|Marvel comics' Ghost Rider: Hellish Hero|
A recent Op-Ed in USA Today addressed whether people believe in Hell. I (Rob) found it fascinating because up until the time I started being able to communicate with those who passed, I firmly believed in Hell. Once I started communicating, and understanding what happens, I realized that there really is no "place" called Hell. I'm sure that's very disconcerting for a lot of people, especially because of what the Bible says. But even in this Op-Ed, Hell is explained as a concept that is mis-understood from the Bible.
- SO, what happens to murderers, criminals and evil people when they die? My experience is that they linger in a state outside of the light- a "phantom zone" if you will, where they receive an immediate recognition of the horrendous things they did during their lives. A place where they can spend a long time (something we wouldn't be able to comprehend) trying to atone for their sins. Hoping for forgiveness from those left behind.
Ghosts are an example of that. Ghosts are earth-bound energies that are trapped on earth for various reasons. So, why is that "Hell" being trapped out of the light? Because all of your loved ones are IN THE LIGHT.Think about it. Being trapped as an earth-bound ghost or an energy unable to go into the light to be with all of your loved ones is torturous. Isolationism as a human being is torture, as it is for a ghost or spirit. THAT is my understanding of Hell.
AUTHOR OF THE USA TODAY OP-ED THAT FOLLOWS: Oliver Thomas is a member of USA TODAY's Board of Contributors and author of 10 Things Your Minister Wants to Tell You (But Can't Because He Needs the Job).
FROM USA TODAY: Should believers fear Hell — and God?
FULL STORY: http://www.usatoday.com/news/opinion/forum/2011-08-07-love-wins-afterlife-hell_n.htm?csp=Dailybriefing
The Egyptians, Greeks, Romans all had elaborate beliefs about the afterlife. We're no different. Right now, a book is burning through America's churches that has put the issue back front and center for many. The book —Love Wins— by Rob Bell challenges the traditional Christian belief in a place of eternal punishment. Damnation.
Most Americans still believe in hell. A 2009 poll by The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life put the number at 59%. A 2005 Fox News poll put it at 74%!
Ask these folks why they cling to such a decidedly medieval notion, and they will tell you: Because the Bible teaches it! And if we're talking about the King James Bible, they are right — at least on the surface. But dig into the languages in which the Bible was actually written — Greek and Hebrew — and things get murky.
Nowhere in the Hebrew Bible (Christian Old Testament) is the abode of the dead described as a place of eternal punishment. Rather, "Sheol" as it is sometimes called, appears as a shadowy, dreamlike place where all people — good and evil — are destined.
One Old Testament writer has this to say: "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might for there is no activity or planning or wisdom in Sheol where you are going." Not my idea of a Shangri-La, but certainly better than everlasting fire.
Even Jesus gets misquoted here. Clearly, Jesus taught that there would be a day of reckoning. In the 25th chapter of Matthew's Gospel, he paints a disturbing picture of it. "I was hungry and you didn't feed me. Naked and you didn't clothe me."
But the Greek word that is often translated "eternal" (aionos) — whether it is used to describe punishment or life — is better understood as a word of quality, not quantity. Punishment is only "eternal" (in the way that Americans understand that word) in the sense that it could be final.
Not what Jesus meant
Nearly every reference to "hell" that comes from the lips of Jesus is a mistranslation.
The word translated as hell by the King James Bible is the word "Gehenna," literally "the valley of the sons of Hinnom." This notorious valley on the south side of Jerusalem was once the site of pagan sacrifices, including child sacrifice, and had been cursed by the prophets of Israel. By Jesus' day, it served as the garbage dump. It was a foul, noxious place where dogs roamed and fires burned. Jesus seized upon this vivid imagery in his sermons. He urged people to repent (literally "change your mind"), lest they end up in Gehenna (i.e. the garbage dump).