The concept of 'hell' continues to terrify millions so let us examine this teaching based on the fear principle.
In the time of Jesus, the 'holy scriptures' were what we know today as the Old Testament. The New Testament is replete with passages citing the authority of these same 'scriptures'. Jesus himself answered his critics by saying "...ye do err, not knowing the scriptures," and again "...and the scripture cannot be broken." (Matthew 22:29, John 10:34)
I'll use the same yardstick - that set by the writers of the New Testament and by Jesus himself. His teachings were based on 'scripture' and can only be understood by using that same 'scripture'.
The substance of most Christian church teachings is that, immediately upon death, the soul departs from the body and finds a reward for deeds done on earth. Before demonstrating the 'UNscripturalness' of such teaching, we might look at what was taught by the Pharisees.
We are greatly indebted to the historian Josephus (70AD) for the following:
"...they also believe that souls have an immortal vigour in them, and that under the earth there will be rewards or punishments, according as they have lived virtuously or viciously in this life; and the latter are to be detained in an everlasting prison, but that the former shall have the power to revive and live again; on accounts of which doctrines they are able to greatly persuade the body of the people."(Antiquities, Book 18, Chapter 1).
The remarkable application of this description to present day teachings should be apparent to all. Didn't Jesus say "Beware the teachings of the Pharisees"?
More to come...