March 16, 2011

Hell: The Difference Between Gehenna and Hades The hub-bub on hell continues. For now, I have no interest in taking sides on this debate and adding another polemic, especially since I have not read the book. What I would like to do, once again, is to help us pay careful attention to words, particularly the Bible's words. Language in a debate is critical. Too many people are ready to condemn Bell as a heretic because his definition of "Hell" is not like theirs. His definition may indeed by misleading (Once again: I have not read the book). But as I mentioned in an earlier post, there is room within Evangelical Christianity (to say nothing for the wider Christian world of Eastern Orthodoxy and Catholicism!) for at least four different views on what eternal judgment will be. Each of these can be well-defended from Scripture. Many have been quick-- strangely so-- to defend hell as a place of eternal torture and as a necessary corollary to God's love, while ignoring other possibilities of eternal judgment (such as "annihilationism" or "conditional immortality"). To make things worse, in the midst of all the defenses of hell, it seems that a few respected teachers have been careless about the Bible's own words on the subject. The two most common Greek words that our English Bibles translate as "hell" are "Hades" and "Gehenna". But the two are not synonymous. Part of the confusion has come from the King James Bible translating both words as hell. Newer, more diligent translations-- including the ESV, which is well-loved by the Reformed tradition-- don't translate "Hades," (they leave it as "Hades") and save the word "hell" for "Gehenna." Hades is the "netherworld", the domain of the dead. "Gehenna", on the other hand, was a trash heap outside Jerusalem that became a symbol, a euphemism of sorts,...
Excerpt from "LUCKY", Chap. 7: "Luck-Bearers" [The following is an excerpt from Chapter 7 of LUCKY: How the Kingdom Comes to Unlikely People.] Watch this TRAILER VIDEO first: Why do we care about injustice? What gives us the grounds to say to someone else that what they are doing is wrong and that it must stop? What makes people praise the teachings of Jesus, Buddha, and Gandhi but condemn the words of Hitler, Stalin, and Khomeini? The Christian has a way of responding to these questions. It is not by saying that everyone prefers justice because God wired him or her to do so, though that may be true. It is rooted in a story much wider than that simple statement. In this story we find a wellspring for mercy and justice far deeper than corporate guilt or public relations or cultural imperialism. This story tells us things about God and humanity and creation that we may have suspected but never fully realized. God created the heavens and the earth. He called it good. He made every living thing in both heaven and earth. And then He made Human. This much we know. But before you jump ahead to the bit about sin, ask yourself a question: Why did He make Human? Again you’ll have to momentarily silence the familiar chorus that “God made mankind to be in relationship with Him.” True. But Genesis doesn’t say that. What it does say is that God made mankind, first, to be in His image, and second, to reign. N. T. Wright explains it best: [Creation] was designed as a project, created in order to go somewhere. The creator has a future in mind for it; and Human … is the means by which the creator is going to take his project forward.… The point of the project is...

Glenn Packiam

Lead Pastor, new life DOWNTOWN, New Life Church, Colorado Springs, CO. Author and songwriter.

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