Never ending torture in hell

I just completed a study on the different views of hell and I am mystified on how evangelicals and protestants believe that God tortures people forever in fire. Catholic teaching seems to have abandoned this long ago in favor of a more rational and educated assessment of scripture on this subject. I looked up many of the most popular TV evangelists and religious groups and most all have this view. Some are very educated people with a large following and I just find it hard to believe how anyone can support such a barbaric and sadistic teaching. Many of them are good people that seem to be honest in their position and don’t seem to be looking just to strike fear and control their flock. My question is since if they are sincere in this belief why doesn’t the Holy Spirit lead them away from this divisive teaching that clearly gives skeptics reason to bash Christianity and avoid the faith all together?

In my study I looked up 75 New Testament References on hell and can only find one that supports the traditional view of never ending torture and that one is a parable that was not intended to teach on hell (Rich man and Lazarus).


Was the rich man and Lazarus a parable ?


And what pray tell is a more rational view ? Annihilation ? Lock up and suffer until repent ? Just forgive all ?

How do you know that ? Does it say so or do we presume, that there never was a rich man, and a poor man Lazarus etc etc remembering Christ knew all at the telling of this story ?

All these are certainly more ethical than eternal torture.:thumbsup:

The bolded is important.

One cannot pretend that for almost 2000 years the CC and its theologians seemed pretty darn certain that Hell is eternal. Not to mention mortal sins and whatnot, and what that does to you.

Catholic teaching has abandoned eternal hell? That is news to me.

I didn’t say CC abandoned hell. I said it abandoned eternal torture.

Among Catholics: Pope John Paul II
This is a statement from Pope John Paul II made on July 28, 1999. Hell is not a place of fire and eternal suffering, he says. He describes it as separation from God, chosen by people using their free will, and only symbolically described as a fiery place of torment as a strongly portrayed reminder of the freedom from death believers have. He refers to the descriptions of torment as “improper use of Biblical images”

The Church got it wrong for thousands of years and now thanks to a kinder and gentler Church, non believers need no longer be afraid. Maybe tomorrow some more theology will change?

Does anyone really say God tortures people in hell ? I do not even see that in rich man and Lazarus. That they are suffering yes, but do folks say God is doing it ?

My take on it is this.The more important and crucial saving someone is, the more important and crucial is the saving act (Calvary). The bigger the crime, the bigger the consequence and the bigger price for justice. You want to lessen the consequence ? Ok, that lessens the crime, and lessens the price needed to get out of it.

The bigger the dignity and nature of God and man, the bigger the consequence for sinning against those natures. Lessening the consequence lessens the dignity of those sinned against.

No just a different sort of ethics. That is what we discuss, for both views are ethical but which is more accurate and just .

I feel the same way. I was very confused hearing this from protestant and evangelicals growing up. I went to a few churches, mostly Presbyterian and non-denominational, and occasionally went to mass. I met a friend who said to me about the after life in hell, “I believe that if you go to hell, your flesh burns for all eternity if you don’t repent.” I thought it was an interesting literal interpretation of hell, but never once believed in this fiery hell place myself. It sounds like a story some adults told to make children behave.

Anyways Hi CL

Does the Pope suggest the separation form God is temporary ? Does he suggest that separation from God is pleasant, and is there anything pleasant outside of God or where God’s love is not ? Was Jesus wrong in depicting the rich man and Lazarus or in his description of gehenna where things never die ?

I would say in the best prisons today people still suffer, may even gnash their teeth, but in deep regret and not for what they have done but for where it has led them. No torture needed for that mental torment of regret is to the deepest part of the soul. The judgement can not be undone, the deed can not be undone, the word can not be unsaid etc. etc… That is torment so strong people who suffer it today while alive some find unbearable , some even taking their own lives to try to escape it. No fire needed, just down time, time to be still, and face the truth, alone .


That would be my interpretation as well. We can’t imagine a life outside our 4-dimensional space-time universe, however hard you try.

The Church got it wrong before. We don’t burn people alive anymore.

Whatever Hell may actually be one thst is there has become separated from God eternally and that will be worse than anything an earthly person cad truly understand!!

God bless all and lets do our very best to cling to our Lord Jesus Christ!

You do realize God is INFINITE Goodness and Love, right? Separation from God is separation from all that is good (besides merely existing, given that the soul is immortal). It’s a hell of a lot worse than you seem to be thinking it is.

The Church has not changed her teaching on the eternal punishment of hell. We choose to go there when we refuse to accept God’s love, or His Mercy. It’s our own choice. While there is always some debate over what the actual punishments might be (even though Jesus calls it “the pool of fire”), the fact remains that hell is eternal. After the resurrection and Final Judgement of all souls at the Second Coming of Christ, those who freely choose to go there will suffer in body and soul, for all eternity.

From the Catechism:1033 We cannot be united with God unless we freely choose to love him. But we cannot love God if we sin gravely against him, against our neighbor or against ourselves: "He who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him."612 Our Lord warns us that we shall be separated from him if we fail to meet the serious needs of the poor and the little ones who are his brethren.613 To die in mortal sin without repenting and accepting God’s merciful love means remaining separated from him for ever by our own free choice. This state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed is called "hell."

1034 **Jesus often speaks of “Gehenna” of “the unquenchable fire” reserved for those who to the end of their lives refuse to believe and be converted, where both soul and body can be lost.**614 Jesus solemnly proclaims that he "will send his angels, and they will gather . . . all evil doers, and throw them into the furnace of fire,"615 and that he will pronounce the condemnation: **“Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire!”**616

1035 The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity. Immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell, where they suffer the punishments of hell, **“eternal fire.”**617 The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God, in whom alone man can possess the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs.

1036 The affirmations of Sacred Scripture and the teachings of the Church on the subject of hell are a call to the responsibility incumbent upon man to make use of his freedom in view of his eternal destiny. They are at the same time an urgent call to conversion: "Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few."618 [INDENT]Since we know neither the day nor the hour, we should follow the advice of the Lord and watch constantly so that, when the single course of our earthly life is completed, we may merit to enter with him into the marriage feast and be numbered among the blessed, and not, like the wicked and slothful servants, be ordered to depart into the eternal fire, into the outer darkness where "men will weep and gnash their teeth."619[/INDENT]

St John Bosco may disagree with Pope John Paul II. In his vision of hell, he described hell pretty much a place of suffering. Sister Faustina’s Vision of Hell is another version. Her #1 torture is loss of God which ties in with JPII. Sister Lucy of Fatima also has another dreadful version.

How do you define torture? Deprivation of a good? Like your dad refusing to buy you an ice cream but he bought one for your little sister and you have to sit there watching her enjoying it. Or constant companionship with the bad? Faustina’s #6 torture is “The constant company of Satan.” And since nothing in hell can cause any further destruction, and one can not die there, and since one choose willingly to go there despite the many chances given NOT to go there, how can that be torture? And JPII may be correct too. Fire is nothing more than combustion of materials. Since nothing material can burn forever, it should be symbolic (of something worse such as God’s wrath?;)) You chose Team S’s company instead of Team G. And Team S happens to stay in such an exclusive place.But everyone knows that. It is not a secret.

But what is eternity? There is no time in eternity. It just is.

Improper use of images? Hard to say. For some people, shock treatment may be the only way to knock some sense into them. If I can save a hardcase soul, I vote for shock treatment if that is the only way to get through them. Nice may work, but if you don’t have much time…just imaging painting a leisurely walk to hell with pretty flowers by the way side.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit