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When Does Hell Mean Hell?

January 9, 2019

        He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption, Acts 2:31.

 

       In my early days when I first began to associate with Fundamentalists, to make a stand for the King James Bible was to be associated with Ruckmanism.  In the late 1970s and the first part of 1980, John R. Rice was still alive and was still considered the voice of Fundamentalism.  He and Dr. Peter Ruckman were at odds over the issue of the King James Bible and Dr. Rice held the upper hand with fundamentalists because his marriage had been successful.    

        In those days, if a young preacher mentioned the infallibility or perfection of the King James bible he was labeled as a Ruckmanite and would usually be given a lecture on the sanctity of marriage.  As strange as that may seem to younger ears, the marriage and remarriage issue was the box in which the average fundamentalist placed the controversy of the King James Bible.  It wasn't until the later half of the 1980s that it became more in vogue to be called a King James man. 

        It was Jack Hyles who opened the door in mainstream fundamentalism to accept a King James only stand.  He has been subsequently attacked and lauded for his stand, but regardless of his motives, when he made his stand he made it comfortable for thousands of other preachers to do the same.  In 2001, David Sorenson published his book, Touch Not the Unclean Thing which stated unequivocally what most men had begun to see already.  When a ministry switched bibles, it also lowered its standards on most things.  

        Sorenson represents the divide between advocates of the King James Bible.  He saw it as the best translation but he drew a very clear line between his stand and the idea that the King James Bible was inspired or infallible.  Since that time, the world of King James Bible believers is pretty broad ranging from adherents who only carry it as a symbol of their fundamental stand to those who see it as the Word of God itself and infallible. 

       The frustrating thing about dealing with an historical bible believer (one who merely acknowledges the lineage of the text) as opposed to a doctrinal bible believer (one whose entire doctrine is derived from the exact wording of a King James Bible) is their tendency to explain away anything in the text that discomfits them.  A typical example of this is the verse with which I have led off this post.  He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption, Acts 2:31.

       Did the soul of Jesus Christ go into the fires of hell or not?  Was his soul truly made an offering for sin, and did it experience what other offerings for sin experienced?  Did he pass through the fire?  Those erstwhile fundamentalists of my younger days were quick to say no.  When confronted by a verse that says that he did, they knowingly would explain it all away by explaining that there are two sections of the underworld.  The entire underworld is called Hades (ᾍδης).  With bemused patience they would explain that the Greek word here was Hades and that it was somewhat mistakenly translated as hell.  Certainly, according to them, Jesus Christ never went into the flames. 

     There are many problems with that scenario, but chiefest among them is that the Apostle Paul said that Jesus Christ descended into both parts;  Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?, Ephesians 4:9.  The last I knew, parts is a plural word.  The other problem with their thinking is that they unwittingly fall into the trap laid by those who don't believe that anyone ever goes into hell.  

       And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom, Luke 16:23.  For many years longer than fundamentalists have been hiding their nakedness by doing their fan dance with wisps of Greek; Unitarians, Jehovah Witnesses and modernists have comforted themselves by noting that the rich man didn't actually go into any hell fire.  He went to Hades.  Suddenly, the fundamentalist who would explain away Acts 2:31 by resorting to his distorted knowledge of Greek finds himself hand in hand with  every sort of devilish doctrine. 

       Hell means hell.  The King James translators knew exactly what they were doing when they translated the word.  

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