When discussing Hell, Orthodox Christians understand the Scriptures literally. Their understanding of the teachings of the saints is that Heaven and Hell are experiences of God’s eternal goodness. The distinction between Heaven and Hell is not as simple as some may think. Both places are filled with sin and retribution, but Heaven is much more a place of love, mercy, and retribution.
Revelation 20:13-14 hades
The OT teaches that after a person dies, his soul goes to Sheol. This is true whether the person was saved or lost. During this period, the soul is awake, has memory, and can converse with other souls.
Jesus relates the story of two men in the afterlife to illustrate the eternal consequences of selfishness. Although Jesus is not teaching that there are two types of afterlife, he does explain that the first is a place that separates the living from the dead.
Christ’s retributive love
Augustine has elaborated on the subject of Christ’s descent into hell in a letter to Evodius. The letter includes an extensive interpretation of 1 Pet. 3/4 21. Augustine’s answers to Evodius’ questions reveal that the doctrine of Christ’s evacuation of the damned from the earth was common among the orthodox saints of Augustine’s day. In particular, Augustine addresses the question of whether Christ preached only to those who died during the days of Noah, or whether He preached to all the imprisoned in hell. Further, Augustine refutes the view that Christ descended into Hades in the flesh, arguing that it contradicts the text of the Bible.
The doctrine of hell is based on the Bible. It is a place of punishment that God will send to the ungodly after death. This punishment is a retribution for the sins of the soul, which is a result of original sin. While Christ has delivered Old Testament righteous from hell because they are sinners, he did not deliver the sinners who had no faith or only had faith but did not practice the faith.
Heaven is a place of retribution
The popular imagination portrays heaven as a heavenly paradise, but Scripture teaches a different picture. It is not a place of retribution for sinners, but rather a place of purification for sinful souls. Although the process of purification does involve pain, it is not a punishment for sins that were previously forgiven.
While the doctrines of both the Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church are similar, they hold different views on the state of the soul after death. The Roman Catholic Church refers to this place as Purgatory. The Orthodox church doesn’t use the term Purgatory, but the teachings of Orthodox saints and the Catholic Church do have some correspondence. In particular, the Orthodox Church objects to three aspects of traditional Roman Catholic teaching on Purgatory.
Hell is a place of eternal punishment
The Orthodox Church understands hell as a place of eternal torment. The Holy Scriptures describe hell as an unending, unchanging state of torment, where fire never goes out and worms never die. These are extreme descriptions, but they are nonetheless consistent with the doctrine of hell.
The pains of hell vary according to the degree of demerit. For example, more intense hatred of God implies a greater sense of pain. Similarly, a more vivid consciousness of Divine abandonment implies a more severe pain.
Heaven is a place of everlasting joy
According to the Eastern Orthodox view, heaven has several levels. The lowest level is paradise. This place was touched by man during the Garden of Eden, but the Fall separated paradise from the earth. The Orthodox view of heaven says that Jesus opened the gates to paradise for mankind after his Crucifixion, and the penitent thief was the first one to enter paradise after Jesus.
The orthodox view of heaven relates to the doctrine of the kingdom of God. It is the divine part of the human soul, which can be found in our souls, in the holiness of God’s creation, and in the kindness and love of human beings. The redeemed will live in this heavenly home, where death and suffering will be gone. Sin will be eradicated, and all things will proclaim that God is love.
Latter-day Saint understanding of outer darkness
The Book of Mormon has a reference to “the outer darkness,” but a closer look shows that this is not a reference to a physical place. Instead, the reference is to a spiritual state where the person can no longer perform works of mercy. Later leaders and authors, including the Church, are more likely to accept this view.
The concept of outer darkness is rooted in Matthew 22:13. It tells the story of an undressed man at a wedding feast who was thrown into outer darkness. Generally, this is a description of hell, but it can also be a description of heaven or its suburb.