The early Christian writers, who were influenced by a Greek doctrine of the immortal soul, also adapted another element into their theology: that of a place of eternal torment. Their reading of the Bible and its reference to hell was influenced by their understanding of Greek philosophy and mythology.
The notion of an eternal hell was a logical result of the immortality of the soul—God, or the gods, had to “put” the evil souls somewhere, since they will eternally continue to be. The theory of a place for these souls, in which they will be tortured for their sin, is a Greek idea. For example, Plato wrote:
Wild men of fiery aspect… seized and dragged off several of them… they bound head and foot and hand, and threw them down and flayed them with scourges, and dragged them along the roads at the side, carding them on thorns like wool, and declaring to the passers-by what were their crimes, and that they were being taken to be cast into hell. (Plato, Republic 10)
Here, and elsewhere, we find a pagan notion of eternal suffering. Some early Christians were influenced by this mythology, and created a barbaric and horrific theology of eternal torment. An early Christian writing from the early second century describes some of the miseries of hell:
There were certain there hanging by the tongue: and these were the blasphemers of the way of righteousness; and under them lay fire, burning and punishing them. And there was a great lake, full of flaming mire, in which were certain men that perverted righteousness, and tormenting angels afflicted them…
And near those were again women and men gnawing their lips, and being punished and receiving a red-hot iron in their eyes, and these were they who blasphemed and slandered the way of righteousness…
And other men and women were being hurled down from a great cliff, and reached the bottom, and again were driven by those who were set over them to climb up upon the cliff, and thence were hurled down again, and had no rest from this punishment, and these were they who defiled their bodies acting as women, and the women who were with them were those who lay with one another as a man with a woman. (Apocalypse of Peter).
This vision of terrible torment was created by Christians reading the Bible with a pre-understanding of hell derived from Greek mythology. We, too, inherit the theology and presuppositions which have been handed down throughout Church history, and come to the Biblical text with a pre-understanding of what we are reading, which is sometimes quite wrong. When we read of everlasting fire and eternal damnation we think of the kinds of torment outlined in that 2nd century writing. But this is derived more from Plato and pagan mythology than from the Bible. The idea of hell which we inherit is only partly Biblical, and is partly mythological. (The English word “hell” is derived from an ancient Norse myth in which the underworld is ruled by a goddess named “Hel”.)
The first century Jewish people who heard Jesus and who read Paul and John also had a pre-understanding of what “hell” was. They had images in their mind—but they were not the images of Greek philosophers. Jesus’ audience would have recognised the Old Testament references and allusions, and their world-view would have included Hades—a shadowy underworld of the dead—and Gehenna—the city dump of Jerusalem. While the Greek idea of eternal punishment was of eternal torment (and it is this idea we inherit in our Christianity), the Jewish idea is of ultimate destruction and annihilation. It is this idea which the New Testament writers, and Jesus Himself, was speaking about, though we often miss the point because our pre-understanding is so different.
Day by day we cleanse the world of evil
Yet the blood is still on our hands
A bunch of Ugly Old Lefty Hags want to Ban the Tui Girls.
This is a typical example of Lefties pretending to have high ideals when in reality they are nasty and malicious. filled with Envy, Malice, and Jealousy and have no quarms about using despotic powers of Nanny State to trample the legitimate rights and liberties of others.
This Blog Post is My Libertarian Christian “IN YOUR FACE!” to all such Prudish tyranny!
This is for You my Pretties! Tim Wikiriwhi
This is what was on the other side of my picket sign.
The resurrection of Jesus is central to the Gospel because it demonstrates that Christ conquered death (1 Cor 15.54-55). God became human in the Person of Christ, suffered death and was buried. But Jesus came through the other side of death, demonstrating that its power had been defeated: “The last enemy to be destroyed was death” (1 Cor 15.26). While ordinary humans might die and become extinct—Jesus, being God, was immortal and eternal. As such Jesus continued beyond the grave.
Jesus is called the firstfruits of the resurrection (1 Cor 15.20) because what is true of Jesus is also true for those who follow Him. Just as Jesus was raised to life, so too those who are saved will be raised to life and receive the gift of immortality which is bestowed by God:
For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. (1 Cor 15.21-22)
…this perishable body must put on imperishability, and this mortal body must put on immortality. (1 Corinthians 15.54)
There are a number of Old Testament texts which indicate that the dead do not continue to have conscious existence:
Humans’ fate is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them all… All have the same breath; humans have no advantage over the animal… All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return. (Eccl 3.19-20)
When their breath departs, they return to the ground, and on that very day their thoughts come to nothing. (Psalm 146.4)
The dead know nothing. (Eccl 9.5)
They are now dead, they live no more; those departed spirits do not rise. You punished them and brought them to ruin; You wiped out all memory of them. (Is 26.14)
We are used to hearing the words “eternal life” and understanding them to mean “salvation—an eternity in heaven” and contrasting them with “damnation—an eternity in hell.” But eternal life in the Scriptures is contrasted with death, not an eternity of suffering. We almost need to use new words to translate these terms so that their original meaning is presented. I would suggest that we could substitute “immortality” for “eternal life” and “extinction” for “death.”
For example, we would then read:
“I tell you the truth, whoever hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has immortality and will not be condemned. He or she has crossed over from extinction to life.” (John 5.24-25)
The most famous of Bible texts is John 2.16:
For God so loved the world that He gave His only son so that whoever believes in Him would not be extinguished, but may have immortality
Romans 6.23 would read:
The wages of sin is extinction, but the gift of God is immortality.
1 John 5.11-12 would say:
God has given us immortality, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; but he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.
The result of this is that those who are not saved are not eternally tortured in hell, but are extinguished. This teaching is called conditional immortality—it means that only those who are saved receive immortality or eternal life, while the unsaved remain mortal and do not continue on eternally.
If it were true that even the unsaved will live forever, Jesus did not come to bring eternal life, since even those in hell will live eternally.
May your fountain be blessed,
and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.
A loving doe, a graceful deer—
may her breasts satisfy you always,
may you ever be intoxicated with her love. (NIV)
Chapter 17 — Bible Roots (Part 1)
“I build on no authority, ancient or modern, but the Scripture. I want to know one thing – the way to Heaven: how to land on that happy shore. God Himself hath condescended to teach the way. He hath written it down in a book. O give me that book! At any price, give me that book of God.” —John Wesley
John Wesley understood the value of the scriptures. His quoted words were not spoken of either the original Greek or Hebrew texts. He knew that God had also given man His word within the pages of a book. Regretfully, man no longer seems willing to accept this simple truth. The same book used by John Wesley is the very book that helped establish and guide America’s unprecedented achievement of individual liberty. It triggered the greatest revivals during the Church Age. But now, this same book has been “replaced” by hundreds of modernized versions which lack the power of their predecessor.
The influences of the modern Bible college and seminary must be examined to determine how they have helped spawn this move away from the book blessed by God more than any other. For the past several decades, many so-called conservative, fundamental Bible colleges and seminaries have weakened the faith of their students concerning the inerrancy of the scriptures.
Most of these schools require that the student, eager to learn the word of God, include Greek in his course of study. He is told that Greek is the language of the word of God, even though the Bible written in his own native tongue saved him and set his soul afire. He is placed under a teacher who may or may not believe in both the inspiration and the preservation of scripture. The purpose of these courses of study is not to strengthen the student’s faith in God’s infallible word, but to teach him to become its judge.
The young student’s final authority is changed from the book he once loved and cherished to the Greek faculty and their lexicons. Soon, he is convinced that he doesn’t have the word of God at his disposal and may even wonder if it exists at all. He is taught that better and more reliable manuscripts have been discovered that were not available to the translators of 1611. Gradually, he becomes convinced that the ignorant masses (uneducated in the original languages) have been led astray from the truth. He begins to believe that his education is the answer to the Church’s woes (II Timothy 3:1-2, 7). On the contrary, this philosophy of education has significantly contributed to the spiritual drought of these last days.
Eventually, the cycle continues when the Bible student graduates and moves on to serve in the pastorate. He unintentionally begins to convince his congregation that his knowledge of the original languages makes him spiritually superior to them. He becomes their final authority, and clergy/laity class divisions begin to emerge. One should recognize the similarities between this unfortunate scenario and that found in the Roman Catholic Church’s exclusive use of the Latin language and institution of the priesthood system to blind the multitudes. Thus, many “Protestant popes” emerge, each seeking elevation on a man-made pedestal.
When Jesus spoke, “…the common people heard him gladly” (Mark 12:37). In contrast, the majority of the scholars and religious leaders rejected and resisted Him. History repeats itself because “there is no new thing under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). Bible colleges and seminaries need to teach the Bible as infallible and the original languages as a means to convince the gainsayers (Titus 1:9), not as a tool to “correct” that which needs no correction. The moment a person runs to the Greek or Hebrew lexicon he is about to give you his private interpretation (II Peter 1:20). This is true because the lexicon will have a choice of words that could be used, and he will have to decide which is right. 1
The misdirection of one’s final authority may not be readily apparent, but the confusion caused by the various versions of the bible is easily recognizable. Are all of the different versions necessary or inspired of God? Do multiple textbooks (bibles) make sense? Consider this: No teacher would ever teach a history, science, or math class and instruct everyone to bring his favorite textbook version to class. However, this identical situation is repeated in churches every Sunday. The preacher “preaches” out of one version and the people in the pews potentially have a dozen or more other versions from which they “follow along,” creating confusion and chaos (I Corinthians 14:33)!
The King James Bible is the word of God for the English-speaking people. There is no other. God provides, and Bible believers cite, many reasons for this truth. In any analysis, we should first consider the scriptural testimony. The Bible irrefutably tells us that God will preserve His word, and not allow it to pass away. Furthermore, scripture tells us that God magnified His word above all of His name. For these reasons and many others, Satan has reveled in creating doubt concerning the authority of the words of God.
As we study some of the facts concerning manuscript evidence, the first point to be understood is that there are over 5,200 ancient manuscripts in existence today. The vast majority of these manuscripts from all over the world (including Greece, Asia Minor, England, Ireland, Constantinople, Syria, Africa, Gaul, and Southern Italy) support the King James Bible. However, the two ancient manuscripts that are the major foundation for the modern versions come from one locale – Alexandria, Egypt. During the early Christian centuries, Egypt was a land in which heresies were rampant. Today, we find that the Muslims are the predominant group controlling this region. The same was true two thousand years ago – except under a different name.
One Bible stands alone, originating from a completely different source than all of the modern versions. The evidence supporting the rejection of the Alexandrian (Egyptian) texts and the acceptance of the manuscripts underlying the KJB is overwhelming. Keep in mind that many works have been dedicated to uncovering the scriptural truths and historical facts presented in summary form here. In any discussion, we must first consider the scripture supporting one’s Bible position.
To be continued… (Or click the link at the top)