Hell and An Unforgiving God

Most of the faith systems of man’s invention have subscribed to the notion that the omniscient creator of all the diverse manifestations in the universe had some pressing need to create an external place of punishment for “sinners.”  We are not supposed to ask what beneficial end an all-knowing being achieved for himself in creating a fiery region for torture and eternal punishment of his transient and wayward beings.  For human-invented theology the idea that always chafed the faith merchants was that those whom the would be leaders considered as evildoers are not adequately punished during their matter-life experience.  This priestly assessment, not surprisingly, assured that vengeance of the Lord would always be a feature of priest-written scripture.

In early Hebrew scriptures the word Sheol referred to grave or pit, but in later theological development it became the dungeon of endless torture.  Other theological slanted cultures also  liked the idea of other people getting their eventual comeuppance.  The Greeks called that region of torturous revenge Hades.  The Muslim hell is known as Jahannum, derived from the Hebrew word Ge’Hinnom (Gehenna).  And Christians know that pit for barbecuing souls as Hell.

Judaism didn’t seem to seriously recognize the use of hellfire threats for faith merchandising until postexilic time; perhaps they picked up the idea in Babylon.  It was then that the spiritual shepherds began elaborating upon an imagined section of the Creator’s setup which was reserved specifically for  punishment of sinners.  The Jewish version of a fiery pit, Sheol, is defined in Habakkuk 2:5, and Sheol is used also in Daniel 12:2, and in Isaiah 66:24, etc.  (Much of the material known from Daniel originated in Babylonian and Persian mythology: and the “prophet” Isaiah is said to have been an exile in Babylonia.)  In Isaiah 38:18 hell is implied simply as “the pit” (the grave).  Those deemed to be “godless” were threatened with destruction in hell by the psalmist and prophets (as in Psalms 9:17, 31:17, 55:15; and in Isaiah 5:14, 28:15, 66:24).  The indirect suggestion seems to be that god must get some voyeuristic stimulant from inflicting punishment, for it is revealed in Psalms 139:8 and in Job 11:8 and 26:6 that hell is never hidden from god’s eyes.  Sheol, like the Greek Hades, was presented more as a sphere of existence and which was generally thought of as being located in the underworld (as in Numbers 16:30 and in Matthew 11:23.)

Isaiah, as mentioned, contributed to the interpretation of Sheol as being hell, as construed in Isaiah 14:15, which was actually about the king of Babylon, saying, (that the king) “…shall be brought down…to the uttermost depths of Sheol…”  That little bit of “prophecy” gave rise to the concept that Sheol (the pit) was constructed with various depths or levels, each lower level corresponding in relation to the severity of the sinners’ punishment.

Fear tactics are in common use in the merchandising of all faith systems.  Every man-conceived faith system insists that their dreamed up ceremonies and rites provide the sole protection from such a hellish afterlife.  And to promote this assertion, these faith systems routinely resort to passing negative judgments upon the rest of humanity that fail to follow their prescribed man-invented procedures.  Among Christian sects, for example, the manipulation of human ego is set up in verses such as Matthew 7:13-14, which reads, “Enter ye at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and  many there be which go in thereat…”  It adds, “Because strait is the gate and narrow the way, which leadeth into life, and few there be that find it.”   Implied is that the Creator apparently anticipated that his many diverse life expressions would take wayward paths.  Priest authors then interpreted this as god having planned in advance to allow most of his favorite life forms function as little more than briquettes for a barbecue pit.

Interestingly, Jesus is depicted as talking more about hell than he ever elaborated upon heaven.  In the synoptic Gospels, Jesus is depicted as referring to the place of punishment for sinners after death as Gehenna.  Originally Gehenna was the name of a valley just south of Jerusalem’s southwestern hill, and was a “burning place” for refuse.

The “fathers” of the Roman Catholic Church, who formulated the early sect in the Roman Empire, loved the hierarchical trapping of governing and consequently subdivided the imagined realm of hell into four convenient categorical assignments.  Divinely revealed to them was the assertion that hell was made up of four levels.  1) The limbo of infants where the unbaptized enjoy bliss but are denied the ecstasy of beholding god: 2) The limbo of the fathers, meaning anyone who died before Christ sacrificed himself for man: 3) The cleansing region known as purgatory, where minor breaches of moral conduct are sanitized: and 4) The realm of Satan himself, where those who die unrepentant of serious sin are to fry eternally.

As noted earlier, god’s vengeance and hell interweave throughout priest composed scriptures.  For example, god’s vengeance and everlasting punishment is stressed repeatedly in such holy books as these:

  • Genesis 4:15, which early on related the vengeance of god toward Cain.
  • Numbers 16:30 “…and they go down quick into the pit..”
  • Deuteronomy 32:35  (an alleged text by Moses discovered in the Temple wall in 8th century BCE)  “To me belongeth vengeance, and recompense…” and in 32:41 “…I will render vengeance to mine enemies…”
  • Psalms 9:17   “The wicked shall be turned into Hell…”
  • Isaiah  34:8  “For it is the day of the Lord’s vengeance, and the year of recompenses for the controversy of Zion.”  (also 5:14, 28:15, 38:18, 66:24)
  • Daniel 12:2  “…and some (to sleep in) …shame and everlasting contempt.”
  • Nahum 1:2  “God is jealous, and the Lord is furious; the Lord revengeth, and is furious; the Lord will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserveth wrath for his enemies.”
  • Habakkuk  2:5  “Sheol” the Jewish hell.

Christian Gospels do not shrink from imagining godly vengeance either, and the Lord’s favorite sadistic punishment of a fiery hell is suggested in these, among others:

  • Mark 9:43  “…go to hell, where the  fire never goes out.”  Indeed, from verse 43 through 48 Jesus elaborated on hell.
  • Matthew 5:22  hell (Gehenna) is defined.  And in Matthew 11:23, “…shalt be brought down to hell.”
  • Luke 3:17 and 8:31, hell is presented as “…the bottomless place”; and in 16:23 hell is alluded to, “And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments…”
  • Romans 10:7  refers to “…the lower parts (of hell)); and in 12:19 “…for  it is written vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.”
  • 2 Thessalonians 1:8  “In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not god, and that obey not the gospel of Our Lord…”  9) “Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the  lord, and from the glory of his power…”
  • Jude 1:7  refers to “…punishment of eternal fire.”
  • And in good old Revelation 14:11 is conjured up “…smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever.”

In Islam, hell is believed to be an authentic location which god prepared for those who rebel against his laws and/or reject his messengers.  In the Quran 9:63 it states, “Know they not that whoever opposes God and his Messenger (Muhammad), certainly for him will be the Fire of Hell to abide therein?  That is extreme disgrace.”  It is thus advised in Quran 3:131, “And fear the Fire which is prepared for the disbelievers.”  And Quran 5:37 grimly explains, “They will long to leave the Fire, but never will they leave there from; and theirs will be a lasting torment.”  In the Quran, 74:26-30, believers are informed that there are nineteen angel-keepers of hell, and the damned cannot escape because a single angel-guard has strength enough to subdue all humanity by himself.  The chief angel guard of the nineteen is named Malik, according to Quran 43:74-78.  “…And they (the damned) will cry: ‘O Malik! Let your Lord make an end to us.  He will say, Surely, you shall abide forever.  Indeed We have brought the truth to you, but most of you have a hatred for the truth.”  There are many more threats of hell in the Quran to keep the faithful intimidated.

How could the establishment by the Creator of such a despicable region for eternal torture be of any benefit to man in finding what each faith system claims to be the only approved path into man’s higher potential?  Even more bewildering, how could such a region of endless retribution be of any logical benefit to an omniscient (all-knowing) Creator/god?  If, as holy writ insists, god is all-knowing, then would “he” not have more likely predisposed his alleged favorite creatures to develop (evolve) their own methods for curtailing detrimental behavior among themselves?  It would be expected by an all-knowing principled Creator that humankind would gradually learn that the best path for evolving is to be found in avoidance of infringing upon the personal and spiritual rights of each other.

Unfortunately, the involvement of energy into matter manifestation, although temporary, has a mesmerizing effect on unrefined minds, and that inadequacy tends to deform man’s higher potential by seeking to impose their will upon others.  In the drive for such dominion within life’s illusion, inventors of faith (and political) systems chose to manipulate people’s attention and gain obedience through fear and bribery—the threats of an unproven hell and the bribes of an unconfirmed heaven.

Promoting such fear as a devotional incentive is corrupt spiritual supervision; for the inducement of fear always generates such negative emotions as intolerance, prejudice, fanaticism, bigotry, racism, sexism, preconception and the like, all of which serve as the seeds for violence.  So are we to logically regard the use of threats of god’s everlasting punishment to be a moral or ethical form of spiritual guidance?

2 Responses to “Hell and An Unforgiving God”

  1. Derek Bell Says:

    Although well written and thoroughly referenced. The primary reason God knew there was a necessity for hell is because those who didn’t believe would have no reason not to commit the foulest, most selfish known deeds imaginable, but worse yet, there are those beings that even knowing for a fact (I.e. fallen angels, Adams family) God existed, would still chose, even in momentary weakness to disobey and cause grave harm to someone.

    All of the Ten Commandments aren’t for his rulebook or because we can hurt him, but because he doesn’t wish us to harm ourselves or others, even emotionally. Seriously it’s a list of guidelines to live a happy life in a community. If you disagree, have your wife commit adultery and imagine just how badly that can mess you up. How that could lead people very commonly to sin themselves in their hurt and anger. I personally believe Hell is a place COMPLETELY devoid of God’s presence. Something we’ve never experienced on earth and only after constantly denying or defying God, will he grant that persons wish of having nothing to do with him.

    I believe since we have a part of Gods essence inside of us, being separated could feel as if our whole being was constantly burning and THAT’S why it’s been described as that. Keep in mind that if God does exist and he gave us free will… That is LITERALLY the power to defy the CREATOR. A being that commands by speaking, forces in thousands of years we still don’t fully comprehend.

    I also believe we can never fully understand how God thinks. But if you had the power to make someone/thing love you with all they are… It wouldn’t mean nearly as much as them choosing to do so. It’s about a relationship with the one beings he created that would spend their entire matter lives never knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt if he were there at all. Yes it may be an unfair test since there are thousands of angels (some may even call them aliens now, I wouldn’t object) who have always lived with him. But I get why that makes little weak, pathetic us, his favorites.

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