Hell’s pagan historical beginnings and its Old Testament absence
It is called Hellfire. For many centuries the churches have taught that when sinners die they face a punishment of eternal torment and torture in hell. Reading some of the descriptions of how this intense and endless torture works will make your skin crawl and your stomach turn. Yet, those who adhere to such teaching are firm in their belief that it is thoroughly biblical, and therefore entirely in line with God and His plan. But is it? Could God have contrived such a diabolical and heinous place, where screams of agony and relentless pain are the order of the day, now and forever? What if this teaching is NOT of God but rather of Satan? What if, by understanding well-established facts and by keeping Bible scriptures in context it could be proven that what many churches have taught for centuries is one of the greatest misrepresentations of God that the world has ever seen?
There is no doubt this is one of those topics that can easily bring out the reactive parts from all of us. From the pro-hellfire crowd there is the, “If you don’t believe in it then, you are going there!" Or, “Don’t you read your Bible? Revelation says ‘the smoke of their torment goes up forever!’ Duh!” Then from the anti-hellfire crowd there is, “Hello, look up the words, don’t make up the meanings!” or “Don’t YOU read your Bible? God told Adam the penalty for sin was death not torture! Look it up!”
This approach isn’t fun and certainly is NOT at all productive! Why don’t we all take a breath and review a few fundamental assumptions about each other. First, your belief is sincere and based upon both what you have been taught, and what you have thought and studied yourself. Therefore, as I look at that belief - be it in agreement or not - I must be respectful. You carry your belief for a reason, and I will assume your reason is a conviction that it reflects God’s word and plan. Now please, do grant me the same respect. I carry my sincere belief based on what I have been taught and what I have thought and studied and I (like you) am convinced it reflects God’s word and plan. There, I said it...so now what?
Now let’s talk about it. Calmly and scripturally. Now let’s present a point of view that we believe reflects God word and God’s plan. Let’s use reason, let’s keep the things we quote in context and let’s verify them with history as well. If you would, allow me to go first. Check out our May 14, 2018 podcast, “Is the Hell of Christian Tradition Taught in the Bible? Part 1”. In this podcast we attempt to present a logical, scriptural pattern of reasoning we believe firmly explains God’s position on the matter in the Old Testament. Why not the New Testament? Two reasons: first, the Old Testament is the foundation upon which Jesus himself based his teachings. Second, the New Testament is the focus of Part 2. Listen and then respond if you would like. Tell us where you think we are right or wrong and why. What a great opportunity this could be for us to talk with each other! In Part III we explain difficult texts about hell.
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