23 Questions About Hell: Everything You Want--and Need--to Know!

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What a thing to have been wrong about! What a misfire! Most of us would say we have a "skeleton in the closet. Something we hope no one ever finds out about us. A mistake in our past.

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A poor decision. A moment of weakness or stupidity that we'd rather not think about. That's the extreme.

The Truth About... Hell

But there are many other more common things we don't really want others to know or notice about us. It might be the "little white lies" we tell. Or how we talk behind someone's back. Or how we copy other people's homework. Or the unkind words we say to people. Or the unkind thoughts we have about people.

Much more than a one-time regrettable event, our lives, if we closely scrutinize them, show a pattern of wrongdoing. We often don't do what we believe to be right. And we often do what we believe is wrong. All of us, even people whom we would call basically good, are also basically selfish and basically very imperfect.

Everything we do is seen by God. He's perfectly aware of all the good we haven't done and yet could have , as well as all the bad we've done. He even knows all of our thoughts and all of our motives. Here's the second thing to consider if we think we're "good enough" for heaven: 2 Is it possible to be a basically good person and still have rejected God? Consider Ralph. He's a "good" person.

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He was ethical in his job. He never stole even a paper clip. He was a faithful father and husband. He provided for his children. He made sacrifices for them and for his wife whom he never cheated on.

He even gave money to many charities throughout his life. But Ralph, though good in some sense, never "let God in. It was as if God were knocking on the door of Ralph's heart. But Ralph never opened that door. He always came up with some excuse not to. Ironically, one of the recurring excuses was, I've been a good person all my life. I will go to heaven. Ralph wanted to go to heaven. Everyone does. But in reality, Ralph didn't want to know God. The fact that we can talk about Gods, build them temples, make sacrifices on their behalf, etc.

But not all fictions are on a par. Stories about Santa or the Tooth Fairy are fairly innocuous. But the Christian fiction, with its story of evils and an afterworld, demonstrably isn't. Belief in it has been responsible for some of the most horrendous evils of this world: the evils of witch hunts, religious wars, persecution, evils such as those in which the conquistadors first baptized Indian infants, thus saving their souls, then dashed out their brains so as to ensure that they couldn't become heretics; evils such as those in which the Inquisition cast non-conforming thinkers into temporal fires so that their souls, thus purified, might escape the fires of eternity.

If there were an omniscient God, He would have known from the very beginning that all these atrocities and many more would result from believing in Him. He therefore bears as much responsibility for such evils as that other creature of Christian mythology, the devil. Beware of such beliefs! I hope that you will come to see, as I once reluctantly did, that they can be hazardous to your health, not just physically, but intellectually and morally as well.

We will now move to the next segment of the debate. In this segment we will have a minute discussion period.


23 Questions About Hell

Again, each speaker will have 10 minutes to direct questions to the other speaker and receive responses. It's a bit of a free-wheeling time, but after 10 minutes we will switch. And to start things out, we will have Dr. Craig asking questions of Dr. Let's start off with the beginning of your speech.

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You quoted the passage from the book of Revelation about someone's being tormented forever in the lake of fire. Who is it talking about that is going to be tormented in that way?

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Take a look at a few verses back. Revelation 14, but I think the chapter earlier is required. Yeah, I think that the passage is talking about Satan. It says that Satan will be cast into the lake of fire and tormented in this way Rev. Isn't it true that the Bible uses a number of different images for the state of the damned? Let me quote you a different one, then. We can come back to Revelation as soon as I can find it or somebody else can.

But let me quote from Jesus' own words from the gospel of Matthew.

Jesus, Who loves you, warned of Hell - A Catalogue of Jesus' Warning texts. - Community in Mission

Bradley: Well, I find just in the Book of Revelation. Matthew 20 alone--I can put them up on the overhead if you wish--in which Jesus explicitly talks about eternal fire, eternal punishment in it, weeping and gnashing of teeth therein. Craig: But isn't it the case that the Scripture also uses metaphors such as outer darkness, separation from God, that this notion of fire is just one metaphorical image of hell among many others that are found in the New Testament?

Bradley: Well, I've got two points to make about that. There may, indeed, be other paler metaphors, but it's this one, this fiery metaphor, which most people have seized upon and which most people have believed in and which is the most morally pernicious insofar as belief in it has led to such things as the following.

Let me just quote. Craig: No, no, I don't want to hear about that. I want to concentrate on this. You admit, then, that this is a metaphor. Bradley: No. Why should I admit it is a metaphor any more than any other doctrine in the New Testament?