Fear not, Christians who believe in hell

Fear not, Christians who believe in hell November 5, 2014

Woman looking at doorway in large book

In the blogosphere one rarely comes across a hell-believing Christian who isn’t frothingly angry.

I wonder why that is? What is it about a believing in hell that is so compatible—that seems to so feed, and feed off—anger?

Hmmm. Let’s think about that.

People who are angry are almost always angry at others. It’s always someone else who’s messing up—who’s being rude, thoughtless, sloppy, not picking up after their dog, etc. It’s others who are always the problem.

And that would explain why easily the most common argument I hear in support of hell being real is, “Without hell, what’s to stop everyone from living however they want?”

And it makes sense that anger with others—the need for revenge to be levied against the wicked—is such a common reason for people desiring hell to be real. If I can’t punch the guy who cuts me off in traffic, I can at least take comfort in knowing that, in time, God will clock the crap out of him.

Whoo-hoo!

But here’s a truth: People who are ever ready to be angry with others are inevitably, on a level deeper than the one on which they’re consciously operating, angry with themselves. That’s not pop-psychology. That’s real psychology. We turn our discontent with ourselves out onto the world.

But what is anger, really? Anger is a function of the fight-or-flight response. If we cannot flee, we fight.

And what’s the only thing that triggers our fight-or-flight response? Fear.

Fear, fear, fear.

Bottom line: None of us is really angry at others. What we really are is afraid. And again, that fear triggers in us our fight-or-flight response.

And since we cannot possibly flee from ourselves, what do we do? We fight.

And then it’s, “Look out world, here I come! And I’m pissed.”

And welcome to every war ever fought, to every crime ever committed.

So what are we all, really, truly, and deep down inside, afraid of?

That we’re unlovable. That our parents were right: that we really are undeserving losers.

That—and, you know, the inevitable and probably horrible death awaiting us all.

Christians don’t want hell because it’s in the Bible. All kinds of stuff is in the Bible that a child can understand isn’t meant to be taken literally.

Christians want hell because of their fear and anger.

Which, as we’ve seen, boils down to fear alone.

And yet, Jesus Christ, the very incarnation of God himself, said the words that I now almost desperately recommend to all of my fellow Christians:

Get up, and do not be afraid.

 


I’m the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question:

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