Monday, October 23, 2006

hell via the early church fathers

Thanks to the Religion Facts website for these quotes from early church fathers about the nature of hell.
"The way of darkness is crooked, and it is full of cursing. It is the way of eternal death with punishment." (Pseudo-Barnabas, c. 70-130 AD)

"You should fear what is truly death, which is reserved for those who will be condemned to the eternal fire. It will afflict those who are committed to it even to the end." (Letter to Diognetus, c. 125-200)

"[The martyrs] despised all the torments of this world, redeeming themselves from eternal punishment by the suffering of a single hour.... For they kept before their view escape from that fire which is eternal and will never be quenched." (Martyrdom of Polycarp, c. 135)

"Sinners will be consumed because they sinned and did not repent." (Shepherd of Hermas, c. 150)

"Those who have not known God and do evil are condemned to death. However, those who have known God and have seen his mighty works, but still continue in evil, will be chastised doubly, and will die forever." (Shepherd of Hermas, c. 150)

"We believe...that every man will suffer punishment in eternal fire according to the merits of his deed. ... Sensation remains to all who have ever lived, and eternal punishment is laid up." (Justin Martyr, c. 160)

"Hell [Gehenna] is a place where those who have lived wickedly are to be punished." (Justin Martyr, c. 160)

"Some are sent to be punished unceasingly into judgment and condemnation of fire." (Justin Martyr, c. 160)

"We who are now easily susceptible to death, will afterwards receive immortality with either enjoyment or with pain." (Tatian, c. 160)

"We are persuaded that when we are removed from the present life we will live another life, better than the present one...or, if they fall with the rest, they will endure a worse life, one in fire. For God has not made us as sheep or beasts of burden, who are mere by-products. For animals perish and are annihilated. On these grounds, it is not likely that we would wish to do evil." (Athenagoras, c. 175)

"To the unbelieving and despisers...there will be anger and wrath, tribulation and anguish. At the end, everlasting fire will possess such men." (Theophilus, c. 180)

"Eternal fire is prepared for sinners. The Lord has plainly declared this and the rest of the Scriptures demonstrate it." (Irenaeus, c. 180)

"All souls are immortal, even those of the wicked. Yet, it would be better for them if they were not deathless. For they are punished with the endless vengeance of quenchless fire. Since they do not die, it is impossible for them to have an end put to their misery." (Clement of Alexandria, c. 195; from a post-Nicene manuscript fragment)

"We [Christians] alone make a real effort to attain a blameless life. We do this under the influence of... the magnitude of the threatened torment. For it is not merely long-enduring; rather, it is everlasting." (Tertullian, c. 197)

"Gehenna... is a reservoir of secret fire under the earth for purposes of punishment." (Tertullian, c. 197)

"There is neither limit nor termination of these torments. There, the intelligent fire burns the limbs and restores them. It feeds on them and nourishes them. ... However, no one except a profane man hesitates to believe that those who do not know God are deservedly tormented." (Mark Minucius Felix, c. 200)


Carol Herdien said...

Wow! Heavy duty! That should terrify all the atheists and Sunday lie-a-beds!!


Jason Woolever said...

i think the atheists probably wouldn't believe any of it anyway. I know many Christians, even in our church, who don't believe that God would punish anyone for doing wrong.

JD said...


That is a sad statement regarding God's punishment and our churches view of it, but I like to look at it this way...Anything that happens are the consequences of our actions. God gave us the rules. God told us the consequences. We have free will, so technically God is not punishing us, we are living out the outcomes of our decisions.

I believe, and correct me if you see error, that the reference to the fire and brimstone can be a metaphore for that barely touches the surface of the torment of living an eternity without God. As I have said before: God set down some rules, some guidelines, to help us along that path. He offers us the truth of His word and His grace that convicts us. You can follow or you can walk away, but we must all be willing to accept the consequences of our choices.


Jason Woolever said...

JD. you are correct in that some folks interpret it as metaphor and others interpret it literally. both views have supporters.

JD said...

I think, ultimately, any way you look at it, it ain't purrty. (Texas Twang)


Jason Woolever said...

yeah, thank God we don't have to go there!

Anonymous said...

Isn't it funny that we have to dig up the Early Church Fathers for details of Hell? Why don't we find anything about it from Paul or the Apostles? I'll tell you why: because the very idea of Hell as a place of eternal punishment is a heresy invented right BY the Church Fathers

Jason Woolever said...

Its even funnier how people post strong statements and criticize others about things and then won't even give their name, Mr or Ms. Anonymous. It does diminish your credibity significantly.