An Honest Look At Questions And Answers About Hell

There are folks like you and me who are making a the case for and against the idea of HELL. It may be from what we may have been taught or caught. not to mention threatened with while growing up in and around certain family units, churches, non-profit organizations, etc.

Perhaps, you know already that there is a solid scriptural case to be made against the idea of HELL. Several non-Christians have rejected the concept of HELL, of course you would respect that from a strata of society that are reprobate, but it may come as a surprise to learn that there is a growing number of Bible-believing Christians who also question the notion-not in spite of scripture but because of it! This short overview is meant only to raise some questions and provide brief answers. For further study, I promise to provide references and links please refer to the links at the end of the essay.

An open and as as best we can attempt an unbiased study of the Bible, including many key Greek and Hebrew words and terms as well as Church history will reveal some surprising things.

For example, did you know that,"HELL" Is Not an Old Testament teaching:

Here is the popular myth : HELL is an established Biblical doctrine that is in the Bible from start to finish. This actually is not true! Two thirds of the Bible (the Old Testament) does not mention Hell at all. ("Sheol," the Old Testament word that is sometimes translated as hell, only means "grave" by definition, and it is where everyone in the Old Testament is thought to have gone when they died--good or evil, Jew or Gentile). Therefore the Old Testament does not overly elaborate the concept of HELL !

Let's think about this together. "If HELL is real, why didn't God make that warning plain right at the beginning of the Bible? God said the penalty for eating of the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil was death- -not "eternal life" in fire and brimstone.

If HELL is real, why wasn't Cain warned about it, or Sodom and Gomorrah , or any of those who committed the earliest known recorded "sins?"

If HELL is real why didn't Moses warn about this fate in the Ten Commandments or the Mosaic Covenant consisting of over 600 laws, ordinances, and warnings? The Mosaic Law simply stated blessings and cursings in this lifetime.

If HELL is real, why are its roots in paganism, rather than the Bible? The many nations surrounding Israel in the Old Testament believed in hell-like punishment in the afterlife, for they served bloodthirsty and evil "gods," while Israel simply taught the grave (sheol) and a hope of a resurrection. If HELL is real, why was the revelation of it first given to pagan nations, instead of God's covenant people? Did God expect Israel to learn about the afterlife from the Pagan Gentiles? If so, why did He repeatedly warn Israel to not learn of their ways?

If HELL is real, why did God tell the Jews that burning their children alive in the fire to the false god Molech, (in the valley of Gehenna ) was so detestable to Him? God said that such a thing "never even entered His mind" (Jer. 32:35). How could God say such a thing to Israel , if He has plans to burn alive a good majority of His own creation in a spiritual and eternal Gehenna of His own making?

Here is the fact, The King James Bible erroneously translates the word "Sheol" as HELL a total of 31 times in the Old Testament, thus setting a foundation for that doctrine in the New Testament as well as the majority of Bible translations to follow the KJV. Even so, most new translations have nearly eliminated HELL from the Old Testament, as honest and better scholarship has demanded. The Jewish version of the Old Testament (the Tanakh) has no concept of HELL in it.The importance of this fact cannot be over-emphasized. If a doctrine does not appear as seed form in the books of the Law, the Prophets and the Psalms, it cannot should not be taught as a major biblical doctrine, if indeed it can be taught as biblical at all!

A few references:
• Hell Explained or Bible Threatenings Explained by Dr. John Wesley Hanson. This is a modernized version with the Roman numerals moderized with a scripture reference at the end.
• Proof Texts on Endless Punishment by D. L. Livermore. This book along with Bible Threatenings Explained are excellent resources explaining those scripture verses that appear to teach a hell of everlasting punishment.
• If Everlasting Punishment is not Eternal then how can Life be Eternal? (Matthew 25:46) by Gary Amirault
• The Second Death and the Restitution of All Things By Andrew Jukes. A Classic book on Universal Salvation through Jesus Christ.
• Absolute Assurance in Jesus Christ by Charles Slagle
• Is Hell Eternal? Or Will God's Plan Fail? by Charles Pridgeon former President of the Pittsburg Bible Institute.

NEXT POST: An Honest look at HELL as a New Testament teaching

Grace and Peace
Chaplain Bill
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Jan 5, 2012