|Does hell exist?
Apr 16, 1998
I have found your comments very enriching and I love to read that you portrait God as a God of love and not a hateful one.
However, I can not understand why God created hell, a place of eternal suffering, were people are going to be having excruciating pain and will be burnt every single second...I know that some poeple will not make it Heaven...but sending those to such a place is too cruel...I mean I have heard of poeple that have been burnt alive suffer too much and they have to live on painkillers, and some can not even sleep.
My question is, if God is so loving and orders us to love each other why there is a place like hell? During WWII
the Nazis burnt many people alive in the concentration camps...how could God allow a place like that(in this case hell) for poeple that could pass the test on this life?
The Javhe' Witnesses say that God is so loving that a place like hell...in the way Catholics and many Protestants portrait it ( with fire everywhere and poeple screaming) doesnt exist. They say that hell is eternal death(not eternal suffering) and give an ethimological interpretation of hell as the place where the corpses were burnt outside the walls of Jerusalem...I know that they are critized by many Christians for anoucing the end of the world in 1914 and then in 1975; however, they say that God is so loving that He can not have such a place to make someone suffer in such a horrible way eternally( can you imaging someone being burnt in a pot full of sulfur at 100,000 C degress second after second for 10,000 years or eternally) .
However, Jesus, mentions that place many times on the Bible..and it is described like a place of eternal suffering. I know that some people may not qualify to enter heaven for many different reasons....but sending them to hell ...isnot that cruel? Even the worst criminals are put in jail... not into boiling sulfur pots and in the worst cases ( I mean in most civilized nations) they are just put to sleep or kept in prision for life.
I really dont understand
I hope that God let me know the why of hell.
thank you for your time
Response from Rev. Pieters
You have raised a very complex issue. There have been "heated" discussions about hell for centuries, and many people have asked the same questions you're asking. I don't believe there is any one correct answer. As you've noted, there are a variety of beliefs about who goes to hell and who goes to heaven and why.
I am one who believes that we are saved through our faith, and that's all there is to it. I also believe that much of the imagery of hell that we have inherited through the centuries is simply that: images, created by numerous teachers, theologians, and prophets as a way of expressing a truth about judgment, and ultimately, forgiveness. The fear of hell, like guilt, has sometimes been used to motivate people to do what is good and right. The scarier the image, the more motivating it might be for some people.
But a lot of people don't do their good deeds simply because they fear eternal burning if they don't. Rather, we base our service and our worship on our love of God. And in our faith in that loving God, we are saved from whatever hell there may be.
I have sat with any number of people as they were dying from the complications of AIDS, who asked if they were going to hell. Often when this question is posed, it is an indication that a person needs to feel forgiven and reassured of being loved. As a pastor, it is part of my job to assure them of God's forgiveness and love. I have usually said something like, "No, God loves you, and when you die, I believe you are going to be received into God's loving arms. You will experience the end of all pain, and the wholeness of being loved completely."
Guilt, what is the purpose?
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