I'm currently reading Heaven by Randy Alcorn. Would Hell be described as a spiritual place or physical one?
It’s true that Scripture describes Hell in graphic terms (raging fires, worm that doesn’t die, darkness, weeping, gnashing of teeth). We don’t know exactly what the nature of the present Hell is, just as we don’t know exactly whether the present Heaven is a physical place or not. While theologians contest how literal to take the parable of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16, it does hint of the possibility that Hell’s inhabitants experience some form of physical torment (the rich man says, “send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue. For I am in agony in this fire”).
When someone asked Randy about the location of Hell, he wrote, “I don't believe Hell is in the center of the earth. I think it doesn’t exist in this dimension, but in one outside of our own, and therefore is not located inside the earth. It’s very real, as Heaven is, but as far as I can tell from Scripture, it is not located within the confines of the physical universe we know.”
We do know that those in Hell will eventually experience a resurrection, so they will have physical forms in the eternal Hell. Randy writes, “After Christ returns, believers will be resurrected to eternal life in Heaven while unbelievers will be resurrected to an eternal existence in Hell.” He also writes in Heaven, “Similarly, what we now refer to as Hell will also be relocated. After the Great White Throne Judgment, Hell will be cast into the eternal lake of fire (Revelation 20:14-15).”
It’s a sobering topic to research and write about. As Randy says, “The reality of Hell should break our hearts and take us to our knees and to the doors of those without Christ.”
Stephanie Anderson is the communications and graphics specialist at Eternal Perspective Ministries.