To End Fear of Hell

TO END FEAR OF HELL

Courtesy of Edward T. Babinski

 

God recently remodeled hell. He replaced the flames of eternal damnation with a microwave. Now, instead of taking forever, His revenge is complete in seconds. (The only hard part is hanging on while the plate rotates.) – E.T.B.

According to Christianity eternal suffering awaits anyone who questions God’s infinite love. That’s the message we’re brought up with, believe or die. “Thank you, forgiving Lord, for all those options.” – Bill Hicks, Rant in E-minor, CD

As a tot I was given the usual terrifying mixed message: a) God is love; and b) If you don’t believe how much he loves you, you will stand in the corner for eternity. – James Lileks, “God Has Call Waiting,” Notes of a Nervous Man

God says do what you wish, but make the wrong choice and you will be tortured for eternity in hell. That’s not free will. It’s like a man telling his girlfriend, do what you wish, but if you choose to leave me, I will track you down and blow your brains out. When a man says this we call him a psychopath. When god says the same we call him “loving” and build churches in his honor. – William C. Easttom II

I do understand what love is, and that is one of the reasons I can never again be a Christian. Love is not self denial. Love is not blood and suffering. Love is not murdering your son to appease your own vanity. Love is not hatred or wrath, consigning billions of people to eternal torture because they have offended your ego or disobeyed your rules. Love is not obedience, conformity, or submission. It is a counterfeit love that is contingent upon authority, punishment or reward. True love is respect and admiration, compassion and kindness, freely given by a healthy, unafraid human being. – Dan Barker, Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist

Any religion that teaches there is only heaven or hell is gonna be a haven for manic-depressives. – E.T.B.

I’m a universalist because I believe that God and time are the best teachers, and there’s plenty of time in eternity for everyone to learn their lessons, including Ghengiz Khan, Adolf Hitler, and the makers of Jolt Cola. – E.T.B.

Some conservative Christians argue in favor of hell by calling it “God’s great compliment.” I’d like to ask such people what God does when he wants to insult somebody. – E.T.B.

It is strange to me that people can consign others to hell without a scruple. One only has to remember a toothache, not to wish it eternally on anyone. – Lucy Daugalis (daugalis@arcom.com.au)

…love and pity for hell’s occupants will not enter our hearts. – J. I. Packer, “Hell’s Final Enigma,” Christianity Today, April 22, 2002 (Mr. Packer is an executive director of Christianity Today, and professor of theology at Regent College in Vancouver.)

When all has been considered, it seems to me to be the irresistible intuition that infinite punishment for finite sin would be unjust, and therefore wrong. We feel that even weak and erring Man would shrink from such an act. And we cannot conceive of God as acting on a lower standard of right and wrong. – Lewis Carroll (author of Alice in Wonderland), “Eternal Punishment,” Diversions and Digressions of Lewis Carroll

I read in the Gospels that Jesus forgave the men who nailed him to the cross. He even promised “this day you shall be with me in paradise” to a thief crucified next to him — a thief who addressed Jesus simply as a “man” rather than as “the son of God.”

Yet, today, this same Jesus cannot forgive my kindly old aunt and allow her to dwell in paradise, simply because her “beliefs” do not match Reverend So-and-So’s? – Arthur Silver

They say that when god was in Jerusalem he forgave his murderers, but now he will not forgive an honest man for differing with him on the subject of the Trinity.

They say that God says to me, “Forgive your enemies.” I say, “I do;” but he says, “I will damn mine.” God should be consistent. If he wants me to forgive my enemies he should forgive his. I am asked to forgive enemies who can hurt me. God is only asked to forgive enemies who cannot hurt him. He certainly ought to be as generous as he asks us to be. – Robert Ingersoll

There are in fact so many strong Biblical, doctrinal, and logical arguments against the existence of a literal hell that this question naturally arises: Why do the churches teach it and why do people often believe it?…The churches tend to believe that fear, rather than love conquers all. – Robert Short, Methodist clergyman, U.S. Catholic, April 1980

Given headaches, backaches, toothaches, strains, scrapes, breaks, cuts, rashes, burns, bruises, PMS, fatigue, hunger, odors, molds, colds, yeast, parasites, viruses, cancers, genetic defects, blindness, deafness, paralysis, mental illness, ugliness, ignorance, miscommunications, embarrassments, unrequited love, dashed hopes, boredom, hard labor, repetitious labor, accidents, old age, senility, fires, floods, earthquakes, typhoons, tornadoes, hurricanes and volcanoes, I can not see how anyone, after they’re dead, deserves eternal punishment as well. – E.T.B.

When I was a boy I heard tell of an old farmer in Vermont. He was dying. The minister was at his bedside — asked him if he was a Christian, if he was prepared to die. The old man answered that he had made no preparation, that he was not a Christian, that he had never done anything but work. The preacher said that he could give him no hope unless he had faith in Christ, and that if he had no faith his soul would certainly be lost.

The old man was not frightened. He was perfectly calm. In a weak and broken voice he said, “Mr. Preacher, I suppose you noticed my farm. My wife and I came here more than fifty years ago. We were just married. It was a forest then and the land was covered with stones. I cut down the trees, burned the logs, picked up the stones, and laid the walls. My wife spun and wove and worked every moment. We raised and educated our children — denied ourselves. During all these years my wife never had a good dress, or a decent bonnet. I never had a good suit of clothes. We lived on the plainest food. Our hands, our bodies are deformed by toil. We never had a vacation. We loved each other and the children. That is the only luxury we ever had. Now I am about to die and you ask me if I am prepared. Mr. Preacher, I have no fear of the future, no terror of any other world. There may be such a place as hell — but if there is, you never can make me believe that it’s any worse than old Vermont.” – Robert Ingersoll, “Why I Am An Agnostic”

An idea, which has terrified millions, claims that some of us will go to a place called Hell, where we will suffer eternal torture. This does not scare me because, when I try to imagine a Mind behind this universe, I cannot conceive that Mind, usually called “God,” as totally mad. I mean, guys, compare that “God” with the worst monsters you can think of — Adolph Hitler, Joe Stalin, that sort of guy. None of them ever inflicted more than finite pain on their victims. Even de Sade, in his sado-masochistic fantasy novels, never devised an unlimited torture. The idea that the Mind of Creation (if such exists) wants to torture some of its critters for endless infinities of infinities seems too absurd to take seriously. Such a deranged Mind could not create a mud hut, much less the exquisitely mathematical universe around us.

If such a monster-God did exist, the sane attitude would consist of practicing the Buddhist virtue of compassion. Don’t give way to hatred: try to understand and forgive him. Maybe He will recover his wits some day. – Robert Anton Wilson, “Cheerful Reflections on Death and Dying,” Gnoware, February 1999

Primates often have trouble imagining a universe not run by an angry alpha male. – Source unknown

Any infinite Being who feels it is their duty to torture me for eternity, should switch to decaf. – E.T.B.

3 comments on “To End Fear of Hell

  1. Let me get this right…If heaven awaits those who believe but do only wrong all their life …and hell awaits those who don’t believe but do good all their. life….then i don’t want to go to heaven. and hang around. with all those two. faced aresh#oles.

    View Comment
  2. The whole foundation of Christianity is based on Adam being a real person. If Adam is a myth then there was no fall from grace and nobody is born in sin and separated from god. Paul’s theology is that Jesus is the second Adam come to bring humanity back into gods grace again. If Adam is a myth then Christianity is nothing, which means hell is nothing also.

    View Comment
  3. I was brought up as a Christian believing that there was these places called Heaven and Hell. I was also brought up believing that God’s love is unconditional. See the paradox/dilemma? Unconditional love means unconditional acceptance so if that’s the case technically anyone would go to heaven because the all loving, accepting God would invite us all to nom nom at the last supper. Glory!

    View Comment

Join in the conversation or start one!