Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Hellfire Conspiracy

       Whoever thinks Manchester lacks colour has never been to Market Street on a Friday afternoon! 
       Market Street is the main shopping centre where, competing with the shops, buskers and street traders, assorted street preachers take their stand.
       On this particular Friday, there are not just one, but TWO groups of preachers, both with loudspeakers and a determination for everyone to repent. The first group features a couple of visiting preachers from the States who talk a lot about hellfire but very, very little about  what we actually need to do to avoid it!
       Further along the street two pairs of Jehovah’s Witnesses stand by their literature carts, holding out books, brochures or Watchtower and Awake magazines with serene smiles. They’ve been conducting this form of ministry since October 2013 and most people have got used to seeing them, passing by with barely a glance. Occasionally, there’s a nod or a smile or an eager hand reaching to take the proffered literature.  Even more occasionally, someone may stop for a chat – friendly or otherwise – but communication is rarely, if ever, initiated by the witnesses who stand, quietly and patiently during 4 hour stints.
       Such a lot has changed in Manchester over the years: so many colours, cultures and languages, nationalities from all over the world.  No wonder preachers view the city centre as fertile ground – it certainly offers more potential than most churches these days!  
       However, there’s a tactful way to represent the Lord and a NOT so tactful way. A young Muslim family pass by as one of the preachers starts dismissing the Koran along with the entire Islamic religion.  The husband stops, walks back to the Jehovah’s Witnesses and takes a magazine…..possibly as a ‘statement’.     Whether the evangelists have noticed this small act of ‘defiance’ is debatable, but one of their crew approaches the JWs and attempts to start a debate, only to be ambushed by another man – unconnected with either religion - who wades in against the evangelist! 
       The JWs are now free to distribute more literature without hindrance and further hellfire threats.
       Meanwhile even more fire and brimstone is being breathed by the second group of preachers, attracting quite a crowd. A blonde woman who claims to be a lesbian is yelling fiercely at the main speaker who is just as fiercely yelling back at her, both being roundly condemned by the other; the preacher to the hate crime police, the lesbian to hellfire on Judgement Day. At least she’ll have company, as (according to the speaker) most of us are going there anyway!
Or are we? Will we all be engulfed by perpetual flames? Does hell as portrayed by many denominations actually exist? In order to find the answers, let’s examine the source of such beliefs:
     Cue Ancient Babylon, home of Nimrod and many uncanny practices still in use today. Fortune-telling, omen-spotting, entrail-reading, runes, star-gazing and communing with the dead all have their roots in this magic-obsessed city. Incidentally, Babylon also invented the fiscal system, which, considering recent history, some may regard as the ultimate nightmare!
       Ironically, atheists’ refusal to believe in a separate, invisible soul is backed up by scripture.  Here, death is clearly shown to be a state of total unconsciousness, a dreamless sleep from which, according to several Bible verses (particularly the Lazarus account) people will ‘awake’ to a physical resurrection when paradise is restored on earth.

“There is no dichotomy [division] of body and soul in the O[ld] T[estament]….The term nepeš [ne’phesh], though translated by our word soul, never means soul as distinct from the body or the individual person….The term [psy-khe’] is the N[ew] T[estament] word corresponding with nepeš. It can mean the principle of life, life itself, or the living being.” – New Catholic Enyclopedia

The Mosaic Law did not allow for any form of spiritism whatsoever - in fact it was forbidden on pain of death for the nation of Israel - and it wasn’t until Greece began to stride the world stage that afterlife philosophies began to take root.
       In the fourth century CE, the Roman Emperor Constantine, unable to quell the rise of Christianity by other means and determined to unite his empire, cunningly  infused original gospel teachings with pagan beliefs such as the immortality of the soul, the trinity doctrine,  and – that most terrifying concept of all – eternal hellfire! The Biblical word rendered as ‘hell’ in many versions simply means ‘grave’ or  ‘death’. (Hebrew - sheol; Greek - Hades)

“The belief that the soul continues its existence after the dissolution of the body is a matter of philosophical or theological speculation rather than of simple faith, and is accordingly nowhere expressly taught in Holy Scripture.” – The Jewish Enyclopedia

       Constantine’s ‘miraculous conversion’ marked the beginning of the Holy Roman Empire from which the rest of Christendom developed, combining Bible accounts with Babylonish rites and practices while keeping generations of adherents in ignorance. The Dark Ages had truly begun and the Bible was unavailable to the majority of people until the 16th century when William Tyndale translated the Bible from the Latin Vulgate into English. His aim - for ‘even a plowboy’ to understand scripture - was not appreciated by the church; hardly surprising as, from the Vatican to house churches, Christendom has done more than any other organisation to promote spiritistic practices. According to one spiritualist I met some years ago, “the church already preaches life after death – all mediums do is prove it!”
       What harm does it do? Well, for one thing, the whole concept of life after death is a cruel deception, especially for people who have lost a loved one. Believing they can communicate through a spiritualist medium can lead to all kinds of fraud and extortion; even if the medium is basically well-meaning, it can still open the floodgates to a very dangerous world. 
       As for the churches, keeping the flocks in fear of everlasting torture has proved very lucrative, with masses for the dead, indulgences, prayers and various fetishes swelling their coffers over centuries. 

“….The nether world…..is pictured as a place full of horrors, and is presided over by gods and demons of great strength and fierceness.” – The Religion of Babylonia and Assyria, Boston, 1998, Morris Jastrow, Jr)
       
       But the worst sin to my mind is the reproach beliefs such as hellfire and purgatory create towards the Creator. Would a loving Father, even a sinful human one, hold a child against a fire until he screamed in agony? Is being damned to everlasting torture even just for the amount of sinning humans can fit into their three-score years and ten?
       I doubt it. 








  

Saturday, 9 September 2017

VAMPIRES, ZOMBIES AND GHOSTS – FACT OR FICTION?

       With an unprecedented fascination for the occult over the last few years and cinema queues growing for spine-chillers such as the ‘Twilight’ series,  ‘Resident Evil’ and, most recently ‘It’, spiritistic themes are providing juicy pickings for the film industry. Well, box office takings speak for themselves.  
       But is there any basis for believing in the ‘undead’ or the ‘after life’? Are films that feature spiritism in its myriad forms suitable for the young and impressionable? In order to find the answers, we first need to trace the source of such beliefs, to find out whether there is any foundation for them.
       Cue Ancient Babylon, home of Nimrod and many uncanny practices still in use today. Fortune-telling, omen-spotting, entrail-reading, runes, star-gazing and communing with the dead all have their roots in this magic-obsessed city. (Incidentally, Babylon also invented the fiscal system, which, considering recent history, some may regard as the ultimate nightmare!)
       Ironically, atheists’ refusal to believe in a separate, invisible soul is backed up by scripture.  Here, death is clearly shown to be a state of total unconsciousness, a dreamless sleep from which, according to several Bible verses (particularly the Lazarus account) people will ‘awake’ to a physical resurrection when paradise is restored on earth.
       The Mosaic Law did not allow for any form of spiritism whatsoever - in fact it was forbidden on pain of death for the nation of Israel - and it wasn’t until Greece began to stride the world stage that afterlife philosophies began to take root. 
       Unbelievably, considering their supposed Christan roots and reliance on the Bible, churches of every denomination have espoused and continue to promote the false teaching of a separate, immortal soul. This is in fact one of the greatest conspiracy against true teaching that has ever existed - Satan's original lie to Eve in the garden of Eden. (Gen 3:1-5)  
       In the fourth century CE, the Roman Emperor Constantine, unable to quell the rise of Christianity by other means and determined to unite his empire, cunningly  infused original gospel teachings with pagan beliefs such as the immortality of the soul, the trinity doctrine,  and – that most terrifying concept of all – eternal hellfire!+  
       Constantine’s ‘miraculous conversion’ marked the beginning of the Holy Roman Empire from which the rest of Christendom developed, combining Bible accounts with Babylonish rites and practices while keeping generations of adherents in ignorance. The Dark Ages had truly begun; and the Bible was unavailable to the majority of people until the 16th century when William Tyndale translated the Bible from the Latin Vulgate into English. 
       Tyndale's aim - for ‘even a plowboy’ to understand scripture - was not appreciated by the church; hardly surprising as, from the Vatican to house churches, Christendom has done more than any other organisation to promote spiritistic practices. According to one spiritualist I met some years ago, “the church already preaches life after death – all mediums do is prove it!”
       What harm does it do? Well, for one thing, the whole concept of life after death is a cruel deception, especially for people who have lost a loved one. Believing they can communicate through a spiritualist medium can lead to all kinds of fraud and extortion; even if the medium is basically well-meaning, it can still open the floodgates to a very dangerous world.
       One particular form of spiritism – now available as a game! – is the Ouija board, regarded by many as a bit of harmless fun. Others, however, no longer share that view. While at university, John*, a relative of mine, was persuaded to attend several Ouija board séances by a neighbouring couple. At first, the spirit seemed friendly and jovial but over several weeks, it became more sinister, prompting John to avoid these sessions. He was reminded of them sometime later when watching a movie about demon possession: “The first scene showed people playing with a Ouija board,” he explains, “What really scared me was how closely the spirit portrayed in the film mirrored the one conjured up by the couple at my student digs! Afterwards, I couldn’t sleep for weeks thinking how close I’d come to having the same horrific experiences.  There’s no doubt the movie played on my mind and had a very negative, frightening effect.”
       Such negative feelings are common in those who dabble with spiritism, sometimes even resulting in serious mental illness as the unwary are drawn into darker and darker practices. (Apparently, John’s former friends eventually joined a coven).
       Fascinated with fortune-telling, Mary* began visiting a psychic to gain insight into the future. Dissatisfied with her safe but dull husband, she believed the psychic’s prediction that a special man would into her life – prompting her into a divorce, a disastrous love affair and a life of poverty for herself and two children. It was only after a particularly harrowing session to which she’d been invited that she finally came to her senses, realising how deep her obsession with the occult had become.
       Others are not so fortunate, developing paranoia or psychotic symptoms, hearing voices, and suffering night terrors with horrific dreams. In many countries, the occult is particularly rife with of voodoo priests and witches threatening curses or spells in order to bend others to their will. Fear of vengeful spirits has caused many to be forced into drugs, slavery and prostitution.
       So much suffering could be so easily avoided if only people knew the truth. That’s why care should be taken with the kind of entertainment we choose. If it promotes spiritism, it could create a chink for unwelcome and unwholesome forces.

*Not their real names

+The Biblical word rendered as ‘hell’ in many versions simply means ‘grave’ or  ‘death’. (Hebrew - sheol; Greek - Hades)

http://books.google.co.uk/books/about/The_Two_Babylons.html?id=OD_ATrB-g2gC&redir_esc=y