Another excerpt from something that J. Herrin has shared…
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You might be wondering how an image of never-ending torment for unbelievers in literal flames of fire came to find such widespread acceptance among the saints? Well, it is the product of pagan mythology being mixed into Christian doctrine. The Romans taught that the underworld, the place of torment where the dead went, was ruled over by one of the gods whose name was Hades. The underworld came to bear the same name as the god who ruled over it. In Roman mythology it was taught that Hades never allowed any to escape who entered his dark domain. He also had a three headed dog named Cerberus who watched the gates of Hades to make sure that none should escape. Here then, in the mythology of Rome, is the origin of the idea that Satan rules the underworld and that his demons are there to torment the souls there and to ensure that none escape. Satan has merely replaced the god Hades, and the demons have replaced Cerberus.
When the emperor Constantine declared the pagan citizens of Rome to be Christians, and he declared Rome to be a Christian empire, he did not throw off the mythology of Rome. Instead, he incorporated these myths and fables into the doctrines of the church. A tremendous pollution occurred as the holy and the profane was mixed together. This pollution continues to this day, and it is a fulfillment of Paul’s words that men would “turn aside to myths and fables” and they would no longer “endure sound doctrine.” Few will receive the truths written here. Only a remnant will cast away the mythology of the past and embrace truth. It is for these that I write things like this.