Thank God for Hell!

hell-the-alternative-anthony-falboDuring episode #9 of Drunk Ex-Pastors we fielded a provocative question we received via Twitter: “Since neither Jesus, nor Paul, nor the early church fathers displayed the kind of urgency that a belief in hell as a place of eternal torment would seem to necessitate, is it possible that there is something wrong with the paradigm that insists that hell is in fact a place of eternal torment?”

During the podcast, Christian made an interesting point about how upset many evangelicals get when it is suggested to them that their theory of hell is wrong. They clench their fists and dig their heels, as if the suggestion that God might not  spend eternity waterboarding people were actually bad news.

What do you think? Do you have an opinion about hell? Or, why do you think the traditional view of hell is so cherished by fundamentalists?

And if you’re not up to speed, listen here (discussion begins at roughly 1:13). . . .


  1. ChristianOctober 1, 2014

    Personally, I don’t really see Christianity losing much if hell is not an eternal place of torment. Most Christians, especially fundamentalists, don’t see it that way though. It’s a very, very important doctrine to them. Perhaps they’re focusing too much on fear to make their point?

  2. GregOctober 1, 2014

    For me, the concept of hell is not really about actual physical suffering, but more about the absence of God’s presence. In my worship and my concept of God and religion, I never really even think about hell. I agree Christian, that many focus too much on fear; for me the motivation to come to Christ should be more about love than fear!

  3. ChristianOctober 1, 2014

    Greg, what if people feel more loved in their Buddhist temple than they do in a Christian church?

  4. GregOctober 1, 2014

    Well I’m sure that happens, especially if the Christian church is focused on fear and hell. I suppose that’s kind of my point. I have no problem with Buddhists, and I’m pretty sure good Buddhists will not be going to hell.

  5. badclowneyOctober 2, 2014

    Greg: How do you define a good Buddhist and how do you define a bad Buddhist? And watch your capitalization of proper nouns, they hate that here.

  6. JasonOctober 2, 2014

    If all commenters here would kindly capitalize the word Hate, we would greatly appreciate it. . . .

  7. badclowneyOctober 2, 2014

    Still missing the point, you hipster cliche.

  8. JasonOctober 2, 2014

    If all commenters here would kindly capitalize the word Hipster, we would greatly appreciate it. . . .

  9. JamesOctober 2, 2014

    As long as we acknowledge that Jason is a Hipster, that Hates protestants, & CC specifically, with a whole lot of bitterness, we are good.
    Christian is his own bundle of mess, but at least he doesn’t leave comments from the podcast on wrong topic tabs.

  10. badclowneyOctober 3, 2014

    The Twitter question is ignorant of the facts and it’s not at all provocative. Anyone who’s read the Bible honestly knows that the doctrine of Hell as eternal, is exceptionally clear. And as usual, those that deny it and complain about it, make a category error. That error being that just because Christians believe Hell and it’s eternality to be true, it doesn’t mean they are glad it’s true. You’d be hard pressed to find a Christian who wouldn’t prefer annihilation to eternal torment but since they believe God’s word, they’re sticking with His word and not the liberals who try to explain it away because they’ve devised a god of their own mind who wouldn’t dare do such a thing. They hate his justice and sovereignty.
    Christian hates Hell because he doesn’t get the holiness and justice of God – it’s that simple. His arguments against it are old hat and have been shredded over and over countless times. Do you really think you’re saying something that hasn’t already been said? Are you that delusional? And it IS Christianity 101 but you failed the basics and that’s why you don’t get it. You’re a Chapel Calvary Arminian/Synergist dropout – you didn’t have it right in the first place.
    And of course Jason leans to Universalism because that’s where Rome is headed which isn’t surprising at all because they clearly don’t have the Gospel; but they sure do have an endless list of blasphemies.
    Little bugs me more than non-Christians who talk about Christianity and the Bible believing they know it and what it says, all the while giving generic, cliche arguments that they think refute it.
    Love you-

  11. ChristianOctober 3, 2014

    You crack me up, badclowney. Thanks for commenting and getting more people to listen to our podcast! God bless!

  12. ChristianOctober 3, 2014

    By the way, why isn’t your name capitalized?

  13. Erwin M. FletcherOctober 3, 2014

    “badclowney” It’s interesting that you listen to this show, when you clearly get your panties all up in a dirty wad about it. You seem to be pretty sure of yourself and prideful. Is there *any* chance you could be wrong….about anything? It doesn’t appear so. Pride comes before fall son.

  14. badclowneyOctober 4, 2014

    Erwin Fletcher you have no clue. I was directed to the show by some poor soul who was part of Jason’s Exile flock. The guy hasn’t gotten over Jason’s apostasy. This is the first show I have listened to and most of the show the skinscalps talked about themselves. I can understand why it has few listeners. I’m not wrong about Hell and I’m not wrong Rome and it’s not because I say so.

  15. ChristianOctober 4, 2014

    I count it as one of my successes of the week, badclowney, that you didn’t like the podcast.

  16. ChristianOctober 4, 2014

    P.S. “I’m not wrong [about] Rome…”

  17. Erwin M. FletcherOctober 4, 2014

    @badclowney why don’t I have a clue? How is it possible to presume a person “has no clue” when you don’t even know me? I wouldn’t say that about you because well I don’t know you.

    How many shows have you listened to? How about you start a show and we’ll see how good it sounds, how smart you are, how well spoken you are and see how many listeners you have. You make a lot of claims but haven’t backed anything up. It’s easy to sit in the nose bleeds and heckle while the big boys play.

  18. badclowneyOctober 8, 2014

    @Erwin: Your words “It’s interesting that you listen to this show, when you clearly get your panties all up in a dirty wad about it.”
    This is why you don’t have a clue. I don’t listen to the show and my panties aren’t…..etc. So basically you DID say the same thing about me.

    I’ve listened to one show and I told you that. Please try to pay attention. I’ve backed up everything I’ve said and these guys aren’t big boys at all. Why do I need my own show to prove anything? Where’s your show, if that’s the proof of intelligence? Ya I didn’t think so.

  19. ChristianOctober 8, 2014

    Wrong again, badclowney. Erwin actually makes a living off of his own show. You’re on a roll with all the things you think you’re not wrong about.

  20. HectorOctober 11, 2014

    great discussion, (although, if BadClowney didn’t like the question, she doesn’t need to read or listen to the podcast. — just a thought).

    Christian, you mentioned that the eternality of Hell could be something closer to annihilation, complete and absolute destruction at one time, with everlasting results. in the quick time i took to look it up, there are 3 Greek words translated as Hell in the NT; Hades, Gehenna, and Tartarus. (again, this was not an exhaustive search). Hades is the mythological Greco-Roman abode of the dead. For the Greeks, all human beings went to Hades after they died. it was the same for the Romans, with the exception that “good” Romans went to a better compartment of Hades called, Elysium. Gehenna (or the “Valley of Hinnom”) was designated the trash dump for Jerusalem by King Josiah, an unclean place where they burned the trash of the city. the Bible also speaks of child sacrifices offered to Molech happening at Gehenna. lastly, Tartarus was also a mythological Greco-Roman dungeon of darkness, where Zeus was said to have sealed up the Titans. it is described as an dark abyss and place of punishment for the wicked. not surprisingly, 2 Peter 2:4 is the only NT reference to Tartarus. but the description is very close to the mythological picture: a place of darkness for the evil angels, whom God cast down to Tartarus till the final judgment.

    as i see it (and i could be wrong), there are, generally speaking, three ways to understand this. 1. if the NT authors were intending to build a complicated compartmented “Hell” then the three have to fit in somewhere into some sort of scheme. typically, it is taught by many Christians that God cast some of the Angels down to Tartarus after their fall, according to 2 Peter; Abraham’s Bosom, from Luke’s Gospel, sounds a lot like Hades as well as Elysium; and Gehenna is picture of the Lake of Fire found in Revelation. 2. the authors of the NT never intended to compartmentalize Hell into three different areas, but spoke of it in various ways and with figurative language only to speak of the finality of God’s judgment. that is, the literal aspect to the three are figurative license to help us understand the extremity of God’s judgment. 3. neither point one or two are correct, and maybe the authors of the NT were just borrowing from Roman culture, and building upon the Hebrew concept of Sheol, the grave. after all, the Christian concept of Hell seems to be an odd mixture of Hebrew and Greco-Roman culture and myth.

    IF, point one is correct, it would seem to indicate that both Hades and Tartarus would have to be temporary, since the final place of ETERNAL torment would be Gehenna, the “Lake of Fire” where “the worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched.” could it be that where you see a less than an eternal aspect to Hell, it can be attributed to the idea that you’re looking at places in the Bible that actually refer to Hades, or Tartarus, and not the Lake of Fire? all three are typically translated the same, as Hell. or, could it be that you’re reading too much into the figurative language that was never intended to stand on all fours, as it were? (granted of course, that this point would not necessarily need to have an Eternal aspect to “Hell” if it is figurative persay.) or, could this be just the muddy waters of early Christianity evolving its doctrine of Hell and building upon the local traditions already readily found, both Jewish and Greco-Roman?

    curious to your thoughts. cheers!

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