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In response to a Wall Street Journal column claiming that in some “distant, better future, the foreclosure of Hell will be an important step in the maturation of human communities,” Christian evangelist Franklin Graham offered a warning to naysayers Wednesday.

“Hell is much more than a concept – it’s a reality.”

He explains to the unsure that the Bible describes hell as a “blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth,” and it will “not change with the maturing of human culture, or anything else we might dream up.”

And he makes it very personal.

“If you die today, are you sure of your destination?”

His comments came in reaction on a column from Scott Bruce of Fordham University.

Bruce cites reports that Pope Francis denied the existence of hell and “the endless suffering of the damned” just months ago.

He wrote that the New Testament is clear: “God created Hell for Satan and the rebel angels, but there was plenty of room to torture with fire and brimstone everyone who had rejected Jesus Christ as the Son of God.”

He explained, “By any measure, Hell is a cruel and oppressive concept: a place where sinners suffer unspeakable torments for all eternity for sins committed during their mortal lives.”

He believes it predates Christianity by thousands of years, and early Christians composed “harrowing stories of human souls escorted by angels to witness the torture of those imprisoned in the infernal depths.”

“By the Middle Ages, Hell was a cornerstone of Christian doctrine. Parish priests delivered sermons about the awful torments awaiting sinners; theologians such as Thomas Aquinas argued that the blessed in Heaven rejoiced in the suffering of the damned; and Dante Aligheri composed his towering poem ‘The Inferno,’ which depicts Hell as an efficient bureaucracy shaped like a descending funnel, with Satan trapped in ice at the very bottom.”

Bruce suggested the fear of hell “helped lead souls to Heaven,” but then he claims Darwinism “eroded the authority of the Bible and the tides of sentiment turned against God’s wrath in favor of His mercy” in the 19th century.

Also it was a metaphor for “the most extreme suffering and squalor in this world,” he said.

And he suggests there are doubts.

“Has Hell outlived its usefulness to modern society? Probably not. The doctrine still serves Christianity as it has for centuries, as a frightening deterrent to sinful behavior. We still hope that wicked people and corrupt leaders will get their just deserts in the world to come.

“In some distant, better future, the foreclosure of Hell will be an important step in the maturation of human communities that can mete out justice on their own, without supernatural aid. In the meantime, Hell is here to stay. Will Pope Francis evict the Devil and his minions and liberate the numberless, tortured souls clawing at the walls of their burning cells? Don’t count on it. There isn’t a hope in Hell.”

Graham, on Facebook, had a relatively terse response.

“The fact is, Hell is much more than a concept — it’s a reality. Jesus spoke about it a great deal. The Bible describes it as a ‘blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ It will not change with the maturing of human culture, or anything else we might dream up,” he said.

“Hell is a very real place that will be the eternal destination of souls who reject the forgiveness and salvation that a loving God offers us through His Son, Jesus Christ. Heaven is also a real place, prepared for those who put their faith and trust in Christ. Now is the time when we must choose our eternal destiny – the Bible tells us ‘…now is the day of salvation’ (2 Corinthians 6:2).

“If you die today, are you sure of your destination?”

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