The majority of Christians believe that God sends good people to heaven and bad people to hell for eternity. Various interpretations exist as to what constitutes hell-worthy behavior, how long an individual stays in hell, whether hell is a distinct place apart from the earth or the earth itself undergoing destruction as described in The Book of Revelation.
Differing Views of Hell
A Place of Eternal Torment
The traditional view of Hell is a place of infinite suffering and misery. This view is support by Bible verses such as these:
- Luke 16:24: "And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame."
- Matthew 13:42: "And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth."
- Matthew 25:41: "Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:"
- Revelation 20:15: "And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire."
Separation From God
C.S. Lewis favored a softer view of hell in The Great Divorce. Lewis's hell is portrayed as an endless, desolate twilight city upon which night is imperceptibly sinking. The night is actually the Apocalypse, and it heralds the arrival of the demons after their judgement. Before the night comes, anyone can escape hell if they leave behind their former selves and accept heaven's offer, and a journey to heaven reveals that hell is infinitely small; it is nothing more or less than what happens to a soul that turns away from God and into itself.