Debunking the traditional teaching of hell as a place of eternal punishment...
Many desperately seek answers to the question, "What is Hell?" Fearing eternal damnation due to religious teachings, people must examine those ideas more closely. We'll show that the traditional teaching of hell is nothing more than a falsehood, created by a religion that desires to gain proselytes.
Read on, but keep an open mind. What we are about to reveal may be upsetting to those who wish to hold onto suffering.
So, What is Hell?
We'll answer the question, right away. No sense prolonging your suffering. Hell is the state of mind being trapped in fear, lost in the life journey.
Hell is a temporary condition, one which can be changed by love. Fear, the root of all incorrect thinking, causes mental and emotional torment which is hell. There are suffering people walking the Earth who are in hell and needing love. Some of those hurting people have physical bodies, while others are ghosts of people who remain trapped here with us. For the purpose of this article, the word “ghosts” is used to indicate a lost human spirit that has remained attached to the earthly realm. Hell is created when people allow fear to control them, a condition which may eventually produce a false prison that seems hopeless. But true hell is only temporary, as it is a state of mind that can be corrected within all.
However, there is an old, false teaching that Hell is a place of eternal damnation. This teaching is found primarily within Christianity and Islam. When people physically die and are afraid of eternal punishment in a place they have been told is “Hell,” they will often remain hiding in the shadows of this earthly realm. They quietly observe their fellow mankind, who they see as the living, hoping somehow they might find relief for their suffering of separation and perceived impending doom. What many call “ghosts” are just lost and hurting people who need assistance in being freed from such harmful beliefs. One should note that any ghost that has chosen to remain here (no matter how noble a reason) is not completely free from suffering, as the mind of the earthbound person is still focused only on the temporal and not progressing in the life journey. If we believe and teach others that some will suffer eternally as punishment for things done on Earth, then we are culpable in spreading a very harmful lie that causes mankind to suffer needlessly.
Where Did the Idea of an Eternal Hell Originate?
When one thinks of "hell," the word itself brings up the connotation of demons tormenting people in a place of fire for eternity. However, this concept of hell began with some of the earliest of Christian church leaders, but grew primarily from Dante’s imaginary writing, adopted as church doctrine, and further perpetuated by religious leaders as a method of gaining converts to their religion by use of fear. As this concept of eternal punishment has been created by religion and perpetuated by its leaders by incorrectly interpreting bible verses, it is important to not only explain what true hell is, but to also use the bible to "undo" the damage caused by such harmful teachings. In other words, that which was used to “bind” people into fearing an eternal punishment must be used to "unbind" the mind from the torment that has been created via erroneous teachings of biblical scriptures. By doing so, hopefully we will be able to help those who have fallen victim to this harmful belief.
Teachings of Hell Create Ghosts
The false teaching about an eternal place of punishment has created more frightened earthbound spirits (ghosts) than anything else. When a person’s body dies, the spirit (soul of the person) has the choice to either move unto what has been called the “tunnel of light experience,” meeting loved ones and undergoing a life-review; or flee from the light, heading to what is perceived as the safety of darkness, and remaining earthbound and interactive with the living. If a person feared a supposed fate of eternal torment, would one want to move on unto the light which may be perceived as fire, or rather seek to stay with what has become familiar and hide amongst the shadows?
Although ghosts may remain behind for reasons such as unfinished business and other reasons, many ghosts remain with the living, being afraid to move on in their life journey due to the fear of hell. Those who believe in an eternal hell also believe that when a person dies, the soul either ascends unto heaven or descends into everlasting fire. This traditional, Christian belief allows no place for the existence of ghosts; yet ghosts do exist and they are the spirits of hurting people looking for redemption. Hell is the harmful teaching of supposedly enlightened Christian leaders claiming to be following the “will of God.” When questioned about the existence of ghosts, such leaders will postulate the theory that these are not hurting spirits of people, but most likely demons masquerading as humans to fool people. Such leaders simply use more fear to frighten people away from even considering truth. Yet when these teachings are examined it is quite easy to see they are erroneous, fear-based, and therefore will never bring peace to anyone who believes such lies.
What Did Jesus Say About Hell?
Important to answering the question, "What is Hell?" is knowing that Jesus never mentioned a place of eternal punishment and certainly never threatened anyone with hell if they didn't follow his doctrines. There is absolutely no word for a place of punishment, “hell,” found anywhere within the oldest of Aramaic, Greek, or Hebrew manuscripts used in the Bible. There are, however, mistranslations into the English language of a few words from the original bible languages, especially in some older translations of the Bible. These mistranslations found in older Bibles, such as the King James Version (and translations based upon the KJV), are the only basis left for modern Bible teachers to continue to perpetuate their false doctrines. In fact, newer Bible translations are leaving hell out of the Good Book, as it just does not exist within any of the scriptures’ original language. Thus, hell, as taught today by traditional Christianity, never existed in the days of Jesus or prior to his ministry some 2000 years ago. Hell is nothing more than a myth, created by leaders of a religion to control others through fear; a lie that must be undone within the human consciousness.
Biblical Words Purposely Mistranslated as Hell Plus the Incorrect Use of "Eternal" and "Forever"
As mentioned previously, the actual word "hell" is not in the original languages that were used to write the books of the bible. The words (sheol and hades) that were mistranslated by religious translators as "hell," better mean the "common grave of mankind - the unseen place where men go upon death of the physical body - the place or state of the dead." Another word mistranslated as hell, is the Greek word gehenna and it was well known in Jesus’ day as the Valley of Hinnom (a former place of idol worship turned trash dump outside the city of Jerusalem). Furthermore, the words "forever" and "eternal," were also mistranslated in the phrases "eternal punishment" and "eternal damnation." The biblical word incorrectly translated as "forever" or "eternal" is the Greek word "aion," which means "a set period of time,” meaning “an age having an end.” If something has an end, it is not eternal!
It is important to note that when the word hell is encountered within some translations of the Old Testament, it is always the Hebrew word sheol translated incorrectly. Sheol occurs sixty-four times in the Old Testament, but is only mistranslated as "hell" thirty-two times, and as "grave" or “pit” thirty-two times. The Hebrew scriptures are plain that sheol is best understood as being the place or state of the dead. In contrast, a place of endless torment after death is never represented anywhere within the Hebrew texts, because it was never a Jewish doctrine. Furthermore, an eternal hell of punishment was never mentioned by patriarchs, such as Moses or the prophets, as a place of eternal torment after death; and was not in the Law of Moses which were only temporary rewards and punishments. Hence, Jesus, a Jewish Rabbi, never would have taught a place of eternal torment. What is hell? Hell is a creation through use of Bible mis-translation and false interpretation!
Where Do We Go When We Die?
Concerning the fate of mankind after death of the physical body, Jesus said in Matthew 16:18, that "the gates of Hades (translated as hell in some bibles) will not prevail" over the congregation that is mankind. Now knowing that Hades means the state of the dead and not an eternal place of punishment as Christian religion would want you to believe, it would not make sense to say that the gates that hold people captive in an eternal hell will one day not hold them in any longer. Otherwise, hell would not be a place of eternal internment! Furthermore, King Hezekiah in Isaiah 38:10 speaks of the same gates but using the Hebrew word Sheol when he said, "In the midst of my days I will go into the gates of Sheol.” Was Hezekiah saying he was going to a place of eternal damnation, or the place where everyone goes when the body dies? Contrasting these two passages makes it even more clear that Jesus foresaw that whatever is happening on the other side of the grave will change – be undone. This idea could be the resurrection Jesus spoke of.
What Happens When We Die?
Near death experiences have shown that when the body of a person dies, the spirit lives on. Most people who have died and come back tell of seeing loved ones in spirit waiting for them, eager to help the transition to the spirit world. Then, a tunnel of light is seen that feels overwhelmingly like pure love. As the spirit or soul of the person continues through the tunnel of light, there comes a point when a life-review is encountered. This life-review, though detailed, seems to take place in an instant. If a person rejects heading into the light which is where the life-journey continues, then a decision has been made to remain earthbound. A spirit that chooses to remain behind has unknowingly chosen not to continue the life-journey, and is in some form of emotional trauma. Fear is ultimately the cause of this condition, whether it’s fear of punishment, fear of loss, condemnation, guilt, doubt, worry, anger, or whatever form of fear one can imagine. This state of the dead could be the Hades or Sheol that Jesus spoke of. Perhaps these people in spirit who are lost and hurting need “resurrected” into the light, becoming elevated and enlightened to the truth of who they are in spirit. Knowing there is no eternal punishment known as hell plays a huge part in gaining one’s freedom.
The Early Church & Hell...
The first church was not in a building. There was no Bible, offering plates, pulpits, programs or stained glass windows. People met in small groups, whereby varying beliefs concerning Jesus spread. Interestingly, Clement of Alexandria (150-215 AD), considered an early church father, never mentioned an eternal hell and apparently taught universal salvation for all. Also, Origen (185-254 AD), another prominent, early church father who wrote commentaries on nearly every book of the bible, believed all of mankind would be reconciled and that no one would suffer in an eternal hell. Furthermore, even the earliest doctrinal statements such as the Apostles Creed and later the Nicene Creed (325 AD) never taught an eternal place of punishment (hell). However, other early church leaders such as Tertullian (155-222 AD), a former pagan, lawyer and eventual Christian, did write about the eternal punishment of the soul. So, the idea of an eternal place of punishment was believed by some early on, as beliefs in Jesus’ message varied. Yet, by the fourth century, many prominent church leaders acknowledged that the majority of Christians at that time believed all of mankind would be saved – that none would be lost to an eternal hell. So, where did the teaching of eternal punishment come from? It was created by religious leaders as a unified Christian religion was sought and formed.
What is Hell? Hell Was Invented & Sold by Some 300 Years After Jesus' Death
Christianity was organized into a State religion by Roman Emperor Constantine in 325 AD, who was looking for one common religion to unite and control the people. As there were many varying beliefs regarding Jesus and his teachings at the time, Constantine formed and presided over the Council of Nicaea which sought to establish core beliefs (The Nicene Creed) and form Canons (statements of belief) of the faith. This first Council led to many other Council meetings that took place over hundreds of years which further decided what was to be of the faith, and what was going to be tossed out. Over the centuries, doctrines were formed, and anyone or anything that stood in the way of church leaderships’ plans was either removed, destroyed or banished. This is how the Roman Catholic Church was formed over two millennia.
As all forms of Christianity today find their beginning somewhere within the Roman Catholic Church, so we must examine the early Catholic beliefs from where the different sects and denominations would later break away. You see, hell is the creation of Roman Catholicism and this can be clearly seen by looking at the portrayals of hell found within the writings of Roman Catholic writers such as the Italian poet Dante Alighieri (1265-1321), famous author of the “Divine Comedy” which detailed Dante’s journey through hell, purgatory and paradise. Hell, demons and the Devil were further perpetuated by English poet John Milton (1608-1674), in “Paradise Lost.” Today’s concepts of hell have been propagated not only by the Catholic church, but also by the numerous Christian denominations and affiliations that broke away from Roman Catholicism.
The word hell was derived from the Old English word helan, meaning “to conceal.” The term Hell was originally given to describe the underworld, a place where newly departed souls go. Interestingly, the idea of a place of fiery punishment did not originate with Roman Catholicism, but can certainly be found in some ancient cultures. Ancient Babylonian and Assyrian religions depicted the underworld as a place full of horror reigned over by fierce gods, while Egyptian religious texts portrayed the underworld as having fire as punishment for the damned. It is likely that these concepts of eternal torment and fire were borrowed by early Christian church leaders in creating the doctrine of hell, combining them with misinterpretations of Jesus’ teachings. One might say that a religion was crafted in Jesus’ name, but was never what he taught or intended!
Other religions teach of trials for some in the afterlife, but in a much different way. For example, in Hinduism and Buddhism, one’s personal hell would be a place of spiritual cleansing and final restoration. This lines up quite nicely with the symbolic use of fire within the Christian bible. Fire is used in the bible as representing purification or refining, but is almost always misinterpreted as being the flames of hell. In the gospel of Mark, Jesus taught that torment (call it hell if you like) is our own self-creation, a condition of the mind we create for ourselves when we choose to think incorrectly. Interestingly, those who misinterpret these words of Jesus into being about eternal suffering, also miss that Jesus stated, "All will be salted with fire." If this statement were about eternal punishment, how could all of mankind be salted with “hell?” It wouldn’t make sense. Are we all going to hell for an eternity of torment? No, because this parable attributed to Jesus speaks of the trials we put ourselves into when we make wrong choices. It is much easier to understand that wrong choices lead to suffering until we learn our lesson. When we no longer make wrong choices, then our suffering will cease. Further, if fire in the bible is supposed to be from an eternal hell, how could Elijah call fire down from heaven, or God (whom we are told in the Old Testament is a consuming fire), appear as a fiery bush to Moses?
How can there be a mistake in Bible interpretation regarding fire and hell, one might ask? There are two ways to interpret biblical passages: either as literal, or as a parable. But, which way is correct? We are told many times within the bible (Matthew, Mark and Luke) that Jesus spoke in parables, which was a very common thing to do in the first century. A parable is a simple story that illustrates a moral lesson. People in Jesus’ time would not have sought to understand Jesus’ parables literally, but figuratively, looking to comprehend the hidden spiritual truth found within his words. This truth would lead one to wonder why most Christian leaders today teach that Jesus’ words should be taken literally, and yet think they understand the truths Jesus was attempting to convey? Maybe now we can understand one reason why hell is so misunderstood and feared by many.
Church Leaders and the Hellish Fear They Knowingly Created
There is another reason people fear an eternal hell. Many Christian leaders create fear of Hell to not only enlarge their congregations but keep people under their influence. Let’s think about this further. The Christian church in general uses fear to gain converts by teaching the possibility of eternal punishment. That’s like being a doctor who not only gets to diagnose everyone as ailing, but also claims to be the only source of the magical cure for what ails all! We need to remember that fear is always false, man-made, and causes mental anguish. Fear mongering such as this is never good for use on anyone for any purpose. The motivational power of fear created by these doctrines of lies can be felt in just a sampling of statements from some supposedly righteous leaders who claimed to speak for God:
"At that greatest of all spectacles, that last and eternal judgment how shall I admire, how laugh, how rejoice, how exult, when I behold so many proud monarchs groaning in the lowest abyss of darkness." – Tertullian, early Christian church leader and author
"Reprobate infants are vipers of vengeance, which Jehovah will hold over hell, in the tongs of his wrath, till they turn and spit venom in his face!" "The view of the misery of the damned will double the ardour of the love and gratitude of the saints of heaven." - Jonathan Edwards, American theologian
"That the saints may enjoy their beatitude more thoroughly, and give more abundant thanks for it to God, a perfect sight of the punishment of the damned is granted them." - Thomas Aquinas, Italian Catholic Priest
"Husbands shall see their wives, parents shall see their children tormented before their eyes - the bodies of the damned shall be crowded together in hell like grapes in a wine-press, which press on another till they burst." - Jeremy Taylor, Church of England clergyman
“It will be the hell of hells for you to look up and see there ‘poor Jack,’ the drunkard, lying in Abraham's bosom, while you, who have had a pious mother, are cast into hell, simply because you would not believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, but put his gospel from you, and lived and died without it! – Charles Spurgeon, famed evangelist
"The fifth dungeon is the red hot oven. The little child is in the red hot oven. Hear how it screams to come out; see how it turns and twists itself about in the fire. It beats its head against the roof of the oven. It stamps its little feet on the floor." - from Christ Triumphant by Thomas Allin
Interesting Quotes Concerning the False Eternal Hell Doctrine from Famous Leaders
"Since the multitude is ever fickle, full of lawless desires, irrational passions and violence, there is no other way to keep them in order but by the fear and terror of the invisible world; on which account our ancestors seem to me to have acted judiciously, when contrived to bring into the popular belief these notions of the gods, and of the infernal regions." - Polybius, ancient historian
"The multitude are restrained from vice by the punishments the gods are said to inflict upon offenders, and by those terrors and threatenings which certain dreadful words and monstrous forms imprint upon their minds. For it is impossible to govern the crowd of women, and all the common rabble, by philosophical reasoning, and lead them to piety, holiness and virtue - but this must be done by superstition, or the fear of the gods, by means of fables and wonders; for the thunder, the aegis, the trident, the torches (of the Furies), the dragons, etc, are all fables, as is also all the ancient theology. These things the legislators used as scarecrows to terrify the childish multitude." - Strabo, the geographer
"For as we sometimes cure the body with unwholesome remedies, when such as are most wholesome produce no effect, so we restrain those minds with false relations, which will not be persuaded by the truth. There is a necessity, therefore, of instilling the dread of those foreign torments: as that the soul changes its habitation; that the coward is ignominiously thrust into the body of a woman; the murderer imprisoned within the form of a savage beast; the vain and inconstant changed into birds, and the slothful and ignorant into fishes."
- Timaeus Locrus, the Pythagorean, stating the idea of rewards and punishments after death is necessary to society
"Those things which make the infernal regions terrible, the darkness, the prison, the river of flaming fire, the judgment seat, etc, are all a fable, with which the poets amuse themselves, and by them agitate us with vain terrors." - Seneca
"It has been handed down in mythical form from earliest times to posterity, that there are gods, and that the divine compasses all nature. All beside this has been added, after the mythical style, for the purpose of persuading the multitude, and for the interests of the laws, and the advantage of the state." - Aristotle
History shows that the concept of an eternal hell was created by men in power who felt it necessary to control masses of people for their own purposes. It is easy to see the resemblance between those wise men of old and today’s Christian church leaders who are adamant in holding onto these harmful doctrines due to believing it necessary to restrain mankind from sin through fear. Furthermore, church congregations that are grown through gaining converts by promising salvation from eternal damnation are habitations of lost souls. If fear is the root of one’s religious teaching, it is never truth. The teachers of such insane fables are lost and do not know it.
A Logical Look at the Belief in Hell
Since we are told by Christian church leaders that God is all-knowing (omniscient) and all-powerful (omnipotent), then why wouldn't God simply create those whom He knew would make the choices He preferred and therefore not have to destroy anyone for making the choices He didn't prefer? Otherwise, we could most easily say that God is evil and unjust if He created people whom he already foreknew He would have to destroy because of wrong choices. Why create them anyways? Could a good God really make the choice to destroy maliciously, when there was no need to create that which He knew He would have to destroy later? Certainly, if God is all-powerful and all-knowing, He should have easily been able to create only those whom He truly desired and save us all from ever existing and facing eternal wrath, for making incorrect choices which God knew in advance we would never live up to. At least that way, God would spare Himself some grief, too. You must be challenged to examine what you believe, reader, as a religion that teaches an eternal hell is not logical and surely harmful to you and others.
We read in the accounts of Jesus in the New Testament that when his disciples asked him, "Who then shall be saved?" his reply was, "The things that are impossible with men are possible with God." Jesus answered them quite plainly that all would be saved, for in man's sometimes limited thinking, salvation of all is impossible. For example, some bible teachers claim that God created a place called Hell for some of mankind to suffer for all of eternity. Yet, if that were true, then wouldn’t the same bible have mentioned their Hell as a creation of God in Genesis 1:1, "In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth." It does not say that God created hell. Where is hell? Truly then, man must have created hell himself, further proving that hell is a creation of one’s mind.
Finally, Jesus himself told us who creates hell if we pay attention to the words attributed to him in Matthew 23:15, "What sorrow awaits you teachers of religious law and you Pharisees. Hypocrites! For you cross land and sea to make one convert, and then you turn that person into twice the child of hell you yourselves are!" We read that Jesus spoke these words to the religious leaders of his day who were misleading others into false beliefs. He wisely pointed out that those who believe and teach false doctrines are not only the creators of hell but are already in hell themselves and do not recognize it.