Much of my writing focuses on Evangelical Christianity. Every so often, a well-meaning Christian will leave a comment that says, I am not like the Christians you write about.
Usually, the person belongs to a liberal or progressive Christian church. They are what I call kinder, gentler Christian.
My friend Zoe has more than a few times on this blog asked these kinder, gentler Christians…do you believe there is a hell and that people go there when they die?
Like a kid jacked up on Mountain Dew, the kinder, gentler Christian, runs, weaves, and bobs to avoid the question.
When pressed, with a low, barely audible voice, the kinder, gentler Christian says…yes.
And that is Zoe’s gotchya moment.
Disagree with the Evangelical’s fundamentalism and strident, uncompromising theological views all you want,but IF you believe there is a hell and people go there when they die, you are every bit as reprehensible as the Evangelical.
Dear Christian, if you believe there is a Hell then you believe:
- God created hell as a place to specifically punish people. (since God is the creator of all)
- God created a place to punish people with pain and suffering for all eternity. (fire, brimstone, worm dieth not)
- God created humans knowing most of them would be tortured by him in hell for eternity.
- Since no human body could withstand such torture,God fits every person in hell with a resurrected body suited for eternal torture.
- Since escape from hell comes only for those who believe in Jesus, those in hell are there because they believed the wrong things.
- Since most of the people in the world (past and present) were/are not Christian, this means that the majority of the people who have or will ever live on the earth will go to hell when they die.
Christians spend a lot of time preaching up the notion that God. Would you consider a person a loving person who tortured people and devised ways for their torture to last longer? Most of us would consider such a person a sociopath.
Personally, I don’t think most Christians really believe there is a hell. Preachers have to keep believing in hell or they will lose one heaven of a motivator for becoming a Christian.
Life is short, hell is real……..or so they say.
Baptists are noted for being hellfire and brimstone preachers. In my Baptist preacher days I preached hundreds of sermons on hell. The altar was often lined with sinners fearing hell. I was a very, very good hell preacher.
Jonathan Edwards’ famous sermon Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God was a hellfire and brimstone sermon.
People know that some day they will die. Most people fear what happens “after” death. It is the fear of the unknown that leads many people towards religion. Hellfire and brimstone preaching is good for the Church business. If people fear hell they are more likely to buy into the whole salvation/heaven scenario. You don’t want to go to hell do you? You don’t want to burn in the flames of hell forever do you?
Scare people right into heaven.
I have come to conclusion that most preachers really don’t believe in hell. Preach all they might about hell……….when it comes to putting their theology into practice they cower and refuse to proclaim their hell belief.
Let me tell you a story of a man named Bob who was raised in a Fundamentalist Baptist home. His parents were stern, devout, Christians.
At the age of 17 Bob attended a Revival meeting at the local Baptist Church. When the invitation was given Bob walked down the aisle, knelt at the altar, prayed the sinner’s prayer, and in that moment became a Christian.
A short time after this Bob had a falling out with his family and he moved out of his parent’s home. Bob never attended Church another day in his life apart from an occasional funeral or wedding.
Bob lived to be 83 years old.
From the time Bob was 17 until he died at age 83 Bob lived a life of sin and infamy.
Bob was a child abuser. Bob beat his wife. Bob was a drunk. No woman was safe from Bob’s leering eye and his groping hands.
Bob was a nasty, vulgar, kind of drunk.
Bob raped a woman while her 12 yr old son was home from school sick. He was never prosecuted because his victim was a mentally troubled family member.
Bob died recently.
Bob’s funeral was held at the local Baptist Church. His family attends the Church . The funeral was the first time that Bob had been to Church in over 60 years.
The preacher mentioned what an ornery man Bob was. And then the preacher spent the next 20 minutes preaching AT Bob’s friends. The funeral service was not about Bob at all, it was all about Jesus. Maybe that was better because it was probably hard to find much good to say about Bob.
Mercifully, the preacher brought his Jesus talk to a close with an invitation to trust Jesus as Savior.
Why? So they too could be in Heaven some day with Bob. The Bob, who at age 17 walked down the aisle, knelt at the altar, prayed the sinners prayer, and became a Christian.
I have attended dozens of funerals over the years. I have preached a good number of funeral sermons myself. In every case, the deceased was preached into heaven. No matter how the person lived, no matter what they did, heaven was their final destination.
Baptists are known for believing in what is commonly called “once saved, always saved.” While I no longer claim to be a professing Christian, I can’t get “unsaved”. Once saved, always saved. (also called eternal security, perseverance of the saints) God has me whether I want him or not.
So, according to the Baptist preacher Bob is safe in the arms of Jesus. Pity all the women he raped, abused and molested over the years. Pity all those he terrorized when he was drunk. The fire insurance Bob bought at age 17 covers everything he would ever do. He received immunity from prosecution for all his debauchery.
It matters not that he never attended Church the past 60 years. He never prayed. Never read the Bible. In fact he cursed God. He hated God. He lived as if there is no God.
But, at age 17…………………..well you get the gist of this by now.
It is time to honest preachers. Hell doesn’t really exist does it? For all your preaching about hellfire and brimstone when it comes to death everyone makes it in.
Anyone who EVER had a momentary religious experience is safe.
Preacher, if you object………….then why not tell the truth about Bob? If your God be true, if your Bible is true, then people like Bob are burning in hell. It seems you can quite easily tell of people going to heaven, why not the opposite?
BTW, the Bob in the story above? Real person.
Christians either need to own what the Bible says about hell or admit that the Bible is wrong on the subject.
I know some Christians have adopted annihilation as the “hell” for the unbeliever but, is this any better? (and personally I think such a view is untenable)
The only Christian form that satisfactorily deals with the notion of God torturing non-Christians for eternity is universalism. (and many Christians are embracing universalism because of their disgust with the classic Christian teaching on hell)
In closing…sounds like a sermon, eh?
Knowing what we now know about our world, about geology, where is hell?
And if hell is really all that Christians say it is, why aren’t Christians spending every waking moment evangelizing as many people as they can so they will not have to face such awful torment? (keep in mind most Christians never evangelize one person)