WHAT DID JESUS ACTUALLY SAY ABOUT HELL? Aug 3, 2015 7:39:55 GMT -5
Post by tomdurst on Aug 3, 2015 7:39:55 GMT -5
WHAT DID JESUS ACTUALLY SAY ABOUT HELL?
By John R Noe, Ph.D.
By John R Noe, Ph.D.
Jesus is credited by most Christian writers and scholars as being “the chief proponent of the doctrine of hell.” But is He? And “Jesus believed in hell.” But did He?
The word Jesus most often used that is most often translated as “hell” was Gehenna. And Gehenna was and still is today a real, literal, familiar, and this-world place with a long, sad, sordid, and well-known past history. In Jesus’ day, it was located in the immediate vicinity of Jerusalem. Biblical scholars traditionally insist that “over time Gehenna also became the name of the place where sinners were punished after death.” But why did it?
One of the biggest problems with Gehenna being an other-worldly, afterlife place is, it was and still is a proper noun and the name of a real, literal, familiar, this-world place. Just like the Mount of Olives, the Judean Desert, Calvary, Bethlehem, or Gethsemane, all these places were and are still located in the immediate vicinity of Jerusalem. Today, Gehenna is a beautiful and partially but densely populated suburb of this modern-day city.
In Bible times, however, Gehenna was a horrific place and reeked of a horrible stench. Why? Because, allegedly and arguably, it was the local city garbage dump of Jerusalem. Hence, fires were kept burning to dispose of the garbage and worms ate this waste as well as the carcasses of sacrificed animals deposited there from the Temple (see Heb. 13:11), and the bodies of criminals who had been executed (see Jer. 31:40a). All these things and more were tossed into this fiery garbage dump.
Additionally, Gehenna had been the place of pagan sacrifices and burnings of Israeli children as they were offered to the gods of Baal(s) and Molech (see Jer. 7:30-31; 19:2, 4-5; 32:35). Let’s also make special note from these just-referenced, Old Testament passages that these sacrifices and burnings were not “commanded” nor “mentioned” by God. They never “enter [his] mind.” And God termed these acts “evil” and “detestable.” Nowadays, and perhaps ironically, the Church has, or soon will have, God Himself doing these same “evil” and detestable” acts to multiple billions sentenced and cast into an eternity of fiery punishment and suffering in a Gehenna “hell.”
To this day, this same valley surrounds old Jerusalem on the southwest side and bears the name Gehenna. You can go to this “hell”—Jesus’ hell—without dying. Israel’s Ministry of Tourism hopes that you will. It conducts daily tours and would be delighted to assist you in making your travel plans.
Fact is, Gehenna is Gehenna and not hell. Making it hell won’t stand up to an honest and sincere test of Scripture and history. Not surprisingly, today, the message of hell is under attack or fire, so-to-speak, as never before, and mostly from within Christianity’s own ranks, and rightfully so.
1 Hell Yes / Hell No by John Noe
2 Surprised by Hope by N.T. Wright