A repugnant doctrine
I am reading a book now where the writer is grappling with the concept of hell. It is not a pleasant subject to dwell upon for a Christian. Yet Jesus taught that it was real. He spoke against many of what the Jews thought to be true in his time, but when it came to the reality of hell, well he did not.
The author is honest about his repugnance over the concept of hell that according to Jesus that people will end up there. Jesus uses images that are terrifying in trying to get peoples attention about the unending horror of being separated from what they are made for; a relationship with the Father who is love. So the belief that God is love and that there is a place of eternal punishment is somewhat of a scandal for just about everyone who has any compassion at all for their brothers and sisters throughout the world. It is understandable why many will draw back from such a belief or teaching of Jesus.
C.S. Lewis made the point that as we go through life we are either becoming God-like beings, or monsters of the highest order. If this is true, then our lives take on a different sort of meaning, an urgency that is perhaps missing in how many look upon their lives. Or the choices we make that important? Do we when we make choices that lead us against others, or desires that we will do anything to attain, turn us into hate filled monsters?
Grace is freely offered to everyone I believe. Is it so common that people reject this love offered them? Is there objective spiritual truth and if there is, is Jesus the one teaching it? Today religion and spirituality or based on ‘making it up as you go’ for many, a feel good fantasy, or rejected because of teachings that are, well, repugnant. Anything that is disagreeable is let go of, all that makes for good feelings, is embraced. What if the so called ‘afterlife’ is not all goodness and light? What is sin? We laugh at the concept, but we see its affects everyday in the world. Our wars, family breakups, our many life denying addictions, theft, the corruptions of politicians, slavery, racism, abortion, etc….yet this is denied, the reality of our culpability…why?
If the horrible doctrine of hell is based on what is real, what does that say about our freedom? Our responsibility in how we treat others with love and kindness or with contempt and hatred? It places the burden of choice on all of us.
If Jesus rose from the dead, or not, all is balanced on that I believe. If in fact the New Testament is a document that tells of the early churches experience of the risen Lord, then when reading the New Testament, it brings to life everything he taught. If the resurrection is not believed to be true, and the many theories about who Jesus is, or was, or if he existed at all has to be dealt with in some way. Or ignored if not thought to be important enough to dwell on at all, we each much choose on some level. To say Jesus was a great teacher missing the point entirely. If he did not rise, then he was simply a crazy man.
I believe we all need mercy, healing and love. In our societies this is often missing if there at all. People respond to the grace offered to them by others and it can be healing. So the grace offered by Jesus, being infinite, if indeed he did Rise from the Dead, then his grace and love are infinite and reach the soul down to its depth. Mercy is experienced according to the depth of understanding of the one who receives it has. That is why conversion is an ongoing process, one that perhaps never ends, for we all need a new beginning.
I do not believe the doctrine of hell gives us license to judge anyone, we are told not to judge for a reason. We are called to gently express our faith and to give all the respect they deserve. Jesus did say that those who seek will find. So when I pray, I pray for all, for healing, mercy and grace for everyone, and leave it all up to God. If hell is real (and I, sad to say, believe it is) then the people who are there, well, perhaps they are there because there is no where else for them. If we do have the freedom, on some level to choose, then that choice at death becomes total, free, and embraced for eternity.
C.S Lewis’s book “The great divorce”, deals with this problem on a simple even entertaining sort of way. This small book can be read on different levels. As just a good story or on a deeper level how we can actually embrace something ‘much-less’ and reject the ‘infinite-more’.
I don’t understand much,
but I pray for mercy for all of your children.
Edited by markdohle, 14 July 2014 - 11:55 AM.