SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT!

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Some people in the town in which I live have been spreading the rumor that I do not teach there is life after death. They do this because I do not hold to the medieval church’s teaching concerning Hell and therefore they say this means there can’t be a heaven if there is no Hell. This is not true I have a very deep Faith that all the wonderful people I have loved over the years, upon their death attained the presence of God’s love. I am so sorry people have lied to you about the truths I hold about God and the afterlife but then if you really wanted to know what I thought all you ever had to do was ask. I do hold that at the end of one of the earth ages God dwells on earth with humanity in Love and Glory, essentially Heaven will be on earth, this is our true future not heaven.
Pastor Bill Langill jr.

4 thoughts on “SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT!

  1. Bill, please enlighten me…what is the “medieval church teaching on hell, and what does it have to do with the one true christian church of today that lives according to the WHOLE COUNCIL OF GOD as revealed in the Holy Scriptures? How conveinient it is to simply deny hell rather than walk with Christ, abide in Him and live according to His teaching only. Thank you.

  2. Much of the popular, modern conception of Hell in both religious and secular circles has its roots not in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, but in the literature and art of the European Middle Ages (a period from approximately 500 AD to 1500 AD). The Bible gives only the vaguest of hints about the fate after death of the “unsaved.” Dissatisfied with this silence, Roman Catholic religious leaders, along with artists and writers, embellished these hints over the centuries until they had created a vast, horrific Underworld so vividly detailed that it had incredible power over the minds of most Europeans.

    Hellfire sermons

    Peasants of the time often had a very bleak life. As odd as it may sound to modern minds, often the only “popular entertainment” from week to week was the Sunday sermon by the parish priest. And the most exciting version of those sermons were the ones describing in minute detail the tortures that allegedly awaited the damned in Hell. It might not be all that unreasonable to draw a parallel between the fascination that the masses had with these stories and the craving for horror films in the 21st century!

    From History of Hell, Alice Turner, Harcourt Brace & Co., 1993

    …during the Middle Ages higher theology had far less effect on the concept of Hell than what can only be called popular enthusiasm.

    The vernacular sermon [one given in the common language of the people] was developed fairly early as a way of communicating with parishioners increasingly baffled by the mysteries of the Latin mass. In a village or small town, that weekly sermon might be the chief, even the only entertainment for the populace. “Hellfire” sermons drew crowds for complex reasons and have continued to do so almost until the present.

    …Medieval preachers were given aids to help them prepare sermons and take confessions; these included homilies [written versions of short expositions of scriptural passages], anecdotal exempla, pulpit manuals, and books of penances [descriptions of acts that repentant sinners could be required to do to “make up” for various sinful actions]. The dire consequence of sin was a favorite subject in all of them, as it was in the inventive sculptures, reliefs, mosaics, frescoes, and paintings made for churches and cathedrals.

    Since we have no records of reaction to these sermons and paraphernalia we must infer their fame from their survival. (p. 90)

    Vision Literature

    A significant source of content for such sermons was what has been called by medieval historians “Vision Literature.” Throughout many countries in Europe, peasants, knights, and others insisted that they had been stricken by what might best be called “near death experiences.” They fell into a coma, were taken in vision to Hell to see the tortures there as a warning to themselves and others to “mend their ways,” and then awakened and felt compelled to share the story of their adventures with others.

    … In hundreds of manuscript copies of more than sixty surviving visions, someone is taken by a supernatural guide to the infernal regions, then (sometimes) to Purgatory, and then to Heaven. Though visions were written down by the literate clergy, they were often experienced by quite ordinary people, who certainly believed in them. Their modern equivalents might be reports of UFO abduction. It should be remembered that this was an age of obsessive piety, self-imposed fasting and flagellation, no antibiotics for fevers, and that people were educated to believe in visions. They wanted visions. Some accounts, on the other hand, especially late ones, were undoubtedly concocted by born storytellers for the astonishment of the pious and credulous. (ibid, p. 91)

    Flagellation (self-beating), extended periods of going without food, and high fevers from sickness all have the potential to induce hallucinations in the average person. Add to this “obsessive piety”–which would lead to extremely strong emotions of guilt even at the smallest infraction against the teachings of the Church–and it is certainly a recipe for some individuals to experience strange dreams that seemed to them as vivid reality.

    The most famous of these popular visions was that said to have been experienced by an Irish knight in the 12th century.

    From the Wikipedia.org article Tundale

    The Visio Tnugdali (Latin: Vision of Tnugdalus) is a 12th-century religious text reporting the otherworldly vision of the Irish knight Tnugdalus (later also called “Tundalus”, “Tondolus” or in English translations, “Tundale”).

    The Latin text was written down shortly after 1149 by Brother Marcus, an Irish itinerant monk, in the Schottenkloster, Regensburg. He reports having heard Tnugdalus’ account from the knight himself and to have done a translation from the Irish language at the Regensburg abbess’ request.

    The visio tells of the proud and easygoing knight falling unconscious for three days, during which time an angel guides his soul through Heaven and Hell, experiencing some of the torments of the damned. The angel then charges Tnugdalus to well remember what he has seen and to report it to his fellow men. On recovering possession of his body, Tnugdalus converts to a pious life as a result of his experience.

    The Visio Tnugdali with its interest in the topography of the afterlife is situated in a broad Irish tradition of phantastical tales about otherworldly voyages, called immram, as well as in a tradition of Christian afterlife visions, itself influenced by pre-Christian notions of the afterlife. Other important texts from this tradition include the Visio Thurkilli, the Visio Godeschalci and the Purgatorium Sancti Patricii.

    The Latin “Tundalus” was swiftly and widely transmitted through copies, with 172 manuscripts having been discovered to date. During the Middle Ages, the text was also a template for Middle Low German and Middle High German adaptations such as the rhyme version of “Tundalus” by Alber of Kloster Windberg (around 1190), or the “Niederrheinischer Tundalus” fragments (around 1180/90). In the early modern age, Marcus’ original text was also translated into various vernacular languages and published several times.

    From a description of the content of one of the versions of the Tundale story (Turner, op.cit., p. 99):

    Next comes a great bird with an iron beak that eats unchaste nuns and priests and defecates them into a frozen lake where both men and women proceed to give birth to serpents. Tundal has to go through this too, though, thankfully, we don’t hear about it in much detail.

    Illustration of Tundal’s bird in details of 15th century painting by Heironymous Bosch, Garden of Earthly Delights

    After a difficult climb comes the Valley of Fires, where fiends seize Tundal with burning forceps, throw him into a furnace until he is red-hot, then hammer him on an anvil with twenty or thirty other sinful souls into one mass, tossing this into the air till the angel rescues him. [And all this is BEFORE he gets down to “Hell proper”!]

    The minds of all classes of people, both religious and secular, in the Middle Ages were filled with these grotesque images of an ever-burning place of torture threatened for those who failed to live up to the demands of the religion of the time. In the early 1300s, one of these people, poet Dante Alighieri of Italy, turned the images in his own mind into The Inferno (Italian: L’Inferno), a major section of a vivid poem (The Divine Comedy) that forever enshrined the medieval view of the Afterlife for the generations to come. Considered one of the primary pieces of classic Western literature, it has been translated into numerous languages. Its imagery has inspired over the past seven centuries huge numbers of paintings, book illustrations, statues, poems by other poets, books by other authors, musical compositions, movies–and countless “Hellfire sermons” by both Catholic and Protestant ministers.

    For more information on the incredible influence of Dante, see the article Dante’s Hell. One of the primary purposes of this Is It True What They Say About Hell? website is to provide documentation which will persuade readers to seriously consider whether the common perspective on Hell taught by most Christian groups comes from the Bible–or from a combination of non-biblical sources, with Dante’s Inferno as the centerpiece.

    Medieval Mystery Plays

    Although the entertainment of the peasantry on a weekly basis was largely confined to the Sunday sermon, there was at least once a year in many towns and villages all over Europe an even more exciting diversion, the Mystery Play.

    From the Wikipedia.org article Mystery Play

    These vernacular [done in the common language] religious performances were, in some of the larger cities in England such as York, performed and produced by guilds, with each guild taking responsibility for a particular piece of scriptural history. From the guild control they gained the name mystery play or just mysteries, from the Latin mysterium (meaning handicraft and relating to the guilds). Mystery plays should not be confused with Miracle plays, which specifically re-enacted episodes from the lives of the saints; however, it is also to be noted that both of these terms are more commonly used by modern scholars than they were by medieval people, who used a wide variety of terminology to refer to their dramatic performances.

    The mystery play developed, in some places, into a series of plays dealing with all the major events in the Christian calendar, from the Creation to the Day of Judgment. By the end of the 15th century, the practice of acting these plays in cycles on festival days (such as Corpus Christi, performed on the Feast of Corpus Christi) was established in several parts of Europe.

    From a website on the “York Mystery Plays” in England:

    Each pageant was allocated a wagon (also called a “pageant”) which was pulled through the streets of the city along a traditional route, stopping at pre-arranged stations in order to perform. Each episode would have been played at each stop, so the audience could stay in one place, and settle in for a day’s entertainment. Sometimes special scaffolding was erected for them to sit on, like an early version of baseball bleachers!

    More on mystery plays from Turner, op. cit., p. 90:

    There is no question, however, about the popularity of Hell in the medieval theater. Mystery plays, like sermons and artwork, were first seen as a way to teach the Bile to parishioners, but they soon escaped their beginnings. The Hell scenes of these plays, with their devilish pratfalls, firecrackers, and crude toilet doggerel, became beloved popular theater–the only popular theater–and when, after many centuries they were eventually banned, they mutated into forms that persist today.

    Medieval plays were not “literary,” but an astonishing percentage of the high literary tradition also focused on Hell–in the late Middle Ages, all kinds of Hell, some of it thrillingly attractive. Writers blocked by the frightful picture presented by the Church from the ancient theme of the underworld quest inventively managed to displace Hell with eclectic underworld regions taken from classical and Norse mythology, folklore, feudal fantasy, and poetry, where Hell could strangely merge with Fairyland and allegorical knights would go adventuring.

  3. The Origins of Heaven and Hell
    Plato’s Myth of Er
    Published on June 10, 2012 by Neel Burton, M.D. in Hide and Seek

    Plato (424-348BC)
    Plato’s Myth of Er greatly influenced subsequent religious and philosophical thought, up to and including our very idea of heaven and hell.

    Er was slain in battle but came back to life 12 days later to tell the living of that which he had seen. During these 12 days, his soul went on a journey to a meadow with four openings, two into the heavens above and two into the earth below.

    Judges sat in this meadow and ordered the good souls up through one of the openings into the heavens and the bad ones down through one of the openings into the earth. Meanwhile, clean and bright souls floated down to the meadow from the other opening into the heavens, and dusty and worn out souls rose up to the meadow from the other opening into the earth.
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    Each soul had returned from a thousand year journey, but whereas the clean and bright souls spoke merrily of that which they had enjoyed in the heavens, the dusty and worn out souls wept at that which they had endured in the underground. Souls that had committed heinous crimes, such as those of tyrants or murderers, were not permitted to rise up into the meadow, and were condemned to an eternity in the underground.

    After seven days in the meadow, the souls travelled for five more days to the spindle of Necessity, a shaft of intensely bright light that extends into the heavens and that holds together the universe. The souls were then asked to come forth one by one and to choose their next life from a scattered jigsaw of human and animal lives. Not having known the terrors of the underworld, the first soul hastily chose the life of a powerful dictator, only to discover that he was fated, among many other evils, to devour his own children. Although he had been virtuous in his previous life, his virtue had arisen out of habit rather than out of philosophy, and so his judgement was poor. In contrast, the souls that had known the terrors of the underworld often chose a better, more virtuous life, but this they did on no other basis than harsh experience. Thus, many of the souls exchanged a good destiny for an evil or an evil for a good, and so on for all eternity. The soul of the wily Odysseus, which was the last to come forth, sought out the life of a private man with no cares. This he found easily, lying about and neglected by everyone else.

    After having chosen their next life, the souls travelled through the scorching Plain of Oblivion and encamped by the River of Forgetfulness. Each soul was required to drink from the river’s water so as to forget all things, but the souls which had not been saved by wisdom drank more than was strictly necessary. In the night, as they slept, the souls shot up like stars to be reborn into their chosen lives. As they did so, Er opened his eyes to find himself lying on his funeral pyre.

  4. There is quite frankly so much information out there on this topic I could cut and paste all day but one hopes you actually take the time to challenge your own presuppositions. I know for many in the fundamentalist camp this is a big no no, to admit you might be wrong is to challenge the idea of theological Infallibility.

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