THE PAGAN DOCTRINE OF HELL
Embraced and Christianised by Roman Catholicism
The doctrine of hell and the truth of the Bible that Jesus Christ is the Saviour of the world cannot both be true at the same time. The Bible is the Word of God and it does not contradict itself. It is the doctrine of hell which is false and unbiblical.
The Bible, in the original Hebrew and Greek Manuscripts, does not mention hell or everlasting punishment in any way whatsoever. Hell is a mistranslation. Jesus Christ did not believe in hell and He did not preach hell.
God mightily used Apostle Paul to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul was a Universalist through and through. He preached the Good News of Universal Salvation and Reconciliation to all of the churches where he ministered in his thirty-two years of ministry. The following scriptures show and prove that Apostle Paul preached the Gospel of Universal Salvation and Reconciliation:
Romans 5:18-19, 11:26,32, 1 Corinthians 15:22-23, 2 Corinthians 5:15-19, Galatians 3:8-9, Ephesians 1:7-10, Philippians 1:9-11, Colossians 1:15-20, 1 Timothy 2:3-6, 4:9-10 and Titus 2:11-12.
There is only one statement made by Apostle Paul, in 2 Thessalonians 1:9, that speaks of ‘everlasting (aionios) destruction’, but this is a mistranslation of the Greek word aionios, as we explain in Chapter 17.
Of course, Apostle Paul fully understood that God will not allow any unrighteous person to enter the Kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9), but Paul also fully understood that God’s power, His love and justice will not allow any unrighteous person to remain unrighteous forever. Ultimately, in God’s time and order, all without a single exception will come to believe in the true Gospel of Jesus Christ, as we have clearly shown from Scripture in Chapter 12.
Apostle Paul’s ministry reached thousands of early Christians in many regions, cities, towns and villages including Damascus, Cilicia, Jerusalem, Antioch, Pisidia, Iconium, Lystra, Derbe, Lycaonia, Galatia, Troas, Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea, Athens, Corinth, Ephesus, Malta and Rome.
We can be sure that the early Christians believed in Universal Salvation and Reconciliation, just like Apostle Paul. History confirms that Universalism was the belief of the very early Christians following the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The concept of eternal torment in hell is nowhere to be found in the original Hebrew and Greek Manuscripts of the Bible, but it is found in the writings of the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. For example, Plato (427-347 BC) discusses the concept of hell in his dialogue ‘Gorgias’ where he speaks of eternal punishment.
There can be no doubt that belief in eternal punishment in hell was a pagan belief embraced and Christianised by the church in Rome in the early years of the history of Christianity. Consider this quote from The Schaff-Herzog Encyclopaedia of Religious Knowledge, vol. 12, page 96: Retrieved April 29, 2007.
“During the first five centuries of Christianity, there were six theological schools, of which four (Alexandria, Antioch, Caesarea, and Edessa, or Nisibis) were Universalist; one (Ephesus) accepted conditional mortality; one (Carthage or Rome) taught endless punishment of the wicked.”
It was indeed the Church at Rome which first taught the pagan doctrine of endless punishment of the wicked, under the umbrella of Christianity. The Roman Catholic Latin Church Fathers, Tertullian (160-220 AD), Jerome (347-420 AD) and Augustine (354-430 AD), all strongly believed in the doctrine of hell. These early Latin Church Fathers are highly venerated Roman Catholic saints who believed that God’s punishment of unbelievers (all those who reject Roman Catholicism) would be in a hell of everlasting torment.
In 382 AD, Pope Damasus commissioned Jerome to make a revised translation of the Bible in Latin. Jerome, a Roman Catholic by birth, believed in the doctrine of hell and he produced the revised translation of the complete Bible in Latin known as the Latin Vulgate (circa 405 AD).
Jerome mistranslated and misinterpreted several key Hebrew and Greek words into the Latin Vulgate in support of the already established doctrine of hell in the Roman Catholic Church. We expose and highlight these translation and interpretation errors in the next two chapters, Chapters 16 and 17.
The Latin Vulgate became the official Bible of the Roman Catholic Church, and to this very day, it is regarded to be free from any doctrinal errors by the Roman Catholic Church. The Latin Vulgate reigned supreme for over a thousand years and the doctrine of hell became deeply entrenched into the psyche of the Christian world as if it were a true biblical doctrine. This was because of the complete dominance of the Roman Catholic Church throughout the Middle Ages, from the 5th to the 16th century.
From circa 590-1517 AD, the Roman Church reigned supreme and dominated the western world where it controlled religion, philosophy, morals, politics, the arts and education, and became a very wealthy institution. This was the dark ages for true Christianity. The vital doctrines of Biblical Christianity had, from all appearances, disappeared from the scene.
During these Dark Middle Ages, the Roman Catholic Church refused to allow Scripture to be available in any language other than Latin. Those in possession of non-Latin Scriptures were persecuted and sometimes even killed. Only priests were educated to understand Latin, and this gave the church ultimate power. Power to control and rule the masses without question. The Roman Catholic Church capitalised on this enforced ignorance of the peoples for over a thousand years.
The first hand-written English language Bible translation was produced circa 1380 AD by John Wycliffe, an Oxford professor, scholar and theologian. Wycliffe translated it from the Latin Vulgate, which was the only source text available to him. Pope Martin V was so infuriated by the activities of Wycliffe and his translation of the Bible into English such that 44 years after Wycliffe’s death, he ordered the bones of Wycliffe to be dug-up, crushed and scattered in a river!
In 1517 AD, Martin Luther, a Roman Catholic German monk, openly confronted the unbiblical practices of Roman Catholicism. Luther famously posted his 95 theses (in Latin) to display his displeasure with the abuses of Roman Catholicism, most notably the sale of indulgences. This revolt by Martin Luther changed the course of western civilisation by initiating the Protestant Reformation.
Martin Luther abandoned many of the unbiblical teachings and practices of Roman Catholicism. He had a degree of understanding of the biblical truth of Righteousness by Faith. Sadly however, Luther failed to see and believe the really Good News of the Gospel that ultimately, God will grant the gift of God’s Righteousness to all people in God’s time and order, extending beyond this age, through God’s only begotten Son, Jesus Christ.
Martin Luther could not break loose from one of the greatest Roman Catholic heresies of all time, the doctrine of hell. This was because of the supremacy of the Latin Vulgate and the profound influence of Augustinian theology. Sadly, Martin Luther died without knowing the full extent of the love and forgiveness of God towards all people whom He created in His own image. Luther left this life with an intense hatred and unforgiveness in his heart towards Jews.
Some of the most influential figures in Christendom; Tertullian, Constantine, Jerome, John Chrysostom, Augustine, Martin Luther and John Calvin, all believed in the doctrine of hell and were anti-Semitic, and they also all believed in a false Trintarian son of God of human invention. They were all unbelievers. God did not reveal to them the true Gospel of His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, who died on the cross for the sins of the whole world and He will indeed save the whole world.
It is not surprising that the translators of the King James Version (1611 AD) were greatly influenced, both directly and indirectly, by the Latin Vulgate, and they simply copied many of the translation errors made in the Latin Vulgate, in support of the doctrine of hell. Do you know that the KJV was originally published with the spurious books of the Apocrypha, as contained in the Latin Vulgate?
The KJV was the standard version of the Bible for Protestant Christianity for nearly 350 years and it has been translated into many languages. The KJV has had a major influence on formulating the traditional Protestant Christian doctrine of hell, which is of course similar to the Roman Catholic doctrine of hell.
Many subsequent versions of the Bible have corrected the translation errors found in the KJV to varying degrees. However, the most popular versions of the Bible like the NIV, NKJV, NAS, RSV and others have still retained the basic translation errors, which support the doctrine of hell.
However, thankfully there are some versions of the Bible like Young’s Literal Translation, Rotherham’s Emphasised Bible and the Emphatic Diaglott Greek /English Interlinear Bible, which make no mention of hell in their translations. This group of Bible versions are literal translations of the original Hebrew and Greek Manuscripts of the Bible.
The teaching of the false unbiblical pagan doctrine of hell is a heresy of the greatest proportion. It changes the great and glorious victory won by Jesus Christ on the cross over sin and death for all people into an unimaginably massive and horrendous defeat for most people. It makes the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross for the salvation of the whole world out to be a huge failure.