Is Hell Really That Hot?

A staple of the Christian religious tradition is that hell is a physical place where the guilty are tormented by unending fire. Interestingly, the Islamic concept of hell is very similar. Both Christianity and Islam seem to imply that hordes of the dead will occupy this inferno. Where did we get these ideas? Are they true?
Share/Save/Bookmark
When I was a child, near my grandparents' home was a seemingly ancient, abandoned adobe home that we thought was haunted, especially at night. Underneath the stairs was a deep, dark hole.  My grandpa (or somebody) told me that the devil lived down there, and when I was very young I believed him. At any rate, I could almost feel the fires of hell ascending from the bottomless pit beneath the haunted stairs.

Has someone ever told you (or have you told them) "I hope you burn in hell!"  Dante, in his Divine Comedy, frequently describes hell as a place where everyone and everything is burning. The physical fires of endless torment are commonly referred to in a variety of Christian theological creeds.

Likewise, Islam refers to hell as a place of intense heat. In Sura 18 verse 29, for example, it says
Lo! We have prepared for disbelievers Fire. Its tent encloses them. If they ask for showers, they will be showered with water like to molten lead which burns the faces. Calamitous the drink and ill the resting place!

Christian and Muslim theology alike imply that a myriad of God's children go to this place of endless burning.   But do we really believe that such a place exists? And will a predominant majority of God's children go there? Latter-day Saint theology doesn't teach either of these ideas.  Rather, Mormon scripture explains that hell is not a place of intense heat, but a state of mind that can be compared to such a place. It also sets out the "qualifications" of those who will be required to endure hell, which implies to me that relatively few will actually have to endure it.

Interestingly, this verse in Jacob chapter 6 of the Book of Mormon makes the metaphor appear to be a reality
according to the power of ajustice, for justice cannot be denied, ye must go away into that blake of fire and brimstone, whose flames are unquenchable, and whose smoke ascendeth up forever and ever...
Other passages make it clear, however, that the "lake of fire and brimstone" are only symbols for the guilt of the unrepentant.  For example, a verse in Mosiah chapter 3 shows the metaphorical comparison
And their atorment is as a blake of fire and brimstone, whose flames are unquenchable, and whose smoke ascendeth up cforever and ever.
A passage in Mosiah chapter 2 is perhaps the best explanation of  what those "flames [which] are unquenchable" really symbolize.
if that man arepenteth not, and remaineth and dieth an enemy to God, the demands of divine bjustice do awaken his immortal soul to a lively sense of his own cguilt, which doth cause him to shrink from the dpresence of the Lord, and doth fill his breast with guilt, and epain, and fanguish, which is like an unquenchable gfire, whose flame ascendeth up forever and ever. 

So, hell is not really that hot.  Because it's not even really a place, despite all the Christian dogma and the metaphors we might have learned as kids that we thought were real.  It's a state of mind. Equally important, love of God and a reliance, through repentance, on the Atonement of Christ, are all that is required for each of us to avoid the torments of hell's metaphorical "lake of fire and brimstone". For most people, that should be easy.

Comments

  1. Hell is not really a place and neither is the LDS concept of heaven. They are both make believe places like OZ and the Big Rock Candy Mountain.

    By dismissing the beliefs of others Frank you are inviting those of us who don't believe the same as you to dismiss your beliefs. It's really quite simple.

    ReplyDelete
  2. JBT: Welcome back, you dismissive old cuss! ;-)

    I didn't thing I had dismissed anyone, but rather I was just pointing out what the LDS believe.

    ReplyDelete
  3. technically, Dante uses flame in only two of the levels of Hell. Then one features boiling blood and one, boiling tar. The worst, lowest level is all ice. Just a technicality.

    I like the idea of Hell being a metaphorical, internal place.

    ReplyDelete
  4. You wrote:

    "So, hell is not really that hot. Because it's not even really a place, despite all the Christian dogma and the metaphors we might have learned as kids that we thought were real."

    What you have said here is that the beliefs of others are just false Christian dogma, and what the LDS faith believes is true. If this is not dismissing the beliefs of others, then what is?

    ReplyDelete
  5. JBT: I see your point and I apologize. I guess what was going through my mind at the time was that, despite the traditions, I don't think that any (very many?) Christians--including LDS, who have some of the same dogma--really believe that hell is a hot place.

    What's your perspective on that question?

    ReplyDelete
  6. Heaven and Hell, God and Satan are creations of the human mind that are an outgrowth and a reflection of our species inherent dual nature to have a capacity to do both good and evil.

    God exists only as a concept representing the good in mankind. Satin exists only as a concept representing the evil in mankind. Some humans find the need to anthropomorphize the concepts of good and evil and call them God and Satin for a various number of reasons. When a person creates these anthropomorphic entities they obviously need a place to exist because they are not visible on earth. Heaven and Hell were then created to fill this purpose.

    The concept of an afterlife is simply a means to help alleviate man's greatest fear which is
    the concept of his own mortality.

    Those are my beliefs which work for me. I have no interest in trying to convince others that my concepts and beliefs are correct and theirs are incorrect nor do I care to have others try to convince me that theirs are right and mine are wrong. For me to proselytise would be both arrogant and wrong in that I believe one's religious beliefs should be kept a private personal matter. Any questions?

    ReplyDelete
  7. @JBT

    "I have no interest in trying to convince others that my concepts and beliefs are correct and theirs are incorrect nor do I care to have others try to convince me that theirs are right and mine are wrong. For me to proselytise would be both arrogant and wrong in that I believe one's religious beliefs should be kept a private personal matter. Any questions? "

    Then why get on someone's blog, try to make him out as a bad guy, and then share your own ideas. What exactly do you call that if not proselytizing? You crack me up.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Thank you for commenting. If you have a Google/Blogger account, to be apprised of ongoing comment activity on this article, please click the "Subscribe" link below.

Popular posts from this blog

"Mormon Leaks": What They Really Said-Senator Gordon Smith Discusses Politcs

World Peace Depends Upon the Book of Mormon