Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Concept of Hell

I bought a Christian book on Amazon the other day. A new feature on Amazon is to list discussion groups relevant to the book topic you've selected. One of the discussion threads was "Does Hell Really Exist?"

The discussion was one of vitriol on both sides, sadly. A poor writer broached the subject and atheists and self-proclaimed witches lambasted the guy for believing in Hell. He got defensive and left the Beatitudes in the dust to (badly) trample all over these guys, leaving a bad taste in everyone's mouth. Still more unsettling was the "logic" evinced in the con-arguments.

"The very concept of Hell is abhorrent!" Well, yes, I should hope so; it's a nasty place.

The logic to follow was that since it was such an abhorrent concept it couldn't be true. "Not that I believe in your God," they said, "but if He's so loving, there couldn't be a Hell."

Okay, so a misunderstanding of who God is contributed to the problem, but the real horror of the logic is that since the idea is so bad, it couldn't be true.

Seems kind of backwards. Rather than concern themselves what is true FIRST, they start with the idea of it and reason in reverse, and thereby get the conclusion wrong. See, they're saying 1) Horrible concept. 2) Therefore it's not real. 3) Therefore laugh at anyone who believes it.

Instead is should be: 1) Determine if it's true 2) Oh no! It's true! What do I do? 3) Repent and be saved.

The capper was a fellow who simply said, "I'm a Christian and I know there's no Hell." What kind of Christian are you when you believe most of what Jesus said was a lie? (This begs the question of those who say the Bible was written by men, not God, so it got some things wrong. Besides being logically a poor conclusion, the further illogic of following 'parts' of the man-made doctrine is ridiculous. As Lincoln said, "if it is not true, then tear it up! If then, we can't bring ourselves to destroy it, we must live by it then." He was referring to the Constitution, but it applies to the Bible as well.)

Jesus spoke mightily of grace, forgiveness and the Kingdom of God, but he spoke equally mightily of Hell. While I firmly believe that the courts of God must be that which urges us forward, it doesn't hurt to have the very real goad of Hell to lend some urgency.