As promised, here are all of our 95 tweets, categorized by the kind of argument they are making – ethical, theological and biblical, in that order. (I’ve gone through each of them and updated some of them from our first version) What it boils down to is that there is no ethical justification for Hell whatsoever, no good theological reason to posit a doctrine of Hell, and there are literally hundreds of Biblical passages that do not support an eternal Hell of conscious torment. Given enough time and dedication, we probably could have assembled 190 tweets, or theses, against a doctrine of eternal Hell.
We did not even scratch the surface of the ethical, theological and interpretive work done to contend against the doctrine of eternal Hell. What we did is draw from our own thoughts as well as places where arguments accumulate, particularly debates around the issue of Hell, and some of the books we have read and are reading.
Obviously, we are hearkening back to Luther’s 95 Theses. We have no expectation that our tweets will have anywhere near that impact. On the other hand, the doctrine of Hell is far worse than indulgences could possibly be. We want to fire the equivalent of grape-shot into the doctrine of Hell and sink it forever, so that no one ever has to feel it is necessary to believe in Hell ever again. Over-ambitions, we know, but it’s a start.
#95Tweets E1: Eternal Hell is not in any way just (restorative) – it eternally severs relationship and eternally prevents redemption
#95Tweets E2: Eternal Hell is the teaching that there are people and things that can never be redeemed, even by God
#95Tweets E3: Eternal Hell is retribution made infinite, and is therefore even less noble than vengeance
#95Tweets E4: Eternal Hell lacks the sole moral underpinning of punishment, which is correction
#95Tweets E5: Eternal Hell is beyond disproportionate – eternal Hell cannot be an earned punishment, no matter what a finite being does
#95Tweets E6: Humans perpetrate horrific, incomprehensible evil – eternal Hell is infinitely worse than any human (finite) evil
#95Tweets E7: Punishment in an eternal Hell would even be unfair to Hitler, who committed incomprehensibly evil but finite crimes
#95Tweets E8: With the effects of poor information, bias, culture, neurobiology, psychology and so on, we do not make free decisions
#95Tweets E9: This amounts to a situation where human fallibility, not even human misdeeds, can result in eternal torture in Hell
#95Tweets E10: As eternal Hell is traditionally understood, mental illness could easily be an absolute bar from salvation
#95Tweets E11: Fear of (eternal) punishment is the most brutal, crass and callous way to seek to encourage good
#95Tweets E12: Fear of punishment is not effective in encouraging good, it only prevents overt misdeeds while being watched
#95Tweets E13: Whatever happens after death, there is no concrete evidence whatsoever that anything like Hell exists
#95Tweets E14: Eternal Hell is the worst possible story ending – for the vast majority, the end is an infinite and insurmountable tragedy
#95Tweets E15: It is morally untenable to expect any person of conscience to enjoy Heaven knowing that others are in Hell
#95Tweets E16: Eternal Hell makes Heaven look a lot like North Korea – worship the ruler or else, and ignore the suffering around you
#95Tweets E17: Believers in eternal Hell must either be hypocritical, saying they believe but not behaving as if they do (1/2)
#95Tweets E18: Or believers in eternal Hell must be callous, understanding the infinite stakes but not caring proportionally (2/2)
#95Tweets E19: The doctrine of eternal Hell encourages either hypocrisy or callousness by necessity
#95Tweets E20: A reasonable person’s response to any possibility of eternal torture in Hell would be constant panic and desperation
#95Tweets E21: A doctrine of annihilation is morally preferable to eternal torture by every conceivable measure
#95Tweets E22: A doctrine of universalism is morally preferable to annihilation, if God is both powerful enough to save and also good
#95Tweets E23: Since Aristotle, we have a strong case that good is not good simply because God says it is
#95Tweets E24: For God’s actions to be good, they must actually be good, not just called good; eternal Hell could only be “good” by fiat
#95Tweets E25: The only crime that might justly warrant a punishment of eternal torture would be…eternally torturing people
#95Tweets E26: Yesterday, about 150,000 human beings died. In traditional Hell theology, we must conclude that the majority are in Hell
#95Tweets E27: Given that being in Hell is to burn, and scream, and beg, and weep for eternity, 1 human being in this condition is too many
#95Tweets E28: If eternal Hell and Heaven both exist, no person of conscience could be at peace in Heaven
#95Tweets #Ethics: For all of these reasons and more, eternal Hell is an ethically unjustifiable belief.
#95Tweets T1: Eliminating a doctrine of eternal Hell does not mean eliminating justice, judgement, punishment, sin
#95Tweets T2: Eternal Hell is entirely unnecessary to any traditional view of salvation, no matter how exclusivist
#95Tweets T3: Eternal Hell does nothing whatsoever to glorify God, unless the powerful torturing the weak is glorious
#95Tweets T4: Eternal Hell is about vindication of an exclusive, violent orthodoxy even at an infinite cost to those left out
#95Tweets T5: Eternal Hell renders God’s love meaningless – no definition of love could include allowing infinite torture
#95Tweets T6: Eternal Hell renders God’s justice meaningless, as eternal punishment cannot be just by any definition
#95Tweets T7: Eternal Hell renders God’s mercy meaningless – eternal punishment which will never abate. Couldn’t be less merciful
#95Tweets T8: Eternal Hell renders God’s sovereignty meaningless. If God is good, God is impotent to save the vast majority of humans
#95Tweets T9: Eternal Hell renders God’s power meaningless, since God’s plan to restore all creation can be foiled by human sin
#95Tweets T10: Eternal Hell renders God’s omniscience meaningless, since God just can’t figure out how to save most people
#95Tweets T11: Eternal Hell renders God’s holiness meaningless, given that evil and sin and torture would be eternal as God is eternal
#95Tweets T12: Eternal Hell teaches of a God with finite patience but an infinite capacity for violence and retribution
#95Tweets T13: Rather than a “day of wrath”, Eternal Hell means that a trillion trillion trillion days of wrath are just the beginning
#95Tweets T14: Eternal Hell means that whatever else God is, God cannot be good by any reasonable definition of the word
#95Tweets T15: Eternal Hell annihilates meaning of all kinds – what is the point of doing anything but fearing eternal torture?
#95Tweets T16: Eternal Hell means we know God primarily as monster – monstrous judge, monstrous father, monstrous creator, etc.
#95Tweets T17: Eternal Hell is far beyond even the most evil we could visit upon any children – and are we not God’s children?
#95Tweets T18: Eternal Hell cedes eternal victory to sin, evil and suffering. God, and goodness, fail utterly for most
#95Tweets T19: In contrast to scripture, Eternal Hell promises eternity to unrepentant sinners
#95Tweets T20: Eternal Hell ascribes infinitude, eternity and finality to pain, horror, despair and terror
#95Tweets T21: A doctrine of eternal Hell puts torture at the heart of the Gospel. God is the tormentor
#95Tweets T22: Eternal Hell makes a mystery of horrific evil – it is beyond comprehension, rather than limited and destined for defeat
#95Tweets T23: Eternal Hell teaches of a God who is incapable of empathy – an image of God the callous sociopath
#95Tweets T24: Eternal Hell ascribes to human sin the power to overwhelm and defeat Jesus’ incarnation, life, death and resurrection
#95Tweets T25: If there is an Eternal Hell Jesus’ incarnation, life, death and resurrection accomplish nothing definitive
#95Tweets T26: Eternal Hell breaks God’s covenants – ex: it is infinitely worse than a second Flood
#95Tweets T27: Eternal Hell means that God calls “good” a creation in which flawed beings can err so greatly they are tortured forever
#95Tweets T28: Eternal Hell means, in justification theology, that First Adam’s sin is more powerful than Second Adam’s obedience
#95Tweets T29: Apparently Jesus descended to Hell, as in the Apostle’s Creed, but left it intact, only saving himself – cowardly
#95Tweets T30: Eternal Hell, if you believe in the Devil, ascribes to him victory in the vast majority of human souls
#95Tweets T31: Eternal life contrasted with annihilation more fully fits the themes and teachings of both the Old and New Testament
#95Tweets #Theology: For these reasons and more, eternal Hell is an unnecessary, horrifying and destructive theology.
#95Tweets B1: The overwhelming majority of Bible verses support some form of annihilation; more support universalism than eternal Hell
#95Tweets B2: Gen 3:19: Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, not dust to eternal conscious torment. Death, not eternity, is our default end
#95Tweets B3: The Bible never mentions Hell in the original languages. We (mis)translate Sheol, Hades, Tartarus and Gehenna as “Hell”
#95Tweets B4: Sheol, the realm of the dead in the OT, is nothing at all like Hell, but is clearly where they thought the dead went
#95Tweets B5: Tartarus, sometimes translated as “Hell”, is a prison holding the Greek titans after the Olympian gods defeated them
#95Tweets B6: Gehenna, or Ge-Hinnom, translated “Hell”, was the smoldering garbage-dump in a valley outside Jerusalem
#95Tweets B7: Hades, translated as “Hell”, is imported from Greek mythology, and is simply the realm of the dead, or the god of death
#95Tweets B8: Hades, while still not Hell, is thrown into the lake of fire and destroyed at the climax of the book of Revelation
#95Tweets B9: Genesis and the Gospels compare Satan/sin to a croucher or devourer, never an eternal torturer
#95Tweets B10: In Job, Satan is clearly an ally of God, or at least a colleague, and is busy going to and fro, not torturing anyone
#95Tweets B11: In 1 Samuel 28, “Sheol”, elsewhere translated as “Hell”, is apparently where the prophet Samuel is. Prophets in Hell?
#95Tweets B12: Psalm 139 – God is everywhere, even Sheol, elsewhere translated as “Hell.” No eternal separation
#95Tweets B13: In Psalms, sin = death, perish, consume, destroy – examples are Psalm 5:5-6, Psalm 37:38 – no eternal torture
#95Tweets B14: Sin = death in the Prophets: Jer 12:3, Isa 1:28; 33:12, Ezek 18:4, Nahum 1:2-13, Zeph 1:14-18, Mal 4:1-3
#95Tweets B15: Isaiah 25:6-9, God swallows up death forever, and everyone rejoices. Except the billions screaming in Hell, right? No
#95Tweets B16: The NT dichotomy is clearly between life and death – Luke 20:34-38, John 3:16; 6:48-58, Rom 6:23
#95Tweets B17: Matt 7:21-23 Jesus contrasts those who enter into his kingdom and who do not – no eternal torment mentioned
#95Tweets B18: Matthew 10:28 Jesus threatens Satan’s power to destroy, not eternally torture
#95Tweets B19: In Matthew 24:36-51 the sinner is cut to pieces, destroyed, not tortured for eternity
#95Tweets B20: Mtt 18:34; Luk 12:58-59 Jesus implies that the unreconciled receive finite, proportional punishment
#95Tweets B21: The rich man & Lazarus is not literal – if literal, then all in Heaven will hear people begging in Hell for all eternity
#95Tweets B22: Sin in John = death, die, perish – John 6:50, 8:51, 10:28, 12:25 – no eternal torture
#95Tweets B23: Sin = death – examples are Matt 3:10 and 13:40, and then Luke 9:25, and Acts 3:23
#95Tweets B24: Rom 2:7, 1 Cor 14, 2 Tim 1:10 – the NT message from start to finish is rescue from destruction, not eternal torture
#95Tweets B25: Paul says nothing about Hell – kind of a big thing to omit from every single letter, but he did not believe in an eternal Hell
#95Tweets B26: Romans 6:23 Paul says the wages of sin is “death”, not “eternal conscious torment” – an important distinction
#95Tweets B27: In 1 Corinthians 15:22 the grammar and context are clear that all are made alive in Christ
#95Tweets B28: Galatians 6:7-8 – Paul is pretty clear that there is destruction or eternal life, not eternal conscious torment
#95Tweets B29: Phil. 2:9-11 says every knee will bend and tongue confess, not that most knees and tongues will be tortured forever
#95Tweets B30: Col 1:18-20 – God reconciles with all creation through Christ…or fails miserably to do so if eternal Hell exists
#95Tweets B32: More in the Epistles – 1 Cor 1:18, 2 Cor 4:3, Phil 3:19, Thess 5:3, Heb 10:27, 10:39, 12:29 – still no torment
#95Tweets B33: And more – James 1:15, 4:12-14, 5:20; 2 Peter 2:6, 2:10-12, 3:7 and 10 – sin = death and destruction; not torment
#95Tweets B34: The Bible writers’ worldview does not have a place for the default immortality of a disembodied “soul”
#95Tweets B35: The NT culminates in a new Heaven and new earth where there is no longer suffering – where is the torture exactly?
#95Tweets B36: Almost every verse (all but maybe 2) taken to refer to “Hell” talks of destruction very clearly, and not of eternal torment at all
#95Tweets #Bible: For all of these reasons and many more, the Bible clearly does not teach a Hell of eternal torment.
The Tweeting-Room Floor
Those are all the tweets as we posted them, put back in their categories. What follows is what we called “The Tweeting-Room Floor” – ones that we cut for various reasons. One of the challenges, particularly in the Biblical section, was combining texts and arguments so that we could be more efficient. Taking each passage that we wanted to use individually, we could easily have had 95 tweets based only on Bible verses.
Some were cut because they were weak, or weaker than ones nearby, or could be combined, or didn’t fit with our ultimate plan for putting them out there. If you would like to argue some of these, and we’re sure many of you will, please stick to the ones listed above.
In the Epistles, sin = death and destruction, not eternal torment – Rom 1:32, 2:12, 6:23, 9:22 – no eternal torment (1/3)
Nor can we account for those who hear a ‘false’ Gospel, or who unknowingly have wrong beliefs or practices
Eternal Hell is far worse than the worst human calamities: the Inquisition, the Holocaust, Soviet labor camps, etc.
With a doctrine of eternal Hell we cannot really account for those born before Jesus
Eternal Hell cannot really account for those who never hear the Gospel, which is almost entirely an accident of birth
This means that a vast number of people supposedly tormented in Hell were doomed at random
There is nothing in the mostly-apocryphal story of Satan to explain how he would become such an avid torturer
Jude 1:6-11 “everlasting” is defined as “until final judgement”; then sinners compared to animals who simply perish (1/3)
Jude continues 12-13 with imagery of emptiness, futility, twice dead, fruitlessness, etc. Not eternal torment (2/3)
Jude 1:7 compares fate of sinners to Sodom and Gomorrah – no eternal torment, just destruction (3/3)
Eternal Hell makes all of God’s talk of salvation in the OT into nonsense at best, lies at worst
Adam and Eve are not warned about Hell – seems like a big deal, and something they’d want to warn us about
Neither Sheol, Tartarus, Gehenna, or Hades are the Hell of popular imagination and theology
Jesus uses the example of the tower of Siloam in Luke 13:3-5 – the example is of perishing, not torment
“Hel” in Norse mythology, presides over a realm of the same name, and receives a portion of the dead
In the Gospel of John 10:24-30, God’s judgement looks like death rather than life – not eternal torment
At least 18,250,365 human beings sent to be tortured for eternity in a single year – the pop. of Shanghai or Mozambique (in the years since we first posted, I actually forgot where we got this number, so I cut it and replaced it)
We’ve already said a lot. If we were convinced that the doctrine of eternal Hell was necessary to Christianity, or even strongly supported, then we would have to become misotheists. We cannot possibly worship a God who permits an eternal realm of torment to exist, and would actually have to do all we could to undermine belief in that God.
Fortunately, the doctrine of Hell is merely an infection, albeit one that has been spreading corruption throughout the Body of Christ for a long time. It is indefensible on ethical, theological and Biblical grounds, and it is time to lance the wound and heal. There is no Hell, no good that comes from teaching a Hell of eternal conscious torment, and a great deal of evil that comes from it.
There. Is. No. Hell.
Thank God, and good riddance.