Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Re: `Gehenna' is a symbol for complete destruction #1

Pam

Continuing from "Re: `Hades' is mankind's common grave" with

[Above (click to enlarge): Ancient Jerusalem, showing the Valley of the Sons of Hinnom (Gehenna): Blue Letter Bible]

this the fourth part of my response to your comment under my post "Main reasons why Jehovah's Witnessism is false." Your words are bold to distinguish them from my response.

"Gehenna" is a symbol for complete destruction,

On the meaning of "Gehenna," see New Testament Greek lexicon definitions in my earlier post in this series, Re: neither does the Bible `clearly' show that hell-fire is real.

As for "complete destruction," i.e. annihilation of consciousness at death, this is actually the atheist position, as the atheists Bertrand Russell and Phillip Adams state:

"I believe that when I die I shall rot, and nothing of my ego will survive. I am not young, and I love life. But I should scorn to shiver with terror at the thought of annihilation." (Russell, B., "What I Believe," in "Why I Am Not a Christian, 1957, p.43).

"When I was struggling with the thought of an after-life, at the age of five or six ... the worst discomforts would have been preferable to the thought of annihilation. ... The more I thought about it, the more the idea of everlasting Heaven was a hell in itself. ... For forty years my consciousness and my unconsciousness have agreed on one thing. That death, dammit, is the end. .... There is a release of tension, a welcome relief." (Adams, "Adams vs God," 1985, pp.56-58).

Note that the atheist Phillip Adams would prefer "annihilation" to "everlasting Heaven"!

Again, Jehovah's Witnesses, in their denial of the Bible's clear teaching of conscious punishment after death of the unsaved:

Mt 13:49-50 This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Mt 25:41. "Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.

Lk 16:23-24 In hell,[Hades] where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, 'Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.'

Rev 14:11 And the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or for anyone who receives the mark of his name."

Rev 20:10 And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.

are following the teaching of Watchtower Bible & Tract Society founder, Charles Taze Russell (1852-1916):

"Brother Russell ... in the booklet What Say the Scriptures About Hell? ... stated ... we find no such place of everlasting torture ... we find another `hell' (gehenna-the second death-utter destruction) ...as the final penalty upon all who ... shall yet choose death by choosing a course of opposition to God and righteousness" (WB&TS, 1993, "Jehovah's Witnesses: Proclaimers of God's Kingdom," p.129).

who could not even read the letters of the Greek alphabet:

"In June 1912, the Reverend J. J. Ross published a pamphlet entitled, Some Facts About the Self-Styled `Pastor' Charles T. Russell .... Russell promptly sued Ross for `defamatory libel' ....the only evidence offered was Russell's own statements, made under oath and during cross examination by Ross's lawyer ... denying Ross's charges, Russell automatically claimed ... working knowledge of ... Greek. .... The cross examination of Russell continued ...
Q: Do you know the Greek alphabet?
A: Oh yes. ...
Q: Would you tell me the names of those on top of the page ...
A: Well, I don't know that I would be able to. ...
Q: Are you familiar with the Greek language?
A: No.
... Russell ... contradicted himself, claiming first to `know' the Greek alphabet ... then finally admitting that he could not read the alphabet at all ... the real character of Russell was revealed, that of a man who had no scruples about lying under oath ..." (Martin & Klann, 1953, "Jehovah of the Watchtower,"pp.20-23).

From Russell through `Judge' Rutherford (1869-1942), down to the present, the Watchtower Society has based its denial of the Bible's clear teaching that Gehenna represents a state of conscious, painful, punishment of the wicked after death, on a verbal fallacy! That is, by claiming Gehenna represents "utter destruction," "complete destruction," "everlasting destruction, annihilation," "a symbol of destruction but not of conscious fiery torment," "a symbol of the totality and thoroughness of that destruction", "a symbol of eternal destruction," "destroyed forever," "everlasting death, or destruction:

"Gehenna The Greek word gehenna is also rendered `hell' in English. It means the condition of death, or complete destruction, from which there is no awakening or resurrection. ... The valley of Hinnom therefore was a place of destruction. It pictured the destruction of the wicked. ... Jesus said: `If thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than, having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire [gehenna]: where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.' (Mark 9:47, 48) The unquenchable fire and the worm represent destruction ...." (Rutherford, 1927, "Creation," p.285).

"...Gehenna ... Valley of Hinnom ... Greek form of the Hebrew Ge'i-Hin·om'. ... This valley lay to the west and south of ancient Jerusalem. ... it was used for the idolatrous worship of the pagan god Molech, to which god human sacrifices were offered by fire. ... it came to be the dumping place and incinerator for the filth of Jerusalem. ... the bodies of dead animals were thrown to be consumed in the fires to which sulphur or brimstone was added .... Occasionally the bodies of executed criminals were thrown in .... No living animals or human creatures were pitched into Gehenna to be burned alive or tormented. Hence the place could never symbolize an invisible region where human souls are tormented in literal fire ... for ever and ever. ... Gehenna was used by Jesus and his disciples to symbolize everlasting destruction, annihilation from God's universe, or `second death', an eternal punishment. .... From the literal Gehenna and from its significance the symbol of the `lake burning with fire and sulphur' was drawn ..." (WB&TS, 1950, "New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures," pp.766-767).

"Gehenna ... refers to the valley of Hinnom outside the walls of Jerusalem. ... a huge garbage dump where fires were kept burning ... when Jesus said that persons would be thrown into Gehenna for their bad deeds, what did he mean? Not that they would be tormented forever. Jesus used that valley (Gehenna) of fire and brimstone as a proper symbol of everlasting destruction. ... The `lake of fire' mentioned in Revelation has a similar meaning, not conscious torment, but `second death,' everlasting death or destruction." (WB&TS, 1968, "The Truth that Leads to Eternal Life," pp.43-44).

"... Gehenna ... could appropriately serve as a symbol of destruction but not of conscious fiery torment. ... The apostle Paul, when writing to Christians at Thessalonica, said that those causing them tribulation would `undergo the judicial punishment of everlasting destruction from before the Lord ....' - 2 Thessalonians 1:6-9. ...those whom God judges as undeserving of life will experience, not eternal torment in a literal fire, but `everlasting destruction.' They will not be preserved alive anywhere. The fire of Gehenna is therefore but a symbol of the totality and thoroughness of that destruction." (WB&TS, 1974, "Is This Life All There Is?," pp.115-116).

"GEHENNA ... Symbolic of Complete Destruction. ... Jesus used Gehenna as representative of utter destruction ... the symbolic picture here is not one of torture but, rather, of complete destruction ... God's adverse judgment would not cease until complete destruction was attained. ... ... Gehenna as a symbol corresponds to that of `the lake of fire' in the book of Revelation. ..." (WB&TS, 1988, "Insight on the Scriptures, Volume 1," pp.905-906).

"The word `hell' is found in many Bible translations. .... What are those words? ... the Greek ge'en·na, which is used as a symbol of eternal destruction." (WB&TS, 1989, "Reasoning from the Scriptures," pp.168-169).

"... Gehenna was Jerusalem's garbage dump. ... Jesus was using Gehenna as a fitting symbol of complete and everlasting destruction. .... Those listening to Jesus could understand that those going to Gehenna, like so much garbage, would be destroyed forever. ... What, then, is `the lake of fire' ...? It has a meaning similar to that of Gehenna. It means not conscious torment but everlasting death, or destruction" (WB&TS, 1989, "You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth," pp.86-88).

"Then `death and Hades' will be hurled into what is called `the lake of fire,' symbolizing complete destruction, as does the term `Gehenna.' (Luke 12:5) ... How comforting it is to learn from the Bible that God does not torture anyone!" (WB&TS, 1995, "Knowledge That Leads to Everlasting Life," pp.88-89).

"Gehenna got its name from a garbage dump located outside of ancient Jerusalem. Dead bodies and garbage were burned there. .... So Gehenna is a fitting symbol of everlasting destruction." (WB&TS, 2005, "What Does the Bible Really Teach?," p.73).

In the above, the Watchtower fallaciously equates "destruction" with "annihilation." While "destruction" can mean annihilation, e.g. in the The law of conservation of matter, "matter cannot be created/destroyed, although it may be rearranged" (Wikipedia), the original and basic meaning of "destruction" is, as the word itself indicates, de-structure, i.e. ruin: "a cause of ruin ... Latin destructio a pulling down" ("destruction," Collins Essential English Dictionary, 2006). Whereas the original and basic meaning of "annihilation," is "To reduce to nonexistence ... Latin ad- + nihil, to nothing" ("annihilate," Collins Essential English Dictionary, 2006).

Each reference above is hyperlinked to its full quote below (emphasis italics original , emphasis bold mine). To be continued in "Re: `Gehenna' is a symbol for complete destruction #2. "

Stephen E. Jones
My other blogs: CreationEvolutionDesign & TheShroudofTurin


"When I was struggling with the thought of an after-life, at the age of five or six, Hell didn't come into it: the worst discomforts would have been preferable to the thought of annihilation. In any case, I was uncomfortable enough about the Heaven I couldn't believe in, as much as I tried. ... Lying in bed, the thought of infinite space and time was intolerable, overwhelming; terrifying. The more I thought about it, the more the idea of everlasting Heaven was a hell in itself. The thought of living for billions of years and still to have billions of years to live was, finally, as appalling as oblivion. ... But when you think about it there is simply no alternative. The answer has to be zero. ... For forty years my consciousness and my unconsciousness have agreed on one thing. That death, dammit, is the end. And the soul does struggle against the thought until, finally, it yields and acquiesces. There is a release of tension, a welcome relief." (Adams, P., 1985, "Adams vs God," Nelson: Melbourne Vic, Australia, pp.56-58).

"In June 1912, the Reverend J. J. Ross published a pamphlet entitled, Some Facts About the Self-Styled `Pastor' Charles T. Russell, which minced no words in its denunciation of Russell, his qualifications as a minister, or his moral example as a pastor. Russell promptly sued Ross for `defamatory libel' .... Russell lost his suit against Ross when the High Court of Ontario, in session March 1913, ruled that there were no grounds for libel; and `the case was thrown out of Court by the evidence furnished by "Pastor" Russell himself.' Pastor Russell refused to give any evidence to substantiate his case, and the only evidence offered was Russell's own statements, made under oath and during cross examination by Ross's lawyer, counselor Staunton. By denying Ross's charges, Russell automatically claimed high scholastic ascendancy, recognized theological training (systematic and historical), working knowledge of the dead languages (Greek, Hebrew, etc.), .... The cross examination of Russell continued for five hours. Here is a sample of how the pastor answered.

Q: Do you know the Greek alphabet?
A: Oh yes.
Q: Can you tell me the correct letters if you see them?
A: Some of them. I might make a mistake on some of them.
Q: Would you tell me the names of those on top of the page, page 447, I have got here?
A: Well, I don't know that I would be able to.
Q: You can't tell what those letters are? look at them and see if you know.
A: My way- [He was interrupted at this point and not allowed to explain.]
Q: Are you familiar with the Greek language?
A: No.

It should be noted from this record of the testimony that Russell frequently contradicted himself, claiming first to `know' the Greek alphabet, then claiming under pressure that he might make mistakes in identifying the letters, and then finally admitting that he could not read the alphabet at all when confronted with a copy of it. Here is conclusive evidence; the pastor, under oath, perjured himself beyond question. Can one sincerely trust the teachings of such a man who thought nothing of such evidence? .... The evidence was in; the case was clear; Russell was branded a perjurer by the court's verdict, `No Bill.' As a result of the court's action, Mr. Ross's charges were proven true and the real character of Russell was revealed, that of a man who had no scruples about lying under oath and whose doctrines were admittedly based on no sound educational knowledge of the subject in question."(Martin, W.R. & Klann, N., 1953, "Jehovah of the Watchtower," Bethany House Publishers: Bloomington MN, Reprinted, 1974, pp.20-23).

"I believe that when I die I shall rot, and nothing of my ego will survive. I am not young, and I love life. But I should scorn to shiver with terror at the thought of annihilation. Happiness is none the less true happiness because it must come to an end, nor do thought and love lose their value because they are not everlasting. Many a man has borne himself proudly on the scaffold; surely the same pride should teach us to think truly about man's place in the world." (Russell, B., 1957, "What I Believe," in "Why I Am Not a Christian: And Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects," Edwards, P., ed., George Allen & Unwin: London, Fourth Impression, 1961, p.43).

"Gehenna The Greek word gehenna is also rendered `hell' in English. It means the condition of death, or complete destruction, from which there is no awakening or resurrection. Gehenna is a Greek expression, referring to the valley of Hinnom. Just on the south side of Jerusalem is a valley called the valley of Hinnom, or the valley of Gehenna. Therein was a fire kept constantly burning. The offal from the city and the bodies of dead animals and the like were thrown into this fire and destroyed. Under the Jewish law no living creature was permitted to be cast into that fire. The practice was to bring the offal out of the gate of the wall of Jerusalem and cast it over the high embankment into the valley. The bodies of some of these animals lodged on the rocks, and the worms consumed

them. The valley of Hinnom therefore was a place of destruction. It pictured the destruction of the wicked. Speaking to the Jews who would understand his meaning, Jesus said: `If thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than, having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire [gehenna]: where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.' (Mark 9:47, 48) The unquenchable fire and the worm represent destruction, and Jesus was telling the Jews that that was what would come upon their nation." (Rutherford, J.F., 1927, "Creation," International Bible Students Association: Brooklyn NY, p.285).

"Matthew 5:22 - `Gehenna' (Geenna, Greek; Gehenna, Latin; ..., Ge'i-Hin·om', Hebrew) The name means `valley of Hinnom", for it is the Greek form of the Hebrew Ge'i-Hin·om'. (Joshua 18:16, LXX) It occurs 12 times in the Christian Greek Scriptures, and we transliterate it that many times in our translation. (Matthew 5:22,29,30; 10:28; 18:9; 23:15,33; Mark 9:43,45, 47; Luke 12:5; James 3:6) This valley lay to the west and south of ancient Jerusalem. (Joshua 15:8; 18:16; Jeremiah 19:2,6) Under the later kings of Judah it was used for the idolatrous worship of the pagan god Molech, to which god human sacrifices were offered by fire. (2 Chronicles 28:3; 33:6; Jeremiah 7:31,32; 32:35) To prevent its use again for such religious purposes, faithful King Josiah had the valley polluted, particularly the part called To'pheth, and it came to be the dumping place and incinerator for the filth of Jerusalem. (2 Kings 23:10) Here the bodies of dead animals were thrown to be consumed in the fires to which sulphur or brimstone was added to assist the burning. Occasionally the bodies of executed criminals were thrown in who were thought too vile to have a resurrection from the dead and hence a decent burial and memorial tomb. If such dead bodies landed in the fire they were consumed that way, but if their carcasses landed upon a ledge of the deep ravine their putrefying flesh collected worms or maggots, which did not die until they had consumed the fleshy parts, leaving only the skeletons lying to corrode away. No living animals or human creatures were pitched into Gehenna to be burned alive or tormented. Hence the place could never symbolize an invisible region where human souls are tormented in literal fire and attacked by undying immortal worms for ever and ever. (Isaiah 66:24) Because the dead criminals cast here were denied a decent burial in a memorial tomb, which symbolizes the hope of a resurrection, Gehenna was used by Jesus and his disciples to symbolize everlasting destruction, annihilation from God's universe, or `second death', an eternal punishment. Hence to be sentenced to have one's dead body cast into Gehenna was considered the worst kind of punishment. From the literal Gehenna and from its significance the symbol of the `lake burning with fire and sulphur' was drawn, at Revelation 19:20; 20:10,14,15; 21:8." (WB&TS, 1950, "New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures," Watchtower Bible & Tract Society of New York: Brooklyn NY, pp.766-767).

"Perhaps someone may object and say that the Bible does speak of `hell fire.' (Matthew 5:22, AV, Dy) True, some versions use this expression, but in such cases the original Greek word here used for `hell' is Geenna, and not hades. Gehenna occurs twelve times in the Christian Greek Scriptures, and refers to the valley of Hinnom outside the walls of Jerusalem. When Jesus was on earth this valley was used as a huge garbage dump where fires were kept burning by adding brimstone (sulfur) to burn up the refuse. Smith's Dictionary of the Bible, Volume I, explains: `It became the common lay-stall [garbage dump] of the city, where the dead bodies of criminals, and the carcasses of animals, and every other kind of filth was cast.' So when Jesus said that persons would be thrown into Gehenna for their bad deeds, what did he mean? Not that they would be tormented forever. Jesus used that valley (Gehenna) of fire and brimstone as a proper symbol of everlasting destruction. That is what his first-century listeners understood it to mean. The `lake of fire' mentioned in Revelation has a similar meaning, not conscious torment, but `second death,' everlasting death or destruction. It is evident that this `lake' is a symbol, because death and hell (hades) are thrown into it. Such things cannot literally be burned, but they can be done away with, or destroyed. - Revelation 20:14; 21:8." (WB&TS, 1968, "The Truth that Leads to Eternal Life," Watchtower Bible & Tract Society: Brooklyn NY, pp.43-44).

"In keeping with the Biblical evidence, then, Gehenna or the Valley of Hinnom could appropriately serve as a symbol of destruction but not of conscious fiery torment. ... That the destruction symbolized by Gehenna is a lasting one is shown elsewhere in the Holy Scriptures. The apostle Paul, when writing to Christians at Thessalonica, said that those causing them tribulation would `undergo the judicial punishment of everlasting destruction from before the Lord and from the glory of his strength.' - 2 Thessalonians 1:6-9. Biblical evidence thus makes it plain that those whom God judges as undeserving of life will experience, not eternal torment in a literal fire, but `everlasting destruction.' They will not be preserved alive anywhere. The fire of Gehenna is therefore but a symbol of the totality and thoroughness of that destruction." (WB&TS, 1974, "Is This Life All There Is?," Watchtower Bible & Tract Society: Brooklyn NY, pp.115-116).

"GEHENNA ... Symbolic of Complete Destruction. It is evident that Jesus used Gehenna as representative of utter destruction resulting from adverse judgment by God, hence with no resurrection to life as a soul being possible. (Mt 10:28; Lu 12:4, 5) The scribes and Pharisees as a wicked class were denounced as `subjects for Gehenna.' (Mt 23:13-15, 33) To avoid such destruction, Jesus' followers were to get rid of anything causing spiritual stumbling, the `cutting off of a hand or foot' and the `tearing out of an eye' figuratively representing their deadening of these body members with reference to sin. - Mt 18:9; Mr 9:43-47; Col 3:5; compare Mt 5:27-30. Jesus also apparently alluded to Isaiah 66:24 in describing Gehenna as a place `where their maggot does not die and the fire is not put out.' (Mr 9:47, 48) That the symbolic picture here is not one of torture but, rather, of complete destruction is evident from the fact that the Isaiah text dealt, not with persons who were alive, but with `the carcasses of the men that were transgressing' against God. If, as the available evidence indicates, the Valley of Hinnom was a place for the disposal of garbage and carcasses, fire, perhaps increased in intensity by the addition of sulfur (compare Isa 30:33), would be the only suitable means to eliminate such refuse. Where the fire did not reach, worms, or maggots, would breed, consuming anything not destroyed by the fire. On this basis, Jesus' words would mean that the destructive effect of God's adverse judgment would not cease until complete destruction was attained. ... The Biblical use of Gehenna as a symbol corresponds to that of `the lake of fire' in the book of Revelation. - Re 20:14, 15 ..." (WB&TS, 1988, "Insight on the Scriptures, Volume 1: Aaron-Jehoshua," Watchtower Bible & Tract Society: Brooklyn NY, pp.905-906).

"Hell Definition: The word `hell' is found in many Bible translations. In the same verses other translations read `the grave,' `the world of the dead,' and so forth. Other Bibles simply transliterate the original-language words that are sometimes rendered `hell'; that is, they express them with the letters of our alphabet but leave the words untranslated. What are those words? The Hebrew she'ohl' and its Greek equivalent hai'des, which refer, not to an individual burial place, but to the common grave of dead mankind; also the Greek ge'en·na, which is used as a symbol of eternal destruction. However, both in Christendom and in many non-Christian religions it is taught that hell is a place inhabited by demons and where the wicked, after death, are punished (and some believe that this is with torment)." (WB&TS, 1989, "Reasoning from the Scriptures," [1985], Watchtower Bible & Tract Society of New York: Brooklyn NY, Second edition, pp.168-169).

"Well, then, what does Gehenna mean? In the Hebrew Scriptures Gehenna is `the valley Hinnom.' Remember, Hinnom was the name of the valley just outside the walls of Jerusalem where the Israelites sacrificed their children in the fire. In time, good King Josiah had this valley made unfit to be used for such a horrible practice. (2 Kings 23:10) It was turned into a huge garbage, or rubbish, dump. ... So during the time Jesus was on earth Gehenna was Jerusalem's garbage dump. Fires were kept burning there by the adding of brimstone (sulfur) to burn up the garbage. ... Knowing about their city's garbage dump, Jerusalem's inhabitants understood what Jesus meant when he told the wicked religious leaders: `Serpents, offspring of vipers, how are you to flee from the judgment of Gehenna?' (Matthew 23:33) Jesus plainly did not mean that those religious leaders would be tormented. Why, when the Israelites were burning their children alive in that valley, God said that to do such a horrible thing had never come up into his heart! So it was clear that Jesus was using Gehenna as a fitting symbol of complete and everlasting destruction. He meant that those wicked religious leaders were not worthy of a resurrection. Those listening to Jesus could understand that those going to Gehenna, like so much garbage, would be destroyed forever. ... What, then, is `the lake of fire' mentioned in the Bible book of Revelation? It has a meaning similar to that of Gehenna. It means not conscious torment but everlasting death, or destruction. Notice how the Bible itself says this at Revelation 20:14: `And death and Hades [hell, King James Version and Douay Version] were hurled into the lake of fire. This means the second death, the lake of fire.' Yes, the lake of fire means `second death,' the death from which there is no resurrection. It is evident that this `lake' is a symbol, because death and hell (Hades) are thrown into it. Death and hell cannot literally be burned. But they can, and will, be done away with, or destroyed." (WB&TS, 1989, "You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth," [1982], Watchtower Bible & Tract Society of New York: Brooklyn NY, Second edition, pp.86-87).

"Brother Russell was well aware that the majority of sensible people did not really believe the doctrine of hellfire. But, as he pointed out, in 1896, in the booklet What Say the Scriptures About Hell?, `since they think that the Bible teaches it, every step they progress in real intelligence and brotherly kindness ... is in most cases a step away from God's Word, which they falsely accuse of this teaching.' To draw such thinking people back to God's Word, he presented in this booklet every text in the King James Version in which the word hell was found, so readers could see for themselves what these said, and then he stated: `Thank God, we find no such place of everlasting torture as the creeds and hymn-books, and many pulpits, erroneously teach. Yet we have found a `hell,' sheol, hades, to which all our race were condemned on account of Adam's sin, and from which all are redeemed by our Lord's death; and that `hell' is the tomb-the death condition. And we find another `hell' (gehenna-the second death-utter destruction) brought to our attention as the final penalty upon all who, after being redeemed and brought to the full knowledge of the truth, and to full ability to obey it, shall yet choose death by choosing a course of opposition to God and righteousness.'" (WB&TS, 1993, "Jehovah's Witnesses: Proclaimers of God's Kingdom," Watchtower Bible & Tract Society: Brooklyn NY, p.129).

"All the dead who are in God's memory have the prospect of release from Hades (Greek, hai'des), or Sheol, mankind's common grave. (Psalm 16:10; Acts 2:31) They will have an opportunity to demonstrate by their deeds whether they will serve God. Then `death and Hades' will be hurled into what is called `the lake of fire,' symbolizing complete destruction, as does the term `Gehenna.' (Luke 12:5) The common grave of mankind itself will have been emptied and will cease to exist when the resurrection is completed. How comforting it is to learn from the Bible that God does not torture anyone!-Jeremiah 7:30, 31." (WB&TS, 1995, "Knowledge That Leads to Everlasting Life," [1984], Watchtower Bible & Tract Society of New York: Brooklyn NY, Second edition, pp.88-89).

"The Bible says that some of the dead are in `Gehenna.' (Luke 12:5) Gehenna got its name from a garbage dump located outside of ancient Jerusalem. Dead bodies and garbage were burned there. The dead whose bodies were thrown there were considered by the Jews to be unworthy of a burial and a resurrection. So Gehenna is a fitting symbol of everlasting destruction." (WB&TS, 2005, "What Does the Bible Really Teach?," Watchtower Bible & Tract Society of New York: Brooklyn NY, p.73).

2 comments:

Ronald said...

Matthew 25:41; Revelation 14:11; nor Revelation 20:10 say nothing "clearly" or even "obscurely" about the souls of humans being conscious and suffering for eternity. Matthew 25:41 refers to a symbolic fiery furnace condition related to the end of this age, not of a conscious life while dead. Likewise, with Revelation 14:11, the torment -- testing, of those are not while they are supposedly conscious while dead, but while they are still alive. The torment -- testing -- described in Revelation 20:10 is not of humans, but of the symbolic wild beast with symbolic seven heads, symbolic ten horns, etc., and of the symbolic "false prophet," and of the symbolic Satan the symbolic Serpent, as representing the works of Satan. Of the three mentioned, only Satan could be thought of as an actual person. If this is speaking of literally being tormented for all eternity, then the only person who would be so tormented for all eternity would be Satan, since the other two mentioned are symbolic. In Revelation 20:10 (compare 14:10, 11) the word translated "tormented" in most translations is a verb form of the Greek word for "touchstone," literrally translated would be "touchstoned." It carries the idea of being tested or examined, and thus should have been rendered "tested" or "examined". The evil deeds and teachings of the devil, the beast and the false prophet will be examined forever by the righteous, and will be recognized as highly deserving destruction. -- compare Isaiah 14:15-17.

In the words of Jesus at Luke 16:23,24, we find the only place in the entire Bible that "flames" of any sort are in some way depicted as existing to hades/sheol. Hades/sheol, in the Old Testatment is depicted as a condition of silence, in which one cannot thank Yahweh, nor can one praise Yahweh, a conditon wherein there is no work, no device, no knowledge, no wisdom. (Genesis 37:35; Job 13:14; Psalm 6:6; Ecclesiastes 9:10; Psalm 6:5; Isaiah 38:18) Jesus is not here going against the entire testimony of the rest of the scriptures concerning the conditio of those depicted as being in the hades/sheol. Likewise, whatever that condition may be, it is not eternal, since Jesus died and went into the condition of hades/sheol to deliver (save) all in the Bible hell who that they may be raised for the blessing of the resurrection of judgment in the last day. -- Isaiah 2:2-4; John 5:28,29; 12:47,48; Psalm 16:10; Hosea 13:14; Acts 2:27,31,33; 5:31; Romans 5:12-19; 1 Corinthians 15:21,22; Philippians 2:9; Hebrews 2:9; 1 Peter 3:18.

Luke 16:23,14, however, is part of a parable describing the fact that "the law and prophets were until John the Baptist." This parable is using sybmolic language to describe the symbolic "death" condition of Israel -- the rich man -- who continues to seek life by the Law, and the death of those who become dead to sin, and to the law, in order to receive the condition of favor -- the bosom of Abraham -- extended to those who have the faith of Abraham, faith in the blood of Jesus.

Additionally, not one of the scriptures in the NT pertaining to Gehenna present a "clear" or even a "obscure" teaching that "Gehenna represents a state of conscious, painful, punishment of the wicked after death." Not one of them describe anyone consciously suffering while allegedly not actually dead while dead.

See:
http://hereafter.reslight.net

I am not with the JWs (nor was Charles Taze Russell), but regarding Ross' accusations, see:
http://rlctr.blogspot.com/2008/09/russells-perjury.html

Stephen E. Jones said...

Ronald

>Matthew 25:41; Revelation 14:11; nor Revelation 20:10 say nothing "clearly" or even "obscurely" about the souls of humans being conscious and suffering for eternity.

Thanks for your comment. But there is too much in it for me to respond adequately to it down here in comments, so I will respond to it in a separate blog post.

However, that may be not be for some weeks, since I need to finish off this current series of responding to Pam's comments, and then I also have things I need to post to my other two blogs (CreationEvolutionDesign and TheShroudofTurin).

Stephen E. Jones