Let’s say I visit London, New York City, and LA.
Then, with ink to page I record the experiences of my travels.
Later, someone translates my memoirs, but everywhere the name of one of the
cities I’ve visited appears, the modern day scribe simply writes, “the city.”
Next, you come along and read these writings. You read in many different places about
“the city”, and with no external research, you assume it’s always the same city being referenced.
So from all this disparate information you form the idea of
a place that doesn’t truly match ANY of the places I wrote about!
Try as you may to find that “city” with the famous “Hollywood” sign, Big Ben, &
The Statue of Liberty,
it doesn’t really exist.
This is exactly what we’ve done with the English translations of the 4 different words all translated as “hell” in our Bibles.
We’ve combined all these fundamentally different and often incongruous elements into an erroneous whole.
Then, to make things even more ridiculous, we throw in some completely unrelated scriptures, and a
strong dose of pagan views of the afterlife (e.g. Dante’s “Inferno”).
We’ve combined all this into one view of a place we now call “hell.”
Indeed, a superficial examination of these teachings will reveal they even contradict themselves.
Plus: We do ridiculous things with some of Jesus’ teachings (as well as with the rest of the Bible).
Take, for example, the story of “the sheep and goats.” We say,
It’s not a real shepherd, that’s just a metaphor.
It’s not real sheep, that’s just a metaphor.
It’s not real goats, that’s just a metaphor.
The “Eternal Fire?” Well, yeah, that parts real.
We shove the falsely perceived point of “eternity” down peoples throats, while missing
Jesus’ only real point in the story:
The division between the groups is entirely based on the acts of kindness and mercy done
by people to their disadvantaged fellow men. This is not a teaching about “over there.”
It’s a teaching about the importance of how we treat people “here and now!”
The version of hell most of us have grown up with is simply not in the Bible.
Quote all the out-of-context verses you want, it’s still not there!
Universalism? Exclusivism? Conditionalism?
Whether one of these, or another “ism,” it’s very important to realize, as has been said,
that our view of eternity says a WHOLE LOT about how we view our heavenly Father.
About the core nature of God.
It certainly says something about our understanding of the cross.
[By the way, Bert Gary has a great “in-detail” look at the “Sheep & Goats” story.
Check it out. Click HERE.]
And check out “Love Wins.” Click HERE.