Mario Bros. and the Problem of Hell

Mario Bros. and the Problem of Hell April 23, 2015

I don’t like Hell. That should be generally understood, given that I’m a pastor. I don’t like to talk about it, I don’t like to think about it, I don’t like to even comprehend it. It seems too final. No second chances. No opportunities for a do over. It seems like the original Mario Bros. video game in a Wii and Wii U world. If you’re an old-school video game connoisseur, then you’ll get where this train is going.

My boys have the Nintendo Wii and live on a steady diet of Mario Bros. The newer versions are definitely kid friendly. Endless lives, countless checkpoints to save the game. There’s never really a Game Over to it. You just get to keep trying as much as you’d like. Sooner or later you’ll get there.


After playing this version of Mario for the past several years, I had the opportunity to relive my glory days on an original NES system and play Super Mario Bros. This is the original, old-school 8-bit graphic Mario that runs sideways the whole time. To my horror, I quickly realized that this old Mario had three lives. That was it. No check points, no continues, no second chances. If I got to the end of the game (I usually get stuck somewhere between World 8-2 and 8-3) and ran out of lives, I was simply out of luck. It seemed unfair. It was too final, no second chances, no opportunities for a do over.

I’m used to the new Mario Bros. The old one seems too harsh. In the same way we’re not comfortable with the idea of Hell because it seems too harsh. We want infinite lives. We want infinite chances. But life isn’t going to work out that way. Join us this Sunday as we explore the question, “Why would a loving God send people to Hell?

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