perdition n : (Christianity) the abode of Satan and the forces of evil; where sinners suffer eternal punishment; "Hurl'd headlong...To bottomless perdition, there to dwell"- John Milton; "a demon from the depths of the pit" [syn: Hell, Inferno, infernal region, nether region, the pit] [ant: Heaven]
Hell, in Christian beliefs, is a place in which the souls of the unsaved will suffer the consequences of sin. In the New Testament, hell (Gehenna or Tartarus) is defined as the place or state of punishment after death or last judgment for those who have rejected Jesus. In many classical and popular depictions it is also the abode of the devil and of evil spirits.
In some older English translations of the Bible (such as the KJV), the word "hell" is used to translate certain words such as sheol (Hebrew) and hades (Greek). These words do not typically refer to the place of eternal punishment, but to the underworld or temporary abode of the dead.
Jewish backgroundIn ancient Jewish belief, the dead were consigned to the underworld, or Sheol, a shadowy existence to which all were sent indiscriminately (cf. Genesis 37:35; Numbers 16:30-33; Psalm 86:13; Ecclesiastes 9:10). However, by the third to second century B.C. the idea had grown to encompass separate divisions in sheol for the righteous and wicked (cf. the Book of Enoch).
The Hebrew word Sheol was translated in the Greek Septuagint as Hades, the name for the underworld and abode of the dead in Greek mythology. The realm of eternal punishment in Hellenistic mythology was in fact Tartarus; hades was rather a form of limbo where the dead went to be judged.
In later Jewish belief, the place of eternal punishment was Gehenna, a place of unquenchable fire (cf. Assumption of Moses, 2 Esdras). The term is derived from ge-hinnom, a valley near Jerusalem originally used as a location for human sacrifices to the idol Moloch, and where refuse and the bodies of executed criminals were later burnt.
- And he defiled the Tophet, which is in the valley of Ben-hinnom, that no man might make his son or his daughter pass through the fire to Molech. Bible verse 2|Kings|23:10|NIV
- ''And they built the high places of the Ba‘al, which are in the valley of Ben-hinnom, to cause their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire to Molech; which I did not command them, nor did it come into my mind that they should do this abomination, to cause Judah to sin.'' Bible verse |Jeremiah|32:35|NIV
Hell in the New TestamentThe New Testament depicts "hell", the place of eternal punishment, in a variety of ways. The most common term used for "hell" in the original Greek is (gehenna), a direct loan of Hebrew ge-hinnom. The term is however found almost exclusively in the synoptic gospels. Gehenna is most frequently described as a place of fiery torment (eg. Matthew 5:22, 18:8-9; Mark 9:43-49) although other imagery is also used such as darkness and "weeping and gnashing of teeth" (eg. Matthew 8:12; 22:13).
Besides this teaching in the synoptic gospels, the concept of hell is found in other parts of the NT although the term gehenna is not used. The Johannine writings refer to the destiny of the wicked in terms of "perishing", "death" and "condemnation" or "judgment". St. Paul speaks of "wrath" and "everlasting destruction" (cf. Romans 2:7-9; 2 Thessalonians 1:9), while the general epistles use a range of terms and images including "raging fire" (Hebrews 10:27), "destruction" (2 Peter 3:7), "eternal fire" (Jude 7) and "blackest darkness" (Jude 13). The book of Revelation contains the image of a "lake of fire" and "burning sulphur" where the reprobate will be "tormented day and night for ever and ever"(eg. Revelation 20:10).
The New Testament also uses the Greek word hades, usually to refer to the temporary abode of the dead (eg. Acts 2:31; Revelation 20:13). The Orthodox see this doctrine as supported by Scripture and by the patristic tradition.
The afterlife for the damned is dreadful anticipation of Judgment Day, while the elect happily await the resurrection of the dead. The Eastern Orthodox pray for the dead, and they believe that sometimes a lost soul can be saved after death through the prayers of the living.
Roman CatholicismHell is defined by the Catechism of the Catholic Church (paragraph 1033):
'We cannot be united with God unless we freely choose to love him. But we cannot love God if we sin gravely against him, against our neighbor or against ourselves: "He who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him."610 Our Lord warns us that we shall be separated from him if we fail to meet the serious needs of the poor and the little ones who are his brethren.611 To die in mortal sin without repenting and accepting God's merciful love means remaining separated from him for ever by our own free choice. This state of definitive self- exclusion from communion with God and the blessed is called "hell." '
In the words of Pope John Paul II, "The images of hell that Sacred Scripture presents to us must be correctly interpreted. They show the complete frustration and emptiness of life without God. Rather than a place, Hell indicates the state of those who freely and definitively separate themselves from God, the source of all life and joy". An earlier catechism, however, describes the suffering of those in hell in more traditional terms, as fiery "punishment" rather than as "self-exclusion" from God.
The traditional Catholic idea of hell as a place, has been promoted in recent years by the publication of the purported visions of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Fatima, Portugal in 1917. The shepherd children reported "Our Lady showed us a great sea of fire which seemed to be under the earth. Plunged in this fire were demons and souls in human form, like transparent burning embers, all blackened or burnished bronze, floating about in the conflagration, now raised into the air by the flames that issued from within themselves together with great clouds of smoke, now falling back on every side like sparks in a huge fire, without weight or equilibrium, and amid shrieks and groans of pain and despair, which horrified us and made us tremble with fear. The demons could be distinguished by their terrifying and repulsive likeness to frightful and unknown animals, all black and transparent." Such private revelation, however, is not dogmatic, and does not represent a definitive Catholic viewpoint.
Purgatory and LimboCatholic tradition and catechisms assert the existence of purgatory, a place or state of existence where the saved are purified after death before entering into the presence of God. In theological terminology, "purgatory" is a separate and distinct term from "hell".
In John 3:5, Jesus says "unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God". This statement is interpreted to mean that those who are not baptized (which in Roman Catholic tradition removes the stain of original sin) cannot go to Heaven. In Roman Catholic tradition, Limbo is the afterlife for those who die unbaptized but are not guilty of mortal sin. Those righteous souls who died before the Crucifixion were thought to have remained in the Limbo of the Fathers until "He [Jesus] descended into Hell" to take those souls to heaven (as stated in the Apostles Creed). This teaching is also known as the harrowing of Hell. Belief in the existence of Limbo has never been a doctrine of faith which all Catholics are required to believe, as it is a doctrine not found in Apostolic Tradition; it has since formally dissolved as a Catholic theological concept by Pope Benedict XVI.
It is also important to note that post Vatican II the Catholic Church claims that it is possible for a non-baptized individual to go to heaven, if they do not have baptism because of invincible ignorance (which is not their own fault), but follow the moral law written in their hearts. It is assumed that, had they understood the necessity of baptism, they would have chosen to be baptized. This notion is called baptism of desire.
In most Protestant traditions, hell is a place originally designed by God for the punishment of the devil and fallen angels (cf. Bible verse |Matthew|25:41|NIV). It is also the final destiny of every soul who does not receive salvation, where they will be punished for their sins. People will be consigned to hell after the last judgment.
The historic Protestant view of hell is expressed in the Westminster Confession (1646):
- "but the wicked, who know not God, and obey not the gospel of Jesus Christ, shall be cast into eternal torments, and punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power." (Chapter XXXIII, Of the Last Judgment)
Traditionally, the majority of Protestants have held that hell will be a place of unending conscious torment, both physical and spiritual, Certain biblical texts have led some theologians to the conclusion that punishment in hell, though eternal and irrevocable, will be proportional to the deeds of each soul (eg. Bible verse |Matthew|10:15|NIV, Bible verse |Luke|12:47-49|NIV).
Another area of debate is the fate of the unevangelized (i.e. those who have never had an opportunity to hear the Christian gospel), those who die in infancy, and the mentally disabled. After the 1000 years, the individuals in hell will also be resurrected and receive an immortal physical body. The LDS Church explains biblical descriptions of hell being "eternal" or "endless" punishment as being descriptive of their infliction by God rather than an unending temporal period; Latter-day Saint scripture quotes God as telling church founder Joseph Smith, Jr.: "I am endless, and the punishment which is given from my hand is endless punishment, for Endless is my name. Wherefore—Eternal punishment is God's punishment. Endless punishment is God's punishment." It is in this sense of the word "hell" that David prayed to the Lord, "thou wilt not leave my soul in hell".
Latter-day Saints also believe in a more permanent concept of hell, commonly referred to as outer darkness. It is said that very few people who have lived on the earth will be consigned to this hell, but Latter-day Saint scripture suggests that at least Cain will be present. Other mortals who during their lifetime become sons of perdition—those who commit the unpardonable sin—will be consigned to outer darkness. It is taught that the unpardonable sin is committed by those who "den[y] the Son after the Father has revealed him". However, the vast majority of residents of outer darkness will be the "devil and his angels ... the third part of the hosts of heaven" who in the pre-existence followed Lucifer and never received a mortal body. The residents of outer darkness are the only children of God that will not receive one of three kingdoms of glory at the Last Judgment.
Those in outer darkness will remain there for eternity. No man knows their torment because those in the outer darkness will suffer beyond man's comprehension, a pain so terrible that man can not understand in his mortality. Pertaining to the outer darkness and the sons of perdition, Latter-day Saint scripture states that "Wherefore, he saves all except them—they shall go away into everlasting punishment, which is endless punishment, which is eternal punishment, to reign with the devil and his angels in eternity, where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched, which is their torment; And the end thereof, neither the place thereof, nor their torment, no man knows; Neither was it revealed, neither is, neither will be revealed unto man, except to them who are made partakers thereof".
Teachings of the Church are clear that Hell as well as Heaven are physical places. This is derived from the literalness of the resurrection of Jesus Christ as well as the literal resurrection of all man kind. Latter-day Saints believe that as much as people inherit a resurrected glorified physical body, they also inherit a physical place. All places; the Spirit World, Heaven, and Hell/Outer Darkness are verymuch real physical places.
Jehovah's WitnessesJehovah's Witnesses believe the Bible presents "hell", as translated from "Sheol" and "Hades", to be mankind's common grave for both the good and the bad, whereas "Gehenna" signifies eternal destruction or annihilation, and that the idea of a place of eternal torment is something detestable to God, inconsistent with his love.
Scriptures describing this include:
- "O that thou wouldest hide me in the Sheol, that thou wouldest keep me secret, until thy wrath be past, that thou wouldest appoint me a set time, and remember me!" (Job 14:3) - Job, a good man, desiring liberation from his suffering, prays to be sent to Sheol, to die. This harmonizes with the classical Jewish perspective on hell.
- "...and death and hell were cast into the Lake of Fire. This is the second death." (Revelation 20:14) - The Greek word translated to English as "hell", Hades, itself cannot be tortured for sins. Casting it into this Lake of fire must signify the utter destruction of Hades.
- "For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing; they have no further reward, and even the memory of them is forgotten...for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom." (Ecclesiastes 9:5-9) "His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish." (Psalm 1146:4) - Immortality of the soul is a requisite for the hellfire doctrine. But these scriptures seem to dispute it, since it requires that the soul be aware and conscious.
- "Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it. For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved: Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope: Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance.(Acts 2:23 -28 King James)
Jehovah's Witnesses reject the traditional concept of "hellfire". They consider doctrines like particular judgment, the doctrine that one is judged and either punished or rewarded immediately after death, to be an innovation of the early Church. and thus do not believe a soul can suffer eternally. They understand Revelation 20:13 -"And death and hell gave up the dead in them." - to mean that those in hell do not remain there indefinitely. Hades is emptied during the judgment of Revelation.
UnityThe Unity Church considers the concept of everlasting physical hell to be false doctrine and contradictory to that reported by John the Evangelist.
Notes and References
perdition in Turkish: Hristiyanlıkta cehennem
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