Before you start reading please know that I had know intention on writing a blog on this topic, and I don’t yet have any solid view or opinion on hell. I am still learning and reading. This blog is not intended to be a statement about hell but instead it is about the need for all the facts and the search for truth. When I learn something, I must share, because I imagine if it shocked my socks off, it might at least cause someone else to pause and think about it.
I am reading Erasing Hell by Francis Chan and Preston Sprinkle and I just read the section titled Is Hell a Garbage Dump? I was stunned to learn that the idea that when Jesus refers to Gehenna he is making references to the city garbage dump is at best a weakly supported theory.
For those of you who are not following, often when you will read Jesus using the word “hell” the original Hebrew word is Gehenna. For example in Mark “And if your eye causes you to sin, gouge it out. It's better to enter the
with only one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell (or Gehenna).” Now some have thought and taught that Gehenna was the town garbage dump outside of Kingdom of God in Jerusalem in the first century (when Jesus would have made references to it). Quoting from Erasing Hell Hinnom Valley
“there is no evidence for hundreds and hundreds of years after Jesus that there ever was a garbage dump… Nor is there any archaeological evidence” (p. 59).
Furthermore the first references to Gehenna being a garbage dump is from a man in the late Middle Ages, over a thousand years after Jesus, who lives in
Europe (p. 60)! Whaaat!
Oh wait there is more. Again quoting Erasing Hell
“In the Old Testament, the Hinnom Valley was a place where some Israelites engaged in idolatrous worship… they sacrificed their children… when Jeremiah began to preach, the Hinnom Valley started to take on a metaphorical reference for the place where bodies of the wicked would be cast… the word gehenna was widely used by Jews during the time of Jesus to refer to the fiery place of judgment for the wicked” (p. 61).
Some of you might be asking why does this matter? It matters because people are basing their ideas of hell on this theory that Jesus is referring to a garbage dump, a place where things burn up and disappear, not a place of eternal suffering. This matters because people are not hearing all the facts. I have heard this garbage dump hell theory before, and was quick to believe it, but now I have paused and started to take a closer look. I think this is very important; this is why I am sharing this with you all. I don’t want to believe anything just because it sounds good, but are not based on truth, and I don’t want you to either!
Please take the time to read Erasing Hell I am finding it extremely informative.
Let us be a people who seek truth. I know that I am prone to believe that which makes the tough parts of the Bible softer. I pray that the Holy Spirit, the Truth Giver, will lead us into
ALL truth in the name of Jesus, whatever that may be, whither we like it or not, we want truth please. Amen