Why Hell Still Matters

Why Hell Still Matters April 12, 2011

I have been doing some thinking about hell lately and find the debate interesting. Some believe in a traditional view of hell with literal flames. Others see the flames as an image or metaphor for suffering torment, believing that fire itself will not be the source of eternal suffering, but separation from God will be. Still others believe that hell will be a place of torment until the final resurrection when those who have not given their hearts over to Jesus will face the “second death,” namely that they will cease from existence for eternity. There also is the group of folks that believe that hell is eternal and conscious but that after death some might have the chance to repent and leave hell and walk into the new creation. This is the “hell is locked from the inside” view that CS Lewis seemed to hint towards. These views all fit in the broad family of evangelical theology.

There is another group of Christians that believe hell is not a reality and that it therefore, no longer matters. Eventually, everyone will be saved. This view sounds quite hopeful, but what if those who teach such are in fact wrong? I am not one to preach “hell, fire, and brimstone” but I have to be blunt: the reality of hell, however it is ‘theologized,’ IS A MOTIVATION for the CHURCH TO DO evangelism. This may frustrate some of my more progressive readers but I believe that hell matters. It matters deeply. Why?

I am one who is willing to take the Bible and wrestle with it. If we have inherited a tradition of any kind that seems inconsistent with the sacred text, we ought to be willing to ask hard questions. The church of Jesus Christ should be the context in which this is safe. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Some people are willing to accept tradition without engaging the text in this way. This is fine, but runs the risk of putting tradition above the Bible. Yet at the same time, there is equally the risk of throwing out any tradition that does not “feel good,” which is dangerous as well. I propose that this may in fact be happening with the hell dialogue.

There is a lot of room for questions about the “nature” of hell and the reality of eternal separation from God. What ever one comes up with, be it literal flames, metaphorical fire with real suffering, or annihilationism, the bottom line is that an eternity separated from God is the worst fate imaginable. People need to be saved from such a fate. They need to know what it is to experience God’s salvation from eternal separation. If we theologize until we are blue in the face and end up believing that hell is not real and that all will be saved – the first question we must then ask is: What if we are wrong? We may unintentionally lose one of many motivations for evangelism and in the process see more folks taking the highway to hell. I for one, do not want to be a pastor who might be accountable for the fate of those folks on that last day. This is one reason why hell still matters.


*Afterword:  I am receiving many comments regarding the fact that for many non-Christians, the concept of hell is not a motivation for them to accept Jesus.  Basically they are saying that it is God’s love that usually wins people over, not judgment.  The argument then goes that the sermons in Acts do not use hell as a motivation for accepting Jesus as Lord, so my post is irrelevant.  Please understand that this post is about one reason “we,” the people of God, should be motivated to evangelize.  If hell might possibly be the end for the unsaved, we should care.  I am not talking about motivating nonbelievers through the threat of damnation (whatever that ends up being like in the end).  Hope that clarifies some issues for folks.


**After the Afterword:  Two of my good friends wrote responses to this article.  Check out – Chad Holtz’s article and J-M Smith’s article.  These guys are both great conversation partners!

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  • I don’t know. Hell is not much of a motivating factor to me. But I won’t deny it’s existence…I’m wondering if on the judgement day when we actually get to see what we did and how it affected other living beings…that’s probably a bit of hell for all of us, a lot of hell for some of us…will that be the final chance to turn and repent or if we refuse to face what we did and repent are we lost? Sometimes I wonder if hell is more like gravity…Adam’s fall having set in motion a separation that apart from Christ can not be repaired. I don’t know that you have to believe in hell to follow Christ. I love that all things will be reconciled to Him. I don’t know.

  • Michael Dise

    I agree with you for the most part; however, I believe that there are views about hell that are dangerous to the character of God and that can drive people away such as eternal conscious torment. I think we need to find a balance while remaining faithful to the text.

  • RT

    I have a buddy who feels that hell is a myth. I asked him about heaven and he gave me a vivid description of what it will be like. Isn’t it ironic that many who dismiss the idea of Hell embracing the concept of heaven?

  • Excellent post, Kurt. Balance is hard to maintain, but those who’ve “lost Hell” are as wrong as those who preach a “fire insurance” gospel. If Hell–whatever it’s ultimate ontological nature and characteristics–weren’t a reality, Jesus and His Apostles sure did waste a lot of time warning of it.

  • Ian

    Something I fear that what people are doing by downplaying Hell is, though not always totally conciously, is compromising truth for the sake of making a more comfortable gospel. One thing I have always held to is that we need to come to terms about the bad news that our sin seperated us from God in order to receive the good news that Jesus put sin to death in order reconcile us with God.

  • Jay

    Thanks for your thoughts. Hell will always be a contentious issue in church and I don’t think thatwill ever change, people love to use hell to lord over people but as long as there are pastors out there willing to seek love like Jesus did, which was being real we will always see people follow him. I really like your attitude ‘what if were wrong’ I think whatever the belief about a theological issue our attitude should always be humble and I think that is what helps us walk the narrow road of ‘I don’t know all the answers but I know the love of God and his kingdom is here and we need to be part of it!’


  • A N Hughes

    Great thoughts. I liked what I heard Keller say one time and I paraphrase here- “Do I believe that there are literal flames in hell? No. I think it is a metaphor depticting something far worse than flames could ever be.”

  • What I am stuck on with this perspective is that I don’t believe the negative consequence provides a good enough motivation. The gospel of Jesus isn’t about being saved from sins, it’s about being reconciled into Love now, not just later. It’s about life now, not only after. The followers of Jesus sought after present day healing, wholeness, relationship. So should we. And we should be motivated to bring anyone we can into that same present day healing, wholeness, and relationship.

    If anything, the after life because a new focus of promises based on the fact that living into the Way often meant death to that person by Rome. There was a human necessity, then, to have a future motivation of promise that extended beyond the limited life on earth to find against the negative consequences of a martyred death by persecution.

    I find many of the warnings of Jesus within the gospel narratives to be similar to the prophets of the OT, that God is calling on his people to turn away from the things that block their healing, wholeness, and relationship from God and focus purely on God. The leaders who betrayed the Law by not focusing on God, but on man were being warned. Those that lived outside of the healing, wholeness, and relationship with God were being warned. Yet through Jesus, God was still showing them how to receive the presence of Life in healing, wholeness, and relationship with God. The motivation, focus, and call was still on the positive.

    A question I ask myself to summarize the above is: If there were no heaven, would I still follow Jesus? Because I can believe and act on the Life that brings healing, wholeness, and relationship with God, I can say yes.

    • I don’t necessarily disagree with this, Tim, but John the Baptist never once focused on the “positive” in his preaching…yet he was praised as the greatest born of a woman by Jesus. In Scripture, fear of punishment IS a valid starting point for a life of repentance and faith…it’s just “the beginning” of the journey, to paraphrase Proverbs.

      • I don’t actually think that is an accurate representation of John the Baptist. John preached the way of the LORD was coming, making way for the Messiah, calling people to repent and return to the relationship in preparation of the “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” That sounds exceedingly positive. But he is just as stinging to the Pharisees, Levites, and other Jewish leaders as Jesus is.

  • I believe hell is real. Real in the sense of being eternally seperated from God and this is extreme punishment which is described in the Bible. I believe that a questions that needs to be asked as is being assumed, is “Just why did Jesus die on the cross?” The answer to that question will help with understanding the extreme punishment we avoid when we see Jesus take our place on the cross!

  • Didn’t Jesus refer to ‘hell’ as Gehenna? A wasteland south of Jerusalem? i’m thinking maybe hell is like a wasteland of disintegrating souls.

  • Cathyanderson

    I appreciate your honesty and your willingness to wrestle with the text. I believe that the current debates may be missing an essential component. Jesus’s ministry, as recorded in the text, had a little to do with the hereafter and a lot to do with the here and now. “The kingdom of God is at hand. The kingdom of God is among you.” My motivation for sharing the Good News is that God is here with us desiring to live in us now, not just to save us from hell, whatever my understanding of hell is. We evangelicals too often behave as if God’s Good News in Jesus is irrelevant until you die. Just my two cents.

  • I take a form of the conditional immortality view, and that’s all I have to say about that….

  • Peter Bylen

    Hell, separation from God? Hell is the presence of God for those that do not love Him.

    • Peter, That may be philosophically correct, but not sure the theology is there… Think of Jesus being fully abandoned by God on the cross… being ‘forsaken’. That was a Hell like moment for our savior.

      • Peter Bylen

        Holy Saturday is a mystery and not analogous to our death or destiny. “Christ is risen from the dead, trampling down death by death, and upon those in the tombs bestowing life!” God is love; heaven and hell is our experience of God’s presence.

      • Anonymous

        When you think that the Spirit of God came as flames upon the disciples and that there is no where you can go where God is not, I think there is theological justification. Psalms 139:8 “If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.” The Spirit of God led the children of Israel as a pillar of fire by night. For a person who hasn’t confessed their sins, being shown the truth in a way that they can’t escape from it, is torture. On earth we have all kinds of ways to hide from the truth. When we die all that will be taken away from us. In Romans it talks about how we will all have to pass through the fire to burn away the chaff of our lives. For those who don’t try to love others, there is a lot of chaff.

  • I guess my response would have to be, if hell matters as much as you say, then why did Jesus not say in Matt. 28:18-20 “There are millions who are going to hell if they don’t accept my salvation. Go therefore into all the world and rescue them.” Why did he not say it in Matt. 9:38? Why is hell not mentioned once in the entire sermon Peter preached at Pentecost (Acts 2–and don’t say “abandon my soul to Hades” in v. 27 & 31 is about hell, it obviously is not, and it’s talking about where Jesus was)?

    In short, if hell is a legitimate motivating factor for evangelism, why are the two concepts (because of hell => we must evangelize) never tied together once in the entire New Testament?

    • Dan… I dont disagree when discussing preaching to nonbelievers…. The NT model is not a “hell fire” or God come to jesus message. BUT, if Hell is real in any form, it ought to be a motivation for “US” Christians to help as many people as possible avoid it.

      • I see your point, Kurt, and I partially concede it. However, I think the danger comes in that our motivation (in all kinds of areas) shapes our message. If we are motivated by saving people from hell it is natural, and empirical evidence suggests perhaps inevitable, that our approach will seek “maximum efficiency” of the most “souls” saved per unit of evangelism input. In reality this turns into “fire insurance” evangelism where fear becomes the message, and where we carefully analyze the boundaries between those “saved” and those “lost.” In other words, exactly the sort of no-good-news “evangelism” you and I both recoil from.

        Alternatively, if we recognize that our mission is to make disciples of the King to whom all power in heaven and on earth has been given, a whole different set of criteria flow from that perspective. You know as well as I, which of those two comes out looking more like Jesus!

        • Motivation certainly shapes the message. Hell as a motivation I would hope would move us to compassion, not the pseudo gospel of fire insurance. You cant hold to a holistic gospel and preach the old fire/brimstone message. We preach new creation… that is what I get fired up about… the day when Christ will be “all in all!”

          • And there we’re in total agreement, though I really like Michael’s comment (below) about “asking if there is life before death.” I’m pretty well convinced that someone who “accepts Jesus” on the basis of afterlife alone (whether the good or bad kind) has not received the gospel at all…

  • An interesting read is Keeping Salvation Ethical by a Mennonite scholar, J. Denny Weaver. While looking at Mennonite and Amish atonement theology in the late 19th century, he shows how salvation became separated from ethics, or how we live. Your post is a good example of what he is talking about. When we ask “why evangelize if there is no hell”, what we are saying is that God’s salvation is concerned only with the then and there of life after we die – it has no impact on the ethical behavior of persons in the present or release from present captivity bondage, etc. Pete Rollins makes a cogent point – most people today aren’t asking if there is life after death, they are asking if there is life before death. That is the good news! That the life that is truly life can start now – and that this life is the life that will continue in the age to come. When you keep salvation and ethics connected you affirm Jesus teaching that his people will bear Kingdom fruit. People who follow Jesus live differently and this different way of life is good news to people who are hungry, sick, naked, alone, imprisoned, etc. (Matthew 25 sheep and goats stuff). So the purpose of salvation is 1) liberation for all who are held captive to sin, death and liberation from the experience of living with the effects of such sin and 2) sending those saved people out to liberate others in the name of Jesus. The blueprint for Jesus’ people, who are saved to be salt and light, is the sermon on the mount. Put it into practice, you’ll stand. Ignore it, you will not.

    • Michael,

      You said: When we ask “why evangelize if there is no hell”

      I did not say that. That is not my question here. I agree with most of everything you said except that the comment is directed at me. I have more posts about a holistic gospel than hell. I am with ya!

      My point is “if hell exists in any form, then we ought to grieve and be motivated to help folks not end up there” This is “a” motivation for evangelism… which is holistic… not “the” motivation.

  • Richard Wendt

    Kurt great post. I agree with you that Hell still matters and that it is important that we continue to not only wrestle with the text but have an open and honest conversation on the subject. I also agree that the separation from God is what Hell is. I also agree that it is an important part of evangelism but not as a means of frightening people into following Jesus but rather as part of God’s great and wonderful love. It is because of the reconciliation with God that we receive through a relationship with Jesus that we do not have to face the horrors of Hell.
    While many people today would rather not talk about Hell or would rather avoid the subject all together it needs to be a part of the discussion. Hell is a part of the story but not the whole story. It is not good theology nor is it being fully honest with people if we leave out the subject of Hell.

    • thanks Richard!

  • Thanks Kurt, interesting and thought provoking. I agree entirely that our understanding of hell, whatever that is should be A motivating factor, but it’s not the only one, a full, meaningful, purposeful life is just as much a motivator for me as an assurance of salvation, but I guess you know that, it’s probably a different blog!

    So here’s my interpretation, which I haven’t shared much for fear of being kicked ignominiously out of the evangelical club…

    Gehenna, Jesus descriptive term for hell, was a constantly burning rubbish tip, the rubbish was burned up, consumed. Being thrown into that ‘eternal’ fire means being burned up, consumed. The fire is eternal, the fuel is not.

    But I’m not sure that’s hell anyway. Hell is where Satan is. What we are promised is a new heaven and a new earth. Heaven is where God lives. The new earth is for us. In perfect communion with God, yes, as in the Adam and Eve story, but not heaven, as much as not hell. Paradise, relationship, consummated union with God, but I don’t think it’s a choice of heaven and hell, I think it’s new earth or annihilation.

    I’m not at all sure, I’ve been developing my personal understanding of this for about 18 years, ever since someone told me that John Stott was an annihilist, with a dismissive sneer. I thought, if John Stott thinks it, it needs to be considered!

    What I am certain about is… eternal torment, concious, eternal, physical and mental pain is not God’s plan for anyone. Jesus died so that those who believe may have eternal life, the opposite of eternal life is not eternal life in flaming torment.

    May God bless and guide and reveal His truth.

  • “There is another group of Christians that believe hell is not a reality and that it therefore, no longer matters. Eventually, everyone will be saved.”

    The term “eventually” indicates that this group very much believes in the reality of hell, just not in a never-ending reality. So saying they claim it is not a reality is actually a common misrepresentation. Greg Boyd described “aionios” well as a reality with an undefinite ending.

    Even if James-Michael is right in his proposition that fear of punishment might be a legitimate beginning in some people’s faith journey (citing John the Baptist), John’s verdict that perfect love drives out exactly that kind of fear still stands. And last time I checked, Paul stated that it is God’s kindness that leads to repentance – why did he not bring up God’s wrath at this point? Not to mention that even John the Baptist had some serious misconceptions about Jesus. When Jesus quoted Isaiah as a manifesto summing up His mission, He ended with the quote on grace, God’s jubilee. It seems that the wrath part of the prophecy was deliberately omitted. Good news to the poor, sight to the blind, freedom to the prisoners, total release from debt was fulfilled THAT day in their hearing, not just since the cross or the resurrection!

    And since we all want to take Jesus seriously in his warnings about hell, let’s talk about the fact that he mentioned something WE should do to avoid it – certain metaphors about gouging out eyes, cutting off limbs etc. There is not ONE word about how any act of His on our behalf or our faith in such an act rescues us from the reality of hell in the context of these sayings! Similar things can be said about the parable of the rich man and Lazarus.

    These dissonances (or dare I call them “blue parakeets”) should alert us that our traditional evangelical notions of hell have some serious holes and defencies. Even in John 3 condemnation is essentially self-created by not wanting to step into the light. It’s got nothing to do with God’s rejection of sinners. And Matthew 25 fits even less when we talk about the criteria that seperates sheep from goats. Conscious faith or correct doctrine seems to be the last thing on Jesus’ mind there!

    To dismiss a universalist hope as a minority opinion (as Ed Stetzer and many others did in their reviews of Bell’s “Love Wins”) still doesn’t answer the pressing questions that naturally arise from Paul’s own statements: All tongues will confess (fulfilling God’s oath from Is.45:23f.), God will be all in all. If no one is coerced to confess now, why would people be coerced in the future? Why are the gates in the heavenly Jerusalem mentioned as never closed? Why does Jesus himself answer the direct question whether few will be saved not in the affirmative? Why do we have so little confidence that God’s love and grace will ultimately triumph over all human misconception and rebellion if Paul describes the victory of Christ as so much greater than the damage done through Adam? And I could go on and on.

    • Bro, you are reading too much into the word “eventually” here. I am also simply saying that hell is real, the nature of hell is up to debate. I do believe there will be people who never choose God, and the consequences of their choices will be eternal.

    • Ian

      Yes. Paul does say that God’s kindness leads men to repentance. I would like to mention that one of the many kind things He has done is offer us a way to not receive the punishment of our sin. I’ll mantain that evangelism should involve telling ALL of the truth.

      • Ian, are you saying that the apostles in all the evangelistic messages recorded in the New Testament FAILED to tell the full counsel of God since they not once brought up hell there?

        • Ian

          They mentioned the forgiveness of sins and salvation a few times. Hell (whatever it’s nature) is alluded to lightly, and as a sidenote to the good news. I agree that we shouldn’t be preaching fire and brimstone, but in our teaching we need to include ALL the truth. And if in an evangelistic conversation the question of Hell be raised we should speak the truth.

          • If the essence of hell is not the threat of God’s infinite punishment but the kind of thinking and lifestyle we find ourselves in when we move away from God and replace Him with idols, I can actually agree with your statement. What “light” allusions of hell (now in the other interpretation of God rescuing us from His own anger) were you thinking of? Can you give some references?

  • marittakuosa

    When I´ve talked to people about our Lord, I don´t think I´ve ever actually thought about hell! No. I just feel this desire for that person to be close to God. Prayer does more than we can imagine. Our heart burns for these people! Speaking /preaching comes after…
    Who is going where really isn´t my business! I can´t see into people´s hearts. God takes care of that part. Worrying really doesn´t make me a good representative for God. Being relaxed and showing God´s love does! When I got saved I just knew I wanted to be close to Him… That´s it. No thoughts about hell. That is not the message God has for us!
    Maybe it´s a bit different for pastors though, I don´t know…

    • I understand what you are saying… and yes, God’s love is the message. My point is simply that if hell is real, that should motivate us Christians to represent Jesus to the world the best that we can.

  • good, honest post. I think it exposes the loop hole of universalism, namely, if hell doesn’t matter then why evangelize? and if the Bible says get out there and evangelize, then perhaps hell does matter because it is, indeed, real…

  • Biblically, I would assert that hell still matters, not as a reason to evangelize, but as a warning to those who already claim to believe (and are the “evangelists”) that they get their gospel straight. Jesus used hell to warn the Pharisees far more than he did any “unbeliever.”

  • “the reality of hell, however it is ‘theologized,’ IS A MOTIVATION for the CHURCH TO DO evangelism.”

    This is the conflict that I had to think about and read about at length to reconcile with the unraveling of the Hell Thing (as I like to refer to it). Two things helped me as I read up : Hell, if it’s there and it certainly sounds plausible, is not forever. The redeeming nature of our Father in heaven is to have every son and daughter Home. I am a mom and I would wait up all night long for that one child that has not come home yet…ok, what if some doesn’t want to come? I believe and hope that the love and grace of God outruns and outlasts the hardest of hearts and this life is not the only dimension for reconciliation with our Maker. I am a hopeful reconciliationist that All Shall Be Saved.

    As for the motivation for evangelism…. perhaps the point of evangelism is for this side of the veil and not the other. In America believing in Jesus seems almost like a cultural decision, a choice in the smorgasbord of religion. But for many (in the States and afar) a spiritual rebirth through the power of faith in Christ will transform their worldview so radically so as to have a ripple affect in their whole life and to society. A missionary I know in Cambodia, for example, when Vietnamese migrant families come to Christ, they change and stop thinking about selling their daughters for money to help with their desperate poverty. My friend in China tells me of how the hope of the Gospel for Now helps Chinese women find meaning for their lives and eases the unbearable weight of worthlessness that results in China having the leading statistic for female suicide in the world.

    What if evangelism if more about Today than tomorrow??? What if the motivation for the Church to evangelize is to pass on the message of redemption so as to create more followers of Christ in the nations of the earth?

    Thems me thoughts…..(new subscriber to your blog. nicely provocative in a good way!)

    • Pam, your thought here is obviously been processed for quite some time. I, personally, disagree with your view of “universal reconciliation” as the language of “perish” and “destruction” seem to be pretty strong in the narrative arc of Scripture. However, I do agree with the rest of your comment. I do believe that salvation begins today and that such should be the primary focus of evangelism… with the hope of course of, the coming New Creation at the resurrection of humanity / return of Christ.

  • Ian

    I don’t get how saying that accepting Jesus as Savior saves us from Hell is somehow saying the same thing as we are trapped in our earthly torment and not even Jesus can free us from
    that. We are living in eternity right now and we are either in eternal life or eternal death. Jesus saves us from suffering, but let’s not say that Christians will never have anything bad happen to them but that Jesus provides us with the fullness of joy in spite of our circumstances and can heal a hurting heart.

  • Jeromy

    I am sorry you feel accountable for the many souls who will end up in hell. This must be a tremendous burden to carry as a human. I used to carry that burden, but no longer. As far as motivation for evangelism? You can find my thoughts here in regards to god saving all men and what the message of Good News looks like: http://jeromyj.com/mendingshift//2011/04/08/repost-if-the-good-news-is-truly-universal-then-why-evangelize/

    • Jeromy, I don’t feel “accountable” but compelled. That is a big difference.

      • Jeromy

        Just using your words: “a pastor who might be accountable for the fate of those folks on that last day.” 😉

        • Jeromy… I concede! You are right. But, I want to be careful how I nuance accountability. Not accountable in that folks ultimately decide for themselves if they want to be in relationship w/ God both now and in the future. Accountable in the sense that we may not have given them accurate information or may not have been compelled to action in such a way. Hope that makes sense! Peace.

  • The focus should be on God, through Christ. Salvation is relational too, not a legal transaction in the first place. Escape of hell (in whatever sense) without turning to God and learning to love Him would make no sense at all, since “God can’t give us peace and happiness apart from Himself because there is no such thing.” (to quote C.S. Lewis)

  • Scot McKnight-on some of Rob’s exegesis in Love Wins:

  • Scot McKnight-on some of Rob’s exegesis in Love Wins:

  • Anonymous

    Three thoughts: if our actions can bring heaven to earth, then it is logical that our actions could also bring hell to earth. If kindness in return for persecution can heap burning coals on the heads of our enemies, then what does the uninhibited love of God do to those who have rejected him when they’re dead? Evil is self destructive. It only lives because it propagates by hurting others. If it cannot propagate because the hurt is forgiven, then evil dies.

  • The nature of Christ’s offer is woefully misrepresented by the average evangelist and preacher. He announces a Savior from hell rather than a Savior from sin. And that is why so many are fatally deceived, for there are multitudes who wish to escape a Lake of Fire who have no desire to be delivered from their carnality and worldliness.
    (A.W. Pink)

  • Stan Dotson

    I wrote about this topic, from a bit different perspective, in my Daily Passages blog. http://inourelements.com/1-daily-passages/hopelessly-devoted-to-you It looks at the issue from Job’s perspective, and questions not so much why hell matters, but why heaven matters as well, and whether we could have a faith like Job’s without the prospects of either.

  • Barbara

    You called it! One of the things people will be offended by in this post is the whole hell, “IS A MOTIVATION for the CHURCH TO DO evangelism” bit…

    A major problem here, as I see it, is that this method of approaching people is so very, very shallow. You approach someone and befriend them with the purpose of converting them… and communicate that it’s so deep and profound and important… but not deep and profound and important enough for you to have a deep and profound understanding of who that person you are approaching is. And then there’s the heroism of “saving” this person. It becomes martyrdom so quickly when your advances are rebutted.
    Why must we lose the humanity of the people around us? That’s not the God I serve. The God I know is interested in the person. Not just in saving their soul, but in their sacred, precious souls. Based on personal experience with many, many evangelical Christians, this sort of approach does not reflect the character of the God I believe in.