Heaven and Hell

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Reply Tue 19 Feb, 2008 12:33 pm
Most faith traditions have some notion of life beyond the life of this particular physical body. In the Western monotheisms, generally it is believed that Heaven is the place of God, and Hell the residence of sinners.

The question, and topic of this thread is fairly simple:
What is "Heaven", and what is "Hell"?

Traditionally, it seems, Heaven and Hell are conceived of as real places. Though they are apart from this world (you could not hike to Heaven), they are just as real. Your soul travels to one of these locals after your physical body dies according to your actions in this life. In Heaven, you live with God and the righteous, in Hell you are with Satan and the damned.

We might also take the approach that Heaven and Hell are allegorical.

I'll wait for some responses before I weigh in.
 
Aedes
 
Reply Tue 19 Feb, 2008 12:51 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas wrote:
In the Western monotheisms, generally it is believed that Heaven is the place of God, and Hell the residence of sinners.
This is not true in the western monotheisms if you count Judaism as one of them. However, these concepts DID exist in the pre-Christian polytheistic traditions of the related Indoeuropean religions, including Nordic, Greek, Roman, and Indian polytheism. Remember that in Nordic polytheism there are three realms -- Valhalla, Midgaard, and Hel. In Greek and Roman religion existence is divided the same way; and in Hinduism it is as well. This is overwhelmingly documented in ancient literature from all these sources.

The physical idea of hell and heaven entered Christianity mainly through traditional Roman religion after the conversion of Constantine. This is why our most lurid depiction of Hell, from Dante, is an early Renaissance work of art -- Dante was the biggest fan Virgil has ever had, and his trip through hell is deeply influenced by the Aeneid.

I know this isn't your initial question, but you need to consider the ontogeny of Hell and Heaven ideas in the Christian tradition -- it is NOT a phenomenon of western monotheistic religions -- it's a phenomenon of western paganism that was absorbed into Christianity.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Tue 19 Feb, 2008 01:36 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
As always Aedes, your posts are well informed and valuable for the discussion. You are absolutely correct that we should examine the source of the notions of Heaven and Hell.

As for Dante, he traveled through Purgatory and Heaven as well (remember, the Inferno is only the first part of his Divine Comedy). Dante's affection for Virgil is clear enough to the reader if the reader has also read Homer. In the Inferno, Dante has a low opinion of Odysseus, an opinion based on Virgil's references to the hero. Dante never had access to the Homeric texts.

As for Heaven and Hell and pre-Christian thought, we find similar concepts all over the world. The dominant Christian conceptions of Heaven and Hell, it seems, are rooted in pagan beliefs; however, pagan interpretations are not the only ones available. Early Christians had many different views.
 
Aedes
 
Reply Tue 19 Feb, 2008 02:50 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Thanks for the post, I'm glad we share some views about this subject. Christianity is a religion that has a lot of imagery, and ironically while it eschews physicality in a sense, there is a LOT of physicality in its mystical elements. The physical ideas of heaven and hell and the apocalypse are all things with very little inspiration from the Tanakh (what a Christian would call the "Old Testament"), but a lot of inspiration from classical mythology.

Didymos Thomas wrote:
As for Dante, he traveled through Purgatory and Heaven as well (remember, the Inferno is only the first part of his Divine Comedy).
Indeed. I took a year-long course on Dante while in college, and I've read the entire Divine Comedy probably 8 times. The reason I concentrate on the Inferno is it's the most 'orthodox' of Dante's three realms. His Paradiso is an enormous marriage of Christian saints with Ptolemaic astronomy. His Purgatorio is very much an extension of the Inferno. So much of the inferno comes out of Classical mythology -- i.e. the rivers of hell (which include the Styx), the oarsman Charon, the creatures that guard different realms, and more. But here's the pinnacle -- Satan is a sinner punished by being frozen in the lake at the bottom of hell -- but the three sinners there with him, being chewed in his three jaws, are Judas Iscariot, Brutus, and Cassius.

I mean why would Dante put the traitors who betrayed Caesar at the bottom of Hell? It shows that he valued the state and the empire VERY highly, and this underscores how the Divine Comedy (and ESPECIALLY) the Inferno was a political text, directed largely at the Florentine political intrigue of the time.

Quote:
Dante's affection for Virgil is clear enough to the reader if the reader has also read Homer. In the Inferno, Dante has a low opinion of Odysseus, an opinion based on Virgil's references to the hero. Dante never had access to the Homeric texts.
Quite right; Dante knew Homer through the Roman references, but not directly. This is why it's Ulysses and not Odysseus (i.e. he uses the Roman name), who resides in the Malebolgia (the concentric rings of hell's 8th circle) and Dante's reason for placing him there (as opposed to among the virtuous heathens) is one of the great mysteries of the Divine Comedy.

Quote:
As for Heaven and Hell and pre-Christian thought, we find similar concepts all over the world. The dominant Christian conceptions of Heaven and Hell, it seems, are rooted in pagan beliefs; however, pagan interpretations are not the only ones available. Early Christians had many different views.
Indeed, but the difference is that the Christian imagery of the realms of heaven and hell come directly from the pagan European traditions -- there is a continuity between the two.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Tue 19 Feb, 2008 05:18 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
I thought I knew a thing or two about Dante! Thank you.

As for Heaven and Hell...
A quick question for you Aedes (as you are certainly more familiar with Judaism than I am), I have been taught that the notion of demons and similar mythical figures are derived from Babylon - picked up by Jew while being held in captivity. Perhaps you can expand upon this, or correct me.
 
dpmartin
 
Reply Tue 19 Feb, 2008 05:45 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Man when you talk about what is heaven and hell there are some many ideas even in the authorities of the churches, let alone many others. I'm not sure of the value of going there.

But if I may just contribute this point of view to your conversation.

To the "born again" as in born of the Spirit of God. They are in the Kingdom of Heaven the firmament called Heaven. Understood in the statement the Kingdom of God is at hand (or with in your reach). Thus in the sight or View (Light) of the Almighty. Hell; a separation from, or if you will, out of the sight of God. Which would be outer darkness said to be permanent. Of course this would be after finding out that there is a God that offered salvation or restoration unto Him. And Heaven is not earned it's given.

And yes this one of countless views.
 
Aedes
 
Reply Tue 19 Feb, 2008 09:23 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
I don't know about that particular anecdote, though for sure Jewish thought was influenced by surrounding religions. But what I can tell you is that the Jewish idea of a hell (more like a purgatory), which is called Gehenna, is only mentioned a few times in scripture, it was never developed until the Kaballistic period in early modern times, and in my entire life as a Jew I've never once heard it mentioned in Jewish services. There's also a concept of heaven that's poorly developed beyond the idea of being delivered to the promised land, or being inscribed in the Book of Life.

The thing is that in Judaism the messiah has not yet arrived -- so any afterlife is still temporary before the arrival of the messiah.

I don't know about the ideas of demons in Judaism. Satan is certainly a very minor figure -- he's 'the deceiver' in the story of Job, and that's about it. It's mainly Christian interpretations that regard the serpent in the garden as Satan.
 
dpmartin
 
Reply Wed 20 Feb, 2008 09:13 am
@Didymos Thomas,
Aedes
if I may pick your brain
and I apologize for going off subject

I have been told that the Israelites have now everything that goes in to the temple, except the ark, including the first stone. Are you aware of any information in reference to that as confirmed as true?

Also what the media calls "the waling wall" would you know if that wall and the street (ancient) they stand on is the wall and street mentioned in Daniel?
 
Aedes
 
Reply Wed 20 Feb, 2008 09:57 am
@dpmartin,
I don't know too much about this subject, other than the fact that it would create an outright war in the Middle East if Israel ever tried to rebuild the temple. The Western (Wailing) Wall, which is the west wall of the second temple (the one destroyed by Romans), now abuts the lot where the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock sit, which are very holy Muslim sites.

There is a Hebrew prayer for the reconstruction of the temple, but I doubt there are plans. Israel has a secular government, and in fact it's often at odds with the orthodox community; so even if the orthodox community would like to actually see a temple built, I don't think they have a way to make it happen.

Here's what I could find, for what it's worth, on the Third Temple movement:
Third Temple - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

I don't know what would go into a Third Temple, but I don't think it has much to do with relics like the ark. The first stone would be from the second temple anyway, because the first was destroyed by the Babylonians in the 6th century BC; and a 'first stone' would probably be symbolic. It's more the site than the relics that have religious meaning.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Wed 20 Feb, 2008 03:01 pm
@Aedes,
Quote:
Man when you talk about what is heaven and hell there are some many ideas even in the authorities of the churches, let alone many others. I'm not sure of the value of going there.


Should we ignore the problems of freewill because so many different opinions are available? No.
As for the value, can asking such a question cause harm? Any open discourse on such topics brings us together, even if we disagree, because the discourse allows us to better understand one another.

Quote:
To the "born again" as in born of the Spirit of God. They are in the Kingdom of Heaven the firmament called Heaven. Understood in the statement the Kingdom of God is at hand (or with in your reach). Thus in the sight or View (Light) of the Almighty. Hell; a separation from, or if you will, out of the sight of God. Which would be outer darkness said to be permanent. Of course this would be after finding out that there is a God that offered salvation or restoration unto Him. And Heaven is not earned it's given.


So "Heaven" and "Hell", when used in language as if they were locations, are allegorical?
That Heaven is something for this world, and so is Hell. That Heaven is a sort of closeness with God, and Hell, as you say, a separation?

Quote:
I don't know about the ideas of demons in Judaism. Satan is certainly a very minor figure -- he's 'the deceiver' in the story of Job, and that's about it. It's mainly Christian interpretations that regard the serpent in the garden as Satan.


I've always treated Satan as being something equivalent to Mara in Buddhist tradition - Mara is not evil, Mara is temptation. In Christian scripture, Satan seems to play the same role. When Jesus goes out into the desert, Satan tempts Jesus just as Mara tempted Sidhartha.
In the OT, the serpent is not named, but given that he tempts as Satan tempts, I've always seen them as, if different characters, filling the same role in the literature.
 
dpmartin
 
Reply Wed 20 Feb, 2008 06:50 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas

No disrespect, sorry you saw it that way, God bless you if you want to take on what seems to me some what daunting. If I tell you one thing there are many others adopted by many, with different versions accept by many organizations. To me it looks like a huge pile of gravel and we have tiny shovels. That's if your looking to come to some sort of conclusion, of which I could be mistaken. But yes the subject can be enjoyable.

"So "Heaven" and "Hell", when used in language as if they were locations, are allegorical? "
Not really they are actual locations. My belief supported in "the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand" is with in your reach. Here though not perceived by flesh (if you will). And, if one is born of the Holy Spirt, the Spirit of God and where is God but in Heaven. Many of the churches give the impression to others that Heaven is way out there some where, where God is.

As far as hell separation from the presents of God,(That's all I understand and I'm sticken to it) but how and where I have not given much time to see what is what on that. There is ref. In the book of revaluations to the demise of such. And as far as for this world, I would say some day to be revealed, might be better.

If I may add to your subject of satan Jesus said he is the father of lies, if that helps at all.
 
Aedes
 
Reply Thu 21 Feb, 2008 12:06 am
@dpmartin,
dpmartin wrote:
"So "Heaven" and "Hell", when used in language as if they were locations, are allegorical? "
Not really they are actual locations.
Where are they? I'm not trying to be a smartass here, I just haven't heard of them referred to using the word location, which implies that they are in this physical realm -- which implies that they're not a place that our souls go, but our bodies as well.
 
dpmartin
 
Reply Thu 21 Feb, 2008 12:50 pm
@Aedes,
Aedes
Hey, if it had to be one or the other I'd rather be called a smart___ then a dumb___:)

"Where are they? I'm not trying to be a smartass here, I just haven't heard of them referred to using the word location, which implies that they are in this physical realm "

Exists? ya. perceived by flesh alone? No, at lest not now. Some one said something this morning that may help, God does not explain Himself to man, He reveals Himself to man and I would consider it true about the Kingdom of Heaven in this case.

If they are not actual locations then what would be the reason for believing they are? I mean otherwise heaven and hell would merely be fairy tales. If God is true, He don't tell lies, and He don't tell fairy tales. If God is true, then He is, and He says He is in Heaven. If the Lord God walks amongst His people where could that be but where His people are. That would have to be actual. And that is not to confuse with representation of. For example the tabernacle would be a representation of God's dwelling amongst His people (and I know there is much more to the tabernacle then just that, of corse).

"which implies that they're not a place that our souls go, but our bodies as well."

Thus the resurrection of the body of Jesus the Christ to the Right Hand of the Most High (including the soul/Spirit, in His case the very Word of God). Him first, us to follow.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Thu 21 Feb, 2008 06:32 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Allegory is not merely a fairy tale, nor even necessarily a fairy tale. Some are fairy tales.

One of the most famous, and brilliant, examples of allegory is a Chinese book, "The Monkey King". The book is a children's book, a fairy tale. But the book is not merely a fairy tale - the book is a magnificent allegory for many key Buddhist principles. Even this book, which is a fairy tale, because it is such powerful allegory, is scripture.

You ask, "If heaven and hell are not locations, then what would be the reason for believing they are?"
This is the whole point of the thread. Are heaven and hell locations in a physical sense? If not, what are they? Obviously, the claim that heaven and hell are physical locations creates serious problems (ie, if they exist physically, why can I not hike to Hell?). If they are not physical locations, what does heaven and hell represent?

That Heaven and Hell are allegorical seems to me to be the most reasonable claim. But I could be wrong, that's why the thread exists.
 
dpmartin
 
Reply Fri 22 Feb, 2008 02:25 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas

Sure if you want a glimpse of the gates of hell go to where there are untreated, un cared for tormented souls that have lost control of, or are losing control of there consciousness. In other words uncontrolled or uncontrollable consciousness. Call it what you want, blame it on what you want, but it's excisable and if you want to take a hike there, your are on your own. I don't see no fairy tale in that, do you?
 
Aedes
 
Reply Fri 22 Feb, 2008 02:43 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Ok, so by those criteria the entire inhabited surface of the earth is the gate of hell. That sounds allegorical to me.
 
dpmartin
 
Reply Fri 22 Feb, 2008 05:41 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Aedes

"Ok, so by those criteria the entire inhabited surface of the earth is the gate of hell. That sounds allegorical to me."

I wouldn't go that far, but access to that which is from hell would be I think is the possibility. But my friend, I don't focus to much on "hell", you may have to find some one else that may know more.
 
Dustin phil
 
Reply Sun 2 Mar, 2008 01:31 pm
@Aedes,
Aedes wrote:
Where are they? I'm not trying to be a smartass here, I just haven't heard of them referred to using the word location, which implies that they are in this physical realm -- which implies that they're not a place that our souls go, but our bodies as well.


Much of mainstream Christianity believes heaven and hell to be quite literal places and they also believe heaven to be a place of location. This belief did originate from western paganism.

Many of Christians today don't even read their bibles, they go to church regularly and pretty much believe everything a pastor would tell them. Most ministries are more concerned with tithing or the donations of believers, which support their luxurious lifestyles. I would not say this is true with all of them; however, much of the larger mainstream ministries that you see on Christian networks are known for this.

If Hell were a place of location, it would contradict scripture. "Fire" in the bible is used as a symbol of cleansing.

"For our God is a consuming fire." Heb 12:29

"...he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:" Mat 3:11

"If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire." 1Co 3:15

"The sinners in Zion are afraid; fearfulness hath surprised the hypocrites. Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?" Isa 33:14

Very next verse...

"He that walketh righteously, and speaketh uprightly;" Isa 33:15

To consider what many Christians today believe, we would then have to conceive of a God who will torture most of humanity in a literal Lake of Fire for all of an eternity. My only question: how is spirit burned with literal fire?

As for the question of heaven, the gospel of John verse 4:24 says, "God is Spirit" - if God is spirit and invisible (Col 1:15), why would He need a physical dwelling place? The bible tells us that God is everywhere.

"But will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee..." 1Ki 8:27

"Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea..." Psa 139:7-9

Paul said he was caught up into the third heaven. "...such an one caught up to the third heaven." 2Co 12:2

It's unmistakable that Heaven and Hell are not physical locations, not to mention that the actual word "Sheol" is translated hell or grave.
 
Didymos Thomas
 
Reply Sun 2 Mar, 2008 08:31 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Quote:
It's unmistakable that Heaven and Hell are not physical locations, not to mention that the actual word "Sheol" is translated hell or grave.


I think many Christians, even those you criticize early in your post, are able to consider heaven and hell as being non-physical, but none the less locations. Just as God is not physical, however, real. Their justifications, and particular explanations come in a wide variety.

We agree that Heaven and Hell, from scripture, are obviously not physical locations. But would you go further with me in the claim that Heaven and Hell are allegorical, and not some supernatural occurrence?
 
Dustin phil
 
Reply Sun 2 Mar, 2008 10:58 pm
@Didymos Thomas,
Didymos Thomas wrote:
I think many Christians, even those you criticize early in your post, are able to consider heaven and hell as being non-physical, but none the less locations. Just as God is not physical, however, real. Their justifications, and particular explanations come in a wide variety.

We agree that Heaven and Hell, from scripture, are obviously not physical locations. But would you go further with me in the claim that Heaven and Hell are allegorical, and not some supernatural occurrence?


Didymos Thomas, you are seeking merely after knowledge. Truth is not a play-toy that can be thrown around to discuss with your college friends.

I have only three verses for you to consider, and if you can try to comprehend the message with sincerity in your heart, while seeking truth for yourself, then you may receive something out of it.

1Co 3:19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, He taketh the wise in their own craftiness.

1Co 3:20 And again, "The Lord knows the reasoning of the wise, that it is worthless."

1Co 2:10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.

The amount of intellect you have was given to you by God, and yet you still trust in it. Amazing.
 
 

 
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