A minister in the Evangelical Mennonite Conference has written a new book called Welcome To Hope.

Dr. Arden Thiessen of Steinbach says his book presents an alternative understanding of hell. He says when he started taking the Christian faith seriously some 65 years ago he felt a sense of apprehension and doom that was created by the traditional doctrine of hell that he was supposed to affirm, believe, and teach. But then he had an 'aha moment.'

"In 1991, we were spending a sabbatical leave in Oxford, England. I was reading theology there under the guidance of Dr. Paul Fiddes and I discovered that there has been a concept in the church, right from the first years, that there is grace beyond the grave. When that dawned on me, that I could accept this alternative view of eternity, that just brightened my life and it saved my faith."

Dr. Thiessen says the 'fire and brimstone' concept of hell that is commonly understood was largely created by the translators of the King James Bible. He says it did not exist in the original Hebrew or Greek scriptures.

Thiessen says some of his colleagues warned him about the consequences of publishing a book that challenges the fearsome concept of hell.

"The fear of hell has been used for missions promotion, the fear of hell has been used to warn people who are living carelessly and indifferently and so on, and I've considered that. But then I watched the preaching of Jesus, he never used the fear of hell to scare people into his kingdom."

Thiessen says that he hopes by sharing his understanding through this new book, people will feel a renewed sense of hope for the future.