HOME  Why its a mistake to give the Catholic Church support via membership or donations


Eternal Hell Dogma - The Ultimate Offspring of the Evil Mind
The Catholic Church claims to be infallible when it intends to be and speaks to the whole Church. Everlasting punishing torment for those who die estranged from God is a dogma of the faith. Deny it and you deny what God has said through the Church. Deny it and you deny that the Church is really unable to err in matters of faith and morals. Deny it and you deny that Catholicism is the true faith and affirm that it is just a load of human opinion and not a divinely revealed faith.

Origen felt that the pains of Hell might only be temporary and at least three synods shot him down for that (page 84, Reason and Belief).

The idea of a Hell that is unlimited in time seems to have been made official in 543 AD. The Synod of Constantinople revealed the doctrine officially.

Lateran IV in 1215 AD infallibly decreed that the wicked “will receive perpetual punishment with the devil and the others everlasting glory with Christ” (DS 801, cf. 411).

The Council of Florence in 1442 declared, “The holy Roman Church…firmly believes, professes and proclaims that none of those outside the Catholic Church, not Jews, nor heretics, nor schismatics, can participate in eternal life, but will go into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels, unless they are brought into [the Catholic Church] before the end of life” (DS 1351). See also Reason and Belief page 84-85 which adds the information that this bigotry was also sanctioned and clarified under the authority of Pope Eugene IV.
Incidentally, modern Rome now teaches that all sincere Jews can be saved. If Florence taught that then why didn’t it say that if Jews are banned from Heaven it is only contumacious Jews that are meant. If you teach that only insincere Jews who secretly believe in Jesus go to Hell, you don’t say that Jews go to Hell. Florence contradicts modern Catholic doctrine.

Views like this made Romish Christianity the most murderous religion in the world. If people should be sent to everlasting punishing just because they have not been made Catholics by pure chance then they are not fit to live. Nobody can be condemned for killing what is worthless.
Benedict XII in 1336 wrote in his Constitution, Benedictus Deus, “We define that according to the general disposition of God the souls of those who die in actual mortal sin go down immediately after death into Hell and are there tormented by the pains of Hell” (DS 1002).
In 1892 the Inquisition decided under Leo XIII that a priest who refused to forgive the sins of a penitent who denied that there was real fire in Hell was right (page 85, Reason and Belief).
God will not make a Hell with fire unless there are people to be put in it. The Book of Revelation says that there are some beings there. Some liberal theologians agree but say there is no Bible verse that asks us to believe that any human being is in Hell. But Jesus did say that some will rise again to be lost forever. If people to go Hell for neglecting prisoners as Jesus says that means quite a few will end up there. And Jesus spoke more about Hell than Heaven or salvation! He warned about it and said that we must squeeze through the narrow gate for the road to damnation is wide. If nobody goes to Hell then why worry about Hell? Why not convert to Judaism if you are a Christian who feels like a change? If Hell is not a place but a mental state or a state of existing without God then Hell does not exist and the Bible is wrong to say it does exist if it is true that nobody goes there. God can't know if Hell is possible if nobody chooses it or goes there. He can't know who your grandfather would have married if not your grandmother and that is because your grandfather married your grandmother.
The doctrine of eternal punishment of sinners by God in Hell is clearly taught in the Bible though you have to think it out at times to see for yourself.
To argue, "We should not take references to eternal punishing literally for God is too loving and forgiving to punish forever" implies, "Whoever believes in everlasting punishment does not understand love and is being a fanatic." It also opens the door to maybe arguing, "God wrote Mein Kampf through Hitler - we cannot explain the nasty bits. But we know God is wise and the book is not really nasty." No one who is fully concerned about love even considers how a nasty book can really be the word of a God of love. Period.

Eternal punishment first raises its shocking head in the Book of Daniel (12:2) where it is forecasted that the wicked will rise to everlasting contempt and shame unlike the just who will rise to everlasting life. Their sin cannot be forgiven ever when the shame and contempt is unending. God wants the saints to be happy so the contempt meant is not theirs nor his. So it is the hatred of the damned have towards one another. When he says the life and the abhorrence are everlasting it is clear that everlasting is meant in the same sense in both. Nobody would talk about everlasting life meant literally and everlasting contempt not meant literally in the same breath for then no sense can be made out of them. When the wicked in Hell will face hate forever it follows that they will be there forever.
The view that the contempt can be everlasting though the wicked are not and they perish is wrong. Why raise people up to kill them again? The contempt won’t need to exist anymore when they are dead.
The doctrine of everlasting punishing is clear in the gospels. But we will leave them for now.
The Book of Revelation tells us that the smoke of the torment of those who commit idolatry will ascend “forever and ever” [eis aioonas aioonoon – literally, from ages to ages] (14:11). I used to think that it was just saying that the smoke would rise forever not that they would be tormented forever. The picture I had was of the smoke rising from the fire they had been destroyed in. But there would be no point in preserving the smoke if that happened for the saints cannot sin so the smoke must rise forever because the damned are tormented forever. When the verse says the smoke of the torture will rise forever and ever and immediately after that they will be tormented day and night forever it clearly means that sinners will suffer forever. Put it this way, why say the smoke of their torment will rise forever when you could say the smoke of their destruction rises? Given how hot the fire is we would expect them to be dead before they can even get near it as they are flung in but they are alive in it. If you are put into a fire that doesn’t destroy you, you are in it to be tormented.

Of the Devil, the false prophet and the beast it is said that, “The devil who had led them astray [deceiving and seducing them] was hurled into the fiery lake of burning brimstone, where the beast and false prophet were; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever (through the ages of the ages)” (Revelation 20:10).
It seems to some that here the Devil and the false prophet and the beast are symbols for the forces hostile to God which enables them to think that this line is symbolic and does not literally refer to any person being forced to undergo ceaseless punishment. But Revelation does not consider the Devil a symbol. If, for example, the false prophet represents the people who tell religious lies it is stupid and meaningless to say that his eternal torment is a symbol. Meaningful symbols must picture the reality. The only way false prophecy can be tormented forever is if it exists forever and does not succeed in its goal of deluding people and false prophecy only exists forever if false prophets exist as long. But the prophet is probably just the ultimate false prophet and one man.
The Dawn Bible Students have argued that the forever torment of Satan is not literal personal torture for Satan forever. They dubiously assert that it only refers to Satan being tortured forever by the derision of the people of God though he does not exist. It is like the way you can torture a man who does not live any more (page 40, The Truth About Hell). But there is no evidence for this off-the-beaten-track interpretation. The Dawns point to the verses about Satan’s destruction as evidence but none of the texts make it clear that he will be literally destroyed as in being put out of existence. When the Bible never says that eternal in relation to Hell is just roughly referring to a long time and not forever it is clear that we should not take it to mean a long time.
Death and Hades were thrown into the pool of fire which is the second death (Revelation 20:14). This appears to say that death dies itself in the pool. But death and Hell being thrown into the pool signifies that they end in the pool for they are abstract things. They will be different from personal beings. If they die in the pool that does not mean that people will. If death dies in the pool and the pool is the second death then it can’t be death as in becoming corpses but spiritual living death.  It will be a death to all happiness.
The Hell in this case means the grave. The grave is Hell in the sense that it is your final destruction for sin – not meaning there isn’t torment in Hell - unless there is a resurrection. Death and Hell dying in the fire is a metaphor that the beings in the fire will never die.

It is a mistake to argue that the tormented forever and ever bit is non-literal because it says they were hurled into fire and fire destroys. God can prevent fire from destroying.

Sin is intending to offer God an infinite offence so each and every sinner is as evil as the Devil. The Bible says that the Devil will be tortured for all eternity so this must happen to every sinner. When it happens the Devil and death and the false prophet it will happen to other sinners too.

Non-believers in everlasting torment claim that the forever in Revelations verses about everlasting torment is not to be taken literally any more than a person saying, “I will be washing this floor forever at this rate”, is to be taken this way. It is obvious that the texts couldn’t mean forever in a figurative way. They don’t hint at a non-literal interpretation so that interpretation should be shunned. It was too serious a revelation for Jesus to be vague on anything. His listeners would have taken him literally. When God says something is everlasting he has the power to make it everlasting. So with him the word everlasting means literally everlasting.

The texts that seem to say that the wicked will not be “destroyed” or “perish” as their final punishment are not to be taken literally for they translate the Greek word, apollumi, which is simply used in some places to mean lost (Luke 15) or to have become useless (Matthew 9:17). You can destroy a person without killing that person. In Revelation 17:8, we read that the Beast shall be destroyed or go into perdition. The word here can be translated perdition or destruction. In Revelation 19:20, we are informed that the beast and his prophet will be thrown alive into a lake of fire and a millennium later the Devil is cast into it too and we read that all three will be in torment forever. So the destruction they experience is not annihilation. This suggests that the lake of sulphur preserves its victims in torment and when it is a lake and not a mere pool it shows that it was meant for more than these three. One may go to Hell at death but these people could have been in Hell all the time and behaved normally for
God can inflict the pains of Hell anywhere and miraculously.

Hebrews 6:2 alludes to eternal judgment. Some say that if a sinner is put out of existence that sinner is still judged as a sinner forever so this phrase does not imply everlasting punishing. It does for it is not a fair judgment to kill a sinner for it is neglecting to punish their sin. It is no more punishment than falling asleep. Hebrews states that getting on the wrong side of God is a horrific thing (10:31).

As the main thing fire does is destroying and not causing pain it is supposed by many scholars that the biblical references to everlasting fire mean a fire that destroys sinners and does not torment them. But it is just as easy to use fire as a symbol of pain as of destruction. A symbol does not have to resemble what it pictures in every respect. Experientially, the pain is worse than being destroyed in it. There are people who could have existed but who didn’t. Are they being punished by not existing? Does it do them any harm? No.

Not even once does the Bible say that the wicked will be punished with the ultimate cessation of existence, apart from the end of earthly life, alone.

Paul declared that if Jesus has not risen from the dead one of the consequences is that the dead are lost (1 Corinthians 15). The dead could live without a resurrection therefore he means they will suffer eternally in a bad place if Jesus has not risen and are spiritually lost. The dead are not God’s friends if Jesus did not rise. You cannot be spiritually lost if you are non-existent so the dead would have to be alive but opposed to God. Even sincere repentance and faith cannot save if Jesus had not risen (v17). If God would consign everybody to Hell or keep them in their sins – which religion says is worse than hellfire - if Jesus did not come to rise from the dead, God is capable of making a Hell and sending people to it. Indeed there must be a Hell for those who attack the resurrection and for Christians if they are wrong about the way to salvation.

Paul said that if Jesus has not risen the dead are lost forever for God will not save them. Even though Jesus could still have died to atone for sinners God will not save them. This infers that God is perfectly capable of giving people no second chance that they could have under better circumstances that they cannot help. He can give you no more chances and will put you in a Hell forever. Thought that God was so kind that if you do your best and really want salvation he will give it for your intention is what counts? If no atonement was made and you would accept one if there were, God would have to accept you on this logic. The doctrine of Jesus being the only way to salvation and everlasting happiness is monstrous.

The Bible informs us that the fire of Hell which torments the damned doesn’t give off light when it says that Hell is dark or it could mean that the damned are blind (Jude 13). Some suggest on the basis of this that the fire of Hell is a metaphor. But God can make fire and prevent its light from being visible or maybe the fire is bright but the damned cannot see it. If Hellfire were a metaphor it would represent something as painful as the pain of burning for the symbol must accurately resemble the thing symbolised. The Book of Daniel has three young men who God preserved from pain and being burned in the middle of a furnace. Where miracles are possible this is possible. This means that anybody who says the fire of Hell is not literal is a heretic for it could be so the Bible means it is literal. Even if it is absurd the writers of the Bible would not have been educated enough or in the right way to realise that.

Some texts seem to say that all will have salvation (Romans 5:19) but it is important to remember that all (or the equivalent) is a word that is not used literally all the time.  It is often meant to be understood with its obvious exceptions. When the pope says that Jesus saved all from Hell he means all those who will not go to Hell forever because he is taking it for granted that we know about Hell.

It is stupid to say that everlasting punishment exists but that there is nobody undergoing it for then it wouldn’t be eternal punishment and Jesus must have lied for he said that people do go there. He said people go there. Even he cannot know that unless they do go there.

That it is good to send people to Hell forever is implied by the doctrine that Jesus had to suffer and die to save us (John 14:6; Acts 4:12) - which features more strongly in the non-gospel scriptures - and its partner, the doctrine that salvation is impossible unless this sacrifice is accepted by you and appropriated. If Jesus had to suffer and die for us then this implies that God refused to forgive and save unless he died. He is capable of putting people in Hell forever. But if Jesus came to save us from eternal punishment that does not mean that eternal punishment happens though it must be possible when he came to save us from it. But still it shows we have the kind of God that would inflict it even if he doesn’t. If a God who does it is bad so is this God.

Heretical Christian teachers say that Hell is against the will of God and he does not punish there. What happens is that people go there and inflict it on themselves.
A judge who sends a thief to jail not for his crime but because he doesn’t like him is not punishing him. He is taking revenge on him and using the legal system to do it. It only outwardly looks like punishment. To punish you must intend to punish.
Jesus could not have called Hell eternal punishment if people punish themselves there for they cannot. True punishment is forced on you from outside. But to inflict torment on yourself to pay for some wrong you have done may be masochism but it is not punishment. If they hate God then they wouldn’t punish themselves for sin. To do that is to condemn themselves for hurting God and doing him the favour of paying for it. They are not making themselves pay for opposing God – for to punish is to hurt as you intend to pay back evil for evil. They are hurting themselves to offend him if he is against unnecessary suffering. They are hurting themselves to express their hate of him and not to punish themselves. They are trying to punish him and they are not punishing themselves though they make themselves suffer for their motive is not to punish themselves. So God must force them to suffer if they are under punishment. They do not want to be punished for they hate his will. They have a choice between suffering for his will and repenting. They know they should do themselves a favour and repent when they are doing his will by being punished anyway. When they choose to stay it shows that they will remain in Hell forever. To say that God does not punish in Hell is to deny what Jesus said.

If God does not punish, then he does not take sin seriously. If you think God is right to do that then clearly you hate the sinner when you hate the sin. If sin is evil and you oppose punishment then you do not take it seriously and you don't care about the harm done to the victims of sinners.

The doctrine of everlasting punishment is in the Bible. Anyone who rejects it rejects the Bible. Not that we are complaining but we don’t like trendy ministers and priests getting acceptance from the people through manipulating them with syrupy versions of nasty doctrines.

Lots of Christians surmise that Jesus was such a wonderful guy that he would not have even countenanced teaching a doctrine like that about sinners going to be left in agony forever. If they mutilate the gospel doctrine that he did teach this then they are left with a Jesus they have made up and not one that can be called the real Jesus in any real sense. If you throw away the gospels you have to throw their Christ away as well.

In John 5:29, Jesus informs us regarding his conviction that the dead sinners will rise again to judgment and condemnation. God would not resurrect them just to destroy them or to air their dirty laundry before the saints for he could do this without bringing them back from the dead. He must plan to torment them. When he raises them to make them suffer it is clear that he wants to punish every sin. He cannot annihilate them as long as they wallow in rebelling which will be forever for them.

Jesus stressed the need to repent fast and warned about the judgment. Would he have done these things if he had not had a Hell for sinners forever in mind to warn us about? If the world was going to suffer repentance would not save you from it so he was on about something that was waiting for us after death. It was something that repentance could not save us from. If you went to Hell and could get out by saying sorry there would be no need for the sense of urgency that circulates all through the teaching of Jesus.  Jesus risked his life to preach which proves that he did believe in Hell. The liberal Christian fantasy of a Jesus who did not preach everlasting condemnation is just that: a fantasy.

Jesus told parables to illustrate his doctrine that anybody who was not prepared to meet him would be cast away from his presence and that their pain and loneliness would be intense. He spoke of the foolish virgins who went to the dealers to buy oil so that they could watch for the master for their lamps were going out and who came back to find they were closed out of the wedding for not being ready. They all cry and weep but he ignores them instead of telling them to repent showing that they can no longer repent and end their sorrow (Matthew 25). If they could repent some of them at least would do it. And why cry and weep so much if you can escape the pain? It can be argued that they did repent when they went off to the dealers but God had decreed that it was too late. He also declared that anybody who did not develop his power to love God would be cast out into darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 24:50, 51). The miserable souls cannot repent of the sin that excuses them from God for if they could they would. God must have done something to them so that they cannot do it. It only takes a minute of such sorrow to show people how much they need God but when these are said to be in such pain it shows that God is no longer interested in restoring them to his friendship. This shows that their despair will never ever lighten. Eternal punishment includes eternal despair.

Jesus predicted that on judgement day all those who were not kind to others would go into “never-ending punishment [kolasin aioonion]” (Matthew 25:46 – my version). The Greek word, derived from kolasis which is translated punishment does not mean annihilation though some say it does. It appears in 1 John 4:18 which says that “fear makes you restrained [or punished]” (my version) and cannot mean annihilation here – note the present tense.  Earlier in the same sentence, Jesus spoke of “never-ending life [zoozeen aioonion]” meaning everlasting happiness in Heaven. If the punishment ends so does the life of Heaven so we ought to take the word never-ending (aioonion) literally. Annihilation is not a punishment but a kind of reward for there is nothing to dread about ceasing to exist so it is crazy to suppose that the punishment is cessation of existence. Annihilation means treating the worst sinner the same as the not-so-bads.

Jesus will say to the unjust, “Begone from Me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41). The fire puts out of existence or it torments or both. God would not keep the fire lit after it has destroyed the wicked and eradicated evil for the saved cannot sin for they are too happy to and don’t need the reminder. God does not need a fire to destroy the wicked. So when Jesus said the fire is everlasting it must be maintained for the purpose of tormenting sinners. This sentence was uttered at a most solemn moment so it is absurd to say that Jesus is speaking in symbols. Can you imagine a judge sentencing a man to death and saying that he meant he wanted the man put in jail only which he considers to be a living death?
Surely if God does not need a fire to destroy the wicked he does not need a fire to torment them with either! Yes he would if he intends to use the fire as a form of torture! It's up to him.
Jesus called them cursed. Cursed by whom? He is cursing them. He is wishing evil on them. If people are so bad that they have to be destroyed then you are not getting your own back on them but doing the right thing. You wouldn't curse them or declare them cursed. You would if you are consigning them to everlasting punishment. Curse is very strong and Jesus says begone from me. They go to a torment prepared for Satan and his angels. There is no room in any of this for a Hell that for some at least is just as bad as an eternal mild toothache.

Some say there is a contrast between everlasting life and everlasting punishment meaning that the latter must represent death. But then as now people who had a hard time of it were said to have no life. That could be the meaning of the contrast and it probably is for it is more natural to use the word death than punishment when you mean annihilation. Jesus said this punishment is fire meant for the Devil and his angels.  When God needs a fire though he can destroy without it we see a hint that the fire is not just for destruction but for tormenting. Since some think the fire was prepared for the Devil and his angels at the end of the world it is said that it was because that is the time they will be put out of existence. But the Devil and his angels don’t have bodies so the fire must be for tormenting them. It is not fire as we know it but a magic fire and therefore one that could torment forever. Jesus never said the fire would be made at the end of the world.
When the fire is prepared for the Devil and his angels though it was known that there would be plenty of human sinners to go there it implies something. It infers that its purpose is tormenting punishment. How do we know?  The fire was made before the world began for the Devil and his angels were around then. The Devil and his angels for whom it was prepared were thrown in then. It was made for them at the start. There were no people made yet which does not exclude God intending to throw any people who were as bad in later. But since Satan and his angels are alive now according to the gospels it follows that the fire is for torturing for they are still alive in it.
The Christians who say that we exclude ourselves from God’s presence if we go to Hell are lying. They know from their Bibles how Jesus said that God and the bridegroom meaning himself would have them locked out and excluded. It is not a matter of poor God wanting to be with them and being unable to influence them to re-consider their rejection of him.

Jesus told the Jews that whoever blasphemed the Holy Spirit would not be saved in this world or pardoned or in the world to come but has committed an eternal sin. This implies Hell. He told the Jews they committed this blasphemy for the gospel says that was the reason he spoke up about the eternal sin. This is a sin you commit continuously forever.

Jesus said, “We must work the works of Him Who sent Me and be busy with His business while it is daylight; night is coming on, when no man can work” (John 9:4). Then he said he was the light of the world. He said this to his disciples on the occasion when they met a blind man. Some use this verse to show that Jesus did not really believe in an afterlife. But maybe Jesus just meant that those who had died without God could do nothing for God anymore like in Hell. If he meant that then he was saying that for those who died alienated from God it was too late - the rupture was final and that the saved could not merit or work for God anymore.
It may be objected that Jesus included himself when he said we so he did not mean all this because as God he couldn’t stop deserving and working. But the biblical Christ never claimed to be God but said he was not God and so sin was possible for him. But sometimes people mean you lot by we but Jesus had to choose his words carefully and we have no reason to think he had this habit.
Some, contradicting the other gospels, claim that the whole world will go over to Satan when Jesus leaves and that was what he meant.
Some surmise that Jesus meant that now is the time for miracles which will not happen once Jesus departs which is improbable for early tradition attributed miraculous powers to the apostles after Jesus ascended even though the apostles could do things that were not evidently supernatural – unless you want to believe the apostles were apostates and faked their miracles. The first interpretation which speaks of everlasting punishment is the right one or the most probable one to say the least.
The “Bible” religions which claim that the Bible teaches that the wicked will simply permanently pop out of existence at death are silly for how could Judas have been better off if he had never been born (Mark 14:21) if his death was the end or if he would rise again to be burned to death instantly or have a second chance? It is better to live and abuse a life than never to have lived at all. God must be ready to give him life beyond the grave to torment him. When he will do this he will do the same with everybody. God will make sure Judas does not repent to keep him in sin if he raises him and if he raises him and he himself says that punishing a person is not as bad as this for there is nothing worse a person can do to themselves than sin (Mark 9). When he does that he would and will punish Judas from everlasting to everlasting. When sin is supposed to be so terrible though it is often fun for us that implies that our happiness is lowest in the scale of what God cares about in our regard. You couldn’t expect anything but a Hell from the likes of him if you die in sin.
The Christ of the gospels preached the existence of everlasting torture for the wicked. It is dishonest to ignore this and still call him infallible for the gospels are the only grounds for taking him seriously at all.

Jesus told a story about a rich man who neglected a poor man and who went to Hell to be punished for it forever. The rich man looked up and saw the poor man in Paradise. His tongue was in grave agony in the flame. He asked for a drop of water to soothe it and if the poor man could be miraculously sent to put it on his tongue. His request was refused as it was impossible for anybody to cross from Paradise to Hell. He asked then that the poor man be sent to his living brothers to warn them about Hell by rising from the dead. This was refused as well on the grounds that they would not listen anyway. This suggests that they didn't believe in Hell but that would not stop them being damned when they die.
There is no hint in the story that it is a parable. Jesus meant it literally. To say otherwise is to read our modern ideas back into a superstitious and foolish age. It was intended to show that the fires of Hell are extremely tormenting and are so bad that you would do anything even for a seconds relief on the pain on your tongue. It was intended to show that you can go there for forgetting the poor. It was intended to show that the damned do indeed have concerns about others and stopping them going to Hell. It shows there is no escape. The rich man did not that he be raised to warn his brothers. This illustrates the point.
Objections to the story being intended as a true story do not work. For example, the rich man's tongue being in such agony is thought to be strange for his sin was neglect of the poor. But the narrative doesn't say it was the only sin he was damned for. It is said that the rich man having a body when his brothers were alive on earth cannot be explained. But God could give the damned a makeshift body to suffer. Another possibility is that the rich man wanted the poor man to go back in time to warn the brothers. Even if that were impossible that would not stop him being told that there was no point for they would not listen. So we could be talking about the rich man and the poor man after the resurrection.
Christians want to pretend that we make our own Hell and God has nothing to do with it. It's a little stupid fad of theirs. If that is true then why do they believe in the resurrection of the damned? Surely then God is making bodies just for the sake of tormenting them physically?
Hell or Hades may refer to the grave at times in the Bible but at other times they denote a place of punishment. In Psalm 16 the author expresses his belief that God will not leave his soul in Hell meaning the grave. What Hell or Hades mean in the Bible is determined by the context.
Jesus said the gates of Hades would not destroy his Church in Matthew 16. But if you substitute death for Hades it still makes sense and means that the powers of death will not kill the Church off. Hades gave up its dead in Revelation 20:13 but that could mean that the dead were raised from the grave.
Psalm 116:3 says that the distressing circumstances of Sheol disturb the psalmist. Psalm 55:15 is a prayer for people to go to Sheol alive. Psalm 49 says you can be rescued from Sheol. But none of these references need refer to a place. They still make perfect sense if you substitute the word death for Sheol. Sheol then is the grave for there is no need to go any further.
Tartarus was the horrible place where many dead went after death. It was a dark and forbidding prison. It is mentioned in 2 Peter 2:4. One thing is for sure Tartarus is not a symbol for death. You would not use Heaven as a symbol for life in a new book when everybody else means a nice place after death by the word.  The word proves that the early Christians did believe in a literal Hell contrary to the likes of Jehovah’s Witnesses who just casually brush the reference off.

In Revelation 1:18 Jesus says he has the keys of Hell and death. This is thought to prove that Hell is not everlasting punishment when Jesus has the keys for when death and Hell are already locked he must only keep the keys to open them. But Jesus can have the keys and not use them to open.
It shows that Hell is not death. The only alternative is that it is a place of torment.


According to the Church, there are degrees of punishment in Hell. Not all the souls there are punished to the same extent.
That is all the Church says. Perhaps the best person in Hell suffers a tiny bit less than the Devil meaning that practically speaking there is no real difference. It means the Christian has no right to protest if one sees Hell as extreme or near-extreme torment for everybody for the Church says you are only bound to believe what God has revealed and he has revealed nothing about the severity of the punishment.
The people in Hell are supposed to have chosen it and turn their backs on God and so have everlasting torment inflicted on themselves. If they are to blame for this endless evil then they must deserve extreme torment. They must get it too for Hell is where you go when you have to face your just reward.

The Bible denies that there is a second chance. Your final destiny, Heaven or Hell, is settled at death.

The most important verse on this is Hebrews 9:27. It tells us that just as Jesus died once to remove sins and save (save means judge a person to be fit for Heaven here) so we die once and are then judged on sins.

John 8:21, 24 plainly say that if you die in sin it is too late for you.

1 John 5:16, 17 says that it is important not to pray for those who commit the sin that leads to everlasting punishment – the sin of impenitence on one’s deathbed.  This must be the sin that is meant for the Bible commands prayer for those who can repent but this sin makes repentance and salvation impossible for them.

Luke 16:19-31 makes it likely that the final choice for damnation or salvation is made at death for the rich man is in Hell and sick of it and mad for relief while his brothers are still alive on earth.

Romans 6:7 says that when a man dies he is finished with sin in the sense that he is delivered from it. This implies that there is no probation or testing after death. The context is about deliverance from sin by the work of Jesus and is about those who have accepted this. So it is those true Christians who die who are finished with sin when they die. If you want to include the damned then the verse is saying that they do not sin after death but are frozen in whatever evil they are carrying when they die.

The Catholic Church believes that once you die rejecting God it is too late (page 112, The Life of All Living).
Hell is about punishment not about reform. But even if it is not about reform it has to keep the door open so that the person can reform if they want to. A God that does not leave that door open is pure evil. The doctrine denies that he leaves the door open. Thus Hell leaves us adoring an evil God and condoning and celebrating his evil.
The Bible speaks of Hell as torment by eternal fire. Nothing indicates that this fire is a symbol. The notion that it is a symbol is just us reading our modern ideas back into the Bible writings.

The Bible teaches that Hell is everlasting torment and that those who die separated from God will be lost forever and undergo unspeakable torment.
The Amplified Bible
APOLOGETICS AND CATHOLIC DOCTRINE, Most Rev M Sheehan DD, M H Gill & Son, Dublin, 1954
APOLOGETICS FOR THE PULPIT, Aloysius Roche, Burns Oates & Washbourne LTD, London, 1950
ENCHIRIDION SYMBOLORUM ET DEFINITIONUM, Heinrich Joseph Denzinger, Edited by A Schonmetzer, Barcelona, 1963
‘GOD, THAT’S NOT FAIR!’ Dick Dowsett, [OMF Books, Overseas Missionary Fellowship, Belmont, The Vine, Sevenoaks, Kent TN13 3TZ] Kent, 1982
HANDBOOK OF CHRISTIAN APOLOGETICS, Peter Kreeft & Ronald Tacelli, Monarch, East Sussex, 1994
HAVE WE TO FEAR A DEVIL? Fred Pearce, The Christadelphian Office, Birmingham
HEAVEN AND HELL Dudley Fifield, Christadelphian Publishing Office, Birmingham
HELL – WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS ABOUT IT, John R Rice, Sword of the Lord, Murfreesboro, 1945
JEHOVAH OF THE WATCH-TOWER, Walter Martin and Norman Klann, Bethany House, Minnesota, 1974
LIFE IN CHRIST, PART 3, Fergal McGrath SJ, MH Gill and Son Ltd, Dublin, 1960
RADIO REPLIES VOL 1, Frs Rumble and Carty, Radio Replies Press, St Paul, Minnesota, 1938
REASON AND BELIEF, Bland Blanschard, George Allen & and Unwin Ltd, London, 1974
THE BIBLE TELLS US SO, R B Kuiper, The Banner of Truth Trust, Edinburgh, 1978
THE DEVIL, THE GREAT DECEIVER Peter Watkins, The Christadelphian Birmingham, 1992
THE ENCYCLOPAEDIA OF BIBLE DIFFICULTIES, Gleason W Archer, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1982
THE FOUR MAJOR CULTS, AA Hoekema, Paternoster Press, Carlisle, 1992
THE KINDNESS OF GOD, EJ Cuskelly MSC, Mercier Press, Cork, 1965
THE LIFE OF ALL LIVING, Fulton J Sheen, Image Books, New York, 1979
THE REAL DEVIL, Alan Hayward, Christadelphian Bible Mission, Birmingham
THE REALITY OF HELL, St Alphonsus Liguori, Augustine Publishing Company, Devon, 1988
THE SERMONS OF ST ALPHONSUS LIGOURI, St Alphonsus Ligouri, TAN, Illinois, 1982
THE TRUTH ABOUT HELL, Dawn Bible Students, East Rutherford, NJ
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT HELL? Radio Bible Class, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1986
WHATEVER HAPPENED TO HEAVEN?, Dave Hunt, Harvest House, Eugene, Oregon, 1988
WHEN CRITICS ASK, Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe, Victor Books, Illinois ,1992
WHY DOES GOD? Domenico Grasso SJ, St Paul Publications, Bucks, 1970