"I don't believe there is a physical place where people go and are tormented," Ben Carson said when asked if he believes in hell

Credit: Bill Pugliano/Getty

Ben Carson‘s faith has played a crucial – albeit controversial – role in his presidential campaign thus far. Now the GOP hopeful is opening up about the nuances of his Seventh-day Adventist belief system – and some of them may surprise you.

In a new interview with The Washington Post‘s Sally Quinn, Carson reveals that although he believes in heaven as a physical place where people go after they die, he does not believe in hell.

“I don’t believe there is a physical place where people go and are tormented. No. I don’t believe that,” he says.

Likewise, he says he doesn’t believe in the “Rapture,” a teaching embraced by many evangelical Christians that believers will be “caught up together in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air” at or before the Second Coming of Christ. “I don’t see any evidence for that in the Bible,” Carson says.

So what does the former neurosurgeon believe in? The apocalypse, for one thing. “We believe that Christ is going to return to the earth again,” he says.

When asked if the many tragic events unfolding in the world today could signify that the end of days is coming soon, Carson replied, “It could. Of course it could, yeah. It think [the return of Christ] could come at any time You live your life as if he’s coming back today. As if he’s coming back tomorrow.”

Carson also believes in God – and God’s presidential plan for him.

“There’s no man who can explain God, or he would be God … He’s a force that doesn’t believe in dictating and gives you a choice: whether you want to be associated with Him or not,” Carson says. “It can provide enormous strength and power if you do. And he has been an integral part of my life. There are many things I would have never taken on in the medical [field] had I not felt that he was behind me.”

Carson also believes God is behind him now, in his quest for the White House – although he stops short of saying he has God’s official endorsement.

“I would put it this way. [The campaign] wasn’t something I particularly wanted to do And I finally just said, ‘Look Lord, you know this is not on my bucket list. And the pundits say it’s impossible anyways.’ ”

“But, I said, ‘If you really want me to do this, then you will have to open the doors. I’m not going to push them open.’ And the doors have flung open. So I don’t know what the eventual end of it all is, but I promised that I would walk through the doors if they opened.”

Carson, who just last month was virtually tied with front-runner Donald Trump in a national Quinnipiac poll, has since dropped to third place, trailing more than 10 points behind the billionaire businessman in a poll released Wednesday.

But come what may, Carson has made it clear that he plans to continue walking down the path he believes God intended for him.

“I don’t know what his eventual plan is,” Carson tells The Washington Post. “When I commit to something, you know, I go into it wholeheartedly. If I’m not president, it will not be a devastating blow to me.”