As pointed out a couple of times in this study already, the doctrine of eternal torture is the silent subject of the Christian church. This is strange especially when considering the importance of the issue of eternal damnation—it literally deals with the eternal fate of masses of humanity. Yet you won’t hear many Christians bring it up. If you do, you aren’t likely to hear much elaboration on it. You could almost say it’s a taboo subject. My impression is that most Christians secretly wish this hideous teaching were not part of their Christian doctrine but they keep from parting with it because they’ve been taught that the scriptures adamantly teach it. Not to mention they are pressured to unquestioningly believe whatever their pastor or denomination officially affirms as true. The express purpose of this study is to plainly show people that the scriptures do not teach this perverse belief and never have.
As pointed out earlier in this study the eternal torture doctrine is often covered up by various code words and phrases. Proponents of this view teach that unrepentant sinners will “perish” or be “destroyed” even though they really mean no such thing. Another favorite cover-up phrase is that unrepentant sinners will be “eternally separated from God.” This is a nice and vague expression. Yet, none of these code words or phrases even remotely suggest what adherents of eternal torture really mean by such language—never-ending conscious torment with no merciful pause or end to the suffering.
To illustrate what I’m getting at, let’s consider one of the most popular verses of the bible:
“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
We frequently see or hear this passage on billboards, in magazines, on the radio, at sports events, in tracts, etc. What’s strange is that adherents of eternal torment deny what this passage literally teaches. In fact, they argue that “perish” in this text means something completely opposite to what perish actually means.
Just for a moment let’s put aside these misleading code words and quote this popular passage the way proponents of eternal torture actually interpret it:
“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not be tortured forever in hell but go to heaven.”
This is what adherents of eternal torture really believe this passage says. Yes, when we disregard all their misleading code words this is what they honestly believe! Can you imagine this beloved evangelical passage, written as such, plastered on billboards, magazines, tracts, etc. everywhere? Can you imagine seeing it on a banister or in the crowd at the next Superbowl? Why not? This is what they really believe it says.
When the light of blatant truth exposes the lie like this, we see how fiendish and ludicrous it really is.
John 3:16 happens to be my favorite passage in the bible. I adhere to it wholeheartedly and completely. It plainly states the most important truths of the bible: 1.) God loves us. 2.) He doesn’t want any of us to perish, which is the ultimate wage of sin. 3.) He therefore made a great sacrifice—the death of His Son—to set us free from sin and its ultimate consequence. And 4.) He did this in order to grant us the gracious gift of eternal life. This is all I’m saying in this study in a nutshell. Why have religionists made such easy-to-understand and beautiful truths as this so complicated, hideous and ludicrous?
Will God torture people forever?—This is what I really wanted to call this book. I decided not to, however, because I figured the average person would consider it too extreme of a title and be turned off. But is it too extreme? I believe the question “Will God torture people forever?” rips through all the lies and niceties and gets straight to the heart of the issue of damnation.
As already pointed out in Chapter One, many adherents of eternal torture object to what this blunt question implies because they argue that people “choose hell.” I often hear this clichéd statement. Evidently, according to their reasoning, God has absolutely nothing to do with people going to hell—the lake of fire—or what they will experience there.
Actually “hell” is just another code word for adherents of eternal torture. Whenever they use the word “hell” what they really mean is eternal conscious torture with no merciful pause or end to the suffering. So when they adamantly state that “People choose hell,” what they really mean is “People choose never-ending fiery conscious agony.” What utter ridiculousness.
It is true, however, that people choose sin, that is, they choose to rebel against the righteous will of their Maker. And, as the bible makes repeatedly clear, the wages of sin is death. So people choose sin, which ultimately leads to death, and God is the supreme authority and judge who must ultimately carry out this sentence. As scripture declares:
JAMES 4:12 a
There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy,
When it comes down to it, God is ultimately either going to save people—grant them eternal life—or destroy them—extinguish them from existence. Because God is the supreme authority and giver of life He therefore has the right to take life away, if He must. His ultimate decision to take a person’s life is based upon that person’s choices. God’s moral nature never changes (Hebrews 13:8; James 1:17); His plain statement to the Israelites, “I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life,” (Deuteronomy 30:19 b) is His ultimate proposition to all humanity as well. This explains why we see this bottom-line proposition all over the bible: for example, Matthew 7:13-14, John 3:16, Romans 6:23, Romans 8:13, Galatians 6:8, etc. If people freely choose to rebel against God and His righteous way, then they are freely choosing to be cursed by Him and condemned to death. This reveals how much respect God has for our free moral agency—whatever choices we make He’s going to honor.
This helps us to understand Jesus’ straightforward and solemn statement:
“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”
Those who choose to fear God and receive His gift of reconciliation will be blessed with eternal life (“life in the age to come”). Those who foolishly refuse will be mercifully executed in the lake of fire, God’s incinerator.
So to answer the question, Will God torture people forever? The answer is no. Such an idea is utterly repulsive to the moral, just nature of the Almighty. Literal death is the wage of sin, and He will justly-but-mercifully issue out this wage on judgment day—if He must.
God of course doesn’t want anyone to perish like this. As it is written:
“Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent and live!”
God is talking to His people Israel here, but this passage reveals His heart on the matter—He doesn’t want anyone to perish. This is repeated in reference to all humanity:
2 PETER 3:7-9
By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.(8) But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. (9) The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
God’s will on the matter is clear: He desires all humanity to repent and be blessed with eternal life. Those who foolishly choose selfishness and rebellion will suffer the destruction of the second death.
If you are not sure that Jesus Christ is “the way, the truth and the life” as He claimed in John 14:6, then I encourage you to honestly and humbly seek it out. As the LORD declared in Jeremiah 29:13-14 a: “ ‘You will seek me and find when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the LORD.” God will reveal Himself to those who sincerely seek Him.
This study concludes that the doctrine of eternal conscious torture is a sadistic teaching completely foreign to the bible. It stems from a satanic lie, is founded on a pagan view of human nature (i.e. the immortal soul which even God cannot destroy) and is perpetuated by religious tradition. It is a horrible stain on Christianity and a blasphemy to the just, merciful name of the Almighty.
Some may criticize that I’ve come across too strong in this writing, others may argue that I’m overly repetitive with major points and scripture citations, still others will object to my habit of illustrating the absurdity of eternal torture by quoting plain bible passages the way adherents of this belief really interpret them; but this error is so deeply embedded in the psyche of the church and our culture that it’s going to take such an approach to wake us up to biblical reality.
The doctrine of eternal torture is simply a gross mistake in the history of Christendom. Being in any way tolerant of this error is unacceptable. We need to quit mindlessly believing unbiblical doctrines that misguided ministers continue to peddle generation after generation and let the scriptural facts speak for themselves. It’s time for Christians of all persuasions everywhere to stand up and boldly proclaim the biblical truth about everlasting destruction. Yes, this must be proclaimed in a spirit of love and compassion, with much patience in face of the closed-minded stubbornness of religionists and traditionalists; and, no, it’s not an issue to break fellowship over (even though staunch advocates of eternal torment are likely to do this). As we faithfully proclaim what the Judeo-Christian scriptures plainly teach on human damnation the truth will expose the hideous lie that the church has so wrongly embraced for so long. The doctrine of eternal torture needs to finally be put to rest in favor of what the bible has always clearly taught regarding human damnation—everlasting literal destruction with no hope of restoration or resurrection.
Let those of us who have “ears to hear” and understand this clear biblical truth strive for the same bold spirit as that of the great abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison:
“I am in earnest—I will not equivocate—I will not excuse—I will not retreat a single inch—and I will be heard.”
~ The Liberator, January 1831