A Hell of a Documentary…

I watched a good chunk of a documentary on hell today. It was on A&E and it was pretty interesting. It covered a wide range of hell(ish) topics, moving chronologically through the history of hell and the theories of hell, and different religions views of hell and the after life.

One of the most interesting things of the documentary was the highlighting of the folk theology that has been so widely accepted, especially by Christianity on the issue of hell. It was said that many of our now conventional views of hell came from poets, writer and people who were far from theologians or biblical scholars. Books like Donates Inferno (another one I can’t remember) really started paving the way for a torture type hell, flames and such. Then preachers like Jonathan Edwards and his sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” popularized this idea even further.

They pointed out that all religions, with the exception of Satanism live now with then (eternity and possibly hell) in mind, an important reminder. Side note: Satanism doesn’t even believe in Satan they believe in themselves and pretty much doing whatever they feel like, in turn worshiping their free will, their desire and lusts, as well as their concepts of anti-establishment philosophy which is why them call themselves “Satan” worshipers. Satan for them is more of the ideological expression of going again that which is mainstream or in charge; i.e. God.

With all this in mind there is a lot to think about when we refer to as hell, talk about hell, and teach about hell.

Questions like:

Is there really a hell?

If there is a hell (eternal punishment) what is it like?
Is it a place where torture and punishment eternally take place?
Where do we really get those ideas if we think that they happen?

And for me the BIG question is, what does the bible REALLY say about Hell?
Taking into account that when Jesus speaks of Hell he uses a word that is a actually location, Gahenna. Which in good rabbinical fashion seems to be drawing pictures with a well know object and place that the listener would know bring to mind. So what pictures and explanations of Hell is he really trying to paint with that in mind. Hmmm…

Hell is a REALLY big conversation. There are a lot of ways to go, many of which can sound good. But when it’s all said and done I think living now so we don’t have to worry about it is the most important thing. And when we talk to people not thinking and in turn communicating, “I hope you don’t go to hell.” But rather communicating the idea that Jesus teaches us to live now so we don’t have to worry about that. And when we talk about Jesus “saving us” he primarily isn’t saving us from some future hell but he is wanting to save us from our current hells and instead wants to teach us to live the best kind of life NOW. If that’s true (which I think it is) Hell might not be such a big issue after all. But what do I know.

Shalom NOW
~~Erik