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When Does Hell Begin?

Growing up, I always felt hell or heaven was instantaneous upon death or passing from the physical. Many books, philosophies and movies have supported my beliefs over the years too. But I'm always growing and recently I recalled the scriptures that spoke more to judgement day determining who goes to heaven or hell. So my mind started thinking that dead people rest a while in sleep and then get a chance to explain why they did what they did on judgement day, then a jury of angels and selected chosen former, earthly elders will pass down the law. When does hell, and heaven, begin?


  • Yeah, I remember the judgment day in the bible as well and mentioned too in some lectures of our parish priest. I don't know though where the dead people stay. I mean, I know there's a purgatory, heaven and hell. But since judgment day isn't here yet, your theory might be correct. Or they might be awake and they're around us. We actually never know what happens to us when we die and while we wait for judgment day. That's what makes it more confusing.:/
  • Posts: 64
    I really don't know either. I always thought it sounded like (from near death experiences, etc.) that you instantly just started passing into afterlife, going where ever you're going. Also I think I read something in Buddhism that it takes 40-45 days for this passage to occur. 

    Either way, I never thought there was a period of null-like sleep, awaiting judgement, but recently have read that too in Christianity. So I don't know. It also adds to confusion when people say their loved ones have passed and are in heaven. Sure, you want to believe that, because otherwise, where are they?

  • @Simona 

    Yeah, I forgot about near death experiences. I've read and seen some people who claim that they have been in the after life. It's such a weird experience, if it were to happen to me. Aside from that, I don't know if it's the effect of the medicines or the condition that made them hallucinate. On the other hand, they have had similar experiences, so that must account for something too. While on the other far end, other people admitted to lying about the after life. As I've said, it's all confusing until we are the ones in that place.
  • Posts: 64
    Yes I have heard near death experiences where people describe heaven, as a place, with walls and jewels and beautiful light, etc. But then if you read the bible, you see they could have just taken the description from bible's description of heaven. So you can't be sure since it's not new information. 

    One case I find interesting (not sure if it's true though) was of a buddhist monk that said he passed over and crossed over a river to hell (as described in the bible) and saw one of his teacher's burning in a lake of fire. When he came back to life he covered to Christianity. Again though, who knows if it is really true. 
  • There have been countless of stories regarding the afterlife and such and yet nothing can be confirmed it they are true of just products of someone's subsconscious or imagination. When I was a young kid, I also believed that the afterlife happened immediately once you died and that your final destination were either heaven or hell. Depending of course on how you lived your life. No one has ever come back to life (officially) from the dead to tell us what will actually transpire after we breathe our last so, like any good christian would, I would stand on what the scriptures say. It does say that the dead will remain on earth buried awaiting for the time when they will come back to be judged together with the living for what they did in their lives. That will be on the Time of Judgment. God will be the one to judge us if we are for heaven or hell.
  • Yes I agree it is very confusing and I tend to come up with these abnormal questions that many pastors tend to shy from because they just don't have a definite answer for. I also think it's a Western culture thing because I've always wondered about if I grew up in the East if it would be easier to accept that if I did good I might come back as an elephant which is revered, or a cockroach for my evil human ways.
  • @Simona The closest we have come to understanding what happens when we die would certainly be form near death experiences. The information is so tightly sealed though that with all the near death experiences on record we still are left confused. Interestingly, people who experience near death never come back telling us it was horrid and hot and hellish. They have never said things like, "Oh You really don't wanna die. It's the worse thing ever." They usually say nice things. Go figure.
  • Posts: 16
    There is no heaven of hell just the stories that religious people create so that it fits their personal narrative.  How could you get millions of people to follow your way of thinking?  Easy, you make up stories of every lasting torture and you scare people into believe that your mode of thinking is the right one.

    Heaven and hell exist in people's imagination.  Like every religious figure there is.  It's all just make believe and self proclamation of being a prophet or savior.  They were just men, preying on the weak minded.
  • Posts: 129
    When things go wrong, what comes to my head was the words of our teacher in religion class. That this world can be hell, for all we know, and the suffering ends when we die and go to heaven. If there is heaven, he said, there is also hell. If you will notice, life is beautiful and wonderful but not all the time. When we compute the positive and negative in life, it always would sum up to a much greater negative. So that means we are in hell right now.
  • Posts: 68
    @joshposh The issue I have with eliminating the concept of heaven and hell is that I'm trained to think that when one commits evil then some kind of punishment must be in store. On the second hand, if one commits good then rewards are in store. I'm leaning in the direction that suggests that it would be very unjust if people could commit gross atrocities and not face a final consequence. I don't just believe death is the end of it and we get zeroed out. So after we die, what do we believe will happen to people clearly belonging in different boats.
  • Posts: 68
    @Corzhens I really like your thinking too, but the issue now becomes this; heaven and hell are supposed to be eternal. I we are already in hell then there is no looking forward to a future transition after death. My challenge is not to you, as we are all humbly in search of answers. My challenge is more to the clarity, or lack thereof, in the bible.
  • Posts: 64
    Does the bible say hell is eternal? I am starting to think Catholicism has a lot of answers hidden away in texts in the vatican library. Like where did they get the idea of purgatory from? If the Bible says nothing about it? It is like they have some esoteric spiritual knowledge that they do not share with the masses. 

    The concept of purgatory makes sense in that it means movement and evolution even in the sprit world, as nothing in life is fixed and eternal. The only eternal is God in Heaven, as it is Him and all of His creation that we are in. Which might be similar to the view of nirvana in Buddhism. But everything else is always in flux, so then there could be a chance souls in Hell could enter purgatory? 

    Also Buddhism talks about a Pure Land, and there is some Tibetan prayer asking to be reborn in the Pure Land. This also sounds similar to Heaven to me.
  • Posts: 68
    I think the bible gives heaven and hell as eternal places. Hell seems miserable enough to want to exit there the same day, so it's hard to imagine ever getting used it when forever starts. Mind you, I don't have any intention of giving it a test run.
  • It sounds a bit complicated but why not. It sounds fair enough. I mean a lot more than just going to hell without anything to say. I don't remember that part in details but as someone said here, the judgement day is not close so we'll see and maybe you are right. Right now the situation on earth is not very good. The killings and wars. Terrorists and innocent people die for nothing. It is all heading towards some kind of final day. 
  • Posts: 68
    That is what scares me too...the fact that the bible predicted it just how it seems to be unfolding. The wars and rumors of war, marriages collapsing, babies having babies. And it is all happening so very fast. Nuclear bombs are becoming a first option these days even before people even want to talk about what the problems are. Countries are flexing their military muscles like never before and people from everywhere seem to be finding comfort in a bottle or with sex and drugs. It's not a movie this time around.
  • Posts: 23
    @arthnel @djordjem87 Yeah, I agree with you. The Bible has been written over 2,000 years ago, yet it remains to be relevant even as today. Just shows that the Word of God is as relevant as it needs to be no matter where or when we live. 

    As for the OP, it's a very good question. I don't have the answer, but we do know that Hell and Heaven are both eternal. :)
  • Hell begins when god says so. After you die, you will have a judgement day. That day you will speak to god himself and he will decide if you go to heaven or hell. If hell is chosen you will go immediately. 
  • Posts: 18
    Well this is certainly an interesting and pretty heavy topic for a Monday afternoon, but I will oblige.  I love how a lot of the responses are drawing back on what they thought as a kid, and so when I think back all that way I am confronted with a solid belief that if I was bad in any way I was going to Hell.  It makes me wonder how kids these days view it, and I would kind of hope they are getting a more holistic view than the one I got.  Interesting stuff, though, and thanks for sharing.
  • Posts: 44
    We do not even know if there really is a hell (based on the description that I know that Satan is king and it is a hot place). That is one mystery in life that when life ends no one knows what happens next. Is there a heaven and is there a hell? What about purgatory, is there a purgatory?

    It is always a conundrum because no one can present concrete proof of hell or heaven. All we can do is to wait when we die for us to discover what lies ahead. 
  • Posts: 26
    As far as I have understood about the concept of heaven and hell, I think upon death people lie in their grave until they will be awakened in the judgement day and they will be sent to heaven or hell according to their deeds. I When does this judgement day come, I am not quite certain. Maybe perhaps I have not read the Bible correctly. Personally I feel that judgement day is not the one final day when all dead people will be awakened and final  verdict passed, I believe that every dead people have their own judgement day
  • Posts: 28
    There will only be one last judgement and I believe it is happening right now with Covid-19 not going away and even having more new strains. I think it is a preparation for people for the new heavens and new Earth, and when it goes away, evil is gone already and people are perishing in their hell.
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