I just have one question for you.  Do you believe there is a hell of fire and brimstone where the God of love, the God of the Bible, will annihilate billions of His creatures?  This is an extremely important question as the implications for the answer are light years beyond gigantic, whatever the answer.  Thank you for your time.


I believe that there is a hell. I believe this because the inspired Bible says so and because Jesus, who rose from the dead, also said so. I assume you are aware that God uses metaphorical language to describe both heaven and hell. Presumably, this is because our normal human experience does not give us sufficient context for understanding the precise nature of the afterlife, either of those who accepted salvation or of those who rejected salvation during their mortal lives. For this reason, I cannot say for sure if I believe there is a place of literal fire and brimstone. I strongly lean in the direction that these are not literal, but are used by God to warn us that if we reject his love, our final end will not be a good one–in fact it will be a very bad one.

The word annihilate is a strong one. The normal meaning of this word is to destroy in a way so that the thing in question literally no longer exists. There is a division among faithful Christians as to whether the suffering and separation in hell is for a limited amount of time, followed by ceasing to exist or whether the suffering and separation is literally eternal (ie. for an infinite amount of time). I am prepared to say that I do not know which view is correct. Either way, I do not want myself or those I love, or even those I do not even like, to go there. To me, this is the main issue. The exact nature of heaven and of hell is not nearly as important as the fact that I (and God!!!!) want all to go to the good place and not to the bad place. Sometimes the simple truth is vastly more important that pursuing the details.

By the way, I believe that God does not send people to hell. He love us all intensely and wants us all to be with him for eternity. That is why he made us. He is like an eartly father or mother in this way, except to a vastly greater extent. People go to hell, not because God does not love them, but because they refuse to accept and respond reasonably to God’s love for them. If Gods sons and daughters decide that they prefer hell to being in a relationship with God, he accepts their decision because he respects the free will he gave us (which, by the way, he gave us because he loves us).

John Oakes



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