NBC's Dateline Program: "To Hell and Back" or "Does Hell Exist" with Stone Phillips, Ted Haggard and Bishop Carlton Pearson

NBC's Dateline Sunday, August 13, 2006 Sunday, 7 PM Eastern, 6PM Central

By Gary Amirault

In 1986, I went to Hell and didn't know it. I visited Israel , spent three weeks walking around Jerusalem , stopped by in Hell and didn't even know I was there. It wasn't too hot, no hotter than the rest of Israel . I was in the " valley of Gehenna ," also known as the "valley of the son of Hinnom" or "Tophet" in the Old Testament. Just as the ancient prophet prophesied (Jeremiah 31:40) would happen one day, that the valley would become "holy unto the Lord," this valley is now a place with a music observatory in which Palestinians and Jews have sung and danced together with merry hearts. It is a green valley, certainly not a valley in which billions upon billions of souls are screaming eternally for mercy which will never find them.

Click the left picture at the famous "What the Hell is Hell?" page to see what the "Hell" Jesus spoke of looks like today:


Yes, I was in the Hell Jesus pointed to 2,000 years ago as He was warning the religious leaders that this valley would be their fate if they did not repent. It turns out that some of those people He prophesied to actually had their very bodies thrown over the Southwestern wall of Jerusalem into that very valley thus fulfilling His prophesy directed at them.

This word "Gehenna," the valley of Hinnom of the Old Testament in which Israelites killed and offered up their own children to a deity (note Israel killed their own children, not God), occurs in the New Testament a dozen times, each time in the mouth of Jesus except in James 3:6. He was usually taking to religious leaders (not street sinners and non-believers) when He warned of being thrown into this physical valley in Jerusalem . A careful study of the word "Gehenna" would be a wise exercise for those who want to be informed about the Hell of early Christianity as opposed to the nonsense peddled by modern Hell-fire preachers who love to use fear to keep the masses (and their money) under their power.

The subject of Hell is making a come-back in the entertainment industry. Several documentaries and television shows have appeared on channels such as the Discover Channel, TLC, A&E as well as other major television studios.

Pax television ran a series entitled "Faith Under Fire" in which they did a program on Hell entitled "Hell: Fact or Fiction." I (Gary Amirault) debated for 15 minutes on whether Hell existed or not with Professor Jerry Walls. I had about 3 minutes to make my case. I decided after the interview to add a few more minutes to my side of the argument. The reader can find that information at:


TLC is presently running a Reality TV show entitled "The Messengers" on which the subject of Hell versus Christian Universalism is being presented. Robert Rutherford, a pastor, and one of the contestants makes a strong case that Hell does not exist and that all mankind will ultimately be saved through Jesus Christ.

Carlton Pearson was recently on National Public Radio on which he, too, made a strong case of universal salvation. He entitled it the "Doctrine of Inclusion." Bishop Carlton Pearson also appeared recently on a broadcast entitled "The Book of Revelation" produced by the National Geographic Channel. Again, he pointed to the fact that the teaching of Hell as perpetuated by the traditional church was based upon myth, not the ancient Scriptures or early church history.

This week, NBC is joining the caravan of shows discussing the topic of Hell. Keith Morrison, a Dateline correspondent is going to pit two prominent theologians against each other on the subject of Hell. Ted Haggard, President of the National Association of Evangelicals and pastor of the mega-church, New Life Church in Colorado Springs is pitted against Bishop Carlton Pearson , pastor of New Dimensions Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma on whether Hell is an actual place which people should take seriously or whether Hell "is an invention of the church" to keep people in fear as Bishop John Shelby Spong, retired Episcopal bishop from Newark, N.J. would say. It seems Bishop Spong was to appear on the program but they didn't have enough time. They put some material on the internet from their video footage. Based upon some email information sent to me, I get the understanding that NBC's Dateline will turn this into a series beginning on Sunday, August 13th, 2006 at 8PM Eastern and 7PM Central time.

Supporting their Dateline program on the subject of Hell, MSNBC has posted several pages to promote and support their broadcast. Keith Morrison, a Dateline Correspondent did a piece entitled "Hell You Say?" They also posted a place in which one could participate in a survey regarding beliefs on Hell. On "Keith Morris Blogs" one will find "The tale of a bishop who wrestled with the question of hell."

Personally, I think it is ashamed that the secular media usually selects the most liberal theologians to defend the position against the teaching of Hell on most of these kinds of programs. I believe there are many more conservative scholars, writers and ministers who could make the case against Hell much better because they can make it using the Scriptures and the early church writings. One does not have to abandon faith in the Bible as many of these more liberal theologians like Bishop Spong do to find plenty of evidence that the teaching of Hell has no foundation in the Bible in its original languages.

Anyway, please watch "To Hell and Back" or "Does Hell Exist" in NBC's Dateline starring Keith Morrison with Ted Haggard defending the traditional view of Hell and Bishop Carlton Pearson defending the view of the ancient Jewish prophets, Jesus, His early apostles and the early church that for at least the first 500 years of Christianity, the majority of the church and its leaders did NOT teach Hell. They taught apokatastasis, that is, the "restoration of all things."

NBC's Dateline Sunday, August 13, 2006 Sunday, 7 PM Eastern, 6PM Central

According to MSNBC, Dateline broadcasts:

Day and time: NBC telecasts Sundays (7 p.m. ET) and Saturdays (8 p.m. ET).

Remember, Pastor Robert Rutherford, will also be fighting for the teaching of Universal Salvation through Jesus Christ on TLC's "The Messengers" on Sunday at 10PM Eastern 9PM Central time.

Check it out. It should be interesting. And after the fight, or match, or debate, or food fight, or whatever it will turn out to be, visit these sites for some scholarly articles and discussions on this most important subject:



For Discussion:



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