Who the hell knows (Hell Part 3)


What if Matthew and Luke imagine life after death differently? And why don’t Paul or John ever mention anything like Hell? And lastly, if there is no consensus on a singular notion of Hell, then how the hell ought we to think and feel about all this? In Part 3, Nate and Tim further examine the complexity and inconsistency in the so-called “Biblical worldview” on Hell.


Nate: Yeah, welcome back to the show. We’ve been doing this series on hell, and this is part three, so go back and listen to the other ones. But we want to jump right in here because we have a lot to get to. So where we ended the last one was, you said Tim that, something about like we need to keep… Let me just, I’ll just play what you said right here.

Tim: … the Gehenna idea is that all of us, Christian or non-Christian, will one day face accountability from a higher power than ourselves, and if we’re an evil victimizer of those around us, we will have to deal with that.

Nate: So my question for that would be aren’t we all? Aren’t we all evil victimi… Aren’t we all that? Aren’t we all evil, and so then how do we know what the level of evilness is to get you to hell? You know what I’m saying? How do you figure that one out?

Tim: I mean, my answer is just yes, and no. So I can explain that more in a bit—

Nate: No, we’re good! I’m just kidding. [laughing]

Tim: But how do you answer that question?

Nate: Yes and no? I think I need more. Um, how do I? Well, what you had said the last couple episodes is, “What would make it heaven for me?” Which sounds really New Age-y, like I get to create my own heaven and decide who I want to keep out. But is that what it is, like whatever I come up with is what heaven is? That’s the amount of evilness I’m okay with? But then what if someone else is okay with more or less, you see what I’m saying?

Tim: Yeah, and I think you’re kind of asking two very close but slightly different questions in terms of where do we draw the line between evil and not evil, like pure enough. Where is that line drawn? And then related to that question, but I do think it’s slightly different, is the question of, aren’t we all in some way an oppressor, a victimizer, an abuser? The line of good and evil runs through all of us, right? Isn’t that true? And that’s where I just think we’ve bought into… It’s partly why I rail against caricature ideas of forgiveness in Christianity that I know people often hear me as trying to remove the role of forgiveness from Christianity. Or the roles of mercy or love. But I just think it’s because what we do is it’s kind of like this all or nothing thing. Like, either it’s, I use the term a lot of blanket forgiveness, where everything is just ignored, that’s what forgiveness means. Or there is no forgiveness and we’re all just kind of on our own to deal with stuff. And that’s not how I live my life, you know? If Monique, my wife, hurts my feelings in some way, or if Camden, my son, does something he’s not supposed to do, there are degrees of response. There are degrees of wrongdoing, right? I can acknowledge that certain things are much more wrong than other things. We all intrinsically feel that. One sin is not as sinful as the next, as much of protestant world has presented them.

Nate: That’s great, but don’t we need some sort of a line for knowing? Don’t we need to know? And I guess here’s why I’m getting at this. It’s because I can see why it’s really convenient to just say we’re all terrible, wretched sinners from even before we’re born, original sin. That works really well. As they say, “That preaches,” right?

Tim: It’s easy. It’s an easy way to do the math. Like, “You have to draw the line somewhere, so let’s just draw it here.” So if you draw it… someone actually wrote in a question asking, “Have you guys ever encountered Christian spaces where people actually predict the percentage or number of people who will be saved and unsaved?”

Nate: Oh right.

Tim: And he referenced in his church the going rate was about ten percent would be in and ninety percent would be out.

Nate: I mean, no one ever said it, but that’s sort of what I always thought, I guess. And I saw your response to that person, you always thought it was going to be a low number. And that’s what I always heard, too. The road is narrow, right, that leads to life and few find it. That’s the verse. It’s a difficult, small path, and there’s only a few that are up to snuff is sort of how I always thought of it. There’s sort of… only the true radicals!

Tim: Yeah. We never talked numbers, but I think we all would have been comfortable with the ten percent. If you forced us to write it down.

Nate: See, I think that would be high with my world.

Tim: That would have been high? Wow.

Nate: I think in the church that I started. I think we all just kind of assumed we were the one percent.

Tim: Yeah. Anyway, when I say it’s easy to run the numbers if you just try to boil all of humanity down to a simple calculus. That’s what total depravity is, right? And total depravity is one of those things that in my opinion is like a half truth, and there are forms of it that say, “None of us are truly, wonderfully, perfectly loving human beings, we all do things to hurt one another.” Okay, cool. There’s another form of total depravity that’s basically like, “We’re all worthless pieces of crap.” Why would we go that far to do that? Well, it’s because it makes this tension that we all feel of where the heck would we draw the line, it makes it easier to just say you draw it around everybody. Or then you draw the line the other way. And I know I’ve sounded like the conservative preacher doing this, but this is why I’m not compelled by truly liberal views of universalism that posit that basically there either is no judgment, there’s no accountability for human behavior, or everybody essentially just gets off the hook because that’s what a loving God would do. And I just again, you use the Hitler example and go, okay, no. I’m not Hitler. And don’t make the claim, the moral claim, that me lying when I was 5 or me lying when I was 30 is the same as what Hitler did, because that makes morality defunct. It means that there are no functional morals if you’re making that claim. It means that there is no idea or possibility of justice if I and Hitler should be dealt with the same way. And it’s also not good news for me to tell me that Hitler will be himself and will be able to have the kind of power that he had forever and ever and ever. So for me, I think that tension’s just there. We’re stuck with it. A lot of what we’ll do on this episode is show how little consensus there was in the minds of various biblical authors, which means we probably shouldn’t try to reduce, again to use the metaphor, reduce the math to oversimplify it. But to use the Hitler example, for me, we kind of talked about what are the possibilities? If we just play the thought experiment for your heaven, Nate, what could be done with Hitler to make it heaven for you? Kind of where I come down on is I don’t know if I need God to punish Hitler. I don’t think I need God to torture Hitler. I think what I need is that Hitler can’t have power.

Nate: Ah interesting. Yeah.

Tim: So if Hitler is going to remain the kind of person who will seize power to use it to hurt and abuse other people, then he has to be kept from doing that. And I want there to be someone more powerful than Hitler, a being more powerful, to keep Hitler out of power. Now Hitler can sit next to me if he has no power to do anything to me or those I love. I’m fine with him being there. But the question is in what kind of human existence, what kind of world could we live in where evil people either don’t have the power to do evil? And I think that’s where you just get these basic ideas of imprisonment and separation. You take those that would do harm and you keep them away from those that we want to protect. That’s one kind of core idea in this whole hell conversation is that of separating abusers from victims. And then that separation is one form of keeping that person from the power to do evil to others. So that’s what I feel like emotionally I need, if I’m going to conceptualize some sort of afterlife where all of human society somehow is reborn. But we all gotta figure that out for ourselves.

Nate: I like that. Hey, I’ll go to your heaven. Because then ultimately you’ve reduced that person to someone who just has bad ideas and isn’t able to really do anything with those ideas other than hurt themselves.

Tim: Right.

Nate: Which that feels very C.S. Lewis-y. It’s basically the crazy guy on the bus that is saying terrible stuff about the Jews or whatever, and it’s not someone who then is leading this large movement against those people. So yeah, it makes it very benign.

Tim: And it’s one, if I think in those terms, I can think, I think, pretty pragmatically about myself. And say that there are things, as I am now, as I’ve been for most of my adult life, there are tendencies I have. For instance I often struggle with wanting to grab social power to feel like I’m control of a situation, whether that’s in my family or a social environment, that I would want heaven to be a place where I am not allowed to do that. I also want to be the kind of person who doesn’t do that, that’s why I want that place. So then you get into views of heaven and hell that are transformational, where we are, like Paul was writing, to become those kind of people. And Dallas Willard’s famous idea is we’re not going to become someone we don’t want to become. So I would like a world that restrains me from being the versions of me that I don’t want to be and helps me and keeps me accountable to being the most loving and decent and just versions of myself. But then you just come back to the same tension of what do we do with those who never want to be that kind of person? And you have to envision some kind of world where they are just restrained from being able to do what they actually do want to do. Especially if it’s murdering millions of Jews.

[transitional music]

Tim: Okay, so I know we’ll probably come back to this in episodes that aren’t on hell, because this tension of sort of where do you draw the line, I just think it’s inherent. Not just in Christianity, it’s inherent in any worldview, any way of thinking about how to deal with evil, but let’s kind of move on. Nate, I would love, I think this is always helpful, for you to try to do your best 45 second recap of kind of the first two episodes of what kind of ground we covered.

Nate: Sure. So in the first episode on hell, we talked about, sort of philosophized. That’s not a word [laughs] Is it a word?

Tim: I use it.

Nate: Oh. Uh, okay, well we got into the philosophy. We just had a chat about what options are out there for this place and for what needs to happen. Is it punishment, is it torture? What could God do to take care of this problem of separating these evil people, not letting them harm others anymore? So we kind of just talked about that. We got into a lot of what other people, influential church fathers and leaders over the last couple thousand years have said about hell. And we saw that there’s quite a variance of ideas and lots of opinions that today we would consider almost heretical, but were not considered that in their time. And then in part two we started talking about what are the biblical writers saying and where did we get some of the ideas that we currently have, and what are maybe some better ways to think about this. And so yeah, where do you want to go today?

Tim: Yeah, so part of the reason I separated it out this way is I think for anybody who treats the Bible as a source of how they think about these kinds of religious ideas, I think it’s really important to have both conversations at once, the philosophical side and the scriptural side as a way to keep your interpretations in check from becoming toxic. So I think when I say, “Nate, do a thought experiment, how would you create your heaven?” I know for people for so many it triggers the like, “You’re just making God in your own image and you’re just redefining good and evil for yourself! You are the book of Judges!” Like all of that stuff.

Nate: Yeah, on that, I got some feedback from some listeners when I asked them, “What happens when you raise some of these questions or push back on some of these things, what do you hear back from others who maybe aren’t in the same place that you’re at?” And I just wanted to read a few of these. Someone said, “I have heard criticism of modern “millennial” churches focusing too much on the love of God and not ever speaking of the wrath and justice of God, saying that there’s too much trying to feel good in church and not enough trying to change the ways we live.”

Tim: Yeah, and then Tanner said, “It seems to me that eternal torment is always conflated with God’s justice. ‘How else would God deliver justice to the victims of the Holocaust if Hitler isn’t tormented eternally.’” And in relation to that, that’s where I just said, I don’t need him to be tormented, but I do need him to be restrained in some way.

Nate: Right, right. Here’s another one. Shawn said, “So much push back. Let’s see… it starts with ‘you are making God in your own image’ or ‘why can you not see that God is holy and He cannot tolerate sin’ ‘you are not reading the Bible literally but in whatever way you want’ ‘what is the point of salvation if it isn’t from Hell.’” So that’s kind of, and I’ve heard that, we’ve all heard feedback like that, that you’re just crafting God into whatever you want Him to be, but what’s the truth? What does the Bible actually say about this? And so that’s where I think it’s really helpful to actually look at those biblical passages, because there’s not a whole lot there, and we’ve done a whole ton with the little that is there to kind of build up this big image of what hell is and exactly what’s going to happen.

Tim: Right. So what we’ll do now is we’ll kind of move forward with more kind of Bible… I don’t know, Bible study, for lack of a better term, looking at those kind of scriptural ideologies. But what I want to do is kind of hold that philosophical consideration where we’ve been thinking what are the possible ways to even imagine an afterlife or a final judgment. And part of what we’ll see is that various biblical authors imagined this differently, and there was not widespread agreement. As we said before, there’s no book of Hell, there’s no point in the scripture where anybody sits down to try to teach a doctrine of hell. So what we’re doing is not trying to learn about some doctrinal teaching. We’re trying to read through the text to see what the author was thinking and trying to communicate to try to see what the various authors were depicting in their head when they thought about judgment and where we go when we die. And what we’ll see is several of them thought very different things. And so a) that’ll mean there’s room for us to not figure it all out, it means b) we should hold all our ideas of hell open-handedly, and then c) what I think we’ll see is much of the way we think about hell has very little to do with what the biblical authors actually thought and were trying to communicate. It has more to do with the way those ideas developed over the history of the church, and people tried to reduce and simplify a complex variety of ideas into one cohesive thing, and then we turned those into famous works of art like Dante’s Inferno and created this singular depiction of we go up to heaven, down to hell. And so basically I’m going to try to help free us from that oversimplified and often toxic view. Where it’ll take us is going to be a little messy and kind of open, but that’s actually I think more faithful to what the Bible’s actually talking about.

Nate: Okay, so where should we head first in the Bible to kind of get into this?

Tim: Well, so first I want to fulfill a promise that has yet gone unfilled, which is to talk about Tartarus. [laughs]

Nate: Oh, right. The pop tart startup from episode 2.

Tim: Yeah. It’s such a small piece I feel like if I don’t cover it up front I’ll just forget it once again. So okay we talked about before how there are basically two questions. One is how is God going to fix the world, and that question leads to the idea of a day of judgment, and Gehenna is a word, it’s the name of a valley that was outside of Jerusalem that became a hyperbolic metaphor for God’s judgment. So Gehenna is the word that when Jesus gets angry, especially at religious leaders, and wants to threaten them and say that, “You will not get away with this thing forever, there will be a day where you will be held accountable for this thing,” He threatens them with the metaphor of being thrown into the trash heap, the burning trash heap of Gehenna. Second question is before that happens, what happens if I die. And we said back in the Old Testament it’s the Hebrew word Sheol. That word just gets translated into the Greek word Hades, but also conflated with the Greek idea in mythology around Hades where this is basically the temporary holding place that dead spirits or sort of half lives go to dwell. Tartarus is a word and idea relating to an entirely separate question, a third question, which is related to all the kind of crazy cosmology that we got into back in the first ten episodes of the podcast or so about how there were actually a plethora of divine beings, spirit beings who are made of spirit, who live in the heavens, but who have been given reign over the nations of the world.

Nate: And if that sounds crazy, go back to listen to our intro series where we talk about that stuff. Okay, keep going.

Tim: Right, and then you have a specific dilemma related to these beings because they are immortal in nature. In the cosmology these are immortal spirit beings. They do not have earthen enfleshed bodies, so they cannot be killed like creatures, or earthly creatures. So the question is when you have evil elohim, spirit heavenly beings, for instance those who came down and raped women apparently in Genesis 6 to kind of wage war on humanity, how are they dealt with? How do you restrain evil in the form of immortal beings? So when we used the Hitler example, we talked about God could kill him, God could keep him alive but torture him forever, all those different things. Well, killing these beings is not on the table because they don’t die; they’re immortal. So Tartarus, and this is even with Greek culture, which was not one of Israel’s direct neighbors, they had their own world where there was a pantheon of gods, there’s an underworld, there’s this kind of mountaintop paradise where the gods live, and part of their cosmology was where evil gods were imprisoned was a place called Tartarus. So the idea is you can’t actually kill them so you just have to put them in a prison.

Nate: Okay.

Tim: So that’s what Tartarus is. It’s the place in Greek mythology where gods go to be imprisoned. So we saw this only used one time in the New Testament, it’s used in 2 Peter. And he’s using the imprisonment of evil gods by—in his head because he’s part of Israel’s Judeo-history—he thinks that Yahweh is the one who imprisoned them in order to help preserve humanity. He compares that and then uses Sodom and Gomorrah, which wasn’t put in prison but was burned down, those two things are types that Peter puts forward as to how God will heal the world eventually by judging evil people. So even right there just in one section in 2 Peter 2, you have Peter using a case study of Sodom and Gomorrah being burned down and destroyed as one way of imagining how God will treat the Hitlers of the world and you have him referencing essentially the Genesis 6 and sort of the shared cosmology that there are evil gods, and Yahweh has imprisoned them, held them so that they can’t get out and hurt people, as a second way of imagining the way God will treat the Hitlers of the world. So literally in Peter’s mind, he’s not even trying to understand the mechanics. He’s literally just saying, “Use these things that we all believe.” He speaking to a world that all believes that there are gods that are imprisoned somewhere, and his point is, “Therefore don’t lose hope that God will one day vindicate you and will deal with the people who are hurting you.” And simultaneously, “Don’t you go out there and do evil to other people because God will do with you as well.”

Nate: Okay, so he’s just using it to get to a bigger, better point that he wants to make, not so much to talk about the mechanics of how that all works, but just to get to that point. Okay, so—

Tim: Yeah, well and I want to just point out, in the New Testament in English translations, this word Tartarus is translated hell. But that’s telling us that there is one place and one way that God is going to deal with evil. But that’s not what Peter’s doing. Peter’s like, “Oh there’s this other place!” And he’s not trying to explain where it is. “And then there’s this other thing that God did over here!” And somehow these are all case studies for why we should be able to hope that one day justice will win out. That’s all he’s doing. He’s not making a case for some sort of doctrine of a hell. He didn’t even use the word Hades or the word Gehenna, which get used other places. So this is just step one in saying, let’s realize this thing is more complex and less universally agreed upon than the way we talk about it today.

[transitional music]

Nate: What about the whole, people saying we’re just creating a hell on earth and that’s what Jesus was talking about when He talked about Gehenna? Like, “If you do that, you’re just going to make a hell for yourself, or you’re going to make hell for other people,” but it’s all about the here and now. Is there any place for that idea as well?

Tim: I think… Yeah, and I think a lot of people have pointed there because in the last few hundred of protestant Christian tradition, we’ve so extracted Christianity from the here and now, it’s all been about where we go afterward.

Nate: Right.

Tim: But I just think it’s both. It’s always been about both. And so if it’s just about Jesus saying, “Live well now. Love your neighbors now. Do goodness and justice now,” that’s only good news for those of us that actually have the power, socioeconomic power, relational power to live pretty decent lives now. For the millions and billions of people around the world who need somebody else to bring about justice and decency in their lives, that’s not that great news if it’s just a command to do good and make this place a heaven. But also the whole caricature that we should just get the heck out of here and burn down the earth. I remember you and I Nate, the organization we worked at, there were moments where literally people would take recycling and throw it in the trash and say, “This place is all going to burn up anyway,” and use not recycling as an act of faithfulness. They thought they were demonstrating how Christian they were to be willing to destroy the planet. This was just eight years ago, is that what it was?

Nate: Yeah.

Tim: In San Francisco, one of the capitals of the United States of modern environmental movements. And what it meant for these people, and we were friends with them, to beat their fists on their chests and puff themselves out and display their brave Christian faithfulness was to willfully destroy the environment. So there’s that thing too of, “We’re just going to escape and get out of here, so who the heck cares what happens in this life,” and I just think that’s toxic in every single way.

Nate: I hope that’s becoming more fringe now. You hear a lot more about the new creation and heaven on earth, and fortunately Tim Mackie and the Bible Project have done a lot to bring even pretty conservative churches along in that. So I think we’re starting to see more of a change there. But it’s still a ways to go.

Tim: I hope. I mean, how many millions of people will tune in and cheer every time Trump says, “Look it’s cold out. Climate change is a hoax.” You know? [laughs] I hope you’re right, but I think we have a really stinking long ways to go. Let’s not get off on that tangent, because I’ll get too depressed and won’t get anywhere. That’s way more depressing to me than the topic of hell, actually. Uh okay, so one other, we’ll go through a few of these, one other that I found fascinating, I didn’t see this until more recent studies, was even in the synoptic gospels, so we’ll get to John and then we’ll get to Paul in a little bit, but even in the synoptic. So it’s probably familiar to most people, most scholars think that Mark was written first, it’s kind of the shortest most basic of the three synoptic gospels, and then Luke and Matthew were working off of the material that is in Mark, kept a lot of the same stuff, changed some, entered some of their own into. So when you compare differences between one of those three gospels and the other, it reveals sort of what was the author thinking, why were they making this point differently, that sort of thing. So one really interesting thing that some scholars have pointed out is it seems like Luke and Matthew have totally different conceptions of the timing and sequence of the hell ideas, both Gehenna and Hades and the questions of what happens when we die and when will God bring about final judgment. So we kind of talked about before there’s one view which is that basically Hades is this temporary dwelling place. You see that it’s prominent in the book of Revelation where it talks about eventually, at the end of the book of Revelation, all that are in Hades will be given up and brought to judgment. And so the idea is that’s why Jesus has the keys to Hades to let everybody out because they’ve been hanging out there for so long. And then everybody’s raised up to some sort of judgment, and then you either go to essentially the paradise or Gehenna, judgment. So the idea is you die, and then you go to Hades to wait around and then judgment happens. And then after judgment happens is kind of the parsing out to determine whether you’re rewarded or held accountable. But then there’s a separate which basically eliminates that in between, and it’s basically as soon as you die, instead of waiting around for the day of final judgment, you experience some sort of judgment right there and then. And it wasn’t until I saw that Luke basically believes the latter and Matthew believes the former that some interesting texts in Luke specifically started to make sense.

Nate: Give me a couple.

Tim: Yeah, so one passage you have in Matthew doesn’t show up in Luke. Matthew includes Gehenna multiple times. That word gets used a bunch. We talked about last time how Gehenna is essentially the metaphorical picture for the judgment thing, which is the thing that comes later. In Matthew you’ve got a whole bunch of them, and one of them is the one I know you and I have talked a lot about, Nate, and was really formative for you, is Matthew 25:32, where it says all are raised to judgment and then separated as sheeps and goats. So sheeps go one way, goats go the other. But the idea is people are dead, everybody’s raised up, then they’re separated and receive their right reward. And Matthew there is just drawing from Malachi 3 and 4. Luke only has one of these sort of judgment threats. All of these kind of sound like basically you know, “Don’t fear this, fear God who can throw your body in Gehenna,” that’s kind of the idea, right?

Nate: Right.

Tim: So Luke only has one reference to Gehenna, and it’s in chapter 12, and it’s used very generally, and the point is basically, “Don’t fear man who can do harm to you, but fear God who can throw you in Gehenna.” What He’s doing is He’s talking basically to His disciples saying, “Don’t do the unjust thing because you’re scared of what somebody will do to you. Be scared that God will hold you accountable.” He’s not treating this as a separate timing; he doesn’t get into the timing. He just uses as this very broad generic term of like, “Do what’s right or God will deal with you with it.” Matthew is the one where we get this sense of like, there’s going to be this final day and then we’ll all stand before God and have this account, and then we’ll be separated out and then we’ll be sent to our place. You don’t get that in Luke; you just have that in Matthew. And what you have in Luke that doesn’t show up in Matthew at all is the story of the rich young man and Lazarus, which people have argued about forever, is it a parable, is it real? How does it relate to Jesus’ friend Lazarus who shows up in John? But one notable thing when we’re having this conversation is the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16, it says the two die and are buried and immediately go to their places. So there it says the rich man goes to Hades where he’s very unhappy. And the poor, abused and neglected homeless man goes to what’s called Abraham’s bosom and is comforted. There’s no holding. There’s no in between. In Luke’s mind, as he’s telling this parable, and this isn’t again giving a prescription for the mechanics of hell, but what it is revealing is this is how Luke’s conception of the basics, what happens when you die, to try to make this picture to tell people to not be unjust and neglectful to their poor neighbors, is that they immediately go to different places. And the key piece is that there’s a chasm set between the two. And then of course you have the tail end of that parable where the rich man is like, “Let me go back and tell my family that this is what’s going to happen so that they won’t follow the same route,” and then basically the parable ends with saying, “You didn’t listen, they haven’t listened already to the prophets, to basic decency and justice, they’re not going to listen even if you warn them.” So it’s revealing that some of the basic element is like, you need a separation. The rich abusive man—

Nate: That’s where people go, he’s saying right there that you can go to the prophets, you can go to the Bible to see that this parable is true, that’s how it would be explained. Why is that not the way it is?

Tim: So all I’m bringing it up for, I think what the passage is actually saying is not this mechanically or sequentially is how it’s going to happen, it’s to say you will be dealt with. It’s the classic Jesus teaching of those who have good things now in this life and keep from sharing them with others will be deprived of good things in the next. And those who have been kept from having a good life now will be comforted and vindicated. The victims now will be raised to power and given a good life in the future. The empires and emperors and rulers of the world who have lived their good life at the expense of others now… It’s a reversal. That’s the basic element here. It’s a picture of justice. Justice is a reversal of the injustice that is happening now. So the basic idea is, “You all knew what you were doing was unjust, any Jew knew that you should fear God, that God would enact justice one day. You still wanted to live an unjust life towards your neighbor.” My point here is that the way Luke is getting that point across, and Luke is all about social justice especially as it relates to money and sharing of wealth, the basic point here is that in Luke’s mind there’s no holding period. He doesn’t say that the rich man and Lazarus die, go to Hades both of them together to wait out for a few thousand years or whatever until judgment happens, and then judgment comes. In Luke’s mind it’s immediate. In Matthew’s mind there’s a clear holding pattern. Which explains one thing for me that I had always questioned, I don’t know if you had Nate, which is the whole piece in Luke that’s only in Luke where Jesus says to one of the beggars on the cross—or sorry, one of the criminals on the cross.

Nate: “You’ll be with me… Today you’ll be with me in paradise.”

Tim: Yeah! As we’re having this conversation and you’re thinking, “Okay one view of hell or an afterlife is that everybody dies, goes to the grave, and waits there collectively to be assigned to either the good place or the bad place, whatever,” regardless of how we’re thinking about that right now, if that’s the paradigm, then how is it Luke is saying that Jesus said that someone would go with Him to paradise “today.” And my answer to that question now that I’ve kind of looked at some of the scholarship is Luke doesn’t have that waiting period in his mind. Matthew would have never had Jesus saying this. He might have said, “Don’t worry, you’ll be with me in paradise some nebulous amount of years from now when I return to bring about judgment.” But in Matthew’s head there’s no such thing as dying and going directly either to paradise, or heaven, or to judgment. You basically go into a holding pattern. So the details can be confusing. I’m using a few examples between Matthew and Luke to point out that even this idea of the timing—and the two words, Hades and Gehenna, are connected to two different ideas of timing—that even Matthew and Luke have very different senses of what happens to us when we die and when judgment happens and how judgment happens. They both are holding to a view that God will make things right in this great reversal one day, but they both disagree on when exactly that will happen and what our experience in between death and that point will be. And so they literally take some of the same material, source material, most likely from Mark and then they add different things into it that the other one is unwilling to add into theirs because that’s not how they think of it, and we have both of those in our Bible called gospels.

Nate: And there’s this effort to push everything together in the Bible into one clear understanding of what the Bible teaches on something, and I think that’s where you get some of this stuff. You have to combine it all, right, and then you get this one vision of what hell is, and I guess what you’re saying is even two key biblical authors like Matthew and Luke don’t agree or would have different conceptions of that. And maybe they’re okay with that even.

Tim: Totally. So if you’re claiming that you have the biblical view of exactly the order of events, or even the sequence of where and how post-death happens, you cannot possibly be quote-unquote “biblical,” because either Matthew or Luke, if they were here, would disagree with you because they don’t even agree with themselves. So the only point I’m making right is, lighten your grip on what you think you know and what you think the Bible is saying in one sense. So next one, and I’ll just repeat myself here: Paul the apostle, in all of the epistles we have of Paul—and I’ll just… even if I’m saying Paul wrote them all, I’m not getting into that argument, say Paul wrote them all—does not mention hell one time. By that I mean does not mention Gehenna, Hades, or Tartarus. Let me say that again: Paul the apostle, in all known writing that we have access to and in the entire Bible, never mentions hell one time. This is the same guy who we built the Romans Road out of, right?

Nate: I was going to say, like, I guess I always imagined that’s where the Romans Road ends there. And you have the two, I always picture the two chasms and the cross in between, which again, I always had a big problem with the big hump of the cross in the middle. How do you get a ladder to get over that or something? It’s not this perfect bridge. Anyways.

Tim: In those drawings, was the chasm hell? Was there fire at the bottom of it?

Nate: Oh, I don’t know! That’s kind of… the paper didn’t go that far!

Tim: It’s a choose-your-own-chasm drawing?

Nate: Yeah. I mean I’m sure some people added… let me just take a peek here. What was that called? It’s called the um [typing sounds] Cross, chasms… the Bridge! I think it’s called The Bridge. Okay no fire on that one. Oh, “Separation” on that one. Ooh, this one’s got, look at this! How do I show this to you? Oh, I gotta share my screen.

Tim: Oh yeah, there it is.

Nate: So that one’s got hell and fire actually. And it has the sunshine.

Tim: Yeah. And then Revelation 21:8. Oh, gosh, this is wonderful. Nate, can you put this in our notes so everyone can see it?

Nate: Alright I’ll save the link. Um, oh here’s another one. This one’s got down at the bottom of the chasm, “valley of your sins.” This one’s got some blue flames. Let’s see. Eternal death at the bottom of this one. Fire at the foot of the cross in this one, nothing at the bottom of this one, just the roadrunner where he falls off and you don’t know, smoke as the roadrunner disappears off the screen. I think that’s all. Basically a mixture of fire, whether it’s red-orange or blue, and then separation and some other stuff.

Tim: Good work. Good detective… Isn’t the internet great?

Nate: It really is.

Tim: Okay, so my favorite/the worst of all those you sent is the one that has man on one side, “God is holy” on the other side with a quote of Psalm 99. Oh wait! This could be just so ironic, it’s the best. I’ll have to look something up in a sec. And then “Hell,” the word, with a bunch of flames and an awesome graphic, and then in parentheses in red letters is Revelation 21:8, which talks about evil people going into the fires. But the sheer ironic thing is the one I brought up last time, just literally nine verses before this is Revelation 20:14 where it says, “Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire.” So that’s where I literally said this is the verse that says hell was thrown into hell, meaning it will be destroyed and won’t exist anymore. So you’re literally proof-texting a verse to paint your little fiery picture of hell when nine verses earlier is a depiction that that same idea of hell won’t exist because of Jesus.

Nate: And that’s been viewed 150,000 times on YouTube with the vast majority thumbs-upping it.

Tim: [laughing] YouTube?! I didn’t even know it was a video, I just thought it was a graphic.

Nate: Yeah. It’s a graphic from a YouTube video.

Tim: I’m just so glad you found this graphic for me Nate, because there was one part in the obscure section of my notes where I’m like, “I know we’re never going to get there but I wish we had time,” that was to bring up Psalm 99, and this infographic uses Psalm 99 in parentheses as the proof text for “God is holy,” which is on the right side.

Nate: Everyone’s seen this, right? It’s the two cliffs on either side and then the cross fits perfectly in the middle. I just want to make sure.

Tim: Yeah. So this one, it’s implying that because God is holy, that’s why there’s this fiery hell chasm in between man and God. But the line it quotes is the last verse, verse 9, from Psalm 99. I just happened to… Actually, this is a longer story I need to tell. I just happened to go to church today with my family for the first time in two years, an Episcopal church, and the reading today included Psalm 99. And I just thought there’s a portion in here that’s perfect to make my point on how we’ve oversimplified the idea of forgiveness and punishment. And it’s literally the verse before this one that they’ve prooftexted. And it’s talking about when Israel was brought out of slavery and it says, “He spoke to them from the pillar of cloud; they kept his statutes and the decrees he gave them.” And then verse 8, “LORD our God, you answered them; you were to Israel a forgiving God, though you punished their misdeeds.” This is a bit of praise, and I just want to bring this up because it shows that how we’ve thought about forgiveness and punishment is so skewed because we’ve reduced a hundred percent one way or the other. Either you are forgiven or you’re punished in hell forever, and clearly right here the psalmist is depicting God like any decent parent, which is one of the main metaphors, that you can punish in order to hold someone accountable for their actions, you can send to your son to their room for a thirty minute timeout, or two minute timeout or whatever, and be considered a forgiving parent.

Nate: Novel!

Tim: The point is not, “You forgave us and ignored all of our evil and just let us do what we wanted to do or You tortured us in hell forever.” It’s literally saying both, and yet the very next verse which is talking about exalting that God is what they used as a proof text for why there’s a fiery chasm in between mankind and God, and if we don’t have Jesus we will apparently live in that fiery chasm for all of eternity.

Nate: Yikes.

[transitional music]

Nate: What do you think is the strongest case for that? For the fiery chasm where we’ll live? Because I always go to, it really is that parable of Lazarus and the rich man. Like if that is extrapolate that out and that is what hell is, I’m like, “Okay, I see where people got that,” even though there’s other depictions.

Tim: You mean why is fiery torment or the eternal conscious torment view so prominent?

Nate: Yeah.

Tim: I think the hardest passages are actually in Revelation. And it’s where you get this lake of fire, the undying worm. It’s just using such hyperbolic language and such symbolic language, it’s all imagery, so that’s why you have these metaphors of fire and whatnot. And there’s the wheat and the chaff one, which is another fire metaphor that ends up in Jesus’s teachings, which He’s just teaching out of the Old Testament. That was a primary metaphor because it’s the perfect picture of things that need to be separated from one another. So it’s just taking those visuals. Like Gehenna: it’s a visual of a bad place where you don’t want to be. And it’s making those literal predictions of the mechanics of what will happen to us. So what I’m trying to say is none of those are doing that. They’re painting mind pictures. None of them are trying to get to the mechanics, and when you see evidence of where they are thinking mechanics, there’s actually quite a difference. So back to the last point on the takeaway, is the apostle Paul never mentions a hell. Neither does the entire gospel of John mention hell. And when I say mention hell, no one in the Bible mentions hell, but these authors don’t mention either Hades or—

Nate: Gehenna or Hades, or yeah.

Tim: Any of that. So why? Ironically, what you have very clearly in Romans, the same book that’s made to make this little hell infographic, is very clearly that in Paul’s mind, the thing, the problem that Jesus is resolving is death. Death is the problem. It’s the same as Hebrews 2, we talked about this last time, that Jesus’s victory liberates us from the fear of death that had been enslaving humanity for all time, that we’re scared to die because dying sucks. And how did He do that? He did it by going into death, descending into the grave, to Hades—not in Paul’s language, but it’s in the creeds and elsewhere—descending into the grave and being the pioneer through death, that by being resurrected, the first resurrected one, that all those who are in Christ will also be resurrected. So that’s Paul’s whole point. So it’s like you have even the Romans 6 one that people talk about all the time, “The wages of sin is death.” Well of course that gets turned into, “The wage of sin means God wants to kill you,” that’s how that’s interpreted. That’s not what’s said. But we read that as if we say, “The wages of sin is hell.” Paul doesn’t even think about hell. The point is we die! We kill each other, we die, and then we don’t know what happens after death, which is why none of us can agree on it.

Nate: Well then couldn’t you say the wages of doing good is death as well? According to that logic?

Tim: You could! Yeah. But important in Paul’s cosmology, we won’t get into this whole thing, and this goes back to Genesis 1-3, why did we start dying? In the cosmology, it has to do because we were banished from the tree of life, right?

Nate: Yeah, true.

Tim: There’s that whole famous line that Tolkien said, of like even death is a grace. He was just pulling from the Genesis stories, saying if we are evil people who want to seize power in order to hurt one another, then being able to live forever would be the worst possible thing that could happen to us and the world around us. So that’s the basic core idea of the philosophy in Genesis 1, 2, and 3, is that humanity got thrust into a war for power by the serpent and the divine beings, and therefore as a mercy to life, God revoked their access to the tree of life. That’s the… don’t even literalize that, but that’s the idea, that living forever as evil people would be horrendous.

Nate: Right, right.

Tim: But my main point is that you read through all of Paul’s writing, and the thing, where this heads without Jesus, it’s not about torment, it’s not about hell, it’s not even about punishment! It’s about death. So you’ve got Philippians 3:18, “The enemies of cross of Christ, whose end is destruction,” that’s just how he says it, it’s this kind of long convoluted sentence, but he’s talking about those who aren’t saved to eternal life, to being able to live forever, are those who get destroyed. They just die. We die.

Nate: So that’s like annihilationism.

Tim: So annihilation and that term is making the assumption that people have died—I don’t think, most people I think know the Bible well enough to know the Bible is not saying God creates death, right? God created life. Death was brought about because people do evil to one another. The idea is that people would raise people back to life, and then those who don’t want to live in the heaven kingdom of God, in the annihilation idea, that God would kill them again, put an end to them. But there’s a whole other range of views, some have used the term conditional immortality, that would just say God’s not going to bring back to life someone just so that God could kill them. The point is what God grants in Christ is access to eternal life. Jesus is depicted as that tree of life in the garden of Eden, and only those who aren’t going to use that tree of life to beat up and kill and abuse other people will be granted access to it.

Nate: It seems like a lot of guessing and a lot of, “Well, maybe it’s this, maybe it’s—why would He raise them back up to—” We’re probably wrong about it, and so I think because of that, someone listening to this would be like, “Well then we probably should go with the traditional view.” Someone who’s maybe skeptical would just say, “Well, let’s just go with the traditional view then, because—” But I guess what I would say is that seems to be even more guessing based on a couple different things that are said that are even different than other biblical writers have said! It just seems like a lot of guessing, and maybe the point is not to put so much confidence in this idea hell and focus on other things.

Tim: Totally. Yeah. So in Paul you read through it, there’s, “Death has been overcome, death has lost its sting,” again in Romans 6 you get, “For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him.” Especially, okay, if you’re going to read one passage of the New Testament to try to best grasp some of the points of thinking where there actually is consensus amongst biblical authors and early Christians, it’s 1 Corinthians 15. And Paul repeats over and over again in there that it’s that if Jesus—he’s not focusing on Jesus’s death, he’s focusing on the resurrection. And his point is that the problem is that we die, and the solution is that through Jesus we’ve been given access to life, basically a second chance at life. So his point that he repeats over and over again is that if there is no resurrection then this whole faith is worthless, it’s futile, it’s useless, it accomplishes nothing. If Jesus wasn’t raised, he says, we’re still in our sins. Not if Jesus didn’t die on the cross and bleed, but if Jesus wasn’t raised we’re still in our sins. For Paul the whole thing is about escaping death. You go to the gospel of John, it’s the same thing! And how we don’t see, I mean John 3:16, right? It’s the most popular verse. What does John 3:16 say? That we shall not perish but have everlasting life. It doesn’t say we shall not be tortured forever in eternity, or it doesn’t even say God won’t kill us. It says we won’t die, but we’ll have everlasting life. So the basic view here is that most of us will die, but we will get a second chance at life because Jesus has actually overcome death. And interesting, Revelation is harder to figure out how the author of Revelation was thinking about this stuff, but every single time Hades is used in the book of Revelation, it’s paired with death. Death and Hades, death and Hades, death and Hades. The author has the same problem in his mind. It gets into all this crazy other imagery that’s pulling from Second Temple literature like the Book of Enoch and stuff to depict these ideas. But the point is that Jesus has beat death. So if you back way up to what we were talking about, there were two questions that I said framed the ideas that we have both lumped into hell, but there are also two kinds of fear in the New Testament and in Christian theology. One is the fear of dying, and that fear is considered negative and is something that Jesus has overcome. So the idea is that basically all humans are scared to die, and this development of belief in a life after death based on the idea of being resurrected into a new kingdom, that belief is what Jesus staked His life on and then proved to be a reliable belief. So if you are able today or tomorrow to believe that Jesus was resurrected from the dead—

Nate: Is this an altar call?

Tim: [laughing] Yes, I’m going to have you stand up. I’m saying, if you believe that Jesus was resurrected and therefore you can trust that you will be resurrected, that belief—

Nate: Put your thumb up.

Tim: [laughs] Put your hands in the air.

Nate: With all eyes closed and all heads bowed.

Tim: I didn’t mean for that to sound like an altar call. I did intentionally meant to use, I guess, conditional language, because I know for me sometimes I actually truly believe it and sometimes I don’t and I don’t know if I feel this thing. The idea though is that if you believe that you will be raised to life, that you don’t have to be scared of dying anymore. So that is how the New Testament sees this first fear, what happens to me when I die. The second one is how will God bring about justice in the world. And this is why I wanted to read that piece from Psalm 99 that talks about how God was forgiving and punished their evil. What you have consistently in Paul, in Hebrews, in Acts, throughout the New Testament, is believing in Jesus will get you eternal life and will not spare you accountability from God. And I know it makes me sound like one of these crazy preachers that’s just trying to beat up the 16 year old into not masturbating anymore or something. Why I think that’s actually an important idea if you’re going to hold to Christianity is because I need to know that the mega pastor who’s abusing women in his church does not get a pass for that evil, especially if they’re using Christianity to gain that power in the first place. I need to know that Christianity is not a pass, a get-out-of-jail-free card for that person.

Nate: Yeah.

Tim: Because many, many people including Christian Nazi-supporting Germany, in church history have done great evil, and it is not good news to me to think that just because they believed a certain set of doctrines that they are not going to be held accountable. And when I mean held accountable, I mean if you just brought back all of Nazi Germany and put them in my heaven just because they believed that Jesus died an atoning death for them, that’s not good news, right?

Nate: Where I think where Calvin does is to say, if their life doesn’t actually change, if they’re not sanctified, then they weren’t ever saved in the first place, right? So we still have to see fruit. So I don’t necessarily hear that a lot, the idea that just because they prayed a prayer and nothing changed about their life, they’re good. You know what I mean?

Tim: Right. I do, but here’s what I’m trying to say. That’s separating that accountability from what we’ve been calling hell. And I’m just saying they’re one cohesive idea.

Nate: Oh, gotcha.

Tim: Right? So we’ve taken one form of accountability and judgment and punishment and we’ve said, “It’s going to be this thing, and that’s the thing you’ve got to get out of!” And then you’re like, “But there will be this little slap on the wrist if you’re bad.” And I’m saying no! It’s one cohesive idea. Evil people need to be held accountable or else there is no justice and we have nothing really truly to give us any hope at the end of the day. And that’s true of me and that’s true of you regardless of your religion. Right? Who was Jesus hardest on? The religious leaders in His own day. Those were the people He talked to about Gehenna! So my point is that the same frame of ideas which lead us to this idea of fiery judgment in hell, which makes it into this little bridge infographic caricature, are the same ideas of Christians being held accountable for the way they treat other people. So it doesn’t make sense to turn one of them into this mechanical doctrine of a place called hell and then diminish the others and act like they’re separate things. So again just to try to simplify, I think where there is consensus is Christianity, the belief in the gospel, is hopefully the idea is it’s freeing us from being scared of dying, and it’s not freeing us from being scared of ultimate accountability. And I think the important piece why I am emphasizing this is one, to just kind of help us make sense of the complexity of ideas but two, they both have to do with justice. They both should point us, these ideas should point us to being more just people. The whole point of, and this is where Paul actually, and Jesus before He even died, uses the idea of belief in a resurrection as a motivation is to say, “You can stop being so scared of the empire, or the religious leaders, or the powers that be, and stop basically becoming complicit in injustice in order to save your own life.” It is better—it’s the famous line—it’s better to lose your life than to save it, right? The idea is that to do true good, to truly do justice in the world, to speak truth to power throughout most of history would get you killed, so the ultimate motivational rationale, the psychology around this hope in a resurrection, this hope in eternal life, is that it would motivate everybody to do the just thing regardless of the outcome. Now again, I’ve shared, I don’t know if I can believe that all the time; sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. I also believe that it’s still the right thing to do even if you don’t have that hope. The point is how few people will actually do that, will actually give up their own life, on the barest of whims that they might ever get to see their family again, right? Jesus is the one who did it, who tested it. The New Testament talks about Jesus as the pioneer. He went ahead to do the brave thing that everyone else was basically too scared to do so that it wouldn’t be as scary for people to come after Him. So again, I struggle to believe that on a day in, day out basis if I’m being honest, but I do find that whole realm of beliefs, that ultimately what Christianity is doing is freeing us from fear so that we can more brave to do the right thing, to do just—

Nate: It’s really compelling, yeah.

Tim: Totally! And then the second piece is that okay, so that’s who you are, so you’re a Jesus person. You’ve said that you’re on the side of the most righteous and just human who ever lived. Well, don’t think that if you then start using that tribe to gain power and privilege for yourself at the expense of other people, that you will somehow bypass God’s justice. I also think that’s a beautiful and compelling rationale, and I think it’s necessary because where I’ve seen some of the most evil in the world is actually in the church. So I need that other edge to the sword to match God’s mercy so that I don’t have to think, “Oh, that guy who abused me, because he was in the club, God’s never going to deal with that.”

Nate: Well, and don’t you want, don’t we all want justice? I mean obviously I don’t want to go to hell, but if hell was off the table, don’t you want to become a better person? Don’t you want to be corrected and to grow? That’s sort of what any good organization and company, the progressive and forward-thinking companies that are out there, that’s what they’re sort of all built on is that everyone’s trying to get better and grow and change, and that’s sort of loosely what the church is based on, too. Don’t we want to, as Christians, shouldn’t we be the ones that are more than anyone wanting to get better and wanting to improve? Whether, whatever happens after this life, not just in this life, but whatever life is possible after that, don’t you want to keep getting better and growing and have the correction of God, the justice, the judgment in that sense, to help you become a better person? Okay Tim, we gotta wrap this up. I’m going to ask you one thing. [laughing] And I want you to agree. Say yes! Just do it. Say yes.

Tim: Okay.

Nate: Oh, wow. I could have you do anything. Okay.

Tim: Except that I wouldn’t say, “Yes.” I demanded to say, “Okay.” My slight rebellion.

Nate: Okay, okay. So in thirty seconds I want you to tell me: what is your ideal solution then? If you could transform everyone to think this thing about hell based on the Bible and also on what you think is good and beautiful, what would that thing be? Because I think people could just hear this as, “Oh, you’re just tearing down the common conception of hell. You’re just diminishing our confidence in that.” Which I think is necessary; we need to do that because we’ve seen that we can’t have a whole lot of confidence in, “This is what hell is exactly!” because the biblical writers didn’t have that consensus. But what would be your perfect solution? Thirty seconds, go.

Tim: Yeah. To back up and think about the existential questions that are real and there that our false oversimplifications of an idea called hell were trying to get. That is that death is scary and anxiety-inducing. It sucks and it terrifies us, and it always has, and we have to be willing to admit that and to think about that. And we’ve all asked what happens on the other side of death, and there are some answers that have been put forth by various authors in the Bible. They don’t agree. At times they do, at times they do not, but ultimately what the early Christians believed was that Jesus was giving us a second chance at life. And so if you can believe that, the idea is that that is good news. Secondly, is that the second question is how is God going to fix this world, which is full of evil people and evil immortal gods, which you probably don’t spend much time thinking about, and the other pieces of hell are trying to answer that existential question. And none of the authors— [timer goes off] Oops. Time’s up. I’m going another thirty seconds. None of the authors claimed to have understood the mechanics or been to see how exactly it was all going to go down. They walked with humility, they disagreed with one another, and yet we entered all of their disagreements into what we’ve called the Bible. But where they are consistent is that we can trust that the universe is on the side of justice because the God that created the universe is committed to enacting justice. That idea I think is about as far as we can go. And then where I think we should land emotionally, no matter where you get to in like, it hurts your brain to think of it unless it’s in terms of an annihilationist view, or there’s still a part of you that reads this verse and it seems like there’s going to be some sort of prison that lasts forever, those are mental gymnastics to try to figure out how to conceptualize it. What I think is important emotionally, psychologically, in terms of how you live your life and treat one another is that if you are a Christian who believes the basics, that Jesus proved to the world that God loves the entire world enough to die for it, that where that should take you is hoping that even the person who has hurt you the most would one day be able to be changed and thus saved, to lead you away from a place of desiring vengeance and to a place of actually being able to love your enemy.  And as hard as that is and with all the constraints—like I’ve said, we intrinsically want separation from our abusers, that’s not wrong, I’m not saying to diminish that. But the hope I believe, the posture that is the most Christian is a posture toward a kind of universalism that essentially—here’s an important piece to me. It’s two pieces. One is that if our way of doing Christianity is to say, “Here’s what I think would be best, but I don’t think God is that good.” If that’s really where we end up, like, “Hey I want a world in which everybody’s saved, but I don’t think God wants that world, or I don’t think God is capable of that world,” you have actually broken some of the basics of Christian orthodoxy in that way of construing things. Because some of the basics of Christian orthodoxy are that God is the utmost good, that God is perfect love, and that God is the strongest force in the universe who is capable of actually bringing about God’s perfect love. So I think it’s almost sociopathic to have a religious view where we say, “I can imagine a world that’s really good, but the world that I think God’s actually going to bring about is an eternal torture chamber.” Beyond the torture chamber, I think that way of thinking is detrimental to you and the people around you. And then the last piece, I’ll just pull a quote from David Bentley Hart. I think part of what’s at stake here when we talk about hell, again, is actually what we’re saying is true of God. And there’s a line from David Bentley Hart, this is basically referring to the traditional view, and especially in reference to original sin and the way that’s impacted the whole hell conversation, he says, “Thus evangelisation is a race to save as many souls as possible from God.”

Nate: Wow.

Tim: I don’t think you can have a productive and fruitful and decent Christianity if in your view of Christianity, Jesus or especially you and your evangelisation, bringing people to Jesus, is essentially saving people from God. I think the basics of Christianity are that God is saving us from ourselves and from powers of evil and saving us from death. Not Jesus saving us from God. So however you construe hell, make sure in my view, that that’s not the way you’re thinking about things. If you’re within that container, nobody freaking knows!

Nate: Right.

Tim: You know? Go with Matthew! Go with Luke! Who the heck cares? Just don’t make Christianity news to the world that God wants to kill them or torture them, but Jesus is going to escape them through a back door.

Nate: Amen. I was going to give you thirty seconds to share that, and then five minutes to do a rapid fire round with anything you missed.

Tim: [laughing]

Nate: But because you used six minutes on your thirty second window, I still now have this I can ask you to do whatever. I’m not going to have you do the rapid fire now because I really have to go, but what I will have you do is… sing our exit music here. Give us something, give us a little something here, or give us a beat, something. Get the people going!

Tim: [singing MMMBop by Hanson]

Nate: You’ve been listening to Almost Heretical. Oh no, you’ve gotta keep going, and I’ll read the credits over, come on!

Tim: Oh. I’m trying to think of something that goes with hell.

Nate: This is kind of like punishment, right?

Tim: Hanson kind of goes with hell, right? A little Creed?

Nate: This is punishment. See, I love Tim and I want the best for him, so this is… I’m not going to torture him.

Tim: [laughing] You could loop it for like six hours on the back of the podcast, and it would essentially be etornal—[laughs] “etornal” eternal

Nate: Conscious torment?

Tim: Subconscious torment. Just play it really low looped underneath the entire podcast, and then it’s—

Nate: Your little case here for me looping it is just because you don’t want to keep singing? You don’t want to keep singing, basically, so just take what you’ve already done and then loop it? No. No, come on, keep going, give me something, and I’m going to read some credits. Come on!

Tim: [singing wordlessly while Nate reads credits]

Nate: Alright, thanks for listening to Almost Heretical. This is our series on hell. I don’t know if there’ll be another one? There might be. I might go long with the credits here today.

Tim: [rapping] Ain’t no more hell ‘cause it went so well. Did three episodes then we going to farewell… Rob Bell.

Nate: [laughing] Farewell Rob Bell!

Tim: See ya in hell.

Nate: Alright, you can find out more at almostheretical.com. And you can you also ask us any questions or share your stories. We love hearing that stuff. And everyday when we get an email from a different listener that we haven’t heard from before, it’s just so exciting and gives us so much energy to keep going with the show. Where’d my music go? Where’d it go? Alright, that’s it, we gotta cut this. Later, friends!

Tim: Peace.

people sitting in front of table talking and eating

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