Tag Archives: Gehenna theology

Jesus Didn’t Actually Mean What He Said About Hell

Occasionally I like some of the pieces in Relevant, but when I come across articles like Exploring One Hell of a Place, I’m reminded why I don’t subscribe.

Jason Boyett starts out by deconstructing many of our cultural associations with hell, pointing, not incorrectly, to Dante.

But is our imagined hell accurate? That is, does it jive with what the Bible really says? That’s the question I asked as I began researching my book Pocket Guide to the Afterlife. The answers were surprising.

While trying to ground his search for truth in the Bible, Jason ends up discounting Jesus’ words about hell:

I tend to think of Jesus as the poor-loving, outcast-accepting, grace-dealing Lamb of God. But he wasn’t shy about describing hell—and not as the ambiguous afterlife of Sheol, but as a place of fiery destruction and eternal punishment.  Read Matthew 5:22, Matthew 10:28, or Mark 9. Jesus took hell seriously. When he mentioned it, he used the Greek word Gehenna.

Clearly Jesus taught that hell existed, but did he really mean it was a place of everlasting physical torment by fire? Or was that just a rhetorical flourish inspired by the local garbage dump?

My faith doesn’t depend on the reality of hell, of course. But these days, I have more uncertainty than ever about that part of the afterlife. If I’m honest, I have to admit I don’t know what to think about hell.

Don’t know what to think about it?  For someone who considers themselves a follower of Jesus, why not take his word for it?