Richard G. Mendoza, MPH, PHD
Pr. Richard Mendoza works at the Central Luzon Conference of Seventh-day Adventist. An educator and promoter of health, he complements his advocacies with spiritual and valuesoriented insights.
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“One of the biggest problems the Church faced over the years was the problem of children who died before they were baptized. Before the 13th Century, all unbaptized people, including new born babies who died, would go to Hell. This was because original sin had not been cleansed by baptism. This idea however was criticized by Peter Abelard, a French scholastic philosophizer, who said that babies who had no personal sin didn’t even deserve punishment.
It was Abelard who introduced the idea of ‘Limbo’. The word comes from the Latin ‘limbus’, meaning the edge. This would be a state of existence where unbaptised babies, and those unfortunate enough to have been born before Jesus, would not experience pain but neither would they experience the Beatific Vision of God. Abelard’s idea was accepted in the 13th century by Pope Innocent III, the most powerful Pope in Roman Catholic history.
The idea of Limbo was defined in 1904 by Pope Pius X in his catechism. Babies dead without baptism go to Limbo, where they do not enjoy God, but neither do they suffer, because, having Original Sin alone, they do not deserve Paradise, but neither do they merit Hell or Purgatory. However, unease remained over reconciling a Loving God with one who sent babies to Limbo and the church still faced much criticism.”
The problem with these teachings of original sin and “Limbo” is not only the fact that it portrays a wrong kind of God but it’s being un-biblical, meaning it’s based on wrong interpretation of the Bible. And “Limbo” is not in the Bible! We’ll they might say its based on tradition and the church authority, but, “Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.” (Mark 7:7-9 KJV)
What about hell and hellfire? Why would loving God burn sinners in hell for millions of years? The subject of hell has confused people through centuries! How can we love a God like that? This terrible image of God, because of misunderstanding the truth about hell has caused thousands to reject the Bible and Christianity. Eternally-burning-hell has turned people to atheism. What kind of God can cause eternal suffering?
Hell is a place regarded in various religions as a spiritual realm of evil and suffering, often traditionally depicted as a place of perpetual fire beneath the earth where the wicked are punished after death. I was told as a kid that it’s a furnace, a very hot place. It’s down somewhere, and the devil and his angels stoke up the fire. There are no firemen to stop the fire, only wicked people being tortured. The teaching is called eternal torment, but is it true?
The Bible gives us explicit information on when hell would begin and where it would be located. As you might have guessed, misconceptions abound on these two points. In Matthew 13:49 Jesus speaks plainly saying, “So shall it be at the end of this world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.”
According to this text and many others like it, the flames of hell will not exist until the end of the world. That’s right! Your loved ones are not being burned alive as you read this column. Next, we see that the apostle Peter gives us clear information on where hell will be located. Speaking of the end of the world he says, “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up” (II Peter 2:9 KJV)
Note also, that not only will the wicked be destroyed completely in the flames of hell but so will Satan and his wicked angels according to Matthew 25:41 and Revelation 20:10. Contrary to popular belief, God plans to destroy the forces of darkness, not put them in charge of an eternal fire pit in the center of the earth!
The Bible says in 2 Peter 3:9“The Lord is…not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” God takes no delight that men and women are lost nor on the destruction of the wicked. Ours is a God of mercy, compassion and love.
Oct 2018 Health and Lifestyle