HELL 2

If you have not read the first post in the HELL series, you can read it here.

Let’s just dive headfirst into this.

If you believe the creation narrative in Genesis, your first observation should be that evil existed before the first humans were created.

I know that is a heavy idea and something you may have never fully considered, so you may want to reread that sentence a few more times before continuing.

Evil existed before the first human beings.

Evenmore, evil existed before their first decision to break shalom (sin) with YHWH by literally, or figuratively, eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

And that point is essential to understand because, to our knowledge, the first humans, like us, did not have any say on entering a reality in which evil already existed.

People talk so much about Original Sin, the first sin of Adam disobeying God’s command, and then act like it is something uniquely terrible that this first human did. But we were put into a reality in which disobeying God is absolutely inevitable. It can be no other way. And it doesn’t matter if it was a guy named Adam, a gal named Eve, a kid named Cain, or any one of us today.

Just by virtue of being birthed into a hostile world in which evil already existed, we were placed in an impossible situation.

To me, it’s like a dad putting his toddler in a muddy backyard and then expecting her to stay absolutely clean.

But actually, it’s worse than that.

It’s like a dad putting his toddler in a muddy backyard, expecting her to stay completely clean, and then threatening her by saying, “If you get muddy I am going to lock you in the basement the rest of your life and torture you, unless you say you are sorry.”

You may be thinking, “Ok. I see your point, but the father offered to forgive her if she would just say that she is sorry.”

To which I would simply respond, “Should his little girl be obligated to say she is sorry for being placed in the muddy backyard by her father in order to avoid the father’s judgment, wrath, and torture?”

Any reasonable person would admit that this little girl was placed in an impossible situation, without her consent, and with a threat of punishment that seems completely illogical and sadistic. She never asked to be put in the muddy backyard in the first place. And forcing her to say that she is sorry for getting dirty seems ridiculous. And threatening her with a lifetime of torture is absurd. If this happened in your neighborhood, you would demand that child protective services be called and the father locked up.

A good father would never do this to his child.

And this is no different than our own existence on Earth.

If God created a reality in which evil existed before humanity, and then we were placed within that reality with the certainty that “we would sin,” then how is the burden on us? Isn’t the burden on God to resolve the situation of evil and not blame us for the impossible situation God put us in?

The fundamental question is, “Ought any human be punished for eternity for entering a reality, in which we did not agree, and to which we did not have any say, and for which we were never the original cause for evil?”

Because, if I had the choice of entering a reality in which the deck seemed impossibly stacked against me and the rest of humanity, with the incredibly large percentage of us going to Hell forever and ever and ever, I would have simply chosen to never enter this reality. The cosmic odds would be against taking that kind of risk. But see, we weren’t given that choice.

So, as it currently stacks up, if this predominant narrative of going to Hell for eternity (also called Eternal Conscious Torment) is true, then 95% of the people who have ever lived on this planet are destined for an eternity of suffering in the everlasting flames of Hell. Out of the approximately 110 billion people who have lived on Earth from the beginning until now, there have only been 5-6 billion Christians since the time of Jesus. And that’s a lot of people who will burn forever.

But are we supposed to believe that every person in history, except for professed followers of Jesus, will be burning in the flames of Hell for eternity?

What about every single person born before the death and resurrection of Jesus?

What about people born before the death and resurrection of Jesus, but who lived in the farthest reaches of the planet and who never heard of Jesus?

What about every single person born after the death and resurrection of Jesus, but who lived in the farthest reaches of the planet and who never heard about Judaism or the saving grace of God through Jesus?

What about every single person born into other religions and who never knew otherwise?

What about every person who ran away from God because their parents physically, emotionally, and verbally abused them in the name of God?

What about every person who never wanted anything to do with God because of the hateful wrath of those who yelled and screamed and damned and condemned in God’s name?

I have to tell you, and I am going to be brutally honest here, if God created a such an immensely difficult and impossible reality, and then made the entire point of it a single decision that we would make to determine whether we would spend eternity in Heaven or Hell, then God has already failed. There is no way any single person can look at 100 billion people burning in Hell for eternity, the overwhelming majority of which who never knew anything about Jesus, and think that God is anything close to victorious.

There is no Good News in that no matter how you spin it.

Again, if evil existed before a single human was created, then it is God’s situation alone to remedy. And if the majority of human beings are sent to Hell for eternity for something we did not create, cause, or choose in the first place, and then born into a random situation that are completely outside of our control, then God is immeasurably more horrific than the worst tyrant or dictator we could ever imagine.

The good news is that God is not a tyrant. And this is not the fate of mankind.

In fact, the idea of burning in Hell for eternity is utterly inconsistent with a God that we are told looks exactly like Jesus. Because if Jesus is the perfect embodiment of God, then how could the two be so radically different from each other?

And then, how could Jesus, not just preach radical, unmerited, unconditional forgiveness, grace, mercy, and love to friend and enemy alike, but then have the audacity to tell us to be the exact same way, if the God he represents is the complete opposite of that, demanding the most severe retribution and punishment for enemies?

We must conclude that we are either more moral and ethical than this God, who is willing to send billions of people to Hell for eternity? Or, we must conclude that we have monumentally misunderstood who God is and what God’s heart is for each one of us and what the fate of mankind is.

I know this all may be disorienting and hard to process. There is no question that you are likely thinking of all the verses and examples from the Bible that you could use to refute this post, but be patient and breathe. We will get to all of those verses and passages in short order. This is just the first step of many.

After reading this post, you may wondering why Jesus had to die if he is not saving people from an eternity in Hell. I am glad you asked. That will be the next post in this HELL series.

10 thoughts on “HELL 2

  1. Thanks for a new narrative and a fresh perspective. It is such a relief to see things differently. It’s difficult to let go of beliefs that have been so engrained. I appreciate this so much!!!

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  2. This is not hard to process because it’s the standard narrative of mainstream liberal theology, and the problem of evil….that doesn’t mean I agree with it, and I hope you’re not going where I think you’re going. Feel free to PM me of FB if you care to discuss

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    1. Thanks for the note. I don’t plan on skirting the problem of evil, but think that Eternal Conscious Torment is illogical, unviable, and inconsistent with the God we see embodied in Jesus. I would just kindly suggest not jumping to conclusions with where I am going and writing it off as liberal theology. Thanks again!

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      1. I’m trying not to jump to conclusions (admittedly perhaps not well)…I’ll be curious to see how you argue that Eternal Conscious Torment is inconsistent with the embodiment of Jesus and his teachings…

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  3. The word Hell is an English translation of both Hebrew and Greek words that were originally used in the Old and New Testaments respectively. The word Hell has been commonly used to translate into English, words that do not always have the same meaning in the original texts used.

    Let us take a look at some examples.

    Proverbs 15:24 The way of life is above to the wise, that he may depart from hell beneath.

    Hell – Hebrew word – shĕ’owl – underworld, grave, hell, pit. The OT designation for the abode of the dead. Without praise of God.

    Psalm 6:5 For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks?

    Grave – shĕ’owl

    Eccl. 9:10 Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.

    Grave – shĕ’owl

    Proverbs 27:20 Hell and destruction are never full; so the eyes of man are never satisfied.

    The word Hell is again a translation of the Hebrew word shĕ’owl

    Biblical Hell – New Testament

    Acts 2:27 Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

    Hell – Greek word – hadēs – name Hades or Pluto, the god of the lower regions; later use of this word: the grave, death

    Acts 2:31 He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.

    Hell – Greekword – hadēs – meaning – grave, death

    Christ’s body (dead soul as opposed to a living soul – devoid of the breath of life) was not left in a grave, or tomb, for His mortal body to corrupt. It was resurrected to spirit-life

    Revelation 20:13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.

    Again the word hell is substituted for the Greek word hadēs

    The Hebrew word shĕ’owl and the Greek word hadēs that are translated hell in the KJV Bible have the same meaning – a grave – a dark place in which all mortals eventually end their days.

    Tartaroō

    There is one hell mentioned in the KJV Bible that mortals do not enter. It is only mentioned once:

    2 Peter 2:4 For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;

    The word hell is translated from the Greek word – tartaroō – regarded (?) by the ancient Greeks as the abode of the wicked dead, where they suffer punishment for their evil deeds.

    Tartaroō is clearly a place of confinement, an abyss or prison, for those angels (not human-kind) who left their first estate, rejecting their Creator’s way. Angels are spirit beings – they do not suffer a mortal death! – As far as is revealed. They do, however, just like mortal humans, face eventual judgement.

    Geenna or Gehenna

    Mathew 23:15 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.

    Hell – Greek word– geenna

    Mathew 5:22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.

    Hell – Greek word– geenna – from root word of Hebrew origin – gay’ – meaning – valley, a steep valley, narrow gorge. Hell also derived from Hebrew word – Hinnom – meaning – lamentation. Sometimes written as Gehenna

    Hinnom is a valley (deep and narrow ravine) with steep, rocky sides located southwest of Jerusalem, separating Mount Zion to the north and the sloping rocky plateau of the plain of Rephaim to the south

    Fire – Greek word – pyr – fire.

    The valley of Hinnom was Jerusalem’s garbage pit. All rubbish and garbage from the city was burned here. The fire continually burned – until there was nothing left to burn. It is not burning now!

    There are those who would have one believe that the unrepentant sinner and those who have perhaps never even heard of Jesus Christ or God the Father, are doomed to the fires of a so-called hell when released from the mortal world. The Book of John reveals that this is not the case.

    John 5:28 Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, 29 And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.

    Damnation – Greek word – krisis – a separating, sundering, separation. The same Greek word translated to the English word Judgement, 41 times in other New Testament verses in the KJV. It should be noted that it is from the grave ALL the dead shall hear his voice.

    The timeline of God’s judgement of human-kind is revealed in the Scriptures. This is not however, within the parameters of this posting.

    Jesus Christ associated hell fire with Geenna or Gehenna fire. It would appear to be the fate for those who absolutely reject the way of God the Father?

    It would also appear that it is not a place of eternal punishment? It is also not associated with the first mortal death:

    Rev. 21:8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

    We have relatively briefly covered the various meanings of the one word hell as presented to us in the English translation of the KJV of the Holy Bible. We could have continued in further study but will leave the interested reader to form their own opinion.

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  4. In my humble opinion, Hell is a man-made construct. Its association with everlasting punishment is false. We will all eventually be judged. To the resurrection to life or damnation. Damnation, as pointed-out above does not mean everlasting punishment, it means a seperation from those who are judged as being worthy of spirit-life in the forthcoming kingdom of God (on earth), ruled over by Jesus Christ. As you point-out in your posting, evil was in the world long before man-kind set foot upon it. Hence, the temporary fate of so-called angels who left their first estate in the confines of Tartaroō. They are not being tortured, or mistreated. It would appear that they are awaiting judgement? The Catholic Church, especially in the past, appears to have found the threat of a constructed hell an effective method of inducing obedience in its members.

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  5. Gen. 1:29; God tells Adam that every fruit bearing plant in the garden is your for food. Later, He creates Eve and then a couple days later He tells them you can eat of every tree in the Garden except the two in the middle, and there they stand with juice on their faces.
    So it’s the Serpent’s fault (God didn’t think any woman would talk to a snake, let alone not run from it) and his punishment is being turned into a snake – say what?? But Adam gets thrown back into the dirt.
    I spent an evening worrying if God was really that mean, but He certainly paid for it by all the grief He had to put up with throughout the Old Testament.
    Then I thought about God punishing Himself in another Eden, Calvary. When He said “It is finished”, then everything was finally evened out.
    Now hell is not so much a place as a lack of place. Anyone who refuses to accept Jesus (God’s apology), ceases to exist. In the next war, the first third of all the people will just cease to exist. It will be the same as the flood and Noah. God got tired of all those evil people and where are they now? I didn’t read about Noah or his family weeping over lost relatives and friends.
    I believe we will see our relatives and friends in the new Earth, but those who don’t make it is like they never were.
    And getting back to that Serpent, Revelation clears that up by telling us it was really a dragon, but try teaching that to your Sunday School class.

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