Examining Hell…More Polytheism?

Hell is an interestting topic, since it does appear in scripture in a variety of forms (hades being the most popular).

In the Luke passages we see the use of hell as a place for people that do not follow a ‘righteous’ path…a sort of deterrent. However, this doesn’t seem like an idea steeped in Jewish theology – and seems to be borrowed from the time period with the Greeks and Romans…namely the Greeks who used hades as an ‘underworld’ (which we see clearly in both Luke pieces).

Hell is also described in a variety of ways.

Matt 8 – ‘outer darkness’
Mark 9 – ‘worm does not die and fire not quenched’ – worm mean underground?
Luke 16 – called ‘Hades’ (a greek underworld) and ‘fire scenario’
Luke 13 – likely Hades again – ‘weeping and gnashing of teeth’ – like Luke 16 – can see heaven.
Jude 1 – ‘eternal fire and black darkness’
Rev 20 – ‘lake of fire’ (new take on Hades)

Question is, what is Hades and what does it look like according to Greek Mythical thought. Are there striking similarities? Taken from Wikipedia on the subject ‘Hades’.

(1) “In older Greek myths, the realm of Hades is the misty and gloomy abode of the dead…where all mortals go. Later Greek philosophy introduced the idea that all mortals are judged after death and are either rewarded or cursed. Very few mortals could leave his realm once they entered

(2) “Tartarus It is a deep, gloomy place, a pit, or an abyss used as a dungeon of torment and suffering that resides beneath the underworld. In the Gorgias, Plato (c. 400 BC) wrote that souls were judged after death and those who received punishment were sent to Tartarus.”

(3) “The Styx forms the boundary between the upper and lower worlds

(4) “Hades (the “unseen”), the god of the underworld…Hades, god of the dead, was a fearsome figure to those still living

First problem with the biblical idea of hell is it is deeply rooted in Grecian Mythological thought…which most Christians will easily swear is ‘not factual’ (ie: Zeus or Hercules). But for some reason Hades survived. Fear of death maybe?

– Hades is a place of judgment – first as an underworld then as a punishment for the wicked (ie: Tartarus)
– Tartarus is one of the greek words used directly in the bible in 2 Peter 2:4 – which comes from Platonic thought of the afterworld
– Styx was a chasm between the living and the dead – and no one could cross back (except for Hercules and Theseus)…and now include Jesus according to some interpretations of ‘going to the underworld and coming back’. In the parable we see a ‘seperation’ or ‘chasm’.
– Hades, which included hell (tartarus), was run by Hades – a god of the underworld. Isn’t this basically the Christian devil for many centuries?

It’s fairly easily to recognize that Christian theology on hell/hades was actually Grecian/Roman thought on Hades…in fact most popular term for hell in the NT – hades. The similarities speak for themselves as well.

But if Christians are willing to drop every other Greco-Roman concept on mythological gods – why hang on to Hades/Pluto? Paul not once in his travels included a single other god into the faith of Christianity…and Hades is a god.

*Topic originally aired under Hackman’s Musings ‘That He May Have Mercy on Them All’


Evangelical Christianity – Seriously?

Just having a debate on a facebook page with someone I used to attend church with (many years back) and some other dude…total hoot.

They don’t believe global warming is real, a contrived theory to take ‘money’ from tax-payers and based in pure fiction.

The one dude is going off about political science issues and how liberal, Marxist, communist thinking people think the end of the world would come about via Western politics and economy, God forbid God would punish the ‘greedy’. He’s acting as if the West and Capitalism is so ‘saintly’ and the bible directed way to govern a country. Laughable to say the least.

Problem with Evangelicalism can be summed up in those convo’s – so here’s a treat – excerpts:

Then, gusess what … we had some global warming to get rid of the ice age and so it goes. Always somebody try ing to get more taxes out of us. ie Carbon tax” (Stew)

No, the 666 isn’t capitalist at all, but ‘progressive, liberal, socialist, communist, marxist’ which is patterned in the Bible…” (Stephen)

When we turn from God, we get socialism et al, which stands contrary to Gods Gov’t” (Stephen)

We in America and ancient Israel, were to be an example to the world of what life could be like on this rock…” (Stephen)

Liberalism was founded in the Garden of Eden when Adam & Eve rejected Gods truth for the lie of Satan. When they realized they were ‘naked’ because they ate of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good n evil, they tried to hide it when the Lord came to them.
Who did Adam & Eve blame? Adam blamed Eve and Eve blamed the serpent…typical of liberalism which we see today. It’s ALWAYS someone elses fault and we’re all victims now” (Stephen)

If you’re a ‘christian’ Jay, you’d better open up His word and stop listening to your pastor if he’s teaching you ‘social justice’ and tripe like that, because Gods word is about Liberty…” (Stephen)

And some in the world continue on in wilfull ignorance.

Honoring/Remembering a Mom

On January 14, 2011 my mother passed away at the age of 67. It really filled me with a sense of loss and a need to honor her memory. We held the funeral service on the Peepeekisis Reserve and every one of her kids said something in remeberance of her…it was very meaningful.

I didn’t get to share everything I would have so I am going to share my last piece of my speech right here (which is basically a song I wrote in Dec 2010). My way of remembering and honoring someone that gave me everything I am today.

The song was called ‘Beyond the Scars’ (link shows my reverb page where the song is saved)

Beyond the Scars

There’s a feeling I get
When you’re not here
I look inside my eyes

Just behind my eyes
There’s something inside
Everything I choose to hide

Love is just a dream
Of everything unseen
Love is not that far
Beyond the scars

You make me believe
In something unreal
It’s just the way I feel

Locked deep inside
The best part of life
Waits to come alive

Love is just a dream
Of everything unseen
Love is not that far
Beyond the scars

Now everything has its moment
As fleeting as this one is
Now everything has its meanings
As meaningless as this one is

There’s a feeling I get
When you’re not here
I look inside my eyes

Just behind my eyes
There’s something inside
Everything I choose to hide

Love is just a dream
Of everything unseen
Love is not that far
Beyond the scars

Beyond the stars
Beyond the stars
Beyond the stars

Gay Awakening in Evangelical Circles?

The Huffington Post (Cathleen Falsani) just reported on Jay Bakker talking about the inclusion of gay people into Evangelical Circles – see this link.

Here are some quotes from the article:

The church has always been late,” Bakker told me in an interview this week. “We were late on slavery. We were late on civil rights. And now we’re late on this.”

Tony Jones, a “theologian-in-residence” at Minnesota’s Solomon’s Porch, one of the pre-eminent “Emergent” churches in the nation, echoes many of Bakker’s arguments. Peggy Campolo, wife of evangelist Tony Campolo, has been saying this kind of thing for years, despite her husband’s disagreement.

And while he stops short of explicitly saying “it’s not a sin” in his 2010 book, A New Kind of Christianity, Brian McLaren, godfather of the Emergent church movement, condemns a Christian preoccupation with homosexual issues as “fundasexuality.”

“We could really use someone like Rob Bell to step forward and say this, too,” Bakker said in the interview, referring to the 40-year-old pastor of the Michigan megachurch Mars Hill and author of bestselling books such as Velvet Elvis and Sex God.

I think I am seeing some movement within Evangelical Associations to move towards the inclusion of gay people, albeit these are mainly ‘outsiders’ (like myself) who hold very little sway with the mass sheeple within the Evangelical unions. But it’s a step forward nonetheless. And I am in full support of it – since gay people are humans like everyone else and should be treated fairly and equitably – isn’t that really the essence of the ‘golden rule’?

The ‘Virgin’ Conundrum

Check out this link as a counter point to the Rabbi’s claims” (Xander)

I want to address this article and show I am taking this with some consideration. So here I go.

(1) I definitely concede the idea of ‘closed wombs’ and that being apparent within the Tanakh (namely the Torah stories). There definitely is a tradition of this story existing. One minor problem. In each of the ‘opened womb’ stories God allows a child to be created…are they now literal ‘sons of God’? Should I now consider Isaac in the same category of Jesus – they came about the same way?

(2) For the ‘almah’ argument – I have addressed this above in a few comments. The strongest being lingusitically was there an equal for ‘young girl’ within contemporary Greek? Or was this translated that way based on convenience – like Greek words for love into English?

(2a) From Singer’s link (one I provided) how come Isaiah uses ‘alma’ in Isaiah 7:14 (young woman or virgin) and uses the actual term for virgin (betulah) 5 times in Isaiah in other places. Why that kind of inconsistency on Isaiah’s part? Why not use ‘betulah’ in Isaiah 7:14 and save me all this typing?

(3) Isaiah 7:14 in context

Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin (or young woman) will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel. He will eat curds and honey at the time He knows enough to refuse evil and choose good. For before the boy will know enough to refuse evil and choose good, the land whose two kings you dread will be forsaken.”

If this is Jesus, where’s the curds and honey part in the virgin birth stories? What about the 2 kings…who are they? If I recall, Jewish people were still under Roman control (ie: land) during the whole mission of Jesus and quite beyond. No land was forsaken, no eating that meal is mentioned, and no need for a virgin birth in regards to context.

(4) The argument for ‘almah’ meaning ‘virgin’ within the short essay is quite wanting. There is no way they can make the jump they do based on the examples they give. They can assume a young woman would be a virgin, and I think that is a fair assumption to make, but they cannot outright say that when there is a Hebraic word for that same term (namely in Isaiah).

Just because I call someone a ‘young woman’ does not mean that I assume to use ‘virgin’ as it’s equal counter-part – specifically if I know the term for ‘virgin’ and ignore to use it.

*Comment mentioned on Carly Jo’s blog ‘Historicity of Jesus’

Suicide Attacks in Islam Blasted? Finally!

RIYADH – A top Saudi cleric has slammed suicide attacks by Islamist martyrdom-seekers as devilish acts that do not qualify as jihad, a Saudi newspaper reported on Friday. “He (a suicide bomber) claims to be a mujahed (holy warrier) in the name of Allah, but he is not. He is fighting in the name of the devil who has tempted him and convinced him” to carry out the attack, said Sheikh Saleh al-Fawzan. “A Muslim is prohibited from killing himself,” the member of the Saudi supreme council of Islamic scholars said in a lecture in Riyadh, according to Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper.

He said acts of violence branded as jihad, or Muslim holy war, were nothing more than “sabotage.” “This is not jihad. This is sabotage and unrightful killing,” the cleric said, adding that jihad in Islam should only be declared by the leader of the Muslim community. “Jihad has rules and regulations. It should be called for by the leader of the Muslims,” he said. 

Martyrs in the Islamic faith are promised generous rewards in paradise. Fawzan also condemned the New Year’s Day bombing of a Coptic church in Alexandria, Egypt that killed 21 churchgoers, slamming it as an act of “treachery.” The newspaper termed his condemnation of suicide attacks as unprecedented in a country which was home to 15 out of the 19 hijackers of the passenger planes used in the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States (Leader Post, Jan 7, 2011, Regina, SK, Canada)

Well about damn time I read a story from a Muslim cleric condemning these unrighteous acts of suicide bombing. Innocent people are being killed in the name of God (Allah) – if that ain’t blasphemy I am not sure what is.

But here we see a movement towards modernism of the ideas of ‘jihad’. Jihad is about the struggle and the fight, mostly internal and sometimes external, but suicide does not factor into such an idea. I would compare jihad to the idea of Christians ‘iron sharpens iron’ .

These more modern notions of terrorism (or war as some call it) are horrible in nature, but what is even worse is the hatred for anything ‘different’ than you – a lack of tolerance. What the cleric seems to be doing is trying to bridge the gap between the West and the East and move towards ideals of brotherly compatriotism versus wiping someone out because they are not you.

Modern ideal at work here – tolerance for people different than you…I am guessing each religion can find in their faith where tolerance towards other faiths is applauded.

O people of the Book! come to common terms as between us and you: that we worship none but Allah.” (Sura 3:64)

Polygamy in BC – Can a Young Lady Really ‘Consent’?

VANCOUVER — It would be an “abuse of power” if a woman was forced into a plural marriage, a Mormon scholar told a B.C. court Wednesday, as the case testing Canada’s law against polygamy resumed following a three-week break. Dr. John Walsh…testified that Mormon theology decrees that people not be forced into polygamy and that “God would not recognize” the marriage if a woman was forced into such a situation. “It would be an abuse of power and a deviation from Mormon standards,” he said.

Walsh admitted his comments were restricted to the theological doctrines of Mormonism, and did not necessarily reflect what is actually happening in communities that practise the religion….the issue was referred to the court after two leaders in the fundamentalist Mormon community of Bountiful, B.C., — Winston Blackmore and James Oler — had polygamy charges against them stayed in 2009.

Walsh testified Wednesday there is no dogmatic statement in the Mormon religion on the age of marriage for women and men. He admitted under cross-examination he had heard of a girl marrying at the age of 13, but insisted that was a “deviation” and that most Mormons would frown on marriage at such a young age. Walsh — who has a PhD in religious studies, but described himself as an “independent scholar” who does not work at a university — was allowed to testify as an expert in Mormon theology after his qualifications came under close scrutiny from several lawyers at the trial. (Leader Post, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, January 6, 2011)

Now I don’t care about the polygamy laws per se – not my issue today. What I am concerned about is young impressionable ladies being ‘forced’ into marriages of a plural sort without any real action they can take to say ‘no’. Do these women have any recourse to say ‘no’? If not, then it is for all practical reality a ‘forced’ marriage.

The problem is these girls are part of a religious sect that believes in order to achieve a higher state in paradise plural marriage is part of that pathway/livelihood to achieve it. Wiithout plural marriage the believer is somehow stripped of this higher state. I am not sure these women are being given a choice inside of that peer pressure to please family, man, and God. This is basically the denial of rights to women in this community since they cannot neccesarily stand up for themselves on this issue, they are the pawns in the game.

This is the problem with religion not modernizing – the denial of equal rights to women and believing archaic ideas about the greatness of plural marriage leads to confinement, decreed by Joseph Smith some 140 years back. We see that not modernizing in this case is actually leading to the abuse of nice people and causing them to be hurt by the very people they love.

Religion gone wrong? Yes. It’s aiming for a mark that is leading to the degredation of women.

SVS’ Take on Early Christian History

*Comment made on Carly Jo’s blog ‘Historicity of Jesus’

According to the gospels of the NT they had it wrong in a lot of ways. You must compare, yeah, but always in light of the NT interpretation” (Carly Jo)

Wrong? If they had it wrong how can we be sure we have it right? We are basing our gospels on the Tanakh texts – not vice versa.

To compare in light of the NT interpretation as always being right is – well arrogant? It’s like saying the latest version always is a better re-write of the earlier version – since it has new additions! If this is the case then Mormonism and Islam need to be given more serious consideration.

You see the key thing here is ‘historical study’ – inside and outside of the NT texts. Things we know:

Jesus was Jewish and so were all of his early disciples – therefore what religion were they following?

In Acts 15 we see Peter, James, and John hanging out with the Pharisee’s and leaders in Judaism – why exactly? In fact, in that story the Pharisee’s help rule on what Paul is doing in Gentile territories. This was some years ater Jesus’ death and we find these same core disciples following what seems to be early Judaism.

Paul has a mission into Gentile territories – many places in various regions (according to his letters). We know Paul used the local beliefs to help interpret his message – from Acts. The unknown God story is a great example of this. Paul seemed to understand the idea of making Christianity relevant via the iconagraphy around him to get the point home.

Paul dies at some point and his communities continue. These are clearly seperated from Judaism – according to Paul’s own letters. They would have had no access to Jewish texts and the original teachings behind them. So when the stories they use need a common interpretation they ‘borrow’ from their own cultures (what they know personally) to make the relevant points they need to.

These stories appear in the later versions of the gospels – again written by 70 AD and after – no original disciple could of proof-read the additions to advocate for what was or was not original in nature.

By about the time Paul left for his missionary journies there was already a power-play set in motion for the heart of the Christian mentality. Read Paul and it’s all clearly there – in Acts (written by Luke – a Gentile) and within his own letters. Paul, who was never an apostle according to the community in Jerusalem, becomes one – the most important one in fact. Self-appointed albeit – but his mission and his ideas become the cornerstone for later Christianity in centuries after.

If one thing is clear it is this – there was a Jewish Jesus with Jewish disciples that started this movement. Paul continued it and I believe was strongly misinterpreted in Gentile communities about ideas (from Judaism) that these Gentiles would have had little access to (for corrections and mistakes).

But we live in quite the freedom of information age – so it’s weird to imagine someone not having access to what we do – biblically and historically. But with this knowledge comes a responsibility concerning those texts to get at what is being meant. In the end, it’s the study of the Tanakh that will enlighten our own texts – not vice versa.

Modernization for 2011

Religions need to modernize. The use of the texts need to meet with the 21st Century concerns and ideals and move from ancient pieces of literature to modernity. Seems obvious, well you’d be surprised how uncommon this idea really is.

In 2011 I am going to be looking more into modernity of Christian principles (even religious ideas in general). I find that people are using the scriptures within their ancient context and not seeing how much of the timeless teachings are really timeless and not periodic.

Watching a documentary on students coming from seminary schools in Islam, Judaism, and various strands of Christianity and some of its juvenile. Context matters and the context is now.