by Lana Hope cross posted from her blog Wide Open Ground
Some people think I’m going through a phase. Actually I’m not. If I am wrong, then I will die wrong. I could not maintain integrity as a person and continue believing in eternal torment of mankind.
I mentioned the biggest reason I questioned hell, but there are plenty of other reasons. Let me explain.
2. I couldn’t embrace the idea that gays and lesbians go to hell. I am not saying all Christians believe gays go to hell, but that is what I was taught. So this was one of the first things I began to doubt when I realized people do not choose to be gay.
3. I couldn’t teach my kids to forgive if our faith said God doesn’t forgive. My foster teens were abused as children. Forgiveness is tough. One of the kids said to me one day, “I just realized something. People have abused God, and God forgave. God understands me.” It really hit me in the gut. God wouldn’t ask these kids to forgive their abusers if he did not forgive. Perhaps some would argue that God forgives but doesn’t embrace the sinner in the same way we don’t embrace every person we forgive. But we are talking about God who can heal the lame, the deaf, and the sick. Surely he can also heal those who abused him.
4. I failed to see the difference between hell and karma. Keep in mind that I live in Asia, and Karma motivates people not to do wrong. I stopped seeing the difference between the eastern fear tactic and the western one.
5. I don’t think love should be compulsory. What kind of God would say, “love me, or burn for all eternity?”
6. I couldn’t find enough scripture support to believe in it. The Old Testament is silent on hell, only talking about “sheol,” which means the grave. The Greek word for hell (tartarus) is only used to talk about fallen angels. Whatever bits and pieces scholars use to get the concept of eternal punishment, its so broken that its not enough for me to formulate a doctrine of my life upon.
7. People can’t make a choice unless they know their options. You just can’t say, “people have chosen hell,” unless they know their options.
8. If eternal hell exists, its too risky to have children. Period. Its too risky.
9. Jesus himself asked God to forgive those who murdered him. These Jews were not “Christians”; yet Jesus asked that they be forgiven. I don’t see how God himself could forgive someone and not give them “salvation.”
10. When Calvinism ceased to make sense, so did the whole doctrine of hell. Calvinism says God chooses some for heaven. The idea, then, is that everyone else then goes to hell. We are to be “grateful” we are chosen. The opposite of Calvinism is that we make the choice. This honestly doesn’t make me feel much better. People who have never heard of Jesus go to hell. If God chooses our birth country, and our birth families, then in a sense these kids in countries where the gospel is very limited are destined for hell. What is the difference between this and Calvinism? Both ways there are people who are destined for hell.
11. The Bible talks about all men being saved. This is seen in verses talking about all the Israelites being saved, or 1 Corinthians 15:22, “all will be made alive.” “All” is repeated so many times in the Bible that I can’t figure out what else it could possibly mean.
12. “Holiness” is a pretty lame answer for why God must reject most of mankind. If people have existed for 140,000 years, or even just 6,000 years, and the “church” was established just 2000 years ago, except for a small tribe such as the Jews, that’s most of mankind suffering for eternity. Even since the gospel came 2000 years ago, there are a large number of people the last 2,000 years who died without the Christian gospel. I don’t believe God’s “holiness” is a good excuse for why God can’t reach out to these people in the next life. If he exists, he can, and if he’s loving, he would.13. We need restitution. If mankind sinned against God, there needs to be healing and restitution. For all man. Not just some. When we as humans can’t have restitution with other people, its because we are broken, because we can’t trust people who’ve hurt us, etc. But if God is God, and God is real, then I don’t believe he can’t be in the presence of such people, and can’t heal such people. If the story goes that God made man to fellowship with him and enjoy his presence, then the story should end with him restoring man.
14. Christians borrowed their idea of hell from myths. The parable of the rich man Lazarus is a perfect example. The Greeks had a myth that heaven and hell were separated with an abyss, and the blessed and dammed could shout out to each other. One could argue that Jesus was picking fun at the myth, or the gospels writers mixed up what Jesus said. Either way, it is what it is: a mythical story.
I could go on. The point is there were too many reasons for me to keep on believing in the traditional understanding of hell.
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