The doctrine of hell has historically occupied an important role in Christianity. Pictured as a place of never-ending sufferings or a state of eternal and definite alienation from God, hell served as a motivation for believers to adhere to the church teachings and code of conduct. However, a closer analysis of the New Testament texts shows that the doctrine of Hell raises a lot of questions and does not seem as straightforward and clear as sometimes preached from the pulpit.
The traditional understanding of hell in Christianity (whether in Catholicism or in most Protestant denominations) may be traced back to the 5th century CE father of the church Augustine of Hippo. He developed a theory based on his interpretation of certain New Testament passages. According to his teaching, God is just, and his justice requires that sin must be punished. “The primary purpose of such unending torment, according to Augustine, is not correction, or deterrence, or even the protection of the innocent; nor did he make any claim for it except that it is fully deserved and therefore just....
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