HELL !!!??? NO....
Something my wife said to an active relative a while back made me think that the Watchtower really missed an opportunity. She told him "I don't believe it's the truth, and if it is at ammagedon I'll just be dead. But, at least I'll have enjoyed my life."
I was raised to believe in Hell. Eternal burning in fire for ever and ever. For a religion that relies on fear to pass up the concept of Hell is a major mistake. Burning forever in eternal torment seems to me to be FAR worse than just missing out on Jesus's Disneyland version of the new world.
So, what do you think? Did they screw up? Will they someday adopt the concept of Hell?
Thinker, I can totally relate to your wife's feelings. In fact, many of the ex JW's I am close to feel the exact same way. If I am to be punished with death instead of eternal life in paradise....so be it. As a Witness I was taught to believe that the dead are conscious of nothing. There is no hell. We just go back into non-existence. So what really is there to fear? If what the JW's believe indeed turns out to be true, then I will be happy that my family will be rewarded with everlasting life in the new world. Unfortunately they will have to live with the loss of me (of course, they'll use the scripture that says they won't even remember me..how nice). I on the other hand, will not know a damn thing. Does it really make a difference either way?
Perhaps the WT did make a mistake by not subscribing to a hell. But they can't change it now! It's one of the main points they use as a defining doctrine that separates them from the rest of Christendom. So they will have to just let it bite them in the ass when so many don't give in to the fear of dying at Armageddon and leave the org anyway.
Don't know now if I believe in hell[fire] or not! It's one of the many things I'm reexamining.
However, I have said the same thing as Thinker's Wife, that if Armageddon comes and I'm not making it into the paradise, I'll just be unconsciously rotting away somewhere. At least (I was sure then) I wouldn't be burning in hell for all eternity. (I was a Bible student at the time and had met my husband and abandoned the Society.)
BUT ten years later ... I had my first child (with that wonderful guy I loved more than the Society's rules on dating non-Witnesses). And the Watchtower Society teaches that when the children are little the parents' being believers sanctifies the children. As my husband was never a Witness and only a nominal Catholic, it all fell on me to save my children's lives. After all, a Mom wants the best for her children. Isn't the "best" paradise? So I began studying again and was associated with the Witnesses for the next 15 years or so, baptized 11 years ago, DA'd last month.
So, my contention is that the WTS doesn't really NEED hellfire, to make their adherents fearful -- at least not the married ones with little children. What parent wants to be responsible for their children losing out on everlasting life? Not taking that responsibility seriously could mean a death sentence for one's children according to the Society!
This is the pressure that kept ME in the borg for so long. It's also the reason why my children are (mercifully) able to forgive me for my errors. They know that I did it because I loved them so much I wanted paradise for them. I still do. I just know it's not the WT version and that life outside the org. can be very good indeed.
I was told when i said I wanted to leave that i was putting a death sentence on my little girls head. That hurt when someone says that but I left anyway and you know what, I've been out the the borg for one year and nothing bad has happened infact I'm happier than i could ever be. She is six years old in two weeks. I'm glad i didn't stay until she was older i think I can reverse the WTs influences from her life and she will grow up, YES she will go up a happy well adjusted person!!!!!!!!!!
I'm glad I trusted my instincts and left.
Imagine living in a world where you know that one wrong thought means instant annihilation. Where you are completely under the power of a God who is on record as commanding some of the first recorded genocides in history, and who has just slaughtered horribly six billion people just because they didn't pay attention to an insignificant fundamentalist sect. Who forbids a parent to show grief when that God has just killed their children. Who has struck a person dead simply for trying to stop His tabernacle tipping to the ground.
Imagine knowing that this is all you have, for all eternity....
Perhaps the WT does have a hell teaching, after all.
Here's my two cents: Russell needed a hook to start his new religion, so, voila! no hell, no trinity, end of the world coming, etc.
I don't think Russell saw it as a "hook". I think he was a nice, sincere man, and I think his ideas about the trinity and hell make sense. Of course, his ideas about dates and predictions turned out to be problematic.