Saturday, July 6, 2013

Knocking the L Out of Hell

It has been awhile since I looked up Hel, so I just looked her up in Wikipedia. There she was, complete with a picture. I don't know how they know what she looks like because Hel is a goddess of Norse Mythology. It's kind of like finding the exact weight of the Easter Bunny.

Let me assure you I do believe in Hel. She is a very popular myth. What I do not believe is that she is real. Neither is the realm she is supposed to preside over.

According to the myth, Hel is a place of darkness and the place where some dead people go. Even the venerable teacher J. Vernon McGee said he could not reconcile a place of darkness with a place of flames. Some have tried to explain this inconsistency by saying the flames are like burning sulphur--hot but invisible. But sulphur's flames are not invisible. They are blue. I have seen them. They look like the flames of your gas stove.

For me the attempt to make a region in Norse mythology coincide with the Bible is, as they say, a stretch. I admit to being a "naive literalist", but not that naive.

I printed out every reference in the Bible where hell is mentioned. The words translated as "hell" have a number of meanings: pit, grave, and Jerusalem's town dump. You have a number of definitions to choose from. One actually says "hell" = "hell". That doesn't help. What is not there is a place fitting the description of the Norse goddess Hel, or her abode of darkness.

Now I like the King James or Authorized version, but I also like the NIV. I clicked on this translation and, my oh my, all the Old Testament references had disappeared. My Baptist buddies would say that the major deletions are proof that the NIV is a "liberal translation". I have not found this to be true. If I thought so, I would dump it. I have given this a lot of thought, and my conclusion is that the King James contains translations that honor the mythology long accepted by the Catholic church.

As Bishop Fulton J. Sheen said, "No one ever needs to leave the church for theological reasons, because the Catholic church contains all theologies." I believe that the latter part of his statement is true. And those who follow the doctrine of hell are promoting a myth found nowhere in the Word of God.

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