Problem of Hell
This article has been nominated to be checked for its neutrality. (November 2013)
|Part of a series on the|
|Philosophy of religion|
|Philosophy of religion article index|
|Part of a series on|
Symbol designed by Atheist Alliance International in 2007
The problem of Hell is an ethical problem in religion in which the existence of Hell for the punishment of souls is regarded as inconsistent with notion of a just, moral, and omnibenevolent God. It derives from four key propositions: Hell exists; it is for the punishment of people whose lives on Earth are judged to have repudiated God; some people go there; and there is no escape.
The minority Christian doctrine that sinners perish and are destroyed rather than punished eternally is referred to as Christian mortalism; annihilation for those not awarded immortal life, conditional immortality for those who are. This Christian view is found in very early Christianity, resurfaced in the Reformation, and since 1800 has found increasing support among Protestant theologians.
Viewpoints vary greatly depending on the religious tradition, with some Islamic and Christian thinking holding that the vast majority of humanity is destined for damnation with only a tiny few spared, while some Buddhist and Jewish traditions have held that humanity in general shall eventually receive peace and contentment in the afterlife.
There are several major issues to the problem of Hell. The first is whether the existence of Hell is compatible with justice. The second is whether it is compatible with God's mercy, especially as articulated in Christianity. A third issue, particular to Christianity, is whether Hell is actually populated, or if God will ultimately restore all immortal souls (universal reconciliation) in the World to Come. Lastly, if Hell ceases once the wicked are destroyed or consumed. Criticisms of the doctrines of Hell can focus on the intensity or eternity of its torments, and arguments surrounding all these issues can invoke appeals to the omnipotence, omniscience, and omnibenevolence of God. In some aspects, the problem of Hell is similar to the problem of evil, assuming the suffering of Hell is something God could have prevented. The discussion regarding the problem of evil may thus also be of interest for the problem of Hell.
Almost no forms of Judaism share the traditional majority Christian belief in the immortality of the soul, therefore Sheol (Hades in the Septuagint, "the grave" in many instances in the King James Bible) is simply the destination for all the dead, and no "problem of Sheol" exists. Gehenna, found in the Mishnah, is the destination of the living and raised wicked at judgement day, and the place of either of destruction, in the Mishnah, or in some rabbinical texts eternal torment, which would potentially create a "problem of Gehenna."
Jewish religious thinking has traditionally held, even among different schools ranging from Jewish Orthodox teachings to Reform Jewish thinking to Conservative Jewish thinking and more, that "The righteous of all peoples have a place in the World-To-Come", in the words of the Talmud, with humanity as a whole being 'saved'. Thus, rabbinical scholars have broadly held the inclusive view that the vast majority of people in existence, both Jewish and gentile, will be reconciled with God in the afterlife given the power of his grace and the fundamental goodness of mankind.
In Christianity, Hell has traditionally been regarded as a place of punishment for wrongdoing or sin in the mortal life, as a manifestation of divine justice. Nonetheless, the extreme severity and/or infinite duration of the punishment might be seen as incompatible with justice. However, Hell is not seen as strictly a matter of retributive justice even by the more traditionalist churches. For example, the Eastern Orthodox see it as a condition brought about by, and the natural consequence of, free rejection of God's love.
I also maintain that those who are punished in Gehenna, are scourged by the scourge of love. Nay, what is so bitter and vehement as the torment of love?...It would be improper for a man to think that sinners in Gehenna are deprived of the love of God...it torments sinners...Thus I say that this is the torment of Gehenna: bitter regret. —St. Isaac of Syria, Ascetical Homilies 28, Page 141
In terms of the Bible itself, issues of salvation and access to heaven or to hell are mentioned frequently. Examples include John 3:36 (NIV), "Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them", and 2 Thessalonians 1:8–9 (NIV), "Those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus, they will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might."
Some opponents of the traditional doctrine of Hell claim that the punishment is disproportionate to any crimes that could be committed, an overkill. Because human beings have a finite lifespan, they can commit only a finite number of sins, yet Hell is an infinite punishment. In this vein, Jorge Luis Borges suggests in his essay La duración del Infierno that no transgression can warrant an infinite punishment on the grounds that there is no such thing as an "infinite transgression". Philosopher Immanuel Kant argued in 1793 in Religion Within the Boundaries of Mere Reason that since morality lies ultimately in a person's disposition, and as disposition is concerned with the adoption of universal principles, or as he called them: "maxims", every human being is guilty of, in one sense, an infinite amount of violations of the law, and so consequently an infinite punishment is not unjustified.
Some theists, particularly in the Thomistic tradition, have argued that God's infinite dignity requires that any transgression against him warrants an infinite punishment, and the correct punishment for a crime is proportional to the status of the wronged individual. Opponents of this view object, citing that the severity of a crime is determined by the amount of harm done to the victim, not by their lifespan or scope of being. An omnipotent being, by definition, cannot be harmed. Therefore, by condemning souls to an eternal damnation, God would be punishing souls for actions that had no effect on him.
Another apparent injustice is in being punished for something one does not know exists, as some denominations[who?] of Christianity believe that only by accepting Jesus can one be saved from Hell. However a few branches of Christianity teach that one cannot sin unless one performs an action knowing it is wrong, or performs an action knowing it could result in harm. Catholics say that as far as strict necessity is concerned, faith in Christ may suffice in implicit form, though explicit faith is better, and implicit faith in Christ may even be compatible with misled rejection of appearing Christendom.[clarification needed]
The eternity of Hell has also been justified in the Scholastic tradition by appeal to the irrevocability of the reprobate's decision to oppose God after death. Eternity is perceived not as an infinite stretch of time, but as an unchanging present (though these may not be qualitatively different). This argument however, could be challenged by the view that if wrongdoers are to be punished in Hell they must suffer, and for this they must retain their sentience in order to experience suffering. If this sentience is retained it follows that the wrongdoers would be aware of their transgressions and capable of repenting them.
Another argument against the justice of Hell is that humans are not culpable for their sins, since sinning is unavoidable to them. For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; (Epistle to the Romans, 3:23) However, the statement "all have sinned" does not necessarily indicate that sin is unavoidable ([Hebrews 4:15]) Also, if God is omniscient/prescient, he is aware of the outcome before anyone enters into Heaven or Hell. From the reasoning that God created them in the first place, some go so far as to ascribe to Him the culpability for a person's eternal fate. The question is all the more burning if one states exactly this (positive reprobation, Calvinism). However, the (theoretically distinct) doctrine of negative reprobation without consideration of future demerits (Domingo Báñez) — God elects some, the others fall into sin on their own, but of necessity, and are then judged for their sins—will be felt not so much distinct "in practice". If the angels and the blessed without inconvenience to their free-will partake of an irresistible grace (which is thus shown possible), even who holds an at least conditional election of every human being (Molinism and, despite notable academic success of Thomist grace theology within the Catholic pale, in practice the stand of Catholics) needs to say that God could have rescued some and did not. Here, again, the discussion shades into that on the Problem of Evil.
Another issue is the problem of harmonizing the existence of Hell with God's infinite mercy or omnibenevolence.
As in the problem of evil, some apologists[who?] argue that the traditional view of the torments of Hell are attributable not to a defect in God's benevolence, but in human free will. Although a benevolent God would prefer to see everyone saved, he would also allow humans to control their own destinies. This view opens the possibility of seeing Hell not as retributive punishment, but rather as an option that God allows, so that people who do not wish to be with God are not forced to be. C. S. Lewis most famously proposed this view in his book The Great Divorce, saying: "There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, 'Thy will be done,' and those to whom God says, in the end, 'Thy will be done.'"
Two problems remain regarding Christian theologies' teaching about grace, the first which grants that God could indeed convert the heart of every sinner and yet leave the freedom of the will in its integrity. In the Thomistic tradition, God grants sufficient grace for salvation to all people, yet it only effects salvation for some. The early modern controversies on grace among the Jansenists, Jesuits and Dominicans focused in part on the question of sufficient and efficient grace, and whether these differed in kind. Secondly, an Omniscient God would be aware of the future choice of the individual human's free will, to accept or reject God, prior to the creation of the individual human. This Omniscient God would then exercise his/her own free will in choosing to create a human that he/she knows, a priori, would be condemned to eternal torture. God could, in this circumstance, simply choose not to create the human. Such a choice would be incompatible with God's infinite mercy or omnibenevolence.
Some modern critics of the doctrine of Hell (such as Marilyn McCord Adams) claim that, even if Hell is seen as a choice rather than as punishment, it would be unreasonable for God to give such flawed and ignorant creatures as ourselves the responsibility of our eternal destinies. Jonathan Kvanvig, in The Problem of Hell (1993), agrees that God would not allow one to be eternally damned by a decision made under the wrong circumstances. One should not always honor the choices of human beings, even when they are full adults, if, for instance, the choice is made while depressed or careless. On Kvanvig's view, God will abandon no person until they have made a settled, final decision, under favorable circumstances, to reject God, but God will respect a choice made under the right circumstances. Once a person finally and competently chooses to reject God, out of respect for the person's autonomy, God allows them to be annihilated. The fact that one must believe in God or be subject to eternal damnation or annihilation, even if the choice is completely made by a person, is often perceived as a scare tactic that inevitably forces or scares one into having to believe in God, and God would seem corrupt and evil in saying, "You can believe in me or not, but if you do not, you will either suffer for all eternity in Hell (i.e., eternal damnation) or else be destroyed or obliterated out-of-existence (i.e., annihilation)".
The neutrality of this section is disputed. (April 2015) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
Universalist writers such as Edip Yüksel recognise the seemingly apparent contradiction between Allah the merciful and eternal torture. He argues that evildoers will be punished in Hell for an appropriate period then cease to exist, so their suffering (which is described in the Quran and is balanced with descriptions of heaven) will not be eternal, but only a just amount. Other universalist leaning scholars include Tariq Ramadan, Sayyid Qutb and Ibn Qayyim (though it has been argued that Ibn Qayyim, like his teacher Ibn Taymiyya, was not a universalist).
However, the overwhelming majority of Muslims reject universalism, believing instead that only Muslims will go to Paradise while non-Muslims will go to Hell for eternity, and cite Quran 4:168-169, 33:64-65, 72:23, 45:35, 4:56, 17:97, 64:10, 72:23, 43:74-78, 2:165-167, 7:40-41, 35:36-37, 78:21-30 as proof.
"The word ahqab as used in the original means successive periods of long time appearing continuously one after the other. From this word some people have tried to argue that there will be eternity in the life of Paradise but no eternity in the life of Hell, for however long these ages may be, they will not be endless but will come to an end at some time. But this argument is wrong for two reasons. First, that lexically, the word haqab (sing. of ahqab) itself contains the meaning that one haqab should be closely followed by another haqab; therefore, ahqab will necessarily be used only for such periods of time as continue to appear successively one after the other and there should be no period which is not followed by another period. Second, that as a rule it is wrong to put a meaning on a verse of the Qur'an pertaining to a particular theme which clashes with other statements of the Qur'an pertaining to the same theme. At 34 places in the Qur'an the word khulud (eternity) has been used concerning the dwellers of Hell. At three places not only the word khulud has been used but the word abad an (for ever and ever) also has been added to it; and at one place it has been clearly stated: "They will wish to get out of Hell but shall not be able to come out of it and theirs shall be an everlasting torment." (Al-Ma'idah:37). At another place it has been said: "Therein they shall abide for ever, as long as the earth and the heavens shall last, unless your Lord ordains otherwise." And the same thing has been said about the dwellers of Paradise too:" "They shall dwell in Paradise for ever, as long as the earth and the heavens shall last, unless your Lord wills something else." (Hud:107-108). After these explanations, how can one argue, on the basis of the word abqab, that the stay of the rebels of God in Hell will not be eternal, but it will come to an end at some stage in time?" 
As with other Jewish writings of the Second Temple period, the New Testament text distinguishes two words, both translated "Hell" in older English Bibles: Hades, "the grave", and Gehenna where God "can destroy both body and soul". A minority of Christians read this to mean that neither Hades nor Gehenna are eternal but refer to the ultimate destruction of the wicked in the Lake of Fire in a consuming fire, but which because of the Greek words used in translating from the Hebrew text has become confused with Greek myths and ideas. From the sixth century BC onwards the Greeks developed pagan ideas for the dead, and of reincarnation and even transmigration of souls. Christians picked up these pagan beliefs inferred by the Greek of immortality of the soul, or spirit being of a mortal individual, which survives the death of the body of this world and this lifetime, which is at odds and in contrast to the scriptural teaching that the dead go to the grave and know nothing and then at the end, an eternal oblivion of the wicked and an eternal life for the saints. Scripture makes clear that the dead are awaiting resurrection at the last judgment, when Christ comes and also when each person will receive his reward or are part of those lost with the wicked.
The Greek words used for those Bibles written in Greek, came loaded with ideas not in line with the original Hebrew, but since at the time, Greek was used as basically English is used today to communicate between people across the world, it was translated into these Greek words, and giving an incorrect understanding of the penalty of sin. In the Hebrew text when people died they went to Sheol, the grave and the wicked ultimately went to Gehenna which is the consuming by fire. So when the grave or the eternal oblivion of the wicked was translated into Greek, the word Hades was sometimes used, which is a Greek term for the realm of the dead. Nevertheless the meaning depending on context was the grave, death, or the end of the wicked in which they are ultimately destroyed or perish.So we see where the grave or death or eventual destruction of the wicked, was translated using Greek words that since they had no exact ones to use, became a mix of mistranslation, pagan influence, and Greek myth associated with the word, but its original meaning was simple death or the destruction of the wicked at the end.
Christian mortalism is the doctrine that all men and women, including Christians, must die, and do not continue and are not conscious after death. Therefore annihilationism includes the doctrine that "the wicked" are also destroyed rather than tormented forever in traditional "Hell" or the lake of fire. Christian mortalism and annihilationism are directly related to the doctrine of conditional immortality, the idea that a human soul is not immortal unless it is given eternal life at the second coming of Christ and resurrection of the dead. Such a belief is based on the many texts which show the wicked perish: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16 (KJV). "For the day of the Lord is near upon all the heathen: as thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee: thy reward shall return upon thine own head. For as ye have drunk upon my holy mountain, so shall all the heathen drink continually, yea, they shall drink, and they shall swallow down, and they shall be as though they had not been." Obadiah 1:15-16 (KJV).
Annihilationism asserts that God will eventually destroy or annihilate the wicked when they are consumed in the Lake of Fire at the end, leaving only the righteous to live on in immortality. Conditional immortality asserts that souls are naturally mortal and those who reject Christ are separated from the sustaining power of God, thus dying off on their own.
This is seen in the texts making clear the alternatives at the end are to perish or to have eternal, everlasting life: "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 6:23(KJV)
And that the consequence for sin at the day of judgment when God will judge both the living and the dead when He appears is death, not burning forever. God's gift is eternal life, very different from the penalty of sin: "The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished." 2 Peter 2:9. (KJV).
"As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world." Matthew 13:40 (KJV).
"So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth." Matthew 13:49-50 (KJV).
The mortality of the soul has been held throughout the history of both Judaism and Christianity, with many biblical scholars looking at the issue through the Hebrew text, have denied the teaching of innate immortality. Rejection of the immortality of the soul, and advocacy of Christian mortalism, was a feature of Protestantism since the early days of the Reformation with Martin Luther himself rejecting the traditional idea, though his view did not carry into orthodox Lutheranism. One of the most notable English opponents of the immortality of the soul was Thomas Hobbes who describes the idea as a Greek "contagion" in Christian doctrine. Modern proponents of conditional immortality include some in the Anglican church such as N.T. Wright and as denominations the Seventh-day Adventists, Bible Students, Jehovah's Witnesses, Christadelphians, and some other Protestant Christians.
Some apologists argue that Hell exists because of free will, and that Hell is a choice rather than an imposed punishment. Jonathan L. Kvanvig writes:
[C.S.] Lewis believes that the doors of hell are locked from the inside rather than from the outside. Thus, according to Lewis, if escape from hell never happens, it is not because God is not willing that it should happen. Instead, residence in hell is eternal because that is just what persons in hell have chosen for themselves.
Similarly, Dave Hunt (1996) writes:
We may rest assured that no one will suffer in hell who could by any means have been won to Christ in this life. God leaves no stone unturned to rescue all who would respond to the convicting and wooing of the Holy Spirit.
An example from popular culture can be found in the graphic novel series The Sandman. In it, souls go to Hell because they believe they deserve to, rather than being condemned to it by God or Satan.
Universal reconciliation is the doctrine or belief of some Christians that all will receive salvation because of the love and mercy of God. Universal reconciliation does not commit one to the position that one can be saved apart from Christ. It only commits one to the position that all will eventually be saved through Christ. Neither does universal reconciliation commit one to the position that there is no Hell or damnation – Hell can well be the consuming fire through which Christ refines those who turn from him. Universal reconciliation only claims that one day Death and Hades themselves will be destroyed and all immortal souls will be reconciled to Him.
It was traditionally claimed by some western scholars such as the Universalist historian George T. Knight (1911) and Pierre Batiffol (English translation 1914) that a form of universal salvation could be found among some theologians in early Christianity. Origen interpreted the New Testament's reference (Acts 3:21) to a "restoration of all things", (Greek: apocatastasis of all things), as meaning that sinners might be restored to God and released from Hell, returning the universe to a state identical to its pure beginnings. This theory of apocatastasis could be easily interpreted[who?] to imply that even devils would be saved, as was the case during the later Origenist controversies. Greek orthodox scholars do not count Gregory of Nyssa (A.D. 331–395) as a believer in Universal Salvation.
In the 17th century, a belief in Christian universalism appeared in England and traveled over to what has become the present-day U.S.A. Christian Universalists such as Hosea Ballou argued that Jesus taught Universalist principles including universal reconciliation and the divine origin and destiny of all souls, and that these teachings were further developed by Saint Paul, Saint Peter, and Saint John the Apostle. Ballou also argued that some Universalist principles were taught or foreshadowed in the Old Testament. Critics of universalism maintain that the Bible does not teach universal salvation, while proponents insist that it does.
Recent examples of advocates for the position are Kallistos Ware, a Greek Orthodox bishop and retired University of Oxford theologian who states that many of the 'Fathers of Church' postulated the idea of salvation for all, and Saint Silouan of Mt. Athos, who argued that the compassion and love of those in heaven and on earth will extend to eliminating suffering even in hell. In terms of Biblical citations, Father David A. Fisher, Pastor of St. Anthony of Padua Maronite Church and professor of philosophy at Ohio Central State University, has argued that total reconciliation seems to arise from the First Epistle to the Corinthians such as 1 Corinthians 15:22, "As all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ", and 1 Corinthians 15:28, "God will be all in all." Verses that seem to contradict the tradition of complete damnation and come up in arguments also include Lamentations 3:31–33 (NIV), "For no one is cast off by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love", and 1 Timothy 4:10 (NIV), "We have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe."
Empty Hell theory
Some Catholic theologians such as Karl Rahner, Gisbert Greshake, and Cardinal Hans Urs von Balthasar have at length discussed the possibility that any man may be led by a final grace to freely willed repentance if necessary at least at some point in the process of dying. This possible process is described thus by the late Munich dogmatic Prof. Michael Schmaus: "If in terms of theology death is a meeting of a man with God in so far as God calls man and he answers obedience, readiness and love, it would be surprising if in the moment of dying the chances of taking position never were given, even contrary to the outward look. [...] One cannot apply to experience as counter-argument, because [...] what happens then in the interior and behind the physiological processes is only known by someone who experiences dying itself, and this unto its very end. We may assume that in the dissolving process of the earthly union of body and soul and with the progressing breakaway from earthly entanglements, a special awakeness accrues to man [...] in which he can say yea or nay to God."
Balthasar was careful to describe his opinion that Hell might be empty as merely a hope, but even this claim was rejected by most conservative Catholics, including Cardinal Avery Dulles. The Syllabus says in no. 17 that we may not (even) hope for the salvation of all non-Catholics; this seems to mean conversely that there is at least one non-Catholic in all history who will not be saved. Matthew 7:21–23 seems to say that "many" will be reproved; of course many need not be many statistically because even one would be too much in a respect, however many seems to be at least some and not nobody.[original research?]
- Kvanvig, Jonathan L. (1994). The Problem of Hell. Oxford University Press, USA. pp. 24–25. ISBN 0-19-508487-X.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- "What is Conditional Immortality?". Afterlife. 2013-10-03. Retrieved 2013-10-24.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- Richard Bauckham "Universalism: a historical survey" (@ theologicalstudies.org.uk), Themelios 4.2 (September 1978): 47–54. "Here and there, outside the theological mainstream, were some who believed that the wicked would be finally annihilated (in its commonest form. this is the doctrine of 'conditional immortality')." "Since 1800 this situation has entirely changed, and no traditional Christian doctrine has been so widely abandoned as that of eternal punishment.3 Its advocates among theologians today must be fewer than ever before. The alternative interpretation of hell as annihilation seems to have prevailed even among many of the more conservative theologians."
- Mercer dictionary of the Bible p319 Watson E. Mills, Roger Aubrey Bullard – 1990 "In extracanonical Jewish literature and in the NT, Gehenna was used to designate the place/state of torment of the "
- Jitendra Dhoj Khand. Supreme God: Body, Will, Wisdom, and Work. Dorrance Publishing. p. 18. ISBN 9781434946140.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- "Orthodox Christian Homepage". Home.it.net.au. Retrieved 2013-10-24.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1035, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, ISBN 0-89243-565-8,1994 – the revised version issued 1997 has no changes in this section
- Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1033, Libreria Editrice Vaticana, ISBN 0-89243-565-8,1994
-  Archived November 27, 2006 at the Wayback Machine
- Borges, Jorge Luis (1999). Discusión. Madrid, España: Alianza Editorial, S.A. p. 230. ISBN 84-206-3331-3.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- Immanuel Kant (26 November 1998). Kant: Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reason: And Other Writings. Cambridge University Press. p. 89. ISBN 978-0-521-59964-1. Retrieved 23 December 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- "Hell", Catholic Dictionary, Addis & Arnold (rev. P.E Hallet), Virtue, 1953.
- Richard Beck. "Christ and Horrors, Part 3: Horror Defeat, Universalism, and God's Reputation". Experimental Theology. March 19, 2007.
- Jonathan Kvanvig, The Problem of Hell, New York: Oxford University Press, ISBN 978-0-19-508487-0, 1993
- Eternal Hell and a Merciful God Edip Yüksel, 2003
- Mura, Andrea (2014). "The Inclusive Dynamics of Islamic Universalism: From the Vantage Point of Sayyid Qutb's Critical Philosophy". Comparative Philosophy. 5 (1).<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- "Reply to Accusations Against Ibn Taymiyyah". SunnahOnline.com.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- "THE WORLD'S MUSLIMS: UNITY AND DIVERSITY, Chapter 3: Articles of Faith". www.pewforum.org. Pew Research Center.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- ibn al 'Uthaymeen, Sheikh Muhammad. Majmoo’ Fataawa Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (2/55-56).
Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen was asked: Is Hell eternal or will it come to an end? He replied: What is definite is that it is eternal, and no other view is known among the salaf. Hence the scholars made this one of their tenets of faith, so that we believe that Hell is eternal and will last forever. This is a matter concerning which there is no doubt, because Allaah has mentioned the eternal nature of Hell in three places in the Qur’aan: 1 – In Soorat al-Nisa, where He says (interpretation of the meaning): “Verily, those who disbelieve and did wrong [by concealing the truth about Prophet Muhammad and his message of true Islamic Monotheism written in the Tawraatt (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel) with them]; Allaah will not forgive them, nor will He guide them to any way. Except the way of Hell, to dwell therein forever” [al-Nisa’ 4:168-169] 2 – In Soorat al-Ahzaab, where He says (interpretation of the meaning): “Verily, Allaah has cursed the disbelievers, and has prepared for them a flaming Fire (Hell) Wherein they will abide for ever” [al-Ahzaab 33:64] 3 – In Soorat al-Jinn, where He says (interpretation of the meaning): “and whosoever disobeys Allaah and His Messenger, then verily, for him is the fire of Hell, he shall dwell therein forever” [al-Jinn 72:23] If Allaah had mentioned the eternal nature of Hell in one place, that would have been sufficient, so how about if He has mentioned it in three places? It is strange that a group of scholars are of the view that Hell will cease to exist, based on false arguments which go against what is indicated by the Qur’aan and Sunnah, and they misinterpreted the meanings of the Qur’aan and Sunnah and said that the words “dwell therein forever” mean for as long as it exists. How can this be correct? If they are to dwell therein forever, that means that Hell itself must last forever, as they will be in it. If a person is to dwell in some place forever, then the place where he will be must last forever as well, because if that place will cease to exist then he cannot dwell forever. The verse is very clear, and the arguments which go against the text are to be rejected. This difference of opinion which was narrated from a few scholars is to be rejected, because it goes against the clear text which every believer must believe in. Whoever goes against it because of some argument that he comes up with may be excused before Allaah. But whoever studies the texts of the Qur’aan and Sunnah will know that the view that Hell will last forever is the truth which cannot be ignored. Majmoo’ Fataawa Ibn ‘Uthaymeen, 2/55-56.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- "45804: The people of Hell will abide therein forever". Islam Q&A.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- Maududi, Abul Ala. "Tafhim al-Qur'an". englishtafsir.com.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- McConnell (1901), The Evolution of Immortality, p. 84,
In the first place, there have not been a few, both in ancient and modern times, who have maintained the truth of a ‘Conditional Immortality’.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- Streeter (1917), Immortality: An Essay in Discovery, Co-Ordinating Scientific, Psychical, and Biblical Research, et al, p. 204,
At the same time there have always been isolated voices raised in support of other views. There are hints of a belief in repentance after death, as well as conditional immortality and annihilationism.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- Knight (1999), A brief history of Seventh-Day Adventists, p. 42,
Many biblical scholars down throughout history, looking at the issue through Hebrew rather than Greek eyes, have denied the teaching of innate immortality.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- Pool 1998, p. 133: ‘Various concepts of conditional immortality or annihilationism have appeared earlier in Baptist history as well. Several examples illustrate this claim. General as well as particular Baptists developed versions of annihilationism or conditional immortality.’
- Stephen A. State Thomas Hobbes and the Debate Over Natural Law and Religion 2013 "The natural immortality of the soul is in fact a pagan presumption: "For men being generally possessed before the time of our Saviour, by contagion of the Daemonology of the Greeks, of an opinion, that the Souls of men were substances distinct from their Bodies, and therefore that when the Body was dead"
- N.T. Wright For All the Saints?: Remembering the Christian Departed 2004 "many readers will get the impression that I believe that every human being comes already equipped with an immortal soul. I don't believe that. Immortality is a gift of God in Christ, not an innate human capacity (see 1 Timothy 6.16)."
- Kvanvig, Jonathan L. (1994). The Problem of Hell. Oxford University Press, USA. p. 120. ISBN 0-19-508487-X.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- Dave Hunt In Defense of Faith Harvest House Publishers, 1996
- Gaiman, Neil "Season of Mists" DC Comics/Vertigo, 1990 p. 18
- Knight claims that in the first five or six centuries of Christianity, there were six known theological schools, of which four (Alexandria, Antioch, Cesarea, and Edessa or Nisibis) were Universalist, one (Ephesus) accepted conditional immortality, and one (Carthage or Rome) taught the endless punishment of the lost. The Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, 1953, vol. 12, p. 96; retrieved 30/04/09
- Westminster Origen Handbook
- "We know well that all evil that happens admits of being annihilated by its opposite (Against Eunomius, Book I). Then he affirms apocatastasis stating that "The Son has accomplished the Father’s will, and this, in the language of the Apostle, is 'that all men should be saved, '" (Against Eunomius, Book XII).
- Robin A. Parry Universal salvation?: the current debate p55
- Fisher, David A. (December 2011). "The Question of Universal Salvation: Will All Be Saved?" (PDF). The Maronite Voice, Volume VII, Issue No. XI. Retrieved July 2, 2014. Italic or bold markup not allowed in:
- Hans Urs von Balthasar «Hoffnung auf das Heil aller?». Dare we hope: "that all men be saved"? ; with, A short discourse on hell
- Michael Schmaus, Der Glaube der Kirche ("The Faith of the Church") VI/II p. 84
- David L. Schindler Hans Urs von Balthasar: his life and work "Until then he had not published very much about obedience and marriage in paradise. The controversy about Hell was left entirely to the final years of von Balthasar's life. At the time no one could have known how much these themes owed to the inspiration of Adrienne von Speyr".
- Marilyn McCord Adams: "The Problem of Hell: A Problem of Evil for Christians," in William Rowe (ed.): God and the Problem of Evil, ISBN 0-631-22220-0
- Jonathan L. Kvanvig: The Problem of Hell, ISBN 0-19-508487-X
- Charles Seymour: A Theodicy of Hell, ISBN 0-7923-6364-7
- Jerry Walls: Hell: The Logic of Damnation, ISBN 0-268-01095-1
- C.S. Lewis: The Problem of Pain, ISBN 0-06-065296-9
- Ted Sider. Hell and Vagueness, Faith and Philosophy 19 (2002): 58–68.
- Jonathan Edwards,The Justice of God in the Damnation of Sinners Diggory Press, ISBN 978-1-84685-672-3
- The Penalty of Death for Disobedience by Leroy Edwin Froom, The Conditionalist Faith of Our Fathers
- The Final End of the Wicked by Edward Fudge, The Fire that Consumes
- Jewish not Greek Shows how Biblical hermeneutics proves "annihilation" thus removing the problem of Hell.
- Immortality Or Resurrection? Chapter VI Hell: Eternal Torment or Annihilation? by Samuele Bacchiocchi, Ph. D., Andrews University
- The Wages of Sin by Charles Welch, The Berean Expositor Vol. 1 pp. 64–66 circa 1901–1915
- "Directions: Is Hell Forever?" Christianity Today
- Afterlife.co.nz The Conditional Immortality Association of New Zealand Inc. is a non-profit organization established to promote a Biblical understanding of human nature, life, death and eternity as taught throughout Scripture.
- The Destruction of the Finally Impenitent by Clark H. Pinnock of McMaster Divinity College.