I have been in some heavy thought recently on a number of issues. I am reading a very interesting book that is discussing how the mainstream definition and doctrine of hell has been developed. It has asked a few very interesting questions and has me really wanting to dive deep into the hell question.
Why is the Old Testament silent on the issue of hell? It only mentions a place of the dead, but that was for both good and bad people.
When Jesus spoke about hell. What was his thoughts about it? Cause He certainly used it to make a point to the people he was speaking to and if these people grew up with Old Testament teaching, where "hell" is never mentioned. Who taught them about hell, becuase they sure did have an understanding of what Jesus was talking about?
Why does it seem like God at the end of time under the version of hell i grew up learning about seems more like he would be brought up on war crimes and feels more like Hitler than Jesus? (maybe a little blunt, but from the outside looking in it seems this way)
I was also intrigued by the following quote:
"The Pharisees used hell to threaten sinners and other undesirables and mark them as the exculded out-group, hated by God. Their rhetorical use of hell made clear that God's righteousness was severe and merciless toward the undeserving. Jesus turned their rhetoric upside down and inside out and used hell to threaten those who excluded sinners and other undesirables, showing that God's kingdom welcomes the undeserving, that for God, there was no out-group... a lot of christians today use hell to threaten all non-Christians and put them in the excluded out-group, and you can decide which pattern that conforms to most."
You may ask why has this been consuming my thoughts. I would have to say becuase I think it has a lot to do with how we talk about the Good News. The Gospel has been focused on getting buts in heaven and the purpose of God's forgiveness is to get buts in heaven. We always ask people, "When did you came into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ." I never asked myself why Jesus never asked that question.
I think our doctrine of hell is very tied with our doctrine of salvation, which is crucial to helping a world be reconciled to God through Christ.
I will probably be hung for this or maybe not, but I am on a journey to ask questions and look for answers, but not quick easy ones. I have read a lot up to know and have been very intrigued by the similarities to our doctrine of the after life and those from the era of Mesopotamian, Egyptian thought and Zoroastrians.
I learn, think and process in community better than alone, so if you are interested in this topic. I would love to read and dialogue with you and think about how this affects us saving our world and being a blessing to them.