Is There Really a Hell?
And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Matthew 10:28 ESV.
The Bible mentions "hell" several times — so if the Bible is true, does that mean that there must also be a hell? And if so, what is that like? And what determines who goes there, and who doesn't. This page will explore some of those issues.
For most of my life I was put off wanting to become a Christian mainly by the idea of hell. And specifically, the idea of a literally eternal, inescapeable hell. It wasn't until much later that I realised that many Christians have other views on hell to the one I was taught about as a child.
The view I was taught was that hell lasted an infinite (in the mathematical sense) amount of time, and that once someone was sent there, there was no escape — they were permanently trapped there, in an infinite amount of torture, literally, forever.
However there are (and have been in the past) many Christians with differing thoughts about hell.
One of them is to simply ignore the idea of hell altogether, and never (or almost never) mention it. This is the case in many churches today. Though hell is discussed in the Bible. So, asssuming you believe in in the whole Bible as God's true Word, then there must presumably really be a hell of some form.
Some people accept hell as the idea of "separation from God", and that enough is bad enough to qualify as "hell".
Some others take hell as being equivalent to death — in the sense that after your bodily death, you cease to exist in any form at all. There are many ideas in the Bible which appear to support this view.
What Would Be Logical?
One way to think about hell is to consider what seems logical, and makes sense. This is not always the best guide, as many times things can seem to make sense, but be completely wrong. Though of course many other times, thinking about something logically is a good way to determine it's accuracy. Let's explore some ideas about hell from the basis of what seems logical.
Infinite, Inescapeable Hell
First up, assume that there are more non-Christians than Christians. And only Christians go to heaven, and everyone else goes to hell. This has been a traditional belief in some circles for a while. And also that hell is literally infinite, and there is no escape from it.
If all this were to be true, that would mean that by any logical means of measuring "quality", then the overall quality of God's creation must surely be negative infinity.
Because there would be more people in hell than in heaven, and each of those would be experiencing a literally infinite amount of suffering. This idea really bothered me as a child. It didn't terribly frighten me (like some people have found it did to them). Rather I just thought that it couldn't possibly be true. Apart from any other reasons, it clearly contradicts anything the Bible (or even common sense) says about God being loving. Or intelligent even, if you assume that "intelligence" involves more than creating something with the lowest possible overall quality that could ever possibly exist (i.e. negative infinity).
I'll write more detail about this idea later, in another web page.
But the main problem for me with all of the above is that I thought you couldn't believe in Jesus, or be a Christian, without accepting this idea that the quality of creation was negative infinity. Clearly, for me, this was an oxymoron. In fact it was the main thing that kept me from being a Christian for most of my life.
It wasn't until much later that I realised there were other ways to think about hell, and still be a follower of Jesus Christ.
More to follow later on...