Est. May 2008

26 April, 2014

Are We Afraid To Talk About Hell?

Jonathan Merrit at Religion News Service spells out three reasons why, in fact, we are afraid to discuss hell.  They’re interesting reasons, and pretty obvious to those of us who’ve followed these kinds of stories.

There’s a thread linking all three of them; see if you can find it.

1) Hell doesn’t feel fair
Some Americans’ theology of hell begins with arithmetic. The average American’s life expectancy is just shy of 79 years. How many years of punishment in what the Bible describes as “a lake burning with fire and sulfur” would be justified for eight decades of sin?

“Many Americans quantify their sins and then weigh it against not just punishment, but eternal punishment,” says Brian Jones, a pastor and author of “Hell is Real (But I Hate to Admit It).”  “In their 80 years, maybe they cheated on their taxes or even on their wife. When their sense of fairness is projected on God, they have a hard time thinking God would prescribe such a thing.”
2) Hell sounds harsh
Another reason people are hesitant to discuss hell, Jones says, is because the only people who talk about it are hateful Christians like those associated with Westboro Baptist Church and “creepy Christians that no one wants to hang out with.” By contrast, he says, most modern believers want to be perceived as kind, loving, and gracious.
3) Hell scares off spiritual seekers
As Christianity continues to lose steam in the West, many Christians have begun to refine their message to attract new followers and not repel skeptics. Those I spoke with all said they felt this impulse is a driver behind why pastors today speak about hell with less frequency and force. … Added [Preston]  Sprinkle [professor at Eternity Bible College], “All in all, I think preachers are more skittish about talking about many things that could be a turn-off to the seeker. Hell is probably just one of those topics.”
Did you see the link?

Feelings.  Hell doesn’t feel fair; modern believers want others not to feel creeped-out; preachers feel they’ll turn seekers away.

Wow.  If that’s how Peter, Paul, John, and the rest had felt and thought at the beginning, where would Christianity be today?

Honestly, though, what else can one expect, especially in light of the most common of ‘Christianities’ out there today – Therapeutic Christianity (also known as Moralistic Therapeutic Deism), which is defined (at the link) as:
1. "A god exists who created and ordered the world and watches over human life on earth." 2. "God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions." 3. "The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself." 4. "God does not need to be particularly involved in one's life except when God is needed to resolve a problem." 5. "Good people go to heaven when they die."
And that’s the kind of God people feel exists – or at least ought to exist; in fact, it’s the God they’ve manufactured in their own minds – their own, personal Jesus which is nothing more than an idol.

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