Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Does hell really exist?

The church had a reputation for awhile of running around waving Bibles in the air telling everyone that they're going to hell. Jesus spent a lot of time talking about love, healing the sick, helping the poor, etc. so an overemphasis on hell and basically boiling down the Gospel to "say this simple prayer and you won't have to burn forever" was pretty simplistic. For that reason, I think there was a big pendulum swing in the last decade or so and now hell is rarely mentioned in churches anymore (with a few exceptions that still like the Bible-bashing paradigm). I think there are several reasons that hell isn't being talked about in church anymore:

1) Hell isn't very PC. In a pluralistic world where everyone is allowed to define truth, hell isn't something that people want to have as a part of their reality. So, if we choose to believe that hell doesn't exist, then it must not. Even branches of the emerging church and other groups are saying that hell was just figurative language that Jesus used to show how strongly he wanted us to live good lives here on earth. Mentioning hell is pretty offensive and Christians have been so abusive in the past that we have tried to correct the problem by doing everything that we can not offend. There must be a balance somewhere.

2) There has been a lot of emphasis in the body of Christ on the kingdom of God and everything being about His glory. This has been a very positive shift as historically there has been way to much emphasis on man in the church. Unfortunately, in swinging the pendulum away from a man-centered gospel to a completely God-centered message, there isn't much of a need to talk about hell because God has got it all under control and we don't need to worry about who is and isn't going to end up there. There must be a happy medium in there somewhere between God being completely in control while also not wanting anyone to perish.

3) This is the big one - IF hell exists, the conversations with my friends, family, and co-workers are probably going to change. IF hell exists, my priorities might have to shift a little bit. IF hell exists, I may need to get out of my comfort zone a little more. IF hell exists, I might need to tell some people about. IF hell exists, I'm probably going to be persecuted for mentioning it. IF hell exists, there should probably be more people out on the mission field. IF hell exists, it might be time for me to pull out the water hose. IF hell exists, people might have a lot of questions that I should be prepared to answer.

I think it might just be easier not to believe in hell. What do you think?

1 comment:

  1. Easier, but better? It is easier to drive past someone injured in a car accident, but wouldn't you rather stop to help--and perhaps save their life? Hell exists. Let's keep showing people how Christ can deliver them from it.