It seems your OP concludes that if we just let Christian teachers argue among themselves about hell the whole Gospel message will go away or at least diminished.
The concern of some of us is truth over popularity.
Two points I would make. Hardly anyone I know misses the point that hell, whatever it is, is something or some place to be avoided. Arguments over the temperature of hell or other particulars not withstanding, it seems universally agreed upon that this is a state from which one needs to be saved.
To reject salvation from the Savior God - from the Savior Christ results in something that can only be discribed as bad to terrible. I don't see how squables over the particulars can erase the communicated negativity of not being reconciled to God.
This bottom line is not likely to be missed by readers of the New Testament.
Secondly, I think for the most part the person we have to blame for a concept of the negativity of eternal punishment is none other than Jesus Christ. This to me is important.
From the same mouth which spoke the most pleasant and loving words of mercy, grace, long suffering, forgiveness, love, pardon, patience also came the most fearsome words of warning.
It seems that this important doctrine of eternal punishment God intrusted Jesus Christ for its delivery. It was not primarily a different mouth that spoke these awful warnings. It was the mouth of the same Jesus who has so warmed human hearts with the thought of God's love.
Jesus has to thanked for the worlds greatest words about love. And the same Jesus has to be charged with the most fearsome words about the destiny of the unsaved.
In my opinion, this should be seriously contemplated. Most interpretations of hell, most abuses of the teaching, or careful applications of its teaching stem from things that Jesus uttered and not someone else.
Whether Paul, Peter, or John spoke of eternal perdition in the epistles or the book of Revelation, their words are apparently based on what they received either directly or indirectly from the mouth of Jesus, the Good Shepherd, the Physician, the "Friend of Sinners", the pleasant Bridegroom, the Savior, the Lamb of God.
"And all bore witness to Him and marveled at the words of grace proceeding out of His mouth ... " (Luke 4:22a)
This same mouth spoke the most fearful warnings about the results of unbelief in Himself and God. His beauty and integrity suggest that it behooves man to listen to all of His words including the ones which terrify as well as those which uplift and comfort.
quote: For the purpose of discussion, all reference to Hell must of necessity be metaphorical and hypothetical. I personally believe that if such a place existed, humans would never be sent there. They would end up there by rejecting what is by definition not there. (Or by accepting the absence of same)
The human mind fights mightily against the concept of endless torment as punishment. But there is nothing in the New Testament that would suggest we can allogorize its horrors away.
Jesus was too explicit -
"And if your hand stumbles you, cut it off, it is better for you to enter into life maimed tha to have two hands and go way into Gehenna, into unquencahble fire.
And if your foot stumbles you, cut it off; it is better for you to enter into life lame than to have two feet and be thrown into Gehenna.
And if your eye stumbles you, cast it out; it is better for you to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into Gehenna,
Where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched. " (Mark 9:43-48)
You would have to blame Jesus Christ for a starkly physical depiction of damnation.
Here again in Matthew 25 it is hard to allegorize away the physical nature of "eternal punishment".
"But when the Son of Man comes in His glory and all the angels with Him, at that time He will sit on the thone of His glory. And all the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them from one another, just as the shepherd separate the sheep from the goats. (25:31,32)
These are living human beings at the time of His physical return to earth. And to the condemned He says:
"Go away from Me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. (v.42)
And these shall go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life." (v.46)
Eternal fire = eternal punishment. In spite of the fact that it has been "prepared for the devil and his angels" ie. spiritual beings, the departure of living human beings into the same place renders little ground to minimize its physical horrors.
The beast [Antichrist] and his false prophet are thrown alive into the lake of fire which presummably is the same eternal fire / eternal punishment of Matt. 25.
"And the beast was seized, and with him the false prophet, ... These two were cast alive into the lake of fire, which burns with brimstone. (Rev. 10:20)
Rather then protest that God won't do this, I think it is better to believe that God will do what He says He will do. These people went alive into such a terrible place. Where is the room to allegorize away its actual horrors ?
The way it is written I have to assume that God has a way to hurt both spiritual beings and physical/spiritual beings in the same terrible place.
Of course if we believe in Christ we will not abide under the wrath of God ( John 3:36 ) .
He who believes into the Son has eternal life; but he who disobeys the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides upon him."