posted on Apr, 23 2009 @ 10:20 AM
Wow, great topic- I've enjoyed reading through this thread. About a year ago I started doing some of my own research on this very topic and I can
confirm that the terms Sheol, Hades, Gehenna, and Tartarus as explained by Blue_Jay33 are accurate with what I've learned. My research was mostly
based on the work of Dr. Douglas Jacoby in his audio series on the afterlife.
A little history- starting in the 3rd and 4th centuries, the teaching of the early Christian church about Sheol was slowly being transformed into the
concept of "purgatory." Purgatory was taught by the Catholic Church as a place where humans go after they die in which cleansing takes place. The
idea was that after one had been there long enough and "worked" off their sins, they would move on to Heaven. This was clearly not what the early
church taught about Sheol. The early church taught that one couldn't "work" their way to heaven in the afterlife- the decision was made at death.
So when the protestants broke away from the Catholic Church they wanted to change many Catholic doctrines. (and rightly so) The idea of any kind of
"works" being attached to salvation were discarded and replaced by the concept of "faith alone." They also threw out the concept of purgatory and
instead of going back to the concept of Sheol, they replaced it with the idea that people go straight to heaven or hell when they die. This
overreaction may have started this whole misunderstanding about the afterlife.
Personally I think that Hell (Gehenna) is a very real place, so from that point of view I don't think there is a "conspiracy" about Hell. Jesus
himself talks about a place where the unrighteous will be sent. Who knows, Hell might not be an actual "lake of fire" just like heaven might not
have physical "streets of gold." We have to be careful about what we take literally from the book of Revelation as it is written in symbolic
language. These descriptions could be more symbolic than real which is actually more scary to think about. Hell might be thousands of degrees worse
than simply being tortured by demons while burning alive...
Some additional thoughts- it appears that punishment is not the same for everyone (just as reward might not be the same for everyone?) I base this on
Luke 12:47-48. This seems to imply that punishment ends at some point in time (few blows), so I don't have a problem thinking that Hell may not be
eternal. Even if one was in Hell for 1 Million years, that is very short compared to eternity! The only possible verse that contradicts this is
Matthew 25:46, where Jesus mentions "eternal punishment" but that could be explained as the memory of the punishment lasting forever, but not the
actual punishment like a previous poster said. So that means the unrighteous who are thrown into Hell will at some point be utterly destroyed, but
the righteous will be granted eternal life and live with God forever!
Where does the Bible say the unrighteous will be granted eternal life???