As a prolific author and podcaster, I am asked a lot of questions. Some are well thought out, others not so much. The ones that pique my curiosity generally receive some sort of answer from me. The ones that are boring and ridiculous are generally ignored (and sometimes met with mockery; forgive me).
Today, I am going to reverse roles a little bit. I will be the one asking the questions, and I want you, the Christian, to think about them and answer them for yourselves.
So, here goes…
To the Christian who believes in hell, would you still be a Christian if there was no threat of eternal punishment?
I ask this for a number of reasons. First off, because my Universalism is often met with, “If all are saved, why follow Jesus?” In my book Heretic!, I give a variety of answers. Here, though, I want to turn it back on you: Are you only following Jesus so you don’t go to hell?
Second, if you’re supposedly following Jesus, have you really taken the time to see what he stood for (and, just as importantly, stood against)? Have you taken a good look at what he said about the poor, the widowed, the disenfranchised, the oppressed? Have you taken a good look at what he said about the religious authorities? And, if you care so much about the Bible, have you looked at how he quoted from it? Not when he quoted it, but exactly how he quoted it?
Third, if you’re non-affirming, why do you spend so much time thinking about gay sex? I swear, every time I stumble upon a prominent conservative Evangelical’s blog or podcast, there is more gay stuff than the gay section of Pornhub. I mean, I get it: You are against gay sex. But there are like 6 or 7 so-called clobber passages in the Bible, and hundreds about helping your neighbor, and yet, you’d think the numbers were reversed.
Fourth, why do you place so much value on what the Bible says in the first place? In case you haven’t read all of it, let me remind you what it condones: slavery, genocide, infanticide, child sacrifice, polygamy, rape, assault, abuse, and, depending on how you read it, infinite punishment doled out by a tyrannical God with an anger problem. Of course, there is also a bunch of wonderful teachings in it as well. That’s the nature of a messy book like the Bible, and why it’s not an authority on my life. Why is it an authority in yours?
Fifth, when is the last time you truly questioned your beliefs? I’m not talking about fully deconstructing your belief system, though that is probably needed; I’m talking about even questioning one of your doctrines. I’m sure you know that the word we translate as “repent” really means “a change of mind.” So, when is the last time you repented of your beliefs? When is the last time you changed your mind about something? So many of you have told me that I need to repent for my lack of belief in hell, for my affirmation of the LGBTQ community, and for so many other reasons, but here’s the thing: I have, and that’s why I currently believe what I believe. So, let me turn it back around on you and ask you when is the last time you changed your mind about any of these things?
Lastly, given that your porch is pretty messy, why are you always condemning “the world?” Last I checked, your Bible says that those who are without sin can cast the first stone, yet based on how many of you act, I’m guessing you’re perfect. Oh, you’re not? Then why is it “F*** Biden” this, “communism” that? Why is it always outrage about how sinful the world is? Why is it that some of you create entire platforms railing against deconstructionists and yet have nothing to say about folks like Greg Locke, John MacArthur, John Crist, Steven Anderson, and all the others who grift and abuse? Is it because they have similar theologies to you and you don’t want to have to condemn your own, even when they continue to harm others?
I ask you all these things, not to shame you, but to help you reflect. I’ve had to ask myself so many similar questions: questions about hell, about sexuality, about other faiths, about my own presuppositions and blind spots. And I’ve had to repent (read: change my mind) many times over. I hope you all can do the same, because a lot of what I see coming out of the halls of Christianity is nothing but rotten fruit.
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