God didn’t create hell for sinners, they did it themselves

Interfax | Bishop Hilarion | Mar. 28, 2008

Q: What do you mean by the hell on Earth?

A: When a man using his power over others makes Earth hell for them. Didn’t Hitler turn Earth to hell for millions of people tried and tortured in concentration camps, perished in gas cameras and battlefields? Didn’t Lenin and Stalin make hell for thousands and millions of people who died in camps or were shot on false denunciations or sentenced by Stalin’s “troika”? Don’t today’s terrorists, who kill peaceful citizens, take them hostage and cut off their heads, turn Earth to hell?

And is it believable that malefactors and monsters, who kill other people and revolt against God and all-hallows will share paradise with righteous and saints? Is it believable that paradise will welcome both John the Baptist and Herod, St. Veniamin of Petrograd and Lenin, thousands of the murdered new Russia’s martyrs and confessors and their torturers? It removes division between the good and the evil. Then there’s no difference if you are a saint or a villain, if you do the good or the evil, if you save people from death or kill them.


Q: So sins will be inevitably recompensed?

A: Any person bears moral responsibility for his actions. And he will answer for the sins of his earthly life in eternity. St. Isaac the Syrian writes that sinners in hell are not deprived of God’s love. On the contrary, love is given equally to everyone: to the righteous in the Heavenly Kingdom and to the sinners in Gehenna. But for the righteous it becomes the source of joy and bliss while for sinners it is the source of torture.

Thus, God didn’t create hell for sinners, they did it themselves. God doesn’t send sinners to hell, but people who oppose God’s will and revolt against God choose hell themselves. And this choice is made in their earthly life rather than in some distant eschatological prospect. It is right here on Earth that infernal tortures and “the Kingdom of God come with power” begin.

Q: However, even the Orthodox divine service says that hell is “abolished” by Christ after His Resurrection from the dead?

A: The reality of hell, its existence for sinners and even the possibility of its eternal existence don’t contradict the news of its abolition by Christ resurrected. Hell is really “abolished” in the resurrection of Christ, as it is not inevitable for people anymore and doesn’t have power over them. But those, who consciously oppose God’s will and commit crime and sin, restore destroyed and abolished hell as they don’t want to reconcile with God’s love.

I’d like to stress it again: God didn’t create hell, people created it for themselves, God destroyed and abolished hell, but people restore it again and again. Hell is re-created every time when sin is consciously committed and isn’t repented.

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1 thought on “God didn’t create hell for sinners, they did it themselves”

  1. Today hell cries out groaning:
    I should not have accepted the Man born of Mary.
    He shattered the gates of brass.
    As God, He raised the souls that I had held captive.

    Glory to Thy cross and resurrection, O Lord.

    Today, hell cries out groaning:
    My dominion has been shattered.
    I received a dead man as one of the dead,
    but against Him I could not prevail.
    From eternity I had ruled the dead,
    but behold, He raises all.
    Because of Him do I perish.

    Glory to Thy cross and resurrection, O Lord.

    The great Moses mystically foreshadowed this day, when he said:
    This is the blessed Sabbath.
    This is the day of rest, on which the only-begotten Son of God rested from all His works.
    He kept the Sabbath in the flesh,
    through the dispensation of death.
    but on this day, He returned again
    through the resurrection.
    He has granted us eternal life,
    for He alone is good, the lover of man.

    The verses are from the Stichera for the Vesperal Liturgy of Holy Saturday.

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