Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Hell under Attack

Well, hell isn't under attack. It's the Bible's teachings about hell that are under attack. I came across the following comment on an October 15, 2015, pagan blog on death and the afterlife:

"It is, I think, the threat of Hell more than the promise of Heaven that creates anxiety among Abrahamic monotheists. It's tempting to see this as an effort by power-hungry religious leaders to control their followers through fear. Certainly that's a big part of the emphasis on Hell by conservative Christians and Muslims (if Jews threaten anyone with Hell, I've never heard it). But I categorically reject the idea of infinite punishment for finite transgressions against arbitrary rules."

Without a judgment or hell to worry about, he is really rosy about his future afterlife. He wrote about knowledge he has from past lives on earth; he is confident he will enjoy a time of rest with the gods after this life, then return for another life on earth where he will again rejoin the web of life and try to make the world a better place to live.

Before you start thinking these are only pagan arguments -- and you don't know any pagans -- these arguments to reason away the threat of hell are held by many former Christians as well as unbelievers, in our country. They fit well with our society's rejection of absolute truth and its acceptance of all kinds of different lifestyle choices.

This line of thinking includes at least three arguments:

1. Power-hungry religious leaders invented hell to control their followers through fear.

2. Hell wouldn't be just because it is infinite punishment for finite transgressions.

3. Hell wouldn't be right because it is punishment based upon the violation of arbitrary rules.

One way to deal with these arguments would be to ignore them. After all, isn't it more important to focus on God's love and heaven? Why do we have to bring up sin and judgment, death and hell? If you have a brother or sister, son or daughter, co-worker or neighbor who believes this way, wouldn't it be better to just let the topic alone and love them to death with the Good News of God's love? Wouldn't you just be driving them away by talking about sins?

As this pagan blog goes on, it exposes the danger lurking beneath this argument. Since the writer is convinced there is no hell, then the cross becomes utter foolishness. He even goes so far as describing Jesus' suffering and death on the cross as the worst case of divine child abuse.

In the blog in the coming weeks I'd like to work through each of these three lines of reasoning. But first, I'd like to give you the chance to share your thoughts in the comment section below.

What would you say to someone who gave you these three reasons as to why he rejects hell?

Is it really sharing the Gospel if you exclude Jesus' suffering, death and resurrection as our Substitute and Savior?

You can share your thoughts by clicking here and telling us about it.


Robert Helmkamp said...

A good way is to just start in affirming hell's existance is from what scripture says, for example in Matt 25:31-46, Matt 10:28, Rev 20:11-15, etc.
Of course, many of those who deny this do not regard scripture. So there is a place for apologetics in order to remove barriers to belief. Starting with the resurrection of Jesus and the reliability of scripture may help. But it is the Word of God that will have its effect.

Regarding the fairness issue, if God is God, it is He who defines what is just. His nature as revealed in scripture shows both his justice, which is most evident in the punishment of Jesus on the cross on our behalf, and his mercy, crediting Jesus obedience and his punishment to us. This gospel is what always needs to be shared.

Jeff and Grace said...

1. Power-hungry religious leaders invented hell to control their followers through fear.
Faithful religious leaders have nothing to gain by inventing a “punishing” state of existence for those who deny God’s grace and mercy. Those who reject Jesus as their Savior live without any hope, and we see the real-world consequences when people live without any sense of sure and certain hope outside of themselves. If there is no hell, why do people keep referring to it?
2. Hell wouldn't be just because it is infinite punishment for finite transgressions.
Every transgression has unintended and uncontrollable (eternal) consequences. Each transgression is like a domino – there is nothing that can stop the momentum of dominoes falling, nor the negative effects of sin in the world. Transgressions have infinite consequences; only someone who is just and sovereign can control the consequences of sin. Hell only exists because of rebellion against the Creator of everything.
3. Hell wouldn't be right because it is punishment based upon the violation of arbitrary rules.
Hell is a result of the supernatural separation between good and evil. Who are we to decide what is right or wrong outside of this world? We live in a world of good and evil, love and hate, light and darkness. God’s rules aren’t arbitrary, but absolute – provided for the benefit of all who receive and live by them. More importantly, God’s love and grace is universal, offered to the entire world through the life, death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus. Know Jesus, know peace; No Jesus, no peace.

Saved by Him said...

I'm a simple person. I don't need proof of hell. God said it, I believe it, and that settles it. However, for those who don't believe in hell, I would ask them why Jesus came to earth to suffer and die and rise again. It certainly wasn't to bring peace to the earth. If it was, it didn't last very long, and wasn't worth it.