Tuesday, August 01, 2006

AN UNORTHODOX ORTHODOXY

I've been working on a book over the past year or so called Pardon Me, Your Heresy is Showing. I think that we as a Church hold some very 'orthodox' (meaning 'right belief') beliefs that are not very Biblical ones. We hold certain beliefs that are accepted by many Christians, but are not biblical at all. So, I'm preaching and teaching an unorthodox orthodoxy.

One of these beliefs involves Heaven and Hell. Christians have been taught to believe that when we die, we will go to either Heaven or Hell. This is not what the early Church believed or taught, and this is not what is reflected in the Bible. This idea was given sanction by a Papal Bull in 1336.

The apostolic tradition actually holds to the idea of an interim state - a state in the hereafter, but before the resurrection of the dead at the Second Coming. It is only after the resurrection that a Heaven and a Hell will be created.

So where do we go when we die, since the resurrecion has not yet occured? The Bible talks about two places where the departed from this earth go: Paradise (Lk 16.22, Rev. 6.9) and Hades. Paradise has no darkness because the presence of God is there. Those who believe in Jesus' Gospel will be in Paradise when we die (Lk. 23.43) - awaiting entry into the yet-to-be-created eternal Heaven of God.

Hades is the underworld where there is gloom and darkness. It is consistent with the Old Testament idea of Sheol. This is where people go when they die - everyone in the Hebrew tradition, non-Christians in the Apostalic tradition. But Hades is not Hell. Hell is not only a place of seperation from God, but also a place of eternal torment - the firey lake. Jesus used the metaphor of Gehenna to refer to Hell. Gehenna was the refuse outside of Jerusalem were the city burned it's trash. Jesus used the images of this fire to show the torment of Hell.

The Heaven as many Christians now know it, as a state of perfection and newness, will be created at the resurrection. This is what is refered to as the new heaven-earth in Revelation. The Hell as we know it is not Hades, but a furture place of punishment. Both the new-haven and hell are future realities. The near hereafter are Paradise or Hades. Those in Paradise await entry into Heaven and those in Hades await entry into Hell (upon their respective creations) at the time of the resurrection.

While this concept is not taught in many modern Christian traditions, it is a very Biblical one. The Bible does mention four distinct places: Paradise, Hades, Heaven and Hell. The Biblical idea of an interim state (the time before the resurrection) when we die is one that should again be preached. Because I didn't know about it either.

8 comments:

Rustin T said...

Cruz you teach me new things everyday. Funny how i've been in Church for about 10 years and I've never heard this. YET, it is all over the Bible.

Chris said...

That's really interesting. But out of curiosity: it sounds a whole lot like hell and heaven to me with different names. Maybe I'm just being a pain in the ass, but how are the two different? The only difference I can see is the state of perfection in heaven after the second coming. Are there more, or is that it?

Sarah H. said...

that was really good.. i found out about it just recently..!!

can i add a link to your site on my blog?

cruz-control said...

Chris,

To answer your question(s)...

When we break down the end-result of being with God and being without God, the finality of it all doesn't change.

But whereas Hell is a place of torment and eternal punishment, Hades is simply the underworld of the dead. This Underworld is embellished by Greek mythology that holds that Hades is not a place, but the kingdom of the King of the Dead. And it was to his shadowy house that all men went. The Hebrew equivalent is Sheol. All men go to this place upon their death - even the righteous - in the Hebrew tradition.

Hell (in the Christian tradition, of course) is a place of eternal torment and punishment - the fires of Gehenna. But this has yet to be created. So, in the apostalic tradition, those who are not of Christ will be damned to Hades, the underworld, awaiting the punishment of an eternal Hell.

Paradise and Heaven are likewise two different concepts. Paradise is a state of abundant life, awaiting the creation of an eternal Heaven - a place of newness. This "sojourn of the saints" is, however, not fulfilled in perfect beatitude until the parousia (the Second Coming).

Since existence in Paradise is conditioned to before the resurrection of all the dead and the transformation into our spiritual bodies, those in Paradise are clothed in heavenly garments as opposed to the Final Resurrection bodies (cf. Rev. 6.11). Therefore, we retain aspects of our humanity in Paradise, that we will no longer have after the resurrection and the abandoning of our coporeal bodies.

Heaven as we know it, will be created at the time of the resurrection and the creation of the Lake of Fire. This Heaven will be one of God's perfection, as you stated.

This idea of an interim state (a time before the resurrection) is often left out of Christian doctrine. The big difference between Paradise and Hades, and Heaven and Hell is that of present realities and future realities, respectively.

One book I recommend is Donald Bloesch's "The Last Things." Also, William Barklay does a good treament of the doctrine of Hell in his book, "The Apostle's Creed."

hope that clears some things up...

cruz-control said...

Sarah,

Absolutely! I'll reciprocate all links as well.

thank you much,
jonathan

Sanely_InSaNe said...

Ackkkkkkkk!
That's so freakin' creepy, Cruz! How could I have never heard about all this?! Urgh, I'm so weirded out now...Thanks a lot for confusing me! I've got little goosebumps now. *starts to count goosebumps*
Anyway, I'm trying to sort this out. Why the hey does everything have to be so confusing and darn complicated?!

Chris said...

holy crap dude, are you a muso or a philosopher? I had to read that about three times before I (I think, I hope) figured out what you're saying.

cruz-control said...

a little of both, I think (and hope).

;-)


This took me quite a while to figure all this out. I neither expect nor desire to this one post to change anyones theology and settle the question once and for all. Instead I want to make yall think about something that I just recently discovered that I had missed in my own theology.


thanks for the discussion.

-jon