Are you a Christian? If so, do you believe in hell? Why or why not? Take a moment to think about why you do or not and how you came to that belief.
Wait, I’m not sure you did take a minute to pause and think about it. Go ahead, I’ll wait for you.
OK, if you do believe in hell, go ahead and skip right to the link below. If you are a Christian but don’t, take a second to realize that you’re in a minority both now and most certainly in 2,000 years of Christian belief. You’re like a Democrat who thinks Reagan had it right, or a Republican who believes in socialized healthcare for everyone. Keep in mind that most of your fellow Christians do believe in a literal hell, then read the page linked below:
• Do Christians realize they will see people burning in hell from heaven?
Finished? If so, that’s all I really wanted from you is to read that and think about it a little bit. You’re free to go. 🙂
However, I do, of course, have some of my own thoughts on the subject if you’re interested….
First, to the believers in hell: How do you justify its existance? Yeah, it’s in the Bible so it must be true, yeah yeah, end of story. But the Bible says a great deal of things, most of which you likely ignore–so why hang on to hell in context of a god that’s all-loving and mercy and just?
Well…unless you’re one of those like Pastor Fred Phelps and his followers who revel in the belief that God is hate and hates the world, then I guess your belief in hell is internally consistant. Uhm, you can go now.
But back to you loving-god/hell-believing Christians, how does this make sense?
– God creates humans to be capable of sin.
– God allows sin to take place.
– God sets up a place of eternal horrific torment, a punishment literally eternally unequal to the crime, that’s the default destination for the souls of theses flawed creatures he created (creatures who didn’t ask to be created, much less in a “world of sin”).
– To avoid this far excessive default punishment, you have to believe the creature who set this situation up loves you and you love him.
Now, please explain to me how this is not extortion at best, and sadistic cruelty about a million miles away from “loving, just, and merciful”.
Also, please explain why it took this god 4,000+ years before he decided to actually let anyone know about hell, before he decided to suddenly spring it on humanity. (To understand what I mean, keep reading.)
Alright, non-hell-believing-Christians, thanks for waiting. So, why do you believe in this Jesus of the Bible fellow, but buck the whole entire theological reason for him to even exist at all? That is, to be the substitutional sacrifice whose spilled blood pleases God enough to let his sucky weekend be the exchange for your eternity in torment?
Well, you’re in the minority, but your numbers are quickly growing. The reason, I suspect, is because after 2,000 years of simply accepting the paradox of a loving god who casts his “children” into fire, Western humanity is finally realizing that’s seriously effed-up! To use the whole “father” metaphor Christians love, the whole concept of hell is like a father who has a child who keeps getting into the cookie jar no matter how often dad says “no”. So, dad one day gets tired of it and hands his daughter over to a band of thugs he knows of, fully knowing that they’ll rape her and beat her and torture her and leave her broken body in a shallow grave on the side of the road.
Those of you Christians who don’t believe in hell probably never conciously thought of it like that, but subconciously knew it. An all-knowing, all-powerful overgod who created literally everything and is responsible for judging souls and what happens to them, can’t possibly have a hell and still be the god of love, justice, charity, mercy, etc. Good for you!
But you’re not off the hook.
You use this Bible as your source for guidance in what this god wants, his will and instruction, you pull verses from it to prove god is love, in fact–you’d have absolutely no knowledge of the god of Abraham and his self/son Jesus without this book. However, the book very plainly describes the existance of hell.
Now, the current popular non-paradise afterlife belief is obliteration, and there are a handful of Bible quotes that seem to support that. Here is a list of passages which can be used to justify both hell and obliteration:
• Is There A Hell?
Well, what do you think? Let’s forget for a second that the Bible is filled with self-contradictory passages, the hell passages seem pretty specific and straight-forward while the obliteration ones sound euphemistic for the fate the left column describes. If the Bible is to be believed en toto, to reconcile these two columns, it makes a lot more sense that the right-side is the more general and metaphorical side while the left is more literal–doesn’t make much sense the other way ’round.
Remember the story in the BE-Attitude link of Jesus talking about Lazarus and Abraham, and the torment and inability to cross the chasm. An oddly specific and detailed story to be a parable about paradise versus just dying.
But, I can see another reason why believing in hell is tough to deal with (as if a loving god tormenting you for eternity for the crime of his creating you flawed and prone to sin in the first place isn’t enough). There’s no precedent for it in Judaism. You know, that cultural religion that Jesus belonged to, is responsible for the Old Testament including the Commandments and supposed prophesies of Jesus, and tells of God’s Chosen People and their search for/bloody taking of God’s Promised Land? According to Judaism, there’s no hell. You get whatever blessings or curses due to you in this life, and applied to your decendents, not in any afterlife.
Now, this seems like a rather big thing to just kinda forget to tell your Chosen People about. Did God forget, or did Moses or the prophets forget to relay the message? Was God dictating The Laws to Moses and they get skipped?
“…but if the victim of rape is a virgin, then the rapist may pay her father her cost and she then must marry her rapist. Also, if a non-virgin is raped in town but no one heard her cries, she must be stoned to death along with the rapist. Oh, before I continue to give you My Laws, Moses, I need to tell you about this little thing where when you die, my mercy ends and I send you to eternal torment…for eternity. To be tormented. I dunno, some people might consider that a big deal, I guess. But it’s OK, in four thousand years I’ll send myself through a virgin to have a really sucky weekend before I return back to heaven as if nothing happened, and that will give you all a chance to avoid my, I mean, the hell. Somehow. Yeah, I don’t know exactly how that’s supposed to work either–I’m just hoping no one questions it too much.
OK, where was I…. Oh yeah, shrimp and the gay buttseks–both are abominations….”
Yeah, based on the blood-soaked attrocities, genocide, laws, cruelty and capreciousness of OT Yahweh, I could see hell as being perfectly in line with this god’s modus operendi. But, it’s a concept foriegn to His Chosen People until a small group of cult-like believers of this Jesus fellow started writing about eternal damnation and paradise.
But I guess some people even today get off on the idea that they get to be up in paradise while the people who didn’t believe in god in the same way as them get eternally tormented. To them, paradise is that much moreso knowing that.
But what about those of you who believe in hell but find it absolutely cruel and terrible? Think heaven will be heaven knowing most of the humans that ever lived, including many friends and family, have been cast away and sent to the eternal flames? Or do you hope and pray that once you’re up there, you’re knowledge of this is blissfully removed like a lobotomy?