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Is Hell Eternal?

Thanks Sean, I’ve added it to my watchlist on Google movies, as it’s not available in the UK yet.


I am going to quite reading your posts they are costing me time and money. I just bought Fudge’s book. :grinning:
Joking aside thank for the info it has filled in some of the gaps about my thoughts on eschatology as a whole and it begs the question is fear a proper motivator for salvations? Maybe another thread?


@Jimmy_Sellers Money well spent :wink: Why don’t you do the honor and get that thread going?!


I know you like Origen. I was reading up on Celsus (apparently Origen had a lot to say about this rascal) and came upon his rebuttal to Celsus’ comments on Gehenna. Thought that it might fit right here. So here is Origen on Hell.

Now as we found that Gehenna was mentioned in the Gospel as a place of punishment, we searched to see whether it is mentioned anywhere in the ancient Scriptures, and especially because the Jews too use the word. And we ascertained that where the valley of the son of Ennom was named in Scripture in the Hebrew, instead of “valley,” with fundamentally the same meaning, it was termed both the valley of Ennom and also Geenna. And continuing our researches, we find that what was termed “Geenna,” or “the valley of Ennom,” was included in the lot of the tribe of Benjamin, in which Jerusalem also was situated. And seeking to ascertain what might be the inference from the heavenly Jerusalem belonging to the lot of Benjamin and the valley of Ennom, we find a certain confirmation of what is said regarding the place of punishment, intended for the purification of such souls as are to be purified by torments, agreeably to the saying: “The Lord cometh like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap: and He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver and of gold.”
Origen. (1885). Origen against Celsus. In A. Roberts, J. Donaldson, & A. C. Coxe (Eds.), F. Crombie (Trans.), Fathers of the Third Century: Tertullian, Part Fourth; Minucius Felix; Commodian; Origen, Parts First and Second (Vol. 4, p. 584). Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company.


@Jimmy_Sellers Thank you for providing that quote. For anyone reading, Celsus was a Greek philosopher who had written a critique of Christianity to which Origen gave a response. We no longer have Celsus’ original work, but many of his arguments are still contained with Origen’s written rebuttals. However, I had no luck in finding Celsus’ original argument in this particular case.

Here is an excerpt concerning Gehenna from a book I stumbled upon trying to find Celsus’ original argument - it was written by Hanson, someone with whom I was unfamiliar prior to this point. Apparently John Wesley Hanson was an American Universalist minister from the 1800s.


Hi there, SeanO. I very much appreciate this topic and your contributions to it. I struggled long and hard with the question you originally raised here.

I have no wish to compete with this discussion, but i believe i have some useful info on “conditional immortality”, which is obviously related, but not the same.

So my question is, would it be OK to open another topic and try to keep it focused more on the conditional nature of immortality, and refer any comments regarding “hell” or “eternal torment” to this thread?

Thanks, either way.


I can’t speak for Sean but I am sure to he would think it a great idea. Why don’t you start one. I am sure folks will jump in.


Thanks, Jimmy. I’ll plan to start the topic “Conditioned immortality resurrected” this afternoon, unless someone on staff, like Sean, advises against it.

This will be exciting! at least for me. I greatly enjoy sharing a new vision of the love of God for even the most lost.


@DeanW Hey Dean, @Jimmy_Sellers is correct - go for it! Also - I am not on staff.

I agree this is certainly a topic that deserves thorough discussion and pray the Lord would bless you with discernment as you consider it.


Oh, i thought you were on staff somehow. Maybe you should be? :grin:

Since no one objected, i’ll go open the topic now. Thanks.



I’m new and very late to this conversation! I also hold the view of annihilationism but without going into all of the verses that seem to support this I wanted to raise a point/question.

If the price for or sins is eternal conscious suffering then how could Jesus have paid the price for our sins?

I only ask this because some very prominent apologists from RZIM, who we all respect, seem to believe in eternal conscious suffering but I wonder how they would answer this question which I could not answer and led me to my current belief on hell. Thanks.


Hi, James. I am in the exact same situation you express here, so i will be looking forward to any responses you get. Thanks for bringing it up.


Well, James, it doesn’t look like there will be any responses to your question, and i think it is my fault. I kind of went overboard on your question, and related ones, in the topic entitled “Conditioned immortality resurrected”. Have you seen that set of postings?

I would be curious to see what your reaction to that topic is. Perhaps you could add to the ideas presented there. Thanks either way.


@DeanW @jlcunningham While I cannot speak for anyone from RZIM and I actually agree with the annihilationist perspective, I am familiar with the arguments for eternal torment. And I think the response to your question would go something like this: While Jesus did not suffer eternally, either:

A. The fact that He is God means that He is of infinite worth and therefore His life could free us from infinite consequence
B. The Father turning away from Jesus (I would debate that the Father did not turn away from Jesus, but this would be the argument) was suffering of infinite magnitude for One who had always been with the Father

Again, I do not agree with those positions, but I think that those are the responses you would commonly receive from those who hold that position.


In[quote=“DeanW, post:33, topic:4010”]
Conditioned immortality resurrected
Thanks for the reply, especially playing the devils advocate!

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I’ll look it up. Thanks.

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Thanks, Sean, for the additional points to consider. Here would be one way to answer those statements, from my perspective:

“A. The fact that He is God means that He is of infinite worth and therefore His life could free us from infinite consequence”

Yes, He is of infinite worth, and His Life frees us from infinite consequence. The infinite consequence is complete separation from His unending LIfe, or in other words, a death which is completely never-ending (the Second Death). [Eternal conscious suffering would be being kept alive, to suffer, and therefore connected in some way to unending LIfe, not separated from it, and could not therefore be true separation.]

“B. The Father turning away from Jesus (I would debate that the Father did not turn away from Jesus, but this would be the argument) was suffering of infinite
magnitude for One who had always been with the Father”

Suppose Jesus Christ really did die for all the sins of all the world for all time. (But, of course, only those who receive Him into themselves will receive His forgiveness and payment for sin, which is in His Presence alone).

If so, then He suffered (reasonably) infinitely to offer us full pardon. Which would mean (nearly) infinite deaths for a (nearly) infinite number of sins. And, since the wages of sin is death (according to the Word), all whose sin is not covered by His Death, by their own free choice, would have to die a final time.

And that consequence is then an Eternal Punishment since that final, total, completed, Death will never be reversed (or lead to Resurrection). So Justice is done.

The first death for the lost is only a “sleep”, in a sense, since they will be awakened for the Judgement, whereas the Second Death is permanent. And the lost are not given immortality, as far as Scripture tells us, so they are mortal and cannot survive the Consuming Fire of His supreme purity and power, as He draws them close, in perfect Love, with a terminal compassion, in a conpassionate termination.

Thus, as at the Cross also, both His perfect loving compassion and ultimate fairness/justice are on simultaneous display for all the universe to see. Could anything be better?


@DeanW Good thoughts :slight_smile: I think when you said that the infinite consequence is complete separation from His unending life that strikes somewhere near what I believe. God is the Creator and Sustainer of life; all life flows from Him. To reject God is to reject life; it is to choose death. Sin separates us from God’s life because it separates us from God Himself, but Christ made a way back to God by clothing us in His righteousness so that we can once again have the life of God welling up within us as a spring of eternal life; a life empowered by the Spirit of the living God.

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Yes, Sean, that fits. Also, the lost will be “cast into outer darkness”, but there will be no more darkness in the New Heavens and New Earth.

Rev 21:7-8
"The one who conquers [by trusting in Christ] will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”

So the bodies of the lost are put into the Fire, but they themselves are “cast into outer darkness”. Yet, there will be no more darkness in the New Heaven and New Earth, since God the Father and the Lamb are the true Light, of the world, and the universe.

For now, we have limited physical vision, so we don’t see all the frequencies of light-energy which are there, even in “total darkness”. But our new bodies will not be as limited, so even what we now call physical darkness will be like aglow with previously unseen radiance.

So it can be reasoned that the spiritual essence of the people who are lost (by their own choice) are cast out of existence in this particular universe. Whether or not that means complete elimination is not clear, perhaps, but at least we can know they will not be in bodies, on the New Earth, in an Eternal Fire, kept alive so they can be tormented / tortured for time without end.

OK, so far?


@DeanW I think it is risky to push the imagery used in Revelation too far. Like Jesus’ parable of the ten virgins, this section of Revelation paints a contrast between those who are ultimately in God’s Kingdom and those who have chosen the way of the world. But it is not clear to me that this “darkness” is a literal thing. It may simply be a metaphor set in contrast to God Himself, who is light.

Likewise, the imagery of fire is not necessarily literal. In Jude the words “eternal fire” are used to describe the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, in which case neither the fire nor the suffering of the inhabitants was eternal. Rather, the fire did what fire does - it destroyed the city - it consumed whatever was in its path.

I believe that it is a “terrible thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31), but I also think the Biblical picture of judgment, whether on a nation or on an individual, is always one of destruction rather than torment. Even in the OT, God did not torment His enemies nor command His followers to do so - ever. This doctrine, imho, stems from a commitment to the eternality of the soul, which I do not think can be supported purely from Biblical sources.

If the soul is eternal then the view of Hell offered by C. S. Lewis—one in which God has given a person over to their own desires—is more likely to me than any notion of physical torment. God does indeed, when people persist in their sin, sometimes, tragically, give them over to their own devices.