There are too many gray areas and misunderstandings about the concept of hell for me to accept this destiny as some kind of eternal torment. There are too many interpretations of the precise meaning of such a realm. And the God I encounter in Jesus is not the kind of vengeful tyrant who allows his creations to be excruciatingly tortured for all time. Here are some of my thoughts.
- What happens to people who have never heard the gospel of Christ?
- What about mentally challenged people?
- Where are we told anything about the eternal destiny of little children?
- There are so many people who have been abused by Christians and their messages.
- People who ‘believe’ but somehow live out of sync with God’s will. What happens to those prodigals?
- What about all the Germans who participated in the Holocaust?
- Jews? Are they all doomed?
- Who are the truly wicked people sent to eternal damnation?
- What about really nice people who just have never grasped the idea of accepting Christ even though they live Godly lives?
- When Christians fight wars and kill others are they doomed?
- Is hell eternal agony or annihilation? Both are mentioned in the Bible.
- My view of God is a loving father or mother who, because of that love, wouldn’t consign most of their creation to eternal suffering.
- If there is any kind of hell, it will be sparsely populated.
- Early Christian scholars didn’t write about hell as an eternal destiny.
- Which sins are truly deserving of spending eternity in torment?
- I wouldn’t want to live with someone just because I was afraid they would hurt me if I didn’t. Jesus wouldn’t want that for us either.
- We have been taught by Jesus to forgive endlessly. Are we to be more merciful than God?
- If Jesus died for all of our sins, why do some people have to pay for their own sins?
- Hell makes God’s justice seem vengeful.
- If really bad people end up in eternal hell why would Jesus from the cross say, ‘Father forgive them for they know not what they do?’
- Hell, for me, doesn’t fit the grand scheme of a new heaven and new earth.
Some of what I have written can be argued against with certain Scriptures but I submit there are interpretations of those scriptures that are very different and theologically sound.
If hell is anything, I see it as a sidebar where the judge tells my attorney, Jesus: ‘After all considerations, all will be well.’
In closing let me extend an invitation to come to Jesus, and follow Jesus. Let Jesus teach you and guide you into the way of eternal and abundant life with the God of creation and into a life of loving others even as we are right now being loved. This is the meaning of faith.
Remember this. It is Satan who wants to keep us away from God. But as Paul writes to the Colossians in chapter 2:
‘13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.’ (13-15) Bible Gateway NIV