I don’t consider the matter of hell to be a doctrine that will damn man’s
soul , but I do object to people calling names over it, as you have
pointed out. I too have posted very little on Mars List of late, and when I
do, I am subject to ridicule. Larry Bunch challenged an innocuous post I
put out in which I stated that my belief was the all OT prophecies have not
been fulfilled. He wrote back and challenged two of us “OT scholars” to
expond upon Dan 12:4 since it had been submitted as one prophecy that was
not fulfilled. Maybe I am thin-skinned, but that seemed like a slur to me.
I have not read from anyone recently who believes that hell is a completely
figurative place. What those brethren believe that I cited is that people
are after a period of appropriate suffering, completely annihilated, both
body and soul, in hell. They believe the term “Lake of Fire” is figurative,
and the NT term “Gehenna” is the literal Valley of Hinnom. They believe
that “eternal” and “everlasting” refer to the effects of God’s punishment
rather than the duration. They believe that the punishment of people who
are sent there is temporal rather than eternal. They do not believe in the
concept of “immortal soul”.
I believe that “Gehenna” in the NT is an actual place near Jerusalem that
undergoes a transformation at the Second Coming as Enoch describes
and will become the place of eternal punishment. I believe it is a literal place
that will be transformed into a literal lake of fire just south of
Jerusalem that literally burns forever. The wicked are cast there and
burn in torment forever (Rev 14:11) “where their
worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched” (Mk 9:48). The people who are
cast into the Lake of Fire are people who refused to repent and serve God.
No one goes there who tries to do right.
Phil commented that he does not believe that hell is a specific physical
place. I wonder if people are not punished at all then. People have
location, even as spirits, and if they are punished at all, it is at a
specific place. The Bible says that it is appointed unto men once to die [a
literal physical death], and after that the Judgment [a real appearance
before God to be eternally judged]. Is the judgment merely a figure of
speech? Are there no real consequences for evil? Have we metaphorized the
future to the point that there is no meaningful existence either in heaven
or in hell after death?