Why I Don't Believe In Hell
Uses of Sheol in OT (not exhaustive)
Verse Count: 15
Ps 6:5 For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks?
Ps 9:17 The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.
Ps 16:10 For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
we can easily translate this as "leave my soul in the grave..." and it still makes sense. In all these verses so far the term can be used as "grave" or a symobl of deaith without using it as "hell" and they make sense in context.
Ps 18:5 The sorrows of hell compassed me about: the snares of death prevented me.
"sorrows of the grave" would also make as much sense
Ps 30:3 O LORD, thou hast brought up my soul from the grave: thou hast kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit.
In many of these passages the term is used directly of the grave and tranlasted that way.
Ps 31:17 Let me not be ashamed, O LORD; for I have called upon thee: let the wicked be ashamed, and let them be silent in the grave.
Ps 49:14 Like sheep they are laid in the grave; death shall feed on them; and the upright shall have dominion over them in the morning; and their beauty shall consume in the grave from their dwelling.
Ps 49:15 But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave: for he shall receive me. Selah.
Ps 55:15 Let death seize upon them, and let them go down quick into hell: for wickedness is in their dwellings, and among them.
Ps 86:13 For great is thy mercy toward me: and thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest hell.
Ps 88:3 For my soul is full of troubles: and my life draweth nigh unto the grave.
Ps 89:48 What man is he that liveth, and shall not see death? shall he deliver his soul from the hand of the grave? Selah.
Ps 116:3 The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow.
Ps 139:8 If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there.
Ps 141:7 Our bones are scattered at the grave's mouth, as when one cutteth and cleaveth wood upon the earth.
In the few passages where it is translated as "hell" it would make just as much sense to translate it as "death" or "grave." There is basically no reason to use "hell" and none of these say hell is where bad people people go to be punished.
Definition of Gehenna: New Testament.
The New Testament term for Hell is Gehenna. This is from the Hebrew symbolic use based upon the garage dump in Jerusalem. It came form interdepartmental times.
1. Hell is the place of the future punishment call "Gehenna" or "Gehenna of fire". This was originally the valley of Hinnom, south of Jerusalem, where the filth and dead animals of the city were cast out and burned; a fit symbol of the wicked and their future destruction.
The definition given in crosswalk says it is a symbol. Indeed it has to be so unless the ancinet Hebrews really thought that hell was literally outside Jerusalem. So the only Question is how symoblic is it?
verses using Gehenna
The first passage seems to be quite literal, but if we consider it a little more in depth we can see it does not support eternal conscious torment.
"But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever shall say to his brother, 'Raca,' shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever shall say, 'You fool,' shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.
Jesus is here using hell as a figure of speech, a poetic image, to illustrate the depth of depravity in defaming another human being by calling him "a fool." He builds a progregtion of wrongs and their consequences:
anger with brother: go to court
call brother name: go to supreme court
Call brother a fool: worthy of hell.
Wrong, more wrong, most wrong. Its' a means of illustrating the depth of wickedness in disvaluing others. He does not say in that passage "hell is a real litteral place." doesn't say it's eternal conscious torment.
The next two are in the same context and one is just a reinforcement of the other. They are both symbolic uses and serve to illustrate Jesus' sarcasm toward excuses to sin:
Mt 5:29 "And if your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out, and throw it from you; for it is better for you that one of the parts of your body perish, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.
Mt 5:30 "And if your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off, and throw it from you; for it is better for you that one of the parts of your body perish, than for your whole body to go into hell.
these are both in the same context. The are clearly figurative and hyperbole. It's totally ridiculous to think that Jesus would really command us to cut off our hands or pluck out our eyes to keep from lusting>
The immediate context is about holy living:
17 "Do not think that I came to abolish the Law R135 or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. 18 "For truly I say to you, until R136 heaven and earth pass away, not the F65 smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 "Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others F66 to do the same, shall be called least in R137 the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps F67 and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 "For I say to you that unless your righteousness R138 surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.
He's talking about righteousness surpassing the pharisees, but the pharisees were super legalistic and built a fence around the law to assure compliance in the most legalistic fashion. How could anyone be more legalistic then they were? He's not talking about being legalistic, or even literalistic. He says heaven and earth shall pass away before the word of God will. Sot he basic premise with which he deals is living out the word of God. He's concerned with actually keeping the spirit of the law. Go further in context:
Now of course atheists are going to say that he really means this. They will say this is just part of the lunatic nature of religious extremism. AT the very least they will ask, as they always do, how I know it's hyperbolic. How does one ever know when a literary device is used? Many atheists have said to me "It's doesn't say it's a literary devise." Of course not, they never do! You are not supposed to say it, then it wouldn't be a device. Clearly it is because it's absurd to say pluck out your eye or cut off your hand. There's an easier way to tell. What do people say when they try to stop sinning and they can't? "I just can't do this, I can't stop lusting that's just the way I am made." Jesus is saying that is an excuse. You can stop it and if you think that's good excuse then surely its important enough that you should pluck out your eye or cut off your hand. But the point of it is of course that you don't have to do that, you can learn to control yourself if you really want to.
Given the high probability that this is figurative then it's obvious the consequence is also figurative, having the whole body cast into hell fire is figurative.
Mt 10:28 "And do not fear those who kill the body, but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
He's using the poetic symbolism of hell as the ultimate drama, the ultiamte negative consequence to drive home the point that spiritual power is more important than physical power, that eteranl life is what's important.
Mt 23:15 "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel about on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.
Using the judgment aspect of hell to drive home the point of the hypocritical nature of the pharisees.
Mt 23:33 "You serpents, you brood of vipers, how shall you escape the sentence of hell?
hell is a sentence. That doesn't make it eternal conscious torment. It is the symbol of spiritual death and the cessation of existence. The hypocrites wont escape the judgment aspects of hell. But that doesn't mean they will experience them eternally.
The same figurative ideas pertain. Jesus other uses of hell in parables such as the sheep and goats of Mat 25:33 also are clearly symbols since they are used in parables which by their nature are figures and symbols.
Not one of those passages says hell is eternal conscious torment. No verse actually says that. No verse in the Bible gives an expository description of what hell is or what it's about.
One other words used for hell, Tartaro, or Tartarus in English, from Greek Myth.
1. the name of the subterranean region, doleful and dark, regarded by the ancient Greeks as the abode of the wicked dead, where they suffer punishment for their evil deeds; it answers to Gehenna of the Jews
2. to thrust down to Tartarus, to hold captive in Tartarus
Only verse used:
2Pe 2:4 "For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment;"
2Pete is not authoritative enough to build a whole theology upon. Most scholars believe it is pseudopgraphal, of late origin, and we don't know who wrote it. It either copies a large part fo Jude, or Jude copies it. Neither book shares the weight of the Gospels.
figurative sue in James
Jas 3:6 And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell.
I think this is Gehenna. But It's clearly figurative he's speaking figuratively of the tung and comparing it to hell fire.
The Religious A priori