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jesus and hell (part 2): fire, furnaces and darkness

(Note: This post looks awfully long, though much of the text is simply quoted references which are typed in full for the benefit of the reader. These can be mostly skipped if desired.)

In my last post I began to look at the issue of Hell as often seen within Matthew 13:

“As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let them hear. (Matthew 13:40-43)

Part 1 looked at the language of weeping and gnashing of teeth. My conclusion was that weeping and gnashing of teeth were not actions inherently related to afterlife in any way, but rather represented mourning and anger/violence in a very “earthly” sense. Such actions were in fact responses by people to God’s judgement of them.*

Why exactly is God judging these people? That will have to wait until the third and final instalment…

In the meantime I want to look at the place of this weeping and gnashing, namely the blazing furnace (13:42 etc.) and the outer darkness (8:12 etc.)

What does this language refer to? Are many conservative Christians correct in asserting that the blazing furnace and the outer darkness refer to Hell, a place of everlasting punishment? Read the rest of this entry

jesus and hell (part 1): weeping and gnashing of teeth

“As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let them hear. (Matthew 13:40-43)

Throughout much of my discipleship journey I assumed that when Matthew’s Gospel had Jesus talking about a “blazing furnace” and “weeping and gnashing of teeth” he was talking about the unimaginably intense punishment of post-mortem Hell.

In these posts I want to explore these phrases and ask the question – what is Jesus (and Matthew) talking about? This post will deal with the phrase “weeping and gnashing of teeth,” with the next being about the imagery of fire, furnaces and darkness. Read the rest of this entry

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