Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Tell me again…what Jesus said about Hell? (cont)

I love the story Luke tells about Jesus, his two trigger happy disciples and the Samaritan village who would not receive them. 

Luke 9:51 51 Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem, 52 and sent messengers before His face. And as they went, they entered a village of the Samaritans, to prepare for Him. 53 But they did not receive Him, because His face was set for the journey to Jerusalem. 54 And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, "Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?" 55 But He turned and rebuked them, and said, "You do not know what manner of spirit you are of.”

So the two disciples, James and John….got all pissy because the Samaritan village wanted nothing to do with Jesus…or with them.  None of this…”If they don’t receive you, shake the dust off your feet” and keep going.  No…they wanted to call down fire on the village….like Elijah did in 2 Kings. To refresh your memory….

Three times the king sent a group of 50 soldiers and their leaders to bring Elijah in.  Twice Elijah said,

"If I am a man of God, then let fire come down
from heaven and consume you and your fifty men."

And fire came down from heaven and consumed them. 

Then the third guy, realizing he needed a different plan…..fell on his knees and begged Elijah to have compassion on him and his men. And the Lord told Elijah to go with this humble captain to meet the king.

So that’s the storyline running through the minds of the two disciples.  Fire from heaven.  Effective and dramatic. 

And Jesus said…”Hey, that’s a great idea!” “Why didn’t I think of that?”


he turned, and rebuked them, and said, You do not know what manner of spirit you are of.

I love that passage….!

The disciples wanted to fry the occupants of a small Samaritan village and Jesus refused….scolded them…and reminded them who they were…WHOSE they were.  Yet, this same Jesus is going to consign unbelievers to never ending fire and brimstone. Eternal Conscious Torment.  Really? 

If you believe that….perhaps, like those two disciples, you do not know what manner of spirit you are of. 

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Tell me again…what Jesus said about Hell?

Jesus did speak out boldly against the teachings of the Pharisees.....Chan points that out...and I agree.  Jesus did not hesitate to go toe to toe with them.  He called them snakes and vipers...compared them to whitewashed tombs and cups that were clean on the outside but dirty on the inside. 

Matthew 16:6 And Jesus said to them, Take care to have nothing to do with the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees. (BBE)

Mark 8:15 And he said to them, Take care to be on the watch against the leaven of the Pharisees and the leaven of Herod. (BBE)

Luke 12:1 At that time, when thousands of the people had come together, in such numbers that they were crushing one another, he said first to his disciples, Have nothing to do with the leaven of the Pharisees, which is deceit. (BBE)

Leaven equals teaching. 

 Matthew 16:12 Then they saw that it was not the leaven of bread which he had in mind, but the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. (BBE)

So beware of their teachings....except, of course, they've got the hell part right?

No....he never said that. 

And I agree with Chan's assessment that most of the Pharisees did believe in hell.  They had several terms for it too….phrases that could mean nothing other than unending punishment....forever torture....with no hope of escape. 

There are words, in the original language of scripture, that truly mean eternal. The word aidios denotes a period of time that is truly never ending. The Pharisees believed in a doctrine of endless punishment. Jesus was well aware of this. The term was aidios timoria. They believed wicked spirits were kept in eternal imprisonment...eirgmon aidion. The Essenes also  believed in a place of never ceasing torment. Their phrase was timoria adialeipton. 

And these are the terms Jesus used when he warned his listeners about hell....right?  In Matthew 25:46 when he said 

"These shall go away into everlasting punishment "

he used one of these well known, oft repeated  phrases denoting forever and ever and ever in never ceasing torment?  Jesus used the phrase aionion kolasin, which is more accurately translated as “age abiding correction.”  As in remedial punishment...not vindictive vengeance. Punishment, perhaps.....but corrective punishment, meant to restore not to torture.

If Jesus was truly trying to warn his listeners about an eternal hell....if he meant to side with the Pharisees on at least this one point of doctrine, there WERE phrases he could have used. But he NEVER did. No where in the entire Bible.  And that was one of the key pieces of "evidence" that convinced me of the truth of Universalism.

Oh….and Paul never used the term either….except when he speaks about God’s eternal power and Godhead in Romans 1:20.  Just sayin’ ……

Some very good resources to learn more about this subject….

Bible Threatenings Explained

Universalism, the Prevailing Doctrine of the Christian Church During Its First Five Hundred Years

Both books are written by JW Hanson….

and about the term aonian, a word very important in universalist beliefs….

An Analytical Study of Words by Louis Abbott

Friday, May 18, 2012

Erasing Hell – What Did Jesus Preach?

In Chapter 3, Chan talks about what Jesus said/believed about hell. In the preceding chapter, he takes a look at the commonly held beliefs of first century Jews concerning the afterlife.  His conclusion

In the last chapter, we took a tour of Jesus’ world and saw that, without a doubt, first-century Jews believed in hell. They believed that hell was a place of punishment for the wicked after they faced God’s judgment. They used various images to describe this hell, such as fire, darkness, and lamentation. Some Jews believed that the wicked would be annihilated after being cast into hell, while others described hell as a place of never-ending torment.

He only mentions the Sadducees in the footnotes. They did not believe in any afterlife....and thus, they did not believe in hell.  Some info about the Sadducees.....

"The Sadducees were a small party of very wealthy and influential aristocrats. Most Sadducees were priests, and the high priestly families (those families from whom the high priests traditionally came) controlled the sect and its membership.(Robinson, The Gospels, pp. 24

The only two solidly established traits of the Sadducees are that they were members of the ruling class, and that they did not believe in resurrection" (Murphy, The Religious World of Jesus, pp. 239).

So it is is a bit misleading to simply say that without a doubt, first-century Jews believed in hell." Let’s just edit that statement a bit....

"without a doubt SOME/MOST first century Jews believed in hell....

But it was definitely not unanimous....yes?

And then he goes on to say that.....

Jesus grew up in the world of beliefs described in the last chapter. He would be expected to believe the same stuff about hell that most Jews did. And if He didn’t—if Jesus rejected the widespread Jewish belief in hell—then He would certainly need to be clear about this.

Says who? Frances Chan?  Because the Bible...and Jesus....are crystal clear on everything? There is no ambiguity? There is only one way to interpret, understand, comprehend the words and actions of Jesus?  Uh-huh.  That's why there are so many different interpretations....leading to so many different denominations and creeds and "this is what we believe" statements.  Because the Bible....and Jesus.....are totally clear on everything.  Yep.....God said it, I believe it, that settles it. Perhaps we all read the same written words in scripture but we all interpret what God mean through our own particular filter.

Then he says....

That last line is very important. Better read it again.

Okay then...let's read it again:

if Jesus rejected the widespread Jewish belief in hell—then He would certainly need to be clear about this.

Okay....we read it again....go on.....

In other words, if Jesus did not agree with the view of hell presented in the last chapter, then He would have had to deliberately and clearly argue against it.

Really?  Says who? Frances Chan?  But wait a minute.  Jesus = God, right?  And God can do whatever he wants.....right?  Earlier in the book (in a section that I will talk about later) Chan declares.....

God has the right to do WHATEVER He pleases

And so....since we aren't "the boss of Jesus" he didn't HAVE to do anything. 

I don't think Jesus believed in least not as in ETC...Eternal Conscious Torment.  And I certainly don't believe he preached it. 

Many preachers/teacher smarter than me believe that his warnings of destruction were to the folks living and breathing during that generation, the first century Jews.   (as in "...this generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled") Maybe Jesus was warning THAT generation about the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD if they (THAT generation) did not straighten up, fly right and heed his warnings..

So the Pharisees and the Essences....Jewish sects in the time of Jesus....believed in a hell like place of unending torment. Did Jesus endorse those beliefs? I don't think so....and I think Jesus articulated his beliefs in a way that was very clear to his contemporaries.  More on that tomorrow/soon......

Monday, May 14, 2012

Francis Chan’s Erasing Hell….2

LONG. TIME. NO. SEE.  I have been AWOL for a few weeks now.  What can I say….a big chunk of those days were spent getting ready for….and going on….my first cruise.  Reluctantly, and with much trepidation, I went.  And I loved it. 

We sailed out of New York….two days at sea…stop offs at Grand Turk, Half Moon Cay and then Nassau.  I drank pina coladas on the beach….on a lounge chair….nestled under the shade of a coconut tree…looking out at cream colored beaches and water that was several shades of aqua.  Beautiful….lovely…..amazing.  Then two more days at sea on the way back to New York.  I waved to the statue of liberty on my way to Pier 90 last Sunday morning at 8 am…told her I would be seeing her again sometime…and then four hours later…. home and back to real life. 

I had planned to spend so much time reading and writing blog post drafts.  But alas…the only thing I read was a Christian novel(surprisingly not hokey) Very unusual for me to read fiction. I did next to no “blog” reading or research. 

But now it’s a week and then some since we arrived back home…and this Erasing Hell nonsense has been on my mind since I read the book….time to put cyber pen to cyber paper. 

I was kind of spurred on by a blog post I read last night….a post that showed up on my FB feed…..from a blog called “What God Does.”  While I was goofing off, the author of the What God Does blog was writing….a series no less….presenting long, well thought out counter arguments to Chan’s conclusions about hell.  Check out the series HERE.

Perhaps one of the reasons I’ve been lolly gagging and putting off getting on with this series is because there is so much to say about the subject. I don’t know where to begin. As I mentioned in the first post about Erasing Hell, Chan comes across as disingenuous and manipulative.  Like he’s selling me a Kirby vacuum for goodness sakes!!! Important pieces to the puzzle are left out, skimmed over or hidden in the appendix in the back of the book.  He’s not playing fair….and he seems to have a severe case of confirmation bias. 

He says so many things I disagree with….not sure where to throw my two cents worth first. 

Tomorrow….yes…TOMORROW…or at least soon…I’ll address one of his arguments proving hell….a biggie….since it came “right from the horses mouth” From Jesus no less.  And since we all know that “Jesus talked more about hell than he did about heaven.” How can you argue with Jesus?