Oh, preachers preach about it. Life is short, hell is real, or so they say. But, I am not sure they really believe what they are saying.
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.
Everyone knows that some day they will die. Many 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 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, that’s the essence of the gospel preached by many Evangelicals.
I have come to conclusion that most preachers really don’t believe in hell. Preach as they might about hell, when it comes time to put their theology into practice, they cower and refuse to proclaim their hell belief.
Let me tell you a story about a man named Bob. (Bob is a pseudonym, but all the details that follow are real.) Bob was raised in a Fundamentalist Baptist home. His parents were stern, devout, Christians who helped start several local Baptist churches.
At the age of 17, Bob attended a revival meeting at the First 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 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, he 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 year 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 same Baptist church he once attended. His family still 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 and I am quite vocal about my atheism, according to many Christians, 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.
According to the preacher at First Baptist, 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 covered everything he would ever do. This gave him immunity from prosecution for all his debauchery.
It matters not that he did not attended church in the past 60 years. He never prayed; never read the Bible. In fact, he cursed God, hated God and lived as if there is no God.
But, at age 17…well you get the gist of the story.
It is time to honest, preachers. Hell doesn’t really exist, does it? For all your hellfire and brimstone preaching, when it comes right down to it everyone makes it in. Anyone who EVER had a momentary religious experience is safe.
Preachers, if you object to what I have written, why not tell the truth about the Bobs of the world? If your God be true and every man a liar, if your Bible is true, then people like Bob are burning in hell. It seems you can quite easily tell wonderful stories about people going to heaven, why not the opposite?
Personally, I do not believe in hell. If there is any hell at all, it is here and now. But, if you claim to believe the Bible is the Word of God, then speak as if you do. Don’t pollute God’s heaven by sending any more Bobs there.
This post is written from the perspective of a person who believes in heaven, hell, and the afterlife. I don’t, but in the case of Bob, I sure wish there was a hell.