Yesterday’s post set up some homework for today: Listening to the This American Life episode about Heretics. Specifically, Revered Pearson, an evangelical preacher who preaches the Gospel of Inclusion. Pearson doesn’t preach about hell.
Now, I grew up believing in hell. Kinda. It never made much sense to me. God, who loves us humans so much, is going to have us burn for eternity? Does that doesn’t make sense. He cannot be all forgiving and have you burn. Even if you reject Him, He’s supposed to be a font of love and compassion. He’ll forgive that too…
One can ask for forgiveness or it can just be given. I’m pretty sure God can forgive people, even without them asking for it.
The establishment of Hell seems to be a method of control. “Do what we say or you burn. Follow our rules or your soul is forfeit.” It is my understanding that Evangelical’s replaces “our” with “God’s;” however the Bible itself has been translated and re translated by other parties, typically those in authority, that “God’s word” has been replaced by, “divinely inspired author, who just happens to be paid by the Royal Bank.”
My dad** believed in more than just Hell. He flat out believed in a pervasive evil force in this world. I also think he believed that individuals are inherently good; however, the evil force corrupted people and their intentions. Hell, and the Devil, gave him the wiggle room to keep both thoughts in his head.
He wasn’t an idiot, nor was he zealot. He was religious, but he could curse better than any sailor I’ve ever met (well, nuclear sub tech). He was liberal and religious. I mention my dad in this only because he had an idea of Hell, and evil, that doesn’t sit well with me either. I don’t think that God can be the most Benevolent if he lets people who’ve been seduced or influenced by evil, burn for eternity.
If God isn’t benevolent, then why should I praise Him? Why should I live a Christ Like Life if he’s going to turn his back on individuals who don’t follow His (or, really just the Evangelical) way? And if God’s going to let people who have 11th hour conversions into heaven, but keep out Atheists who do a lifetime of good work, then God’s neither benevolent or omniscient. He becomes a spoiled brat who takes his ball and goes home when people don’t follow his rules.
So give me your views of hell and damnation. Why do (or don’t) you believe in hellfire?
**If you’re new to the blog, you should realize that my dad wasn’t stupid. He was a lawyer, a public defender, and he worked in the homicide task force. He defended the people that most other individuals would be hard pressed to talk to. It was his job to ensure that they received the full protections enshrined int the Constitution. Before he died, he was certified to try Death Penalty cases in the State of Illinois and sworn in before the US Supreme court (I have the coffee mugs they give you as mementos).
**Edit: I published this yesterday after Shannon left for the hawks game. It didn’t publish, it’s saved. Sorry about that. I’m only publishing this now, with the right date, for my records. Not for Nablopomo
I think the best that I can come up with is that I believe in (or like to believe in, depending on how you look at it) a compassionate God who is bigger than my own ability to look at someone and say “bad” or “good”, and who is able to look at the life of a person in its entirety, unlike me.
And that, because I believe that about the nature of God, and because I know that as much wisdom is held in the Bible it is still subject to translation and human misinterpretation (and is, in itself, a collection of books written at different times), there is probably WAY more to this whole thing than I’ll ever be able to comprehend. So I work out my own stuff, and leave the sorting out of other people’s stuff to The One Who Knows Better.
(And I’m going to go back to hiding, since talking about this kind of thing is WAY out of my comfort zone, especially on the internet!)
As a Jew, I do not believe in hell.
As a single girl who has more than her fair share of stories, I think there is a place where people who date and act like jerks (i.e. AG exes and other assorted jerkoffs) are going…and it’s hotter than hell and AG gets to cut their yarbles off there.
One of the best explanations of Hell I have ever heard is that Hell is the place where your soul is totally, finally, and irrecoverably separated from the God that created it. (See the parable of Lazarus and the rich man in Luke 16:19-31 for the “irrecoverable” part.) As our pastor here in Durham said in a sermon a while back on this very topic, people who deny God thus, ironically, get exactly what they wanted when they land in Hell–God denies them.
This is a podcast of the sermon he did on “How could a loving God send someone to Hell?”– http://www.summitchurch.cc/templates/System/details.asp?id=29456&PID=319636&Style=&sermonsite_action=view_sermon&sermonsite_sermonid=26485 . I don’t pretend that it’s going to be everybody’s cup of tea, but I thought he made some interesting points in it. (He’s a great young pastor of a very dynamic church…but fair warning, he can talk. And talk. And TALK.)
Speaking only for my atheist self, I don’t really “want” anything from “God.” Just like I don’t “want” anything from any other being/concept I don’t believe to exist.
That said, I have no problem admitting that your pastor’s comment is pretty funny 😀
I haven’t had time to listen to the podcast yet. Listening to the podcast and writing up WoW things would probably break my brain. Thanks for the links though, Lewis!
I’m not in bible study–but in this parable, it sounds like those who are richly rewarded in the material world are going to hell. Why, exactly, did God send the Rich man to hell? Why does the Beggar ascend to heaven?
I’m missing something here–more than just a firm belief in the almighty–because this just isn’t clicking for me. Does the pastor help explain this parable more?