I just finished reading book number one on my reading list for the summer; Brian McLaren’s “The Last Word and the Word after that.” It made me think of things that I have never thought of before and it made me question the very things that most Christians simply accept. The entire book was on the concept of hell and judgment. This book has a completely different outlook on the whole idea of hell than most things that I’ve read. This is something that I’ve never really though of because it’s never affected me. Why care about the idea of hell if your entire life it is engrained in you that you aren’t going there?
Christianity for so long as been fueled a lot by two major things. One, the desire to get into heaven and have a secured afterlife. Two, save as many people as possible from this eternal torment, and if they don’t listen than then will suffer eternally with fire and brimstone. So what keeps people in Christianity is their happiness for spending the afterlife on the streets of gold, and what brings new people to Christianity is the knowledge that if they don’t come to our side they will suffer eternally. There are others, but I doubt that there are any reasons which are as prominent as these.
I’ve read C.S. Lewis’ books Problem with Pain, Mere Christianity and The Great Divorce which are either written on this subject or hint to it. Dallas Willard also has a book out that brings insight called The Renovation of the Heart. McLaren’s book helps bring these views into the light for me and make sense of the concept of hell with the concept of a loving, caring and just God. This entire series is a definite must read for any Christian. It has spoken so much to me and helps put into words what I have been feeling for so long.
The point isn’t hell. The point isn’t the after-life. The point isn’t heaven either. The point is that we are part of the Kingdom of God now and here. The point is to bring God’s justice and love to the world around us. Christians have completely missed the boat and have made hell an idea to scare people into their religion or to scare people into staying or made heaven into some one-track-mind destination that we need to think about all the time. This is eternal life says Christ, “that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent” (John 17:3).
We are to reconcile the world to Christ. This doesn’t mean tell people that they need to repent or they will burn forever. It means to help people see that without God their life will be empty, unfulfilled and meaningless. By doing good to people, by sharing the love of Christ with all the world (which is why I’m so excited for my friends trips to Trinidad and Thailand) we will see God’s Kingdom come.
There is so much to talk about on a subject such as this, but I’m starting to realize more and more that Christianity isn’t about the future as much as it is about the present. We’ve put way to much emphasis on what will happen that we’ve not learned from the mistakes of what has happened and we are doing nothing now. This hell theology of us Christians needs to change and it needs to be inline with a loving, merciful and just God who wants to reconcile ALL of creation to himself.
I’m not sure what hell is anymore and I’m glad that it doesn’t matter all that much. It’s not about hell. It’s about now and bringing God’s purposes and plans to a reality in our lives and the world around us.
3 thoughts on “Hell No”
I was worried at the title as well… ;-) lol but yeah man … I so agree… I mean I think we all need to make sure we have in the back of our minds the fact that we HAVE and ARE being saved from hell… but its so true… hell cant be our focus… we need to make people aware iof it i think… but 98% of our time should be spent on exactly what you said… here… NOW… 1% on hell and 1% on heaven… because we cant just live this christian life because of all the gold we will have and the big big mansion that everyone thinks they will own… (which is a whole other topic) we are here, now… not yesterday, not tomorrow… RIGHT NOW… and we need to let people know how much God loves them and what he did for them… and that life can be better then what it is at the moment… the problems MAY not disappear but the strength with God there will help us to forget those problems … and just treust and know that HE is God…
I agree as well that the church is way to focused on where we are going… because that is where we all miss the point… we miss the boat… because we are too worried about staying out of hell and getting into heaven… we need to just focus on here… now… and show the love of Christ… and how it can help and change our lives RIGHT NOW…
Love ya man, we are just meeting each other cause im moving to Toronto now… lol and you moved back here… anyhow, its all good… get Sarnia on the go buddy…
hey nathan, great!
When I first started to read what the subject I thought that it would be hard to wrap my head exactly what you were trying to say as well as believe it. But I must say, your absolutely right, its not about getting to heaven or going to hell, its about making God’s kingdom here on earth.
I agree that our focus should be on the here and now. We should “be” Christ to the world around us. In terms of evangelism, our many theme should be that we are created by a loving God, who, although we are fallen, seeks us out for reconcilition with Him so that we can enjoy eternal fellowship with Him – which starts immediately here on earth. Therefore our relationship with Christ is the cause and the effect is whether or not we surrender the throne of our lives to Christ as to whether we will have eternal fellowship with Him or eternal damnation ( this, of which, doesn’t even address the annihilatoin theory )
I read the book “Christian Doctrine” by Shirley C. Guthrie, and in it he postulates this definition of hell “It is living apart from or in hostility toward God and other people and therefore denying ones own true humanity forever. It is living forever in loneliness that results from the inability or unwillingness to love and be loved. It is never coming to rest but living forever in the frantic, self-destroying attempt to be what one is not and never can be. Hell is not eternal life but eternal death.” Although I don’t personally agree with all elements of these statements, but they do expose an alternate reality of what hell might be.
In conclusion, Guthrie shares some thoughts on our hope ( and motivation ) by stating “All alternatives to Christian hope for the future have in common the fact that from the Christian point of view they are either too optimistic about human power over sin and death or too pessimistic about the power of God over them. For us there can be no ultimate pessimism about the future and therefore no cynicism about the value of life in the present. We know that we move not only toward the end of life but toward its fulfillment”
Well said Guthrie and AMEN!
Christ lived true humanity and expected us to follow His example. This is our mandate “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength and love your neighbor as yourself. ( Mark 12:30-31 )