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

By Koba | 2 July 2015
Urban Intellectuals

(Image: YouTube / screengrab)

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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  1. I commend him for his honesty. Its just too bad that A) the church establishment in its entirety cannot be forthcoming in honest such as this man. And b) that people which want to refute his statements actually do the homework for themselves rather than rely and follow blindly to a system/religion that they really know nothing about except for what they are told. This is not learning – this is blindly following the blind.

    Hell – in old english means "hidden, covered, concealed" – like helling a roof or helling potatoes. The original word "Sheol" means the grave so hell and Sheol are appropriate to one another. All the firey images that we see today originated from "Dante's Inferno" or more appropriately named "The Divine Comedy" .. Of course the idea was created by the RCC – they incorporated all sorts of crazy stuff into their religious system that people today still embrace as if it were listed in the bible – and yet there's nothing there.

  2. I don’t need a ruler and source is within and you can connect to source anytime you like oh and grounding helps you feel connected too. So good luck you followers cause that is what you are “A Follower”. Most likely you have no idea what it means to go within since your religions most likely didn’t teach you the power within. Hope you wake up some day!

  3. I"ve been saying this for quite sometime. Heck, I've figured this out quite some time ago. I believe in life after death, but what I believe is right before you die, your life flashes before your eyes. And no, not in a literal sense in where your eyes are seeing it. More of a mental one.

    Anyways, right before you die, you think if you deserve to go to a better life, or not. If you think you deserve to go to a fiery hell, then guess who wakes up out of a comma in an apocalyptic world? That can't be possible? But it's happening around you. Ever wonder why people just suddenly 'lose' their memory due to some 'accident'? It wasn't an accident.

    Really, there's no 'heaven', nor 'hell'. Just like there's no 'good', and 'bad'. This is proven with the statement: 'One man's trash is another man's treasure'. Just because it's bad for one man, doesn't mean it's bad for someone else.

    But wait, you all can agree that things can be hybrids. You all agree that things can be both good, and bad. Well the existence of both things occupying the same thing in the same point in space-time can only occur in the 4th dimension, and up.

    With that, I welcome your awareness to the 4th dimension. Oh, and for you logical people it's scientifically proven. Now go tell everyone else, so we can have a mass consciousness, or awareness shift to the 4th dimension. I'm ready to start learning how to phase. LoL!!

  4. There is a Hell, it’s called the 405 at Rush Hour. Trust me, honestly, if you ever experience the 405 at Rush Hour you will believe in Hell. All kidding aside, there are Evil people on this Earth, and I have to believe that if you are Evil, you go to an Evil place after life.

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