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Fire and brimstone

The wrath of God burns against them, their damnation does not slumber; the pit is prepared, the fire is made ready, the furnace is now hot, ready to receive them; the flames do now rage and glow.

-- from Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, a Christian sermon preached by Jonathan Edwards in 1741

Fire and brimstone (also called hellfire and damnation, typically by Christians) appeals to listeners emotions with frightening stories of demons, hellfire, and damnation. Fire and brimstone appeals appear to be primarily a Christian thing (at least in the United States), though they are charactaristic of other religions such as Judaism and Islam; indeed, the Christian roots trace to Jewish writings.

We note, brimstone is an Old English word for sulfur.

In the Book of Genesis 19:24, God rains fire and brimstone on Sodom and Gomorrah. Fire and brimstone come up elsewhere in the Christian Bible, for instance, Psalms 11:6, Ezekiel 38:22, the Luke 17:29, and the Book of Revelation, 20:10. Also, Deuteronomy 29:23 and Isaiah 34:9 speak of punishment where the land is covered with fire and brimstone.

Isaiah 34:9 and 34:10 follow (King James Bible):

9: And the streams thereof shall be turned into pitch, and the dust thereof into brimstone, and the land thereof shall become burning pitch.

10: It shall not be quenched night nor day; the smoke thereof shall go up for ever: from generation to generation it shall lie waste; none shall pass through it for ever and ever.

Revelation, 20:10 (King James Bible):

And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

The Gospel of Mark warns five times of the unquenchable fires of hell. The Gospel of John warns of the "lake of fire and brimstone." The message of fire and brimstone is (no sexism intended), "You better mend your ways son, or you're gonna burn for all eternity".

In the Christian faith at least, fire and brimstone preaching has declined in popularity in recent years, as Christianity often tries to present more positive images. Fire and brimstone is now charactaristic of the more conservative branches of Christianity; the fundamentalist cartoonist Jack Chick of Chick Publications keeps the tradition alive, and the Baptists can still spin off good fire and brimstone sermons, as can some Pentacostal preachers.

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General information:


Noted "Fire and Brimstone" preachers:

External links and references