Ever Been To Hell And Back?
(Some People Claim They Have)
By Gary Amirault
"There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear because fear involves torment. But he/she who fears has not been made perfect in love." (1 John 4:18)
This writing answers the following questions:
- Is there really a place called Hell?
- Has the teaching of Hell in the Church been consistent throughout Church history?
- If Hell exists, can people really go there and come back to tell about it?
- Did the original writings of the Jewish and Christian Bibles contain the concept of Hell?
- Did the early Christian leaders teach Hell?
- Are there Bible translations which do NOT contain the concept of a Hell of Everlasting Punishment or annihilation?
- Are testimonies of those who claimed to go to Hell consistent with each other and the Scriptures?
- Do NDE’s (near death experiences) substantiate or refute Hell?
- What does "fear" do to our ability to see things as they truly are?
- Can Christians go to Hell?
During my nearly 3 decades of being a believer in Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world, I have spent considerable time and energy studying the concept that salvation is deliverance from a place called Hell. I am an expert on the subject. I have even created large internet sites devoted to exploring the subject of Hell. I am always astonished how many Christians believe in a Hell of everlasting punishment and have never thoroughly studied the concept.
For example, of the hundreds of different churches I have attended during my time as a Christian, the churches who taught Hell, taught it as a place of everlasting punishment from which there is no escape. Once a person is consigned there the hope of escape is gone according to their beliefs. And yet, most of the leaders of these churches would invite speakers such as Mary Baxter, Bill Wiese, Jennifer Lopez, Mark Cahill, Ian McCormack, Colin Anderson, Angie Fenimore, Deborah Taylor, Howard Storm, Curtis Earthquake Kelley, Daniel Ekechukwu, Ronald Reagan and others, to talk about their escape from Hell. Some, such as Daniel Ekechukwu, have produced expensive videos, telling of their journey to Hell and back. The reader will discover that to embrace the traditional teaching of Hell and also believe the stories these men and women tell in their books, DVD’s and church presentations, one must embrace a host of contradictions and disregard many facts which appear to disprove the doctrine of Hell. Furthermore, anyone who spends any reasonable time comparing these testimonies with each other and the Scriptures discovers a host of contradictions.
The most recent video I watched pushing the teaching of Hell from a church perspective was "The Lazarus Phenomenon" produced by John Sturm with Eternal Productions. The video was an hour and a half long with a lot of graphics and special effects. This video had the capacity to generate a LOT of fear. Spiritlessons.com advertised this video as the "Best video on Heaven, Hell, and Angels that I've ever seen." If one wants to get a sense of the spiritual darkness around the teaching of Hell, a visit to Spiritlessons.com would be helpful.
The Lazarus Phenomenon has received many hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube, appeared on CBN, etc.This Nigerian pastor (Daniel Ekechukwu) was supposedly dead for three days supposedly with embalding fluid in his body. There are many accounts of this story on the internet. Be sure to read BOTH sides of this story. The story is much too long to discuss in this article, but the clincher for me, that this pastor's story was false is this: He claimed an angel took him to Hell to show him what went on there. Furthermore, this pastor was told Hell would have been his final destination, if the angels had not intervened. The reason this pastor was on his way to Hell? Because he had not forgiven his wife. So here we have a scenario in which a pastor gets a wake-up call in Hell, (supposedly a place from which is no escape) and comes back to earth to warn people the end is near and a LOT of people who expect to be in heaven won't be. While alive this pastor was completely unaware that he destination was Hell, not heaven. This man's supposed resurrection after being dead for three days was mightily used for self-promotion by ministries like Reinhardt Bonnke and Benny Hinn, two evangelists and faith-healers who have had many crusades in Africa in which more people have been killed than raised from the dead. Daniel Ekechukwu claims to also have visited heaven.
While most people who have had (NDE’s) near-death experiences had a positive experience and lost their fear of death, there are some who claim they went to what some religions call Hell as Ekechukwu claims. Some have written books about their experience. (A Divine Revelation of Hell by Mary Baxter and 23 Minutes in Hell by Bill Wiese are two of the leading examples). Some go to churches warning people to "get right with God" before it is too late because of their experiences. Some make millions of dollars selling books, CD’s, DVD’s, church offerings and honorariums from their stories about their experience in Hell. Are their stories valid? Do their stories line up with the Scriptures? Do their stories line up with each other? Have you ever seriously compared these stories with each other and the Scriptures? Most people who have accepted these stories have not. They are not disciplined enough to "search the Scriptures" to see if these things be so. This article is for those who do not swallow something just because a person speaks emotionally about something. This article is for those who engage their minds and "test the spirits" to see if these things be so. This article examines and compares their claims with each other and with the Scriptures.
A famous quote by Rudyard Kipling goes: "I keep six honest serving men. They taught me all I know. Their names are what and why, and when and how, and where and who?" Another man less famous than Kipling states a similar truth in the following manner: "It will greatly help you to understand scripture if you note – not only what is spoken and written, but of whom and to whom, with what words, at what time, where, to what intent, with what circumstances, considering what goes before and what follows." (Miles Coverdale in his introduction to his Bible translation.) If these quotes were kept in mind, much of the nonsense being taught as truth in Christianity would be exposed for the nonsense it is, especially in the field of eschatology, that is, the study of the Biblical End Times.
The first order of business, I suppose, is to decide which version of Hell the traditional Church teaches today, is the real Hell. Another possibility, of course, is that none of the versions taught in traditional Christianity are correct. Perhaps the truth is what the majority of the early believers taught which was apokatastasis, that is, the "restoration of all things." (Acts 3:21) Most Christians are unaware of the fact that the teaching that salvation was deliverance from Hell was NOT a prevalent teaching during the first few centuries of the Church; it did not become the dominant teaching until the sixth century. As a matter of fact, the entry of the doctrine of Hell as a pillar teaching of the Church was probably the primary force that produced what we call today "The Dark Ages." But this writing is not about what the early Christians believed (We have ample material on that subject at tentmaker.org), this writing is about whether those who claim to have had experiences in a place the traditional church calls Hell can be substantiated.
The average Protestant is aware of the fact that after Emperor Constantine made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire that the church incorporated thousands of teachings, traditions and rituals from the pagan regions the Church tried to convert to Christianity. The Church "Christianized" hosts of pagan practices. It incorporated concepts of the underworld from many centers of religion including Egyptian, Babylonian, Greek, Persian, Teutonic, Norse and Druidic mythologies. Some sects of Judaism, during their stay in Babylon and Egypt also picked up some pagan concepts which corrupted the teachings of the Scriptures which Jesus called "traditions of men which make the word of God of no effect." (Matt. 15:6-9) This conglomeration of teachings would culminate into the center-piece teaching of the Dark Age Church, the doctrine of Hell. The thousands of Protestant sects that have come into being since the Reformation have abandoned a host of the pagan practices the Catholic and Orthodox Churches which were added to the simplicity of the Gospel of Christ, but there are still many vestiges of the Dark Age superstitions remaining in most sects of Protestantism, the primary one being the teaching of Hell as a place of everlasting punishment.
To do justice to the subject of Hell and how it was injected into the Church would require several books since the modern teaching of Hell is a conglomeration coming from many different religions. And again, the focus of this short writing is to determine whether these testimonies of people believing they went to a place called Hell can be substantiated. But a brief introduction of the teaching of Hell is necessary to lay the groundwork for this article.
Because, we (at Tentmaker), have published much material on the subject of Hell, we get many letters and emails from folks warning us that we might be going to the very place we believe does not exist in the form they describe. Occasionally, we get a letter from someone who claims they went to Hell. Sometimes they give a description of what they experienced. With an exceptional few, most letters and emails we get from traditional fire and brimstone Hell-believers come from uneducated people who are not very well versed in the Scriptures even though they might attend church regularly. Simply because they are uneducated does not mean they are not telling the truth. High education is not necessarily one of the qualifications for being useful in God’s kingdom. However, too often, Christians hear and pass on stories that sound very exciting and told by very good story tellers and they never check to see whether the story lines up with Scripture. Furthermore, when comparing the main stories about trips to Hell among the most popular of these accounts, they often greatly contradict one another. Unfortunately, most Christians who swallow these stories line, hook and sinker even as they would a piece of Hollywood fiction, are not very careful when they hear these stories.
Hell is a vital subject. Teaching and stories about Hell should be thoroughly scrutinized. If salvation is indeed deliverance from a state of everlasting torments and God has placed us on this earth to show people how to escape from such a horrible fate, then we, Christians, should be experts on this subject! Unfortunately, that is not the case. Most Christians know more about movie stars and sports figures than they know about key subjects in the Bible.
However, when the stories about visiting Hell from people like Mary Baxter, Bill Wiese, Dr. Richard Eby, Dr. George G. Ritchie, Marietta Davis, Kenneth Hagin, etc. do not agree with each other, then we must scrutinize their claims. We must see whether their stories line up with Scriptures, not whether they line up with church traditions which may NOT necessarily be based upon the Bible when correctly translated.
I say "when correctly translated" because when looking for Hell in the Scriptures, one will find great variance from one English translation to another regarding which words should be translated Hell. Considering many denominations of Christianity see salvation as being delivered from a fate of everlasting tortures either in a physical body in literal flames, or saved from being separated forever from the goodness, love and mercy of God consciously, the study of Hell should be one of the most important studies a Christian should embark on. It is most unfortunate that the average Christian is clueless about the Hebrew and Greek words behind our English word "Hell." At our Scholars Corner we have many fine articles and books carefully examining every place where some translations injected the word "Hell."
Positive Views from Hellish Experiences
It may come as a shock to the reader that there are many people who have had quite hellish experiences during NDEs (near death experiences) or in dreams and visions who, after prayer and consulting Scripture, became convinced that Jesus Christ is going to save all mankind. Most pastors who teach no salvation from Hell will not allow their members the privilege of hearing this side of the story. They do not want their congregation to entertain the possibility that the traditional teaching on Hell is false. Furthermore, as mentioned before, the stories of those who had hellish experiences and came away believing many human beings were going to everlasting punishment greatly contradict each other and contradict many scriptural passages. Are we to ignore these contradictions? Many do. And there is scarcely a pastor in the land that will allow an open discussion in their church to examine the contradictions between these stories.
Many Christians are slaves to the traditions of men that they have been taught. They have no desire nor energy to try to be set free from them. They just swallow what they are fed never really checking out for themselves whether what they eating has a shred of truth in it. But if you are a reader who above all wants the truth in the matter, then it is expedient for you to spend some time really analyzing what these folks say in their books. The right thing to do is study to show yourself approved and then take it to God Himself. In this article, we are going to dig into some of the leading stories of those who claimed they went to Hell and compare them with each other and the Scriptures.
It has been stated earlier that there are those who have had very hellish near-death experiences and dreams and visions who after careful study and reflection came away with the belief that God will eventually save everyone. I am one of those. Shortly after my conversion I had two weeks of very hellish experiences. Three times during those two weeks I consciously went into a pit of darkness that was so awful that I could not have continued to live if I were to have those experiences for any significant length of time. I would have gone insane and attempted suicide if I had to endure much more of what I experienced. When the scriptures speak of a "bottomless pit," and "outer darkness," my experiences add a whole new dimension to those words. These terrifying experiences caused me to dig into certain portions of scripture much deeper that I would have had I not had those experiences. Yet after reflecting on those experiences -- after digging deeply into the scriptures and through other experiences with God, I came away with the belief that all mankind would ultimately be saved through the Cross of Jesus Christ. I am not the only person who came away with such a glorious thought after having some very hellish experiences.
I have spoken to and/or read the testimonies of other Christians (three of them medical doctors) who concluded as I did, that Jesus Christ will save all mankind – that there is no place of everlasting punishment in a place called Hell. I have read the stories of highly educated people like Dr. George G. Ritchie who wrote "Return from Tomorrow" describing his near death experience and Dr. Richard Eby who wrote "Caught Up Into Paradise" and "Tell Them I Am Coming." Their experiences, although perhaps even more terrifying than mine, convinced them that Jesus would ultimately save all mankind. Dr. Richard Eby, for example, even though part of his experience was very hellish, became convinced that Jesus would ultimately save everyone. He personally told me this. I also have a copy of a letter he wrote to a relative confirming that. He appeared on many television programs telling his testimony. Dr. Eby wrote to his cousin J. Preston Eby, a great Christian writer who has written much material defending universal salvation through Jesus Christ. Here is an excerpt from it:
"…It seems that the ‘Abbas’ (Eby’s in America) have held true to the century-old beliefs that the WORD discloses the PLANS OF JEHOVAH far higher than man’s puny attempts to alter them. I am excited to perceive that you hold the conviction that Christ’s Blood (as a Holy detergent to wipe away human sin) is not made impotent by arrogant believers (?) whose pride in having heard the Good News refuses God to utilize it for saving ALL souls in HIS good time! My late father, Eugene, was totally convinced from a lifetime of intense perusal of Scripture that nothing else is taught more clearly than the revelation of total salvation (salvage) for ALL of His imaged creatures. I concur after my lifetime of hearing denominational putdowns to those who allow God to save His own creation when and as He sees His glory magnified by so doing. We are simply (undeservedly) blessed in this near-ended Age of Grace (before the next eons of eons) to be given the Gift of Life now without waiting for some future development in the Divine "m.o.!" (modus operandi) Your rebuttals to persons espousing a limited availability of the Power of the Blood are well stated! I tell people who challenge me to back away from the Throne long enough to re-grasp the meaning of the Cross, leaving their myopia for the Spirit to correct." (Letter from Dr. and Mrs. Richard Eby, Victorville, Ca. on 11/3/89 to J. Preston Eby, a cousin of Dr. Richard Eby)
There are several popular sites on the internet that feature classic testimonies of people who went to Hell.
Traditional Christianity teaches there is no escape from Hell. How can Hell be a place from which it is impossible to escape if all these escaped and came back to tell their story?
According to one testimony (Mary Baxter’s) it seems there are more Christians in Hell than unbelievers. Could this be more a projection of the fundamental beliefs of her Christian background (Pentecostal, Arminian) than reality? Under the teachings Mary Baxter received from her denomination, every time a Christian sinned, they were going to Hell. Every week members had to get saved all over again. Skirts too long, makeup, jewelry would be grounds for burning forever. I heard a preacher from one of these types of churches rake a young new believer in Christ over the coals of Hell telling him if he didn’t shave off a skinny mustache he was going to burn forever. And this pastor used the King James Bible to prove it. Imagine the kind of fear and terror filled sermons members of these super-legalistic Pentecostal churches are subjected to week by week. It is enough to drive one insane. Some people DO go insane in religious fellowships. And some of them commit suicide. And some of them have terrible nightmares which get put into books and videos that make some folks very rich. If we are to believe Mary Baxter’s story, Hell is for Christians first, and worldly sinners and unbelievers second.
Dr. Ken Vincent, a retired psychologist, who has written books on NDE’s says that most people who have had NDE’s (Near Death Experiences) have had positive experiences even though most have not been "born again." If most of mankind is doomed to Hell, as church tradition says, then NDE’s contradict that tradition since most (even those who were not born again), had a positive experience which in many cases delivered them completely of the fear of death.
Dr. Ritchie's book ORDERED TO RETURN, p. 44 (describing part of his NDE when he was with Jesus): "I suddenly realized how wrong it was for any of us on earth to judge another's approach to God or to feel we have the only answers. The moment that realization came into my mind, it was followed by His thought placed in my mind, 'You are right, for if I, Love, be lifted up, I shall draw all men unto Me.'" (John 12:32) Dr. Ritchie was a Christian. John 12:32 is one of many scriptures in the Bible which to me (Gary) and millions of other Christians throughout history teaches that Jesus Christ will save all mankind through His death on the cross. (Write me for a long list of other scriptures which teach clearly universal salvation. Here is one: Do You Believe?)
In the book "A True and Remarkable Account of the Life and Trance of Dr. George DeBenneville" we discover that Dr. DeBenneville was given the commission to preach the message of universal salvation in a place like what we commonly called Hell. Dr. George DeBenneville, a Christian in the 18th century, had an experience in which he went to heaven and hell where he saw angels taking the purified out of a place like Hell and raising them up to heaven. Dr. DeBenneville was also a Christian.
Every few years or so, a new book or phenomena enters the Christian world hyping up the subject of a place of everlasting torture awaiting the mass of mankind. Many Christian internet sites posted a recording of those who were supposedly burning in Hell. These voices were supposedly by Russian "scientists." This story has now been proven to be false, but that doesn’t prevent Fundamentalists who enjoy tormenting souls here on earth from continuing to post the recording and print the fabricated story. (http://www.amightywind.com/hell/aboutsounds.htm)
The latest Hellfire craze presently (2007) is a book and video (23 Minutes in Hell) by Bill Wiese (William Wiese)
I am not going to point out all the contradictions in his story in this short article. I’ll just point out that the minute he tried to go into the Bible to substantiate his story, he ran into problems which apparently he couldn’t see because he doesn’t know his scriptures very well. He begins his narrative with:
"I wanted to find out when I got back from this experience, if there's any body in the Bible who has ever experienced Hell. So I began research. I listen to Chuck Missler a lot. He's a Bible teacher across the nation, a real scholar and he had said that Jonah had experienced Hell. In Jonah 2:2 it says, "in Hell he cried out." And in Jonah 2:6 it says, "the earth with her bars was about me forever, yet thou has brought up my life from corruption." So at least there was somebody in the Bible that experienced Hell, Jonah." (Endquote from 23 Minutes in Hell.)
According to Bill Wiese, Jonah was in Hell because His King James Bible says he was in Hell. But most leading English Bible translations no longer have Jonah in Hell, they have him in Sheol, that is, the place of the dead in which EVERYONE in the Old Testament goes, whether good or bad. Apparently, Bill Wiese, because he does not compare Bible translations, is unaware of the fact that the King James Bible mistranslated a whole host of words that have been corrected by newer translations such as the New International Version and the New American Standard Version.
There is another word in the verse Bill Wiese selected to prove he went to Hell which is also mistranslated in the King James Bible – the word "forever." The Hebrew word behind the King James English is "olam." Literally, it means an indeterminate amount of time, time to obscurity, to the horizon. Olam, is a time word. It does NOT mean "forever." Jonah was in the fish, in the belly of the earth for three days and nights. But from Jonah’s point of view, not having the sun for a reference point, he was in the belly of the earth for an "olam," an indeterminate amount of time. Jonah didn’t know exactly how long he was in the fish because he couldn’t see the sun. That’s why the Hebrew "olam" was used to signify his duration. The root for olam stems from "hidden or obscure." An olam could be as short as three days and nights or even shorter. It could be as long as a man’s life or the length of a covenant, etc. It is obvious from other texts that Jonah was not there "forever" as the King James has him. Young’s Literal Translation, one of the most literal translations available says, "The earth, her bars are behind me to the age. And Thou bringest up from the pit my life, O Jehovah my God." The Concordant Literal Translation reads, "The earth, its bars are about me for the eon, Yet You shall bring up my life from ruin, O Yahweh, my Elohim." Rotherham’s Emphasized Bible has, "As for the earth her bars were bout me age-abidingly, -- Then didst thou bring up out of the pit my life, O Yahweh my God." All three of these versions as well as others translated the Hebrew word "olam" with some English word indicated time, not eternity. Jonah escaped his prison. Obviously, he was not there "forever." What ever Bill Wiese experienced, it, too, was not forever. So if Hell is a place from which there is no escape FOREVER, Bill wasn’t there, nor was Jonah.
The King James Bible mistranslated many important words, many of which have been corrected in newer translations, but not all of them. It is most unfortunate, most Christians are really not taught to compare Bible translations. There really are major doctrinal differences between major translations.
If Hell is a place where one experiences "everlasting punishment" one cannot come and go from such a place. The Bible correctly translated knows of no such place. Today, most leading Bible translations do not contain the English word Hell in the entire Old Testament, including the verse Bill Wiese and his scholar Chuck Missler hinge their false belief on. It is most unfortunate that people who have been Christians for many years do not even know there are scores of Bible translations which do not contain the English word Hell from cover to cover. A few examples are: Young’s Literal Translation, Rotherham’s Emphasized Bible, Concordant Literal N. T., Weymouth’s N.T., Twentieth Century N.T. as well as many others.
In addition to "olam" being mistranslated as "forever, the Hebrew word "sheol" should never have been translated as "Hell." If you don’t believe me, look into the leading English Bible translations such as the NIV, NRSV, NASB and many others –none of them translate "sheol" as "hell" anymore. Present day scholars now admit the King James translators were incorrect in rendering "sheol" as "hell." Sheol simply means the place of the dead. In the Hebrew text of the Bible, everyone, good and bad all go to the "place of the dead," that is, "sheol." The King James Bible unfortunately translated it 31 times "grave," 31 times "Hell," and three times "pit." The Hebrew "sheol" is the equivalent to "Hades" in the New Testament. Unfortunately, some of the pagan ideas of the underworld from Greek mythology became attached to this word because the Septuagint (Ancient Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures) chose to use the Greek word Hades for the equivalent to Sheol. The Greek word Hades had all kinds of pagan unbiblical ideas which were quite foreign to the meaning of the word Sheol. Some of this pagan understanding associated with the word Hades ultimately crept into Christian thought in some circles. Many Jews in Jesus’ day were Hellenists, that is, they spoke Greek, not Hebrew or Aramaic. These pagan concepts of Hades are some of those traditions Jesus warned about that "make the word of God of no effect." (Matt. 15:6-9)
Hell has Changed in the Last Couple Hundred Years
It may not be apparent to the average church-going Christian that there are now two versions of what Hell is. One view is the traditional Catholic and Reformation Protestant view that Hell is a place of literal fire in which physical bodies will be thrown to be tortured and tormented with all kinds of exquisite instruments including demons with pitched forks, sulfur, boiling excrement and a host of all sorts of diabolical tools. Most modern Evangelicals and Catholics have put out of their minds the horrible teachings of Hell produced by the "great" leaders of the Catholic and Protestant churches because they were so horrible and fear-based. But many people in more Fundamentalist and Law-based congregations still get a heavy dose of this kind of teaching. I’ve been in hundreds of different kinds of Christian denominations and have heard this kind of stuff. Remember the quotes below come from LEADERS of the church, not some fringe fanatical sects. I hope and pray that the reader can see how a barrage of this kind of teaching can easily produce horrible nightmares about the after life:
"That the saints may enjoy their beatitude more thoroughly, and give more abundant thanks to God for it, a perfect sight of punishment of the damned is granted them." Summa iii Suppl. Qu 93, i., St. Thomas Aquinas
"Therefore the elect shall go forth…to see the torments of the impious, seeing which they will not be grieved, but will be satiated with joy at the sight of the unutterable calamity of the impious." Sent. Iv 50, ad fin, Peter Lombard, the Master of Sentences
Martin Luther (when questioned whether the Blessed will not be saddened by seeing their nearest and dearest tortured answers), "Not in the least."
Andrew Welwood (speaks of the saints as being) "overjoyed in beholding the vengeance of God," and their beholding of the smoke of the torment of the wicked as "a passing delectation."
"At that greatest of all spectacles, that last and eternal judgment how shall I admire, how laugh, how rejoice, how exult, when I behold so many proud monarchs groaning in the lowest abyss of darkness; so many magistrates liquefying in fiercer flames than they ever kindled against the Christians; so many sages philosophers blushing in red-hot fires with their deluded pupils; so many tragedians more tuneful in the expression of their own sufferings; so many dancers tripping more nimbly from anguish then ever before from applause." Tertullian
"They who shall enter into [the] joy [of the Lord] shall know what is going on outside in the outer darkness. . .The saints'. . . knowledge, which shall be great, shall keep them acquainted. . .with the eternal sufferings of the lost." Augustine
"Reprobate infants are vipers of vengeance, which Jehovah will hold over hell, in the tongs of his wrath, till they turn and spit venom in his face!" Jonathan Edwards
"The view of the misery of the damned will double the ardour of the love and gratitude of the saints of heaven." Jonathan Edwards
"There are babies a span long in hell." John Calvin
Although many Fundamentalists, Evangelicals and Catholics tell us that Hell is ETERNAL SEPARATION from God, King David informs us that "Though I make my bed in Hell/Sheol, lo thou art there." (Psalm 139:8) The modern church teaching that Hell is a place or state of eternal conscious separation from God which one chooses to go to is simply unscriptural. Furthermore, it is a recent church teaching. Early Christian believers primarily taught universal salvation through Jesus Christ. Then when the church became militant killing and excommunicating those who taught a merciful and loving God and plunged Europe into the Dark Ages, it taught of a God who was as a wrathful, vengeful judge who sent most of mankind to a place of the most exquisite tortures in physical bodies in a literal lake of fire and brimstone. The descriptions given by famous theologians of that period of what happens in Hell is the stuff of Hollywood horror movies. It was not until the late 1900’s that the teaching of entering an eternal conscious separation from God as a result of your own decision came into vogue. In the twentieth century this new teaching quickly became the majority view in both the Catholic and Protestant churches. Dear Christian, please understand, the teaching of Hell taught in most Fundamentalist, Evangelical, Charismatic, Pentecostal, Emergent Churches today is a relatively NEW teaching!
It is the "traditions of men which make the word of God of no effect" that has been added to some Bible translations and church traditions that has blinded millions of people like Bill Wiese from seeing what is plainly written in the Scriptures. Pizza or horror movies may produce hellish dreams and nightmares, but we shouldn’t say the Bible confirms them. JM Masters, in an article entitled "Why I Don’t Believe Bill Wiese Went To Hell," points out that much of Bill Wiese’s imagery of Hell seems to come from a fourteenth century poem by Dante Alighieri, a portion of which is entitled "Inferno." The poem was actually about Dante’s political angst against some of his enemies. Politics and religion – two subjects that generate a lot of steam and boiling emotions – but to blame them on God and make them eternal – well, that’s taking it a bit too far.
To Hell and Back
Here is an email I received from someone who claims he went…
To Hell and Back.
THE TRUTH ABOUT HELL
DEAR SR I HAVE READ YOUR SIT AND I'M SORRY TO TELL YOU THIS BUT BEFORE I BECAME A CHRISTIN AND HAD NEVER READ THE BIBLE. I DIED IN 1999 AT MUSC IN SOUTH CAROLINA AND SR I DID GO TO HELL NOTE I DIDN'T NO ANYTHING ABOUT HELL.WHERE I WAS WHEN I DIED WAS A DARK DARK LAND A DARK SKY AND A TWISTER OF FIRE CAME TO ME AND HAD IMAGES OF EVERY SINFUL THING I HAD EVER DONE.AND IT LE TH ME.AND I STARTED SINKING DOWN INTO THAT DARK LAND AND ALL WAS DARK NO LIGHT AT ALL OR SIGHT OF NOTHING FELT THIS UNBELIEVABLE FIRE BURNING ME UP.DID NOT SEE ANY FLAMES HERD HUNDREDS OF THOUSAND OF SCREAMS BUT NO FACES AND I FELT SO EMPTY IN SIDE CAUSE THERES NOTHING THERE. BUT TORMENT THERE SR ARE 4 TORMENTS IN HELL AND THE FORTH ONE IS THE WORST AND THAT IS KNOWING THAT I PUT MY SELF HERE. SR LAUGH AT ME TROUGH ME OFF SCORN ME THAT ALL FIND AND WELL BUT I NO MORE ABOUT HELL THEN YOU DO I PRAY THAT YOU WAKE UP FROM THIS LIE THAT YOU TELL THERE IS A HELL AND IT,S FOR REAL I'M SORRY FOR THE MISS SPELLING AND MISS KEYS BUT THAT WAS AND EFFECT OF THE COMMA I HAVE SOME TROUBLE BECAUSE OF THE COMMA WELL SR AS I LADE IN HELL AND ALL THIS TORMENT TWO GREAT HANDS RAPED AROUND ME AND LATHED ME OUT OF THIS TORMENT 8 HOUR,S LATER I CAME OUT OF THE COMMA I GAVE THIS SOLE TO THE LORD AND FOR EVER AND EVER MORE MATHEW 8:11-12 TAKE NOTE OF THAT AND THEN READ THIS AND READ THIS E-MAIL AGAIN. (endquote for "To Hell and Back" email.)
Let me state at the beginning, I believe the person who wrote this email is sincere. I believe he really saw these things in his mind. Please note, once again, here we have a person who claims to have gone to a place from which according to church tradition there is no escape. Most Hell believers and teachers use the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus as a primary proof that Bible teaches Hell. We, at Tentmaker Ministries, have many writings proving such a view of this parable is ridiculous. If the parable is to be taken literally (as Hell-believers do), then anyone who goes there cannot escape. Their fate is sealed forever. The word translated "Hell" in the Rich Man and Lazarus Parable is the Greek word "Hades" which is the same as "Sheol" in the Old Testament. In the Old Testament, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David and all the saints along with those we might label evil all went to Hades/Sheol often translated in the King James Bible as Hell. Check it out.
From my experience with those who believe they went to Hell and back, most are uneducated and gullible. (Not all of them but a lot of them.) Sometimes they point me to the web site that claims to have recorded sounds from people in Hell as "proof" they are telling the truth. But they never dig deep enough to discover that the recordings on this site are bogus, made up, a big lie. Instead, they continue to perpetuate the lie rather than embrace the truth. The Bible tells us, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge." ((Hosea 4:6) Surely most Christians have been duped into believing the "traditions of men which make the word of God of no effect." (Matt. 15:6-9) Hopefully, this article will give some motivation to "dig a little deeper" to discover the Hell of eternal torments, does not exist.
Supposed "Sounds from Hell"
Proof of the fraud: http://www.snopes.com/religion/wellhell.htm
(Internet addresses frequently change. The above addresses were current as of 1/12/07.)
Let me present a few of the components of the traditional church view of Hell. Then we’ll look at what the Bible has to say about Hell. It will then become obvious that the very experiences these people who felt they went to Hell had will be convincing evidence AGAINST the Hell they have been taught or brainwashed into believing in.
The Changing Face of the Traditional Hell
First of all, we need to understand that the traditional concept or view of Hell has been changing quite a bit lately in the Roman Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant worlds. From about Augustine’s time beginning in the fourth to fifth century of the common era until the twentieth century, Hell was a place of punishment, torment and torture which lasted "forever." God was clearly depicted as the judge of all mankind. It was He who determined who deserved to go to heaven or hell. The factors determining where one would go varied greatly from denomination to denomination and even from pastor to pastor. For centuries, the Roman Catholic Church taught there was no salvation outside of itself. All Protestants and non-Catholics were damned to be physically tortured forever with literal bodies in literal flames. You may not be a Roman Catholic and therefore do not accept their belief. But a few hundred years ago, if you were not a Roman Catholic, you were damned to burn forever.
When Protestantism gained ground, the early Reformators condemned the Pope and called him the Anti-Christ. The Protestants condemned Roman Catholics to burn forever. For centuries the leadership of each group condemned the other to a burning Hell. Just because a large group of Christians becomes convinced of something doesn’t make it true or Scriptural, does it?
While Christians have been taught all sorts of things regarding who goes to heaven or hell, in general, most people (including many Christians) have the idea that good people will be in heaven, while evil people will end up in hell. The definition of good and evil, of course, has always varied greatly from denomination to denomination and from pastor to pastor. Regardless what caused one to go there, the images of Hell produced by the church of the Dark and Middle Ages were comparable with the most gruesome of horror movies produced in the twentieth century. Traditionally, another prominent feature of the judgment is that it was God alone who determined who would go to heaven or hell. This judgment was NOT based upon whether one chose to give his/her heart to Jesus.
However, at the turn of the nineteenth century, a new concept of Hell began to be preached which has probably become the dominant view of the traditional church in the twentieth century onward. This view has become popular probably because it has greatly sanitized the barbaric images of Hell the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches created hundreds of years ago. This modern view of Hell is much more "politically correct" than the Dark Age Church’s view. While this new teaching may have been taught prior to the writings of C.S. Lewis, his writings certainly went far toward propelling this new view of Hell into mainstream Christianity.
According to a new, more popular teaching, it is not God who judges souls and then sends them to eternal damnation; rather, people judge themselves. They go there of their own "free will" by not accepting the free gift of salvation extended by God through the death of Jesus Christ. "God, the wrathful judge," has become "God, the helpless." This poor God who tried to do everything He could to save mankind – even killed His own Son on our behalf, is still the BIG LOSER due to the "free will" He gave us. Evidently, because of this supposed free will, most people would rather be endlessly miserable and eternally separated from eternal love, peace and joy, than to be in the presence of a God Who would actually sacrifice His own Son that they might be saved. They know, of course, that His Son didn’t REALLY die, He came back to life again three days later. Furthermore, if Hell is supposed to be "eternal," then Jesus didn’t really take the consequence of sin since He isn’t being "eternally" punished. This modern view of Hell as a place of eternal separation from God that comes through rejecting Jesus Christ presents a lot of big problems for those who claim they follow the teachings of the Bible.
Is God Everywhere Or Isn’t He?
First of all, if Hell is separation from God, the source of all goodness, then by that very definition, God can’t be in Hell. Yet the Psalms inform us that "If I make my bed in Hell, behold, Thou art there." (Psalm 139:8, KJV) So then, what ever this Hell (Sheol in Hebrew) is, God IS there. The apostles Paul and John inform us that everything that is made is of, to, and through Him. (Col. 1:16-20; John 1:1) Everything in the universe is made through "the word of God" Who is the Christ. The modern church view, however, tells us that it is the actual separation from God (Who is the source of all comforts), that makes one so miserable in Hell. Yet the Bible informs us that whatever one thinks goes on in Hell/Hades, it is going on "in the presence of the holy angels, and IN THE PRESENCE of the Lamb!" (Rev. 14:10, KJV)
As I mentioned briefly earlier, one of the main props to defend Hell using the Bible is the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus. If this parable speaks of Hell (which it does not), then those in hell are able to converse with those in heaven. According to tradition, if this parable is taken literally and is speaking of the fate of the wicked, a mother will be able to see and hear her unsaved children begging for mercy for all eternity and not be able to do a thing about it.
This modern view of Hell in which unbelievers are eternally separated from God in a terrible place (which probably got its major thrust into popularity among evangelicals through the works of C.S. Lewis), does not find any basis in the Bible. The dead, according to Scriptures, "know not any thing." (Ecc. 9:5, KJV) According to Jesus, they are asleep. (John 11:11) They cannot talk.
If Tradition is True, Then Heaven is a Tiny Place
If faith in Jesus Christ in this lifetime is the only means of salvation, then all those who died before Christ must be in Hell. Abraham, Moses, David and Elijah are right now eternally separated or forever being tormented day and night forever and ever because the only one in Whom we must trust had not been born yet. And we know the law could not save a soul despite the fact that many Christians have been taught it can. (Gal. 3:11) Jesus had not been born yet, so most of mankind has never heard of Jesus throughout history. In addition, the Jesus they did hear about was a far different Jesus than the Jesus of the Bible. For most of Church history, the gospel most of the world has heard is the Roman Catholic or Greek/Russian Orthodox one which, according to the Protestant Reformators, is a religion of works, not of grace, and therefore a counterfeit gospel. According to the teachings of the fathers of Protestantism, such as Calvin and Luther, most of those born in the church are as damned as the heathen because they believed in a false gospel. According to the traditional model of salvation, all these have to be in Hell unless God made some other provision for them apart from faith in Christ in this lifetime (which is what I subscribe to).
If Hell is eternal, regardless of which of the two traditional models one believes in, then one cannot escape from Hell because of its eternal nature. Yet all these people who write books warning us of Hell claim they escaped it. According to the very beliefs they have been taught about Hell, this is impossible. Furthermore, if God gave these people enough experience of Hell to cause them to turn to Jesus, why doesn’t God do the same with everyone? Is God a respecter of persons? ("Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons." Acts 10:34)
I have personally had terrible experiences of separation from goodness and have been filled with so much of God’s love that I thought I was going to explode. Based upon my "experiences" I can state categorically, no one in their right mind, if they experienced perfect love and also total separation from God would ever choose to be eternally separated and suffer eternal damnation. NO ONE, that is, if they were in their right mind. Even among fallen mortals, we give much more mercy to those who are not in their right mind when it comes to criminal punishment. Will the God of Christianity, allow one to be eternally damned because he/she is insane and incapable of making the right decision? These are the kinds of questions the traditional view of Hell brings to mind which fire and brimstone preachers have no good answers for.
Home of Hell: The Fear-filled Mind
We know that watching scaring movies or experiencing trauma often gives us nightmares. We know that while these nightmares are quite vivid and scary, they are made up by our minds. They are not real. Hell-fire preachers’ sermons are actually more frightening than horror movies because they tell us what they have to say is not fiction, it is the truth. At least the movie makers acknowledge that their horrors are fiction.
An impressionable and fear filled mind can easily concoct horrible nightmares from this kind of diabolical preaching. Jonathan Edwards, famous for his part in the American "Great Awakening" and his sermon "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God," sometimes had people leave his sermons and kill themselves because their minds were incapable of holding the tormenting images Edwards placed in them. (The reader should get a copy of my audio tape "Sinners in the Hands of a Loving Creator" which refutes the teachings of Jonathan Edwards and his ilk. It is available at:
There are some other problems with these stories about people claiming they went to Hell. For example, there are many people who claim they went to Heaven and saw that EVERYONE was going to be saved. Why should their testimony be rejected? Those who saw everyone saved have FAR more scriptural support than those who believe billions are going to be endlessly tormented. Why should we accept one group’s testimony over the other? I have a letter in my possession from a Dr. Richard Eby who I mentioned earlier claimed to have died and gone to Heaven and Hell stating that he now believes in Universal Salvation based upon his experience. He wrote "Caught up into Paradise" (copyright 1978) in which he details his experience. After going to heaven, according to Dr. Eby, Jesus took him to Hell. "My son; I showed you heaven, now I show you hell. You must know about them both. In heaven, I took away your fear; for two minutes now I give it back. You must be able to tell them they can choose heaven or hell, but tell them that I died to close hell and open heaven just for them. They must choose between My love and eternal life, or Satan’s lies and eternal death. Tell them, tell them, tell them. There is yet a little time, but very little." (from page 229 of "Caught up into Paradise.")
Here we have a medical doctor, who appeared on all the major Christian television programs, who wrote a book claiming he went to heaven and hell, yet publicly states that these experiences and the scriptures convinces him that all mankind would eventually be saved!
When we compare the stories of those who claim they went to Hell and now believe many suffer terribly for all eternity, not only do they contradict the scriptures, they contradict each other! In "Olga Goes To Hell, "for example, one woman becomes a candidate for the flames by wearing make-up, pants or jewelry. Did the other writers who claimed they went to Hell encounter such a legalistic Jesus? Or was Olga merely projecting her legalistic religious background upon the image of Jesus her fear-filled mind created? The stories these people who claim they experienced Hell all come back with are so different and contradictory to one another, it becomes obvious they may have been seeing the imaginations of their own corrupted mind, not the realm of the spirit. It is also possible that their fear-filled minds misinterpreted what they were seeing. We must get our information from the scriptures, NOT from a handful of dreams someone may or may not have had. Bad nightmares do not make for sound doctrine upon which to build one’s house.
As I stated earlier, I, personally had an experience very similar to some of those written by these people who claimed they went to Hell. My experiences were while I was consciously awake. I was NOT dreaming. They occurred during a two week period shortly after my conversion to Christianity. During that time, I seemed to have an acute awareness of spiritual things all around which I had never experienced while I was an atheist. I saw evil like I had never seen it before. I could look into the hearts of people and see things I didn’t want to see. Three times during those two weeks, I sank into a pit of evil and darkness that seemed endless. There are no words to describe the horror of being in that state of utter darkness. It was terrible! As I sank into this pit, I came to the place where I thought if I went one step further I would be hopelessly lost forever. But a living word of God which the Holy Spirit planted in me a few days prior to these terrible experiences bubbled up within me that gave me just a little hope. That little hope caused my being to turn and instantly I was out of that darkness. But at the end of my ordeal, I came out of it believing in the salvation of all mankind rather than believing that most of mankind was forever and ever doomed to such a fate or worse.
Misinterpreting God’s Language
Since Adam’s fall from communion with our Heavenly Father, descendants of Adam have always had a hard time communicating with Him. After Adam and Eve ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, they became afraid. Fear had replaced Faith. This fear would drive mankind away from God. After that when God’s people came close to God they often expressed fear and dread. When the last of the patriarchs had a vision from God, he was afraid and called the place where he had the dream "dreadful":
16 And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the LORD is in this place; and I knew it not. 17 And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place! this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.
When God established a covenant with Abraham in chapter 15 of Genesis, after Abraham cut the animals in half as the sun was setting…
"…a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, horror and great darkness fell upon him."
The Adamic mind, whether in unbelievers or believers is terrified in communicating with God. Look at what happened to the writer of the book of Revelation:
"And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last:" (Rev. 1:17)
Jesus did not purpose John to be afraid to the point of falling as dead, it was his flesh’s reaction to being in and hearing the language of heaven. The Adamic mind turns things upside down. The Adamic mind calls evil good and good evil. It cannot fathom the mind of God. Because Christianity as a whole over the centuries has fallen from grace through man-made traditions, rituals, ordinances, customs, etc., most Christians, whether they realize it or not, are operating far more in their natural minds than in the "mind of Christ." Therefore, we have a very difficult time understanding when God breaks through using His heavenly language.
Look at Peter, the apostle of the circumcision. According to a story in Acts chapter ten, one day he had a vision while resting on the roof of his house. He saw a sheet with a lot of animals on it and then heard a voice say, "Peter kill and eat!" Peter immediately responded with "Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean." Peter called this voice "Lord." Three times Peter saw this vision. It greatly perplexed Peter. I can imagine many Christians today who might receive similar dreams or visions believing that it was Satan or some demon giving them these strange dreams. But Peter was soon to find out the interpretation of that vision. You can read the whole account in Acts 10, but to summarize, a Roman named Cornelius, who revered the God of the Jews, during prayer saw an angel who told him to send for Peter. According to Jewish traditions, Jews were not to associate with Gentiles. They were definitely not to enter their houses because they were considered ritually unclean as were the gentiles themselves. But then the spiritual understanding of Peter’s dream became manifest. The vision had nothing to do about the natural ordinances of Moses’ laws, the animals on the sheet represented the gentiles who were considered unclean animals like dogs. God was telling Peter that He had broken the wall of partition between Jew and Gentiles. Peter could now commune, fellowship, share words which is like eating from each other’s mind. It was ok for Peter to share with the Gentiles the Spiritual Food that was given to Jews who believed in the Messiah Yeshua. Peter shared the Gospel with those in Cornelius’ household and the Holy Spirit fell on them all who began to speak with other tongues.
Fear in human beings causes them not to be able to really understand God’s language which is so much grander and higher than earthly languages. God’s language can be confusing to the natural mind. Like I said before, because the church-at-large has for the most part fallen from grace, even though they know the word and preach on it frequently, most Christians have been seduced to mix God’s grace with various forms of law, especially pieces of the Mosaic Law which bring the mind back to natural understanding and therefore unable to understand spiritual experiences. (I have some other teachings that deal with this issue. Write or email me for them.) The church is divided into tens of thousands of different denominations bringing much confusion. These divisions have put the average Christian in a state of unbelief even though they believe in Jesus. This state of unbelief prevents Christians from activating the power of the Holy Spirit and often prevents them from truly hearing from God. There are some Christians like Bill Wiese who may have truly experienced what they state in their videos and books. But like Peter before he got the revelation from the Holy Spirit, they misinterpret what they experienced.
If the reader thinks they are exempt from this kind of reaction to the presence of God and His messengers, look at how all of Israel reacted when Yahweh manifested Himself before them on Mount Sinai. When they saw the clouds, lightning, smoke and darkness and heard the thunder and trumpet, they all "trembled and stood afar off." (Exodus 20:18-21) After that experience, did they want God in their midst? Here is what they said to Moses: "You speak with us, and we will hear, but let not God speak with us, lest we die."
When Jesus was being arrested and the soldiers asked which one was Jesus, when Jesus replied, "I am he," the soldiers fell back from the power of His voice. You see, when God begins to take His covering off, our flesh will respond in great fear and much misunderstanding. I could spend much more time on this point, but I think the reader can understand from these examples, that human beings, even those who think they are spiritual, cannot abide in the flesh and be in the presence of God; much less comprehend what is really going on.
There are very few people born of a woman who have spoken face to face with God and heard Him clearly. Of all the prophets and priests in the early days of Israel, only Moses heard God plainly, all the other high ranking people of Israel heard "dark speech" which had to be interpreted. The language was not to be taken literally and required spiritual discernment to interpret the true meaning. Jesus told His disciples on the road to Emmaus that the Mosaic Law and the Prophets all spoke of Him. Obviously, most Jews prior to Christ and during His stay on the earth did not understand what the prophets said. In all honesty, most of us Christians have little understanding of the Old Covenant.
In the sixteenth and twenty-first chapters of Genesis, for example, we find the story of Abraham, Hagar, (Abraham’s concubine) and her son Ishmael. Sarah (Abraham’s wife) was jealous of Hagar and her son and asked Abraham to throw them out of the household. This greatly troubled Abraham. But according to the Bible, God spoke to Abraham and told him to put out Hagar and her son and that He would make Ishmael a great nation one day. Here we have what appears to be a literal account of an occurrence in Abraham’s life. Yet Paul informs us that this event is actually an allegory which must be interpreted by the Holy Spirit. At the risk of making this article too long and deviating from the main purpose of this article, I am going to include the entire text of Paul’s interpretation of the Hagar and Ishamael story:
"My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you, how I wish I could be with you now and change my tone, because I am perplexed about you! Tell me, you who want to be under the law, are you not aware of what the law says? For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and the other by the free woman. His son by the slave woman was born in the ordinary way; but his son by the free woman was born as the result of a promise. These things may be taken figuratively, for the women represent two covenants. One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar. Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother. For it is written: ‘Be glad, O barren woman, who bears no children; break forth and cry aloud, you who have no labor pains; because more are the children of the desolate woman than of her who has a husband.’ Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise. At that time the son born in the ordinary way persecuted the son born by the power of the Spirit. It is the same now. But what does the Scripture say? ‘Get rid of the slave woman and her son, for the slave woman's son will never share in the inheritance with the free woman's son.’ Therefore, brothers, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman." (Gal. 4:19-31)
Let’s be honest here. I think it would be safe to say that most of us, if this passage was not in the Bible would never have connected Abraham’s two wives with the Old Covenant and the New Covenant – one speaking of law and bondage and the other one speaking of love and promise. The Mosaic Law and Covenant was to be "cast out" even as Hagar and her son were to be cast out. Even as it grieved Abraham to cast out Hagar and her son, there is something within each of us that also has difficulty with this. We all tend to mix the Covenants thus preventing the promise from coming forth. Yet, the apostle of the uncircumcision informs us that is the true spiritual meaning of the story in Genesis.
We recall the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, how Jesus explained to them that the Law and the Prophets foresaw the events which occurred in Jesus’ lifetime. However, they were veiled. It requires a gift from the Holy Spirit to get true understanding. The natural understanding is usually a pretty ugly picture. Many of the laws of the Mosaic Covenant seem quite weird and even barbaric when we see them with our natural understanding.
I digressed from the main thrust of this article because most of the entire church has been seduced into mixing these two covenants thereby falling from grace. This prevents us from receiving the true meaning of many parts of the Bible AND prevents us from being able to accurately interpret dreams, visions and spiritual events in our lives. The flesh will ALWAYS misinterpret what is really going on. The modern is church heavily under various forms of laws and carnal ordinances and therefore cannot perceive spiritual truths. Three times God had to give the vision to Peter before he began to catch hold of the true meaning of "Peter, kill and eat." I’m afraid most of us, Christians, who think we are spiritually savy, are still in kindergarten making a mess of spiritual things. Some of the people who have had dreams and visions and tried to explain to us what they mean are WAY off.
Some of you who have been Christians for a while may recall a Christian comedian by the name of Mike Warnke. Mike’s testimony states that he was a high priest in the Church of Satan before Jesus saved him. We, Christians, (me included) love to hear great testimonies from people who were really in the gutter and how Jesus brought them out of it. The deeper into the pit they were the more we like to hear the story. It turns out that most of Mike Warnke’s testimony was fabricated. This information came out in a book entitled "Selling Satan: The Evangelical Media and the Mike Warnke Scandal" by Mike Hertenstein and John Trott. The Evangelical community was shocked. Let’s face it – we all like to be entertained – and we are willing to pay to be entertained – and there are millions of folks who will do all sorts of things to entertain you if the money is right. Mike Warnke and many others like him make millions of dollars going from church to church, to television and radio programs and conferences telling fabricated stories that people want to hear. The more "juicy" and dramatic, the more they will pay. Look at the world’s entertainment empire. Every year it gets more fleshy. It is the same in church. Satan sells. Horror movies sell. There is very little "reality" in today’s Hollywood reality TV shows. Likewise, there is very little spiritual truth in those who peddle books like "Divine Revelation of Hell" by Mary Baxter, "Nine Days in Heaven" a vision by Marietta Davis written by Dennis and Nolene Price, and "Hell’s Best Kept Secret" by Ray Comfort. I would put all those books about the rapture and the end of the world coming upon us any day like "The Late Great Planet Earth, by Hal Lindsay, "Present Darkness" by Frank E. Peretti and "Left Behind" by Jerry Jenkins and Tim LaHay, "The Great Escape" by Jack Van Impe and "Approaching Hoofbeats: The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse" by Billy Graham into the same category as the other books on Hell. They are fabricated nonsense which bring millions upon millions of dollars to the authors depriving the poor which Jesus called us to reach. Sadly, the world is but a reflection of the Church. Find a sham or scam in the world and you will likely find a counterpart in the church.
Church Age: A Mixture of Truth and Error
According to Paul, the apostle to the nations, during the Church Age, we would only receive an "earnest" of the Holy Spirit, a down payment, so-to-speak of the fullness which would come at a different time. Many recent Christian writers see this typified in the feasts of Israel and in the Mosaic tabernacle. The feast of Pentecost and the Holy Place in the Mosaic Tabernacle represent the Church Age, the second phase of God’s plan for the redemption of mankind. The Feast of Pentecost was celebrated with leaven which symbolized sin. An earnest of the Holy Spirit will not bring forth perfection or truth, it will bring forth a mixture, some truth and some error. (See "Beyond Jordan" article on tentmaker.org for a deeper explanation.) The end of Israel’s history during the Old Covenant came to a very bad end. Many believe the Church Age is near its end. Usually changes from one dispensation to another bring great upheavals. I think the Church and the world-at-large is about to experience an upheaval of unprecedented proportions. This mixture of error and truth, law and grace, will make way for the final feast day and entrance into the Most Holy Place as typified in the Mosaic Tabernacle. The more we hold onto our old ways, consisting of the "traditions of men" and the "doctrines of demons," the more difficult the days will be for the Christian. But the more humble one becomes realizing we have learned much error during the mixed season, the more willing we are to put down our "traditions" so that the Holy Spirit can lead us into all truth, the easier will be our transition from the passing age to the age to come.
Inventors and Perpetrators of Hell
At the end of this writing is a list of many resources that detail how the teaching of a Hell of everlasting punishment got into our Bible translations and into the church. I am not going to go through the many proofs there is no Hell like the Roman Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants have taught for the last 1600 years. The resources at the end of this writing give ample scholarly, biblical and historical proofs this horrible teaching is not found in the original Hebrew and Greek Scriptures. Secular historians know who invented hell. We have on record in their own words who invented this evil and why. Here are a few examples:
Polybius, the ancient historian
, says: "Since the multitude is ever
fickle, full of lawless desires, irrational passions and violence, there is
no other way to keep them in order but by the fear and terror of the
invisible world; on which account our ancestors seem to me to have acted
judiciously, when they contrived to bring into the popular belief these
notions of the gods, and of the infernal regions." B. vi 56.
Strabo, the geographer
, says: "The multitude are restrained from vice by
the punishments the gods are said to inflict upon offenders, and by those
terrors and threatenings which certain dreadful words and monstrous forms
imprint upon their minds...For it is impossible to govern the crowd of
women, and all the common rabble, by philosophical reasoning, and lead
them to piety, holiness and virtue - but this must be done by superstition,
or the fear of the gods, by means of fables and wonders; for the thunder,
the aegis, the trident, the torches (of the Furies), the dragons, &c., are all fables,
as is also all the ancient theology. These things the legislators used as
scarecrows to terrify the childish multitude." Geog., B. I
Timaeus Locrus, the Pythagorean
, after stating that the doctrine
of rewards and punishments after death is necessary to society, proceeds as
follows: "For as we sometimes cure the body with unwholesome remedies, when
such as are most wholesome produce no effect, so we restrain those minds
with false relations, which will not be persuaded by the truth. There is a
necessity, therefore, of instilling the dread of those foreign torments: as
that the soul changes its habitation; that the coward is ignominiously
thrust into the body of a woman; the murderer imprisoned within the form of
a savage beast; the vain and inconstant changed into birds, and the slothful
and ignorant into fishes."
, in his commentary on Timaeus, fully endorses what he says
respecting the fabulous invention of these foreign torments. And Strabo says
that "Plato and the Brahmins of India invented fables concerning the future
judgments of hell" (Hades). And Chrysippus blames Plato for attempting to
deter men from wrong by frightful stories of future punishments.
Plato himself is exceedingly inconsistent, sometimes adopting, even in his
serious discourses, the fables of the poets, and at other times rejecting
them as utterly false, and giving too frightful views of the invisible
world. Sometimes, he argues, on social grounds, that they are necessary to
restrain bad men from wickedness and crime, and then again he protests
against them on political grounds, as intimidating the citizens, and making
cowards of the soldiers, who, believing these things, are afraid of death,
and do not therefore fight well. But all this shows in what light he
regarded them; not as truths, certainly, but as fictions, convenient in some
cases, but difficult to manage in others.
treats the subject in the same way; sometimes arguing for them
with great solemnity and earnestness, and on other occasions calling them
"fabulous stories, the tales of mothers and nurses."
says: "Those things which make the infernal regions terrible, the
darkness, the prison, the river of flaming fire, the judgment seat, &c., are
all a fable, with which the poets amuse themselves, and by them agitate us
with vain terrors." Sextus Empiricus calls them "poetic fables of hell;" and
Cicero speaks of them as "silly absurdities and fables" (ineptiis ac
"It has been handed down in mythical form from earliest times
to posterity, that there are gods, and that the divine
(Deity) compasses all nature. All beside this has been added, after the
mythical style, for the purpose of persuading the multitude, and
for the interests of the laws, and the advantage of the state."
Neander's Church Hist., I, p. 7. 11
treats the whole matter as useful, but not as
true. Antiq. Rom., B. ii
, the celebrated historian, speaks of it in the same spirit; and he
praises the wisdom of Numa, because he invented the fear of the gods, as "a
most efficacious means of governing an ignorant and barbarous populace."
Hist., I 19.
(The above quotes were taken from "The Origin and History of the Doctrine of
Endless Punishment" by Thomas Thayer.)
And we know who the perpetuators of the diabolical teaching of Hell are as well. They are usually power-hungry men (and some women) who use fear and intimidation to control the masses for their own use. They are usually politicians, businessmen and clergy working together for their own interests. Like their ancient Greek and Roman Senator and poet counterparts, most politicians and corporate heads do not really believe what the priests use to hold the masses in submission. From actions of men like Bill Clinton, president of the world’s most powerful nation, while he showed up regularly at church for appearance sake, he couldn’t have really believed in the Hell his denomination preached. George Bush, on the other hand, probably does believe in the Hell of his church. But does he have the love of the God he claims he serves? If he truly believes the doctrines of the traditional church, then George Bush is personally guilty for sending tens of thousands of Moslems to Hell because he gave the orders to kill them. The orders Christians have received from the Captain of God’s Army is to overcome our enemies with love. (Matt. 5:38-48) You will know them by their fruit. It is not the hearers of the word that are His disciples, but the doers of the word.
In reality, those who perpetrate this gross lie about God are but slaves to the father of lies, Satan. He is the one who has used the carnal mind of fallen man to tarnish the glorious image of Jesus Christ and His Father. But that lie will one day be smashed to pieces by the Truth. God is presently raising up a people who will expose this evil teaching for the terrible lie that it is.
For those who wish to break off the shackles of fear and intimidation placed upon you by power-hungry political, military, corporate and religious leaders who have been seduced by Satan, here are some books filled with FACTS rather than the "traditions of men which make the word of God of no effect:"
Jesus' Teaching on Hell: by Samuel G. Dawson. Most of what the average Christian believes about hell comes from Catholicism and ignorance of the Old Testament, not from the Bible. This study will cause you to re-examine current teaching on hell and urge you to further study on what happens to the wicked after death.
The Case Against Hell by Mercy Aiken (with Gary Amirault)
An article that asks some very important questions about the history of the doctrine of Hell. Contrary to popular belief, this doctrine is not found in the Bible. Read this article for proof.
Hope Beyond Hell by Gerry Beauchemin
Mercy And Judgment by Canon F.W. Farrar
The Lake of Fire
By J. Preston Eby. Taken from the "Savior of the World Series" in which Preston Eby takes a closer look at many of the words and terms that are regularly used in Church and examines them in the light of the original Greek, as well as the light of the rest of scripture. What is the Lake of Fire? Take a look at this most enlightening article and find out!
Hell is Leaving the Bible "Forever" by Gary Amirault
The word "Hell" is disappearing from the pages of English Bible translations and HAS already completely disappeared from many of them. Even those leading selling translations which contain the word usually don't use the word more that a dozen times or so? Why so few times if indeed salvation is FROM such a terrible fate? Was God absent minded? Or is it NOT found in the original languages at all? Scholars are beginning to see that a few key ancient words should NEVER have been translated to mean eternal.
Bibles That Do Not Teach Eternal Punishment (Also entitled "The Gates of Hell Shall Not Prevail). This article is a comparison and list prepared by Gary Amirault showing that there are major differences among English translations regarding the teaching of Hell. Many Bible translations do NOT contain the word Hell nor the concept of everlasting punishment.
The Bible Hell
An excellent short book by Dr. John Wesley Hanson detailing the history of the English word "Hell." He also goes into thorough detail discussing the Greek and Hebrew words, Sheol, Gehenna, Hades and Tartarus.
The Origin and History of the Doctrine of Endless Punishment
An excellent well-documented full-length book by Thomas Thayer proving the teaching of Hell and Everlasting Punishment was added to Christianity centuries after Jesus walked this earth.
In-depth statistics and charts showing how all the Greek and Hebrew "hell" words have been translated by many different Bible translations. (This is the chart that's in the Hell's Encyclopedia) and Hell Stats
Analytical Study of Words
Louis Abbott spent 50 years combing the Greek of the Bible and related reference works. Once believing in Hell, his studies turned him away from such a concept because he could not find it in the original languages of the Bible. He quotes many outstanding scholars who have come to a similar conclusion...Jesus is indeed Savior of the whole world.
"The Greek Word Aion--Aionios Translated Everlasting--Eternal in the Holy Bible" by Dr. John Wesley Hanson
Description: Surely, the Greek word aion and its adjective aionios have been mistranslated in most Bible translations leading to grave misrepresentations regarding the length of punishment and Hell in the Bible. This book is probably the best one on this most important subject.
The Power of Life and Death in a Greek Four-Letter Word
A short article by Gary Amirault that shows how important the correct translation of a single Greek word can be in truly understanding the God of the Bible. There is a REAL problem with how some leading selling English Bible translations have translated the word "aion" and its adjective "aionios."
Does "ForeverS AND EverS" Make sense to you?
This article by Gary Amirault deals with the various double construct forms of the Greek word "aion" found in the Greek New Testament. The author shows that many leading selling English Bible translations have translated these constructs after the traditions of their denominations, NOT according to the Greek or correct English grammar.
Eternal Death, One Step Out of Hell, One Step Short of Glory
This work by Gary Amirault deals with the concepts sometimes called "Conditional Mortality," "Eternal Death," or "Annihilationism." The leading visible figure espousing this view is Dr. Edward Fudge. His book "The Fire That Consumes" is considered the best defense for the teaching of "conditional mortality." Many small groups of Christians hold such a view: The Jehovah's Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventists, many Bible Student Movement groups, etc. This work shows that the original languages of the Bible do not allow for such a view. This view that God plans to annihilate those who do not bow to Him would still make God out to be an utter failure, which He is not. Furthermore, how would God look any different than any other human tyrant that forces submission through threats?
Olethron Aionian (Eternal Destruction)
An excellent short note from "Word Studies in the New Testament" by Dr. Marvin R. Vincent. There are a few key passages in leading selling English translations of the Bible which have been mistranslated causing the God of the Bible to appear to be double-minded. This brief note examines one of those key passages.
Etymology of the Word "Damned."
Most modern English translations no longer use that word. Why? Because this word has been changed by theologians to such an extend that it no longer even remotely means what it did when it was first used in the original King James Bible. Discover what it originally meant before "theologians" changed its meaning. By Gary Amirault (use attached article) Aion This small book by Dr. John Wesley Hanson is perhaps the complete treatment of a Greek work which has been mistransated by several of the leading selling Bible translations. He proves conclusively the word "aion" and its adjective "aionios" should NEVER have been translated eternal, everlasting, or for ever and ever. It's clearly a timely word.
Time and Eternity
An excellent short book by G. T. Stevens examining the Greek, Hebrew, Latin words behind our English concepts of time and eternity. It traces how Hebrew words denoting time were changed to the idea of eternity through Jerome's Latin Vulgate.
Bible Threatenings Explained
Some leading selling English Bible translations seem to teach both the concept of everlasting punishment AND universalism, that is, the salvation of all mankind. This book by Dr. John Wesley Hanson shows that those passages in SOME translations that teach Hell have been mistranslated or misinterpreted. Dr. Hanson analyzes each of those passages of Scripture which appear to teach endless punishment proving the original Greek and Hebrew taught something entirely different.
The Doctrine of Scriptural Retribution
Brother of the famous Henry Ward Beecher, Dr. Edward Beecher traces the teachings of punishment after death to their original sources. He discovered this teaching does NOT originate from the original texts of the Jewish and Christian Scriptures.
Just What do You Mean by "The Judgment"
Christians have been brainwashed to believe in a false and unbiblical concept of God's judgments. This book by J. Preston Eby brings God's judgments and punishments back into their proper Biblical places.
There are many other well-researched articles on the subjects of Hell, everlasting punishment, and Universalism (Salvation of all mankind through Jesus Christ at the following urls. Try the provided search engines on these sites to help you find specific persons, events, or passages of Scripture.
Here are several books written by those who believe they went to Hell and back. Compare their "experiences" with the facts:
I Went To Hell by Kenneth Hagin
A Divine Revelation of Hell by Mary K. Baxter
To Hell and Back by Maurice S. Rawlings, M.D.
Love - The 4th Dimension" by Larry Huggins
Oregon's Amazing Miracle" by Thomas Welch
Caught Up Into Paradise by Dr. Richard Eby
Olga’s Visit To Hell
Here's a list of some of the books which have popped up in recent years to defend the traditional view that God intended to destroy most of the human beings He created. I am personally convinced that any human being with a sound mind, a heart filled with the Holy Spirit and the desire to seek the Truth, will see the gross errors found in these books and come to the reasonable and scriptural conclusion that through Jesus Christ, all mankind will be saved:
Books and Other Resources that are Perpetrating the Diabolical Teaching of Hell:
23 Minutes in Hell by Bill Wiese
The Other Side of the Good News by Larry Dixon
A Divine Revelation of Hell by Mary Baxter
Hell plus how to avoid Hell
Hell Under Fire
Hell's Best Kept Secret by Ray Comfort
Universalism and the Doctrine of Hell
Hell: The Logic of Damnation
How can a God of Love Send People to Hell?
Crucial Questions About Hell
The Other Side of the Good News
Heaven and Hell
Hell on Trial
Letter from Hell
The Lazarus Phenomenon
Below are a couple of internet sites typical of the kind that still perpetuates fire and brimstone fear-based tactics to "hold the ignorant masses" in slavery to power-driven men. Truth-seekers should be able to easily detect what spirit is operating in those who have created these sites: