Section 9B .. The Future / Hell

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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Far from being outdated, out of touch, and largely irrelevant to modern society, the Kingdom of God Jesus was sent to earth to proclaim (No, His main message wasn't about 'love') is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 somewhere out there where everyone exists in a state of disembodied blessedness. According to the Scriptures He intends to establish His kingdom right here on earth which, in every respect, will be a world most men and women would choose to live in - a place of peace and safety where there will be no crime, war, hunger, disease, and above all - no death. 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: Because 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 what the Bible says about heaven and hell as opposed to man's teachings. I originally presented both sides of the issue (death vs. eternal punishment) in this section leaving 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. (Emphasis Added)

    Though some portray the issue of hell as central, history tells another story. 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...

    The brutal imagery of medieval theology tended toward ever-more-vivid portrayals of hell's horrors. And nowhere were those horrors so dramatically depicted as in The Inferno, the first part of The Divine Comedy, an epic poem by the Italian author Dante Alighieri (1265-1321). [01]

However Dante’s inferno was very likely to have been at partially inspired by the second century Apocalypse of Peter and the fourth century Apocalypse of Paul. See Details

Although the above information is correct, to say that there is an "absence of a fully developed teaching in the New Testament" and that " Speculation is appropriate, as long as we remember that we don't really know, dogmatically and definitively. Sorry but we can know dogmatically and definitively IF we are willing to do some in depth research.

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, many translations have rendered several Hebrew and Greek word according to preconceived biases. Thus anyone interested in the truth has to do two things

    1.) Dig into the Hebrew and Greek words used by the original authors (the deeper one delves into the subject, the less persuasive the argument in favor of the traditional view becomes). 

    2) Differentiate between symbolic and literal passages (something that has to be done in many areas of the Scriptures. For example,  much of the book of Revelation is symbolic some of it used before in the Old Testament

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]

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 regardless of 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?

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. This study is 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 those who translated the Bible into English often used the English words or phrases that best fit in with pre-biases set in stone. For example, the KJV largely usually translates Sheol into 'hell'. However, when 'hell' would have been absurd they rendered Sheol as pit or grave. Similarly, the NIV twice substituted "the realm of the dead" when in their minds 'hell' or 'Hades' would have conveyed entirely the wrong impression. Some newer translations use the original Sheol and Hades but still render Gehenna as 'hell'. The fact is all four words are proper nouns. Proper nouns can be transliterated (rewritten in a different script) but NEVER 'translated' into what someone believes the place represents. (Incidentally, there is no difference between Sheol and Hades - 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. 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 only 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" and that sinners are destroyed, perish, decay 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. In innumerable passages, the Bible clearly states that immortality is a result of redemption.
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. It is steeped in imagery and uses a bewildering and sometimes weird array of symbols - angels with trumpets and bowls, beasts emerging from the sea, locusts shaped like horses with tails like scorpions, waters turning to blood, a bottomless pit, dragons with seven heads, a woman sitting on a scarlet beast etc.  We understand that this not literal but highly dramatic imagery. Why then do we take the terms 'lake of fire', the 'unquenchable fire', etc. literally?


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. The problem is believers usually do one of two things - gloss over the difficulties or, based on preconceived ideas, decide which parts of the story are literal and which are not. Is this 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 supports what we have already decided to believe.


PART VII - Christians Justify Their Misinterpretation of Scripture By Making Excuses For God HERE
Most Christians accept the traditional doctrine of hell because they believe that it is taught in the Bible. However, as taught by the church this 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" - a horrific idea that 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. 


PART VIII - Jesus Descended Into Hell HERE
The belief that Jesus descended into hell between His death and resurrection has caused a great deal of confusion over the years. However this concept comes not from Scripture, but from the Apostles Creed which states "He (Jesus) descended into hell". However, any authority it or any other creed may have is based solely on it's faithful adherence to the teachings of the Scriptures. The problem being that because the Creed is so often part and parcel of Christian thinking people automatically approach several other verses with the presupposition that Christ descended into hell.

End Notes
[01] The Battle Over Hell. Grace Communion international. https://www.gci.org/articles/the-battle-over-hell/

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


The Future

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