Myths about Hell

This is a little pamphlet I “found”. I’d like to hear anything and everything you think about it.
Thanks:)**
PART I
For most people, hell is simply one of a few four letter words, which they hear on a daily basis in the rage of rush hour traffic or the heated scenes of a Hollywood movie. To others though, the word hell brings back vivid childhood imaginations of an eternal roasting pit for humans which they heard about from Sunday school or from a fiery televangelist. No matter which category of people you fall into, it seems as though many, if not all of us would be better off if the concept of hell just didn’t exist at all. In fact some, in an attempt to divest their minds of such a fearful idea, make the choice to disbelieve in the idea of hell altogether, which often leads to the next step of choosing to disbelieve in a God who would create such a place.

So what do we do with this terrifying idea of hell? Do we throw it and God out altogether? Do we try to ignore it and its implications about who God is? Do we hope against all hope that our Sunday school teachers were somehow mistaken? In this Bible tract, we will choose another option which is to simply study what the Bible really has to say about hell, and in so doing you’ll find that the truth will set you free from the various myths about this fearful teaching.

Interestingly, the Bible gives us explicit information on when hell would begin and where it would be located. As you might have guessed, misconceptions abound on these two points. In Matthew 13:49 Jesus speaks plainly saying, “So shall it be at the end of this world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.”* According to this text and many others like it,(1) the flames of hell will not exist until the end of the world. That’s right! Your loved ones are not being burned alive as you read this tract.

Next, we see that the apostle Peter gives us clear information on where hell will be located. Speaking of the end of the world he says, “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.”(2) The prophet Zephaniah also speaks of, “the whole land,” being “devoured by the fire of His jealousy.”(3) Here we see that hell is not some giant chasm of flames in the center of the earth; rather, it will be located right here on earth at the end of the world devouring “the whole land.”
Perhaps the most important thing to understand about hell can be found in the famous text John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Here Jesus clearly states that it is the believers who are the ones that live eternally, not the wicked. What!? The wicked don’t live eternally writhing in flames? Correct!

The wicked are to burn only until there is nothing left to burn. Malachi brings this point out well: “For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, and all the proud, yes, all who do wickedly will be stubble. And the day which is coming shall burn them up,”(4) In fact, just so we could be sure that he was speaking literally about the utter destruction of the wicked he goes on to say, “’You shall trample the wicked, for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day that I do this,’ says the Lord of hosts.”(4) Also, not only will the wicked be destroyed completely in the flames of hell but so will Satan and his wicked angels according to Matt. 25:41 and Rev. 20:10. Contrary to popular belief, God plans to destroy the forces of darkness, not put them in charge of an eternal fire pit in the center of the earth!

But some might say that there are other texts like Rev. 14:11 and 20:10 which point out that the wicked burn eternally. Well, the Bible also says that the prophet Samuel would abide before the Lord in the sanctuary forever,(5) and that the bars of the earth closed about Jonah forever(6) when he was thrown into the sea. Now it is clear from scripture itself that neither of these events lasted forever. What we see here are two examples of the Bible using the term, “forever” to mean a time of indefinite duration where the beginning and ending of that time depend on the nature of the person, circumstance, or thing to which it is applied. An example in our day which is similar is when a man and woman commit to their marriage vow forever. When they do so, the term “forever” simply means as“long as they live.” So how do we know how long “forever” is for those burning in hell? Simple: other passages on the topic explain that “forever” in this instance means until the wicked are utterly consumed. Context is key!

**

PART II

**
In light of this simple Bible study, one might ask, “How is it that these myths about hell could even exist?” The truth is that this false teaching has permeated Christianity not just because it is a good scare tactic for church attendance, but because our adversary the devil loves to teach lies about God. In Revelation 12:9 Satan is described as one who “deceives the whole world.” He deceives them about what? About God and His character. Yes, there are true and false teachings about God in this world. Truth is not a choice, as many would like to believe. Truth is a reality waiting to be discovered in the pages of Scripture. And the reality is that yes, “our God is a consuming fire,”(7) to sin and sinners. But the Bible teaches that, rather than the wicked, it is the saint, “who walks righteously and speaks uprightly,” who will “dwell with the devouring fire” and “everlasting burnings.”(8)
That’s right! According to Matthew 25:31-46, all humanity will one day encounter God, in whose presence “the hills melt, and the earth burns,”(9) But only those who have repented of their sins and sought after God will be able to be protected in His fiery presence where they will dwell through all eternity. The wicked, on the other hand, will cease to exist and “be as though they had never been,”(10) after they are “punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.”(11)
Friends, “God is love,”(12) a love which is symbolized by fire. Solomon said God’s “love… hath a most vehement flame.”(13) As fire hardens clay but melts ice, so His fiery love will comfort the saint but consume the sinner. Today you have the choice to harden your heart toward God, or let His flames melt it. Whichever route we choose determines our eternal destiny, but God remains the same. Seek Him today, and His love will warm your heart through all eternity!**

Lovely lot of disparate quotes of scripture, reminds me of many happy meetings of JWs at the front door.
However, I am not sure it accords with Catholic teaching on Hell.
May your work through RCIA be fruitful and may God bless you in your reaching for His true Church.

Its from here au.glowonline.org/tract/myths-about-hell-alpha/

If you are struggling with anything, this is probably not the best way to do it.

Thank you for your post, I wholeheartedly recommend examining the Catholic Catechism on Hell, searchable version is also available online, here is one link:

scborromeo.org/ccc.htm

There are some serious errors of interpretation of these Bible passages, let us consider the first passage you quoted:

Interestingly, the Bible gives us explicit information on when hell would begin and where it would be located. As you might have guessed, misconceptions abound on these two points. In Matthew 13:49 Jesus speaks plainly saying, “So shall it be at the end of this world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.” According to this text and many others like it,(1) the flames of hell will not exist until the end of the world. That’s right! Your loved ones are not being burned alive as you read this tract.*

Where is the error?

In that quoted Bible passage, there is no mention that Hell will begin at the end of this world, only a mention that angels “shall cast them into the furnace of fire” at the end of this world. So Hell can still be active when they are cast in the furnace of fire at the end of this world right?

Many other errors of interpretation in this tract, I am no authority of the Holy Spirit to interpret scripture, the Catholic Church is, please examine their Catechism.

Blessings and peace. :slight_smile:

Sounds like a JW tract .They “diminish” everything. Hell is only for awhile. Heaven is for others(144,00), Jesus is a little god, communion is only for the anointed (144,000).Man does not have an everlasting soul. …Think the burning bush. Think of
the fire is never quenched, the worm dieth not. Forever burning as in always having something to burn, forever having a “purpose”. If all souls even Satan are eventually extinguished, then these fires are only temporary. My human mind can not grasp the reality, but it does elevate the necessity of Calvary. Extinguishment at weaker times is not a bad alternative. Ever been in a bad way, spiritually, emotionally, mentally where you want to crawl under a rock ? Death (extinguishment) would be a sort of deliverance, a relief from the pain. But thankfully something tells us ( as well as a proper gospel) it is not over in the next life either. You take your baggage with you- hence the weeping and gnashing of teeth, from regret of denying Grace and being separated from ANY blessing. That is a proper fear, enough not to want to be judged by our actions written in the book, but rather be judged out of the book of life, or being in it. (There are two books).

You are right. This is definitely a JW view.

Sorry…
I guess I should’ve been more clear. This is from GLOW ( a Seventh-Day Adventist ministry) and I am not recommending or believing what is said. Thankfully my past year studying the RCC I can honestly say that I look through and see the inconsistencies…which as an SDA I would have NEVER seen.
That said, I want to be given the “Catholic take” on all of this. I want to be able to see it through the “Catholic lense” that most of you have.

Thank you for your replies :thumbsup:

The 7DAs are the spiritual ancestors of JW, and have similar positions on hell.

Neither position is reconcilable with the Catholic Church, however.

ICXC NIKA

dreamfleur. You stated:

That said, I want to be given the “Catholic take” on all of this. I want to be able to see it through the “Catholic lense” that most of you have.

I’ll try to get back on this thread later (it may be a few days).

The best place to begin are the Catholic Catechisms (CCC and Roman Catechism–also called Catechism of the Council of Trent).

Then go back and read Scripture in light of the teachings of the Church, which is how Scripture was meant to be read.

God bless.

Cathoholic.

Here are some insights from the Roman Catechism (also called the Catechism of the Council of Trent). The Roman Catechism is described by the CCC as work of “first rank as a summary of Christian teaching” (CCC 9).

From Article VII (last portion) ROMAN CATECHISM
The Sentence Of The Wicked

Turning next to those who shall stand on His left, He will pour out His justice upon them in these words: Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.

The first words, depart from me, express the heaviest punishment with which the wicked shall be visited, their eternal banishment from the sight of God, unrelieved by one consolatory hope of ever recovering so great a good. This punishment is called by theologians the pain of loss, because in hell the wicked shall be deprived forever of the light of the vision of God.

The words ye cursed, which follow, increase unutterably their wretched and calamitous condition. If when banished from the divine presence they were deemed worthy to receive some benediction, this would be to them a great source of consolation. But since they can expect nothing of this kind as an alleviation of their misery, the divine justice deservedly pursues them with every species of malediction, once they have been banished.

The next words, into everlasting fire, express another sort of punishment, which is called by theologians the pain of sense, because, like lashes, stripes or other more severe chastisements, among which fire, no doubt, produces the most intense pain, it is felt through the organs of sense. When, moreover, we reflect that this torment is to be eternal, we can see at once that the punishment of the damned includes every kind of suffering.

The concluding words, which was prepared for the devil and his angels, make this still more clear. For since nature has so provided that we feel miseries less when we have companions and sharers in them who can, at least in some measure, assist us by their advice and kindness, what must be the horrible state of the damned who in such calamities can never separate themselves from the companionship of most wicked demons? And yet most justly shall this very sentence be pronounced by our Lord and Saviour on those sinners who neglected all the works of true mercy, who gave neither food to the hungry, nor drink to the thirsty, who refused shelter to the stranger and clothing to the naked, and who would not visit the sick and the imprisoned.

Importance of Instruction on this Article

These are thoughts which the pastor should very often bring to the attention of his people; for the truth which is contained in this Article will, if accepted with faithful dispositions, be most powerful in bridling the evil inclinations of the heart and in withdrawing men from sin. Hence we read in Ecclesiasticus: In all thy works remember thy last end, and thou shalt never sin.’ And indeed there is scarcely anyone so given over to vice as not to be recalled to virtue by the thought that he must one day render an account before an all-just Judge, not only of all his words and actions, but even of his most secret thoughts, and must suffer punishment according to his deserts. . . .

For the CCC (which I will assume you have) look at CCC 682, then go ahead to CCC 1020-1065 and read it.

The picture of annihilation attempted to be drawn in the readers mind here (in the original post) from GLOW actually itself speaks against annihilation. More on that later possibly.

Remember all people in hell CHOOSE to go there.

Also God will not annihilate someone made in His image and likeness (we are all made in the image and likeness of God).

The reason why the information in this tract sounds like it comes from Jehovah’s Witnesses is because both the WItnesses and the Seventh Day Adventists stem from the same original movement,

Both groups come from the original Adventist movement, started by a man named William Miller, who was responsible for what history calls the “Great Disappointment” when he convinced others that Christ would return on October 22, 1844.

When this did not happen, followers who could not accept that they themselves were worshipping incorrectly tried to make sense of the failed prediction in various ways. Some advanced the idea that Christ did return as Miller predicted, but that he returned invisibly. Some moved the date forward to 1874, and when Christ did not return visibly then they did the same thing, claiming that the dating was correct but that the “rule” of an “invisible return” had to be applied. Charles Taze Russell, founder of what was to become the Jehovah’s Witness movement, was one of these.

Along with an interest in setting dates and thus confining God to the temporal realm (making God subject to the limits of time and space), the Adventists also believed in “soul sleep,” i.e., that the soul was not immortal.

Many groups that stemmed off from the original Millerite/Great Disappointment group carried these basics with them, including a misunderstanding of the official teachings of Hell (because, as they believe, if the soul is not conscious after death then Hell cannot exist).

That is why this sounds like a JW tract, because the Witnesses are not the originators of this belief, even though you will often hear some claim that they are. You will find that many of these groups are more similar than they wish to admit, especially in their speak wherein they refer to themselves as “being in the Truth.”

Thank you for this answer.
I am currently debating this topic with a SDA and this will help my discussion A LOT. It is very difficult to crack into the shell of a SDA when all of their lives they have thought of death in such a different way ( I’m just starting to completely grasp it myself…).
I will keep trying to “expose” what is stated in the Bible and see if they understand.

Scripture is clear that not only is fire eternal, but that the suffering is eternal as well. For example, from Isaiah.

And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh. (Isaiah 66:24)

Christ refers to this verse in the Gospels describing the punishments of hell. The Apocalypse has even clearer statements about the eternity of suffering.

And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name. (Revelation 14:9-11)

And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God: For true and righteous are his judgments: for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand. And again they said, Alleluia. And her smoke rose up for ever and ever. (Revelation 19:1-3)

And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever. (Revelation 20:10)

I would like to take a moment to deal a little bit with the style of writing rather than the content. The author has deliberately set the scene making the reader into a person of ignorance. You heard it at Sunday School, you heard it on TV, but you don’t know the Bible.

The author then attempts to claim that people develop a morbid fear of “hell” and as a consequence therefore have rejected “God”. If “hell” is softened then I guess it is assumed there will be a greater love toward God. The author implies that God has not been accepted by believers because of His great mercy which He has extended towards us to save us from the consequence of our own choices and actions, but only because of a fear of the opposite. In other words it is assumed that the drawing toward God is a push rather than a pull, and is nothing more than a negative motivation.

Towards the end then the author claims “light” vs “myth”, “truth” vs “false teaching”. Scare mongering by Christianity, which are “lies” from the very devil himself.

You don’t want to offend God do you? Become an SDA.

So the style of authorship is an appeal to emotions all the way through, it is not an appeal to exposition, it is an appal to emotions, and an appalling exposition.

Very good analysis.

The thing that concerns me the most about the article, is that it is accusing Christianity of scaremongering, while at the same time it is intentionally scaremongering Christianity into believing they are following the devil unless they espouse SDA theology.

I hope all Catholics are stronger in their faith to see through that, because they are targeting the fringe of the flock.

I note that you’re talking to a fellow 7th Day Adventist while going through RCIA.

I was also tempted to engage in apologetics when I went through RCIA in 2008. Someone said it was inadvisable for two reasons:
[LIST=1]
*]Encourages spiritual pride - the Catholic Church has over 2,000 years of the best minds to develop the doctrines of our faith. In addition, we have websites like Catholic Answers to help narrow down the arguments. It’s easy for a new convert filled with zeal to fall into the temptation of triumphalism. This encourages spiritual pride and hurts our soul.
*]Inadequately defend and become discouraged - one may not know enough to adequately defend the faith and then become discouraged when we cannot find a satisfying counter-argument. This is a temptation against faith. As a new convert, we have to nurture our faith in the Church until we are filled with the Holy Spirit. Remember what Christ said at the Ascension? Pray until the Holy Spirit is sent to you. New converts need to do the same.
[/LIST]

You may be a lot stronger and wiser in the faith. In which case, by all means, please continue to help a fellow brother/sister to enter full Communion with the Church. However, speaking from my own personal experience, I am sharing the same loving words of caution that I received.

God bless you,

KfG

Thank you for that bit of advice.

I am mainly speaking to family members in hopes of “defending” my position to want to be a part of the Catholic church ( which they believe is the cult of the devil and the Anti-Christ). So I’m not exactly trying to draw new members into the faith by any means. I’m only trying to defend from a position of Biblical truth, reason and fact (that I have found in the RCC). I am completely engrossed in studying anything and everything I can get my hands on and it has been a long journey so far. I probably will not be accepted into the church into 2015 (or later…) so I have a long way to go.

One year ago I thought I knew A LOT about theology and the Bible… as this past year has progressed and I am learning the teachings of the RCC I have come to realize that I know almost NOTHING. :blush:

This is EXACTLY how it makes the reader feel. Thank you for that very observant reality. Unfortunately this type of writing and logic is extremely common in anything that is used for evangelization by the SDA’s.

They are VERY convincing.:eek::confused:

I suppose the catechism is the best place to look’ excerpt:

** HELL **
1033 We cannot be united with God unless we freely choose to love him. But we cannot love God if we sin gravely against him, against our neighbor or against ourselves: "He who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him."612 Our Lord warns us that we shall be separated from him if we fail to meet the serious needs of the poor and the little ones who are his brethren.613 To die in mortal sin without repenting and accepting God’s merciful love means remaining separated from him for ever by our own free choice. This state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed is called “hell.”
1034 Jesus often speaks of “Gehenna” of “the unquenchable fire” reserved for those who to the end of their lives refuse to believe and be converted, where both soul and body can be lost.614 Jesus solemnly proclaims that he "will send his angels, and they will gather . . . all evil doers, and throw them into the furnace of fire,"615 and that he will pronounce the condemnation: "Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire!"616
1035 The teaching of the Church affirms the existence of hell and its eternity. Immediately after death the souls of those who die in a state of mortal sin descend into hell, where they suffer the punishments of hell, "eternal fire."617 The chief punishment of hell is eternal separation from God, in whom alone man can possess the life and happiness for which he was created and for which he longs.
1036 The affirmations of Sacred Scripture and the teachings of the Church on the subject of hell are a call to the responsibility incumbent upon man to make use of his freedom in view of his eternal destiny. They are at the same time an urgent call to conversion: "Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few."618

Since we know neither the day nor the hour, we should follow the advice of the Lord and watch constantly so that, when the single course of our earthly life is completed, we may merit to enter with him into the marriage feast and be numbered among the blessed, and not, like the wicked and slothful servants, be ordered to depart into the eternal fire, into the outer darkness where "men will weep and gnash their teeth."619
1037 God predestines no one to go to hell;620 for this, a willful turning away from God (a mortal sin) is necessary, and persistence in it until the end. In the Eucharistic liturgy and in the daily prayers of her faithful, the Church implores the mercy of God, who does not want “any to perish, but all to come to repentance”:621

Father, accept this offering
from your whole family.
Grant us your peace in this life,
save us from final damnation,
and count us among those you have chosen.622
** V. THE LAST JUDGMENT **
1038 The resurrection of all the dead, "of both the just and the unjust,"623 will precede the Last Judgment. This will be "the hour when all who are in the tombs will hear [the Son of man’s] voice and come forth, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment."624 Then Christ will come "in his glory, and all the angels with him. . . . Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left. . . . And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."625
1039 In the presence of Christ, who is Truth itself, the truth of each man’s relationship with God will be laid bare.626 The Last Judgment will reveal even to its furthest consequences the good each person has done or failed to do during his earthly life:

All that the wicked do is recorded, and they do not know. When “our God comes, he does not keep silence.”. . . he will turn towards those at his left hand: . . . "I placed my poor little ones on earth for you. I as their head was seated in heaven at the right hand of my Father - but on earth my members were suffering, my members on earth were in need. If you gave anything to my members, what you gave would reach their Head. Would that you had known that my little ones were in need when I placed them on earth for you and appointed them your stewards to bring your good works into my treasury. But you have placed nothing in their hands; therefore you have found nothing in my presence."627
1040 The Last Judgment will come when Christ returns in glory. Only the Father knows the day and the hour; only he determines the moment of its coming. Then through his Son Jesus Christ he will pronounce the final word on all history. We shall know the ultimate meaning of the whole work of creation and of the entire economy of salvation and understand the marvelous ways by which his Providence led everything towards its final end. The Last Judgment will reveal that God’s justice triumphs over all the injustices committed by his creatures and that God’s love is stronger than death.628

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