Retired priest: ‘Hell’ was invented by the church to control people with fear

By Koba | 2 July 2015
Urban Intellectuals

This video is of an interview retired Episcopal bishop John Shelby Spong did with Keith Morrison of Dateline NBC back in August of 2006.

A partial transcript of the interview can be found beneath the video link:

Spong: I don’t think Hell exists. I happen to believe in life after death, but I don’t think it’s got a thing to do with reward and punishment. Religion is always in the control business, and that’s something people don’t really understand. It’s in a guilt-producing control business. And if you have Heaven as a place where you’re rewarded for you goodness, and Hell is a place where you’re punished for your evil, then you sort of have control of the population. And so they create this fiery place which has quite literally scared the Hell out of a lot of people, throughout Christian history. And it’s part of a control tactic.

Morrison: But wait a minute. You’re saying that Hell, the idea of a place under the earth or somewhere you’re tormented for an eternity – is actually an invention of the church?

Spong: I think the church fired its furnaces hotter than anybody else. But I think there’s a sense in most religious life of reward and punishment in some form. The church doesn’t like for people to grow up, because you can’t control grown-ups. That’s why we talk about being born again. When you’re born again, you’re still a child. People don’t need to be born again. They need to grow up. They need to accept their responsibility for themselves and the world.

Morrison: What do you make of the theology which is pretty quite prominent these days in America, which is there is one guaranteed way not to go to hell; and that is to accept Jesus as your personal savior.

Spong: Yeah, I grew up in that tradition. Every church I know claims that ‘we are the true church’ – that they have some ultimate authority, ‘We have the infallible Pope,’ ‘We have the Bible.’… The idea that the truth of God can be bound in any human system, by any human creed, by any human book, is almost beyond imagination for me.

I mean, God is not a Christian. God is not a Jew or a Muslim or a Hindi or Buddhist. All of those are human systems, which human beings have created to try to help us walk into the mystery of God. I honor my tradition. I walk through my tradition. But I don’t think my tradition defines God. It only points me to God.

Be sure to ‘like’ us on Facebook

SHARE

745 COMMENTS

  1. THE ONLY REAL GOSPEL, WHICH SAVES EVEN THE BOLSHEVIK OR VAST MAJORITY (BELOW) FROM “THE LAKE OF FIRE (REV 20:10ff and REV 14:11) IS THIS VERY SIMPLE OBVIOUS TRUTH:

    2 TIMOTHY 3:16
    ECCLESIASTES 4:2-3
    2 PETER 3:10
    REVELATION 14:13
    WHEN: I COR 15:52 “AT THE LAST TRUMP”.
    TO: I THESS 4:17 AKA ETERNAL REST = HEAVEN REV 14:13 AKA JOHN 19:30, AMEN!!!

    CHRIST PROVED THIS ETERNALLY, FOREVERMORE, AMEN!!! JOHN 19:30.

  2. “WOW,” I was taught and believed that multitudes upon multitudes of humans will suffer “eternal torment” for 100 trillion years, and then another 100 trillion years, and then another 100 trillion years, and it goes on and on with no hope of it ever ending. I am certain that each one of us, deep inside of our very being, know that something just does not add up concerning this picture, but we just can't quite figure out what is it that we are not understanding correctly.

    The true biblical teaching is neither the traditional Christian view of hell, nor the view of annihilation. Our great God is neither a great torturer nor a great annihilator, but He is the great Saviour of the world.

    The mystery of the finished work of Christ on the Cross will one day reveal the perfect plan of God for the entire human race, which does not include “eternal torment” or “eternal annihilation” for one single person!

    I have written upon this topic, but it is much too lengthy to post on this site. Below is a sample. If anyone would like a copy in it's original Word Document Format, feel free to e-mail me and request a copy, and I will e-mail you a copy.

    candy33alan@aol.com

    ………. What is the “GOOD NEWS” of the Gospel of Christ? ……….
    (Re-examining the widely held belief of “eternal torment” in “Hellfire”)

    There are some Biblical topics which in order to get a better and clearer understanding of require a lengthy Biblical explanation. This Biblical topic is certainly one of them. After all, there is certainly NOTHING MORE IMPORTANT than “our eternal purpose” & “our eternal destination!” Therefore, it is of the utmost importance for us to have a better and clearer Biblical understanding concerning this most important topic.

    My purpose for this writing is to Biblically “expound” upon (1) is there really going to be “eternal torment?” (2) is there really going to be “eternal annihilation?” (3) to give a Biblical answer to the question “If there is no “eternal torment,” and if there is no “eternal annihilation” of our very being, then what are we being saved from, and what is our being here during this present time on earth really all about?”

    I was a Christian for 38 years before I gained a better “Scriptural” understanding of some Biblical truths that I had not properly understood in regards to the finished work of Christ on the Cross.

  3. My name is Alan Finch. I became a Christian 42 years ago.

    It is important to understand that the Lake of Fire is not a physical Lake of Fire. The Biblical phrase “Lake of Fire” is symbolic for a Spiritual Lake of Fire which is representative of the FIRE of God’s Spirit that is going to do a transforming work of “Divine Purification” in each individual that comes before the Great White Throne Judgment. This transforming work from God’s Spirit will give these individuals a full understanding of God’s Boundless Love for them and the entire human race. (Note: The Scriptures do not reveal how long that this process will take)

    I have written a 26 page article that Biblically deals with this subject extensively. If anyone would like a copy, feel free to e-mail me and ask for a copy, and I will e-mail you a copy.

    Candy33alan@aol.com

LEAVE A REPLY