I help teach a High School class on Sundays, and in a few weeks we're going to cover the topics of Heaven and Hell. Being the resident skeptic, I decided to reread a book about Hell that I'd written a review for earlier this year. I thought this might be an interesting blog topic also. I've just spent the last hour searching through YouTube videos etc. for something that might capture the flavor of the book, and found a video I think is a fair description of the book that I've pasted at the bottom.
As an aside, there are a lot of strange videos about Hell. As someone who has studied the Bible in depth and came to faith through trying to smash the accounts of Jesus' resurrection (see my website), I believe that Hell is a real place that people go to after death. It is eternal, and there is no escape. The only way to avoid this is by accepting the forgiveness that God offers through his son Jesus (John 14:6). I don't want to get in a long theological treatise here; let me just say that I was skeptical of Jesus' claims, and was blown away by the evidence for the resurrection. Any questions, feel free to email me, but please don't if you're just going to rant.
Whatever you might think, the subject of Hell is frightening, and it certainly makes sense to ponder it. I personally don't believe there is any physical evidence that would ever be convincing, but since it is a theological concept there are theological arguments that can be entertained and debated. Again, these are deep waters that I am broaching (another *fools rush in* moment for me) but am not ready to open right now because it would take a book. I WILL say that Jesus talked a great deal about Hell and eternal judgment. If you doubt this, read the book of John to start, remembering that the Bible we buy at Walmart accurately gives the writer's words as written in the first century. (check my website for validation of this statement).
OK, 'nuff said. To finish I'm going to re-post my review. I hope this is thought-provoking.
23 Minutes in Hell, by Bill Wiese
Book Review by Amy Deardon
We may joke about it, or use it as a mild curse. Many people don't believe it even exists--or only mass-murderers and rapists go there. But as the author of this book pleads, Hell is a serious topic that should be considered on this side of the grave.
Bill Wiese's 23 Minutes in Hell presents a disturbing look at the afterlife. He claims that after going to bed one night, he was suddenly thrown into a stone prison cell... of Hell. During the first part of this book he describes his personal responses to terrifying conditions and the death of hope, and in the second he undertakes an overview of what the Bible says about Hell. Some of the topics covered in this book include:
Is Hell real?
What is Hell like?
Are there degrees of punishment in Hell?
Can demons torment people in Hell?
Do children go to Hell?
Do people remain in Hell forever?
Can "good" people go to Hell?
What is the difference between Sheol and the "Lake of Fire"?
Is what I believe about God important?
Wiese is an unabashed Christian who explains that we all fall short of a perfect God, but God has made a way, through Jesus, by which we may avoid Hell and be reconciled to Him. He describes a number of examples of God's opening doors for his compelling story, resulting in many being brought to Christ.
I tend to be skeptical about stories like this, although I also don't dismiss that it actually happened. Wiese's account of his vision of Hell is written in a straightforward manner without embellishment, and frankly nothing triggered questions to his sincerity except for the fantastic nature of his tale. Wiese's commentary of Hell in the second half of the book touches upon many aspects of this place, and is richly documented and easily accessible for those wishing to pursue further study.
Wiese's style is not polished, but it's easy to follow, and his subject matter is certainly compelling. This is an introductory text rather than a scholarly and exhaustive review of Hell, and is a relatively "quick read." During the author's personal descriptions of Hell I found the scriptural references supporting his statements distracting, but this was a minor flaw. Wiese's attitude throughout was of the great urgency of sharing how to avoid this horrific place through faith in Christ.
This book is valuable whether or not you want to believe that Wiese's vision of Hell actually occurred -- as the author himself writes, it doesn't matter what he says, but what the Bible says, about this topic. Whatever you think, it's a darn scary book. $12.99 (trade paperback). 170 pages.
Publisher: Charisma House
Genre: Christian Life/Spiritual Growth/nonfiction
Here is a video that I thought gave a fair summary of what Bill Wiese says in his book. Let me just repeat that I don't know if Bill Wiese actually experienced Hell or not, but what he describes is consistent with what the Bible says.
31 minutes ago