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. Why would a loving God create a burning hell ? God is a loving God and loves His children. I believe all souls return to Him. No heaven no hell

  2. Comment:i used to believe in the existence of these places,but only to discover affter tireless research that these ain’t geographical areas
    so why bother ourselves that we will got burnt?
    Above all a soul doesn’t have sense of feeling neither can fire burn it,so which fire will burn our souls?

  3. I agree to disagree with that why did GOd create a Hell? I believe the Answer was there was a war that broke out in Heaven and Lucifer which means son of the morning had pride and wanted to take the place of God and became the God so therefore Lucifer and his buddies were casted out of Heaven so Hell was never created for Man God came in the form of A man whose Name is Jesus Christ he came to prove us for 33 years just who he is and Pharisees Sought to kill this innocent man and you know those people that shouted crucifie was us so we had him beaten we had him whipped with Cat o nine tales which was leather and pieces of metal that tore the flesh he took 39 lashes and there was placed a 4-5inch crown of thorns upon his brow and yet we judged him we mocked him spat upon him and yet he still carried the Cross and Sacrificed his own life so that we can have eternal life and so that we can turnaway from the sinful walks of life. There was 2 theives on the cross hanging beside The Lord the one on his left said remember when you come into your kingdom and the Lord said today you shall be with me in paradise and the other on the right was torment And than the last words the Lord said is it is Finished.they took him down from the cross put him in a a borrowed tomb but Guess what he didn’t need one because he was resurrected on the third day and became The King.Jesus paid it all on the Cross of Calvary his blood was shed for the remission of Sins. And when they had pierced his side not only was it just blood but water as well so many people today are drinking from a well that can quench the thirst temporarily but it can’t satisfy their souls but some have found their souls satified after Drinking from the well that shall never run dry.because why because they are drinking from the Well of GOD And oneday soon and I mean very soon When Gabriel blows that trumpet Jesus Christ is Going to step out on those clouds Gods glorious church is going to be evacuated out of here. And they that are left behind will perish forever. Heaven is real, Jesus is the only way, the Holy Bible is still Gods word and hell is still burning Hot try Jesus and if you don’t like it satan be happy to take you back but I guarantee you that once you try Jesus your not going to want to Go back.

  4. Hebrews 9v27 declares: and as it is appointed unto man once to die, than judgement, “hell” was not created for man kind, but for the devil, and his Angel’s, then the lake of fire was for the devil, the false prophet, the beast, death, hell and whosoever’s name was not written in the book of life Rev 20v10, v14-15 I would not worry to much about why “hell” was invented, when you die you will know and you will certainly understand.

    • Because some archaic book no one can agree on interpretation of says so? You guys actually get off on thinking non-believers go to hell, don’t you? If there is a God and there is a hell, I truly believe almost all “Christians” will not be where they think they’re going…and I’ll admit the idea of hypocritical, oppressive, fundie nut jobs burning in hell makes me happier than a kid on Christmas Day!


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