Friday, September 22, 2006

Hell, Part 2

Before reading this, make sure you've read "Hell, Part One" and all of the comments that go with it.

Where are the locations of heaven and hell?

It is debatable whether heaven or hell are in this universe. As I said in Part One, some believe that those in Hades are under the earth, in secret chambers. Greek mythology states that Hades is “under the earth.” Sometimes Sheol, in the Bible, refers less to the grave and more to “the depths of the earth.” Heaven is referred to as being the—or in the—“third heaven” (2 Corinthians 12:2)—suggesting that heaven could be reached, providing we had the proper technology and God allowed us—which He would not (See the Tower of Babel). Jesus ascended "to heaven." It is even an intriguing thought, in a science-fiction sort of way, that hell would be located in the center of the earth (the core), where it is incomprehensibly hot, and even that, Hades, along with the whole earth, would be thrown into the Lake of Fire.
However, there are many problems with such a fanciful philosophy. First of all, some believe that the “new earth” spoken of in the Bible is a renewed earth, not an entirely brand-new one. Secondly, the “third heaven” referred to in 2 Corinthians could mean that heaven is past our atmosphere and past outer space—“out of this world” and “out of this universe.” We know that “neither height, nor depth...will be able to separate us from the love of God" (Romans 8:39), so proximity wouldn't be an issue. Thirdly, we know that God sits on His throne in heaven (To point out a few verses: Matthew 5:34; 23:22; Acts 7:49). Although at some point in time nothing existed (though our finite minds can’t grasp that), God was probably sitting on His throne, being worshiped by angels (angels likely weren’t part of the Genesis Creation), before He created the universe. (Although, admittedly, we are given the impression in Genesis 1 that nothing existed before the Creation) But if heaven were in this universe, then where was the Father, the Son, and the Spirit before the Creation? As for Jesus' ascension, well, it can be assumed that He didn't spend days and weeks and months and years "ascending" to the "third heaven." Once He evaded the sight of men, He likely was immediately with the Father in heaven.
In reference to hell, there are also issues. Although both the Bible and Greek mythology seem to point to physical, earthy places beneath the dirt surface, this could simply be an analogy to the fact that bodies are buried. And as the “heavens” is a term for the sky, so “hell” has become synonymous with “below the dirt.” (As a little child I could summarize it as “heaven is up, hell is down.”) Not to mention the fact that, if this universe (or just earth) is going to be destroyed, what would happen to hell, which Scripture says will dole out punishment eternally? And like I said in Part One, if the body separates from the spirit at death, where would the requirement of the spirit staying on earth be?
Whether or not hell or heaven exist in this universe is really irrelevant in the end (since no living human can access either of them) and ultimately indiscernible, since good and logical arguments go both ways. Feel free, however, to give me your opinions. You may see it in a way I haven't.

~Kingdom Advancer

12 comments:

Austin said...

Great post. It all looks good to me; I don't have anything against your argument this time, but I have a few things to add to it to make it more clear:

Just so everyone understands: Heaven, as it is used in the Bible, is usually the same as "the skies". So the Kingdom of Heaven is "the Kingdom of the Skies," or "the Kingdom of the air." As Kingdom Advancer pointed out, this probably does not mean that Heaven is in the skies. On the contrary, I think that Jesus used the phrase "Kingdom of the skies" to express that God's Kingdom is not something a human can travel to or touch without God's help.

The Jews in Jesus' time thought that the Messiah would overthrow the physical oppressors of the Jews and set up a physical kingdom on earth. Jesus really came to overthrow their spiritual oppressors - sin. And the Kingdom he established was not an earthly kingdom. That's why he made it clear: "The Kingdom of the skies" This shows that his kingdom is not an earthly kingdom, but rather something you can't touch - yet.

So of course, Heaven is most likely not somewhere you can travel by spacecraft - Jesus said "the skies" only to show that it's not what we would normally think of as a kingdom. It's spiritual, and very real. Perhaps you must be "born from above" to be able to find it.

I have no idea what Paul meant when he mentioned the third heaven, but that verse is relevant to the question of whether or not heaven can be reached physically because Paul mentions the body in the verse:

"I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know - God knows."
-2 Corinthians 2:12 (NIV)

There's our answer! I wish I had seen that before. Even Paul didn't know.

As for Heaven and Hell, I think that many of our traditional views have been shaped too much by the writings of Dante and by Egyptian mythology and not enough by the Bible. Jesus used hell in quite a different way than we often use is today. That's why I suggested doing a word study on gehenna, which means something close to hell, and on sheol and hades, which have little if anything to do with hell.

Once again, great post. It all looks good to me; I just thought I'd throw in my two cents worth.

Kingdom Advancer said...

Thanks for the kind comments, Austin.

Just for clarification, though. In "Hell, Part 3,"(which I haven't published yet), look for a paragraph that says heaven and hell "will not be a place where spirits just float around." I don't think that's what you meant, but sometimes people get that impression when you mention "kingdoms in the skies" and "spiritual kingdoms." What you said was accurate, but I just wanted to clarify that.

Also, I wanted to point out to you Austin, that, if I get the time, I'm still probably going to write "a reply to your reply to my reply to your comment on my post." So, just, when you check the site, scroll down to "Hell, Part 1," and if it says "8 comments," I've probably replied to you, but if it says "7," then never mind.

Austin said...

You're right, heaven is not just souls floating around. Most modern Americans who believe in heaven believe that only souls go to heaven, but the Bible teaches a bodily resurrection! Sorry for not making that clear enough. Here it is: the City of God is a real place where resurrected humans with bodies will go. There, is that good?

I don't know enough about hell to talk about whether bodies will be there or not. The lake of fire is called the second death, so maybe - to be honest, I don't know for sure - their bodies will be destroyed but their souls will suffer.

Regardless of whether hell is physical bodily suffering or only soul-suffering, Heaven is definitely a physical place!

By the way, the reason fire hurts is because our bodies are warning us of their destruction. If the lake of fire doesn't destroy the body, then it can't really hurt. I think the soul remains, but the body is destroyed. Disclaimer: This is only an opinion! Don't take it to the bank, unless you can back it up better than I can.

Kingdom Advancer said...

Yeah, I'll address my opinions on what hell is like in my next post, "Hell, Part 3." It's definitely a dilemma, because God certainly doesn't promise the condemned a new body (or a return to their old bodies), but it's hard to imagine their punishment (and the "Ultimate Courtroom" on Judgment Day) without their bodies, especially since the rewards in heaven will be experienced in "glorified bodies," so to speak. Perhaps this is such a predicament because we don't know what "souls" look like. (Remember, too, that our souls were never meant to be separated from our bodies. That's the fall's fault.) You kind of imagine them as transparent, floating, heart-shaped things, or as ghosts, but we don't really know, do we? There's a possibility that our souls look somewhat like ourselves (if that's explainable). Anyone who says they've seen a soul or spirit generally is discredited, and even if they're in their right mind and are being honest, the only biblical explanation would be that they were seeing either an angel or a demon. Even if someone's sitting by a deathbed, I have never (or rarely have ever) heard someone say that they "saw the soul leave the body," unless they're saying figuratively, as they "felt" the person die.

under_the_mercy said...

Hey,
Check out this chart, it presents some very good ideas. The only inacuracy in it that I have found is that the place "hell" should be labeled "hades". Yes, I realize that these places are in another dimention, but it is an interesting way to look at it.

http://members.citynet.net/morton/images/underworld.gif

Austin said...

I agree with you about souls - very good points. Especially about how the "soul" was never supposed to be separate from the body. A soul is not a tangible thing, it's just a word we use to describe who a person is. If I lost my body (through death) and later gained a new one - I would still be the same person (except glorified and perfected, but I would still be me) So my "being" - who I am without my body - is what we call "soul". Some Bible translators even translate the word commonly rendered "soul" as "being" - that's all a soul really is, it's just who you are without considering your body as a factor.
I'm about to look at the chart.

Kingdom Advancer said...

underthemercy,
Thanks for the site, but my computer is telling me "Page Cannot Be Displayed" right now, so I'll have to try again later, I guess.

By the way, I'm going to try to get Part 3 published as soon as possible, it's just going to be a little longer than the first two parts and I haven't taken the time to sit down and polish what I've already jotted down.

Kingdom Advancer said...

Hey, UndertheMercy:
Actually, it's saying on my computer, "Page Cannot Be FOUND." Could you check the address to make sure it's right? I'd appreciate it.

under_the_mercy said...

oops, so sorry about that, I missed the "gif" when I copied it.
here it is below.

http://members.citynet.net/morton/images/underworld.gif

under_the_mercy said...

it wont let me post the whole site address, so just add ".gif" and it should work.

Kingdom Advancer said...

Thanks. It works now. It's very interesting. I think I agree with what it's saying, but I stress the word THINK because the chart is a little confusing and I haven't broken down everything it says.

Austin said...

under_the_mercy,

Thanks for the url, that was an interesting picture/chart.