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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.

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

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 • Opinion

soundoff (7,963 Responses)
  1. gman

    the bible hardly metnions satan in the old testament either, but the implications in the book of job with respect to the
    battle between god, job & satan are enormous. a mortal put a fallen angel to shame by refusing to curse god.
    and in the beginning people only new god as i am. the holy spirit wasn't poured out until christ died on the cross either.
    because gods name wasn't used initially in the old testament does that mean he doesn't exist. you false preachers
    better recant your philosophy and ask the holy spirit to guide you into all truth.

    especially because the book of revelations says anyone who add to or takes away from this book

    wooooeeee unto them !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    gods word is just what it says not what you think.

    September 24, 2012 at 2:27 am |
    • Observer

      The Bible is whatever you think it to be because of all the contradictioins and hypocrisy. That's why people pretend it ever mentions abortion.

      September 24, 2012 at 2:40 am |
  2. alskjf.

    So. I appreciate that hell seems impossibly cruel. But I think that's because we don't understand enternity and spirits. But people are three part beings Spirit, Soul, Body. What you and i perceive in each other daily is the Mind/Body. The spirit of a fallen human could be created eternal, but still endlessly vile and disgusting... a collection of only the most dark, evil, and vile. worthy of nothing but to be burned. When we look on each other, we don't see the Spirit. A human with a body on this earth is given a unique free will to change their spiritiual state. The body and time on earth affords a neatrualizing affect where the evil or good spirited appear roughly the same. Neither is forcefully overtaken by the drives of their nature and so can choose what they truly want to be for eternity. If we think hell is to terrible, we perhaps are failing to consider how terrible we might be in the inperceivable spirit. Since hell is repeatedly stated to be a matching punishment. Incredible almost impossible to comprehend possiblity. But if the spirit world exists, why couldn't it be full of incredible extremes?

    September 24, 2012 at 2:24 am |
  3. mbrotherto1

    So, like, I'm 64. When is the best time for me to take Social Security? Ya'll mumble among yourselves. Language does not translate into infinite love. Oh, by the way, I can't help it. You are finite minds with wonderful imaginations. Rock on. Just let go of crap and let it be. It's so double wide and frightened of the unknown. Freedom (oh, sorry, that's the devil speaking through my swiss chese headed brain). Come on!!!!! Just ease the f***k up. It's all OK. Go sit in the sun. Play a video game. Just stop this insanity – whoever taught it to you :I've got the answer and you don't. Let's go fishing together. It's OK. You are not going to be judged by your "sins". You are already living that hell. So, why can't we all go to a picnic together and stop making comparisons. We are all the same. We are all going to get sick, age, and die. What's the big deal???? Ya'll be sweet and stop that FEELING. YOU KNOW THE ONE I'M TALKING ABOUT. peace out... Jesus
    all

    September 24, 2012 at 2:22 am |
  4. Lars J

    I've read all of Josephus' writings. (not spelled Josephius) He was a Romano-Jewish historian who was describing the contemporary beliefs of his day, including the Hellenistic Ideas about hell. But the Pentateuch (historical first 5 books of Scripture) don't mention any reference to a hell. Read: http://www.jewishhistory.org/the-hell-in-hellenism

    Maybe we both should read more.

    September 24, 2012 at 2:16 am |
  5. Sir Craig

    "Is Hell for Real?"

    No. Next question.

    September 24, 2012 at 2:16 am |
    • Moofhead

      Good luck with that, Craig. You're gonna need it.

      September 24, 2012 at 2:39 am |
    • sam stone

      moof.....speaking for god, are ya?

      arrogant dweeb

      September 24, 2012 at 4:26 am |
  6. cybercmdr

    It is sad, and kind of scary, that in the 21st century this is taken to be a serious question. So many believers in the supernatural, so much ignorance about science. For many that scientific ignorance is tenaciously clung to, as people willfully deny, disavow and ignore objectively provable facts that conflict with their beliefs.

    We have, as Carl Sagan called it, a Demon Haunted World, where we create stories to explain things we don't understand, and then pretend those stories are true knowledge. Mankind must still be in its infancy, where Santa Claus is possible, and the Boogy Man might get you if you are bad.

    September 24, 2012 at 2:11 am |
  7. caralee2010

    Frank Schaeffer severely misrepresents what Christians believe when he says "- from born-again American military personnel to Muslim fanatics, who seriously believe that God smiles upon them when they send their enemies to hell" among other statements. How can anything he says be taken seriously, when he will not give religion even the respect of correctly stating their beliefs. He holds them up for ridicule, but is twisting their doctrine to achieve his minute in the spotlight. Sounds like Dante's Canto X, frankly.

    September 24, 2012 at 2:11 am |
  8. AvdBerg

    God is a spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). Heaven is a reference to the spiritual realm.

    The word ‘hell’ was translated in the Old Testament from the word ‘Sheol’ which comes from an Assyrian root meaning ‘chamber’. It was regarded as an underworld for the dead, often called the grave.

    Two words are translated in the New Testament by ‘hell’, namely ‘Hades’ and ‘Gehenna’.

    ‘Hades’ is the Latin translation of ‘Sheol’ and means literally ‘the unseen world’ or the ‘grave’.

    ‘Gehenna’ is however the word that is most often used. Originally the valley of Hinnom (Ge-Hinnom) was the area where Molech and Tammuz were worshipped and eventually became the place for burning the local refuse and was regarded as a fit symbol of the destruction of wicked souls.

    The words ‘heaven’ and ‘hell’ are strictly symbolic in nature as are many other words in the Bible. A symbol is something that relates to or is characterized by a symbol. For example: The owl is symbolic of wisdom and learning. Another example is the robin: it is a symbol of spring. Many may be surprised to learn but the words ‘Six hundred threescore and six’ are also symbolic in nature (Rev. 13:18).

    At the return of Christ only those that are dead in Christ (referred to as asleep) will rise with him (1 Thess. 4:16). It is noteworthy that there are only few that are dead (asleep) in Christ (Matthew 7:14), as this whole world has been deceived (Rev. 12:9).

    At the final judgment, all those whosover was not found written in the book of life will be cast out into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:15).

    The above mentioned article by Frank Schaeffer is a good example how distorted things have become in society with the media industry as the main culprit.

    He is spiritually blind as the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him, neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned (1 Cor. 2:15).

    In order for anyone to be able to understand the Word of God they must repent and turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan unto God (Acts 26:18). Frank Schaeffer does not know what spirit he is off (Luke 9:55).

    The Word of God is not to be interpreted (2 Peter 1:20) and it is the discerner of every thought and intent of the heart (Hebrews 4:12).

    The local media, including CNN, Fox and your local TV stations and newspapers are a very important element of social and political behavior, as society is shaped by what it sees, hears and reads and it is conditioned by the events that influence the mind of every person. You reap what you sow.

    To allow anyone to be directed by public opinion is dangerous because most public opinion is the view of the media. If the media does not like something, their bias taints information getting to the public, and this forms public opinion. Public opinion is never based on research and facts. The public uses the media for its sole source of information and for this reason social behavior will continue to deteriorate and wax worse and worse (2 Timothy 3:13).

    The media does not provide accurate information on ‘Religion’ as it continues to ignore the truth and the history of deceptions (John 14:17). They only report how they want you to hear things. They have created the big chasm that now exists without offering any solutions.

    For a better understanding of the role of the media we invite you to read the articles ‘Influence of the Media’ and ‘CNN Belief Blog – Sign of the Times’, listed on our website http://www.aworlddeceived.ca

    Consider the truth about Catholicism, Islam, Mormonism, Judaism, Evangelicals and Christianity and all other religions and ask yourself the following question.

    Are so-called Catholics, Muslims, Mormons, Israelites and Evangelicals and all those that call themselves ‘Christians’ followers of the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Word of God, or do they follow after an image of a false god and a false Christ (Matthew 24:24; 2 Cor. 11:13-15; Gal. 4:8)?

    For a better understanding of the history of Catholicism, Islam, Mormonism, Christianity, and Judaism and its spread throughout the world, we invite you to read the articles ‘The Mystery Babylon’, ‘Can Christianity or Any Other Religion Save You?’, ‘World History and Developments in the Middle East’ and ‘Clash of Civilizations’, listed on our website http://www.aworlddeceived.ca

    All of the other pages and articles listed on our website explain how and by whom this whole world has been deceived as confirmed in Revelation 12:9.

    Seek, and ye shall find (Matthew 7:7).

    September 24, 2012 at 2:10 am |
    • Gregg

      Stop the puking already, if you must spread puke go to a nursing home.

      September 24, 2012 at 2:32 am |
  9. muneeb ahmad dar

    The Noble Quran clearly states about the hell, nature of hell,punishments of hell,etc. and all those who are doing bad deeds in this world, either muslims or non muslims, will go to hell for punishment of their crimes.

    September 24, 2012 at 2:10 am |
  10. tim

    is this the same god who kills kids by giving them cancer? wow hes so compassionate

    September 24, 2012 at 2:06 am |
  11. Kalo

    People will never stop believing in god nor hoping there is punishment for actions that are outside of the social acceptance level. There is no argument against faith, it does not follow the same rules as logic and fact. In Science, logic and facts make the laws; in faith the laws make the logic and 'facts.'

    There will never be a time when someone doesn't want all the answers to be given, no time in human history or future will "I don't know, and no one else does either" be considered ok for the majority of folks. Most people want the all knowing father figure up on high like they were when they were a child, and everyone wants answers...Only Atheists and Agnostic people can have the mental capacity to cope with knowing there is no plan, there is no certainty, there is only you and everyone around you. Make earth yours and your brother's heaven and stop making it hell for others.

    It might be a pipe dream but until people can move past the bronze age thought of evolution isn't real, that the Catholic church is acting like the Jewish council that killed Jesus (Abusing power), science should dictate the rules of the physical world and people should keep the soul out of numbers; I truly do fear when a person can 'hear' god and press the big round button in the oval office to make hell on earth for another group of people. This happened with Bush and Iraq, god told him to do it; for better or worse this means that faith dictated the logic which is a very scary president.

    September 24, 2012 at 2:04 am |
    • Athy

      But as the general education level moves upward there'll be less and less reliance on religion. I'm not saying it'll happen soon, certainly not in the lifetime of anyone living today, but in a few generations. Depends on scientific advances and how well they are "dumbed down" for the general population.

      September 24, 2012 at 2:14 am |
  12. And No Religion Too

    By Mark Driscoll, Special to CNN

    "As a pastor, my job is to tell the truth. Your job is to make a decision."
    And then he goes on to tell a fairy tale; nothing remotely resembling anything factual. Welcome to religion, the poison that has duped mankind for centuries, in it's dying breath. I laughed out loud at his nonsense, and then felt embarrassed for him for spewing such ignorant, uneducated garbage as if people would buy it.

    September 24, 2012 at 2:04 am |
    • Gregg

      I have no ideal how to twist my mind to allow myself to puke out crap while wearing a robe to an audience of the easily manipulated year after year. You have to ask yourself , are people actually created that unequal to have a mind so shallow to fall into a religious pit of bull dung?

      September 24, 2012 at 2:27 am |
  13. TADA

    Also to end my tirade for the night I would like to add that I believe that there are extremes to every belief, muslims that blow themselves up and KKK members wanting to "cleanse" the gene pool and dont forget Westboro Baptist church that pickets the funerals of the very people that are fighting in the sand box for us. So yes I fully believe religion is toxic to us, clouds the minds of people and causes them to be judgemental hipocrites that use thier beliefs to hurt and offend others just for the sake of trying to "save them". I say live and let live and leave me the hell alone.

    September 24, 2012 at 2:03 am |
    • Gregg

      Just when I was thinking of doing religious snake handling, you changed my mind, damn !

      September 24, 2012 at 2:16 am |
  14. nomatterwhat

    what ever men say the truth is we are created in the image of God like him we have a soul that lives forever will you lose anything if you believe what Jesus is telling us to do..to accept Him as savior because He is the only way to eternal life in heaven all other ways lead to eternal life in hell

    September 24, 2012 at 1:59 am |
    • nope

      September 24, 2012 at 2:02 am |
    • f4xtrafn

      Can you please upload this image of God for us to see for ourselves. Antique maps show him to have a white beard blowing in the wind. Is he (or she) white or black or maybe Chinese. Is he married – some believe he had a son. What does his wife look like – unless his son was born out of wedlock.

      September 24, 2012 at 2:08 am |
    • Gregg

      To bad Jesus didn't say much. Psychotic prophets putting words in his mouth after he was dead, Disgusting !!!

      September 24, 2012 at 2:14 am |
  15. Kalo

    wat

    September 24, 2012 at 1:57 am |
  16. MOCaseA

    So This was a very interesting article, until the end when it became an attempt to convert through mythological threat.

    The line "Convert or DIE!" is becoming very common in the world today. Whether it be an Islamic physical death, or a Christian eternal fire and brimstone death doesn't matter. The use of threat of retribution for failure to believe puts LIE to the belief and faith itself. Thank you for the interesting read, but CNN needs to filter a little better to prevent their OpEd from becoming another avenue for evangelical fear-mongering.

    September 24, 2012 at 1:56 am |
  17. Atheism is Great for Kids and Grown-Ups Too!

    It's really best for all people including children to have an agnostic approach to god, and an atheistic approach to all religion. It keeps things simple for kids, and lets them be all that they can be. They just need to be taught that some things, like all religion, were just made up by salesmen and politicians from long ago. (Yes, charlatan folklore and spam started long before the Bible; what would make you think they hadn't?) And they need to be taught that other things, like God, we really don't know a damn thing about.

    Atheists have strong minds and don't need a religion. Many religious folk have the best intentions. But too often, religious folk run and hide their misdeeds within their religion (and by doing so, they disserve society). And too often, religious folk are easily offended when someone mocks their make-believe characters – and, as we can see they can get really CRAZY!

    Although there are many religious folk with good intentions – some selflessly helping others, religions and religious organizations are, as a whole, just big old clubs – each trying to out do each other and inspiring hate and division (often disguised as love) along the way. The problem is that people too easily buy into religion and don't realize how unfounded it all is. And when they buy into it, they buy into a lot of really old, really weird tenets that are nothing but harmful for the human species.

    Take Christianity, for instance. Just look at all the things that Christians argue about amongst themselves today – abortion, men's and women's roles in the church, celibacy, contraception, acceptance of gays, etc. Most of these issues have their roots in the conflicted, unfounded tenets of early Christianity. Non-Mormons harp on Joseph Smith these days. But we really don't have any more proof at all to believe that Paul, the self-proclaimed "apostle" was anything more than an ordinary man who needed to make up religious "sales literature" to survive and spread his own personal beliefs. And yet a good chunk of the NT is attributed to Paul and accepted by many Christians. And a lot of what he wrote about has to do with many of the issues I mentioned above that have Christians fighting amongst themselves hundreds of years later. It's way too unfounded to argue over.

    Get a good cup of tea, and sit down and collect your thoughts. If you find it helpful to pray to a god, fine. But it is really healthier for the mind to leave behind all the characters that people over the centuries have invented or given powers to, for which there is little or no foundation. Because with those invented characters and powers – that's where division and hate join the little party in your mind. That's where, in your mind, you are inheriting the division and hate from ordinary politicians, lobbyists and salesmen from long ago. My goodness.

    mama kindless

    September 24, 2012 at 1:54 am |
    • Raed

      The Tragic Death of Voltaire the Atheist
      As his end drew near, his condition became so frightful that his infidel associates were afraid to approach his beside. Still they guarded the door, that others might not know how awfully an infidel was compelled to die. Even his nurse repeatedly said, ‘For all the wealth of Europe I would never see another infidel die.’ It was a scene of horror that lies beyond all exaggeration.

      September 24, 2012 at 1:56 am |
    • Damocles

      @Raed

      It's slightly disturbing that the painful death of a person seems to give you a case of the warm and fuzzies.

      September 24, 2012 at 2:01 am |
    • itsallaloadofbollocks

      Raed. That is only one account of his death. As there is no difference between any of us in death, the death of an atheist is no different to the death of a believer. We all to the same place one way or another some rot return that way and some are burned and the ashes returned.

      September 24, 2012 at 2:05 am |
    • GregtheThird

      The problem with atheism is that if there is no God then by default you are God. One of the central pillars of modern religions is the concept of submission and humility. Atheism rejects this notion and hence appeals to people who are arrogant and self-centered by nature. Those who take more than they give will have a defecit of grace when they come to face their creator and are in need of his protection in the afterlife

      September 24, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
  18. TADA

    Well I know 2 things for certain the televangelists that come on TV at 4am are full of sh it "If you send me $1,000 I will send you this bottle of miracle spring water and holy olive oil soap and all your wishes will come true." BS! Secondly I am tired of the people coming and knocking on my door at 7:30am asking me if I believe it is the END OF TIMES and if I have found Jesus. I feel that they are just as full of sh it as the televangelists are. Believe what you want to believe but leave me out of it. Hell is a metaphor anyway. All religions have a form of hell for the naysayers. If I'm going to hell I will save seats for everyone....see you all there for we are all imperfect and "sinners".

    September 24, 2012 at 1:48 am |
    • Athy

      I like about four rows back in the center, please.

      September 24, 2012 at 1:53 am |
  19. J.J. Hemingway

    I choose to believe in Jesus. It even states in the Bible-"to those who are perishing-it is foolishness." The way I look at it, let's say the people that believe that when we die–that's it. In my life I've had some peace and contentment and love that I can't really explain. BUT--let's say that I'm right and they're wrong-then I have everything to gain, and they have everything to lose. I choose to believe. I didn't grow up in a Christian home. Becoming a Christian was a decision I made at the age of 16.

    God gave man a free will to choose to follow Him, or do their own thing. To say that a God of love would condemn someone to hell-I don't believe it's that as much as people reject God's simple plan of salvation. God made it so easy and simple and man comes along and screws it up. We are all free-agents and get to make our own choice where we spend eternity. k

    Again–I choose to believe!

    September 24, 2012 at 1:44 am |
    • itsallaloadofbollocks

      So religion is an insurance policy to you? Or maybe you taking Pascal's Wager, but what if you've chosen the wrong god – that's no different than not believing.

      September 24, 2012 at 1:49 am |
    • redzoa

      Pascal's Wager fail. Also, free will cannot exist with an omniscient deity. Omniscience requires the deity's perfect foreknowledge of the one ultimate reality (including the actual final choice of every mortal). A mortal cannot actually make a choice in conflict with this perfect foreknowledge but can only make a choice which must conform to this foreknowledge.

      September 24, 2012 at 1:52 am |
    • Damocles

      @JJ

      So your faith comes from a place of fear, the fear that there is some deity watching and it's better to be safe than sorry. Since you can't possibly know which deity is going to be there when you die then am I to assume you worship all deities?

      I have my life here that I need to live, to teach my kids, to be a good friend. I can not cheapen my exsistence by being overly concerened with what happens when I die.

      September 24, 2012 at 1:56 am |
    • Russell's Teapot

      Uh, you do realize your god of love has condoned/presided over genocide on several occasions and just for kicks has had bears mauls children (2Kings 2:23-24). And as far as simple plan for salvation, you would think that god would have had the wherewithal to send a representative to all the nations of earth so that his message could be heard by all instead of a singular man to preach to a few jews in some god forsaken desert

      September 24, 2012 at 2:13 am |
  20. AvdBerg

    God is a spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth (John 4:24). Heaven is a reference to the spiritual realm.

    The word ‘hell’ was translated in the Old Testament from the word ‘Sheol’ which comes from an Assyrian root meaning ‘chamber’. It was regarded as an underworld for the dead, often called the grave.

    Two words are translated in the New Testament by ‘hell’, namely ‘Hades’ and ‘Gehenna’.

    ‘Hades’ is the Latin translation of ‘Sheol’ and means literally ‘the unseen world’ or the ‘grave’.

    ‘Gehenna’ is however the word that is most often used. Originally the valley of Hinnom (Ge-Hinnom) was the area where Molech and Tammuz were worshipped and eventually became the place for burning the local refuse and was regarded as a fit symbol of the destruction of wicked souls.

    The words ‘heaven’ and ‘hell’ are strictly symbolic in nature as are many other words in the Bible. A symbol is something that relates to or is characterized by a symbol. For example: The owl is symbolic of wisdom and learning. Another example is the robin: it is a symbol of spring. Many may be surprised to learn but the words ‘Six hundred threescore and six’ are also symbolic in nature.

    At the return of Christ only those that are dead in Christ (referred to as asleep) will rise with him (1 Thess. 4:16). It is noteworthy that there are only few that are dead (asleep) in Christ (Matthew 7:14), as this whole world has been deceived (Rev. 12:9).

    At the final judgment, all those whosover was not found written in the book of life will be cast out into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:15).

    The above mentioned article by Frank Schaeffer is a good example how distorted things have become in society with the media industry as the main culprit.

    He is spiritually blind as the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him, neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned (1 Cor. 2:15).

    In order for anyone to be able to understand the Word of God they must repent and turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan unto God (Acts 26:18). Frank Schaeffer does not know what spirit he is off (Luke 9:55).

    The Word of God is not to be interpreted (2 Peter 1:20) and it is the discerner of every thought and intent of the heart (Hebrews 4:12).

    The local media, including CNN, Fox and your local TV stations and newspapers are a very important element of social and political behavior, as society is shaped by what it sees, hears and reads and it is conditioned by the events that influence the mind of every person. You reap what you sow.

    To allow anyone to be directed by public opinion is dangerous because most public opinion is the view of the media. If the media does not like something, their bias taints information getting to the public, and this forms public opinion. Public opinion is never based on research and facts. The public uses the media for its sole source of information and for this reason social behavior will continue to deteriorate and wax worse and worse (2 Timothy 3:13).

    The media does not provide accurate information on ‘Religion’ as it continues to ignore the truth and the history of deceptions (John 14:17). They only report how they want you to hear things. They have created the big chasm that now exists without offering any solutions.

    For a better understanding of the role of the media we invite you to read the articles ‘Influence of the Media’ and ‘CNN Belief Blog – Sign of the Times’, listed on our website http://www.aworlddeceived.ca

    Consider the truth about Catholicism, Islam, Mormonism, Judaism, Evangelicals and Christianity and all other religions and ask yourself the following question.

    Are so-called Catholics, Muslims, Mormons, Israelites and Evangelicals and all those that call themselves ‘Christians’ followers of the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Word of God, or do they follow after an image of a false god and a false Christ (Matthew 24:24; 2 Cor. 11:13-15; Gal. 4:8)?

    For a better understanding of the history of Catholicism, Islam, Mormonism, Christianity, and Judaism and its spread throughout the world, we invite you to read the articles ‘The Mystery Babylon’, ‘Can Christianity or Any Other Religion Save You?’, ‘World History and Developments in the Middle East’ and ‘Clash of Civilizations’, listed on our website http://www.aworlddeceived.ca

    All of the other pages and articles listed on our website explain how and by whom this whole world has been deceived as confirmed in Revelation 12:9.

    Seek, and ye shall find (Matthew 7:7).

    September 24, 2012 at 1:44 am |
    • Observer

      Peddle your hypocritical website elsewhere.

      September 24, 2012 at 1:45 am |
    • hal 9001

      I'm sorry, "AvdBerg", but all or your assertions are unfounded. The degree to which your assertions may represent correct statements is 0.0. To help you understand the degree to which your assertions may represent correct statements, I will access my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE). Using my IEE module, the expression that best matches the degree to which your assertions may represent correct statements is: "TOTAL FAIL".

      I see that you repeat these unfounded statements with high frequency. Perhaps the following book might help you overcome this problem:

      I'm Told I Have Dementia: What You Can Do...... Who You Can Turn to......
      by the Alzheimer's Disease Society

      September 24, 2012 at 1:51 am |
    • Athy

      I like AvdBerg's crappy posts. I take great pleasure in scrolling past them as quickly as possible.

      September 24, 2012 at 1:55 am |
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About this blog

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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.