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Reconstructing Hell: Eternal Conscious Torment, Annihilationism, and the Hope of Possibility

Instrument of Mercy

There was a time in my life when I repeated the ‘Sinner’s Prayer’ a lot.

In my faith tradition,Hell is humankind’s default destination. Like a pre-existing medical condition,everyone is born damnedperthe doctrine of Original Sin. And the only way to reroute your one-way ticket from eternal damnation to eternal paradise is to make a public confession of faith in Jesus to become a Christian before you die.

Theologically, this view of Hell is referred to as “Eternal Conscious Torment.” And it’s pretty widespread.According to Pew Research,82% of Evangelical Protestants believe in a literal Hell(compared to 58% of all U.S. adults).

Growing up, it wasn’t uncommon to hear people at Christian summer camp or evangelism conferences share testimonies about how theythoughtthey had once been saved, but they were just “going through the motions.” And then they’d point…

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