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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. nab

    i think that its most important of what you think not what you wear

    September 24, 2012 at 7:15 am |
  2. Chud

    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.

    There is another option, and it is this: The stories in the bible are complete fiction and you are crazier than a bag of dicks for believing any of any of them.

    September 24, 2012 at 7:12 am |
    • ameri2010

      Jesus Christ authenticated each and every "story" in the Bible. Additionally, Jesus Christ authenticated the entire Bible from Genesis to Revelation. I think I'll believe Him rather than be influenced by your elementary-like insults that refer to the male anatomy.

      September 24, 2012 at 7:15 am |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      Ameri2010 – just HOW did your jesus "authenticate" the bible, whatever that means? And I actually liked Chud's literary device – more apt than the usual "bag of hammers"

      September 24, 2012 at 7:41 am |
    • Chud

      @ameri2010

      So the bible proves the bible is true. That makes perfect sense. I’m sorry for the mix up.

      September 24, 2012 at 7:43 am |
    • sam stone

      In Ameri2010's own words "It's hard to take anybody seriously when they stoop that that level of logic."

      September 24, 2012 at 7:49 am |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      Well, Harry Potter is a real wizard, because it says so in the books – many, many , many times. Dumbledore said it, and he's like a super duper wizard, so it must be true. And the final proof – Voldemort was killed in the book, right. Well, look around the world – NO Voldemort! Therefore, that proves it. Harry Potter is completely true and authenticated.

      September 24, 2012 at 7:54 am |
  3. 2357

    God permeates the material universe like gravity. He dwells in the Null space. God fills the realm of thoughts with his haunting presence. You cannot escape God in this life or the next. Pray that you end up on the grace side of God, and not the wrath side.

    September 24, 2012 at 7:11 am |
    • Attack of the 50 Foot Magical Underwear

      how do you know that god has a grace side? or wrath side? are you so brilliant, so informed, so knowledgeable that you KNOW the characteristics of a supposedly infinite being? Wow – not too arrogant, are we?

      September 24, 2012 at 7:42 am |
  4. aneynaeem

    hi to all
    as you mention in above of your article "extremists originated – Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan." i m from pakistan
    and i really hate this extremist status of pakistan if we are extremist so pleas clear your status you lost nearly 3000 people in 9/11 and we lost more then 10 people daily in drone attacks, so what you think some body killed us with out any reason and we loved them

    September 24, 2012 at 7:07 am |
  5. My own man

    The weak and impressionable will always be vulnerable to the calming panacea of religion, and those easily frightened with less spinal capacity will be cowed into submission by its existential revenge and punishment fundamentals. So very sad and frightening for those of us in societies where such believers hold office...

    September 24, 2012 at 7:05 am |
  6. Jamal Ahmad

    Heaven and Hell are the final destinations. But i will tell you something, not of my own, which may help you understand, what i have understood. May God guide my understanding and yours continually driving us on to the path of the righteous.

    Let me tell you a little story. We (humans) are physical beings and most would admit or agree that we have an intangible asset known to us as our soul.. Our body came into existence the moment fertilisation occurred, God fashioned it, continued to develop it. He then permitted it to grow and mature and get old and pass away. Our bodies had a definitive beginning and will have a definitive end. They will degrade eventually and what we were given on this planet (our bodies and wealth and all material things) will remain here...... just as we acquire all the pieces and money on a monopoly board for a time and then they all go back in the box. So now we know about our bodies, when they came and where they shall go. But what of our souls.
    Our souls were created when we came into physical being? no. Our souls were in the spiritual realm, they resided there with their Lord who created them and then, we all pledged allegiance, submitted to God and Testified to him " Oh Lord, we testify, that there is none worthy of worship but You" we then affirmed that we believed in the angels, his books, in all the prophets to come, the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and in destiny. Our souls testified this, because we were with God, they could not do anything else since the evidence was infront of us..... everything was clear. The next part of the story was to testify this, in this world without being with God, and to recognise our lord through his creation.
    What is belief? belief is to testify with sincerity from the heart without needing evidence in pure form but to come to a realisation which is more profound, more shaking than pure evidence itself. So God sent us into this world, he put our souls in these bodies, and our knowledge was taken, leaving a yearning within our heart which remained.
    Have u all not felt that unsettling feeling, that emptyness, that sadness that feeling we all have and are unable to explain or to verbalise it….that void...it is the remnant of the truth we knew, the knowledge we had and the separation we are experiencing. It can never be satisfied until we are with God again, not only in physicality, but in purpose, and until we recognise Him.

    I like to explain this world as the ultimate test of faith, to believe like you see without seeing. And why not!? Did we not testify to this before when we saw the truth for ourselves and that we would testify this again when we enter the Duniya (physical world).
    The complete life (from the point of our souls being formed with God to us returning to him) is like a journey, the journey started with when we were with God, and then on this journey, like on a journey we can relate to, we got of our horse or out of our car and rested, we lent up against a tree, closed our eyes and slept for a little while, then we woke up and went on with our journey. That nap, on the side of the road, that is the equivalent of our life here on this world, a snapshot. Except, the only difference here is that depending on how we rested or more importantly, what we collected during our life on this earth, will shape the justice which will inevitably be delivered at the end of the journey.

    To understand why heaven and hell exist, first we must know what justice is. Justice is impossible for us as humans to exercise. Inevitably we lack the knowledge and the power to deliver such a perfect process. To be able to deal justice one must first know what that thing is on whom justice is being delivered. Secondly, after knowing what it is, one must put that person or thing, in its rightful place or situation. This here is governed by the following factors; knowing what that thing/person has done in the past, what that thing/person is doing at present , what it will do in the future and most importantly, have access to information that no one else has on that thing/person (Only God knows that which no one else knows). As you can see, for justice to then be delivered, these pieces of information are needed in their entirety. Heaven and hell are part of that justice. What we collect in this world, physical or spiratual, will be weighed, once God has weighed our deeds he will then make the final decision, for even then, Gods justice is more perfect. He is oft forgiving, most-merciful. Heaven and hell – they are the culmination of Gods justice. He promised us one or the other. He Always keeps his word.

    Heaven and Hell.....You can believe it or not believe it, it makes no difference. Their existence is not contingent on our belief of them, they are independent of us.
    But God has given us the opportunity to attain heaven. God has perfect Justice. Like i said before, he knows what we are. He is aware of our weaknesses. He will not punish us for our weaknesses that he gave us. But He requests that we only submit to him, continually fight to be better, to ask for forgiveness, to reflect on our behaviour, to be ever thoughtful. Surely God is ever aware of our inner thoughts and secrets. No one needs to die for our sins, He is not a blood thirsty God who is satisfied only by blood….no…. no one needs to be hurt or punished for us to be forgiven. We must only reflect, we must only come to think of our past , present and future actions, and have sincerity, and ASK FOR FORGIVENESS, show God that we believe which is through good intentions and appropriate actions.

    In a nut shell, AlLah (Arabic word for God) only wants us to Recognise his Oneness, to associate nothing with him, to continually struggle for righteousness, to ask for forgiveness, to be sincere in our actions. If we do not do these, God is not affected, it is we who are affected, we who our betraying ourselves.

    In the Quran Allah says: “Say: O my Servants who have transgressed against their souls! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah: for Allah forgives all sins: for He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” [Sûrah al-Zumar: 53]

    Peace and blessings on all of you. May God continually guide us to the path of the righteous, give us the ability to reflect truthfully, and to continually improve our understanding.

    September 24, 2012 at 7:04 am |
    • ameri2010

      For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. Ephesians 2: 8-9

      September 24, 2012 at 7:10 am |
    • 1word

      ameri2010
      Matthew 28
      18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.

      19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

      20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

      We were given an assignment to teach, teaching is works. All who have given their lives to Christ is led by the Holy Spirit so the same Spirit that teaches me, taught Paul. Today we should have a better understanding if we apply ourselves. You have to feed yourself the Word day and night and pray for understanding. Faith comes by hearing the Word of God!

      September 24, 2012 at 7:24 am |
  7. Paul B.

    People don't spend eternity in Heaven or Hell. Jesus said "Heaven and Earth will pass away..." It's in Revelation as well. Heaven is the temporary place where people go when they die, but after the final judgement of all, and the end of the world, "Hell is thrown into the Lake of Fire", which is the eternal destiny of the unsaved [those who haven't trusted in Christ to save them] . The saved inhabit a "New Earth", and the City of Heaven rests upon it. Read the last couple chapters of Revelation.

    September 24, 2012 at 6:59 am |
    • Stewart T

      You might want to check you theology Paul. It's thinking like this that helps people to be misled, God bless.

      September 24, 2012 at 7:28 am |
  8. TruthAboutDeath

    The problem is that very few know that we will live forever in peace. All of us. People still see the afterlife as non existant or full of the same pain/hate/control of anyone or anything BUT your own self – that life here has abundantly. If you cannot control yourself to be peaceful and to love – alot, then maybe you need to create a deity to get that done, I dont care how. Just get it done. Me included i have a long way to go to perfection. A long way. But I'm trying.

    September 24, 2012 at 6:57 am |
  9. hashim

    Islam is the religion which makes his believers have definite respect for other religions and the place of practicing like temples and churches. it makes us have moderate behaviour in every walk of life except when Allah Almighty's Beloved Prophet Muhammad (Sallaho Alihe Wasallam) is tried to be abused or degraded in any sense. i request all peace loving countries peoples and communities that there should be definite rules for freedom of every stance. freedom does not mean you are free to speak or do anything because if u cause any damage to anyone u r definitely tried and punished by the court of law, then how come u hurt some nation by religious ego and u are left unchecked and unpunished.

    September 24, 2012 at 6:54 am |
    • Jason

      So we are free to say anything unless it harms your fragile sensibilities. That doesn't sound like freedom of speech to me. Sounds like Theocracy, which is exactly what Islam's goal is across the globe.

      September 24, 2012 at 7:10 am |
  10. George

    Funny stuff here.

    September 24, 2012 at 6:53 am |
  11. GO_GOP

    I believe the only true GOD is the one described in the BIBLE and the only true religion is Christianity. All other GODs/religions are a part of a grand design my Satan to destroy us. All non believers of Christianity needs to convert to our religion or else eternal damnation awaits them after death. We are a christian nation and will remain so. I rejoice in the fact that I am born in a Christian in a great Christian nation like USA.

    September 24, 2012 at 6:50 am |
    • JojoMojo

      Believe what you chose- it doesn't make it correct, just, or intelligible.

      September 24, 2012 at 6:58 am |
    • sam stone

      You have no authority to speak about anyone's "eternal damnation"...

      September 24, 2012 at 7:22 am |
    • cira22

      We are not a Christian Nation. We are a DIVERSE nation made of people who practice many different faiths.

      September 24, 2012 at 7:47 am |
    • DrJStrangepork

      Think someone is trolling.

      September 24, 2012 at 9:44 am |
  12. DrJStrangepork

    So God gives these gifts to man; life, the earth w/dominion over it, his word, and his son to purify man's sins. Yet, God doesn't make his existence known to man for thousands of years, and still doesn't make it know to everybody to this day. There are places where Christianity has not reached and people live there and die there. These people are doomed for no better reason? I need someone to explain how God's love and justice is being served in this situation.

    September 24, 2012 at 6:48 am |
    • Jamal Ahmad

      I woudl be grateful if you could read my post, let me know what you think. maybe i answered some of your questions, maybe not. but it would be useful to know from you.

      September 24, 2012 at 6:58 am |
    • ameri2010

      Christ the "Word" was with God from the beginning. The explanation would be long – you need a Bible study because you are assuming things that aren't true. Before Jesus was crucified for our sins, grace was through faith in God. In the Bible, God said that every person would know about Him just by looking at His creation. Psalm 19:1-4. Also, people who are mentally retarded, too young to understand the concept, etc. will automatically be saved.

      September 24, 2012 at 7:04 am |
    • DrJStrangepork

      Looking at physical evidence there is certainly contradiction in when people came to "know" God versus when modern man showed up. But let's disregard that and look to the Bible... Old Testament God scattered people all over the Earth and created new languages (tower of Babel). Then sets the path forward with tribes Israel thus leading to the 10 commandments and then eventually to Christ. Why would God do that? We create the situation that would encourage a disconnect of the delivery of the word to all the people that he loves? Why setup the obstacles?

      September 24, 2012 at 9:15 am |
  13. Jonathon Kilhoffer

    Wow! I'm impressed that CNN would post a story about Christianity and actually ask a person who is knowledgable and a prominent figure in intelectual Christianity. Kudos for letting Mark Driscoll speak his peace. Most similar stations would have simply said "I don't know, and nobody can," and then maybe put in some kind of quote from a militant pastor in Ohio.

    September 24, 2012 at 6:47 am |
  14. Jamal Ahmad

    Heaven and Hell are the final destinations. But i will tell you something, not of my own, which may help you understand, what i have understood. May God guide my understanding and yours continually driving us on to the path of the righteous.

    Let me tell you a little story. We (humans) are physical beings and most would admit or agree that we have an intangible asset known to us as our soul.. Our body came into existence the moment fertilisation occurred, God fashioned it, continued to develop it. He then permitted it to grow and mature and get old and pass away. Our bodies had a definitive beginning and will have a definitive end. They will degrade eventually and what we were given on this planet (our bodies and wealth and all material things) will remain here...... just as we acquire all the pieces and money on a monopoly board for a time and then they all go back in the box. So now we know about our bodies, when they came and where they shall go. But what of our souls.
    Our souls were created when we came into physical being? no. Our souls were in the spiritual realm, they resided there with their Lord who created them and then, we all pledged allegiance, submitted to God and Testified to him " Oh Lord, we testify, that there is none worthy of worship but You" we then affirmed that we believed in the angels, his books, in all the prophets to come, the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and in destiny. Our souls testified this, because we were with God, they could not do anything else since the evidence was infront of us..... everything was clear. The next part of the story was to testify this, in this world without being with God, and to recognise our lord through his creation.
    What is belief? belief is to testify with sincerity from the heart without needing evidence in pure form but to come to a realisation which is more profound, more shaking than pure evidence itself. So God sent us into this world, he put our souls in these bodies, and our knowledge was taken, leaving a yearning within our heart which remained.
    Have u all not felt that unsettling feeling, that emptyness, that sadness that feeling we all have and are unable to explain or to verbalise it….that void...it is the remnant of the truth we knew, the knowledge we had and the separation we are experiencing. It can never be satisfied until we are with God again, not only in physicality, but in purpose, and until we recognise Him.

    I like to explain this world as the ultimate test of faith, to believe like you see without seeing. And why not!? Did we not testify to this before when we saw the truth for ourselves and that we would testify this again when we enter the Duniya (physical world).
    The complete life (from the point of our souls being formed with God to us returning to him) is like a journey, the journey started with when we were with God, and then on this journey, like on a journey we can relate to, we got of our horse or out of our car and rested, we lent up against a tree, closed our eyes and slept for a little while, then we woke up and went on with our journey. That nap, on the side of the road, that is the equivalent of our life here on this world, a snapshot. Except, the only difference here is that depending on how we rested or more importantly, what we collected during our life on this earth, will shape the justice which will inevitably be delivered at the end of the journey.

    To understand why heaven and hell exist, first we must know what justice is. Justice is impossible for us as humans to exercise. Inevitably we lack the knowledge and the power to deliver such a perfect process. To be able to deal justice one must first know what that thing is on whom justice is being delivered. Secondly, after knowing what it is, one must put that person or thing, in its rightful place or situation. This here is governed by the following factors; knowing what that thing/person has done in the past, what that thing/person is doing at present , what it will do in the future and most importantly, have access to information that no one else has on that thing/person (Only God knows that which no one else knows). As you can see, for justice to then be delivered, these pieces of information are needed in their entirety. Heaven and hell are part of that justice. What we collect in this world, physical or spiratual, will be weighed, once God has weighed our deeds he will then make the final decision, for even then, Gods justice is more perfect. He is oft forgiving, most-merciful. Heaven and hell – they are the culmination of Gods justice. He promised us one or the other. He Always keeps his word.

    Heaven and Hell.....You can believe it or not believe it, it makes no difference. Their existence is not contingent on our belief of them, they are independent of us.
    But God has given us the opportunity to attain heaven. God has perfect Justice. Like i said before, he knows what we are. He is aware of our weaknesses. He will not punish us for our weaknesses that he gave us. But He requests that we only submit to him, continually fight to be better, to ask for forgiveness, to reflect on our behaviour, to be ever thoughtful. Surely God is ever aware of our inner thoughts and secrets. No one needs to die for our sins, He is not a blood thirsty God who is satisfied only by blood….no…. no one needs to be hurt or punished for us to be forgiven. We must only reflect, we must only come to think of our past , present and future actions, and have sincerity, and ASK FOR FORGIVENESS, show God that we believe which is through good intentions and appropriate actions.

    In a nut shell, AlLah (Arabic word for God) only wants us to Recognise his Oneness, to associate nothing with him, to continually struggle for righteousness, to ask for forgiveness, to be sincere in our actions. If we do not do these, God is not affected, it is we who are affected, we who our betraying ourselves.

    In the Quran Allah says: “Say: O my Servants who have transgressed against their souls! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah: for Allah forgives all sins: for He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” [Sûrah al-Zumar: 53]

    Peace and blessings on all of you. May God continually guide us to the path of the righteous, give us the ability to reflect truthfully, and to continually improve our understanding.

    September 24, 2012 at 6:45 am |
  15. Byron Jones

    Kebos and others - We will never know for certain. Jesus seems to be the first anti-establishment guy. Even if only allegorical, the parables are instructive as to how we should treat each other. As for the business of divinity, this is likely an invention of those who followed and wanted to make their own religion. Hell and heaven are part of that invention.

    Faustus: "Why is it then that you are out of hell?"
    Mephistopheles: "Why, this IS hell, I am not out of it."

    September 24, 2012 at 6:43 am |
    • ameri2010

      I beg to differ. When we die, those who doubt will know for certain. Sadly, it will be too late for most who denied Jesus Christ's sacrifice on the cross and in turn denied the reason for it. Hell will be no guessing game in the end and we will all die – I think we can agree on that.

      September 24, 2012 at 6:49 am |
    • name

      If Jesus existed he did so a few millenia ago. Human history extends well before that. He was by no means the 'first anti establishment guy'. Believer or not, a little history will give you a much greater appreciation for the Christian religion

      September 24, 2012 at 6:54 am |
    • Byron Jones

      Ameri2010. Thanks for the reply. Maybe you can tell me what happens to those who left this vale of tears before Jesus' sacrifice. After all, humankind is much older than Christianity.

      September 24, 2012 at 6:57 am |
    • Byron Jones

      Thanks Name. Beat me to it. Begs a very important question. Ameri2010, care to weigh in?

      September 24, 2012 at 6:58 am |
    • Jamal Ahmad

      no one needs to die for our sins, we must only ask for forgiveness with sincerity and struggle to be better. This is good for us, and God wants that which is good for us and all others. He does not require death of any sort to allow us to be forgiven. God is Oft-forgiving, most merciful.

      September 24, 2012 at 7:01 am |
    • sam stone

      "When we die, those who doubt will know for certain"

      Or, we just die

      I do not seek heaven, nor fear hell

      September 24, 2012 at 7:26 am |
  16. John

    Kebos for you to say that, just goes to show that your lost. If you need help with that let me know, as instructed from the bible, i can show you what he is, and how amazing he is. Let me know.

    September 24, 2012 at 6:41 am |
  17. UrDumb

    Only a US News Station like CNN would post such an idiot thing to stir and creates fighting among readers. Don't CNN and other US News Stations have anything better to do?

    Are you getting paid by the dumbest side of our society such as the Atheists to do these kind of survey?

    September 24, 2012 at 6:38 am |
    • Byron Jones

      Ah - condemnation of others. A true Christian sentiment.

      September 24, 2012 at 6:52 am |
    • P Ness

      Dumbest side of our society?

      Einstien,Sagan,Darwin,Benjamin Franklin,Abe Liincoln,Thomas Jefferson,Mark Twain ALL ATHIEST!! Your statement is another prime example of how Christians do not know what they are talking about.

      September 24, 2012 at 6:58 am |
    • Jason

      Franklin and Lincoln were not Athiests, and Jefferson was an avowed Dieist. Certainly not evanglicals, but definately not Athiests either. Check your facts. And no, that doesn't mean Google it.

      September 24, 2012 at 7:15 am |
    • sam stone

      No, they are paid according to the number of comments. You have added to their revenue.

      September 24, 2012 at 7:28 am |
  18. ameri2010

    @thinquer: I forgot to mention that if you'd like to look in the Bible, the word for "hell" is "gehenna." Gehenna is the Greek translation of the Hebrew phrase "valley of Hinnom." Jesus Christ mentions this word in every instance except one (James 3:6) when referring to hell.

    September 24, 2012 at 6:37 am |
  19. fiftyfive55

    Purgatory-Earth is really purgatory.We are here to decide,through our life's action,whether we go to heaven or hell.Businessmen and politicians are especially vulnerable here because they are given the power over other people's lives.The saying:"it's just business"is a term used by satan to trick businessmen and politicians into revealing whether people or money is more important to these folks.The greatest feat of the devil was proving he doesnt exist.

    September 24, 2012 at 6:33 am |
  20. Muhammad bArif

    Do u still believe the Responsible of 9/11 were Muslims. This is what Hitler said. I have left some of them (jews) for u to let u know why I was killing them. Here we their effect and fright.

    September 24, 2012 at 6:32 am |
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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 with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.