ppression of Religious Information."> Hell vs Soul Sleep re-examined


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A New Light Dawns!








The Testimony of


the Perfect Man

Who withstood Satan!



Job, with all his wisdom, and the counsel of the wisest men of his era, and even God Himself to discuss things with, knew nothing of HEAVEN or HELL, and expected not just "soul sleep", but


Job 10:18 "Wherefore then hast thou brought me out of the womb?  Oh that I had given up the ghost, and no eye had ever seen me!

    19 "I should have been as though I had not been; I should have been carried from the womb to the grave."

     20 "Are my days not few?  cease then, and let me alone, that I may take comfort a little,  21 Before I go whence I shall not return, even to the land of darkness and the shadow of death;--"

     22 "A land of darkness, as darkness itself; and of the shadow of death, without any order, and where the light is darkness."

Job 14:1 "Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble.

    2 "He cometh forth like a flower, and is cut down: he fleeth also as a shadow, and continueth not."

    3 "And dost thou open thine eyes upon such a one, and bringest me into judgment with thee?

    4 "Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one."

    5 "Seeing his days are determined, the number of his months are with thee, thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass;--"

    6 "Turn from him, that he may rest till he shall accomplish, as an hireling, his day."

    7 "For there is hope of a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that the tender branch thereof will not cease."

    8 "Though the root thereof wax old in the earth, and the stock thereof die in the ground;--"

    9 "Yet through the scent of water it will bud, and bring forth boughs like a plant."

    10 "But man dieth, and wasteth away: yes, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he?"

    11 "As the waters fail from the sea, and the flood decayeth and drieth up:  12 So man lieth down, and riseth not: till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep."

    13 "O that thou wouldest hide me in the grave, that thou wouldest keep me secret, until my wrath be past, that thou wouldest appoint me a set time, and remember me!"

     14 "If a man die, shall he live again?  all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come."

    15 "Thou shalt call, and I will answer thee: thou wilt have a desire to the work of thy hands."

    16 "For now thou numberest my steps: dost thou not watch over my sin?"

    17 "My transgression is sealed up in a bag, and thou sewest up mine iniquity."

    18 "And surely the mountain falling cometh to nought, and the rock is removed out of his place."

    19 "The waters wear the stones: thou washest away the things which grow   out of the dust of the earth; and thou destroyest the hope of man."

    20 "Thou prevailest for ever against him, and he passeth: thou changest his countenance, and sendest him away,"

     21 "His sons come to honour, and he knoweth it not; and they are brought low, but he perceiveth it not of them."

    22 "But his flesh upon him shall have pain, and his soul within him shall mourn." 

    (Some interpreters see a glimmer of a hope for a resurrection here, but no clear afterlife is present.  And I suppose believers in HELL can see a glimmer of that, too, in verse 22.)




Thursday, September 11, 2008

Posted on the Internet Blogspot

Origins of the Doctrine of Soul Sleep and Annihilation in Adventism

     "There are a number of related teachings that go by various names -   including: psychopannychism, thnetopsychism, annihilationism, inclusionism, soul sleep, the state of the dead and conditional immortality.

      It’s interesting to know that there are only three groups of any note that hold to the notion of soul sleep. They are Seventh-day Adventists, Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Christadelphians. 

      Annihilationism first appeared in the fourth century in a book from Arnobius of Sicca. It was condemned in the Second Council of Constantinople in 553.

    “In the 1800’s, the United States saw a minimal emergence of annihilationism, primarily in new fringe groups like the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Seventh-day Adventists.” Hell Under Fire, p.197. Morgan goes on to say that in addition to these groups, a number of liberal theologians have more recently embraced a belief in annihilation. The Mormons also believe in annihilation. Among the Mennonites who hailed from the Anabaptists there are a few adherents to annihilation along with some in the Church of Christ, and smatterings of liberal theologians.

How did the teaching of soul sleep and annihilation originate within Adventism? It actually came thr George Storrsu a Methodist preacher named George Storrs. In 1837 he read a tract written by one of his contemporaries, Deacon Henry Grew, from Pennsylvania. At the time, Grew was serving as a Baptist minister, but left when he began teaching soul sleep (also known as conditional immortality), since it contradicted Baptist belief and teaching.

Storrs was drawn to the teachings both of soul sleep and annihilation because he believed that it better reflected his conception of the mercy of God. He decided to write his own tract, followed by six published sermons in 1841. These were widely distributed in 200,000 tracts. It was after the publication of his teaching that Storrs joined with the Millerites, and became a preacher in that movement. He was very convincing and a number of Millerites were converted to his way of thinking.

  Charles Taze Russell was one of those people. Russell had already become a follower of William Miller, and embraced his teaching that Jesus would return to Earth in 1844. When that event failed to happen, the Millerite movement  splintered into various other Adventist groups. Russell also became a student of George Storrs’, and an Adventist. He eventually joined the editorial staff of the The Midnight Cry and Herald of the Morning, an Adventist publication devoted to the message of Christ's soon return.

Because of disagreements with its editor, N. H. Barbour, he went from there to start the Watch Tower and subsequently the Jehovah’s Witnesses. It was in Russell’s new journal (then called Zion’s Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence), in 1879, that he reaffirmed his belief that the Millerite movement of 1844 began the "modern day fulfillment of end-times prophecies.”
     It’s interesting to note the similarities even in the publications of the groups that were birthed out of the Millerite movement: The Herald of the Morning, The Review and Herald, and Zion’s Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence - further evidence of the origins in these false prophetic movements. So the connection to the similar views, with respect to the state of the dead, is traceable from Adventism to the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Russell modified it somewhat in that he taught that the wicked are never resurrected and remain as if they had never been after death. So the teaching of soul sleep emerged from “Adventists” who had their origins in the Millerite movement.

Interestingly, William Miller did not endorse the teaching of soul sleep and denounced it publicly, as did Josiah Litch, I. E. Jones, and the Signs of the Times. However, Joseph Bates, James White, and Ellen White espoused Storrs’ teachings, and when the break was made with the Millerites, by the formation of the doctrine of the Investigative Judgment, they took the doctrine of soul sleep with them. It was the Investigative Judgment doctrine that necessitated this belief in soul sleep for the newly-minted Adventist group. One could not have deceased going to Heaven before the Investigative Judgment was completed. It was in the Investigative Judgment (beginning in 1844) that people’s fates were determined - and not until then. It wouldn’t do to go to Heaven at death and then have the verdict changed. One could picture an angel going to the doomed person standing beside the sea of glass saying, “Excuse me, John. I’m so very sorry, but a mistake has been made and you are going to be transferred. The climate in your new location is quite warm but you will still have a waterfront view - of the Lake of Fire.”

The Investigative Judgment made this doctrine mandatory. In addition to soul sleep, since one could go into nonexistence during the time between death and resurrection, the doctrine of annihilation became an easy next step.

Ellen White, in her book Life Sketches Pp. 49-50, describes the genesis of her belief in annihilation as she relates her experience: “One day I listened to a conversation between my mother and a sister, in reference to a discourse which they had recently heard, to the effect that the soul had not natural immortality. Some of the minister's proof texts were repeated. Among them I remember these impressed me very forcibly: ‘The soul that sinneth, it shall die.’ Eze. 18:4. ‘The living know that they shall die: but the dead know not anything.’ Eccl. 9:5. ‘Which in His times He shall show, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; who only hath immortality.’ 1 Tim. 6:15, 16. ‘To them who by patient continuance in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life.’ Rom. 2:7… I listened to these new ideas with an intense and painful interest. When alone with my mother, I inquired if she really believed that the soul was not immortal. Her reply was, that she feared we had been in error on that subject, as well as upon some others. ‘But, mother,’ said I, ‘do you really believe that the soul sleeps in the grave until the resurrection? Do you think that the Christian, when he dies, does not go immediately to heaven, nor the sinner to hell?’ She answered: ‘The Bible gives us no proof that there is an eternally burning hell. If there is such a place, it should be mentioned in the Sacred Book.’ ‘Why, mother!’ cried I, in astonishment, ‘this is strange talk for you! If you believe this strange theory, do not let any one know of it; for I fear that sinners would gather security from this belief, and never desire to seek the Lord.’”

Ellen White’s Take On Soul Sleep

    Ellen White considered the teachings of soul sleep and annihilation to be proof of God’s revelation of special knowledge to the remnant church of God. It elevated the new church to a position of honor in contrast to all other churches which she had categorized as Babylon. “Every species of delusion is now being brought in. The plainest truths of God's Word are covered with a mass of man-made theories. Deadly errors are presented as the truth to which all must bow. The simplicity of true godliness is buried beneath tradition. The doctrine of the natural immortality of the soul is one error with which the enemy is deceiving man. This error is well-nigh universal…This is one of the lies forged in the synagogue of the enemy, one of the poisonous drafts of Babylon.” Evangelism p. 247

     One of the primary fears that continues to sustain the teaching of soul sleep is the fear of deception by the enemy. It is taught that if one believes in the immortality of the soul, then Satan and his angels will be able to impersonate the departed and deceive thousands. Interestingly, it is also this fear that has created the Adventist resistance to the Holy Spirit. It has paved the way for any supernatural happening to be suspect as a deception from the enemy. Here are some statements that expose the roots of those fears.

Through the two great errors, the immortality of the soul and Sunday sacredness, Satan will bring the people under his deceptions. While the former lays the foundation of spiritualism, the latter creates a bond of sympathy with Rome. The Protestants of the United States will be foremost in stretching their hands across the gulf to grasp the hand of spiritualism; they will reach over the abyss to clasp hands with the Roman power; and under the influence of this threefold union, this country will follow in the steps of Rome in trampling on the rights of conscience.” GC p. 588

It is these fears that have fueled wrong decisions regarding prayer in schools, abortion and other godly principles that cut across the very foundations that have protected this nation. In an article in Ministry Magazine, John Stevens, then Director of Religious Liberty in the Pacific Union Conference wrote, “Abortion is a religious moral issue and should not be legislated. If it is, the New Christian Right could eventually exercise its political clout on Sunday observance. The danger is not in whether an issue is Scripturally correct or not, but the loss of constitutional freedom.” Fear seems to be the major motivator for the doctrines that run athwart mainstream Christian belief.

As spiritualism more closely imitates the nominal Christianity (any church not Adventist) of the day, it has greater power to deceive and ensnare. Satan himself is converted, after the modern order of things. He will appear in the character of an angel of light. Through the agency of spiritualism, miracles will be wrought, the sick will be healed, and many undeniable wonders will be performed. And as the spirits will profess faith in the Bible, and manifest respect for the institutions of the church, their work will be accepted as a manifestation of divine power.” GC p. 588

While the Bible does warn us of Satan masquerading as an angel of light, it has been carried to the extreme in Adventism. Many will not accept any manifestations of the Holy Spirit since the time of Ellen White. Another common theme demonstrated in the quotation above is the creation of barriers of suspicion toward any other Christian church.

In the following quotation we see the doctrines of the Sabbath and soul sleep linked together again. In a separate study we will show how both of these doctrines are tied to the doctrine of the Investigative Judgment.

     “Satan will have power to bring before us the appearance of forms purporting to be our relatives or friends now sleeping in Jesus. It will be made to appear as if these friends were present; the words that they uttered while here, with which we were familiar, will be spoken, and the same tone of voice that they had while living will fall upon the ear. All this is to deceive the saints and ensnare them into the belief of this delusion. I saw that the saints must get a thorough understanding of present truth, which they will be obliged to maintain from the Scriptures. They must understand the state of the dead; for the spirits of devils will yet appear to them, professing to be beloved friends and relatives, who will declare to them that the Sabbath has been changed, also other unscriptural doctrines. They will do all in their power to excite sympathy and will work miracles before them to confirm what they declare. The people of God must be prepared to withstand these spirits with the Bible truth that the dead know not anything, and that they who appear to them are the spirits of devils…I saw the rapidity with which this delusion was spreading. A train of cars was shown me, going with the speed of lightning. The angel bade me look carefully. I fixed my eyes upon the train. It seemed that the whole world was on board, that there could not be one left. Said the angel; ‘They are binding in bundles ready to burn.’ Then he showed me the conductor, who appeared like a stately, fair person, whom all the passengers looked up to and reverenced. I was perplexed and asked my attending angel who it was. He said, ‘It is Satan. He is the conductor in the form of an angel of light. He has taken the world captive. They are given over to strong delusions, to believe a lie, that they may be damned. This agent, the next highest in order to him, is the engineer, and other of his agents are employed in different offices as he may need them, and they are all going with lightning speed to perdition.’" Early Writings pp. 87-88.

      Since we have not yet established the biblical teaching on the subjects of soul sleep and annihilation, I will here propose some hypothetical questions to bear in mind for future review. If we find the doctrine of soul sleep to be in error, the quotation above has serious implications regarding the source of this vision. Who is the angel that showed her that the Sabbath was still mandatory for Christians, and who created fears that would cause people to reject the manifestations of the Holy Spirit and to embrace the doctrine of soul sleep? Who would the stately, fair person be whom he is opposing?

Could the Doctrine of Soul Sleep Stand On Scripture Alone?

The quotations above are just a sampling of the foundational teaching about soul sleep as taught by the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Now, with that as a background, let’s turn, as we did with the Sabbath study, to the message Herschel Hughes delivered at Celebration Center on January 17, 2006. “You must reject your false views about death as I am the Creator of life and the immortality of the soul, and at the moment of death, I call home to be with me, all the souls of my true believers.”

So what is the truth? For most of its history, Adventism has not made apology for admitting their doctrines were derived from the Bible as supported by the writings of Ellen White. The current General Conference President, Jan Paulsen, states it this way, “And the inspired authorities on which these and other doctrines (investigative judgment and sanctuary messages) are based, namely the Bible supported by the writings of Ellen White, continue to be the hermeneutical foundation on which we as a church place all matters of faith and conduct. Let no one think that there has been a change of position in regard to this.” And while there are many who would reject that assertion, it is difficult to sustain any other conclusion after careful study of those doctrines under the scrutiny of the word of God.

     With growing exposure to other Christian dialogue, some have attempted to put distance between themselves and those who overtly acknowledge dependence on Ellen White’s writings for doctrinal derivation. But I find it odd, with doctrines such as the Investigative Judgment and soul sleep, that there could be any denial that their origins stem from the early development of the SDA church. One would be hard-pressed to find any Christian churches that espouse either of those beliefs. Soul sleep has no notable adherents outside the confines of Seventh-day Adventism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Church of God Abrahamic Faith, and Christadelphians.

       Throughout the history of the Christian church there have been only scattered, small pockets of those who have promoted the teaching of soul sleep, conditional immortality or annihilation. Both universalism and annihilation are becoming more popular recently, in liberal theological circles, as flip sides of the belief that God wouldn’t assign the wicked to hell for eternity. Their conclusions are based on moral outrage and misunderstanding the implications of hell, rather than on new exegetical biblical evidence. Whatever their origins, this constellation of doctrines deserves close attention because of their implications to our understanding of the human spirit, the Holy Spirit and our interactions with the spiritual realm. So, with a bit of trepidation, and an enormous awareness of the limitations of our capacity to comprehend the subject, we will launch out into a study of the reality of the unseen. "

Summary of Adventist Teaching On Soul Sleep

1) Soul sleep, conditional immortality, and annihilation are all related doctrines.

2) Soul sleep is the belief that between death and resurrection both believers and unbelievers are nonexistent and have no conscious thought.

3) Conditional immortality is the belief that those who are saved are granted eternal life at the resurrection while the lost are punished and then exterminated permanently and eternally. They cease to exist in any form. This includes Satan and his angels.

4) The four groups who teach soul sleep are: Seventh-day Adventists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Church of God Abrahamic Faith and Christadelphians.

5) George Storrs took the teaching of soul sleep from a tract he read, on which he based his own writings on the subject.

6) Storrs became a Millerite and convinced a number of their group to join him in this belief.

7) William Miller rejected the teaching, but Joseph Bates, James and Ellen White, and Charles Taze Russell accepted it.

8) Russell was on the staff of The Midnight Cry and Herald of the Morning, an Adventist publication devoted to the Midnight Cry message. He went from there to start the Jehovah’s Witnesses, taking the teaching with him.

9) Ellen White considered Sunday observance and a belief in the immortality of the soul to be “the two great errors” by which Satan would draw people into his deceptions.

10) The Seventh-day Adventist Church teaches that those who do not believe in soul sleep will be taken into occult activities and spiritualism.

11) One of the great fears instilled in Ellen White's readers was the belief that if they didn’t believe in soul sleep, demons would impersonate their dead relatives and tell them that the Sabbath had been changed to Sunday.

12) The Seventh-day Adventist Church holds soul sleep as one of its 28 fundamental beliefs.



Modern scholarship

As early as 1917 Harvey W. Scott wrote "That there is no definite affirmation, in the Old Testament of the doctrine of a future life, or personal immortality, is the general consensus of Biblical scholarship."[167] The modern scholarly consensus is that the canonical teaching of the Old Testament made no reference to an "immortal soul" independent of the body.[168][169][170][171] This view is represented consistently in a wide range of scholarly reference works.[172][173][174][175][176]

According to Donelley, "Twentieth century biblical scholarship largely agrees that the ancient Jews had little explicit notion of a personal afterlife until very late in the Old Testament period," and "only the latest stratum of the Old Testament asserts even the resurrection of the body."[168] Scholars have noted that the notion of the "disembodied existence of a soul in bliss" is not in accordance with a Hebrew world view:[172] "While Hebrew thought world distinguished soul from body (as material basis of life), there was no question of two separate, independent entities."[177] Gillman argues that

In contrast to the two enigmatic references to Enoch and Elijah, there are ample references to the fact that death is the ultimate destiny for all human beings, that God has no contact with or power over the dead, and that the dead do not have any relationship with God (see, inter alia, Ps. 6:6, 30:9–10, 39:13–14, 49:6–13, 115:16–18, 146:2–4). If there is a conceivable setting for the introduction of a doctrine of the afterlife, it would be in Job, since Job, although righteous, is harmed by God in the present life. But Job 10:20–22 and 14:1–10 affirm the opposite.[175]

However, N. T. Wright suggests that "the Bible offers a spectrum of belief about life after death."[178] While Goldingay suggests that Qohelet points out that there is no evidence that "human beings would enjoy a positive afterlife,"[179] Philip Johnston argues that a few Psalms, such as Psalm 16, Psalm 49 and Psalm 73, "affirm a continued communion with God after death," but "give no elaboration of how, when or where this communion will take place."[180]

Neyrey suggests that, "for a Hebrew, ‘soul’ indicated the unity of a human person," and "this Hebrew field of meaning is breached in the Wisdom of Solomon by explicit introduction of Greek ideas of soul.[181] Avery-Peck argues that

Scripture does not present even a rudimentarily developed theology of the soul. The creation narrative is clear that all life originates with God. Yet the Hebrew Scripture offers no specific understanding of the origin of individual souls, of when and how they become attached to specific bodies, or of their potential existence, apart from the body, after death. The reason for this is that, as we noted at the beginning, the Hebrew Bible does not present a theory of the soul developed much beyond the simple concept of a force associated with respiration, hence, a life-force.[182]

Regardless of the character of the soul's existence in the intermediate state, biblical scholarship affirms that a disembodied soul is unnatural and at best transitional. Bromiley argues that "the soul and the body belong together, so that without either the one or the other there is no true man. Disembodied existence in Sheol is unreal. Paul does not seek a life outside the body, but wants to be clothed with a new and spiritual body (1 Cor. 15; 2 Cor. 5)."[183]

The mortalist disbelief in the existence of a naturally immortal soul,[1][5] is affirmed as biblical teaching by a range of standard scholarly Jewish and Christian sources. The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Modern Christian Thought (1995) says, "There is no concept of an immortal soul in the Old Testament, nor does the New Testament ever call the human soul immortal."[184] Harper's Bible Dictionary (1st ed. 1985) says that "For a Hebrew, ‘soul’ indicated the unity of a human person; Hebrews were living bodies, they did not have bodies".[185] Cressey 1996 says, "But to the Bible man is not a soul in a body but a body/soul unity".[186] Avery-Peck 2000 says, "Scripture does not present even a rudimentarily developed theology of the soul"[182] and "The notion of the soul as an independent force that animates human life but that can exist apart from the human body—either prior to conception and birth or subsequent to life and death—is the product only of later Judaism".[182] The New Dictionary of Theology says that the Septuagint translated the Hebrew word nefesh by the Greek word psyche, but the latter does not have the same sense in Greek thought.[187] The Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible, 2000 says, "Far from referring simply to one aspect of a person, “soul” refers to the whole person".[188] The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia says, "Possibly Jn. 6:33 also includes an allusion to the general life-giving function. This teaching rules out all ideas of an emanation of the soul."[183] and "The soul and the body belong together, so that without either the one or the other there is no true man".[183] The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary, 1987 says, "Indeed, the salvation of the “immortal soul” has sometimes been a commonplace in preaching, but it is fundamentally unbiblical."[172] The Encyclopedia of Christianity, 2003 says "The Hebrew Bible does not present the human soul (nepeš) or spirit (rűah) as an immortal substance, and for the most part it envisions the dead as ghosts in Sheol, the dark, sleepy underworld".[189] The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, 2005 says, "there is practically no specific teaching on the subject in the Bible beyond an underlying assumption of some form of afterlife (see immortality)".[190] The Zondervan Encyclopedia of the Bible (rev ed.), 2009 says "It is this essential soul-body oneness that provides the uniqueness of the biblical concept of the resurrection of the body as distinguished from the Greek idea of the immortality of the soul".[191]

The mortalist disbelief in the existence of a naturally immortal soul[1][5] is also affirmed as biblical teaching by various modern theologians,[192][193][194][g][195][196][197] and Hebblethwaite observes the doctrine is "not popular amongst Christian theologians or among Christian philosophers today".[198][199]



 How does knowledge of "Gospel Pesher" and the existence of the "Dead Sea Scrolls" and the Essene Monastery at Qumran change the picture of "Heaven" and "Hell"?

ANSWER: The difference between what we're reading in Job and all the Old Testament and Jesus' statements about "Hell" and "Heaven" in the Gospels is very well explained.  If, indeed, we realize he was an Essene "Messiah" (and human, not divine) -- The Essene location of "Hell" and "Heaven" at Qumran has been identified!

As a tourist walks up the ascending pathway from the field south of Qumran, he sees on his right the ruins of cave 7 and 8 -- to the Essnes known as "Hades", the burial cave of the "Rich Man", very hot, of course! Walking up the same pathway from the south, if the tourist turns and looks towards his left, he'll see the still intact Cave 4, known by the Essenes as "The Bosom of Abraham" where priestly Essenes were buried!

   In between these two caves, and far below them as you're walking on this pathway is what Luke is describing in the "Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31--Verse 26 "And beside all this, between us (Lazarus in "Abraham's bosom" and the Rich Man in "Hades") "there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence."   Perhaps no other "joke" by the Essene Jesus has earned the Catholic Church more money and gained them more power than this one!  But don't dispair, you Protestants, the same "joke" has allowed Baptist evangelists to baptize a lot of people also!

How about Jesus' statement that there will be no marriage in "Heaven"?   Can we rely on that or are we dealing with another Essene "Joke"?

  Sad to say, (or happy to say if you believe one lifetime is enough time for your present most intimate relationship) that's another of Jesus' Essene "Jokes" also.  To the Essenes, "Heaven" was located in their monastery, where only unmarried monks could stay.  These monks were considered to be "angels" or "like angels" and many were given the names of angels, such as Gabriel, Michael, Sariel, etc.  There was a narrow path to the "Samaria" of the Essenes, Ain Feshkha, where was located their fresh water supply ("Jacob's Well").  Beyond Ain Feshkha walking southward another 3 Km was "Destruction", where the married Essenes, which included Andrew and Peter ("the fishermen who fished for men, not fish") lived -- And Jesus himself, the author of Matthew 7:13,14 and Matthew 22:30.

If there's really no place below the ground where fires burn eternally and the wicked are tormented, why would Jesus advise people to "pluck out an eye" or "Cut off a hand" to avoid going to a non-existent location and a punishment that does not exist?

    It took me quite a while of actually doing "Bible Codes" and "Gospel Pesher" to find out (Since Thiering doesn't teach this) about the ESSENE MILLENNIAL WEEK and also their REPETITION CODES.  If you find something REPEATED, and this repetition doesn't make sense in it's present context, then it may be a REPETITION CODE referring to the Essene MILLENNIAL WEEK prophecy in which "One Day stands for 1000 years."  This is true of Jesus' statement about what one may have to do to avoid HELL.  The meaning is well hidden because Matthew 5:29,30 is not repeated almost exactly until Matthew 18:8,9.  What Jesus (through Matthew) is saying here is that this false doctrine, the doctine of an ever-burning hell, will be taught by the Christian church for 2000 years (2 millennial days) and after the end of those 2000 years, this false doctrine will have no credibility and no use any longer!