331-3. 
  15. ^ Immanuel Kant (26 November 1998). Kant: Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reason: And Other Writings. Cambridge University Press. p. 89. ISBN 978-0-521-59964-1. Retrieved 23 December 2012. 
  16. ^ "Hell", Catholic Dictionary, Addis & Arnold (rev. P.E Hallet), Virtue, 1953.
  17. ^ Richard Beck. "Christ and Horrors, Part 3: Horror Defeat, Universalism, and God's Reputation". Experimental Theology. March 19, 2007.
  18. ^ Jonathan Kvanvig, The Problem of Hell, New York: Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-508487-0, 1993
  19. ^ David Marshall Communicating the Word: Revelation, Translation, and Interpretation in Christianity and Islam Georgetown University Press 2011 ISBN 978-1-589-01803-7 page 8
  20. ^ Adis Duderija The Imperatives of Progressive Islam Adis Duderija ISBN 978-1-315-43883-2 page 58
  21. ^ Christian Lange Paradise and Hell in Islamic Traditions Cambridge University Press 2015 ISBN 978-1-316-41205-3 page 170
  22. ^ Eternal Hell and a Merciful God Edip Yüksel, 2003
  23. ^ Mura, Andrea (2014). "The Inclusive Dynamics of Islamic Universalism: From the Vantage Point of Sayyid Qutb's Critical Philosophy". Comparative Philosophy. 5 (1). 
  24. ^ "Reply to Accusations Against Ibn Taymiyyah". SunnahOnline.com. 
  25. ^ Reinhold Loeffler Islam in Practice: Religious Beliefs in a Persian Village SUNY Press ISBN 978-0-887-06679-5 page 110
  26. ^ Mohamed Haj Yousef The Single Monad Model of the Cosmos: Ibn Arabi's Concept of Time and Creation ibnalarabi 2014 ISBN 978-1-499-77984-4 page 292
  27. ^ McConnell (1901), The Evolution of Immortality, p. 84, In the first place, there have not been a few, both in ancient and modern times, who have maintained the truth of a 'Conditional Immortality'. 
  28. ^ Streeter (1917), Immortality: An Essay in Discovery, Co-Ordinating Scientific, Psychical, and Biblical Research, et al, p. 204, At the same time there have always been isolated voices raised in support of other views. There are hints of a belief in repentance after death, as well as conditional immortality and annihilationism. 
  29. ^ Knight (1999), A brief history of Seventh-Day Adventists, p. 42, Many biblical scholars down throughout history, looking at the issue through Hebrew rather than Greek eyes, have denied the teaching of innate immortality. 
  30. ^ Pool 1998, p. 133'Various concepts of conditional immortality or annihilationism have appeared earlier in Baptist history as well. Several examples illustrate this claim. General as well as particular Baptists developed versions of annihilationism or conditional immortality.'
  31. ^ Stephen A. State Thomas Hobbes and the Debate Over Natural Law and Religion 2013 "The natural immortality of the soul is in fact a pagan presumption: "For men being generally possessed before the time of our Saviour, by contagion of the Daemonology of the Greeks, of an opinion, that the Souls of men were substances distinct from their Bodies, and therefore that when the Body was dead"
  32. ^ N.T. Wright For All the Saints?: Remembering the Christian Departed 2004 "many readers will get the impression that I believe that every human being comes already equipped with an immortal soul. I don't believe that. Immortality is a gift of God in Christ, not an innate human capacity (see 1 Timothy 6.16)."
  33. ^ Kvanvig, Jonathan L. (1994). The Problem of Hell. Oxford University Press, USA. p. 120. ISBN 0-19-508487-X. 
  34. ^ Dave Hunt In Defense of Faith Harvest House Publishers, 1996
  35. ^ Gaiman, Neil Season of Mists DC Comics/Vertigo, 1990 p. 18
  36. ^ Knight claims that in the first five or six centuries of Christianity, there were six known theological schools, of which four (Alexandria, Antioch, Cesarea, and Edessa or Nisibis) were Universalist, one (Ephesus) accepted conditional immortality, and one (Carthage or Rome) taught the endless punishment of the lost. The Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, 1953, vol. 12, p. 96; retrieved 30/04/09
  37. ^ Westminster Origen Handbook
  38. ^ "We know well that all evil that happens admits of being annihilated by its opposite (Against Eunomius, Book I). Then he affirms apocatastasis stating that "The Son has accomplished the Father's will, and this, in the language of the Apostle, is 'that all men should be saved, '" (Against Eunomius, Book XII).
  39. ^ Robin A. Parry Universal salvation?: the current debate p55
  40. ^ Fisher, David A. (December 2011). "The Question of Universal Salvation: Will All Be Saved?" (PDF). The Maronite Voice, Volume VII, Issue No. XI. Retrieved July 2, 2014. 
  41. ^ https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Lamentations+3%3A31-33&version=NIV
  42. ^ https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Timothy+4%3A10&version=NIV
  43. ^ Hans Urs von Balthasar «Hoffnung auf das Heil aller?». Dare we hope: "that all men be saved"?; with, A short discourse on hell
  44. ^ Michael Schmaus, Der Glaube der Kirche ("The Faith of the Church") VI/II p. 84
  45. ^ David L. Schindler Hans Urs von Balthasar: his life and work "Until then he had not published very much about obedience and marriage in paradise. The controversy about Hell was left entirely to the final years of von Balthasar's life, at the time no one could have known how much these themes owed to the inspiration of Adrienne von Speyr".

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]