Heaven and hell. For years, these two concepts have been loosely used by believers and non-believers alike. There is an overall understanding among both groups of what each term represents. Phrases such as, “feels like heaven” reflect peoples’ visualization of a pleasant place they would enjoy being in. “I’m going to beat the hell out of you” is more indicative of the discomfort associated with the term hell and the understanding that nobody wishes to have such an experience.
“Heaven can be thought of as the Garden of Eden which we were evicted from after Adam and Eve desired more than was available to them,” Noraly Hernandez, a believer, says. “On the other hand, hell would be perpetual torture. Based on childhood Bible teachings, heaven and hell are the final destination of the human spiritual journey. Heaven is a place or state of being where we were intended to be.”
“If heaven is our final destination then we should live life a little different here on earth,” Pastor Charles Lee, from New Hope Church, Los Angeles, CA said. “People shouldn’t get caught up with material possessions here on earth because they won’t take it with them.”
Such concepts are more easily accepted by people of faith. For those who don’t associate with any religion, heaven and hell can have little significance.
“I just don’t believe that there is a heaven or a hell,” David Sanchez, a non-believer, says. “I think that once you die, that’s it.”
However, for some believers, the existence of a heaven or hell is not what’s most important; it is the connection and relationship that individuals have with Christ that matters most.
“We carry out our relationship with Christ here and we’ll end in a place where we will continue our relationship with Christ,” says Lee. “If you don’t have that relationship, then that too will carry over.”
Lee adds, “Everybody fears death. There is always a small percentage of doubt in all humans; even in Christianity. For me, believing in heaven is good, but having a relationship with Christ is the ultimate goal. Heaven is just a byproduct of that relationship with Christ. Most people would take heaven without Jesus; I don’t want to be in heaven without Jesus.” —Cristian Vasquez
Heaven: “By heaven, we mean eternal life in our enjoyment of God.” BCP (1979), p. 862.
Hell: “By hell, we mean eternal death in our rejection of God.” BCP (1979), p. 862.
Assembly of God
Heaven: “But human language is inadequate to describe either heaven or hell. The realities of both fall well beyond our most imaginative dreams. It is impossible to describe the glory and splendor of heaven … heaven enjoys the total presence of God.” AG.org
Hell: “But human language is inadequate to describe either heaven or hell. The realities of both fall well beyond our most imaginative dreams. It is impossible to describe … the terror and torment of hell … Hell is a place where one will experience total separation from God …” AG.org
Heaven: “The righteous in their resurrected and glorified bodies will receive their reward and will dwell forever in Heaven with the Lord.” SBC
Hell: “The unrighteous will be consigned to Hell, the place of everlasting punishment.” SBC
Heaven: “Eternal, or everlasting, life … is the end of faith, the ultimate object of a Christian’s hope and striving …” LCMS
Hell: “The doctrine of eternal punishment, repugnant to natural man, has been repudiated by errorists … but is clearly revealed in Scripture. To deny this doctrine is to reject the authority of Scripture.” LCMS
Heaven: “John Wesley himself believed in an intermediate state between death and the final judgment, where those who rejected Christ would be aware of their coming doom … and believers would share in the “bosom of Abraham” or “paradise,” even continuing to grow in holiness there. This belief, however, is not formally affirmed in Methodist doctrinal standards, which reject the idea of purgatory but beyond that maintain silence on what lies between death and the last judgment.” UMC
Hell: “John Wesley himself believed in an intermediate state between death and the final judgment, where those who rejected Christ would be aware of their coming doom … This belief, however, is not formally affirmed in Methodist doctrinal standards, which reject the idea of purgatory but beyond that maintain silence on what lies between death and the last judgment.” UMC
Heaven: “If there is a Presbyterian narrative about life after death, this is it: When you die, your soul goes to be with God, where it enjoys God’s glory and waits for the final judgment. At the final judgment bodies are reunited with souls, and eternal rewards and punishments are handed out.” PCUSA
Hell: “The only official Presbyterian statement that includes any comment on hell since the 1930s is a 1974 paper on universalism adopted by the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States. It warns of judgment and promises hope, acknowledging that these two ideas seem to be “in tension or even in paradox.” In the end, the statement concedes, how God works redemption and judgment is a mystery.” PCUSA
Heaven: “Heaven is the ultimate end and fulfillment of the deepest human longings, the state of supreme, definitive happiness.” Catechism – 1024 “To live in heaven is “to be with Christ.” Catechism – 1025
Hell: “To die in mortal sin without repenting and accepting God’s merciful love means remaining separated from him for ever by our own free choice. This state of definitive self- exclusion from communion with God and the blessed is called “hell.” Catechism – 1033
This is just a representative sample of different Christian denominations’ views and is not meant to be extensive. An excellent resource for further discovery is Randy Alcorn’s book Heaven.