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Why in the Hell Do We Think Hell Exists?

Greg Anthony Szymanski
Greg Anthony Szymanski

Why in the Hell Do We Think Hell Exists?

Here is the case against Hell provided by Tentmaker Ministries.

By Greg Szymanski, JD
April 1, 2008

Everyone is going to Hell unless they do this or that and organized
religion uses that hammer to keep money flowing and people in line until their very last breadth.

The Vatican damns you to Hell if you do not follow the Pope's orders.
Christian religious leaders damn you to Hell if you don't follow Christ.
And, interestingly enough, they all use interpretations of Bible
scripture to back up claims that Hell, after life on earth, really
exists.

With this in mind, most people in the West take it for granted Hell
exists because they are told from a young age that's what the Bible
says.

Well, maybe it does and maybe it doesn't, but it is wise to take a look
at the other side of the Bible coin. Yes, there really are Bible readers
who claim the holy word of God actually makes a good case against the idea that Hell exists.

In an article by Mercy Aiken from Tentmaker Ministries, here is what
they found, in part, about the case against the existence of Hell:

The case against Hell: Did you know that there is a solid scriptural
case to be made against the idea of Hell? Many non-Christians have
rejected the concept of Hell, but it may come as a surprise to learn
that there is a growing number of Bible-believing Christians who also
reject the notion-not in spite of Scripture but because of it! This
short study is meant only to raise some questions and provide brief
answers. For further study, please refer to the links at the end of the
article.

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

For instance, did you know that....

"Hell" Is Not an Old Testament doctrine:

Popular myth : Hell is an established Biblical doctrine that is in the
Bible from start to finish. This 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 went when
they died--good or evil, Jew or Gentile). Thus the Old Testament does
not contain the concept of Hell!

Think about it...

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 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?
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?

**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
completely 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 fairly be
taught as a major biblical doctrine, if indeed it can be taught as
biblical at all!

Hell Is Not a New Testament Doctrine:

Popular myth: Jesus spoke of Hell more than He did of Heaven. This is
not true! Jesus warned the Jews many times of impending destruction,
both nationally and individually. He used several different terms to
refer to punishment/destruction, some of which were erroneously
translated as the same word, "Hell" by Bible translators. We do not deny
that God will indeed judge the whole world, nor do we wish to make light
of His judgments. We are challenging the belief that His judgment on sin
and unbelief is eternal torment/Hell and never-ending separation from
God. Certainly, Jesus spent a lot of his ministry warning people to
repent or reap the consequences, (particularly "Gehenna.") But could we
be reading more into His warnings than He originally intended?

Think about it.......

If Hell is real, why were most of the warnings pertaining to
punishment/Gehenna directed to Israel , particularly the Lord's own
disciples as well as the Pharisees? The first great cluster of
references to Gehenna, are found in the Sermon on the Mount (Mat 5:22,
29, 30), Jesus' great sermon to His disciples in which He warned that
one was in danger of Gehenna for the likes of calling someone a fool.
This is a far cry from our modern Evangelical interpretation that says
not accepting Jesus as your Savior is what sends someone to Hell. Are we
perhaps missing the symbolism that Jesus originally intended?

If Hell is real, aren't we taking verses out of context when we warn
non-Jewish sinners who are not part of the Mosaic covenant God made with
the nation of Israel about consequences for sin which have nothing to do
with them since they are not under that covenant?

Since the concept of Hell doesn't exist in the Old Testament, how could
Jesus and his disciples teach that salvation was deliverance from a
place that is not even found in their Scriptures? And if He was
introducing the subject for the first time, why did He do it so
casually, as though His listeners already understood what He was talking
about?

If Hell is real, since some English translations use the word Hell for
the Greek word "Gehenna," in the New Testament, why didn't this same
place (Gehenna) get translated Hell in the many places where it appears
in the Hebrew form "ga ben Hinnom" in the Old Testament?

If the Jews did not understand "Gehenna" as a symbol of everlasting
torture, but rather as a place of shame, filth, and defilement (where
Israel participated in the grossest form of idol worship), why does
modern theology ascribe more to the word than the original meaning did?
The teaching of Gehenna has evolved in Jewish teachings to include
punishment in the afterlife; but even today, Gehenna still does not mean
"endless" punishment to the Jews.

If Hell is real how could the Apostle Paul (who was especially
commissioned by God to preach the gospel to the nations) say that he had
declared the entire counsel of God (Acts 20:27), when indeed he never
warned of "Hell" in any of his letters? If Hell is real, wouldn't Paul,
of all people, warn of it repeatedly?

If Hell is real, the sin/death of Adam has had a far more powerful
effect on the world than the resurrection life of Christ! And yet Paul
declares in Romans 5 that Christ's victory is far greater than Adam's
transgression! Listen to Paul's confidence in the work of Christ! If
Paul believed in eternal hell for the majority of men, how could he
write the following verses?

".Just as the result of one trespass (Adam's) was condemnation for all
men , so also the result of one act of righteousness (Christ's) was
justification that brings life for all men . For just as through the
disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through
the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous. ( Romans
5:18,19).

"Since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the
dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive."
(1 Cor. 15:22)

"For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in
the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who
believe" (1 Timothy 4;10).

(The above verses are just a few of the many verses where Paul writes of
a pre-eminent Christ that far transcends the traditional Christian view.
This article is full of many more New Testament references by Paul that
display his views of the Christ triumphant, unlimited, all-powerful,
all-conquering, and victorious).

If Hell is real, why is it that the only time Paul even mentioned "Hell"
in any of his epistles, was declare the triumph of Christ over it? (1
Corinthians 15:55). The word "Grave" in the passage is the Greek word
"Hades."

If Hell is real, why is it not mentioned once in the book of Acts in any
the evangelistic sermons that were recorded by the early Apostles?

If Hell is real why do some of the best Bible scholars and Bible
teachers say it is not in the Greek or Hebrew text? (William Barclay,
John A.T. Robinson, Lightfoot, Westcott, F.W. Farrar, Marvin Vincent,
etc.)

If Hell is real, why does the word itself come from the Teutonic "Hele"
(goddess of the underworld "Hell" of northern Europe ). The description
of this ancient mythological place has very little resemblance anymore
to the modern Christian image of Hell. See any encyclopedia or
dictionary for the origin of the word.

FACT: The apocryphal books of the intertestimental period had a
tremendous impact on the Jews in the time of Christ. It is from these
books, especially the book of Enoch, that many of the Jewish myths and
fables concerning Hell, heaven, demons and angels and many other fables
first became a part of Judaism and from there became a part of
Christianity. The myths and fables of these books came from Pagan
influences (namely Zoroastrianism), during and after the Babylonian
captivity of Israel . In fact, Zoroastrianism looks more like modern
Christianity in many ways than ancient Judiasm does!

If Hell is real, why did Paul warn Timothy repeatedly to stay away from
Jewish myths and fables, the likes of which were influencing many in the
early church? Rather than affirming such doctrines, Paul declares them
to be profane fables. (1 Tim. 1:1; Tit. 1:14)

Hell Contradicts The Work of the Messiah:

Popular myth: Jesus came to save the sinner from his destination of
everlasting Hell. Not exactly true! Hell was never a place that the Jews
were hoping to be saved from, since they didn't even believe in it! But
they did need to be saved from their sins and consequences of them;
namely death. Jesus came as the Anointed One to fulfill all of God's
plan for the earth-that through Him might come the salvation,
deliverance of sin, peace, kingdom of God and all that God had promised
through the Old Testament scriptures. There is much we can say here, but
for the sake of brevity we will limit our points to a few key passages.
Please take the time to look up the verses that are referenced.

For the entire article, go to
http://www.tentmaker.org/articles/ifhellisreal.htm


Clusty


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