“The wicked go down to the realm of the dead, all the nations that forget God.” Psalm 9:17
In recent years, I have encountered many atheists who have protested what they perceive from the Bible to be an unjust “infinite” punishment from God for their “finite” actions. I wondered about the identity of the source of this common argument before happening upon a few episodes of the Atheist Experience in which Matt Dillahunty and Tracie Harris (and others) presented it. In short, they assert that crimes any do on the earth are merely “finite,” so they are not deserving of an “infinite” punishment. Another atheist who calls himself “Deconverted Man” said that even Hitler was not deserving of “infinite torture” for his “finite crime.” The intention of the present blog is to present the Bible verses on hell to clarify their incorrect assessments on both the crime and the punishment. Next I present Bible verses that reference hell in order of occurrence:
“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matthew 10:28
“This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Matthew 13:49-50.
“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” Matthew 25:46
“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” Matthew 25:41
“In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.” Jude 1:7
“When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.” Revelation 1:17-18
“But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” – Revelation 21:8
“The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death.” Revelation 20:13-14.
I italicized the final statement to highlight the fact that the Lake of Fire, or furnace, does not represent eternal torture – it represents a final death. The first death occurs on the earth and the second death occurs after the final judgment. (There is a waiting period between the time of one’s death and the final judgment in the end times). This statement was highlighted by Jesus who indicated (Matthew 10:28) that there would be destruction of both body and soul.
In other words, the statement that all souls not listed in the Lamb’s Book of Life will receive an “infinite” punishment is incorrect. Some souls will perish in the Lake of Fire – and the “eternal punishment” for those souls lies in the fact that their destruction is final and eternal. The Book of Revelation further indicates that others will be eternally punished. These are Satan, his fallen angels and those bearing the mark of the Beast.
As for the proposition that all sins on the earth are “finite,” one must consider an extreme version of such a claim. Hitler slaughtered around six million Jews during the Holocaust. Can such an egregious crime against humanity be considered “finite?” I suggest not. Sins are not finite as the impact of sins serve as a ripple effect on humanity. Not only did Hitler commit crimes against those murdered in the gas chambers during the Holocaust, but the crimes he committed carry on in the in the painful memories of the family, friends, and associates of those who were murdered. The crimes are further remembered in the minds of all generations – as the Holocaust will never be forgotten. Accordingly, what Hitler did represents an infinite crime.
Jesus gave us two commands: to love the Lord our God with all of our hearts and souls and to love our neighbors as ourselves. Crimes such as Hitler’s clearly violate Jesus’ second command. When atheists deny the love of the Lord, they commit an infinite crime against God.
“Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.” Matthew 10:32-33.
“Truly I tell you, people can be forgiven all their sins and every slander they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin.” Mark 3:28-29
In summary, Matt Dillahunty’s and Tracie Harris’ position that a finite crime should not receive an infinite punishment should be reversed. Sins against humanity and against God are considered infinite sins and punishment for such infinite sins is entry into the Lake of Fire. In the Lake of Fire, souls (other than Satan, his fallen angels, and those bearing the mark of the Beast) encounter a second death, which is a finite, singular occurrence. In short, infinite crimes receive finite punishments, and the finite punishment lasts into eternity.
Thank you for your time.