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September 22nd, 2012
10:00 PM ET

Different Takes: Should we abandon idea of hell?

Editor’s note: The new documentary "Hellbound?" explores Americans' ideas about hell. We asked two prominent Christians who featured in the film to give us their very different takes on hell.

My Faith: The dangerous effects of believing in hell

Editor’s note: Frank Schaeffer is a New York Times bestselling author. His latest book is "Crazy For God."

By Frank Schaeffer, Special to CNN

Is it any coincidence that the latest war of religion that started on September 11, 2001, is being fought primarily between the United States and the Islamic world? It just so happens that no subgroups of humanity are more ingrained with the doctrine of hell than conservative Muslims and conservative Christians.

And nowhere on earth have conservative Christians been closer to controlling foreign policy than here in the United States. And nowhere on earth have conservative Muslims been more dominant than in the countries from which the 9/11 extremists originated – Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan.

What a pair George W. Bush and Osama bin Laden made! On the one hand, an American president who was a born-again evangelical with a special "heart" for the state of Israel and its importance to the so-called end times, and on the other hand a terrorist leader who believed that he was serving God by ridding the Arabian Peninsula of an American presence and cleansing the "defiled" land of Palestine of what he believed were “invader Jews.”

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So whether you're an atheist or not, the issue of who's going to hell or not matters because there are a lot of folks on this planet – many of them extraordinarily well-armed - from born-again American military personnel to Muslim fanatics, who seriously believe that God smiles upon them when they send their enemies to hell.

And so my view of "hell" encompasses two things: First, the theological question about whether a land of eternal suffering exists as God's "great plan" for most of humanity.

Second, the question of the political implications of having a huge chunk of humanity believe in damnation for those who disagree with their theology, politics and culture, as if somehow simply killing one's enemies is not enough.

What most people don't know is that there's another thread running through both Christianity and Islam that is far more merciful than the fundamentalists’ take on salvation, judgment and damnation.

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Paradise, which Muslims believe is the final destination of the society of God’s choice, is referred to in the Quran as "the home of peace"

“Our God,” Muslims are asked to recite, “You are peace, and peace is from You.”

Since Christianity is my tradition, I can say more about it. One view of God - the more fundamentalist view - is of a retributive God just itching to punish those who "stray."

The other equally ancient view, going right back into the New Testament era, is of an all-forgiving God who in the person of Jesus Christ ended the era of scapegoat sacrifice, retribution and punishment forever.

As Jesus said on the cross: "Forgive them for they know not what they do."

That redemptive view holds that far from God being a retributive God seeking justice, God is a merciful father who loves all his children equally. This is the less-known view today because fundamentalists - through televangelists and others - have been so loud and dominant in North American culture.

But for all that, this redemptive view is no less real.

Why does our view of hell matter? Because believers in hell believe in revenge. And according to brain chemistry studies, taking revenge and nurturing resentment is a major source of life-destroying stress.

For a profound exploration of the madness caused by embracing the “justice” of “godly” revenge and retribution, watch the film “Hellbound?”

The film shows how the "hell" of revenge thinking, and the resulting unhinging of some people’s brains through their denial of human empathy, leads them to relish the violent future of suffering that they predict awaits the “lost” in hell.

Do we really want to go back to a time of literalistic religion. Wasn’t 9/11 enough of an argument against retributive religion?

We need “hell” like a hole in the head. It’s time for the alternative of empathetic merciful religion to be understood.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Frank Schaeffer.

My Faith: Hell is for real and Jesus is the only way out

Editor's Note: Mark Driscoll is founding pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle.

By Mark Driscoll, Special to CNN

As a pastor, my job is to tell the truth. Your job is to make a decision.

When controversies over biblical doctrines arise, it’s a humbling opportunity to answer questions about what the Bible teaches without getting into name-calling and mudslinging. Near the very top of the controversial doctrines is hell.

What happens when we die?

Human beings were created by God with both a physical body and a spiritual soul. When someone dies, their body goes into the grave and their spirit goes into an afterlife to face judgment.

But death is not normal or natural—it’s an enemy and the consequence of sin.

Think of it in this way: God is the source of life. When we choose to live independently of God and rebelliously against God it is akin to unplugging something from its power source. It begins to lose power until it eventually dies.

The Bible is clear that one day there will be a bodily resurrection for everyone, to either eternal salvation in heaven or eternal condemnation in hell.

Christians believe a person’s eternal status depends on their relationship with Jesus and that “God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

Our lives are shaped by the reality that “whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.”

What does Jesus say about hell?

Jesus was emphatically clear on the subject of hell. He alone has risen from death and knows what awaits us on the other side of this life. A day of judgment is coming when all of us — even you — will rise from our graves and stand before him for eternal sentencing to either worshiping in his kingdom or suffering in his hell.

The Bible could not be clearer: “If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”

These are not just obscure Bible verses. In fact, Jesus talks about hell more than anyone else in Scripture. Amazingly, 13% of his sayings are about hell and judgment, and more than half of his parables relate to the eternal judgment of sinners.

Keep in mind that Jesus’ words come in the context of the rest of Scripture, which says that God “desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” Furthermore, he “is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”

God is far more loving, kind and patient with his enemies than we are with our enemies.

What does the rest of the Bible say about hell?

The Bible gives us many descriptions of hell including (1) fire; (2) darkness; (3) punishment; (4) exclusion from God’s presence; (5) restlessness; (6) second death; and (7) weeping and gnashing of teeth in agony.

A common misperception of Satan is that he’s in a red suit, holding a pitchfork at the gates of hell. But Satan will not[j1]  reign there. Hell is a place of punishment that God prepared for the devil and his angels, and it’s where those who live apart from God will, according to Revelation:

. . . drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb [Jesus Christ]. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night.

At the end of the age, the devil will be “thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”

Hell will be ruled over by Jesus, and everyone present — humans and demons and Satan alike — will be tormented there continually in perfect justice.

Jesus says, “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. ... And these will go away into eternal punishment.”

Is there a second chance after death?

The Bible is clear that we die once and are then judged without any second chance at salvation. As one clear example, Hebrews 9:27 says, “It is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment.”

We live. We die. We face judgment. Period.

How long does the punishment last?

Some argue that the punishment of sinners is not eternal, a view called annihilationism. This means that after someone dies apart from Jesus, they suffer for a while and then simply cease to exist.

Annihilationism is simply not what the Bible teaches. Daniel 12:2 says, “And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” Jesus speaks of those who “will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.

Grammatically, there is no difference here between the length of time mentioned for “life” and that for “punishment”; rather, there is simply eternal life and eternal death.

Am I going to hell?

The good news is that the closing verses of the Bible say, “Come!” Everyone is invited to receive the free gift of God’s saving grace in Jesus. Jesus is God become a man to reconcile mankind to God.

He lived the sinless life we have not lived, died a substitutionary death on the cross for our sins. He endured our wrath, rose to conquer our enemies of sin and death, and ascended to heaven where he is ruling as Lord over all today. He did this all in love.

The stark reality is this: either Jesus suffered for your sins to rescue you from hell, or you will suffer for your sins in hell. These are the only two options and you have an eternal decision to make.

My hope and prayer is that you would become a Christian.

Have you confessed your sins to Jesus Christ, seeking forgiveness and salvation?

If not, you are hellbound, and there is no clever scholar who will be of any help when you stand before Jesus Christ for judgment. You’re not required to like hell as much as you need to believe in it, turn from your sin, trust in Jesus, and be saved from an eternal death into an eternal life.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Mark Driscoll.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Devil • My Faith • Opinion

soundoff (7,963 Responses)
  1. wheels

    hell is real its called the newark nj airport

    September 24, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
  2. Eric

    I'd like to get rid of gravity, should I start a poll on CNN to see if we can make it go away?

    September 24, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
    • snowboarder

      are you seriously equating mythical hell to gravity? wow!

      September 24, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
  3. OhForGodsakes

    One of the holiest, God-fearing persons to ever walk the earth gave up on the belief that there is/was a God. She said, "What God would allow all the suffering of the world if he did exist?" That person was Mother Teresa.

    September 24, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      I suggest you read _The Missionary Position_ — Christopher Hitchens's biography of Mother Teresa — for a complete picture. In short, Hitchens makes the case that Mother Teresa didn't love poor people, she loved poverty, because she thot suffering was good for the soul.

      September 24, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
    • jackhudson

      Funny then that she remained a nun. Oh wait, she never gave up on the existence of God – that is just an atheist urban myth and unsourced quote.

      September 24, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
    • Eric G

      @jack: Actually, that quote is sourced from her own letters.

      September 24, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
  4. BobbyG

    God and satan are anologies for the laymen. It's just an easy way for us to know the ultimate supreme being has created everything and you can be in his good or bad graces. You can be allowed to stand by him in the afterlife or be banned from his graces. The way you fill your soul thoughout life will determine if he allows you to be in his presence or shunned from his love and happiness. Stop small minded thinking.

    September 24, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      Small minded thinking= everything you just said.

      September 24, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
  5. Ken

    Yes its for real good grief discussing stuff like this really brings out the ignorant atheist

    September 24, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
  6. t3chn0ph0b3

    Wow! 106 pages? Who would have thought a puff piece would generate this kind of response?

    September 24, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
  7. DandyStryker

    No, hell isn't for real. Neither is the Easter Bunny. Good grief. Religion really brings out the stup*d in people.

    September 24, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
  8. Reality

    There is no god, no hell and no heaven so enjoy your life while practicing these three powerful words: DO NO HARM !

    September 24, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      Except to masochists. But then is it truly harm?

      September 24, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
    • Madtown

      You may be right, we don't know. That's the problem with statements of definitiveness from either side, no one knows.

      September 24, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
    • Ken

      Your stupid

      September 24, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      I hope Ken is being ironic.

      September 24, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
    • Horus

      Hell, Michigan
      Hell, Grand Cayman
      Hell, Norway

      See, it does exist ;-)

      September 24, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
    • Bob

      Define HARM. Different people have different definitions of what is considered HARM and degrees of it. For example, if you really want to casue NO HARM, we should all be vegetarians. But then again we would be "harming" the fruits and vegetables. Regardless, you can shout DO NO HARM all you want, The world is not going to change. Just look at the history of mankind.

      September 24, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
  9. smelling fishy

    This column is purported to be two "prominent Christians" giving their opinions on the validity of Hell. I challenge that assumption. Mr. Schaeffer can not seriously expect us to consider that he is a Christian when he has absolutely no understanding of Christianity and gives serious evidence that he is not a Christian. Mr. Schaeffer makes the following comment.

    "So whether you're an atheist or not, the issue of who's going to hell or not matters because there are a lot of folks on this planet – many of them extraordinarily well-armed – from born-again American military personnel to Muslim fanatics, who seriously believe that God smiles upon them when they send their enemies to hell."

    First, in his statement Mr. Schaeffer implies that the American Military is comprised of rogue Christian operatives bent on destroying any Muslims they happen to encounter. Mr. Schaeffer's obvious, radical left leaning, anti-military, anti-Christian bias is so obvious as to be laughable. Where is the evidence that American Military personnel are executing non Christians?

    Second, Mr. Schaeffer implies that Christian gets some kind of joy from not only having Muslims go to hell, but get perverse joy from personally sending them to hell. What part of the Bible gave Mr. Schaeffer this idea? Please quote me one Bible verse where Jesus directed his followers to kill non-believers. Since the year 2000, exactly how many Christian terrorists have taken it upon themselves to roam the earth killing Muslims? Now I will admit that Christians have been known to infiltrate Muslim countries with the sole purpose of preaching the Gospel in the hopes of saving them from hell, but I have not heard of any who pulled a gun and shot to death anyone who would not listen. (By the way, for the uninformed, this is exactly what the Koran teaches Muslims to do.)

    Now Mr. Schaeffer can give us his opinion, but not under the guise of a "prominent Christian" as he has no concept whatsoever of what Christianity is about. If you really want to understand Christ and his teachings, I suggest you read the Bible for yourself. You may be surprised at what you find.

    September 24, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
    • MaryH

      Who are you to judge what makes a "true" Christian?

      September 24, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
    • Eric G

      'No True Scotsman' Fallacy. Sorry, no points for you this round.

      Thank you for calling!

      September 24, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
    • A Traveler

      So you are suggesting that if you want to know about Superman you should read DC comics?

      September 24, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
    • jackhudson

      People misuse the 'No True Scotsman' fallacy so much. People aren't real engineers if they don't believe in math, they aren't real doctors if they heal by chanting incantations, and like Frank Schaeffer they aren't real Christians if they just make their own doctrine up. It's not about picking and choosing who is a Christian, it's about the word Christian having some intrinsic meaning.

      September 24, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
    • Eric G

      @jack: Thank you for proving my point. The post contained an as-sumed superior position based on unsubstantiated perception. As did yours.

      Nice try, but maybe you should sit quietly while the adults talk.

      September 24, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
    • jackhudson

      You completely mistate the No Scotsman fallacy. Maybe you should let the people who know what they are talking about talk.

      September 24, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
    • Eric G

      As opposed to the people who just make things up and attempt to pass them off as facts? Those would be the believers, Jackie.

      Again, you make claims, but provide no reference for your statement. How biblical.

      September 24, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
  10. Fred8680

    The idea of people being sent to Hell by a Just and Mighty God is the reason I began to question religion 25 years ago. Now I am an atheist and I sleep better at night and people of different faiths don't scare me.

    September 24, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
    • Bill

      So, you did't like the idea that God has consequences for certain actions, so you figured you'd just ignore his existence and everything would be OK. Hmmm....

      September 24, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
    • Eric G

      @Bill: Let's face it Bub, your god does not make it hard to ignore his existence.

      Delos Banning McKown – "The invisible and the non-existent look very much alike."

      September 24, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
    • Madtown

      Bill, you can still believe in God, and not buy into the notion of hell. God hasn't ever said anything on the topic, we only hear about it from human pastors and the writers of the works contained in the bible. Those individuals don't speak for God.

      September 24, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
    • memyself

      @Bill ... or perhaps he just found the idea of an infinitely loving God tormenting people for all time to be unbelievable.

      September 24, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Bill,

      I think it is more the idea that a god that would act in such a way is immoral and either does not exist or does not deserve worship.

      September 24, 2012 at 3:27 pm |
    • Bill

      I realize that I will never convince anyone that already has their mind made up, but the Bible is the word of God and has plenty to say about Hell. That said, this is the Internet and there is no sense in arguing over it.

      September 24, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      Bill,

      I was raised Catholic and very much beieved in hell and god. As I grew up and applied reason to those beliefs I realized that there is no reason to believe the Bible is the word of god or that a loving creator would need to punish people for unbelief.

      The point is I have already changed my mind, and would do so again if there were sufficiant reason, so for you to imply we are just closed minded is false. How about you?

      September 24, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
    • Madtown

      Bible is the word of God
      ---
      Such an interesting statement. Do you deny the fact that the individual works of the bible were written by men? They were also edited by men. Men picked the individual works to comprise the greater work of the bible. Men have contiually edited the works by offering new versions? The hand of man is all over the bible, every word. Despite these inarguable facts, you still believe it's the "word of God"? I would think that God would be displeased that human beings chose to edit his infallible words.

      September 24, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
  11. mk

    "If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed."
    Albert Einstein

    September 24, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
  12. bob

    If god is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent, why then did god create Satan? God, being omniscient would have known that creating Satan would bring about sin and death, and yet was created anyway. Which raises the question why does god need to send his only begotten son to be sacrificed so brutally in order to redeem us for the sin that god has ultimately given us.

    September 24, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
    • SPOCK

      Logical thinking and Religion are like oil and water, they do not mix.

      September 24, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
    • Eric G

      ......And, if his son was "begotten", how can Mary still be a virgin?

      Hey, maybe she WAS a virgin, but just not very good at it?

      September 24, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
    • Yup

      Furthermore, god being this omnipotent being, it is ridiculous to think he is limited to, 'his only son' unless god himself has an issue potency...

      September 24, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
  13. Hear The Truth

    September 24, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
  14. JesusMyFriend

    The simple fact that you all discuss about hell means that somehow, you know it does exist. Please do not harden your heart. Jesus died to save us all. Accept him while you can, because once you die, there's no turning back. Love.

    September 24, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      I discuss Harry Potter a lot for the same reason.

      September 24, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
    • Aaron

      I can discuss about Thor, Zeus, Allah, Harry Potter, Santa Clause, Barney etc.. but that doesn't make them real.
      You're argument is pure crap. Discussing an idea doesn't make it true. Moron

      September 24, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
    • oneworld2

      There are more scriptures who say he never died on the cross that that he did.

      September 24, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
    • JG

      A lot of people discuss Harry Potter too, and as much as I'd like him to exist, he doesn't.

      September 24, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
    • Horus

      Jesus died because he ticked off the wrong people. His followers were known to be barbaric trouble-makers.

      September 24, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      Trouble makers, yes. I'm not so sure about barbaric. That would come later.

      September 24, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • Dijon Dough

      "There are more scriptures who say he never died on the cross that that he did."
      There are? Please name them and tell us why those are more reliable than the Biblical gospels.

      September 24, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
  15. Horus

    I have personally been to hell and sent postcards to several people.

    September 24, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
    • Bluefig

      I hear the barbeque is great there!

      September 24, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
    • ME II

      @Bluefig,
      "I hear the barbeque is great there!"

      True, unfortunately the barbeque is you. ; )

      September 24, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
  16. Hear The Truth

    September 24, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
  17. Nick

    I choose not to read all the post, but I can guess the christians are saying that everyone is going to hell and the nonbelivers are saying wake up to reality. I know that the person next to me is real. There is no doubt because I can see them there, I can hear them talk. I am awake and not in a state of something. That is all I know that is fact. God is what we believe in and not what you know. No matter how much you want to believe you have seen Jesus or God none of you have. He have never sat next to you and had a conversation. He has never gave you a hug when you was hurting. He has never said how are you feeling when you are down. It is amazing how we can send some one to hell that is physically here beside us because of something we believe.

    September 24, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • Bill Deacon

      Nothing like not reading what people are saying before you begin to argue with them.

      September 24, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
  18. Pyrrho

    "God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son". God is omnipotant so he could have millions of sons. So there is nothing special about Jesus if he even existed.

    September 24, 2012 at 2:26 pm |
    • MaryH

      It gets weirder. Technically, Christianity is the story of how God, who cannot die, sacrificed himself to himself in order to "save" people from a fate that he could just as easily end without any fuss at all.

      September 24, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
    • Ann

      Yeah, why was the human sacrifice necessary? If god wanted to forgive our sins, couldn't he just forgive them – you know, being god and all that?

      Stupid story.

      September 24, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
    • sam stone

      Jeebus had a bad weekend for your sins

      September 24, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
    • Arcadia Steve

      I personally believe that the Bible does not support the concept of Original Sin is incorrect. Now, there is a gap between where we are a humans and our potential to be as our Creator wants us to be spiritually, and perhaps we need a Prophet like Jesus to get there, and perhaps his sacrifice in the context of the cultures of that time (sacrifice a lamb = thanks to God + forgiveness) make sense. However, the Bible is very clear that you personally are not held accountable for the sins of others, even Adam or Eve.

      "The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him [Ezekial 18:12]

      September 24, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
  19. Gary L. Wimmer, Master of Lithomancy

    Hell is for those who choose to not live in the Heaven that can be experienced in this life on this planet at this time. There is no Hell after death, and certainly no reason to fear death, as it is merely a return to God. Extremists throughout history have declared that sinners will go to Hell, but who is the judge? Thank God it is not these extremists. Furthermore, if one believes in an all-loving and all-merciful God, one cannot also really believe in some eternal Hell, as it is completely inconsistent with an all-forgiving God. God is not biased, just like Infinity is not biased. Man is biased, and his biases create his Hell. The real God is Nature, love, compassion, the Golden Rule, forgiveness, creativity, inspiration, hope, charity, and on and on. Put death and Hell where they belong. Death is natural, and Hell is a tool used by extremists and ignorant people to control other people, or try to. Hell is based on fear, evil, hate, anger, and resentment, not love, and certainly not God. Google A SECOND IN ETERNITY. You might learn something…

    September 24, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
    • Arcadia Steve

      Well said, and it's good to recognize how much of Christian theology is laid down on a foundation of Greek mythology. Greek thought was the pinnacle of philosophy of the time (and lingua franca of intellectuals), but it is also very devoted to naming every concept, debating every definition, and making things very concrete and literal (e.g., Hades/Hell as an actual location, rather than a state of spiritual closeness to the Creator). Christ’s teaching, however, are framed in parables and are practically begging us to NOT take things literal, but allegorical: “He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant–not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. [2 Corinthians 3:6] Still, we have to acknowledge that even if descriptions in the Bible and Quran speak of "devil", "hell" and such, they can also be considered real but allegorical and this is one level of agreement that most people can accept. For example, "devil" may just be a symbol for the very real human side of people's needs, wants, motivations and fears which all too often dictate our moral and ethical choices (literally – "The Devil made me do it!").. There is the concept in Eastern faiths (actually Christian IS an Eastern religion), of "darma” (right way of living) and "kharma" (spiritual consequences of bad choices). This, I think means that an undeveloped soul at the time of death (innocent children excluded), that has not grown the "spiritual arms and legs" (i.e., virtues) will go to the next life incapacitated. This seems quite reasonable and we can only hope that God will have other plans for that soul to allow it to progress int he next life, where free choice is no longer an option. Therefore, I think that saying that there is no Hell and that God is All-Loving does NOT imply that all souls go to the next world and can expect to be equally developed, happy, able to communicate with each other, etc. The baby in its womb gets the love and mercy of God expressed as it develops it physical needs for this life (e.g., eyes, ears, lungs) – all of which are useless in the womb. In this life we have the mercy of God expressed as free will. Perhaps in the next life there are other means of progress, but every religion tradition I know of say that free will after death isn't an option (which of course makes the whole concepts of unruly ghosts and spirits nonsense, but that’s another topic  )

      September 24, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
  20. No Proof

    What about other animals? Do they get a free pass into heaven? Do they have their own animal god? Is this our punishment for evolving?

    September 24, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
    • BobbyG

      God and satan are anologies for the laymen. It's just an easy way for us to know the ultimate supreme being has created everything and you can be in his good or bad graces. You can be allowed to stand by him in the afterlife or be banned from his graces. The way you fill your soul thoughout life will determine if he allows you to be in his presence or shunned from his love and happiness. Stop small minded thinking.

      September 24, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • Arcadia Steve

      "All dogs go the Heaven" This is axiomatic...

      Cats, well that gets a bit iffy... :-)

      September 24, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.