In an article entitled ‘A Conversation with a Neighbour’. The Watchtower magazine October 2012 asks: Does God Punish People in Hellfire?
The article is shown as an example of how a Jehovah’s Witness may discuss the issue of Hell with a non Witness.
Jehovah’s Witnesses do not believe in Hell and teach that a person does not have a ‘soul’ that lives on beyond death. Thus, when a person dies they no longer exist; they only exist as a memory in Jehovah God’s mind.
The conversation between Witness ‘Mauricio’ and potential convert ‘Alejandro’ serves to show how The Watchtower, in seeking to prove their pre-determined theology, uses faulty logic and selective Bible verses to make their case.
Here are a few assertions from the article:
1) People believe in Hell because they want bad people to be punished
2) The Bible does not teach Hell, but rather it teaches that evil people will be eternally destroyed. (cf. 2 Thessalonians 1:9)
3) Religious leaders who teach about Hell are portraying God as very unjust.
4) If Hell is real, God had a moral duty to inform Adam and Eve of such. That would have been the ‘loving’ thing to do.
5) The Devil torments people in Hell
6) Psalm 37:9 Evildoers will be cut-off but those hoping in Jehovah will be possess the earth.
People believe in Hell because they want bad people to be punished
Comment: It is true that most people will feel that evil people need to be punished in some way. This does not necessarily lead to a belief in Hell.
The Bible does not teach Hell, but rather it teaches that evil people will be eternally destroyed. (cf. 2 Thessalonians 1:9)
Comment: The Watchtower here quotes a verse out of its context and gives it a meaning that is not consistent with the rest of Scripture on the subject of Hell. They contend that 2 Thessalonians 1:9 teaches that people will be eternally destroyed (annihilated), but is that what it is saying?
The Greek for ‘eternal destruction’ is ολεθρον αιώνιον.
ólethros – properly, ruination with its full, destructive results. This does not, imply “extinction” (annihilation). Rather it emphasizes the consequent loss that goes with disobedience.
Paul says that those who ‘do not know God’ and ‘those who do not obey the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ’ These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, when He comes, in that Day, to be glorified in His saints and to be admired among all those who believe, because our testimony among you was believed. 2 Thessalonians 1:8-10 (NKJV)
Paul uses “destruction” in our verse and 1 Thessalonians 5:3 to describe the effect of God’s judgments in the Day of the Lord (the Tribulation) and the Second Coming of Christ. The nature of “destruction” in this verse is that it is “everlasting.” An everlasting separation from God.
Religious leaders who teach about Hell are portraying God as very unjust.
Comment: Or perhaps Religious Leaders who teach about Hell are just teaching the Bible! We can never call God unjust. God is Sovereign and He can do as He pleases. We put ourselves in a dangerous place when we think we know better than God.
See the following link for a Biblical View of Hell.
If Hell is real, God had a moral duty to inform Adam and Eve of such. That would have been the ‘loving’ thing to do.
Comment: This sounds like a reasonable argument, but it is an argument from silence. We can’t say Hell is not real because God did not mention it to Adam and Eve. Again, The Watchtower calls into question God’s Sovereignty and tries to argue that the existence of Hell would prove that God is unloving. Strangely, they have no problem believing that a God of Love will annihilate all but JWs at Armageddon!
The Devil torments people in Hell
Comment: This again shows Watchtower ignorance of what Christians actually believe. They Bible nowhere teaches that the Devil will torment people in Hell, rather the Bible teaches that the Devil himself will be tormented.
The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone wherethe beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. (Revelation 20:10 – NKJV).
Psalm 37:9 Evildoers will be cut-off but those hoping in Jehovah will be possess the earth.
Comment: As usual, The WT quotes a verse out of its context to try and vindicate its unbiblical beliefs. The context of Psalm 37 shows that there are two groups of people, the Righteous and the Wicked. The wicked will be ‘no more’ and ‘cut off’ (v10, 28) and the righteous will inherit the earth (can be rightly translated ‘land’). David, speaking of his own time, people and land, says that he and the righteous ones will be vindicated. The wicked will be cut off from the land and the righteous will reside upon the land. His intention in writing these words was not to prophetically speak about a time in the future where only Jehovah’s Witnesses will reside upon earth, with a third group – 144,000 – will govern them from heaven.
The Watchtowers teaching on Hell, like so much of their teaching, is not Biblical. The Jehovah’s Witnesses on your doorstep believe what they are taught and not what the Bible teaches. We can therefore confidently share with them, what the Bible really teaches.