SHAME ON this pastor from Gainesville, FL..."Burn the Quran Day"...WHAT??? Doesn't he realize the MORAL and ETHICAL damage this will cause, the THREAT OF LIFE towards our Troops, Christians, & Americans; but, more importantly, the DISGRACE and DISHONOR to the name of JESUS CHRIST??? Apparently, NOT!!! May THE HEAVENLY FATHER be with this confused man and work in the hearts of all those who support this TRAVESTY…
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Exploring the Origins and Various Details among History’s Religions and Philosophies that are still around today.
Hinduism: Transmigration (Reincarnation)
Hinduism, the religion of India, is the world’s third largest religion next to Christianity and Islam. Its origin stems from the Indo-Aryan religion, Brahmanism (c1500BC), during the ancient times of India. Hinduism is not associated with one sole founder; however, much of its teachings came from the words of Krishna (manifestation of Vishnu: “Supreme God”) written down in the Bhagavad-Gita (Hindu religious text). The Laws of Manu (laws of social classes) are essentially the commandants by which all Hindus follow and observe, and Transmigration (continuous cycles of life; i.e. reincarnation) is the major teaching within. Transmigration is the result there of -- good or bad -- in the next life instituted by the teaching of Karma, which defines one’s actions of the mind, speech, and body as either good or bad (sinful) and gives the consequences that will come from these actions in the next life.
For those who commit sins of the mind (envy, impure thoughts, or falling into false religions) the consequence is rebirth into the low caste (Hindu social class associated with the poor); if a person commits sins of speech (harsh words, lying, belittling, or idle talk) the consequence is rebirth to some kind of bird or beast; and lastly, if a person commits sins of the body (stealing, causing harm to creatures, or adultery) the consequence is rebirth to an inanimate (non-breathing) object.
The goal (though teachings vary) within Hinduism is to correct and abstain from all sinful acts in order to gain total liberation from Transmigration (reincarnation) which ultimately leads to Moksha (full spiritual state free from all self desires) -- Hindu’s version of Buddha’s Nirvana.
Buddhism: The Four Holy Truths
Buddhism, the religion of Buddha, was born in ancient India by Siddhartha-Gautama (Buddha: c500BC); and is associated as being a branch off of Hinduism. Although its roots come from Hindu-India, Buddhism migrated further east due to Hindu majority push and landed in the South East Asian countries with Japan having the largest Buddhist population today. According to Buddhism, Buddha was sitting under a tree when he experienced the enlightenment of the four key teachings that all Buddhists must follow -- The Four Holy Truth. The first Holy Truth is that life is going to bring suffering one way or the other; the second Holy Truth is that suffering is caused by craving worldly desires; the third Holy Truth is that suffering ends when craving desires ends; and the fourth Holy Truth comes from following the holy eightfold path of right conduct in order to achieve total self-improvement over all desires, then the path to Nirvana is finally received.
The reality of these Four Holy Truths promotes an almost endless cycle of self-improvement through reincarnation for the follower; but when total self-improvement is finally gained, the cycles stop, and liberation into Nirvana (full spiritual state free from all self desires) is obtained.
Confucius: The Golden Rule
Confucius, ancient Chinese philosopher, derived many philosophical teachings in his lifetime; but upon his death (479BC), his followers took the task of organizing his teachings into an elaborate set of rules and principles called, Analects. In the Analects, Confucius identified five basic relationships for a society to successfully become well-ordered, which consisted of the father and son (loving/reverential), older brother and younger brother (gentle/respectful), husband and wife (good/listening), older friend and younger friend (considerate/deferential), and ruler and subject (benevolent/loyal).
Although, Confucius is known as one of the greatest philosophers in history and influenced many areas in South East Asia, it would be one of his teachings on how humanity should treat one another that would influence the entire world, The Golden Rule: “Do not do to others as you would want them not to do to you.”
Daoism: Asian Philosophy
Daoism (Taoism) is an ancient Chinese philosophy attributed to the Chinese philosopher, Laozi (c600BC). The essential element within Daoism is wu-wei -- the state of acting selfless in order to cease the ego (effortless action). According to Daoism, nature acts in a state of constant harmony with its self; for example, water helps plants to grow without any knowledge of doing it, and likewise, the plants grow without any knowledge of doing that either; both are working in harmony with each other in effortless action. Humans, on the other hand, are quite different than water and plants, as a person knowingly acts upon his or her desires; therefore, whether the desire is good or bad, nonetheless, according to Daoism, the knowledge of that acting on that desire disrupts the state of harmony which then effects the alignment of the world resulting in the happening of negative elements. However, if a person obtains the state of wu-wei (state of effortless action) through discipline and meditation, he or she is then working in sink with the harmony of nature, and thus, bringing perfect alignment to the universe.
Islam: The Five Pillars of Religious Duty
The religion of Islam (“submission to Allah”) was founded by the Islamic prophet, Muhammad of Mecca (SW Saudi Arabia) around 622AD. The structure of the religion is found in the Islamic religious text, the Koran. According to Islamic tradition, the Koran was given to Muhammad by Allah (Arabic word for “God”) through the angel Gabriel in 610AD. During the time of Muhammad, the Koran was in oral form rather than written. The written version of the Koran was later compiled and standardized by the third Islamic Caliph (Islamic leader of faith), Uthman. Within the Koran, there are five major duties known as the Five Pillars of Islam that all Muslims (followers of Islam) must observe.
First is the Shahadah, which is the basic creed of Islam: “There is no other God but Allah, and Muhammad is His prophet.” The second is the Salah, which is a prayer ritual that must be performed five times a day facing towards the Kaaba (cubical tent which represents the first pagan idols offered to Allah) in Mecca. The third is the Zakat, which is charity giving based on one’s wealth that goes to help the poor and needy, and to aid in the spreading Islam. The fourth is the Sawm, which is a period of fasting (no food or drink), from dawn to dusk, during the month of Ramadan (9th month of the Islamic calendar; most often observed in August). And fifthly is the Hajj, which is a pilgrimage to Mecca that all able Muslims must do in his or her lifetime during the Islamic month of Dhu al-Hijjah (12th month of the Islamic calendar; most often observed in December)
Islam: The Hadith on Jihad
The Hadith is an Islamic religious text that many Muslims consider to be holy and a companion to understanding the Koran; and, it is often used as a reference guide for Islamic laws. One subject discussed in the Hadith is Jihad, which means struggle, effort, or more commonly, holy war; it was adapted by the second Islamic Caliph (Islamic leader of faith), Umar (634BC). Jihad is essentially the actions used by which a Muslim should spread and/or defend Islam. According to Jihad, killing is only justified in self defense, when other nations attack an Islamic state, or when another state is oppressing Islamic practice; however, even in these cases, women, children, aged men, or wounded -- non-combative -- enemy soldiers should be spared from killing. Furthermore, Jihad expresses the action for Muslims to expel (cast out) all other religions such as Christianity and Judaism from Islam’s holy land Arabia by any means necessary -- “by the sword” if need be.
**Sources of Information:
1> The Human Venture, 5th Edition; Anthony Esler
2> The Global Experience: Readings in History, 5th Edition; Philip F. Riley
Monday, December 21, 2009
Exploring the History behind Christmas, and explaining why so many Christians see it as pagan and a sin against God to observe it.
The history of Christmas, as in the name Christmas, came from the Roman Church back in the 4th century A.D. during the time of the East Roman Emperor, Constantine (Roman Empire split into two empires -- East and West -- in 285BC). In Rome and throughout the Roman Empire there were many pagan rituals and festivals observed, which some of these festivals were held on December 25th or sometime around the date.
December 25th hosted two related festivals -- natalis solis invicti, which was the Roman “birth of the unconquered sun”, and the birthday of the Iranian “Sun of Righteousness”, Mithras, whose worship was popular with Roman soldiers. The winter solstice was another celebration of the sun, which fell just a few days earlier. Church leaders seeing that pagans were already exalting deities with some parallels to the True Deity they decided to introduce a new festival -- Christmas or “Christ’s Mass” -- for Christians to observe the birth of the Savior, Jesus Christ. The intention behind church leaders creating this new festival was to avoid Christians from falling into the pagan rituals and festivals that were popular at the time. As a result, Christians first celebrated Christmas on December 25th in 336 A.D. soon after the Christian baptism of Emperor Constantine, who then declared Christianity the empire’s favored religion.
That is the historical account of Christmas, but where does the argument for those opposed to Christmas and other Christmas traditions come from? To answer that question we must go to a particular Bible passage the majority of these “anti-Christmas” people use in justifying their viewpoint that Christmas, namely the “Christmas tree,” is of pagan origin; therefore, a sin against Almighty God for any Christian to partake in:
Jeremiah 10:1-4, “Hear the word which the LORD speaks to you, O house of Israel (2) Thus says the LORD, ‘Do not learn the way of the nations, and do not be terrified by the signs of the heavens Although the nations are terrified by them; (3) For the customs of the peoples are delusion; because it is wood cut from the forest, the work of the hands of a craftsman with a cutting tool. (4)They decorate it with silver and with gold; they fasten it with nails and with hammers so that it will not totter.’” (NASB)
Now, to understand this passage in the book of Jeremiah we must first understand the cultural background behind it. If you go on further in this passage you will clearly see that this pagan custom was a form of idol worship to the pagan god/s to represent (in a way) the One True Everlasting God. One of the most common examples of a tree idol was the Asherah, which is mentioned several times in the Old Testament.
Asherah was a pagan goddess that was worshiped throughout the Mediterranean region. She was considered to be the goddess of the sea and the mother of Baal. She was always represented as a tree or pole, either planted or erected, then decorated. There are many warnings in the Old Testament about the Asherah tree -- here are a couple of examples,
Exodus 34:12-14, “Watch yourself that you make no covenant with the inhabitants of the land into which you are going, or it will become a snare in your midst. (13) But rather, you are to tear down their altars and smash their sacred pillars and cut down their Asherim (14) for you shall not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.” (NASB)
Judges 6:25, “Now on the same night the LORD said to him, "Take your father's bull and a second bull seven years old, and pull down the altar of Baal which belongs to your father, and cut down the Asherah that is beside it;” (NASB)
I believe these two examples along with Jeremiah 10 are clearly and specifically referring to idol worship, as they all relate to the pagan goddess Asherah. Therefore, to assume this has any reference to the modern-day Christmas tree is pure silliness, a manipulation of history, and taking the passage away from its contextual meaning. However, if by chance, there are people, today, setting up Christmas trees and then falling down and worshipping it as a god or goddess; or perhaps, a Christian adores their Christmas tree more than Almighty God -- then “Yes” -- there would be an issue of spiritual idolatry; therefore, the passage in Jeremiah 10 would be a relevant reference to use along side the 2nd commandment.
Needless to say, outside of these possible exceptions, I think it clear that most (likely), if not all (hopefully), Christians who set up a Christmas tree in their homes are NOT worshiping them as idols or any other such relation; and I am sure, they do not love them more than Jesus Christ. They are simply using the Christmas tree as a fun -- cultural traditional -- custom and/or as reminder of the true “reason for the season:” the birth of Jesus the Messiah.
It is unfortunate thing that many well-meaning Christians define something as sin when it is not anything of the short, and then try to enslave the minds of their fellow believers be instituting such a notion.
As an old 4th century theologian once said, “We hold this day holy, not like the pagans because of the birth of the sun, but because of Him who made it.”
Posted by ForwardThought at 3:39 PM
Monday, December 7, 2009
Have you heard about this man
Who is now in glory and at peace with Him
He paid the price for the laws he didn’t abide
But when it was time to die
He made a choice to save his life
There is not much said about this man.
Only a one phase that he said
But his story is one that speaks
How with two simple words
You can be redeemed
Blessed was this man who was lost
Who was beside the Savior on the cross
When he turned and said, “Remember me”
Jesus replied, “In my paradise you will be”
No matter who you are
No matter where you are from
No matter what you did
You have a choice to live again
All you need is faith
To live in the Father’s grace
So turn to Christ like this man
And one day in paradise you will also stand
Written By ForwardThought (November 2007)
Monday, November 16, 2009
Traditionally, the book of Revelations has been held as the one book in The Holy Bible that presents the vivid picture of the Second Coming of Christ and other end time events that will one day take place; and in every manner, that is undoubtedly one message the book gives us. However, through various widely held traditional views and no thanks to Hollywood movies and prophetic book writers, many of us have been ingrained with the mindset that Revelations is only a book that relates to the end of times; and in part, has generated many other prophetic and symbolic beliefs that find no Biblical backing. Needless to say, if this is all we see Revelations as, then we will miss a crucial underlining message that speaks to all ages, not just to those in the end times.
Revelations is perhaps the most unique and most incredible book to read in The Bible; but at the same time, truly the hardest to understand. To even grasp some understanding -- in my opinion -- requires an in-depth study of how it relates to the Old Testament, historical events, and to much surprise, Greek mythology (the quite “colorful-not of this world,” symbolism does relate to the authors knowledge of ancient Greek mythology). Furthermore, Revelations should not be taken, as so many have pursued, as a collection of puzzles to connect to discover the symbolic mysteries that lie within -- Revelations was never meant for that and there is little, if any, spiritual profit in doing such things.
Throughout the centuries, there have been many ways some have attempted to interpret Revelation; some relate it to only future events while some relate it to only the first century, and some see it as a continuation through history until the end of time. These are the most popular noted interpretations held, which I might say are maybe considerable; however, my purpose in this blog is not to draw out the best interpretation or bring out a new one, but rather exemplify a message in Revelation that relates to all Christians in every era.
As the name indicates, the book of Revelations reveals things that would otherwise be unknown. Traditionally, the view has been held that the apostle John (one of the original disciples) was that writer of this book mainly due to certain geographic reasons and other writing style reasons. However, throughout the book nothing is made certain to indicate this view, as the writer only introduces himself as “John, a bond servant…” (Revelations 1:1). Nevertheless, the pros seem to out weight the cons in presenting the apostle John as the most likely of authors.
This revelation was originated in God and came from Jesus Christ then given to John sometime around the end of the first century (90s AD). John then passed this revelation on to a group of seven churches in the western part of Asia Minor with the purpose to shed light on things that would soon happen (Revelations 1:11).
By the late part of the first century, the churches in Asia Minor were already well established, presumably, based on the first missionary journeys recorded in Acts chapters 16-19. In Revelations chapters 2 & 3, we see the specific letters to these seven actual churches (personally speaking, there is nothing Biblically that I find that imply these churches are symbolic of seven church ages), which clues us in to what the conditions where during this time surrounding the region as a whole. These were, indeed, troubling times for the church, as persecution was strong towards the Christians.
From the very beginning of the first century church, persecution was a real and present danger to the Christians, but mainly, from the Jews. However, as time went on the Roman government officials added to the persecution where thousands upon thousands of Christians were either imprisoned, thrown into slavery, tortured, and killed because of their faith in Christ (John’s exile to a prison on the Island of Patmos is one example of this Roman persecution). The peek of all this persecution came around the 60s (AD) under the Roman Emperor Nero, and continued through the 90s (AD) during the time of Emperor Domitian.
These were, of course, testing times for all Christians -- persecution was at its height and oppression towards the Christians increased. More and more people were turning against the Christians, as the government enforced Emperor Worship. To make matters worse, false teachers started to stir up trouble within the churches by suggesting Christians to go along with pagan religions that practiced idol worship and other immoral sins. (Revelations 2:10, 13-14, 20; 6:9-11). Needless to say, the battles Christians were facing then were coming from every angle.
Many Christians, as a result, were becoming very discouraged and confused, and even some were renouncing their faith, as it seemed that the return of their King Jesus Christ was not coming as they expected to save them from such persecution. It seemed the real power was in the hands of the Emperor, and not Almighty God.
However, through John, Jesus reassured His persecuted followers that He was still very much in control, for He never left them with any false hope of a quick return; but rather, He prepared them for a greater endurance to come. Jesus revealed to them the extent of more troubles to come and the eternal reward that awaited for those who stay firm for Him. Jesus’ message to them, and all of us who follow, was that in God’s time, He will certainly return to judge the evil doers, save His people, and bring all His people into His rest of eternal peace and joy (Revelations 1:5; 12:10-11; 19:15-16; 21:1-4; 22:7).
There is no doubt that Revelations had a meaning to the Christians in the late first century, as it has meaning to all Christians since, and will have meaning to those in the end of all age to come. The symbolic pictures in the book are taken mainly from life under Roman rule, as John knew it; but the principles are for every Christian anywhere and anytime. Throughout the ages, Christians have been faced with persecution, anti-Christs, and false prophets; and we must be careful not to limit this book to our own favorite interpretation or try to strum up connections of modern-day events to these prophesies.
The book of Revelation does give us the accounts to what is going to happen at the end of ages; however, is not just a book of symbolic prophesies for end times nor should we bother or debate over it. Was it not our Lord Jesus who told us to be concerned for today and not tomorrow? If all we see is “end times” we will overlook that Revelations was also given to strengthen, guide, encourage, and give hope to all Christians (past, present, and future) who will be going into the mist of oppression, persecution, and even, death for the name of Christ Jesus; so that they may see the relevance of John’s revelation to their own experiences.
The other purpose of Revelations is the blessed message of HOPE OF SALVATION during times of hardship and persecution from the first century Christian to the present century Christians, and to the future century Christians. In every age, Christians have triumphed over the forces of the anti-Christ through Christ’s victory on the cross (Revelations 12:11); and the final victory over the final anti-Christ will be when Jesus Christ returns to banish all evil and save His people for all eternity.
Posted by ForwardThought at 9:48 PM
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
I wrote this in response to a recent blog that condemns any other versions of The Bible besides the King James Version. I have nothing against the KJV, I grew up with that version; and although, my preference today is the NASB, I still refer to the KJV often and uphold it as one of the best translations for a Christian to use.
There are indeed many bad translations out there that have modified The Bible in horrible ways that have reduced The Bible to mockery. However, to say that the only proper translation is the KJV and everything else is Gnostic-philosophy junk is a fallacy; and in no way, can be proven. Furthermore, it undermines the changing power to Christ that many have experienced through these other great and equally accurate translations.
Casting doubt on what God actually says has been a huge strategy of Satan from the beginning; Genesis chapter 3, first of many examples. And casting doubt towards the validity of the words of The Bible would not be a far cry in this strategy of his--he loves to divide and conquer. Division is no stranger within the Christian body, and not only has division been caused over the proper version of the Bible, but in other such issues as commuinion and baptism. Sadly, though, all this division has steered us away into fighting amongst ourselves instead of fighting the real enemy.
My intention in this post is not to stir up more division, as I would be contridicting my beginning message; but rather give an explaination to why a person cannot conclusively state that one version of the Bible is the more accurate while all others are heresy trash that need to be “burned.”
Anyone translating between languages will understand one thing, it is quite an impossible feet to accurately translate between languages. The delimma for any translator is how to properly convey the original idea when wording and language identification can be different from one culture to the next; and more often than some, it is impossible to express the idea of one language in another.
Therefore, the original always supercedes the copy in accuracy; and in a sense, compromise is forced on the translation, as expression of idea is all in accordance to the personal ideas and understanding of the translator.
Many claim that the KJV (King James Version, 1611 AD) as the only true accurate Bible, asserting that the translators of the KJV were divinely inspired just as the original New Testament writers. Unfortunately, there is no conclusive evidence to support this claim (not personally claiming it wasn’t, sake of agruement). They also claim that the KJV was the only “perfect” Bible translated into English; but asserting this, does not take into account that word modification or word meaning has its cultural ties depending on the time: example below
I Thessalonians 4:15 (KJV), “For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.”
I Thessalonians 4:15 (NASB), “For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep.”
The main difference, as I highlighted, are the words “prevent” used by the KJV translators and “precede” used by the NASB (New American Standard Version) translators. The word “prevent” changed meaning between 1611 and now; and if you did not know that, this verse in today’s English would cause some confussion.
The issue here are the words you think you know, but through time, have changed meaning; unless you are aware of such wording changes, you will definitely have problems reading the KJV. Furthermore, no hasitation from the KJV translators was given in applying their very culturally based thou’s and shalt’s words. These words do not take from the original idea; however, these words did not exist in the original Greek text. However, the issue of the best translation does not stop at translation word identification, it goes even deeper.
Two main lines of Greek texts exist, which most agree that both date back to the same time, first century AD. The text that was mostly used up until the 1800s was Textus Receptus (a.k.a: Majority or Bynzintine text) related to the Syria region. However, other Biblical manuscripts were discovered in Alexandria (Egypt-North Africa region), which many newer translations stem from; nevertheless, the question of its reliablity has been questioned for centuries.
Erasmus, Catholic Theologian, in 1525, compiled the first Greek text using manuscripts from the Textus Receptus. The Alexandrian manuscripts were available at the time, but for unknown reasons, the Alexandrian text was not used. However, in 1853, Brooke Westcott and Fenton Hort, were the first to compile a Greek New Testament, which took 28 years to complete. They, unlike Erasmus, relied heavily on the Alexandrian text; and what influenced them to go this route was that Alexandian text was written in a more polished Greek writing style, where as, the Textus Receptus seemed more paraphrased in style, which led them to question its’ reliablity.
So, which one is more reliable? Actually no one really knows; however, many studies of the two show that the texts are very must alike in both quality and quanity, agreeing 98% of the time, and that the 2% differences are so minor that they neither show up in translation nor affect understanding.
In conclusion, to assert that Alexandria text is a product of heresy, a rather interesting question can be posed, “Was the Alexandrian texts the only resource the Egyptian Christians had during the first three or four centuries?” If not, no problem; but if so (no evidence to say either way), then the conclusion would be that the Egyptian Christians only had access to this heresy version of God’s Word. But to take such a conclusion would essentially place the doctrine of preservation into a serious dilemma; and if you define preservation in terms of the Syrian Textus Receptus; you would be speaking poorly of God's sovereign care of the Christians in old Egypt.
My advice is this, we must have balance and no translation is 100% perfect, they all have their problems. This does not mean errors or inconsistencies exist in The Bible, but it is important to understand how your translation came to be, what methods were used in its creation, and what crediable Christian scholars and theologians have to say.
Nevertheless, the most important thing to consider in all of this, always seek the Holy Spirit of Christ on all questions; taking the pursuit on your own without the Spirit’s quidance can lead into crucial errors.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
It is no shock, within the Christian community, that in the original Greek manuscripts of the Holy Bible--Old Testament and New Testament--that the word “hell” does not appears anywhere in it; so…
What is the origin of the word “hell”?
Why the change in translation to “hell” in the first place?
There is much truth that can be applied when one simply takes the time to investigate historical accounts on the “What…?” and “Why…?” certain things as we know them today came about. However, sometimes history does not offer the full conclusions or answers that we are looking for; and with that, it can be helpful to look to other resources that, perhaps, are deemed as mere fiction; but if you looked closely, meaning can sometimes be found to hints of truths.
Mythology: the study of myths
Myth: a story of great but unknown age which originally embodied a belief regarding some fact or phenomenon of experience, and in which often the forces of nature and of the soul are personalized; an anceint legand of a god, a hero, the origin of a race; a wonder story of prehistoric origin; a popular fable which is, or has been received as historical.
Most of us are familiar with the Scandinavian Vikings of Northern-Europe; and indeed they were very barbarian like, as most of us perceive; and in realm of religion, very pagan in their beliefs. Their main form of religion and religious rituals varied in geographic areas; however, the foundation of their pagan religion was seen through the mythological stories of Norse; and the god, Thor (god of lighting and thunder powered by his mystical belt and hammer), was the pride of their gods when it came to worship and sacrifice.
Furthermore, as with many other classic mythologies, such as the Greeks; and various established religions, such as Christianity, one major commonality seems to stand out in all them--life after death; a place of paradise and a place of torment--and the Norse mythology was no different. Within the Norse, paradise or the dwelling place of the gods was known as Asgard; and their place of torment or the dwelling place of the evil giants was known as Hel. Their belief in their pagan god/hero Thor was strong, but it was not strong enough; and due to the overwhelming coalitions of the Christian Crusaders to abolish pagan religions in Europe to establish Christianity, the Norse followers symbol the Hammer of Thor was replaced by the Cross of Jesus (1100-1200 AD); however, not all of the Norse mythology would be stripped away, but rather one aspect would remain even till today, which we will later see.
The word “hell” is not found in the original Greek text of the Bible; and likewise, the same is known of the first Latin translation in 4th century AD. The first English translation of the Bible is credited to Oxford professor, John Wycliffe, around 1380AD; and it is here when the first use of the word “hell” first comes on the seen. The origin of the word “hell” actually derived from the old English words “hel” or “helle”, which often referred to as a “nether world for the dead.” The words that were subsequently replaced by “hell” in the English translation from the original Greek Bible were “Gehenna” and “Hades” (some translations today do in fact keep “Hades”). However, this change in translations brings the question--“Why the change to ‘hell’ in the first place?”
This question, unfortunately, has led many over the centuries to theorize various conspiracies on the Christian origin of “hell” and although, entertaining these “hell” conspiracies maybe, all are speculative at best and simply imaginary tales created to discredit Christianity. But if a person is willing to take the time and look into history--the fog of speculations will be made clear in the historic facts.
If you are familiar with the New Testament and the history around that region (first century AD), you will know that the controlling influence was Rome; however, Rome’s influence was not solely their own. Before Rome came into power, a gentleman by the name of Philip II of Macedon (Southeast Europe-Northern Greece) set out to conquer the Greece region (336BC), which he succeeded; and soon after his death, around the same time, his son, Alexander (the Great) continued to expand the Macedonian empire even further-- south into Egypt and as far west to the borders of India. As a result of Alexander’s expansion, a multitude of Greek refugees spread throughout the entire empire, which in turn, led to an influx of Hellionistic thinking (Greek philosophy) to spread and adapt through the empire; and it wasn’t until the 100sBC when Roman rule would eventually conquer Macedonian’s empire and take over for the next 500 years (27AD-476BC).
With the spread of Greek philosophy in the entire Alexander-Roman empire; everything Greek, the language, culture, and traditions, including their mythology, followed, which is one major reason that answers the question--“Why the change in translation…?”
Origin of “Hell”
In Greek mythology, the place of torment for the damned was known as “Hades”; and this important to know, because, many who are not familiar with Greek mythology and the influence it had on the NT cultural times see “hades” and “hell” as two different places--hell for the devil and his angels and hades for Godless humans--but that is all related to some Bible translation swapping around hades and hell; needless to say, the same place is being referred. “Gehenna”, as I mentioned before, is the other word that is replaced by “hell”; and the significance of this word is directly related to Jewish--Old Testament--history. Gehenna, unlike Hades in Greek mythology, was an actual place where many horrific situations of torment, sacrifices, and genocide were performed (also known as the “Valley of the son of Hinnom,”--read Joshua 15; II Kings 23; Jeremiah 2). So, when the NT Jews heard the word “Gehenna”, more than likely, drew an instant picture of a terrible and scary place.
So, of course, Jesus being God, Jewish, and growing up in this first century Greek influenced culture was very familiar with such Greek myths and Jewish history; and He used these two places symbolically to describe an actual place of eternal punishment and death so that both the Greek and the Jew could easily grasp a vivid picture to what He was saying (symbolism such as these are seen throughout the Bible to describe the unscribable--not uncommon). And thus, this brings me back to the Norse mythology and its relationship with the modern English term “Hell.”
Greek mythology, though still present in knowledge in the 1st century, was on a steady decline mainly due to increase of other Greek philosophies, Roman mythology, and the Christian movement; and eventually, through the turn of the first and second centuries, Greek mythologies soon become a forgotten memory of meaning. Moreover, with Christianity growing more and more apart from Judaism, the thought of “Gehenna” stuck with the Jews, but lost any and all meaning with the Christians around the middle ages (500AD).
In light of these lost meanings, John Wycliffe when translating the Latin Bible to English in 1380AD decided to pick a known term at the time from the old Norse mythology “Hel/Hell” to provide, as Christ did for the Greeks and the Jews in the first century, a symbolic representation that created a vivid meaning of a horrific place of torment to the fourteenth century Christian. Nevertheless, call it Gehenna, Hades, or Hell--whatever you like-- it was and is all the symbolic picture of an indescribable place of endless punishment for those who choose to believe in themselves rather than the One God and His only Son, Jesus.
So, all the conspiracies, made up stories, and speculative assumptions about “hell” are nothing more than fictional mythologies themselves that hold no truth; and all it took was a little look at history and the mythology found in it to give us the true answers of the origin of “hell.”
**Source Information: The Human Venture, Fifth Edition; Anthony Esler
And please, by all means, if there is anything you would like to add or take away; this is an open forum--your comment is welcome.
Posted by ForwardThought at 2:45 AM
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. (14) For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.”>>Matthew 7:13-14
Most Christians would agree that this passage in Matthew chapter 7 is perhaps one of the most widely known. The principle that Jesus was portraying is simple; there are two ways that every human will follow.
One way is the broad way--the easy way--that many will take. The people who go this way will put their faith on themselves and/or false teacher rather than in Jesus Christ. This way is full of deceit, denial, self-satisfaction, and hopelessness. This way can bring its bright moments for those who chose it; however, in the end, this broad-wide path will ultimately lead to the gate of eternal destruction.
The other way is the narrow way--the hard way--that few will take. Those people who go this way put their faith only in Jesus Christ and deny all selfish desires. This way is full of truth, love, humbleness, self-sacrifice, and hope. This way can bring isolation, ridicule, persecution, or even death for those who chose it; however, in the end, this narrow-small way leads to the gate of life everlasting.
I am sure the depictions of these to ways are nothing new to most of us; and more often then some, we often in vision these two ways as two road from a fork in the road; and then, branching of into two separate directions--one wide leading to hell and a one narrow leading to heaven.
But is there really a fork in the road leading people into two separate roads; or perhaps, just one road leading people into opposite directions?
All humanity, from birth, inherits the nature of sin; and its consequence--“Therefore, just as through one man [Adam] sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Romans 5:12). There is no way around it, we all receive it. So, at birth, all humanity starts walking the same way; and that way is the broad way, which leads to the sin consequence of destruction. However, God through the loving sacrifice of His only Son, Jesus, made it possible for humanity to one day choose to overcome this inherited sin and walk another way--the narrow way, back to Him, which leads to eternal life.
The few, who come to the realization of Jesus’ sacrifice, and then, humbly accept it; instantly stop in his or her tracks on the broad way, take a 180 turn, and start walking the opposite way. Indeed, this opposite way becomes very small and narrow; the new Christian is now going against the grain and has to start dodging, weaving, and maneuvering around the many who are going still going the other way-- the broad way.
To give an analogy: Have you ever been immersed in a large crowd exiting out the same door; but then, you realize you forgot something and you have to turn around go back in? Needless to say, it is not going to be easy; and many obstacles, difficulties, and push backs in squeezing and maneuvering around every one instantly becomes your reality; but eventually, through perseverance, you will make it. Well, this is similarly the Christian’s reality in his or her narrow way--many obstacles, many difficulties, and many push backs (set backs) will come; but through perseverance in the Lord, the Christian will make it.
So, I encourage you Christian, as we walk our narrow way; to always seek the Lord for strength because there are many obstacles fighting against us; and we are going to need that added perseverance to get around them.
“Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”>>James 1:12