The human psyche is deeply scarred with the church’s teaching of a physical place called hell, created by a God who intends to punish some individuals for eternity. As long as the church ignores the fact of reincarnation, a fictional hell remains the only means for God’s justice to work itself out. After all, Galatians 6:7 reminds us: “Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for you reap whatever you sow.”

Hell, as a place for some to spend eternity, is not biblical. Rocco Errico offers a word study. The English term hell comes from the Anglo-Saxon hel, meaning a hidden place. Hel comes from the verb form helan meaning “to hide.” Thus the English root word for hell, helan, has nothing to do with hell-fire. Biblical translators used the word hell to translate two different Semitic words: gehenna or gehenna dnoora in Aramaic (the language spoken by Jesus) and sheol in Hebrew.

Sheol comes from the Hebrew root word shalal meaning to be still, quiet. The ancient Hebrews believed sheol to be a place beneath the earth’s surface where those who die, both good and bad, are inactive and quiet. They await judgment or resurrection day. It is a temporary resting place in the underworld.

The Aramaic gehenna dnoora refers to the “Valley of Hinnom.” During the 1st century C.E., Gehenna Dnoora was the garbage dump for Jerusalem. Located outside the city walls, people brought their garbage to Gehenna Dnoora and burned it. The Judean king, Ahaz (735-715 B.C.E.), used this valley to send his son to the flames as a human sacrifice to the gods. As a result of these human sacrifices, the valley Gei Hinnom became a Semitic term for hell. The Old Testament sheol and the New Testament gehenna dnoora in no way refer to a place established by God for eternal punishment.

(The above word study was taken from an article by Rocco Errico entitled “Why Hell Is A Rubbish Heap” published in the February 1996 issue of Science of Mind Magazine.)

Revelations 21:8 is another verse that seems, on the surface, to verify the traditional Christian concept of hell: “But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the polluted, the murderers, the fornicators, the sorcerers, the idolaters, and all liars, their place will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” Throughout Revelation, sulfur appears in relationship to the eternal fires.” On the mundane level, sulfur is a natural element found in protein. Protein is essential to the well-being of our physical bodies. Hidden wisdom uses sulfur as an alchemical symbol. Alchemy, as defined by Webster, is the “power or process of transforming something common into something special.” Thus sulfur in combination with the eternal fire is the means by which souls are transformed “from something common into something special.” The second death is, therefore, death to the lower self (or something common) so that the something special (the Higher Self) can be resurrected into conscious awareness. Revelation is speaking of the astral plane (the plane to which most souls go after departing the physical body) where all negativity is eventually transmuted and resurrected into something special. Henceforth, the individual Soul is constantly attuned to the Higher Self as it continues its spiritual journey through multitudes of higher realms of awareness and manifestation as the god that it is.

Hell, as a place of eternal punishment, is not biblical.

Physical plane fire offers many benefits: it purifies, it renders malleable, it warms. The biblical eternal fire … lake of fire is fire operating at a higher vibratory rate. The eternal fire is the Purple Transmuting Flame. This Transmuting Flame can be used to purify the energy field around our physical, emotional, and lower mental bodies. It is the purple flame seen hovering around the physical body in the Divine Self chart. As our lower bodies are purified by the Flame, we are transformed from “something common into something special.”

The lake of fire is God’s gift ensuring that all of humanity ascends into the higher consciousness of the heavenly abodes–even the “fornicators, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars.”

About the Author

Nancy B. Detweiler

Nancy B. Detweiler, M.Ed., M.Div.

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  • beautiful article. of course every religious person is going to say dont make windy conclusions and whatnot. theyre just a little upset we can prove their religion wrong.

  • Dangerous, ridiculous & deceiving words… Know your bible people! Stop deceiving others with long & windy conclusions!

    You must get back to the context and contrast portrayed throughout the biblical text.
    e.g. Rev 20:15 says “And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”
    Even if you translated this to be “And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the sulpher ‘to be changed from something common into something special’.” (as Nancy suggests) you still have to wonder what’s happening to those in the “book of life” don’t you!? why mention it otherwise? and being “thrown into” something is not really an indication of something ‘good’ is it?

    Daniel 12:2 proclaims “And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, Some to everlasting life, Some to shame and everlasting contempt.”
    – again read the CONTRAST people!!

    Even Wiki says: The modern English word Hell is derived from Old English hel, helle …, Danish, Norwegian and Swedish “helvede”/helvete (hel + Old Norse vitti, “punishment”)

    The Christian doctrine of hell derives from the teaching of the New Testament, where hell is typically described using the Greek words Tartarus or Hades or the Arabic word Gehenna
    These three terms have different meanings of;
    (1) Hades = Sheol = “the place of the dead”. In Greek mythology, Hades is often interpreted in modern times as the personification of death…The term hades in Christian theology (and in New Testament Greek) is parallel to Hebrew sheol (grave or dirt-pit), and refers to the abode of the dead. The Christian concept of hell is more akin to and communicated by the Greek concept of Tartarus, a deep, gloomy part of hades used as a dungeon of torment and suffering.
    (2) Gehenna refers to the “Valley of Hinnon”, which was a garbage dump outside of Jerusalem. It was a place where people burned their garbage and thus there was always a fire burning there. Bodies of those deemed to have died in sin without hope of salvation. Gehenna is used in the New Testament as a metaphor for the final place of punishment for the wicked after the resurrection.
    (3) Tartaro (the verb “throw to Tartarus”) occurs only once in the New Testament in II Peter 2:4, where it is parallel to the use of the noun form in 1 Enoch as the place of incarceration of fallen angels. The Greek tataroo means “a place of restraint.”

    Ok so lets look at this verse II Peter 2:4 IN CONTEXT (instead of the usual pull 1 verse out by itself and making our own happy conclusions)

    II Peter 2:1-10
    2:1But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves.
    2:2 Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned;
    2:3 and in {their} greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.
    2:4 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment;
    2:5 and did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness, with seven others, when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly;
    2:6 and {if} He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction by reducing {them} to ashes, having made them an example to those who would live ungodly {lives} thereafter;
    2:7 and {if} He rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men
    2:8 (for by what he saw and heard {that} righteous man, while living among them, felt {his} righteous soul tormented day after day by {their} lawless deeds),
    2:9 {then} the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment,
    2:10 and especially those who indulge the flesh in {its} corrupt desires and despise authority. Daring, self-willed, they do not tremble when they revile angelic majesties,

    Is this context only talking about angels? Does this really sound like God is Ok with sinners and is going to send them to a ‘happy’ & ‘restful’ place? – I don’t think so in any way shape or form – you have got to be kidding if you think you can take 1 word like “Hell” and apply some shallow Anglo-saxon context to it as your main arguement to there being no such place.

    Mark 9:43 “If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life crippled, than, having your two hands, to go into hell, into the unquenchable fire,

    – again here you will see the contrast between “enter life” (known as heaven) or the other location called “hell” – there is no point mentioning two places if they are not different. Also why make such a fuss about cutting off your hand instead of going to such a place called ‘hell’ – in what way could this imply hell is somehow good or peaceful!??

    But know this; the Bible also teaches that there is ONLY salvation of sins through Jesus Christ and Yes, you reap whatever you sow.
    i.e. You either accept the Love & Grace God freely offers through Jesus sacrifice OR you can carry the responsibility of your sins by yourself. You’re either “with God” or “without God” – your choice.

  • Some great factual information as to what hell isn’t and I agree entirely,although I am not so sure about that the interpretation you teach has any more biblical base. Does not fire in the bible most commonly symbolise destruction?

    The way I read your article, I dont have to adhere to Gods commandments, as Im going to be cleansed up like a shiny penny when I die anyway. That differs from what I read of the God of the old testament, where he demanded exclusive and exacting devotion, along with strict adherence to his laws.

    To use your one scriptural reference

    Do not be deceived; God is not mocked, for you reap whatever you sow.

    According to the remainder of your article, I will reap what I do not sow. I can sow a lifetime supply of unrighteousness and be rewarded with a place at Gods table.

    Thanks thats great, I am off to lie cheat and steal.

  • we are similtainiously all common and all special all of the time
    the strength of the ego determines the particular view of the charade we live,we are nothing but ..potential
    the goal… see the world as it is,without the filter of past failures and future hopes,ie….”if thine eye be single then the body is full of light”

  • He rewards the sinners? i think this is the benevolent god religion preaches.

    And it provides the same, “i told you so effect” that hell was supposed to do. It makes the guy/being/women/thing seem even more awesome. Nonetheless, i’ll continue being atheist. if this is real, i’ll have to burn and feel a shit load of pain, but it will pay off. i think. lol…

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