Heaven & Hell in the Afterlife

For those who found my series on Heaven & Earth (& Hell) interesting, I wanted to provide a link to an article on Heaven & Hell in the Afterlife According to the Bible that I read this past week. The article goes into more detail on some topics than I did in my series, especially when it comes to the different ways Sheol, Hades, and Gehenna were often translated to fit the preconceptions of English translators. I agree with the author that it would have been better to have simply transliterated each since they are, after all, what we would consider proper names. That would have been less misleading and ultimately clearer.

There are also details I didn’t know. The section on the “burning stone” (sulfur) and the way it was seen and thus named was new to me, though it fits perfectly with everything I already knew of the ancient cultures involved. The often heard English phrase “fire and brimstone” would thus be better translated “divine fire” which makes a lot more sense. And, of course, since light and fire were inseparable concepts before the advent of electrical lights, it could also be understood as “divine light.”

The history of Origen is more complicated than the author of the article takes time to explore. Unlike most heretics, he was not condemned until well after his death and it’s unclear if his followers took his teachings farther than he ever intended. Also, I think it’s important to speak clearly on one matter. The Church condemned the assertion that everyone would ultimately be saved as heresy. As far as I can tell, the incredulity expressed by those like St. Gregory of Nyssa and St. Isaac the Syrian that the love of God would not eventually win over the even the most twisted and cold human heart is not rejected out of hand. Pious hope and prayer for all human beings is allowed.

It’s a very good article on balance, I think. I don’t hesitate to recommend it.

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3 Comments

  1. Dana Ames
    Posted February 4, 2011 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

    That article was helpful for me, too.

    “The Church condemned the assertion that everyone would ultimately be saved as heresy. As far as I can tell, the incredulity expressed by those like St. Gregory of Nyssa and St. Isaac the Syrian that the love of God would not eventually win over the even the most twisted and cold human heart is not rejected out of hand. Pious hope and prayer for all human beings is allowed.”

    This is the “other” Big Theological Thing that turned my head toward Orthodoxy (along with the incredible amount of overlap with NT Wright’s view, esp wrt the Resurrection and its meaning).

    Dana

  2. Posted February 4, 2011 at 9:43 pm | Permalink

    For me, there’s such a synergy between Orthodox theology and the things I had always believed or come to believe that it’s hard for me to remember what was actually new to me and what wasn’t. I’m definitely more in the St. Gregory and St. Isaac camp, though. I will at least hope and pray that God will be able to turn the hearts of all toward him — that nobody will succeed in permanently making themselves into something like an ex-human being.

  3. Dana Ames
    Posted February 5, 2011 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    Amen.
    D.

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