I typed this up in Microsoft Word, I did a 7 page paper I presented to our (non-Universalist church) as sermon when they invited me to preach. It was my first ever sermon and I enjoyed it and got a lot of good feedback. I think the things I spoke on are quite controversial so I’ve forwarded this to a lot of Christians I know hoping to get some feedback, but the most I’ve gotten out of anyone is its “very thought provoking”. I want to know if I seem to be on track or if I’m way off, I would love to get your feedback.
A lot of things in the bible make a lot more sense if the anathemas against Origen are revoked. In my opinion they were not decreed by the church, they were decreed by Rome.
lots of love,
On 7 June 2010 something happened to me that changed my life forever. I had not slept at all for 4 nights in a row, and I experienced what psychiatrists call a “manic episode”. What caused my manic episode started a few days before this, when I had an anxiety attack. It was about 2am and my wife woke me up with a fright and she said “there is someone knocking at the door!” Immediately this bible verse popped into my head Rev 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
My heart was pounding in my chest as I got up to open the door, fully expecting to see Jesus standing outside. I opened the door and there was nobody there, but in my mind I imagined I had just let an invisible Jesus in.
I had been very unsettled in a church I was in at the time, I had seen some things that made me very uncomfortable, and I had it on my heart right then at that moment at 2am to write a letter to the leader of the church to express my concerns. I wrote the letter but wasn’t sure about myself, so I showed it to a friend in the church that day to get his advise, he agreed with everything I had written in the letter and suggested that when I send it I also copy in some other members of the church. I did this and sent it by email, but after sending it I was struck with tremendous anxiety, I had been taught in that church that to challenge a leader was to go against God. My heart did not stop pounding this whole time, this caused me not to sleep for 4 days. At the same time though I had a sense that God was using me, and this served to further energise me.
One of the things that had been bothering me was the series of bible studies the church used to recruit new members. I read through them and recognised that the tone of the studies was not that we are saved by grace alone through faith alone, but that we were saved by something we must do. During my 4th night of no sleep I had been working through these studies and commenting on them as they appeared to me to be twisting scriptures to suit the particular doctrine of this church. I felt compelled to deliver my commentary immediately to one of the church leaders to expose to him the false doctrine that was being taught, as by that time after so many days with no sleep, I was no longer in control of myself. In the early hours of the morning, in my pyjamas, I got into my car and drove to the house of this leader. On my way there, I was thinking to myself, “I’m doing something really crazy now, I feel like the Lord has taken control of me to deliver a very important message, why has the Lord chosen me? Why is this happening to me?” A crazy thought popped into my head, that I am the Angel Michael. My heart surged initially at the thought as I fought the urge to believe it (I was becoming delusional) but I immediately dismissed the thought as crazy and carried on driving. The whole way there I felt like God was revealing the secrets of the universe to me as I had breakthrough after breakthrough of intense EUREKA moments when everything just seemed to make sense. When I got to the house of the church leader, around 4am (I don’t remember the exact time, it was dark and very early), I banged on his door so I could deliver the message, I had never felt in my life that there was anything more important for me to do.
After a few minutes of banging I heard someone inside ask who was there, and I said “its Martin from the church”. Someone I didn’t know opened the door, I found out the leader had friends staying over with him who were visiting, and when I introduced myself as Martin a lady inside called me “Michael”. I remembered the crazy thought I had in the car on my way there, and this lady calling me “Michael” was confirmation to me at the time that the thought I had must have been from God, and that I was indeed the Angel Michael. As I said, I wasn’t in control of myself at the time, and my mouth opened and I shouted out the words, “We are all angels, and this is Hell, and I am the angel Michael!” I had been thinking on the way that we are all the angels that rebelled against God in Heaven and were cast down to earth. I immediately broke down sobbing, believing this to be true. A few hours later I found myself in an ambulance headed to the mental hospital.
Having regained my senses I now no longer believe myself to be the Angel Michael and find the idea quite absurd (but oddly I still have people call me Michael from time to time!), but the idea that we could all be the angels that rebelled against God and were cast out of Heaven, and that we are now in Hell, has stuck with me, and through my own personal bible study and other research, I now find this idea not so crazy, in fact if anything I now find myself open to believing it. I have a strong suspicion more than a belief strongly held as of course I could never know for sure until one day I am face to face with the Lord. I have found quite strong biblical support for my suspicions that I hope you will allow me to share with you today.
Evangelism is something that is close to my heart, and in reading books written by people like Bill Bright I discover that around 98% of all Christians do not actively share their faith. I quite believe these figures, as this is also my perception having been in a number of different churches over the years. The gospel message of Jesus Christ is the greatest gift we could ever give anyone and we should not be ashamed of it as it is the power of God. Yet 98% of us do nothing with it. Something is horribly wrong.
In my personal attempts at evangelism I often come up against opposition from some very nice people who refuse to believe in God or Jesus because of the behaviour they have seen in other peo-ple who call themselves Christians. A scripture that comes to mind as I say this is Rom 2:24 For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written. I realise that in context this verse is about Pharisees, but my experience has been that many who claim to be Christians are not much different in behaviour than that of the Pharisees in the way they judge other people and look down on them, bashing them with scripture.
Next to the behaviour of other Christians, the single largest objection I hear from people about be-lieving in the God of Christianity is the doctrine of Eternal Torment in Hell. I might tell someone that if they believe in Jesus they will be saved, and they ask the question, “what will happen to me if I do not believe in Jesus?” This usually sinks the evangelism ship on the spot, not having a good an-swer to this question only serves to reinforce the belief of the person I am reaching out to that the God of the bible is not a loving God as Christians claim, but is a forceful God demanding worship or the consequence will be Eternal Torment in a Fiery Hell. Only the weak willed would succumb to “serve” this God out of fear of Hell and not love for God through what Jesus accomplished on the cross, and (I could be wrong) but I suspect that many if not perhaps most people who fill up many churches today are only attending and doing some religious stuff because they believe that by doing so they will somehow escape Hell, and although false converts, they just hope for the best.
This, as well as my experience while manic, forced me to carefully examine the doctrine of Hell, and I wondered to myself if there were perhaps any other Christians in the world who don’t believe in Hell as being a literal place of Fiery Torment lasting for all eternity. I have a friend who is a Christian who once said to me, “The punishment doesn’t fit the crime. A person succumbing to the temptations of this world is like putting a hungry dog in a cage with a piece of poisoned meat. You might command the dog not to eat the piece of meat as if it does so it will die, but to torment the dog in Fiery Hell for all eternity for doing so when it dies, when it has just done what dogs do, would be a gross injustice.”
We know from scripture that God is a God of mercy and kindness and longsuffering and justice, how can we accept this apparent injustice? I struggled as a Christian with this for years, and I have found that other Christians struggle with this too, even strong Christians who have been in the faith for many years. I have found that strong Christians never mention Hell, and in all the months I have been in this church the first time I have ever heard anyone speak of it was when Matthew alluded to it in his testimony of his near death experience, and afterwards in making reference to Matthews testimony, not even Rene could say “Hell”, he just used the words, “that other place”.
In my search for understanding I have found Christians that hold different than mainstream beliefs about Hell, and I have found some very good websites with bible verses and convincing arguments countering this doctrine. I discovered that there are a number of “No Hell” bibles available, and I wondered about their accuracy. This forced me to start looking at the original Greek words that have been translated as Hell, condemnation, forever and ever, etc.
I was pleasantly surprised to discover that these are in fact mistranslations, and I would like to take you through some of these today.
The Hebrew word translated as Hell in the Old Testament is Sheol, which is simply the place of the dead, or the grave. There is no concept in Judaism of a place of Fiery Torment. There are 3 Greek words in the New Testament that are translated as Hell, they are the words “Hades”, which is in 10 out of 11 places simply the place of the dead, like Sheol, another word translated in the New Testa-ment as Hell is “Gehenna”, and the third word I have found is Tartarus. I would like to look at all of these New Testament verses now if I may, and I am using Youngs Literal Translation which I have found to be widely acclaimed as the most accurate translation, but it is not that easy reading.
The first 10 verses containing the word Hades are not used in a parable, and they do not describe Hades as a place of suffering: -
And thou, Capernaum, which unto the heaven wast exalted, unto hades shalt be brought down, because if in Sodom had been done the mighty works that were done in thee, it had remained unto this day; Mat_16:18And I also say to thee, that thou art a rock, and upon this rock I will build my assembly, and gates of Hades shall not prevail against it;
Luk_10:15 `And thou, Capernaum, which unto the heaven wast exalted, unto hades thou shalt be brought down.
Act_2:27 because Thou wilt not leave my soul to hades, nor wilt Thou give Thy Kind One to see corruption;
Act_2:31 having foreseen, he did speak concerning the rising again of the Christ, that his soul was not left to hades, nor did his flesh see corruption.
1Co_15:55 where, O Death, thy sting? where, O Hades, thy victory?’
Rev_1:18 and he who is living, and I did become dead, and, lo, I am living to the ages of the ages. Amen! and I have the keys of the hades and of the death.
Rev_6:8 and I saw, and lo, a pale horse, and he who is sitting upon him–his name is Death, and Hades doth follow with him, and there was given to them authority to kill, (over the fourth part of the land,) with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and by the beasts of the land.
Rev_20:13 and the sea did give up those dead in it, and the death and the hades did give up the dead in them, and they were judged, each one according to their works;
Rev_20:14 and the death and the hades were cast to the lake of the fire–this is the second death;
The only verse that describes Hades as a place of suffering is used in a parable, and the description given of Hades is not that generally accepted as Sheol in Judaism, simply the place of sleep where the dead are kept, but it is the understanding of Hades in Greek mythology.
Luk_16:23 and in the hades having lifted up his eyes, being in torments, he doth see Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom,
Luke 16:19-31 is a parable in which Jesus describes the clothes of the Pharisees, the rich man being an allegory for the Pharisees. If the rich man’s body was burning in the fire, why did he ask Lazarus to cool his tongue which was inside his mouth, and not the parts of his body exposed to the flames? He was not being tormented by the flames in this parable.
The entire doctrine of Hades being Hell, a place of fiery torment, is based on this single parable which uses the description of Hades understood in Greek mythology. Theology based on mythology. None of the letters of the apostles to the church anywhere warn the church that anyone will be tor-mented in Hades when they die. With the exception of Luke 16:23, Hades is always a place for the soul, not for the body. I believe we all go to Hades (Sheol) when we die, and we go there to sleep until the resurrection and judgement.
Let us now look at the verses in which the other word, Gehenna, is translated as Hell. There are 12 verses in the New Testament that mention Gehenna, and all of them hint at some form of suffering that happens in Gehenna, and of these 12 verses only 6 of them mention fire associated with Ge-henna. Once again I am quoting from Youngs Literal Translation.
Mat_5:22 but I–I say to you, that every one who is angry at his brother without cause, shall be in danger of the judgment, and whoever may say to his brother, Empty fellow! shall be in danger of the sanhedrim, and whoever may say, Rebel! shall be in danger of the gehenna of the fire.
But, if thy right eye doth cause thee to stumble, pluck it out and cast from thee, for it is good to thee that one of thy members may perish, and not thy whole body be cast to gehenna. Mat_5:30And, if thy right hand doth cause thee to stumble, cut it off, and cast from thee, for it is good to thee that one of thy members may perish, and not thy whole body be cast to gehenna.
And be not afraid of those killing the body, and are not able to kill the soul, but fear rather Him who is able both soul and body to destroy in gehenna. Mat_18:9And if thine eye doth cause thee to stumble, pluck it out and cast from thee; it is good for thee one-eyed to enter into the life, rather than having two eyes to be cast to the gehenna of the fire.
Woe to you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye go round the sea and the dry land to make one proselyte, and whenever it may happen--ye make him a son of gehenna twofold more than yourselves. Mat_23:33Serpents! brood of vipers! how may ye escape from the judgment of the gehenna?
And if thy hand may cause thee to stumble, cut it off; it is better for thee maimed to enter into the life, than having the two hands, to go away to the gehenna, to the fire--the unquenchable-- Mar_9:45And if thy foot may cause thee to stumble, cut it off; it is better for thee to enter into the life lame, than having the two feet to be cast to the gehenna, to the fire–the unquenchable–
Mar_9:47 And if thine eye may cause thee to stumble, cast it out; it is better for thee one-eyed to enter into the reign of God, than having two eyes, to be cast to the gehenna of the fire–
Luk_12:5 but I will show to you, whom ye may fear; Fear him who, after the killing, is having authority to cast to the gehenna; yes, I say to you, Fear ye Him.
Jas_3:6 and the tongue is a fire, the world of the unrighteousness, so the tongue is set in our members, which is spotting our whole body, and is setting on fire the course of nature, and is set on fire by the gehenna.
Apart from 1 verse in James, Jesus is the only person in the bible to ever mention Gehenna. Seven of these verses mention the physical body in relation to Gehenna, so those who go into Gehenna have their whole body, not just their souls. Most of the verses do not mention death when speaking of Gehenna, so it is also possible that someone could end up in Gehenna before they die. We also know that Gehenna is a literal place here on earth, it is the rubbish dump outside of Jerusalem, the place where the bodies of the Jews were dumped and perhaps burned when Rome destroyed Jerusa-lem in 70AD. Notice that Gehenna is also called “Gehenna of the fire” and the phrase “fire of Ge-henna” is not used in YLT which more accurately translates the Greek. So Gehenna can be under-stood to be a place belonging to the fire, the fire is not in Gehenna, Gehenna is in the fire. The men-tion of Gehenna by Jesus cannot be strictly interpreted to mean that everyone who is not saved will be sent there, but for some it seems this is the worst place they could be sent to.
Luke 12:5 is clear that one can be cast into Gehenna “after the killing”. It also says to fear the one who has the authority to cast you there, not that he will definitely cast you there. If someone can be cast into Gehenna with a complete body and suffer torment there “after the killing”, then they would need to be alive in Gehenna “after the killing” to suffer this. The implication here is very strong that someone could be cast into Gehenna, here on earth, in a next life.
At this point I would like to now look at some scriptures that strongly hint at a next life, here on earth, for people who do not make it into heaven.
Isa_65:17 For, lo, I am creating new heavens, and a new earth, And the former things are not remembered, Nor do they ascend on the heart.
Rev_21:1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth did pass away, and the sea is not any more;
Rev_20:10 and the Devil, who is leading them astray, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where are the beast and the false prophet, and they shall be tormented day and night–to the ages of the ages.
Rev_20:14 and the death and the hades were cast to the lake of the fire–this is the second death;
Rev_20:15 and if any one was not found written in the scroll of the life, he was cast to the lake of the fire.
After the devil and sinners have been thrown into the lake of fire in Revelation 20, these verses ap-pear in Revelation 22: -
Rev 22:14 `Happy are those doing His commands that the authority shall be theirs unto the tree of the life, and by the gates they may enter into the city;
Rev 22:15 and without are the dogs, and the sorcerers, and the whoremongers, and the murderers, and the idolaters, and every one who is loving and is doing a lie.
To me it seems clear that inside the new city mentioned in Revelation is heaven where those who are saved are, and outside the city is here on the new earth, where those people are who were thrown into the lake of fire. Clearly they were not destroyed by being thrown into the lake of fire, so to me they must be alive in the lake of fire, which means that earth, with Gehenna here on earth, is also alive in the lake of fire. We also know that death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire, and the devil was thrown into the lake of fire, so death, Hades and the devil are in the lake of fire, not destroyed but intact.
If we look at our present surroundings it does not take too much imagination to see that we could in fact now be in the lake of fire in this life. We know that we are physically separated from God here, which is what we became when Adam sinned: -
Gen_2:17 and of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thou dost not eat of it, for in the day of thine eating of it–dying thou dost die.’
We know that in terms of the flesh Adam did not die until many hundreds of years later, but what did happen to Adam in the day he disobeyed God was this: -
Gen_3:24 yea, he casteth out the man, and causeth to dwell at the east of the garden of Eden the cherubs and the flame of the sword which is turning itself round to guard the way of the tree of life.
This is the first mention anywhere in the bible of fire, the flame of the sword. It is this fire that is mentioned in relation to Adam’s first death, his separation from God, with fire separating Adam from God. With a bit of imagination one’s mind can be open to the possibility that the first death was being thrown into the lake of fire the first time, out of heaven (the Garden of Eden) and into earth in the lake of fire.
Our universe is made up of billions of stars, and we know that stars are nothing other than massive balls of fire just like our sun, I therefore believe our universe is the lake of fire. How great is our separation from God, that in order to get to Him we would need to get out of our universe.
If we are in the lake of fire now then we must all have been thrown in here together at some stage. To have been thrown into the lake of fire where we are now implies that we must all have also at least once before been judged, that in order to have ended up here we must have had a past life in which we did something to be separated from God, a past life that we can’t remember.
So hell is a very real place, and the word Hell could originate in an old English word which means hidden. Hell is where while you are being punished you have no memory of why you are there or what you did to get there so you appear to be getting punished unjustly. Hell is a place where you are given a body that feels pain, that grows old, that gets diseases and dies. Hell is a place where you can love someone and watch them die and when they are gone left wondering if you will ever see them again. Hell is a place where you might believe that someone who you love that has died could have gone to a much worse place of suffering. Hell is a place where there are demons who torment people, and a place where people torment each other. Hell is a place where you can marry and be yoked with someone for your whole life, someone you loved at first but end up hating but you can’t leave them because you know it’s the wrong thing to do and you don’t want anything worse to happen to you. Hell is a place with time, where opportunities are limited and you are pres-sured to do things before it is too late. Hell is a place where it can be too late. Hell is a place that gets worse with time, the longer the time spent in hell the worse it gets. Can you imagine a place any worse than this? If hell is this bad, it is not too far fetched to imagine that Hell could also be a place where when you die you have no escape, you get reincarnated back into Hell at a time in the future when things are much worse, and depending on how you did the first time you lived you could end up in somewhere worse in Hell like Gehenna. You could end up being born blind. Or in St Marys. Or Penrith. Or Iraq. Hell is a place where people are consumed by easing their suffering in Hell, making themselves as comfortable as they can by chasing after things that could keep them in Hell. Money, possessions, alcohol, drugs, sin and selfishness. Hell is a place where the only way out is to practise the opposite of self preservation, and to sacrifice yourself for the preservation of others.
But most Christians today do not believe in past lives, and the only future life most believe in is the life hoped for in Heaven, or the life feared in Hell. Believing in past lives, and in future lives here on earth would mean believing in reincarnation, and most Christians today don’t believe in reincar-nation. Why?
Because Christians have been forbidden to believe in past lives and reincarnation by Rome, and this happened by decree of Emperor Justinian in 553AD in the anathemas against Origen.
To this day the majority of the Christian church enforces these anathemas against Origen, accusing those who believe these things to be heretics. The majority of the Christian church builds walls be-tween itself and the rest of the world, sitting in judgement on the rest of the world, condemning them all to hell and doing nothing to stop them going there. 98% of Christians never tell anyone else about Jesus, they instead sit inside their own comfortable corners of Hell walled off from the rest of the world.
It may not be unfair to say that most who believe themselves to be Christians today rarely if ever read their bibles. There are even fewer who do read them that go to the trouble of trying to find out whether or not their translations of the scriptures are accurate, and never look into the meanings of the Greek and Hebrew words. They are oblivious to the teachings of other religions who understand God in much the same way they do. Christians have built walls when they should have built bridges. Most Christians are also oblivious to the history of the church or the world, having never looked beyond their poorly translated bibles into the origins of their faith.
The pathway to the entry of Jesus into the minds of world was Greek philosophy. Socrates taught Plato who taught Aristotle. Aristotle taught Alexander the Great. Alexander the great conquered the known world and set up Greek colonies all around the Mediterranean basin and set up Greek government structures. The official languages of countries like Egypt and Israel became the language of the colonising conquerors, Greek. The effect of language change with colonialisation is evidenced in recent times where to this day languages like English, Portuguese and French are the official languages of the countries they colonised in Africa and elsewhere in the world, even where the colonialists comprise a very small minority in the population. Israel was Greek. Israel’s government was Greek and so was their culture, Greek culture and philosophy became mixed with the indigenous cultures and religious beliefs and accepted. God planned it this way.
Educated Jews who were experts in the Hebrew scriptures were fascinated that the Greek philosophers had the same comprehension of God that they had. A school was established in Alexandria in Egypt, the 2nd greatest place of importance in the world for philosophy next to Athens, and they studied Greek philosophy side by side with Hebrew scripture to reconcile the 2 together. It was in Alexandria that the Hebrew scriptures were translated into Greek, the Septuagint (LXX).
All of this happened hundreds of years before Jesus came. Jesus came at just the right time and was injected into this culture of philosophy, not to contradict it and change everything but to mostly confirm it. It was easy to accept Jesus in Greek culture because the concept of Logos was already well established in Greek philosophy, now they could know who Logos was, Jesus.
The church headquarters were until 70AD always in Jerusalem, never in Rome. When Rome destroyed Jerusalem in 70AD the church headquarters fled to Alexandria in Egypt. In Alexandria the Cathechetical School of Alexandria was started by Mark the evangelist who wrote the gospel of Mark. Students at the school include famous early Christians such as Clement of Alexandria, and later Ammonius Saccas. Two of Ammonius’s most prominent students were Origen and Plotinus. Origen became a prolific writer and was of great influence in the early church. Rome in its greed for power and control could not allow the teachings of the early church in Alexandria to continue, and the school was closed by Emperor Justinian I of Rome in 529AD. Plotinus is regarded as the father of Neoplatonism as after studying with Ammonius for 11 years he carried what he learned there to the Platonic Academy in Athens. Neoplatonism seems to closely resemble the teachings of the early church, and Emperor Justinian also closed the Platonic Academy in Athens in 529AD.
In 553AD the anathemas against Origen were decreed by Emperor Justinian, and those continuing to believe the things that were forbidden in the anathemas were systematically hunted down and killed, and to this day most of the church believes such beliefs to be heretical.