Is Hell a Torture Chamber?

What about books, tracts, movies, YouTube videos, and pictures depicting Satan and demons torturing sinners in hell? Wasn’t hell created as a place of punishment for the Devil and his demons?

The Devil and fallen angels are not going to be caretakers of hell; rather, they are going to be incarcerated in hell. This is very clear in the Scriptures, including passages such as Matthew 25:41 and Revelation 20:10–15. The premise to the question is absolutely right — hell was created as a place of punishment for the Devil and his demons.

Another thing that needs to be pointed out is this: hell is not torture. It may be torment, but it is not torture. The pictures or images that people come back with after they have had supposed trips to hell and back are simply manufactured. They do not correspond to reality.

Hell is ultimately what people have an earnest of today. Those who reject the goodness, grace, and glory of God, which could be theirs, are experiencing hell in the present. But this is an earnest (or token) of the holy wrath that is yet to come.

What happens ultimately is separation from the blessings of God. The Lord will say to those who rejected His love and forgiveness, “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41). This separation is shown in the intermediate state with the parable of the rich man and the beggar Lazarus in Luke 16:19–31. The rich man had all the fineries of life, but then he dies and ends up in torment. Again, this is an earnest of what is to come, because that rich man ultimately will stand and give an account for what he did in the flesh, and then death and Hades are thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death, which is a complete separation forever from the goodness, grace, and glory of God.

Remember that hell is not torture; rather, it is torment. The torment is that you are separated from the very one you were created to have union with. Again, I think that hell is misconstrued. Quite often, the metaphors used for hell in popular books, and even those found in Scripture, are taken in a wooden literalistic fashion, as though people are going to be consumed or burned with fire that never fully consumes them. Fire is a metaphor for the horror of the holy wrath of God, being separated from the goodness of God, the very one who knit us together in our mother’s womb and created us for fellowship with Him.

— Hank Hanegraaff

For further related study, please access the following equip.org resources:

Abandon Hope, All Ye Who Enter Here (Hank Hanegraaff)

Why Should I Believe in Hell? (Hank Hanegraaff)

What about Hell? The Doctrine of Hell (Douglas Groothuis)

The Dark Side of Eternity: Hell as Eternal Conscious Punishment (Robert A. Peterson)

C.S. Lewis on Hell (Louis Markos)

The Justice of Hell (Donald T. Williams)

Love Wins: Making a Contradictory Case for Universalism (Doug Groothuis)

We also recommend the following bookstore resources:

AfterLife: What You Need to Know about Heaven, the Hereafter, and Near-Death Experiences (B1076) by Hank Hanegraaff

Resurrection (B545) by Hank Hanegraaff

Hell on Trial: The Case for Eternal Punishment (B1060) by Robert A Peterson

Hell Under Fire: Modern Scholarship Reinvents Eternal Punishment (B1062) edited by Christopher Morgan and Robert A. Peterson

This blog is adapted from the October 24, 2017, Bible Answer Man broadcast.


Are the Ethics of the Bible Just as Bad as Those in the Qur’an?

The Qur’an has ethics which do not belong in any century, you are right, but should not the same be said about the Bible?

No. The same should not be said about the ethics of the Bible. If you think about the ethics of Jesus Christ and the ethics of Muhammad, they are completely different.

Think about Jesus Christ. He lived in a first-century context, a context wherein women were considered chattel. They were on the lowest rung of the socioeconomic ladder. Their testimonies were not considered valid in a court of law. But Jesus takes women and elevates them to complete ontological equality with men in that culture. He has women in His inner circle (Luke 8:1-3).

Not only is this true with Jesus Christ, it is true with the followers of Jesus Christ. Paul famously said, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28 NIV). Genealogy does not matter. Gender does not matter. Station in life does not matter.

We in fact get the inherent worth of human beings from the Bible — from a biblical ethic. I think if people knew a little bit about history, they would know that we are still benefitting from the ethos and morays of the Bible, which have been thrown to the wind in our culture, but we are still benefitting from them. Even though we are no longer living in the pages of the Bible, we are living in the shadow of the Bible, we are still benefitting from a biblical worldview.

When someone cavalierly says, “The ethics of the Qur’an do not belong in any century and the same thing should be said about the Bible too,” I sometimes wonder whether or not the person is familiar with the Bible, and whether or not the person is able to read the Bible in the sense in which it is intended. I challenge all in the spirit of humility, gentleness, and respect to read the Bible. Perhaps start with the Book of Proverbs.

Every single maxim or principle for successful daily living is encapsulated in the Book of Proverbs. I still remember one time many years ago doing a seminar for a large corporation, and I was extemporaneously quoting the Proverbs. “Any enterprise is built by wise planning, becomes strong through common sense, and profits wonderfully by keeping abreast of the facts” (Proverbs 24:3-4 TLB). As I was going through proverb after proverb, people were going, “Wow, that is amazing! I’ve never heard such erudite business principles.” Then I told them, “I am simply quoting from Solomon from the Bible.”

— Hank Hanegraaff

For further related study, please access the following equip.org resources:

Is the Qu’ran Credible? (Hank Hanegraaff)

How Could the Bible Command a Rape Victim to Marry Her Rapist? (Hank Hanegraaff)

How Could a Good God Sanction the Stoning of a Disobedient Child? (Hank Hanegraaff)

How Can Christians Legitimize a God who Orders the Genocide of Entire Nations? (Hank Hanegraaff)

Did Muhammad Believe in Women’s Rights? (Mary Jo Sharp)

Five Differences between Sharia and Old Testament Law (David Wood)

Fundamentalist Faith and the Problem of Holy Wars (Elliott Miller)

Hollywood vs. History: Kingdom of Heaven and the Real Crusades (Daniel Hoffman)

Was Israel Commanded to Commit Genocide? (Paul Copan and Matthew Flannagan)

Is the God of the Old Testament a Proponent of Total War against Noncombatants? (Matthew Flannagan)

A full-orbed assessment of Qur’anic ethics can be found in MUSLIM: What You Need to Know about the World’s Fastest-Growing Religion by Hank Hanegraaff. More information on how the Bible (biblical ethics in particular) shaped Western civilization can be found in The Book That Made Your World by Visahal Mangalwadi, How Christianity Changed the World by Alvin J. Schmidt, and Christianity on Trial: Arguments against Anti-Religious Bigotry by Vincent Carroll and David Shiflett.

This blog is adapted from the October 19, 2017, Hank Unplugged episode “MUSLIM: What You Need to Know.”