It’s also quite real.
Hell is real in that it is an analogy for a certain state of mind or being in this life. Perhaps that even extends, to some extent, into the part of life that happens after our bodies die. But hell is not a place of torture we go to after we die. Nor is it a state of being that lasts forever and ever. After all, even Gehenna is nice this time of year.
But if were the case that many should suffer in hell, then Paul was wrong when he said that in Christ all will be made alive (1 Corinthians 15:22). He was wrong when he said that one man’s act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all (Romans 5:18). And he was wrong when he said that God will be merciful to all (Romans 11:32).
And look, maybe Paul was wrong. Maybe he overemphasized the grace of God. Maybe he misunderstood the power of Christ. Maybe people are snuffed out of existence or suffer for time everlasting. Maybe some of us are nothing more than “wood, hay, and stubble” and when that is burned away (1 Corinthians 3:12) there is nothing left but ash. No gem. No diamond. No gold. No silver. No precious metal. Dust and ash only. A speck on the chronicles of history.
But I have no reason to believe that.
If God is love then this type of hell that most Christians talk about isn’t real. If God is love and has any power whatsoever, then that can’t be the plan. If God is love then no amount of wrongs could ever blot out that which God loves. If God is love then wrongs aren’t kept on the books anyway (1 Corinthians 13:5).
So why do Christians maintain that hell is very real and that most will go there? Because fear is a trap. And hell is the ultimate fear.
But again, if you know God then you know love, and perfect love casts out all fear (1 John 4:18). Do the fearful Christians really know God then? That’s not up to me to decide. I can only speak for myself. Hear me when I say this, though: I didn’t know God when I knew the fear of hell.
Don’t get it twisted, though. God knew me. God’s always known me. I just didn’t know God. I knew a distorted version of God. I knew a theology – of wrath, of hell, of fear, of retribution, of violence, of abuse, of manipulation, of quid pro quo, of death. But none of these characterizations are of God. They are but projections spawned from the pits of hell itself.
Maybe the belief in hell is hell. Maybe we really do reap what we sow. Maybe if we sow fear, we’ll get fear. Maybe we get the god we believe in. Does that make these gods real?
No in that they are nothing more than theological manifestations of internal fears. And yes in that they fundamentally alter the universe in a very real way. No in that these gods can die like mortal men. And yes in that they can be resurrected whenever we let fear take hold in our hearts and minds.
So, let us kill these gods altogether and banish them to the deepest corner of hell. And let us all together resurrect the God of life in whom we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28).
If you wanna get to know me better, please follow me on social media. I’m pretty active on all platforms:
Also, if you’ve been digging my work on here, and want to see me be able to continue writing as close to full-time as humanly possible, please take a look at my Patreon page at www.patreon.com/mjdistefano. Even $1 a month helps bigly!!!