I believe that history had a beginning, has a middle, and will have an end. I believe that Genesis 1-11 is an accurate historical record. I believe that the creation days of Genesis are literal 24-hour days and that there are no good linguistic or theological reasons to believe otherwise. I believe that the Earth was cursed because of man’s sin. I believe the Genesis narrative of a cataclysmic, worldwide Flood is true. I believe that the universe was created about 6,000 years ago, and the scientific body of evidence for a young universe is very strong. (See Impact Article #384, Evidence for a Young World by Dr. Russell Humphreys at the Institute For Creation Research website; also see The Young Earth by John D. Morris, 1994, Master Books.) Billions of years are unnecessary to explain the origins of the universe and life in it.

Evolution is not only bad science (See Unlocking The Mystery Of Life, an excellent film on VHS or DVD, available through Congregation Shema Yisrael), but it contributes to bad theology. Either you believe Yeshua when He said that Adam and Eve were there at the beginning of creation (not several billion years after the beginning of creation – see Mark 10:6), or else you’re left to conclude that the Son of God was grossly mistaken or a liar. Henry Morris wrote, “The Lord Jesus, who was actually the Creator of all things and who, therefore, knows how it was, completely rejected the long-age notion of the ancient evolutionary philosophers (Stoics and Epicureans)” (The Young Earth, page 5). If you insist on accommodating the Genesis account to Evolutionary Theory, you would then have to say that there was death before Adam’s sin entered the world even though the Bible tells us that death came as a result of Adam’s sin.

Dr. John Morris helps us understand why believing in Creation and a young Earth is important: “In the Bible they (editor’s note: “they” meaning Christians) read that God created all things in six days. They’ve come to know the Lord and love and trust His Word, but they’ve heard that ‘all educated people know that evolution has been proven.’ And so, they find themselves in a dilemma. Creation or evolution, the Bible or science? ‘Since science is true and since it disagrees with the Bible, then Scripture must be untrue,’ they think. Several options present themselves. A frequent response is to believe in creation at the appropriate times but to believe evolution at other times and try not to think about the inconsistency. Or maybe the two are somehow compatible. Maybe God used evolution to create. Maybe the days of Genesis are long periods of time. Maybe evolution occurred in a ‘gap,’ then that original world was destroyed, and God re-created in six days. Maybe, maybe – ‘well I’m just not going to think about it. I’ll stay in the New Testament.’ But those doubts. Where do the dinosaurs fit in with Scripture? Where did Cain get his wife? Where did the races come from? What about the ice age? How did all those animals fit in Noah’s Ark? Where did all the water come from to cover the mountains? And where did it go? Reasoning from an evolutionary mindset, there are no good answers to these questions. And so, many think, maybe Scripture has errors. Maybe it can’t be trusted. Maybe even the New Testament can’t be trusted. The result: a weak church, with weak, doubting Christians. Young people from Christian homes and good churches who go off to college and come back doubting and defeated or worse. Pastors who don’t teach the whole Scripture. Denominations that go liberal. Seminaries that teach a smorgasbord of ideas” (The Young Earth, pages 7-8).

I believe that in the future, a one-world government headed by an evil dictator, the anti-Messiah, will come to power. I believe the true Messiah, Yeshua, will literally and physically return to Earth; destroy the anti-Messiah and his forces of wickedness; and set up His Kingdom, which will be centered in Jerusalem and last for 1,000 years. I believe in a real, not symbolic, Millennium and that God will literally fulfill the many promises He made to Israel (such as Ezekiel 40-48; Zechariah 12-14; Isaiah 2:1-4, 65:18-25; Jeremiah 33:19-22) – but that does not prevent me from having fellowship with Amillennialists.

I believe that after the Millennium this universe will be destroyed. That event will be followed by the Day of Judgment. At that time every human being will give an account of the things he or she has done and the things he or she has wrongly left undone.

I believe in a literal Heaven and Hell and in the subsequent creation of the New Heavens, the New Earth, and the New Jerusalem. I differ from the traditional view of Hell that teaches that Hell is a place of eternal, excruciating, and conscious torment for every human being who is sent there. I believe that the Bible teaches the unrighteous will be resurrected, judged, and punished in Hell for a period of time proportional to their sins and that then most will suffer destruction of both body and soul in Hell. The really evil, like the Antichrist and False Prophet and perhaps others like the Hitlers and Stalins of this world, will suffer forever in Hell. (See Revelation 20:10.) My reasons for believing this, in short, are:

The human soul is not immortal. The Torah teaches us that in the beginning man was banished from the Garden of Eden and forbidden to eat from the Tree of Life so that he would not live forever so that he would not be immortal. Mankind is headed toward death – the first death, followed by the Second Death. He is not, by nature, immortal. In 1 Timothy 6:15-16, Paul says that God alone possesses immortality – not us. In 1 Corinthians 15:53, the great Rabbi teaches that the redeemed will not become immortal until the time of their resurrection. “For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality.” In other words, immortality is a gift of God that He gives in His grace to the redeemed at the time of their resurrection. In 2 Timothy 1:10, Paul states that, because of the appearing of our Savior, Messiah Yeshua has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel. It is Yeshua who brings immortality to those who receive the Message of Salvation that He alone offers. There is no need to believe that most human beings will suffer eternally in Hell if the human soul is not intrinsically immortal – and it isn’t.

Hell is described as “the Second Death.” (See Revelation 2:11; 20:6,14; 21:8.) How can Hell be a “Second Death” if it consists of a kind of ongoing life, an eternal existence of conscious torment? Is the Second Death just another kind of life? Or is the Second Death a cessation of spiritual life, like the first death is a cessation of physical life? Isn’t death a cessation of life?

Hell is a place of destruction (Matthew 7:13). Messiah revealed that in Hell both soul and body can be destroyed (Matthew 10:28). Destruction of both body and soul seems to mean the total destruction of the entire person. Likewise, in 2 Thessalonians 1:9, Paul says that those who do not obey the message of salvation “will pay the penalty of eternal destruction.”

Hell is a place of eternal punishment, but there is a difference between eternal punishment and eternal punishing. It is one thing to experience a punishment that is eternal in its consequences; it is another thing to experience eternal punishing. The Bible also speaks of eternal judgment (Hebrews 6:2), but it is not a judgment that continues eternally but rather a judgment that comes to an end that has eternal consequences.

The punishment must fit the crime. It does not seem right that trillions of years of torment and more (since that would only be the beginning of one’s torment) await those who committed crimes for a few years here on Earth.

The doctrine of eternal torment goes against Biblical examples of how God punishes the wicked. The Lord’s punishments took place quickly and without undue suffering. Sodom and Gomorrah was punished with fire – but it took place suddenly. The Lord destroyed Noah’s evil generation with water – but the Flood came quickly. The Lord ordered the Canaanites to be killed – but they were to be killed swiftly. In the Torah there was no provision for long jail sentences, where a person suffered in jail for years and years. Torture was never allowed. Punishments for violation of the Law consisted either of restitution or death. Even animals were to be spared suffering. They were to be killed as quickly and painlessly as possible.

I believe that there is room within orthodoxy for this position on the nature of Hell. Both Jewish and Christians scholars have held to this position in ancient and modern times. One’s understanding about the duration of Hell is not a matter of cardinal doctrine like the doctrines of the Trinity, the deity of the Messiah, salvation by grace alone and by faith alone, or the authority of the Holy Scriptures alone. This is an issue of eschatology, the study of the Last Things; and sincere, godly believers may study the same Scripture passages about Hell and come to different conclusions about the issue of its duration. Our varied viewpoints, arrived at through earnest and godly study, should not be allowed to cause division or rancor in the Body of Messiah.

For more information on the nature of Hell, I recommend the March 2006 edition of the Lamplighter Magazine, produced by Lamb and Lion Ministries (from which much of this teaching on the nature of Hell is taken). Also, Edward Fudge’s superb and masterful book, The Fire That Consumes, is an outstanding resource on this subject.