Jay Pritchett on Hell

Jay_PritchettWhenever I talk to certain people about hell I am reminded of something Jay Pritchett said on the TV show Modern Family. Whether you are a universalist, inclusionist, traditionalist, or none of the above, I hope the following piece of dialogue will make you smile. As Jay shows, whenever we make bold claims about the hereafter, there’s always a danger we’ll get tangled in theological knots.

In the episode entitled “Earthquake,” Jay has skipped church to go play a round of golf. His step-son Manny worries that Jay’s behavior will make God angry.

Manny:     So you’re not worried about getting into trouble, you know, with God?

Jay:         Oh, I think he’s got bigger things on his plate.

Manny:     So you’re not worried about hell?

Jay:         Let me let you in on a little secret, kid. There is no hell.

Manny:     Seriously? No hell? That’s fantastic! So everyone just goes to heaven?

Jay:         Yep. End of story.

Manny:     Even bad people?

Jay:         Yeah, they’re… they’re… they’re in another section, see? They’ve got this thing figured out. Can I hit this?

Jay misses a ten foot putt.

Jay:         Dammit. You distracted me.

Manny:     I didn’t say anything.

Jay:         I could hear you thinking.

Manny:     I’m thinking about this heaven of yours that’s full of bad people.

Jay:         Not full – the tiniest fraction. They’re walled in.

Manny:     What if they break out?

Jay:         They’re surrounded by a lake of fire.

Manny:     There are fiery lakes in heaven? This is turning into hell.

Jay misses another putt.

Jay:         Tell me about it.

Source: Modern Family, ABC Network, episode aired 10/6/2010, Christopher Lloyd and Steven Levitan.


18 Comments on Jay Pritchett on Hell

  1. no comment,kinda interested in the responses, kinda of reminds me of [ choose this day life or death, choose life cuz death can be real hell.

  2. I love the character of Jay Pritchett and love that you referenced him. I’ve never tried to figure out hell, this helps, a lot.

  3. Connie Neason // July 31, 2013 at 12:53 am // Reply


  4. He is correct! There is no hell because everyone and everything has been cleansed by the blood and passed through Gods refining fire. This includes all humans and all of creation! Gods will is for everyone to repent and he WILL get his way. PTL!

    • Jesus says unless you repent you will likewise perish Luke 13:3 Matthew 7:13 destruction means ruin without hope Not all who call me Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven-Matthew 7:21.

      • Absolutely! Everything in the old creation in Adam will perish and be destroyed! God has to destroy everything in the old fallen creation. He has already destroyed our old man and we are born new as spiritual beings. He will eventually destroy everyone’s old man upon their change of mind about him (repentance) as he reconciles all things through the blood of Christ. Col 1:21-23. AMEN!

  5. I didn’t understand it. What’s Jay implying?

    • I don’t think he is implying anything. He just wants to play golf on Sunday. He thought he could talk his way out of church with a few glib comments, but Manny’s questions left him wishing he hadn’t said anything.

  6. Universalism:

    Reconsider Matthew 25:46, regarding the fate of the damned and of the saved. Jesus says,

    “Then they will go away to eternal punishment but the righteous to eternal life.”

    1. But the Greek word translated “eternal” (or “everlasting”) is aionios, and does NOT in fact mean “unending or everlasting in quantity of time.” Rather, aionios speaks to an “indeterminate age set by God alone.” This adjective is used to describe something within time, not outside time (that is, in eternity). Aionios is the adjective form of the Greek word aion, where we get our English word “eon” (age). Young’s Literal Translation for aionios is always “age-during.”

    2. And the Greek word translated in this verse as “punishment” is kolasis, a term used to describe the pruning back of trees, to allow fuller and healthier growth. It is also used to describe corrective punishment, “inflicted in the interest of the sufferer.” (For vindictive, vengeful punishment, “inflicted in the interest of him who inflicts it, that he may obtain satisfaction,” the word timoria is used.)

    Note: Many erroneously believe that if you deny that the punishment of this verse lasts forever, then you must also deny that the “eternal” life of the saved is unending. But that doesn’t follow, because this verse is dealing with life, or punishment, WITHIN TIME, during the final eon. However, eternity is outside time. (In 1 Cor. 15:20-28, we discover where the ages will come to their end, and eternity will begin.)

    • I have heard these arguments many times and I have trouble buying them. Even if you’re right about Matthew 25:46, there are dozens of other scriptures that speak of perishing and destruction. In fact, there are far more scriptures that speak of destruction than there are that speak of eternal torment. (I list them here.) In the most famous scripture in the Bible, Jesus lists two outcomes: eternal life to those who believe, and perishing (John 3:16). The word for perish means to destroy fully.

  7. Paul, thousands of us are loving, enjoying and celebrating the insights God has given you and you share and teach us about His Grace (few more so than me). We thank God for you and will never stop thanking God for you! But my story of Grace with Christ began over 30 years ago when I could no longer bear the burden of thinking of all those people who will eventually go to the eternal destruction (and Second death) and the knowledge that they do so because they “failed”. Their failure of course being a consequence of their flesh. Broken and despairing by that thought that overwhelmed me, I believe God showed me something breathtakingly simple and posed it as a question which I now humbly pose to us all: ‘If Christ conquered death, then how can anyone at the end of all the ages remain dead?’. One more thing I want to add in answer to the myriad of thoughts this question raises…. ‘Fire’ in the Bible is used as a cleansing force, a purification process if you like and often the consequence of sin. Could it be that the fire of hell and the second death are ultimately the natural (law) outcomes that purify the flesh and in so doing enable those who choose ‘Law’ to see and hear Christ more clearly and be released from their Christ-less suffering? I see our Father as the judge who has “every right” to condemn us, but for those who use the Law as their justification then even they are ultimately cleansed by the consequences of the Law they have practiced.

    • Ian, thanks for your encouraging feedback. I really appreciate it.

      I am totally open to the possibility that things may turn out far different from what we expect for the simple reason that the Bible doesn’t say much about what happens after Judgment Day. That said, I live in the here and now. I’m preaching for a verdict. I don’t want anyone to go into any sort of fire.

    • In 1 Cor. 15:20-28, we discover where time will come to its end, and eternity will begin. When the last person has repented in the Lake of Fire, the purpose of the Lake will be finished. It might take a long time, but “Love is patient.” 1 Cor. 13:4.

      In a way, that Lake is like the fiery furnace in Daniel: Jesus will be present with the captives (Rev 14:10. basanizō/torment: “to test the purity of gold”), but in non-physical, purifying flames of “divine incense” (Greek: theion, also translated “brimstone”) freeing them from all their bondage. And each individual captive there will eventually choose to repent (change their mind), accept Christ, and come out of that Lake of Fire—without any smell of smoke!

      God is love. God is a consuming fire. God is a consuming fire of love. Each one will gradually be unbound by Jesus to receive him and to accept the invitation to come through the gates into the City (“On no day will its gates ever be shut” Rev 21:25), in order to take the free water of life offered there. Jesus “shall lose none of all those God has given” him. “In Christ ALL will be made alive” v. 22. And only “then comes THE END” v. 24. All death will have been abolished (which would include the Second Death, The Lake of Fire) v. 26, and God will finally be “all in all” v. 28.

      • I don’t see any support in scripture for the universalist picture of purgatory. I do, however, see many scriptures that speak of destruction, as I have mentioned above. You have to ignore much of Jesus’ words, including John 3:16, and literally rewrite scripture to believe in purgatory. As I say, I am open to the possibility that things may turn out differently from what we expect. I am not open to the possibility that the words of Jesus can be discarded.

  8. Paul, I would argue that “evangelical universalism” speaks better of God than annihilationism (which, in turn, speaks better than infernalism).

    ‘God has put everything under Jesus’ (1 Cor. 15:28), and ‘of all that the Father has given Jesus he shall lose nothing’ (John 6:39). I believe everyone is predestined for salvation.

    You mention [permanent] destruction or perishing, and reference John 3:16—

    “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish [apollymi] but have everlasting life.”

    Yet Luke 19:10 translates the same word, apollymi thus:

    “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost [apollymi].”

    I believe the Lake of Fire is purging and temporal. “Purge” comes from Latin purgare to purify, from purus ‘pure,’ which derives from the Greek FIRE (pur), as initially fire was used for cleansing. But we are not talking about physical fire.

    I believe the Bible is part of a progressive revelation reflective of the human mediators’ growing understanding of God’s goodness. Jesus said to the disciples, “I have yet many things to say to you, but you are not able to bear them now.” John 16:12.

    Jesus said about leftovers, “Let nothing be wasted.” John 6:12. How much more concerned is he about the souls of men?

    Finally, God “is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are ALIVE.” Luke 20:28.

    • In a nutshell you have highlighted two of my big concerns about universalism. First, universalism distorts scripture by fiddling with the meaning of words. Lost doesn’t really mean lost. Eternal doesn’t mean eternal. Fire doesn’t mean fire. Destruction doesn’t mean destruction. Since this fools no one, universalism has to go one step further by putting itself above the scripture. “We understand the heart of God better than Jesus did.”

      You don’t see the danger of this?

      Jesus says there are sheep and goats, but the universalism says there are no goats, only sheep. Jesus says some live, but universalism says all live. Jesus says the fires of God’s wrath were meant for the devil (Matt 25), but universalism says they were meant for people. Jesus said the way to life is narrow and few find it, but universalism says all find it. Jesus said not everyone will enter the kingdom of heaven (Matt 7), but universalism says they will.

      Not once did Jesus say or hint that all will be saved. In fact, he says the opposite on numerous occasions.

      • Not everyone who dies and goes to hell actively hates God.  And those who do actively hate or reject God do so because they are either deceived or misinformed.  To truly know and experience God is to be loved by Him, and then to love Him in return.  Everyone will finally get that chance…

      • I totally agree that everyone responds to God, but we’re talking past each other on the subject of hell. Probably time to move on. Be blessed.

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