These are the things this page will discuss. Many people including myself have never been able to reconcile the thought of a loving God devising a plan that required most people to spend eternity in agony after a few years living here on Earth. That is what I understand that Orthodox Christianity has to say about it. We all know what pain is and how anyone will take pain killers to try to avoid terrible pain. Can it be that people really believe that anyone goes to a place where they are burned and that they are kept alive and tormented with that pain forever? That is what many people claim that the Bible teaches. I have heard it said that "if that is what God has planned for people I'm all for it". This is thought to be expressing great faith in God. I think it is a terrible slur on his name. There is a song that expresses it. A line goes, "they magnify his vengeance with a zeal he will not own". I have never been able to see how anyone can really believe that. It is true that many think that the punishment is "separation from God". Whatever that is it is easier to accept than having people wreathing in excruciating pain forever.
What does the Bible teach? And could the famous Bible scholars all down through the age have been wrong? They didn't all believe it and they don't all believe it now. There is a big argument going on right now among Orthodox Christians. If you want to get in on it go to "Conditional Immortality" in the search box on Yahoo. There are many places you can go to get it. There are a lot of arguments given, some of which I think are quite strange, but the fact is that there are many people that are challenging the idea that anyone will be kept alive and tortured forever and ever. I think this is a great step forward by those that claim to be Christian.
It will be my purpose here to show that the question is not heaven or hell, but life or death. Only good people will be kept alive forever. Immortality is not inherited but must be gained. 1 Corinthians 15:53 (KJV) "For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality". The Apostle Paul evidently didn't believe that mankind had inherit immortality.
As to the fire and brimstone; it is true that Jesus used the term "hell fire" several times. Why did he do that if hell is not a place of fire? For instance in Matthew 18: 9 Jesus says this, "And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire". Is Jesus here saying that it is better to pluck out your eye than to be burned forever in a fiery hell? I'm sure that there are some that take this to say that. He is saying that one needs to give up anything wrong even if it is as desirable as one's eyes and he does say that being cast into hell fire is the penalty. So what is he talking about with the term "hell fire"? In this place and in eleven others, the translators used the word hell to translate the Greek word "Gehenna". Outside of the ancient city of Jerusalem was a valley called Gehenna. This was the garbage dump of Jerusalem. Refuse was disposed of here and it was burned. It was destroyed. That is the simple truth of what Jesus was saying. It would be better for anyone to give up any pet things even if they were as cherished as one's eyes rather than to be destroyed. It seems obvious to me that that is all that he is saying. It certainly doesn't say anything about being tormented forever. Then there is the one about the undying worms that the Traditionalists would mention. Mark9: 47&48, "And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched". This is one of the other places where the Greek word Gehenna is translated by the word Hell. Jesus is here also talking about the garbage dump outside of Jerusalem. It seems very far-fetched to think that Jesus is here talking about the souls of people. Undying worms the souls of people? Obviously the garbage dump had fires smoldering and things that failed to reach the fire would have worms in it. The worms would always be there; they would not have to be immortal. The thought is that of destruction. In previous pages, on the resurrection and the soul I've tried to show that the Bible does not teach that at death man goes straight to heaven or if he is bad goes to a place of torment.
Here is a scripture that I have always liked. (Psalms145: 20 NKJV) "The LORD preserves all who love Him, But all the wicked He will destroy". Note it says destroy not keeps alive in any form.
There is much more to be said on this subject. I want to keep these pages short so maybe someone might read them. Just want to make it plain that the Bible does not teach that God is a monster.
If anyone is interested in pursing this subject I would suggest that you write to
The Dawn 199 Railroad Ave. East Rutherford, NJ 07073
And ask for the booklet "The Truth about Hell". It goes into every scripture in the Bible that uses the word Hell and the fact that the word Grave is used to translate the same Greek word as is translated Hell. The difference being that when good people are being discussed the word Grave is used, when bad people the word Hell is used.
Also they have a website.