Hell = Jerusalem’s Garbage Dump
Nancy B. Detweiler, M.Ed., M.Div.
The human psyche is deeply scarred with the Church’s horrendous teaching of a physical place called hell, created by a God who intends to punish some individuals for eternity.
Having declared the teaching of reincarnation heretical in 553 C.E., the church was left with no explanation for how God’s justice could work itself out? After all, Galatians 6:7 reminds us: "Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for you reap whatever you sow." It is plain for all to see that not everyone who commits major crimes reap the results of that behavior in this lifetime. Therefore, there has to be a hell where those criminals can be punished. Right?
(The Church declared "reincarnation" to be an heretical teaching during its 553 C.E. Fifth Ecumenical Council when it condemned Origen and his teachings. ---Page 119 of Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils, Vol. I, ed. Norman P. Tanner, Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press, 1990. Origen who taught both pre-existence of souls and reincarnation, was one of the most influential of Early Christian thinkers.)
And what about those persons who have not "been saved" by accepting Jesus as their Lord & Savior? Many churches continue to teach that these persons will burn in hell for eternity. John Calvin taught "double predestination," meaning that God created some persons to send to heaven, some to hell. The individual person—according to double predestination—has nothing to do with where they go after death. Instead, God predestined their eternal fate when He created them.
With these teachings, the Church created a God far worse than the average human being. Who, of us, would dream of punishing one of our children for eternity?
The threat of eternal punishment serves to control people by fear. Many modern day churches say, "Oh, we don’t teach hell anymore." That may be true; however, the fear created by teaching—for 1500 years—the concepts of hellfire, brimstone, and eternal punishment has lodged itself in the very cells of our bodies and in our psyches. Even worse, what if I am one of those persons God predestined for an eternity in hell regardless of what I do in this lifetime?
A few examples are in order:
As the minister, I had completed the graveside service for a beloved church member. As I shook her husband’s hand, he looked at me with tears filling his eyes and asked, "She was such a good person … surely, she went to heaven?" I was shocked because I knew neither I nor any of the more recent ministers at that church taught the concept of hell. But … this grieving husband was deeply troubled—wanting the assurance that his wife of decades had not been sentenced to hell. From where did his fear stem? From our society … from hearing other Christians speak of hell … from the cancerous residue of such a teaching within the human psyche … from the Church that has not admitted to its members that hell is a control device, not a physical place created by a God of Love.
My sister tells the story of her friend. The couple was in their early seventies and had enjoyed a happy marriage. The husband was a good man, well liked, and highly respected in the community. When their son was seriously injured in a motorcycle accident, his father tenderly cared for him for years. The only concern was that the husband seldom attended church with his wife. Following his death, the wife grieved and grieved … far beyond the normal grieving process. Her family became concerned over her because her health was being impacted. When my sister talked with her, she confided that she could not stop grieving because she was not sure her husband was not burning in hell. As they talked, the woman revealed an experience she had shared with no one. She related that for at least two weeks following her husband’s death, every time she went outside a beautiful butterfly would fly close to her the entire time she remained outside. My sister asked her if she knew what the butterfly symbolizes. She did not. When she learned that the butterfly symbolizes resurrection, metamorphosis, and eternal life, this grief stricken woman grew faint with relief. She realized the butterfly was a message from her husband, telling her that he is fine. Now … although she continues to miss her husband, she has been able to release the fear—instilled in her by the Church’s horrific teaching of hellfire and eternal punishment. However, the months of horror, believing her husband might be burning in hell, are engraved on her psyche.
A woman, who described herself as being in the last decade of her life, wrote to my website, asking if I had any information on what happens when we die. She explained she grew up in a church that constantly preached hell … hell … hell. Although she thought she no longer believed in such a place of eternal punishment, she found herself wanting to know for sure. Is this the Way of a God of Love—to inflict upon those elderly approaching death the fear of being met on the other side by leaping flames of fire and the realization they are condemned for eternity? My heart weeps for these elderly and the appalling action on the part of the Church that claims to teach a God of Love.
The Church cannot consider itself "off the hook" of responsibility for these cancerous teachings by simply stating, "We no longer teach hell as a place of eternal punishment." Instead, the Church must tell the truth to the people. Hell is a control device … control by fear. As the president of a mission board stated during a Missionary Appointment Service, "If there is no hell, then why are we here?"
Hell, as a place for some to spend eternity, is not biblical. Rocco Errico offers a word study. The English term hell comes from the Anglo-Saxon hel, meaning a hidden place. Hel comes from the verb form helan meaning "to hide." Thus the English root word for hell, helan, has nothing to do with hell-fire. Biblical translators used the word hell to translate two different Semitic words: gehenna or gehenna dnoora in Aramaic (the language spoken by Jesus) and sheol in Hebrew.
Sheol comes from the Hebrew root word shalal meaning to be still, quiet. The ancient Hebrews believed sheol to be a place beneath the earth’s surface where those who die, both good and bad, are inactive and quiet. They await judgment or resurrection day. It is a temporary resting place in the underworld. The Aramaic gehenna dnoora refers to the "Valley of Hinnom." During the 1st century C.E., Gehenna Dnoora was the garbage dump for Jerusalem. Located outside the city walls, people brought their garbage to Gehenna Dnoora and burned it. The Judean king, Ahaz (735-715 B.C.E.), used this valley to send his son to the flames as a human sacrifice to the gods. As a result of these human sacrifices, the valley Gei Hinnom became a Semitic term for hell. The Old Testament sheol and the New Testament gehenna dnoora in no way refer to a place established by God for eternal punishment.
The above word study was taken from an article by Rocco Errico entitled "Why Hell Is A Rubbish Heap."
Revelations 21:8 is another verse that seems, on the surface, to verify the traditional Christian concept of hell: "But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the polluted, the murderers, the fornicators, the sorcerers, the idolaters, and all liars, their place will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death." Throughout Revelation, sulfur appears in relationship to the eternal fires." On the mundane level, sulfur is a natural element found in protein. Protein is essential to the well-being of our physical bodies. Hidden wisdom uses sulfur as an alchemical symbol. Alchemy, as defined by Webster, is the "power or process of transforming something common into something special." Thus sulfur in combination with the eternal fire is the means by which souls are transformed "from something common into something special." The second death is, therefore, death to the lower self (or something common) so that the something special (the Higher Self) can be resurrected into a higher level of conscious awareness. Revelation is speaking of the astral plane, or purgatory (the plane to which most souls go after departing the physical body) where all negativity is eventually transmuted and resurrected into something special. Henceforth, the individual Soul is constantly attuned to the Higher Self as it continues its spiritual journey through multitudes of higher realms of awareness and manifestation.
Hell, as a place of eternal punishment, is not biblical.
Physical plane fire offers many benefits: it purifies, it renders malleable, it warms. The biblical eternal fire … lake of fire is fire operating at a higher vibratory rate. The eternal fire is a transmuting or transforming flame. This transmuting flame can be used to purify the energy field around our physical, emotional, and lower mental bodies. As our lower bodies are purified by the flame, we are transformed from "something common into something special."
The lake of fire is God’s gift ensuring that all of humanity ascends into the higher consciousness of the heavenly abodes—even the "fornicators, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars."
"Where does Jesus fit into the above information?"
This question is probably the most important one Christians can ask at this point in time. We live in the midst of myriad cover-ups—religious, educational, governmental, and planetary. Although many of these cover-ups initially took place hundreds, sometimes thousands of years ago, they are now increasingly being exposed. Christians are and will be faced with the question: "How does Jesus fit in?" The more we turn to the Holy Spirit for guidance, for Truth … the more we openly discuss our dilemma … the more we read the Bible after putting aside all preconceived ideas of what we will find there, the better prepared we will be to move forward on our individual spiritual journey.
I refer readers to the link on my website home page entitled "What Is Really Happening in America?" for an excellent summary of many cover-ups described by a former U.S. State Department language interpreter.
The question—"where does Jesus fit in?"—is based on the Christian doctrine that God sent his only Son to die on the cross to save us from our sins and that all those who do not accept Jesus as Lord & Savior will be condemned to hellfire for eternity. Note the word "doctrine." A "doctrine" is a statement of belief or tenet of faith that was agreed upon between 1500 to 1700 years ago. I encourage all to read a history of the first 1000 years of the Church … read the writings of those we call the Church Fathers. What you will find is the story of men fighting amongst themselves over the explanation of who Jesus was … why was he crucified … which books to include in the Bible … and how the Church will give symbolic expression to the selected doctrines. Millions of pages were written … the arguments were often filled with hate for those who disagreed. It was during this time that many were condemned as "heretics"—their writings destroyed. The writers were often burned at the stake or beheaded, for no other reason than that their belief system "differed from the stated doctrines of the Church"—the definition of "heresy." The history of the religion called Christianity is filled with hate, violence, and bloodshed.
On the other hand, Jesus—the Prince of Peace—stands as an example to humanity of the Way of Love. His physical plane life demonstrated to us how to live as an expression of Divine Love … how to treat our fellow human beings … how to pray … how to heal and be healed … how to give unselfishly. He taught us who we really are. With his life, he revealed to us our heavenly Father. Because Jesus knew humanity was not yet ready to hear all that he could teach them, he used parables … he used examples having to do with their everyday lives and nature.
Biblical scholars consider the Gospel of John to be a Gnostic gospel. Gnosis means "esoteric knowledge of spiritual truth." In other words, the Gospel of John contains hidden, or metaphysical, teachings that during Jesus’ time was reserved for only the inner circle of initiates/disciples. Around the late 19th century, the ancient hidden wisdom began to be revealed to the general public. However, the Church has remained hostile to revelations that differ from the orthodox teachings and to those who attempt to teach anything differing from the codified tenets of the Christian religion.
The Gospel of John offers clues to all that will be revealed in coming days—during many of our lifetimes. Re-reading John’s Gospel in the light of Jesus’ teachings about himself (found in John) can be an awakening experience. There is MUCH in John for each of us to comprehend as we are ready. I offer a few suggestions, than encourage you to study John with them in mind and to do so on your own in the presence of the Holy Spirit. What new revelations do YOU receive?
Who does Jesus say he is?
Jesus repeatedly states that he does not speak his own words, but those of the Father—He came representing the Father. In essence, Jesus served as the channel through which "the Father" spoke to humanity. Read the Gospel of John and listen to "the Father" whenever Jesus makes statements like: "I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty." Read the verse as follows: "I [the Father] am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me [the Father] will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me [the Father] will never be thirsty." (John 6:35)
"Then Jesus cried aloud: ‘Whoever believes in me believes not in me but in him [the Father] who sent me.’" (John 12:44)
Who does Jesus say we are?
In the parable of the true vine (John 15), Jesus states "I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower…. I am the vine, you are the branches." Think in terms of a grape vine: As the branches extending from the vine, who are we? Are we different from Jesus? Remember Jesus taught the hidden wisdom within his parables, so that those who have "the eyes to see and the ears to hear" may do so.
In John 14, Jesus states: "The one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father." Jesus expects us to do greater works than he did …. So who are we?
"I declare what I have seen in the Father’s presence; as for you, you should do what you have heard from the Father." (John 8:38) Jesus expects us to stand on our own … to approach the Father on our own … to trust the instructions we hear (with our intuitive mind) from the Father. We are to channel the Father, just like Jesus.
As Jesus prepared his disciples for his departure, he taught them: "I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come." (John 16:12-14) Jesus still had much [hidden wisdom] to tell his disciples. But they had not yet developed "the eyes to see and the ears to hear." The disciples (including you and me) are to listen to the Holy Spirit, as He teaches us. Jesus knew who we are: intelligent beings capable of learning on our own from the Holy Spirit.
Where does Jesus fit within a creation that does not include a physical place created by God to punish some for eternity? As One with us … as our elder brother who came to show us the Father … who came to show us the Way of Love … who came to teach us to live our lives as a channel for the Father … who came to show us how to be a Christed Being—to possess the mind that was in Christ Jesus.
Each of us must walk the Path of Love as unique individuals. Jesus knew we cannot grow "to do greater works" than his by blindly following the dictates of others. We must "do what you have heard from the Father" … we must think and act according to the inner teachings of the Holy Spirit to us. What you hear and what I hear may differ. That is okay because as the Apostle Paul taught in I Corinthians 13:12-13: "For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love."