Thursday, November 11, 2010


I thought about titling this post, "What is Hell?", but was afraid of some of the answers I might get in the comment section. ;) But after reading about this subject on Looney's post on this subject, I thought I would write a post about it too. I think our view of "hell" is very different from the view of many Christians.

I thought that the Bible Dictionary in our scriptures gave a great definition of hell. I considered writing my own version, but kept rambling too much, so decided to just share this one. :)

An English translation of the Hebrew word Shoel, hell signifies an abode of departed spirits and corresponds to the Greek Hades. In common speech it generally denotes the place of torment for the wicked, although it has been often held, both in the Jewish and the Christian churches, that Hades (meaning broadly the place of all departed spirits) consists of two parts, paradise and Gehenna, one the abode of the righteous and the other of the disobedient. “Gehenna,” or “Gehenna of fire,” is the Greek equivalent of the “valley of Hinnom,” a deep glen of Jerusalem where the idolatrous Jews offered their children to Moloch (2 Chr. 28: 3; 2 Chr. 33: 6; Jer. 7: 31; Jer. 19: 2-6). It was afterwards used as a place for burning the refuse of the city (2 Kgs. 23: 10), and in that way became symbolical of the place of torment (Matt. 5: 22, 29-30; Matt. 10: 28; Matt. 18: 9; Matt. 23: 15, 33; Mark 9: 43, 45, 47; Luke 12: 5; James 3: 6). Expressions about “hell-fire” are probably due to the impression produced on men’s minds by the sight of this ceaseless burning, and are figurative of the torment of those who willfully disobey God.
In latter-day revelation hell is spoken of in at least two senses. One is the temporary abode in the spirit world of those who were disobedient in this mortal life. It is between death and the resurrection, and persons who receive the telestial glory will abide there until the last resurrection (D&C 76: 84-85, 106), at which time they will go to the telestial glory. In this sense the Book of Mormon speaks of spiritual death as hell (2 Ne. 9: 10-12).
"10 O how great the goodness of our God, who prepareth a way for our escape from the grasp of this awful monster; yea, that monster, death and hell, which I call the death of the body, and also the death of the spirit.
11 And because of the way of deliverance of our God, the Holy One of Israel, this death, of which I have spoken, which is the temporal, shall deliver up its dead; which death is the grave.
12 And this death of which I have spoken, which is the spiritual death, shall deliver up its dead; which spiritual death is hell; wherefore, death and hell must deliver up their dead, and hell must deliver up its captive spirits, and the grave must deliver up its captive bodies, and the bodies and the spirits of men will be restored one to the other; and it is by the power of the resurrection of the Holy One of Israel."
Hell, as thus defined, will have an end, when all the captive spirits have paid the price of their
sins and enter into a degree of glory after their resurrection. Statements about an everlasting hell (Hel. 6: 28; Moro. 8: 13) must be interpreted in their proper context in the light of D&C 19: 4-12, which defines eternal and endless punishment. "4 And surely every man must repent or suffer, for I, God, am endless.
5 Wherefore, I revoke not the judgments which I shall pass, but woes shall go forth, weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth, yea, to those who are found on my left hand.
6 Nevertheless, it is not written that there shall be no end to this torment, but it is written endless torment.
7 Again, it is written eternal damnation; wherefore it is more express than other scriptures, that it might work upon the hearts of the children of men, altogether for my name’s glory.
8 Wherefore, I will explain unto you this mystery, for it is meet unto you to know even as mine apostles.
9 I speak unto you that are chosen in this thing, even as one, that you may enter into my rest.
10 For, behold, the mystery of godliness, how great is it! For, behold, I am endless, and the punishment which is given from my hand is endless punishment, for Endless is my name. Wherefore—
11 Eternal punishment is God’s punishment.
12 Endless punishment is God’s punishment."
On the other hand, the devil and his angels, including the sons of perdition, are assigned to a place spoken of as a lake of fire - a figure of eternal anguish. This condition is sometimes called hell in the scriptures (2 Pet. 2: 4; D&C 29: 38; D&C 88: 113). This kind of hell, which is after the resurrection and judgment, is exclusively for the devil and his angels, and is not the same as that consisting only of the period between death and resurrection. The one group are redeemed from hell and inherit some degree of glory. The other receive no glory. They continue in spiritual darkness. For them the conditions of hell remain." (Bible Dictionary: Hell)

I have written before about what happens to us after we die. The other day I had the opportunity to sit in on a discussion that an investigator of our church had with the full time missionaries. One of the Elders described what happens to us after death in this way. He said that basically there are two waiting rooms. One is Paradise, that the Savior spoke of on the cross, and the other is Spirit Prison, which the Savior visited during the three days before His resurrection. Paradise is for those who have lived a good life. Spirit Prison is for those who have been disobedient. We wait in these places for the resurrection day. This Spirit Prison is a kind of hell for those who will dwell there. This hell is alluded to in the book of Matthew 5: "25 Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison.
26 Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing."
Those who are in spirit prison must suffer for the sins they have committed. This is a type of hell. So while we don't have the view of a place of fire and brimstone, we do believe that "hell" is the place where a person must suffer for the sins they have committed. And knowing for eternity that we could have chosen God's path and been reunited with Him, when we chose the world's instead, which separates us from God, must be some of the greatest suffering of all.

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