Section 9B .. The Future
The Problems With The Traditional View of Hell

003white  Index to Section 9B... The Future     >      Hell... Introduction and Index


What and Where is Hell?

Introduction and Index

Carol Brooks

Also See The Message of the Bible   and The Warning of The Bible
Far from being outdated, out of touch, and largely irrelevant to modern society, the Kingdom of God Jesus was sent to earth to proclaim (No, His main message wasn’t about ‘love’) is exactly the utopian world most men and women can only dream of, not some pie-in-the-sky ethereal place the other side of Pluto where everyone exists in a state of disembodied blessedness. However, there is also a warning. The Bible very clearly tells us that we all have a choice to make in this life - the most important decision we will ever make. And, if the Bible is indeed the word of God, as it claims to be, and Jesus is the Son of God as He said He was, the consequences for the individual who chooses to ignore the ample evidence, or counter it with clever arguments, will be fatal.


(Index To All Chapters Below)

The Importance of the Subjects: Since either Heaven or Hell is the final destination of all of mankind, the importance of these two subjects cannot possibly be overstated. In fact, it is imperative that we thoroughly and completely understand, not man's teachings, but what the Bible says about heaven and hell. I originally presented both sides of the issue (death vs. eternal punishment) in this section, and left it to the reader to make up his or her own mind. However, this wasn't good enough. Either hell is a place of torment, or it is not. Either hell is eternal or it is not. There is no middle ground, and no room for fence sitting.

A Core Doctrine? Unfortunately, most Christians believe that an everlasting nightmare is a core doctrine of the church. It is not. In the words of Keith Stump... (Emphasis Added)

    "The doctrine of hell evolved long after the core doctrines of the historic Christian faith were established. The views of the early Church fathers about hell were far from unanimous. It took the Christian community hundreds of years to come up with a consensus on the issue. The majority view -- that hell is a place of eternal fiery torment -- emerged only after a long debate within the Church... By the Middle Ages, the concept of a fiery underworld had become a dominant element in people's minds. To the medieval faithful, hell was a place of suffering and despair, of wretchedness and excruciating pain. The medieval Church used fire-and-brimstone rhetoric to its fullest to keep believers under control. The Church considered hell a useful prod to piety, a strong incentive to refrain from evil." [01]

Church Doctrine Vs. Bible Truth : It is a tragic fact that the doctrine the church finally arrived at has little in common with what the Bible teaches. In fact, in order to support what they think is right, various translations have rendered several Hebrew and Greek word according to their own preconceived ideas. Thus anyone interested in the truth cannot rely on shallow, first-glance interpretations of certain passages, but has to do two things - 1) dig into the Hebrew and Greek words used by the authors and 2) differentiate between symbolic and literal passages. If one actually does this and digs deeper into the subject, the arguments in favor of the traditional view of hell begin to ring quite hollow. 

Challenging The Traditional Viewpoint: As said by David Reagan of Lamb and Lion Ministries... "The doctrine of the duration of Hell has been so strongly held throughout the history of Christianity that few have dared to challenge it. Adding to the reluctance has been the fact that most modern challenges have come from the cults. Thus, a person who dares to question the traditional viewpoint runs the risk of being labeled a cultist" [02] (or, possibly a Universalist).

Christians Do Not Really Believe In Eternal Torment: Although eternity is a difficult concept to grasp, it seems to me that very few Christians truly believe in the doctrine of eternal fires of hell, no matter how much they profess to do so. The idea of unending, conscious pain, whether physical or mental, is beyond anyone's darkest imagination or worst nightmares, and should stir Christians into a state of near panic for the welfare of their unsaved relatives, friends, and acquaintances. Yet, when was the last time any of us tearfully went to an unsaved person that we care about, and begged them to 'repent and believe'?  When was the last time you did so?

Presuppositions: However, it is totally pointless to even read this unless you are prepared to set aside your denominational presuppositions and other biases, and rely strictly on what the Word says, something that seems to be easier said than done for most Christians. But for those who are willing to allow the Bible to dictate their beliefs....



PART I - Sheol, Hades and Tartarus HERE

Sheol and Hades
It is a sad fact that several separate and distinct words (Sheol in Hebrew, and Hades, Gehenna, and Tartarus in Greek) were 'translated' to fit in with preconceived ideas. For example, the KJV translates Sheol into 'hell', but also 'pit' or 'grave'' (especially when 'hell' would have been ludicrous). Some newer translations use the original Sheol and Hades but still render Gehenna as 'hell'. The NIV substituted '"the realm of the dead" in two places where 'hell' or 'Hades' would have conveyed entirely the wrong impression. The fact is all four words are proper nouns, i.e. names of places and should have been left untranslated. Sheol and Hades are exactly the same place.  One is simply Hebrew, the other Greek 

Considering its etymology, it is quite intriguing as to how the word "hell" came to be associated with fire and brimstone.

According to most Bible versions 2 Peter 2:4 says the angels were cast down to hell. However, it is not what the Greek says.
The original manuscripts tell us that the angels were cast down to TartarusTartarus is not hell.

PART II - The Curious Silence of The Old Testament Regarding 'Hell' HERE
What Kind Of Lawgiver Keeps The Worst Penalty A Secret?
The Old Testament does not record a single instance of God ever warning anyone that the punishment for sin was hell in the afterlife. Much to the contrary, every one of His warnings concerned punishment in this life. Additionally, the author of Hebrews said every transgression received "just recompense" (Hebrews 2:2). If transgressors has already received 'just' recompense then how can any more punishment be due them?

Gehenna (Ge-Hinnom), a valley outside Jerusalem was called "the valley of Benhinnom" in the Old Testament. Yet once again, a proper name was translated into... you guessed it - Hell!  And, by the way, no one ever mentioned, much less warned the Gentiles about Gehenna. Never! Not Once! Thus if Gehenna really was a place of eternal torment, the Gentiles were hopelessly short changed. So why was  Gehenna only spoken of to the Jews? Incidentally, the perpetually burning fires of Gehenna are also a myth.

PART IV - Overlooked Greek Words and What They Means HERE
Why Are We Ignoring So Many Greek Words
 that tell us that the punishment for sin is "death" - they are destroyed, perish, decay, rot etc.

Immortality of The Soul
 Based on the fact that the Bible says God created mankind in His own image, many Christians believe that the soul is immortal.
The Bible clearly contradicts this belief.

The Second Death
Someone has to die before you can say there is a death.

PART V - The Symbolism in Revelation HERE
When it comes to symbolism the book of Revelation has no peers.
Because Revelation contains some of the most bizarre imagery found in the Bible, a 'proof text' from these chapters is very suspect. This is why we need to carefully examine the terms 'lake of fire', fire and brimstone, the 'unquenchable fire', and the "weeping and gnashing of teeth" Jesus spoke about.

PART VI - The Rich Man and Lazarus HERE
If this parable was meant to be literal how do we explain the numerous anti-Biblical details it contains. Lets see - we do one of two things - either gloss over the difficulties or, based on preconceived ideas, decide which parts of the story are literal and which are not. This is not exactly how the Bible should be interpreted. In order to correctly understand this parable (and any other Bible verse) we have to read and understand the context because virtually every single Bible verse is an integral part of a particular point the author was trying to make. And this parable is no different. Because we have not made the effort to grasp the overall message of what Jesus was saying in the section, we have jumped to conclusions that support what we have already decided to believe.

PART VII - How Christians Justify Their Misinterpretation of Scripture
Also Called Making Excuses For God HERE
Most Christians accept the traditional doctrine of hell because they believe that it is taught in the Bible. However, the doctrine of 'hell' as taught by the church isn't some elevated, high-minded, spiritual principle, but boils down to "God loves you, but He is quite prepared to torture you in hell forever".  This probably makes many believers very uneasy. Thus their only option has been to come up with some excuses for God, no matter how illogical, bone-headed, and anti-biblical they might be. 

Let us at least try and stick to the message taught by the Scriptures. All those who disbelieve or continue to ignore God's offer of salvation - counter it with what they consider 'clever' arguments and live their short lives on earth as though there was nothing beyond it will find that is exactly what they get


End Notes

[01] Keith Stump. The Battle Over Hell. Grace Communion international. https://www.gci.org/prophecy/hell ALSO
 Plain Truth Ministries www.ptm.org/01PT/SepOct/battleHell.htm

[02] Dr. David R. Reagan. The Nature of Hell. An Eternal Punishment or Eternal Torment?



    The Future

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