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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1180 COMMENTS

  1. My name is Alan Finch. JESUS became my Lord and Saviour in April of 1976.

    I spent several years diligently searching the Scriptures to uncover what really made Biblical sense in regards to God's true message to us of what really is the Good News of the Gospel of Christ, which I did not properly understand for most of my many years as a Christian.

    My 1st 38 years as a Christian, I believed the unscriptural teaching about that there is going to be eternal torment for multitudes and multitudes of people. I then began to seriously question that teaching. I then decided to do an in-depth study of the Bible concerning this issue, and the Scriptures revealed to me that I had believed a horrible lie for all those years.

    The Lake of Fire is not a physical Lake of Fire, but a Spiritual Lake of Fire from God’s Spirit for the purpose of “RESTORATION.” God is a God of “ETERNAL RESTORATION,” not a God of “eternal destruction.”

    In Acts 3:21 God promises that there shall be a “RESTORATION” of ALL things! What is there not to understand about this wonderful promise that God has made to us?

    The overall theme of the Bible is that God’s ultimate plan for ALL mankind is to restore, not destroy in an eternal Lake of Fire or eternal annihilation!

    In John 12:32 JESUS clearly states that He is going to draw ALL people to Himself! Not a portion of mankind, but ALL of mankind.

    In John 6:44 JESUS clearly states that nobody can come to Him except the Father draws that person to Him. For those who are true Christians, WE MUST NOT KID OURSELVES IN THE FACT THAT WE ONLY CAME TO JESUS BECAUSE GOD’S SPIRIT DREW US TO JESUS!

    In the present, and in the future, God has His own timing when He will draw each individual to Himself.

    Addressing the issue of the belief in eternal annihilation, the Lord clearly tells us in Ecclesiastes 3:11 that He has planted eternity in our hearts. God has made us living Spirits. It is impossible for our Spirit to be destroyed.

    GOD HAS NOT FAILED IN HIS ORIGINAL PLAN FOR ALL OF MANKIND WHICH DOES NOT INCLUDE ETERNAL TORMENT OR ETERNAL ANNIHILATION. IT IS IMPOSSIBLE FOR GOD TO FAIL IN ANYTHING!

    God worked out His plan in past Ages, God is working out His plan in the present Age that we are now living in, and God will work out His plan in future Ages to come.

    I have spent the last several years in Biblically expounding in a 32 page document that I have put together on the truth of there being no eternal suffering in a Lake of Fire for anyone. I have just explained the real LOVE of God that today’s Church just simply does not seem to grasp.

    After spending several years of diving deep into the Scriptures to uncover the Biblical truth on this subject, I would like to share these Biblical truths with others so that they can experience the same joy that I experienced which set me free from what I had previously believed for most of my life.

    If anyone would be interested in a copy of my document, email me at: (candy33alan@aol.com), and I will email you a copy.

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