Theological Views on Hell
Theological Views on Hell E-mail

A Brief Summary of the

Various Theological Views on Hell

Listed below is a quick summary of the variety of views held by Christian scholars on the nature of hell.  Even within the traditional view, there are different interpretations on the type of torment.

A.    The Traditional View

(This is the view held by Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Edwards, Whitefield, Wesley and more recently J. I. Packer and D. A. Carson.)

     1. Both physical and spiritual torment for eternity.

         Those in hell suffer in body and soul forever.

     2. Spiritual torment only for eternity.

         Those in hell suffer spiritual or psychological torment but not physical torment.

     3. Separation from God for eternity.

         Those in hell suffer a never-ending loss of communion with God.

B.     Conditional Immortality

(This is the view held by John Stott, John Wenham, and Philip Hughes.)

Humans are not inherently immortal, but are granted immortality by God when they place saving faith in Jesus Christ.  Non-believers do not receive the gift of immortality and cease to exist upon death.

C.    Annihilationism

Similar to the "conditional immortality view."  The damned will cease to exist.

D.  Universalism

God will somehow reconcile all people to himself.

The Bible is not crystal clear on the topic and that's partly who there are a variety of interpretations.  Some verses talk about "eternal punishment" and "everlasting fire," implying an ongoing torment.  Other verses mention "destruction," which implies a measure of finality.  As always, it's best to see for yourself what the Bible has to say.  Some verses to start with are:

Matthew 8:12
Matthew 10:28
Matthew 18:8
Matthew 25: 41, 46
Mark 9:48
Luke 16:19-31
2 Thessalonians 1:8-9
Jude 7
Revelation 14:10-11
Revelation 20:10
Revelation 21:8