a divine obligation to fill hell

a divine obligation to fill hell cartoon by nakedpastor david hayward

“A Divine Obligation to Fill Hell” (colored pencil & ink, 8″x8″)

In Matthew 18:18, Jesus is quoted as saying, “I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

What would happen if we let Hell go?

(Many original cartoon drawings and prints are available, including this one! Email me if interested. Original drawings are $100 and prints are $25 plus shipping. Or you can look through my online gallery.)

About David Hayward

David Hayward runs the blog nakedpastor as a graffiti artist on the walls of religion where he critiques religion… specifically Christianity and the church. He also runs the online community The Lasting Supper where people can help themselves discover, explore and live in spiritual freedom.

  • Joe Lovell

    What would it be if we let Hell go? It would be Heaven on earth or at least a beginning! Without the judging the possibility of love blooms.

  • http://theoldadam.com/ Steve Martin

    We don’t have a snowball’s chance.

    We love it.

  • Jeff Sjolander

    “Judge not lest you are judged”….”As you judge so shall you be judged”….”Ye know not what spirit ye are of”……

    I’m quite certain that a lot of judges/preachers have not truly considered the ramifications of their hellfire & brimstone sermons filled with fear, blame, and judgment. As in the Lord’s days many are ignorantly raising up children of hell if you will.

  • BW

    Is that a cane that god has? If so, LOL

  • Joe Lovell

    BW, I have it on good authority from the NRA that it is a modified sawed off shotgun!

  • Kris

    We always forget the part in the Lord’s prayer where it says “thy will be done on Earth as it is Heaven.” Personally, I believe that means we have the power to create Heaven and Hell on earth.

    As a Christian, I am supposed to create Heaven even for the atheist, the Buddhist, the transgendered individual. Even if I were to see them as these heathens (which I don’t), I have to focus on creating Heaven here and now. Some theologians are even challenging the idea of the afterlife we have created of a Heaven in the clouds and a Hell underground.

    People spend so much time worry about who will be where after death, that they forget to focus on making things better here. Sad.

  • http://www.whatisspiritual.com Richard Harty

    Without hell you would remove a major motivation to become a Christian. It would be interesting to see what you would have left to make Christianity attractive. I think you would have something that looked fairly similar to many New Age ideas.

  • VanPastorMan

    If you asked most people if they deserved to go to Hell, how many would actually say,”Yes I do”? The Bible says we all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23. Do you really believe this or not? This is the issue. What does mankind have to do to be declared righteous by a Holy God,even though they have sinned against Him?
    Most people will not accept Hell because they will not accept Jesus’ substitutionary death on the cross for their sin. Why do they reject Christ? It’s because they don’t think they deserve God’s punishment.

  • Kris

    This is where the idea of our version of Hell comes from.


  • Carol

    Perhaps that is how the kingdom will come on earth and hell will cease to be; when we forgive others as God has forgiven us.

    Many people believe that *hell* is a spiritual state rather than a ‘place’–that it is alienation from God, our true selves and others and that we make our own heavens and hells by the choices we make in life.

    “To everyone is given the key to the gates of heaven.
    The same key opens the gates of hell.” – Richard Feynman

    A Redemptorist priest once told me that the Catholic Church teaches that there is a hell; but it does not teach that there is anyone there.

  • Carol

    Perhaps that is how the kingdom will come on earth and hell will cease to be; through our forgiving others as God has forgiven us.

    Many people believe that *hell* is a spiritual state rather than a ‘place’–that it is alienation from God, our true selves and others and that we make our own heavens and hells by the choices we make in life.

    “To everyone is given the key to the gates of heaven.
    The same key opens the gates of hell.” – Richard Feynman

    A Redemptorist priest once told me that the Catholic Church teaches that there is a hell; but it does not teach that there is anyone there.

  • http://www.whatisspiritual.com Richard Harty

    The problem I have with the idea that people deserve to go to hell is that no one has been able to explain to me why that would be just no matter what you did.

    I didn’t choose to be born on this planet as far as I know and I didn’t choose to have original sin. I fail to see any just reason for responsibility since according to Christian belief I’m created by god. If anyone is responsible it would be god.

    I believe in personal responsibility because that makes people happy. Its based on the pragmatic reality that culture does better when people take responsibility, not because the Bible tells me so.

    The idea that our default is eternal hell simply for being born human is madness and that explains a lot.

  • BW

    I just can’t wrap my head around the idea that the god who created us – and gave us our brain/intellect/reasoning ability – would then send us to a hell for not maintaining the cognitive dissonance for believing in said deity.

  • Carol

    Richard & BW, the Latin/Western concept of “original sin” is not believed or taught in the Orthodox Churches of the East.

    Orthodoxy interprets the “Fall” as the breaking of the human trust relationship with God. The breaking of the Divine command was the result, not the cause of the broken relationship.

    Just as the human company we keep affects how we think and act; so does keeping intimate company with God. Alienation from God results in disordered thinking and acting, a SElF-centered (narcissistic) rather than God-centered perspective. Our thinking and acting has become disordered. Even Augustine did not believe that “evil” had any intrisic substance; but was only the absence or disordering of a “good”:

    For the Almighty God, who, as even the heathen acknowledge, has supreme power over all things, being Himself supremely good, would never permit the existence of anything evil among His works, if He were not so omnipotent and good that He can bring good even out of evil. For what is that which we call evil but the absence of good? – Augustine, Enchiridion (Marcus Dods translation, 1876)

  • Collision of Souls

    “The Bible says we all have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23. Do you really believe this or not? This is the issue. What does mankind have to do to be declared righteous by a Holy God,even though they have sinned against Him?”

    VanPastorman refuses to ready v. 24 of Romans 3. What does man have to do to be justified? Read the next verse VanPastorman and see that the same all that have fallen short are the same all that are justified FREELY by HIS GRACE and redemptive WORK Christ Jesus DID FOR US ALL.

    23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

    Christ Jesus gave us all right-standing, especially those who believe “For God is the Savior of all men, especially those who believe.” (1 Timothy 4:10). Do you know what “especially” means? It doesn’t mean God is the Savior of only those who believe but especially. Some are given belief(faith) before others Hint: Read Galatians 6:10 to see how the bible defines the word especially.

    It amazes me that men who get paid to read the bible and claim to be representatives of God, foist lies upon the minds of their innocent followers.

    The minds trained in religion are destructive and Paul said the cross would be reduced by those minds to potential salvation. He called you “enemies of the cross” because you refuse to see how powerful the work of Jesus on that cross was.

    Truly sad, but your dark, destructive minds are needed to display the enlightened minds God is using outside the camp(Hebrews 13:13).

  • http://www.whatisspiritual.com Richard Harty

    This idea that my life as to be god centered sounds good when you first hear it. The problem is we don’t really know what living a god centered life really means.

    That requires a rather complex set of theological explanations and pragmatically presents a situation where the bar is raised just beyond what you are doing at the moment. This creates a continual underlying shame. Now that is hell.

    The other problem is self interest is presented as a bad thing when values such as compassion, humbleness, and honesty are practices that come out of an informed self interest. People are reduced to following rules which keeps people immature, requires massive mental gymnastics to maintain, and essentially takes the joy out of life.

  • Carol

    I suppose that there will always be cultural syncretism in religious Traditions, especially a religion where Divine Immanence (the Mystery of the Incarnation) is as important as Divine Transcendence (the Trinitarian Mystery).

    In the case of Latin/Western Christianity the foundation of Roman Rule, Lex rex (Law is king) has had a distorting effect on the Gospel message:

    “The typical moralist sees grace as a means to fulfill a commandment. He puts the commandment in the first place and sees the difference of Old and New Testaments in the observance of the Decalogue. In the Old Testament they did not have the grace to keep the commandments; now in the New Testament they have sufficient grace if they use all the means, the sacraments, and so on. This is an anthropocentric, moralistic approach which makes the grace of Christ and finally Christ Himself only the means for the law, for the commandments . But primacy is not the law, the commandments “thou shalt” and “thou shalt not”; the primacy is our Lord, who in his grace, his tremendous love, comes to encounter us.” –Bernard Haering, C.Ss.R., Redemptorist Moral Theologian

    There are several Patristic theories of the Atonement. I favor the Christus Victor theory (http://therebelgod.com/cross_intro.shtml).

    Even though Anselm’s juridical Substitutionary Theory is the de facto official theory in the Latin/Western Church, it would never be accepted in the Eastern Church.

    The Bible begins the Story of the relationship between God and Creation with the Divine Proclamation that “It is Good.” The Western Church’s Augustinian traditions begin with the narrative of the Fall. This puts the emphasis on man as primarily *sinner* rather than Divine image-bearer with the potential to become god-like by Grace.

    Not only is beginning with the Fall, not fully biblical; but, since people tend to live up to (or, in this case, down to) others’ opinions of them, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy that multiplies sin.

    “The Christian resolution to find the world ugly and bad has made the world ugly and bad.” ~Friedrich Nietzsche

    It turns the “Good News” of God’s Unconditional Love into the “Bad News” of God’s Wrath.

    What is done out of love always takes place beyond good and evil. ~Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, Aphorism 153

    The Message of the Cross is the same as the message that God gave through Abraham when S/He provided the sacrificial Lamb in Isaac’s place. Not a legalistic Substitution; but a Loving Substitution that proclaims: The cruelty and pain stops here!

  • Carol

    Ditto, what Richard posted:

    “My parents spoke of piety, of love and of humility. I have really tried hard. But as long as there was a God in my world, I couldn’t even get close to my goals. My humility was not humble enough. My love remained nonetheless far less than the love of Christ or of the saints or even my own mother’s love. And my piety was forever poisoned by grave doubts. Now that God is gone, I feel that all this is mine; piety toward life, humility before my meaningless fate and love for the other children who are afraid, who are ill, who are cruel.” –Ingmar Bergman

  • Caryn LeMur

    Collisian of Souls: I see no link to send you a private email, so, my apology that my concerns are being sent in public.

    On one hand, given you have no first and last name, I find your writings to be similar to a comic book dialog… complete with Anime pronouncements of doom, ‘darkened minds’, and hints of ‘I know the mysterious words’ (like ‘especially’). On the other hand, I think you are raising some issues worthy of good discussion.

    May I therefore suggest that, at the least, you use a first name? Many prophets of old did not hide behind fanciful names… Elijah was Elijah, Isaiah was Isaiah, and so forth…and your mention of Heb 13:13 softly speaks against you… for your use of a fanciful name seems to indicate that you are unwilling to bear His shame by hiding behind a mask.

    So, let us say that you indeed wish your arguments to be considered. That is, you truly wanted to make a point and provide a scriptural basis for your point. Again, you had some good points that could have launched good dialog.

    Given that the Lord’s Spirit guided you to use the discussion of ‘within the camp’ and ‘outside the camp’, I then offer that you may wish to review Numbers 13:24-30, about a similar concept… and then focus on the attitudes of young Joshua verses the mature Moses. Then, consider your last posting.

    The goal of a young prophet is to ‘rebuke, confront, etc.’… the goal of a mature prophet is to ‘edify (to build up), to encourage, and to comfort’ (I Cor 14).

    So, by all means, write your first draft in Word or similar… and then keep rewriting until your text is trying to build up, encourage, and comfort ‘all the Lord’s people into becomming prophets’.

    To be honest, my first attempts at this about 40 years ago were horrid… but in time, even I learned to ‘not be quarrelsome, but be kind towards everyone, able to teach… gently instructing those that oppose…” [II Timothy 2:24-26]. And, many good dialogs that were face-to-face (or now, within the Internet) have taught me much about people, cultures, and ways of understanding and teaching God’s written Words.

    Much love in Christ always and unconditionally; Caryn

  • Carol

    Well said,Caryn!

    Blessed Christmas, to y’all:

    Monday, December 24, 2012
    Christmas Eve

    In Jesus, God achieved the perfect synthesis of the divine and the human. The incarnation of Jesus demonstrates that God meets us where we are as humans. God freely and fully overcomes the gap from God’s side. The problem of redemption is already resolved once and for all, long before its dramatic illustration on the cross. Bethlehem already revealed that it was good to be a human being. Yes, you can both thank and blame St. Francis for both the popularizing and sentimentalizing of Christmas. Easter was the big feast before his time.

    For the Christian, spiritual power is always hidden inside of powerlessness, just as God was hidden and yet revealed in a defenseless baby. If God is ever to be loved and shared, God had to risk both human embodiment and human vulnerability. This is the only thing that enchants and evokes the human heart. We do not properly fall in love with concepts or theological ideas (although some do try)—persons fall in love with other persons.

    In a weak little child, God is both perfectly hidden and perfectly revealed—and fully loveable. Tonight we celebrate this wonderful mystery.

    ~ Richard Rohr

    And the word became flesh and dwelt among us.
    ~ John 1:14

    …for Paul faith is always faith in a person. Faith is not the intellectual acceptance of a body of doctrine; faith is faith in a person. –William Barclay
    “My good children, a theologian is one who converses with God and not one who studies theology.” – Elder Ephraim of Katounakia

    First-hand religion is based on direct experience of the sacred, also called mystical experience. Second-hand religion is based on another’s experience, authority, or dogma. This distinction is often framed as the difference between spirituality (first-hand) and religion. (second-hand). –John Davis

    In mysticism that love of truth which we saw as the beginning of all philosophy leaves the merely intellectual sphere, and takes on the assured aspect of a personal passion. Where the philosopher guesses and argues, the mystic lives and looks; and speaks, consequently, the disconcerting language of first-hand experience, not the neat dialectic of the schools. Hence whilst the Absolute of the metaphysicians remains a diagram – impersonal and unattainable – the Absolute of the mystics is lovable, attainable, alive. — by Evelyn Underhill – MYSTICISM (Chapter One)

    When I was a child, the stories of Jesus’ birth captured my imagination. But as a young man growing up in the Catholic faith, the mystery of Christmas was mostly lost on me. As I grew, the Nativity story seemed fixed in centuries long past and spoke to realities that I assumed were long gone from the face of the earth. When I began studying theology, I learned to categorize the infancy narratives as myths, imaginative stories written to convey hidden truths but easily dismissed by the intellect. The Incarnation, God’s love poured out “in the flesh” of Jesus, remained an abstraction, a doctrine that needed to be understood and explained, certainly, but hardly something one would live. ~ Christopher Pramuk

    “Whatever else be lost among the years, Let us keep Christmas still a shining thing: Whatever doubts assail us, or what fears, Let us hold close one day, remembering Its poignant meaning for the hearts of men. Let us get back our childlike faith again.”– Grace Noll Crowell

    “Let us remember that the Christmas heart is a giving heart, a wide open heart that thinks of others first. The birth of the baby Jesus stands as the most significant event in all history, because it has meant the pouring into a sick world the healing medicine of love which has transformed all manner of hearts for almost two thousand years… Underneath all the bulging bundles is this beating Christmas heart.” — George Matthew Adams (The Christmas Heart)

    Are you willing to believe that love is the strongest thing in the world–stronger than hate, stronger than evil, stronger than death–and that the blessed life which began in Bethlehem nineteen hundred years ago is the image of the brightness of the Eternal Love? Then you can keep Christmas. ~Henry Van Dyke

    “I sometimes think we expect too much of Christmas Day. We try to crowd into it the long arrears of kindliness and humanity of the whole year. As for me, I like to take my Christmas a little at a time, all through the year. And thus I drift along into the holidays-let them overtake me unexpectedly-waking up some fine morning and suddenly saying to myself: “Why this is Christmas Day!””– David Grayson

    “Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.”– Calvin Coolidge

    Christmas is tenderness for the past, courage for the present, hope for the future. It is a fervent wish that every cup may overflow with blessings rich and eternal, and that every path may lead to peace.~ Agnes Pharo

    “There are so many religions and each one has its different ways of following God. I follow Christ:
    Jesus is my God,
    Jesus is my Spouse,
    Jesus is my Life,
    Jesus is my only Love,
    Jesus is my All in All;
    Jesus is my Everything.”
    ~ Mother Teresa

    “There is only one God and He is God to all; therefore it is important that everyone is seen as equal before God. I’ve always said we should help a Hindu become a better Hindu, a Muslim become a better Muslim, a Catholic become a better Catholic. We believe our work should be our example to people. We have among us 475 souls – 30 families are Catholics and the rest are all Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs—all different religions. But they all come to our prayers.” –Mother Teresa

    We need not think alike to love alike. ~Francis David, clergyman (1510-1579)

  • Collision of Souls


    Thank you for your words.

    “Herald the word. Stand by it, opportunely, inopportunely, expose, rebuke, entreat, with all patience and teaching.” 2 Timothy 4:2

    Paul gave us a pattern to follow when he wrote to Timothy in that second letter. If I was not following that pattern and I was falling short on the entreating part, I stand here for correction and willingly receive it.

    With Love in Christ,

    Dennis Brown

  • Caryn LeMur

    Hi Dennis:

    I did not want to appear that I was ignoring your last note. I was actually quite impressed by it.

    May I offer a thought? In II Tim, Chapter 2, we find, “And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth….”

    Then, we read this in Chapter 3, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

    And finally, we read the verse you quoted in Chapter 4, “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage–with great patience and careful instruction.”

    [All the quotes above were NIV... a bit different from your version, I believe.]

    I lean towards Paul the Apostle still using his strong leaning towards logic (even in his writing of letters to Timothy).

    – So, I draw three concentric circles (like a target): the outer circle I title as “Chapter 2 – Kind teaching; gentle instruction; trusting God to change hearts”.

    – The second circle I title, “Chapter 3 – God’s written word”; and the bulls-eye (innermost circle) I title, “Chapter 4 – Correct, rebuke, encourage with all patience”.

    So (working from the smallest circle outward), when I disagree with someone, I jot down my bulls-eye rebuke. I then clothe it with the second circle (of God’s Written Word), and then further clothe it with ‘kind teaching; gentle instruction; trusting God to change hearts’.

    And then, I have something that is a tool our Lord can use – a well-clothed thought.

    It is difficult to do – this hard work of a teacher. We should not abandon our core belief (the bulls-eye), but instead, clothe it carefully. Then, we certainly can engage with other believers, each believer using ‘well-clothed’ teachings… and you know, sometimes, they were right, and I was wrong… but the living word of God changed my core belief, not really the teacher.

    To be fair, some will disagree with my approach. They see the pattern that Paul taught as being only within Chapter 4 (as if the Holy Spirit gave Paul not three concentric circles, but three very different playing cards to throw down on the table at any time). So, they will reply, ‘Caryn, I felt/perceived that I should play only the third card.’

    Yes, they are ignoring I Cor 13, and appealing to a personal insight from the Holy Spirit. And yes, their playing of the third card has given me a small insight into their heart ‘for out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks’… why did their heart not choose the first or second cards?

    But ultimately, I will most often reply, “‘The spirit of the prophet is subject to the prophet’… So, if you do not know the size of the nail, then always start with the smallest hammer… you can always bring out the sledge hammer at the end.”

    May I again offer that teaching is hard work. It takes time. It takes rewriting. And, when we are 90% certain that we have clothed our understanding correctly, then we should post our words, and trust God to change hearts.

    Much love in Christ always and unconditionally; Caryn

  • Carol

    Caryn, I think what you are saying is that whether a truth is a hard truth or a comforting truth it should always be offered from love (Ephesians 4:15).

    Even the hard truths will be more acceptable if they come from concern rather than condemnation.

    Seeking Knowledge
    There are those who seek knowledge for the sake of knowledge;
    That is Curiosity.
    There are those who seek knowledge to be known by others;
    that is Vanity.
    There are those who seek knowledge in order to serve;
    that is Love.”
    -Bernard of Clairvaux 1090-1153

    “Once ‘the religious hypothesis’ is disengaged from the opportunity to inflict humiliation and pain on people who do not profess the correct creed, it loses interest for many people.”
    –Richard Rorty, Religious Faith, Intellectual Responsibility and Romance

    The Wrong Way to Read the Bible
     Two opposite errors exist in approaching the Bible. One is not to read it. The other is to know it so well that you miss Jesus. Jesus pointed out this error: “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life” (John 5:39-40).
    Are you surprised to believe this error exists? We constantly talk about reading and studying the Bible as an unqualified good. But clearly, the way we read the Bible is just as important as reading it.
    Missing Jesus
    So how can you know if you might be reading the Bible, looking for life, but missing Jesus completely? Here are a few clues:
    You read the Bible to reinforce what you believe, not challenge what you believe.
    You imagine yourself as the type of person who believes the things you read about.
    You think the things you read are especially applicable for people you know, but not for you.
    You imagine yourself as the hero of the story, not the person or people who are unbelieving. You frequently ask in your heart, “How could these people be so unbelieving?” For instance, when you read the story of the Israelites wandering in the desert you might say, “How could those Israelites grumble about food and drink when they just saw God part the Red Sea?” But you are completely blind to how you grumble at work or home when you’re afraid of losing something.
    You love the attention garnered from your knowledge of the Bible, but give little thought to how you have applied what you have read.
    Maybe the Bible should come with a warning label: “Beware: reading this book incorrectly will make you twice as fit for hell as when you began.”
    Don’t miss Jesus. Go to him and find life. 
    Matthew 23:15 (New International Version)
       15 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when you have succeeded, you make them twice as much a child of hell as you are.