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.

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1038 COMMENTS

  1. CONTROL BY FEAR!
    Don’t believe in religion, it’s crap, explain the crusades, Spanish Inquisition for a start.
    Experienced the teachings of religion first hand. Control.
    They don’t like not having control.
    Get them while the are young.
    If you don’t conform to their beliefs that force you. People go out their way to make your life difficult, stop talking to you so on so forth. CONTROL.
    The whole system of human life is to get control as soon as possible over as many as possible. Money has the effect if religion fails. CONTROL as people don’t want to think for themselves.

  2. Lot of comments there ey?, sounds like a clever bloke, its all about control, thats why its cheap to watch tv, the soaps etc, control

  3. God is within you. And no where else
    It cannot be found in this world. He is not above you. He is with you and in you.period. only perfection and God exists. Nothing else. Everything else a dream we made. No. There is no hell.

  4. May God have mercy upon all of u.
    Look at the people that call themselves “God’s children”, you all are doubting the fact that Jesus loved the world and came to die for our sins to save us from eternal punishment.
    Salvation is just a simple logic…. Follow Jesus and be saved, follow the devil and perish with him in hell. What’s so difficult to understand?

  5. The system, the government, the big guys control everything…. you name it, your food your drink they teach you to drink to smoke to be prostitut a drug dealer a pimp they decide who lives and who dies, the control de economy the contol the medicine without the BIBLE
    But it’s you can believe what you want because we all gonna die some day and then we all gonna know the truth and yes i hoop you are right people!!

  6. Is there really a he’ll there shouldn’t be no one deserves forever torment even evil doers not saying they shouldn’t get paid back but not burning forever torment that’s evil and wrong making God sound like a monster loves see people in pain tortured is that true does he

  7. I believe that. Is,ways thought that”burn in hell” concept was a scare tactics. Why would the originator of Love do this to his creation. The living knows they will die, but the dead know nothing at all. Ecclesiastes 9:7

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