I have decided that what I write in my blogs must firstly be honest to myself, honest to other people and honest to God. I realise that I may upset a few people and may be un-subscribed, un-followed or un-friended. I am going to say what I believe about the concept of hell in association with what I know about a God of love who gave his precious son, not to condemn the world, but to save us all (John 3:17).
Let me come right out and say, “I don’t believe in a Hell as a place of eternal, conscious torture for billions of people who God loves“. Before you label me as a universalist, a liberal or a heretic please listen to what I have to say. I must say that I am no theologian but my views are the result of 60 plus years of trying to follow Jesus Christ and experiencing his love and getting to know him.
I believe the bible is God’s Word, but there are very few references to Hell and there are adequate biblical arguments for both sides of this controversy. There are good books written expressing differing views. I read Rob Bells book and was deeply impacted but then read “Erasing Hell” for a different view.
Loving our enemies
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said that as well as loving our neighbour we should love our enemies.
You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’
But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
That you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. (Matthew 5:43-45 NIV)
Loving my enemy and the person who mistreats me is hard to do but surely God doesn’t ask me to do something which he himself doesn’t do. God loves those who have never heard about Jesus and even those who reject the reconciliation which he offers. Individuals may make themselves God’s enemies but this doesn’t negate the unconditional love that he has for them. It is because of his great love that he asks those who claim to be children of our father in heaven to love those who have made themselves our enemy with that same unconditional love.
I find the idea of a God who condemns most of the human race to continuous torture in hell totally repugnant – a torture which lasts forever, for which there is no hope of escape not even in death. I hope that I am not wrong or I face the same fate! My experience of God’s love in my life convinces me that this is not the God that I serve, who calls me his friend. What I find even more repugnant is preachers with a gleam in their eyes condemning the majority of their fellow human beings to an eternity of torture, entirely without hope.
The traditional view of Hell was developed in the Middle Ages when a corrupt church tried to control the illiterate masses by a fear of a terrible Hell prepared for them if they didn’t toe the line. But today we face the same situation when preachers offer those who say a particular prayer or sign a form an insurance policy against the supposed wrath of an angry god.
What happens next?
Jesus offers us the opportunity of eternal life, which starts now, before we die if we put our trust in him and follow him. As a child of God I know that I will live forever. What happens to those who fail to accept his reconciliation, or reject him?
- I don’t believe that they are condemned to continuous torture without end.
- If a person decides to live a life without God I don’t think that God forces himself upon them.
- Can a person positively choose the hell of separation from God?
- Do they get another chance when confronted by my loving and gracious God?
I simply do not know precisely what will happen but I do know a God who sent Jesus to reveal himself and in order that the whole world will be saved. In the end, LOVE WINS.