It’s often the case that traditionalists will object when their detractors use “torture” to describe the traditional view of final punishment. In Hell Under Fire, Christopher Morgan challenges Clark Pinnock on this point: “…notice [Pinnock's] pejorative use of ‘torture’ rather than an appropriate word like ‘punishment’” (207). In the same volume, Robert Yarbrough, while responding to Edward Fudge’s assertion that “Scripture nowhere suggests that God is an eternal torturer,” writes: “Some of Fudge’s language can be set aside as overwrought rhetoric. The historic view does not view God as ‘an eternal torturer’; hell is not unjust torture but is rather, according to Scripture, a just recompense for people who are without excuse…” (78)
The above quotation of Fudge can be found in Two Views on Hell. In that volume, Robert Peterson responds: “I hold to the traditional view of hell. But I most certainly do not think that ‘God is an eternal torturer…’” (85, Kindle ed.)
To many of us not wedded to the traditional view, “torture” just seems like an appropriate description of what the Church has historically taught will be experienced by the damned after judgment: in addition to being deprived of God’s goodness and blessings, the unrepentant will forever suffer excruciating pains of both body and mind (what medieval theologians called the poena sensus, or pain of sense). Being punished with prolonged, agonizing pain is just the dictionary definition of torture.
One thing is for certain, many historical descriptions of hell sure sound like torture:
…Thine heart beating high with fever; thy pulse rattling at an enormous rate in agony; thy limbs crackling like the martyrs in the fire, and yet unburnt; thyself, put in a vessel of hot oil, pained, yet coming out undestroyed; all thy veins becoming a road for the hot feet of pain to travel on; every nerve a string on which the devil shall ever play his diabolical tune of Hell’s Unutterable Lament; thy soul for ever and ever aching, and thy body palpitating in unison with thy soul…