Blood Transfusion, Oxygen, and Nitric Oxide
A Key Old Person and Joe Jennette

Turning the Hose on Hell

To swelling crowds the shiek rails against “the traitor Souleiman Ghali” and called for jihad....holy war....against Israel and U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. He works the crowds to fever pitch. "Our killed ones are in paradise, and their killed ones are in hell!"

How come the really mean groups always believe in hell?

Is it that hell appeals to mean people? Isaac Asimov called hell "the drooling dream of a sadist" If unlimited retribution for limited wrongs [80-90 years at most, and that assumes you were an unmitiaged louse through and through] strikes a warm and fuzzy chord…..well, hell is your doctrine.

Or is it that the hell teaching makes people mean? After all, if God’s going to fry your enemy forever, why….what objection could there possibly be to getting a few licks in yourself?

Either way, there could be no finer a service to humanity than to put out the fire. Which is exactly what Charles Taze Russell did, Jehovah's Witnesses founder. In his lifetime he was known as the man who “turned the hose on hell and put out the fire.” Not that big of a deal now when only zealots take hell seriously, but a huge deal in the late 19th - early 20th century, when general society thought it axiomatic. Jehovah's Witnesses have never bought into the hell doctrine.

Putting out the fire is not so hard as one might imagine, at least from the Bible’s perspective. With a single exception, all instances of “hell” stem from only one of three original language words. Find the meaning of those words, and you’ve found the meaning of hell. Easier still, two of those words mean the same thing: the Hebrew “sheol” [Old Testament] is rendered into the Greek as “hades.” [New Testament]

For example, this scripture in the Old Testament [Hebrew]: “For you will not leave my soul in Sheol; you will not allow your loyal one to see the pit.”    (Ps 16:10)    is quoted this way in the New Testament [Greek]: “…because you will not leave my soul in Hades, neither will you allow your loyal one to see corruption.”    Acts 2:27

Both words simply mean the grave. Not the individual grave where this or that individual is buried, but the common grave that is waiting for all of us. There’s no distinction between good and bad…..all end up in sheol, or hades:

All that your hand finds to do, do with your very power, for there is no work nor devising nor knowledge nor wisdom in Sheol, the place to which you are going   Eccl 9:10

This leaves only the third word: gehenna. All instances of hellfire stem from gehenna.

“And if ever your hand makes you stumble, cut it off; it is finer for you to enter into life maimed than with two hands to go off into gehenna, into the fire that cannot be put out. And if your foot makes you stumble, cut it off; it is finer for you to enter into life lame than with two feet to be pitched into gehenna. And if your eye makes you stumble, throw it away; it is finer for you to enter one-eyed into the kingdom of God than with two eyes to be pitched into gehenna, where their maggot does not die and the fire is not put out.”       Mark 9:43-48

That doesn’t sound pleasant at all, does it? Still, it’s not because gehenna was a place of eternal torment. In fact, it was a garbage dump - in the valley surrounding Jerusalem. Fires were kept burning always. Worms crawled through the crud. Its history was more sordid still. It had once, centuries ago, been the location of child sacrifice:

And he [Ahaz] himself made sacrificial smoke in the valley of the son of Hinnom [Hebrew term, translated into Greek as gehenna] and proceeded to burn up his sons in the fire, according to the detestable things of the nations that Jehovah had driven out from before the sons of Israel.     2 Chron 28:3

In time, Jesus used gehenna...everyone knew what it was on account of garbage day.... as a symbol for persons so despicable that they might not merit a resurrection. Just heave their dead carcass into gehenna!

Three words…..sheol, hades, gehenna....and not one of them means eternal torture! Yet these are the three words which Bible translators render as “hell.” Some transations do so at every single instance. More frequently, they pick and choose, sometimes rendering the word hell, sometimes grave, sometimes death, pit, or what-have-you.   The New World Translation makes matters simple. Each time "sheol" occurs, NWT renders it sheol. Each time "hades" occurs, NWT renders it hades. "Gehenna" likewise transliterates to gehenna. This methodis so intrinsically honest one wonders why it is not more widespread. It makes hell easy to track, and when you do so, the fire promptly goes out!

To be sure, there are a few backeddies, fakes, fades, asterisks, and addendums, but nothing that changes the big picture, especially if you know not to take obvious metaphors literally.

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More here and here (second part)

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Tom Irregardless and Me           No Fake News but Plenty of Hogwash

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the ebook ‘Dear Mr. Putin - Jehovah’s Witnesses Write Russia’ (free).... and in the West, with the ebook ‘TrueTom vs the Apostates!’ (free)

Comments

Romulus Crowe

You have to admit though, Hell is a great concept for controlling the masses. 'Do as we say or burn for ever' is far more effective than 'Do as we say or we'll push you around a bit'.

Few serious religions have a 'hell', and if you don't want to go there it's best not to join those religions.

Most have a 'go back and do it again' clause - either you get into their version of Heaven or you're sent back to Earth. How bad you've been determines how far down the food chain you go, and you have to work your way back up again.

In Genesis, God only had two people to deal with. If he was the fire-dealing type, he'd have fried them on the spot and made two new ones. That would have been so much easier. Instead, he booted them out of Eden with the option, one day, of getting back in.

I'm not even convinced there's a specific devil, never mind a hell. The sort of characters who'd be on the devil's side are not the sort who would take instructions. There's no organisation behind evil, and most of it is human rather than supernatural anyway. The devil doesn't make people do terrible things. They do those things of their own free will.

I'm interested to hear what Gehenna signifies - is it oblivion?

tom sheepandgoats

As usual, excellent observations.

This may bring one deep into JW teritory, perhaps deeper than one wishes to be, but ...."Instead, he booted them out of Eden with the option, one day, of getting back in." We don't actually believe that he gave them the option of getting back in. Instead, provisions made were for the sake of his offspring, who had no say in the matter, yet were born into the consequences.

As for the devil, I'm not sure how one would go about "proving" he exists. Except, that scripture establishes it, but since you're usually speaking to persons who have their doubts about scripture, that path isn't very fruitful. Better to maintain that it's not unreasonable that such a one might exist.

Sometimes I think of the many factions of human society hung up on conspiracy theories. You know the type, I'm sure. Seldom does such macro plotting exist, yet things SEEM so much that way....maybe that's because on a superhuman level there are indeed evil forces stirring up the pot.

For example, there is Eph 6:11-12,,,

"Put on the complete suit of armor from God that you may be able to stand firm against the machinations of the Devil; because we have a wrestling, not against blood and flesh, but against the governments, against the authorities, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the wicked spirit forces in the heavenly places."

"There's no organisation behind evil, and most of it is human rather than supernatural anyway. The devil doesn't make people do terrible things. They do those things of their own free will."

I would never argue that people can't do evil things all by themselves. One never knows the exact interplay between human and superhuman.

As for Gehenna...I think you observed once that our views on the afterlife differ. JW's believe that, for the vast bulk of mankind, death is simply a state of nonexistence to be ended by a future resurrection when the earth is as God intended it to be. The reason for this is that throughout history most people have never really had a fair shot at living per God's requirements....knowledge re God was obsured or nonexistant, and those claiming to represent him acted so repulsively so as to turn many away. So resurrection onto the earth under Kingdom rule represents, not a second chance, but really the first chance for many to choose or reject godly values.

Occassionally, though, there have been some with full knowledge of truth who deliberately turn or act against it. (it's not for us to determine who is on that "list"....due to our inherited imperfections, none of us are really playing with a full deck) Jesus spoke of the possibility of ones being thrown into Gehenna....an end of life which would be permanent, with no prospect of future resurrection.

As we believe that this system of things will be removed by God to be replaced with Kingdom rule, what side will individuals prove to be on? Who will take what stand and how firmly? How do people respond now to "advance notice" of such an event? All these things have yet to be resolved. It sure isn't clear to me how things will play out. In general, we're assured that God will destroy the "wicked." Gehenna, in such cases?

Since big doings appear to be underfoot, we think the best thing is for one to take in knowledge of God's purposes and requirements now and to act in harmony with such knowledge. That is the guiding principle behind our ministry with it's emphasis on home Bible study.

Romulus Crowe

If I have this right, your belief is that when we die, we're 'switched off' in a sense. Everyone gets 'switched on' for final judgement, and those that pass stay 'on', those that fail get 'switched off' for good. Is that anywhere near right?

It would explain why ghosts are rare. They'd be the ones where the 'off' switch hasn't functioned correctly for one reason or another. Those 'ghosts' that repeat the same events, like recordings, aren't spirits. They are recordings. There's no actual soul present. Real, disembodied human spirits are rare.

There are non-human spirits around, and some are malevolent, but I haven't seen any sign of organisation behind them. My own thoughts are that the devil is within - that humans create most of the evil in the world. The demons we fight are mostly ourselves, our own primitive urges that we have to keep in check in order to stay civilised.

I guess we have to agree to disagree on this, until such time as old spike-head decides to make his presence clear enough for us scientists.

tom sheepandgoats

Hmmm. Lemme think on this a little for a good answer. Tommorrow.

Screech

Me personally, I'd say the "switched off" comment is a good analogy. Using an electric light as an example, when the switch is on, then it produces light. When the switch is off, there is no electricity, so no light. If the bulb is shattered, then it will not produce light.

I'd personally liken death to the switch being off. There is no light (no existence). If God decides to turn the light on again, then the person exists. However, God can also choose to destroy the light bulb itself, which means it can never be turned on again.

Personally, I wouldn't say "final judgment" is the 100% correct term to use, although I would place it as part of the equation, just on a different side of the equal sign. The person would be resurrected and given life under God's rule as a perfect human. This means no illness, and full mental faculties. They can learn and observe for themself the differences that God's Kingdom brings. They can make a decision at that point that isn't influenced by imperfections as to whether or not they wish to live in that type of society. In essence, each person would have to answer the same question Adam and Eve did: who's rulership do they prefer?

They can choose to rebel, and will be dealt with according to God's judgment of the matter.

As to the ghost comment...Since the analogy likens life to a single-pole switch (on and off only), versus a dimmer switch, a ghost-like existence wouldn't work. However, I have to wonder why the sightings of ghosts seem to have gone down with the increase in scientific scrutiny of such cases. I myself have not seen any real evidence to support that ghosts are the "lost souls" they are reported to be.

I have seen evidence that grief-stricken people can be very "open to suggestion" regarding speaking with those they've lost. I've watched charletans like John Edwards (not the politician)(in the USA, he claimed to be communing with the dead and had his own TV show for a while on cable TV) use simple questioning techniques to simulate such communions. Such ones are great at making money when they are good at what they do (like he was).

Recordings? I'm not sure. I only have a rudimentary understanding of space-time and don't see how that would work either. I don't envision time being like a VCR tape that can be rewound and played over and over again.

tom sheepandgoats

Romulus:

See what happens when you drag your feet? Someone else comes to your rescue! Thanks, Screech.

I would add only one thing. Before Adam was created, where was he? If by "switched off" you mean non-existent, that's the answer. And that's where he went upon his death. As with all of us. Jehovah's Witnesses are the only faith I am aware of that recognises that when we die, we really do die. There is no part of us that survives. But, of course, God can always resurrect what he created in the first place & that's what he will do with most individuals, per Screech's comment.

As far a fraud in the paranormal field, Romulus, (correct me if I'm wrong)not only do you not deny that it is prevalent, but you really take to task those who practice it, since it detracts from paranormal events you find genuine.

Is it possible that genuine ghosts could actually be spirit persons masquerading as those who have died? They would certainly be in position to know all they would need to know to pull off such a ruse. In our view, the spirit creatures that rebelled are just that: rebellious. They're not necessarily malicious. Some are, some aren't.

Have you dealt with that possibility before? Does it strike you as possible? Because, in our view, the "switched off" mechanism never fails to work, any more than our carcasses fail to rot once we've died.

Or maybe, as you say, we'll have to agree to disagree for now.

Ummmm....old spike head??

Romulus Crowe

We get those 'medium' shows on TV here too. They're all faked. Nobody can convince me that these guys not only talk to spirits, they can also conjure up specific ones. If they can, they're necromancers and should be burned. They can't. They're good actors.

If you go along to one of these shows, you'll find a few very chatty people in the waiting area before it starts. They'll tell you all about who they're 'hoping to contact'. You'll tell them who you're hoping to contact. You'll forget the conversation. They won't.

They work for the show: the 'medium' will relay all that info back to you from the stage. It's actually sickening to watch when you know how it's done.

He'll fill in details with 'cold reading', where he makes suggestions and watches your body language to see if he's on the right track.

But enough ranting. I do have a special dislike for these fakes, it's true. Street-corner 'psychics' have an array of tricks too. You'll be asked to leave your coat in another room. Someone will go through your pockets... uhoh, I'm starting again...

Tom, perhaps a better analogy than 'switched off' would be 'saved to disk and archived'? Then, when resurrected, it's either 'save' or 'delete'. I think I see your point of view here: the only place I'd disagree (and not absolutely) is the infallible nature of the off-switch.

It is possible, as you say, that all spirit manifestations are non-human. It's easy for something invisible to pretend to be someone else, as many victims of the ouija-board would attest. That thing actually started as a toy, would you believe! It does allow some spirits through, but it doesn't include any control over what it allows through, and provides no means to send them back. Playing with that is like a blind man driving. Sooner or later...

Visible manifestations can also appear to be someone else. We only 'see' an image, and it could well have been pulled from our own memories. It's possible.

So it is possible, I grant you, that there are no human ghosts. It's possible that they are all mischievous spirit-forms. I don't think that's true but I can't prove it. So again, we'll have to agree to disagree.

Screech - the 'recording' doesn't involve time-shifting. Theories vary, but basically it's a recording of a highly-charged event on the backround environment. It depends on that environment remaining unchanged. In the case I'm looking into now, there was a battle in 1745 and the site hasn't been built on, or had a road put through, since. So it might work out.

The 'recording' isn't a ghost, any more than Humphrey Bogart is a ghost in 'Casablanca'. You can watch, but not interact. It's like a film. Sounds unlikely? Well, so does the recording of both sound and vision in high quality on a plastic tape coated with iron-dust.

The recording is usually triggered at a specific time and date, and is possibly linked to the angle of sunlight, or magnetic field positions, or some such thing. Nobody knows, and most of science doesn't care to look. But recordings aren't ghosts.

Tom - 'spike-head' referred to the horned red guy of popular imagery. An image taken from old 'Horned God' legends, Pan and such like. I don't think the Bible mentions Satan's appearance, does it?

Last note: There are a few real psychics but you won't find them on TV or peddling lies online or by phone. Who they're talking to is another question, of course.

tom sheepandgoats

Saved to disk and achived? With "save" or "delete" future options?

Yeah. That's not bad. I'll go along with that.

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