“Religion is based, I think, primarily and mainly upon fear” (Bertrand Russell).
Audio version (if you don’t have time to read. I think about you guys!):
There is a place where “the wicked” are thrown into a “blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 13:50); where the “fire never goes out” (Mark 9:43). Before we argue otherwise, Christianity in particular, has vivid examples of Hell. It is deeply unsettling, because this was the prime motivator for hundreds of years for people to go to Heaven. No doubt it is a motivator today.
This blog post is a deep lengthy dealing with the concept of Hell. I understand that not everyone has the time to deal with this and read it all. I divided these into sections, so that it would be easy to understand and easy to skip through passages that you don’t think you’d be interested or have the time for. You can skip through these as you go. My goal is not to take away your meaning of life as a Christian. You are free to believe in what you believe, but since we live in a beautiful democratic time of free-thinking, maybe you could consider these points about the Christian concept of Hell and what it means for the rest of us (the unbelievers). I think that that is what the Christian ultimately wants: a debate on whether these things matter at all and are relevant to us today. There is nothing more important for the Christian, or so we will soon see.
Some of this is written in a mockery tone. I apologize in advance if I offend you by this. I am merely trying to unsettle the belief, not the person. Please do not take this personally, if you are reading this. We are all meant to get along in the end. But since some people hold these beliefs grudgingly, I thought it appropriate to respond in a similar tone and manner.
Why do You Jakub, Spend Time Writing About These Things?
I write these things so Christians are reminded what they believe in. Often times, I don’t think they do. Imagine being a Christian, if you are not one that is. You wake up in the morning, the sun is rising, you can see the stains on your window clearly. You are reminded to clean them. You never will, but at least you have the willingness.
You get up from bed, put the kettle on. Get yourself a cup and put a tea-bag into it. Afterwards you sit down at your coffee table, grab a book and start reading… I mean, you grab your Iphone and start scrolling your facebook newsfeed. You see your friends posting about stuff they did last night and you’re thinking: “oh that’s so great they’re hanging out again. I love those guys. They are so nice.”
What actually should have occurred to your Christian mind was, “Jesus Christ.. What is the result of this sexual promiscuity, drinking, enjoying life, all this debauchery (I mean this sarcastically). I think I should talk to them about my saving faith individually because that is more effective, instead of preaching at them all at once. But first.. Am I even worthy? It is true that I have been masturbating. I got drunk that one time. Oh wait.. I binged a show last night.”
This to me is the Christian of the modern American era. There are exceptions and — oh are they few. I whole-heartedly believe, that if you are a Christian and believe in eternal salvation and damnation — your life must be a sincere representation of that.
Now, I am not a Christian. I promote happiness and well-being. And I don’t think that this ever-pressing demand to be a great witness and spread the gospel to the ends of the earth is a healthy task for people. Quite the contrary. I believe this to be crippling. None can do it. The people that do are lunatics. The people that don’t are merely living as atheists but going to church on Sundays. I have nothing against this if you stay lukewarm. The problem however is that your religion outright calls you to not be lukewarm. It leaves no space for the lukewarm, unfortunately for us. I’d love if we could just go to church and have our comfortable lives on the side, but there is no such thing. As is written in Revelations: “because you are lukewarm — neither hot nor cold — I am about to spit you out of my mouth” (3:14–16). If you are one of those Christians that views Revelations as a prophetic message and doesn’t take the words literally, here’s the words of Jesus himself: “In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness” (Matthew 23:25–28).
So this state of being lukewarm, what is it exactly? That’s the people that have good days and then they have bad days. They are also crippled by this responsibility and choose to not think about it, they prefer to lie in bed some days, meanwhile on average there were 17,000 kids killed under the age of 5 this year. All of which — most likely — are going to hell. Why? Because they were born in a sinful condition. For what is the difference between a child and an adult both of which are born in a sinful condition with which they had no responsibility to get into in the first hand? The difference is that the adults are more polite, less selfish, less demanding and have sex from time to time, maybe get drunk if they get the extra cash. That is the difference, yet for some reason, the penalty for this is literally a “fiery lake of burning sulfur,” as Revelations 21:8 so helpfully illustrates for us. If you say that, “no! sin doesn’t get you into hell, it’s rather your sinful condition that you are born into.” You are not helping yourself. Both ways you end up with an unfair judgement. Surely a just judge would see through this, if he existed.
Let me freshen up your mood with bible verses that you believe in, whilst enjoying a fine dinner with friends and some wine. Or while you enjoy watching the new season of Brooklyn Nine-nine:
8 But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars — they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.
46 Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.
2 Thessalonians 1:9
9 They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might
43 If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out.
Question related: If salvation is, first of all, a gift then why are you sending me to hell?
The wicked go down to the realm of the dead, all the nations that forget God.
and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.
Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
2. Peter 2:4
For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them in chains of darkness to be held for judgment.
These are just a handful of examples. Sobering, isn’t it?
My plea with my Christian friends is merely this: stop acting like your religion is normal and reasonable. Stop acting like you are decent and civilized because the Bible has some nice passages that borrow from early Greek philosophers on the Golden Rule. Please. Please accept the obvious. Anyone that actually believes that their fellow neighbor is eternally damned after death in a lake of fire has only two options: a) he either goes mad from this incredibly masochistic and terrifying belief, because life is such a lottery game or b) he never has kids. More on this later. These are your options if you truly believe in this. I would like to argue that most Christians do not believe in this, except for the few exceptions under which I would put Francis Chan, David Platt, John Piper, etc. If you are comfortable it is likely that you do not actually believe in hell.
Things I Don’t Recommend if You Believe in Hell
- Why have kids? A non-existent creature becomes created and then his “soul” (whatever that is — whole other debate) becomes eternal forever? With the highly likelihood of going to hell? Only a small percentage of Christians are going to heaven. Only a small percentage of people on Earth are Christians, 33% to be exact, last time I checked. Hence that means that it is not very nice to have kids, since they may suffer eternity for it.
- How can you watch a show on Netflix? All of life is pain. You either believe in predestination, which would maybe help you sleep at night (knowing that salvation is not your ultimate responsibility) or you believe that it is your personal mission to save souls and you are responsible for their damnation. Think of John Wesley’s life and what he went through. Preaching 10 times a week, constantly trying to persuade people of the validity of his religion, for their benefit. Who wouldn’t do this? People are going to hell. If I get hit by a truck tonight, I will be sent to hell, because of the obvious reasons: that I was born into this condition. Oh and if I’d like to borrow from Scripture it is also because of “the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars” (Revelations 21:8). Why? Why — God — did you have to include those who practice magic arts? Those who trick people? There is no such thing as magic. Why include something that does not exist? Oh my. If you are ever trying to persuade someone of your religion, please don’t include this next time. Oh well.. It’s too late now.
- I would not try to masturbate anytime soon. Jesus makes it crystal clear that it is better for you to “cut it off”. Painful. Yet essential to understand how intensely wrong Jesus is. Masturbation does not deserve cutting off your arm or your penis. It deserves a reflection on data. Why have a master that is this controlling and unrealistic? He continues: “It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out” (Mark 9:43). Any Christian that masturbates either does not take Jesus literally or is a hypocrite or is brainwashed into believing something that is unlivable. Does God call for perfection? Paul would like you to think so: “For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life” (1. Thessalonians 4:7). Similarly Peter reiterates the same: “But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do” (1. Peter 1:15). I don’t think that slipping just this once is an option for these guys. Get it right you person with these unhealthy sexual urges that are intrinsic biological impulses, evolving for millennia. Get it right!
- Video Games are a no-no, my friend. Luckily for you, you are already participating in the biggest video game there is. It’s a tremendously LARGE chess board with all of us on it. Only thing is… God’s playing the game, you’re just a figurine. Yay world.
- Wasting Time is wasting lives. There are things that are out of my control. But it is not out of your control to pray for your fellow man or woman.
Why are Christians Rebellious?
By rebellious I mean: getting drunk, procrastinating, having sex, and masturbating. Well it’s obvious isn’t it: because the alternative is eternal damnation. Do not try to reason with your child if the reason for him to not wank in the evenings is because he is going to hell forever for it. Don’t get me wrong, I believe there are countless benefits for not masturbating. I also preferably abstain from any type of unhealthy sexual activity, but let us discuss this as reasonable 21st century adults that have empirical data on their side. Get it right my fellow intellects.
Christians Defending Hell
Okay let us give the Christian the benefit of the doubt. Maybe God designed this universe to be a literal shit hole, where being born is punishable by eternal flames and the gnashing of teeth and damnation. This is possible. If so, how to prevent this fate? What evidence do we have? We have a lot of violence from the church. We have a lot of bigotry from the church, hypocrisy, failure. The Bible is full of contradictions, inconsistencies, mistranslated throughout the years, passages added and taken out throughout the centuries. Add on to this the intellectual impossibility to be a Christian, there is also a “heart” reason. I can not be a Christian. My sinful state won’t let me. I like sin too much, or so the Bible tells me. I don’t necessarily like sin, to be honest. Is this because of God? Well maybe. He did the same to Pharaoh. Could it be that I am his piece of clay that he plays with as well?
Theologians from John MacArthur, John Piper, to Martin Luther and John Calvin have discussed this topic and no one can come up with an answer to whether God is unfair in his act of giving saving faith. It is a mystery. I believe this to be unacceptable. There shouldn’t be a mystery this large and central to the core teaching of an ideology: salvation is by faith through grace alone.
We need to rid our culture of these chains. Not by force, but by persuasion and empathy. Logic and rationality. Hopefully, we will all come to the same conclusion. That to hold these underlying beliefs about the fate of the world has to be intrinsically evil and damaging to all of society.
However nice you are as an individual, I can not believe that you are actually thinking about these concepts in the back of your head. Hell is puzzling, perplexing, unbelievable, gruesome, and an unrealistic place to go after death. What are the reasons God has created this place is not very certain. It seems we have outgrown him both intellectually and morally. Sleep tight for now, God. Until we need you next time when the Dark Age hits once more.
AND Before you go…
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