Thursday, May 24, 2007

Hell in Our Own Backyard

Most people only think of Hell as a place or experience after death and give little thought to it as a present reality. I think that in the minds of the Biblical authors it was the exact opposite.

Jesus only implies that Hell existed after death (he uses hyperbolic imagery alluding to this in only one parable and it's really nonexistent throughout the rest of his teachings). But He talked about hell all the time. Now, for Jesus hell always had to do with how we live. If we don't love, if we don't take care of the poor, if we're not generous, etc. we end up in hell. I think that this is because for Jesus hell was very practical. The world becomes hell when we don't live like we're supposed to. If we don't care, if we're not generous, if we don't love, then hell comes crashing into earth... people are denied life to the fullest (which is what Jesus came to bring).

Hell is the place where life doesn't exist... where chaos rules. Take the holocaust for example... if that's not hell, what is? In the holocaust people were denied life and chaos was overwhelming.

Another hint that hell might be here is that the word Jesus used for Hell is here. Jesus used the word "Gehennah" which is actually a place outside of Jerusalem which was an infamous dump where, during the great famine, bodies were allegedly taken to be burned. Gehennah came to be called "The place of whipping and gnashing of teeth where the fire never dies." Gehennah was powerful language to imply suffering (people who suffered greatly ended up there).

I do believe that hell is eternal but before we start thinking about the eternity after death we should focus on this side of eternity... the eternity in our own backyard. We can bring hell OR heaven crashing down to earth.

4 comments:

MESSIANIC GENTILE said...

As one blogger who regularly battles the dualism of the classic heaven/hell worldview, I applaud your post. And I would say that we can devote ourselves to one of two eschatological curtain calls: Heaven on Earth or Hell on Earth. Take your pick which you will strive for...

And I would add that a study of the word "eternity" in the Bible will show that a better translation much (if not most) of the time would yield "the age to come" instead. And that too may color our understanding of "Hell" or "Heaven" either one.

Jesus is Lord!

And, miss you at MG...

Also, "Hi to Kevin" if he stops in here too.

Blessings...

KJKEB said...

I understand your view of "hell" on earth. But, I draw a line of distinction between that and hellish conditions. Also, as bad as things are in our own backyard, and they may be HELLISH, they are temporal. Contrast that with the other one and focus on the eternal nature of the real Hell.

And, "Hello" to Messianic gentile from Kevin.

MESSIANIC GENTILE said...

Kevin,

Hi, again. And glad to have you around... (my blog)...

Good to see you hear too.

And on the point...

I should let Wes speak for himself, and I will, but I suspect he holds a similar view as me on this, and that is that there is not "another hell" besides the one we make of our earth here in our back yard. The holocaust is HELL. God does not do that to people, people do that to people, and that is bad enough. But I do not believe in "a place called hell" other than Gehenna, just outside of Jerusalem.

I do not expect you to be persuaded of this view, necessarily, but you need to be aware that several of us, and I presume Wes among us, do not hold the "traditional" view of hell. And it seems your comments does.

Blessings on you all the same, Brother. I do not mean to argue the point here, much less to belittle yours, but just to stipulate that at least I hold one that seems very different if not opposed to yours (gracefully as I can!)

Jesus is Lord!

WES ELLIS said...

My friend MG and I seem to have similar views. I don't hold to the classical view of hell (ie. a place you go when you die). But I don't limit it only to a present reality. Hell is something that can be experienced here and the quality of it is eternal... it can be experienced throughout eternity.

In short, the experience of hell itself is deprival of life. Whenever people are treated as less than people and true life is taken away (this can mean illness, persecution, death itself, oppression, depresion, etc.)

So I don't make too much distinction between a hell here and a hell later... There's one hell and it starts here. Let's not ignore it.

Shalom