Can we agree that the theology of the Christian church is basically Pauline; meaning the writings of Paul, the apostle of Jesus, set the foundation for the doctrine of the church? That just means when it comes to scripture, we have much more of what Paul said than the others. So when we read the letters of Paul we see the fundamental teachings of Christianity. This is not to reduce the teachings of Jesus. Enough of that has been done already. It has been my experience that people know more about how to do church right than the ethical teachings of Jesus.
So a fundamental question would be: If Paul describes the function and teachings of the Church, where did all the Hell get in? In all of the instructive writings and warnings of Paul, not one time does he mention Hell. If you want to read the best biblically based study on that, get Edward Fudge’s book, The Fire That Consumes.
I’m not going to examine that doctrine. What I want to know is how did Hell become the central, or one of the central doctrines of the preaching and teaching of the Bible.
Let’s face it. We are all heirs of prior teaching. What was taught in the past is passed on and hopefully improved before being passed on to others. Let me say here that the Bible has been stagnated by those who refuse to let its truth keep growing. Even Jesus said, “You have heard it said of old, but I now say…”
But what about Hell? I’m not historian enough to know when the work of Jesus became a fire escape. It may have happened when someone decided the three different words for death and destruction, should be translated into one English word, “Hell.” My guess is that the doctrine of Hell was so entrenched by then that it was more, dare I say, politically correct, to leave the then popular idea intact.
My question is how did Hell become so central in Christian teaching? As I make a quick trip though the Bible, I see the idea of relationship, closeness between the created and the Creator. People were described as “Walking with God.” Before you know it, God sneaks up on Abraham and says, “Let’s take a walk.” You know how that story went. There was a lot of “relating” that went on, all the way to Egypt. And all along the way, folks died and their bones were often taken with them. But everybody who died went to Hell. That is, they went to the Hebrew place of the dead, which is “sheol’. It was a generic term for “the unseen state.” If you read about it, nobody wanted to be left there. Note: The NIV does a very good job translating “Hell” into “the grave” in the OT.
Moses is minding his own business when God decides to draft him. Sure, God uses a burning bush, but it’s not to toast Moses. You know how that story went. All the way through the OT, God just related with people as much as they’d let him. Some of it was bad and some good, but it was all done without Hell, but not without the tragedy of the grave, and what “the place of the dead” could include. Beyond Psalms and Proverbs, only Isaiah and Ezekiel spend time on “sheol.” Amos, Jonah and Habakkuk each mention it once.
The favorite NT word is “Gehenna,” from the Valley of Hinnom, a valley of desecration which had the historical significance of being a place where children had been sacrificed. In Jeremiah it is a place where the dead, animals and people were dumped. If it was still a garbage dump in Jesus’ day is disputable. It was, however, the symbol of a wasted and destroyed life. Matthew, Mark, Luke and James use it that way eleven times. And Mark’s use of Isaiah 66:24 about the unquenched fire and maggots points to the historical knowledge of Gehenna. Matthew, Luke, Acts and Revelation use the Greek “hades” to describe “the unseen world” of the dead. So Jesus says his kingdom will overcome the gates of hell, meaning the result of death. The gospel offers people life instead of death. Paul says the last enemy is death, (I Cor. 15:26) and that eternal life is a gift from God. (Rom. 6:23) Are there consequences for wrong doing and refusing God’s gift? Yes. But what about the kingdom of God being a found treasure, or a dreamed of priceless pearl? Who decided that approach wasn’t good enough? I don’t know, but something valuable was lost in that decision.
The Prodical son returned home, not because the father threatened to kill him if he didn’t. He returned because he realized he’d chosen the wrong life. When we get that right maybe we’ll understand why Paul could teach the good news of God, and even warn people about their deadly choices, without mentioning Hell.
THOSE TO SERVE-SEPTEMBER
Announcements: Martha Albert
Serve Communion: Connie Crites
Mary Willa Foy
Nurseries: Jack Thompson
Usher: Jim White
Communion Care: Williams
4-Scott Blessing Steve Gaynor
11-Del Bolin AC Fuller
18-Scott Blessing Debbie McRoy
25-Karen Branch Mark McRoy
4- Abraham Sirgy Alisa Flora
11-Wayne Flora Debbie McRoy
18-Abraham Sirgy Holly Wagner
25-Mike Branch Megan Downing
PLEASE CONTACT ERMA WILLIAMS IF YOU CANNOT SERVE
SEPTEMBER BIRTHDAYS: 13-Joanne Elder 25-Mark McRoy 25-Judy McWhorter 29-AC Fuller
CONCERNS: Zona Fisher is recovering well at home after gal bladder surgery. Judy Hall is recovering from a cornea transplant. Erma Williams brother-in-law, Greg Lantz is having issues requiring surgery. Teresa Robertson’s aunt, Patricia Hall is suffering from lymphodema, another aunt, Reva Almond also needs prayers. Jim White’s mother, Carol Jones, Melisha Scruggs cousin, Teryn Gaynor’s mother as she recovers from cancer. Sheila Jansen and her daughter, Amber Weaver. Marjory Wilson and Melanie Gentry. Joni Beach’s parents, as well as an aunt, Pat Voss, and a niece, Jamie Cole. Jim Hunter is doing much better. Wayne Phlegar is still rather shut in. Leena Bolin’s aunt, Lee Nicklas, Ray and Darnel Barns, Gil Richardson, Stephanie Rigney, Jenni Cullum, Jim and Mary Smith and Tim Elder.
OUR DAILY BREAD: SEPT. 5-10
Monday: Daniel 16:6-28
Tuesday: Mark 4:26-41
Wednesday: Psalm 136;1-26
Thursday: Matthew 7:1-6
Friday: Acts 23:11-35
Saturday: Psalm 115:1-21
OUR DAILY BREAD: SEPT. 12-17
Monday: I Peter 1:1-11
Tuesday: Luke 2:1-10
Wednesday: Proverbs 2:1-15
Thursday: Romans 15:1-13
Friday: I Thessalonians 5:1-11
THE BAR B QUE
There is always some risk writing about an event before it happens, which is the case here. However, at this point the weather looks iffy, so we’ll deal with it. KW decided to try beef short ribs instead of brisket this year. The brisket can be a little stringy, even if cooked a long time, so a change was made. If it didn’t work we’ll make it right next year.
Also a big thanks to those who came early to pull the pork and chicken. And especially those who brought all the fixens to make the meal wonderful.
We always seem to have leftovers, and they will be enjoyed by anyone who would like to stay after the Sunday service. All the rest will be frozen and eaten on Super Sunday.
Judy and Bud McWhorter celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary last month. Their daughters are honoring them with a celebration on Saturday, September 10th in the annex. They have invited us to join them in this occasion. The time is 7:00 PM. The only present to bring is your presence.
We’ve been pointing out how good the area above the disabled parking area looks since Roger Fisher took it on as a project. The property line up there is not well marked, but Roger talked to the neighbor at the adjoining property and he said he would like to see all of the brush and undergrowth gone. He even worked on the area near his yard.
This has been a forgotten area and it needs t be finished. The weather has been hot, but let’s plan a Saturday this month when it cools down to finish cleaning up what is left. And thank Roger for getting this going.
Susan Jordan will be away for the next three weekends. She will give us her report on her week at the Ezell Clinic on Super Sunday
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